RTFM TOUR part 8
Still Austin Rules
How do people live in Austin and not die of happiness? We woke up around noon and went out to the Magnolia Cafe, our favorite breakfast place, and ran into both Failure and 16 Deluxe and the drummer from Ed Hall. I wanted to stay for hours in Austin - esp ecially go to this folk art store that I love, but I guess we got too late of a start.
Kung-Fu Dog movie. We can't think of the name yet, but it would have to be Rated PG. Jackie Chan stars as the dog's master, it's his movie that's going to break him in the states; he's going to be IN with the "Home Alone" crowd. Imagine a dog doing Kung-F u; now that they have that Dog Animation program that you see all over the place on commercials, it's just a step away from animating a dog to do side-kicks, Xena-style leaps. Ryan O'Neal stars as the aging cop that the dog gets stuck with, and that Tia C arrera person from the M&Ms commercials and Wayne's World is the Evil Woman in the movie. She has a Female Dog that our Hero the Male Dog falls in love with and Rick says that at the end, there is a great battle between Tia Carrera and her female dog, who has chosen between good and evil to protect the male dog. That's the final battle scene; an astounding fight between a woman and her dog.
Yesterday Jim bought Grilled Steak and Onion Potato Chips. They were about the scariest thing I'd ever eaten in my life. You bite into the chip and you instantly taste liquid smoke; you know, that barbeque flavor. Then you get the onion, and then the meat aftertaste. It's uncanny. Rick told Jim he thought he probably sleeps really badly, because he drinks a full liter of coke before he goes to bed. Jim said he sleeps just fine, way better than any of us. Rick said "you probably have very warped dreams" an d Jim shot back, "No, My dreams are wonderful. I dream of myself sleeping."
NOTE FROM RICK!!
Rick sez: "I have just finished _Infinite Jest_ by David Foster Wallace. Has anyone out there finished the book? If so, please email me. I would like to discuss it with someone."
Staying with Friends
We're staying with friends from back when we worked at flight simulator company, and this morning I woke up, throwing up. I'm sitting here in this beautiful castle of a house, owned by our friends Greg and Sandy, with my purple hair, probably all stinky a nd icky, throwing up. (in the toilet, ok.) I'm sweating and feverish; I must have food poisoning. No more roadside Chinese food buffets for me.
Missed Failure last night
We missed Failure last night because we went to hang out with our friends. I felt really bad, too; there aren't that many days left of the tour. We had to go on so early this night though, and there was a 40-minute lee-time in between bands while the crow d shuffled in to watch the "real" band, Failure. I hate being treated like some doofy opening band. Even if we are a doofy opening band. We've played Dallas before, with the Screaming Trees and with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. And plenty of other times, too, but the promoter treats us like some dorky local act and makes us go on at 9:30. This made me mad. After the set I sold a bunch of shirts and then someone from the club came up to me and told me they required 20% of our merchandise a nd I just let him have it; "LISTEN, You're TREATING us like a little baby band, paying us much less than what we're worth in this town, and making us go on at 9:30, with a 40 minute set changeover between bands. We played before most of the crowd even got here. I would think the least you could do is WAIVE your merch fee." The guy said, "I don't think so, and I'm only following orders" and then I barked back, "You send the person who's ordering this to you over here." He went away and never came back.
I guess that was kinda mean, but I know what happens to that 20%. It doesn't go to charity. It goes into someone's pocket, whoever's got the nerve to collect it from us. It's stealing, especially when they're not selling our shirts for us.
I mean, earlier, I was told where to go asking for our food money, and then sort of warned not to tap too hard on the person's van because I may disturb them doing a line of coke.
Drive to Albuquerque
We drove to Tucumcari, NM tonight. The van was alive with beeping each hour; 3 of us now have little Japanese virtual pets, and they're beeping nonstop. As it got dark out, we started noticing lightening off on the horizon, the sky was huge and dark black , with small white and orange explosions far off in the distance, about 10-20 per minute. I wanted the lightening to get closer and brighter, so I could see the ground around us; I wanted to see the Texas grasslands and trees give way to the red rocks and shrubs of New Mexico, but the lightening was not bright enough. I strained my eyes to see the ground, but could only see towering grey clouds in the sky each time the lightening struck.
Albuquerque, Thomas Pynchon
I love this town. I could spend a lifetime here. There are so many cool stores, and neat restaurants, and it's so beautiful. Even the people walking around on the street look beautiful to me, like works of art. Tonight 74 people paid to see our show, but I don't think there were 74 people watching as we played. I think some people left before we went on. There was tons of promotion for the show, too. I guess I'll just have to settle and be happy with the amount of people who were there. School must be out of session already. There was a band who played right before us called "Flake" who were great; they sounded a bit like Pavement. The Rondelles, the band who played before Flake, are still teenagers, and sound 80s-like I guess. We missed them, because we were sitting in our motel room waiting for the CNN Thomas Pynchon coverage to come on again; they showed a bunch of pictures of people walking around in New York City and told us that one of the people was Pynchon. But they're not going to say which one h e was. I think I figured out which one he was. And I was all excited, until then I realized, 'well, now I've seen a picture of Thomas Pynchon. (maybe). So now what?'
We all went to the bookstore. Jimmie Soundguy bought a Tesla Autobiography and Giant Robot magazine, Rick bought a Philip K. Dick biography and Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon, and Jim bought The Egyptian Book Of The Dead, which contains hieroglyphics and translations. I couldn't go to the bookstore because I had to stay home and throw up.
Huge place. 9 bands tonight. I love Phoenix. For some reason, everyone in this club is really, really nice to me and it's all run really efficiently. I figure the guy must have enough money for this show. I also figure this is the kind of place where nobo dy is going to have heard of us or even will care about us when we're done playing. They'll like us, but it won't leave the venue. I predict that nobody leaving this venue who hadn't heard of us before will give a rat's ass about us next time we come arou nd. Music-haters. I don't care. I'm not playing for them, anyway.
The club is REALLY huge. We have a motel room across the street, and we stay in it until it's time to play, then we saunter across the street, like rock-stars. There are 2 rooms to the cavernous club, one where suburban metal-hair bands play and another w here bands like us play. There was a curtain covering the stage during band changeovers, and I found myself on the stage before we played, dreading the curtain's opening.
We decided to go to Las Vegas!! This is the first time I think our band has ever been in Nevada- now we have officially driven through all 48 continental United States. We still have 7 left to play in though. Nevada is one of them.
Las Vegas always seemed like a glamourous, terribly decadent town. In reality, driving into the city, the area looks horrifyingly like Chapel Hill, North Carolina, wide roads and bald hills and tons of brand-new looking oil lube places and pizza kitchens. When you get to the strip though, of course, everything changes. Everything is covered in lights. We stayed at a Super 8 Motel & Casino. Everywhere you go you can throw your money into the vacuum. The motels are cheap, too, and there are BUFFETS at all the casinos and PRIME RIB dinners for $3.95; New York Strip Steaks for $2.95. It's all designed to drag you into the casino. We ate at a buffet at Maxims, which cost $10 per person but we were handed 2 for 1 coupons at the desk. The buffet looked just like a dorm cafeteria, except there were huge hunks of meat and it was really high quality meat.
My aunt and uncle live in Las Vegas, so they took it upon themselves to show us around and carted us from The Something-Street Experience (can't remember the name) - it was a street entirely covered by a RGB-diode screen, which goes off every hour on the hour and shows about a 3-minute show of video, special effects and dancing girls. The place was full of tourists, the kind that look like they're there to blow a couple of hundred dollars on gambling, there with the kids, light-up visors and huge bong-sha ped drink glasses. Next they took us to a different casino, miles away, where a huge volcano goes off each hour; water spewing out all over with orange lights on it, and then fire on the water.
I have woken up in sheer terror, every molecule in my body overheated like I've been in some sort of microwave oven. The airconditioner in the room is very far away from me but I can feel it like the sun, spewing freezing air out on the back of my neck, b urning cold. In my dream I imagined winning $10,318 dollars, although it had to be calculated out by the woman at the casino's bank-teller window. There were sheets of paper, coupons, that described the winnings on a scaled-rate basis, and how much money you won was determined by how you looked; there were ratings for clothes, hair, facial structure, etc. My coupons and the way I looked calculated out to $10,318. But the woman told me I'd won $319. And the casino was closing at that minute, so I had to fo llow her if I wanted to get paid. I followed her up four-flights of ladder-stairs to an attic of a boat, to the top floor, where about 5 completely drugged out junkies lay, smoking, on the floor. Small bugs crawled in and out of the ship's old woodwork, e verywhere. The woman told me I had to fill out a form that proved that I had to spend $400 a week in order for the casino to pay me my money. At this point I didn't even want it. Then she said "I don't know what kind of lifestyle you're used to with this band thing." Which is something my aunt said last night.
I'm trying to figure out why I felt such terror. There was the terror of the dawn outside, (will it be the sun this morning or a nuclear blast?) and then there was the terror of getting lost and separated from the rest of the band. There was the terror of the money-vacuum I can feel sucking not only money but life, willpower, and happiness out of the visitors to this town. There is the terror of people worshipping a deity that I don't understand. The worst was the terror of not being understood correctly, and not being able to communicate what I meant. The only thing that calms me down is closing my eyes and sort of envisioning Failure's fir-green van, cool, comforting, parked in the Day's Inn parking lot in Phoenix, two days ago. Everything was fine just two days ago, watching Jim and Ken toss Ken's missile-shaped screaming nerf bomb back and forth across the pool. Failure's green van. The tour is almost over.
I just read this over and I don't understand it at all. But I guess my nightmare is officially over, because I'm not scared anymore. Not entirely.
My Aunt Ruthye and Uncle Claude
We stopped at my great aunt and uncle's house for breakfast - it's really hard for me to visit relatives on tour because I feel like it's two worlds colliding or something like that. In real life, at least back when I'm not on tour, I'm sort of from a dif ferent background than what I look like right now, with the purple hair and dirty, ripped clothes. I love this lifestyle; it fits more with what I believe, but I don't know exactly what it looks like to people who are not used to it. At least the other me mbers of the band look a lot more presentable than I do. It's basically my favorite part of my family, and I didn't want to look weird in front of them.