Poster Children New World Record Tour 9
In Line for Star Wars, Wednesday May 19th, Reno, NV
Today we did laundry and then walked around the Powells (Burnside Rd?) area of Portland. Powells is a HUGE bookstore that features used books next to the new ones on the shelves; you can find a new version of Don Delillo's Underworld right next to a used one, for half the price! It's always been an amazing place in Portland, and a hang out for freaks. Howie says the freaks in Portland are a bit sloppier than the freaks in Seattle; the Seattle freaks look much more stylish and kept up.
I walked around in Powells for a while and then decided I wasn't going to buy anything, it's cheaper to take books out of the library. So I went outside and walked around for a bit. The street is full of punks. I went into a couple of used clothing stores, full of way too expensive used clothes; then went into a couple more hip bookstores. Everyone around this area looks like they're ready to appear on a talk show as a Punk Rocker Rebel. I finally started getting so sick of the hipness, I had to walk out of a couple of stores. I took one look at a guy behind a counter listening to a band that kind of sounded like Sonic Youth, wearing sunglasses inside, and I had to walk out of the store. I swore that the next guy that came walking past me with metal in his face and a black t-shirt on with some sort of punk band that played their last show before he was born, I was going to punch. I kept going, "Ok, not this guy; I'll punch the next guy. But they just kept coming!
There are no restaurants in Suburbia
Finally, we left that area, and went to see a movie in Suburban Portland, which was even more irritating that non-suburban Portland. You groan when you think about driving around in the suburbs, but do you know exactly why you groan? Maybe it's because you think all the houses look the same, and all the malls look the same, but the reason why I groan is THERE ARE NO RESTAURANTS IN SUBURBIA. You cannot find food in suburbia. We ended up eating a $15 Chili's meal, that just makes me want to kill someone. About the movie though: we saw "Election," with Reese Witherspoon. This is a good movie. It's about a teacher (Matthew Broderick) who tries to hold back an overachieving little girl, and it's really funny. The whole movie is really a commentary on how teachers' ineptness and hypocriticism conspire to keep any kind of independent sparks of creativity under control, in a school. I've read reviews that extend the metaphor to politics, and life in general. Rick was beside himself - he had a good day today. He is like a kid in a candy box when he knows he's going to see a movie. That, and he found a bunch of Nixon and Spy books at Powells. One of the books is called "Nixon" but he's got it laying upside down all the time, so it looks like "Noxin" whenever I see it.
Our manager, booking agent, and record label all hate each other. They are having terrible arguments about whose fault it is that the Denton promoter hasn't gotten posters or press materials. There have been a couple of other promoters who haven't gotten press materials; about 3 to be exact, out of about 60 shows, and this is causing a huge argument amongst everyone. There's a bunch of finger-pointing, people being told other people are fuming at them, etc. Meanwhile we're out here, driving every day and playing every night, sleeping on floors or in some pretty nasty motels, eating crap, staying out here on the road, trying to do our jobs. The arguments are really really bumming us out. Especially this morning, because I did an interview for a Dallas newspaper, and the interviewer went on and on about how inept our publicist at the label is, and I had to try to figure out, is this really a legit complaint, or is this person friends with the already angry Denton promoter (Denton is right next to Dallas), and so it's more of the same gang? There are so few complaints about the label; it seems like they've been doing an excellent job, and I'd really like to reward them instead of picking at the couple of things that went wrong. But worst of all, when I try to call them and talk about this, it doesn't help at all, because the minute I mention anything, they go on the defensive. We can't figure out what's wrong, and we can't solve the problem. All of the bad feelings just have to fester out on their own, I guess. Everything seemed to be going so well.
Walking into WOW Hall, in the Hippy Capital of Eugene Oregon, was really nice. We must have had a wonderful time last time we were there, because I was just inundated with Good Feelings upon setting foot in the room. It's a huge gymnasium-type room, very high ceilings, wood floors, and general hippy atmosphere. Lots of beards and macrame and yarn and tiedyes in this town. 88 people showed up on a Monday night, and although I had the worst show that I can remember in a long time - my bass kept cutting in and out, and I finally threw it down on the floor at the end of the night - I still left feeling happy. The sound technicians took it upon themselves to go through all my cables, figure out which one was shorting out, and soldered it back together again for me, while I sulked on the stage after the show.
Rick had a funny moment on stage today. As I was unplugging and plugging in different cables and changing the battery in my backup Heavy Metal Pedal, trying in vain to figure out why my bass was stopping working, he stood up in front of the mic and gave a blow by blow. "Ok, now she's changing the battery in her pedal. Ok, so now she's closing the pedal up. Now she's plugging the cord in the input. Now she's looking for the output cord - she can't find it, she's looking around....ok, now she's found it..." (All this was completely true)..he continued, "Now she's plugged in the pedal. Now she's trying out her bass, and ... it still doesn't work." It wasn't working. "She can't figure out why it's not working." I couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. "She checks the pedal again.. it's all plugged in. She's forgotten something. What else could it be?" He was totally narrating what I was thinking, to the crowd. I walked confusedly to the amp, scratching my head for comedic purposes, but I really had no idea what was wrong - and saw that I'd unplugged the bass from the amp. "She's figured it OUT! The bass works again!" Rick said. And it did. That was pretty funny. The people who were watching thought that was all part of an act, that we'd rehearsed beforehand, but of course we hadn't.
I bought some art that was hanging on display in the hall by an artist who painted the paintings while he was in prison - he used the coatings on skittles and peanut M&Ms for paint and a pencil to draw them, on computer paper. He'd soak the candies in a couple of drops of water, in a plastic spoon, to get the paint off, then watch for the prison guards to walk by; after they came by, he'd figure he had a good 3 hours to paint. He created paintbrushes out of rolled up pieces of paper. "Skittles have a high-gloss paint coating, while the M&Ms are a matte finish," he told me and Rick. "If you paint the backgrounds first with the M&Ms, then highlight using Skittles, you'll achieve a 3-d effect." I checked out why he was in jail before I bought his work. He was in jail for possession of a small amount of marijuana. The pictures I bought were $15 each, but I think they are color xeroxes.
Pre-Star Wars Anxiety
It's time to talk about Star Wars, since it's been on my mind for days, months, years. I was one of those Star Wars fans who saw it in the theater over 100 times. We used to go on a Saturday and sit through a couple of showings of it. I loved it so much, it wasn't even funny. It changed my life. So I always used to sit around and think, what will I be like when Episode I comes out. I'll be much older - will I be married? What will my job be? What kind of person will I be? Will I still love this kind of movie as much as I used to? It's like a life-marker for me. I've been really scared that I'd hate the movie, since I really didn't appreciate Return Of The Jedi too much - too many cute, furry animals in it. Today I sort of came to terms with the movie - it's like Christmas, I decided. It's coming, and there's no way to stop it, and you can either love it or hate it, but it's coming and you may as well figure out a way to enjoy it. I'm not going to be afraid anymore.
Gas station near Old Station, CA - eastern CA.
The drive from Eugene to Reno actually scared me. We stopped to fill up at one of the first exits on the scary tiny road, and there were 2 gas stations - one had bags over the gas tanks, and the other had a sign on the door, "Temporarily Closed at 5pm" - it was 5:15pm. Cars kept driving through the gas station trying the pumps and they were shut. A man came up to me and asked me if he could take my picture; he said I reminded him of a female relative. I let him take my picture, and the guys were telling me for hours after that that the guy is most likely some sort of pervert who takes pictures of women. I wish I had asked him for $5 to take my picture. DAMN IT!
We drove for another couple of hours down a fir-tree lined road. It was really scary; through mountains - this whole day, we probably saw no more than a handful of people, and we drove a good 9 hours. I really spent the whole 9 hours keeping track of the road, looking at the map and watching the road - I wasn't driving, either. I don't know how someone can do this for 9 hours straight, but I did it. I never even got bored. Maybe this talent could be put towards something that could make me some money. While we drove, we made up stories about vampire cows, Rick and I, cows sucking the blood out of the humans in retaliation for humans sucking the milk out of the cows' brethren. We told our stories in the olde tongue, our old mountain-hic accent, even though we're far from the appalachian foothills. We finally found a gas station with skyrocketed gas prices, in the middle of nowhere.
When we got to Reno, we drove down the strip. It was beautiful - like Las Vegas, 20 years earlier, full
of old-style lights and casinos and buffets. The weirdest thing about it though, is there is no one around!
The strip is lit up light a candle - and empty! There's about 2 people per block, on the street. Maybe even
less. The last time I was in Las Vegas, you could barely walk down the streets - it was packed, butt-to-butt!
It's nice that we're the only people on the street right now, but it seems a bit sad.
Home of the Awful-Awful and the $3.95 Prime Rib
Today, we woke up, met Jim, the promoter who spent an entire night outside waiting for Star Wars tickets for us, and we went out to the greatest restaurant in Reno, NV. It is the "Gold Nugget Restaurant" in the Gold Nugget Casino, open 24 hours. I had a $3.95 Prime Rib, with mashed potatoes and a salad. This restaurant is the "Home of the Awful-Awful" which is a huge hamburger and about 10 potatoes-worth of fries. Jim and Howie got Awful-awfuls, Rick and I got the Prime Rib special. The greatest thing about Las Vegas and Reno is the unbelievably cheap food that you can get at the casinos - they serve cheap food to keep you in there and keep you gambling, of course. The locals all seem to love the fact that they can get cheap good food - and of course none of them gamble. I fall in love with Reno - and the Gold Nugget - right from the start. And there are mountains surrounding the town, too - snow-covered mountains. Jim tells us that the weather is pretty cold in winter - you get a LOT of snow, and in summer, it's a desert. Every year, there is a snow at least once in June or July, he told us. That's COOL!
5pm, we went to the movie theater to get in our line - each line formed 2 hours in advance of the showtime. The grounds of the movie theater looked like a little festival; people playing frisbee, a local radio station was broadcasting with way-too-small speakers out in the parking lot, playing Kiss songs and other "Rock from the 80s" - Rick spent the time reading his Nixon book. I am giddy - I had to call my parents. I still don't know how this movie is going to affect me. Looking at the people, you know this is an Event, a sort of kid-holiday. People took off work all over the US. Kids sitting near us in line are all way under 21; they have lightsabers, tie-dyed shirts, black concert t-shirts. Some have hand-made Star Wars shirts on, some have Star Wars characters taped to their faces. Kids next to me have "STAR WARS" written in black ink on their fingers, like tattoos. It's like we're at Lollapalooza, or maybe a KORN concert.
Inside the movie theater was worse, like being at a high-school pep rally. Kids all around us were screaming, yelling, and I was scared it was going to continue throughout the movie, but it didn't. I finally leaned over to Rick and yelled, "Hey Man, are you gonna MOSH?" Everyone shut up when the lights finally went out.
First show in Nevada!
We played in Nevada! The audience was great - they stood up close while we played. The place was small - and it's called "Planet 9" and it's got a sort of space-alien motif. Word has it that Art Bell has actually come to that place for certain events! He lives down near Las Vegas, you know; this is about as close as we've ever played to him. That's really, really exciting.
The people of Reno seem really, really nice, like it's a midwestern town displaced somehow. Everyone seems really polite - even the screaming kids at the theater looked at my face as they were screaming back over my head, and they apologized. That was kind of them. The worst thing that happened tonight was that the promoter got totally ripped off - the doorman handed him $99 and told him that's all the people that were in the show tonight. This would mean that only 20 people showed up - and there was way more than that in the venue. Both Rick and I counted at least 50. That is really lame.
Windmills on I-580, Livermore, CA
I LOVE CALIFORNIA!! I LOOOOOOOOOVE CALIFORNIA. I am a California Baby - I was conceived somewhere in Los Angeles, I believe. I swoon when driving through the dried grass mountains with windmills all over them, along I-5 east of San Francisco, in Livermore California. I love the arid-ness, the polluted sky, the desert, the reservoirs, all the rules you have to follow to live in California, the impending doom of The Big One, the crazy temperature changes. It's all so foreign to me. In Reno, in fact, on the border of California, the local paper had the temperatures and also the water heights in the reservoirs! One lake, "Frenchman Lake" I think it was, had only around 5000 units (can't remember what they were) of water but could hold 55,000.
So I wrote a little report about how I thought the SF audience probably was in a bad mood tonight, and how not too many of them danced, but they were strangely loud, for being in such a bad mood, and then I looked at the picture I took of the crowd:
and decided to rewrite what I'd written. Even Rick was making fun of them after the show, saying they were 'watching Poster Children on the Big Screen Television' at the Bottom of the Hill Club. I don't know, maybe it was the lights again. They look pretty enthusiastic in the picture, don't they!
Out of nowhere, some of my family members showed up at this show! I was a bit worried, because they brought some impressionable teenage cousins with them - and I am not sure how good I feel about my little cousins seeing our performance! My impression of them is that they are studying the arts, like talented kids do, one especially is studying to be a dancer, and I thought may be also taking singing lessons, aspiring to be the best so they can "make it" - like most people who are training in The Arts do. Now, if I was a kid who was studying to be a great singer, working as hard as I could so that maybe I could be famous one day, and then I saw *us* on the stage, croaking and jumping around, not very professional, I might get very confused. How did *these* people get to where they are when they've obviously never had any singing lessons?
There are many paths you can take through the Music World, and we have chosen a special one; the path of The Punk Rock. It doesn't require any skills, or any training; only guts, basically. Yes, some of us have had some training, but the basic rule is, usually, the more training and classes you have, the worse off you are. I am not sure why that is; perhaps it's because you're learning rules, and learning how to play like others instead of creating your own methods and music, or maybe it's because you're being trained by someone who couldn't "make" it in the actual Music Business, so they may not have too good an idea of what it's Really Like out here. There are a LOT of people who think they know The Business, and they actually have little clue of how it really works.
So now, Rick tells me that seeing this show probably is the best thing that could happen to impressionable teenagers. Perhaps he's right!
>> Hi Rose, >> >> I just got a call from our business office >> that your check was returned in >> the mail as undeliverable!! Did you move? >> >> Please or reply to let me know you are OK >> and to say where to send the check! >> >> A bit worried, >> Chris
>>[To Salaryman: from our German Record Label] >>Excellent news! I will discuss this further with >>Christof and we will be in touch soon about details. >>In the meantime I will confirm our serious interest >>for [a British festival] All Tomorrow's Parties. >>Now, put that guitar down! >>Wyndham
I-5 Between SF and LA
We rocket down I-5 through the yellow mountains and powerlines, down to Los Angeles. We will be In-n-Out of this state so fast it will make our heads spin- Tucson tomorrow is reportedly at least a 10-hour drive, and getting out of LA will take another 1-3 hours, most likely.
Jim and his new pet Freckles
Coming to Terms with Star Wars
don't read if you haven't seen the movie
So we sort of had a little encounter group about The Movie yesterday, whilst driving in the van. The movie is gorgeous, it's a joy to look at, I'm even impressed with tech that went into the damn Jar-Jar Binks character, who seems to be the star of the film, although I hope to never see him again. I had to have a long discussion about the movie in order to get it straight in my head. There is a lot that happens in the movie, and it unfortunately has to be interspersed with comedic digital telly-tubbies for the children - Rick noticed that there wasn't much killing of people in the movie, either, violence was definitely toned-down. The one complaint - I would say it seemed a bit shallow, like they gave up any kind of character development for more special-effect time. Lucas is an engineer; I have a feeling that character development has never been his strong point. In Star Wars, we have a greedy, mercenary pirate, a naive but brave kid, I can go down the list of course, each character develops and you get to know them and watch them grow, in 1 movie alone. In this movie, the deepest character development we get is that Anakin Skywalker is cold, after he leaves his mother. Cold and scared. When Oskar Schindler's character died, Howie remarks that he never even knew that character's name, and I must admit, I don't either. Apparently you have to get the Cup from Taco Bell to know more.
The only thing I really miss from this movie that I loved so much in Star Wars, was the Jedi Knights. I really miss the mysticism. Every other sci-fi movie can have explosions and killing and robots, but it was Star Wars that introduced us to the Force, I'm sorry to get so cheesy, but that's what I liked about Star Wars, the religion, the beliefs, and I just didn't get that in this movie. I need to think a bit more about it though, and I think I'll enjoy it more after I go over it in my head some more. Already I think I liked it more than Return of the Jedi.
I want to love this movie. I think the one thing that helped me the most, was a review that Rick quoted the other day: a Newsweek Critic had panned the movie, and his biggest lament was "This movie is critic- proof." Damn Right. It's almost like Lucas doesn't even NEED critics in order to complete his craft. Almost like you're leching onto someone else's life's work. Almost like the Critics aren't necessary! BOO HOO! Get a JOB, critic!
Tonight, after racing out to Versailles, our customary dining place in Los Angeles (cheap, good, Cuban food), we returned to The Troubadour to find it filled with some of our most special friends and family members, and new people we wanted to meet, and there was not enough time to talk to all of them. Our friend and ex-manager and his friend, ML and Skip, were there and I am so sad that I didn't get to talk to them more. A writer whose books we've read - Jonanthan Vankin (he's written some Conspiracy books that we absolutely LOVE) - was there, because we met him through an article he was writing on MP3s - he emailed us to ask us a couple of questions and when we saw his name, we grabbed the phone immediately to find out if it was really HIM - and it was! So we were looking so much forward to meeting him - Rick got to talk to him more than I did and I'm bummed about that... My brilliant cousin Rick was there, and we got to talk with each other for probably a total of 1 hour. There were people from San Diego there that I never got to talk with for more than a couple of minutes. There was a much-loved ex-employee from Reprise, who we got to say hello to for a while. And then right before we got on stage, next-door neighbor-parents whom I grew up with showed up, giving me a quick hug before we got on the stage. Such special people for me.
Anyway, I was filled with so much love for all the people in the room, it was great to get on the
stage and perform for them. The people who work at the Troubadour were all really nice to us as well, and
the band who played before us, "Miss Spiritual Tramp of 1948" was fantastic as well - and people we knew
from other bands - our good friend Quazar, the crazy drummer from Lutefisk is the drummer for that band.
They were great. It seems so odd to me that I could feel so safe and sound in a club that's in the
middle of Los Angeles, but then again, I LOVE CALIFORNIA. I still don't know why.
I'm just sad that we had to go in and out of there so quickly. We have a good 8 hour
drive to Tucson tomorrow and the show is VERY early.
The LA Weekly is in our van here, and we're thumbing through it. We were one of the Weekly Picks - our show had a little preview and whoever wrote it totally understands us perfectly. They even see the humour in Ankh! Most disturbing about the Weekly is the fact that every ad in it is an ad for some sort of plastic surgery or liposuction.
RUN, don't walk, to the Congress Hotel in Tucson, AZ. It's right across the street from the Amtrak Station. It's like a little bit of Europe in America - quite possibly, the coolest place in America. (And the hottest- it's over 90 degrees here today, and gorgeous). The Congress Hotel is an old-time, renovated hotel, and it's exquisite. It is decorated in western, arts and crafts style and it belongs in Architectural Digest, or at least, Elle Decor. There are colors and glass and olde bottles everywhere, and people with black t-shirts and facial piercing and tattoos and hair everywhere, and they look INTENSE. Everyone looks like a movie-star in this place. Tucson is an incredibly hip and beautiful city.
Tucson Audience left and right
We played in the hotel's little lounge, and we got to stay in a hotel room upstairs. The hotel room was totally decorated in neo-40s style, there is an olde radio, a very olde TV set, and a rotary-dial phone with the copper-wire securely wired to the phone, so just a bit irritatingly, there was no internet dialup, but no worry, because downstairs on the other side of the stage, there are a bunch of internet and computer workstations - in fact, I glanced at them while we were playing and saw that they were webcasting us live. What an incredibly cool place. There's also a great restaurant attached to the hotel.
Unfortunately tonight, there was a huge event outside the hotel - HOT-ROD-A-RAMA. When we drove up, Rick said we were probably going to get beaten up. There were cowboys and bikers everywhere. Lee Rocker was headlining on the stage outside the motel, which was enclosed in a chain-link fence, so it looked like there was a country-music prison camp set up, taking up the whole street. Our motel room was directly above the outdoor prison camp, so last night after Lee Rocker finished playing Stray Cat songs, all the time being half-muffled by the pounding of bass and drums in the disco that took place after our show (the venue was also directly below our room), Lee left the stage, still being upstaged by the drum'n'bass throbbing, and then there was a tattoo contest that went on for another hour or two, the announcer sounding out of place against the disco beat. Our room was shaking with all this noise, but thankfully it ended around 1am and we feel asleep to the clinking and clanking of the prison camp being dismantled for the rest of the night.
ok, so we were just sitting in a restaurant eating
We're driving through the AZ desert and there are in these weird dust tornados everywhere, spindly brown fingers extending up a couple of hundred feet into the air, moving slowly across the dirt fields. I wonder how strong they are, and what would happen if you got caught in one.
I had the greatest idea for Albuquerque. As you know from reading our tour reports, we have a long history with Albuquerque. Each time, less and less people show up at the shows, until last time, we had a negative amount of people. It's not the publicity, either - each time we play, some guy from the local paper writes an amazing review of us and talks about how great we are. Our promo photo is up at Fred's, a local restaurant, right across from Fugazi's picture. I don't know why people won't come see us in this town. But anyway, so the last time we played in Albuquerque, I decided that the NEXT time we come through, we won't play a show; we'll just put up lots of fliers stating that we are going to be eating at the Frontier Restaurant, at around 10pm, and if you want to come see us, that's when we'll be there. Come visit us. Now, I never thought that would actually happen, but it's happening; we're driving right smack dab through Albuquerque, so I'm going to add it to our tour dates. Dinner in Albuquerque. No Show, just dinner.
Truth Or Consequences
Now we're driving through New Mexico. Most of the buildings in New Mexico have these bright pink walls, trimmed with turquoise. As you drive through the hills of New Mexico, you notice that the dirt is also that pinkish color. It's really neat. So, we have shrubbery and pink dirt on I-25, just south of Truth Or Consequences, NM. We took a short cut on rte 26 from I-10 to I-25 that crossed over the Rio Grande.
Dear Sara, (my sister) We saw Star Wars on the day it opened. It has taken a lot of talking through; for most people our age who loved the first couple of movies, they want to love the newer ones too, but it's hard, because there are some very large flaws in the movies. Not plot flaws; just really irritating things, like there is a great drag race in the movie but there's a sportscaster "muppet" that sounds like a really bad, cheesy sportscaster announcer, with a terribly annoying american accent. I don't know how to describe it; just like the most terrible radio announcer voice you've ever heard in your life, trying to be irritating. The problem is, George Lucas is trying to create this other-world, this totally separate universe, and he does it so well, why does he inject this terribly 20th Century American kitsch crap into it? As Howie says, 'he may as well have had a shot of Larry King in the movie.' (Larry King has a talk show on CNN, he's like a news-David Letterman, and he's always got cameos in movies.) Anyway, so after you see the movie, you have to do a lot of soul-searching. There's a lot to talk about. There's a stupid character for the kiddies called "Jar-Jar Binks" and it's like this huge digital duckman that talks with a cross between baby-talk and Jamaican accent. He's just there for comic relief. He steps in poo and yelps, he's clumsy, and that's to make you laugh. If he was gone from the movie, it would have been a good thing. The worst thing about the movie is the characters - there basically are none. There's no character development. That's the worst - whereas, you could fall in love with Han Solo's false bravado, you knew he was greedy but he sort of overcame that by the end of the movie, Luke Skywalker was a weak,whiny boy who began to grow up, Leia was a brave princess, etc. There is no screen-time for these new characters to develop, because most of the screen time is taken up by hugely expensive digital characters shaking their lips or stepping in poop for comic effect. We are hoping the human characters will develop in the next couple of movies. And then, the last complaint - the stars are children, and they act pretty badly. Why does the star need to be a little boy? Little boys had no problem identifying with Luke Skywalker in the first movie, even though he was supposed to be 19 (I think.) Why do we need to have a child in this movie? Anyway, one of the things that saves the movie is the convoluted plot - people are being taken advantage of, and it is intriguing to watch young Darth Vader and try to figure out what is going to turn him evil. Already, he's gone from his mother by the end of the movie, and he's cold. He keeps mentioning that he's cold. Also, he's grown up as a slave - living in fear all his life; somehow maybe that will have an effect on him. There is actually a pretty good amount of stuff to discuss, and a couple of other details I'm leaving out here for you to discover by yourself. And another thing - the movie is gorgeous, the digital pictures are beautiful to look at. I just wish we didn't have to watch computer time being wasted by a digital duckman stepping in poop. Anyway, enough about Star Wars. Yes, I liked it, it was a million times better than Return of the Jedi. And I cried at the opening credits. How's that for Geek?