Fall Tour 8
We're sitting in Dale and Michelle's house now, Dale from Steel Pole Bath Tub. We are surrounded by art, everywhere there are things to look at. I'm ashamed because the TV is on in the corner of the room and to me it's clashing with everything else in the house. There is so much to look at here, familiar pictures from SPBT record covers and then more art of Dale's that's not so familiar. The guys are all staring at the TV and I'm ashamed of them. It's like we're in a museum and they're staring at the coat rack. Or the floor-washer or something. It's so good to see Dale again, but I worry that we are putting them out, I worry so much sometimes that I get pains in my chest.
In fact this whole sleeping on people's floors things is both good and bad, I love staying at people's houses, but I worry about the people who we end up NOT staying with; I worry that we offend them somehow. I guess I'm being too sensitive. And the people where we stay, I worry that we are putting them out. I suppose I'm thinking too much again.
At any rate, it's just so wonderful to see Dale again.
Tonight we were supposed to play in Chapel Hill as Poster Children, but Yo La Tengo decided to play so we had to cancel. We begged them to let us open for them, as either Poster Children or Salaryman, and they just wouldn't let us. So much for Band Karma. Last time we were in this very same town I begged the promoter to allow an extra band who was just passing through town onto OUR show at this very same venue and I got them on. I figured as long as I could help out a passing band, I would. And I didn't even know that band. Yo La Tengo knows us, we were on Lollapalooza together. I guess the band karma didn't come back to us this time. It doesn't really work that way anyway. Something else good will happen to us.
If you love Chapel Hill, please just skip this report, ok? I have thought long and hard about this. I go all over the country and talk about how wonderful everything is everywhere. I never really want to insult any area. Usually places are beautiful to me, and people are nice, intelligent, or fun. I know that if I write something bad about a place then I risk angering people; people are usually pretty protective of their city. I was going to write about how this area is pretty much the armpit of America as far as I'm concerned. I love the bands from here, but I just have to say that there is a basic overtone of armpittedness from a lot of the area. I'm really sorry.
That said, there are many wondrous things that take place in the Universe. There are births of stars, births of galaxies, newborn animals in the forests, shooting stars, many wondrous things that no one ever sees. So I don't really feel so bad that only 2 people came to see the Milk Cult/Salaryman show tonight.
Milk Cult (Agent Nova, that's Dale) played a guitar and a bunch of tape loops that was incredible. Along with this he had a projectionist showing a movie about the Grand Canyon that was narrated by Hal Linden. (Barney Miller.) The combination of Dale pounding away on his guitar, changing tape loops in these old tape players, a strobe light shining on him, and Hal Linden's face appearing amidst a bunch of cartoon leopards and then some really short clips of fires, dictionaries, baton-twirlers, and parades (I can't even IMAGINE why the Grand Canyon film had that extra footage in it, the film was completely surreal) was hypnotic, and I found myself snapping my head up and then looking at my watch to find out how much time I lost. That was SO cool.
Then we went on with Salaryman and played pretty well considering we haven't played since Austin. The TV didn't do so well tonight but that's OK. Dale and Michelle said they loved our show!
A whiny emo-core band went on after us. They were actually really tight but so whiny, "our label fucked us over, our record was supposed to come out 2 months ago. Wahhh." They seemed really upset that the only people there were the other bands. They had one really mean fan, too, with metal all over his face, and he was kinda mean to us, so I just didn't feel any need to be nice to them and stand up close.
Interestingly enough, someone told me tonight that Yo La Tengo had never been asked if we could play with them. Guess maybe I shouldn't be mad at them.
I know it sounds really lame to have played a show for 2 people, but you know what? It beats sitting home watching TV. And I got a lot of inspiration out of watching Milk Cult. And maybe he got inspiration out of watching us!
Wow, what a GREAT DAY!! We drove for about 4 hours and then we STOPPED, around 5pm, got a $37.95 Holiday Inn room in Fredericksburg, VA, through an Exit Guide Coupon, and this Holiday Inn had an INDOOR POOL AND WHIRLPOOL!! YES!!! So Howie, Jimmie and I sat in the water for a couple of hours while Rick and Jim monitored the TV stations in the area, and then we all went out and saw the movie Contact for $1.50. And there was Skee-ball and video games at the movie theater. We had a ball! That movie is great, by the way, so good for a flick! When we got home we discovered the pool door was still open so we snuck in and had a 1am swim. Man, we needed this.
Today I am exhausted. We walked around Washington DC all day again, and then raced around to the Post Office to pay our taxes. I went to the Holocaust Museum, where I was taken aback by the first thing I saw upon walking in - the Museum Store. You don't even want to know what Howie and I laughingly discussed they might sell at the store. It's in really bad taste, especially for us being Jews. The whole museum was really disturbing. I know my parents wouldn't set foot in it, that whole period of time is something they just want to forget. I tend to agree with them. I also have the problem when I look at these atrocities that I think, well, this already happened. It's terrible that it happened. But you know what? It's still happening all over the world in different degrees, to different peoples. Why pay attention to old atrocities instead of trying to end new atrocities?
I also saw the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which is pretty great. It was designed by a Female Vietnamese college student named Maya Lin, which caused quite a stir, as you can imagine. It is a very simple design, it looks like two huge but thin triangular cuts into the grass. There are two black granite triangular slabs with the names of all the American soldiers who died in the war. At either entrance there is a book with all the names and so if you had a loved one die in the war you could look up the name and find which slab it's engraved into. You can go up and touch the name. I think it's beautiful and grand. People who hated it wanted some sort of winged angel or some sort of filligreed crap. There is a whole documentary on this woman artist that you can get at your local video store. It's pretty good.
After the Vietnam Veterans Memorial I went to the Lincoln Memorial Toilets where I watched a perturbed Amish woman search for paper towels to dry her hands and then finally give up and use the electric handblower. I think that was my favorite exhibit of the day.
Oh! We got to play with Tsunami today! That was a wonderful suprise! They are really great. They have new people in the band, a cello player/bass player and a keyboarder. The effect of their music really is like a tidal wave, like their name; they get really loud and strong sometimes and other times it's really pretty and quiet. I didn't get a good chance to watch them today because I was busy in the back talking to people and selling stuff, but Salaryman is going to play with them in Champaign in November so I'll see them then.
Gosh, I am SO tired. This morning I woke up in Jenny Tsunami's house and the first thing I saw was a little Ian MacKaye head peeking in the window in front of me to see if we were awake yet. God, it would be so crazy to live here amongst these people. I think I might really like it. It's an incredible music scene. Ian was on his way back from his Yoga class and we were going out to eat lunch, but all of us were still asleep. We just ate at a great Thai place and discussed the merits of art criticism. Rick and I think they are crap, parasites leeching on the art of others. Ian and Jenny have both written criticisms of things so I think they were slightly on the defending side, although they talked about a certain writer in the DC area who had really made a bunch of stupid writing mistakes and seems to have the city angry at him. Ian says "who gives a fuck what they write anyway?" Ian swears really well; some people sound really stupid when they swear, but for some reason, he still sounds eloquent. He also said Fugazi stayed at a kid's house a long time ago and the kid took pictures of them sleeping and he yelled at the kid enough to make him cry the next day. I thought that was pretty funny. Ian's like a big teddy bear unless you get him mad probably. And he gives good hugs.
The load in for the small club at the top of the Trocadero is up a huge, steep staircase. I walked in, saw it, and almost started crying. I'm so tired, and in a terrible mood. We got all the gear loaded upstairs and I just sort of sat around moping until the promoter bounced into the room, and he was in such a great mood and he was so nice that I soon was all happy again! It's amazing what a little cheerfulness can do! I think maybe I should remember that for future use for other bands.
Our show tonight went fine, although there was not a lot of people here. There never is for us, in Philadelphia. People seemed to like us though. Tonight we slept at the home of a bunch of brilliant kids who seemed to make it a goal to use every letter of the alphabet in each of their sentences. They are some sort of linguistics majors. I had this image of a garden of words, listening to them talk.
Playing the Knitting Factory is so different than playing CBGBs. It's not even like playing New York. There's no junkies (well, not obvious ones, anyway) hanging around, begging for money. The area around the Knitting Factory just looks like a big, grand city. It totally changes my idea of New York.
In fact as we were walking down the sidewalks in the dark outside the venue, there was one sidewalk that looked almost completely covered with glitter. It was a really dark concrete, but had some sort of glittery particles in it and the streetlight shone so brightly down on it that it was like walking through a sea of glitter. I've noticed that before on some of the New York streets, and I heard the little girl walking behind us with her dad talking about the glitter. I wonder if anyone else notices it? When we reached the end of the glitter walk, I was smiling.
The opening band tonight Sweet Diesel was worth mentioning, a very Chicago-y sort of band, very heavy and good. Another band called Squatweiler was also worth mentioning, sort of a heavy metal Go-gos meets Veruca Salt, but in a good way.
Salaryman Opens For Poster Children
Well, so we're playing Princeton again, at a Dining Club. It's like a frat, but it's a bit different; it's a bunch of people who I think are a little more different. I didn't really inquire into how one gets accepted into the club; I believe you just apply and are accepted. I want to believe that anyway. This particular club is pretty far out there; there were punker students sitting in the cafeteria and everything. Peter the promoter told us there was a Naked Guy yesterday. He just walked around the hall naked all day. No one cared, he said.
This place is historically hard for us to play, because it's free, but no one ever shows up. We get paid a lot of money to play here, too. The amount we're paid is usually inversely proportional to how many people show up, and how much fun a show is to play. Tonight was really different, however, because a bunch of students from Pennslyvania, our friends (the brilliant kids!) drove up to Princeton. TimmyBowers even drove up from Wash DC! So there was a nice crowd there to watch us play our guts out, Salaryman opening for Poster Children!!
We had a pretty intense discussion about being Driven, as a student. The students at Princeton are those kids who are still driven, even after highschool. I never made it past my 3rd year of highschool, I cracked during that year and I attribute it to a Satanic English teacher. Rick had the same experience too, I guess, he ran into a bad teacher somewhere in his highschool career. It's a wonder that anyone makes it intact through highschool. What stopped us both up was realizing how much a person's grades depend upon the whim of a highschool teacher. Rick talks a lot about being stamped as a young child, you're either stamped "Gifted" or "Normal" or "Troublesome" and you turn out the way you are stamped, because the teachers treat the "Gifted" students better than they treat the rest.
I don't mean to say that we dropped out of highschool. We just sort of stopped driving ourselves so hard.