Archive for October, 2001

6734366

Portland

The drive to Portland was piss rain and dark skies. We got there late. It never ceases to amaze me the transformation of that city. Ten years ago we sat in a van outside the locked Satyr icon watching slow motion druggies score heroin (or in one case instant coffee) it was a scene straight out of Streetwise. Tonight we play in a clean little club that begins the evening with a quiet local film group showing short films. Six years ago at the X-ray cafe a woman with an enormous and swollen tongue ring made us disgusting �burritos� with uncooked rice and raw onions while asking us questions we couldn’t understand because of her self-imposed speech impediment. Today we choose from a full menu of what turns out to be excellently prepared veggie offerings on a smart little menu. I can’t really remember whom we played with many of the past times we came through Portland but tonight we headline what will probably be the most interesting bill of the tour. There was a cabaret singer, an indie rock band and then a hip hop band with an incredible 16-year-old woman who played stand up bass and blew the roof off the house.

Our set was late but fun. The audience called out songs and some even attempted dances. We slept at the hotel next door where we caught our second rocker concierge listening to music and dancing when he thought no one was looking. The same thing happened in Montana. Dancing?


(jenny and the poncho, jenny and amy with boa)


(larry crane of tape op magazine, jean with boa)

The next morning half the band sped towards Chico while Kristin and Franklin and I took a slower route stopping first, at a poncho-friendly vintage store, then again in a small town that had a huge book barn that was closed but also had an old-timey health food store with a giant peace sign. I bought 16 cents of soy nuts. After that we stopped at Heaven on Earth, which is a religious restaurant that Franklin remembered from his greyhound bus journey to the International Pop Underground festival. Apparently Heaven on Earth used to have a deal with Greyhound. The busses would stop there in the middle of the night and everyone who had already been sitting together on the bus for hours would have to sit together again at one big table and eat a big meal. The restaurant is known for it�s incredible baked goods and home made jams. Every meal comes with fluffy slices of bread to drench with jars of homemade apple butter, Marion berry jam and peanut butter. They also sell huge cinnamon rolls. Seriously�they are gigantic�much bigger than a human head and several pounds heavy. We brought one back for the rest of the band. On the way out Kristin broke a jar of Jelly but considering the fact that it was Heaven on Earth they let us leave without making us pay. Apparently the �you break it you bought it� motto is not in effect on the other side.

Jay called us from the bed and breakfast where we were staying and described it as an orphanage.

When we arrived later we were confronted with the second floor of a barn that had been converted to look like the peach and white Walton�s. The room was enormous with a variety of white wicker and iron beds of all different sizes facing one another in rows along the walls. A �cow-themed� wallpaper border skirted the walls and fluffy white curtains billowed in the windows There were a dozen king-size beds, twins, bunk beds and couches all covered in the same odd �bee hive themed� comforters. Amy and Jean were dead to the world in a twin and a full. Jay was watching TV from the king, Heather was keeping it real on her queen. I asked Jay to put a nipple on the last bottle of wine and climbed up to the top bunk to go to sleep.

Seattle (written by Jenny)

Sit and Spin was a treat as was seeing the unexpected opportunity to see Mudhoney blast the paint off the walls of the local electric workers union hall before I set. The folks who run Sit and Spin were super nice. The bartender had that lovely quality where he laughs incredibly genuinely and incredibly hard at anything anyone says. You feel like a hero comedian around folks like that. It�s good to have them in the world. And on the bartender tip�he was super accomplished. He made me Mexican Mules (Tequila and Ginger Beer) with fresh ginger�mmmmmm.

The show was quiet and somnambulant. There were a bunch of old Tsunami T-shirts (the ones Kristin and I remember screening in the Positive Force house kitchen) but 70% of the audience were, poker-face silent, holding hands and sitting down. Tsunami used to have a rule that it was OK to sit down at our shows but only if you were making out�I thought about reviving the rule but remembered how rawkus and distracted previous Seattle audiences were and instead opted to appreciate the calm politeness on it�s own terms. By the time the set was over I was exhausted and happy to avoid the opportunity to get a couple extra songs in as an encore. After all we�d already driven 7 hours that day, seen Mudhoney, and I�d done a bunch of interviews, which, though entertaining, often drain far more than anything else that falls within my list of rockin� responsibilities. I�d hoped to get to spend a bunch of time with my new friend Nicole Vandenberg who is an activist dynamo but she was in the middle of coordinating 6 benefit shows under the title Ground Works that were raising millions and millions of dollars to end world hunger. How�s that for a daily agenda item� �Hmmm, what will I do today? Oh I know, I�ll end world hunger.�

It�s always rewarding to speak with her about the work she does because she is so smart and patient and responsible even in the shit-storm of money and egos and chaos that come with stadium size events and super famous rockers. She seems remarkably practical and immune to the activist infighting that cannibalizes so many well intentioned causes. Kristin and I hooked up with Nicole later that night and tried to talk for about a half an hour before we crashed. In the morning Kristin and I found the friendliest coffee shop in Seattle. One employee almost knocked us down with the intensity of his good morning and with the strength of the delicious coffees he made us. We settled in two huge armchairs that faced a roaring fire�enjoyed the rustic antler and snoe-shoe themed furniture and imagined for a half an hour that it wasn�t piss-rain and cold outside. I gave Kristin the 5 sample Mensa questions published in the Seattle paper and (of course) she got 3 of them without a wick of effort.

Next we swung back to Nicole�s house to pick her up for breakfast where we had good talks about organizing and documentaries and work and rock. We dropped her off to prepare for a walk through at the local Amphitheater where
Pearl Jam and REM would be playing the next day and made a beeline to Left Bank books the collectively owned Anarchist bookstore where we spent too much money on jazz and feminism and media consolidation before picking up Amy and heading off to Portland.

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6693771

Seattle

FRANKLIN BRUNO TAKES HIS TURN AT THE TOUR DIARY

THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE DO NOT Necessarily REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF JENNY TOOMEY CORP.

Writing this a couple of days later, I�m already a little blurry on the drive from Idaho to Seattle. I suspect this is because I was pretty blurry during the drive itself�I kind of went into self-imposed hibernation mode on the all-driving days since Minneapolis. There was classic rock, gorgeous scenery of the craggy, piney variety I�m poor at describing, some academic reading, and a few games of Jay�s electronic Scrabble, which plays words like GOX against one on a regular basis. I think I must have done part of the driving too, but wouldn’t swear to it under oath.

Got into the Sit �n� Spin, an almost archetypically hip/kitschy caf�/restaurant/club/coin-op laundry with lots of board games and juice drinks. (This is fine: Being on a rock tour, especially when one�s over 24 and a not a heavy drinker, I�d rather find myself tossed into the set of Friends in a strange city than, say, The Decline of Western Civilization.) Soundchecked on a nice big stage, got a few drink tickets, a gratis chicken sandwich, and quarters for the washers. Jenny did a magazine interview, the local weekly had a long, very positive review of her record, and Steve Turner of Mudhoney (old friend of Jenny�s though I don�t recall the connection) showed up to say hi. The just-named OGs (Original Grungesters) were playing a show mere blocks away, so sometime between check and our set, most of the troupe walked over, past what appeared to be the Mothership/Taj Mahal of all Starbucks and the like to what turned out to be a union hall�International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, if I�m remembering right. It was a very different, resolutely all-ages/community vibe than the last time I saw Mudhoney, which was maybe 6 years ago at the Palace in L.A. with Hole. (I don�t remember who was opening for who at that point.)

Loud room, sober but not unexciting playing, one old song I recognized. I wouldn�t say they�ve changed much, but I hadn�t been waiting for the Mudhoney drum �n� bass project anyway. Keep on rockin� in the free world, I say. (Speaking of grizzled veterans, I�ve noticed in a couple of towns that The Lazy Cowgirls�who were the band, long-established even then, that Nothing Painted Blue played our first ever non-college show with�are out on tour. That, my friends, is persistence.)

Missed the openers back at our show, including Jen Wood who used to be in Tattletale and who I know slightly (in other words, I felt bad about not watching) because I got completely sucked in to a pinball game called Wrecking Ball. I thought I�d been playing about 20 minutes when Jenny came in and told me that the second band had ended a while ago and that we needed to get on stage. (Tour always has this hurry up and wait aspect�one�s often looking for mild time killers, some of which turn out to be more effective than one wished.)

The set itself was mainly remarkable for Jenny talking to the audience more, and more politically (about a stupid, sexist new book about Kurt Cobain that seems to quasi-blame Tobi Vail for his death, or at least for �using her boyfriends like accessories.�) than the last few shows. And: Since this was the show Jean missed, I filled in a couple of violin parts, which wasn�t as good (obviously), but I could hear Jay and Amy better than usual, which should help us play together better. I have a lot of trouble setting a tempo at one point in �Artful Dodger,� but everything else is coming together nicely.

Amy�s sister happens to live here, and Jenny and Kristin stayed with someone I didn�t meet, leaving the rest of us (Jay, Heather, and me) to an already-booked hotel room close to the club�a nicer-than average Ramada Inn. Nothing to say about the sleep experience, really, except that when I went out to get something from the vending machine, a compactly built, very drunk Englishman in a mildly flashy black suit was having trouble with the adjoining machine. �Oh God, why are you doing this?� he muttered to no one in particular, before asking me �Are you buying a packet of crisps, then?� I said I was. �Are you having nacho cheese?� (I can�t quite capture the strangeness of his pronunciation of �nacho.�) �If you�re not, I�m going to shake the machine.� I looked behind the glass�it was the old dispenser-doesn�t-make-it-all-the-way-around, keeping-your-chips-from-falling-by-one-sliver-of-a-corner story. I actually wasn�t planning on having nacho cheese Doritos, so I helped him jostle the machine. I can�t remember what I finally purchased myself, and I don�t know why I�ve spent so long on this incident.

Coeur D� Alene

We stopped for dinner in Missoula and met up with Amy�s high school lab partner Katie who is doing a degree in Environmentalism. We parked in front of the underage disco (The Whole) which was held in the local Elks lodge. There were groups of disaffected youth wearing tank tops in 20-degree weather pulling each other�s manic panic pigtails and screaming at people from cars. It makes my skin crawl to remember the claustrophobic moments of that age. Claustrophobic moments, who am I kidding. It was claustrophobic years.

(kristin drinking) (jay and his pumpkin carving)

Katie took us to a snazzy restaurant with 20-foot high ceilings, $20 plus specials and huge columns flanked with those busty women that are usually on the bow of ships. Kristin ordered a Halloween martini that came complete with candy corn in the glass. I believe it was made up of something called pumpkin smash and vanilla stoli. She made it through half a dozen sips before giving up. (I took a great Polaroid of it�but it doesn’t really translate as a digital photograph) At the restaurant we began to notice that Jay is the first band member to be demonstrating symptoms of the disease known as �long-drivicus-stir-crazicus� for some reason he began carving the decorative pumpkin with his keys�

Afterwards we dropped off Amy who will be flying to Seattle and we headed off for 3 more hours of driving to Coer D� Alene. After about a dozen tries at several theme hotels (The Bates, and The Flamingo for example) most of which were closed and some of which had signs warning against fornication�we settled for a Budget hotel. Since these were motels none of em had two beds so that meant one of us was going to have to sleep in on the floor. Heather volunteered to do the dirty work as she was excited about the original character of motel vs. hotel chain and (of course) the downtown proximity of the bars. Lucky for us wed unintentionally hit the jackpot. Both hotel rooms were suites and had not only two beds but TWO ROOMS! The sleepy woman in the nightgown who checked us in never mentioned the two rooms when I asked�and both rooms were a measly $29 bucks each. They weren’t the cleanest rooms and mine had a bright pink bathmat that had clearly been stained with hair dye, (I’m from guessing when a fugitive from the law holed up against the prying eyes of inevitable bounty hunters)�but with two beds�a �pet friendly� manifesto written in the voice of the pet�i.e. �don’t leave me alone in the room where I might bark or the hotel may have to call the doggie police� and “magic fingers” vibrating massage units connected to all four beds we were in rocker heaven.

Across the street we found an odd wine-bar/latte joint/ game room and played some heated darts until the number of darts hitting the floor superceded the number hitting the dart-board.

Miles City Montana

Woke up baked in the hotel room with a heater that had the settings broken off. It was on and all firey cotton air or off and freezing� I was up and down all night pushing the one button that worked. Got on line and downloaded today�s mail only to find a note from my favorite college professor Mosh forwarding the hyper-flattering NYTimes Pick of the week review of Antidote with a cheery congragulations. Minutes later I overhear Amy�s phone call home to DC where we get the news that a rocker friend from DC may have beenexposed to Anthrax.

It’s particularly strange to be touring in the face of the war. It reminds me of the opening chapters of The Steven King novel…The Stand where an aging failure of a rocker finally has a hit song on the radio that peaks during the plague that signals the beginning of the end times. I seem to remember a grotesque scene of a pile up of cars and dead bodies in the Holland Tunnel with the radios all tuned to stations playing his song to the deaf corpses.

(everything is big in montana, even the hot dog selection)

It�s odd I feel so blessed in the forward motion that huge powder topped mountain to my left the endless horizon in front one mile from Livingston on route 90 West with Gillian Welch singing a song that certainly seems to be about MP3s.(the random overlaps of down time) It�s such a genuine distraction from the media microscope. Would it make a difference if there were 6 cases of Anthrax�if there were 8? If I was home I might think that it would. Right now I just get to wonder why Jay drove the van so fucking far ahead of us here in the car.

Minneapolis

We drove to Madison to get a head start on our super long drive to Minneapolis. The next morning we ate at Perkins if for no other reason than to convince ourselves to never eat there again. What is it with the top layer of hash browns cooked and everything else transparent? What is it with �potato pancakes� made like real pancakes with a few shreds of potato? What is it with the �salad omlette� where someone forgot to cook the veggies before they wrapped them ice cold in bland eggish material?

We made good time to Minneapolis so I made the executive decision to skip soundcheck and head straight to Ragstock a store that has the honor of being my most favoritist thrift-store memory. Ten years back on our first trip to the twin cities Pat Whalan our host took us there where his housemate worked and gave remarkable discounts. It was a playing field of vintage dresses, gaberdine, odd costumes. We left with bags and bags. Last night I found one sad dress. It was twenty dollars. I don�t think I�ll go back there again.

We had dinner with some folks from American�s for Radio Diversity a group that began in the wake of the sale of Rev 105 a super cool radio station institution that lost its life in the media consolidation and bandwidth grab that washed across the dial in the wake of the 1996 telecommunications act. Now a days the station that once championed Tsunami is playing blocks of Poison and Striper. We talked a lot about common concerns. They�ve done a lot of interesting work substanciating the lack of diversity on the radio by taping everything that gets played and logging it. If we could get 50 folks to do that for a full week across the country we�d have some super interesting numbers to look at.

We ate super spicy Thai food and considered ordering the Basil Martini. My Thai dish was served on a huge bed of steamed spinach which is the best idea in food that I�ve heard in a long while. Back at the 7th street entry Shiner and Death Cab for Cutie were rocking the kids in the big room. It sounded good but I didn�t sneak over there in time to see a thing. We never played at the First Avenue although I had a flash back to when Unrest, Stereolab and Tsunami played the 7th street years ago and we drew less than next-door�s dance party where kids danced in front of huge screen that projected fractals.

The bartender Meg gave me apple juice tumbler sized glasses of tequila and refused to take my drink tickets which is probably the reason why I later refered to Minneapolis as �the windy city� from stage. Kristin and Heather participated in a heated T-shirt sales contest. After much hassling of innocent bar patrons they tied neither having sold a shirt. Jay watched both opening bands intently and then told me he�d decided to form his own band�apparently he�d realized that it wasn�t too difficult. It only took a week on tour with me for him to figure that out.

Silent and screaming sparse but�fun show quick and dirty�in front of an audience of traveling poets (not kidding) who later championed our restraint�We�ve always been a shoe in with the traveling poet audience. Now if only I could identify where they regularly congregate. I could test the limits of disintermediation.

We loaded out in a flash and sped off to Pat Whalans to check out his new house. Kristin and I slept on a futon in the dank basement everyone else spread out in the living room. All the other times we stayed with Pat we were rudly awakened but a rather mean Cocatoo named Mika Bird. Mika had the infamous reputation for hating men and was the only animal I�ve ever seen be mean to Andrew Webster, Tsunami Bass player and kin to St. Francis Asissi. Andrew will be happy when I tell him that earlier this year that loveless mess of feathers fell off it�s perch and is now quite dead.

Pat woke us with coffee and Pancakes�just like ole times. It�s a shame we didn�t have more time beautiful people and things in Minneapolis. On the last Tsunami tour Kristin almost rented a U-Haul to bring back the cowboy-themed livingroom set being sold for a mere $500. I wonder what treasures would yield themselves today� But there are 1666 miles to drive between Minneapolis and Seattle and that�s a thousand miles more than the devil�s number. Got to put some miles between 666 and me.


(on the way to montana)

Chicago

We woke to buckets of ice rain�super depressing weather . Everything I know about Ann Arbor I hear through the stressed-out and taxed academic lens of my intermittent conversations with Peter and to be honest it�s left a bleak film . Today�s weather is a perfect stage setting to claustrophobia and stifling boredom. It feels like a week of Sunday afternoons. Heather, Franklin and I visit Zimmerman�s (Zingmermans?) the locally acclaimed deli which is notorious for it�s $150 dollar bottles of balsamic vinager. Considering the climate and my mood it just makes me mad. I order a bagel with veggies and they charge me 6 dollars. It feels like a magnet for gormet masochists�. You buy your coffee in one store and then are sent cheerily out in the rain with your cup to the building next door to self serve� and this process saves time? For whom? My suspicion that Ann Arbor is a black hole is confirmed when about 5 miles out of the town�s boarder the sun breaks through the clouds and we have a lovely speedy drive to Chicago. Tonight we play at Schubas a club. I�ve never played there before though I once spent a remarkable millennium watching Andrew Bird�s bowl of fire igniting Schuba�s dance floor while I swayed in silver sandles and a pale pink off the shoulder floor-length gown with a tall lemony Gin and Tonic. The only thing missing from that scene was a tiara. So clearly I�m excited to contribute to the already stellar legacy of Schuba memories. Though by comparison in the day the club seems small and empty.

Heather and Kristin go off to find a coat and Franklin and I stop in at Uncle Fun. The fella who works there tells us we have only 10 minutes to shop�TEN MINUTES? I couldn�t get through the hand buzzer drawer in 10 minutes. I turn off my consumer brain while Franklin considers buying a �reusable� mask from the 40s. Basically it�s a warped and melted flesh colored head shaped thing stapled to a 1940�s letter pressed two-tone cardboard frame with a couple of crayons thrown in. Apparently in the 40�s one could have unlimited fun by putting the mask on and drawing different theme faces. Right now it looks so grotesque we had unlimited fun by asking the store clerk if he though it would fit on Franklin�s head.

Soundcheck was easy thanks to Fabrize the helpful French soundman and Dinner in the Harmony Grill was delicious.

Afterwards we wove our way through the upstairs swing dance class to get to the booking office where two beautiful women wearing lovely plaid skirts, high-heels and tight sweaters (note to self�) let Kristin and I camp out on the phone lines listening to music and catching up with emails. Downstairs Franklin taught Jean to play Scopa some Italian card game where apparently Franklin gets to make up all the rules as they go. Eventially I settled behind the merch table with Julia to chat about her dog Tiger who is very much in love with me. It�s always bittersweet to play in the city since Lounge Ax closed it�s doors.

Deanna Veragona played before us. She had a great band with trumpet and stand up bass who could really swoon. Last time Amy and I were in Chicago for Lady Fest we got to record with her a bit at Kingsize for the Anti-Death-Penalty that Jon Langford was organizing. I got to sing Freakwater harmonies �let that freight train take me back to my home town.�

We had a super audience� silent in the songs, whooping and cheering afterwards� Mark Greenburg played organ a bit. I had hoped he would play WITH the whole band but apparently he �forgot� to bring his own organ down. I�ve never heard of fella�s forgetting their organs before but apparently that sort of thing happens a lot in Chicago� It has something to do with the Mafia history�people are afraid to carry around instruments for fear that rival gangs will think they are carrying machine guns. Mark said this is one of the reasons why there are hardly any musicians in Chicago. His playing was honestly sub par so we threw him off stage after a couple of songs. I guess we got away easy. Edith came up and sang on Patsy Cline we both wrote out cheat sheets to remember the entire voluminous lyrics. It sounded nice�wish we could carry her around with us so we could listen to her pretty voice. Later in the set Jean performed a bit of a composition that was written by the electric bear and the castinetts made another appearance in our encore.


(amy and her castanets, amy with edith frost)

ANN ARBOR

The next day was consumed in preparations for the speech at the U of Michigan�Amy and Davn and Franklin and Jean got to go thrift shopping and I spent two hours editing. I suppose it was worth it� We chopped off another 10 minutes and the speech was the best so far.

I�m actually beginning to memorize the thing. I think it went well and Rebecca Eisenberg who hosted the event seemed pleased. There was another person in the audience who argued that the system would always be the �way it is� and that�s why he was getting a law degree. (And your point is?) Telling an activist that idealism is hopeless is like telling a lawyer that there is no law. Idealism is our foundation fella. It�s not about how it is� it�s about how it should be. . Half the group crashed at (FMC board member) Peter Dicola�s house. Peter is in a Economics PhD/Law Degree program that is so difficult (I believe he said) no one has ever completed it. He seems pressured but unbending. We had a great dinner talking about recent events�the sopeanas that were distributed to the 5 major labels by the Dept of Justice last week and the language the RIAA got caught trying to slip into the terrorism bill which would allow them to go into folks computers and deleate illegal files. It�s important to remember how many of our civil liberties are lost in the vunerable and hysterical periods of recession and war. If I could go online right now I�d direct you all to the sage distillation of the history of presidential over-reach in war-time which was offered on ALL Things Considered a couple days after the towers fell by Prof Eben Moglen. If any of you do a search and find it I�ll happily add a link here if you forward it to me.

Later Kate, Peter�s sweetheart and housemate had to watch �An American in Paris � for her Ethnomusicaligy of Gershwin Class so we joined her on the couch. It�s always a treat to watch movies like that with Franklin. He�s got all the back story and the details on all the other movies of the character actors in all the bit parts. He also managed to borrow the Real Book to work out the sneakier chords from Girl From Ipanima for the in between songs so we�ll be ready for future between song tuning noodling.

Detroit

After Buffallo we went to Detroit to play a super fun show with Warn and Davn of His Name is Alive and Time Stereo fame. The show was set up at the last minute at a nice little bar called the Lager House right in dark heart of burnt out Detroit.

Whenever I hear folks implying that Michael Moore overstated the long term impact of US industry moving manufacturing operations overseas and out of industrial cities like Flint and Detroit I have this incredible desire to lock them in the tour van to drag them across the country for a little peek a boo with their own eyes. Members of the Jenny Toomey experience reaped the full benefits of a nearly completely shut down and boarded up main drag in what was once one of the United States largest cities by taking very dramatic photographs standing in the middle of a 6 lane Downtown thouroughfare that had absolutely no traffic in the middle of the day.




(davin, jenny and kristin, taking over detroit)

Afterwards we loaded in and Amy directed a DVD yoga class for some of us on the dirty floor of the club while the Pogues CD raged in the bar in the other room. When Davn arrived we headed to Greektown for garlic mashed potatos on our way we passed several casinos. It�s legal to gamble in Detroit now�you don�t even have to cross the boarder to go to Canada. I guess that makes sense� if the disinfranchized and hopeless are going to piss away their money somewhere it might as well be into their own community lottery and gambling pools.


(betting problems are very serious)

The show was chocked with Time Stereo goodness. Openers The Double were catchy and cathartic. They had an alternately super cool, super-spazzy drummer and a guitarist/singer with a buttery voice and a great melodic sense. I believe they were from NYC.

Next up was Warn with his acoustic show. It�s always interesting to get to hear the songs in their most stripped down versions, particularly now considering the lushness of his new record� Someday My Blues will Cover the Earth already a van favorite. I think the rest of the band liked it too. I could tell by the fact that they played about 100 games of Photo Hunt in the other room.

Afterwards was �The Little Princess Zoo Time� or something� which involved The Electric Bear and The Electric Girraffe playing distortion in front of a placid backdrop. But then, just when the audience was lulled into a confused stupor, suddenly an ape broke through the backdrop and created havok with the audience tackling audience members, tossing bananas and messing up some bar patron�s pool game. We were lucky to get some of this on tape.


(electric pinecone)

We played a pretty loose but fun set including the debut of �Your Inarticulate Boyfriend� one of the songs that we did with Calexico for the Tempting Album. Amy wowed the audience with her impressive castinette skill.

We managed to load out before the kindly bartender explained to me for a second time that he had told his girlfriend years before that he would marry me. He did this with his arm around me. I didn�t much know what to say to that and still sort of don�t. I guess that�s a compliment? (This fella can�t intuit my conflicted distrust of matrimonial union? I though it was transparent�I�ll have to work harder at distilling on the next record).Aside from once removed proposals it was a successful night.

Warn and Davn were good sports by letting the whole band stay at their house. We�re a big group� I think everything worked out ok� and Warn and I got to have a good long talk about Neil Young on the drive to Livonia� He was listening to Bruce Springsteen in the van which confused me a little and then he started nudging me in the direction of CSNY� times like this I have to remember he�s a bonified taste maker. I�m always pleased to get the insider angle.

When we arrived I got to see Davn�s most recent work on the front stoop. They are called �Travel Logs� and basically they consist of regular logs and stumps on wheels and with carrying straps and handles. These are probably available through the Time Stereo catalog.



(travel logs)

Almost immediately I curled up on the remarkably hard floor in the control room and for the first time in a week put a door between my dreams and the dreams of my band members. My band members were more daring watching the newly completed �Electric Bear Movie� and the classic �Wet Beginings� into the wee hours of the night.

Buffalo

I wrote a nice little piece about Buffalo and which focused mostly on how great Marty our host treated us� first with the incredibly delicious veggies that he roasted right there on the Mohawk grill for us� then by letting us crash at his enormous beautiful house with an entire 4 bedroom apt where everyone got beds and clean dukes of hazard and empire strikes back sheets and finally by getting up at the ungodly hour of 8 am so we could wake to a full bagel, chives, avocado, tomato spread�and endless pots of coffee�.


(the empire strikes back…. at franklin!)

but somewhere between then and now that fine writing was lost. It�s days and days later and I�m in �tour mind� where the details leave the brain immediately so as to allow for more room for new details to shuttle through the Teflon synapses.


(jenny, jean)
I have a vague memory that I liked playing Buffallllooooo�we will return.

Boston

Things are good. Even with 4 hours of sleep and many hours to drive to get to strange NPR Radio interview in Boston. Even with malls that have absolutely the same grouping of chain stores in every city in the nation. Franklin and I went searching for eggs and coffee we found a Starbucks and a mall so relentlessly cheerful it hurt the teeth. Even so�we are on tour�we are stardust�we are golden�we are arrogance and forward motion�we are untouchable.


(franklin bruno is a good thing)

Back in the car for a dose of unreality�There are Journalists with anthrax in NYC where we just were. Suddenly every tickle in my throat is hatching spores. When we arrive at the NPR studio we are scheduled to be a bit of lighter fare in between the scientific explanations of biological threats and a heartbreaking interview with the wife of a man who walked down to take photos of the towers only to be crushed, only to be found with camera, only to have the posthumous photos published in Newsweek. The interviewer is nice but facile (Franklin�s word). �So this song is mean�what�s THAT all about?� When I explained a bit of the politics behind the FMC speaking tour the interviewers response was something like� �Wow..those people who see you as a little 5 foot 5 woman with a shock of red hair and a guitar have no
idea��

No idea what?

I had a sneaking suspicion that maybe I was talking to one of “those people.”

It will be interesting to listen back to the interview and see if that’s really what she said. If she was really so dismissive or if I’m just being hyper sensitive The strangest thing was the moment when she asked me about why “Unclaimed” was so despondent? What do you say to that? I just pointed to the fact that she recognized that emotion right? I mean if you can
experience an emotion why can’t you distill it? Why can’t you represent and process it? It was odd to me that this woman who was spending the entire day interviewing folks about Anthrax and their crushed spouses couldn’t see the validity in an exploration of despondency.

The rest of my Boston report disappeared into my computer.

All I remember was:

Bumping into Watt outside the Middle East (he was playing at TT�s next door) and talking about the awesome impending reformation of Mission of Burma to play two shows. I can’t think of a band that I never saw play that I would rather see.

Eating two helpings of their super garlic spread that is so strong it actually feels like sharp garlic needless entering your taste-buds. (All fears of anthrax were quelled in my homeopathic compulsion towards garlicky self medication.)

Sitting around with Mary Timony, Christine and Geoff before the show. We compared notes about our previous evenings shows in NYC. They had played a party for Jane magazine where people talked through the entire set and then received little silvery gift bags with hair dye and other goodies. I believe I saw a small parade of these women walking through Chelsea in stilettos dangling silver bags.


(heather)

The show was fun�afterwards Heather (who joined the tour that night in order to help us with some of the long drives) got behind the wheel of the van allowing the rest of us exhausted rockers room to crash. At one make shift rest-stop… that was set up in what looked like a trailer�Kristin saw a sign near the coffee advertising �Aesops Bagels� and made (what seemed at the time to be) a hysterical joke about bread and the public domain. What a pair of geeks we’ve become.


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NYC.

First day in NYC we woke up at Jean�s tiny apt in Brooklyn and hit the street for some breakfast. I ordered really delicious eggs in a coffee shop where they charge $11 for really delicious eggs. (Must be gold in them thar eggs.) Hipsters slunk throughout the small cafe sipping at bowls of latte disaffected and angular with ill-fitting clothes and baby-powdered hair (apparently it allows for a dirty look for those who wish to maintain a hygienic lifestyle). They were are welcome relief to the mourning presence of the city.

New York is jarringly different in the aftermath of Sept. 11. There are flags everywhere. Someone has literally made a flag stencil and spray-painted them on all the sidewalks of Brooklyn. (I�ve got stars on the souls of my shoes) Every storefront, every cab every car�s antenna, entire billboards wave with old glory. Even chain store and fast-food restaurants sneak pro-America quips into the spaces between extra-value meals and prices on the overhead menu-boards. My friend Tim Quirk told me a story about seeing a flag-shaped shopping bag on a sign with the tag line��They can�t keep us down.�


(jay tobey in front of the laundromat that never sleep)

Here, like many of you, I struggle to find words that integrate the latent sentimentality and patriotism that woke in even my most cynical cells as I watched the collapse of the towers, with an activist core that identifies the origins of that violence as an act as distilled Nationalism.

Later that night Whitney, Tim, Kevin and I walk below Soho following the eerie glow emanating from the void where before stood the towers. Now only lingering smoke and the hum of a thousand floodlights pouring forth their unforgiving clarity onto consecrated ruble where in every minute of our imagination, fortunate human hands reclaim another brick, pail of gravel, smiling desk-photograph for someone�s history for someone�s headstone.. Desperate for gentle acts we adopt a lost Frenchman on the street dragging his bad English and bad directions to a dive bar with worn wood tables and a bartender easy with the TV remote. Life begins again and forever in the easy grace of a place where again and forever we save ourselves in the task laid out� unzipping our understanding and resolve with liquor and conversation. To fuel with exhausted laughter the light which haunts the air of our peripheral consciousness with a defiant hope. We willfull�pushing deliberate the bright hypothesis forward further against a ravenous fear which unmet would easily consume the most generous and curious heart.

Mercury Lounge had a 2pm load in for an 11 show. Clearly the liquor lobby is working with rock establishments to increase rocker alcoholism by forcing said rockers to spend 9-hour stretches in empty bars.

This schedule change unceremoniously removed me from my responsibility to the CMJ panel that was scheduled for 3:45. I swung by CMJ to apologize in person to Megan who�d been coordinating the panels. Ever since Sept 11th she�s been on my mind whenever I had to pick up the phone and make a business call to someone in NYC�wondering the emotional state of the person on the other side of the line. What incredibly difficult work she must have been doing in the past month. CMJ was stark and the empty halls were another sad reminder.

Before the show I had the privilege of meeting Storey Littleton the four-month old beautiful giggling mass of Dan and Liz�s collective genetic material. Dan was sitting in with the band so we went back to his house to run through Nashville songs and meet the family. Liz was radiant and Storey was a solid distillation of joy. She is super fascinated by sound and pays remarkable attention to music. Watch out world for the swift debut of Ida family singers.

The show itself was a lot of fun. We played with Matt Pond, PA and another band that was a mess of strings and horns. We were lousy with strings and literally tripping over cellos in the dressing room. My brother and mother came with an entourage of 9 or so�and there was a lot of Pho in the house due to CMJ. The show still had the unreal quality of an early tour show and the
climate of mourning infused the entire evening. The house was packed�but sad.

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Philly/Temple University


(kristin and jay, loading the van)

It�s almost a week in and there hasn�t been a minute to write. I knew it would be that way until we got past Boston and on to Buffalo that we�d be in the meat of tour. The long drives that let you know that you aren�t just playing a weekend show. In the 15-passenger van now with 7 hours of remarkable autumn leaves between hotel and rock show there finally seems like a second to process what�s happened so far.

Philly was a whirlwind. It was a speaking date and a panel and two shows� The whole thing went by in a flash. All but my speech, which is still about 20 minutes too long. (Note to self� fix that before California). The speech was well received and followed by a panel of mostly lawyers who mostly disagreed with me for a variety of reasons.

The fella to my left wanted us to believe that the internet would fix everything through disintermediation so my speech was unnecessarily alarmist. He seemed to be arguing that we should just sit back and watch the revolution. Of course he made no mention of how trends towards increasing limits on internet architecture are already narrowing our access to information and control at an atomic level. His later comments about the beauty of the unfettered free market economy underscored what I suspect is near absolute faith in the unquestioned truth of capitalism.

The three fellas to my right thought I was being too critical of the major label music system. One of the three, who was among other things, Grover Washington Jr�s lawyer, talked at length about how much he loved getting huge advances for his clients and how great it was to have a label paying 3 million to radio to get an artist airplay. It wasn�t until the end of the panel that he had to admit that he makes his living as a percentage of that advance. The resulting laughter in the audience was one of the most reassuring moments of the entire event for me.

Later there was some common ground established when he admitted the difficulty that even he (and most lawyers) has with negotiating certain clauses out of label contracts. When we discussed things at that level there is no question that we had more in common than �in conflict� and yet it was very important for them to dismiss my critique of the current structure and to fix themselves firmly on the side of �other�. They also tended to paraphrase my statements in extremist terms as if, for example my elucidating the negative aspects of the major label advance system is the same thing as attempting to abolish it. It�s very interesting to me that the dominant music business model which predetermines how we find music and what music we find and which makes it super difficult for other models to flourish or even compete, is also seen by some as above criticism and requiring of absolute defense. One of the panelists even framed it in those terms. That we could either control everything by disallowing radio station payola and making positioning fees at large chain stores illegal or we could not control anything and allow the beautiful freedom of the market to take care of everything. He actually said that we had �two choices�. As if! We never have �two choices�� I certainly have never found myself represented with in the language of one of two choices. It�s also willfully a-historical�as if the government hasn�t already established the legal precedent that the process of payola is illegal. As if there was no history of anti-trust law in the US. As if an artificially constrained market place could ever function as well as a legitimate free market economy.

The most disheartening panelist was a lawyer/composer who had completely internalized the concept of musical Darwinism. He seemed perfectly happy to have the entirety of the experience of the musicians expressed through those few human vehicles who had historically placed themselves in that role.

One of FMC�s main critiques of the history of the creation of most music and technology legislation is that artists are not invited into the room when the legislation is drafted. To this, the composer panelist offered the historic fact that many of the original music publishers were also composers and that with people like Gershwin and Victor Borgia in the room representing artist�s
rights he felt �fine�.

When Professor Post asked him if he thought those publishers represented a broad range of artistic experience he acted confused. Later he grudgingly admitted that maybe all perspectives weren�t being represented but only after Post pointed to the financial disparity between superstar publishers (who incidentally have twin interests (at least) at play in any artist negotiation), and the overwhelming majority of incredibly poor musicians who are never invited into the negotiation chamber. When I asked him to agree rhetorically to the fact that representing a diversity of musician�s experiences was important, he said �yes�, but it seemed he was comfortably invested in an elitist system that equates success with merit and not money.This seemed particularly sad considering the fact that he himself and the odd instrumental music he makes is locked from an audience by the same system he nonetheless supports.

When it was over David Post congratulated us on being able to hold our stake in the middle ground. It was good for him to remind us of what we are trying to do. It�s strange�that is our real goal. To balance spin and power and precedent with information. Still, it�s getting to be a bit exhausting spending so much time doing the important (though redundant) ground work substantiating the failures of the established models. I�d much rather be propping up and helping to build the new ones. It reminds me of my undergraduate thesis at Georgetown which talked about sexism in language and the transcendent power of poetry. I wanted to spend the majority of my writing focused on the ways that context sometimes removes or twists the baggage of sexist language but instead I had to spend 50 pages explaining that there WAS this thing called sexism in the world and that that sexism is woven into the language that women use every day.

Ah well� when the panel was done David Post opened for us in the rock portion of the night in a Temple Law Lecture Hall. He played acoustic guitar covering Bob Dylan songs and dragging other students up on stage to play with him. Apparently they take regular trips to the Law School roof to jam and call themselves the �roof rats�. For his finale David did a version of Woody Guthrie�s �This Land is Your Land� reading out Woody�s irreverent copyright postscript from the originally published sheet music which says that anyone who plays this song without the permission of the author is to be considered a good friend.


(amy and jean)

We took the stage shortly afterward and the set had all the earmarks of an unprepared beginning of tour show. It was Jay�s first show with us and he was still working some things out�and for me�well it always takes me a couple of days to get out of activist head and remember how to play my songs. In the midst of the chaos there were some very nice moments and considering every other thing that was distracting us I was pleased to have the first one behind us and be safely speeding towards NYC in the rental car with Jay and Jean and the Impressions blasting.


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Manchester came and went in a blur. Things happen that way when you arrive at 6am after flying out of NY’s JFK airport less than two weeks after Sept 11th. I happily report that I was frisked, patted down, questioned, prodded, waved across with metal detectors and made to walk back and forth through security gates. (Order me around you security guards. That’s just the way I like it!)

After several large tumblers of Vodka in the British Airways’ lounge I was emotionally suited for a 7-hour international flight. Then after a nap, “The Heartbreakers” and two passable meals served to me with safe plastic cutlery we touched down in Manchester.

I was swiftly picked up at the airport by Anthony Wilson who runs the “In the City” conference that I was attending and who I later learned was the founder of Factory Records. (Forgive me Mark Robinson, my failure as a punk rock scientist is now fully revealed.) Aside from his historic punk rock standing, I was simply amazed that the person in charge of a 4 day music conference couldn’t find someone else to pick up the lil’ American activist from her “crack-of-dawn” airport arrival gate. I’d been warned by Peter Jenner that Anthony was a bit of a nutter…but in the best way” which is of course the way I like my nutters. After a charming mini-tour of Manchester he dropped me off at a snazzy hotel where I promptly crashed.

The rest of that evening consisted in a late night walk through the surrounding neighborhood where I was surprised to see an incredibly spiffy gentrified city center… with all the chain stores you see everywhere these days. They were literally tearing down old Starbucks to put new ones in…there were so many of those around… Gap…Bodyshop…McDonald’s…etc. Manchester… so much to answer for.

To top off the evening, I went to see Moulin Rouge. It was so bad that even the group of 12 year olds in the seats in front of me kept turning around and asking me when I thought it might be over. (I wish I knew…certain particularly rank images continue to hang in the air of my consciousness like the creeping odors of certain European sewage systems). When I hit the streets the bars had closed and I was surrounded by packs of drunken, rubber clad and high-heeled women and bellowing blokes. The next day someone told me a good Manchester slang term for the weekend warriors who doll themselves up, in 5-inch heels and then get so drunk by 11pm they can’t stand…though I can’t quite remember it now. Maybe it’s right that they close the bars at 11 in this country?

The next day I did the speech with Peter Jenner (ex and current manager to the Clash, Billy Bragg, Trex, Pink Floyd and also “an old Socialist fogy” to quote him on himself) . It went very well. Peter began his career as an economist, which makes him super fun to speak with about these issues. It’s unusual enough to find activist/rockers but to find ones that are not intimidated by numbers or economic structures…that’s rare and valuable. Speech went well…It is somewhat more fun talking about the failures of the music industry in front of artists. Later we had lunch and Peter told me about a great idea he had about creating new Taxonomies.

Tax�on�o�my (tk-sn-m)
n. pl. tax�on�o�mies
1. The classification of organisms in an ordered system that indicates natural relationships.
2. The science, laws, or principles of classification; systematics.
3. Division into ordered groups or categories: �Scholars have been laboring to develop a taxonomy of young killers� (Aric Press).

He feels that all artists have a responsibility to put lists of the music they love and are listening to on their site. If we are going to decry the media machine we need to work to build alternatives. Makes sense to me…

I’d much rather know what Rufus Wainwright is listening to than to know what Spin Magazine is plugging. So you can watch for that section on my website in the future. (And by the way, myself, I’ve been listening to Rufus).

On a final note, Maria who has been helping me to build this site has just taught me how to add photos to these posts. This is a photo of a fella named Harry that I met on the last night of the ITC conference.

It is his fault (an the fault of his super clever friends) that I stayed up till 2:30 when I had to get up at 6:30 for my return flight to the USA. If you see this photo I will have succeeded in learning to do another interesting website thingy. Take heart technophobes!

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