Tuesday, December 20, 2005

tallahasee to birmingham

posted by Majestic Ape at 11:12 PM

I'm going to be posting in no particular order and skipping large parts of this tour, but I WILL GET THIS DONE.

The show in Tallahasee was on a Saturday night following our hell night in Miami. The drive to Tallahasee was long but not altogether unpleasant. I think I got to nap during the last hour and fell asleep hard.

The show was at a rather large venue, The Beta Bar, that we played with Enon in the fall of 2003. There were LOTS of opening bands. Some serious dudes were playing their tunes that night.

When it was our turn to play, I was pretty psyched. I wasn't in too much stomach pain AND I wasn't completely wrecked. My comedy intro was pretty funny (at least I thought it was) and the first two songs were smooth with good energy. It was in the third song that Joe shouted, "Oh I broke my foot! I'm serious!" He kept singing..kept dancing....kept going till the end.

And then-- we saw it.

It had definitely been altered in a structural way as evidenced by the massive bruising and swelling. He simply stepped on it in an odd way.

We shared a motel room with 2 of the Modey Lemon that night. One Modey Man found other shelter. We were lucky enough to have a room next to a couple that was in the middle of a massive, dramatic, violent break-up. They choose to voice their feelings outside of our room until 5:00 am. I think one of us may have called the front desk when we began to fear that someone was going to get killed.

On Sunday, we drove to Birmingham, AL. We took Joe to a 24 hour hospital and he learned that he had, in deed, fractured his foot. And while we were looking for food, Erick's phone rang. Who should be in town, but our super fan from Memphis, Mike B.! He has now driven to St.Louis (twice), Birmingham, AL, Columbia, MO, Jackson, MS, and seen us in his home town 2 or 3 times. Man, that guy is dedicated!!!!

Our show was at a club called "The Nick". The soundman and bartender were really wonderful people. Afterward, two local folks were kind enough to offer to share their home with us for the night. They had literally just moved into a large apartment close to the club and had no furniture yet. We were happy to sleep on their clean wood floors.

When we arrived, we discovered that we were sharing the apartment with hundreds of cockroaches. Roaches in the kitchen, roaches in the bathroom, roaches in the living rooms. It wasn't anyone's fault. When the apartment sat vacant for so long, the roaches just had a breeding party.

I was the first to fall asleep. The lights were all on and everyone was just sitting in their sleeping bags on the floor. I remember pulling my coat over my head so the roaches wouldn't go up my nose or in my ears. (Later Erick told me that they photographed me while I was sleeping. Apparently, when I sleep, I make the most horrible facial expressions imaginable. They likened my face to a highly pained baby. I can't wait to see that picture.)

I woke up at 7:00 am on the wood floor with my head still stuffed in my coat. I was also soaking wet (for some reason, I have been having insane night sweats every night for the last two months of tour) and wake up drenched. Well, I had to take a shower. No shower curtain. No shower rod. I had to do it UK style whilst the roaches were running around all over the sink and the bathroom floor.

I was out the door with all of my gear by 7:20 am and planned to just go rest in the van. Joe and Jeff were already in there, fast asleep, all bundled up. I have never seen two people sleep in the van. They figured it out how to flatten the front seat and sleep on the point where the front and back seat connect. I was screwedIt was freezing out. My hair was wet and I had nowhere to go.

Threw my suitcase in the van and found the only coffee shop in town that was open...at St. Vincent's Hospital. I met a nice lady who was reading a book called "Being Dead Is No Excuse!".

Modey Lemon Jason and Phil woke up around 11:00. I brought them back to the hospital. We all made a few friends there as folks are awful friendly in Birmingham and those bisuits and grits sure smelled good.

I kept walking by the chemo ward and felt like an ass.

Later we all went to the hippy co-op cafe in town. Paul Q. asked a guy wearing a turban if they recycled.

He said, "I doubt it," and threw the bottle in the trash.

Our last activity in Birmingham was to visit Vulcan Park. I peed there about 6 times before we left.

Monday, December 19, 2005

escape from South Florida

posted by Majestic Ape at 12:44 AM

Its 3:00 am early Saturday morning in Little Haiti, Miami, Florida. Although, its 3:00 am in the morning, its very much still nighttime in the bar I’m in and on the streets outside. The bartenders are yelling at everyone, “Unless you are in a band, get out!” Its too band I’m in a band, because I would love nothing more than to get out. There are creeps everywhere—drunks, dudes in pastel suits with feathered hair, prostitutes cracked out on something….But I’m not sure where I would go. My band, The Apes, played here at Winston’s English Pub tonight in the neighborhood of Little Haiti Miami but we haven’t secured a place to stay and we don’t know anyone here. Last time we played in South Florida, the four of us stayed in a two room condo with my 90 year old grandmother. I slept in granny’s bed. Erick slept on the sleeper-sofa with Jeff. Paul slept under the dining room table so granny wouldn’t trip on him in the morning. We arrived at granny’s at 5:30 in the morning. She was already awake for the day. I fell asleep around 6:00 am and she woke me at 7:00 because she wanted to start the pancakes for “my boys”.

So we weren’t going back to granny’s for two reasons. We didn’t want to spend the whole morning visiting with my ever-multiplying- always- getting -younger population of cousins AND my traveling team had grown to 7 people. We had been on tour with our label mates the Modey Lemon (amazing 3 piece rock band from Pittsburgh, PA) and I didn’t think they should have to sleep in Granny’s shower.

So we either had to scramble to make friends to go home with or drive off into the night and find a dirty cheap roadside motel. At that moment, I’m approached by a man.

“Hey, I think I know your drummer.” He looks unsure of himself and speaks like he has cotton in his mouth.

“Oh yeah?”

“Does he live in Gaithersburg, MD and has he ever played in a band called “No Class?”, the guy asks tentatively.

“That’s Jeff,” I respond, positively, thinking, “Yes! Score! I can get this guy to host us!”

“Yeah, I know him. I was in that band.”

I start thinking its weird that he wasn’t sure and that he didn’t ask Jeff himself. Maybe the guy was just shy.

I start to chat in a friendly way and hint that I am getting sleepy and we just have no idea where we are going to stay.

He makes the offer. I still hear hesitation in his voice. “How many of there are you?” he asks again.


“Well, I guess you could come over. It’s a little messy but I could move some shit. You guys are probably used to small spaces.” I get a bad feeling. Really bad.

“What’s your neighborhood like? Would it be safe to park the vans?”

“ I live just around the corner.”

No way. This place is a literal war zone. Couldn’t be sketchier. I confer with Jason, Modey Lemon bass player, and the other main van driver.

“Let’s drive. Let’s get out of here. I got a bad feeling about this place. I’ve had a bad feeling all night.”

I’m in agreement. Freddy, the punk rock record dealer pedaling his wares next to ours at the merch table, tells us there are tons of sleazy motels on the Florida turnpike. We pack. We leave. And we end up taking 95 north for 100 miles. We hadn’t stopped to think that we are driving through all the major expensive Florida beach towns on a Friday night in December. There are almost no motels in our affordability range and the ones we find are totally booked. We stop at exit after exit. At one point, I pull into some sort of garden style Hilton and start scoping expensive cars, seriously thinking that we should just sleep on someone’s leather back seats.

At 5:00 am, we get on the turnpike. My eyes are closing and I’m starting to hallucinate. I keep thinking that herds of sheep are on the roadside waiting to cross. Then I think that Sherman tanks are with me in a convoy. At exit 59, I find a motel. Jeff goes in. He comes out a minute later.

“They guy in there is totally asleep on the floor. I kept ringing the bell and knocking on the counter. He didn’t wake up.”

“Bullshit. I’m going to get him up.”

Joe enters the lobby with me. He says loudly, “Sir! Excuse me, sir!” Nothing. The guy doesn’t startle.

I go for the ‘bitch- teacher’ shout.

“Get up! Get up, NOW!” I frighten myself with my volume but I must wake him. I can’t drive anymore. I don’t know what else to do. We have to sleep. Our next show is in Tallahasee and we still have a 400 mile drive tomorrow.

He rouses. I yell again so he is sure that he isn’t dreaming. He begins to rise. He is swaying. He is sweating. His eyes are bloody red. He could be having a seizure. He could be drunk. He could be furious. I don’t give him a chance to decide.

“ I need a room and I need a late check-out.”

He still isn’t processing. He puts him hands up and shakes his head back and forth. Eventually, I can see when a state of coherence comes over him. He looks at his rack of room keys and in a few moments we have a room, and there is another one available for Modey Lemon. On this night, we will allow ourselves the greatest luxury. Each band gets their OWN room. For a few hours, we can all sleep. We are all safe.