September 25, 2003.

Last night was another of our disappointment moments. The Desert Rain, or wherever we were going last night… two addresses, one from openmikes.com and one from their website. Relatively close together, we couldn’t get a person on the phone, but went on the basis that their website was very very up to date. – Sigh. One address didn’t exist, and the other was some sort of burnt out steely bike shop. Add that to the list:

Rules of the Trip:
1) NO HOT DOGS.
2) NO BACON MUSHROOM CHEESEBURGERS
3) ALWAYS CARRY A CAMERA
4) ALWAYS CALL AHEAD, AND IF YOU DON’T GET AN ANSWER, DON’T GO!!!!

Oh, and this morning, rule five… I came up with it during possibly one of the best showers of my LIFE (Will’s water pressure is spectacular!) – but he’s got these little net things in the shower curtain sort of like shelves but they don’t hold everything up at a solid angle so they sort of splay everywhere, which really was the impetus for rule five…

5) ALWAYS ASCERTAIN THE LOCATION OF ALL BACKSCRUBBY STICKS, RANDOM POLE-THINGS, AND LOOFAH DEVICES BEFORE BENDING OVER IN A NEW SHOWER.

Sheesh. Nothing too bad, just… definately a wake-up call, and a bit more intimate of an experience than I was ready for.

Strange to be sitting in the next room – listening to Will listening to me. Will started i love you and I Miss You. In Baltimore, he was the one inspired by the stickers, I was just sort of contemptuous when I found out who it was. They caught my eye, but when I heard it was GREG… well…

Anywho, I was already smitten with some sort of level of fanboy sickness when Will approached me about i love you And I Miss You, and asked me to be a part of it, I just about died in a little wriggle of joy.

So, I come back to him every couple of years with my music on my back and place them on a little sacrificial altar to Will Schaff – the writer I Loved in college. And now I listen from the next room and wonder what he’s hearing, wonder what he’s thinking about what he’s hearing. I remember at one point he thought I was going in too “poppy” of a direction – and mortified though I was, I know I haven’t really turned around. I know my tastes are much more conventional than his… It’s funny how I criticize Heather for only ever taking into account one person’s opinion… and here I am, knowing that no matter how much really good feedback we’ve gotten on the album, if Will shoots it down – well, it’ll take my pride down a notch or two. It’s the danger of admiration, I suppose.

WHOA – now there’s something I NEVER thought I’d hear… Will’s playing accordian along to Deep in the AM. I’m just about ready to die… TWEE!! And dear lord, I think he’s going to do the whole album now. Sever’s just a little strange with that addition.

Anywho, between the dancing and the dogs, I’m trying to sort photographs… here’s the sleeping bags in the Saturn back from day One – we’ve since given up on carrying two of the damned things, and hence regained that whole rear-view mirror thing.

The second photo is the now packed interior of the College Perk in College Park – it’s amazing what the owner, Chris, has put together in the past couple of months.


Will goes to the park… with all of the dogs. The owners don’t know one another’s names, they just know one another by the dogs’ names (presumably cause that’s what everyone’s screaming all the time)

Will and Corinna (not named for the DAMN DYLAN TUNE!)

Providence, Rhode Island seems pretty idyllic in a lot of ways. Late-night sushi restaurants are always a sign of true city class, as are dog parks.

The dogs came as a surprise.

Back in Baltimore, I knew Will as the owner of many dead things. The one Live creature, Fallsway (the cat – also a superhero) was an anomoly. Here I find him surrounded with two dogs (Freddie and Corinna) and… I think it’s four cats. Lemme see – there’s Stryker (insane foot assassin), a big fluffy black one with a limp that I haven’t caught the name of, aaand… and there’s Little Cunt (L.C.) who apparently pees on things that smell of Will. Maybe there’s only three cats. Oh yeah, and there’s Joelle, but she’s human and owns the apartment.

Comfort levels? Well, Freddie now feels free to ask us to root around in his ear so he can lick his earwax off our fingers, Corinna just wants to lick us, Stryker wants to kill us, but is still pretending to want belly rubs to gain our trust. Mostly I think he wants to render us incapable of keeping him away from our bananas, which he seems to desire. Oh, the fluffy one just wants Love, and L.C… well, she’s lying in wait to pee. Ah, pee.

Will sits on the floor, inadvertantly gluing dog-hair tumbleweeds to his art. It is a difficult environment.

So, the dog park. A place of energy and freedom and occassional unexpected poo. Dog feces, though a rarity, shared its joy with us in mounds of many sizes.

A sunny day with Sonny – he’s also one of the original members of i love you And I Miss You, and has continued to release music under that moniker. Here he is being ravaged by Mischief. (he also has a Japanese name, I think, and only responds to commands in French).


Will and Jolene and Freddie and Corinna, off to the dog park.

09.25

I am currently sitting in the living room of the famous Will Schaff. We walked in at 4 a.m. a couple days ago and he emerged through the door, visually everything I expected: six feet tall, lanky but very strong-looking in his torn and beaten-to-hell black jeans and button-down shirt, missing buttons replaced with safety pins in that way that is not goth at all, but purely carelessly utilitarian. The second he opens his mouth, to put in a cigarette or to speak, he seems pure hooligan, street punk, I expect frayed-wire car stereos in every corner. His head is still shaved, but with frequent growing patches that make it look like burned-out velvet – he has tried to do it himself. And then we are greeted by the more uniformly fuzzy two dogs and four cats.

The townhouse he shares with a friend is covered with his artwork and it’s amazing. The room in which we slept was wallpapered with his nudes. Frightening and beautiful. Waking up to Will’s nudes, staring from the walls, amputated, all mid-sentence.

Wasn’t as weird or troubling as I thought it might be and I did not have the strange dreams I thought the paintings might inspire. I feel a little weird about taking pictures, but can honestly not resist. The holocaust imagery is everywhere, the shrunken bodies pouring from the mouths and eyes of his characters, the skulls and animal parts rob talked about … and then there’s the accordion sitting in the middle of the room.

I caught him this morning playing accordion to Deep in the AM. Snapped the picture before Will flashed me a raised eyebrow. Tyler would be so pleased.

And the tattoos are alluring, but distant. I feel weird getting too close, assuming that sort of familiarity with someone whose song lyrics I know, but whom I’ve never met before two days ago. When I get a good look, they are Holocaust names, not numbers as rob remembered.

Today Will is arting all over the living room floor and a pet-hair tumbleweed just blew through, dangerously close to the paint and glue. Collages of his piled bodies and amputated bits of Life magazines. Makes me want to make things. Draw more. Will is chastising rob for not drawing more and getting out of practice. Rule #5 – Both of us should draw more.

There are also little rules of the Will house. I love the idiosyncracies of other people’s houses.

1. Keep the bathroom door closed because the eldest cat likes to shit in the shower.
2. The bathroom sink doesn’t work, so teeth brushing is a kitchen sink activity.
3. Add an extra minute to anything you microwave and then stop whatever it is 30 seconds before the end or it will blow a fuse (rob forgot today).
4. Hang up anything of yours that the animals might have seen Will touch or they might pee on it thinking it is his.
5. Don’t bring up Jimmy’s Chicken Shack (rob forgot today).

September 27th, 2003.

I seem to spend every waking moment wandering through this house, looking at the scraps of artwork scattered, glued, hung, discarded – on every corner and in every corner. On dresser doors and door knobs, covering lightswitches and cat hair. This morning, getting ready to go get brunch with Mary (Christ, 10am leaves me feeling mauled) I run across a series of Shoe cartoons redone by Will.

They’re hauntingly reminsecent of some ghastly sit-com, talking of the main character’s death through lung cancer, complete with a hollow -sounding punch-line at the end of every strip. It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever read.

September 28th, 2003.

Just met some of the best people on the Trip so far. We met Andrea at an open mic at the Columbus Theatre. An incredible place, old theatre (whenever we talk to ANYONE about it, there are three sentances – 1) OH that’s a great place! 2) That’s really close to here, and 3) You know, it used to be a porn theatre!

Sheesh.. Porn porn porn.

Anywho, back to exploring the Will house. Not EVERYTHING is so morbid… nor as beautiful:

dear lord. I'm not even sure why Will would have such things. It upsets me to even think about it. s h u d d e r. This house is like Amy's house, but... in inverse. Like, Amy from Hell. The total seepage of creative energies, but from the absolute opposite end of the spectrum. Heather's amazed by meeting so many of my school friends who still do their art. It's interesting - trying to get across the point that for many of the people at MICA, we never had a choice. It's what I've transferred into my music - it's not what I've chosen, it's chosen me....
dear lord. I’m not even sure why Will would have such things. It upsets me to even think about it. s h u d d e r. This house is like Amy’s house, but… in inverse. Like, Amy from Hell. The total seepage of creative energies, but from the absolute opposite end of the spectrum. Heather’s amazed by meeting so many of my school friends who still do their art. It’s interesting – trying to get across the point that for many of the people at MICA, we never had a choice. It’s what I’ve transferred into my music – it’s not what I’ve chosen, it’s chosen me….

hehee… puppeee.

yeah, dazrite, puppies n olive oil. EXTRA VIRGIN. –>

You know, it’s not like we ever sat down and said “I want to write depressing songs” or, in Will’s case, “I need to make art about corpses and the Holocaust”. There are things in our heads, and we need to deal with them SOMEHOW.  MICA… art school… it’s convenient that there happens to be an entire industry that sort of LOOKS like the same sort of thing we all do. It’s excellent that there are people who WANT our psychological leavings.

Sometimes, the art consumes you, and you don’t have time for anything else. In Will’s case, he’s lucky enough to have a couple of people who want the inner-workings of his head hanging on their walls. It’s like being paid for breathing, maybe. Maybe I shouldn’t speak for him.

Unfortunately, it barely translates at this size... the lightswitch next to the flaccid penis is very very funny to me. The penis must get jealous when the lightswitch gets turned on.
Unfortunately, it barely translates at this size… the lightswitch next to the flaccid penis is very very funny to me. The penis must get jealous when the lightswitch gets turned on.
This is what Will's working on at the moment. Glue and dog hair and questions like "don't you think he needs rays of power?" Oh, and "NO that's not a woman rubbin her nub on his hand, that's just a little girl! America's YOUTH!!!"
This is what Will’s working on at the moment. Glue and dog hair and questions like “don’t you think he needs rays of power?” Oh, and “NO that’s not a woman rubbin her nub on his hand, that’s just a little girl! America’s YOUTH!!!”

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 14, 2003.

No real luck at Tobacco Road. Gig went well, good sound, and Dan as always, kicks ass. Unfortunately, Sharif got the flu and couldn’t make it. But Brennan came up with Dan, and that was excellent. We wandered Times square and got some excellent Thai food (unfortunately, it treated Heather poorly the next day).

Also, a bizarre parking contraption - actually a series of pulleys and elevator thingies and one of the most amazing parallel parking car maneuvering critters I've ever seen.
Also, a bizarre parking contraption – actually a series of pulleys and elevator thingies and one of the most amazing parallel parking car maneuvering critters I’ve ever seen.

We also got to hang out with my friend Zak for a couple of hours. His artwork has become spectacular – beautiful work. His floors are covered in clothes and discarded unidentifiable pieces of… stuff… there are photo lenses and art and stuffed animals duct taped to every flat surface. But his portfolio really is incredible, and he’s doing graphic novels… really cool stuff.

Heather keeps me going.
Heather keeps me going.

I need to start doing some really serious thinking on how to bring these artists together. Tomorrow I’ll prolly spend the day arting, and then maybe do some wandering of Providence (did I mention we’re in Providence? But I really need to find out what I do with all these things and people that I’m encountering. I feel like on top of everything else, I’d like to be DISTRIBUTING these things. Will’s little colouring books, Zak’s graphic novels, Shane’s wisdom, Sonny’s drawings… sigh. What to do, what to do?

Tonight finds us in Providence, RI – staying in the apartment of Sonny Roelle – one of my artist friends from college. The apartment is actually a small room on the upper floor of some sort of artist’s commune/co-op. It’s a really cool cafe/artist’s space/apartment building/gallery space/practice space/performance space/studio space. At the moment, there’s two different bands performing in different parts of the building. Filtering and bouncing off of brick walls. The only other noises are the tapping of our computers and the running water in the turtle tank. Yeah, it’s time for pictures, I guess.

Yup, gotta go photograph the turtles...
Yup, gotta go photograph the turtles…
Zak Smith - friend from high school - working on top secret art stuff that I can't talk about .... really. His tattoos are actually really cool too, though you can't tell in the picture. It sort of just looks like he's been dipped in paint. Admitably, when we caught up with one another at the Orange Bear in NYC, I licked a finger and tried to rub them off. But nope, they're all real. I mean, the one on his hand definately is, the rest - well, once he caught on to what was going on, he wouldn't let my moistened finger near his skin anymore.
Zak Smith – friend from high school – working on top secret art stuff that I can’t talk about …. really. His tattoos are actually really cool too, though you can’t tell in the picture. It sort of just looks like he’s been dipped in paint. Admitably, when we caught up with one another at the Orange Bear in NYC, I licked a finger and tried to rub them off. But nope, they’re all real. I mean, the one on his hand definitely is, the rest – well, once he caught on to what was going on, he wouldn’t let my moistened finger near his skin anymore.
Heather screaming at Jayson to get off our car. Everything you read about him is true: He IS crazy! Well, or at least - I don't know, he's sort of like a damned black leprachaun - however you spell that. He needs to dance around in a little clover ring w. a hat on and do really obnoxious things like sit on your car while you're trying to leave the state. We drive Heather crazy.
Heather screaming at Jayson to get off our car. Everything you read about him is true: He IS crazy! Well, or at least – I don’t know, he’s sort of like a damned black leprechaun – however you spell that. He needs to dance around in a little clover ring w. a hat on and do really obnoxious things like sit on your car while you’re trying to leave the state. We drive Heather crazy.
Heather demanded Muppet Toe Theatre. Oedipus was a flop. Here they were headbanding... MASTER! MASTER!!! MASTER OF MUPPETS IS PULLING MY STRINGS!!!!
Heather demanded Muppet Toe Theatre. Oedipus was a flop. Here they were headbanding… MASTER! MASTER!!! MASTER OF MUPPETS IS PULLING MY STRINGS!!!!
Sonny's room. At the moment, a cello filters up from the band downstairs. Stained glass and toys Star Wars toys. Many a Falcon. (The one on the right was mine till I sold it to Sonny to help him start up a toy store). And turtles..
Sonny’s room. At the moment, a cello filters up from the band downstairs. Stained glass and toys Star Wars toys. Many a Falcon. (The one on the right was mine till I sold it to Sonny to help him start up a toy store). And turtles..
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0
Heather at Sonny's. She's finally posting stuff! So without further ado...
Heather at Sonny’s. She’s finally posting stuff! So without further ado…

October 21st, 2003.

I’m sitting in the dark. Nothing wrong with it. Just dark. I’ve been dreaming all night. Fever dreams churned out by sleeping on the floor to the tune of an uncontrolled radiator. I don’t remember much. There were three distinct worlds I inhabited last night.

The first, I don’t remember at all – I just remember that all too familiar post-dream thought of “I should remember this”. It was a hilarious thing… I don’t remember anything but laughter

The second was full of quiet tense waiting. I was hiding with friends, maybe even with family, in an abandoned city. I remember the Enemy coming – people filled out with fear, some of them coming to die, some of them coming to kill. We took two women in the middle of the night. They stumbled in to our adopted home, sending us blindly groping for guns. I remeember mine was like one of those cheap disposable cameras – paper and plastic, bright yellow like Kodak, a little counter on the top. I had used 6 of 8 shots.

The women woke us in the middle of the night – a mother who’s children were long dead, supporting her mother in turn, who was dying. Shawled and cold and tattered, they were looking for a warm place out of the wind. Someplace for the old woman to die in peace. Once we decided they were harmless, we allowed them into the dusty interior of the house.

The house itself seems to have once been a bar, or a pretty nice tavern of some sort. Big, wooden walls, dirt floors, small, glass paned windows.

Small windows, I remember that’s why we picked the place. When men with torches came still later in the night, there was the possibility that they hadn’t seen OUR lights, thanks to those small paned windows. Scrambling for lights, fumbling with tiny switches, grasping those damned tiny pegs on long-stemmed upright lamps – clumsy through gloves – we attracted attention and the dream dissolved into the confusion of combat. My cheap disposable pistol was used twice more and used up, feeling like a staple gun as it thudded slugs home into strangers in the doorway. I remember eyes…

And then there’s this third world. Whitney’s floor.

We arrived in Massachussetts sometime around 5pm yesterday. Beautiful sunshine – it’s rare that we’ve been gifted with anything less than crystalline skies during this whole Trip. Traffic was easy coming up 95 (from Providence) and we didn’t even get lost, despite the best attempts of the locals –

No signs in all of Massachussetts are simple. Even large highways find it neccessary to add in little flurishes and exciting curlyqueues… just to make Life interesting. It’s a land where even the highway engineers seem to deem themselves artists, taking liberties with the desired straight lines of our passage, and leaving signatures only visible from space.

Someday, all of New England will hold the occult signifigance of the Nazca Lines – mysterious etchings scrawled across the land with absolutely NO conceivable purpose.

In DC or Philadelphia, future scientists will discover what were clearly means of transportation – but in Massachussetts, they will be baffled, eventually passing it off to art – that wonderful catch-all for all misunderstood and ununderstood artifacts. Hell, if we didn’t have art, we’d have to understand EVERYTHING.

Back in Providence, Art was our medium. It was our surrounding atmosphere, and it was the profession of most everyone we met.

Staying with Sonny was a treat. AS220 is inexplicable – some sort of combination of all things artsy – from coffeehouse to bar, to cheap dorm-like housing to studio space – it has performance spaces and gallery spaces, showers and a stage. What else could anyone ask for? Some day, I hope to put together some sort of artist’s collective – but rather than the idealism of AS220’s unjuried galleries and stated mission of helping artists who can’t help themselves – I plan to state a different type of idealism.

I’d like to create something useful. I don’t believe that art is an end of it’s own. Those of us who’ve deemed ourselves artists have perhaps been lucky that it’s been thought of as a legitimate end in and of itself – but I think it’s a process – not a solution but a path.

Stop me if I get too preachy…

Oh yeah (ha!) you can’t!

There’s two types of art out there – just as there are two types of artists. There’s that stuff you buy with the dogs playing poker, the beautiful landscapes – the stuff that old men in flattened hats have churned out their entire Lives to make a Living. It’s like carpentry or masonry for them. A labour of Love, perhaps – but a creation of a known thing.

For the second type – it’s a solution to the shit inside of them. There’s some Shakespearian line about “the TRUTH MUST OUT!!” or something – Heather would correct me if I bothered to wake her – and it’s like that for a lot of the people I went to school with: things on the inside of our heads that we MUST contend with. However, perhaps lacking the people/talking/something skills that allow other people to be normal, social creatures – lacking what allows the normal human beast to talk about their troubles, sort out their troubles, and solve their troubles – they work it out visually, or musically… or through blood. Some people have even less socially acceptable ways of dealing with the things in their head. Painting and mass murder perhaps are not too different inside the “artist”s head – just one has become a little more accepted in social circles…

And luckily – many Artists’ work – whether it be the interior working of their heads or working through a visual problem while trying to sort out their own heads – that’s easily mistaken for another kind of art… the nice kind that we want to see hanging on our walls… I mean, certainly, it’s even cool to have the tortured, antagonistic kind hanging up here and there – but all of this has combined to make the artist believe that their psychosis produces a thing that is useful to society – in and of itself….

And I just don’t think that the art itself is enough. It’s a means to an end… and we were taught back at MICA (the Institute!!) that that “means” was enough.

So, make a collective of the people who understand that Art itself isn’t enough. You’ve got to do something with it. There are enough art school graduates pissing on crosses and painting red squares and making exciting blocks that generate interest into the plight of the modern woman on the Isle of Galapagos. Very few are accomplishing a damn thing. Some of them start arguements, most simply vanish into closets… if they’re lucky, they start conversations – but very few ever get in the last word.

Art is confined (in general) to the gallery space – the walls. “The art speaks for itself and the viewer takes away what they bring with them – only bent by the work” – that’s all fine and good, but if you want to change the world – there’s a lot more work to be done.

Starting the conversation is key. Most work doesn’t do that. If it’s accessible, it states an opinion – and often as not doesn’t back it up. Continuing the dialog is imperative. Most art is static, and can’t do that. And the artist is behind the walls somewhere, believing his work is done. The art then, after all of this – conversation carried or not – the viewer must walk away with the knowledge that they have communicated with someone/something outside of themselves. This is something that can almost ONLY be accomplished by the artist themselves – in PERSON.

I’m ranting. I’d like to create an artists’ collective that focuses on community, communication – the whole week I was at AS220, I only met three of the other artists Living there. There was nothing being done collectively – it was merely a shared Living space.

Anywho, enough about that. Whitney’s asking questions about the Journal, and my train of thought can only take so much interrogation. Heather has woken up and returned to her book, Whitney is diligent and returns to her physics.

And I’ll stick with this for a bit longer.

Where was I?

Providence, Rhode Island….

Constantly in out travels, we’ve re-encountered old friends of mine. Most expected, some not. All with huge, beautiful personalities. Will Schaff was our host on our last visit. The beautiful creator of beautiful things – but I often wonder where he’s heading. He seems to Live very much in the now, and Coca Cola and nicotine are driving his vibrant body into the ground. I come away from my brief visits with him smelling of smoke and worrying.

Not that that’s my place. We all make our decisions about what our task is here in Life and how much time we need to carry that task out. Every day I balance the needs of what I need to do vs what I have done vs how tired I am of everything. Fatigue of Life certainly drags at me, but people and the needs of people, and my need of people keeps me going. Exploration helps, and the Trip is the tool that puts it all together.

Providence, Rhode Island is beautiful. I see why so many MICAns were drawn to it.

Sonny remains quirky. He fills his Life with a security desk surragate job – parking cars at a local lot. 8+ hours a day, sitting in a box – he uses the time to bend wire into fantastic shapes. I don’t know what’s going on in his head – but he shreds his hands for

DCF 1.0

his art – He’s a toy collector, a Stuff collector (the letters of Vivian Gish? signatures of silent movie stars?) and a pretty successful artist. His works go for a thousand dollars a piece, and they are incredible.

But you have to wonder what’s going on inside. It’s neatly ordered… the time spent twisting wire into all those neatly ordered shapes reminds of the tiny, close packed lines of handwritten books in the movie Se7en. (nobody say ANYTHING!)

That's a close-up of one of his frames...
That’s a close-up of one of his frames…

–Time out – Whitney has taken a break from her physics studying to go and measure her arm with a tape measure – she seems displeased with the results, places the tape measure carefully back into its drawer, and returns to her work. No body ever talks about putting together a physicist commune, but sometimes, I think it might be better to keep them all in one place… And, as I show a greater detail of Sonny’s wire-work, Whitney offers to calculate my personal gravitational pull. I say no thanks.

“Dang!”

Poor Whitney.

Anywho - Here's the cat that stared at us at the Tinker's Nest in Warren, RI. Grr. This beast was very vocal - mewed at us a lot. Probably expressing it's displeasure at my flash, but I took a picture everytime it mewed, so I guess I won that one.
Anywho – Here’s the cat that stared at us at the Tinker’s Nest in Warren, RI. Grr. This beast was very vocal – mewed at us a lot. Probably expressing it’s displeasure at my flash, but I took a picture everytime it mewed, so I guess I won that one.

It’s pretty difficult to focus on Providence, RI, when Whitney’s trying to compact her cat into a sphere, so as better to ascertain the beast’s radius.

Whitney hasn’t really changed, it seems… and perhaps no-one does. She’s still radiantly beautiful, with perfect skin and long brown hair with gold curls all floating back and forth (I’ve always seen them as red). She was my first real girlfriend back in high school, and we dated for about a year and a half. Often blissfully, occassionally turbulently. The photographic evidence showed that we were disgustingly cute together.

But her deep voice is deepened still more by her cold at the moment, and we are given nightmares by the 3am emissions of her overactive radiator. Boston surrounds her like a cloak of mislaid streets, and she knows her city well, reciting small bits of history here and there. Dropping knowledge like leaves from her autumn toned head. It’s good to see her.

But this whole compressing the cat into a sphere thing has got me a little worried.

Providence, RI – A couple of truly fantastic nights – between the Gray Goose open mic (and really good people), and the night after that (the Custom House Tavern) – where we met incredible musicians and incredible storytellers… including one guy that we invited to come play with us for our Sunday night gig at Zog.

The CD sales are getting better – and we made a good amount of cash at the show at Cafe Zog. We saw a lot of familiar faces, and had the place pretty well filled with 32 people or so. Newbies clustered in to see what was going on, and a lot of people that we’d met on our Providence wanderings were there to make us feel welcome.

For the first hour, we were joined by Rob (Artoro Got the Shaft) who has definitely been one of the outstanding personalities in Providence. He’s an excellent percussionist and filled the first part of the gig with appropriated thunder that we would not have had on our own.

Rob is a creature from Kansas, and as such hasn’t quite caught up with the rest of the world yet – “Rad” and “Scope the scene” are frequent parts of his vocabulary, and Heather’s ever-chic sensibilities were shocked. I was very pleased, on the other hand, as these often sneak their way into MY everyday speach, and I was overjoyed to find someone who justified my words.

Of course, after he told the story of how he had to REALLY clean his bathroom because he’d been attacked by a daddy longlegs while excreting urine from … himself… and that he’d had nothing to attack the beast with (he was afraid of being bitten?!) he switched to “short, controlled bursts” – I wasn’t so sure that this was someone I wanted on my side.

I almost laughed pho through my nose.

On that note, I think it’s time to take a break from all this texting. I just need to keep up so that I don’t have to put all of this solid text time in… REMEMBER ROB!!! 15 minutes a DAY!!!

sigh.

October 22, 2003.

Heather throwing leaves in Providence, RI.
Heather throwing leaves in Providence, RI.

Tonight was an excellent night – last night we’d played the Skellig in Waltham – and the host, Hugh McGowan, invited us to come play his OTHER open mic – the Burren? Or something, tonight – The host himself was fantastic. Amazing music, amazing guitarist, amazing player. An amazing person. Very kind. Tonight he even played percussion for us. He understood all of the little glances and quirks, got all the stops in Hands, the jaunts and quirks of Deep in the AM. I was amazed. Rob from Providence was right – songwriters make the absolute best percussionists.

Beautiful blondes, great gingerale with free refills (in a bar?!!?) and a couple of other musicians who just made my Life complete. We sold a good number of CDs (we’ve been at or above our quota for the last couple of days).

Mary's like a laid-back, Asian Fonz. I like the fact that of all the people I've described to Heather, I knew that Mary wouldn't look ANYTHING like what she expected. I am tricky.
Mary’s like a laid-back, Asian Fonz. I like the fact that of all the people I’ve described to Heather, I knew that Mary wouldn’t look ANYTHING like what she expected. I am tricky.

Returning home in gentle cold weather, New England fall looked like it was going to go after our throats with frost everywhich where and ice forming on the trees – but tonight it was gentle, cold and Lovely. Walking home with a gentle mist of rain – even the subway was easy. I think I’m very happy with Boston.

We relax back into Whitney’s apartment, the cat is affectionately appreciative of attention – the window is letting in the correct temperature of air, the light is gentle, and I’ve got organic Spaghettios (by Amy!)… Life’s good.

She and I spent many a late night playing Monopoly during grave shifts. I learned to appreciate her laid-back demeanour – she exerted calm on me – and it was good to get to Providence and realize that she hadn’t changed at all (I keep saying that, eventually I’ll track down someone who’s just inverted their personality somehow… people don’t change, they just sort of mellow).

The infamous Fallsway - Will sings of him in song and verse - Fallsway is a superhero.... or something. Really, he's just a big ass cat. He Lives with Mary at her place in Providence with 71, the vast fluffy black cat. Mary is a quiet goddess of silence and serenity, with beautifully intense art and bright orange walls. I was describing her to Heather before we arrived.

The infamous Fallsway – Will sings of him in song and verse – Fallsway is a superhero…. or something. Really, he’s just a big ass cat. He Lives with Mary at her place in Providence with 71, the vast fluffy black cat. Mary is a quiet goddess of silence and serenity, with beautifully intense art and bright orange walls. I was describing her to Heather before we arrived.

“Heey rahhb.”

Greg Decoteau built this guitar and played it at the Muse at the Grey Goose... Celtic symbols hand inlaid on the fret-board...
Greg Decoteau built this guitar and played it at the Muse at the Grey Goose… Celtic symbols hand inlaid on the fret-board…
When I get famous, I'm coming back with a huge wad of cash and getting Greg to make ME one.
When I get famous, I’m coming back with a huge wad of cash and getting Greg to make ME one.

I like the mornings at Whitney’s apartment. She’s a med student at Harvard, and tends to be up till 3am every morning computing vectors and gravitational pulls (I didn’t know you had to go through physics to study medicine… is that why they’re called “physicians”?). The apartment itself is in a small alcove on the side of her building, with ground level windows and much ado about ivy, so there’s very little sunlight that filters in.

Every “morning” (noonish), Whitney goes through a waking up ritual of cereal and shower. I enjoy tapping at my laptop as she checks the news. Heather tends to stay horizontal a little bit longer, and curls up against me as I type. I feel bad because my elbow sometimes hits her nose.

All in all, Boston has been beautifully calm.

Whitney herself – well, I’ve met a LOT of preachy vegetarians, a lot of Greenpeacers, a lot of save the world types. It was a common creature to inhabit the halls of art school.

I’m very impressed with Whitney, because she Lives it. I haven’t seen ANYTHING consumable in her apartment that isn’t recyclable (and she’s good about recycling) or organic (including the dishwashing soap) or Seventh Generation (Heather even noticed reuseable items of a more personal nature – very committed). I have never run across ANYONE who LIVES it before. Like I said, very impressed.

The preachier a vegan, the more likely he’s going to make a comment like “oh, but I’ve just ALWAYS worn leather shoes” – the more someone yells at you about recycling the more likely they forget to take out the bin and eventually just let it go out with the trash – and the more someone bitches about conservation, the more likely they own a really old, foul-smelling, oil-leaking, gaz guzzling lemon from the 70’s.

Not that I’m bitching, you understand. I’m just impressed with Whitney. She’s silent, and she leads by excellent example.

DCF 1.0\

From a letter I wrote to Hugh McGowan today:

The last two nights were really spectacular, and a huge part of that was in the meeting of you. I’m listening to your CD now, the beauty and elegance of chord changes and the sweep of a voice that I could dream of matching if I practiced every night for twenty years.
Out of arrogance, perhaps, I’m not usually terribly entranced by the people we encounter at the open mics, and it’s been a while since I was totally wrapped up in another performer – it was like the days in college when I was still fumbling over G chords and watching Dan Blakeslee wide-eyed in Baltimore city coffeehouses, learning… learning.
Anywho, thank you for that, as well as the percussion for the evening. Fantastic night. We came out of the Burren high and laughing. We got into the subway station just as our train pulled up, caught the convenience store just before it closed, and got in the door just before the rain started. It’s been a couple of days and a focused couple of hours of extremes and just caught chances. A beautiful balance.

Listening to his CD – “I’m all fucked up, but she’s making sense of it all”. Wow.

This is a picture of Hugh at the Burren in Boston, Massachusetts.
This is a picture of Hugh at the Burren in Boston, Massachusetts.
Someone else at the Burren. I was surprised by the whole selling of person to person, flesh, hitting on, et cetera that happened before this open mic. For such a friendly place, I felt like you had to really watch your back.
Someone else at the Burren. I was surprised by the whole selling of person to person, flesh, hitting on, et cetera that happened before this open mic. For such a friendly place, I felt like you had to really watch your back.
Heather's been experimenting with CD packaging - she just gives me photos to work on, I work'em up, and she makes these beautiful CD cases.
Heather’s been experimenting with CD packaging – she just gives me photos to work on, I work’em up, and she makes these beautiful CD cases.

December 7th, 2004.

The last thing we did before departing for Rhode Island was to go visit Janna's new apartment in Baltimore. Great apartment, great stairs.
The last thing we did before departing for Rhode Island was to go visit Janna’s new apartment in Baltimore. Great apartment, great stairs.

“…you honestly brought tears to my eyes tonight listening to you play. You made me think about my life, and my choices, and my goals and aspirations (believe it or not)… Your bandmates are just amazing. You surround yourself with good people, talented people, and i admire that…”

I must admit, I haven’t really been in the mood to write in the Journal recently. Despite a truly spectacular show at College Perk (which resulted in the above flattering letter), I’m still feeling a bit burnt out. The “break” wasn’t very breakish.

Also moments before departure - Mara had given me a beautiful sweater last year - and I treasured it right up till the moment I didn't follow the washing instructions... she finished making a new one in record time and gifted me with new armour against the New England cold.
Also moments before departure – Mara had given me a beautiful sweater last year – and I treasured it right up till the moment I didn’t follow the washing instructions… she finished making a new one in record time and gifted me with new armour against the New England cold.

But what to do about that? Well, we’re already back on the road again, and even though this last stint of “being home” was the longest since we left on September 2nd, 2003 – it still seemed all too short. Just long enough to get me used to the idea of not worrying about where whether or not I was eating that night, or whether or not I was going to see a familiar face any given evening.

I’m typing from a beautiful wood and brick and iron apartment from Providence, Rhode Island. I wish the whole day had been this nice. I’d forgotten what it was like to have a rough day and then just… relax on a couch with a glass of water… and for it to be silent. There is nowhere else as quiet as Providence at midnight.

The George Washington Bridge in New York City vanishing into the icy fog.
The George Washington Bridge in New York City vanishing into the icy fog.
The George Washington Bridge in New York City vanishing into the icy rain.
The George Washington Bridge in New York City vanishing into the icy rain.

It was a rough drive up.

Technically, we DO have a rule in place about not driving more than four hours at a time if we’re playing that night. That lets us have lots of leisure time that can be spent stopping for flowers and photographs and cider and exciting puppies.

From Baltimore to Providence… not four hours. Especially on a rainy, dreary Monday. Especially when you time it wrong and hit New York City at rush hourish hours, and then Stamford, CT at actual rush hour. It was a rough drive.

We left at 11.30am and finally arrived at our destination (the Custom House) at a little after 9pm. And the Custom House was closed. From there we meandered over to the Call, but much of our enthusiasm had been drained. It was a rough day.

Played, passed out post cards, all in all – not an auspicious beginning to this run.

And then we made our way home to Rob Spectre.

We met Rob on our last trip to Providence. An awesome percussionist, an awesome punk musician, a great lyricist hidden in a genre that generally doesn’t bother. I’ve been really eager to see him again, and it’s pained me that it’s taken over a YEAR to return here.

It's hard to tell from this photograph - but we had our first sighting of snow as we passed New York City, and when we stopped for dinner in Stamford, CT - we hung out at a bush and ate some right off the vine. So to speak. Though bushes have no vines, and I know the snow doesn't LITERALLY grow there and.... and.... SNOW!!!
It’s hard to tell from this photograph – but we had our first sighting of snow as we passed New York City, and when we stopped for dinner in Stamford, CT – we hung out at a bush and ate some right off the vine. So to speak. Though bushes have no vines, and I know the snow doesn’t LITERALLY grow there and…. and…. SNOW!!!
Dragon attack. Random danger of Providence - this guy jumped us as we were passing the Children's Museum.
Dragon attack. Random danger of Providence – this guy jumped us as we were passing the Children’s Museum.

Rob met us tonight after getting back from a show of his own (with his band Artoro Got the Shaft – a joke for kids who took Spanish in school, apparently) and attacked us with fierce hugs and infectious good nature. He made me feel like we were kind of coming home.

A great end to a rough day.

Oh – random HUGE relief? SOMEONE else has bought this same model of Alienware laptop. Rob hasn’t had his for quite as long, nor has he used it nearly as hard – but we shall lament together on the pains of overheating and limited battery Life. Stupid Alienware.

Dec. 7, 2004

Today is my mother’s birthday. It is also Pearl Harbor Day. My mother was not born on the actual Pearl Harbor Day. So there you go. Happy Birthday, Mom. – r

A doom puddle. This is where we must search for exciting objects. In the doom puddles.
A doom puddle. This is where we must search for exciting objects. In the doom puddles.

We are in Providence and are eating ramen after our second disappointing night of open micing (hee hee, now all I can think of is that we are cats, hunting the streets of the city for mice to eat instead of the soup). I decided that, in order to keep our expenditures down this trip, rob and I should make a pact that we have to sell 5 CDs the night before to eat out the next day. We have six cans or packages of soup with us that are the consolation prize if we do not. I wish we had thought to bring more different kinds of soup. Sigh.

Nights like this and last night can really throw me into a fabulous despair. When people walk up to us at the open mics and are psyched about the fact that we are touring, and maybe could we give them some advice, it makes me feel like we are all mystique and no meat. I know this is not the case, and we have good nights, and they are even more frequent than few and far between, but when you are getting almost nothing back from your audience, playing to empty rooms it’s like drawing more and more cash from an empty metaphysical ATM. I am in spiritual debt.

Adding to this is the absolutely disgusting weather – my least favorite of all kinds – cold, with a constant mist that leaves you damp all day and an overcast that keeps it the same color of gray over everything all day long. This is the kind of weather that makes me feel like I want to saw at my wrists with a dull plastic knife, as my friend Zeb used to say.

This also means the found object hunting (since the last time I was in Providence I had not started making the jewelry yet, getting stuff from here to add to the collection is a big deal) has been limited, and rob and I have not been able to really walk around the neighborhood and get a feel for what’s nearby (ie: goof off and look at the shops and all the things we can’t afford).

So today was mostly spent cooped up inside, practicing some things, responding to e-mails.

I am also one single line away from finishing the new song, titled “No Place is Home (The Horseman).” The single line is evading me. The single line is important and knows its importance and has learned from it’s brothers of the assembly persuasion and gone on strike just to screw with me because it knows I cannot hire replacements who will only be lesser.

Bastard line.

Heather sheltering from the rain as we wait for the Century Lounge to open.
Heather sheltering from the rain as we wait for the Century Lounge to open.

I spent a good portion of my should-not-have-been-waking hours recently doing some research on the Headless Horseman – yielded a few interesting tidbits:

The symbolism of the Headless Horseman being a Hessian soldier: The Hessians were German mercenaries hired by the British to help put down the American Revolution. The German princes received all the real money for their services and they were bartered for like so much cattle. It makes a kind of sense that of all spirits to become the horseman, it would be a Hessian, someone with no head of its own, no personal reason and eyes to guide him, a sort of spiritual puppet akin to the function he served in life. Hessian, though originally meant to signify the place the soldiers had come from in Germany, became slang in American and inexorably linked to the idea of the mercenary.

It’s also interesting to read the lyrics to the Bing Crosby song that was part of the Disney animated version of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. One of the lines says, “You can’t reason with a headless man.” I thought that was an interesting idea, too; Being without a brain, therefore without reason. There is only instinct, a driving, overriding purpose. It is a force against which no amount of logic and rhetoric can succeed, which fits very well with my chosen metaphor of the Horseman as Time.

And there are a couple headless horseman legends, one from Texas, even. A horse thief was caught and made an example of by being decapitated, tied upright to a charcoal-colored horse, and his head tied to dangle from the saddle. They then turned the horse loose and it wandered around for some time. People reported seeing the horseman, riding headless, which was of course true. Some time later, they found the horse at a watering hole, dried out husk of a burden still upon its back. They buried the man, but people still report seeing the horseman.

And Irving’s story of the horseman is based on real places in his hometown. The white church with the holy grounds the rider cannot enter, for example, is a real place.Sigh. But I’m not done, yet. And I’m going to have to detour from this to work on the “confined spaces” assignment that rob and I have to have ready for our songwriters in the round performance in Providence this Sunday.