Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Riding the waves

posted by Majestic Ape at 9:36 AM

Lord have mercy.

I wonder if god dislikes musicians and artists. Maybe god dislikes old cars.

Apes arrived home from tour this past Friday night. Yesterday (Monday) morning, I took my personal driving vehicle, a 1994 Toyota Corolla, to be emissions tested. The car failed its first test back in January and it had to be re-tested. I had hoped that after an oil change, and a pre-test high speed drive, the exhaust system would be refreshed, just enough to pass. This was not the case. When the nice man returned my vehicle to me after doing weird things to it, the pretty data lines on the emissions report indicated that the car was seeping too many dirty, dirty gases into our already tortured air. A mechanic was going to have to explore the innards of my Toyota.

My responsible and employed brother convinced me to drop the car at a gas station by his house and crash at his place for the night. At 8:00 am this morning, I get the call. The little Toyota needs a new catalytic converter, a left rear tire, and an alignment. This is not a surprise. The car has over 185,000 miles on it. However, with the price of repairs estimated at $1050.00, I have a real problem.

My current financial status is in the poor range. Every time I have had a major expense over the last seven years that I haven't had funds to cover, I charged it to Discover. I know this is stupid. I never felt like I had many other options. Well, the option always has been to get a real job. I never exercised this option. Bands and tours and job...they just don't work together.

Anyway, after I hang up with the mechanic, I have a panic attack. I don't have $1,000. I don't even have a credit card with room for more debt. My parents have been helping me with my rent payments since I was in the hospital. I have medical bills from Johns Hopkins that are almost as bad as my credit card bill.

I never exactly know how to proceed in high stress situations so I defer to my old standby behavior. I call home. My dad answers. He was asleep. He yells at me. I hang up. I email my mom at work. She calls me back and tells me I have to go back to teaching. I have to get a job. I have to get a real job-- the kind that gives you health insurance, paid vacations, and a bi-weekly check. These jobs don't accommodate tour schedules. They don't let organ players go when its time to go. The children need their teacher unless their teacher is going to have a baby, or is going to have surgery. My parents are not wealthy people. They have their own problems. They can't save me. I don't expect them to save me. I just want them to make it all better.

The panic attack doesn't exactly recede. The nausea and the sense of imminent death actually increases.

Within minutes, I'm on the phone with a middle school in Rockville that needs a computer teacher from April 20 till the end of the school year. That's the first step out of the hole. And I have already secured the next step-- I will teach computers at a private school for most of the summer.

But good golly miss molly, I might be back in the jail known as 'school' as of this September.

If you have the power, use our music now. Put it in your movies. Put it in your commericials. Use it in your television shows. You won't be disappointed! Your viewers will rock. Your listeners will listen. Your customers will buy.

Dream big! Dream really big! And as the waves come in, ride them.

Believe me. I'm a teacher. I know what I'm talking about.

And repeat my motto:

Always trust Kleiny.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Art Garage, SC, and the long drive home

posted by Majestic Ape at 12:06 AM

Our final show of the tour is at the Art Garage in Columbia, SC. We played here last October with The Slits. The venue is pretty cool as they have sleeping quarters for the bands. The folks who run it, Jonathan and Amy, go out of their way to make sure everything is taken care of. There are plenty of drinks, awesome food, and clean beds. Done. There is nothing else left to desire.

At our first gas stop after Birmingham, a man approaches the van and asks what part of Maryland we are from. We tell him we are from DC. He shares that he used to live in Laurel, MD but he thinks living in Alabama is much better. I express how much friendlier Southern people are compared to Washingtonians. He replies back, “I don’t care about the heart or the love. I like the price of houses and the money!” Amen, brother. Amen.

Since I’m kind of sick of writing by now, I’ll try to keep this part brief. There are opening bands. We set up. We change clothes. I take a sip of Dickels Whiskey. Why not? It’s our last show. We play to some very energetic and appreciative people. Jeff’s high hat finally completely falls apart. We all hang out afterward.

In the morning we return to El Burrito, owned by Susie, who generously fed all of us for free on our last tour. She is out of town but has left instructions with her staff to feed the Apes for free. How cool is that?

While we are sitting, eating on the patio, I listen to a woman talking at the table next to ours.

“You know how many times I’ve been hit in the head by a pine cone? I hate squirrels!”

We leave a tip, pee, and leave.

As always, the final drive home starts out okay. I drive the first shift until I’m told to stop at South of the Border, the bizarre tourist attraction at the South Carolina/North Carolina border. It’s a collection of an old weird amusement park, souvenir shops, bad restaurants, and freaky animal statues. We have to take pictures with the animal statues. My favorite shot is Jeff with his head between a gorilla’s legs. The idea is that Jeff’s head are Gorilla Testicles.

And as always, after the second gas stop, Jeff gets behind the wheel his race against himself.

“I forget how to drive on the highway,” says Jeff as he gets behind the wheel, to do his infamous final drive home. “Just go to sleep and we’ll all wake up in heaven. Together. We can jam for all eternity. Get those kinks out.”

I wonder what heaven would be for The Apes. It doesn’t quite matter. We are already here.

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Monday off, Tuesday Baton Rouge

posted by Majestic Ape at 12:04 AM

Its Monday and there is no show tonight. We are going to drive most of the way to Baton Rouge, the location of the Tuesday night show. We have planned to pick a cheap motel about two hours away from Baton Rouge. This will be our first motel stay of this tour and we are hoping to find a television with proper computer inputs. Jeff has been storing the movie, Borat, on his computer this whole time.

We decide to stop around 7:30 pm. We pull off the highway after passing an exit sign listing several motel choices. Little did we know at that moment, we were entering historic Natchitoches, LA. After lots of nightly rate discussion with various front desk clerks, we opt for the Comfort Inn. They offer a AAA discount and give us a room with two double beds for about 60 bucks after taxes. We don’t even have to sneak people in.

Our dreams are quickly dashed when we discover, well, you guessed it. The television has the wrong inputs. Jeff is devastated but the rest of us are not discouraged. We are not accustomed to wall sized movie screens in our basement residences. We will happily watch this movie from the laptop computer screen and we will laugh! HA HA HA!

After an elaborate dinner at the Burger King across the highway, Erick and I decide to explore this historic town. We are not ready to lay in bed for the evening. We drive about 4 miles down the main road and pass a body of water on the left. I want to stop there but its too dark to see if there is a shore side path for walking. Next we pass Northern Lousiana State University. Naturally, Erick wants to pull over there and walk around campus. I’m not interested. It looks pretty deserted. Maybe its Spring Break. We continue driving and I follow signs for the historic district. The only thing we find is a 24 hour Super Walmart. This will have to do. I’m certain that most of the local folks are probably here if they are still awake.

We separate and wander alone for a while before eventually regrouping in the hard liquor isle. We gasp at the very low prices for some very typically more expensive whiskeys. I egg Erick on and try to get him to buy a bottle. I have no intention of drinking, I just feel like bugging him. He is not interested. Apparently, he got wasted at the house parties in Denton. I had no idea.

Back at the Comfort Inn, Breck and Jeff are relaxing and having some personal computer time. They are both hunched over, tap tap tapping when we talk in. And then finally, finally, Jeff sets up for the official band viewing of “Borat”. I have already seen it in the theatre but I still laugh just as hard. When the movie is over, it’s only 1:00 am, but everyone seems like they are going to sleep. I can barely keep my eyes open. The motel bed finally does the trick and I sleep till Jeff’s watch alarm clock goes off at 9:30 am.

I know the motel has free breakfast until 10:00 am. I almost never eat normal breakfast food but I leave the room in search of free coffee. I sit down in the mini-kitchen and immediately, an elderly couple starts chatting with me about their travels. They are retired Navy people and firefighters. They have been in Texas visiting their grandchildren and are slowly meandering back to their home in Lake County, Michigan. After about 8 minutes, I am shown pictures of the daughter-in-law and grandchildren. They are all simply beautiful. Our conversational exchange dies quickly when I tell them why I’m on the road.

After we check out, we go back to the historic district in search of food and coffee. Their coffee shop is a bust but Breck wants waffle house anyway. We had seen at least 10 Waffle Houses on the highway yesterday so I figure we inevitably pass one. We drive for 2 hours with not one sign of a Waffle House. I can’t believe it. When we finally give up, Erick and I end up at a Chinese Buffet. Breck and Jeff get pizza. More leftovers to stink up the van.

We get to Baton Rouge at about 5pm. The weather continues to be absolutely perfect. We park near the university. Erick and I walk around a lake for close to 90 minutes. There are a ton of people out exercising. I am reminded that this is a normal work day for most people. When we drive over to the Spanish Moon, fellow DC band, Antelope, have already arrived. We know these guys from home and are pretty excited to play with them tonight. They are at the beginning of a 6 week tour. I am thankful we are headed home now only because I’m still scarred from 6 week tour with Liars last summer. We are warmly greeted by promoter Aaron, and sound man Jeff, who point out that this is our third stop here this year. While they anticipate this will bring a large crowd for the evening, I suspect it will not. I am right. In the dressing room, we find a large bottle of Jack Daniels with “Apes” written on it. There are many ways to ease the pain of the empty rooms.

We are having minor concerns about finding a decent shelter for the evening. Our only Baton Rouge friend, Carlee, has just moved to Austin. I offer to book a Motel 6 and pay for it myself but nobody is interested. They would rather I ask for a place to stay during our set. That night we are also playing with Akron, Ohio band “Six Part Seven”. We know many of the same people and share benevolent stories about tours past.

Antelope play first and I enjoy them quite a bit. My favorite song is called, “Wandering Ghost.” I change clothes during the middle of Six Part Seven’s set. I can barely keep my eyes open. For some dumb reason, I pound two diet cokes and a red bull. Stupid, Kleiny! Why so stupid?!

Our set goes smoothly. Afterward, Justin from Antelope, offers to share their room at the Extended Stay America. I am really grateful but we don’t want to infringe upon their space with our smells. Thankfully, we are approached my friendly band man, Fred Weaver. He suggests we stay at the house he shares with his father. I immediately think “clean shower” anytime we go to the home of a parent.

We follow Fred home. Jeff still sleeps in the van even though there are enough bedrooms and futons for everyone. I sleep on the floor of a room filled floor- to- ceiling with music books and magazines. I doze off reading an issue of Chunklet from 1999. 1999. Apes year 1. We were so young, so hopeful, so full of dreams.

The next morning we plan to meet Antelope at a local café. Fred joins us and we dine in style. After a quick pit stop at the local health food store to re-stock (Breck needs a Kombucha), we say goodbye to our friends from home.

The drive to Birmingham seems incredibly long to me. I am really quite sick of listening to the same 20 songs on my ghetto plastic MP3 player while I drive. Instead I make up stories in my head. There is more breathing to contemplate and brain journeys to take.

We are excited to arrive at the Bottletree and are warmly greeted by the staff. This is easily the nicest, most band-oriented club in the country. After we load in and order food, I get online. I need to upload some blogs. I haven’t uploaded anything since the first day. Naturally I get distracted while waiting for blogger to load. That site is hideously slow. I never do it. After we eat, we talk to our super friend and fan, Chris, who is now working the door.

I approach Chris to say hi. He tells me how excited he is for the show tonight. He also tells me that after our last show, he listened to Baba’s Mountain (our last record) for the entire month. He told me that he thought he heard the voices in the beginning of the record calling, “Chris! Chris!” He is right.

Also, we see Lee, our dedicated super-friend, who has driven four hours to be with us tonight.

The opening band, Vesper, kicks ass. I dance during their whole set. The next band was unexpectedly switched at the last minute. We were supposed to play with Two Ton Boa from Portland but their drummer was ill. 31 Knots, also from Portland, arrived just in time to take their place.

When we play our set, there is a serious amount of love and energy in the house. We feel it and do our best to put out some high energy music in return. We even do an encore and I think its our first this tour. When we are done, I ask from stage for someone to take us home with them in exchange for an early morning kitchen and bathroom cleaning. We get several sincere offers. We opt to stay with one of the club employees who lives in a nearby loft. He has secure underground parking so Vannie will be safe.

We follow him back to his building and shuffle in with our gear. Jonathan, our host, happens to be a brilliant photographer and while we settle in, we admire a bunch of his work. He asks about shooting us in the morning. I hesitate but Breck is into it.

Breck and I wake up first. Jonathan and Breck go off to the park to take pictures. I stay behind to draw a self-portrait. Jonathan is also doing a series of shots of people holding self-portraits and I have agreed to this type of picture. After the drawing is complete, I wander off alone to find coffee. I am always surprised by how friendly people are. Everyone I pass on the streets of downtown Birmingham goes out of their way to smile and say hello. I eventually arrive at Safari Coffee and I’m greeted by a lovely South African gentlemen. He describes for me, the origin of the Bundi roast I am about to consume. The coffee is great. I consider buying a pound to take home but remember Jeff’s announcement that we are losing money on this tour. There will be no payout at the end.

When I get back to the loft, everyone is there. I re-do my self portrait drawing. The first one looked frog-like but the second one is okay. We take a few photos and head out.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Sunday leaving Austin

posted by Majestic Ape at 11:59 PM

On Sunday morning I wake up at 9:30 am. Several events take place in the next few hours that most humans would consider somewhat disturbing. If I ever write the unedited Apes story, I will remember to write about Sunday morning. But for immediate practical purposes, and the family nature of this story, I’m going to omit all of it. I will share this. Around 11 am, I clean Adam’s kitchen.

It is a long standing Apes tradition that our last meal in Austin be at the Star Seeds Café by I-35. Today would be no different. Adam and his roommate Erick join us for our final meal. We all pile in the van and head over. I am not totally listening to Adam as he gives me directions. When I miss the first turn, I throw the van in reverse and go all the way back down the one way street the wrong way. I don’t feel that I have put anyone in danger. I watch the mirrors carefully.

At the café, we sit at a corner table. I ask each person what they are ordering. There are no surprises. Erick orders migas. He always does. A few minutes into the meal, Kevin Guthrie calls. He wants to drive with us to Denton, TX. He needs a break from his band. We tell him that its fine and he meets us at the Star Seeds. After breakfast, I go outside on their porch to stretch my legs, and I see my friends Josh and Evan, in a rental car on the corner. I run over to say goodbye but I will see Evan in Denton. He is riding home with Chicago band ‘Chin Up, Chin Up,’ and they are also playing tonight in Denton. We thank Adam and Erick for the extreme generosity and I give Adam my leftovers. There is so little the Apes can do to show appreciation. Leave food and a clean kitchen.

Before we leave town, we make a final stop at Whole Foods to say goodbye to Michelle. I run into Mary Timony, a friend from home and fellow musician. More DC crew representin’! We had seen her van several times the day before. Each time we wanted to leave a note for her on the windshield but somehow never had a pen. I carry a giant backpack full of shit, everywhere I go, and yet, no pen.

On the drive out, we stop at Guitar Center and a discount book store, both per Jeff’s requests. Jeff needs a chain for his high hat and more cheap books to read. Guitar center has no such chains. Jeff rejects the offer to special order the part.

We hit a massive backup in the exodus from Austin. The congestion easily adds an extra hour or more to the length of travel. The boys, with Kevin, are packed sardine style in the back, with Erick sitting on the luggage between the captain’s chairs. When I take a quick look behind me, all of their heads are flopping to the right, like little droopy babies.

We are playing another house show and I believe that the show is supposed to start early to accommodate another later starting house show in town. When we arrive, Monotonix are already there. This is our last show with them and of course, I’m sorry to see us part ways. The bonding between us was solid and brother/sisterhoods have been formed. We see Meggie, a super fan, whose band is going to play first tonight. We also meet Jonah, the promoter and primary renter of the house where the show is being held. Jonah hops in the van with us and takes us to Taco Cabana for dinner. Over dinner, we ask Jonah about holding house shows. He tells us that he hasn’t really gotten any complaints from neighbors as nothing could compete with the noise of the trains. He lives directly across the street from railroad tracks. Trains go screaming by about every 30 minutes to an hour.

When we get back, Monotonix are starting to set up. They offer us the opportunity to play before them but Jeff needs time to change his drum heads. When they are ready to start, Yanathan, the guitarist starts screaming, “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” He does this most nights. I must admit that I’m not crazy about angry loud voices. Call me a pussy. I am one.

I vacate the basement. Ran is about to set his cymbals on fire. My dislike of fire AND basements is enough to prompt this hasty departure.

When Monotonix emerge from the basement, they are pouring with sweat. I go in to survey the damage. The floor is wet. There is trash everywhere. A trash can is laying on its side. The air smells of burning plastic. Jonah sweeps up and we proceed to set up. When we are about ready to play, the kids gather back in the basement. They are a very supportive and rowdy bunch. These are my favorite types of audiences. It’s totally motivating and encourages us to basically, rock the fuck out! As soon as we’re done, a long-haired blonde lad approaches me. He states stoically, “That was the best show I ever seen. I have been looking forward to this for two weeks.” Thanks, Aaron. Seriously, dude. Thank you.

When we are done, I get a text message from Evan. They have arrived at Rubber Gloves, the club down the road. They are running very late and I change clothes quickly to run over there. Erick and Breck join Jonah and some of the others to go check out the Norwegian metal band playing at the other house. I take the van alone.

When I get to Rubber Gloves, I immediately see Evan. It’s not hard to find him as the room is pretty empty but for a few scattered youth. I am so glad we played at Jonah’s house. I have had a few very dark nights at Rubber Gloves. I remember going outside alone and sitting near the train tracks after we played to 10 people. I remember staring up at the sky and the stars and feeling completely and utterly dead. I think that feeling started during our set when Paul, our first singer, started yelling at a kid in the audience to shut up and stop talking. I think he said something to the effect that since we had driven hundred miles to be in Denton that night, the least they could do was shut up and pay attention. The kid was a huge fan and was only talking to express how excited he was about the show. Paul apologized later but that was an extremely unpleasant display. It made me question how much longer I could keep going on the path that we had carved out for ourselves. But that is in the past. And right now, I’m here with my friend. Evan and I watch The Narrator play and get a drink when they’re done. It’s good to replace a dark memory with a positive one.

Erick and a local guy appear at Rubber Gloves around 2:00 am. They escort me over to the other house show. I can’t believe it’s a Sunday night, and at 2:00 am, there are still people out partying.

Eventually we make our way back to Jonah’s house where we are staying with Monotonix. The Apes have claimed Jonah’s bedroom. Erick gets good and comfy in the closet.

The next day, both bands venture to the Denton town square for food and coffee before parting ways. Ami and I have a excellent bonding conversation over coffee. We discuss marriage, soccer, the state of America, the state of Israel, and finally we learn that we have something unique in common. We both love kids with mental retardation.

Erick and I jet off to the health food store/café a few blocks away and it is there that we bid Monotonix farewell and good luck on their long tour ahead. We also run into a few of the show goers from the night before. I am shocked when I met one guy’s baby. I forget that young people can and do have children.

After an hour of used book store wanderings, we get in the book-loaded van.

Saturday in Austin

posted by Majestic Ape at 11:56 PM

Saturday is supposed to be the day of rest. We decide to cancel our final SxSW show. Jeff’s hands are a mess of open, bloody wounds, and he needs several drum parts.

Everyone wants to go to the colossal flagship Austin Whole Foods for breakfast. After eating and observing very tall goth kids in the parking lot, we discuss the plan for our free day. We decide to split up. Erick and I will go downtown and check out a bunch of free shows on the other side of the highway. Jeff and Breck want to run errands and relax. Our first stop is a record store hosting the Fuck by Fuck You festival. We want to see our Dutch friends, zZz, play. When we arrive, Genghis Tron, are already playing. We hear music coming from lots of directions and wander off to see what else is going on. There are several free show happening in the backs of bars, in little warehouses, on patios. The weather is beautiful and my positive vibe continues. We watch friends Shelshag and Green Milk from the Planet Orange. Green Milk had blown us away at our label showcase the night before. We are also big fans of Shelshag.

Divya meets us around 5 pm. We get a drink and we head back downtown. Erick is slowly getting annoyed. He hates my necklace. It’s too hippy. I’m wearing too much red. I look like some crazy girl walking down the street. He’s probably hungry and I plan to split the first chance I get. Erick and Divya want to go to the Insound party at Club D’ville. We walk over and stand in line for a minute. Erick makes one more remark and I just walk away. I run into my friend, Greg Ashley, on the street. He is with our label mate, Brian Glaze, who is about to play at Jaime’s Spanish Restaurant. Greg and I decide to get a drink. Back in 2004, we had done a month long tour with his band, The Gris Gris, after SxSW.

Greg gets a beer and I get a shot of tequila. We sit outside drinking and chatting till Brian Glaze starts. I watch the first few songs but then I see Erick coming. I take off. My friends Josh and Evan, of the band Revival, are playing down the street at 7 pm, and I want to see them.

There are actually several friends from DC in the bar and it’s pretty awesome to be with everyone. I sit on the floor while Revival play and silently sing along to all of their songs. After Revival, I talk to friends from another band from home, Shortstack. I am devastated to learn that they have cancelled their entire US tour because of a very ill family member. I sit on the floor with my friend, Adrian, and we watch Vandaveer, play his set.

When the show is over, we all go get a slice of pizza and stand on the street eating and talking. Then I just wander off alone again. I see the Monotonix guys in line at a food vendor and then I see Matthew Johnson. Only moments later, Erick finds me. Divya is going to take us back to Adam’s to get the van. I promise him we can come back downtown then and do more ‘business’. By the time we get to Adam’s, I’m wrecked. I don’t want to go back out. My broken toe is swollen and burning. I just want to elevate my foot. He is totally insatiable. He keeps rambling about some Komodo party that Michelle was going to. I make arrangements for him to get a ride home with Adam and I offer to drop him off back in the city. During the 10 minute drop off drive, he riddles me with guilt about the importance of teamwork. He insists we get so much more done when we are together. He wins again. We have to meet Michelle at some club called Parrish 2 and no one can tell us exactly where it is. The streets are absolutely mobbed with people because of the addition of the St. Patrick’s Day partiers. We don’t find Michelle until she comes outside and stands on the sidewalk. We end up sitting and talking there for about 45 minutes. We are waiting for the guys in Akimbo. I’m glad I came along because this is my first chance to actually talk to Michelle. But I’m also beginning to see that if we make it to this party at all, it won’t be for at least another hour. Luckily, Erick is in agreement. We give Michelle a few demo CD’s and take off. Finally, by 1:00 am, we are home. We are lulled to sleep by the sounds of Jeff and Breck snorting cocaine off the tits of strippers. Yeah right.

Thursday in Austin

posted by Majestic Ape at 11:53 PM

I sleep like shit.

Jeff and I are sharing an L-shaped couch. Breck is sleeping on the loveseat. Erick is sleeping on the bare cement floor next to Adam’s room. He wants to sleep as far away from us as possible, even if it means snuggling with concrete.

My sleeping pills aren’t working as well as they did in the beginning. I’m also starting to drink tea later in the day again. Dumb. Don’t be dumb, Kleiny. Don’t do it. BREAK THE CYCLE!

We shower and head over to the Wheatsville Food Co-op for some fine hippie grub before our first SXSW show at the Hole in the Wall. After we make our purchases, we go outside to eat. Jeff and Breck sit on a bench. Erick and I share a table with a girl already sitting. I watch Jeff’s breakfast burrito fall apart. There is salsa all over the bench, the ground, and on his little plate. Out comes my camera. Snap! Snap! Ha Ha!

We drive over to Hole in the Wall. I park in the alley right next to the bar and hope that no one asks me to move the van. Monotonix and Kevin Guthrie are already inside. There is a screaming blond girl on stage.

I head to the rear of the venue and discover a patio bar out back. Kevin sits with me outside and we converse. He tells me stories from the time in his life when he was actively a stand-up comedian. I imagine its much more challenging to be a comedian that a musician. There is no music to hind behind. It’s just you and your voice and the faces of your audience, and either the sounds of their laughter, or the sounds of their jeers. The scariest sound of all is the sound of their silence.

Kevin tells me a bunch of his jokes. I make cracks back at him. The sun feels great and the weather couldn’t be more perfect. I go inside to watch a band called, “The Health.” I draw a picture of their drummer, BJ, while they play.

When Monotonix go on, they set up their equipment on the floor and gather the audience to stand on the stage. The next 45 minutes is utter chaos. Ami is rolling around in the trash can. Ran does a crazy drum solo. Ami is climbing on the bar. Yanathan plays guitar laying on his back. Ami is taping someone’s mouth closed. Ami drinks beer from a shoe. I enjoy their songs and the combination is very entertaining.

After clean-up, it’s our turn. I have pondering topics for the pre-show chat. What I planned was lost immediately. For some reason, I tell a horrible pedophile joke. Then I sing a song from “Evita”. I also ramble some other nonsense. Without the voice changer, this speech would be pretty pathetic. By the time we start to play, there is a great crowd of new people that have arrived. They seem to be genuinely into the music.

When we finish, our friend, Divya, gives me a ride downtown and I meet a few friends for a pre-dinner snack. I have been invited to a State Club dinner. I’m not exactly sure what this means except that I have been told that the attendees are the most important people in the music business—owners of major labels, licensing attorneys, and some very special venture capitalists. I was also told that other guests would include Bob Dylan, and guys from Talking Heads. Again, this is a very un-Apes like event, and I’m going alone.

The dinner itself is being held at a steak restaurant on 6th Avenue. When we arrive, we are lead upstairs to a private room with one very long table running the length of one side of the room. I sit with my friends but I see a few other people I know. Its not really awkward, as I thought it may have been. I have no problem talking to friends or strangers. I just wish I had name tags for everyone who was at the dinner. I met several people and don’t know for sure if any Talking Heads were there. I think Bob Dylan missed his plane. After dinner, I go with this group to a few of the showcases. We end up seeing the entire set of Dengue Fever at Emo’s.

My band mates are also at Emo’s. It feels odd that I don’t leave the venue with them. I end up going back to the bar at the Hilton and sip very expensive Bourbons with my friend. We engage in very stimulating conversation. When I am offered lodging for the evening, I accept.

At 1:00 am, I get a text message. One of my best friends, Evan, just arrived in town. He had gotten an unexpected ride to Austin with band friends from Chicago (where he now lives). This is an expected treat because we don’t see each other often. Wahooooo!!! The fun will continue tomorrow.

Friday in Austin

posted by Majestic Ape at 11:49 PM

You’d think a clean comfortable bed in a quiet room at the Hilton would ease ‘ol crazy brain to sleep. Not me! Not this nut job! I was too tense about getting back to Adam’s house in the morning. Arrangements for my transportation had been made the night before but the mode of transportation was making me tense as well.

I had to be in the Hilton lobby at 9:00 am, as that was the time that the limousine would be picking me up. Yes, I did say limousine. I needed a ride to a place that was 2 miles away and I had 2 hours in a chauffeured limo to get there. When the limo pulled up, I rushed over to it and jumped in. The transition from 87 Ford Econoline Conversion Van to limousine is not a smooth one but I quickly became friends with the driver. Since I had two hours allotted for a 30 minute ride, I asked him to take me to Whole Foods for breakfast. Next, I asked for the river. I wanted water.

Jason, the driver, and I walked around the nature path discussing every topic imaginable. I saw beautiful birds and 4 red-eared sliders (turtles). He dropped me back at Adam’s around 10:30 am. The door was unlocked and everyone was sleeping. The living room smelled vaguely of drummer sweat and dog fart. I had just taken a photo of the limo sitting adjacent to Vannie (our van).

Today we had two shows. We were scheduled to play a party for KVRX radio station and we were also playing the showcase for our booking agent, Michelle of Panache Booking, later that night. The KVRX party was being held at a place called The Indepedence Brewery located quite a distance from the downtown area. Many of the roads leading to the Brewery were so new that Candace (the computer) and our GPS didn’t identify them.

The female computer voice repeated herself several times. “Off route. Return to route.” I know, Candace! I know! Relax! Sometimes you just have to take a chance! Jeff showed me on his screen that we were floating in space.

It was an odd afternoon but nonetheless pleasurable. By the time we were finished, we had to drive straight downtown to load into the Flamingo Cantina. Due to numerous road closures and imprecise directions, it took a damn long time to make our way into the alley behind the Cantina to unload. I had to promise the police officer blocking the street that I would take only 10 minutes to unload and leave the premises.

Jeff and Breck decided to go back to Adam’s after load-in. Erick and I wanted to stay downtown amidst the chaos. We wandered for a while and eventually made our way to Mekong River for an Asian dinner. Erick firmly believes that he plays best with Asain food in his stomach. Hey, whatever it takes. We waited 45 minutes for our dinner. I watched several patrons become enraged and demand either food or money. I guess you can’t let people get too hungry or they lose their minds. Duh.

We headed back to the club around 9 pm. I started to get excited because I was hoping to see many loved ones at this show. The bands began and there was not one disappointment.

After our set, we hung out with friends and watched the other bands. When we were leaving, Josh and Evan decided to come with us. It seemed like everyone wanted to keep partying, even though it was really late. Well, Erick was the most determined to keep partying. I think that he thinks he is going to miss out on something if he goes to bed before 5 am. I like to stay out, too, but I have limits. By the time we dropped Jeff and Breck off, Erick has planned to go right back to the Flamingo Cantina. He wanted to pick up Michelle so she could lead us to the hottest party in Austin. I had already changed my mind. I just wanted to chill with Evan and Josh, quietly, maybe at their motel. Erick was relentless.

“Kleiny. We are going back out. How often are we all together in Austin? Hunh? Hunh? Don’t be lame, Kleiny! Don’t be lame! Lame! Kleiny! Kleiny! Come on, Kleiny!” I’m never sure if he thinks that saying my name 100 times will finally change my mind. But I’m weak. Erick never gives up till he gets his way or you disappear. Then the phone calls start.

I had already given up. We were already back in the van going to retrieve Michelle. She had received word about some party on a bridge. Did they say Hansen was supposed to play?

When we finally arrived at the bridge, there was, in fact, a band playing. It was a punk band from Milwaukee. Despite the sleep deprivation that was beginning to accumulate, I was dancing and having fun. But my buddy Josh tuckered out. When he announced he was going to start walking home, I insisted we all drive back together. It was time. We did stay long enough to greet former tour mates, zZz, from the Netherlands. They were still the tallest dudes we’d ever played with. When I hugged Bjorni, I think he wanted to pick me up but I clenched those little feet on the ground. We said our farewells at 4:30 am.

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Day 5

posted by Majestic Ape at 11:47 PM

It’s Wednesday. We are bound for Austin and it’s the first official day of the South by Southwest Festival, 2007. We are not playing tonight. Our tentative plan is to register, get dinner, and go to the Birdman Records showcase at Club D’Ville. All day while I am driving, I think back to past festivals. We have never stayed for more than a day or two but this time, we are staying till Sunday. I also keep thinking that it was right after this festival, in 2004, that I developed anorexia. I had been engaging in many maladaptive food and exercise behavior for years leading up to that time, but when I got home after that tour, everything got far worse. That spring season, I believed that I was engaging in a great experiment. I thought that I was practicing the only scientifically proven way of extending cellular lifespan—calorie restriction. But it became an obsession, one that would leave with almost no measurable body fat and seriously ill for 3 years. Anorexia is a bitch. It’s like being possessed. Anorexia claims more lives than any other mental illness. It’s also much more difficult to recover when it starts in adults with a history of being overweight. That was pretty much my case history. I finally got help around Christmas. At the present moment, I am ‘in recovery’. I am aware of the relapse rates. I am also aware that when I was actively anorexic, I was totally mentally and physically incapable of interacting with anyone or creating anything. I could go on and on about life with anorexia and life in recovery, but the whole point of my writing about this is to simply say that I am, for the first time, perhaps going to experience this festival, as a healthier person. I will experience the festival.

When we get to Austin, traffic is a mess. There are bands, vans, music people, industry people, press people everywhere, filling the sidewalks, streets, and bars. We double park by the Hilton. Erick and I head for the convention center. Instantly someone hands us black Miller Highlife hooded sweatshirts. Someone calls our names from above. We look up. Todd Cote, our old booking agent from Leafy Green, is waving at us from the 2nd floor of the Hilton. We excitedly wave back. We are looking forward to seeing tons of friends down here.

“Free shit! That’s what I’m talking about!” says Erick. We are all hoping that the next several days will be filled with ample amounts of free food, alcohol, and designer custom-tailored clothing. The Apes have set their sights quite high.

We learn that we get only one badge per band and each band member must be present to get their own wrist band. With our new hoodies, and a giant tote bag full of SxSW paraphernalia, (music magazines, condoms, and a hangover survival kit), we return to the van.

After Breck and Jeff have gotten their wristlets we park the van, get food, and head to the Birdman Records showcase. I can’t wait to see David KazNelson, Matthew Johnson, Paul Quattrone, Alexei, all of our birdman family.

There are lots of excited hugs. I run into one of David’s business partners that I had met during CMJ. We had hit it off during CMJ but due to the band’s recording and show schedule, we hadn’t had another chance to hang out. It’s an unexpected treat to run into each other again. This very generous person buys drinks for all of my band mates. They couldn’t be happier. We hang out at Club D’ville for a while until the boys want to go see Faceless Wearwolves playing down the street. We walk over together and as soon as they settle it near the front of the stage, I take off alone. I have the itch to wander and stare at people.

I get several text messages while I walk and ignore them all. Just as I start to return to find my group, I run into some of the guys from Club D’ville. They are going back to their room at the Hilton and invite me to join them. My first inclination is to refuse, as if I’m abandoning my band. But that’s ridiculous. I can go somewhere without them. I go.

Being at the Hilton is bizarre. Apes don’t go to 4 star hotels. Apes don’t really go to hotels at all, unless we are in Europe, and the promoters pick up the tab. The Hilton is bustling with the fancier side of the music crowd. We go up to the 18th floor. Room service is ordered. I get a delightful foot massage. Wow. I use the bathroom several times, only because its so cool to not sit in urine. No pee on the floor either. Or writing on the walls. When the toilet flushes, its contents go down.

I am invited to stay at the Hilton. There is an extra bed. My phone rings. Erick Jackson.

“Dude, where are you? Where’d you go? Everyone was looking for you,” he reports.

“I’m at the Hilton.”

“What are you doing there? You better not get any ideas in your head. Are you gettin’ weird? You are coming home with us,” he insists.

He’s right. I am going home with them. I had committed to driving them back to Adam’s house and I have no intention of going back on that word. I also feel weird about staying in someone’s room that I don’t really know. At 1:45 am, I take off and find my band mates on the street. I feel relieved to be back with them, for no particular reason.

I drive home. I should say, I drive to Adam’s.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spring Mini-Tour 2007, Day 4

posted by Majestic Ape at 7:46 PM

The next drive is to Shreveport, LA. We are playing a house show. There is a kid who lives in Shreveport named Alec. Alec loves music, bands, and shows. Alec loves them so much that he opens his home to these bands and invites them to play in his living room. He also opens his home to other local lovers of music. Tonight we are going to play at Alec’s house, known as Cooper Manor. We are supposed to play between the local opening band and Monotonix. We have mild concerns that we will have to play do after Monotonix as, quite honestly, they are a tough act to follow. The dramatics in their show, and the mess that they leave, are a rocky foundation upon which to play one’s set.

We start out late and have an 8 or 9 hour drive to Louisiana. Throughout the afternoon there are phone calls from Alec. The contract that we had received from our booking agent stated that our set time was “whenever the band wants to play”. When Alec calls to ask again about our dinner requests, he informs us that he wants the whole show over by 11:00 pm. The first band will start at 8, Apes at 9, and Monotonix at 10. We know we won’t arrive till 10:00 pm. I call him back and speak to him in a positive and warm, teacher-voice.

“Alec, this is what we’ll do. You’ll make a bunch of vegetarian curries. The first band will start at 9. The Apes will go on at 10, and Monotonix can play at 11. Okay? Great!” He goes for it.

We are way off schedule according to Jeff’s computerized mapping program and GPS satellite system. Jeff has lovingly named the female voice that speaks directions, “Candace.” Candace tells us we are one hour delayed. At our final gas stop, Erick pulls me aside.

“Kleiny, you better drive like the wind. We have to play before Monotonix.” Great. I love it when my band pressures me to speed.

I take the final drive leg of the journey. There are cops EVERYWHERE on the road. I see a utility van a few cars ahead of me. I accelerate and weave a bit to catch the van. My theory is that if I keep pace with the van, and drive just behind it, speed radar will catch him and not me. Also, he is going over 80 and I figure it’s a good incentive to push me to SPEED, SPEED, SPEED!

In the end it doesn’t matter. We pull up at Alec’s house after 10:15. It’s pouring rain. The food is mostly gone and Monotonix are already playing. We are starving. I take a bowl of the meat and bean concoction from a pot on the stove and start eating. A little Japanese girl approaches me. “Oh, um, that the one that I use ketchup. It have corn syrup.” I’m cursed.

Monotonix don’t hold back because they are playing in someone’s home. The fires are set. Ami jumps in a trash can. He dumps the remaining salad and scatters it all over the kitchen. He tapes youths together with duct tape. At one point, he touches a skate board that is cautiously held by a long-haired blond youngster, wearing glasses. The boy’s face becomes terror- struck and then furious. He grabs his skateboard and runs out the front door. I think he is running home until he reappears moments later. He has broken the skate board in half. I guess that the boy felt it was contaminated after Ami touched it. Perhaps he felt compelled to destroy it completely. I plan to console him later.

The heat coming from the show room is oppressive. Monotonix finish their set. We try to clean up a little bit but mostly we rush to load in as I know Alec wants to get this show over as early as possible. Its one of those bizarre shows that I will never forget. The combination of the heat, the salad on the floor, the broken skate board, and the dancing youth make for a memorable show.

After the show, I talk to some kids and then jump in the shower. Alec has offered to stay at a friend’s house tonight. Monotonix spread out in the living room. Jeff heads for the van. Erick, Breck, and I blast the air conditioner in Alec’s bedroom and settle in for the night.

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2007 Spring Tour Day 2 and 3

posted by Majestic Ape at 7:45 PM

“Youth is a bitch,” says Erick.

We arrive in Nashville earlier than anticipated and embark on the search for food. We pick a Mediterranean hookah bar over a nicer sit- down Indian place. The waitress is sweet but is very slow. After a long, small meal, Jeff and Breck split and head to Checker’s. Jeff wants a chemically flavored Banana shake. Erick and I head toward the club. He decides he wants coffee from Krispy Kreme. I pee. When I come out, he is waiting by the counter, eating a donut.

“Look Kleiny, they gave me a donut, just because I have to wait for the coffee to be brewed.”

He looks extremely pleased. The lady behind the counter walks toward us with his cup of coffee and hands us two more free donuts. Good God. They push this stuff like drugs. Addicts. They want to make us all addicts. More sugar! More flour! Eat it! Eat it! Eat it!

We walk back to the club and head for the entrance. There is a larger man sitting in a pick-up truck outside the club.

He says, “Hey! Can I help ya?”

We meet the sound man, Brad. After we become acquainted, he launches into stories about doing sound in Nashville. He tells us he was just doing sound for a rave until 7am, this morning. He has been doing for The End every night for the last 31 nights. It’s consistent, he tells us. It’s easy, too. It’s the soundboard that runs itself.

“I get levels then I read in the truck.” No wonder he works here.

There is a long line at the club across the street. RJD2 is playing tonight and the kids are lining up down the block in anticipation.

Our venue is empty.

After load in and sound check, I sit in the little dressing room, drawing pictures. Erick enters. I announce that I will not be wearing the white overalls from Gap Kids. I will wear the white dress I purchased before departure. I think it should look good with red tights. I display the dress for Erick. He disapproves.

“It’s not white, it’s flesh colored,” he declares, “and I don’t like it. The overalls are cooler.”

“The overalls don’t fit,” I reply. “The overalls are made for a child.”

“Whatever dude,” he retorts, “you better make sure you are loud enough. Yeah, and don’t fuck up on Practice Hiding.”

Some members of the other bands come into the dressing room while I am changing. We meet the members of Monotonix, a 3 member band from Tel Aviv, Israel. We are both booked by Michelle from Panache and will be playing 4 shows together. We are introduced to Ami, Yanathan, and Ran. We also meet their American manager, Kevin Guthrie.

A woman comes back stage. She is shrieking at the guys in Monotonix.

“Let me come on stage with you guys! Let me come on stage and play an instrument! Look, I can play the clit!” she proclaims. She reaches between her legs and strums her vagina.

It’s Apes time. I go out alone. There are a few scattered people far to the left of the stage. I focus my dialogue toward them and they ignore my requests to come closer to the stage. In fact, they don’t really look away from their conversations. One nice girl, named Elle, touches my knees. I hug her.

I realize later that my failure to interact with the people in the room (not that there were many), throws me off for the whole set. I just feel weird and detached. I also feel like I am watching myself play and I don’t approve. I hate this feeling. But then a real sensation brings me back into my body. My broken toe is screaming at me to stop pounding my feet. I broke the 2nd toe on my right foot back in January. It doesn’t heal. It just swells and recedes, gets purple and fades.

After the show, my spirit sinks. Some annoying internal voice keeps pestering me.

“You are tired, your body hurts, your toe is broken. Why do you this? Why? Why? Why?”

No answer. Nobody’s home.

I draw pictures of the people in the second band while they play.

I don’t try to draw Monotonix. I watch them instead. Ami, the vocalist, starts the show with a long, slow, limping walk toward the drummer. Then the three of them (guitar, drums, vocal) launch into song. The drummer, Ran, lights his cymbals on fire. Chaos ensues. I like many of their songs but midway, leave to sit in the van.

Kevin the tour manager lives in Nashville and has offered to host us for the night. While we are loading out, he asks if we want to go to a bar.

“NO,” I declare. I sound like an ungrateful bitch and immediately regret my tone.

We get paid $50.

Back at Kevin’s bachelor pad, we pile in his crowded living room. Jeff opts to sleep in the van.

The next day consists of a quiet drive to Atlanta, back to the Drunken Unicorn. This is our 3rd time playing here this year. But this time, we are without the draw of Liars or Slits to fill the room. Perhaps the 4 bands-bill will entice at least a few people to come out on a Monday night.

Jeff drops us off at Whole Foods. He is driving over to the Earl, alone, to get a black bean burger. He has been missing them for a long time. We are shocked. When Jeff finds something he likes to eat, he truly commits to that food. Erick, Breck, and I wander around Whole Foods. Breck is excited because he is going to get a Kombucha. We have been enjoying this fermented mushroom tea since last summer. Breck likes to drink them as often as possible and he hasn’t had one for several days. Erick selects a ‘day old’ discounted quinoa salad and struggles to pick a hot food topping. He finally decides on the African greens as they have peanut butter, and they are sure to have a little flavor.

I choose an odd assortment of tiny little things that neither go well together, nor taste good. Breck wisely gets supplies to make wraps for several days.

Back at the club, we sit outside for a long time. The weather is perfect, cool and clear. I feel no urgency to sit in the dark, smelly bar.

I talk to a friendly fellow named, “Bobbie” who is writing a book about the Slits. He wants to interview us because we toured with The Slits back in Oct.

The show is okay. The crowd is small, but sweet. When the night is over, the manager finds me outside.

“Sorry dudes, you get $40. But you can have anything from the bar you want-- drinks, cigarettes, waters. I love you guys!”

We are the band that is loved by sound men, bartenders, and club managers. Erick takes 12 bottles of water to roll around the van floor.

We drive to Breck’s mother’s house. On the drive, we discuss the various people we have met that evening.

Jeff reports, “This girl came up to the merch table after the show. She kept repeating over and over, ‘when you go to south by, you better be on.’ I had no idea the hell she was saying. At first I thought I couldn’t even hear her. But then she literally repeated herself 5 times. Was she trying to tell me that we better play great at SXSW? Is it that hard to add the words ‘southwest’?”

This statement, ‘when you go to south by, you better be on,’ would be repeated in our van over and over, for the entire length of the tour.

Back at Breck’s mom’s home, Breck makes wraps for everyone. Laundry is started. I have only brought one bra on this tour. I wear it all day and play in it every night. Yummm…….

I sleep in the scented room. There is a plenty of potpourri, scented oils, and candles, to mask the stink that Erick and I are probably projecting.

In the morning, Jeff takes many photos of Breck with dolls.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring Mini-Tour 2007, SxSW

posted by Majestic Ape at 7:12 PM

The date is Saturday March 10th and I hereby declare that Apes Spring Mini-Tour 2007 is officially underway. I am currently sitting in the back left passenger’s captain chair of our beloved ’87 Ford Econoline Conversion van, better know as Vannie. It’s dark in here. Breck is driving. Jeff is in front, no longer the official navigator, as Mike B has given him a GPS and it has voice data software. And when the voice doesn’t direct, Jeff just turns the laptop screen toward the driver with the expectation that he/she will read the screen while driving 80 mph.

We are 50 miles outside of Charlotte. Erick just hung up the phone with Mike B. We have learned that Mike B has a younger brother who resides in Charlotte, fresh from a divorce. Mike B has been a generous and dedicated Apes fan and friend for many years now. Even though he lives in Memphis, he has ventured to shows all over the southern and central United States. He never arrives empty-handed. There are always gifts and offerings of devotion that are very much appreciated.

Erick and Jeff are discussing several hot topics-- Roth IRAs, flaws of the new Windows OS, and Jeff’s 2006 rebate earnings of $420.00. Erick has a mild expressive language disorder. He asks Jeff whether he has started contributing money to his IRS. I know Erick is referring to Roth IRA retirement accounts. I wait for a minute before I gently correct him.

We have just stopped for dinner. Erick and I choose Subway. Breck and Jeff choose Papa John’s pizza. Jeff’s “almost veganism” has intensified and he declares that he can only eat tacos and pizza on this tour. Many of his old favorite tour foods contain egg ingredients, thereby rendering them inedible. Burger King Veggie burgers are no longer allowed. Prior to our dinner stop, there had been extensive discussion surrounding Jeff’s childhood friend, Neal. Neal believes that Taco Bell’s ‘Seven Layer Burrito’ is THEE PERFECT FOOD.

“It’s ‘yummy and mushy so he doesn’t have to chew,” Jeff explains. He has left out nutritious. Neal is the guy who won’t swallow vitamins because they aren’t yummy. Neal also loves chocolate ice cream, but only when it has melted into a soupy syrup.

I started out the drive earlier today. We left late because I took an hour at CVS waiting for prescriptions. We are not in a rush. Our last Charlotte gig didn’t start till 11:00 pm.

Sadly, my mini ipod died a few weeks ago. I will not be replacing it. Jeff has given me a tiny free rubber mp3 player that holds about 20 songs. I have loaded it with a rather strange assortment of music and sounds. I have selected songs by Cat Stevens, Hall and Oates, Dizzee Rascal, Diana Ross, The Spinners, Toots and Maytal, Kate Bush. There are also some bird sounds, a guided meditation and some Russian soldiers chanting.

Just as I get onto Route 95 South, the breathing meditation starts to play and I decide to do the meditation while I am driving. The instructional voice lasts one minute but I do meditative breathing for the next 3 hours. I put myself in this bizarre trance so I can reprogram my mind. I go on a magical brain journey.

When we pull over at a rest stop, I am in a heavy natural high. The combination of low blood sugar from light eating today enhances this sensation.

We pull into the Milestone around 9pm. There are a few police cars in the lot next door to the club. Have refrigerators been stolen? That’s what the boys think.

Neal, the manager and sound man of the club warmly welcomes us. He was here for our last Charlotte show. He’s a talented sound man. I’m glad the atmosphere is relaxed as this is our first show in 4 months. I know I will need some extra time to set up, especially since I now have a….TWO-TIERED KYBRD STAND. Wahoooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kleiny’s growing up!

We load in. Ever hear that phrase before? I meet some of the lovely fellows from the other bands with whom we’ll be playing. Sharing the bill tonight are Snagglepuss and Satanic Romantic. I meet Scott and Peter. Both are very warm chaps.

Satanic Romantic start the night. They are dancey, beautiful, high energy, campy, bath-house style cabaret. Mid-set, the man at center mic, opens a bottle of champagne, pours some on his head, takes of his head wrap, and shakes his geri-curl hairdo loose.

I slink off to the beer closet to change into my costume. Holy shit. It’s really tight. I guess overalls from Gap Kids AREN’T supposed to be worn by adults. I tell myself its okay. My only mistake is not urinating before putting on costume. I have to take it all off again to go sit on a fresh seat of very yellow female urine spray.

I’m psyched. It feels like an eternity since our last show. I put on the ski masks, fetch some bottled waters from the bar, and warm up the crowd with a voice-altered comedy.

We play. I fuck up. I am so excited during the first song that when we get to the 2nd verse, I go right to the 3rd verse! Good one! And it takes me about 10 seconds to figure out my mistake and regroup. My hands are really sloppy for the rest of the set. But damn, it was fun.

After the show, I am approached by a lovely lady named Joy. She is the wife of Darren who is in SnagglePuss. Joy generously offers us her home for the night. She describes a winning combination-- spare rooms, clean couches, and a hot shower.

While Snagglepuss plays, I draw their portraits. After their set, I ask to draw Kyler from Satanic Romantic. He is a beautiful man dressed as a beautiful woman. He sits at the bar for me and I sense that he doesn’t want to sit too long. I rush to finish and thank him with a tight hug. He asks me to squeeze his breast. I do. Damn!

After loading out the equipment, we follow our hosts home. They bring along a very pretty girl named Stewey. Joy and Darrin have a beautiful, clean, colorful home. Drinks are brought out, snacks are provided, and our hosts entertain us. I pace, get online, and eat some snacks.

When I finally go lay down at 4 am, I am experiencing a significant amount of nausea. I don’t fall asleep till 6 am. But in my mind, everything feels great. I’m alive, I’m happy, and I’m with band. Erick comes in the room at some point and spreads out on the floor. He reported later that he a hard time falling asleep as well.

I hear the late night conversations continuing. It sounds like there is a lot of over-sharing.

I am up at 7 am. Despite having some new medications to assist me with keeping a more regular schedule, I’m awake and in the kitchen. It takes another snack to put me back to sleep. At 9:30 am, I’m awake for good. There’s old coffee in their pot and soymilk in the fridge. Crabtastic.

We split for Nashville, TN by 2 pm, but not before stopping at a strip of 3 major American fast food establishments. We split up and regroup outside on picnic benches. Erick displays his Taco Bell 7 Layer Burrito. He wants to illustrate for Jeff that it’s basically a regular old burrito (Taco Bell style, of course) and not the mushy diamond that Neal claims. Jeff doesn’t believe. He never ever believes. Its 64 degrees.

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