Monday, February 25, 2008

home sweet home?

posted by Majestic Ape at 10:19 PM

Well, its Monday night and we are home. I have several entries to write and will do so in the next few days. I must report that the shows were great. I also must report that there are multiple tales of weirdness, sadness, mechanical failure, and human oddities. I finally figured out how to get the videos from my new phone into the blog, but last night, as soon as I walked in, I dropped said phone into the toilet.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

5 days

posted by Majestic Ape at 12:19 AM

We went to Whole Foods after leaving Breck’s sisters house on Thursday afternoon. I had begun using my new cell phone as my navigator. It has an internal GPS and this GPS, unlike Jeff’s computer, will detect one’s location and give verbal and visual instructions to your destination. Jeff needs your present address and then he needs to know which direction you are facing. Then he is quite lousy about telling you each direction as they occur within any trip. He prefers to update Apes data in Excel Charts, or watch fights that he has downloaded. Once I liberated him from his duties of navigator, (this happened today), he plugged in headphones and watched a boxing match on his laptop. Every few minutes he would make sounds of shock or surprise in a sharp pronounced “OOH!” or “EEW!”. I asked him to stop because it sounded like he was reacting to me about to hit someone or something on the road.

The drive to NYC was lovely. It was the first clear day and my Ipod was choosing to play lots of Rush, CCR, Sandy Denny, Love, and the Who. It was so wonderful to drive without relying on ANYTHING for guidance.

We got to NYC around 8:30 and Zach from Ex-Models helped us load in. Shahin appeared shortly after. We have known these guys for years. We did some of our first out of town shows with them. I had a flashback to 2001 and sleeping 7 people stuffed on a filthy floor in a house in the woods by some train tracks in Athens, GA. I had to sleep in the kitchen that night because there was simply no other available floor space.

After loading in, we chatted with people and then I tried to go off with Jeff and Pat (from Liars and currently, These are Powers). I did NOT want to eat Indian food with Erick. Sometimes I just need to get away from him. I was less than a half block away when I heard, “Kleiny! Wait!” I shouted back at him that I was going with Jeff and Pat. He chased after me. I caved. We got food from a little Indian carry out place that was more like a deli. There was counter for people to stand and eat lining the narrow store. Mature Indian men lined the store. I got two little piles of veggie curries, one spinach and one squash. I gave Erick the rice.

We went back to the club, where the show had started. I talked to Shahin for a while and then, my ex-boyfriend appeared. I had not seen him or talked to him since CMJ 2006. There was no ill will but he was the last person that I dated seriously, and we were together when I was not too much fun to be around. It was truly GREAT to see him. I was reminded of what a NICE guy he was.

Lots of DC folks showed up. It was a bit chaotic during set up. The stage at the Cake Shop is at the bottom end of the basement level of the club. When there are four bands playing, it’s hard to find your equipment. Well, we got set up quickly and launched into our set.

It was a fun set. After we finished, I sat by the merch table for a while. I talked to our friend Mark from Queens for a while. Then I met J.R. He was definitely cute and definitely my type. He told me that he had seen us many times over the years, in lost of strange places. Modified Arts Space in Phoenix was the first show he mentioned. That brought back some strange memories. He told me that OddEyeSee was one of his favorite records of all times. He understood the record on the level that I had always hoped people would be able to connect with it. I think very few people understood that record.

I had to go upstairs when These Are Powers were playing. They are a fantastic band and extremely talented people. I simply had no ear plugs and their set was one of the loudest I had heard in a long time.

So we loaded out, when back to our friend Greg’s place andsuddenly it was 3:30 am.

Friday

We met our friend and booking agent, Michelle, and her friend Dan, for breakfast.

When we were heading to the BQE, I was in the left lane on Meeker Ave. There was an old man in a Lincoln Town Car in the left turning lane, one car in front of me. When the light turned green, he starting waving wildly. I had no idea what he was trying to communicate. He got out of his car and started screaming at me.

“Can you see I am trying to back into that space?” He was screaming his bloody head off. There was no space. He was trying to pull backward into the right lane. There was a line of cars in the curb lane.

I opened my window and smiling sweetly, I said to him, “Hey, everything’s okay!”

“What are you, stupid? I know, I have a wife!” He jumped back in his car and tore off to the right, around the corner.

Boston

The drive to Boston was long. Traffic was heavy, probably because it was a holiday weekend.

We pulled up in front of the club. The wind was howling and temperatures were bitterly low. Erick and Breck hopped out of the van and went in the club to pee before we attempted to load in our gear. I sat with Jeff for a moment but then decided that I may as well pee, too. I walked up to the door of the club and pulled the handle. It was locked. I looked around for another door but didn’t see any.

I thought I heard someone say, “Are you in a band?” The voice was quiet and I almost thought that I had imagined it. I turned to look in the direction where I thought the voice came from and saw no one.

“ARE YOU IN A BAND?” This time I heard it. I turned in the direction that it came from and saw an old leathery man standing on the sidewalk near the other side of the door, smoking.

“Oh yes, I am.”

“Look at me when I am talking to you! What’s the matter with you? Don’t just ignore people!” he continued at a volume I would call shouting.

With a broad sincere smile, I answered, “Sir, I have hearing problems. I wasn’t ignoring you. I didn’t know which direction the sound came from.” Still smiling, “It’s not very nice to simply start shouting at people.”

“You’re pretty rude to ignore people!” he bellowed as he unlocked the club door.

I walked in and stopped to survey the scene. There were multiple meat-head looking
fellows scattered about. We were in for a helluva night.

After load-in, the four of us went to a Thai restaurant. Erick mocked Jeff for most of the meal. Jeff made fun of us for years because of our preference for “world foods”. I am not a fan of typical American fare. But until recently, I wouldn’t eat most foods, American or “worldly”.

Back at the club, people were starting to gather. I would classify this crowd as a “white hip hop crowd”. I mean nothing by this statement. I am simply trying to create a visual reference point. Anyway, I didn’t think we would go over so well.

We scattered. I spent some time talking to Ryan, one of the musicians in the Skyrider Band. He was young, tall, blond, and HYPER. But we had plenty to talk about.

We played our set right around 11:00 pm. I played terribly, at least in my mind. When the show was over, I hid in the dressing room. I actually tried to sleep in a pile of our dirty clothes on the floor.

Our friends Andy and Makoto, from Tunnel of Love, had come to the show. About 5 minutes before Sole was finishing his set, I went downstairs to hang out.

Jeff reported that an audience member came up to him and said, “I wasn’t that into your alls music but I have to give you props. I have never seen a drummer get his stuff off stage that quick.”

We went back to Andy’s house. We were staying in the attic bedroom of his parents’ home. He and his girlfriend lived separately in the basement apartment. Erick immediately found several old guns- -a bayonet, and a hand gun. He just started aiming them at us and firing. The guy is a jackass. He had no idea if there was even the slightest chance they could be functional and loaded.

Erick slept in the laundry room. Jeff and Breck slept in the bedroom. I decided to sleep on the wood floor in the computer room since I have been told that suddenly, on this tour, for the first time in 8 years of touring, I am snoring. It seemed polite to try to separate myself.

At 7:45 am, I woke up and started vomiting bile. Bile is a greenish-yellow fluid that's essential for digesting and absorbing fats and for eliminating worn-out red blood cells and certain toxins from your body. It is a base (as opposed to an acid, different than acid reflux). Vomiting bile in your sleep is a violent act. You wake up choking and spewing yellow fluid from your mouth. It burns intensely and the only way to stop the burning is to consume an acidic drink to neutralize the bile. Diet coke or coffee or orange juice would have helped. Normally I would drink one of those fluids to reduce the burning. But this time I was not in my own home. The parents did not know we were there. I couldn’t go digging through their kitchen. Additionally I had inhaled some of the bile. I just ran into the bathroom and tried to get it out of my nose and lungs. I was pretty disgusting. I drank a bunch of water and eventually the pain subsided a little, enough for me to lay back down on the wood floor of the computer room to try to go back to sleep.

About an hour later, someone started shaking the doorknob.

“Why is this door locked? Who is in there?” It was Andy’s father.

I thought I would die. I opened the door and explained who I was and apologized profusely. The only reason that the door was locked was that the wind kept opening it and slamming it shut. I didn’t want it to make noise and wake people.

I grabbed my bile encrusted sleeping bag and got out of there. The dad actually took me downstairs and made me a pot of coffee and we chatted politely about our respective careers. The coffee did help the throat pain but I was having trouble breathing because of the bile now in my lungs.

I gave up sleeping and took a shower. Several hours later we all went out for breakfast but I couldn’t eat. I sipped on a nice Diet Raspberry Snapple Iced Tea.

Providence

We were playing at a club called The Living Room. Erick went to Rhode Island School of Design and any time we play in Providence, it feels like a little homecoming. The heat wasn’t working in the van and it was about 17 degrees outside. I was still feeling quite ill from the episode in the morning but now I was dizzy and had chills. We walked into the club and the temperature felt no different than the outside. The Living Room has a very ‘down and out’ feel. It is a very bare bones old music venue and the inside looks well worn. Sole and the Skyrider Band had already arrived and I chatted with my buddy, Ryan, after we loaded in. When it was time for find food, Erick recommended Apsara, a Laotion restaurant that he used to frequent back in his RISD days. We found the restaurant using my little navigator and off we went. The van had just started presenting with a new ailment. It wasn’t shifting into reverse, and it was dying when I shifted into Drive. Its always an adventure with the 87 Ford.

We made it to Apsara, had a great meal, and headed back to the Living Room.
There were several larger bald guys wandering around now that were not there when we arrived. One of them was the hip hop artist known as Prolific. He happened to be the first guy I met at the merch table. He was a lovely person and a great performer. Telephone Jim Jesus played and then it was our turn. I finally felt like I had a kick ass show. We all did.

Erick’s friend Brian, from Lightning Bolt showed up and invited us back to his warehouse. He warned us that it’s wasn’t heated. I called Andy. We decided to drive back to Boston. Breck drove. I had a fever but was not revealing this information. We made it back to Boston safely and I slept like a rock.

Burlington

The drive to Burlington, VT was breathtaking. We were essentially driving through snow covered mountains the whole way. The weather services were reporting a wintry mix for the next two days and I was hoping that we would get to Burlington before this wintry mix rained down upon us. We were all pretty excited to get to Burlington because Jeff’s close friend from home lives here now. I have written about Neal before. He is the guy that likes the Seven Layer Burrito from Taco Bell. Neal and his lovely wife, Annick welcomed us into their home to drop off our gear before heading to downtown Burlington. We ate Indian food and then went to the club. The promoter called Erick to ask him if the other bands could use our gear. It always amazes me when local bands call to ask to borrow our gear. If they are in their home town, and have their own equipment, why would they want to put extra wear and tear on our gear while we are on tour? That was the first thing that I asked the promoter when we got there. He explained that this was simply to minimize change over times. I didn’t push the issue.

The bar had a few folks inside. Erick and I began observing the guy who was supposed to be collecting money at the door. He let six people in without paying. We were only getting a percentage of money taken from the door that night and there were four bands on the bill. I walked up to him and told him that he needed to charge everyone. Erick and I watched him like a hawk for the next 45 minutes. Now I feel a little bit bad about this because maybe we freaked him out. I don’t know. He got someone else to cover the door for the rest of the night.

The first two bands played. We went on about 11:00 pm. The kids in Burlington were AWESOME! They danced like crazy. That is the best feeling. It provides the ultimate fuel for a show. I think all in all, it was a great show. However, I was totally wrecked and couldn’t wait to get back to Neal’s house.

When we got back, I went into the guest bedroom. There was half-eaten kale leaves on the floor, a large kitty litter box, and a black and white rabbit hopping around. I had forgotten about the rabbit. He has some real personality, this bunny. I did remove several hard little rabbit turds before going to bed. Bunnies miss the box sometime. I could picture getting up in the middle of the night and getting turds embedded in my socks. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Burlington day off

I woke up at 9:30 this morning. My breathing was a little easier. I set up the laptop for the first time in days and got to work. We went to downtown Burlington at about 2:00pm. One of the kids from the show last night (another major promoter in town) told us to go to the restaurant where he worked and implied he might be able to hook us up with mimosas. We went to the said restaurant and asked the waitress if the kid was there. He was there and we told her to tell him that Apes were here and said hello. At some point during the meal, he walked by and waved and walked away. Jeff was the only one who saw him. It wasn't his fault. We weren't in his section and the restaurant was quite busy. The food was great though and the server was very nice. After that it was ‘book store’ afternoon. I was in heaven walking around downtown Burlington. It reminded me of Eureka, CA. There was an abundance of folks representing all sorts of counter culture and subculture and just as many yuppies. After I had my fill of the book stores, I went back to van. I didn’t eat with everyone else because I had to budget my per diems (wallet gone, no money). I had an apple in the van and I was starving. When I got to a traffic light, I observed the white flashing hand that said pedestrians can now safely cross. There was a bus coming around the corner and I stopped to wait for him to make his left turn. Then I ran across the street. Some guy in a car rolled down his window and shouted, “DIDN’T YOU SEE THE STOP SIGN, STUPID?!”

I am beginning to really enjoy getting screamed at. When the guy looked at me for a response, I smiled and put my finger in front of my mouth to signal him to “Shhhh…”

We went back to Neal's and I spent the rest of the day writing and catching up on email. The boys watched Ultimate Fighting. We were all glued to our laptops.

Dinner was at Moe's-- a burrito place in town. When we walked in, we saw a line of about 30 people in front of us. Apparently we went to the restaurant on the anniversary of their opening and they were having a Moe's birthday party. To celebrate they were handing out free Moe's t-shirts, birthday cake and balloons.

I tried to get Jeff a balloon but the blowing lady never returned. Haha.

When I was getting ready for bed, the bunny got friendly. He hopped up on the bed, started sniffing my toes and then chomped. When I yanked my foot away in response, he ran up to my chest and jumped on my tits. I lay face to face with the bunny. We had about an inch between us. Could it be I've found a friend?

I have photos. Coming soon.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

It gets interesting quite quickly

posted by Majestic Ape at 2:27 PM

Wednesday morning, around 9:00 am, I heard Breck's phone ring. I think that I thought it was an alarm clock. Then I thought that it was set because everyone wanted me to wake up and shower first. Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking. At 10:30, I woke up Erick. Breck and Jeff had showered the night before and I thought Erick would want to shower. How wrong I was.

He was in a deep sleep and was quite perturbed.

The day only got better from there. The ice from yesterday had turned into torrential rains. There were mini floods are all over the place. Thick fog prevented me from seeing ANYTHING again. But we got to Philly safely and headed to Breck's sister's house.

The show itself was at a fancy diner. Everyone was annoyed that they were not providing food. We were simply getting a 20% discount. The first band was three girls and a drummer. Two of the girls were singing and dancing in a cheerleader spirit.

When we went on, things started promising. I was beginning to believe this might turn into our first good philly show ever. But then my whole rig almost fell right off the stage. After that, my Korg fell off the upper tier of my keyboard stand 4 times. I still tried to focus on playing but the rocking out part was brought to a minimal level.

After the show we hung out with friends for a while and then began the journey back to Bianca's. We stopped at 7-11 and that's when I discovered my wallet was gone. Actually I don't use a wallet. I use a pencil case for money and cards. But it was gone. So the last 10 hours have been looking through my bags, searching the van, returning to the club, and cancelling everything. Now I will look forward to a tour with no ID/driver's license. Clubs love to ID band members. This wouldn't be a problem if I looked my age. I get mistaken for a students constantly when I am teaching. People walk into the classroom and say "Where is the teacher?", I am pipe up its me. I get funny looks.

And my bandmates don't believe that it is really gone. They think I stuck it in a bag other than my backpack. Who knows.

Well, now since I have no money, I will be engaging in plenty of sex and drugs so here's where the tale will finally get interesting. If you are under 18, you are ousted.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hmmm.........

posted by Majestic Ape at 1:20 AM

I am going to simplify this and will re-write it later as a story.

Today was departure day. Erick, Breck, and I left DC by noon and went first to my parents' home so I could pick up an outfit piece that hed been accidentally shipped there. I called ahead to prepare them for a very quick (in and out) visit. Sensitive parents tend to develop hurt feelings when children run out the door without a high drama goodbye. My forethought failed. I ran in the house, grabbed the package, hugged my brother, and headed for the front door. My Mother shrieks, "I HAVE TO SHOW YOU SOMETHING!"

I reply, "Mom, I have to go."

She starts screaming. I am not exaggerating.

I say, "What Mom?"

She hands me the phone numbers of solicitors who have been calling me.

I leave.

There is a whole lot of madness in that house. But this story is not about my family. Someday I will write about the childhood. Its not your average "White trash Jews coming up in North Potomac, MD story."

Anyway, we go to Jeff's. I clean the van while they load. We're off. Upon leaving Jeff's courth, I almost pull out in front of an oncoming car. They scream at me. Then I notice that our steering is freakishly wrong. The van is pulling hard to the right. When I try to compensate, we weave back and forth across the road. I am instantly alarmed because I know they won't listen to me when I tell them that we can't go on the highway like this.

We fill the tires with air. No more steering troubles.

But, within minutes, the ice starts raining down on our little trip. Jeff relays a warning from his frien Neal,of Burlington, VT.

"Look out for the black ice." Great. I will.

Jeff starts hissing "black ice" at me as the ice accumulates on our windshield. I can't see anything. The fan in the van isn't working so the defrosters don't activate. When we hit 95 North, I turn on the windshield wipers. They just scrape over the ice. Eventually, the friction melts the ice blinders in one spot and I can see through a little hole directly in front of me, maybe about 4 inches of glass in diameter.

There is slight clearing until we hit Northern Maryland. By the time we hit the Jersey Turnpike, there is ice falling steadily and I can't see the road at all, either in front, to the side, or behind me. We pull off to a rest stop and try to clean the windshield. It doesn't help because our wiper blades are not making contact with the windshield. We stop again at exit 11. We purchase a nasty chemical de-icer and some new wiper blades. I have pictures and video of Jeff and Erick trying to clean the wipers over and over again.

We are only 65 miles away from Purchase. We head in that direction because I honestly don't know where else to go. The turnpike is covered with snow. It seems that there are no plows. There are sand trucks but no snow clearing.

I basically drive between 25 mph and 40 mph for the next 3 hours and we arrive at Purchase at 9:30pm. I have been driving straight for 7 1/2 hours through pretty harsh conditions. We jump on stage and play.

We meet Sole and his posse (hip hop guy from AZ, we are doing a few shows with them). I am not too articulate right now. We are staying in the 'new' apartments on campus and we have effectively bug-bombed the whole place. There were several kids hanging out here when we arrived. They were all gone within 15 minutes. They were immune to Apes charm. Erick acted as the Apes representative fun guy and went off with our host, Daniel, to drink with the young people.

I went to SUNY Purchase for one year, 1991 to 1992. After that year, I ran off to France alone, and ended up transferring to U of MD. It was there that I moved in with Jeff and we started the hard core band known as "Nightmare Assault." Good memories.

Everyone loves a clown, unless they are chasing you with a steak knife.

Monday, February 11, 2008

What the hell are you doing???

posted by Majestic Ape at 10:36 PM

Tonight is the last night that I will sleep in my bed for a while. There are many pre-departure activities that are on my list of things to do before take off. Because I can't find a duffle bag, I seem unable to do anything else. I spent the afternoon at Goodwill, trying to find a warm jacket. I found a decent ski jacket for seven bucks. The only drawback is the sky blue color is not really my tasts. Then I had an afternoon snack with a friend. When I finally made it back to my house in the city, it was 6pm. And I simply had to go for a run, even though it was well below freezing. And while I am normally limited to 30 minute runs, tonight I felt the need to keep going and going and going.

And then when I finally got home, Erick came over to use my exercise machine (the Gazelle glider, quite freaky)and distracted me with bullshit talk till almost 9pm. Then I was on the phone with a friend for another 30 minutes (I do not like the phone). While speaking, I discovered that Itunes publishes TONS of university lectures and classes, free for the taking. How cool is that? I downloaded a few educational morsels to listen to while driving. Gotta make the internet work for me.

Good golly, Miss Molly, now its 10:45 pm. Clothes are scattered all over the bedroom. I think I need a man handler for the next trip. This is ridiculous.

I tried to sell merch to my algebra and geometry students all day long. The little girls bought mostly t-shirts. Why would you buy the shirt and not the record? Kids these days.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

3 Days and Counting

posted by Majestic Ape at 9:44 PM

We have three days before we hit the road. I realize that it is highly improbable that we won't hit snow somewhere, but its been determined that this will be an amazing tour. I predict that we will experience fortuitous encounters with highly exception humans of all types. Chances are we will be sleeping in sternutory accommodations, complete with all conditions of cats. And the music, oh the music, it will be satisfying.

My selfish and personal goals for this tour are to finish a series of critter drawings, continue the portrait project (if you are willing to sit for me, that would be great), actively photograph and video the scenery with a quick turnaround for posting, AND play well.

I wanted to tell a story about a group of mini midgets that gathered on my lawn last night and sang to me. They were beautiful.