Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wilmington, Phili, and New York

Wilmington, Philadelphia, and NYC


Chuck’s Daughter: “Wussy were here this morning.” (we had stopped by on the way out)
Chuck’s Son-In-Law: “Oh is that why the door is off.” (Lisa completely pulled the back screen door off)

“Alanis Morrisette has dope titties” – Can’t remember but not me because I didn’t know there was such a thing

“You lied, she’s only missing her front teeth”  - We saw an old friend of Chucks at a gas station.
“It’s a gaping maw.” – Chuck’s response

“It’s either drug addled hillbillies or church goers” – Technically Bethel, Ohio but really that seems to needlessly narrow the range.

“Numbat and Scunch” – Ask Chuck

“ I want the American Dream burger – hold the hope.”

Fauna: Women in Philadelphia really favor leg tattoos. They were everywhere. One woman in nice workout clothes in the fitness center of the downtown Sheraton had tattooed on each upper back thigh respectively, “Remember the Struggle” and “Remember the Street.” Uh huh.

Women in NYC favor dark bras under see through T-shirts. Seems kind of played. I expect more from New York

Day 1

Here’s a difference between the West and East. There’s not enough time in the van to write between cities in the east. So I’m just gonna cover all three in one post. Here’s a summary for those who don’t want to read the rest: The shows were completely wonderful but the actual travelling was snake bit from the get go.

We were renting a van from a guy we know. A big scraped up bright-yellow thing that we took out once before. Dude swore he’d fixed everything that had made us swear we’d never take it again. Joe picks up the van and Oh Hell yes, the A/C is not working. (“Really? It worked yesterday”) It wasn’t too bad as long as we were on the highway with the windows down. Of course that meant we got to have 10 hours of what my kids call a “hurricane ride.” On a personal note I hate having lots of wind blowing on me. Drives me fucking crazy, but since that position is already filled in this band I have to lump it. We flirted with a hail and lightning storm through the Appalachian Mountains, but to the hopeful surprise of us all by the time we were an hour away from Wilmington we were actually on time. Which is of course the point in the movie where the psycho turns out to have survived and hacks off the head of the teenager performing conciliatory cunnilingus on the other grief-stricken survivor, proving once again that sex is dirty and bad and should only be done after funerals and in cases where the act will cause grievous emotional damage to your ex. In our case it was the point where the mot^er-fu%^ing, co%k-suc$#ing, douche-licking, Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority shut down the entire east-bound Turnpike to do construction, thus diverting all the rush hour traffic to another much smaller highway. Now this next part was probably, by which I mean entirely, our fault. We were below E on the gas gauge. So an hour into sitting in traffic waiting for the van to sputter and fail while limping towards the exit is when John exclaims something about the brake pedal sinking to the floor. Something had clunked and from this point on stopping was more akin to throwing an anchor out the back than actual braking. This lovely development was accompanied by an equally lovely smell of smoky metallic death. We finally get off the highway and as John is flipping a U-Turn to get us to a gas station the thing in the center of the steering wheel that you press for the horn (I’m sure it has a name) pops off. Much swearing and grappling later we get to the gas station but now the horn doesn’t and never again works. As we’re doing our best roadside mechanic imitations Chuck for some random reason starts singing like Leon Redbone. This is almost as annoying as actually listening to Leon Redbone. But then what to my wondering eye should appear? A guy yelling at us from the next pump over, “Leon Redbone? He made the best Christmas album ever! (begins to sing, mercifully stops) Did you see him on Carson? He was in a sleigh and had confetti coming down and everything. My wife wont listen to it, but I tell ya it’s the best Christmas album ever recorded (begins to sing the same snippet, mercifully stops) This entire exchange takes place with his voice booming like he works in a home for the hard of hearing, but he was nice and gave us a “God Bless You,” on the way out.

We decided to take state roads the rest of the way. It was beautiful but slow going.  We got there about 15 minutes before we could potentially have had to go on, but they were running a little behind. It had already been a long damn day so we’re looking forward to a little food at the club after we loaded in when John, who was parking the van,  calls and says the driver’s side window wont go up. By the time Chuck and I get out there the window is completely off the track and flopping around in the door like a condom on Flacid the Clown. It’s safe to say the security of the van and our equipment is compromised by this development. However, with the art of an embittered middle-aged Fonzi Chuck pulls pounds and swears it back into place.

After eating (just because you call it Risotto doesn’t mean it’s not just rice from a box) we played a show without a set-list, making it up as we went. We were playing at the World Café Live and the stage sound was great, people were into it, and I thought we played well. After the show people were so sweet, buying a bunch of merch and just kind of overwhelming us with kindness. We drove to Phili that night and even got to bed at a reasonable time.

Damn we need our own van.

Day 2

The club we were playing was only 1.7 miles from the hotel and the hotel is right downtown in the museum district. You know what this means? It means awesome, that’s what it means. Joe and I walked up 16th street, had some organic, locally sourced stir fry and then began walking towards the Museum of Art. We went into the St. Paul Cathedral, which was gorgeous and had great air conditioning. We walked up the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Rodin museum, communed with some pretty great sculptures and then continued on to the Art Museum. There was a line of people waiting to get their picture taken with the Rocky statue, even though it isn’t even at the top of the stairs. I’m not going to go through the whole experience but museums are my happy place. They had a great modern wing with a whole room of cubist era Piccaso and one for Du Champ. A whole badass section of armor and a few J.F. Millets I’d never seen. I was as happy as a Mennonite in a Pizza Hut.

The club we were playing was called the Northstar Bar. This show and the next one were set up by the band Low Cut Connie, who are a Philly band and have a really good following. The thing is, we’ve tried to get into the Northstar before but they wouldn’t even answer our e-mails. So to have a band like LCC help us out is huge. A local guy was telling me how he saw John Cale twice at this place. Great stage, cool balcony, good sound.  I was told that Philly gives bands love and it was true. We’ve never played to a packed house here but tonight was damn close. There was a kid who flew in from Montreal for Pete’s sake. Just to see us. Another guy came all the way from Seattle and would be at the next show too. For the first time ever people were singing along so loud we could hear it onstage above the din. Feels like we have some friends here. I really like this town. It feels the most like a European city of any I can think of. Looking forward to coming back.

Day 3

Woke up and went out looking for a bagel. All there was downtown were Bruegger’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. I thought this was an east coast town. I can get shitty bagels in Cincinnati.

It seems like it takes forever for us to get going anywhere anymore. I don’t know why, it’s the same people. Drives me crazy but there it is. It’s like turning a barge around in a river I guess. We had to drive back to club for something we forgot, got caught in the traffic for a huge pro-union rally, which was actually kind of neat to witness, Lisa got sick in the stifling heat of the van. It took us twice as long to get to NYC as it should’ve. Just another one of those trips. Once we got into the city though it felt wonderful. I love being here. While waiting for soundcheck to start I got a sangria from a little cheese and wine place around the corner that was open to the sidewalk. Ended up talking with the bartender about old school funk, disco, Bootsy Collins etc. Awesome. We were to play at the Mercury Lounge for the first time, (another place that up ‘till now didn’t want to hear from us) and we were excited. However we and LCC were the early show and it was an 8:00 start time. After soundcheck Joe and I ran out to one of my favorite restaurants on earth. It’s a Taqueria/Tequilaria called Los Feliz, and as God is my witness the tacos combined with more Tequilla selections than virgins at ComicCon will make you weep with pleasure. Joe and I talked about how we hoped enough people would show up so that maybe the Mercury would consider having us back. Because when we left there was not one soul there. Same thing with Chuck and Lisa. They left to get some stuff out of the van and then went to the green room. No one there. We’re starting to learn about NYC though, that people there don’t fuck around standing about waiting for a show. When it’s time they show up. When we got back the place was packed. Lots of old friends and a whole bunch of new people. Amazing energy, people shouting out requests. This made three nights in a row I had a shit-eating grin on my face pretty much the whole show. And then after the show another first. The love at the merch table has been has been overwhelming the whole trip but tonight we were signing stuff and selling out pretty much everything we brought for well over an hour. When we got into the van after loading out and me running down the street to get a fresh large NY pizza pie, we were all kind of shocked by it. The door lady commented to Chuck, “Wow, you’ve got loyal fans.” And it’s true. We just really appreciate shows like this so much.

We’re playing Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville before Chuck and Lisa head to England to make a nice hello to the Continent. After that, in October we’re opening for the Afghan Whigs for a handful of shows. That’s kind of a big deal and it also means we get to get back out there and see some more of you this year. So that’s cool.

If I post this you’ll know that the van made it back.


  1. I really enjoy reading your posts and getting a peek into life on the road. Unfortunately, I was outta town when you played the Mercury Lounge, and I had tkts to the show in Brook;yn but it got cancelled. When are you guys headed back to the NYC area? Can't wait to see you live...

  2. As an older art collector since my wife passed away, I must admit to being very partial to collecting nudes in art, as original paintings or as good prints, that I have displayed all over the house. (I like to see the surprised faces of my new visitors).
    This one,, by Emile Munier, is hanging in one corner of my bedroom and was printed by, where I am a very good customer.

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