March 1st, 2006.

I’m sitting in the Smelly Cat Coffeehouse in Charlotte, NC amidst old painted doors and desk lamps and hanging metal foil biplanes. It seems a very cool place though the strawberry banana smoothie is perhaps not as lush as I would’ve liked.

We went on a wandering with Chris and discovered candy stores down by the river in Savannah, GA. Scary gloves for making the brittle. We had something so spectacular… oh… oh… what WAS it called? As soon as I remember I’m going to write it here and then go salivate for a bit. This was amaaaazing!
African Claw Frogs that you can buy. They are NOT in the box, apparently. Very interesting conversation over all of that. I talked to the guy behind the cunter about that for a while – he’s an artist as well – check out Zack’s paintings at –

The last couple of days in Wilmington have been beautiful – the weather’s been nice, and we’re among lots of friends there, with the only angst coming from the fact that we don’t have enough time to share among all of them.

Santa dressing up as a Leprechaun makes for just a frightening visage stalking us on the streets of Savannah, GA. Chris tells me that they take Saint Patrick’s Day pretty damned seriously, which they must since it’s like… February. Personally, I think there need to be more Santa’s floating around in drag. A good Queen Claus would amuse me greatly.
Heather went and shot this man out and about down by the river in Savannah, painting a beautiful likeness of this building.

It’s places like Wilmington where I sort of realize how thin I’m spread. I think we’re finally to the point where we’re not really interested in spreading a whole week in one town – we’ve done a lot of “show up, play gig, play gig, leave town” sort of scheduling this time around, and though it makes us feel more accomplished, and perhaps it’s a bit more lucrative (not to mention all those different town names sure look better on the back of the postcards), but it means that we’re a little neglectful. I was really glad we got to go out to lunch with Bambi and all of her friends on Sunday afternoon – out to Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn – the only biker burrito place I’ve ever been to with an Elvis motif. Great food, in-house salsas… I’m very happy with the feasting right now. Not a REALLY good trait for someone who’s trying to lose some road-weight, but I’m a special brand of at-the-moment-abstinant hedonist.

Chris wants to take this yellow-shirted man home with him. I felt this was a challenge to my newfound home. In any case, these guys were doing an awesome, awesome version of Brown-Eyed Girl. Great voices, and he was a pretty good picker. What was funny is that when we crossed the street, the restaraunt on the corner had the same song coming through their house speakers. The original definitely suffered by comparison.
The sun sets behind one of the numerous squares in Savannah, GA.

Meaning – damn but that was a good burrito… and then we got Deanne’s cooking in the deal? More “damn”.

In any case, I’m wondering what we’re about to get into with the Evening Muse. The NoDa arts district seems strangely quiet and maybe even run-down for an area that I’ve heard SO much about. Despite a penchant for purple buildings, I have yet to build up much of an opinion of the area. The art galleries are closed, we were some of the only customers at Cabo Fish Taco (where Katie suggested we have linner) and we are the solitary souls inhabiting the entity that is the Smelly Cat.

I’m sure it must REALLY come alive at night.

Thursday, Pamela takes us on another tour of Savannah. We start off in one of the local cemetaries with old gravestones dating back from the 1700s. A lot of the stones are mounted on the surrounding wall, but I unfortunately didn’t find out the story behind that – I haven’t seen that done anywhere else.

From there we wandered into the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. This has been recently renovated in 1999 with a price tag of $11,700,000. I was pretty overwhelmed by that amount of money. They have collection boxes all around the church. What blows my mind is that today, in 2006, they have repaid over $10 million. I wonder how the finances on something like that work. $10 million is 6 years? That’s a whole lot of dollars slipped into those little boxes.

During my spare time, I try to write or call people that I haven’t talked to in a while, with the idea that keeping connections with other people is a good thing, and with the concept behind THAT that renewing old friendships can be good too – if only for the educational value. Myspace has made that easier, makes it all too easy, perhaps. I’ve been startled by the sheer number of old high school friends are out there and floating around. Going through the high school searchy thing, a surprising number of my old classmates had at one point joined the circus. Odd. I guess we all craved departure. And like myself, most of them have never quite made the leap of actually Living outside our home state. I’m glad I’m not the only one making contact here and there. It sometimes makes me feel like a stalker.

March 3rd, 2006.

Nightmares about apocalypse. Heather claims I have a lot of them, but I think they’re just the most memorable, perhaps. All in all, this one was a lot less graphic (I’ve had a good number where I’ve woken up with a very intense memore of childrens slack-fleshed fingers rolling out from under my boots), but a little more stressful. People packed in a panic into some sort of shelter, and then realizing that some unspecified THEM has taken the opportunity to launch a nuclear megadeath at us. Watching the red lights trail across huge maps and action boards… realizing that we only have space for 30 or so people in the reinforced shelter below. Trying to figure out how to get 30 people from the hundreds without causing a panic…

Of course, looking at it all, I vote that it’s money well-spent. I’m always in awe of what we as a species have created for our myths and beliefs. In God’s name we truly have created our greatest works.
From the Cathedral we go to the Bonaventure Cemetary. Up north we can have graveyards, but I almost feel it’s a dishonour to bury our dead sans Spanish moss.
Pamela and I had a great time discovering these waxy fern things. Their texture is Lovely and they have these crazy fuzzy interiors that make you want to poke’m. Of course, they’re also weirdly cavernous on the insides, and you get the vague feeling that whatever you poke in there might just get bitten off.
I Love the sculptures of women attached to old grave sites – they are invariably beautiful in an ethereal way, and the tones in the stone have an elegance to them that just isn’t often captured in any other medium. Ignore the fact that that sepia tonality is probably mostly dirt. I feel sorry for the loss of her fingers and wonder where they are.

And Deanne had gone to see the New York Museum of natural history recently – the idea that we’ve only been around for 100,000 years and that the dinosaurs had existed fro hundreds of MILLIONS of years had a real effect on her, and her thoughts had been echoing in my head. Hell… we haven’t proved ourselfs, we could be just a fluke. Look what we’ve initiated… red lines crossing the Atlantic… why are we worth saving? Don’t bother, don’t cause the panic.

Wake up.

Moving from the older sections of the cemetary, past the marble eyes of women dead a century or more, and into the more modern areas – the graves are less flamboyant, but they are Living things here… still visited, mourned, marking Lives that are still celebrated – it got me to thinking about my own parents’ choice to not be buried, to leave no marker. We’ll soon be scattering my father’s ashes, and then there will be nothing left to visit. I hadn’t ever really examined my feelings on that. I think I’m fine with it, but there might be some hidden desire to have some marker to leave tokens and souvenirs at. Perhaps postcards from my travels, stones from tiny towns that he would’ve Loved but never got to see. Pictures of the girls that I’m sure he would’ve liked. It could be a comforting lie, but even such a neutrally shaped monument would probably become an uncomfortable cross to bear.

Last night we played at the George Washington Bookstore and Tavern. Just an open mic, but nearly as lucrative as most of our gigs. Had a lot of fun watching people jam and playing along and just enjoying the people we’ve been meeting. Someone bought me tequila again, and I think that I shall be taking that in smaller doses from now on.

Spooky gives me Love when I make strange noises. Spooky gives me a lot of Love.

And of course Chris has to show me how the wrassling is done. Artemis is NOT amused.

Heather and I got very, very lost on the way back to Katie’s house, and what should’ve been a 30 minute drive on the outside took well over an hour. Maybe even longer – I don’t remember when we left the bar.

Ugh, got back to the house at around 3am and then got wrapped up in my online world for about half an hour before just collapsing into the waiting arms of the couch, under the watchful empty eye-sockets of the skeleton in the corner.

Ugh.

Before leaving Georgia – we HAVE to have a genuine Georgian treat. Pamela bakes us peach pie made with fresh Georgia peaches. Peeling them is WEIRD and fleshy and I’m only too glad to retreat and document.

 

March 4th, 2006.

Sitting in Concord, NC. Dinner is slowly happening to a peice of pork in the kitchen, and Heather’s playing with the cat, and I’m realizing that I’ve truly been slacking in the whole Journal department. I’ve got to write tonnes and tonnes to catch up with the pictures, perhaps… I could just cut and paste some of those stupid myspace quizes, but then again, I think you all would hate me for it.

The wall at the Savannah College of Art and Design radio station. Definately a better radio station wall than I’ve seen anywhere else. We did a short interview with them before our Sentient Bean gig, and it’s always SO fucking frustrating when you show up and they’re like “we’re doing an interview today?” It makes ME feel like I’ve screwed up in some way, like I’ve not followed up in some fashion. We were okay, but perhaps not as sparkly as we could’ve been.
At the Sentient Bean in Savannah, GA, Heather and Ken and the Cowboy-Hatted-Guy-Who’s-Name-I-Don’t-Remember all discuss the lighting. The gig was sparsely populated, but the people who WERE there were intensely interested. I kind of like it when people come up to me just before we play and apologize because they’ll only be able to stay for the first couple of songs, and then when I look out 45 minutes later, they’re still sitting there being all fascinated n shit. My uncle and aunt from Saint Simon’s Island came out, ad well as a guy who ran across our website while looking for something to do tonight, and said that by the second download he was getting his coat to come out.

We’ve spent the last several days with my friend Katie, from college. That’s how you can know her, College Katie. The area’s been really kind to us, and Katie was a great host, providing us with a cat and cassarole.

Space Ghost showed up for our show in Wilmington. We’re still trying to figure out why there were a number of suited up superheroes roaming the street that night…

We got into town and played the Tosco House Party at the Evening Muse in the not-really-quite-an Arts District of North Davidson Street. I felt kind of bad being disappointed by it, but here we were, in town mostly to play a gallery crawl, and there were… well… a COUPLE of galleries there… but all in all I was expecting something… bigger.

Heather and I playing at Port City Java on Front Street in Wilmington, NC. We had an awesome, huge contingent of human flesh out there to represent for us (a huge thanks to Annette Warner for doing some dragging on our behalf). And thanks to Bambi for taking awesome photographs (like the one about) for us.

The “House Party” was a one-song open mic that kicks off with a big group sing / jam that made me miss PLOJ viscerally. Everyone we’ve met in and around Charlotte has just been so nice, they definitely reawakened my “I wish I could pack you all” urge.

I’d never pet a bulldog before, so meeting Max at a pet boutique in Wilmington, NC, was a very, very special experience. He was very… snoffly. And so very, very sweet.
At the George Washington Bookstore and Tavern in Concord, NC. Our friend Ben playing harmonica with Lucy. This turned into a great night, Ben is rapidly becoming a favourite person down here, though I felt kind of bad when the host of one of the open mics we’d gone to took away his title of being the most energetic player or something and gave it to me.

Thursday night, at our friend Ben’s suggestion, we headed out to the George Washington Bookstore and Tavern, which is not a bookstore. For some reason every time we talked to someone about it, that was the comment we got. “Where are y’all going tonight” (Yes, they really say “y’all”) “The George Washington Bookstore and Tavern”. “Oh, that place is great, you know it’s not a bookstore?”

Katie took us out to Freedom Park near where she grew up. One of her favourite places – we saw happy dogs and Avian Dissuaders.
Me and Katie’s cat, Cozy enjoying the sunshine. She makes that teeny teeny mew sound that Heather makes. It’s almost obscenely cute.

This is said almost conspiratorially. I nod knowingly and let the reaffirmation that it’s not a bookstore flow over me and wonder what we’re getting into.

The place was awesome – cool decor, decent sound system, and a lot of really cool players. I got to scream some good 80’s battlecries in response to a song with a tonne of Thundercats and Transformers references. Fucking phenomenal harmonica players. We ended up staying till around 1.30am (a lot of, “oh, we should stay for this one last person” kind of things) and then got really, really lost on the way home.

Let me give a shout out to Microsoft’s Pocket Streets on my phone! Hell yeah, you got me home, and though it’s the uber monopoly that will eventually implant chips in our heads to make our brains Windows compatable, they also got us back to Katie’s place by 3.30am, which is better than we would’ve done on our own.

Sigh.

Last night at the Evening Muse for the Gallery Crawl, we played hard, and we played really, really well. The synergy between musician and audience is, I think, maybe hard to describe to someone who’s never experienced it.

The Evening Muse is a really well-known folk venue. Possibly the premiere room of it’s type in North Carolina now that the Six String has closed. To be there for this event was a big honour. We were the first act, and somehow, the March weather that had been looking the other way for the past several weeks, leaving us with 70 degree weather, leading me to pack our coats in an inaccessible depth of the Saturn (left side bottom), March reasserted itself with a vengeance, taking its toll on the pedestrian crowds.

As we started the night, the room was only half-full, and a lot of the people were there for the artist who had hung his work in the room earlier in the day. Very loud group of people… by our second song the room was packed and you could’ve heard a pin drop. This is the way we should play every night – and the way an audience should be.

Just some bad ass instruments we saw in a shop on Union Street in Concord, NC.

They were enraptured, sitting lightly in the palm of my hand, we were funny, we were sexy, we were mysterious and friendly and intimate. By far one of our best shows, a lot of it owed to the fact that this audience drank us. I wish we had tape. “Speaking Louder Now” was exquisite, passionate and pained and dynamic. We ripped into them.

All of my arrogance is well, well-earned.

March 5th, 2006.

After spending the first couple of nights with Katie, we’ve moved on to staying with my old friend Nicole. We stayed with her last time we were in Charlotte, back in October, and there’s something about her presence that makes it seem like no time has passed at all. The route to her house is familiar, Raleigh the cat is familiar, trying to get online with the neighbours internet relies on familiar contortions.

We’re sitting downstairs, talking over the percussive sounds of birds whacking into the upstairs windows. It’s very sad.

Last night’s show at the SK Net Cafe was poorly organized and had me kind of grumpy throughout the night. I think I’d been eager just to sit and watch Madagascar (we get to finish that out tonight) and having to go out and play a gig had me kind of bummed.

As usual, really friendly people. A lot of punk rock Love last night.

*thunk*

God, that’s really, really awful!

March 6th, 2006.

Cretceous Groove playing at the SK Net Cafe in Charlotte, NC. On the one hand, I think that whoever booked the bands for the night was quite possibly on crack, as the mixing of musical types was a bit insane. (everyone else was SO HAPPY!) – I really enjoyed meeting these guys. I’m sorry I’m not chipper. Well… not really. I liked fucking with bass player and pretending that the ebow was a figment of his imagination.
Disturbed by the frequent thwacking of birds into the windows of Nicole’s house, we stepped outside to find this little stunned creature in the bushes. We set him up on a branch with some wander and took advantage of his compliancy to discover just how soft he really was. Someone will probably scold me for this, but it was a beautiful experience.

Let me talk to you about bathrooms. I’ve talked about them before. Let me onto the floor again. The cold, tile floor most likely. We have encountered many a bathroom – from the tiny, tiny afterthought of a water closet hidden away at one end of Chris’ house in Savannah, GA, to the horrific Octojohn in Kerrville TX, heated by their semi-transparent clear roofs to the point that the air is something you can unfortunately taste, chew, and swallow.

Heather and I went to see Night Watch at this theatre… the Galaxy, in Raleigh, NC. Incredible movie. Go see it. Very cool movie house. There were even shooting stars in the ceiling. When we got out of the movie the place was absolutely abandoned and very, very creepy. It was like the world had ended while we weren’t looking, which is always one of my fears.

In Providence, RI I bent over at the wrong time and received a shower brush in an orifice for my troubles… In Owings Mills, MD the shower curtain thinks nothing of moving in closer, closer, and finally embracing you in its cold, clammy embrace… In Belleville, IL the eyes of parrots follow your movement’s every move… In Loveland, CO the water pressure could strip the skin off your body and exfoliation is quite, quite unneccessary… in Charlotte, NC you have to convince the water to rinse your shampoo away, cause if you’re not awful nice to it, it’s going to be very, very casual about coming out of the faucet… in Wilmington NC you’ll be lucky if the whole damned construction doesn’t come falling down and you have to use a capo to clamp the pipes back into places (Schubb, obviously not a Kaiser!) and in California PA, not only do they not have any hot water, but they have a strange drain that flips rather than pulls or plugs, and I once spent 15 minutes shivering and wet trying to figure out how to make the water go down without calling for help. It was not a good day.

A unicorn at Jamie’s house for Katy cause I forgot her book.

I remember trying to stand upright in a shower in Pennsylvania only to bump my head against the showerhead. Kneeling in the shower just feels like you’re about to be executed, so I spend my time there in a difficult semi-crouch rinsing with rapidity as the water rises around my ankles.

Heather and I played the Cave on Tuesday in Chapel Hill, NC.
Playing at Victoria Axelrod’s open mic at the Southend Brewery in Raleigh, NC… we were the features for the night and she seemed really happy with us. I wish I’d gotten a better picture though… like… really… what was I thinking? I swear, she’s really, really beautiful and I really, really don’t have my hand on her ass or something.

Heather and I are very…”civilized” when it comes to any sort of even-close-to-nudity around one another, so it says a lot that back in Charlotte, the battle to figure out HOW to make the shower GO involved Heather standing in a towel and my scratching my head, pulling, pushing, prodding and unscrewing multiple parts of the hardware to know avail. Eventually we had to call our host at work.

The Disappearing J’s at the Southend Brewery in Raleigh, NC. They remind me of what would happen if Ashraf’s rhythmic aesthetic took over Might Could’s musical proficiency. It’s very, very cool – a three piece act with two tight guitarists and a cajon player, they’re opening for us tonight and I’m pretty excited about that.

And the shower here in Concord… it’s shaped for a woman’s body. One who walks like a model. It’s weird curvy interior forces the ankles together and hugs the hourglass form. I on the otherhand keep knocking my parts against smooth wetness in unexpected places. Oh, and then halfway through the shower, all the steam condenses into cold water on the ceiling of the shower unit and starts drrrripping drop by cold drop onto the top of my scalp…. oh what adventures we have!

March 11th, 2006.

I normally like cats.  I have no problem with either their arrogance, their aloofness, or their hedonism.  I feel that I sort of relate to these traits…

Heather meets a mammal on the streets of Greenville, NC.

However, I definitely feel that naming a cat after a god is trouble.  An already insolent creature, to give them ideas so far above their station (in this case, naming her after a bloody god of death and reincarnation) is pure folly.  Quetzcoatl was very cute the first night we stayed in Cary.  We came home from a show in Raleigh at the Southend Brewery very, very hungry.  We scrounged for omelette materials and really enjoyed this little grey and white beast who wanted to speak to us, and be friends with us, and Love us.  Heather communicated with her in her own tongue and Quetzy discovered my fingernails and I became her favourite.

Our Lovely audience at Mudslingers in Greenville, NC. Thanks again to Someone’s Sister for doing some advertisement for us. We had DANCERS!

No real mishaps the first night except the discovery that this is a digging cat.  She finds the blankets at toe level and burrows up.  I find this unacceptable because she likes to poke at any exposed flesh on the way up with any little claws she has free at the time… In the bathroom the next day I looked like I’d been climbed.

Thursday night we played out in Greenville, NC.  I’ve got to thank Someone’s Sister for hooking us up with this gig, and also for sending us some of their friends.  It was a good room, but it would’ve been a pretty empty room without them – though it led to some discomfort –

After a large number of women enter and very clearly seat themselves up front to watch the show, you know they’re here to see you… but are they there because of an article in the paper?  Are the regulars?  Or are they all fans of a particular female band with a strong lesbian following?  It really looks like the latter, but it’s always awkward to ask… The show went really, really well.  We sold a lot of CDs and had a good time, and though the majority of the audience didn’t make it through the break (mass dinner plans), the couple of people who DID stick all the way through were very, very cool.

But then I came home to our little god of death.

She demanded sacrifice in the form of affection and Love, and we demanded rest.  After winding down with “the Producers”, I collapsed onto my little couch and found myself a little too wound-up to sleep.  I visualized website changes and the new album cover and lots of visual things.  I ran my head over the gig and what went wrong and why I was so nervous.  I – I was broken from my vague attempt at falling asleep by the most hideous yowling I’ve heard in my Life.

On the way home from Mudslingers we stop at a Denny’s and Heather tries to win me a rabbit, but they all fear THE CLAW!
God of Death.

Quetz had found the ENEMY outside the doors and was warning it off.  Another cat.  Quetz got a pillow assault for her trouble, but it was the beginning of the end for sleep for me.  The beast returned time and time again, and I was still awake at 8.30am the next morning cursing and full of a LOT of venom for this creature.  It was pretty much the beginning of the end of my Love affair with the little mammal.

She’s trying to climb on me now.

It is unacceptable.

She receives Love on MY schedule.  Learn little cat, learn.

Last night we played the Pheasant Creek Coffeehouse in Apex, NC…. more on that later…

My friend Katy took this picture of me looking like I’m reading my lyrics on the far wall of the Open Eye Cafe in Carborro, NC.

March 14th, 2006.

We sweep into town and we make visits and we poke our families and often as not, my mom wants me to sit and watch a movie with her.  As with most things, I generally don’t want to do what my mom asks me to, but also acknowledge that she tends to be right most of the time, and so, after returning from a long day of mixing in the studio, I sit down to watch the Academy Award-winning “Crash”.

I won’t go into the movie itself too much – you’ve either seen it in which case it would be redundant, or haven’t seen it, and I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you – but the movie centres around race relations, battles in ourselves about stereotypes, thoughts of how we treat one another, etc etc.  Yeah, another one of those.  I sat through the first half-hour perhaps thinking that…

Yeah, another one of these.

Most movies that focus on race relations seem to throw a number of “ain’t it shit how we can’t Live with one another” situations at the audience, as if the audience doesn’t Live through them every day.  The director even states that he wants to make people uncomfortable… make them angry, because when people are angry that makes them talk, and then a conversation can occur.

What kind of bullshit is that?  Fortunately, Crash DOESN’T follow that pattern – it provides an uplift, an escape, maybe even some kind of metamorphosis and hope.  It’s through moments like THAT that conversations are created.  Once you’re angry, you shut everything down.  You don’t want to listen anymore.  Maybe motion is engendered, but not communication… not dialogue.  Debaters and protesters often feel that anger is the beginning of some sort of meaningful conversation…

It can’t be.  It can’t ever be.  Unless you have some sort of rational open line of communication, nothing can be transported from one person’s brain to another.

I’m tired, I’m ranting.

Crash – great movie.  Fails to make the failings of so many similar movies.  I’m going to have to watch it again.  And that says a lot – movies for me are generally escapist devices.  You want to make a point to me about race?  About heartbreak?  Cancer?  Violence?  Nuclear war?  I’m sorry… I get it already.  I fear it and am angry about it.  It’s been called to my attention and thank you, the moment someone gives me the power to stop any of the above on any greater level, I’m on it.

All I can do is talk to other people and let them understand that I too am human, equal as they are in my capacity to feel.  Empathy really is the only solution, and lack of it is the source of almost every problem there is.

Stereotypes and cliches exist for a reason, and statistically, we have to respond to them as our training and previous experiences have taught us to or we reap the consequences.  But there are a thousand safe opportunities to challenge them everyday.  You don’t have to walk down North Ave at 3am to prove to yourself that black people are kind and a gay couple doesn’t have to make out in a redneck bar to show themselves that that hick stereotype just isn’t so…  You’ll get badly beaten for your trouble and stupidity.  But you can smile at people in the supermarket, apologize and make small talk and give compliments where they’re due.  There are a thousand opportunities to be human in the eyes of one another every day.

And I’m not making very good use of my time.

March 21st, 2006.

It’s just always cold here.  I realize that’s not always the case, just that since autumn struck here, I’ve had circumstances to return to California, Pennsylvania more frequently in the past 6-7 months than I have in the past two and a half years.

Still, waking up at Jozart is beautiful as ever.  Plants greet me and little else – no Dave Pahanish this fine morning – sunshine and no grey is a rarity.  I’m coughing up the remnants of last night’s bar, but other than that the world seems relatively calm.

It’s the first time in forever that the drive is without drama. There are no foreboding skies, there was no steady headwind pushing me away.  I guess in somebody’s mind I’m finally getting things right.  We got into town at around 8pm and hung out at the studio here till it was time to head over to the Lagerheads open mic.

The Stalking Horses at SONAR in Baltimore, MD. Sarah Pinsker and her band have a Lovely time rocking out with much todo!

I do like the feeling of popularity we get here.  A friend told me that while we’re in town there’s a feeling of innocence, which I don’t think I’m even spelling correctly, but it’s a pretty flattering statement.  There’s an idealism to it that tastes good to me.

One of the first things I always try to do, of course, go hang out with my freaky friends at College Perk in College Park, MD. Alice. Sweet, sexy Alice. Alice wants to dress up and get hair extensions to be on our album cover. Alice frightens me.
Faster Faster Harder Harder in much the same stance at Sonar. Sometimes my angles are kind of limited because this is the only place I can take a good photograph while bracing my hand properly in the low, low light of smoky bars. Sigh. You can handle it!

I like the fact that there’s a gathering of friends, and maybe I’m too familiar with them or something, but I feel very much the same way that I do when we first get back into town and I hit the Perk… there’s mild flirting, there’s hugs and there’s comfort.

ilyAIMY at SONAR.
Lina, a friend at the Cup, pouts excessively because she’s going to be forced to put her amazing voice to good use during the open mic. Poor girl.
Uncle John, the host of the open mic at the Cup… goes forth and climbs the Cup in Bel Air, MD. The more I get to know him and his open mic, the more this is becoming one of my favourite crowds – some of my favourite people. Eventually it will lose its laid back feel – every single one of these places does, but for the moment I enjoy savouring the sanctity of a place where people are just having a good time, revelling in the sounds we make, with an owner who actually Loves it too.

The whole pattern of not getting any sleep though, that’s still present.  Waking up as the Dollar Store opens downstairs, waking up to their scuffling and their murmering, and most of all, waking up to their oldies station coming through the floor.  I’ve shuffled out to the couches by the windows and found myself a table and a sunbeam.  Here I’ve settled until I wake Heather.  I’m keeping my hands warm with the Alienware and working out the kinks in my neck over the back of an old chair.

We’re playing three open mics and two gigs in the 64 or so hours that we’ll be here.  Breakneck and blurred, but I sort of like it that way.  As long as people are still eager to have us, I’ll be eager to come back.  I worry that eventually we’ll reach saturation and my friends here will be like “oh, you’re back?  Again?”  Yeah, about 51 hours left.  Gotta leave before they get bored of us here.  Leave them still wishing we wouldn’t and leave them while they still like us.

But they haven’t kicked us out yet, and Jay and Bish say they’ll build me a shower if I move in… I’ve told them I’ll move in if they build me a shower.  I don’t think either side is joking.

March 23rd, 2005.

Yeah, even when I’m playing, I’m still working in these bars.  I hate them.  I hate the smell and I hate the noise.  I hate watching the guy with the drink hovering over me – it’s rude to back away because you’re implying he can’t hold his liquor (literally) and it’s all a joke when they finally go ahead and spill beer all over your coat.  I leave stinking of it… not the guy’s fault.  I moved my jacket and as I do it a curvaceous woman wriggles her way up to him and jostles his arm and I get the beer all over my skin.  She’s spilled HIS beer yet offers to buy ME the drink.

Monday night we played a Beatles tribute at Jammin Java in Vienna, VA. Our speed metal version of “Paperback Writer” and our ilyAIMYtized “We Can Work It Out” were responded to really, really well. These two girls (the biggest Beatles fans) asked us to sign their… er… signs.

I don’t understand the etiquette.

Perhaps a lot of people need this lowering of inhibitions.  Perhaps their grins won’t come as easily.  It just makes me feel stupid and slow, dizzy if I have too much, wary of my footing.  Tonight there’s not enough of anything to harm me in that way, though Holly must be getting the bartender to mix every type of chocolate or sweet or cream that she thinks I might like, but the noise and the smell gets to me and I stalk off in the hopes of not seeming too ill-humoured, knowing that if I stay longer my mood will shift and I’ll be caught out angry and depressed.  Never flattering.

Java Mammas in Reisterstown – filled with the good Love.
Playing Lagerheads in Coal Center, PA. Good people, but playing there or seeing music there and having a reason to be there is so different from just being there.

Out into the darkness of western Pennsylvania.  45 minutes south of Pittsburgh and it should be a song.  It’s 22 degrees but my body is heated enough that I’m not going to notice for quite sometime.  Flannel shirt and steaming skin and a mile to walk before I turn in… the tiniest spit of snow is telling me that the world’s alright.  It IS a beautiful night, moist and cold.  Silent enough that you can hear the river as the noise of the bar fades out.

The lights fade and the sounds fade, and the time in the open air means that even the smell might fade – there are such incredible creatures in those places.  They are spirited and smiling and some are come-hither and some are fine just to be admired, but if I’m not willing to play the game then I’m just another passing face, and in this case at least, I’m very, very glad to be leaving.

The travel “home” is usually when I’ll start getting depressed, but the company of the snow keeps my spirits up.  Siwtchblade courage, fingers wrapped tightly.  Baltimore instincts die hard.  My chains are wrapped and silent.  Crossing water the only way I know how – the bridge between Coal Center and California is steel and half-seen, but the water beneath sends shivers up my spine and I cross quickly, shaking.

It’s quiet out, and I’m thinking about how, for such a small town, it’s odd that it’s almost never peaceful at night.  Heh – then it occurs to me that the bars simply haven’t closed yet.  Antje will keep me company tonight, but that’s about all I can expect.

Somewhere along the line, California decided to paint their fire hydrants. I want to meet THIS artist. I think I Love them.

March 27th, 2006.

California is its usual rollercoaster, and we pack as much in as we can. Sleeping little, some nights we’re out too late, all nights we’re up too late, I Love that town. Wednesday afternoon we played the student union at Cal U and tried to catch the harried eyes of rushing students. As always it’s sort of awe-inspiring to watch Holly at work, capturing passer-bys and telling them where they’re going to be in the future. I’m always amazed at the sheer number of people she knows. If I had that capacity for names and faces and details we could make everyone feel special. as it is know I let too many fall through the cracks.

I don’t know how this didn’t end up in the Journal the first time – but my friend Katy back in NC is kind of amazing.

I’m finally getting to know some of these people a little better. I always feel awkward, knowing that I don’t know them as well as I should. I’ve been a frequent enough face recently. It’s p rob ably time to back off a bit and let some time pass, but it was a lot of fun being on the campus and watching THEIR everyday Life pass around me. It’s like – putting Holly and Crystal and Kimmy, Bill, Alex – whoever else passed by – putting them in their proper context, it fills in some lines in their portraits. It also reminds me how glad I am went to an artschool, and at a time when some of the priorities were very, very different than they are now. I don’t miss college, and I don’t miss the masses, but I miss those tiny communities that we form. and sitting there in a common space on the California University campus, it sort of really weighs on me that that’s a point in my Life that’s passed.

The first thing I noticed upon getting back into California, PA and climbing the stairs to Jozart Studios was that they had an awesome art show up. Centred around the concept of violence against women, a lot of beautiful work surrounded us during our time there.

I couldn’t stop giggling. Otherwise there might’ve been a much more interesting picture immediately after. You know, the one where I faint cause there’s no blood left in my skull? Something like that. For a night that started out so promingly, it ended quite poorly.A couple of drunk girls wandered through the stage, tripped over a mic cable and slammed Heather’s vocal microphone into her face.

On the way back we stopped by one of our favourite local restaraunts and as we’re finishing up our wondrous meal of deep-fried macaroni and cheese, I overhear (just barely over my screaming arteries) the woman behind the counter talking to a friend about

[interesting note – suddenly there’s a gap in saved photos, from here to June the original files are missing… – rob 4/14/18]

placing their menus online and getting a website. I figure I’ll step in and see if I can pick up some work and before our open mic that evening I’ve built a website and charged a fee. Nothing fancy, nothing I’m necessarily even that proud of, but it’s done, I’ve helped and that’s the important part. I’m a little worried because they’ve not followed up, and the whole thing is still sitting on my computer rather than having been posted to their server so far – but that’s the way my Life really ouughtta be, right? Overhearing some problem or another, stepping in, solving it and walking away with cash. All too often nowadays you step in and say “I do websites” and they say “yeah, I do to”. and you realize the room is FULL of web-designers.

Back in Baltimore City, wandering around with a friend – I encountered a building I’d never seen before! 16 pseudo-windows or so, painted over with exciting scenes! Not pictured is the man running away from the monkey…

Andrew Luttrell opened for us at the Pour House in Westminster, MD. It was great to see him again – I’d always credited him as someone who inspired me and partially taught me the basics of guitar. I sort of wish we’d played our version of Little Wing for him, as he’s who initially taught me that song.

Sigh.

Anywho – worked out right on Wednesday.

We went to see V for Vendetta Sunday morning before heading into the studio. I was horrified to see the video games booting up on a Windows platform!

That night we played the Jozart open mic – by coincidence Common Thread showed up that night too – bizarre coincidence – they are ALWAYS there when we are, but we rarely communicate about it. Wednesday was just lucky, I guess. Matt, as always, just ripped through his rapid-fire vocals. He even backed up his Dad doing some mandolin. I think it was the first time I’d seen his father really performing (I’d watched them the night we met them out in West Virginia, but he was somewhat under the influence and the performance was perhaps not as fine as it could’ve been). He was really, really good – talking to him about their family, about how they have banjo players and mandolin players running back on both sides of the family off into the Appalachian Mountains , it all comes together. What could I have been if I’d had some familial background? If I’d picked up guitar before I was 20? Who knows.

As always, for me – the star of the show is Aaron. His percussion is just so fierce, so infused with different stuff. Of all things, he always reminds me of the gogo bands that used to infuse our neighbourhood when I was in high school. They’d always throw these huge parties and all you could hear were tonnes and tonnes of cars rolling up, and that fierce rapid rhythm ricocheting like syncopated machine gun fire.

How he came out of West Virginian Appalachia with gogo in his blood, I’ll never know. Next time we cross paths I’m going to HAVE to ask him to play with us, just so I can get a contact high off his sheer spectacularnessssss.

Very, very tired day in the studio Sunday night. We are exhausted puppies.

That night – well, I’m not entirely sure how I ended up at karaoke again. It was a tiny, tiny thing – I watched a couple of women perform a Spice Girls song (the wiggly leader of the band is who later knocked the drink onto me) and Corey went up and did an Iron Maiden tune. He was everything I expected him to be, and so I strained my throat giving him a heart-felt rob -scream at the end. Running for the hills – well, it never sounded so good. For the next hour or so, Holly fed me chocolate-based drinks from the bar (ok, something was vanilla, and I think something was something else – but they were sweet, they were heavy, and they weren’t citrus. we’re going to call them chocolate) and I slowly slid into my funk until I had to make a run for it. That’s what I described in the last entry, I think. That funk kept with me for a bit, and has left me running to keep up.

What I didn’t mention was Heather’s solution to my mood. She downloaded funny cat videos. I suggest that anyone who’s depressed go to video.google.com and do searches for “funny cat”, “evil cat”, or my favourite – “cat attacking children”. Oh. so good. My face was sore from laughing. So very, very good.

Driving around, Heather has a cute new top and we’re discussing lipstick and then she launched into a grand singing escapade that resulted in this high-spirited tongue motion.

Tinsmith setting up to open for us at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, MD. Brooke’s hair and Rowan’s ass. Is it any wonder I’ve had erotic dreams about BOTH of these people?