Well, it's 1:25 in the AM and we just arrived at our host Jen's house after our big gig in Pittsburgh. Jen is a sweetheart, Gordon's cousin and she took her medical boards today. That's the triple threat people. Dag.
Anyway, you'll get the full rundown in the big post tour journal, but I'll give you the highlight of the night and it ain't pretty. The club we played at had perhaps the best green room/band area of any place we've ever played. There was an entire floor just for the bands, with two living rooms, an internet study and, most importantly, a nice private bathroom.
Here's where it gets ugly. The bathroom was not only a great luxury, but also very necessary because three out of four band members had vicious....er....stomach problems. To put it somewhat cleverly, if we were rappers we would all have been Stoolio. The only one who escaped unscathed was Gordon, but he only eats bunny food so he doesn't really count.
Tomorrow we hit Oberlin college and all the person who comes to the show better be prepared (ha ha, there may be more than one. Maye)
What the hell is up? I'm writing from a fold out couch in Philly, where Jordan and I just spent about 4 hours trying to doze while Pete and Gordon endlessly jabbered about fantasy baseball. It sucked because even my most severe passive aggressive sighing couldn't get them to shut the hell up. Good lord.
Anyway, so far the tour is good. I plan on writing a huge tell all about each individual day, but for now I'm going to just try and ceck in with a couple highlights.
-I have broken more strings in the past three days thanin the last year. Luckily, when these strings snapped they managed to take a good chunk of skin form a bunch of different fingers. So now my hand looks like I had a chainsaw accident or something.
-I am getting really good at The Incredible Machine. That game rocks. Nuff said.
-This has been the tour of broken/stolen equipment. Between us, we've had a bag of pedals stolen, about ten cords swiped, two other cord malfunctions and a clear guitar that cannot be trained, bribed, coerced, or tortured into staying in tune.
-Saturday night we played on a beach. Literally. That was nice.
We leave for the open road in just a couple of hours. Honestly, this trip has been stressing me out a lot more than it was getting me excited, but that has all changed. I am now officially a high-morale soldier for the rock.
I feel like each time we tour I become a little more reluctant to head out. My life has become much more settled in the past year or so, and sacrificing my bed for two weeks doesn't quite have the allure it used to. But it's like riding a bike, once we hit the road I never want to go home again. I get into a routine of truck stops and coffee and grabbing a poop wherever I can that is kind of addictive. I end up glamorizing myself as a modern day Kerouac and buying t-shirts that celebrate the proud history of Indiana while feverishly jabbering with Jordan about how bad ass it would be to put a double wide trailer on a flat bed truck and tour in that.
In, short, now that it's so close I'm pretty damned psyched.
PS. There will probably be no journal until the 5th, unless I can find some way to post from the road. I'll do my best.
1) George Bush and the Republicans are doing their damnedest to paint John Kerry as a whiny, anti-American pacificist activist. This is, well, retarded, seeing that...
2) The man was wounded THREE times in Vietnam! What do you want from him? If anyone gets to come home and say "you know what fellas? I don't think this was a good idea" then it is John Kerry. But no. I even read that some Republicans are challenging one of his purple hearts because he was injured in a confusing gunfight where he may have been shot by friendly fire. And?!!?!?! He was still ass deep in dead bodies in a gunfight! A gunfight!!! Jesus Christ, if the man had gotten a hangnail I would have given him the Silver Star.
3) Bush's bent definition of patriotism challenges the very tenets of democracy. Saying Kerry was anti-American for protesting the war is exactly the same as the recent trend of branding anyone who dissents about America's military bullying as a hater of freedom. That's dumb.
4) I love my country and wouldn't want to live anywhere else. I also love that we have a strong military that keeps New Zealand from invading and making me a Kiwi. But folks, it doesn't make me, John Kerry or anyone else less of a patriot for saying that 100 American soldiers (plus countless young Iraqis) dying in April is not right. Especially with no defined goal or accepted motive.
5) I wonder what will happen when a 20 year old American kid comes home with his face blown half off and protests this war. Will Bush say he's a whiny self-loathing America hater? Somehow I don't think that will play too well in the press.
This is our fifth or sixth tour of this magnitude and it seems like every time we mount one of these road trips I am never ready. Not like "Oh, I should buy a toothbrush" not ready, but more like "Oh shit, I have absolutely no clean clothes, I haven't refilled my prescriptions, I don't know what bills I have to pay and I really should've had that gall-bladder surgery" not ready.
This is where I find myself today. I am not financially, physically, spiritually, emotionally or clean clotheselly ready to be on the road for two weeks. My plan? Tonight, I will probably go to Chez Target and buy 14 pair of discount tube socks, a three pack of undies (ew! kidding), a toothbrush, a couple trashy books (Dostoyevsky is nobody's friend on a car ride with three fellas, smartass), some earplugs, Immodium AD, Tylenol, travel size deodorant, odor eaters, a roadmap, pepto bismol, Tums, a portable board game that people will play once and throw away, a couple cheap dvd's, maybe a neck pillow, razor blades, purell hand sanitizer and a blanket. Of course, I will use none of these things except the stomach medicines and the rest will end up like all the prior brethren - strewn about the eastern half of this great country, serving as an unused example of one man's gross negligence concerning his own life.
I am back from a loooong weekend of motorcycle class. "Motorcycle class?" you ask? "Are you a badass now Joe?" you also ask? The answer to this is....well, no. But now I feel much more prepared to possibly delay my inevitable death from a motorcycle crash.
The class itself was pretty intense, being split into a classroom section and a riding section. The classroom portion was not especially difficult but did involve more acronyms than the time the SCUBA, LASER and NORML national conventions were all simultaneously scheduled at the Hynes Convention Center. Choice moment: our instructor Scott says "the clutch is a very powerful tool, like a gun. And like a gun, you should use it quickly and then immediately put it away." Hmmmm. Everything OK at home, Scott?
The riding section, on the other hand, was hard. We crammed a whole course of riding into two 6 hour sections. Six hours is a long time, people. This is pretty much how it went both days: Hour 1 - "wow, I'm on a motorcycle! This rocks! There will never be a time in my life when I will not want to be on a motorcycle, so cancel my rent and quit my job for me because I'm staying here forever!", Hour 3 - "Motorcycles definitely still rock, but it's really hot out here, no? And is it me, or am I gettiong an ass-rash from this seat?", Hour 6 - "Sweet merciful Jesus, I feel like my balls are in a quickly vibrating smelly trash compactor, my ass is now a lake of sweat, fed by the river that is my back, my thighs hurt and I would kill a man and drink his blood just to be able to go home."
Anyway, much to my mother's dismay I passed the course and am now a licensed Massachusetts motorcyclist. Dag.
Last night was a little tough on the old rock dudes. You see, this has been a good year for us and the crowds have been becoming appreciably larger and more vocal wherever we play. Of course, that's mainly because we usually only play in places where we have friends, and those friends are now not embarassed to bring their friends to see us.
Well folks, we have no friends in Springfield, Massachusetts. Last night we played for an audience of one, and that one was a mechanical bull. This is not a joke. I mean, there were people in the bar, and they were actually very polite, but they were not interested in us. Even the bull seemed pretty unhappy to be there.
Oh well, these are the gigs that make me so much happier to be playing in Boston tonight, although I did drown my sorrows in the wee hours of last night with an M&M McFlurry. Those things are so god damn good...
Life is tough. I think we all agree on that one. And maybe I'm just a depressive pessimist, but I find that moments of pure, childlike joy are pretty rare. I think I can count on my hand the number of times in the last year that I have felt one hundred percent worry free and happy, totally happy. Don't get me wrong, I'm not unhappy, it's just rare that I can forget about everything else in my life and just enjoy something.
And so I mostly get my dose of childlike joy from kids. Today on the bike path there was this little girl, maybe three or four, who was just running around in Big Bird boots and splashing in puddles. And good lord was she happy. The game just never got old. In fact, it seemed to get more enjoyable with each puddle stomped in. And as I walked by she looked up at me with an expression like "hey mister, wanna come jump in puddles? It's wicked fun!" Had her father not also been looking at me like "move it along, father geoghan" I may just have joined her.
Anywho, I kept walking to the train thinking about how nice it must be to be a kid who gets to get so excited about things like puddles. And I honestly got a little bummed out thinking about how few puddle-esque moments I have in my life when suddenly out of the blue it happened. My Rio Riot (I like to think of it as the thinking man's iPod, but it's really the cheap man's iPod) starts blasting "Family Affair" by Mary J. Blige. Now, I have no idea how it even got on my Riot but it was perfect. That song is a J-A-M on a rainy morning. I spent the rest of my walk literally screaming that I don't need no hateration, nor do I need no holleration in this dancerie. It was awesome and I still feel good. Dag.
I like to present myself as a man of principle. In many ways this is the foundation I use to pretend that I know a lot about things I actually know very little about. Unfortunately, however, when it's in my best interest I am actually just one big old hypocrite.
Today as I was walking to the T I realized that I didn't have any money and also hadn't eaten anything. Now, contrary to popular belief, for me to maintain my impressive manly physique I need to eat in the morning. What was my solution?
I shamelessly approached the trail mix dispensing bible thumpers at the Porter T and got my free granola bar in the name of Jesus. Those of you who actually read this garbage know that I have been merciless with these people in the past regarding their attempts to save my soul through the virtue of apple-berry crunch. But when the chips were down they were, in fact, my saviors.
So last night I had another cover band rehearsal and again it was a lot of fun. Well, except for a version of "Rock and Roll All Nite" that would have even curled the toes of Peter Criss. Ouch. Anyway, I think it will be a grand old time.
But of course no story of mine could contain only good elements, right? Right. On my way home I ran into a behavior that has always driven me mental because of its completely retarded nature. I am talking, people, about the high beams flash.
I was driving on this lonely, unlit suburban road. I have bad night vision and so I turned on the high beams. I also forget lots of stuff, so I naturally forgot to turn them off when I saw another car approaching. I know this makes me an asshole. I freely admit this. However, the driver of the other car seemed to need to let me know that he also thinks I'm an asshole by flashing his high beams at me when he was about thirteen feet away. Why?
All this did was completely blind me (he was in an SUV, I was in a Saturn with his headlights right at my eye level) and I actually almost went off the road. It also served no purpose whatsoever for his safety or the safety of other drivers. But people do this all the time. Are we all so shallow that we need to do shit like this just to let other people know that we feel superior? Arg.
All I'm saying is there need to be a lot more grumbling without action in America. This would be a much better place to live if when someone was being a dick people would just say to themselves "wow, that guy's a dick" instead of taking action to let the guy in question and everyone else in a three mile vicinity know that he's a dick. Is that too much to ask? And if it's not, can I ask one more thing? I hope the SUV guy gets a two week long case of very bad diarrhea.
So last night I had a plan. I was going to relax, play a little poker, help Ladyfriend Sarah study for the MCAT and then hit the sack around ten to get my well deserved "finally catch up on daylight savings time sleep."
So around 9:45, as I was preparing to call it a night, I saw that the red sox game was in the ninth inning. And of course I then said to myself "oh, this is great, let's watch the last few minutes of the game and then go to sleep."
God damn the red sox. God damn them straight to hell.
The game goes another two hours until it ends in the bottom of the 13th with the winning run being WALKED!?!?!?! home by future hall-of-famer Bobby Jones. There hasn't been a pitching implosion like that since Texas Mcat got so drunk on teaparty cocktails (one part old-ass Smirnoff vodka from the basement, one part Sprite Tropical Remix, one part ice in a child's tea set) that he threw like three hundred straight walks in wiffle ball last summer. Arg.
So now I'm at work, unrested, agitated and cranky. I say boo.
So last week I bought a pair of over the ankle black leather motorcycle boots. They are thick, smelly and literally have a two inch heel. In a word, they rock.
In the course of breaking these boots in I've learned a few things. First, I wish I was 6'2". I feel like a giant when I walk around the regular non-boot wearing folk. I feel like people, even taller people, should bow to my new tallitude and women should dissolve into puddles of boot induced ecstasy. So screw genetics, I really should have been a larger person in the interest of my self-esteem and sexual confidence.
Second, I have gained even more respect for women. I find myself constantly admiring women who walk by me wearing huge heels. How the hell do they do that? And look hot while they're at it? When I'm sporting just the two inch heel I find it has a great limiting effect on my ability to walk like a human being. Ladyfriend Sarah says I look like I "have a load in my pants". Thanks baby.
Anywho, those are my boots. Be nice to them or they will kick your ass.
So, I don't know how many of you watch the Real World, but of course you all should. It rules.
Last night was annoying though for a few reasons. The episode was about how Frankie (stereotypical "troubled" character) secretly is a cutter. Needless to say, she is found out by her roommates and they make a huge deal out of it in true Real World style.
-The girls in the house all have an intervention with Frankie and are shocked, shocked!, when she admits she hates herself. News flash girls, you all hate yourselves. A lot (except maybe you Jamie, you seem OK. A little goody-goody, but OK). Of course, the other girls don't cut themselves to show how little they respect themselves, they instead get blindingly drunk every week, physically fight people and get arrested, cheat on boyfriends and, oh yeah, they signed up to be on a show that never respects its participants, editing them in such a way to show all their weaknesses and frailty in brutal, non well-lit technicolor.
-At the end of the show, Dr. Drew comes on and tells everyone how serious cutting is and how if you know a cutter you need to get them help. Fine. I mean, cutting is serious. But as a reactionary measure to deal with emotional pain I don't think it's all that much more serious than binge drinking or promiscuous sex. And you ain't gonna see Dr. Drew after an episode where Brad gets too shitfaced to see and hooks up with a San Diego skank. It seems disingenuous for MTV to be pretending to care too much about these people who they consensually exploiting.
-Worst of all, Frankie uses a kitchen knife to cut herself. Now, I've known some cutters in my day and I've never known one to use a kitchen knife. Ow! But that's beside the point. A kitchen knife? And when she was done she put it back in the sink! Um, Frankie? That knife is your knife now sweetheart. I mean, come on. How gross is that?
-Final note. I'm not advocating anything be done differently on the Real World. It is great TV. But let's not lie to ourselves about what's really going on, right?
This year FXA is playing in the WBCN Rock and Roll Rumble, which is a great honor. I grew up in these parts and the rumble has always been a sort of goal for me, even when I didn't know what it was exactly. I remember being a kid and thinking that playing in a battle of the bands in the big city would be the culmination of my rock dreams. That, I assumed, was making it.
Of course, now I know that playing in the rumble, even winning the rumble, is not making it, but it is still pretty cool. And when I found out we had been invited I felt all those emotions from when I was a kid and to tell you the truth I got pretty nervous.
But then yesterday 12-G sent the band a bunch of posts from the Noise's (Boston rock 'zine) message board concerning us and our respective chances to win. Some people (OK, a lot of people) think we suck, some people think we're good and plenty of people have no idea who we are. As I read all these opinions from people I don't even know concerning the relative merits of thing I'm proudest of I realized that the rumble is in fact nothing to be nervous about. These people care far more about the outcome than I do.
All we can do is go and play our best which, as you all know, is purely ass-kicking, and then let the chips fall where they may. It should be fun.
So, last night I headed out to West Concord to practice with my new band. You see, FXA is playing a benefit show for an elementary school out there and we're sharing the bill with my friend David's cover band. But in order for them to take the gig they needed someone to sit in on bass and I became that person.
You're probably saying to yourself, "but isn't Joe the guitar player for FXA?", and the answer to that question is yes. Your next question is probably "if he's that mediocre at guitar then by the transitive property of sucking he must be a really bad bass player, right?" Right again my friends.
Anyway, besides the fact that I don't play bass it was still a lot of fun. I cranked out the hits of the sixties and seventies for three and a half solid hours last night and besides revisiting those crazy eras I also somehow strained some weird muscle in my right wrist.
So...number of people who I actually tricked with my little April Fool's Day ruse: 0 number who wrote to tell me how lame I am: 8. I guess I lose.
In other news, this morning on the T I was standing next to a little boy who was about 5. He was very cute. About half way through the ride he let go with the nastiest rip I've ever heard a child produce. I mean, this was shake the train windows loud. His mother was soooooo pissed, but the kid was just sitting there trying not to laugh. I, of course, being an adult immediately burst into uncontrollable giggles, which made the mother transfer her anger right on to me. She didn't say anything, but she gave me the glare of all glares. Once she turned away I gave the kid a wink and we shared another little silent chuckle.
My point? Farts are funny. Why deny it? A little kid farting today is more funny to me than it was when I was five and people, it was funny when I was five. There are so few moments in life that are just funny, not weighed down by the seriousness of the everyday grind, that I've vowed to try and enjoy them.
So get out there and laugh at some farts. And lady, lighten up already.
Today I have some sad news, but news I know a lot of you were probably expecting. After a very long and gut-wrenching meeting last night, Fooled By April have decided to all go their separate ways. Some very hurtful things were said in the meeting, and I'm sorry to say that the differences we share are irreconcilable.
Essentially, and I probably shouldn't even be saying this but I'm very emotional, Gordon wants to spend more time on his solo act, Jordan is getting more and more involved in his electronic/house/dub projects and Pete needs some time alone to deal with his recent problems with drinking (sorry to out you Pete, but you need to get better!). I don't know what I'll do. I basically just feel very adrift and sad.
Anyway, thank you all for your constant support of the last couple of years. Our accomplishments, although meager, were due entirely to your willingness to help us grow and your patience with us as we did. For that we will always be grateful.