DICTIONARY OF DRE
In no particular order, and omitting many pieces of information that weren’t entered in the book at the time of discovery and thus were forgotten. THE COOLEST MAN ALIVE: IN BULLET POINTS
-He talked a man out of a parking space so we could get in it.
-Grew up with the Bloods and Crips.
-Looks like a fifties film star.
-Has ‘Whatever’ tattooed on the palm of his hand.
-Whenever you talk about your feelings he says ‘Shut the fuck up about your feelings’ (‘you’ = Raife).
-Won’t listen to FM radio because AM radio is endangered and he thinks he can save it single handedly.
-He probably can.
-Buys, restores, drives and sells classic cars.
-Won’t play music in a car he is driving that is younger than the car itself.
-Can fix a car.
-Drinks Jalapeno vodka and encourages others to do the same.
-Has a large collection of radio plays from the 1920s-50s that he plays on the stereo.
-Listens to audio books.
-Combs his hair in public in a stylish way.
-Has a pocket comb.
-Plays his ipod through a marshall travel amp.
-Collects stills from old B-movies and vintage french porno postcards.
-Makes bandaids out of his soul.
-Hates Shoreditch .
-Got complete strangers to guide us to In-N-Out even though they weren’t going there just by looking at them.
-His shades and his beard.
-When he eats icecream he looks tough.
-He knows when Nicolai Tesla’s birthday is.
-Looked at a waitress and knew what kind of music she liked.
-Got a drunk maniac to give him $20 for no reason.
-THE EXISTENCE OF THIS LIST.
-Got me out of a $250 smoking fine.
-Wears his hood indoors.
-His girlfriend makes amazing cookies.
-Runs like a ghost.
-Made dolphins appear.
-Can roll tortillas. Properly.
-Drove the wrong way down the freeway even though we were late so that we could go to In-N-Out.
-Got stung by a stingray and didn’t care.
-Is harder than Steve Irwin.
-Is friends with the guys at West Coast Choppers.
-If you see someone who looks really really cool arriving at a Veils show they always turn out to be Dre’s friend.
-Keeps a bottle of Jaeger by the stage.
-The Potholder Cafe.
-The newest car he’s ever owned was from 1979.
-Says ‘keep going’ instead of ‘fuck off’.
-Always wears long sleeves.
-Went to Neil Young’s house and chatted with him about records for an hour and a half.
-Likes to make pancakes.
-Got in a fight with a valet.
-‘You guys go to sleep, I’m gonna drive to Tucson.’
-‘Do you guys wanna stop real quick and take a photo on a tank?’
-Made Dai eat meat for the first time in 20 years.
-Loves those reality police car chase type shows. Laughs constantly at them.
-Drinks hard lemonade. While driving.
-Tells lightening what to do.
-Databases vintage porn for his day job.
-Belly laughs at street brawls.
-Cured Finn’s throat with mysterious medicine.
-Coconut ice creams.
-The first thing he did when he finished high school in California was get on a bus to Graceland.
-Hits people in the balls for a laugh.
-Drove for 17 hours straight and nobody died.
-Pretended to fall asleep at the wheel.
-His dad was in Vietnam.
-Fills his pina colada slushies with rum.
-Eats barbeque at midday.
-Won’t drink anything that comes in a small cup.
-Made a promoter make him a hot dog during an encore.
-Has a tattoo of a chihuahua drinking a Tom Collins on his right bicep.
-Lived in the desert for a while.
-Has a scar from ‘fooling around with a machete.’
-Orders pancake burritos at Denny’s.
-Best van packer of all time.
-Signs his credit card with a cock and balls.
-Once made out with a girl who had all gold teeth.
-Lit a sparkler while driving.
-Is an architecture buff.
-Is genuinely, deeply, kindhearted.
8:22 am • 20 August 2009
We’ve driven past it, always. I’m going to take it as read that most people reading this know why we’re interested.
‘Why do we always have to drive PAST’
‘Yeah it’s frustrating as hell.’
‘I can see the docks! I can see the docks!’
‘You guys wanna go to Baltimore, huh.’
He took the exit. Of course.
I don’t know. It does feel…it feels a little like exploitative tourism. To want to go and see. And then THAT feeling makes me feel bad for feeling it. It’s not as though Cheers fans, visiting the REAL CHEERS BAR (it’s in Boston) feel, or should feel, like they’re exploiting the drinkers.
But there it was. It felt a bit weird. Didn’t stop us, but it felt a bit weird.
I’m glad we went though.
This week, there was a big story where the english Conservative party compared parts of england to the Wire, or to Baltimore, or, somehow, to both, in a slightly odd fudging of the reality/television line. Maybe someone thought it was a good way to make people pay attention.
I wrote a bit about what I thought about Baltimore when I first wrote this post, but it was hard, to say what I thought without sounding ridiculously trite, or just stupid, or cynical, or like I was passing judgement in some way. So I deleted it and thought maybe just the pictures were better. I’ve never seen anything like it in England, but I suppose that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Or, some aspect of it. It’s idiotic to think it’s just Baltimore, or Detroit, or Moss Side. It’s not as though they’re bubbles. You know. They’re concentrations of something that’s everywhere, the same way Mayfair is, or Malibu. Seems kind of…..I dunno. Strange, I guess, to think that comparing Manchester to Baltimore is going to get the attention, when surely the thing that’s shocking is the thing itself, and that doesn’t need to be an analogy to deserve attention, surely.
I don’t know. I’m talking again. I’ll stop.
9:46 am • 18 August 2009
New York the First: RESTAURANT LOYALTY SHOWDOWN
‘PINK PONY! PINK PONY!’
It’s what we do. But they’ve taken the weird reverse mirror down from the bathroom.And the food IS kinda expensive. It’s a good tuna melt….but is it a nine dollar tuna melt? But it’s right round the corner from the Mercury.And you can always get that big table in the corner.And it’s What We Do.
We’re not taking our twice yearly patronage elsewhere. But Pink Pony may, from now on, just handle the coffees.
Dre, obviously. Always Dre.
You could kinda take the whole Pink Pony/La Esquina thing as a metaphor for our American tour in general. This time around, everything a little busier. A little more neon. More spice. More fun. Louder. A little less guardian travel guide. A certain…..colour, and confidence…. In short….a little more mexican. Or maybe just more truly American. Something was appearing, that we had only glimpsed before. And unlike many things, that look nice from a distance, shrouded in fog, and turn out to be a bin with a plastic bag hanging off it, this thing just gets more beautiful the more of it you can see.
Raife had eaten at La Esquina before. Something something wild eyed tooth gnashing something baby back ribs and fish tacos howl of delight.
And yet it wasn’t a fish taco that sealed the deal. It was no myserious marinade. No subtle smoky spice. It was something very simple. Like how the first person who mixed chocolate and peanut butter was doing something very simple. And yet….
Dan had it in Portland from a street vendor. Appeared in the dressing room with his face covered in cheese flecks and chilli smears. Raving. We didn’t really pay attention at the time, mostly because Dan, being vegetarian, knows sod all about Things That Taste Amazing.
It’s easy to make. Make it, eat it, and I swear to god, you won’t have a meal without it again for at least a week. Someone commented once about how I go on about food all the time. I know I do. I like to cook. And on tour there are only a few things that happen:
Everything else is incidental. The food and the venue are the only things that really vary. And I never could write about shows properly. Besides! Recipes are handy!
So. MEXICAN CORN. If anyone is more practised than me at making this, then please do weigh in, I just did what I presumed to be the process, with one tip from Dre, and it’s not as good as La Esquina’s YET, but it’s good, and I suspect the mexican cheese makes a difference.
GET YOUR CORN. WHOLE COBS. NONE OF THIS HALF COB SAINSBURYS NONSENSE. A barbeque is ideal, but I don’t have one or an area in which to use it, unless I start doing it in the living room, which I’ve done before during an interlude in my youth when three people Incapable Of Dealing With Admin Who Were Blessed With Can-do Spirit And A Tolerance For Adversity lived in a house together, with the inevitable consequence that we ended up with no power, no phone, a dead bird nailed to the wall, a severely blocked sink and a full size gas barbeque in the living room. It’s not the complete disaster you’d think it would be, but it’s Not Ideal. Stick to the grill, if you’re backyardless.
Soak your corn in water for about ten minutes. You can leave the husks on or remove them. I think husks on would work well on the barbeque, but under the grill it seems safer to strip em. Those hairy bits seem pretty flammable. Like all hairy bits.
You will need
Mexican cheese OR Parmesen OR a mixture of Parmesen/Cheddar/Feta.
As your tastes go.
Chilli powder (Though I’ve been using spicy spanish paprika with good effect)
Grill your corn until it is slightly browned in bits but not dried out. I do a bit of butter basting. While it’s grilling grate some cheese. Cut yourself some lime wedges. Get the top off the mayo, if it’s sticky. Remove from heat and allow to cool until you can hold onto it comfortably - warm to the touch but not hot. This is important, so the cheese doesn’t melt.
Once it’s cooled, grab onto it and paint it with mayo. If you’ve got one of those pastry brushes I’m sure thats very handy, but I just sorta smear it on with a spoon and my hands. You don’t want it to be thickly coated, just a thin, semi-even layer.
Sprinkle it with the cheese. Again, a light but full coating.
Dust with a little chilli powder. Squeeze of lime.
THIS IS THE SECRET OF DELICIOUSNESS.
Dan would tell you that cheese is always the secret of deliciousness.
That was what we did before Mercury Lounge. We ate corn. Also Ceviche, and tacos, and watermelon juice (Finn: ‘This is amazing! It’s like having watermelon without the irritating parts!’) and many other wonderful things. As soon as we left we were planning to go back and eat corn again, which we did, a few days later.
But that’s for later.
Mercury was pretty good fun. We ended up on the street, where I got involved in a conversation with a tramp about souls. It’s a really good angle for people to take, when they’re wanting money from you, the whole ‘I can see that you have a beautiful soul’ angle. Works a charm on me, anyway. I go all ‘Really? Well clearly if you, Mr Slow Motion, can see it, then it must be true! I do indeed have a beautiful soul! Thank you for telling me so! How can I in turn improve your evening?’ And it’s only after they leave that I get around to feeling that ‘he probably says that to all the girls’ feeling of slight usedness. But it was a nice conversation all the same. Plus there are few times when you feel more like a cock than when you’ve just had people applauding in your direction for an hour and you refuse to help out a tramp.
Besides, when we’d first parked at Mercury lounge, we had all refused the advances of a different guy, who promptly told us to go fuck ourselves and threatened to slash our tyres. New York: even the tramps are balls-out. So it was kind of nice to rebuild my faith a little.
Someone once told me it was illegal to give money to street people in the Netherlands, because there is a system in place that they’re meant to use that’s funded by the government. I’d think that was harsh but come to think of it I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a homeless person in the Netherlands, and they do seem to have a lot of things pretty sorted, so maybe it’s okay.
We ended up at Max Fish. I was a little end of my tethery. Relief at not screwing up the show mixing with end of tour exhaustion. So I bailed, only to realise I’d forgotten to tell Dai, who was meant to be staying where I was, that I was going.
And I had one of those thoughts end of tours seem to breed, like the ‘fireworks in the suitcase’ initiative.
‘It’s okay. Dan and Raife will look out for him.’
6:14 am • 17 August 2009
Boston, or, family pride.
Image ©Ericka Duffy 09
Earlier this year, Ericka and I were both reading the same book. It’s a really good book. It’s based in Boston. Late LAST year, I spent a month shuttling back and forth between New York and Boston while I waited for my new UK work permit to arrive. In fact, I’m almost Bostonian, in that my parents moved me there as a baby, and I lived there until I was six. My sister, to my intense irritation, was lucky enough to be born there and possess that magical beast, the American Passport.
But I don’t really know Boston at all. I know parts of it. My Great Aunt, my Father, and assorted family outposts still exist, but I’ve never spent enough time there to get to know it properly. And the shows we play there always seem to be ones where we arrive 20 minutes before soundcheck and leave directly afterward. This one was no exception, we left before Foreign Born even finished due to an arrangement in New York the next morning. So in lieu of a proper Boston entry, but in order to give a town I owe my tendency to call sticking plasters ‘band aids’ and my early New Zealand school spelling tests being blemished by my failure to include the letter ‘U’ in ‘colour’, some kind of homage, I’m going to tell a story.
It’s a story all of my friends know (which is lucky, given what happens later), and it’s about my father. I’ve heard him tell it a bunch of times, to various people. It’s something he’s quite proud of. And actually, I’m quite proud too.
It’s worth noting at this point that I come from a family of grammar police. If there’s one thing I remember about being a kid it’s telling my Mum some vastly exciting story about something ‘me and Steph did’ only to have her pause me in the middle and say, in a nice way, but say all the same; ‘Steph and I.’ I get angry about apostrophes. Dan gets angry about my apostrophe stance, in that, if you are apostrophe minded, you’ll notice I leave them out on occasion. My utterly illogical position on the matter is that it doesn’t MATTER if you leave them out. But show me a ‘TAXI’S’ sign, and I’ll go apeshit. My grammar is imperfect, is my point. But they tried.
You know how in supermarkets, there is a line for people not buying much? A sort of express line? And that line is marked by a sign?
That sign usually says
TEN ITEMS OR LESS
Well, the story goes. My father objected to this. After all, it’s supposed to be TEN ITEMS OR FEWER (my mum, in my head: ‘Less is for volume, fewer is for number’).
Some people might note it. Some of those people might let it be mildly irritating. Some of THOSE people might mutter darkly to themselves or a friend. After all, it’s not that hard to get a sign right. And surely the extra two letter signwriting fee isn’t the issue.
One man took it further.
He campaigned. He asked. He gently suggested. And if I know him at all, he nagged.
And now, if you venture into supermarkets in a certain area of Boston, I’m not entirely sure which one, you’ll see it. I’ve seen it.
The express queues are all marked
TEN ITEMS OR FEWER.
I’ve had independent corroboration about the truth in this story. He did it. It was him.
I think he should take his campaign global. Maybe I’m being a bad child in that I’m not in the Morrison’s down the street right now giving them hell.
Everyone I tell this story to loves it. It’s a popular story. There’s something genuinely hopeful and kind of…..I dunno. It’s a good one, I think.
So, I come back to the beginning of this year. Ericka and I were both reading Infinite Jest. Which meant I had someone to text when it happened. It’s a properly good book. Even an Important Book. I recommend it. Highly.
It’s written in a way where a lot of the action goes on in the footnotes. It’s a lengthy book and they are lengthy footnotes. But on page 1039 of the book, in said footnotes, I suddenly discovered a sentence* that made me send Ericka a text all in capitals.
‘D. FOSTER WALLACE HAS MET MY DAD.’
And there it was. It’s a strange feeling, seeing a family story in someone else’s book. And it can only have come from him. I know he tells the story all over, there’s the setting, there are other very leading pieces of evidence in the book as to how said meeting could have occurred and there’s the simple fact. THIS CAN’T BE TWO INDEPENDENT INCIDENTS. And if it is….we need to get these people together.
I asked him about it (my father, not Foster Wallace, whom I would LIKE to ask about it, but he is indisposed. Permanently. Which I think is a terrible, terrible shame), whether he had met a man of the same name and told the story and got the following response.
He doesn’t recollect specifically. This is a man who did once say to me ‘I was at a party the other night and there was this very strange little bald headed chap…..nice fellow, but rather odd.’
Turned out it was Moby.
*’You’ve got the Militant Grammarians of Massachusetts, which she co-founded with a couple quote cherished academic friends, also bats, where the M.G.M.s for instance go around to Mass. supermarkets and dun the manager if the Express Checkout sign says 10 ITEMS OR LESS instead of OR FEWER and so on.’
11:21 am • 13 August 2009
‘We should really do something with all these fireworks.’
‘Maybe having them lying around on the floor where I drop cigarettes is a bad idea, for a start.’
‘Well, we haven’t exploded yet, have we.’
‘Dre shot one out of his fly in Tucson.’
‘Yeah. Foreign Born were all too pussy to do it.’
‘Do you reckon……like……..HOW illegal do you think it is for me to try to take them back to London in my suitcase?’
Luckily I have my friends.
‘Are you joking?’
‘No. I mean, I know it’s illegal. But HOW illegal do you think it is?’
‘It’s Guantanamo illegal.’
‘But they’re FIREWORKS. And I’m a nice girl, if they found them I’d be all ‘oh god! silly me! I guess I just plumb forgot….’
‘Soph. You know how, if you JOKE about having explosives in your suitcase, you go to prison? Well, you’re talking about ACTUALLY CARRYING EXPLOSIVES IN YOUR SUITCASE.’
‘Essentially, you’re asking how illegal it is to PUT A BOMB ON A PLANE.’
‘Yeah, just wrap them up in some tape and maybe put a little clock on it.’
‘Tell them the clock’s to remind you that they’re there.’
‘I see your point.’
‘Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with you.’
‘Me too, Dan. Me too.’
We never did do anything with the fireworks. I got some really good ones, too. Those ones that are like little bees, that got banned in New Zealand after one too many ‘rogue bees’ chased the family labrador/family six year old around before taking out a teacup sized circle of skin. I miss those bees, and the edge of terror they gave the whole evening. Settling for Roman Candle wars and the Devonport tradition of beach riots, complete with Real Live Police was, I honestly think, a generation’s attempt to make up for the loss of adrenaline and genuine physical risk. Should’ve just given us back the bees. There might’ve been more individual incidents, but compared to a Warehouse™ brand super roman candle, they’d be useless against riot shields.
No doubt Dre and the bees are laughing it up in Seattle right now.
There’s an odd rivalry between Montreal and Toronto. Some people say Toronto is too mainstream. It’s dull and there’s no real soul. Other people say Montreal is pretentious, overly convinced of its own importance, and Not Even That Good.
Both groups are wrong. Both right in a sense, but both wrong. The truth is, both cities are amazing, in slightly different ways. One is poutine and beautiful apartments, the other is candy coloured villas and international food heaven. Both equally good. Stop bickering.
Montreal DOES have the best laundromats in the world. A comparison. Here is my laundromat in England. Well, actually it’s not, because my laundromat in England is not pictured on the internet, for the obvious reason that who wants a picture of a laundromat. But this is exactly what it looks like, and thats where I sit while I wait for my laundry.
This is a laundromat in Montreal. There are pictures of it, the way there are pictures of nice things everywhere.
On google, you can read reviews of it. Of the COFFEE AND THE FOOD (Coffee very fine. Food good. Juice excellent). Of the HOMEMADE ORGANIC DETERGENT. NICHE LAUNDRY! WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT! Amazing.
We met some interesting people hanging round outside Sala Rossa. A guy from Bell Orchestre who had no idea we were playing but who was lovely and ended up coming to the show. A gaggle of fifteen year olds in eyeliner who were giggly and adorable. And this guy.
‘Do you know what the band that’s on next is like?’
‘No. Really good. Amazing. Best band in the world. Seriously.’
‘Oh. Sorry. I don’t know your music at all. I’m just….well I’m staying across the street, and I wanted to see some music to kinda…..erase my head.’
‘I’m having a bit of a…..I don’t know. I drank a bottle of wine last night in Toronto and decided to get on a bus to Montreal and here I am.’
‘I see. Well, we’ll try to…..erase for you?’
‘Let us know how it goes.’
He didn’t. Though maybe he meant to and just didn’t happen to see us afterward. I hope we helped out, anyway.
Basia got up and sang with us, which was as lovely as ever. Her new album is going to be brilliant.
Afterwards, Dre wanted poutine. There was none to be found. This seemed surprising, because poutine is definitely a 24 hour food. But he wanted it with sausage bits in, or something, and didn’t want to wait. I ate some more Tim Horton’s. We got to the hotel.
‘Raife! Let’s go swimming in the morning!’
Dan, Raife and Dai ended up in what Dan described as ‘the nightmare of nightclubs’, where muscled jocks booty danced with tightly nylon clad girls into the wee small hours. In the city known for being indie mecca, where you can’t walk down the street without bashing into someone who used to be in Arcade Fire but left because they were getting too commercial, this is no mean feat. I went to sleep knowing I was going to have poutine for breakfast or Dre was going to kill someone.
Come the morning I headed for the pool. Spent some time in the lift looking for what floor the pool was on. Looked in the hotel information brochure. Finally asked at reception where it was. And this is when I realised, as if the fireworks incident wasn’t enough, that some kind of mist had enveloped my head.
‘There ISN’T a pool.’
‘What? Yes there is! I……’
‘Heard about it?’
‘I’ve looked. There isn’t one.’
‘But I was sure there was one.’
‘So was I.’
‘We invented a pool. Didn’t we.’
‘Yes. Yes we did.’
Despite staying in many hotels, a number of which DID have pools, I managed not to swim once, the whole tour. I probably wouldn’t even have ended up going in Montreal if there was one.
POUTINE FOR BREAKFAST.
Chips are nice enough. Cheese Curds are nice. Gravy is…..it’s okay, I spose. As a combo?
Because Poutine is somewhat of a medical myth.
Personally, I’m actually not that much of a fan. But I understand. I had coffee. I like foods that are specific to an area. They become like little gods. And everyone loves an edible god.
5:34 am • 13 August 2009
In a sense, Toronto is our North American home away from home. New York and LA are too, and Oklahoma is, but something about Toronto, when I get there, I always feel like everything’s going to be okay. This trip was particularly like that. Ericka and her husband Jonathan happened to also be there, which meant we got to see them, and hang out with Victor, who is amazing, always. His main thing is that he does beautiful street art in Toronto, but he also runs a gallery, looks after a building, and does all the variegated other things you’d expect the soul of a city to do.
Photograph of Victor in his kingdom ©Jonathan Prior 09
The first day was Tim Horton’s, Victor’s building, sushi and experiments with camera lenses.
You can keep your chocolate sprinkles, Ericka, for me it is only the God Of Donuts that will do. The Honey Cruller.
Dan claims they make him feel sick, but all they make me feel is sad that they only exist in Canada. And that’s before I even get to thinking about the Double-Double. We got a widely varied dozen, including a disgusting looking pink one that I insisted on. I asked Dai later who ate it, because I wanted to know if it tasted as Pink as it looked and he said he didn’t know. It just vanished. I suspect VICTOR.
We also spent some time playing the game everyone plays at Victor’s.
One night, home with the TV, Victor saw an ad he liked. One of those, YOURS FOR JUST type of ads. He dialled. And he forgot. Until one day a mysterious package arrived on his doorstep. In it was….
a very comprehensive selection of the very best of…..
THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL
So now, when he has guests, or his guests have him, or probably sometimes just when he’s in the mood, the game goes
pick a disc, any discpick a song, any songand watchand learn
it’s a simple game. But very satisfying. I picked Ted Nugent. Finn picked Robert Palmer. Then we group picked Heart, and all agreed that Heart Are Sexy.
Dinner was sushi. Very happy sushi. And a short wander before bed, to the latenight bookstore.
When they start having to label a section, it’s time to put a stop to
Look at all those perkily pastelly coloured spines! Look at all that cursive! Imagine the Romance! The indecision! THE SHOES!
We were all sleepy. And there were Things To Do Tomorrow. Namely, get Finn’s shirts drycleaned and go shopping.
Turns out, its quite difficult find a one hour drycleaner in central Toronto on a weekday. Quite difficult indeed.
Ericka: ‘How bad IS it?’
Finn: ‘It’s pretty bad.’
Ericka: ‘I mean, I could do them in a washing machine.’
Finn: ‘I’m not sure I want you to do them……I’m not sure I want you to touch them.’
So we went to Kensington market, which is full of shops like this one, which I thiiink is the same one where the beautiful Elise works. She advised us on tricks with laundry, like Febreeze, and Airing. Finn looked at her dubiously. Clearly, he didn’t think this was a Febreezeable situation.
I bought a dress and for a while we avoided the whole shirt cleaning question like the good procrastinators we all are. Until after lunch (waitress: ‘Could you please smoke somewhere FAR AWAY’) when the issue came up again. There was going to be no one hour drycleaner. There was no choice.
Ericka: ‘It’s fine. Jess’s apartment is across the street from the Horseshoe, she’s got a washing machine and we can iron them there as well.’
It was true, we were going to Jess’s for dinner anyways. I was late because I was trying to buy a pair of tights. I thought it would be a five minute mission. After all, I was in the middle of downtown Toronto. Turns out, NOWHERE would sell me plain black tights. Fishnets yes. Leggings OH YES. Pink purple neon green, an array of colours, shapes and lace patterns, but plain black, no. Disgruntled, I decided to eat instead.
And as so often happens, one person ended up saving everyone’s day.
When not using those binoculars to spy on peoples nocturnal (and occasionally daytime) activities, it turns out Jess runs a sort of YMCA for musos, without even realising.
‘Look! Your shirts are done!’
‘You need TIGHTS? You should’ve said! I’ve got loads! Brand new ones!’
Jess’s other guests were well amused by the laundry.
Ericka: ‘I’ve ironed one. I think we can all do one.’
Finn: ‘This ironing business. Show me?’
Ironing classes and tight supply. Brilliant. I’ve still got the tights, too. Very fine.
We ate. We drank. And then we played. It was second only to Spaceland, and we’re all in agreement that Spaceland was…special.
‘SOPH! LOOK OUT!’
Too late. There’s one in every bunch. The quiet one. That all of a sudden becomes the KRAZY one. In this case, it was Ariel Foreign Born. It took a while for us all to properly bond. It seems what we think of as jovial banter, other people find…..terrifying. I suppose it’s not everyone who can see that Raife making throat cutting motions across a crowded room at you is meant in a FRIENDLY WAY. As Dai succintly put it
‘This is…..big personalities…’
But Minneapolis started something, and Toronto exploded it. A love was born. I think its true birth was when Brian walked up to Dan out of nowhere and said
‘Hey Dan….let’s do something weird.’
So to find myself suddenly soaked from behind by a bottle whatever bottled water company the Horseshoe Tavern prefers was surprising…..but to turn around and find it was Ariel….was strangely very cheering.
Give anyone long enough, and they’ll come around to our way of thinking.
It wasn’t long before I was standing next to him at the bar, watching a little drama unfold. The bar was closing. We were supposed to be going to Victor’s, but nobody had thought to get any drinks in or anything. There was a really lovely barmaid who said she would love to help us out, but had kids to feed and a job she liked, and wanted to keep doing both. Someone said something about an afterhours delivery service. But some people thought there were more direct routes.
‘WHAT IS THE MOST I CAN GET WITH THIS?’
Waving a silver card of some no doubt limitless nature
‘Do you mean, what is the least?’
‘NO. WHAT IS THE MOST I CAN GET?’
‘GIVE ME A BOTTLE OF ABSOLUT.’
‘Oh, I didn’t mean a bottle of liquor. I thought you wanted a beer.’
‘Oh. I’m sorry. I can’t do that.’
He turned away to serve someone who looked a little less like they were on the train marked KRAZY.
‘SOPH! WHY IS HE SERVING THEM! WE’RE THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN THIS BAR!’
‘No we’re not.’
‘OH YEAH. WAIT. NO. YOU’RE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THIS BAR. AND I’M PART OF YOUR TRAIN!’
‘No I’m not.’
‘OH…..YEAH I GUESS NOT.’
I heard he went back to the hotel and ordered everything from room service and ate it in the bath.
We went to Victors. Though it took me a while. I and a nice girl whose name I don’t know and probably will never know went to the 7/11. We tried to go to Tim Horton’s. It was closed and the guy cleaning up didn’t want to know. So we settled for Dill Pickle Lays, an orgy of chocolate and a mysterious cup of sweets that I got around to in the morning and would like to see again, because they were the best sweets I ever had. By the time I got to Victors I’d lost the lust to party completely. I shoved one bag of crisps into Dan’s hands, watched his face light up, and bolted. Dre was outside, looking similarly lustless. We jumped in a taxi, and I went to sleep in a pile of Dill Pickle flavoured crumbs.
Toronto, we’ll be back. Always a pleasure.
11:05 am • 12 August 2009
Crime, punishment and the Radisson
Please, dear residents of Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Pontiac, don’t take it personally that our travels through your more than fair cities aren’t getting full individual exposure. It’s not that they’re any less exciting. In fact, you were scenes of tour defining moments. That went unphotographed. And so I’m reduced to foggy images that float up out of my brain at random. Where were we when we nearly got caught up in the ramraiding of a gas station? What DID we say to the doorman at the Radisson that produced such a strong response? Why am I wearing an eighties ‘Cats’ tshirt? Actually, I know exactly why that is, and it’s because when I was a kid ‘Cats’ came to town and everyone’s parents took them along, and everyone had ‘Cats’ tshirts, EXCEPT ME. So when I found one in a store in Cleveland the inner jealous nine year old in me said WANT IT. AND LOOK AT ME NOW! LOOK AT ME NOW!
Unfortunately it is also a very well loved ‘Cats’ tshirt and smells a bit foul. What price, happiness of inner jealous nine year old?
It was Minneapolis first. What we do in Minneapolis is we see movies. Last time it was Batman, this time it was Bruno.
I didn’t like Bruno. I disliked it enough to make a point of saying so. Loved Borat. Hated Bruno. Maybe it’s just that I’ve heard funnier jokes about dildos, maybe it’s that embarassing Paula Abdul seems like a fish/barrel deal, maybe I’m just fussy when it comes to ‘gayness! funny!’ bits - give me David Cross, Bri-Bri and the Chevre any day - but it just…..wasn’t FUNNY. There were good bits - Nazis ARE funny - but there weren’t nearly enough of them. I was surprised. And disappointed.
Anyway. So we did that. We did an interview, during which it became apparent that we’d reached the point in the tour where we can’t do anything except giggle and repeat injokes. The girl doing the interview was lovely, and she did her very best, but she was working with…..you know that stuff you make when you’re a kid (clearly inner nine year old, drunk on the power from ‘Cats’ tshirt, is now attempting to take over completely) I think it’s just cornflour and water and some food colouring, when you squeeze it it’s solid, sort of, but then it reutrns to a liquid, jellylike state at the slightest opportunity? We were like that.
‘Can you tell me a bit about the drums on Larkspur?’
It is unfortunate that she semi-directed this question to Dan, but I can understand it, because NONE of us look remotely like Henning, and this was halfway through the thing, when she was already up to her elbows in gloop.
‘Well, I’m the guitarist…HE’S the drummer….AND HE DIDN’T EVEN PLAY THE DRUMS ON LARKSPUR.’
We all cackle for a little too long, for no reason at all.
‘No, I’m the NEW drummer.’
‘Our old drummer.’
‘Your old drummer died?’
And then we all had hysterics. And tried to make her promise to run a little RIP HENNING tag across the bottom of the screen when the interview went out.We did tell her he’s not dead REALLY. But by then it was too late.
I think the whole much-longer-than-is-reproduced-here interlude was cut from the final piece, which you can see on the Dustbowl blog.
We played. That was happy. And then we drank Jaegermeister. We got Foreign Born to drink Jaegermeister. Before we knew it, Brian Foreign Born was sitting outside the Radisson on someone’s immaculate white motorbike, avec sidecar, and some people in uniforms were looking a bit unhappy.
We made it inside, at least. Finn and Raife were playing football with Raifes mobile phone. Cue: morning:
Raife: ‘Why is my phone broken?’
Finn: ‘Might’ve happened when I was being goalie and you were kicking it at the marble wall in the lobby.’
Some other people seemed to be trapped in the revolving door and were making a bit of a fuss about it when a man appeared.
‘I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.’
‘Oh no, we’re staying here.’
‘I know you are.’
‘We’ll be good! We’ll be good!’
A hand firmly in the middle of Finn and Raife’s backs and a gentle manoeuvre into the lift.
Chicago was great in all ways except two. One: I didn’t get to go to the John Fluevog shop. Two (more so), Foreign Born got everything stolen. As in, all their clothes. And their laptops. And their passports. Out of their van. There are some very well dressed criminals in Chicago right now, with some Californian passports and some very well stocked ipods. It wasn’t nice. And it meant they couldn’t come to Cleveland, because they had to stay in Chicago and get new passports in order to make it to Toronto. It put, to say the least, a dampner on the night.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again, Cleveland for me ties with Tucson for best shopping in America. It has my favourite shop in the world, Big Fun - and I note, from going to the website just now, that Playboy agrees with me. This time, we didn’t get to go, and I was disappointed. But it was amazing even so. Not only did I get this now completely over-hyped ‘Cats’ tshirt, there was also something MAGIC in the dressing room.
‘Guys, check this out!’
Dre is holding a bottle cap woman.
‘Jesus. Where did you get that?’
‘Through that door.’
‘What door?”That door right there!’
IN the dressing room, was a DOOR, that lead DIRECTLY into a second hand clothes shop. If that’s not the best dressing room of all time, I’ll eat my own hat and Finn’s.
After Cleveland we DJed. Us DJing is…..oh it’s a shitstorm. Always. The first time we did it, we let Liam have a go, he promptly cleared the club by playing Iron Maiden for forty minutes. Eventually Dan and I took charge, nailed it with a deftly handled Hendrix/New Order combo, and swore never to let anyone have a go again. Another time went beautifully, except for the fact that Henning wasn’t speaking to me by the end of the night after I screamed ‘VETO’ in his face about every musical choice he made. It’s generally the deal that Dan and I take main duties, Finn guests every fifth song or so, and usually guests well, but it’s always full of fraught moments. Mostly it’s my fault. Put me behind a mixing desk with a screen and I become a dictator, telling people their taste is bullshit right left and center. And this time wasn’t any different. If it wasn’t Finn changing songs halfway because the urge to play ‘Shoop’ was overwhelming it was me forgetting that my laptop has a headphone jack stuck in the socket and thus is mute….
And why does SOMEONE always request Steve Aoki? Do I look like I like Steve Aoki?
And yet, it always ends up working out. The people from Music Saves, whose birthday it was, were lovely, and the whole thing was quite brilliant.
And then we went to Dennys. Why do we ever go to Dennys. Why did Dre decide to order the Grand Slam Burrito?
THE FINE PRINT: ‘All of your favourite ingredients from the original Grand Slam® - two scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes with syrup - topped with melted American cheese and hand-wrapped in a large flour tortilla. All grilled and served with crispy hash browns’
That’s American cheese. Made, in America. Hand-wrapped. By real hands. Are the hash browns REALLY neccessary?
Why did Dai end up eating egg yolk off a menu? Was that even coffee? Should I have been drinking coffee at four am anyway?
Yes. To all. Pancakes. In a Burrito. Pancakes. Burrito. Burrito. Pancakes. That’s not food. It’s warfare.
Pontiac was interesting. Detroit in general is pretty interesting. The fact that the place is called Pontiac is something in itself. Was it named after the car, or was the car named after the city? There are beautiful houses around, that look like they have nobody living in them, which is sad.
It says far more about the state we were in than the state of Pontiac that by far and away the most exciting thing about the day was that the Crofoot had a washing machine and a drier. It couldn’t have come at a better time, honestly. We laundered.
We slept. We prepared for Toronto.
9:24 am • 12 August 2009
Rearending: Round Up
I got home, three times. The first time, I got on a plane from New York, had a nap, went to my house, went to sleep and got up at 4am the following morning to go to Portugal. The second time, I got on a plane from Portugal, got home, fell asleep and woke up at 8am to drive to Belgium. The third time, I got in a van, less hungover than some, and drove to London, packed up some amps, fell asleep on the bus and then fell asleep again. I woke up yesterday morning and I was at home, and there was nothing to do. Hopefully these trips will be documented, because Interesting Things Happened. But first there’s a lot of catching up to do. Really a lot. One of the first things said to me, when I got home, though I don’t remember which getting home it was, was
‘You’re so reliable with your blog. You always get halfway through a tour. And then flake out.’
It’s true, it’s true. It’s to do with sleep. In the early days of a tour, getting up an hour early to write things down is nice. It probably even qualifies as Oprah-esque ‘me time’ or something. And if you miss it in the morning, theres a comforting two hours at the end of the day to tip tap tap away in bed. Until other people want to sleep.
Finn: ‘Seriously Soph, I know it’s your room too, but you are actually the loudest typer I’ve EVER HEARD.’
By midway, I’m sleeping as late as possible, timing my showers to the second and getting to the van with my boots unlaced in order to make departure time. Blogging happens in snatched moments before soundchecks, and in the hour back at the hotel late at night when you can’t sleep because the noise in your head needs an hour or two to simmer down.
By the back end, the time before soundcheck is spent gazing dully at your surroundings. The lights come on an hour and a half before showtime, when everyone suddenly becomes capable of conversation. Though it’s limited conversation. Barks and whimpers. That hour at the hotel just disappears. I don’t know where it goes, but suddenly you’re only making it to the hotel five hours before you have to get up again, and the only thing that keeps you awake for a minute in bed is making sure the alarm clock works. In the morning the best you can hope for is that your tshirt won’t smell as bad as someone else’s tshirt.
And so blogging becomes……difficult. Everything becomes…difficult. And in Minneapolis I had…a moment. It’s best to be honest about these things. I don’t know. It was the morning and there was some problem with tshirts and I just couldn’t deal, and as Dre said
‘all of a sudden….you went GIRL on it.’
It came out in the wash. I had a nap. And after that, the parabola curved upwards again.
We got to stay at the Raddisson in Minneapolis.
Dre: ‘So be good, else it’s Day’s Inn for the rest of the tour.’
I wasn’t publicising tour diaries at the time, but I was writing them, and a long time ago, years, in fact, back in our first days of touring, there was an Incident, at the Sheraton in Brussels. In lieu of the blog I should be writing but I don’t have the pictures yet (getting them off Finn today) here’s the story, as a kind of teaser. Or not so much a teaser, because actually we behaved almost impeccably in Minneapolis. Or at least we knew the boundaries. And this story is why.
APRIL, 2006. BRUSSELS.
The ‘Liam’ in question is Liam our old keyboard player. For those of you who never knew him, he liked Metal. Iain was our tour manager at the time, and still would be if he hadn’t slipped a disc in his back and subsequently been stolen by a Danish band (who will remain nameless) with a less rigorous lifestyle.
We were sharing a dressing room with Brakes, the friendly Brighton lads who love nothing better than failing to organise themselves and having major arguments in hotel lobbies.
They’d done well this time, and failed to get a room at the Sheraton, where we were staying and the on-point concierge obviously thought “that bunch of bitching musos is too much of a risk”. Little did they know. Little did they know. Later, Liam, Dan, Henning and Iain made their way to the hotel bar. Emiliana Torrini was present, and, as Henning said,
“Dan called her a stupid bitch. She took it quite well though.”
Emiliani and Liam got into an argument, precipitated by her statement that ”doom metal” doesn’t exist, but “thrash metal” does, and that she herself makes “emotional thrash metal”.
Liam also called her a stupid bitch, and she must be allright, because shes a millionaire, and she didn’t have anyone ritually slaughtered.
Dan took it upon himself to order in a round of ‘your finest Cognac’ and only flinched a LITTLE at the hundred euro bill. After all, there was Emiliana to impress. At some point after this, Liam and Iain took it upon themselves to make a judgement about the quality of the Sheraton Brussels easter display. They took the three large and decorative chocolate eggs that were the centrepiece, and proceeded to smash them in the lift on the way to their room.
Liam: “it looked fucking awesome though…..when we were smashing….the lift was all mirrors….and the shards were like…..exploding…..”
Iains glaswegian blood was obviously roused. After two nights of being attacked by Dan, Liam and Henning in his sleep, somehow he and Liam ended up in Dan and Henning’s room, where Iain hit dan in the head with a large, stack heeled boot.
Unfortunately for Iain, Dan’s a fragile little bunny, and head wounds, as we all know, are prone to bleeding. There are photos of the state of Dan’s pillow, but he wouldn’t let us see the cut. WEDNESDAY A non smoking hotel room (of which we only had two, but this was one) means a lot of sitting in the lobby. Which meant I was there when Conal came down and said, calmly and quietly,
“Dunno. He came for breakfast, but he’s prolly in his room.”
“The same I guess”
Alarm bells were starting to sound in the distance. Liam had informed me of
his exploits over breakfast.
“The manager would like to have a word.”
“Apprently they have some security camera footage from a lift last night. At first I tried to deny all knowledge. But they had VERY accurate descriptions.”
The upshot of this was a lot of quiet venomous talk from over at reception when Liam and Iain apppeared. They threatened to call the police (really, what can you charge someone with. It was CHOCOLATE) but settled for a payment of three hundred euros. I didn’t see much of an expression on Liam’s face when he reported this news, but it’s possible his eyes shadowed just a little at the realisation that, no matter how many Maiden DVDs you watch, they just don’t show you the part where you have to pay your own money for being a legend.
5:25 am • 11 August 2009
Dre had been wanting to have Barbeque since before we got to Texas. Overruled the first morning in favour of eggs, he wasn’t taking any prisoners the morning we left, driving straight into the carpark of Rudy’s and turning off the engine before anyone even knew where they were.
But the thing is, it’s wrong to doubt Dre’s food choices. Ever. We should’ve been eating at Rudy’s since the minute we arrived in Austin. Never mind. We learned in the end.
As I chomped my way through ribs and Finn, who isn’t much of a meat eater early in the morning, grazed his mountain of supermoist brisket, Dai delicately picked at a pint of potato salad. Dan, though, seemed quite happy with his cheese and coleslaw sandwich.
What WAS surprising was the number of OTHER people who will order meat by weight at 11am on a weekday morning.
Back on the road.
‘Dead Armadillo! Dead armadillo!’
Raife was very excited.
‘Where, on the road?’
‘What, you wanna turn round and grab it?’
Ah, Dre, so witty.
‘Yeah, I sort of do.’
We didn’t think he’d actually DO it. Everyone else was asleep, so they didn’t see Dre casually cross the median strip, twice, and pull back up a hundred feet or so from the scene. We’d spent the interim searching the van for gaffer tape.
‘I thought it was under this seat.’
‘I can’t wait til they wake up and see a dead armadillo taped to the dash.’
For some reason it hadn’t occurred to us that it might not be…….the most savoury adornment. I think we were imagining it an armoured patron saint, dead yet incorrupt.
The reality was not that.
‘It’s a bit……..seepy.’
‘We could trash bag it.’
‘Give it to Foreign Born? We need to get them a present.’
‘I don’t know that that’s a good present.’
‘ITS AN AMAZING PRESENT.’
‘We’ve got another seven hours to drive. You want it on your lap for seven hours?’
‘Fine. Fine. We’ll leave it.’
I think Dre knew alll along we were never going to get it. But paternally, he indulges our whims.
It was actually the armadillo incident that made me realise we were losing it a little. No sleep, much drive, jaeger meter tipping in the red. One pina colada slushy topped off with Captain Morgan’s too far.
Lucky we’re heading for Oklahoma then……
It was lovely to see the old crowd, and especially to hear of an engagement. Congratulations Mr Chitwood.
It was The Other Girls last show with us before opening duties passed on to Faces On Film. Group photo was in order.
The thing I like best about this picture, aside from the enormous cat, is that that laptop screen in fact is a skype video call with Ed Harcourt, that Raife happened to be on at the time. The big lug muscles his way in on all important occasions, and that’s exactly as it should be.
This is Foreign Born. I haven’t talked about them much but they’re lovely men. They’re a bit scared of us because they’re from LA and thus when Raife tells them he’s going to cut their throats they think he MEANS it.
And if I managed to get covered in bites from some kind of bed dwelling…..bug…..while I slept in the Oklahoma Days Inn then, you know…so be it.
10:51 am • 27 July 2009
‘Do you remember that cafe Chad took us to?’
‘Yeah! That was amazing! Let’s go there!’
‘Okay. Where is it?’
‘What’s it called?’
‘Dunno that either.’
‘Something in my head says…………….Congress?’
‘Woah. Nicely done. Though not that much help.’
‘I think it was called Magnolia.’
That was Finn. Impressive.
‘Now you mention it, I’ve definitely heard of a Magnolia Cafe.’
‘Dan, are you not thinking of Magnolia Cupcakes, in New York?’
‘Almost definitely not.’
‘Well, the GPS says there’s a Magnolia. So let’s just go there. And we’ll see.’
It actually wasn’t the same one. We went to the branch (?) of Magnolia that WASN’T on Congress, and it turned out the cafe we wanted wasn’t even called Magnolia. That didn’t stop us from having a very fine breakfast. I even managed to include a spectacular display of one of my many talents, a gift for blithe tactlessness in precisely the wrong situations.
‘Thing is I never was very good at rolling ‘jazz’ cigarettes….something to do with the texture….’
Raife started making some really weird faces. But he does that all the time. I ignored him.
‘SOPH! Let’s have a cigarette! Look! I’ve rolled you one!’
Finn knows me well. He waited til he got me outside and was very kind rather than angry in telling me about the large, uniformed and armed sheriff sitting directly behind me at the breakfast counter.
To Congress! For the shops!
I wanted some sandals. Didn’t find any. Settled for a pomegranate margarita. Finn bought six red velvet cupcakes which, despite them being bought from a truck in their spiritual home were actually not as good as what I can do. But the location kinda made up for it. And they went well with the tequila overload. Raife bought a large bone and gave it to Dre as a present, who promptly hit him with it.
So we rolled up to Mohawk, cheerful and loose jointed from the humidity, ready to soundcheck. We could hear cheering as we pulled up outside. Is there a band playing already, we wondered?
Could anything be better? Honestly, NO. I’ve never seen real live wrestling before. It turns out it’s WAY better than it is on TV. It’s not just a big weird homoerotic glam rock sham, it looks SORE. That punch in the belly? Not real. But the part where you grab someone round the neck and run BACKWARDS UP A WALL before throwing them over a pile of folding chairs? Well…….it’s not a MIRAGE.
We did what you have to do and befriended one. His name was Caution. I think he just stole the tape off the road on his way in. He got beat pretty soundly, actually, but he was by far the most entertaining.
I’m so GLEEFUL.
The best part was sharing the dressing room with them. I was kind of afraid that they’d punch us out when we walked in, just for being so untough looking. But they were very nice, to us and to eachother. Various large men sprawled in pained lumps in corners. Tough looking girls in leather. It looked like the aftermath of the Techinicolour battle of Troy.
The show was HOT. Thanks to everyone who made it through. We knew we would, but I did feel a bit like a raisin afterward. A dried apricot.
We saw something we’d never seen before. I think we freaked the owner out a bit, in that WE freaked out over HER, without considering that SHE might be a bit freaked out by US. It was just a big happy circle of freaking out, really.
Yes it’s real. Her mum did it. Her mum’s a tattoo artist though, so it’s not weird.
Raife: ‘I really want to steal this pink wrestling mask.’
Me: ‘You really really can’t. For one thing, it’s bad karma. For another, HAVE YOU SEEN THOSE MEN?’
Raife: ‘Mmm. Good call.’
AFTER THE SHOW:
Outside, smoking, I saw something lying crumpled on the pavement. It looked a bit glinty. I like glinty. I wandered over and turned it over with my foot.
And all hell broke loose.
That’s Raife. Yes, he is gaffer taped to a wall. Yes he is holding a set of roto-toms. Yes, thats a mask, yes, he eventually broke free, and no, you will not be seeing the videos. We’ll save them for his induction to the rocknroll hall of fame.
12:06 am • 27 July 2009