Sept. 1st – 4th, 2003

We finally left after pulling a XXX scene – NO not meaning between Heather and me – referring to the whole having a huge pile of stuff on the ground, looking at the car and saying “I want all that… in there.” You know, like in the movie.

Again, soo much sigh. Packing up the Kensington house (thank GOD for the help from Heather and my parents) took far longer than it should’ve, and somehow we ended up with a huge mountain of trash outside the house. I’m not quite sure where it all came from – must’ve been Jack – methinks.

The first night was originally going to be a really big open mic called Grape Street in Philly, but they were closed for Labour Day, so we figured.. eh… we’ll wait a day and catch our breath.

A lot of things have been conspiring against us – between the holiday and general bloody-mindedness, Verizon’s DSL is STILL not cut off to the house, and there are a couple of other stupid real-world SHIT things that I haven’t taken care of yet. I keep telling my self that it’ll work out. As of now, I’m doing all the driving too, cause Heather needs to practice stick before we’re really ready to turn things over to her.

Not only that, but the CDs are late. We were going to Live off those CDs!!! They won’t arrive till Friday back home, so we won’t get them till we get back on the 16th (or whatever) … sigh. Oasis is trying their best, I guess, and they’re knocking a lot of money off AND sending a bunch to Heather’s friend Jayson. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I’m a little worried that we won’t be able to fit them in the car for the drive home.

So, in the meantime, we’ve been working crazy hard to get the rob n Heather album done – on Luck on Fumes on Spit on Love. We did recordings at Jeremy’s just before leaving, and now we’re desparately trying to put together an album out of that and some other scattered tracks.

The second night out we really fell on our feet – I met a guy about two years ago at the Riverdale Bookstore – and he’s been on the mailing list ever since! Shane has put us up at his dormroom in Philadelphia, and has been amazingly kind, knowledgable – a slow smile and a soft voice. When I asked if we could stay with him, he responded with “fanboy butterflies” – his roommate’s been away for a while, and we get his bed!

Anywho – staying with Shane has been fantastic. He’s fed us and guided us through the Hellish complexities of the Philadelphia tube stations.

Sept 3rd, 2003

The Drexel Dragon - photos of these are going to be the album cover for On Luck On Fumes on Spit on Love!
The Drexel Dragon – photos of these are going to be the album cover for On Luck On Fumes on Spit on Love!

Wandering wandering wandering – we must’ve walked the whole length of Philly today. Took pictures of the Drexel Dragon to use for the new album cover, and did the artwork for that. Unfortunately, the open mic we were going to hit tonight didn’t technically exist anymore – so the trolley trip and the tonnes o walkin was all for naught. However, we DID end up having genuine Philly cheesesteaks for dinner – and the amazonish lass behind the counter let us have some free pretzels at the end of the night…. Came back and finished up oLoFoSoL’s artwork, started printing it, started working on this journally thing.

It’s crazy, my work ethic is SOO much better now. (Weird, Heather just found a quote from Coal Boulder sitting on Hot or Not.com as part of some woman’s profile) Or at least, it has been for the past few days. Get up every morning and it’s right to ilyAIMYishness. I’m worried I might become a workaholic, but that’s ok, right?

Yeah, so –

Sept 4th, 2003

Morning comes, Heather snores. I’ve been at it for two hours and my Life is made Hell by SoBig and junk mail. I’m trying to figure out how to cut down on the number of worms arriving in my mailbox (like, about 30 an hour) and in the process have so far fucked up my email, deleted ilyaimy.com (twice), erased my on-disc back up. Sigh. It’s been a rough morning – but now things are running smoothly, printing shit all over the place, covering Shane’s room with mis-printed CD labels, generally making a mess and eating really stale pretzels.

Tonight we’re going to an open mic that required a very complex web form sign-up thingie. Intimidating indeed. At least we’ll know that anyone who’s there can reach our website.

Ok, enough of this, I’ve made a journal, and it might even work, though now I’m worried about stylesheets n shit. Sigh.

Heather in front of the Drexel Dragon.
Heather in front of the Drexel Dragon.
Presumably these are nicer than the male versions. We're SUCH fucking tourists. Heather also wants to start taking pictures of our audiences (a la Clandestine)... Oh my GOD the women in Philadelphia are SOOOO FINE!!! SO, yeah, we SHOULD take pictures of our audiences. For... material. You know?
Presumably these are nicer than the male versions. We’re SUCH fucking tourists. Heather also wants to start taking pictures of our audiences (a la Clandestine)… Oh my GOD the women in Philadelphia are SOOOO FINE!!! SO, yeah, we SHOULD take pictures of our audiences. For… material. You know?

<– Audience at the Point. Incredible open mic. Singing anime cellist, beautiful art – another guitarist with A CHEETAH CASE!!!, spectacular female pianist, cool sort of slap jazz harpist… great place.

Well, I must admit, I’m worried about what it all means. Last night’s open mic – we wandered about a mile through the underbelly of the gallery district of Philadelphia, only to find that the “Lionfish Arts Cafe” had been closed and remodeled into some sort of Italian restaurant.

Tonight, the spot we were GOING to hit had cancelled their open mic for the summer. So, we call about half a dozen places looking for an open mic that DOES exist. Find one in the Music Box – a music school in New Jersey. We drive over to that (GORGEOUS suspension bridge, lost in mist) spot only to discover that a) New Jersey really DOES smell as bad as they say, b) there is actually a posh section of New Jersey, and c) the woman who said “why yes, Thursday’s open mic is on, it’s the best night of the week” was completely, and utterly misinformed.

There are no left turns or Uies allowed in the whole of the state. You have to drive OUT of the state to turn around and go back to where you came. Or they shoot you. We had eaten Philly Cheese Steaks in Philadelphia, so I tried to lick a Jersey Barrier in Jersey. Heather wouldn’t let me – and we had to have sushi instead.

Sigh.

September 29th, 2003.

We’re back in Philadelphia, visiting Shane, the ULTIMATE. We’ve landed on his doorstep and he’s hooked us up with everything from directions to the Grape Street Pub to a copy of Earthworm Jim. I’m not sure what demands I’ll make as a full-fledged rock-star someday, but I can’t imagine they’ll include much other than transport to the next show and a little EWJ.

Hell yeah.

Anywho, wireless at Drexel sucks, so the website is probably going to have to wait even LONGER before getting updated. Also – it’s becoming apparent that I’d rather write in this damned journal rather than do something productive, like deal with all of the song parts in my head. So, I think I’m prolly going to try and limit myself to 15 minutes in the morning, and 15 minutes at night. Otherwise I’ll just sit here all day, tapping aboot crap.

So, anywho, back at Drexel University. Full of flying dragons. I’m assuming, actually, that dragon guano is the reason for the wireless being so crappy (if you’ll pardon the wee pun…. oh, and that one too). There’s only so much flying drake fecal matter a network can take.

DCF 1.0
Rob Spectre playing the HELL out of a djembe.
Rob Spectre playing the HELL out of a djembe.

Rhode Island’s response was nothing short of spectacular – we met so many fantastic people, and encountered so much music, I’m sort of prepared for Grape Street tonight to be sort of a let down… but actually getting back to Shane’s dorm – that was a lot of fun. We encountered Reptar (the new lizard – should I put that on the website? What if his RA becomes a fan?), who is currently cricketless, and therefor out of sorts… and Ian – the Brian McClimmensesque room-mate who helped me fix my stupid graphics card issues, and Ryan, who I believe Shane thrashed with a broom later in the evening.

Ryan’s another aspiring vocalist guitarist, great voice. But the broom treatment, I don’t know – it might be a bit rough.

I miss college a lot, really. I miss the camaraderie that comes with roommates, the wrestling and tussling and strange strange humour (funnily enough, the same stuff you grow out of in high school is the same stuff you rediscover in college) – so we did what I did in college, and sort of beat the shit out of each other till someone called from next-door and told us that if we didn’t keep it down he’d “hang us with our own intestines”. Heee… them’s was the good ole days.


Trying to get a wireless signal at Drexel.

October 24th, 2003.

We’re back at Shane’s for the weekend – we arrived in Philadelphia last night and went out to get about $125 worth of sushi – blowing our budget (but at least it was between five people!) but it was soo nice. I think the only thing I didn’t appreciate about the place was the absolute obscene cold of the bathroom. Oh yes, hard to aim with when shrivelege is not just a privilege, but a God damned fact of Life. Anywho – the morning has been filled with firedrills. It’s moments like these that separate the folk stars from the ROCK stars. I had ear-plugs with me. After the second or third one, I just slept on through.

Whitney's cat, Kelly. Inquisitive, furry, and compactable into a sphere.
Whitney’s cat, Kelly. Inquisitive, furry, and compactable into a sphere.
SNOW!!!!! Drove through flurries in Massachussetts.
SNOW!!!!! Drove through flurries in Massachussetts.

The offensive nature of the fire alarm was only slightly offput by the fact that Ray showed up on our… well, Shane’s doorstep. (Shane just got home!!! yay!) He crashed on the couch, we got the floor, Life was good.

Heather is not quite so happy with Ray's appearance on the scene.
Heather is not quite so happy with Ray’s appearance on the scene.

Ray brought two care-packages and a birthday present for Heather – I was amazed. The gestures of sweetness that exist in the world are possibly all overshadowed by Ray in one evening.

One of the care packages was actually from our friend Janna – including tea and soup and a mummy Pez dispenser that glows in the dark, as well as hot chocolate and stuff and other stuff…. it’s nicely decorated on the outside with the beauty of Crayola – allowing us a look at beautiful blue Maryland skies and blooming wild-flowers.

Ah, the lying glories of home – she’s just trying to tempt us back into the state so that she can get us to submit to her wanton and dark desires. We know our Janna all too well!

Ray brought us toilet paper and cookies, and a tonne of Cherry Coke for Heather – but on top of the box full of road supplies, he also handed Heather a CD booklet – it took him two shifts plus at his job at Kinkos, but he had made copies of about 40 CDs and given them to Heather to help her on her way in rebuilding her collection after the break-in in New York. The gramatically incorrect nature of my last sentance doesn’t come close to getting across how Heather glowed while she was showing this to me.

And finally, we have a copy of the Buffy Musical.

Ray has always been a God-send, and he’s just cementing himself as a neccessary part of our Lives. If we could get Brennan up here in the same weekend, we’d have all of the creatures that make ilyAIMY GO. Between Ray and Shane and Brennan we could run a successful tour, a record label, and possibly a small studio.

I was trying to decide which of their super-powers would be most useful if we had to pick one: we could have…

SHANE!!!
This mild-mannered college student has neatly cropped hair and flying, flashing, computer controlling fingers. His powers lie in his supernatural talent for knowing what to do when dropped in any situation – as a college student, he can make a home in any environment, can instantly learn the layout of any public transit system, as well as the arcane processes in making them go. He’s also well connected in the foetid underground of Indie music. Sidekick: Reptar “oh, he’s such a peaceful lizard of death”.

BRENNAN!!!
Wired and wirey, Brennan knows the tech side of music quite well. Give him a cord and he’ll untangle it, identify it, and plug it into what it bloody well ought to be plugged into. He changes strings and tunes guitars and knows chords that I don’t know yet. Also includes an encyclopedia of covers and their lyrics, and drives like a fucking maniac in the city – an ideal skill for anyone who attempts to navigate New York City in a motor vehicle. He has unnaturally superb reflexes and can fit his car through miniscule spaces, and has the nerve to compete with Big Apple Cabbies.

aaand…. RAY!!!
Well, what else to say about Ray? He’s very, very nice – (I’m sure that’s masking barely contained rage and insanity – but that makes him an even BETTER superhe- I mean… roadie) – is a seasoned traveller, and no matter what, takes the world in stride. I’m amazed by his consistant calm. He’s also willing to break people’s arms for us, which may be very useful if we ever plan to get into the REAL music industry. Also, a pretty damned good parallel parker, but I’m not sure who would win in the city driving department. I think Brennan would run over Ray’s Rio without pausing for breath… hrmm….

Really, a triumvirate is always a responsible configuration for a superhero force. I think the three should join forces and come up with a good name. Or maybe THEY are the ilyARMY. Gosh, I wish we were at that level where we could fund them on the road with us. Another Saturn, perhaps – jet black with red flames up the si- wait, I want the one with the flames, to match my boots…

and then we’d either have some weird command trailer (with satellite internet hookup and a potato gun turret). We’ll have to drop a V8 in the Saturn to keep our acceleration up with the ilyARMY command trailer (it’ll unfold into something insane a la MASK)… ew… gotta get Reptar off of Heather’s face…

We'd be able to use our potato turret to defend ourselves from hungry trucks.
We’d be able to use our potato turret to defend ourselves from hungry trucks.
Across the way: Heather and I went to see my old RA from college, Dan Blakeslee, who did a Halloween show in Boston. Red-eye was quite appropriate for the evening. He gave us candy. Ohhh.... sweet, sweet candy.
Across the way: Heather and I went to see my old RA from college, Dan Blakeslee, who did a Halloween show in Boston. Red-eye was quite appropriate for the evening. He gave us candy. Ohhh…. sweet, sweet candy.
No parking in snooty Cambridge
No parking in snooty Cambridge
No parking in Philadelphia. Sort of says it all, really.
No parking in Philadelphia. Sort of says it all, really.
Cool Irish pub in Cambridge. Apparently they also serve Norse food? Or something.
Cool Irish pub in Cambridge. Apparently they also serve Norse food? Or something.
The other pic (the one that's sort of unintelligible, unfortunately) is a really cool Halloween display in the front of a art supply store - sculpy zombies and weird tentacular things. The unidentifiable blob at the front of the pic is a decapitated owl splatting against the interior of the glass. Cool, hey?!?
The other pic (the one that’s sort of unintelligible, unfortunately) is a really cool Halloween display in the front of a art supply store – sculpy zombies and weird tentacular things. The unidentifiable blob at the front of the pic is a decapitated owl splatting against the interior of the glass. Cool, hey?!?

— Later that same day–
We’re travelling out of Philly back to Media, PA. We have a Ray and a Shane in tow, perhaps we’ll set tasks for them and test them here and there.

As I almost turn us a wrong direction, I get worried again, and frustrated with myself. Maps aren’t hard, laptop maps should be even easier, and yet I’ve made a consistant habit of making wrong turns at least once on every trip. Wests and Easts and rights and lefts, I’m worried that I keep making really stupid mistakes.

I can’t imagine how anyone does this solo. I can’t imagine trying to navigate and drive all at the same time, without a whole lot more preparation anywho. Thank God Heather’s relatively patient.

I broke two strings while playing Hands the other night with Hugh McGowan on djembe. Yup. I’m a badass.

February 5th, 2004.

Last night, the world had conspired against us. Last minute things were lost, Magic games were lost, so I had to play again, and devillishly slippery ice had encroached upon the surface of the world…

“Heather – watch out for the ice at the bottom of the drive- oh.”

And so I was discouraged and disheartened and made a half-assed effort to tell Heather we should wait another day. Rather than race all the way to Philadelphia and probably miss sign-up for the open mic we wanted to hit, the slacker in me whispered that we should wait around Maryland for another night.

Thank God Heather slapped me down on that one.

the Dawson Street Pub - touted "the best kept secret in Philly" - I agree.
the Dawson Street Pub – touted “the best kept secret in Philly” – I agree.

It’s what I need in a partner – when the going gets tough, I often get a little timid and whimpery, and I need the partner who’s going to say “nope – we’re DOING it”… just as I do for Heather on her bad days. So far it’s worked, and we’ve steadily been one another’s inspiration.

Anywho – on to Philadelphia. T’was an easy drive. We were waylaid by traffic just out of Baltimore, and again by a truckfire somewhere in Delaware, but we made it into Manayunk at 10.01pm for a 10pm sign-up, and we got a decent slot.

You can't really tell from the photographs, but I'm missing the bar to my left, which is packed, and the table or two behind me, which were overflowing, and the room beyond this one, with the pool table, which was packed - and the room beyond that one, which was a vibrantly painted lounge (reminded us of the good ole days of Palomas) which was merely crowded.
You can’t really tell from the photographs, but I’m missing the bar to my left, which is packed, and the table or two behind me, which were overflowing, and the room beyond this one, with the pool table, which was packed – and the room beyond that one, which was a vibrantly painted lounge (reminded us of the good ole days of Palomas) which was merely crowded.

The Dawson Street Pub – from the moment I saw it, I Loved it. Just from the fact that there were beautiful cars parked around it – with tribal painted hoods and exotic makes. Still decorated for Christmas, it was incredibly inviting, and the interior was packed.

The Dawson Pub caused Manayunk to climb an extra rung on my “places I’d like to Live” ladder.

the bathroom walls were exuberantly infested with decoration.
the bathroom walls were exuberantly infested with decoration.

The music was really great, and – once a particularly noisy table finally left (much to the relief of the regulars) the crowd was a real listening crowd. I was amazed that such a packed room was so attentive. The place definately shot to the top of my list of “coolest venues”, and we pestered the host, “My Cousin Todd” about playing a night there. If we made a couple of friends in the area, we might even do ok.

We ran across one of the local "real rockstars" - Philly artist Ben Arnold. Now, when he first started talking to me, I was a little iffy, as he told me of his 16 keyboards and this and that and the other. He continued talking about gigs at the Birchmere, Iota's, and the Ram's Head - and when he took the stage - his voice and songwriting were pure, beautiful and emotive. He deserves everything he's worked for. He left the room breathless, and left me thinking that I wish I could capture his voice in a bedside bottle.
We ran across one of the local “real rockstars” – Philly artist Ben Arnold. Now, when he first started talking to me, I was a little iffy, as he told me of his 16 keyboards and this and that and the other. He continued talking about gigs at the Birchmere, Iota’s, and the Ram’s Head – and when he took the stage – his voice and songwriting were pure, beautiful and emotive. He deserves everything he’s worked for. He left the room breathless, and left me thinking that I wish I could capture his voice in a bedside bottle.

A fantastic night. I wish we’re gotten to Philadelphia early enough that we could have gone and picked up our benefactor, Shane, and brought him there. It was truly a spectacular night – and Shane would’ve Loved it – but unfortunately, it, like so many other places, is 21+.

A shame that Shane be so youthful.

We need to get him some sort of government pass that allows him into all nooks and crannies of the music world. Something, preferably, which also allows him to bring along a couple of college-aged friends.

We met a couple of really cool people, including Leigh – who played the house piano so’s you didn’t notice the 10 dead keys and the couple that were out of tune – and the host Todd – and a fantastic bass player who I can’t remember the name of off the top of my head but who did a fantastic version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand” on bass – all tapping and harmonics.

Despite the joy of the evening, we soon had to retire to Shane’s place, our home in Philadelphia. Parking was Hell, as usual, and 20 minutes of circling only landed us a spot 6 blocks away in an alley, which inspired us to call Shane and gather Ryan to help us get EVERYTHING of value out of the Saturn.

The government pass should also give Shane the power to freely and immediately have cars towed – he’d use his powers wisely, I’m sure…

And we collapsed into the waiting arms of Drexel hospitality. We shot the shit about shit for a couple of hours, before finally retiring at 3am (hey – rockstars have to be responsible, and put their friends to bed – Shane had work in the morning, Ryan had a MIDTERM at 8 this morning, and Ian – well… I’m not actually sure that Ian goes to class – I think he may be lurking around here now…).

I worry, because I think Heather is willing, now, after last night’s conversation, to grab me to come see any monumentally fantastic stool she may happen to produce.

I’m really not sure how down with that I am. I mean – if we start taking photographs, then they’ll end up in the Journal – so … well I guess it’s really the say of the readers… that’s probably a BIT TOO personal for you guys. Yeah?

Please say yes.


I went and looked on a map. Actually it’s NINE blocks. Sheesh, I hate parking in Philly.


Went out and played Donavan’s open mic tonight. It was alright. Not many performers, but a good night. We came back to Shane’s and did our parking space hunt. Found one pretty close to the dorms, but Heather had the hiccups and there was a cop giving a guy a parking ticket across the street. It was awesome. Heather was nervous and rocking the car back and forth and there was a whole lot of ice… and it’s like – shift shift shift (HICCUP) shift shift shift (HICCUP) FUCK!! shift shift…

I laughed – and Heather hit me.

Now we’re watching worms mate on television.

Erf.

February 6th, 2004.

Hrm – another child abuse movie. Sigh.

The skies have taken on an intense density, glowering and threatening, and then doing more than just threatening – now it’s promising, and delivering.

I woke to the sound of rain. I can’t remember the last time I woke to the sound of rain. It’s been snow and ice for so long, just the mundanity of rain seems almost alien.

Despite the oxymoron, I continue to swear that I have a grip on the English language.

The dorm room hasn’t even lit up. You can’t tell that there’s a flaming ball of hydrogen in our skies for the day – it’s just a thorough blanket of grey. I’m hoping the temperature doesn’t fall below freezing – I want a nice easy drive back to Owings Mills.

Just a cool car in Philly.
Just a cool car in Philly.

February 16th, 2004.

Long time, no mention – nothing really to mention today, either. I think I’m just going to post a bunch of pictures and narrate a bit to make up for it. We’ve begun to get responses from the summer festivals, and we’re beginning to plan around such things as Pagan festivals in Ohio, and Singer/Songwriter barcrawls in Illinois.

After the Dawson Street Pub, just about anything else was going to be a bit of a letdown - but this ceiling fan at Donavan's the next night WAS pretty damned cool. I guess the whole bar had a kind of reef, tropical kind of motif going on.
After the Dawson Street Pub, just about anything else was going to be a bit of a letdown – but this ceiling fan at Donavan’s the next night WAS pretty damned cool. I guess the whole bar had a kind of reef, tropical kind of motif going on.

I’ve been really sick for the past couple of days, caught something from Alfred  last Tuesday. I helped him carry his drums into the gig that night, and he had something really nasty, and he shared.

Rick and Dave, respectively.
Rick and Dave, respectively.

Bastard.

The next night, we went to play with Soul Plane, and got stuck behind a trolley.
The next night, we went to play with Soul Plane, and got stuck behind a trolley.

So, I brought it home to Mara. And I think we shared it with Janna. The world’s been sick. Mitzi’s had food poisoning, Tyler’s been feeling poorly, Sharif threw up and Jon’s been depressed. Didn’t want to write about THAT… see?

Soul Plane, one of the coolest bands I've seen in a long time. A wonderful, high energy, intense act out of Philadelphia.
Soul Plane, one of the coolest bands I’ve seen in a long time. A wonderful, high energy, intense act out of Philadelphia.

Anywho, many things, including my 29th birthday, which was a whole lot of fun, one of my best ever. A WHOLE lot of Magic – almost nothing better to do when you’re feeling really poorly. Nothing to do but play Diablo and Magic… which, of course, is how Janna probably caught it. Sigh… Pestilence alll over. I sit here writing – Heather’s dad is running around with many a household chore – cleaning and replacing batteries, to the accompaniment of the Beatles. He keeps trying to give me fuzzy hats and camel hair coats – I try to explain…. it’s just not flannel. Sigh.

Their bass player specifically, is like a little dancing version of Rowan Atkinson - playing bass like a ... well... precisely UNLIKE a little dancing version of Rowan Atkinson. More like a versionof John Paul Jones who happens to look a little like a manically grinning, probably completely deranged, youthful and slender - Rowan Atkinson... Bean? What Bean? Oh - THAT Bean - oh God no!
Their bass player specifically, is like a little dancing version of Rowan Atkinson – playing bass like a … well… precisely UNLIKE a little dancing version of Rowan Atkinson. More like a version of John Paul Jones who happens to look a little like a manically grinning, probably completely deranged, youthful and slender – Rowan Atkinson… Bean? What Bean? Oh – THAT Bean – oh God no!
And their guitarist is God. Nothing else to say there - nothing else needs to be said.
And their guitarist is God. Nothing else to say there – nothing else needs to be said.

It turned out the open mic we were playing was actually run by a guy we knew from before – we’d met Rick at the Coffee Club (in Media? I think).

We sold a couple of CDs, and met some cool people – specifically – Dave – the Johnny Cash impersonator. Great Man in Black Covers. Very pleased.

The sound here was gorgeous, but other than that, I was kind of distracted by all the hockey.

Philadelphia didn’t treat us as well this time around, but I think a lot of that was attitude. We, of course, Loved hanging around with Shane, and he hooked me up with a new copy of Diablo II, which made my Life pretty complete, but – we hung around in Maryland because of my father’s cancer surgery, and that was kind of difficult. I’m just so glad that that’s over with. All that’s left is recovery…

“All that’s left” – I know it’s not that simple, but I have to think of it that way lest I just go crazy.

We didn’t get much out of the night – the crowd just couldn’t be distracted from their sporting events, but Soul Plane made up for everything. They were spectacular.

And JUST as both Heather and I were thinking “they could do awwwesome Led Zepplin covers” – they did. Not many bands can pull that off. They’re guitarist, specifically, would be capable of making Jimmy Page look up from his diabolist dabblings and say “whut?”

We came home for my birthday, the night after the gig with Soul Plane… I gloss over the whole me getting the address of the gig wrong, so we advertised the wrong address the whole week we were in Philly – and ended up at the wrong place ourselves… and God – it was a disaster.

DCF 1.0
But I got the coolest toy that ever existed for my birthday.

A Matrix Sentinal.

Now, the coolest gift EVER was what my Father gave me – successful cancer surgery while at the same time paying off the last of my school debt. It’s taken me 7 years, but it’s finally gone, and it’s an incredible feeling – but it’s harder to photograph.

DCF 1.0

DCF 1.0

It has been such a weird month. Back to the Dad in the hospital rambling – I went and visited while he was there, I was lucky enough to have Audrey come with me – and the hospital was dismal.

I don’t expect hospital patients to be cheerful and leaping and throwing back their sheets and jumping from bed to bed or anything – but I expect the damned hospital to be clean, and to be able to really understand the English of the nurses, and for the faucets to work, and for them to clean the spilled Jell-o off the floor. GW Hospital was just a multi-tiered lump of dinge. I was pretty disappointed with its existence in its entirety. Pretty fucking disgusted, to be truthful.

Later that night, we went back to Amy’s house and watched zombie movies and ate ravioli. It was probably my best birthday ever.

ilyAIMY at the Vault for my birthday.
For my birthday, we played the Vault. Here's a random shot of Jason getting his groove on with a ferocity which was to be admired. Oh and Bia's head. She smelled sooooo good.
For my birthday, we played the Vault. Here’s a random shot of Jason getting his groove on with a ferocity which was to be admired. Oh and Bia’s head. She smelled sooooo good.
And the Lloyds, in addition to their coup with the Sentinal, brought me bunny cake. Unfortunately, I only got a half a piece out of the whole thing, cause I was so busy running around and being a good birthday boy.
And the Lloyds, in addition to their coup with the Sentinal, brought me bunny cake. Unfortunately, I only got a half a piece out of the whole thing, cause I was so busy running around and being a good birthday boy.
Alfred's kit at the Vault in Baltimore, MD.
Alfred’s kit at the Vault in Baltimore, MD.
Alfred's kit at the Vault in Baltimore, MD.
Alfred’s kit at the Vault in Baltimore, MD.

March 26th, 2004.

Expect typos, I’ve grown far too used to my own computer, and typing on any other machine is pretty alien to me. My pricey, custom-built Alienware 51m has failed me after only 7 months of use. A pretty complete death – by the time I was packing it off to Florida, it wasn’t even powering up. I was ready to cry.

Anywho, for those of you out there who are emailing me and suchnot and whatnot, that’s why I might be a bit slow about responding. I almost lost everything on my harddrive – luckily for me, my friends Allie and James – they had the POWER!!!

James got obsessed with my problem, and though it took him hours and hours of working and wiring and rewiring and a little bit of hacking – he finally got into my harddrive and got most of my data and saved it to DVD. Unfortunately, I have lost all of my email contacts and the emails themselves. It’s a frustration. I had a lot of old email from old girlfriends, not to mention Tyler’s old letters from when we were really flirty (back when I thought he was that cute little blonde).

A very, very sick PC. Last Sunday, after the PLOJ - I came home to my computer going slightly insane - switching resolutions randomly, and eventually just freezing up and refusing to restart. I spent some time with Alienware tech support - and there's something really awesome about Alienware tech support vs most computer tech support... you call Dell, and they assume you may have forgotten to plug the computer in, or that perhaps you don't know how to turn it on. Alienware, on the other hand, assumes that you have a phillip's head screwdriver and that you're ready to yank parts out of your computer.
A very, very sick PC. Last Sunday, after the PLOJ – I came home to my computer going slightly insane – switching resolutions randomly, and eventually just freezing up and refusing to restart. I spent some time with Alienware tech support – and there’s something really awesome about Alienware tech support vs most computer tech support… you call Dell, and they assume you may have forgotten to plug the computer in, or that perhaps you don’t know how to turn it on. Alienware, on the other hand, assumes that you have a phillip’s head screwdriver and that you’re ready to yank parts out of your computer.

I swapped RAM, I pulled my harddrive, I looked at a melted part of my motherboard. It was determined that a stick of RAM, my powersource, my display cardie thingie had all gone bad, as well as a corrupted user profile, and some other random disasterous stuff. I was pretty fucking pissed.

So, today it’s a long day of catching up, and trying to get Heather’s laptop to fill in the gap left by my machine’s unfortunate demise. In the background, the SciFi channel is running a classic Star Trek marathon, and based on their commercials, they seem to think that their viewership demographic is comprised mostly of women suffering from “feminine itch” as well as menopause… oh, and people looking for arthritis and denture creams.

The infamous Jayson Blair showed up at the door and took a poke at it. Within moments he had my screws scattered over the coffeetable. He did this wonderful laying on of hands - the computer came alive momentarily... but then it died.
The infamous Jayson Blair showed up at the door and took a poke at it. Within moments he had my screws scattered over the coffeetable. He did this wonderful laying on of hands – the computer came alive momentarily… but then it died.

That just doesn’t seem right.

Sigh, in the meantime – Captain Kirk’s body has been taken over by a chick. Most unfortunate.

I swear, when Heather wanders off to the next room, she misses the best stuff.

PLOJ XXVII.

The beautiful Allie - a friend from the old Year of the Rabbit. I'm so glad she managed to come out - her voice was spectacular, and hung over the whole night like a disembodied spirit.
The beautiful Allie – a friend from the old Year of the Rabbit. I’m so glad she managed to come out – her voice was spectacular, and hung over the whole night like a disembodied spirit.
We've got some catching up to do in regards to pictures, so let us travel back in time to last Saturday's PLOJ. The Pot Luck Open Jam, at College Perk, got into full swing by 8pm or so with about 50 musicians and listeners over the course of the night. There were two PLOJ firsts over the course of the evening. This was shot during the first part of the first of these firsts. For the first time during a PLOJ - a song was repeated. "No Woman No Cry" showed up three times over the course of the night.
We’ve got some catching up to do in regards to pictures, so let us travel back in time to last Saturday’s PLOJ. The Pot Luck Open Jam, at College Perk, got into full swing by 8pm or so with about 50 musicians and listeners over the course of the night. There were two PLOJ firsts over the course of the evening. This was shot during the first part of the first of these firsts. For the first time during a PLOJ – a song was repeated. “No Woman No Cry” showed up three times over the course of the night.
My old partner, Audrey - she rarely makes it out to a PLOJ, but she came out last Saturday and performed her new song. People say I was tearing up. That's a lie.
My old partner, Audrey – she rarely makes it out to a PLOJ, but she came out last Saturday and performed her new song. People say I was tearing up. That’s a lie.
Chelsea and Beau were our guests for the weekend. We played a fantastic show at the New Deal Cafe - and we were so glad to give them a good night. They sold more CDs in that one night than they had in the past history of their CDs existance. Then they sold a couple more at PLOJ. It at LEAST paid for their train tickets.
Chelsea and Beau were our guests for the weekend. We played a fantastic show at the New Deal Cafe – and we were so glad to give them a good night. They sold more CDs in that one night than they had in the past history of their CDs existance. Then they sold a couple more at PLOJ. It at LEAST paid for their train tickets. Beau had been sick recently, and was really tired throughout the PLOJ – I sort of felt really bad for keeping him up late. But eventually he and Chelsea were rejuvenated by the Power of Song!!!
Or something.
[I can't go through these old photos and NOT post pics where my Dad seems to be having a good time - rob 12/26/17]
[I can’t go through these old photos and NOT post pics where my Dad seems to be having a good time – rob 12/26/17]

Brennan was having a very, very strange night. This was just a momentary evil face. I really, really think that he’s not as frightening as this photograph might, at first, suggest. It was really just gas. I’m assured of this fact.

Since moving to the College Perk, Brennan has gotten the added stress of being a half-a-PLOJ host, and frankly I’ve allowed MOST of the PLOJ hosting stresses slip to his shoulders. Actually, maybe THAT’s what that face is about.

Heather set up shop in the back of the Perk and ended up restoring a bunch of Heron's wraps...
Heather set up shop in the back of the Perk and ended up restoring a bunch of Heron’s wraps…
A well-packed house. I'm Loving the PLOJes at College Perk. It really is a perfect space - I mean, I guess it could be a little bit larger, but the place has exactly the right spirit. The woman sitting on the couch in the background, talking on her cellphone - we ran across her again just last night at the New Deal Cafe for a SAW event - and I think she was someone who just sort of showed up at Perk and stumbled into the whole thing by mistake. There were a couple of people who hadn't known anything was going on that night - much less anything the scale of PLOJ - they wandered the night, looking bewildered and slightly stunned. Like they'd been hit by a large, musical trout - something the PLOJ is frequently compared to. Also in the background: on the far left, mostly in shadow, you can see Charles, Chelsea's Dad (who came up with his exquisite acoustic Takoma bass) and you have the curly-headed blonde host from the BSA Open Mic at Kiss Cafe (I can't remember her name off the top of my head), as well as Tim from Might Could. College Park is such a central location, we really get all the people that I'd always wanted to get out to Manassas, or Edgewater. It really is the perfect spot.
A well-packed house. I’m Loving the PLOJes at College Perk. It really is a perfect space – I mean, I guess it could be a little bit larger, but the place has exactly the right spirit. The woman sitting on the couch in the background, talking on her cellphone – we ran across her again just last night at the New Deal Cafe for a SAW event – and I think she was someone who just sort of showed up at Perk and stumbled into the whole thing by mistake. There were a couple of people who hadn’t known anything was going on that night – much less anything the scale of PLOJ – they wandered the night, looking bewildered and slightly stunned. Like they’d been hit by a large, musical trout – something the PLOJ is frequently compared to.
Also in the background: on the far left, mostly in shadow, you can see Charles, Chelsea’s Dad (who came up with his exquisite acoustic Takoma bass) and you have the curly-headed blonde host from the BSA Open Mic at Kiss Cafe (I can’t remember her name off the top of my head), as well as Tim from Might Could. College Park is such a central location, we really get all the people that I’d always wanted to get out to Manassas, or Edgewater. It really is the perfect spot.

The PLOJes have always been such fantastic gatherings. We’ve been running them for about five or six years now. We started on New Year’s Day back in 1999 – I was Living with Syl and Sara Smith and working as a freelance illustrator, doing a lot of random work for different telecommunications companies in Northern Virginia. I had just quit teaching high-school, and was really interested in finally persuing my Life as an artist.

Whatever type of artist I was going to be – visual or musical.

Syl had been the guy who had really inspired me towards music – before I was just a bass-player – but Syl inspired me to sing – mostly to impress him. I sort of feel weird, realizing that I started singing in high-school – but then became a bassplayer because I Loved being on stage so much… I learned to play guitar in order to impress Audrey – and then I really focused on being a singer/songwriter because of how much I admired Syl. Is anything I do self-motivated? Psh… don’t matter. I Love it anywho.

Another photograph showing the depth o PLOJ. The woman right in the centre never ended up singing, though she asked if she could - maybe she'll up her gumption next time. There was a fantastic number of newbies last Saturday. A dangerous number.
Another photograph showing the depth o PLOJ. The woman right in the centre never ended up singing, though she asked if she could – maybe she’ll up her gumption next time. There was a fantastic number of newbies last Saturday. A dangerous number.
Ew. PLOJ babies. I was chased by the youngling. His vomitous mouth pointed at my direction - a threat to my very cleanliness.
Ew. PLOJ babies. I was chased by the youngling. His vomitous mouth pointed at my direction – a threat to my very cleanliness.
Syl Smith and Waverly Milor. I had given up on inviting Syl places, because he's usually so busy working. Hipocrisy, I know - I mean, if people gave up on inviting me places just because I'm so busy all the time - I'd cry. A lot. Anywho, I'm not sure who passed it along, it was probably Wave - but I'm crazy-grateful.
Syl Smith and Waverly Milor. I had given up on inviting Syl places, because he’s usually so busy working. Hypocrisy, I know – I mean, if people gave up on inviting me places just because I’m so busy all the time – I’d cry. A lot. Anywho, I’m not sure who passed it along, it was probably Wave – but I’m crazy-grateful.
A second PLOJ first - trumpet. There was this moment when it came sailing in, sweet and pure over the rest of the room - during Heather's rendition of "Your Eyes", I think. That's Rick (Audrey's husband) with the bazouki.
A second PLOJ first – trumpet. There was this moment when it came sailing in, sweet and pure over the rest of the room – during Heather’s rendition of “Your Eyes”, I think. That’s Rick (Audrey’s husband) with the bazouki.
Heron and Jennie [years later Jennie is doing raptor rescue in New Mexico and we get to stay with her and get dangerously close to being vomited on by giant birds]
Heron and Jennie [years later Jennie is doing raptor rescue in New Mexico and we get to stay with her and get dangerously close to being vomited on by giant birds]
Zoe Mulford at PLOJ XXVII - March 20th, 2004.
Zoe Mulford at PLOJ XXVII – March 20th, 2004.

Off to Philadelphia and then Stroudsburg, PA…
Tuesday night we continued our wanderings, and returned ourselves to the fine city of Brotherly Love. Shane welcomed us to Philadelphia, PA – where we played the Point before going back to the dorms of Drexel University.

The Point was bloody nightmarish. This was the place we went the first night of our Trip – and we’d been blown away by the talent and the overall feel of the place. Since then, we keep going back with fiercely high hopes – and keep getting disappointed. It was one of the most horrific nights … oh God. It was agony to sit through. I stood in the back lamenting with the host… wincing.

There were a couple of cool acts (we even ran into some friends that we’d met in Red Bank, NJ – Tommy Anton and I traded tour thoughts), but mostly it was just one of those nights that would never, ever end.

We crashed with Shane, and we played Halo. I didn’t die as much as I did last time, but there was no Slutty Tofu, either.

Wednesday we drove North up to East Stroudsburg University. Mapping it out, we realized that ESU was like… five miles away from the Deleware Water Gap.

There’s no reason to know of the Delaware Water Gap… of Minsi and Tamanee… calling me… except for an amazing Richard Shindell song – and Heather said that we had to go there, since we had the time. I plotted a new course and headed the car through Easton to the Delaware River. We wandered through some spectacular houses, some spectacular neighbourhoods – Heather’s asked me not to fill the Journal with pictures of the houses, but they’re gorgeous… I’m going to sit with those pictures flipping past me as I fall asleep tonight. I shall dream of Easton and their turreted houses and stone walls and fantastic things.

Poor Heather – after Easton, I look at her fine, fine figure… and think… “hey baby… nice roof. You’se a brick HOUSE.” Mmmmm.

The ladies of East Stroudsburg University.
The ladies of East Stroudsburg University.
Our host at Stroudsburg, Dana.
Our host at Stroudsburg, Dana.
in front of Mount Minsi.
in front of Mount Minsi.
Heather in front of Mount Tamany. Mostly I took this picture to get Heather in trouble.
Heather in front of Mount Tamany. Mostly I took this picture to get Heather in trouble.
The Delaware Water Gap. When we saw we were near the Delaware Water Gap - between Minsi and Tamany... we had to stop and soak it in. No traffic at all, though.
The Delaware Water Gap. When we saw we were near the Delaware Water Gap – between Minsi and Tamany… we had to stop and soak it in. No traffic at all, though.

The gig at Stroudsburg was very, very small. Above and around, you see pictures of literally half the audience. We had a rough night… a night that inspired me to sing “Bitches and Fuckheads”, which simply displayed what a good idea it is for me NOT to record every performance.

Sigh – anywho, we’re caught up, whether you like it or not. We could talk of the long long drive home, or of our deviations of course – lost on 83 South. We could talk of the New Deal Cafe open mic and the high point – Richard McMullin, and how much I Love listening to him play… or we could even talk of going to see Heather’s brother’s play tonight, “Bye Bye Birdie”, and why high school girls are the best screamers… but all in all, I think I shouldn’t.

Spring sprang sprung. Flowers in front "Rape Park" at Drexel University. These lil guys were the only things Living, though. No bushes for the sex-starved to hide in right now.
Spring sprang sprung. Flowers in front “Rape Park” at Drexel University. These lil guys were the only things Living, though. No bushes for the sex-starved to hide in right now.

November 12-15, 2005

Ah, to be the hero of half-empty small town bars, or to fight for attention in mid-time music halls? It’s the age-old question: is it better to be the big fish in the little pond or the other way around?

ED-209 at Mike and Ari's. I was pretty jealous of this - he even shoots caps! Sigh.
ED-209 at Mike and Ari’s. I was pretty jealous of this – he even shoots caps! Sigh.

People make a lot of assumptions about us when we walk into a room. Some of it is the equivalent of locker-room verification – checking out and comparing the equipment. We carry nice gig bags, and a hand drum in a case, which is a rarity at most open mics.

Couchlings at the Centre Coffee Bar in Windsor, CT. In the back you've got Mike and Ari. Lance and Renee are on the right, and that's Dan of Perfect Silence in my mouth.
Couchlings at the Centre Coffee Bar in Windsor, CT. In the back you’ve got Mike and Ari. Lance and Renee are on the right, and that’s Dan of Perfect Silence in my mouth.
Jason Winnie has a new creation - he's done electric guitars, but this is his first leather inlay ACOUSTIC guitar!
Jason Winnie has a new creation – he’s done electric guitars, but this is his first leather inlay ACOUSTIC guitar!

When we unzip, people make judgments about us. Everyone does it. Nothing about us is flashy, but we look prepared. Prepared and traveled. I think of Takamines as the Saturn cars of the guitar world – Popular with the middle class, sensible, gets good mileage and handles well in all kinds of weather. And though the instrument does not always make the man, there is an assumption that people with good gear are good enough to know good gear, and then good enough to play it. This said, there is gear that everyone knows is good and buy as much for sound as status. These days, if somebody is playing a Taylor , about the only thing that suggests is that they could afford it.

Squires usually set off alarm bells in my head. Someone in here tonight has a Wal-Mart electric guitar that they picked up second-hand at a pawn shop. I am not sure if I should be afraid.

In bars like this, we know what to play. We know what compliments we will elicit. And we know that we will walk away with a couple dollars at best, a booking offer if the place regularly features music, but little else. It’s a quick fix, and the high wears off fast. But, if you get too egotistical and decide that places like this are beneath you, you will fight for people to give a damn somewhere else. The rewards might be bigger there, the compliments of greater weight, the CD sales more lucrative, but they might also go to the other guy that night who was just that little bit better than us. And how do we feel about ourselves then?

Departing from Mike and Gail's place in Hartland, CT - many a goodbye had to be shared betwixt me and the local golden retriever. I LOVE this dog. Sigh.
Departing from Mike and Gail’s place in Hartland, CT – many a goodbye had to be shared betwixt me and the local golden retriever. I LOVE this dog. Sigh.
These are the little tokens that you get when you pay your cover for Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem, PA. They're worth 50c to trade in towards coffee or cookies. All in all, I wouldn't mind just pocketing them. Or at least, keeping them... actually having these little guys in my pocket might make me feel a bit uncomfortable.
These are the little tokens that you get when you pay your cover for Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem, PA. They’re worth 50c to trade in towards coffee or cookies. All in all, I wouldn’t mind just pocketing them. Or at least, keeping them… actually having these little guys in my pocket might make me feel a bit uncomfortable.

I can’t write places like this off, no matter how many of them frustrate me and make me question my choices and my gas mileage.


I’ve coined an expression for nights like that. I call it “wearing the sequin dress to the baseball game.” That is when you feel like whipping out all the stops seems not only like overdoing it, but inappropriate. Last night, was the opposite. Whipping out all the stops was the right thing to do, the goal to be the “stand-out performer” part of the deal … and yet this time we somehow got punished for it.

While at Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem for the open mic there a couple nights ago, one of the volunteers there suggested that, since we were to be in Philadelphia anyway, we should head to the World Cafe. It’s a radio thing, but apparently they opened up a music venue. A competition like Eddie’s Attic, the staff of the place picks who advances. We figured this was a great way to meet some new people in Phillie and start making the most of a city we had not really taken full advantage of.

This is the mural inside the WXPN building in Philadelphia, PA.
This is the mural inside the WXPN building in Philadelphia, PA.
Mark Lancaster from the open mic at the World Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.He was the first guy who I thought really stood out. He brought out some real passion for the night, made me actually take notice.
Mark Lancaster from the open mic at the World Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.He was the first guy who I thought really stood out. He brought out some real passion for the night, made me actually take notice.

Any open mic at which you spend 6 hours is sort of difficult. So we go last night, showing up at the appointed hour of 5pm to wait in line for the 6pm sign-up, and we are the 7th in line. By the time they let us in, there are 15-20. We somehow wind up going 16th.

Ryan Dawn at the World Cafe in Philadelphia, PA. He was the winner of last month's competition - and with good reason. Fast as Hell picker, very decent player.
Ryan Dawn at the World Cafe in Philadelphia, PA. He was the winner of last month’s competition – and with good reason. Fast as Hell picker, very decent player.
Walking home from the World Cafe Open Mic, we stopped where it all began. The Drexel Dragon that Shane introduced us to that found its way into the artwork for on Luck on Fumes on Spit on Love.
Walking home from the World Cafe Open Mic, we stopped where it all began. The Drexel Dragon that Shane introduced us to that found its way into the artwork for on Luck on Fumes on Spit on Love.

I always find myself looking around at moments like that and try and figure out who is going to be good. What they are going to sound like. I am almost NEVER right, which I guess should put to rest some of my own fears about looking the part. Although, there are some that look SO much the part and are the art that it is completely infused throughout their look and personality. There were a couple of those – a guy with crazy hair in big beads and a red hawaiian shirt. Everyone who was artfully disheveled it seems, turned out to be good. The venue itself was gorgeous … definitely not the baseball game. There was even a piano on which to writhe in the sequin dress you would have been totally right to wear there.

The persuasive note that was left to keep Ian home and eager for feastin'. We went out to get sushi for lunch since Heather and I were planning on leaving that night for Harrisburg. But then, after the sushi and the walk (only about 4 miles, really) we were kind of lazy and decided we'd stay another night. Ian was non-plussed that we made that decision after convincing him to stay home from work.
The persuasive note that was left to keep Ian home and eager for feastin’. We went out to get sushi for lunch since Heather and I were planning on leaving that night for Harrisburg. But then, after the sushi and the walk (only about 4 miles, really) we were kind of lazy and decided we’d stay another night. Ian was non-plussed that we made that decision after convincing him to stay home from work.

So the night crawled forward … As they were about to announce the winner at the end of the night, 11:30 or so, the bar manager came up to me and said we were the hands-down favorites. Everyone had voted our way.

But then they figured since we were a touring act we would not be able to make a date so soon and would likely be in parts elsewhere, so they picked someone else. It’s totally what we could’ve used – a built-in audience in a place we’ve got no draw.

I told the woman I wished she would have asked us, because we could have made the date. But she said they wanted to offer us a gig, and so they figured that was how we would “win.” I told her we don’t have much in the way of a huge following in Philadelphia, so it would have to be an opening act. I thanked her.

UGH! Too professional to win! If only they knew how many nights of our lives were spent in open mics. The gig is fine, but to be honest, a stair-step competition might be better for us seeing more and different kinds of audiences instead of trying ot pull numbers at a gig. They said if we came back another month, we would most certainly win and could go through the contest that way if we liked. They loved us. I think that was what was so frustrating. I wanted to tell them that we are not as well off as they think. But then again, I don’t want to tell people that.

Long night for the utmost in musical blueballs. Damn that slutty sequin dress and all its promise.