Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Andy and the World's biggest ball of tape

Andy was prone to fits of boredom-related rage....

so to keep his temper in check he began making a ball of electrical tape. Tiny at first, it began to grow and grow, until it was the size of a small melon. It's weight, enough to cause a foot a great deal of pain if dropped on it, was due to it's well-packed mass of plastic tape, in a rainbow of colors.

When he grew tired of the tape ball, Andy decided to saw the thing in half. This took hours and several exacto knives. The results were pretty cool though.

In the heat of the bus, the ball began to expand, turning itself inside out. It started to look pretty bizarre.

After a few days the thing had turned into a bit of a science experiment.

And it was relegated to a quiet death, there in the back lounge of a tour bus.

That's the story of Andy and his stupid tape ball.


Carlo and the Dream of Horses

My last tour was punctuated by a few days in Northern Italy. Not being a big fan of that part of the world, the one saving grace was a surprise visit from my friend Carlo, who is definitely in my top five list of the most friendly people in the history of time. Wolfgang Puck, Richard Simmons, Carlo. It's always great to see a familiar face on the road, especially if that familiar face is not attached to someone that you have really pissed of the last time you saw them. So Carlo was the light of my relatively dark day in Milan. He was Blonde Redhead's tour manager for some time, and while they are a great bunch of people, managed to drive the usually patient and stoic Carlo straight up a wall. One of their requirements was to have only organic foods in their dressing room. No exceptions. This is not such a bad thing, unless of course, you are in some part of the world where you don't stumble over a Wholefoods whenever you walk down the street. That said, Carlo was explaining to me, at the time, that he was going to purchase a roll of 'organic' stickers and put them all over whatever crap was in the dressing room just to get the band off his back. I love Carlo.

Here are some pictures from around Modena. It looked very much as you would expect an old Italian city to look.

Oh yes....

...yes it was.

My last Belle and Sebastian show. I have to say that I never really felt welcomed by the group that I was with. Not that it's a big deal, but I feel that the tours I had done previously were with good friends, or even a family, or if nothing else at least a group of people who were pleasant to on another. Done and done.

The last night involved a bit of the vino, as you do, and a rather strange event. Often when a bunch of guys spend too much time together, there is some sort of ongoing that eventually ends on a display of chest beating machismo that seems only natural. It's a way to bond, and a way to test your fellow man and name an alpha male and all of that wonderful nonsense. In my experience this sort of thing tends to surround a sport of one fashion or another. My last night with these guys turned into the most testosterone-fueled game of frisbee that I have ever been witness to. I'm still a bit confused by it all. I will forever hold the image of a bunch of shirtless, blue-skinned scotsmen barking at each other and tossing a little plastic disc from place to place. It's not quite the highland games where you'd carry a tree seven miles and then stick your face in a campfire all while wearing a tartan skirt. No, this was quite different.

So after the last five shows, all in a row, with no day off, and no hotel with a nice bed and warm shower and room service and such, I had (against better judgment) agreed to fly from Milan to Seattle to do lights for Death Cab for Cutie at the Sasquatch festival in Seattle. I was dumped at the airport at 6:30am for an 8:00am flight to Heathrow, a change of terminals, a bit of a layover and then a flight to JFK, a change of terminals, a bit of a layover and then a flight to Seattle. Words cannot begin to describe the state that I found myself in after that trip.

This is me, fairly early on, when I still thought that it would be a good idea to document my descent into madness via air travel.

Really. Horrid. Let me tell you about how I was smelling by the time I got to NY. Not so good.


But I made it. And I saw that it was good. It was raining and dismal, and very much like Seattle...

I settled in, had a hot dog and then went to The Six Arms for some tater tots and beer. I dragged my friends Bobby and Jerry there, who are out with Queens of the Stone Age, and were doing the same festival. I convinced them, in spite of one of them being a staunch vegan, that I should be allowed to have greasy bar food because of my aforementioned deprivation. They agreed. Here's the chandelier from the place. I think it's pretty cool.

So, I was flown out to begin work with a new band. One that I didn't know a whole lot about, and my first show was at an outdoor festival with somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 people. I was just too tired to be apprehensive. The show was at the Gorge, about three hours outside of Seattle. It's an amazing place to be.

It's almost a shame to have a stage blaring loud music in between you and the view.
Correction. It is absolutely a shame.

The show went really well. I was impressed by the band, and the crowd was pretty rabid for them by the time they went on. I'm looking forward to working with these guys. They all hugged me after the show and told me how great everything was. It's such a contrast from working with a group of people who are less optimistic, quite standoff-ish and pretty cold. That sounds pretty mean, but shit, 'tis the truth.

Here's a ropey video from the show:

Good things. It's like a mantra these days.

no distinction will be made between europeans and those who harbor them

There's a big gap here. Some 13 days or so. Most of those 13 days were spent in the asshole of Germany (or Italy, or France), devoid of inspiration and/or an internet connection. I think that I'll be working my way backwards...hopefully it won't take too long.

I'm back in California, and it's nice.

I've missed San Francisco...

Yesterday I had the closest thing to a damn near perfect day that I've had in ages. Jamie and I checked ourselves into a pair of soundproof suites at the miyako in Japantown. The rooms have individual private saunas. I shit you not. It's pretty great. We went to Crepes on Cole yesterday for massive french toast and mimosas. We sat outside on a beautiful day in Northern California. I've slowly been putting some meat on my bones after surviving on bread and cheese for three and a half weeks in Europe. I really did buy new pants because the ones I bought a few days before I left no longer fit me. So as part of my 'fattening up' program I'll be consuming anything smothered in butter and syrup. I watched this girl wander around the front room of her apartment from across the street. It looked pretty ideal. She was casually surveying SF from behind her massive bay windows, sipping tea, wondering if she fed the cat, worrying about the world.

My little moment was shattered by a vagrant who decided that the middle of the sidewalk was as good a place as any to just stop and piss all over himself and then sit down in his own pee. It put me off of the orange juice for a bit, especially when the urine trickled downhill into the outdoor part of the restraint where we were sitting. That aside, we hopped in the rental car of the damned...

...and wandered the streets. I blew a bunch of money at Amoeba records, as you do, and popped in and out of some of the better shops on upper haight. I bought a David Shrigley book and, on Scheid's recommendation, the Rollins book that he's been chatting about on his blog. It looks pretty amazing, especially from the perspective of someone who tours, and hates things that most people love. I found a really great leather jacket with a fur collar. Jamie and I are heading north in a few days in a VW camper van to find some redwoods and solitude. I figured that I may need a good jacket as it may be cold, and all of my good jackets are back in NY. I also like leather jackets because I think that they make me look intimidating in spite of my round face and stupid hat. I'm also overwhelmed by the prospect of shopping for things that I need, in stores that are familiar to me; Eating in restaurants that I enjoy and speaking to people who understand what I am saying to them. Nothing against Europe (lies..many things against europe), but I'm feeling much more civilized now that I'm home. Anyway, Jamie bought the sweetest jacket that I've seen in a long time. I wanted it, but it was a bit too large for me, especially with the bread and the cheese and the not eating anything substantial for a few weeks and all. Jamie is a fairly practical shopper. He rocks things that are warm and often waterproof and have pockets for things while I'll wear a woman's blazer because it fits me well and looks cool, but has no pockets and I freeze my ass off. So, we found this old, well worn levi's jean jacket hanging up in a store. It had a great Triumph motorcycles patch on the back. It was one of those items that you could be pretty sure wasn't for sale, mostly for show in a store that sold a bunch of crap, but it was, and it's sweet. I'll try to take a picture of it. He paid for it and the two kids behind the register were pretty excited. The girl was glad, like she had been waiting for someone who could appreciate a jacket of that caliber, with it's grease stains around the collar and worn in elbows. The guy was bummed that it wasn't him who would b e wearing it home. He kept going on about how someone could sell it for a bunch of money on ebay. Dick.

So later on we wandered to the new de young museum in Golden Gate park. It was finished and opened just after I moved back to New York. I kept seeing pictures of it, but hadn't made it back to actually take a look at it.

It's a really stunning building. All metal and twisted. Sort of Gehry-esque in the way that it looks like it shouldn't, by the laws of physics, be standing upright.

I didn't actually go inside, which sounds a bit odd. It was ten bucks to get in, and I really couldn't quite work out what was inside. It was also an amazing day outside, and there was plenty of goodness to be had in the sculpture garden.

We made a stop at Ocean beach as well. It's great to have city beaches in SF. They seem so accessible. In NY you've got Coney Island, which is a complete and total shit hole where people just dump garbage everywhere and then the city just plows it under more sand. Ocean beach is a bit of concrete and tire tracks, but it's still pretty nice on a sunny day.

My big, stupid hat...on the beach.

I got to see some friends last night as well. I hadn't seen Chad, Erin and Val since I was in town with Belle and Sebastian a few months ago. It was great.

We met up at Toronado for some beer. On my anti-european rant, I was so excited to have some real beer after what seemed like ages. The Germans, Dutch and Belgians are really into their beer. They've been brewing it for centuries and they are super proud of their work. Unfortunately it ends up being Heineken or Stella and it tastes like brown water and some guy comes along who's made some sort of weird chocolate ale in his backyard in Northern California, he calls it 'a swift kick in the nuts' or something, and you can get a pint of it, sit back and actually taste the beer, and maybe listen to Motorhead, if you're in that sort of establishment. So there.

So we had some drinks, had some Indian food (oh yeah) and then went to Noc Noc for a nitecap of sorts. It's a pretty wacky spot, that used to be one of the few smoking bars in California. It is no longer, but it still looks like an auto shop threw up all over the ceiling.

And christ knows what has gone on in the bathroom.

I brought Erin this cd last night. I had bought it at Amoeba earlier in the day, and then put it on the laptop. I knew that she'd appreciate it. Last year, in an alcohol-fueled rage, she lent me Lords of Chaos, which was pretty special, and she is otherwise a purveyor of all things dark and gloomy, oh, and also evil as sin. I was digging through the 'staff recommended' black metal bin and came across this gem. The music is damn good and loud, and it actually comes with a razor blade for 'use while listening.' That's pretty dark. All of the nonsense court cases trying to hold Black Sabbath, Kiss or Foreigner accountable for teen suicides and these guys are actually advocating it. Population control through art. It's a tongue in a cheek that's blacker than the bottom of a well.

Good times abound. I'll be weeding through some pictures of the past week or so, and hopefully piecing together my crazy, backwards world, just a little.