Some quick notes before bed… Heather’s reading the paper, cats are investigating our feet. They’re wandering how we came to land on them so delightfully.
Yes, after the chaos of the day, Tom and Dianne of Durham (we met them as a friend of a friend – through Rabbit regular singer/songwriter Ace Colvin) are Lovely people, they have a beautiful apartment, two cats, great neighbours and some of the nicest lemon-soda I’ve ever tasted.
Incredible apartment. Conflicting aesthetics though, if you look closely. Old wood and hanging cow skulls, dusky Santa Fe-esque paintings and clean white interior. Packed bookshelves, attractive kitchen, a Phipp’s of houseplants. But there are books of chaos theory next to Native American folklore, and there are tarantulas in resin, and there is a complete collection of South Park DVDs next to… waitaminute… I was hoping to have some neat and anomolous contrasting comparison to use – but they’re next to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dogma, and a Looney Tunes collection.
I’m showered, and it’s air conditioned, and the spiders are all contained. I’m going to pretend that pre-9pm just never existed.
We’re back in Durham, and this time we have TIME for Durham. We have a moment to explore the strangely twisted trees and the strangely twisted streets, and our strangely twisted hosts. We came back with tales of Wilmington, and now Tom and Diane are VERY eager to meet Deanne.
Yesterday, we played in the courtyard of their apartments before heading out on a long walkabout to hunt lunch. Their apartments somehow remind me of a grown-up version of the Commons (the dorms at MICA). It’s a small gated community, a couple of old converted factory buildings, none less then a hundred years old, and the interiors are all beautiful, and all different.
I’m not sure why THAT reminds me of the Commons. Perhaps the eccentricty of the inhabitants? Perhaps just the blue and brick.
So, in return for playing for them, we’ve gleaned one of the spare apartments for our time here – and it’s… beautiful. Heather and I are playing house, and I think we’ll have to go out and buy something to cook – it’s just so wonderful to have a space to ourselves. And such a fantastic space. And this time I DO mean fantastic – walls that don’t quite go to the ceiling, vast wooden pillars in the middle of the bathroom, strange angles and intense, rainbow inducing lights. It inspires me – I think we’ll gather the MR-8 out of the car tomorrow and maybe do some recording.
Heather’s recording a tune, I’m listening. We switched seats a little while ago – I recorded PUSH, and Spine, Selkie. Old, old songs. I’m always afraid that I’ve got nothing new in me. That all my writing goes into this Journal, or into emails, or in to the sheer effort of talking to new people every single night.
I’m sucking on a cherry pit. Gifts from Tom and Diane – she’s had as many as she can stand, I’m amazed at the kindness of the Carolinas. We have a small glass table in the apartment that we’ve gleaned, and a gold dollar, a parting gift from Deanne, graces it’s centre. The summer heat is returning to Durham, making me sluggish – seeking solace and protection (there is an ant on the computer, it’s just crawled over the “summer”) in the midst of these centenarian walls. Heather’s singing of cassette intestines, and I wish we could borrow one of the neighbours’ pets. One of the quiet ones.
Hehe. We’ve just passed Nutbush and Bollocksville. We’re heading for Richmond, and then to the 8.13 festival, which is practically the same thing as heading home .
Before heading out, we took our guitars down and hung out with the owner of an Indian import shop in the artsy section of Durham. Orlando has travelled all over, it seems, with much of his time split between his importing and playing percussion. We talked shop, we talked drums – we played music, and I’d like to think we provided him with a welcome break in his routine. I’m looking forward to coming back in October, maybe playing with him a couple of times.
I could say tonnes about what we’ve been doing for the last day or two – but I think Heather’s going to breech her silence and fill you in. Yessss.
I’ve been thinking about music – I’ve been excited about it. I want to jump up and down more and play with more distortion. I want more hard-core in my Life. With an acoustic guitar, of course.
Having to drive without the air conditioning has reminded me of things I’d lost. Driving in my lady Bus with the windows open and a steady diet of 60 mph. I’ve missed the solid flow of air under my hand, and the spiking feel of road grit impacting my skin – the unimaginable cold of mist ripping through my arm. My hair is being condemned to tangle and to ruin (it makes me think of shearing it short) but it’s a wonderful sensation that makes me wish for motorbikes and convertables. I shudder at the passage of semis (Living this close to death) thinking about how a misstep under their massive wheels, or a moment of sideways slippage at seventy, hydroplaning to the guardrails. Driving’s a dangerous game and rains are getting thick.
I wanted to write about Tom and Diane and the amazing West Village Apartments when we came through Durham last week, but I am incredibly lazy and knew we’d be coming through again (and banked on the fact that rob would not take interest in the things I would and write about them first). J
The West Village Apartments of Durham are a series of one-time American
Tobacco Company warehouses, which I almost didn’t even need to be told. I am the child of weekend warriors, as I’ve said before, and I’ve watched my share of HGTV. One look at the ornate, sandy brick work, the massive beams in the unusually high ceilings, the industrial windows and the loft-style architecture of the apartments are all cues that these are converted warehouses.
All over America, in small Midwestern towns and sprawling east coast cities alike, I ache whenever I see an old building sitting vacant; unused, unappreciated, unrealized. I mean, people don’t build common, accessible things like this anymore (people carted tobacco leaves around this place and it has some of the most elaborate brickwork of any building I’ve ever seen), and we leave such structures to rot behind plywood and cinder block-covered windows. I appreciate that whoever got the bright idea to turn these into apartments understood that beauty lies at the heart of these kinds of conversions not in change, but in how the original character of the building is preserved. These more than century old buildings still have their metal awnings, their concrete, their steel plates, their rough-hewn post-and-beam construction, their bolts and their visible pipe and duct work. Their magnificent industrial quality has not been sacrificed to make them resemble apartments more, thus they are truly unique living spaces that do justice to the original intent of the architecture.
So that means when I get bored at dawn, when the first light creeps in to highlight and shadow the angles, I can lie in bed and stare in contemplation of the ceiling beams for a very long time. Each apartment is roughly the width of a comfortable Baltimore rowhouse, perhaps about 20 feet. Each beam is four inches thick and spans, unbroken, at least the entire width of the place. It could well be more, because the drywall that separates this from the apartment next door is a modern construction and doesn’t mean anything about the true beginnings and ends of these beams. They disappear into the next room. The beams are spaced parallel at twelve-inch intervals just below the underside of the diagonal wood flooring above, and between every beam are short crossbraces. All of the wood is a gently aged rust color. There is an incredibly thick, load-bearing beam of the same wood running the length of the apartment, and three or four thick, rough-hewn vertical beams holding that up. I’m looking at boards yielded from massive trees cut down a century ago. Are they fir … or could they even be redwood? Such grandeur for a tobacco warehouse!
I become obsessed, like journalists do, with finding out what the wood is. And like most searches for such knowledge, I wound up off in tangential areas: turn-of-the-century mill construction and the tobacco history of Durham. I learn a few interesting things as a result of these departures: the amazing brick work in these buildings is not just amazing to me. The masonry is acclaimed as some of the most detailed around. The “mouse-tooth” nomenclature should give you a pretty accurate idea of what it looks like. The other thing I learned was that tobacco was the life-blood of Durham in the early-to-mid 1900s. Washington Duke set up the American Tobacco Company and most of these warehouses before the company was broken up into smaller ones by the anti-trust legislation. The company’s most popular tobacco was Bull Durham, which made the city famous and gave it its nickname, the Bull City.
But if Duke’s name is familiar to you for another reason, it should be. His family endowed Trinity, now Duke, University just down the street here in Durham. Duke is so famous for its medical center these days that the city now goes by a different nickname. So that’s how the tobacco city became the “City of Medicine” in less than a century– all through the business of one man.
Tom and Diane, who put us up our overnight in Durham last week and arranged for our stay this week, live in one of these apartments. Diane smokes a lot out on the porch under the original “No Smoking” sign that hung there on the loading dock of the tobacco warehouse. The detail I note about their home is that it contains exactly 23 bookshelves. They are all full, and the volumes cover a great variety of subject matter. There is a shelf of poetry, books on wellness and Native Americans and computer programming languages, as well as old stand-bys like Gray’s Anatomy and college psyc texts. Rob notes that they have a complete collection of Douglas Adams’ works, including the lesser-known ones, which he knows means nothing to me but points out nonetheless. There are things adorning the walls you can only come by if you go to far away places to get them. Their apartment screams a bohemian affluence and a travel-earned worldliness that suggests they have never had children to hamper their wanderings. Turns out I am right about the travel and wrong about the childlessness. They have one 33-year-old son.
We know Tom and Diane because Diane knows Alex Colvin, the eccentric musician-poet I first encountered at the Year of The Rabbit open mic in Bowie. I know Alex in a context that rob does not, having run into him at the Baltimore poetry slam. This opens up a whole new understanding of his whacky personality. Hearing Alex’s poetry live and in person will tell you a lot about him. His verse is delightfully dirty-minded – full of dancing nude women and body parts and lush fanciful eroticism – and is read from under a hat and glasses and through a gleeful smile. But nothing about him or his poetry is vulgar. He is a cute dirty old man sort of guy.
I asked Diane how she came to know Alex, and this is the story that she told me: Around 1979 or 1980, she was working in Nashua, NH at a translation company called Rosetta Stone. A group of Moonies (the followers of The Rev. Moon) came in selling wind-up dogs, and Alex was with them. Diane bought one of the dogs and she and Alex got to talking and became friends. She saw him once more, some time later, when he visited her Baltimore hotel room to serenade Diane with his guitar. Apparently, they kept in touch, and Alex vouched for us when we were looking for a place to stay. The idea of Alex Colvin vouching for people as straight-laced and non-eccentric as rob and I cracks me up.
One of my great pleasures in life – aside from cherry Coke, puffy finches in winter and fine black drafting pens – is punting giant round mushrooms. It is a guiltless pleasure, because kicking them open actually spreads the spores, and it makes the most satisfying solid noise when you make contact. And because finding just the right kind of mushroom for this is so rare, it makes the pleasure that much greater when the opportunity presents itself. And if there are a lot of those mushrooms available, I still only allow myself to kick one.
Walking along the stone wall of Duke University, I saw my first (and second) bona fide faerie ring: mushrooms the size of my open palm gathered in a perfect circle. When I was little, I used to watch this cartoon about a boy who walked into such a ring, and the fungi turned into faeries and whisked him off to the faerie realm. I couldn’t resist going to stand inside of it, telling myself that nothing could happen because rob was watching.
Near one of the two rings we spotted, there was a different kind of mushroom from the tiny umbrellas that formed the circles. It was a big thick one, just like the ones I liked, and I kicked it with a delight far beyond what was warranted. But it really did make me so happy.
It’s 2am and the cats have given up. For the last 24 hours, perhaps 30, I’ve been sick as a dog (though, to my experience, sick as a cat is perhaps more appropriate, though this might imply more of a mental element) – dripping without warning, feeling cold, and my throat has felt like burning sand paper. By now it’s somewhat dying down (the sandpaper is now simply kind of dry and warm), though I’m still huddled beneath blankets.
I’ve been lying in bed much of the day, wishing it all away through sleep, but like a poor marksman… sleep… keeps … missing… the TARGET.
We’re staying with Tom and Diane in Durham. And we’re staying with their cats. The cats, due to recent run-ins with a dog and traffic, have been locked-down and are unhappily being forced into an inside Life. They are NOT taking this lying down, however. As a matter of fact, they are taking it strutting around, crying and whining like children. They assisted my throat in promoting last night’s insomnia. They kept me up through much of the day… but tonight, there is ominous silence. Perhaps merely because Heather’s still in the Living room, keeping them company. Perhaps merely because cats really don’t cause a rucus until they feel you have a CHANCE of falling asleep – and I’m nowhere near that. I’m alive with jittery energy, tense, nervous. I feel like a drank an Aztec mocha before bed, and my brain simply WON’T shut down, shut up, shut away the non-existant day.
This visit to Durham consists mostly of the bedroom and throat-angst. I need a lozenge.
Damn. 2.25am, the begging begins. I can hear Heather trying to hush him. Poor cats.
We’ve landed in Durham again, and after a slight key fiasco, are relaxing into the airy warmth of Tom and Diane’s place. Heather’s got a cold (if you want to send her tea I can email you an address!) and is really having a rough time of it. I mean, we’ve been pretty good about not getting sick on the road, so Heather’s kind of horrified by how stricken she is.
We played the Six String Cafe last night, pushing our gigs in the area (Heather booked a nice little cluster) and we were surprised to find Mike (from Connecticut) in our midst. He’d actually convinced his company to reschedule his business trip so that he could come out and see us play. We like to hear stuff like that.
It’s really bad, I just haven’t felt like Journal writing much recently. Someone should smack me.
Hee! You can’t! I’m in North Carolina!
Karma? Who knows. I woke up today feeling paranoid and strained – my whole body taut, ready for… something… certainly not ready for “anything” as then I wouldn’t have woken up so petrified.
I’d dreamt that I was at a party with a lot of my friends – weird sort of place. Almost a “Lost Boys” den from Peter Pan – a tree house that crossed the dirt barrier into underground warren. I kept wandering up ladders, down ladders, through tree limbs, across the grass and through the sky and every time I stopped there were explanations from different people. I don’t remember what they were explaining. One woman was explaining why I should’ve been in a releationship with her… she kept saying “I could be your mate”. I’m tired, and I’m cold, and there’s no light in the world today. It all drained into something grey where it’s hovering, shivering, emanating vaguely.
This apartment is built for cryptic dreams. Tom and Diane’s apartment has always made me feel… it makes me think that this is what Indiana Jones’ apartment might be like, in a way. Lots of trophies from many lands, an uncertain elegance, roughly travelled antiques and complaining cats.
I wouldn’t expect Indy to have cats or as many plants.
“Ever wonder what it would feel like to have an insatiable appetite for a gifted pair of musicians whose finger action gives yo u arthritis? Well, look no further than the Rusty Nail on Friday February 4th as IlyAimy hits the stage for an encore performance at their very first gig spot in Wilmington some several months ago. I had the extreme pleasure of introducing this incredible force of raw talent to Wilmington a while back, and I must say.. I have NEVER been as floored with a duo’s talent as I was with Rob Hinkal and Heather Lloyd. Although difficult to make them lay still on any shelf in category..they seem to be touting influences with just about everything at some point. The moody, edgy, and percussively nourishing playing styles combined, flaunt the passionate, unbridled chemistry between 2 equally talented artists being shared measure to measure. I have never seen fingers move so quickly and rhythmically in sync in my life! The unbelievable musical energy, and temperamental vocal harmonies leave you literally unable to look away. Which makes it hard to use the bathroom after all the beer you drink because of all the sweating you do sitting still……watching….waiting……for some kind of sign that these two really suck and you just caught them with a couple cool tunes…
NOT gonna happen. 🙂 See you there!”
An eventful day. I almost killed four cats. One because he was whiny all day, one because I mistook him for the one that was whining all day, and the other two because they were in the middle of the road as we were hunting for parking after our gig.
Not really. I’ve actually given the first one a lot of Love in the hopes of winning him over and shutting him, the second one I couldn’t really find most of the time, and cats three and four we spotted well in advance, but Heather got out of the car and chased them into a ditch.
She meant it in a nice way.
Also so a car with the bumper sticker “EvlDed2”. Which made me happy. What makes me UNHAPPY is that venues like the Coffee Mill (where we played tonight in Clayton, NC) exist and DON’T do TONNES of business. Here’s a place with a beautiful stage, nice room, friendly staff, incredible sound system… here’s a venue with decent burgers and an owner who refuses to book cover bands…
And we played to a room of some twelve people despite a huge local mailing list, a lot of local press, and an article in the paper that made just our colour PICTURE bigger than the whole of their advertisement for Motley Crue.
Let me stop for a moment –
We’re bigger than Motley Crue. Hehe.
But it’s gotten me thinking. Here’s a venue that’s fantastic, which is having cashflow problems because of their artistic integrity… there are a BUNCH of venues out there that we’ve played that have the same issues, and the same plusses as well – I’m wondering if it’s not time to do something about that. Not sure what yet (and no, I’m not talking about dropping that vaunted artistic integrity)…
I’m thinking on the lines of the “circuits” that comprise things like Jammin Java, the Point, the Six String Cafe… things like the Anti-Folk venues… there needs to be something more artsy, less antagonistic… I’m just thinking outloud here.
Oh my GOD what a night. Our first real show at the Six String Cafe and I feel we may have blown some people’s minds. Not to be arogant, but we played one Hell of a show. A two stringer, too.
There were issues. There was feedback and there was broken strings and flubbed lyrics and flubbed chords, but all in all I think we just PERFORMED really, really well. There was a great energy to the whole night – a lot of that was due to our opener, Someone’s Sister, of course. They were beautiful and friendly and Lovely and they brought out a whole lot of friends who were just primed for an ilyAIMY mind-fuck.
Oh my GOD what a night.
Hey, you know it’s going to be good when you’re standing in a music store, having just played an 8 string guitar (badly) and talking to the owner about playing his house concert series and some guy behind you knocks something off a shelf and then says “aren’t you ilyAIMY? I recognize you from your website! I’m coming to see you tonight!” Hence we met Russ.
Later we mind-fucked him, too.
Oh my GOD what a night.
We are the rulers of ass. As in, we ruled SO much ass tonight. We didn’t even bother kicking it. We stepped in like we owned the ass and just told it what to do and ruled it.
Ok. I’m done.
The next morning finds me finally OVER myself (Heather kept puncturing my over-sized head so there was room for her in the bed) and just tired and sore and worried about catching her cold. And it IS cold. Not even a cat (the Black One, not the Loud One) can keep my feet warm, and not even an Alienware can keep the rest of me from shivers.
We’ve got recordings of the night to listen to, to determine whether we rocked or just had a really enthusiastic crowd, and no matter how many autographs or wide-eyed new fans, one negative email the next morning can sort of bring you back down. Not that I can or am willing or even INTERESTED in pleasing EVERYBODY – cause that’s just not what rock and roll is all about – but pleasing everyone who’s bothered to come out and see us wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Anywho – it’s dreary morning light (outside its probably glaringly sunny) and my internal clock is skewed by having to get up early in the morning to move the car and then returning to dreams of cancer and stolen cars. We’ve got to get up – got to get moving… I’m just not that eager.
Feel the funk y’all. Uh. Huh. UNGH! Yeah, dancing in Nicole’s Living room, listening to Jungle Boogie. On the floor, doing my patented Jungle Rob Writhe. Ladies… swoon… SWOON I SAY!
North Carolina is the home of the swiftly changing schedule, with about three or four gigs added to the next two weeks’ schedule in the past 72 hours or so. A house concert in Durham, the Comet Grill in Charlotte just offered us a gig for tonight after we played at their open mic last night. The owner walked in during our last song and demanded that we play another. The guy who books Caffe Driade just asked us about our free dates for next week. It goes to show, if people see us, they Love us. It’s just getting seen that’s the trick.