Friday, March 25, 2005

Tour Pics
If you care, here are some shots of our Austin show, courtesy of our pals in Hitch-hike. From left to right, the bands are Casting Couch, Hitch-hike, and Muso.

I don't know how this related to Economics, but in high school we watched a news expose about sanitation in chain restaurans. I'm sure it was called "Sanitary Scandals!!", or something. The news placed undercover cameras in kitchens, salad bars, and bathrooms. They revealed cooks with spitting problems, cockroaches who liked lettuce, and wily rats. It was pretty gross. I still can't eat at Shoney's, which is for the best, really. I stuffed those images in my subconscious, probably in the same place where kids cram the sight of their parents humping, if they're unlucky enough to see such a disaster.

But yesterday when I read this, those images re-emerged to haunt me all over again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Not surprisingly, the check list I made was useless. I forgot the 5 lb. tub, for one thing. Not that there would've been room for it. The rental place "ran out" of the van we requested, so they gave us an Explorer. Luckily we're only a trio. We put down the seats and packed that shit to the gills.

Phoenix was fun, but ended up a bust. We played a venue called Jan's European Restaurant and Bar (that's "Yon's" -- see how European they are?). It was in a strip mall across from a Hometown Buffet and Applebee's. The hip part of town was the opposite direction, we were told. Still, despite the single-digit crowd, we rocked on. After the first song, the wench at the door walked to the stage and said, "This is not to say anything about your guys' talent, but you drove all the way and there's no one here and it's St. Patrick's Day. So if you want to stop, that's cool with us". Had we not already been humbled by the night's events, this could very well have humiliated us off the stage. But we kept playing. Wench left to catch up with her St. Patty's Day plans, along with the rest of Phoenix.

The other band that night joked that Jan's would pay us in meth. Apparently we were in That Part of Phoenix. The part that's always featured on Cops, I suspect. Seemed everywhere we went people were either desperately looking for, or on drugs (the front desk dude at the hotel with the dagger tattoo turned checking in into a 30 step process).

We did play really well, which lifted our spirits. Knowing we had a long ride the next day, we declined an invitation to hang out with the other band. We drank some beers at the hotel and fell asleep watching a really bad Patrick Dempsey movie.

We hit the road for El Paso at 11am. Outside Tucson, we started seeing signs for The Thing? At first they just asked, What Is The Thing? As we went further, more and more signs with increasingly scarier font told us when and where The Thing? would occur. How could we not go??

I can't tell you what The Thing? was. That would break the Roadside Attraction code of honor. I can say we saw many things that were not The Thing? before we got to The Thing? We paid $1 to walk through tents full of artifacts of questionable authenticity, as well as weird Tim Burton-esque wood carvings. Then we walked into the last tent and BAM! There The Thing? was. (There's also a DQ next door, so it's totally worth it).

Not far from The Thing? in New Mexico, we saw a man sprint across the freeway. He hit the other side and kept going. From where he'd fled, we saw a group of police cars. It was a big moment for us. We honked a kinship with our new on-the-lam friend.

Texas welcomed us with stench. Right before we entered, we passed the biggest slaughter house in the world. Seemingly miles and miles of cows stewing in their own shit. At least, that's what you'd think from the way the smell lingered in our car.

We thought the venue in El Paso, Skate El Paso, was a skate park. And it was. Sort of. Just of the rollerskating variety. Unfortunately, no one was skating. The owners turned Friday nights into a showcase for live music. They'd built a big stage with a clear sound system and.... a fog machine! The bands were mostly from local high schools. Played a kind of metal-emo.

We held a crowd and made $50, but clearly stuck out. I couldn't tell what the kids thought of us until the last band went on. The lead singer (all the bands had lead singers), eyes a-glazed, prefaced a song with, "This last one goes out to those hippies in Muso... It's called 'Smokin' the Bong'..."

I started to think we should hire an image consultant.

We got back on the 10 around midnight, drove four hours to Fort Stockton, slept five hours, and kept on to Austin in the morning. Aside from a speeding ticket, local beef jerkey, and some rain, it was without incident. West Texas is pretty sparse.

By the time we arrived in Austin, caffeine and exhaustion were duking it out in all of us. The show was at a gallery that doubled as a music venue. Family showed up early (Josh and Parker are from Austin), and friends, including some of my homies from California, trickled in. The low cement ceilings made us louder than usual, much to our audiences' chagrin. But everyone had nice things to say, and we made enough money to put a big dent in our gas expenses.

That night I met up with my brother and got tizanked. I wanted to crash out early, but the thing about Austin is there's a lot of great beer on tap and many cool places to drink it in. Plus, I was catching up with my brother, so there was no choice.

We began the 22 hour trip home the next day, me still underslept and with a wicked hangover. Parker blessed us by driving the first 12 hours.

Texas shitted, "goodbye!".

I took the reins around 2am, and inhaled Double Shots and ciagrettes to keep me awake through the desert. There was much black, empty nothing. At times it looked as if I was driving in space. Usually these were occasions for more espresso-in-a-can.

Only mildly retarded from exhaustion, we got into L.A. around 10:30am yesterday. I slept for 15 hours and I'm still tired.

By the way, our website is finally up. It's in-progress, but you can still learn more about the hippies behind the music.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ass-less Chaps... Check!
This week's been all about last-minute things for the tour. The other night Josh and I spent a couple hours on his roof stenciling our name onto 150 CDs. T shirts are still up in the air. Don't know if we can get the stencil, or the right paint. One thing's for sure, though. This is some lo-fi, DIY shit (in the best way).

I made a check list for myself this morning. If I'm going to spend that much time in a van, I oughta be prepared. Otherwise, I might have forgotten "5 lb. tub of Red Vines". The rest of the list has your granola bars, your oranges, your Sedaris-on-CD CDs, etc. Foolishly, I left the list on my desk at work when I walked away. I came back and someone had added:

wet naps
first aid kit

I guess everyone has different ideas about touring life.

Not that four days and three shows will tell me much, but I'm excited for the taste. I'll recap our small adventure when I get back, but for a real sense of it, check this out.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Someone, perhaps a solicitor or survey enthusiast, approached Marah at work and asked her to sign up and receive e-surveys. She did it, thinking it'd be a way to pass the hours at her store. There was also the possibility of winning $50. The questionnaires asked things like, 'What's your favorite sport?', 'What did you think about the Oscars?' and, my favorite, 'What are people talking about in your town?'.

So after the last one, she actually won $50, plus a DVD of the pilot for The Office: An American Workplace. I've been highly anticipating/dreading this show, because I have an inappropriate love for the original British version. My fears were compounded after reading the note attached to the DVD. It was from Greg Daniels, the writer (who does have some impressive credits). The note actually said not to feel guilty about liking the American version, because Ricky Gervais (the lead in the original) approved it. This was, to me, the kiss of death.

So we watched it. And it was... mediocre, but not as hurrendous as I expected. (I think I would've felt the same way even if I'd never seen the Brits'). There are two major problems with it. Steve Carell is way too hammy as David Brent, the clueless, totally inappropriate boss (Steven Colbert would've been perfect for this part). The other thing is that all the romantic tension between the Tim and Dawn characters is telegraphed IN HUGE OBVIOUS WAYS TO THE CAMERA. The subtlety gets killed. All in all, the yankees missed the faux documentary, slice of life style of the show.

On the other hand, there were a few times where we laughed out loud. The guy playing Gareth (Arthur from Six Feet Under) is good. He seems to be the only one who gets that the show thrives on dry and deadpan. And there are a couple painfully funny scenes involving American Gareth in a box, and office birthday cards.

Speaking of Gervais, Jeff sent me this gem. I didn't sift through the site enough to figure out if it's so British that the irony's just lost on me, or if it is 100% balls out sincere. Either way I laughed my ass off.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Speaking Out For Road Rage
This morning I was stopped in traffic behind a beat up Honda. It had this bumpersticker:

Don't make me VIOLATE my parole!

Personally, if I was an ex-inmate with uncontrollable rage, I think I would've gone this route:

If you cut me off, I'll chop you up and feast on your entrails!

To each his own, I guess.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Ha! Bet you were fooled by my decoy SXSW link in the last post. Yeah, I'm good. But enough with the A+ comedy. This is the real 2005 line up, for all of us who can't go anyway.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Here Comes Your Genre
Someone made a CD of our show last week ("our" being Muso, "someone" being guy from the band The Mormons, "show" being last Friday at Mr. T's). We sounded different than I thought. Here I was thinking we were a friendly pop band that you could take home to mom, but there we were at Mr. T's rocking our asses off. 'Almost punk', I thought. Ladies and gentleman, a new genre: Almost Punk. That's one for the bio. "The White Stripes blend... Wilco defies... MUSO GIVES BIRTH TO!!!"

I just found out that we have officially added Austin to our tour next week. Well maybe not so much a tour as visit. Get-away. Jaunt. The only bummer is I'm missing St. Patrick's Day in LA, which means I'll have to drink my face off among Phoenixians (dude, they voted against MLK). Or it means I won't drink at all, as the idea of the following day's drive to El Paso hung over makes me hung over right now.

I wish we could stay in Austin a little longer. Hang out with my brother. Soak up the South by Southwest festivites. This is why day jobs suck. Obligations. Doesn't it know I'm a budding rock star and am therefore excused from responsibility? Don't we have technology for that yet?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Doin' Time With Quentin
I empathize with inmates. That's because, in addition to a fear of uninvited sodomy, I'm a commuter. For 50 minutes a day, I'm caged in my car with nowhere to go, while the rest of the world continues around me. Like those lonely souls who turn to the Bible or pen-pal relationships with strangers, I resort to people-watching. Sometimes I catch really great private moments -- nose-picking; meaningful, romantic stares into rearview mirrors; catty cell phone calls. Going through Beverly Hills is nice too. I see all the worst stereotypes of LA, giving me ripe material from which to imagine.

The other day on the way home, I noticed a man in the car behind me talking wildly. At first I actually thought it was a mental patient of some kind. His shaking and frantic gesturing, coupled with relegation to the passenger seat (c'mon, crazy people don't drive!), seemed like signs. Then, after the driver got a chance to speak and he put his hands down, I recognized his protruding chin. It was Quentin Tarantino. He went on this way for the next five blocks until I turned (and I'm sure it continued past that). I felt sorry for the woman who was driving. He's probably annoying to be friends with. But as a silent observer, he's charismatic in a cult leader kind of way.

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