subject: Time to make the donuts...
Posted on May 25, 2004 at 1:23 AM

Man, I was tired for tonight's show. Just beat to hell from the drive and the weird sleeping schedule and the hot/cold/hot/cold/hot/cold of walking in to and out of buildings in Florida. I actually got a little loopy by the time Crackhead came around, and when I stood up too fast in the transition from the first verse to the first chorus, I 'bout passed out.

But them donuts got made. Karlos had to sit the show out due to a bad case of bronchitis, but we took him to the shop and got him a tune-up. He'll be sitting out Birmingham as well, but should be back in fine form for Jacksonville on Wednesday.

subject: Tricksy Hobbits hid the Flying J!
Posted on May 24, 2004 at 2:22 AM

Some states have, like, the blue signs that tell you there's shit you might want to stop at for a given exit (e.g. Flying J, TA, BP, Bob Evans, et al) but don't necessarely put the shit actually near the exit. The net result is that you end up driving for miles through East Bumfuck, Georgia before you figure out that there actually isn't a Flying J at this exit, despite what the blue sign said.

Ranting aside, an excellent day in Atlanta. The promoters were fantastic, the club's PA excellent, the house sound guy absolutely top-of-the-line. Spending a hazy tired day in Little Five Points drinking iced-tea and people watching wasn't so bad, either. On the scale of Shows So Far, I'll give this one a 4.5 out of 5. We're grading on a bell curve, though.

Don't have time to type much else. Just a quick stop for gas, then it's on to Gainsville. Miles to go before I sleep.

subject: Take The Skinheads Bowling...
Posted on May 23, 2004 at 7:18 AM

(...and if you're lucky, they'll get in a terrible accident on the way home.) I can't stand skins. I especially can't stand the kind of skins that really have the full top-to-bottom outfit, and the ridiculous attitude that goes with it. The funny thing is that real skins will spend all kinds of time expounding their political views at you, while poseur skins will spend at least the same amount of time going on about how they are nothing like the first group. Wouldn't it really be easier to just not wear the fucking uniform?

So, our show last night was crawling with skins of the latter variety. They probably spent more time getting their outfit together than they actually spent at the venue. Both Wade and I have shaved heads, so we continually run the risk of these guys trying to identify with us, although any one of them would find out in about 15 seconds of conversation that other than the fact that we're white and have little to no hair, we couldn't have less in common with them.

Despite the preponderance of skinheads, there were still a good selection of the SMG faithful, and a lot of newbies. This is our first time playing Jacksonville. We'd played Myrtle Beach back in the day, but it was a Spring Break show, and thus incredibly stupid. The monitors blew up during the CA set, so I wasn't entirely sure if I was singing in key the whole show, but it seemed to go over okay, so I guess it was fine. I'm in a Flying J in South Carolina right now, about midway on our epic journey to Atlanta. Tonight's show should be off the hook. I'll hopefully be reporting same at some point in the near future.

subject: You win some, you lose some...
Posted on May 22, 2004 at 2:21 AM

Columbia, SC is now in the bag, as our complete carpet bombing of the Carolinas continues. We had an opening band tonight, whos name escapes me. Part of the Gother-Than-Thou set; I suppose they were good, as they had quite a few people there for them alone; however, not exactly my cup of tea, so I stayed away. (This isn't meant to be offensive, so save the hate mail you're already thinking of for someone that will give a flying fuck; I call 'em as I see 'em. If someone is looking for flowers blown up their ass, they've come to the wrong place.)

We had a reasonable sound check when we arrived, and I was fairly confident that things would go all right. However, that was long before the sound man proceeded to drink and smoke himself in to a stupor. A walking talking example of what 50 years of marijauna and alcohol abuse will do to someone. That guy couldn't hold a coherent thought in his head for more than a minute, let alone keep 4 bands lines and backline straight. That would be fine, and something I could probably deal with using minimum drama, except that he was comletely confident that he was, in actual fact, the best sound man ever. So there was, to not put too fine a point on it, a bit of a communication breakdown mid-show.

So all that bullshit aside, it was a show, taken for all and all. We've got one more Carolina show tomorrow, and then to Atlanta, which I'm really looking forward to. I like Atlanta any damn way, and the promoter seems like a really cool guy, so I think that the Atlanta show will be our next Benchmark Performance (along with Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and NYC.) I'm gonna get some sleep now, so I can get up early to get the continental breakfast, and get my swim on before we cruise to Jacksonville, NC.

subject: Disciplinary Action...
Posted on May 21, 2004 at 1:45 PM

Here we have photographic documentation of Miguel giving Jason from SMP/CA a little switching for having drank all the Micky's Big Mouth. Lesson learned.

subject: Beer ain't just for breakfast anymore...
Posted on May 21, 2004 at 1:37 PM

Charlotte was good fun. The club was excellent, and I got one of the better meals I've had on this tour courtesy of the venue's catering. Really nice people. Nothing special to report otherwise.

At the risk of starting to sound sappy, I have to reiterate that I really like the Carolinas. The people, the food, the weather, the scenery, all top notch. It reminds me of Eastern Oregon, only with more trees and less sand. I spent the entire morning by the hotel pool, thinking that there are certainly worse ways to make a living in this world. My throat is a little scratchy again, but nothing that will affect the show, I don't think. I got a little squeaky during "Better Than Me" last night, but it was minor compared to the Champaign and Columbus, OH shows.

So, Columbia tonight, then Jacksonville, NC, and our next Big show is Atlanta on Sunday, which I'm looking forward to. I'll post about the Columbia show tonight when I get back to the hotel.

(And on a side note, for those of you that are reading this that haven't yet come to a show, please stop offering to buy me drinks. I don't drink when I'm playing shows, and haven't for years. You can, however, offer to buy Miguel or Levi a drink.)

Posted on May 20, 2004 at 11:49 AM

Flying J is the Oasis in the middle of the touring desert. I like to say that a Flying J is a place with "infrastructure." They've got laundry, showers, video games, a buffet, and wi-fi. You can also buy a Peterbuilt Zippo, a spare bulb for Trailer's brake light, a Virginia Is For Lovers t-shirt (in North Carolina, natch), the entire Dirty Harry movie series on DVD, and the Bible books-on-tape, as read by Charlton Heston.

In short, Flying J is the shit. I'm sitting in the "driver's lounge" typing this on their satellite connection as my clothes are drying. In a perfect world, I'd be getting a foot rub too, but quite frankly some of these truckers look like they might take a little more liberty given the opportunity, so I'll leave it at clean clothes and a blog entry.

Chappel Hill was a fun show; especially needed after the weekend's fiasco. I actually really like the south in general; North Carolina is a nice state. I could live here if I had to. I'm also a big fan of Savannah; unfortunately, we couldn't get a show there this time around, so we'll be passing it by. Tonight is Charlotte. I have no prediction about this show. We've only played Charlotte a couple times; it is centrally located to a bunch of towns that we have normally played frequently in the past, so theoretically we'll get some people from the surrounding area. We'll see.

So, well fed, clean clothes in hand, we're departing for points south. Florida is looming on the horizon.

subject: Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light...
Posted on May 19, 2004 at 5:08 PM

So, as I predicted, the surf in Virginia Beach was small and mushy. I didn't even bother with surfing's retarded 2nd cousin, body boarding. I did, however, take a nice brisk swim in the Atlantic, more to say I did so than anything else. Despite the lousy mushy-ass shore break, it was a good day off. Got to see the sun, something not so common in Chicago.

I don't really have much to say about the Virginia Beach show but for this: my tolerance for bullshit (from the promoter, from the sound company that provided the "PA," which would have been right at home in, say, an average production car, and from one person who styled himself as my "biggest fan," but was a fan of me the way that Mark David Chapman was a fan of John Lennon) reached its limit. I am an incredibly patient person but everything just piled up after the show to put me over the limit. I spent the next several hours running around shouting, while flat-punching inanimate objects. Wheee. So, taken for all in all, Virginia Beach ended up being a scenario wherein the good and bad cancelled each other out, and I was left in this bizarre state of oneness (the here, the now, the Holy Fucking Tide in the affairs of men, et al.)

What's normally called for in a situation like this is a Massive Corrective Action. e.g. an afternoon spent watching Jackie Chan movies, a full slab of ribs, a Neubauten live show, etc.) Unfortunately, circumstances dictate otherwise. So my Massive Corrective Action took the form of sitting in traffic on the D.C. Beltway for three hours. Wheee Squared.

Anyways, long story short, I put forth extra effort to have a good time at the Baltimore show. Miguel did the Ladder Solo in Addiction (something you definitely won't see every show), and I sweat out a good solid liter of Bad Attitude. Feeling much better, we all hopped in The Van (oh, right... we have The Van back. The deer-shaped hole has been removed, and Trailer attached) for our final crossing over the Mason-Dixon line in to The South, where we will spend the next several weeks. We stopped at a Denny's in southern Virginia, and true to form, Levi was served last, even though he ordered first. These people are so fucking transparent, it's really hilarious if you stop to look at it.

So, Chappel Hill tonight, then points South. Wireless hasn't permeated this part of the country to the degree I would prefer, so my ability to update this blog may be somewhat truncated for the next couple weeks. Expect updates every other day at the most until we get to Austin.

subject: I'll Be Seeing You In All The Old Familiar Places...
Posted on May 17, 2004 at 11:46 AM

I haven't been in NYC since 1998. I've lived in Chicago since '94, and while I visited New York often from '94 to '98, several times a year at least, I didn't really miss it. I guess it's true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

As soon as I put foot to pavement this time, though, I had this overwhelming feeling of "home, again..." going on. I didn't shake it all day. I know New York better than I know Chicago, and better than I know my hometown in Oregon. I was showing Miguel and Brian around the Lower East Side (which has had its name changed, inexplicably, to the East Village in my absence) and Miguel had to go to the bathroom. I immediately said "that bar right on the corner, there's a one-hole jobby in the back. Just walk in like you own the place..." It's nice to go somewhere on tour that you are intimately familiar with.

Sure, the City has changed in my absence, but not as much as people had told me. "Oh shit, dude, you won't even recognize it!" I heard that a lot. But the part that has changed is Midtown, and the only reason I ever went north of 14th St. was to go to the Limelight, so it's not like I ever gave a fuck about Midtown any god damned way. They could all be canibals up there for all I know.

No, the NYC I know about is the one between 14th St. and Canal, and aside from SoHo being a little more upscale than I remember, and Union Square having a lot fewer junkies, it is more or less exactly the same. So I didn't feel any heart-rending sense of loss, and I don't really know what the fuck all these people were on. I've been living in NYC off and on since 1976, and it doesn't even seem that different than the very first time I was there.

The show itself, well. The promoter and I go _way_ back. He booked the second SMG show ever, so he and I are very familiar with each other. I will say that the actual performance of SMG was our best so far on this tour. Getting to the point where To Hell With You is playing was something of a struggle, but once we kicked in, well, shit. It was like being home again. (I don't want all you Chicago types to be jealous; the Metro show is _the_ show. I'm just saying "so far.") The turnout was great; the show was great.

The thing about NYC though, well, it's like The Plague for bands. There is simply no way a touring band can come in to the City, play a show, and leave the City without having at least one major disaster. By the time we were ready to leave, things were a little hectic, and in the confusion I forgot Karlos. He was somewhat surprised (to put it mildly) to come out at the appointed time and find both band vehicles gone. The mistake was discovered while we were in the Lincoln Tunnel, so it took a little while to turn the van around in Jersey (with Trailer, of course) and get back to the venue to pick him up.

Let me just say for the record that it's generally not in your best interest to piss off a Columbian.

Anyways, all drama aside, I am at this very minute sunning myself on Virginia Beach. (How 'bout that fucking wi-fi?) Yesterday was spent recovering from NYC; we'll be loading in to Club Excess here in a minute. I'm hoping we get a lot of service personel at this show. The Navy guys are fucking nuts, and always make for a good show.

subject: Punk As Fuck!
Posted on May 15, 2004 at 2:10 AM

Since this is such a long tour (in actual fact it is our longest single run of shows in our entire 15-year history, to the best of my knowledge) we find ourselves playing in a much more diverse selection of rooms than in the past. Tonight's venue would be a good example of the more "underground" places we're playing on this tour. We would have been physically unable to play this venue in the past; I don't believe Kevin Temple's drum set would have fit in the stage area at all, let alone the other three members of the band.

But that said, I had a good time tonight, once I got my motor started. It usually takes me about half a song to get in to the groove of the audience and the vibe of the venue. (I can't explain that any better, I don't think. It's a strange thing.) It took a little longer tonight, but once I got rolling, the set went by like lightning. The promoter, Sean, is a hell of a guy, and I'm glad I met him. Very cool people working at that club.

So, it's off to bed for me. NYC (SMG's first Home Town) is tomorrow, and I fully expect the show to be absolutely off the hook. Then an all-night drive to Virginia Beach for a day off of surfing mushy East-Coast waves.

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