Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This Device is Non-Operational

Today is officially the last show of this tour. Unofficially it feels like I checked out about a week back. We're outside of Portland today for a show at TheEdgefield. The weather has gone all Oregonian, which is to say bleak, and leading to painful personal introspection. Just a handful of days ago I was roasting out in the desert. Fortunately we left Arizona behind in a cloud of adobe dust.

It was ungodly hot. A bunch of folks went out to a baseball game the day before our show in Mesa, and remarked how little applause the mayor received compared to the standing ovation that was given to a local air conditioner salesman.

I did get a little sun on the yams though, and from the looks of it they could use a little more. It's just a shade lighter than reflective, I think.

Everything has gone sideways, and the only thing that still seems to keep my head above water is a good photo of a cat wearing pants and maybe a top hat. I insisted that this one be printed out and laminated. At least a half dozen people followed suit with the words 'I can has access' printed above. Lolpass.

The show in San Diego was a big old waste of a day. No one in the crowd was happy to be there, and it seemed like most of them were on some sort of work release program, or maybe a class trip. They reluctantly filled in the bleachers and just sort of sat and stared for a few hours.

Those are some truly magical words: 'Lucas to Home.' 

We did a show at The Greek Theatre in Berkeley. It's an amazing place that always seems epic when it's full of people, and is usually a good day for me all around. It may have something to do with the fact that it looks like Metallica should be playing 'And Justice for All' there, that and it's home for me.

I had just enough time in my own house to have some delicious brunch, go to the bookstore and let my body unravel for a few hours. It could have been a terrible idea because I feel all the more abused having let myself relax even for a day. Lexi and I slept late, ate waffles and then drove downtown to meet the bus.

We took the 5, that old, meandering, 2-lane highway down to LA.

We stopped about midway at one of those towns built around a truck stop and a few slaughterhouses. Ally calls that strip of land Cowschwitz due to the impressive number of cows that are fed through the abattoir doors on a  daily basis. There is an unearthly smell of diesel fuel, shit and death along that stretch of road. It stings the nostrils, deadens the appetite and somehow really seems to fit the scenery.

We were posted up in Santa Monica for a few days at a hotel that was clearly designed by an Italian coming off of a 3-day cocaine binge. There were dinner plates nailed to the wall, and a porcelain schnauzer desk lamp in my room. At least there was a spot to put my feet up for a bit, even if it was a Plexiglas end table shaped like Neil Young's deviated septum.

I had a few hours to walk down to the Santa Monica boardwalk and pier. Those two things are exactly why I prefer beaches a bit further north. There is something about a paved boardwalk and an amusement park on a beach that reminds me of the North East, New Jersey in Particular, and is therefore a place that I'd rather not spend my day. I hear the surfing is good, but then I hear that Missouri is a great place to hunt for Turkeys, and I know about the same about both activities.

So, I picked up a copy of Chuck Palahniuk's new book Snuff when I was in SF. I feel like I've enjoyed some of his books, and felt pretty gypped by others, but they always seems so accessible both literally and figuratively since I can buy his books in airports, and then have just enough in me to concentrate on the story during a long haul flight. This time around I suppose I should have known better. Someone lent me his last book, I don't even remember what it was called, and I got a few chapters in before I realized that it was garbage. This time it took a few pages. On the ride down to LA I made it maybe halfway through the book (incidentally about a world record-breaking gang bang and the resulting film shoot). I read a few reviews online, one of which (it may have been the NY Times) called it the worst book of the century. Not far off, I think. The odd thing was that the story all seemed pretty familiar, and then I realized that it was lifted, at times word for word, from a story on Salon.com called 'The Gang's All Here' about the actress Houston's rather heroic and entirely repulsive gang bang (actually a really interesting article). One of my first roommates had a pretty extensive and learned porn collection that he moved box by box into our apartment one day. He would lie around the couch on weekends and scroll through VHS dubs of old Traci Lords movies, and it was on a particular Sunday afternoon that I sat, equally amazed and repulsed, through two and a half hours of 'The Houston 500.' It is the most clinical depiction of mass sex ever committed to video. If you have never seen it, maybe don't, but read up on it because it seems to be one of the great lengths of depravity with which we go to entertain ourselves. Speaking of terrible movies, someone was less than enthusiastic about Robert Downey Jr.'s blackface in downtown LA.

We were at the new Nokia theatre downtown. I've heard all sorts of terrible things about that place, and most of them were true. Nokia has a chain of venues across the country, and all of them (or at least NY, Dallas and LA) are modeled after very large movie theatres. The big, padded seats even have cup holders in them. It's sort of a vibe killer unless you are doing a show where standing up and enjoying yourself is frowned upon. Regardless it was an easy day, and I saw a bunch of friends. Mark and Sam from the Jesus and Mary Chain tour came out. They were house-sitting in Silverlake. They are a blast, and in fact the last time I saw them they were red-faced and giggling on Ecstasy during a flight from Melbourne to Perth.

My old pal Tim came out to the show as well. He recently got married, taking a big step forward into adult life. He also just got a tattoo of the Flying J logo (an omnipresent truck stop) thus taking a large step backwards towards adolescence.

It was all good fun. Erica and I hung out for a while after the show and, after berating me for not mentioning her here more often, we delved into the treacherous discussion of adulthood. She just got engaged, which I guess makes you all grown up. We both pretty much decided that we are unwilling to relinquish the possibility that we may wake up on some stranger's floor (again) one morning after a long lost night in Tijuana, or somewhere where it's easy to lose several hours and a kidney. These things happen, but it basically renders you ineligible for children or pet ownership. Such is life. Speaking of responsibilities, through some magical disaster of tour planning (rhymes with poor planning)I had to rent a car to drive up to Santa Barbara and back, and then out to LAX the following day. I still can't really work out why, but I ended up with a pretty sweet Le Baron or something for the drive. It was actually one of those big, hulking Chryslers that looks a bit like a Bentley. It was great, and not unlike driving a double wide trailer down the highway. It was a bit of an old man car for my liking, but it could have been worse. I had 2 passengers for the trip and one, fairly useless GPS unit. We set it to direct us to the venue up in Santa Barbara and it decided to turn itself off occasionally and then detach itself rather violently from the dashboard and go careening into my passenger's groin. It was actually the most hilarious thing I had seen in weeks. If only I hadn't been on the verge of getting lost in downtown LA. I was wondering if it would have had more luck with a less tangible and slightly more spiritual destination. Maybe set it to 'inner peace'. I can almost hear the tinny, mechanical squawk of the box, 'turn left 50 yards and take mescaline.' 'Ride. the. snake.' Yeah, it's not funny, but you know what is? This picture of Matchbox 20 that was hanging up at the Santa Barbara Bowl. That is the classic rock and roll 'oh' face.

The show was...a show.

The next day we flew up to Portland . It was really the sunniest, most pleasant day in Portland ever. Even though I was teetering on the edge of some sort of tour sickness and general physical exhaustion I made it out to some bookstores (picked up the latest zombie comic that I am addicted to) and then went to Chong King's for the best Chinese food this side of the great wall.

I fly home tomorrow at 6AM, and then Kamil and Laura are crashing at my place for a few nights. It'll be a welcome change from this old traveling circus. I think I'm meant to be in Europe next week. Hold my calls.