Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’

Wizard Rifle, part 15: Tucson

May 24, 2012

I awoke in the Western Inn in South Tucson.  Sam, of course, was gone, and I had a text message from him that he was at some café nearby.  Probably talking to his missus and shooting up black tar heroin.  Max eventually awoke and got a call from the auto shop.  Sam may have been back by this point.



The nice folks at the auto shop said that the transmission was fucked and they’d get a used one from a junkyard and replace it.  The cost was going to be $1600, which (being sensitive about sharing too many details of Wizard Rifle’s finances…) obliterated everything they’d ever made.  Max gave them the go-ahead.  Then we checked out and walked forlornly to the center of town, catching a bus once we’d walked halfway.  On this walk, we (Sam, I believe it was) hitched a new fangled plan.  We would play the Tucson show that evening, then drive all night to L.A.  Somehow, despite the forlorn, it was agreed upon.



It was going to be a shitty day.  We were all stranded, we had been just in reach of our wish-fulfillment, and the coffers were being emptied with one fell swoop.  The town was hot, but not unpleasantly.  South Tucson was a bit oppressive, but the downtown area had some shade from things like buildings, that stood tall and had insides.

We spent noontime in the Shot In The Dark Café, a café named after our fate that day.  Max talked to Nate and a few others and everyone advised him not to pay to have a new transmission in the van.  The advice was just to get a new van.  Our lunch hours were frittered away in calm, agonizing desperation.



Really though, it was mostly Max’s, and I say this as a credit to him and a discredit to Sam and I.  Sam wandered off, probably to talk to his missus and shoot up black tar heroin, and returned with a dress – nice of him to think of resourceful spending.  I walked downtown Tucson a little and ordered a macaroni salad and an orange from the Shot In The Dark, both of which were delicious.  Max was on the phone with countless craigslisters selling vans of varying quality, along with Nate, other folks in Portland, and his sister in L.A. to tell her we were going to drive all night.

Although there were a lot of calls made, the van buying didn’t occur – it never did.  It might have been the better option as far as reliablity, but the timing was wrong.  The auto shop had already started the repairs, and we were worried they felt like they were being jerked around.  The idea we pitched to them was that they buy our van off us, possibly for free.  It was all logistically too much for one afternoon; or too much for us, at least.  There were no guarantees in any van we ended up with.  So we bowed our heads and submitted.



With a few hours to kill, we walked around downtown.  Sam was leading us somewhere, and I gave a shit until I found out it was an antique shop.  He’d been rummaging through antique shops in the towns we’d been to since the beginning.  I thought it curious at first; I hadn’t known him to be into antiques.  I’d since learned that it wasn’t even for him, and that little else that he did was either.



We didn’t find the antique shop, bad directions and bad Sam-orientation led us northwards, and, after trying an orange hanging from a tree (it was super sour), we settled on 4th Ave.  We’d heard it was a good part of town to hang out.  I was entertained.  Max decided to sit around in Epic Cafe on 4th & University.  He said he’d seen enough of Tucson.  Sam went wandering for the antique shop.  I went wandering just to see things.



The area was covered with murals, many psychadelic, and yet there weren’t a lot of bonafied hippies or “artsy” types.  Just folks.  I began listening to In The Aeroplane Over The Sea again hoping for that clarity that’d washed over me before Las Cruces.  It was soothing but not altogether clearing.  I found a man playing classical guitar outside of a bookshop.  I gave him some money and asked if I could sit by and listen, which he nodded to.  He was good, except he kept playing a few jazzy, poppier numbers, which I’m not inherently opposed to; just that the classical ones were really doing it for me.  It made me wish I had classical music on my iPod instead of the fucking bullshit that I don’t know why I have.



Eventually I parted ways with the guitarist.  I asked him if there was anything cool to do around the area since I was basically stranded, and all he said, in a very soothing voice, was, “They got good soup there at Bison,” and pointed to a building.  He also listed some bars; he said no much happens in Tucson and he just liked playing some pool and drinking cheap beer (and yet he was oddly dignified as he said this).  I went into the bookstore.  Only two minutes later, I came back out and founds the guitarist gone.  Then I saw him a few minutes later on the street, and I was pretty sure he tried to avoid my nod.

Back at Epic Café, Max was killing time.  I joined him and we read a really great interview with Jeff Mangum that I found on Pitchfork, which I love in all ways but one – Jeff Mangum is a worrier; it comes out in his songs, it comes out in his person (at least in the interview).  I was breathing okay though, the van was going to be done at 5:00 that evening.

Sam met up with us, and Max took off for the auto shop.  I loaned him my iPod for the trip since he was going solo.  I had a talk with Sam about the dour future, and it went alright, I guess.  I don’t think that anybody can win, but I was thinking about the middle ground when it comes to the future – the pass between two hellish mountains.



Speaking of: I talked to Sarah on the phone and that cheered me up.  I told her we were planning on driving all night to L.A. and we’d be there in the late morning probably.  Something was amiss though.  I was in such a pit of anxiety – and not even feeling bad at that very moment – that I knew rolling into L.A. feeling like post-dumping Soren Kierkegaard was probably going to be a dour future in itself.

Sam took a call from Max outside.  He was gone long enough that I knew we were in Fucktown – still; again.  Sam returned, and with every philange crossed, I gave him a bodily gesture to lay it on me.  He gave me two big thumbs down.  Said the van wouldn’t be fixed until noon the next day.  And now, if we were still playing the show that night – and we were – we didn’t have much time to figure out how to get our fucking shit from the fucking van to the fucking place.



Sam and I walked to the venue with the intent to call the venue proprietor – “an honorable man” according to Nate.  Call him I did, and he said, with a voice that seemed old and drugfried, that he was still in Sedona doing whatever people do in Sedona, that he wasn’t going to make the show, that he sort of knew a guy in the first band who might have a van (who worked at a pizza shop; I could google the pizza shop and call them to try and get his contact info).  He asked what the trouble with the van was, but, despite sounding nice, he didn’t really care, and gave me a “huh!  Too bad!  Good luck!



The man at the venue was the proprietor’s brother.  He was the one that had seemed so aloof yesterday.  I came to find that it was just his way – a little slow and distant, but welcoming in a way that was his own.  It was annoying making calls trying to get our gear with him standing around watching, but whatever.  I called the pizza joint – Rocco’s – and eventually got a hold of Rocco of the opening band – Stinkfinger (yup) – who said he could do it (or was it maybe he could do it?) and that he’d be bringing a pizza.  But Max then called and said he got it figured in time for me to tell Rocco we didn’t need a ride.



Max showed up with folks from the auto shop driving a truck with the gear in the flatbed.  We unloaded it and the auto shop folks took off.  Rocco showed up and I shamelessly dived into his Chicago style “kitchen sink” deep dish, and it was.  Fucking.  Amazing.  The man at the venue also supplied some ratatouille type dish, which was good, but not filling.  Some salad was also present.  And some dame dropped off cookies.



For full disclosure on what a turncoat piece of shit I actually am, all too willing to prove my critics right – I tried to escape.  It was indecent.  And I failed.  That is all that’s worth mentioning on the subject on an open forum.  I sat at the merch table eating cookies like a fatty while news fell over the room that Stinkfist’s bassist hadn’t arrived yet, wasn’t answering his phone, that this was very out of character for him, that cocaine’s a hell of a drug, and that women are distracting.  So Wizard Rifle only played.



It was a cool venue, the people were nice, they supported the cause of beginning to rebuild the band savings, etc etc.  But the alternate universe where we skipped Tucson and spent a day enjoying that warm California sun was undoubtedly the better universe.  Unquestioningly.  This one’s made of curve balls, dramatic irony always working against the beholder, and weird shit in the food, like this weird calcium addative, pale and mysterious atop my orange juice, jiggling disconcertingly in the friction of the cabin of this airplane carrying me back to New York City.

The finest part of the evening was Miki and Dave.  They were a married couple that Nate knew and had gotten a hold of.  Dave had told Max way too late that he could have fixed the transmission for a couple hundred bucks – a real heartbreaker.  And while that kindness couldn’t be taken up, they did offer their place for the night.



It was a beautiful house in northeast Tucson.  This was the first married couple we’d stayed with who weren’t family, and the first house we’d stayed at that wasn’t a shithole in some weeks.  I think.  They had space and hospitality in spades, and I won’t soon forget how neighborly and selfless they were.  We were comfortable and set for the night.


-for part of Thursday May 10th, 2012

Wizard Rifle, part 14: Tempe (NOT)

May 21, 2012


We were sleeping at this guy Jay’s.  It was an alright place, with some minor oddities.  The shower was in the kitchen, almost every door was a sliding door, there was a mysterious loft that Sam slept in.  These were perhaps just odd because of how quickly we were in and out of the place.  We packed up and drove off, first to a US Bank, then to get a coffee.  We were at this coffee joint for a long time.  I was actually sitting in the van, chatting on the phone with Ian.  And the boys weren’t in the coffee shop, they were off talking, I predict it was about the dour future.

We got an oil change, and as we studied our route we realized something.  Our show that evening was in Tempe, which is right near Phoenix.  The next night’s show was in Tucscon, which was actually 100 miles in the wrong direction – because the show after was L.A.  We wondered why it was this way – and we confirmed that there was indeed no error.

Then I figured: since there was no guarantee in Tucson, and since there was just a potential to lose some money and time in that backtrack, why don’t we cancel the Tucson show, play Tempe, and then just blast into L.A.  There was a flutter of thought about this, followed by an enthusiasm, and a joy.  The previous shows had been rough on the boys, as well as for me, for a variety of reasons.  Max called Nate and asked about it.  After a few minutes of negotiating, it was a done deal.

Everyone was more ecstatic that I’d seen them on the entire tour.  Which isn’t to say it’d been an unhappy time all round.  But the idea of our desires and the coming events actually coinciding or coalescing was incredible – we’d taken the reins of our journey.



Nate then got ahold of me and tried to talk me back into doing the Tucson show.  He gave me some compelling reasons.  Like that if we needed an off-night, Tempe was the one to cancel.  That the Tempe guy was a flake.  That the Tucson guy was an honorable man.  That it was an awesome, exclusive (elitist?) art gallery that he’d been trying to book for a long time.  That Sam could have a great connection with his visual art.  It was all considerable, so I said I’d talk to the guys about it.  He made a quick quip about how it was more important than seeing my girlfriend in L.A. a day sooner.  I was sure I’d been misunderstood from afar.  All I could do was shrug about it.



Sam and Max and I talked it over, long and deep, and decided we still weren’t going to play it.  I reported on what Nate had said, then tried to stay out of it because it wasn’t my decision to make.  But Max was almost more adament not to play than I was; I had my desires, but he seemed very willed that we were going to get to L.A.  But we told Nate that we’d take a look at the venue anyways, just out of good will (and we needed to make it look like we wanted to play the show, to foster a good relation for potential rescheduling).



We pulled off in Tucson and immediately hit an In N Out Burger and went to the drive-thru.  Max was saying it was the greatest fast food experience anyone can ever have.  And it would have been.



But the van broke down in the drive-thru, about halfway between the ordering radio and the food window.  The manager was stumped, he’d never had to deal with it before.  He was a cool guy though.  He shut down the drive-thru and comped the food.  We used our last Triple A call to get the van towed.

Joe was our tow truck driver.  He took us to a place right nearby, which was closed.  He said that this was no neighborhood to leave the gear in – it’d be gone by morning.  This was South Tucson.  So we went to a hotel where we could load out – a Western Inn just down the street.  But he got another repair shop on the horn that could take the van into a garage that night.  So he towed us all the way to the other side of town, talking about how he trusted these people, and how he only ate organic, local, free range meat.

We were told that we couldn’t get an estimate until the following morning, but that it was definitely the transmission.  This is the kiss of death.  We got a ride to the venue from one of the guys at the repair shop, who blasted “The Ocean” by Led Zeppelin, and made at least some of us feel better.

At the venue, we encountered… nothing.  It was a cool looking place, but we found that the “honorable” proprietor was in Sedona for something going on in Sedona to do.  The guy there was very slow talking and seemed very aloof about our troubles.  I thought we were going to ask if there was a place to stay, but the boys seemed coy about asking.  So I did, and got a very aloof answer from the guy there.  It wasn’t “no,” and it wasn’t really “I don’t know” – it was something far more useless; so much so that I don’t remember.



So we wandered down Toole Street to the Congress Hotel and looked into a room there.  It was a little out of our price range, but we got some leads on other spots.  There was a nice hostel nearby that was $40, but Max didn’t want to take the tiny room.  So we set our hearts to walking back to South Tucson, to the Western Inn.



In downtown Tucson, we asked a girl about good places to eat.  She recommended the Iguana Café.  It was really shitty, but we thought eating Mexican food in Arizona would be a political statement.  It wasn’t anything at all.  It really pissed me off.

So we walked three miles or so to the Western Inn.  Sam was on the phone with his girlfriend and Max and I had a talk, which was really pleasant and refreshing, though I don’t remember what it was about.  One part consisted of thus:

Sam, on the phone with his girlfriend, is basically a narrator for the events that have just happened, since he’s catching her up to speed.  I said that I wished he were an infinitely wise sage who would narrate the events just after they’ve happened, but reveal and expose the deeper meanings to them.  The deep drives behind the behaviors and the exact ways in which the transmission failed right when we were going to win.  All I wanted was telos for this.  But he could not, in reality, provide them, neither to his girlfriend, nor to Max, nor to me.


-for Wednesday May 9th, 2012