Colorado - Lafayette April 17 - 23, 1995
Colorado/NM border, Monday, Apr 17th.
I Love Sightseeing
Today is a day off, so we did some sight-seeing. We went to the National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque, which I enjoyed immensely. I am terrified of nukes, and terribly intrigued by them, so you can imagine how excited I am to be driving around NM, northeast of the Trinity Site, where the first atomic bomb was tested. The site is open 2 days a year now, the first Sunday of April and the first Sunday of Oct. Apparently it is not radioactive anymore, but I am not convinced. I pore over the New Mexico map while we are in this area of the country, and sometimes even when we aren't. Last tour we slept at a rest-area 30 miles west of the Trinity site, and I couldn't even sleep, trying to figure out which way the wind was blowing. I stare at the areas of our map marked "Road not open to the public" and "Inquire locally before driving on marked roads." I read most of the book America Ground Zero which is a pictoral history of the Downwinders, (yes Rick named the song after them) people who live "Downwind" of the testing sites. The parts I loved the best are the stories about the young children noticing the strange dust building up on the cars after the big pretty explosions, and writing their names in the dust; afterward, running home with their fingers in their mouths, trying to stop the burning....I could go on for hours. I know that underground nuclear testing stopped a couple of years ago- remember that huge crack that opened up, spewing out tons of radioactive steam by Accident? I just wonder where all that radioactive waste is right now. Buried safe in the ground, right?
These Colors Don't Run
The museum is better than the Sigmund Freud museum in Vienna, but not by much. Of course I love the museum, but if you put me in a room full of pictures of nukes, I'd love that too. Put me in a new room with twice as many pictures of nukes, and I'd say the new room is twice as good. We saw a terrible documentary called "10 Seconds that Shook The World" - very old school propaganda that made the rest of my band very angry, and then walked around a Marie Curie exhibit and saw lots of pictures of bombers and scientists. The most amazing thing I saw was a large American flag, with about 1/4 of the stripes end of it completely missing, tattered and dusty, in a glass case. The flag had been flying 10 miles away from Ground Zero during the Trinity explosion. The winds had ripped it to shreds.
I have two new books, The Making Of The Atomic Bomb which I've only gotten through half of before, and Genius by James Gleick (writer of a great book about Chaos theory), about this cool guy Richard Feynman, a punk-rock physicist. Reading half of a book seems to be a trend for me. Jim has a Freeman Dyson book called Infinite In All Directions or something like that. Rick just ate a Dolly-Madison blueberry muffin cake that expired on April 4th. Joe has been silent for almost a half an hour, and Howie is hungry.
It is nice to have a day off.
Boulder, CO, Tuesday, Apr 18th
THE FOX THEATER
The club in Boulder is The Fox Theater, and this will be the first time we play in this town, so we don't expect anyone to show up. We arrive at the club and it's a 650-seat theater, pretty big, especially for a first-time show in town, so I immediately start worrying, we'll NEVER fill this place. The marquee of The Fox Theater states, "POSTER CHILDREN" in huge letters- a really uplifting sign for us! We are used to driving up and seeing our name missing on club listings! We don't know why that happens; it's always good to see how well the promoter publicized the show. This promoter seems very excited that we are playing here and has sold over 100 tickets in advance! A great sign!
ATTITUDES AND ALTITUDES
Well. It seems that because of the laziness of The Fox Theater's stage crew, Howie's drums will remain on the drum riser and the rest of the bands will have to set up in front. This is a terrible thing for us; it's a very, very Rock Star thing to leave your drums on the riser and force the opening bands to set up in front. English bands are known for doing that sort of thing, and many other bands take very much pride always taking down their drums; us included. Tonight we will look like Rock Assholes, just because the club's stage crew doesn't want to move their mics. We have explained to the opening bands who all contain members of The Fluid, our friends, and they all say they understand. I'd be mad.
Tonight we'll play above 5000 feet above sea-level, and I'm hoping I don't get too out-of-breath. Someone told me once that some English bands actually request oxygen tanks off-stage to help them breathe when they play the Denver area. Ha! I'm informed not to talk about the altitude while we're on stage; it's a terrible cliche. The Denver-ites laugh at us wimpy ground-level people if we complain. Nature-Boy Jim (our guitarist) says that 5000ft probably doesn't make that difference, and it's probably mostly psychosomatic, but people in the Andes *do* have bigger lungs. The Andes are probably above the 20,000 ft range. I know for a fact that when The Fluid used to play, they could play for hours and hours; they'd play full-strength, jumping around, for like, 8 hours straight. I always thought it was because they were used to playing up high in the home in the Denver mountains.
SNOW AND THE GARDEN OF EDEN
We left the show (a wonderful show by the way; over 300 people on a heavy-snow Tuesday!) in a snow-storm, and we had an over-15 hour drive to Norman, Oklahoma, near Oklahoma City, with a stop in Lucas, KS, at the urging of Nature-Boy, who wanted to stop at The Garden Of Eden. TGOE is a person's house and yard in a teeny rural town in the middle of Kansas. A man had created concrete statues all along the perimeter of his yard, statues of dogs, cats, people, American Flags, and so on, all in some weird array. He and his wife are buried in a tomb in the center of the yard, and rumor has it that you can look through a glass porthole and see them. Apparently the house was built in 1907, and the guy died in 1930? This decade, his tomb has started leaking, so he is decomposing. When we arrived at the Garden, early in the morning, just a house next to a little yard with the Garden in it, the house was closed, and there was a phone laying on the porch for people to call to request a tour, but we were all about to fall asleep, so we drove on.
Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Apr 19th
Explosion In Oklahoma City
As we're sitting here in our hotel room, we are watching footage of a terrible explosion that just occurred in the middle of this city, today. This is the sort of thing that happens to us a lot while on tour in the South. A couple of tours ago, we drove through the city with the Luby's Cafe Massacre, the day after; (for those of you who don't know, some guy opened fire at a Luby's restaurant) - for the next couple of days we were in Texas, there were armed guards outside all the restaurants we ate at. In fact, I remember Stella, the keyboardist from Glass Eye, (who also played that girl in Slacker who had been to a mental institution), telling us that her chiropractor had died in the Luby's massacre. She told us the list of dead people that she knew; she had started keeping track because there were so many. Later on tour, we drove through Detroit as a postal operator shot his fellow ex-employees. Today, we arrive in Oklahoma City right after a huge bomb exploded in a Federal Building in the middle of the city, killing "at least 20." Check our tour-dates to know when to hide.
The Priests are up for re-election
Last night, we left right after the show in Boulder and drove 15 hours to get to Oklahoma City. We have 2 hours to rest before we have to be at the club; this'll be the hardest drive on the tour, we hope. We are sitting grumpily in the cheapest Motel 6 on the planet, south of the brand new crater, aghast at the news coverage of this explosion, yelling at the TV set. They are saying that the suspects of the bombing are 2 middle-eastern men, driving around in a pickup truck, and even have artists' renderings of what they look like on the TV. There is no end to the parade of elected officials on TV, repeating the words "EVIL" and "CHILD-KILLERS," taking every advantage of the situation. It even seems like the priests being interviewed on the news are up for re-election.
SAMPLE HOTEL ROOM CHATTER:
TV: "...and this Evil, terrible tragedy has caused horror and terror to not only people but Children, here in the heartland and I personally, as your elected official am completely speechless and ..."
RICK: (yelling at the TV) "grateful that this has happened during a re-election year"
Try to watch a newscast one day just to see exactly how much information they actually give you. Write down the information you gain from the top newstory. We *watched* this incredible video before we left called "Manufacturing Consent" which was interviews with Noam Chomsky, a guy who you'll never see on American TV because he cannot make his point in an 8 second sound-bite. He has important, informative things to say, not Spielbergian quotes make a news story sell.
CAFE 66 IN NORMAN, OKLAHOMA, HOME OF THE FLAMING LIPS
Rats, no Flaming Lips to be seen; they have just returned from Australia and are probably to tired to come check out their labelmates, "The FOSTER Children," playing tonight. This will be the first time in 8 years that we are billed as The Foster Children. I wonder if this will affect the attendance of the show. This will be the first time we ever play in Oklahoma!
Dallas, Thursday, Apr 20th.
DO NOT DRIVE INTO SMOKE
Tonight we played at a beautiful club called TREES in a place in Dallas called "Deep Ellum." I have absolutely no idea why it's called that and the name seems funny to me. There were several questions in my mind as I drove through Southern Oklahoma and Northern Texas; one being 'what do the signs that say "Do Not Drive Into Smoke" mean?' Anyway, we played with some very incredible bands tonight: a band called Babboon and another called Caulk. Although I don't think I've ever heard a 'bad' Texas band, these bands seemed amazing: loud, rhythmic, great. After being on tour for 5 weeks and night after night seeing 2 or sometimes 3 bands, it is a relief that I can still find music that moves me like these two bands did. I hope they can get out on tour: we slept on the lead singer of Caulk's floor and visited his computer. Caulk will be going on a 2 week tour in June, and if any of you are lucky enough to be in a town where they hit, well, you know what to do.
MOVIE STAR AND TORNADOS
Last night in Oklahoma, we met an up-and-coming movie star named Anthony Rapp! He was in the movie Dazed And Confused, and he played Tony, "one of the geeks!" He was so nice that I wanted to write about him. He is in Norman, OK right now because he is going to be in a new movie by the director of Speed and it's going to be about one of my favorite subjects, Tornados!! He is in Norman to go out with the tornado-chasers, to see what it's all about, because he's going to be one of the scientists in the movie. I have always been terrified of tornados, and I've never seen one except in my nightmares. I have seen the sky turn green before, and get very, very dusty, but I've never seen the actual deal. I dream about driving through Oklahoma or Texas one day and seeing the tornado-chasers' pickup-trucks, with the guys running out and putting out one of those huge tornado-recording instruments... us driving along, and watching them tear away at 100 miles an hour... and then looking behind us and seeing TORNADO! Yikes. I'm scaring myself.
There is a restaurant called Kentucky Fried Chicken (we call it "KFC") in Pauls' Valley, Oklahoma, in Southern Oklahoma on I-35. What a restaurant. We were drawn to it from seeing a bill-board on the road, advertising its buffet - over 30 items! Friendly cash-register people, and a buffet not-to-be-beaten. They had CORN, good cole-slaw, and all the normal staples of the buffet (green-beans, potato-salad, spinach, etc) for us vegetable eaters, and then for the chicken eaters, not only did they have the fried chicken but they had some little barbecued chicken legs! Besides this, they had BISCUITS AND ROLLS! This was the big catch for me; usually the KFCs only have a bunch of squished-up rolls sitting, over-steamed in a corner of the buffet, but no, not in Paul's Valley. We have seen some really crappy KFC buffets and some good ones, but this was definitely the best.
Austin, TX - April 21st, 1995
BOB MOULD IS IN THE BUILDING
Well tonight we played at Emo's, the greatest club of all. It is also my birthday tonight. Bob Mould was lurking around Emo's, trying to avoid a group of between 20 and 50 people staring and pointing at him and following him around. He just stood in the back yard of Emo's, talking to a friend and people stood around him like he was Ground Zero and there was a crater around him, with people standing all around the edge, staring. I of course had to run up to him and ask him if it was really him; he said, "yes" and then I said, "I'm Rose from Poster Children and I would like to give you this pog," and I handed him a Poster Children pog. He said "Thank You." Then I left him alone. Bob Mould runs a record label, and might have been there to scope out the band "Starfish" who were a really great combination of Jawbox and Superchunk. An ex-bass player of the Butthole Surfers' band opened up the show; they were called "Daddy LongHead." King Coffee, the drummer from the Butthole Surfers was at the show, too, but I didn't get to talk to him.
AUSTIN IS PARADISE
I asked someone if Austin really was the most wonderful place to live and he said, "Yes, it's like paradise." This is a good sign, for someone who may think about moving here. (Like me.) Most of the time you ask people about the place they live in and they say it's a dump and they hate it. (Except for most people living in NYC; figure that one out). I'd love to live out southwest, but I would want to live in NM, around Albuquerque or higher, and I am afraid of getting cancer from left-over radiation from nuclear testing grounds. So Austin is a compromise, it's still warm, plus it reminds me of Madison, WI. Lots of hippies, but a lot of Texans, too. There is a definitely "wet-t-shirt mentality" here, which you wouldn't find up north. There is a saying around here though, "Once you leave Austin, you're in Texas." I do not think it is very cheap to live here, because I think it is a well-known fact that Austin is paradise. Slacker was filmed here!
EMO'S IS THE #1 CLUB
Emo's in Austin is the best club in the world. There are the top 4 or 5, which include The Blue Note in Columbia, MO, and probably The Fox Theater in Boulder, CO and CBGBs in NY, but these all have one tragic flaw. As far as we can tell, Emo's has absolutely nothing wrong with it. The employees are wonderful, the sound-guy is a tech-head and always wants to make sure the sound equipment is in top condition, they can have all-ages shows and over-21ers can get in too, they usually let over-21 people in for FREE! The audience area of the club is half-indoors and half-outdoors; there are trees growing in the outdoor part. The stage is a perfect size, and very comfortable, not bouncy at all, the load-in is easy, and there is usually always parking on the street. The street is one of the busiest in Austin; it's on famous 6th Street, where there are pubs up and down the street for blocks. And Emo's is the only club I've ever been to in my life where a band gets bonused if the bar does well. They do NOT take a percentage of your t-shirts and merchandise. And they pay VERY well. We love Emo's.
Restaurants of choice in Austin TX
Chuys and The Magnolia Cafe.
Houston, TX - April 22st, 1995
HOW TO KEEP TOURING EVEN THOUGH YOU WANT TO KILL MEMBERS OF YOUR BAND
Well, when we first started touring, a couple of years ago, (not this tour, silly!) we would reach a point, two weeks into the tour, where one person would be in an extremely bad mood, and the rest would be too tired to be patient. It might last about 1 day or less, and then everything would be fine. I am worried that we may reach that point tomorrow, because I am the one who's in the really bad mood, and everyone else *has* to be getting tired of me. Everything seems wrong, and tonight we will stay with a dear, dear friend, Frank, the drummer from the Pain Teens, and I have to try to be in a good mood for that. He is such a wonderful, sweet guy, and always so happy, that it's really hard to be in a bad mood around him. But I'm not feeling like being cheered up tonight.
People ask how you stand touring in a small van with the same 5 people, for weeks and months. For us, it's not that hard, and we usually never have bad times. We are all adult enough to realize that 1) We could be "working" now (this is NOT working), trapped in a cubicle, or working in a record store, 2) It is no one's fault that Pensacola is 5 hours away, and being cranky won't help us get there faster, 3) Someone's going to be in a pissy mood sometimes, and the rest are just going to have to leave them alone and let them be pissy. Plus, we have Joe, the crazy soundguy, to use as a scapegoat, so no one gets mad at anyone in the band. Joe makes tons and tons of noises, all the time, and some are very, very irritating; it's like a counter-irritant, or whatever they call it. At any rate, he is starting to get on Howie's nerves, and he knows it, so he is plugging away at Howie, waiting for him to crack. Rick is waiting for the two to get into a fist-fight.
HOUSTON AND TATTOOS, BART SIMPSON
We played at the Urban Art Bar tonight. There is a guy who I met in Austin who has a tattoo of the little space-child that I drew for the "Just Like You" cover art. This is the second tattoo of my artwork that I've ever seen; someone in Detroit has the Flower Plower flower. I can't believe it; what a compliment that is. Rick says that if the band ever breaks up, I can go into tattoo-art. I am just glad that these guys didn't get the band name along with the art. There is the tragic story of the soundman in St. Louis who got a tattoo of a little-known cartoon by a small-time artist named Matt Groening whose main character was a bunny named Binky. This guy got an obscure cartoon drawn by this artist, a tattoo of a little cartoon boy shown only on The Tracy Ulmann show on FOX, years ago. That little boy was Bart Simpson, YEARS BEFORE Bart Simpson was famous, and well, now this guy is stuck with a Bart Simpson tattoo on his leg.
The best tattoo is definitely the comma that David Yow from The Jesus Lizard has on his shoulder. Word has it that he was going to get quote marks tattooed around his mouth, so everything he'd say would be "in quotes."
ADDENDUM: (Rereading this, I find it interesting to note that on April 21st, 1995, outside of Emo's, sitting in our van underneath Howie's hanging sweaty underwear, Rick asked me to marry him. I said "yes." We had been 'going out' together for about 10 years. I didn't mention this in the tour reports until much later. Why I was in such a bad mood for the next couple of days is completely beyond me.) rose m.-8/19/96
Lafayette, LA - April 23rd, 1995
WHAT IS IT WITH THE BATHROOMS HERE?
The most amazing bathroom goes to the Metropolis club. I suppose I am priviledged to be a girl and not have to see most of the men's bathrooms, but Rick had to take me back to see the men's bathroom of the Metropolis club. It had 3 sinks. One was clean, and the other two were those heavy steel industrial sinks and were completely filled with gallons and gallons of urine. The guy at the club saw me looking in awe at the bathroom and explained, "People kept breaking the urinals." The rest of our band seems to agree that this bathroom is the winner of the most incredible bathroom award. Word from Joe: "If I was any shorter..."
This is a wonderful town. I am beginning to think that the next big place to move might be Louisiana. I think no one knows it, but this is a really great place, and they are trying to keep it secret. The audience here is really appreciative of loud rock. Apparently Tar, Jawbox, and Arcwelder frequent this bar; that's an impressive roster to us. Tonight one of the guys in charge of the club cooked us dinner, and we were to show up at his house for it. This is always fun; usually when someone cooks us a meal, it's outstanding, and it's always very, very interesting to see a person's house. As you're walking in the door, you never know if it's going to be as messy as your house, messier, or neater, or if it'll be scary, with black candles all around, and tin-foil all over the walls. (I am speaking from experience.)
Going into someone's house gives you a better feeling of what the area is like than just seeing a club. Anyway, this guy had the most amazing house I'd ever seen. A guy who just looks like an average rocker-sort of guy, with a beautiful loft, artwork and white carpeting, who cooked us a meal of two types of chicken, and pasta and stewed tomato-stuff, complete with a cucumber salad. When we get off this tour, once again, we will be spoiled from eating so well. At home, the favorite recipe is Ramen noodles and vegetables. Sometimes we stir-fry the vegetables first.
NO FIST-FIGHT YET, ROAD TIP #1 and #2
We treated ourselves to a motel room tonight. I wonder if it had something to do with the club's bathroom; everyone agreed hands-down on getting a motel. I had to do some MacGuyver work on the phone line so I could connect it to the computer. When will there be high-speed phone-lines in the Super 8's? We even had to sneak some of us in through the back door because there are 5 of us, and only supposed to be 4 in the room.
Here are some road tips for travellers:
* Look at the truckstops and gas stations for Discount Traveller Coupon books, and you will find coupons for hotels for 1-4 people, really, really cheap. These hotels don't usually book up all the way, or are out of the beaten path, so they advertise in these things. You can find one usually that spans 2 or more states along an interstate highway. It's like gold to us; the Motel 6 for 4 people is around $40-$50, but if you have a coupon, it will be under $30.
* Park your van against a wall or fence, leaving about an inch between the wall and the doors of your van. That way no one can get into it and steal your guitars. Oh; and lock your doors.
I'M FEELING A LITTLE BETTER
I have been in a rotten mood for the last couple of days, which prompts me to run off the stage as soon as the show is over. People waiting to talk to me are completely out-of-luck; I run away and hide to protect them; I say some really dumb things when I'm in a bad mood after a show, and offend people. I have to learn to control myself, but it's so hard when I feel like I've had a bad show and people are coming up and complimenting us.
My bass has been breaking for the last week or two. Tonight it was fixed; Rick got the bright idea of stuffing a pick underneath one of the strings, to elevate it more; it was buzzing on the fret, and we cranked the neck back and raised all the strings. I've lost my little wrench that I use to mess with the bass, but it's probably just as well. For the last couple of days,
I have been twisting and turning different screws on the bass, and I really don't have any clue of what I'm doing, but it sure is changing things. Anyway, at least it's fixed. We're heading towards Florida, where I broke a bass in half, once. Lengthwise. By accident. Woops.