Week 1 of Dallas Coda Breeders Tour
So I had "Mastery Class" (in Taekwon-Do) the day before we left for Texas. In this class, only about 7 of the black belts showed up, and this was the day that Master Hyong (our Head Instructor) has decided we were going to learn how to punch out a candle. He said he never does this kind of weird, shamanistic stuff, because he is a practical man and doesn't believe in this kind of crap. But he feels like we will be able to tell if we have good strong punches by seeing if we can punch a couple of inches away from a candle and put the candle out with the air flow from our punch.
So the night before, Nam (one of my best friends here) and I stood in our dining room while Rick tried to watch TV, punching at a lit candle set up on the dining-room table. The damn candle would not go out. We kept punching, Kung-Fu punches and Tae Kwon Do punches, and the damn thing stayed lit. Punch, punch, punch, flicker. I finally ended up punching the damn thing off the table by accident, candle-stick, candle-holder and flame, causing hot wax to fly everywhere. Rick yelled at us, comically. The candle went out, though.
So now at Mastery Class, the next morning, everyone practices punching out the candle. By the end of a half-hour, everyone can punch out the candle, except me. My punch will not put that damn candle out, because my punch has a slight wobble at the end of it. I know this too. I've known this forever. So then I had an extra half-hour lesson with Head Instructor with his hand on my stomach, yelling at me to tighten my lower abdomen at the end of my punch. I thought I was. TIGHTEN HARDER! he yells. During this part of the month, my lower abdomen is not going to tighten any harder. I am not sure how to tell him this.
It's kind of depressing that there's something fundamentally wrong with my punches. They wibble at the end. And that's the way I learned it back in college. Damn it. I have to practice this now. And I feel an aversion to wanting to practice it because I am worried that I am not going to get any better, even with practice. How's that for logic. No. I'll just practice it. Because I know from this class that practicing will make me better, inevitably. I guess that's what "indomitable spirit" is.
August 11, 2002: THE DRIVE TO TEXAS
I love going down I-57 to I-55 south in Illinois. It's like I'm connected to the South in this weird way; I can go step on I-57 outside my house and know that someone on the end of it is in a weird southern place where people talk funny. Is it weird that I feel like the roads are living organisms, like, they have a head and a tail. They are holistic beings; they can feel me on one end and some strange dude with a cowboy hat eating grits on the other end.
Today in Boomland, Open 24 Hours, near Sikeston, MO, at the corner of I-57 and I-55, I bypass the Black Jesus with Mary and Children Familiy Statues (only $6.99!), the ubiqutous Unicorn Ashtrays, the clear paperweight globes with roses embedded in them, and the Elvis, Jesus, and Trucker decoupaged wooden tree-stump clocks on the walls and head straight to the half-mile-long fireworks section where I purchase a bunch of baby sparklers and two blue Globe-shaped Caution Emits Shower Of Sparks fireworks. It will be really cool to blow up The Earth into a Shower Of Sparks. I probably won't even blow those up, I'll just sit them somewhere in the house for a year. Imagine a fireworks shaped like the Earth!
"What state or country does this chicken look like?" Matt is quizzing us.
The Variety of the South
Ok, so are we in the South yet? You stop in a gas station with hats that have a little story about Jesus on them ("Jesus, don't leave earth without him") right next to hats that have a little story about how the south's flag colors are not going to "run." What does that mean? They are not going to run from Slavery? Then there are hats with a little story about beer and sex. I find myself feeling all uppity and righteous, how dare some fundamentalist Christian love the Rebel flag, but I guess this is the Variety of The South. Also, it doesn't necessarily mean that one person will agree with all of the little stories on all these hats. I need to stop seeing just black and white and start seeing grey. That's what happens when you get older. You start seeing grey.
Display in a Southern Dairy Queen
We drove all day today through Illinois, Arkansas, and got ourselves to Texarkana and slept. Tomorrow we only have a 6 hour drive.
Jim and I drove out looking for a dark spot near Texarkana, so we could see the Perseids meteor shower tonight. No one else wanted to go out and hunt for falling stars. It was amazingly light in the sky outside Texarkana; I figured it'd be pitch black. I've never been able to see a meteor shower; it's always cloudy each year during the Perseids wherever I am, and in the winter, it's usually too cold for me to hang out outside in the middle of the night.
So tonight after driving for about a half-hour outside of town we got to a road that led to a lake. We're two states away from where the most people have died of West Nile Virus. I am scared. I tell Jim to wrap himself up in a coat and I wear Rick's coat and long pants outside. It would be just my luck to get killed by some part of nature while I was celebrating another part.
The minute we stepped outside the van we saw a huge bright falling star, brighter than any I'd ever seen - it looked like a fireworks display! I actually ducked my head under my arms, that's how scary it was. But the rest were the lame little dim meteors you usually see. I think we counted around 8 in a half-hour, and about the same number of cars driving down this dark road. Each time a car came down the street I was thinking it might stop and the driver might get out and shoot us. It's like that scene in Lawrence of Arabia when the camel rider is coming from across the desert. You and Peter O'Toole are just sitting there, and you don't know what's going to happen but you have a pretty good feeling it's probably not going to be good.
Jim told me a nice story about how They discovered that it is possible for a meteor to make that audible sound and rattle metal and electrical equipment like all the crackpots say - it has to do with meteors emitting radio waves, I think. Jim has an absolute amazing store of knowledge in his head, it's like an encyclopedia in there. He could probably be the next Einstein if he wasn't so busy being a rock star and private artist.
We finally left and went back to the motel room and slept. And although the entire half-hour we were out there I was pretty terrified because of the cars, the light, and the mosquitos, I will probably always remember sitting out on this dark road, watching stars fall. That's just the kind of thing you remember for a long time.
August 12, 2002: HOUSTON, TX
We arrived right in time to see the wonderful Breeders soundchecking! I danced around to their soundcheck. It's the greatest privilege to watch all the bands soundcheck because you get them all to yourself. You don't have to share the music with a million other fans butt-to-butt up against the stage!
We're so happy to be here! I can't believe these two bands have been on tour for the whole time we were home! What were we doing at home? We were in "Real Life." It stinks! It's much nicer to be on tour, in a cartoon world.
This damn bouncer was standing in front of me, humourless, the entire time we played, so finally at the end, I decided to grab his cap off and dance around with it on my head. I was going to do it earlier, but I was afraid he'd throw me off the stage. He seemed to think it was pretty funny, I guess. It would have been funnier if I had kept grabbing it off his head, but I gave up because it didn't fit on my head and I was supposed to be busy playing a show, anyway.
Roddy from Imperial Teen
Roddy was the keyboardist in Faith No More, a band I don't know enough about. Now he is the leader of Imperial Teen. Roddy is very, very nice. All of Imperial Teen is really nice - I want to ask them about their fellow label-mates band who disses us continuously in print. I feel so hurt when I read these articles with mean things about us. Hurt enough to not mention the other bands' name. And Imperial Teen don't know them, anyway. And Imperial Teen are sweeties.
Oh yeah, there's a Sweet Tomatoes in Houston, my FAVORITE NEW CORPORATE-OWNED CHAIN RESTAURANT!!
It's got a huge long salad bar and then pastas and breads and honey-butter. WOO! Rick is a vegetarian, and I try to not eat meat too much, so it's great when we can find a place that serves good food that doesn't have meat in it.
You are Breathing Art
This is the town where Rick asked me to marry him, right in front of Emo's, on my birthday, April 21st, 1995. If you read that day, you'll see I was in a terrible mood, but I don't even mention that he asked me that day. It's quite funny, actually.
Our best friends from home, Andy and Ruby, have moved to Austin, TX. In fact every couple of years there is a mass exodus from Champaign, IL to Austin, TX. Austin is a town where you feel like you are breathing art. The humidity pressing down on you and filling your lungs is not water, it's art. The warmth you feel from the sunlight baking you isn't light rays, it's art. It's completely invisible, because Austin TX just looks like a grey, concrete city like any others, but there is paint in the air inside the buildings surrounding you, paint that artists have painstakingly laid out in folk art fashions.
someone sent me a sonnet:
Number 9 - She Blurs 8th August 2002
I saw you last night at that place you played,
All smiled pirouettes and jumping laughter.
Exposing your heart and bidding us stay,
To be sacred here and not here after.
Claim said witness to power and beauty,
As fate does rarely raise and cross our path.
Thus ever as such, we creations will see,
And praise fortunes luck we can, burn alas.
Such overt questing and pouring out of self,
Leads us all times on, thus revealed and shown,
As we hallowed children's dreams are helped,
Strong magick'd by spirit made flesh and bone
So you teach us this one true thing and learn,
Dare set the world as stage, for loves return.
servant to the muse Odelia
Andy and Ruby moved here with their beautiful daughter, Eve. I am happy for Ruby that she is in such an artistic environment, but I miss them so much that I want to move to Austin. It seems like another world. Plus, it's nice and warm. Rick looked at a house with a coy pond in the backyard, for $650,000. Our house costs us $500 a month for our mortgage, and it's a two-story brick house with a basement and a yard. I think we'll stay in Champaign for a while.
Ruby has been the artist that I look up to most. She makes these great paintings, layered with lots of paint and see-through lucite stuff. She also makes these beautiful dresses out of old vintage clothes that she finds. She can rip any dress up and safety-pin it together again to make it look like something you see in the highest-fashion magazines. Plus, she cuts hair -she's the only one who can perfectly cut mine and Rick's hair. So we both got haircuts. I'm so glad the Breeders chose to play in Austin and let us play with them here.
Andy and Ruby. Andy is the one who started the band HUM, with his friend Matt, in Champaign. It's because we were such good friends with Andy that we put out first two HUM records (Fillet Show and Electra 2000) on our own label, 12Inch Records. Well, that, and they ROCKED too.
Andy was mine and Rick's roomate for many, many years. He has got the greatest sense of humor in the entire world. He and Rick still talk on the phone for hours even though they live so far apart, and I can tell how happy Rick is when he gets to talk to Andy.
I like cell phones.
Austin Audience! Kevin Posterchild is over on the right with his Atari Teenage Riot shirt on.
And there's a guy on the left with a "your favorite band sucks" shirt on - I am wondering if this is the same guy who gave me the shirt off his back a million years ago when we played here. I still have it; it's a white t-shirt with hand-drawn on it, "Your favorite band sucks." I have saved it. I still wear it pretty often.
It's weird playing in these huge places in cities where we used to play smaller places. When we come back, we'll be in the tiny clubs again. This club was incredibly nice to us though. All of the promoters have been really cool to us, even though we're just the opening band. They tell us we've "caused quite a commotion about these shows." People are apparently very excited to hear that we are playing. That's GOOD.
Kelley hangs outside with us for a couple of minutes during the day, outside the club, until it's too hot to take it anymore. It's about 100 degrees outside here, and humid (with art). "Gotta go inside, Buffy's on." Kelley hangs out long enough to let Eve (5 years old) snap a picture of her.
Eve: Girl Ninja and budding Photographer.
Richard's on the phone with a friend of mine, after the show, backstage, Austin, TX. The bus driver is on the right.