I thought a bit more about what to learn from last night's moment. It's probably the first time I've ever seen a dead guy. Looking at the end of someone's life, amongst so many other people running around frantically like that, you could see the imaginary line between life and death: it was right there, at the edge of that pool of blood around that guy. Everywhere outside the boundary, life teemed; cellular phones, neon restaurants, people gaping, and plastic parts strewn about. The guys tell me there was even a tour bus parked alongside the road.
We've seen a lot of death and destruction on this tour - graves, accidents, we even passed by Moore, Oklahoma where the F5 tornado hit a week or two ago - there were lights shining on buildings next to the interstate and the buildings were torn apart - missing walls and roofs. We drove past that at 80mph, it was clearly illuminated from the highway. In Denver and Atlanta, kids started shooting each other, leaving the country in a shocked state and boosting the ratings of the nightly TV news. There is a war going on in Bosnia that's getting higher ratings than the skirmish between India and Pakistan that Rick swears will bring the end of the world, before Y2K. The radio is talking about how the Chinese can make a nuclear bomb and now know how to ship it overseas.
I suppose all this could be depressing for a tour, but we've also seen a lot of new life, too. Lots of babies. I suppose you could either get all depressed about all the death and destruction, or you can realize that death happens, just like birth, and instead of worrying about beginnings and endings, you can be concerned with middles, and with making sure you're doing a good job in life and having fun.
When I get home, my garden is going to be overgrown. I'm going to have to weed it, which means killing some plants, which I never like to do. I hate choosing which plants should live and which should die. After I weed I'll have to go look for a job. I'm ecstatic that summer is here. I'm going to buy a $4 plastic pool for the backyard and sit in it. Most happily I'll start studying martial arts again. For some reason, jumping around, kicking and punching and doing forms somehow leaves me being able to see that there are different sides to every problem, there is not only black and white, not only good and evil, but a bit of each mixed in together, in everything. Maybe some good will even come out of Jar-Jar Binks.
So after thinking about all of this life and death stuff, I guess I realized that I am very happy with the way I am living my life. And I certainly wasn't like this while I was in highschool, or even college. I had a very hard time, I was very discouraged and depressed most of the time, and generally spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. I even used to believe that the more intelligent one is, the more capacity - and right - one has to be depressed. That is a load of crap. It was one of my bandmates who changed me, and it was very hard, because people who are sitting around feeling sorry for themselves generally don't like to be told they are being self-indulgent. I am so glad I changed. I am happy with every moment, and every choice I've made so far.
We stopped at 1:30am at BOOMLAND, on the border of Illinois and Missouri. BOOMLAND contains about the biggest fireworks store you'll ever find on the planet - it's the size of a mall, lit up like a flourescent candle, and it's got tons of fireworks in one wing, and in the other wing, racks and racks of Jesus stuff. And it's open 24 hours. There are beanie babies and some racecar stuff, but mostly crosses, Jesii, and lots and lots of Fireworks. We were there to stock up on fireworks, of course. At 1:30am on a Monday morning, the place was completely packed with people milling around like zombies; kids sleepwalking cross-eyed down the aisles looking at plastic, glitter-covered angel dolls, 12-year old employees stocking the fireworks shelves, men and women adorned in their finest Sunday Nascar clothing, missing teeth, waddling through the aisles with glazed looks in their eyes and shopping carts full of M-80s and rocket launchers. Everyone had a crazed look on their faces, probably including me and Rick. We probably fit in perfectly. And now we have our bags of fireworks for the 4th of July. The best thing they had at BOOMLAND: 4-foot tall silver mortars that cost about US$30 inscribed with the words "2000 MILLENIUM."
Southern Illinois is surprisingly hick-ridden. I can't even understand the people here who live in my own state! To its credit, Illinois is very, very tall; it can take 10 hours to drive from one end to the other. 1/4 of the way from the bottom though, is Dixie Truckers Stop, where Rick picked up a good 5 or 6 free Sermon cassette tapes, among those are "The Devil's Music", "Prophecy 2000," "Jesus Paid It All," and "Children Who Fall." I always wonder what other bands think of Illinois, Champaign, and Chicago. What does my home seem like to other people?
howie and jim live in chicago
We are calling this tour a Great Success. We have always returned from tour in the US with money, even when we were getting paid 1/4 as much as we make now; we are the masters of touring frugally, and since we haven't changed our methods, you can imagine we are returning quite comfortably. Everyone who bought a CD from us or a t-shirt has helped us in this endeavor. We'll be able to pay all our bills; pay for the t-shirts, CDs, gas, and motel rooms we bought, meals and our rent, and we even covered a $300 van repair.
We return in good spirits, and although I'm anxious for a rest, it seems like everyone in the band is looking forward to playing more shows. 2 months of constant shows got long for me, though, and I felt like my performance may have suffered near the end of it. Stepping back from playing for a while will give me a better perspective on playing shows. Also, my body is black and blue from battering it each night. I can barely even walk today! But it hurts in a very good way.
It make me so happy to think about all the people who came to see our shows; it is so great to be able to drive around the country and meet all kinds of people and play music for them. None of us are ready to give it up yet, and we want to all thank every one of you that came to each show, and I want to thank you all for reading this. Hopefully we are doing our part to Save The World, and you can go about your daily business now and help us.
Our future plans are as follows:
And of course, stay tuned for RADIO ZERO. (We may be changing the name - to PIRATE RADIO! ARRR!!)
Thank you very much for reading.
If you have comments, feel free to email me at