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December | 2005 | PJ Newman


As in, what the hell?
Why are my fillings loosening, my eyeballs playing pinball inside my skull and why does everything smell like cat piss?

OK, I’m in Anacortes, Washington. About an hour or so north of Seattle. The effects of a shuttle launch are actually about a hundred Harleys booting up around my hotel room (which explains the cat piss stench).
I’m in Anacortes recording 2 nights with Knut Bell, a larger than life Norvehoogian folkrockabillyhonkytonkythrowback with whom I’ve worked on 3 records in the past few years.
It’s Oyster Run, an annual bike run. Not quite Sturgis, but better than Disneyland. I’m in the hotel because I turned down the offer to sleep on somebody’s floor. I’m in a hotel that smells like cat piss because it’s the only room available Friday. Saturday finds me in another room up the street. The locals have rolled out their own version of price gouging. $45 rooms going for almost double. Luckily, we don’t have to pay for beer. Might break even …
Friday was a beautiful day. The drive up is relaxing. Cruise the main drag. Get the first room. It’s almost the size of my house. Stinks. My eyes water. My nose does somersaults.. Time to start drinking. Head off to the gig. Unload. Knut is still staring at a pile of staging that hasn’t been set up yet. He tells me a story about how the gear is ready, but it’s nowhere to be seen.
Hmmmm …
Leave Knut to mutter and find a room for Saturday. Take the last room sight unseen.
Back to the club, I help Knut set up the stage and PA.
Back to the cat box, resume drinking. Jon Stone shows up about 6 pm. Continue drinking. Go to the venue. Finish setting gear. Discover that the console DOES NOT WORK. Problem, no problem. I can record straight to the hard drive, but there’s no way to monitor what’s going down. Bummer. Make a call and reserve another for Saturday. Nothing left to do but forge ahead and drink some more.
Knut summed up the previous year’s gig by counting the number of fights he broke up before security made it to the scene. Ok, time to re-evaluate microphone placement. Lots of bikers, lots of bikes. A good deal of talent. Young.
Fuck, I must be getting old …
No fights. Greasy food. No talent. Back to the litter box after the gig with Jon. More beer. He heads for home.
I ask myself where did I go completely wrong? At what irreversible point did I swap self-respect for a chance to … a chance to what? Fuck, I must be getting old.
Day 2. Wake up (see paragraph 1). Check out (my sinuses forgive me). Eat non-greasy, yet bland food. Hit a used bookstore. Find Cranberry Lake, hike and read. Check into the new room. Much smaller but non-offensive to the nose. Go for a long walk and read some more. Back to the room and read some more. Jon shows up and back to the gig. We re-wire the stage, and then try to figure out what’s wrong with Knut’s light system. Give up.
Drink. Record. Pack up. Go Home.
Make rough mixes of 6 hours of Knut.
Can’t wait for another real taste of the road!

Got a reference cd back from Wylie and the Wild West of the show I recorded a year ago. The cd and dvd are due out soon.

Matt Jorgensen & I threw together a benefit concert to raise money for animals caught up in Hurricane Madness. Joining in the fray were Matt and his group 451, my friend Tim McGovern’s band Knucklehead, Jeff Diffner and Cam Williams, Mala Vista (whom I advertised as Hyperlung for a few weeks!), Randy Lee Fader and the Magnettes, Finn MacGinty, Ian McFerron and Alise(sp), Dave Ellis and somebody else? Left Hand Smoke was sent home because it just got too late. Extra large thanks to Sean Shier for being the first one there and last to leave.

OK, my new cd, ‘The Hand of Dog,’ was released August 23rd (It’s Pearl Harbor Day today … sorry) to some fanfare. It got plenty of airplay in Chicago (I take full responsibility of the White Sox win in the World Series) and Germany (yeah, me and David Hasselhoff). No plans for a video or tour just yet, but the t-shirts are pretty damn cool and the 2nd version will be out by x-mas.

Work-wise, things have slowed down to sludge in the oil pan. Nobody’s touring in December, the locals don’t want to play now and other sound gigs have dried up. I guess news of my BIG BAD DAY made it out to perspective employers.
Almost almost done with the Mala Vista record. It’s sounding great. Maybe another year and a half?
Work on the front house continues nicely. If I haven’t mentioned this project, I’m helping my friend and neighbor (and landlord) rebuild the house in front of mine. So far, I’ve been a framer, electrician, carpenter, plumber, insulation hanger, human sawhorse and all-around day laborer. After this is done, we begin my remodel. I’m looking forward to my sunken Jacuzzi and party shower and new tracking room.

The follow up cd to Hand of Dog, tentatively titled ‘Electricity, Magnetism and Motion,’ is about halfway completed. I’m finishing tracks that I began 20 years ago and a few newer gems.

I’ve been listening to Juana Molina a lot lately, as well as Shane Fontayne’s record, ‘What Nature Intended.’ I can’t stop listening to this record. Check it out. I was pretty disappointed to the New Kate Bush disc.

Critter-wise, Research Assistant Mifune has been exploiting every opportunity to escape from the yard. I cut his legs off one evening, but they grew back the next morning.
He doesn’t seem to realize that at 75 pounds, he no longer qualifies as a lap dog. I’ve got a great series of photos of him cutting off the circulation of unsuspecting victims. As soon as I can upload these, you can regale in his exploits.

Anyway, sorry it took so long to get back to you. I promise to be more diligent in my correspondence from now on.

Happy Holiday season to one and all. The Hand of Dog and accompanying t-shirt make great stocking stuffers.