December 15–San Francisco (2)

There’s a small issue I feel I need to clear up here. Thanks to Heather’s first post, Seattle, I’ve been asked by multiple if I actually did shit my pants south of Anacortes, WA. I can promise you that I most definitely did not shit my pants at any point on this (or any other) tour. What I was explaining to Nevada at the time was that Heather blogged about the tour, but he (Nevada) shouldn’t worry because she wouldn’t put anything embarrassing in the blog. My example was that, hypothetically, if I were to shit my pants, she wouldn’t write about it. Apparently, I was wrong. Heather would write about it…and as a result, my kind words of advice have had the exact opposite effect I was looking for.

Now that we’ve got that straightened out, I’d like to turn your attention to a truck stop about an hour east of San Francisco. I was using the bathroom (not my pants, you see) and noticed some extremely elaborate graffiti carved into the toilet seat. It was like a series of interlocking vines or something, perhaps a design for a sweet lower back tattoo for the artist’s girlfriend. Has anyone ever seen anything like this before? I mean, I understand toilet wall graffiti. Who doesn’t like to spend a few minutes in a truck stop stall drawing a giant cock and balls? But on the seat? Baffling. My goal has always been to spend as little time in contact with the seat as possible. Maybe I’ve been going about this all wrong…

Okay, I just needed to put that one out there. Now you can go back to Heather’s blogging…and probably some other completely made up story about me throwing up on a karaoke jockey in Modesto.

December 15–San Francisco

In the AM we’re sent off with a care package, replete with music, beauty products—my skin is having some sort of armageddon–and music. Anya is a saint.

We get a flat tire somewhere north of San Diego. It’s actually been a slow leak we’ve been ignoring for two days, but it’s now low enough for the gas station attendant to tell us to pull over to the garage to have it checked out. Thirty minutes later, we’re back on the road.

We have to get all the way back to San Francisco, in order to revisit Yoshi and our other SF friends, Evan and Chris. We all go to Benihana where we tell the waitress it’s Nick’s birthday. That means three waitresses grudgingly come over and beat on a drum and clap and sing to us. They finish off with a Polaroid of the “birthday” crew. After that, we get get a room for karaoke and spend the next three hours doing a sing along with 15 people. One of the biggest hits is Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” (my selection!) Really, with all the swaying and closed-eyed belting, we could be at church camp. Except there’s a lot more whiskey.

December 14–San Diego

Yay to seeing my friend Anya. Anya is a band friend, a singer songwriter we met at Mississippi studios in Portland. She is also a dj on a commercial alternative station in San Diego. We have had some long talks, some winey nights, me and Ms. Anya.

She makes us snacks and cookies and then takes us out to dinner. One of the best and most awkward parts of tour is how much at the mercy of other people you are. When they are so gracious and generous—which is almost always–it’s nearly embarrassing. For each of them, they’re extending themselves for one night, but for us, constantly moving, it’s every night that someone really goes out of their way for us—and that’s not even including all the people who show up to see us play. It’s humbling.

The show is our last with Fishboy and I can’t really say goodbye because it’s making me all sad. I think all of the bands are rendezvousing at a tacqueria later, but we end up being the only ones. I’m bummed, but a pound of carnitas helps me through the pain.

December 13–Los Angeles

The next day we drive to LA. Since last tour, we have learned to be looser with the schedule. We used to stress about being late, stress about having “zone” time before we played. We never had the stomach for food anywhere near show time. Now, we can eat, be 30 minutes late, dress in bathrooms, all without having a heart attack. Progress!

We’re playing the Silverlake Lounge, a place we played on our first tour, where I got my purse and Nick’s camera stolen.

This is a redemptive experience though—a really fun show with plenty of people. I have a private temper tantrum because I thought we made $14 but it was a fuckup—we made significantly more. Not that one can ever think about the money; it’s beside the point, really.

I get to stay in a five star hotel with my friend who is working in LA. It’s a humongous suite—the nicest room I’ve ever been in. In the morning, we get room service and watch Return of the Jedi. Wicket still sucks.

December 12–San Francisco

We wake up in Chico and go to record store we like, where last time we bought Bee Gees Odessa on vinyl and a sweet Muppet Show poster. I saw in Seattle that the first season of Muppet show has been released on DVD, so if anyone is trolling for a Xmas gift to get me, then, ahem. In first grade I had a Muppet Show lunchbox, a metal one. On the reverse side was Pigs in Space. This prompted a bratty crossing guard to call me Miss Piggy for the entire year. It probably didn’t help that I have a rather upturned nose.

Our show is at the Rickshaw Stop, a club with unbelievable sound and the nicest soundperson/owner I’ve ever met. His name is Waldo. We are on a bill with familiars—Si Claro, Fishboy, and The Mantles. It is my favorite show of the entire tour. The sound onstage was so clear I almost ask Waldo to turn me down in my monitor.

Fishboy, especially John the drummer, destroy. I catch some of it on camera video. I am technology-impaired, so this seems like a miracle. I keep watching the footage, awestruck. It may as well be an old nickel arcade movie—gadzooks! what’ll they think of next?!

One of our friends, Chris, is obsessed with a bar we walked by earlier, which she has dubbed “The Santa Bar.” All night she keeps entreating us to return to The Santa Bar. I love that stuff, so it’s a given. The bar is terrifying, something out of a Stephen King novel. There are 1000 Santa Claus dolls packed into about 200 square feet. There are Santas on every surface–hanging from the ceiling, encased in glass, revolving on a Santa ferris wheel. The bartender is an unbelievable dick. He clearly doesn’t want us there and keeps hissing about how we’re playing the same fucking songs every fucking person plays: Fleetwood Mac, mostly. But we keep staying, keep singing along with gusto.

December 10 & 11–Shasta & Chico

We leave Portland late. Around 8 PM, we arrive at a cabin outside of Weed. There are three dogs and our hosts make clam chowder and salad. It‘s a dream meal with dream company. I sleep in a cozy bed for 10 hours. Then we go to lunch at a bar. We stop by our host’s office. I am drunk so I brag that I can do 20 pushups. No one believes me. I drop and give them 20. Nick announces that I’m drunk. We go to a townie bar called the Vet’s club, which is oddly Marilyn Monroe themed.

Then we drive to Chico. It’s finals week so almost no one comes except a few really lovely people who are our heroes. Still, it’s the best show so far—at least in my mind. Fishboy have kazoos. They are fucking funny. I make us get a hotel so that I can sleep in.

Sunday, December 9–Portland

Back in Portland, I take care of business, doing laundry, hitting the gym, and doing other chores. The show is at Slabtown with Gingerbread Patriots, who we’ve been meaning to play with for about a year after two botched attempts.

Finally, I’m loosened up this night. Anna Shee Bee Gee sings the Christmas song with us. Ellen SBG is sick, sadly. We miss her.

Saturday, December 8, 2007–Anacortes

In Seattle in the morning, we dawdle and Ethan, our host from the Math and Physics Club (a band that plays beautiful pop), reads to us from a book on film by a guy named Vern. We listen to records and then go eat a the volunteer park café. Normally, I would bitch about manicured, rich sanctimommies ad nauseum, but something weird has happened and I think I might want to have one of those little monsters one day, so my hypocrisy meter is telling me to shut the fuck up.

In Anacortes I make us go to a thrift store. It is shitty, full of half used nail polish and exhausted Christmas decorations but I find a vintage slip, one of the many things I collect. Then we go to a bar. I get an oyster shooter and chicken wings on the argument that it’s not white flour.

We are playing the Department of Safety, an all ages venue that feels like an arty compound—really cool. The show is freezing cold and fun. Nevada’s keyboard keeps cutting out because the amp is broken. I really love Fishboy. And Tullycraft are terrific—we could learn a thing or two from them about audience participation. Nick says he thinks we’re talking too much during our shows, that it’s turning into VH1 Storytellers. There is fresh baked banana bread from the DOS kitchen and I totally hog it.

Friday December 7, 2007–Seattle

I used to live in Seattle, so more than anywhere but Omaha, it evokes warm cuddly feeling. We will be playing at the Comet Tavern, a grunge era place that I was inappropriate at more than once.

I-5 opens at noon and we finally get out of town at two, because Nick and I are pokey motherfuckers and Nevada, forgets to bring his keyboard and has to go back to his apartment. We’ve built up the drive to be much scarier, traffic-wise than it is. Nevada is with us for the first time ever. He is our new keyboard player, recruited from Omaha connections. His mother is business partners with our mother. We grew up about ten blocks apart. I wonder if this will prepare him to tolerate our incessant bullshit.

Nick explains to Nevada that I will be blogging, and that everything’s fair game except for really bad stuff. Like if Nick shit his pants an hour south of Anacortes, I would never say that on the blog. But I would.

We stop at Burgerville. I require that we go to Burgerville anytime we drive to Seattle. If we don’t stop, I start moaning “Burgerville” until Nick pulls over. Centralia and Chehalis are coated in a film of mud from the floods, but everything’s open. Nick is going to draw everything he eats, so I take a photo of his black bean garden burger. I really want a mocha perk shake but am already worried about my voice. Alex Shee Bee Gee told me dairy produces too much mucus, therefore, one should not eat it before a performance. Normally, I don’t give a shit, but the last time we played in Seattle, I had no voice, so I’ve got something to prove.

We pull into Seattle early and go meet my friend Christopher and his fellow Stranger writers at a weird place called Havana. They are drunk and witty, and I am given a pair of wrist warmers—actually socks with the toes cut off and a thumb hole cut in them. They’re pretty Hot Topic, which makes me feel youthful.

We load in the Comet and I realize I’m supposed to change in a bathroom in which I trust no surface. I am the sort of person who will eat a peanut M&M off a toilet seat, so this is saying something. This place has no usable mirror, no place to set things—nothing. I guess this means I will wear no makeup. I also forgot nearly everything–socks, underwear, shirts– including the leggings that are my uniform. I have to wear my dress over jeans, which I hate.

The show is a great lineup—us, Fishboy, Awesome, and BOAT, one of our favorite bands.

We play well. Nevada pulls off his first show easily. I never quite settle in, for some reason, but it’s fine. Fishboy totally rip. The drummer is fucking insane. I am really stoked we’ll be playing with them for many shows. “Awesome” are hard to describe—there are a billion people singing and a billion instruments. They pull all of this off while wearing suits! I don’t know how they do it.

BOAT are fucking amazing, as usual. I hope we can tour with them sometime.

There is a hot dog stand, like there is outside of every rock club in Seattle. Last time I played here, I had a fit of joy over the hot dog stand all the way in Ballard—of course there’s one at the Comet/Neumo’s. Why doesn’t Portland have late night hot dog stands? I could eat a hot dog every day if it wouldn’t kill me.

Speed Freaks

We barely make it back. The last three hours we’re limping along—pounding M and M’s and Gummi Worms to stay awake.

At 2:00 AM, we are finally, finally home again.

The instant we pull in the driveway, I wish we could do it all again.

Just kidding.