When I say that the best part about Los Angeles is leaving it, I don’t mean it to be a dis on LA. I love LA, but I also love to leave it. We are exhausted, emotionally and physically, and had to get up at 8am in order to get to Phoenix on time to wait for the club’s soundguy to appear.
Stuck in Time and Space
As I drive out of LA, east on I-10, waiting for my favorite scenery, the windmills and the dry brown moutains and dirt everywhere, and later on, cactus, it seems to me that the entire city has decided to leave at the same time as us. We drive about 70-miles an hour in stop-and-go traffic; it’s no wonder that people shoot each other on the freeways here. The sky is bright white and it seems as if the city is closing in on us, the farther we drive, the further it stretches, the mountains are still green, and we still see signs for LA suburbs.
When I finally get to the windmills east of LA on I-10, they are completely still, adding to my feeling that I’m stuck somewhere in time and space. I start hallucinating TV characters in the cars on the freeway since I am so tired; I pass Maryann and The Professor from Gilligan’s Island in a pickup truck and Bill Cosby wearing a cybersuit, leaf-blowing gear, cleaning the sidewalks.
Since this is LA and Howie our drummer just ate dinner next to Snoop-Doggy-Dog at a chicken+waffle restaurant last night (Snoop didn’t recognize him), I decide that my situation could still be normal, and it is still safe for me to drive. When I pass the Simpsons (not O.J.) in a station wagon, I decide that something’s wrong with me and that I should pull off, and we land in a deserted Baskin-Robbins parking lot on the Cal-Ariz border. I stumble out trying to show Rick the direction from whence we came and the next thing I remember is waking up, surrounded by dry, red empty desert and green cactus.
We are greeted by a poster in The NILE Club in Mesa, Arizona:
RULES FOR BANDS
1) NO ALCOHOL ON THE STAGE, OR YOU [sic] WILL BE DOCKED.
2) NO ONE MAY TOUCH THE MICROPHONES EXCEPT HOUSE SOUND GUY
3) BANDS MAY ONLY LOAD EQUIPMENT OFF THE STAGE USING RAMP ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE OF STAGE OR YOU MAY BE DOCKED
4) BANDS PLAYING OVER THE ALOTTED TIME WILL BE DOCKED
5) BANDS PLAYING OVER A “REASONABLE” DECIBEL LIMIT WILL BE DOCKED
and so on.
In a really “nice” club; i.e., one with actual speakers in the monitors, one that provided us with SOME of the stuff on our rider, or one that treated us with “respect,” we wouldn’t mind these regulations, but this club was a hole. It’s a huge hole, too. On our contract, the club stated that they needed $125 for catering for us; (we usually just get $50 for meals for the 5 of us) – but the meal consisted of 2 pizzas; one pepperoni, and the other was sausage. When I went up and asked for a coke, I was informed that the club had run out of coke and wouldn’t have any that night. “We have 7-up or water,” they said. And seriously, there were 4 monitors on stage; one had completely torn-up speakers, 2 were just for show; they only had tweeters, and I have no idea if the drum monitor worked. Oh well. The show was fun, because near the end, I noticed a little ring of mohawk-boys dancing around way in the back. This is the kind of stuff that makes us happy!
Meet Drummer #1: Shannon!
We stayed tonight at our first drummer’s house, with his wife and beautiful child. They have a wonderful house outside Phoenix, with a gravel backyard and cactus. I absolutely love the yards with gravel and cactus in the Southwest. The little girl is 5 months old and teething already. They seem to live in a paradise. Shannon works in a hospital now, and he is a heart-manipulator; one of those guys they call to massage the hearts of dying patients. He went back to school after quitting the band.
ROSE: What a beautiful house you guys have.
HOWIE: Is that a real gun? (Shannon’s got rifles and guns; it’s Arizona)
SHANNON: Yeah. Are you the new drummer?