Wizard Rifle, part 10: Texarkana

May 11, 2012

 

I awoke at the co-op with a slight pain from sleeping on a hard floor.  Sam gave Andrea and Amelia a ride to the highway.  Sam later said it’d taken “longer than expected,” and that he’d had to “take a few entrances and exits.”  Or something; I translated this as they twisted his arm into driving them up the road a bit.  I took the idle time to shower.

We left the co-op and hit a grocery store for some produce, went to a post office, and went back to get some coffee at the same place as the day before.  They had been planning on going to Graceland, and I was looking forward to it also.  Until Max told me it was $32 to get in.  I politely let them know I probably wasn’t going in.  They drove me to Sun Studios instead – they’d been last year.  I got in free by giving a CD of a band that I wasn’t in, that wasn’t Wizard Rifle, but rather was a really shitty band from earlier in the tour.  I think they were called Versa.

 

 

Sun Studios was interesting, obviously.  The actually recording area was kept as it was.  I didn’t know Ike Turner created rock n roll.  The music they allowed us to hear was beautiful.  The downside is that the only song they played in its entirety was some U2 & B.B. King piece of Shit.  There was another part that was a museum, which, in my opinion, was a little touristy.  Just being priggish.

 

 

When they picked me up from Sun Studios, they were bummed out about Graceland.  It was “underwhelming” said Sam.  It was a very strictly guided tour.  They’d heard that all his suits and guns were hung up on the walls.  Apparently those exhibits had been taken out just days before.  I felt slightly fortunate.

It was a long drive to Texarkana.  First things first – we crossed the Mississippi and immediately passed into Arkansas. I thought we were going to Texas, but Texarkana – funnily enough – is a town that has an Arkansas side and a Texas side, and our show was on the Texas side.  Our drive was long and relatively dull and consisted of the entire state of Arkansas (Little Rock pictured immediately below).

 

 

We pulled in after nightfall to The Road Map, which actually seemed to be on the outskirts of town.  At first we thought there must be some mistake.  It didn’t look open, much less like a venue.  But sure enough, it was the spot.  It was a huge biker bar, and we found three people in it – just three people – and the place was somehow so filled with cigarette smoke that I could hardly breathe.  And it was only to get worse.

 

 

The promoter Josh showed up with our food and supplied the beer.  He said the place was very generous, and it was true – apparently the fellas were getting two pitchers each.  Josh explained that one of the band had dropped off the bill because someone had broken their hand, which sounds incredibly painful!  The remaining band was… something else.  A group called the Mutha Load who had been around in some form or other for about 20 years, and had been playing the same set of songs for about that long, although they’d gone through some variations.  And they were fronted by someone who we had to see to believe – a man named Gator.

 

 

Gator entered and everything I’d heard was true.  Super southern, super immitatable.  I was also pretty sure he was retarded, either by birth or by birth or some sort of self-abuse (maybe chemicals, maybe blunt-force trauma).  Anyway, I won’t soon forget him, and his interesting inbred drawl of southern whitey-bonics.  And the Mutha Load’s music is something else.

 

 

I had a nice long talk with Sarah, which couldn’t be beat.  Then I had to go sling merch while Wizard Rifle played.  As the evening had unfolded, it turned out that they had to go first – Mutha Load’s drummer was running late.  He worked at a Mexican restaurant.  And it was Cinco de Mayo.

Wizard Rifle’s set was fairly slipshod, with something going bad with the guitar in the first song, and some very noticeable flubs throughout.  And yet, I sold almost $100 of merch, maybe more.  People just kept coming up almost nonchalantly, and yet with genuine enthusiasm.  And I realized something interesting; something that makes me a totally priggish, stereotyping, culture-shocked Union soldier.  What I realized is that although these folks were easily the epitome of southern stereotypes – almost every last one of them – they were also some of the most genuine people, and generous with their money.  None, save one or two, had seen or heard of Wizard Rifle before, and yet they shelled out more than any other stop on the tour.  It just goes to show you.

 

 

It took awhile for the Mutha Load to start.  Gator kept walking up and yelling at me in a near-incomprehensible slur about how I was dressed for success, and look at this mothafucka right here, and something to the tune of: “I’m all into equality n shit.  So why do they get black history month, and they get Cinco de Mayo…?  I mean…” to which I responded: “You want a white history month?” as he simultaneously said: “Hey, I ain’t a racist or nuthin!!”  Yip yip!

So Mutha Load played and it was Gator screaming like a little child or a grouchy ogre while his one-legged guitarist (with a camo prosthetic;; who I think was Gator’s brother) played incredibly good guitar, along with the rhythm section who I don’t remember as being remarkable.  The genre was southern metal, with a lot of Down in it.

 

 

We loaded out during part of their set, but caught the end of it.  The Road Map was so full of cigarettes that I couldn’t even take it anymore.  Gator bowed his head into my shoulder and said, “I’m sorrryyyyy.”  I asked for what.  “For goin on soo late.”  I said it wasn’t a problem, and he smiled big.  That was the last I saw of Gator.

 

 

We followed Josh to his place.  I found out the next day that we’d crossed over to the Texas side of Texarkana.  Josh’s townhouse was very nice, and there were people there drinking and smoking and talking as drunks are want to do.  Josh proved himself the salt of the earth (for the first of a few times) by being a cine expeditionary – namely by seeking out controversial films.  I hadn’t come across a cinephile in awhile.

And he made up a damn fine sleeping situation, right there in the living room.  Damn fine shower too.  And ultimately, this is one of the finest shows that I was around to witness.

-for Saturday May 5th, 2012


Wizard Rifle, part 9: Memphis

May 11, 2012

 

I awoke in the airstream feeling pretty disgusting.  My mouth tasted like dead possums since I’d been eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches while dozing to Some Kind Of Monster.  I fixed that problem with some toothpaste.  We hit the road without much ado.  We got to see a good view of Birmingham on the way out, which I was thankful for.  It was a hot, sweaty drive on the way to Memphis.  I had to stop reading The Plague, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

 

 

We crossed over into Tennessee.  We rolled into Memphis around 2 or 3;00 in the afternoon.  I wasn’t sure what to think.  There was blazing concrete, dead grass, ragged warehouses and houses and the smell of tar and rubber.  It was like America’s armpit.  I didn’t know it was such a ragged, decrpit place. Max assured me that this was the ass-end and once we got to a certain part of town it’d be a little better.

It was a little better, but the heat still beat any of its virtues into submission.  We went to a café right near Goner records and meandered there, then shopped some records (Max got Wreckless Eric’s Whole Wide World), then loitered in the heat a little longer.

Then several things happened that really broke all three of us down, to varying degrees.  One was while were trying to figure out what to do.  In the midst of this blaze, Max learned from the guy at Goner that there was a music festival going on.  And that Megadeth was playing.  This destroyed any chance of a turnout for Wizard Rifle’s show.

The next was while we were driving to the venue.  I saw Dick Dale was playing that night.  Playing at the Hi-Tone.  Where Wizard Rifle were booked…  We spent a few absurd minutes trying to figure out if Wizard Rifle was opening for Dick Dale (or the other way around?), until we got to the venue.

 

 

The bartender didn’t know anything.  He called the booker Jonathan and eventually found out that we’d been moved to a place called the Buccaneer.  He didn’t say it with much encouragement.  We said we’d go check it out, and he welcomed us to come back and get some free food and drinks.  So we drove off.

The Buccaneer fucking sucked.  It looked horrible on the outside – a piratey sign over a house (basically), with a front patio.  The inside was for old people, and the bartender sassed Max when Max said, “I think we’re playing here tonight.”  Turned out that they were – sassed for no reason – and this infuriated Max.  We referred to the bartender by many horrible names over the rest of the day, until Max found out that they had some mutual friend in Portland.

Still, for the moment, Max was pissed, Sam was on the phone, and I had a growing anxiety.  It wouldn’t stop growing, even after Memphis.

 

 

We drove back to the Hi-Tone and got our free food and drinks.  My veggie burger was curiously sensational.  Jonathan showed up and was running all over trying to set up for Dick Dale.  He finally spared 15 minutes for us and explained that he’d double-booked.  He said he’d told Nate, but he was clearly lying.  He contradicted himself at some point.  He was also stoned, so it was hard to get a good beat on how benevolent he was being.  I felt like we were being shucked off, and – as someone who’d previously worked at a venue, and had a standard of quality – it really pissed me off.

 

 

We had a late afternoon and early evening to kill, so we opted to go to the Mississippi River.  We finally found the downtown area with some tall buildings.  I knew Memphis had it in it.  Down by the river, Sam and Max had a dour discussion on the future.  No details are necessary here.  We sat watching the music festival off in the distance down the strand, listening to the bass of 3-6 Mafia’s set blast out onto the river and bounce back to us.

 

 

Eventually, we had to meet a friend of theirs named Andrea, and her traveling buddy Amelia.  Sam and Max met Andrea in Portland, but she wasn’t from there, she’s a traveler.  She just ups and goes and does it.  She had asked a few days before if she and Amelia could get a ride from Birmingham to Memphis.  We had to say no because their was literally no room.  This didn’t stop her from asking several more times about other rides.

We met with Andrea at the Buccaneer, where we tried to square away a plan.  We decided we might not play because we had such low doubts that anyone would be such a shitty bar with so many music happenings that evening.  Max got the bartender’s number saying he’d call in the night to see if anyone was there.  Oddly, the bartender was okay with this.  So it was.

We went to the Hi-Tone to see Dick Dale.  Jonathan said he’d get us in for free.  I drove the car there while the and and the girls walked it – it wasn’t too far.  I made a phone call to Sarah and discussed my bad feeling about Memphis.  I was searching my heart, asking, “Heart – where you at?”  I feared it was far from where its body was, and I needed to find where that was and the reason.

The opening band sucked.  I don’t remember who they were.  The singer was annoying.  We all agreed, so we went for a walk in the park drinking some beers I’d taken from the green room of the Bottletree the night before (and was thanked for my generous and ironic idea).  I tried to talk to Amelia about traveling, its contents, and discontents, but she seemed reticent to get really into it.  I saw her with an iPhone later and wondered if she had a chunk of change in some bank somewhere (both she and Andrea had an appearance that didn’t scream money).

 

 

Dick Dale was pretty good for awhile.  He shredded and that was great, but I wished he’d had some ornamentation besides bass and drums.  A horn section would have been incredible.  And he kept doing obvious covers like “House of the Rising Sun.”   I wanted deep surf archive shit.

After a bit of Dick, Max called the Buccaneer who said that people were there and waiting.  It was shifty but we went ahead.  I had advised that we just say “fuck it” to the whole thing and getting screwed around, and I was sure that Jonathan was a shyster.   We got there and unloaded, then I went back and picked up Andrea and Amelia.

Sure enough, there were people there.  Sure enough, Jonathan did show up and bring people.  In fact, they played an amazing set to a deepy enthusiastic crowd and I was slinging merch left and right.  I recommended Max do a shoutout before the last song, and he did so, singling me out.  There were a few nights where he’d single me out and say, “Our merch guy just sits there in the back reading philosophy and making insightful comments.”

We loaded out in triumph, except Max didn’t help.  He was talking to Cole from The Black Lips.  Apparently the whole band had been in the Baccaneer that night watching, and they’d loved it.  Cole said it’d been awhile since he’d seen anything so raw.  They exchanged contact info, along with CD and a shirt.

We weren’t sure if we were getting a hotel or not.  Someone approached Max and asked if we had a place to stay.  He offered up the floor of his co-op; said it was fine for five people.  So four of us rode out there, then I went back for Andrea.  We had a nice talk about traveling; though I don’t remember the specifics.

The co-op was filthy, and there was a demonic clone of Sam living there.  I’m pretty sure he was tripping, and I tried not to look at him.  Everyone was just about asleep when we got in.  And we joined them.  It was possibly the most uncomfortable sleep I’ve had on the whole tour.

-for part of Friday May 4th, 2012


Wizard Rifle, part 8: Birmingham

May 10, 2012

 

I awoke at my Aunt Terry’s.  I wandered downstairs and couldn’t find anyone.  I finally looked outside and found Sam and Max cleaning the van out.  We went inside and started laundry.  My Aunt Terry came down from her office and offered us food.  We opted for pancakes with blueberries and bananas.  It was brilliant.

 

 

A general air of lounging was adopted for that early afternoon.  I called Ian and we caught up.  Max gave me a haircut then I showered.  We puttered around and organized and got our laundry sorted.  Then it was time to go.  It was lovely seeing my Aunt and I wished her a fond farewell.

As we drove off through Brooks following the directions she gave us, we discussed what we’d prefer when we grew old: a beach house, a log cabin in the woods, or a country house perhaps like Aunt Terry’s. We also passed a red grist mill which my Aunt Terry said was the most photographed spot in all of Georgia.  We had to see it for ourselves – and photograph:

 

 

We drove on, taking a slightly mixed-up and traffic-filled route trying to bypass Atlanta.  In the end, we just took I-85 back near Atlanta then switching up to I-20 (maybe?) and going for Birmingham.  We never actually saw Atlanta again, except in my rearview mirror.

I remember we put on Songs From A Room, which was a pleasure.  We talked about LC for a minute, then played his latest album Old Ideas.  A torrential rain shower fell upon us limiting our visibility severely, with lightning and thunder and hydroplanes, and Sam remarked how perfect it was with the music and everything.  After the rain and a refueling, we listened, for some reason, to Radar Skinny.  It was a pleasure.  We passed into Alabama, crossed the time zone into Central Time.  After Radar Skinny, we listened to Urges, and we moved into Birmingham.

Our venue – The Bottletree – seemed to be a little south of anywhere.  There were warehouses and empty streets all around, and someone said a “suburb” was just a few minutes away.  And yet the Bottletree was like nothing else on earth.  Words cannot do it justice, but neither can my photography, so suffice to say the proprietors had taken great care to have the wall decor, lighting ambiance, and overall aesthetic.  Also in the back were Airstream trailers for sleeping in and watching movies – and before the show, while eating a heap of amazing food, we watched Hated: G.G. Allin & The Murder Junkies.  It was pretty all right.

 

 

The bill had been fucked up.  Whoever set up the show thought we were playing a different day (one before or after). Once the error had been brought up, we had the choice of not playing and getting half of our guarantee for the trouble, or to play on a lite indie rock bill, get free dinner, and maybe some extra skrilla.  We chose B.

 

 

I talked with Sarah through most of the evening; a long conversation about professionalism, happiness, parenting.  The battery died, which broke my heart – I was thoroughly enjoying myself.  None of the other bands watched Wizard Rifle’s set for more than a fleeting moment.  They were comparing Moogs in the back.  I gave reading The Plague a shot again, but couldn’t get into it.

 

 

We wound down; all the other bands bid us a lukewarm adieu, though one group invited us out for drinks.  We got to sleep for free in the Airstreams, which was pretty great.  We just had a quiet night watching Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster and making fun of the music they were trying to make, Kirk Hammet trying to remember his lines, and how you could see Lars Ulrich as a child while looking at him now.

-for Thursday May 3rd, 2012


Wizard Rifle, part 6: Raleigh

May 7, 2012

We awoke on our couches; I was the first.  Brandon was gone from his spot.  I was hot as fuck so I jumped in the shower, and realized halfway through that I didn’t have a towel.  Not wanting to be invasive, I air-dried and it was pretty nice.  I came down and the boys were up.  We invited Brandon to join us on our trip around Richmond, and he said it sounded pretty good, but he said he had a planned all-day date with the couch.

 

 

We headed near the downtown area and found the 821 Cafe.  It looked cool, but we didn’t eat anything – they just got an iced coffee.  We wandered down to the Hollywood Cemetery, and after having a hard time finding the entrance, we wondered it far and wide.  One of the bartenders at Strange Matter said (I think) that it was the oldest cemetery in America, or one of them.  There were indeed a wide array of gravestones from over the centuries.  And there was also a huge pyramid of stone. I thought I was taking us to the river, but a custodian said we wouldn’t be able to get to it from the cemetery.

 

 

We walked back to the car (walking past the Teen Sex ad) and drove to the river.  We tried to get to it passed a train track but found it was either gated or beyond a cliff that would have killed us had we jumped.  We eventually found our way to a walking bridge over the James under a highway and got onto Belle Isle.  There was some questioning in our hearts, but it paid off.  Belle Isle was beautiful.  Some gal named Alicia led us to the good spot (it was full of people).  We didn’t swim because the rapids were threateningly strong, but we did strip, and Sam dipped.

 

 

We didn’t stay horribly long, but the day was growing late.  We trekked back to the car and rode off with Sam at the wheel.  The drive from Virginia to North Carolina was very beautiful and very green, with a gray sky that began dumping rain on us at a certain point.

We rolled into Raleigh and I thought it was a pretty good looking town.  We found Slim’s and loaded in.  There were a certain amount of crazies and homeless in the area.  Everyone at the venue seemed so excited that Wizard Rifle was there, that they’d been blasting the album… and yet many said, while they’d love to stick around for the set, they’d be off somewhere getting drunk.

Before the set, I sat outside in the warmth reading The Plague when a girl, whose name I later learned was Julie, interrupted.  I didn’t mind though; I had just been thinking about how traveling with my head deep in a book could be harmful to the time.  In truth, my head is in many places during this trip, and I’m not the only one.  Taking all this into account, I had a talk with this Julie about UFOs, epidemiology, math, and what she wants to be when she grows up.  The crowd was highly enthusiastic, even in small numbers.  I believe a good amount of merch was sold.

The boys knew this girl named Alex who offered to put us up, so we drove there.  On the way out, the place was literally swarming with bro bros and homeless folks begging for change.  We left that shit and went over to the house, which felt nice and out of the way.

 

 

There were people over, including that girl Julie, with a backyard bonfire going on.  Some came and went.  One awesome guy chopped firewood absurdly fast, with a passionate vigor, with an absurdly small hatchet.  I mostly sat quietly and sleepy listening to people’s conversations, most of which were entertaining, but none of which can be recollected for this account.  I do remember a Portland feeling to it – everyone spoke of people that weren’t there by their first and last names, and I got this questioning about what any one actually did, or wanted, or planned.  All I could perceive in this lifestyles of the early adults around me was party.  Perhaps staving off the despair.

Sure enough.  In Alex’s kitchen, she served me some cold leftover ravioli in a bowl and when I asked what she did, she said she was a faggot (AKA waitress).  I did her dishes then I went to bed.

-for part of Tuesday May 1st, 2012


Wizard Rifle, part 5: Richmond

May 7, 2012

I did the driving out of Washington DC, heading for Charlottesville, Virginia.  Obviously it was a quick trip over the state line to Virginia, but the overall drive after that was longer than I thought it’d be.  It was mostly without incident except for the unspeakable happening.  We refueled and I pulled the car out – and the nozzle was still in the car.  We’d tugged it and the hose out of the station.  They came out and took Max’s insurance info and ID.  Max blamed Sam for pumping, but I did mention I should have noticed.  Also to make us look extra stupid that I’d gorged on peanuts during the stop and left all the shells right where the car had been, cuz I’m a dick.

 

 

When nearing Charlottesville, we went to Lake Monticello where Max’s grandparents lived.  In their gated community we were greeted warmly by Grandma Marge and Grandpa John.  They’d fixed us steaks, polenta, and cooked vegetables.  I passed on the steak, but all the rest was so wonderful.  They were quite hospitable and bought us some groceries.  Grandpa John was very talkative and told us about The Great Depression, marriage & relationships & sacrifice, politics, sex, religion, and God.  And he loved Sam.  Sam and Max took a dive in the lake, then showered.  After the family pictures were taken, we sped off to Richmond.

We arrived after nightfall and I didn’t really see much of the city that night,around 9:00.  We arrived at the venue – Strange Matter – a bar with an all vegan menu.  We loaded in and they invited us to order food as their kitchen would be closing.  We groaned having just eaten a ton of grandpa John’s food, and yet we still ordered.  I got something called The Revenge, which was a bunch of fake meat and cheese on a sandwich.  They both got portobello cheesesteak.  They couldn’t finish theirs.  So they gave the rest to me.  And, obliged, I ate it all.

 

 

 

The two bartenders were charming sweet talkers.  They loved Wizard Rifle’s set, and I gave them a CD for free.  The merch sales weren’t crazy, and the crowd was small.  I only got through a little more of The Plague.  But the vibe was great, and after loading out we all hung out with the staff of Strange Matter.  We were set to stay with Brandon who’d worked the door.  We asked the bartenders what to do with next day because Raleigh was so close and, having played there before, Sam told me the best thing there was “a giant pile of dirt.” (he was actually truthfully recalling it’s greatness, but I somehow felt exploring Richmond might be prettier).  It was recommended we go to the 821 Cafe, the Hollywood Cemetery, and the James River.

After a great time just hanging around and getting some drinks (I got called “grapefruit” for drinking it), we headed out at 3:00 in the morning.  Our guy Brandon had left awhile before and had texted one of the bartenders saying that he was waiting and where the hell were we.  We drove to his place, I did a perfect parallel parking job, and we went in.  We found him asleep in a living room full of couches, videogames, metal posters, and drug paraphernalia.  We tried to wake him, but he hardly budged.  His day was done, and so was ours.  But not before he beheld his fucked up bathroom that was also a stairway to his haunted basement.

 

-for Monday April 30th, 2012


Wizard Rifle, part 4: Baltimore

May 6, 2012

Sarah and I finally emerged and found Sam up.  We packed up and went out looking for the van that Sam had parked the night before… except he didn’t know where it was.  After enough time to frustrate me, it was discovered on Franklin Avenue and I the three of us to Bushwick where we picked up Max.

I got in the backseat with Sarah, scrunched between a cooler and her, and she between the door and I.  We’d made plans to meet Sam’s aunt for lunch right in midtown.  It seemed like a fool’s errand, particularly because Sam had told me that she lived in Williamsburg.  It took a bit to get there, but we made it.  And miraculously we found a parking spot on 57th & 5th.  I was blown away – I am downplaying how high strung the trip made me.

We met Sam’s aunt and went to Pan Quotidion and Sarah and I both got two meditteranian plates.  Everyone else got a lentil soup.  The service was notably slow, if you couldn’t tell.  After lunch, all of us but Sam went to Central Park.  Max went on ahead and Sarah and I laid on the grass basking in the sun.  Max found us and we all laid for a bit, trying to get ahold of Sam.  The weather, and everything really, was so warm and delightful that we prolonged the moment as long as possible.

 

 

But eventually we had to go.  We walked back to the van where Sam was, and started to make our way to the Lincoln Tunnel.  We dropped Sarah off on 9th Ave near a train stop then crossed under into New Jersey and drove the Turnpike blasting Houses Of The Holy, Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, and a medley of Patti Smith of my own concoction, with the purposes of wooing the boys into liking her.  It worked well enough.

We passed from Jersey through Pennsylvania, and into Maryland.  Around early evening we rolled into Baltimore.  The sight that immediately greeted us was rows and rows of boarded up homes, shops, apartments, and buildings in general, along with broken glass and pretty empty streets.  We were very wary where to park the van.

 

 

The venue – Golden West Cafe – turned out to be in a nicer neighborhood.  We had half off meals, and we ate a fuckton of food.  I had a vegetarian chorizo burrito, Max some nachos, and Sam a chorizo burrito.  We split tater tots and a carrot cake.

We unloaded into the Golden West and as we did so, Sean Gally showed up at the same time as Brooke, someone the fellas knew from back in Portland.  I guess she’s a midwife, but she travels far and wide and happened to be in Washington DC and saw they were playing Baltimore.  Her friend Sabrina had driven them, having come from some party with Barack and Bill.  Apparently she (Sabrina still) was an internal investigator for the State Department.  It’s especially awesome because she smoked a huge blunt the next morning.

Before any music started, the man from the Golden West came out and informed us that there were only a few heads paid and it wouldn’t be enough to pay the soundguy.  Which meant they could either just cancel the show an take the guarantee, or play without a soundguy.  We were thinking it over, but then it was figured out – gallantly, the soundguy opted to work the show for free, which is pretty cool.

 

 

Sean and I talked about this and that through the show, and during our talk, a mentally-unstable man tried to “donate” clothes and food to the venue.  Except he was acting crazy so they kicked him out.  It was interesting.

The band played fine.  I don’t remember if they sold any merch.  I didn’t know if we were going to crash at Sean’s, but the answer eventually was no – Brooke offered that we could stay with her at Sabrina’s in Washington DC.  It was just as well – Sean’s place wasn’t in a secure neighborhood anyway.  He told me about some fucked up shit in Baltimore.

So late at night, we drove to Washington DC.  Brooke seemed to be going off of memory, which impressed me.  Most people are idiots, but she remembered every turn of a 45 minute drive in a place she didn’t live.  Sabrina’s condo was nice.  I crashed hard and fast.  Baltimore was so-so.

 

-for Sunday April 29th, 2012


Wizard Rifle, part 3: New York City

May 6, 2012

We left Reba’s around 9:00 in the morning – it was early in an attempt to beat the NYC traffic.  But we took some time getting out of town, trying to get some coffee and all.  One of the guys from Songs was working in the cafe we had recommended to us by Reba, and they got comped coffee and pastries.  Except I stayed in the car, and no one bothered to come tell me.  I guess I have only myself to blame.

It wasn’t long after leaving Rhode Island before our route was basically the same as the one we’d taken to Boston.  We passed through Massachusetts, Connecticut, and came at NYC from the north.  We got into the Bronx – a borough I’ve only visited twice – and for some reason we got all turned around.  I think it was in an attempt to circumnavigate some tolls.  But it got figured out and we returned to Ridgewood.

I finished packing (or so I thought).  We made a plan to see some of Manhattan.  We almost did Coney Island, but decided not to.  We took the L train to 14th St – Union Square, and walked a little bit of the East Village.  I tried to find the most representational spots to show, but I feel as though I did a mediocre job.

Once they met up with Max’s friend Connor, I took my leave and a train to Sarah’s where we got some Sushi and made 98% vegan chocolate chip cookies that couldn’t be beat.  We wound the time away in other ways before I had to pull myself away to do my duty of working the merch at their show.

Upon getting to their show at Acheron in Bushwick, I found out I had Sarah’s keys, at which point a pressure set in.  She was going out to two parties in her neighborhood that evening, so I’d have to let her in; she said it’d work alright.  I found out the band was playing later than I thought, and I’d forgotten some dark chocolate at my place.  I tried to arrange a round where I’d leave the show, get the chocolate, get Sarah her keys, and make it back in time for Wizard Rifle’s set and merch selling.  Sadly, Sarah didn’t pick up, so I just went for the chocolate.

It all worked out.  I slung some merch then rode off to meet Sarah with only a minimal crushing pressure.  I found her at a venue we’d been to before on Bergen.  She came out a little drunk and I met her friend Amy.  Then we rode my one bike together, her on the seat, me standing and peddling.  It was the greatest three block ride I’ve ever taken.

In the night, Sam called around 4:00.  He’d gone to some bar.  He sad Max had gone home with Connor and he was heading my way.  He finally got there and I let him in, then crashed hard.  I didn’t sleep well.

-for part of Saturday April 28th, 2012


Wizard Rifle, part 2: Providence

May 6, 2012

 

We took our time when we awoke.  We ate some cereal and shit, and I took a shower.  When I was done, the boys were watching Maury, which was pretty difficult.  I believe we headed out around 11:00 in the morning for Rhode Island.

Providence was a simple enough drive.  I believe we got in at about 2:00 that afternoon.  We passed through town on the freeway, clueless, and trying to figure out a course of action.  We turned the van around and drove back to Broadway (arbitrarily, I believe?).  I had to piss and shit, and I think Sam did too.  I found a nice diner spot on Broadway & Vinton, which had the original Hulk or Daredevil playing in the bathroom, which was very generous of them.

I got a tip from Lindsay to check out the Rhode Island School of Design campus, and Swan Point Cemetery.  We wandered down from Broadway, across the highway into the downtown area.  There was a beautiful central plaza and park.  On the side of the Biltmore, we saw a big, exterior glass elevator that we wanted to ride.  It didn’t work, but we went to the twelfth floor anyway, until the maid service began to eye us suspiciously.

 

 

We crossed a small, beautifully understated canal and wandered up a steep hill to the RISD campus.  Their art museum wasn’t free, but we stopped into a nice Anthropology Museum that couldn’t be beat.  The whole campus was actually rather immaculate, and we all felt very relaxed.  We crossed over to the Brown campus, which is basically across the street from RISD, and at their bookstore I acquired a moleskin with my five-finger discount.

 

 

Sam got some tracing paper and charcoal.  Somewhere along the line, he’d found out that H.P. Lovecraft was buried at Swan Point Cemetery, which was, conveniently, a location for us.  After a bit of walking looking for a broken train bridge, and running into Max’s friends from high school purely by coincidence, and dropping into a record store where I found – against all odds – Tonight by David Bowie, we went waaaay back to the car and made our way for the cemetery.

I thought I had the address, and we made our way there with the help of the GPS.  We found it was closed and thought about jumping the fence.  I was worried, I didn’t really feel like getting arrested, if that was what was to be.  But we saw people walking in it, and we found a hole in the fence, so we squeezed through and went in.

Sam asked an old lady inside where H.P.’s grave was and she said, “I thought that was in Swan Point!”  It turned out that this wasn’t Swan Point, it was… some other one.  She said the one we were in was publicly owned, so she didn’t heed the hours because it was “hers.”  She’s a goddamn anarchist, and it was really hot.  She started describing the differences between the two graveyards: public vs. private, years and religious denominations of people buried, etc.  It was funny because none of us really asked for it.

 

 

We climbed back through the hole in the fence, and drove to the real Swan Point.  That one was actually open, so we got a security officer to guide us by car to H.P.’s grave.  While at the site, we came across guy also from Portland.  He was visiting Brown, and I told him good luck.  They got their etchings, then we explored around, including descending to a body of water that was incredibly beautiful, and which pictures cannot do justice.

 

 

Once back at the van, we drove to the venue, which was called Machines With Magnets – an arts space that was more like a gallery.  The proprietor Reba made everyone Daal and a big salad, and we ate heartily.  It was a very warm, inviting place, which was good because that night got down to about 38 degrees.

This particular bill was perhaps my favorite thus far on the tour (which is not over as I type this).  The one I remember best is Songs, who were unfathomably loud and bassy.  It was great, though I was hearing many comparisons to Lightning Bolt, almost to a fault.  From the rest there was nigh a poor performance, and I enjoyed it all from the merch table reading more of The Plague.  I thought I was going to have it done in a day or two.  Wizard Rifle closed it all to much enthusiasm.

For a moment we thought we were going to drive back to New York that night, but Reba offered to put us up.  We followed her to her place and hunkered down in the freezing cold.  I had only my blanket and my peacoat as a pillow – so basically how I sleep normally.  Max and I slept up in the attic.

In hindsight, it was a really lovely day, and Providence is a really lovely place.

 


-for Friday April 27th, 2012


Wizard Rifle, part 1: Boston

May 6, 2012

Sarah and I emerged and I fixed everyone a scramble with the remaining eggs from a prior omelette, along with some squash & zucchini, tomato, some rosemary and garlic, and maybe scallion.  They were basically asleep when I started, but were up and ready when the scramble was served.  I had a piece of toast.

We hung around while the boys got ready, then we loaded up.  Sarah and I watched Cab Calloway on some pretty amazing Betty Boop cartoons she called the scariest thing she’d ever seen.  Then I said goodbye to Sarah.  I’d be back in two days for one night, but it was still a sweetly sorrowful parting.  I had a reminiscence of the look in her eyes – it was a squint above a small smile.

We drove to Boston just talking about our relationships, most of which are well, but with one question each.  Any exceptions shant be mentioned here.  We left the city through Queens, paid a ton of tolls, and got into Connecticut.  Eventually, after passing through the likes of Hartford, New Haven, and some other shit, and paying some more tolls, we got into Massachusetts.  

We rolled into Boston, which looked absolutely beautiful.  The drive was quicker than we’d thought, and we touched base at the venue, which was called The Church (or The Church Of Boston).  Those guys told us to come back at 6.  I took a shit there.  I would have taken it on the floor if I’d known what was to come.

We tried to figure what we were going to do.  I was down with just driving through downtown Boston to get a drive-by taste.  When we hit a traffic jam, it was decided we’d just park and walk it.  So we walked down Tremont in some direction.  Sam got his Uncle John on the horn to see what was cool.  We heard Thaniel Market was, but then heard from passersby it was a distant walk.

 

 

So we walked in its general direction, which led us into downtown.  It all looked well and good, but I was only getting so much of an idea.  It seemed Boston was a city begging for a bit more of an exploration.  But our legs were growing tired, and our time was growing short.  After a long walk back to the car, we drove to the Church through downtown rush hour and made it by 6:00.

We’d been sent an email that’d stressed load-in was at 6:00 sharp.  We should have known it was bullshit.  No one at the Church had any idea what was going on, or had any clue how to run a venue.  And here are the ways:

1) The bartender said we couldn’t get drink tickets until the doorman showed up half hour before the show was to start.  Drinks were to be paid for until then.

2) She said that no meals were ever comped, but I threatened to get the piece of paper that bound them to reconsider.  After consulting with the manager, they gave us two bowls of pasta with totally, totally plain tomato sauce (two not three – they’d worn us down too much to argue).

3) Despite having a midnight curfew “strictly enforced!!”, they booked a fifth band onto the bill at the last minute.

4) The sound guy was the worst sound guy any of us had ever seen.  He showed up about a half hour before doors and didn’t even line check anyone, much less soundcheck.  He was an idiot, and he was rarely at the soundbooth.  He stuck close to the bar.  He staunchly kept everyone on a certain schedule, and if their setup time went more than five minutes, it started eating into their set time.  And he let them know as much as possible.  He informed Wizard Rifle after setting them up (and not even checking the mics) that they had already lost five minutes of set time.  So they played a five minute song, then Max asked how much time they had left.  The sound guy didn’t get that he was being fucked with because he was a fucking idiot who was drunk and was terrible at doing his job.  And to top of his being such an abject failure, he had an ugly haircut.  I hope that he has since died.

5) At the end of the night, the manager came with a form stipulating how much Wizard Rifle had made.  The form indicated they’d made half of what their guarantee was, which was unacceptable – that’s now how guarantees work.  So we went and got our contract, but Nate texted from Portland for us to remember that the venue had given the other half of the guarantee in a deposit beforehand.  Sam politely apologized for our forgetting this, but I admonished him for doing so.  The manager should have known.  Once we hesitated when we saw the number we were getting, that’s all he should have known, and he should have brought it up.  He was just as shitty and doing his fucking job as every other person in that goddamn building.  Hopefully it has burned to the ground since, with the staff trapped inside, and their families outside, watching and wailing.

I minded, but I spent most of the show manning the merch table and reading The Plague.  I thought it started off great.  The band made some money on merch.  We packed it up in the end and headed about half an hour in some direction to Uncle John’s.  I’d never been in proximity to any Sam’s kin for long, and it was a pleasure.  I sinned heartily in that household, with all of them watching and all of us feeling quite filled.  We watched some bad TV as we passed out in their living room.

 

 -for Thursday April 26th, 2012

Wizard Rifle, part 0: New York

May 5, 2012

Wizard Rifle had a day off after playing Rochester on the 24th.  I floated the idea of them coming down to New York to pick me up so that I could join them two days early and see Boston and Providence.  It was all arranged.

Although I’d had a mixed day wandering Prospect Heights and Park Slope with a sick-feeling Sarah, something had perked back up by the time Sam and Max arrived.  Always a nice turn.  We all hung out – even Hisboss was there.  Eventually, we went to eat at Chavela’s, which was just perfect.  Sarah and I split our Plato and we had chips with guacamole.  Sam got enchiladas and Max got 3 kinds of quesadillas.  Sarah got a flan after, and everything was like a dream.

We walked back to Sarah’s place.  Sarah encouraged me to walk like Cab Calloway and I did so with style.  We took to dancing the percolator and one other that Max’s friend Bryce did to dubstep.  Us boys pondering going to Williamsburg just to see some stuff, and get some pie.  We did indeed do this, but Sarah opted to stay in so she could rest and feel better.  She told me to bring her a pecan pie.

The band and I drove to Williamsburg in their van.  We walked the neighborhood, and I showed them the park by Williamsburg Bridge.  We went to the Pies N Thighs where Sam got a slice of apple, Max got a tart plum rhubarb.  I found that they had no pecan pie, and none of the second choice of blackberry, so, after sending a picture of the menu to Sarah, she requested the tart plum rhubarb.

We got back and I hopped out while they went and parked the van.  Eventually, I let Max in (Sam was on the phone), made sure that he was all good, then went to bed.  Sam eventually came back – his phone died and he was buzzing up, but was buzzing the downstairs apartment, and Max heard the tenant downstairs scream at him to fuck off.

 -for part of Wednesday April 25th, 2012