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December | 2004 | PJ Newman

And on the 8th Day

And on the 8th Day …

Before I black out.
Finished Day 4 of Festival of Trees.
I feel sorry for the trees.

On the other hand, when we lost our tails and fell out of the trees, the trees could breathe easier.

Let’s see if I understand this festival. We like the trees. We worship the trees. We perform yearly acts of genocide on the trees to show them how much we adore them. We have a festival for them and then drag the carcasses to the curb or burn them. Oh Praise Be Baby


My back is feeling the past 4 days of walking on concrete floors and sleeping on a hotel bed.

My brain is feeling 4 SOLID DAYS OF XMAS MUSIC.
Saturday Midnight.
Back at the hotel.

Broadcast latest developments from my assignment to headquarters.
Went in search of mind numbing agents, delivered to the bar next to my motel.
Greeted by the sounds of Karaoke from the bar. Maybe greeted isn’t the word I’m looking for. How about assailed? Close enough.

Dregs. Denizens from Hell. Soft white underbelly. Lowest common denominator.

Procured beverage. Sat.

Here’s what I know:
Publicity photos lie. Or maybe the photos told the truth, but the subject lied. Closer to the truth.
Case in point
My karaoke Mistress goes by the handle of Candy Lynn. The photo shows a stunning Gypsy hiding my future and her past. Her past was svelte. Her present is dumpy. As I settle into my drink, there is a short black man singing Sex Machine and attempting to put himself into traction. My back hurts just watching him. Candy is hiding behind her Karaoke console like Oz behind the curtain. Unlike Oz, though, Candy is playing tambourine to the song. Double interactive karaoke, double negative. Next up is Sarge, older white trucker looking mesh baseball hat probably with a colostomy bag. Fucker is singing Have a Jolly Jolly XMAS. I’m through with XMAS songs for the day. Please.
Back in the motel, writing this, television on. PBS is playing Concert for George. Where is my copy? Who did I lend it to? Find Jeff Lynne mildly annoying, Tom Petty, who I used to like, now a waste of vital human foodstuffs. Ringo remains a caricature of himself but is still the greatest rock drummer ever. Paul was less cloying than at other benefits and Rock Star-A-Paloozas as of late.
Sleep. Sleep now.

It is Sunday. It is sunny (sic). It is Tacoma.
The restaurant is not called the Market Cafe as previously report in these pages. It is the Renaissance Cafe.
Great coffee. Must drink less (as I pour myself another). No more ginger cookies either.

Hawaiian dancers for the lord. Hula Against Hell?
Look, before I offend everybody, try to see this my way. A Jewish atheist listening to contemporary Christian music being hula danced to in a 150,000 square foot concrete box that’s reverberant as Hell, surrounded by dozens and dozens over heavily made up pine and fir trees cut down before they could reach their full potential constantly being spied upon by minions of the dark side wearing costumes (or maybe not!) of McGruff the Crime Dog various colored Hershey’s kisses CLOWNS CLOWNS CLOWNS a scary snowman Smokey the Bear (I’m ok w/ Smokey). Opulently wrapped unwrapped presents that nobody but nobody in their right minds would ever need let alone use and then Porsche Boxter Harley Davidson XL1200 jet ski x-box Rolex oyster watch full carat diamond earrings flat screen dvd trips to Arizona Montana Hawaii Florida football box seats autographed multi-million dollar baseball bats 300 cases of candy cane flavored wine chauffer driven day spa being written into a murder novel 5 foot crystal tree breakfast brunch lunch dinner poker party bed of roses bistro sipping Maori warrior threatening smiling now week in New Zealand upgraded to business class Disney Land cuts in line to see the Lion King for the umpteenth time. On the other hand, watching a couple million raised for a wonderful children’s hospital, which, if we were still in the trees, would be rendered useless because the defective chimps would be tossed down to the ground to feed the tigers and cheetahs.

Back to work. The band which wanted more stuff showed up and after confirming what we agreed to, in the same breath, asked for twice as many channels. Ummm … How about “NO.” I warned the emcee that it would take a few minutes to turn the stage over. It was 15 minutes. Emcee Ken tells them to cut their set by 15 to stay with the schedule. They cut 30 out of sheer spite. The act was a family fiddle troupe. Imagine cross breeding of the von Trapp family and the Jacksons. I’m imagining rehearsals under grueling conditions, forced marches, cold water tossed on sleeping bodies, starvation, electric wired attached to adolescent body parts … typical show biz parents. Now 25 dancers of the children variety. I made a motion to bitch slap the emcee as he walked away after saying something stupid … again (him, not me). One of the dance parents is with me in the booth directing the music. Very nice guy. Chuckled when I did the bitch slap thing. He’s the emcee’s brother-in-law. Fuck.


It’s been revealed that this is Ken’s first year as an emcee. No Shit! He knows the acts and knows the hospital, but introduces the bands while I’m still onstage. I had a little chat with him and explained what I thought he could do to make things a bit easier next year.

For the most part, besides the insidious nature of the fucking Xmas tunes ingrained in my psyche, a good time was had by all. We need to rethink the deployment of sound in the room. The room needs a few things, such as acoustic treatment, free wi-fi, more comfortable concrete to nap on and something else that I can’t remember.

At this moment, after picking up Jazz, seeing my favorite server on the planet and thoroughly stuffed with Mexican food, I choose to forget the last week of my life until payday, at which time I shall rejoice and drink and buy little somethings for the little nobodies in my life.



Hello Dear Readers

Your Action News Boy here regaling you with more tough gritty news from the front!

Dateline: Tacoma
So last night’s buzz was this morning’s buzz as well. Same 2 channels, those darn wireless. I moved them from Ampland to FOH and all is well.
Last night ended with 2 hot dogs and a couple of Red Hooks from the AM/PM next to the hotel. Kelly smuggled me in a taste of some VERY NICE SCOTCH. Kelly is a good man, a fair man, a man who will trade his booze for my pills. Breakfasted at the Market Cafe, down the street from where we wasted half of last Sunday. Inexpensive, cozy and GREAT COFFEE.
FUCK! CLOWNS! The place is lousy with clowns, but back to them in a moment.
Sound guy boner #1. Whilst previewing (Do you preview audio? I guess you Audition audio) a CD for the next act, I guess there is the slightest possibility of a chance that I might not have removed said CD feed from the monitors. Ooops! Fuck ’em! I got hate mail from the flutes because they thought they were not adequately represented in the overall mix the other night. Maybe they’re right, but since I didn’t mic anything, it’s a moot point. Also, if there had been Seahawks Gals waiting for me, I might be more inclined to listen to their idle gaseous emissions. (Note: Superb Customer Service chip seems to have fried. Film at Eleven)

There they are! Bastards! Clowns! First off, that damn McGruff the Crime Dog was snooping around when I arrived this morning, but I threw him off of the scent. Then there was, in no particular order, a giant Lemon flavored Jelly Belly, a huge Hershey’s Hug and Kiss, a Punk Snowman and those DAMNED CLOWNS! I have many questions and theories on Wild & Captive Clown Breeding programs, but I won’t bore you with those now, as this is a fast paced war journal, not Scientific American or Popular Mechanics.

Last night, speaking of the Seahawk Gals, quite a bit of TALENT (if you know what I mean). Question: what’s the age of consent in Tacoma? It’s not for me; it’s for some of the idiot video guys. They wanted to know. Actually, they didn’t want to know or didn’t seem to care, but I had to hold them back from what could only be described A FLOCK OF 12 YEAR OLDS! Something about all of those images flickering in your eyes that must send these poor brave video folk over the edge.
Did I mention how disappointed I was in not having a quartet of Seahawk Gals for my
needs last night?
Speaking of flickering images, I’m happy they went with Halide lighting here. Fluorescents would’ve sent me into a murderous rage soon after load in.

Clowns again. This time there were 3 or 4 of them sitting at a table between the stage and mix position. I couldn’t hear what they were saying from where I was, but I’m sure they were up to no good. A few minutes ago, 2 took advantage of a photo op to pick the pocket and purse of an unsuspecting blonde w/ 2 kids.

Quick time out. Through the act that just did their thing, I ran into someone I used to work with at American Music years ago. So we’re talking about people we’ve seen lately and Eric mentions the name of a guy who ran with my older brother in high school 30 years ago. He goes on to say that he plays music with him, and furthermore that he’ll be here today. Sure enough, there’s Kevin Almeida, whom I haven’t seen for over 20 years! Wow!

Back to blog. Second to last band is showing no intention of yielding the stage and the Biopsy Twins are nowhere to be seen.

End of 1st half of Saturday.

I’m afraid to leave the premises because of what happened last night. Found a bowl of chili (or dog food w/ beans). Not bad. There were sandwiches earlier, but the volunteers are starting to look at me menacingly when I stop in for supplies. Why am I bringing a thermos when everybody else is ok with a paper cup? Do I really need that chocolate chip cookie? No, I don’t need it, but it’s there and it’ll take some of the volunteers a while to gum through it.
More cutesters tonight and in my age range. Stevie, I’d appreciate if you’d pay better attention to my rider in the future. I know it’s an ugly word, Pimp is, but you are contractually obligated to supply me with women when I work for you. I’d do the same for you.
The after-auction band (satellite stage) is starting to make noise. Did anyone bother to tell them about the room’s characters? Probably not. They’ll figure it out. Or not. I think they’re called Mid Life Crisis and all of their gear is Peavey. Stacks and stacks of it. Also, I talked to one of the bands performing tomorrow afternoon. They want 5 vocal mics, 3 DI’s and a whole bunch of instrument mics. I’ll let Ken-boy enlighten them.
See, the Customer Service chip is failing and by tomorrow I’ll be as good as new.

7:00 PM
Doors opened 1/2 hour ago.
Deli tray and some sort of noodley soupy thing. I’m disappointed in catering this year.
Techs are sitting in our holding cell. Me, Alex, Steve Baker, Kelly K and someone with a mustache.
A patron just walked by and asked if we were the brains of the operation. Either he came pre-lubed or is a cheap date. Look at the above mentioned names. We don’t have half a brain between us.
Good talent pool tonight. Some of the throw backs apparently dressed themselves.

Done. Back to my luxurious accommodations. Really, it’s not half bad. Half bad. Half bad.
Finishing this off and going around the corner to see if the locals are cannibals as rumored.
I’m looking forwards to the end of hostilities’ scratch that’ festivities tomorrow. I miss my dog, especially after watching 2 get auctioned. That is REALLY NOT THE WAY TO CHOOSE A PET. It’s nice and cute and criminal. If you want a dog or cat, ADOPT ONE FROM A SHELTER.
Enough upper case for me.
I won’t see you for load out Monday. My detox and debriefing begins when I wake up Monday.

Thanks again for the opportunity to serve.



Notes From The Front

Friday 11 AM

Before I forget, onstage now is an octogenarian dance troupe in revealing leggy costumes. Did I mention that these women are in their 80’s? Showing legs and undergarments is just plain sick and wrong. Joe, on the other hand, is enjoying this and I believe, even slightly aroused. Sick man, but very helpful. Did I mention that he’s a very mentally disturbed man and the dancers are insanely old?

I’m supposed to have been here at 9, but the hotel had to be stopped at and some asshole had to cut me off so I had to drive a few miles North before I could turn around. Did I mention that I was kicked out of the parking lot? Or that I got a parking ticket? Probably not
OK, so there’s Ken and Glen, the Biopsy Twin Entertainment Co-Chairmen. Ken decided to put the risers in front of the stage, which, of course, also means in front of the speakers, which, as we remember from Physics 101…
Between acts, I organize labor to put the risers onstage. We get halfway through when Ken FREAKS OUT!
HE PUT THEM THERE ON PURPOSE!!!! Fuck, I thought a vessel was going to burst in his skull! I am informed that I had NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to do what I did.
Ok, thinking back, I probably could’ve asked him, but I talked to all of the house guys and they said they put the hard surface on the stage for just that reason. I took full responsibility for the maneuver. I tried to explain to him why it sounded like SHIT and what we could do to fix it.
Long story short, later in the day he comes up to me and tells me that they’re going to try the risers onstage Friday, as if he suddenly took Bonehead Audio and personally knows the feedback frequencies. Fuckwit!
Even later, I apologize again and this time I’ve got the little prick eating out of my hands (remind me to wash thoroughly). Joe is a huge help moving mics and translating Amateur into English.
Had a chance to duck out and grab a bite. Walked to the Swiss and had a very forgettable tuna sandwich.
Evening went w/o a hitch. Only 7 auction items. Long ass boring putt-putt tournament. Somebody bought me a glass of wine. Food only passable. Artichoke dip ok, but the baked potatoes had too much bleu cheese.
Did I forget to mention that this brand new facility isn’t wired (or unwired for that matter)? They told me that if I ask 3 days in advance, they might be able to find me a data cable. The reason I mention this, aside from mind-numbing boredom and near total sensory depravation, is that the hotel room afforded me that link to the outside world that I so desperately needed. Tiny, no amenities whatsoever (ok, Cartoon Network works but no Bravo. I miss the West Wing already). You could’ve forked over a little more dough and stuck me in the Sheraton. Think about it: 24-hour fitness center, hot and cold running housekeeping staff, 3 blocks away. You don’t love me. I have lost my most favored nation status.

Friday again
It’s not loud. Just no way possible. But still getting complaints. Maybe they’ve all had their ears syringed and put fresh batteries in their hearing aids. My “Superior Customer Service” chip is installed and fully functional, although I believe that there is a certain frequency in old people’s whining that might just short circuit the chip and I become an evil robot again. I think they had it right in Logan’s Run. Kill everyone at 30. Kill them now!
Lots of people come up to me and ask what I’m doing. How to answer w/o getting tossed out on my ass? One old guy actually said that w/o us (sound folk), there would be no show! I almost asked him to adopt me (I was so moved), but after going over his financial statement, I’ve decided that I’m better off foraging in the wild.

I’m now under the impression that there are at least 7 rings of Soundman (and woman) Hell. Limbo and the innermost ring are filled with novices because they either don’t know enough or should know better. One or more of the rings are, in fact, 150,000 plus square foot concrete boxes with nothing but right angles, 30-foot ceilings and at least 10-second natural reverbs. One of them will always have an X-Mas pageant of some sort running 24/7. I’m wondering what I did to end up here and am curious of the wait time for reincarnation.

Jeff informed me that there will be Seahawks gals here tonight. I hate the Seahawks but love gals. I can get at least 4 of them in my car for later on.
Back to the present, onstage at this moment is a cross between Up with People and a teen horror flick. What do these kids possibly think they’ll get with this sort of an education? They’re too old for the Mickey Mouse Club. Maybe this is training for USO tours and they plan of having these kids captured and tortured by the enemy. Maybe our side is supposed to torture them. I want to know what motivates them to do this. Do they get to have orgies after rehearsals?
Up next, BANJOS BANJOS BANJOS! Over 30 banjos! I’ve never seen 30 banjos in one place together.
Fuck Fuck Fuck.
OK, I’m sure this will be true of us as well, but for the most part, at least in what I’ve seen and heard for the last 3 days, OLD PEOPLE SMELL FUNNY, CAN’T HEAR FOR SHIT, ARE CRANKY AS HELL AND NOW THEY PLAY BANJOS! It must be a safety in numbers kinda thing. What do old people travel in? Packs? Gaggles? Pods? Prides? Herds? Schools? Metro Accesses?

First half of the day is done. Went for food. Went to the Swiss again. Today’s sandwich was somewhat better than yesterday’s, but nothing worth writing home about. Came back and there is a BUZZ in the system coming up in the previously dead quiet wireless channels. Maybe some new computer (3 or 4 new ones since I left), solar flares, black hole. Dunno. Powered everything down and up, re-re-batteried the handhelds. Less than before, but still audible. I’m the only one who really notices, but now it’s going to bother me all night.

Show done. All is good. Will trouble shoot in the morning. Things calmed down. Didn’t hear the buzz.
Electronics, is after all, at best, still only theory.