Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Note to readers: We've decided to subtly change our approach to the News page. We're going to try giving (even) less coverage to shows here and focus more on non-show related information such as lies and fanciful tales. If you want to hear how shows went, you'll now have to visit the Past Shows page (linked at the bottom of the Shows page), where we're going to start logging such comments. We hope the change doesn't bother you. We expect it will allow us to focus more heavily on the manufacture of bullshit here on the News page. Of course, we'll still have to deal with the occasional piece of information here -- album updates, recording coverage, etc. -- but we'll do our best to minimize truth's intrusion.
Starting line: ?
Finish line: ???
Total mileage: ??!?%!?!?!??
It's been several days since we last reported in, and during the intervening period Life On The Road has claimed our minds, claimed them for his own. What will Life On The Road do with our minds now that he's got them? Throw them against a brick wall? Burn them? Marry them off to his daughters, Tragedy, Vice, and Pain? That's up to Life On The Road. We're no longer able to muster concern for our own fates.
Look at some of the mucked up shit we've seen. Look, here's the "biggest cross in the Western hemisphere":
Here's a cop drifting lazily down Interstate 44 holding his gun to his own head as a means of trying to muster some concern about his fate now that LOTR has permanently subpoenaed his mind:
Here's a Mexican restaurant in the middle of New Mexico that has somehow taken over the premises of a McDonald's and only partially redecorated:
Probably Alfonso just found this place abandoned by the McDonald's people, who fled into the desert after LOTR had swatted their very minds into space with a cricket bat. Alfonso, his own consciousness terrifically strained by Life On The Road, decided to paint his name on the wall and start serving burritos from the kitchen.
Here's Keith and Michael sitting around in Claremont having a beer after a long drive in from El Paso:
They are blithely unaware of the Mexican wrestling masks that have spontaneously manifested as an outward expression of the vile irrationality that now stampedes through their minds like an army of badgers gleaming across the dark underbelly of some perverted otherworld rainbow.
After a tremendous show at The Independent in San Francisco, we joined ranks with Bishop Allen, piled into El Lobo, and undertook what would prove to be a weirdly drawn out drive to LA. Behold the matrix of dread:
Hanging out at the Prince one evening, somebody whose mind had decomposed into a cinderpot of spoil ordered silkworms for the table.
Most of us tried them. Nobody liked them. Here's CO enjoying hers:
"Foul" was how she described the experience. Eating it seemed to actually make her angry, is how bad to the mouth these silkworms were.
Here's something amazing:
Rule 2 needn't be displayed, perhaps. Maybe even it can't be displayed, can't be put into words. It's just a feeling you have. Also, look at the small sign at the top of the picture: "ALL PRICES OF TAXABLE ITEMS INCLUDE REIMBURSEMENT FOR SALES TAXES COMPUTED TO THE NEAREST MILL". Why do they reimburse customers for sales tax? More crucially, what is the nearest "mill"? Million? Computed to the nearest million? You walk around the western United States right now and you're able to watch the sanity of the world slowly evaporate like a lake in some sun-fucked desert that rain clouds recently gave up visiting.
**Next stop: The U.K.**
Monday, March 21, 2005
Point of ingress: Atkins, AR
Point of egress (4 days later): El Paso, TX
Total mileage: fairly serious
On Tuesday we awoke and bade our hosts at The Godbey travel well and safely till next our path crossed theirs, then got in the Lobo Argentino and sailed for Little Rock.
It was to be a joyful day in the capitol, thanks to the Rudder family of Midland Road. At around 10, El Lobo secreted through the city limits, we raised Christian R. on a non-secure PCS line and received concise and accurate directions to The Satellite, a breakfasting service in Little Rock's Heights neighborhood that pulled no punches in dealing us a knockout meal. Next we headed to the Rudder home, where we met the lovely and graceful Penny R., the delightful firebrand Lissa R., and the warm, gentlemanly Pat R. At chez-Rudder, there can be no shortage of encounters with the animal kingdom. The Canine government is represented by Stewart, Lily and Annie. Stewart, a muscular russet chihuahua whose thirst for affection can't be quenched, spends his time indoors, while Lily and Annie can often be found ministering to the door mice and sunflowers in the yard. The world of cats elected three fine representatives in Veronica, Roger, and Name Forgotten. There is also a bird fella whom the Rudders rescued from a dysfunctional family environment where his parents made an activity of homicidally dive-bombing him.
In the afternoon, Lissa took us to a bar on the river walk called Flying Saucer. Here we did what is in our blood: played pool and drank hand-crafted ales.
That's Melissa there with the cigarette, and Michael there holding the huge cigarette. Any of you who used to read The Spark web presence back in the days of its ascendency will know that Lissa was subjected to much torture and duplicity by her brother Christian in the name of entertaining the faceless masses. A couple of hours of hang time with Lissa left us really burning with the injustice of it all, such a fine and upstanding person is she, and so when we returned to the Rudder's later in the evening, we snuck into the kitchen and removed some childhood pictures of Christian from the fridge and document-photographed them and now present them to you, the faceless masses, for your entertainment.
"Why are you coming into my room while me and T.J. are working on Van Halen?"
Pictures of people when they are very young can be pretty funny.
"Here are the loaves you ordered. You should hold them like this -- they warm your chest and it's nice."
That last one with the loaves is sort of stunning. It should be noted that the magnet fixing it to the fridge was placed directly over the loaves of bread, presumably because those loaves do make this pic sort of creepy. "Childhood photo of a serial killer" sort of thing. Also, that story about serving justice was horse hockey. We snuck these document photos before we had met Lissa that afternoon and without even thinking about Christian's renowned commitment to disrupting privacy.
Tuesday evening we had a great show at the Whitewater Tavern, and liquidated unprecedented amounts of merch because of Lissa's won't-take-no approach to sales, which really struck home with the tipsy pub crowd. We formally invited her to travel with us as our merch person.
After the show we got back into the Lobo and made Texarkana, where a few hours of restless motel sleep were logged, then put van to pavement the next morning and got into Austin just before our 4 o'clock sound check time (which morphed into a 7 o'clock sound check time, then, at 7, shattered and reassembled as a sorry-there's-no-time-for-you-to-sound-check sound check time; we didn't really mind, though, since the only thing more boring than waiting around for a sound check is checking sound).
The show went really well that night. We got a great improvised introduction from our friend Neil Pollack, whom we haven't seen in over a year. The Hard Rock filled to capacity for the set, possibly because we circulated a rumor that U2 was going to be playing our slot. The folks at ASCAP did a fine job with everything, and our thanks go to Jen and Jeff and Name Forgotten and Name Forgotten, as well as to Name Forgotten, who performed flawlessly at the soundboard. At this point in the story, the show behind us, you will come to understand why there are so many "Name Forgotten"s in this news piece: we spent Wednesday, 10 pm, till Saturday, 10 am, drunk. God there was so much drinking. The section of Austin that contains most of SXSW (and our hotel) was very tightly arranged, so we were able to go everywhere on foot, except when we were too drunk to walk. For a period of about a day Michael rode around in a powered wheel chair. Right now you're saying to yourself, "Come on. This is boring. Oh boy, I can't WAIT to hear how drunk you got, you idiots. You sound like a couple of college kids." But seriously? At one point Keith was so drunk that he finished a beer and started eating the beer bottle; it looked like a man crunching into a delicate ice-sculpture, except with lots of blood. At one point Chris started chugging from a gallon wine bottle, declaring that he hoped to absorb some of the alcohol from his system. At one point Michael drank Jack Daniels from a plastic cup.
SXSW being a music festival, we saw a couple of great shows while we were there, but not THAT many because of how goddamn drunk we kept being. Tomorrow's Friend, now six members strong, really killed it. Mute Math, who played the ASCAP showcase with us, did some vacuuming of our minds. Their drummer, Darren, is not only literally the nicest person we've ever met -- just egregiously nice -- but also the most beastly, terrifying drummer yet announced, and watching him is totally exhilerating. Go to a Mute Math show and stand as close to Darren as you can, then mail us five dollars for the favor of wising you up. The Immediate, a band from Dublin, spun a delightful sound. There were also a bunch of bands whom we desperately, desperately wanted to see, but missed, one after the other, because of the thing with them having alcohol available at this festival. Some of those bands were: Oxford Collapse (missed twice), Dirty on Purpose, Bloc Party, BARR, The Double (caught the end of the last song (then passed out on the floor)), Kaiser Chiefs. The list goes on, a lengthy trail of shame. So much lost. So many opportunities shot out into space from the air lock. Don't drink, kids! It's bad! Don't ever ever drink! Unless what you want is to have a great, great fucking time, stay off the liquor! Unless what you care about is happiness and delight in living, steer clear of beer!
Now we're midway through the Austin-LA trek. It's some desolate stuff, but easy on the eyes, actually, all sagebrush and piñon pine and cacti shaped like clusters of tiny satellite dishes. Here's something we didn't expect to find at a rest stop in the middle of Texas:
See that curb? Get a good look at that curb:
**Monday: The Viper Room**
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Hit the 'sphalt in: Carbon City, AL
Left the 'sphalt in: Atkins, AR
Total mileage: 357
You're looking at The Godbey. Owned and operated by the incomparable Chris and Cassie
with the constant assistance of Foodfight
this venue we found to be of top calibre. It was a simple, beautiful evening, this show. We played. Local chanteur Andy Warr played:
Our Brooklyn homeboys The Oxford Collapse played:
We bought their t-shirts. Adam, Dan, and Mike... sweet Adam, Dan, and Mike, sweet Mike. Great, good guys. Here's a picture of Keith watching them perform:
Notice anything weird? Anything having to do with a baby? There's a baby watching the show. Look again. There's a baby there, right there in front of one of the house speakers, being held by his assistant at the exact height he likes to watch shows from.
That's us with Oxford Collapse. We paid them $5 to do this picture with us, which is why their level of enthusiasm is weird and possibly a little venal.
And that's it. Cassie made us lasagna. Chris bought beer and Wild Turkey and gave us gas money even though the kids didn't exactly come out in force. A good, simple night. Babies watching shows. Good things happening in this area of the world.
We were negligent beyond prosecution with photographing the Atlanta show at The Masquerade, but let it suffice to say that we met seminal board members Nathaniel (PWINK)and Ethan (Ethan), which was rewarding in the way that paying for sex is rewarding. Nathaniel snapped some shots: bang.
**Tonight: The Whitewater in Little Rock, AR. Tomorrow: SXSW!**
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Insertion point onto national freeway system: Philadelphia, PA
Withdrew from freeway system at: South of the Border, SC
Total mileage: 509.6
In the mega rest stop/community called South of the Border, South Carolina, in a restaurant called Pedro's Taco & Hot Dog & Ice Cream Restaurant or Pedro's Casa de Tacos y Ice Cream y Hot Dogs y Breakfast or something, the girl in the photo above came to the We Are Scientists dining booth and told us: "Has anyone ever told you guys you look like the Beatles?" She was at Pedro's with a small pack of her friends, who hung back at their table, probably intimidated by the fact that the We Are Scientists were sitting ten feet away. We agreed to do a photo. One of the shy friends came over with two cameras and got a shot with each, then obliged us and took a shot with Chris's camera.
Other completely fucked up shit also happened in South of the Border. For example, here's our motel room's bathroom:
Why do you think they made the floor the color of limes that have been soaked in LSD? Why do you think they limo-tinted the shower glass? We fought with each other like savage dogs most of the night trying to get our individual theories accepted as law.
Another good thing about South of the Border is that they have life-sized plastic animals everywhere, which good taste forced us to pose with. Try to spot the ram, bull, and wild bronco horse items:
Everything -- but EVERYTHING -- in South of the Border is owned by the mysterious Pedro. His name peers down from all vantages like the eye of Ra. When you enter the town you temporarily become "Pedro's [your name]". The benefit? There is no crime.
Holy fuck, you've never seen our van:
We've been calling it El Lobo Argentino. We don't have a logo yet for El Lobo, so if you've got an idea and some time and a pack of markers, work something up and send it to us. The van even came with a driver who looks like but has a separate identity from Chris:
He is called Paquitíssimo; he prepared this statement for you:
I am called Paquitíssimo. It is owing to my demeanor. When I was young, my sister was lost.
He's a terrific driver.
**Tomorrow: a thorough exploration of South Carolina's I-20 freeway, then a show in Atlanta.**
Friday, March 11, 2005
Our biggest tour yet -- it may seem small to you, but it's our biggest yet! Starting... now.