April 22nd, 2004

Oh, my God, the font is a different color [yeah, yeah, yeah, meaning NOWADAYS “the category is set to ‘Heather'” – rob 12/27/17] – That could only mean one thing: Heather’s writing her first journal entry in about … forever. We went to a great open mic tonight and I was compelled to record the details I knew rob would glaze over.

I am sitting in Pittsburgh, sniffling alongside the perpetually sick cat, my companion in illness misery. When it looks over the top of the computer screen at me, it looks exactly like The Nothing staring out of the cave at Atreau … but very small, so not nearly as scary. Sort of a cute apocalyptic monster kitten.

me and the sniffly cat.
me and the sniffly cat.

But anyway, we’re traveling again, which always fills me with an intense dual sort of productive happiness and regular-sized-apocalyptic monster dread that stares at me from over the top of my computer. On the one hand, being out makes me feel like I’m doing something, like I’m on the brink of success …

And then I start thinking about what that success might mean.

I imagine it’s the dirty little unspoken secret of everyone doing well at one thing: You are terrified it will all work out. And where will you be then? Will you be the rockstar (so you can never be the journalist), the traveler (so you can never have a kitten), the constantly near-impoverished (so you can never buy the coffeeshop/bookstore/music venue you’ve always wanted or come up with some extra cash to help pay for your brother’s college education). Will you wear the label “touring musician” and nothing else, because nothing else will fit, and there’s no time to divert your energies to a mediocre poetry career, or drag racing career, or shitty artwork hobby?

Alright. Enough of my angst. What I was really writing to tell you about was the open mic tonight. You remember about the open mic tonight? ūüôā¬†Jozart Studios¬†is an incredible multi-media sort of arts hub tucked into the backstreets of a little east-coast college town with a big west-coast name: California. Down the street from the California University of Pennsylvania, Jozart is a sprawling loft in a building celebrating its centennial in 2004.

You can sort of get an impression of the sheer size of this warehouse-sized space from the pictures - you've got to see it to believe it - I can't wait to see it in sunshine sometime.
You can sort of get an impression of the sheer size of this warehouse-sized space from the pictures – you’ve got to see it to believe it – I can’t wait to see it in sunshine sometime.

The proprietors, Bish and Jay, have just gotten the permits to maintain the place, which was a mercantile store for steel workers, etc. and¬†later reincarnated as a five-and-dime and, rumor has it, as a roller rink, which explains the arcs etched into the matte wooden floor. I imagine during the day, the space is flooded with light, but for the night-time open mic, it is sparsely dotted with antique lamps. Into this space, Jay (who does Native American reproductions) and Bish (who Jay says can do ANYTHING) have squeezed a series of small design studios, a tattoo parlor, a kitchen, a stage, a projection wall for movies, and comfy couches to admire all of it. There’s even plans for a coffee counter in the corner. It’s the kind of space that just begs for a visionary mind and a weekend warrior’s do-it-yourself attitude. Rob and I are both instantly in love with it and its possibilities, and rob laments aloud that you can’t hijack a building. The bookstore/coffeeshop/music venue owner in me is incredibly jealous.

Fellow open mic attendee Jeremy Rochart giving a highly spirited performance. I went out to the car at one point, and just to add cool points on top of an already stagrering list of attributes, you can hear the music all the way down the street.
Fellow open mic attendee Jeremy Rochart giving a highly spirited performance. I went out to the car at one point, and just to add cool points on top of an already stagrering list of attributes, you can hear the music all the way down the street.
Unfortunately, none of my shots of the stage turned out. Suffice it to say - everything about this place is big.
Unfortunately, none of my shots of the stage turned out. Suffice it to say – everything about this place is big.

I’ve learned this week about another unspoken dirty little secret among all small-time touring musicians: that to be a touring musician is to turn being judgemental into a business tool. You don’t want to do it. You WANT to believe that people are different than they look, like different music than they look like they should like based on your preconceived notions of age, race, class, dress, geographic location or the simple choice of whether they opted to spend the night in a coffeehouse or a bar. But a smart business person winds up doing a quick mental demographic sweep of the room to determine the target audience and the most effective set and advertising strategy. The way the open mics tend to go is that you have to make a snap judgement about what these people probably like based on the only information you have about them, which is largely visual. Do we play a fast set or a slow one because bar patrons are less likely to be here for music than for their regular weeknight drinking hang-out and we need to show off and grab their attention? A more folky set because we’re in a coffeehouse or a rock set because we’re in a bar? Most of the people look like they are over 35, do we include “Locomotive Breath,” “Little Wing” or “White Rabbit” to appeal to them? We’re down the street from a college and these are mostly college kids, do we do the most indie stuff to appeal to them? The one heartening thing as I become so jaded, is that our judgements this week, and most of the time, are almost never completely right. Yay for the stereotype breakers

Our Pittsburgh host, Sarah, and Da Band! Zop. Heather's just too damned cute for her own good. It's why kittens like her.
Our Pittsburgh host, Sarah, and Da Band! Zop. Heather’s just too damned cute for her own good. It’s why kittens like her.


Dude, could they have MADE a freakier billboard?

June 10th, 2004.

And I’m continued to be reminded of how much I Love my Life. Last night Aspinwall was just so spectacular, being reminded that I have sooo far to go with music – watching people who have been melding together musically for decades.

Peter does relaxed well.
Peter does relaxed well.
ze Blind Pig Saloon.
ze Blind Pig Saloon.
Dave Pahanish rocking the stage.
Rocking the Blind Pig.

Tonight we headed back to Jozarts Studios. One of our favourite places. It’s so nice to go back there and have all of our positive memories reinforced. Everyone is just so amazingly friendly, and eager to hear from us and of us –¬†Jozarts has these huge windows, and they were all open to the oncoming storm tonight, and the music from the open mic just echoes down the California streets. Apparently, while we were on stage, we were being blasted out powerfully enough to override a woman’s stereo as she was driving here… she turned down her radio and recognized our music and raced the rest of the way there.

I Love being Loved. So beautiful.

We’re crashing at Peter’s house – the host of the open mic – and Heather and he are¬†trading stories of Peace Corps and midwest storms. He’s a professor at California University. He’s left his wife in Indiana, and she calls frequently, and he’s glad that she does… but he’s also glad to have his own place.

And I Love his voice. Love listening to them talk in the next room. It’s nice to be able to just sit here and type, interject when I please… Heather’s telling the story of “when I first heard my mother curse…” He reminds me of my mental image of Dr. Chandra, HAL’s creator in 2010…


The night was long and warm and moist and full of interruptions. The phone rings at 3.30am, and it’s a friend in need. It wakes us into an alien world full of half-constructed wooden skeletons and organic rustlings. We don’t become fully aware of how strange it all is until after the call is done. Heather talking, me listening…

We lapse into silence only to freesze at the sound of metal clankings in the kitchen. Barefoot and clad in boxers, we crept silently into the kitchen, Heather in a half crouch, slightly behind me. I’m expecting… raccoons? I don’t know what – armoured squirrels?

A tiny brown mouse darts from behind kitchen appliances and freezes, watching us. He has a long nose and quivering whiskers with which he makes a quick accounting of us before darting back beneath cutting boards and coffee makers.

Night slowly fades into dawn over the next couple of hours – too damp to sleep, too exhausted to remain conscious, we faded into morning in a daze, as someone slowly tuned the outdoor channel through different night rustlings to morning birds to strange clickings and whirrings and sleep.

I woke to Peter’s voice hours later, and we continue swapping stories until we are visited by a tiny rabbit (nothing but a kitten) on the porch, scratching at something, nibbling on something else. Good beesties in California.

October 28th , 2004.

So – California , Pennsylvania . I Love this town – tiny and beautiful. We’ve driven through Pennsylvania at an idea moment – summer cresting over into fall – California is hidden in a crook of the Monongahela River (one of the few rivers two flow South¬†to North) mixed with mountains and logging communities. This gem would’ve remained undiscovered by us if we hadn’t run across Jozart’s open mic… we’ve mentioned it before. A fantastic venue, that keeps getting better with every visit. This is the first time we’ve been there when school was in session, and it really has grown in the few short months since we were there last.

The mountains of Northern Maryland... or perhaps Southern Pennsylvania - not quite sure how far you're seeing.
The mountains of Northern Maryland… or perhaps Southern Pennsylvania – not quite sure how far you’re seeing.
Farmland Northern Maryland, and the mountains of Southern Pennsylvania. Maybe.
Farmland Northern Maryland, and the mountains of Southern Pennsylvania. Maybe.
Passing through "The Gap". Yes - this is where they mine the jeans. Heather says it's actually called Sidling Hill and that it's even better in the winter.
Passing through “The Gap”. Yes – this is where they mine the jeans. Heather says it’s actually called Sidling Hill and that it’s even better in the winter.

This time, their open mic contained the “Favourite Acoustic Performer of Pittsburgh”, Dave Pahanish. At first I was iffy – the man is built. His songs reference the fact that he’s a guitar playing football star. He… he is intimidating as Hell to a little rob like me – but his voice and his songwriting were beautiful. I was truly blown away. Songwriting in a very James Taylor, Jackson Browne tradition – with a voice like a cross between Ellis Paul, Jackson Browne, and Steve Perry from Journey.

After Jozarts, we followed the Jozarts crowd down the street (and around the corner, and under a bridge, and over a bridge) to Lagerheads, a bar where Dave is running HIS open mic, and we get to see him in full form, replete with electrical tape pedal board and miked cardboard box and … and… and you’ll understand if you see him. We’re bringing him home with us.

The Jozart open mic.
The Jozart open mic.
Nothing quite like Jozarts in the morning!
Nothing quite like Jozarts in the morning!

That night, we got to fulfil our dream of sleeping at Jozarts, and we retired to a foldout couch in the middle of the art and wood and tall-windowed beauty of what may well develop into my favourite … (coffeehouse? art gallery? tattoo studio? venue?) … place.

As we’re thinking vaguely about turning in, Dave actually drops in after wrapping up Lagerheads, and we end up putting on a little concert/swap session/mutual admiration party for Bish and Jay (the owners of Jozarts). We swap covers and thoughts and tips and music. Being so close and personal, I grew a whole new appreciation of Dave’s voice and finger-picking style. I still don’t think it’s right that you get to be a Sensitive Singer/Songwriter AND Big Football Player with Boyish Charm, but… Hell, what’re you gonna do?

Oh – note to self – old hard-wood floors – splintery as Hell. Wear your shoes.

October 29th, 2004.

It’s been a really good day. We did an interview on WVCS, the local California radio station, and later we played with much vim, zest, and vigour at the Underground Cafe.

I have nothing else to say about that right now, because I’m completely exhausted. My fingers are a little sore, my brain hurts from being just SO damned charismatic, and my throat’s sore from forgetting to drink tonight. And from Peter’s curry powder. Yup… that had a little something to do with that too.

We met so many wonderful people tonight – it was like there was a little door in the local firmament that just kept spewing forth people that wanted to shake hands and talk and tell us what a good night it was. After having been told what a rough crowd the Underground Cafe was, it was really, really gratifying.

Enough. My hands are almost quivery with the anticipation of SLEEP.


Sleeping at Peter’s place in California, PA is just… fun. He’s in a fixer-upper on the top¬†of a hill, overlooking golden leaves and mists and the rest of the town. On our last visit, we got to hang out with Peter till deep in the AM, trading travelling stories and swapping thoughts. This time around, Peter’s got a fearsome amount of work to get through, and has time for dinner and a night-time greeting.

 

Dave Pahanish playing at Lagerheads.
Dave Pahanish playing at Lagerheads.

We got up, drove out, drove back (I forgot my phone) and drove out again. An hour-and-a-half to Paw Paw, West Virginia ended up being over double that as we stopped here, and there, and everywhere to just look around and buy cider.

We’ve just checked into Avalon (the nud-… ahem… “clothing optional resort”, and we’re looking forward to dinner and a real BED!!!

Dave Pahanish and his daughter, Coco, playing chess. I'm not sure who won, but with an opening line of "do you chase the king or the queen" the game had great possibility.
Dave Pahanish and his daughter, Coco, playing chess. I’m not sure who won, but with an opening line of “do you chase the king or the queen” the game had great possibility.

October 30th, 2004.

I’ve got to admit, I’m on my last legs. October has simply been SO intense, and I’m¬†ready for a couple of days without having to BE anywhere, without having to drive anywhere. I’m ready for a break. I’m at College Perk at the moment, and I know that I’m radiating fatigue.

California. PA.
California. PA.

My brain’s going… “one more gig…” I’m really nervous about DC9 tonight, but I can’t bring myself to get TOO worked-up about turnout. I’m ready to just curl-up and sleep through it.

Who wants to make the set-list?

Lagerheads in Coal Center, PA - right next to California, home of Dave Pahanish's open mic. God, I'm SO behind on our open mic pages... not cool rob.
Lagerheads in Coal Center, PA – right next to California, home of Dave Pahanish’s open mic. God, I’m SO behind on our open mic pages… not cool rob.
The side wall of Lagerheads, underneath the Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco advertisement - many of the bricks have names and dates on them. Here's a Robert from 1957, but the earliest that we saw was from 1930.
The side wall of Lagerheads, underneath the Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco advertisement – many of the bricks have names and dates on them. Here’s a Robert from 1957, but the earliest that we saw was from 1930.

October 31st, 2004.

From yesterday’s Los Angeles Times:

“WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service has informed the NAACP that it is investigating whether the civil rights organization improperly “intervened in a political campaign” when it posted on its website a speech by Chairman Julian Bond that condemned the Bush administration’s policies…¬†¬†I think what’s at issue is our right to criticize the president of the United States,’ Bond said Thursday. ‘The IRS is saying that because I criticized the president’s education policies, his economic policies and his war policies that somehow I placed the tax exemption for the NAACP at risk.'”

Whee! I actually feel violently ill. Jammin Java is now emotionally blacklisted in my universe. Home of melodrama and bullshit, I think it’s bad for me to even cross the line into Vienna, VA.

Heather and Crystal of California University's WVCS. During our pre-gig radio interview. We felt sparkly and personality-laden. I was really impressed with the radio station itself, and the professionalism (and later, the belly-dancer costume) of our host, Crystal. She had a very loud friend who, though I think I liked him well enough, gave me the urge to pat him on the head and through him sugar-free candy from a distance.
Heather and Crystal of California University’s WVCS. During our pre-gig radio interview. We felt sparkly and personality-laden. I was really impressed with the radio station itself, and the professionalism (and later, the belly-dancer costume) of our host, Crystal. She had a very loud friend who, though I think I liked him well enough, gave me the urge to pat him on the head and through him sugar-free candy from a distance.
Rob was one of the first people we met in Pittsburgh, and his girlfriend, Brandi, was one of our first friends in California - she's dressed as a butterfly at California's Halloween Party and Costume Contest. (That's what else was going on the night of our gig)
Rob was one of the first people we met in Pittsburgh, and his girlfriend, Brandi, was one of our first friends in California – she’s dressed as a butterfly at California’s Halloween Party and Costume Contest. (That’s what else was going on the night of our gig)
Death sat in the front row for Superman's set. He just sat there and pointed. Every once in a while he'd point from Supes to his scythe and back. I personally would've been greatly distracted. The show at California University was a huge success - the night was filled with fall crispness and a pseudo-full moon, and the people were simply Lovely. Sigh, chalk California, PA up as one of my new favourite places.
Death sat in the front row for Superman’s set. He just sat there and pointed. Every once in a while he’d point from Supes to his scythe and back. I personally would’ve been greatly distracted. The show at California University was a huge success – the night was filled with fall crispness and a pseudo-full moon, and the people were simply Lovely. Sigh, chalk California, PA up as one of my new favourite places.
Death at California University's Halloween party. It was a real scythe, old enough to insure that not ONLY would you be dead, but you'd have to worry about post-mortem tetanus as well.
Death at California University’s Halloween party. It was a real scythe, old enough to insure that not ONLY would you be dead, but you’d have to worry about post-mortem tetanus as well.

November 3rd, 2004.

Election Day has come and gone, but what a misnomer. I wonder if Election Day will ever again mean “the day on which you fucking KNOW who the new president will be”. All in all, I’m amazed at just how tight the race is – and wonder how we can be so firecely divided. I imagine that religion has to play a huge part in that, as religion has such exacting strictures, and when you’ve got some outside source saying “this is what’s¬†ok, and this is what you’ll go to Hell for”, it’s gotta be a little difficult to make up your own mind. But then I think to myself – right, you’ve got abortion polarizing the world, and you’ve got stem-cell research polarizing some people, but that same sense of superstitious command doesn’t seem to enter the picture when it comes to war – I mean, George W. Bush is violating that whole “thou shalt not kill” thing, but I guess that’s always been one that’s sort of been winked at by the Christian (and Catholic, and Jewish, and Muslim) faith. Maybe a new Bible will be printed where they get a little more of the gist of things right: they’ll maybe consolidate those different versions of Genesis, throw out a couple of the now unneccessary pagan references, and revise the Commandments to something a little more like “thou shalt not kill men of the same faith unless you have to”.

A spiky bug, as always - these creatures are sighted with Amy in mind. And no, we didn't nab him - we ONLY nab creatures in the last 48 hours of our RETURN trips. Sorry - they just DON'T get to Live in the car any longer than that, and the US Postal Service wouldn't treast them good enough to stamp'em and mail'em.
A spiky bug, as always – these creatures are sighted with Amy in mind. And no, we didn’t nab him – we ONLY nab creatures in the last 48 hours of our RETURN trips. Sorry – they just DON’T get to Live in the car any longer than that, and the US Postal Service wouldn’t treat them good enough to stamp’em and mail’em.

I’m getting preachy, and in a particularly high school fashion, too, for which I apologize. We were up till 3 somethin somethin watching results come in on CNN,¬†flipping between that and the recount pre-show on Comedy Central, and mixing that liberally with Anthony Hopkins in Titus. CNN graphics (their election graphics look suspiciously like Pepsi logos) mixed unforunately with snippy commentary with Shakespearean drama. Murder, rape and deceit on all channels.

With such a close race, I guess we won’t really know anything for another two weeks or so. As with everything, it’s the waiting that sucks.

Also distrubing.
Also disturbing.

A major part of our visit to California University had been the political rallies; our radio interview lost a lot of listener-ship to the Kerry rally which started at the same time. Joe Lieberman was their guest speaker, and a lot of the students were loud and clear about their affiliation. I’d be curious to see how many of those kids actually went out and voted yesterday. My college experience points to a lot of vocal defiance when it involves getting out of class, and a whole lot of using November 2nd to sleep in. College campuses often seem to involve a lot of righteous anger at other people for not doing anything, and very little actual external-to-the-campus motion or effect. I hope I’m wrong about that – I’d like to think that recent events have actually galvanized the traditionally slugglish human spirit into motion on SOME sort of real scale. And I wonder how close people have voted to their party lines.

Autumn in California.
Autumn in California.

For a while there, I was a little more optimistic about some sort of decisive lead out of Kerry – simply because almost all Democrats hate Bush, and a lot of Republicans have also been alienated by his actions (though we sit back and ask, have they been alienated ENOUGH?). But I imagine most of the people who actually get out and vote are the ones who’ve been politically active for years, and most are probably quite entrenched in their party’s world, unable to see over the walls to the neighbouring¬†lever… or button… or touch activated pixel boundary…

We found an old grave yard - late 1800s - trees have actually grown OVER some of the stones.
We found an old grave yard – late 1800s – trees have actually grown OVER some of the stones.

I must admit, I really was unhappy with the new voting machines. No sense of privacy was only the beginning of the trouble – I was VERY gratified to talk to our friend Alli later that night (she works in Baltimore for the election committee) and find out that the new machines DO spit out a little receipt ticker of vote counts – but if nothing else, I really do miss that satisfyingly solid CHUNK of pulling the lever on the old booths. There was a sense of having DONE something. Possibly violence. It felt good and solid. I remember being a kid and going into the booth with my Mom. I remember havig real trouble pulling the lever when I was really tiny. There’s the sense that you’ve got to be STRONG to vote, and conversely you receive strength/power from doing so.

Climbing the scenic hill travelling from California to Paw Paw.
Climbing the scenic hill travelling from California to Paw Paw.

Now? It’s just like playing a video game at home – the knowledge that blowing up that building won’t REALLY effect the world… let’s drive off the edge of the road¬†just to see how far they’ll let you go, and let’s shoot your partner in the back of the head just to see what will happen. Sharif, I feel, is particularly infamous for placing grenades in interesting places just to see how the physics engine deals with it – but essentially there is the feeling of having no real effect.

Wow. Just read that Kerry concedes. Damn.

DCF 1.0

Well, I guess now we know – but I wasn’t expecting him to give up like that. 60% voter turn-out. I’m now legitimately frightened with what happens from here. Bush will feel he has a fresh mandate to do as he pleases, the Senate AND the House I think are now Republican, and soon Bush will be in a position to appoint new Justices. Things might well happen fast.

Of course, I might just be paranoid from reading about the non-presidential president in Tom Clancy’s Sum of All Fears.

Damn, I can’t believe it wasn’t even contested. I guess that’s a good thing. I guess.

Wow – “A lot of young people DID come out and vote for Kerry, but they’re the only people who did.” I wonder what that’s based on. Exit-polling? In any case, I wonder if I count as “young-people” or if I really am that alone in my beliefs.

We watched the election results pour in over at Amy’s house last night. On the drive home today, Heather and I wondered at how things have gone this direction. I think a huge part of it is that … frankly… you’ve got the country divided into people who firmly believe in things, and then you’ve got the group of people who really believe¬†that those decisions shouldn’t be decided by someone else. You have people who have decided, and people who have decided it’s not their (or anyone else’s) place to decide. People who’ve actually firmly decided something are the ones that are going to show up and fight for something.

Cider-sellin pig. Disturbingly similar to a creature from Monkeybone. There are also salsa pigs, but I have to show SOME sense of editorship.
Cider-sellin pig. Disturbingly similar to a creature from Monkeybone. There are also salsa pigs, but I have to show SOME sense of editorship.

I frequently think about HOW in Hell do you change people’s minds – politics are so dicey. I think in general (and as displayed by 60% voter turn-out being considered “high”) most people don’t consider themselves really effected by¬†politics… and perhaps they’re not. I think the average person thinks that taxes suck, that the price of gas always goes up (and it always will), and that the Middle East is inherently full of trouble. 9/11 brought things home in a fierce fashion, but as much as I hate to say it, people have short memories. A terrorist attack on a building over a hundred miles away gets blotted out as soon as they write their next check. The things of politics are so… indirect if you’re the average American. What, in truth, will change for the average American with the re-election of Bush? What, in truth, has changed for the average American since Bush has taken office? Or Clinton for that matter?

DCF 1.0

Yup, taxes still suck (tax cut? that was tangible, wasn’t it…) and the price of gas is going up, people in the military are still in danger – the average person probably has issue with abortion, but also isn’t planning on getting one, probably doesn’t know any fags other than those five guys making fashion comments on television… or maybe Will and Grace, but Will seems harmless enough in a campy, non-sexual fashion…¬†(how would THEIR ratings drop like a STONE if they even had a deep man-to-man French kiss on-screen) – and none of THEM want to get married. Stem-cell research is something out of science fiction.

Money-chompin pig. Do you have a sense of scale here? Those are two-storey buildings behind him
Money-chompin pig. Do you have a sense of scale here? Those are two-storey buildings behind him.

Protests, alarmist news articles, et cetera – what do they REALLY matter to your average American? I think that Dave and Patrick have the right idea, but the wrong location (Dave and Patrick, a couple of friends of mine who just happen to be a couple, helped organize a… I’m not even sure what you’d call it – basically, they got a bunch of people to go out and TALK to other people about gay marriage). You need to start these conversations AS conversations – and not even conversations about gay marriage (or abortion, or stem cells).

People sometimes look at me like I’m crazy when I say stuff like this, but there is a legitimate reason – it fits into the trip, and my own experiences… here’s a little story:

When I first came to Suitland Centre for the Arts University High School, I’d never heard of “gay”. I was thirteen and when someone first mentioned homosexuality in my sophomore year, and clarified it, and described it none-too-flatteringly, I was absolutely horrified. I think that that’s the average person’s response. (Hell, it IS different, it ISN’T the norm, and to a world raised on evolution it doesn’t make sense, and to a world raised on Jesus, it’s a sin)

But I was lucky. Slowly it turned out that a number of people that I knew WERE gay. Michael and Nol and… well… I went to an ARTS school… there was a DANCE department. Hot women and flaming guys. But I knew them as people first, and – well, that really makes the difference.

(I told that to Heather and she was SHOCKED that¬†I¬†of all people wasn’t accepting from the get-go)

So, Dave and Patrick – going out and starting conversations on the streets with College Parkians is one thing… but if you REALLY want to make a difference, look at a map. Get your gay community together and make a commitment. Send one person each to a huge number of small towns. They’ve got to be friendly, they’ve got to be social, and they’ve GOT to identify themselves as… themselves… not as gay males, not as lesbians. Their sexuality has to be secondary.

So – disperse, and go Live in these small towns. And make friends, and communicate… and maybe keep pen pal communication with your significant same-sex other… and slowly let people know. But it’s got to happen AFTER they know you. And when the next election comes around, people have some personal connection. They know that you CAN’T get married to the person you Love. But they’ve got to know YOU before they know what you are… you can accept almost anything from a friend, and they might try to save you, and they might try to change you, but most people will accept you. I really believe that.

It would take time – months if not a year +. It can’t be a five minute conversation, it can’t be an all day social event (read as “political rally” or “protest”) where you’re¬†just shouting incomprehensibly. It’s dispersal of friendship. It’s the only way things like this can change. I really believe that too.

Lines of cows, lines of geese. On the road between California, PA and Paw Paw, WV we had a good couple tonnes of time. We straggled and meandered on our course and explored muchly. We even forgot my cell phone back at Peter's house, so we got to meander and explore some places twice!
Lines of cows, lines of geese. On the road between California, PA and Paw Paw, WV we had a good couple tonnes of time. We straggled and meandered on our course and explored muchly. We even forgot my cell phone back at Peter’s house, so we got to meander and explore some places twice!
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0
At one point, we encountered a cemetary somewhere between Uniontown and Fort Neccessity. It was filled with dead people and geese, and unable to relate to the corpses, we decided to put all the geese in the pond. Heather and I slowly picked our marks, and ran yelling and flapping into large gaggles of the noisy beasts, until we had a pond full of several hundred annoyed and honking birds.
At one point, we encountered a cemetary somewhere between Uniontown and Fort Neccessity. It was filled with dead people and geese, and unable to relate to the corpses, we decided to put all the geese in the pond. Heather and I slowly picked our marks, and ran yelling and flapping into large gaggles of the noisy beasts, until we had a pond full of several hundred annoyed and honking birds.

 

[Transferring photos into the New Journal I can’t find a match for this one until I realize I’d photoshopped birds into the frame to make Heather’s actions seem more immediate … a weird choice! ]

DCF 1.0
Homeward bound.
Homeward bound.
DCF 1.0
Lady bugs? Or man bugs? They were swarming ALL OVER the nudist colony in Paw Paw and I hear they bite.
Lady bugs? Or man bugs? They were swarming ALL OVER the nudist colony in Paw Paw and I hear they bite.
Heather had to go to a wedding on Saturday, before our show at DC9. The wedding was in Hume, Virginia - in an absolutely beautiful setting. I dropped Heather off, but not before seeing the truth in the warnings in the invitation. Wear shoes you can walk over uneven ground in and don't let the donkeys out. This little bastard show pony bit me in the ass while I was leaning on a fence.
Heather had to go to a wedding on Saturday, before our show at DC9. The wedding was in Hume, Virginia – in an absolutely beautiful setting. I dropped Heather off, but not before seeing the truth in the warnings in the invitation. Wear shoes you can walk over uneven ground in and don’t let the donkeys out. This little bastard show pony bit me in the ass while I was leaning on a fence.

A huge wasp’s next wandering up the drive to Avalon, just before the “Past this point you may encounter nudity” sign. Our trip to Avalon was a LOT more successful this time. A little weird because we met some people we know from OUTSIDE Avalon this time. They worded it as “people from your clothed Life passing into your unclothed Life”, and they seemed to think it was a little weird too. Apparently, when We’re About 9 played there, they all stripped down and joined in the naked-time. Sigh, we’ve GOT to have more guts than the folkies, but Heather made an excellent point – drumming naked, with legs splayed to

hold the djembe… not very lady-like.

The beautiful drive to Hume, Virginia.
The beautiful drive to Hume, Virginia.
weilers or something. The idea of a llama chasing me to a fence... worrying, but more because it's just damned weird.
weilers or something. The idea of a llama chasing me to a fence… worrying, but more because it’s just damned weird.
Yeah, Heather really wasn't sure what to make of the donkeys.
Yeah, Heather really wasn’t sure what to make of the donkeys.
Yes, the donkeys. Heather didn't get along with them very well.
Yes, the donkeys. Heather didn’t get along with them very well.
They wanted to be in Heather's purse, they wanted to be in my pockets, they wanted to be in the car.
They wanted to be in Heather’s purse, they wanted to be in my pockets, they wanted to be in the car.
DCF 1.0

We made sure to hit up Brennan’s new band’s appearance at the College Park radio station – Even So was very, very loud. But the recording (which turned out surprisingly well) shows there’s good stuff in there.

April 7th, 2005.

Heather and I are tapping and typing to the sound of falling water. There’s a fountain in the corner of Jozarts Studio, and that, along with the cavernous interior and numerous plants, creates the illusion of being in a tiny jungle. Passing cars occassionally spoil the aesthetic, but they’re frequency is fading as night pushes on.

Heh. Strange – for someone who calls Baltimore home. I just jumped at the sound of a siren. I fall back in Love with California, PA very quickly.

It’s been a slow day. Almost idyllic. There has been tragedy, but I don’t own it, and can pretend the real world is on pause for a moment.

I went and picked my brother, George, up from BWI. He was so excited he slathered himself in ketchup. Says it all, really.
I went and picked my brother, George, up from BWI. He was so excited he slathered himself in ketchup. Says it all, really.
On the way to the studio on Sunday... or Monday? Who knows... Rowan and I got stuck behind this guy on route 1. He pokes badgers with spoons AND rides your mom. So unfortunate.
On the way to the studio on Sunday… or Monday? Who knows… Rowan and I got stuck behind this guy on route 1. He pokes badgers with spoons AND rides your mom. So unfortunate.
Sunshine in the studio!
Sunshine in the studio!

We couldn’t have asked for a better day to drive. Bright sunshine, setting in the west while driving almost but not quite into the sun. A little bit of squinting here and there, but mostly merely preening in the sunshine. My hair is being extra glossy.

I think we might stay an extra night, just to enjoy the drive back in sunshine too.

As we neared California, traffic slows onto smaller roads. There’s a moment of real contentment as I’m watching such Rockwellian scenes – a little blonde kid (in my more cynical moments, I’d have called her an Aryan child), maybe 11, grabbing a big sack-like cat and hauling him with both arms across the lawn. Children doing cartwheels. My mood is cemented as Richard Shindell sings of orange canaries. It’s a good day.

The new sound system at Jozarts is exquisite. The people are always Lovely. There was a moment that made things tense in my mind, ruined some of the beauty of it, but again, I can shut it out of my mind and relax into the sound of the fountain…

It’s a shame. I knew it was a mistake as soon as it was out of my mouth. I should’ve simply mentioned we were playing the Underground Cafe tomorrow – not “the Rainbow Festival”. That way I could’ve pretended about people’s attitudes. There’s nothing like hearing “that’s for queers and faggots” floating out of the audience to make me just want to shut down. Or shout. Chalk Pit feelings.


The next morning has me almost feeling stressed, almost worrying about my choice of words. I wonder if I’m too offensive, too obnoxious, and I worry slightly about the things we visibly support. Rainbow Festival’s make us unpopular with the majority of America, and my denouncement of people who think those thoughts make me even less popular sometimes. But what am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to be? I’m so tired of businessmen who might fund a cause but publicly speak out against it… politicians who are trying to please everyone… and in my more vulnerable moods I feel like my job; as a musician who’s fighting to not DROWN at the very bottom of the heap, falling between the cracks of genre and belief – I feel like my job combines a lot of the kiss-assery aspects of both of those professions.

And I hate it.

So, I offend some people because we have gay and lesbian friends? Or hate certain (huge) sides of the current administration, or APPROVE of certain (not quite as huge) aspects. Oh well, I suppose. I actually do edit myself heavily in here. My songs, we pick and choose sometimes, what’s appropriate and what’s not. But I don’t see why I’d want to be in a room where I’d have to lie about my beliefs. Downplay, perhaps. Not mention, if neccessary. But nod and smile in the context of conversation? I don’t think so. Sorry, but you’ve invited me into a dialogue. Hell, my music invites people into a dialogue. It’s personal, and it’s me. I can’t let the concern of whether or not I’ll make money off of it overwhelm me.

It’s funny, Ani writes about this sort of thing, but almost from the opposite perspective. She writes songs about how people just Love her because she screams “fuck” (Hell, I write songs about how people just Love her for yelling “fuck”) and she writes about how she knows how she plays up to it, and writes about fans her accuse her of having sold out for either dating a man, or wearing something that’s not offensive enough. Erf. Persevere, persevere… I Love my job but I hate working i

t.

Working in the studio….
Brennan judging us in the studio… he deems it good.
Working in the studio.
Working in the studio.
Working in the studio.
Bah! (in the studio)
Bah! (in the studio)
I think Heather had her world view challenged by the presence of snow in the middle of the bright sunshiny day. Heather in a tanktop in a snowball fight. If only we'd had the presence of mind to pull over and photograph THAT. Sigh.
I think Heather had her world view challenged by the presence of snow in the middle of the bright sunshiny day. Heather in a tanktop in a snowball fight. If only we’d had the presence of mind to pull over and photograph THAT. Sigh.

Waking up at Jozarts is a process of slowly being roused by clanking mechanical noises, the passage of trucks. People are quieter but the working day is louder. My paranoia never leaves me, and I get up to look at the car from our overhead vantage point, looking down to make sure everything’s okay. I sometimes fear I’m simply not relaxed enough to do this. Sometimes I worry I’m too relaxed. Hopefully, teetering in the middle means I’ve got it just right.

A little time at the Cal U Radio Show.q
A little time at the Cal U Radio Show.
GAH!
GAH!
Brandy and her cat infestation. Heather has Ling Ling. I don't remember the calico's name, but that's okay cause he was nothing but trouble anywho.
Brandy and her cat infestation. Heather has Ling Ling. I don’t remember the calico’s name, but that’s okay cause he was nothing but trouble anywho.
See. Nothing but trouble. Heather needed the facilities, and this creature was most uncooperative. And Ling Ling's not normal either. Not by a long shot. Calico likes to hang out there, but Ling Ling likes to watch. Freaky mammals.
See. Nothing but trouble. Heather needed the facilities, and this creature was most uncooperative. And Ling Ling’s not normal either. Not by a long shot. Calico likes to hang out there, but Ling Ling likes to watch. Freaky mammals.

Trucks are arriving, dropping off loads of liquids to the local pizza shops and cafes. Our friend Brandy is due to meet us in a bit, so pants have been found, Heathers have¬†been roused. But the clanking and whirring from outside sounds like the approach of a small Autobot army… or a towtruck, and again I’m peering at the window in the vague fear that age-old parking regulations are suddenly being enforced, despite everyone’s assurances. I’m a bundle of nerves this morning. Grey light filtering through the ceiling high windows – yesterday had such highs and lows, I’m still waiting to see where this one will go.

April 9th, 2005.

Nine weeks. That’s 63 days. Roundabouts. That’s 1/6th of a year, which sounds decidedly less impressive, I suppose.

We got Kerrville.

I’m somewhat in a state of shock, with fear and excitement mingling together. Kerrville Folk Festival, the one we were sure we couldn’t get. I just got an email listing me as one of the performers and it’s upended my view of my immediate future. It’s merged two separate trips into one massive country round-about, returning me to where I want to be.

I got the email a couple of hours ago. It’s 5.45am now, and the sun is working it’s way up over the traffic coming over the hill. This is the festival in the hills of Texas. Arlo Guthrie will be playing there. The contest was started by Peter of Peter Paul and Mary.

It is, to put it bluntly, a big fucking deal.

Obscured at the Underground at Cal U.
I don't remember their names off the top of my head. A lot of good voices came belting out of the other acts playing Pride Night at California University.
I don’t remember their names off the top of my head. A lot of good voices came belting out of the other acts playing Pride Night at California University.

I’ve been lamenting recently how the Trip had almost become mundane. We come back and spend a lot of time in Maryland nowadays. There’s a lot of neccessity tied in there, of course. Between money practicalities, the recording of a new album, and my Father’s health, there have been an awful lot of advantages to being around the

The flag fell down and Heather lifted it up. We also had Phil Christie out in Pennsylvania to give us a hand with our intense burning grungeosity.
The flag fell down and Heather lifted it up. We also had Phil Christie out in Pennsylvania to give us a hand with our intense burning grungeosity.
Sarah came down from Pittsburgh to see us play! And then she showed us her piercings... Oh my.
Sarah came down from Pittsburgh to see us play! And then she showed us her piercings… Oh my.
Sarah and her posse.
Sarah and her posse.

native soil. But I’ve regreted the fact that we haven’t been doing what we set out to. We haven’t been exploring and rummaging and scaring ourselves shitless by being lost in new landscapes. I’ve got the nervous sleepless feeling that I had on September 1st of 2003. The awareness of what I was getting myself into. I’m looking at maps, and part of me is willing the cities to be closer together – willing the points to creep and nestle – but the rest of me is sitting back from the map and looking at the mileage. We’re not even plotting out our stops and I’m up to 4600 miles.

Jozart!

I’m eager for it.

September 9th, 2005.

Thursday night we played a show at the Underground Cafe at California University. The absolute feeling of euphoria is still sustaining me, and through a radio show and then a gig, I’ve got this feeling of being on the cusp of something. The gig itself went really well, but the high point persists in the people. I know. I point can’t persist, it’s a finite POINT. Hence the word. But after the show, what Heather and I kept meeting great people. Well… we’d ENCOUNTERED them on previous visits, but we’d never really MET them…

Pete still runs the Jozarts Studio open mic in California, PA. They've added lights to their already magnificent stage!
Pete still runs the Jozarts Studio open mic in California, PA. They’ve added lights to their already magnificent stage!
This fucker scared the shit out of us. Whoever knew that so much noise could come out of one bug! It took me a while to track him down after we started hearing a noise that sounded dangerously like the beginning of bad wiring perhaps leading to an electrical fire. I took video of Heather and I trying to catch him, then eventually running away from him. We eventually caught him in a cup and threw him out a second story window. Ugh.
This fucker scared the shit out of us. Whoever knew that so much noise could come out of one bug! It took me a while to track him down after we started hearing a noise that sounded dangerously like the beginning of bad wiring perhaps leading to an electrical fire. I took video of Heather and I trying to catch him, then eventually running away from him. We eventually caught him in a cup and threw him out a second story window. Ugh.

Hanging out with Holly and Derrick and Aaron and Lindsey and others after the show… we stayed out on the streets of California till 2.30 in the morning… chatting with one another and passing police officers. Trading bad jokes, stories and questionable humour. It felt like home. I can’t wait to go back to California. People were telling me about how houses are so cheap up there – I might even consider some relocation of some sort.

Heh. I wonder how much Dave Pahanish’s house is going for…

Heather and I stopped in at the all-night gas station, which is just about the only game in town after 2 in the morning, flattered to have most of the people in the place recognizing us and still buzzing about our performance. We bought our hot-pockets and left feeling pretty high, returning to our Jozart couches and drifting off quickly.