Anniversary of Destruction Tour
Fracas was originally booked for the entire tour of September 2002. Joe Franke the singer said that they couldn't spare the time off work. Their bassist Lonny had quit the band recently and Jeremy (guitar) switched to bass. However, just before the tour Lonny came back and Jeremy quit. All the Fraculation was causing mass confusion. So they couldn't make any of the gigs until the 19th. That's when they planned to meet up with us in Denver. Joe also informed me a week before the Stork date that they couldn't play that one either. Luckily I got the PAWNS from Chico to fill in the first 5 dates.
Mykee Hates LIFE is me, Mykee on guitar and vocals, George Matthews on drums and Erik Brim on bass. Our tour vehicle was a huge black 78 Dodge van with metal horns protruding from the roof. The van, “The Dark Whore,” came from Lopez by way of the Fleshies. It was in exchange for my van which the Fleshies had lost on their last tour. Erik had recently been the lead guitarist for the Angry Amputees. Just before the tour, AA's decided Erik should be given leave from the band to straighten out some personal problems. The split between Erik and AA became less harmonious when the drummer JoAnne found out Erik had hidden his reason for leaving the Bay Area. He told them he was going on vacation to San Diego visiting his Sister. He didn't tell them he was going to play bass for us on our tour before getting to San Diego. Erik said if he had told them the truth, there would have been massive fallout and much raising of tempers.
TOUR KICKOFF : Stork Club Oakland, September 11, 2002. PAWNS played first. Shelby surprised us with her skill on the kazoo as they mutated a traditional Gypsy song. Sometime in the middle of their set, the audience tripled in size. Arnocorps were next with their "action adventure hardcore." They almost didn't make the gig, but their new drummer said he'd drive up from Santa Cruz because we were his new favorite band. Any gig with Arnocorps is fun, even if only five people are watching. The Stork on a Wednesday is often a lonely place. That night the turnout was good, partly because Fracas were still listed as playing. The singer's wife was back with the band that night, after quitting a while before.
MHL played last and we got a great response from the crowd. It was one of those nights when I would stop a song and the sound of the audience really surprised me. I think it's important to give everything you can at every performance. Of course when people are into something, it makes it easier to rock out. That Wednesday was also our unofficial CD release party. The pressed CD's had only come UPS the day before. Another added factor in the mad scramble to get ready for tour.
The next day's drive was a leisurely ride up to Redding, California. The venue was the Red, White and Brew Pub. Sean from Kansas City Stars had set it up. (also a PAWNS fan) KCS had played Burnt Ramen on their last tour. They were supposed to play at the show that night, but their drummer up and quit on them when they got back from the road. So it was just PAWNS and us on the bill in the tiny space reserved for the band. We played first and the crowd was small. But they were drinking heavily and making lots of noise. PAWNS had some fans in Redding come out to see them. Sean invited us back to his place after the show where mass quantities of beer, weed and spaghetti were consumed. Five of us hotboxed the PAWNS van. Sean told us that might be the last night he would book at the pub. He said that the owners were giving him shit lately and complaining about not making enough money. He said on an average Thursday night, the place would be practically deserted. With the drive to Seattle ahead of us, we opted to leave that night. Erik drove through the dark. I took over the next morning.
The gig was at Coffee Messiah, a tiny little place. The best thing about the place was the bathroom. When you put a quarter in a slot, the lights go off and a disco ball on the ceiling starts spinning, while a short section of 'Disco Inferno' plays. It was hard for me to imagine playing with a full band in such a small space. I'd seen some folk acts, but no one with a drum set. When we got there, a young crowd was watching a local punk band. PAWNS weren't there yet, even though they'd left before us. The Hollowpoints had put us on the bill in exchange for a show at Ramen in November.
By the time we set up, most of the kids had cleared out after watching their friends' bands. Only two kids stuck around to see us and Anna was the only one standing. Someone told me that's typical for Seattle, content to rest on it's laurels after having created Nirvana, uninterested in supporting anything new.
The PAWNS wisely decided not to play. Instead, we went over to Zak's near the space needle to try to jump on a bill. I was beat from the drive, but was game to try. It didn't take long to figure out that Zak's was the place we should have played that night. When we showed up at the bar, a bunch of people looked over the wall to see what the inhabitants of this satanic conveyance looked like. One of them was Josh (ex-240) who used to practice at Burnt Ramen. He owed me 200 bucks, I was hoping to run into him. Same old hard luck story, "If I knew you were coming, I'd have the money for you." He did invite us to stay at his place for the night.
Josh's place was a reformed crack house. The thing I noticed first were the front pillars. They were made out of bricks melted in the great Seattle fire. The interior was completely barren inside. To wash myself I had to use a pitcher we had acquired from the Red, White and Brew pub. Josh said when they moved in, the whole place was filled with crap collected by crackheads, none of it worth anything. His next project was to turn the basement into a practice space. He said by the time we came back, they would be able to have shows there. Entertaining ourselves that morning we sat on the front steps and watched junkies wander into the abandoned house across the street to get their crack.
That afternoon, the PAWNS were scheduled to play at the central downtown park for a protest. This was in response to the National Association of Broadcasters conference being held across the street. The NAB was organizing to eliminate pirate and community based radio stations in addition to undermining independent internet webcasts.
By the time we got out to the park, it was already 2pm, and the PAWNS were nowhere around. We found out that the PAWNS had played 3 songs before getting shut down. The reason the organizers gave was that there were too many speakers and the music had to be cut short. The speakers I heard kept repeating the same things over and over again. They were making vague statements, urging us to "support independent media." Then there was the 'accordian lady' who went on for quite a while with some screechy caterwauling. There were a bunch of us behind the stage yelling things like "More Rock, Less Talk" and "Why do these commercials have to last so long?" Anna had poured beer in a coffee mug and was passing it around to all the punks. "This is really great coffee," one kids said. "Well you know, Seattle is known for its coffee." I said. I felt bad for the PAWNS, a politically conscious band, being censored at an anti-censorship rally. Just to make room for some long winded speechifying. Later on there was one good speaker, an older union guy who made some points about this country being a non-representative government.
Our gig that night was in Longview, WA. We were expecting it to be a big show because Camarosmith (ex-Zeke) were on the bill. When we got there, they told us the cops were cracking down on the nightlife. Not only were they prohibited from letting in under 21, they ALSO weren't allowed to serve alcohol. Camarosmith cancelled because of the problems. PAWNS played first. The sound man asked before the set if they wanted smoke. It turned out to be a lot of smoke, not exactly PAWNS style. I took a piece of cardboard and fanned the fog out of the way so they could see.
We played a good set that night, the sound was loud on stage. All the stage lights and smoke made me feel like a rock star. I told myself, "I'm still a rock star on a budget." Anna stayed outside with the kids who couldn't get in. She felt bad for them. There was nowhere else to go in Longview. There was a video set up on the side of the building showing the band. It was focused in a little too close. All you could see was the bassist's instrument.
After the gig, PAWNS told us about a good place to go camping about 30 miles from the freeway in a little town called Cougar. They left a while before we did. We caught up with them on the windy country road. The campground turned out to be closed. We pulled over to a rest stop down the road where we got a nice little campfire going behind the vans. I pulled out a bottle of wine and spent the evening learning the PAWNS particularly twisted brand of humor.
The next morning the PAWNS said they'd see us in Portland. They headed off to find a greasy spoon for breakfast. Erik, Anna and George couldn't afford to eat out. We headed straight to Portland, hung out on Hawthorne for a while. Visited the gigantic periodical store and a place that sold strange art deco objects. Erik used the Hon folding bike to ride around town for the day.
Pulling up to Ash St Saloon, I accidentally backed into a black Porsche. The alarm went off and everyone sitting outside the bar next door looked at us like we had landed from Mars. The bump didn't hurt the car at all. I thought it was hilarious. The bartender told us that PAWNS had canceled. The band I asked to play that night didn't show. The booker had lined up two more bands, one of which flaked as well. That made a grand total of 3 bands flaking in one night. This is the most I am aware of ever happening. The kids who did show, the Lowrollers, were too young to stay inside while we were playing. That sucked, but they seemed to have fun. A guy I had met on the Iowaska/Fleshies tour, Phil, was there. He talked a lot of shit about people he didn't like.
The worst gig I ever played was in Portland. I've never had a good one there. Come to think of it, I've never even seen a really good show in Portland. What is it with that town?!? And then I kept thinking to myself "need to get through the road Karma."
We left after the gig that night from Portland to get to Missoula early. The directions from Mapblast were a little vague without the map. I was unconscious in the back. For some reason, Erik kept driving toward Walla Walla, Washington. We still got to Missoula early and everyone went to the library to check e-mail. I had some time, so I gave the van a tuneup. Boy, did it need it. It still had a stalling problem. Not a good way to make friends at stop lights.
The club that night was Jay's Upstairs. I had heard a lot about that place. The load in feels like going into a mine chute. The stairs don't quite follow right angles. The club itself has a great setup for sound and a really cool bar. We were given free drinks all night. Some local entrepreneur came up and gave the bar $300. Everyone got very busy getting shit-faced. For some reason the flyer had listed us as Mikee Hates Wife. Usually they just misspell my name. This was a new one on me, I'm not married dammit! Without Fracas, it was just us. We played every song we knew and some we didn't quite know. The crowd was the best yet for the tour. One guy Harley and his girlfriend got so drunk, she almost fell down the stairs in the back. She puked in the back of the club. Erik had to move her so she wasn't sitting in it. We got paid well that night. We were invited to stay at the Sasshole house where we stayed up late drinking more and hanging out in the basement. Missoula rules, the first show to made me feel like the tour was worthwhile.
The next two days we spent driving straight through to Denver. Late the next night, we stopped at a gas station. Erik went in to see if he could use someone's credit card and give them cash for the gas. It turned out there was a bar AT the station. Some locals were hanging out, playing guitar. One was the Fire Marshall and the Police Chief. He also ran the local ISP. He told us that half the town(pop 200) had been wiped out in a flood 2 weeks before. We hung out there until closing time. I kept thinking how much fun it would be to play that bar. Eveyone in town would come out to see us.
On the way to Denver we passed the Anheiser-Busch brewery. We took a vote and decided ‘what the fuck?’ The tour was of course informative, but the real reason for stopping was FREE BEER! Before we got the free suds, the tour guide asked for five volunteers from the group. George and Anna raised their hands. They were given two different samples of beer to rate. Anna and most of the people liked the first one. George and one other guy liked the second one. The guide then told them “the first sample is the usual Budweiser. The second one has been treated so as to simulate sitting a month in a car trunk.” Haha, George likes skunky beer. We got to sample some new brews being offered by A-B. One tasted like a light Guiness, not bad at all. After we were good and buzzed, we talked with the tour guide. She said she hated her job, “I dare anyone to retain their faith in humanity after doing this job for a month.” Yeah, that’s what I want to hear, ‘People Suck!’
In Denver, we met a cool girl living next door to the venue. She was running a mail order business, selling clothes over E-Bay. She let us use her shower and hang out for a while. She made me feel good about Denver, having only been there once before.
The show that night was in stark contrast. Carolyn, the girl I had booked it through, told us we would be playing last. We were after the local band AND the headliner, Jukebox Manifesto from Finland. Right before the set, she told us that we wouldn't be getting any money. She was giving it all to the Finnish band. She said "you should do well tomorrow night at the Crowbar." After we had played 4 songs, she came up and told us to make the next song our last. During the two other bands, people were just standing around looking bored. The music was entirely played and predictible. When we were playing, we only had a crowd of two plus Anna, but they were moving around and actually moshing during one song. It took a lot for me to get pissed, but Carolyn managed.
After the show, we met the guys who usually organize things there. Huraldo was in Catheter. They had played Burnt Ramen only a month before. He said that if he had known who we were, he would have set it up. Huraldo made it appear unlikely Carolyn would be booking another show at that warehouse. He invited us to stay over at his place that night. By then I was cooling off a bit. We ended the night drinking and watching the Simpsons on DVD.
The next morning, after saying goodbye to our hosts, a lady across the street gave us some chicken curry. There was a little dog in the yard named Mr Glee. He wasn't as happy as his name would imply. He yipped at almost everything. She told us that back in the day she toured around with a punk band. Before she got the domestic urge to settled down in a more comfortable lifestyle.
Next stop, an afternoon instore performance at Independent Music. This was set up by Russ Austin. He's a booker in Denver who actually replies when you contact him. This was also the day we would meet up with Fracas. We went over to the record store and sure enough Fracas showed up while I was tinkering with the van stereo. FYI : Fracas is Joe (Vocals), Dan (Guitar), Lonny (Bass) and Bob (Drums), they also had Justin along as the roadie. After Fracas made an excursion to the local porn store we setup in the store and played three songs a piece. The sound wasn't very good in the big boomy warehouse and the shoppers were probably annoyed that we were making so much noise while they were looking for the newest Brittany Spears or Eminem CD. Russ warned me that the Crowbar might not be so great that night. After the previous night, could it be any worse? Now that Fracas had joined the tour, we'd have at least 5 people in the audience.
The Crowbar on Colfax was locked shut when we got there. Erik suggested cleaning and vacuuming the van. A good plan considering the debris that was piling up inside. The trash compounded by Burning Man dust and general funkiness made it a less than ideal habitat for humanity. I wandered off and got the band a bunch of chicken tacos. We headed over to the club. The first band was already setting up. Joe's friend --- came for the show. When the local band announced they were a Christian punk band, I remarked "they must be joking." She said "Oh no they're not. This is what I have to deal with here in Denver."
Fracas played a good set, the acoustics in the room were great, with a slanted ceiling and big stage. We weren't given any drink tickets and had been told we weren't getting paid from the door or the bar. That sucked, but we were warned. Anna brought in a beer and the bartender gave her some shit. Then she put it in a coffee mug. That didn't fool 'em. No drink tickets, no pay and you still get shit for bringing in your own beer! We should have left Denver after our first few hours there. That would have been the only way to have a positive impression of the city.
We were last up that night. We played well, but my voice was getting strained from all the booze and pot from the past week. Another band was there watching at the bar. They said they dug us and would go down the next day to see us in Colorado Springs.
Fracas got a hotel room for the night. We were going to sleep in the van that night on the road next to the hotel. There were a lot of pimps and ho's at the hotel. Dan walked outside the door and yelled over that he was going to call the cops if they didn't keep the noise down. The fuzz did show up a while later and arrested about half the people staying at the hotel. We all hung out in the room for a while watching Bangbus on my laptop. If you haven't heard of it, the premise of Bangbus is to drive around town in a big white van with tinted windows and pick up chicks. Then the guy with the camera convinces the girl to fuck the guy in the back seat (who keeps his mouth shut the whole time). In the episode we were watching, the girl is reluctant and it takes them almost half an hour and a hundred bucks before she takes her top off. As boring as that was, it was competition for the game of electronic taboo being played on the other bed. When the guy and the girl did get around to fucking, the guy with the camera said “rock and roll, Motherfucker!” We decided that should be the catch phrase for the tour.
At about 3am we left to sleep in the van. It was a sketchy neighborhood. Drug dealers and prostitutes were giving us dirty looks. It made us feel right at home. The next morning we wandered aroung the area, checking out the multitude of pawn shops. I got some black Mormon shoes from one place and some 'It's a Black Thang' brand beeswax from the ghetto mart we were parked next to. A crazy lady came up to the van and told us we were beautiful. Thank you, that's what doing the work of Satan will do for ya.
Colorado Springs was only a short ride down the freeway. We went to Industrial Nation, where we were playing that night. Then we put some cd's on consignment at the local Independent Music. I put the van by the central park and we split up for the rest of the day. I searched out the tattoo place a guy at the club recommended. They didn't have time to do the job that day. Later I ran into Joe, Lonny and Joe's friend and we went to a cool cd and video store. At the store Joe found ten rare Raymond Pettitbone zines worth $100 each and bought them for $1 each. He said, "the trip just became worth it for me." We hung out at the house of --- who worked at Industrial Nation. They told us we could stay over that night. I rode the Hon back around through town. There was some kind of outdoor festival that night. I saw a lot of kids spangeing. I told one girl, "it's good all the cops are busy corraling drunk yuppies on this side of town while the real fun is going on over at Industrial Nation." She said "Shh...don't say their name, it will bring them here."
Fracas opened up that night, another ripping set. We played next. The stage was of truly epic proportions (at least in punk world). The sound was great, the crowd was into it. We even had a bit of a pit going for some songs. Granted, Fracas was a big part of it. After our set, Fracas and us broke out the foam encounter bats and pummelled eachother with them while the last band played their dirgy metal stylings.
At the house of --- we drank more, played 'Chef's Love Shack' on Nintendo and had mortal combat rounds in the back yard. I fought Dan. We wore helmets with protective masks and wielded a variety of foam objects with which to whack one's opponent. I was beating Dan but he hit my arm. In the next round I had to fight with my arm behind my back. Somehow, with one arm I hit Dan's helmet and it came off his head. It wrapped around my bat. I was pretty drunk by that point and I thought it strange to have this piece of protective headgear dangling from my weapon.
In the back room, a bunch of drunk fools were gettin' busy with the Casio keyboard. Lonny, Erik and Anna were intent on bringing dissonant absurdity to new lows. --- made us all spaghetti, the food of choice for cheap mass punk satiety. I bedded down and put my earplugs in. I slowly drifted off to sleep with the cacophony diminished but not entirely dispelled.
The next day was a long drive to Albuquerque. Somewhere along the way while Erik was driving, the van started making a strange noise. We pulled into a rest stop and diagnosed that it was coming from the cooling fan. Not a totally dire situation, so long as the vehicle keeps moving. When we got to town, the engine was starting to overheat. The show that night had been set up by Felice from the Phase. It was at the Moonlight Lounge. Before the show they gave us the choice; charge admission for the bands or get a cut of the bar. We opted for the bar. We felt it would be a better show and people would drink more if there was no cover. Lonny used to live in Albuquerque. The local advantage brought some people in. First up was the Phase, with a kinda psychotic new wave sound. They told everyone it was their last show and the crowd encouraged them to keep the band going. We were next. One girl, Camile, stood in the front. She looked at me like I was a tasty entre'. The crowd was fuckin’ amazing. A great drunken set. Next up was Icky and the Yuks. I had heard their cd and imagined them to be a young band. Once I met them it was obvious they weren't. They were loud, fast and bratty. Everything a good punk band should be. Fracas was headlining that night. Joe had told me earlier, "in Albuquerque, we're rock stars for some reason." Well, the crowd treated them like rock stars, dancing and carrying on. Camile was making out with Lonny during the set. So much for my feeling special. Fracas played every song they knew and the crowd still wanted more. It was a great night.
The party continued back at Felice and Josh's house. Lonny and I had some potentially embarassing pictures taken of us and two short girls. It wasn't until later that we figured out that all of the girls that night, including Camile, were a bunch of cockteases. The beer was flowing freely, $10 for 30 can cases of Coor's Extra Gold. Not bad at all, better than the alternative which was Milwaukee's Best Ice. Justin and I punched eachother in the stomach as hard as we could, the coffee table got broken, empty beer cans were strewn everywhere and at 3 AM Felice finally yelled for everyone not affiliated with a band to get out. That quieted things
The next there wasn't a show on the schedule, but Josh set something up last minute at a warehouse down the road. I went out to get the part I needed for the van, but all the parts yard were closed. So there was plenty of time indulge in the Albuquerque good life, drinking cheap beer, eating at the Frontier and barbequeing in the backyard.
The show at the warehouse was frustrating for me. The PA was underpowered, the set was shortened and I had to play through Dan's amp. Still the locals loved us. After Fracas was a local psychobilly band with great hair and energy to burn. They made the crowd stomp round the place like urban white trash. Next to the main room was a sort of torture chamber/dungeon. Mass quantities of bizarre, twisted porn lying around for the public to enjoy. After the show, Lonny, George and Erik got a good whipping with a cat o' nine tails from a comely dominatrix.
Back at Felice and Josh's place, the partying went on. Not as wild as the night before. All us guys had figured out none of the girls there were going to put out. Lonny did admit to getting something from this girl Angie. He had hooked up with her when he used to live in Albuquerque, so it didn't count. Erik found out Camile had been celibate for years. Like the night before, we had the rock and roll, but the sex and drugs were lacking big time.
The next two days there were no shows scheduled. We decided to hang out one more night and then head over to Phoenix to visit Erik's sister Heidi. I went over to the parts yard again. They had the pieces hung up on chain link fences in their warehouse, not pull your own like I was used to. I had to disassmble the fan and the fan clutch inside the engine compartment, match it up, then reassmble it the same way. The guy at the desk gave me a $5 discount. "You deserve it, with the work you did," he said. Total bill $20 for a job that would have cost at least $150 in a garage and taken all day.
That night, Bob rented a hotel room. Lonny dropped Bob off with a certain female member of the party. The whole thing had an air of mystery about it. Bob said something about getting a prostitute. I asked him how much she was charging. He said he didn't know. "They always tell you the rate up front," I said. Curiouser and more curiouser. The ones of us who stayed at the house watched a 70's porn about a rock starlet and a Bill Graham type manager guy. The film actually had a decent plot and featured a very young Ron Jeremy.
The next day we said our goodbyes. I gave Josh a book on horror films and we piled into the van for the ride to Phoenix. Fracas was staying one more night.
We got to Heidi's house late. It was the nicest place we stayed at on the tour. I was out like a light as soon as I laid down on the carpet. The next day we froliced in the pool. Erik and I jumped off the 10 foot awning into the 4 foot deep pool. I threw some quarters into the pool for us to dive for. The neighbors came over to check that we were legitimate guests. At least they didn't care that we were breaking all the pool rules including the rule of common sense. Erik got a thorough massage from his sister and I got a short one. This was what I call the easy life. But damn it was hot. The scented candle in the van completely liquefied by the time we had to leave for Tucson.
We arrived a little before dusk. The club, 7 Black Cats was still locked up. I took the Hon for a spin, but the chain kept falling off. That night it was just us and Fracas with a small crowd. The drinks were good and the bartender Eleanor was most excellent. She recommended a tattoo artist. She had some fine work of his showing on her skin. Mark Beef was in attendance. He took us all back to his place. Every horizontal surface in his house was covered with dirt and stuff. The kitchen sink was over filled. The two dogs clearly had full run of the place. Out in the back yard was a little shack which the dogs had decorated to their specifications. The thing was filled wall to wall with chewed up foam couch cushions. Ah, bohemian life.
The next day we did what all homeless wanderers do, we hit the library. I sought out the books with pictures upstairs. As I was leafing through an art compilation, I noticed a pretty girl staring at me. We struck up a conversation. Her name was Jackie. She offered to show me the cool trendy side of town. I said "I'd like that." I found out she had just moved out to Tucson from the bay area. She was bored already. I told her I thought Tucson seemed fun. She asked me my age. I didn't want to lie, but I don't like to tell people. Finally I told her. She told me her age, "Seventeen!" I invited her to see our show that night, but of course she had no way to get in. She had to meet her Mom at the bus depot. She gave me her number and a hug. Then I went to the Black Rose tattoo parlor but Jim didn't have enough time that day to finish the piece. He said it would take five hours. I made an appointment for the next day. I tried to fix the Hon but the crank broke clean off. No more personal transportation for me. Erik and I hung out at 7 Black Cats with Eleanor before the show at Vaudeville. She proudly showed us her mention in the ‘Tucson Best Of’ issue. Under ‘Best Bartender’: “She has a great rack and a passive aggressive I-don't-take-no-shit demeanor.” Eleanor said “I have a problem with the "passive" part. Somebody suggested it be changed to ‘actively agressive’".
Vaudeville that night was pretty filled up for the local band (playing first again!). We played second. I was drunk and stoned. It was our worst performance of the tour. I was getting really pissed off because people were leaving while we were playing. I gave a big "fuck you" to the people who had left, if only they could hear me. Fracas got pretty much the same situation. There was a small crowd when they started and it got progressively smaller throughout their set. The sound guy said that was how Tucson people were. "They have to get home early for their 9 to 5 jobs. I've seen people walk out in the middle of amazing big name shows." After the show, they locked the front doors and we had a great after show party at the bar. Eleanor came over with her roomate. Erik and Eleanor picked up where they left off. I was sobering up and taking advantage of the endless cup of cranberry juice at the bar. Lonny was picking up on Eleanor's roomate. When it was time to go, the two couples left together for her place. For us it was back to Mark Beef's white trash palace.
I got up early Friday morning and walked 30 minutes to the city center. As I was about to go under the bridge at 4th Street I heard a girl yelling my name. I walked over to find Jackie with her sister relaxing on the curb with their dog. I told them about the show and invited her to come to the show that night in Nogales, Mexico. She said her Mom wouldn't mind if she went with us. I had an hour and a half to kill still. We walked over to the Library to get water. I made a comment, "I know there are different ages of consent in different states." She said "In Arizona it's 16." That spun my head around for a second. I wanted to hang out longer, but I had to get to my tattoo appointment.
At the Black Rose, Jim had already redrawn the art I gave him. The outline took about an hour. The most painful part was redrawing some of the darker lines. Then the shading took close to 4 hours more. Jackie and her sister came in and said hi. Most of the gang came in for a time to see me in pain, being mutilated by the needle. Every now and then my leg started twitching uncontrollably. At the end of five hours, Jim's hand was starting to cramp up. The people who worked there expressed their approval at the end result. I met the crew back at Vaudeville for free snacks and cheap drinks. We had to meet up with Isaac to take us across the border.
On to Mexico! We were going to use the gear at the place, so we only had to bring our instruments and a bass amp. Nine people crowded in the van and 4 more were in the other car. They did a short search at the border and then let us through to the craziness. So many people hanging out everywhere, sort of like spring break. The place we were playing was a Billiard Hall. The beers were 15 pesos, or $1.50. The bartender brought out a bottle of tequilla. We were encouraged to drink heavily. When one bottle was finished, he brought out another. The floor tom for the drumset consisted of a rototom in a laundry basket. It sounded great, really. A Puerto Rican guy at the bar tried to talk us into staying the night. He wanted us to play an outdoor event at McDonalds the next day. I voted no, we had a long drive to Las Vegas the next night. The guy gave me a seedy vibe, I didn't trust him. One of our guys we came with asked if we wanted any drugs. I replied "mescaline." He said they could get coke, not much else. Whatever. I went to the van for a quick nap. Anna woke me up "you guys are on right now." I got up, grumpy and stumbled up to the hall. When we started our set, three guys walked past me and Erik and stood behind us watching George. I found out that's what they do down there when a drummer is really good. During the set, the Puerto Rican guy came up and handed us little packets of coke in addition to the Tequila which was already making our eyeballs float. Halfway through the set, we started clicking. The sound in the room was boomy as fuck. I didn't care. Anna doused me with beer. I was not amused.
Erik had driven down. I was the sober one at the end of the show. There were no problems at the border coming back. They just asked us if we were American citizens and how many of us there were. After we got over the border, the gang started cutting up the coke. “Thanks for telling me, no wait a minute, maybe I didn't need to know.” I tried a short line of it. George said the stuff was almost entirely baby laxative. I didn't feel a thing. Yuppie drugs, who fuckin needs em?!
We started out as early as we could the next morning for the 520 mile drive to Las Vegas. We stopped along the way at Fry's supermarket. Erik, Anna and George were out of money and starving. I got a bunch of food for everyone. No more hunger! The guy at the deli counter gave us free fried potato wedges, HooRay! We got to the Cooler Lounge, Vegas at early evening. The local band Dirty Sanchez was nowhere to be found. The place was nearly empty. Fracas played first. I was passed out in the van again before the show. During our set I told the crowd "We are on 'The Anniversary of Destruction Tour', which started on September 11 in Oakland, California. After being on the road for I while I should rename it the flakey local band tour." We played a long set and got fifteen bucks for our effort. After the set, a bearded guy in a polo shirt had some advice for me, "you guys need to wear something besides black, see you blend into the background too much. When I came in here I didn't even notice you on stage at first. Also, the bassist needs to jump around more, he has no stage presence." Okay, tell Johnny Cash not to wear black and see what he says. Erik said that he would have given the guy a piece of his mind if he was offered such 'advice'.
At the bar, a strange woman Terry told us she needed a ride to the DoubleDown. We piled into the van and she proceeded to give me absolutely wrong directions. Forty minutes of driving around in circles. Finally, Erik pointed out we needed to be going toward the big buildings and bright lights in order to get downtown. Terry said she had lived in Vegas 22 years. That seemed unlikely considering we knew more about the town having spent less than a day there. Somehow we got to the DoubleDown. As I stepped in the door I could tell this was the place we should have played. It was trashy and sleazy yet with a certain elegance like a Vegas showgirl past her prime. Rule of thumb: you can bet you have a better chance of getting laid at a place with condom dispensers in the bathroom. Terry gave the crew a small quantity of their substance of choice. She then left to go somewhere via a circuitous route.
I crashed out in the back of the van. We didn't get gas in Vegas. The price on the road was pretty high, so I told Erik to only put in enough to get to the next town. Somewhere along the way to LA we ran out of fuel on the side of the highway. Erik left with the can to hitch to the next station. He came back in a CHP squad car. Eric's account of the ride here. We made it a little farther down the road, but not quite to the station. One more trip for Erik with the can. This time plenty of gas for the belly of the beast.
The LA show was a matinee at the Martini Lounge. Fracas called to say they were running late. We played first at about 5pm. Barely anyone was there yet. Because Fracas was late, they got a better slot. Anna said Tim Armstrong was around toward the end of the show. We got drink tickets that night. No pay even though the cover was $10. It was the same story as many nights before. "I don't know why the place is so empty, usually it's packed at this time." Anna elected to stay with Fracas that night and meet up with us in San Diego. George, Erik and I headed down to Erik's sister Kristi's place.
The next morning I woke up alone with the van in a parking lot next to a roller coaster. The directions to Kristi's house were on the front seat. I finally met Blue, the surfer dude. He was a perfect host. We all drove over to the ritzy cafe Kristi waited at and had an excellent gourmet meal. We even skipped out on the check and didn’t get yelled at. Back at Blue and Kristi's place we set to work learning a Fracas song for the show that night. The last show of the tour!
Later, at the club, Scolari's Office: our first impression was that the show wasn't even going to happen. The bartender said that Fracas had already stopped by and left. There was no PA, nor any evidence of shows past. We hung out and ate Mexican food. Fracas came back, the PA arrived and the local band set up first...again. The place got pretty full after a while. Then a flame from Erik's past came back to burn him. Jen was a nicely stacked tall blonde dish. She had a crush on him, in the worst way! At first I was saying, "Erik, how can you pass that up." Then it became obvious what a psycho slut she really was. Right before we were to go on she was fucking with his head. Erik was trying not to be mean, he finally got her away from him long enough to set up. The cover of Fracas' "Criminal" was good. The expressions on their faces was worth it. Joe acted like he wanted to grab the mic and start singing along. Overall, we could have played better that night, but it was a good ending to the tour.
Afterwards, Erik still had to deal with little Miss Freak. He finally had to tell her to fuck off in not so many words. As we were about to leave, she pulled up in front of the club. She motioned me over to talk to her. I'm usually way too nice in situations like these. She told me to get Erik to come over. When he did, she turned to me and said, "I'm done with you. You can leave now." Erik got mad and told her just what he thought of her. She left for good that time.
The next day, George and I got set to leave. Anna had left the night before with Fracas to get back home. The UK Subs were playing at Ramen Tuesday night. She was missing John the Baker too. It was 2pm when we left. We got stuck in LA traffic, took a nap. Woke up at 8pm, drove another 150 miles, had to pass out again, woke up at 7am, and got stuck in Bay Area Traffic at 9am. As I turned the last few corners to get back to Burnt Ramen I got that familiar feeling of dread and responsibility. I wanted to be going to the next gig, the next town, not home.
The first thing I had to deal with was in the upstairs kitchen. The rats had chewed through a piece of wood I put over the hole they used to get onto the counter and into the cupboards. Everything in bags had been devoured. All that remained was a layer of flakes and rat shit.
I pulled everything off the shelves to clean. Then I saw there was a rat still there. He was huddled in a dark corner of the cupboard shelf, hoping I wouldn’t see him. First I tried to trap him in an empty oat container. He ran off the shelf and around the back of the dish strainer. I looked for something to use to get him. The only thing available was a serrated knife. I saw where he was and stabbed him through the opening between two containers. The rat squealed. I grabbed a rat trap and set it. The rat ran around to the other side of the counter. I threw the trap at him, but it missed and snapped on air.
He ran to the edge of the counter and paused for a second looking down. Then he jumped off onto the ground and I had a plain shot at him. I stabbed him and put the knife through his neck. The rat twitched a few times and then lay still.
Another time, I fed one of the rats from a trap to my snake. There were fleas everywhere for days. Instead, I took it outside to dump in the ‘garden’.
We made a lot of friends and a few enemies on the road. Hope to see ya'll again soon.