August 4th, 2004.

Yesterday, Deanne took us out on her boat. I must admit, I’ve been horribly jealous of all of our out-of-state singer/songwriter friends – they come to Maryland and someone takes them out on a boat. We have had to travel 400 miles from home to get out on the water, but it’s well worth it.

People waving at us from the interior of Flaming Amy's Burrito Barn.
People waving at us from the interior of Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn.

Deanne is beautifully insane – she has a grin like a manic death’s head and a crazy laugh that echoes through the house, driving the dogs into a frenzy.

Yesterday morning, she gathered us up, put us in the back of her car, stopped for gas (North Carolina is VERY different – there was a sign on the pump “If we don’t know you pay first”) and launched us out in her little power boat. She took us on a proper tour of Cape Fear, up and down the rivers and out to the edge of the ocean.

Deanne drives her boat crouched low over the windshield with her teeth bared and an all too-eager hand on the throttle. She aims us into troughs and water valleys and I spent most of the time squatting in the front of the boat, balancing precariously and holding on for dear Life. Deanne looks like a dark-haired Cruella DeVille hunting for dalmations with a harpoon gun.

This doesn't capture the spirit of the ride at all. We rounded the harbour and up near Front Street (sort of historic downtown Wilmington area) to get a better look at the Battleship North Carolina. It was around here that Deanne started talking about the two alligators (read my lips - alleeegaytors), Charlie and Charlene. Like dogs, they come when called. We didn't call them. Later she talked about sharks. "This is where we saw that bull shark playing with that kid. That shark was just havin a good ole time!"
This doesn’t capture the spirit of the ride at all. We rounded the harbour and up near Front Street (sort of historic downtown Wilmington area) to get a better look at the Battleship North Carolina. It was around here that Deanne started talking about the two alligators (read my lips – alleeegaytors), Charlie and Charlene. Like dogs, they come when called. We didn’t call them. Later she talked about sharks. “This is where we saw that bull shark playing with that kid. That shark was just havin a good ole time!”
DCF 1.0

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m scared to death of most water – especially if I can’t see through it. My extremely visual imagination is all too good at people-ing it with toothy denizens and serpentine curls.

ALL too visual – I’m watching Heather cross the street, and it’s all too easy to imagine her getting hit by a car, the lurch and thud – God – horror. All too easy to imagine all too many things.

We saw pelicans by the dozen, diving suddenly for fish, divebombing the water, skimming low over the waves. I've maybe seen one or two before, but never anything like this. Also, an egret for my Dad.
We saw pelicans by the dozen, diving suddenly for fish, divebombing the water, skimming low over the waves. I’ve maybe seen one or two before, but never anything like this. Also, an egret for my Dad.
DCF 1.0

So, over the course of the day, I ended up having to face my fear. I have my suspicions as to how we ended up on a sandbar, but I’ll take Deanne’s word for it that she didn’t do it on purpose. I ended up only knee-deep in apparently bottomless water, helping to push the boat (Deanne pointing and yelling “I think it’s deeper that way!!!”). Trudging and sandy and wet and fighting off watery panic attacks, we eventually got the boat moving again. I felt all pansy-esque being all freaked out by the water, but I could feel the shivers clutching at my back – I kept thinking about alligators, sharks, fish, eels – and less corporeal creatures… I grew up believing in the Loch Ness Monster and sea serpents, and incidentally, that dragon flies could sew my lips shut. The trick is to keep my head from focusing on where I am and what I’m doing.

My lonesome shows on the beach. Boots and black shirts, desperately inappropriate.
My lonesome shows on the beach. Boots and black shirts, desperately inappropriate.

Scared the shit out of me.

But we were soon on our way again. She took us to an otherwise inaccessible beach filled with hermit crabs and these weird little molluscy things that just covered the sand. I sort of wish they were edible, though I might’ve felt bad, it would’ve been cool to sit on the beach on Cape Fear slorping the little guys out of their shells.

At first we thought those black specks were pebbles, or droppings - but they were each little moving mollusc thingies. We'd pick them up and let them squirm around in our hands.
At first we thought those black specks were pebbles, or droppings – but they were each little moving mollusc thingies. We’d pick them up and let them squirm around in our hands.
And there were packs of fiddler crabs! Heather saw the beach MOVING as we approached the shore - running this way and that. It's awesome chasing fiddler crabs because they run back and forth from side to side, dodging you. They run for the grass in a very PIXAR movie fashion.
And there were packs of fiddler crabs! Heather saw the beach MOVING as we approached the shore – running this way and that. It’s awesome chasing fiddler crabs because they run back and forth from side to side, dodging you. They run for the grass in a very PIXAR movie fashion.

Later that night we headed out to Annette’s open mic at Costello’s. Deanne had declared that Costello’s was her favourite little gay bar – dim light and lots of monkeys. It didn’t turn out to be much of an open mic, but the owner, George, enjoyed us, and booked us for Saturday night. Originally we aimed for a pretty low fee, but Annette scoffed at our price, and Deanne went back to the bar and explained to George calmly that we were worth about twice what we’d asked for.

So, we’ll be playing on Saturday at Costello’s and we’ll LIKE it. (Though George would like us to tone down our set a bit, and play some more covers, if we could, and perhaps dress a little nicer…)

Little molluscy things.
Little molluscy things.
They PINCH!!!
They PINCH!!!

August 8th, 2004.

Not much to say, really. It’s 1am, and we’ve got to be out of the city by eight. Tonight I’ve been hit on by three men, two flaming guys have expressed to Heather how in reality, they’re very bisexual, we’ve been thrown out of a gay bar, and a lesbian has stolen my pants.

Again.

But that’s ok. I’m in hers.

G’night.


So, I’m sitting in Deanne’s Living room, and thinking about Wilmington. Jessi’s lapping water in the kitchen (she has a very specific rhythm, laplap… laplap… laplap) and Heather’s typing away in the next room (taptap… taptap… tappitytap). Night time silence swallows the rest of the world.

We really have fallen into the lap of the gay community – I think about how unfortunate it would’ve been if Annette had received an email from a closed-minded individual, about the dawning horror for them as they realized who they were playing to, perhaps… I was thinking about that at Costello’s. An average straight couple, walking into the techno of this fine wine bar – they’d see Heather and Deanne and I at the front there, how long would it take them to figure out that they were in a gay bar?

Heather at the delightful Costello's. Hrm, for those straight couples unsure of where they are, if all the male/male couples aren't a hint, how about the nude cello player on the wall...?
Heather at the delightful Costello’s. Hrm, for those straight couples unsure of where they are, if all the male/male couples aren’t a hint, how about the nude cello player on the wall…?

Wilmington seems a very accepting environment (though I wonder, if I approached a random clubber on the street and commented on how delightful it was that Wilmington was such an openly gay town, how they’d react) – far more accepting than home. It seems that Maryland is still caught up in almost a competition – that many people have gay friends as trophies, to display how tolerant they are, or something… I’m not even sure where I fall on that line. I certainly don’t approve of the stereo-typed behaviour – cruising rest-stops and men’s restrooms, the promiscuity, the “high-risk behaviour”… and there seemed to be a lot of that high-lighted tonight.

On the other hand, my favourite gay couple, Dave and Patrick, have invited me to their wedding recently, and seem to be in the most stable relationship that I’ve seen for a long time – straight OR gay, they’re a model couple.

I’m of course thinking of Gordon again, and thinking that if he’d been here, he’d have seen things that would’ve completely reinforced his views, and that that’s unfortunate. Same thing, I suppose, as a nigger-hating bigot seeing that black on black violence is on the rise in the city – their view totally reinforced by evidence from the African-American community, they can turn off the television confident that their world-view is secure.

Departure from Wilmington was lit by streamers of golden AM sun.
Departure from Wilmington was lit by streamers of golden AM sun.

It’s so hard to reverse those trends when some (half? most? who knows) of the given population is fighting so hard to reinforce the stereo-type… it’s like we should be separating kids from their parents at age 5 and sending them to some sort of re-education camps. I look at the Situation in the Middle-East and think that’s the only way to solve it. Otherwise the circle just keeps rolling – year after year, of COURSE the kids will be taught the same old thing.

Innocent until proven guilty? But society actually DOES prove itself guilty over and over and over again. It just goes to show that again, the only thing you can judge is the individual.

Some would argue that you can’t even judge the individual, that you;ve got to judge the past, the present, the future, their sanity, their drugs… you’ve got to stop some place….

I’m babbling – I’m tired and I’m babbling. It’s time to sleep before I start outlining my plans for world-domination, eugenics, and my breeding plans for the human race as a whole. That stuff NEVER goes over well.

October 17th, 2004.

The Soap Box scarecrow. The owner's wife, Val, was completing him as he rolled out - those circles in his mouth are bubble blowy things, and thank GOD she trimmed his facial hair, because the soap suds were getting caught in his beard and making him look like a rabid homeless nature clown.
The Soap Box scarecrow. The owner’s wife, Val, was completing him as he rolled out – those circles in his mouth are bubble blowy things, and thank GOD she trimmed his facial hair, because the soap suds were getting caught in his beard and making him look like a rabid homeless nature clown.
C’est moi driving Deanne’s boat down the Cape Fear River.
Sharif holding on for dear Life once Deanne turned the wheel of her boat over to me. Hehe. We talked about her Cruella Deville grin and her crazy boat-driving style... well, it's not just her - it's something about that boat. I ... I got the grin... it was like skipping a rob-stone over the surface over the Cape Fear River. It really was a spectacular feeling of freedom. Like racing a car but with much less fear of other drivers doing stupid shit - and no kids running out in front of you, and less fear of deer.
Sharif holding on for dear Life once Deanne turned the wheel of her boat over to me. Hehe. We talked about her Cruella Deville grin and her crazy boat-driving style… well, it’s not just her – it’s something about that boat. I … I got the grin… it was like skipping a rob-stone over the surface over the Cape Fear River. It really was a spectacular feeling of freedom. Like racing a car but with much less fear of other drivers doing stupid shit – and no kids running out in front of you, and less fear of deer.

Gigs really swing up and down for us, and… what can I say? Good thing we were getting paid at Costello’s. It’s such a weird bar in the first place – we’ve been there three times, and the three experiences have all been totally different. The first time, Annette Warner was running her (now defunct) singer/songwriter open mic. The place was pretty much empty, and Heather and I ended up pretty much playing the whole night to Annette, Deanne, a couple of their quietly watching friends, and George, the owner. The owner Loved us, and asked us to come and play that weekend, and offered us some pretty good money – (Deanne, our favourite agent, went back and got him to offer us more…).

The gig introduced us to Costello’s part 2. Filled with “D.C. gays” who just wanted to watch music videos, we were asked to shut down after about an hour or so because we were just NOT what the flaming doctor ordered. They paid us, and we went on our merry way. Thumping dance music, yelling to be heard over it, and an ass so sore from pinchin – well, that was what left a lasting impression. That was what I warned Sharif and Rowan about, and we were expecting that, in Heather’s words, the “joint” would be “jumpin'”.

Costello’s part 3 had an elderly, very well dressed collection of apparently heterosexual couples asking what covers we knew. Very quiet, but with Celtic music playing over the house system. The night varied with all sorts of different crowds over the course of the night, but we eventually called it a night at around 1am when the attention was far too focused on some baseball game in the back of the bar.

Costello's - where Sharif BARELY fits!
Costello’s – where Sharif BARELY fits!

I wonder – my Dad frequently asks if “we’ve ever tried playing different kinds of music”. Specifically, he’ll mention that he really likes some of the covers we do, and that when we break into “Sweet Home Alabama”, he’s like “yeah, stuff like that – that sounded really good”. We have friends who play a lot of covers, and a lot of bars will pay good money for that. You won’t sell any CDs doing it, and you won’t ever get much press being a cover artist, and above all, you certainly won’t be playing you’re own music, but you will make decent money. I frequently wonder if we should be persuing that, making sure that we’ve got a large lexicon of covers in our little skull databases so that we can play those bar scenes and whatnot. I just don’t want to spend too much of my energy doing that, booking it, becoming known for it… and I can all too easily imagine running ourselves into a situation where every week we’re faced with a choice: book an ilyAIMY show at a venue where we need to work to bring people out, where our pay depends on the vaguaries of draw and CD sales… OR book a cover show where the bar is happy enough to hand us a couple hundred dollars if we play four or five hours of classic rock favourites (maybe a bit more if Heather dresses real nice). I can imagine slipping into that as a Lifestyle, and hating it. There seem to be a lot of people “making a Living off of music”… but there aren’t nearly as many making a Living off of THEIR music.

May 20th, 2005.

I know I put some pictures of these guys in earlier - but damn - leafy sea dragons are just about the coolest things there ever were!
I know I put some pictures of these guys in earlier – but damn – leafy sea dragons are just about the coolest things there ever were!
Leafy sea dragon at the Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Leafy sea dragon at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Ok, wait. What is this? It’s like… rush hour… but… in the morning…?

Oh yeah, I remember this shit.

We’re leaving Wilmington at the ungodly hour of 9am. I can hear you, dear reader, I can hear you sniggering. Please, keep in mind that for YOUR entertainment we play till 1am, and then stick around places cleaning up and wrapping cables and haggling with bar owners till 2am, and then wind down with reruns of Friends and Aqua Teen Hunger Force until 3. And we do it all for you. All for you. Man, I’d so be in bed at 9 ever night if it wasn’t for you guys.

Ok, so that’s a lie. My point is that we haven’t seen a 9 in the MORNING in weeks or months or longer, except for once when I stayed UP till then. This morning, when Deanne put her hand on my shoulder at 8am, I reacted in a panic and put nails down claw-style. I don’t think I actually did anything too forceful, but I reacted with defense reflexes and almost snarled.

I couldn’t fall asleep last night. My brain was too full of whirling images and fragments of songs and ideas and the panic tizzy of creativity. I haven’t gone back to my Little Black Book to see if anything that I went into the bathroom to record was worthwhile, and I haven’t looked to see if anything that I didn’t bother getting into the light to write is legible. I don’t think I want to know what my 5am brain was spitting out.

“Love Her Madly” by the Doors.

He yawned just for us and scared the shit out of us.
He yawned just for us and scared the shit out of us.
Heather admiring a saw-nosed shark.
Heather admiring a saw-nosed shark.

Tunnels and kids and people and creatures all sharing the same space at Ripley's Aquarium.
Tunnels and kids and people and creatures all sharing the same space at Ripley’s Aquarium.
And then, the unexpected high-point... the manta rays!
And then, the unexpected high-point… the manta rays!
A manta ray coming up to the surface and waving hello..
A manta ray coming up to the surface and waving hello..
The rays just popped up out of the water to be petted. It was Lovely. They felt like wet silk, slithering under your fingertips.
The rays just popped up out of the water to be petted. It was Lovely. They felt like wet silk, slithering under your fingertips.
At one point, one of the rays went after the diver's food bin and knocked it over. He KNEW he'd been bad and JETTED across the pool to the other end. I couldn't believe how fast the guy went! I think it's the same one as the guy I'm petting in the previous picture.
At one point, one of the rays went after the diver’s food bin and knocked it over. He KNEW he’d been bad and JETTED across the pool to the other end. I couldn’t believe how fast the guy went! I think it’s the same one as the guy I’m petting in the previous picture.

Thursday morning, 12.01am, Heather and I were sitting in our seats taking a Star Wars quiz stolen from a remarkably cute fellow fan who probably wasn’t old enough to have seen the originals. She made up for her age in rabidity and knew her shit pretty good. I think she might’ve given me a run for my money in a Star Wars Trivial Pursuit challenge, and might’ve even bested me in a more worthwhile challenge like some of the quiz-books that ask about about how blaster rifles work and what planet “Hammerhead” came from. Ah, if we hadn’t both been there with evident significant others, it could’ve been Love.

Padme and Anakin showed up for the opening night of Star Wars Episode III: the Revenge of the Sith.
Padme and Anakin showed up for the opening night of Star Wars Episode III: the Revenge of the Sith.

With all the newer theatres around, the older cinema we ended up at wasn’t even sold-out and we got decent seats. We only stood in line for an hour, and only sat in our seats playing dirty hangman for an hour and a half, and the movie only started 20 minutes late (to the almost riotous dismay of our fellow Star Wars fans). We’d already played an open mic and sold CDs to cover our tickets. We’d eaten an incredible dinner. We were ready for the wait.

The detritus of those who’d gone before us: plush divan chairs, discarded Mountain Dews, McDonalds wrappers and pizza boxes.

When all was said in done, we got back to Deanne’s house at 3 in the morning, extremely pleased with that galaxy far, far away. I could be nitpicky. I could pick it apart. Empire it wasn’t. But what could be? Somewhere in his old age, George Lucus discarded any semblance of subtlety and replaced it with a child’s glee of “isn’t this cool?!?”-ness. There’s something to be said for someone’s who’s so fascinated and in Love with their medium that they really do push it to extremes. George Lucus created the eyecandy genre to a certain extent, and I don’t begrudge him the opportunity to cavort in the playground he’s created.

He’s earned the right to do so. I do wish that his attention to detail was a LITTLE more even-handed, and I certainly wish he hadn’t discarded that beautiful subtle humour that made the original trilogy so personable.

But it was passionate, it was playful, there wasn’t anything too excrebly cuddly, and it deserved it’s PG-13 with a whole lot of child-killing and burning flesh. The flick delivered, and I had a good time with it.

Thursday afternoon (after getting up at a perfectly reasonable 11am), Heather and I got out and about and wandered Front Street down in Wilmington. We bought strings and settled down in the front window of a Port City Java, plugged ourselves in and answered emails till the sun went down.

Deanne has come a long way since we first met her last August. She hadn’t touched a guitar in 20 years before she brought us home. Heather transcribed a couple of songs for her and we didn’t think too much of it. We left her playing a G-chord here and there, and singing along with CDs.

Thursday night, Deanne hosted her first singer/songwriter showcase at Costello’s. She played a mix of originals and covers for the first hour, and then turned things over to her first guests, the fabulous and eclectic ilyAIMY.

Deanne and her smelly, smelly beagle, Jessie.
Deanne and her smelly, smelly beagle, Jessie.

We’re always cautious with Costello’s. Though the owner, George, Loves us and keeps inviting us back – we’re always wary of the clientele, who always seem kind of plus or minus about us. The clientele is also always different. For an elegant male gay bar, there are nights when it’s mostly women, or nights where there are mostly families, or nights where the clientele is entirely made up of well-manicured older men with neatly trimmed and greying hair, other nights when it’s young and hip and flaming and requesting for us to leave so that they can listen to thumping dance music. Oh, and our first experience with it was that the clientele simply wasn’t there.

A couple of much-needed and well-met newly-made and often-hyphenated new friends at our gig at the Soapbox Laundrolounge. I don’t wear my glasses on stage, so I was guessing when I thought to myself “hey, our audience looks like it might be a bunch of hot chicks!” But I was RIGHT! I screwed up a lot of lyrics that night. Heather says that apparently they found it endearing. Hrm.

Last night we had a mix of just about all of the above (including starting out empty). We had aimed for a mellow set, relieved to only play for an hour (since we knew we were waking up this morning at heinous hateful huit), and the audience was in it’s take us or leave us mindframe, indifferent to our existance, and semi-determined to trample our heart-felt performance with their conversation.

Later, I caught a lizard. And by caught I mean a three-legged lizard fell out of a tree, nearly onto Heather's head. It was stunned by the fall and I took advantage of it's condition.
Later, I caught a lizard. And by caught I mean a three-legged lizard fell out of a tree, nearly onto Heather’s head. It was stunned by the fall and I took advantage of it’s condition.
Heather and I built a castle on Wrightsville Beach. It ended up looking like the lower mandible to Hell, and the door was formerly a raft. But it was still pretty cool. I have discovered that I like to dig. I have a blister to show for my trouble.
Heather and I built a castle on Wrightsville Beach. It ended up looking like the lower mandible to Hell, and the door was formerly a raft. But it was still pretty cool. I have discovered that I like to dig. I have a blister to show for my trouble.

And then Liz walked in. We’d met her a couple of months ago at the Reel Cafe and she’d apparently been lamenting our departure ever since. She walked into Costello’s on a whim and looked up, recognized us… “Oh my GOD it’s ilyAIMY!!!!” was a heart-felt yell invigourating enough to push us through a driving extra half-hour. She’d brought a table-full of friends and called for more on her phone, and we had the place howling for more by the time we were done. A good night.

You should’ve heard the bar singing along to Heather’s version of “Sorry I Am”. A good night indeed.

At the Myrtle Beach Biker Rally, we had to take intermissions so that bikers could jump OVER the stage!
At the Myrtle Beach Biker Rally, we had to take intermissions so that bikers could jump OVER the stage!
More cage dancing at the Bike Rally. Why doesn't this happen at the REST of our shows? I have a LIST of people I'd like to see in something like this...
More cage dancing at the Bike Rally. Why doesn’t this happen at the REST of our shows? I have a LIST of people I’d like to see in something like this…
She didn't quite fit.... hehe.
She didn’t quite fit…. hehe.
The incoming storm off Myrtle Beach.
The incoming storm off Myrtle Beach.

Rob getting molested by a wet dog. Chauncy was.... exuberant.
Rob getting molested by a wet dog. Chauncy was…. exuberant.

So, back to 10.15am and morning rush hour, which has petered out and left us with a thinner but steady stream of rusting South Carolina plates as we head towards Myrtle Beach. The bikers are getting thicker on the ground, and the signs erected in their honour (“Loud Pipes Illegal”, “Speed Limits Strictly Enforced”, and “All Weapons Prohibited”) are getting almost as frequent as the omnipresent (and increasingly exotic) mini-golf fields. We’re playing our second of two Kickstand’s shows, worried about the weather. A hurricane of the coast is throwing a more-than-hint of thunderstorms in our direction and the skies are indecisive. Sunny enough to abuse our tired eyes, and grey enough to make the frequent red-lights stand out in stark contrast.

Seven miles from Murrell’s Inlet. I’m wondering how the threat of rain will effect the show. My brain is slowly approaching something like normal rob-speed, though it’s being dulled back down by the steady drizzel of drivel from the radio. There are a couple of gems mixed in. Some old Garbage on the radio. We saw an interview with her last night and I was shocked to hear her speaking voice and her thick, thick, thick Irish accent.

I should really stop typing at this point as I’ve run out of things to say, though I could bitch about how the Velvet Revolver singles all have a spectacular intro, and then devolve swiftly into inane, simplistic riffs. The mindless power chords of Nirvana without the creativity, passion, or teen spirit. I wonder how much of that is the fault of the band though, as it seems that modern production values really are focused on the mechanical precision of click tracks, the cold grind of digital distortion, and the dynamic-less, unchanging levels of for-the-radio compression.

And now, Hanson. Yeah, we shut THAT off.