With Enough Chinese Food to Last a Lifetime

Welcome back, dear readers, How’ve you been? The kids? Oh good.
This month has thrown enough chin music at me to last the rest of the year, but I’m sure there’s more in store for me.
This is the first blog on the new laptop. My ex, Mac Beth, went blind and I had to take her out back and shoot her. After many a painful eBay and craigslist battle, I emerged victorious with the new beastie, Mac Beth III.
She’s all silver (or titanium if you go by what Apple calls them), tons of gigahoozies and whatnots. I still haven’t figured out how to program it to make coffee, but hey, that’s what the dog’s for, right?

OK, so, I gave notice at work. They asked me to stay an extra month, and then last week extended it again 2 weeks. I don’t know why. Everybody else seems to know the combo to the safe. My last day is my birthday. I guess it’s as good a present as one could ask for.
Speaking of work, about 3 weeks ago, I decided to trip over a drum shield jutting out of an aisle as I was turning lights off and closing down. Major faceplant. I got high scores from all of the judges except for the Koreans. Major body whiplash. Suddenly, painkillers really are painkillers and they don’t work all that well anymore. I’m guessing that concrete was much softer when I was a kid. Stupid gravity anyway.

I’m still waiting to sign the lease on the new studio building. The landlords saw fit to retract their offer of a butt load of cash to build out the studio, but did give me 4 months of rent credit. But, as I run the risk of repeating myself, still waiting to sign the lease. They sent me a first draft, which ran 41 pages! It was like a Stephen King short story. The biggest question remains who fixes the broken windows?

New job-wise, the NPAC is going swimmingly. We have the Incredible Shanghai Acrobats today. Our first sellout and we added a matinee. Incredible is right! I remember doing a show like this 10 years ago at the King Kat. There’s like 25 kids, ages 13-19, I think they’re genetically bred for this. Once they wear out, the trainers and coaches amputate limbs and then graft them on new kids. They do the most amazing contortionhatjugglingleapingtumbling … balancingohmygodhowisheevergoingtostraightenoutandifihadabottleoftequila … andsomecoconutoilandifshewasthirtyi’ddieavery … happybutpretzelshapedman. One girl was part of a trio or foursome throwing and twirling ropes with balled ends. She dropped it after tossing into the rigging. Immediately, she was dragged offstage and out to the loading dock, where the trainer beat her with a dozen oranges wrapped in a towel. Another fellow dropped a hat or something and they lopped his hand off, right there onstage in front of everybody. The lucky few in the orchestra pit were sprayed with blood. But he was back for the next routine. Now that’s pluck! Or that’s what happens when the management is waiting offstage with a taser and a bucket of lukewarm water. During the second show, the same girl dropped the rope thingy again. I asked their tech director what was going to happen to her. Jenny said that the girl would either be gang raped by my stage crew or I could buy her for $50. All I had was a twenty. Jenny took it and said as soon as I had the rest She would FedEx the girl to me.
Film at 11.
Lunch and dinner were catered by a local Chinese restaurant. There was so much food left over at the end of the evening that I was able to grab about 4 pans of untouched food. Enough to last me a couple of weeks.

After a couple of weeks of snow, ice, flooding, hail, winged monkeys and televangelists, the sun is out and we’re warming up to the next ice age.

I’m truly amazed about how this internet thing works. In the last 3 weeks, I’ve been contacted by friends I haven’t seen or talked to in over 20 years. Keep it coming, please.

OK, I’m going to have reheat some coffee and have a few back spasms.



Isn’t anyone in Seattle hungry tonight?

I overheard these words a couple of weeks ago while waiting for a burger at a normally crowded burger joint.
The cashier said this to a cook. Wondering where the overflow crowds were. The crowds were hungry, I’m sure, but they were also hunkering down for the biggest windstorm to hit the area in over a decade. Later that night, over 1.4 million households in the greater Seattle area (what a fucking oxymoron that is) would find themselves powerless (without power), some for over 2 weeks! That storm showed us a few things:
Firstly, don’t underestimate Mother Nature.
Secondly, it showed how unprepared we were for it.

OK, that being said, I must admit that I deleted the 2 pages that followed this from last night.

Why, you ask?

Simply, I ranted and whined about things that at the time seemed relevent, but a day later, not so much, no.

Anyhoo, I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t forgotten any of you, I’m just trying to fill a bad hand.
Soon, if and when I decide what to do if and when I grow up, I’ll fill you in on all of the gory details.

Until then, please have a healthy and prosperous New Year


Irony Rich Blood

Irony shakes its steel-gloved fist at me. Must be because I once got drunk and did a number on its garbage cans. Well, OK, so I got drunk more than once, but I usually send the dog out for garbage can duty.
This I mention because lately I rented the first 2 seasons of Dead Like Me, a Showtime series about Grim Reapers set in Seattle, but filmed in Vancouver.
No, cheaper union hands.
This I mention (now getting to the point) because no sooner than I began watching the series that I was informed of the passing of my friend Jack Slater (chronicled earlier in these pages).
Yesterday, I received word that another friend died. I wrote about a recording road trip last year (see “Read the Directions Carefully,” posted 4/27) and told about a small coffee shop owner who befriended me and made parts of the gig more bearable. His name was Evian, he had just purchased the shop and was on his way to great things.
A few days ago, his brutally murdered body was found dumped by the side of a road in Oregon.
Fuck, he was just 20 and he had his whole goddamned life ahead of him.
I was 20 once (I think!) and even though I was a fuckup and probably had pissed off more than my fair share of people at the time, nothing I had done or could conceive of doing warranted that.
If justice or karma exists, please make those responsible for this pay most horribly.

Sorry to begin like this, but I just couldn’t shake it off easily. Good things have been happening, though.
In health-related news, my blood sugar count has dropped another 80 points and I’m just 10 above normal.
My clothes are becoming roomier and my energy level has increased dramatically.
Better living through science?
Probably just a major decrease in alcohol!

On the work front, the job I took solely for the money has actually become a passion. I’m genuinely enthused about the gig. Changes are happening. Granted, fuckups still occur, but at a radically reduced rate. I just need to be the Typhoid Mary of Hope for the crew and maybe we’ll have a summer season with a lower homicide rate.
I’m still planning on setting up a small organ harvesting area in our backline tent at Bumbershoot. More as it develops.

The malaVista record seems to have frozen in its tracks. After the group listening session where nobody listened to anything but their own voices, the project sits in my hard drive developing nanobots.
Garey and I recorded a gospel concert 2 months ago featuring a 13-piece horn band, two 30-piece choirs and a pair of bagpipers, whose whereabouts are still unknown. The leader of the project has now decided that his vocal performance weren’t up to snuff, so we (I) have the pleasure of overdubbing all lead vocals on a live concert with lots ‘o’ bleeding.

I was out in the front house cutting fake lumber for the new front porch and wraparound deck, but it’s cold and raining (and Seattle), so I decided, dear readers, to blast this off. I was just invited to a barbeque tomorrow, but if the weather holds, they threatened to drag the grill by the door.
Don’t they recommend that you don’t do that indoors?
Film @ 11.

Have a better day than me.


Just What Is That Clinging To The Fan Blades?

Even before the blood dried on the contract, did I regret selling my soul?
Was it really my soul? I don’t remember my mom sewing a nametag on it …
If the signature is illegible (as if you can really decipher mine), can you get it thrown out on court?
Probably not and I don’t play tennis anymore.
This morning
I signed on as Rental Manager at American Music Rentals.
It’s my 4th tour of duty. It almost only lasted a month, but because of my brilliant bargaining skills (the owner had absolutely no other choice), I inked a deal wherein I got everything I asked for. Of course, the first item on the list was to shut down and sell half of the business, but I prefer baby steps. I also got to choose the crew I wanted, so we started naming names and Kirk Jamieson’s floated to the top, not unlike a dead fish. For some unknown reason, Kirk continues to talk to me after 10 years and even agreed to work with me again.
Oh, will they ever learn?
As stated in the last missive, no sooner than I returned to American 3 managers gave notice within hours of each other.
Did I smell that bad?
Don’t know. When I was considering taking over, they all rolled their eyes and pointed out all of the flaws that I would be inheriting. I knew about them, probably added to them. Still, it’s an opportunity to affect positive change and get health insurance.
What could possibly go wrong?

After pouring concrete for the new front porch pad for the front house, I went to Teatro Zinzani for the first time as a customer. I had been to the site while under construction and had been the Production Manager (I had my own bottle) for Jon Stone and Lisa Franklin’s wedding last year.
What a trip! Jon secured us a great table (ringside) and had a $120 bottle of champagne waiting for us.
That was the good news.
The bad news was that by having such great seats, we were ripe for the picking and plucking for audience participation. With a vicodin and 3 glasses of wine in me, I’m not sure how I would’ve responded. I’m guessing I would either have frozen up or had an episode of Tourette’s Syndrome!
Luckily, the angel of death passed over us, but did make Panzer wear a toupee all night.

Well, Robert’s tearing up the side walkway and moving wheelbarrows full of dirt as we speak. I can either join him or take a nap.



Whirlwinds, Maelstroms & Things Hitting the Fan

On top of everything else …
In addition to …
And if that weren’t enough …
And my 4 least favorite words in this particular order …
Oh by the way …

The day started off with an e-mail from my friend Andy Krikun with the news of the passing of our friend Jack Slater from complications of a liver transplant that just didn’t work out. I’d known Jack for 25 years, having first met him in Los Angeles. Jack and his wife Deborah lived in Seattle for the past years. I saw or spoke with him only a few times, the last being in September when Andy came to visit them. Jack was an actor, teacher, writer and activist, among other things. Jack’s eyes shone with an inner light that radiated the wit, strength and love that he shared with everybody.

I truly regret neglecting the opportunity to spend more time with him. He will be missed by every soul he touched. Good Bye and Good Luck, Jack.

There have been certain memories that have always remained fresh to me, seemingly unimportant occurrences, random sentences, bits of music, full moons, smells that trigger scenes that replay behind my eyes. One such flashback triggered another series of events which changed my life a month ago. When I asked a friend who was diabetic how he found out he had it, he replied that he started getting up frequently during the night to urinate. This always stuck with me and I always thought of it every time I awoke and had to pee. While playing DIAGNOSE PJ OVER THE PHONE, I was complaining to my friend Dr. Nicole about the recent accelerated hair loss on my head and then calves. She said it could be poor circulation or diabetes.

The light flashes

A week or so later, after a stage dive racked my back, I mentioned the conversation to my doctor and he draws some blood.


So, that and an acoustic guitar were my birthday presents this year. The guitar is a $99 Chinese cheapie and, appearantetly, so is my pancreas!

I’ve decided to make it a non-factor in my life. A few dietary changes (farewell sweet alcohol) and more exercise. I’ve already dropped a couple of pants sizes and plan on returning to my fighting weight by summer.

Please get tested for diabetes or anything that runs in your family next time you get poked and prodded by your health care professional.

All seriousness aside, if I felt my life has been boring as of late, well, was I ever not paying attention!
For some reason or reasons not immediately clear, I went back to work for American Music for the 4th time.
Yup, back in Rentals. All who know me scratch their heads as do I.
What was I thinking?
By the end of the second week, the Production Manager and Marketing Director submitted their resignations within 2 hours of each other. The following Wednesday, the Rental Manager followed suit. Not wanting to be left out on what could only be good times, I did my best lemming impersonation and gave notice as well.
The owner of the company finally comes down to put down the mutiny. After talking to him for the better part of an hour, I leave with a job offer and uneasy feeling for the future.
More as this unfurls.

Gotta cop a coffee buzz before the band starts.


Belated Happy New Year and Birthday for All of You I Missed So Far


Happy New Year, my delighted readers.
So much to tell you, so many James Bond movies …

I would’ve written sooner, but I’ve spent the last month or so as a large bowl of slightly salted mixed nuts.

Been recording a bit. malaVista mixing finished (?) last week. Whatever will I do with my Monday nights? Buy my own beer, I guess. Listening party tomorrow night; they’ll probably reject most of the mixes (even though they were there when we mixed).
The WaterBabies released a cd with half of the tunes my mixes from a Tractor show last year. We went back there Sunday and cut another hour or 2 worth of material before the keyboardist moves to Australia.
Finally, the Equilateral Trio has me following them and recording their electrified string trio nuttiness.
I’ve captured them twice at a yoga studio in Fremont, but the first adventure was at a Pagan Winter Solstice Feast in Georgetown in December. It happened in a huge warehouse space decorated like a forest. I set up my gear in the afternoon then returned for the gig itself. 2 stages hosted about a dozen bands. I arrived after the feast began, but before their performance at midnight (which became 1 a.m. which became’.)
I saw a friend engaged in an animated conversation with an animated hippie chick. The hippie chick was lobbying to get a seat on the board of governors so she could light things on fire. After MaryLee complimented her on some twigs in her hair, the hippie chick threw herself to the ground and kissed MaryLee’s shoes.

Ummmm …

I spent a weekend working on a benefit show with Bill Nye the Science Guy on Bainbridge Island 2 weeks ago.
Load in was Friday night. I spent most of the evening trying to cover windows with black plastic sheets to cut out sunlight. Great plan if I had Rocket Boy brand Jet Pants seeing as how the windows ended up being about 10 feet higher than the lifts went.
Oh well, we can deal with that tomorrow.
Afterwards, we went to a local watering hole where the advertised Guinness draught came in a bottle for 2 different prices. All the waitress would say was that when she worked there 3 years ago, it truly was on tap, but didn’t think it was important enough to tell me that when I ordered. I asked her how much the $2 beers were and it took her a while to figure that out. Very very bad karaoke forced us back to our hotel, where a spirited craps game followed us to 2 rooms.
7 a.m. came early the next morning, about a week early. Someone, apparently, forced most of a bottle of single malt Scotch down my throat along with about 6 beers while I was asleep.
After securing a proper ladder, we finished covering the windows and let the games begin. My job during the show was to tend to camera cables on the ground.
The opening act was the Reptile Guy, who owns and operates a retile zoo east of Monroe. I stopped there a few years ago on the way home from skiing and thought it was pretty cool.
Big snakes, lots of big snakes.
Did I mention that I’m not a particularly big fan of big snakes?
The first thing that Reptile Guy brings out is a giant Snapping Turtle. The first thing that the giant Snapping Turtle does is to arc a vibrant stream of giant Snapping Turtle pee onto the stage and floor. Me, being downstream and downwind of this event, can guarantee my dear readers that giant Snapping Turtle pee smells like peeing after drinking Guinness for a week without peeing and then peeing.
After introducing us to an Albino Burmese Python (extra large), he brings out the vipers. Cotton Mouth, Black Mamba King Cobra …
Large venomous snakes with sharp venom delivery systems (fangs).
Reptile dude is rummaging through the plastic crates which house the snakes while talking about how fast and smart (and venomous) these snakes are when something comes flying out of the box onto the floor.
I jump.
Spring loaded snake in a can.
He chuckles.
I plot revenge.
While trying to piss off the Cobra enough to strike at him, he ends up dropping the snake after it went for his balls. The snake slithered between his legs and came out looking right at me, probably licking his snake lips and thinking PORK!

Bill Nye begins his show by imploding a couple of Coke cans.
I’m going to end the evening by emptying a couple of Tecate cans.
He then implodes an empty 55 gallon barrel.
Well, he’s got me there.
Bill spends the next hour plus talking about sundials and Mars. He seems to like both of them, but pissed off at those who don’t, namely NASA.
I don’t give a shit one way or the other for either.

So much for the day to day blow by blow.

Last week was the anniversary of my pal Jazz passing away. I spent the day moping around a bit until Mifune asked me what was up. I explained what had happened a year ago. Mifune thought about it for a moment, and then replied, ‘You know, human fuckwit, it’s ok. It was a good thing to do. That’s how I ended up here. Lucky you!
A few minutes later, he asked me why I was looking up dogs to adopt on the Internet.

Well, kids, that’s all for now. So much has transpired since I began this that if I don’t post it, I never will.



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.


Carpe Per Diem

Still summer
Still Seattle
The neighbor’s yard thrives while mine looks well done.

Once upon a time
In a small town by the sea (Venice, Ca.)
There was a young boy (me)
Who worked at a bar (the Taurus Tavern, which the young boy was not really old enough to work in)
There was a band (Andy and the Rattlesnakes)
Who the young boy did sound for occasionally
The leader of this band (Andy) saw potential in this young boy and befriended him
Having the young boy haul gear and twist knobs and generally let him hang around and become part of
Which he did
Andy and I became great friends

Andy moved back to the East Coast (from which he hailed)
I flew back for Andy and Debbie’s wedding in 1981
When Andy left, the Rattlesnakes became Burning Sensations when Tim McGovern left the Motels.
I was adopted by Burning Sensations (i.e., hauled their shit around for a couple of years) under Tim’s tutelage.
I got to hang out in the studio when they cut their EP and 1st album. Tim McGovern was kind enough to let me observe the record making process up close and personal (that is, getting rolls of quarters at 3 am in Hollywood for the video games in the lobby). From there, the band sold to me the studio (Eldorado Recording) and I became the indentured servant to Dave Jerden and Gary Gunton.
Much mayhem ensued.
Here I am today

So why do I mention this?
Why is this not on an episode of A&E Biography?
Other than the fact that I don’t show up on film or cast a shadow


Andy is flying out to Seattle at the end of this week for (one of) the sole purpose(s) to have me mix the LONG AWAITED ANDY & THE RATTLESNAKES ANTHOLOGY CD thing.
As far as I recall, there was only one single ever released, a cover of Neil Diamond’s Solitary Man.
Maybe I’m wrong, this was 25 years ago, after all.
I am truly looking forward to this. It’s my chance to say thanks to Andy and everyone who placed a seedling of faith in me all of those years ago.

Has it really been 6 months since I took on Mifune?
It seems like every day that I ask myself why, and every day that the memory of Jazz gets tougher to live with.
I had a dream with Jazz a week or so ago, and I think he was telling me that I need to move on (he did not get hit by the truck, just ran past it).
Mifune still refuses to believe that I don’t want him to dig up the hydrangea and bamboo and backyard.
Truly, I don’t.
Well, I figure that we’ve got about 10-12 years to sort it out. He’s quite a celebrity at the local dog park and I even let him drive the truck home occasionally.

What else’
The new cd, THE HAND OF DOG, will be released in 2 days on Origin Records. It’s also on amazon.com and other places like that. We’re still trying to figure out a cd release party place and date.
Stay tuned.

The next project, featuring my good friend and longtime collaborator J Todd Dunnigan, goes along swimmingly. At least a dozen tracks tread water in some sort of completion or another.

That’s it for now. Got to water the neighbor’s yard while they’re on a 2 week cruise up to Canada on their triamaran.

Keep in touch ‘cuz I need that touch so much
(Dirk Hamilton)


(Salt) Water and Fire (Dancing)

When last we spoke, Research Assistant Mifune and I were packing up the truck in preparation for the annual family get together on the Oregon Coast. We spent Monday night at a friend’s house in Tacoma, so as to avoid morning rush hour traffic. Research Assistant Mifune thoughtfully deposited all of his fleas (dog park) into Dan’s carpet to give him something to remember us by.

The drive was pretty uneventful. We took the scenic route by following the Oregon coastline from Astoria to points south. Having left pretty early and knowing that the beach house wouldn’t be ready until at least 4 pm, I decided to acclimate Research Assistant Mifune to the beach. We stopped in Seaside and took a stroll down to the water …

Things were ok at first. Research Assistant Mifune had no problems navigating the sand, but when we came to the water, he became suspicious.

‘This is like that stuff I didn’t like when we went camping, isn’t it?’ he asked.

‘Not at all,’ I replied. ‘That was a river, a small one at that. This is an ocean, the largest one, I believe. On top of that, the river was fresh water, snow runoff. This ocean is salty and full of Large Monsters.’

‘Oh,’ he said as if that explained anything, ‘Then I guess it’s OK to follow you in  … ‘

As soon as his paws touched the teeniest tiniest bit of water, he tried to bolt but I held tight.


‘Puppy, it’s water, it doesn’t burn. Remember the stuff you drink all day and the big plastic bowls you chew up all night?’ I assured him.

He eyed me warily. ‘Well, maybe that’s why I chew up the bowls, because it’s liquid fire and I’m trying to dissuade you from giving me daily doses, huh? And don’t call me ‘Puppy’, people are watching. My full and proper name is now Research Assistant Mifune Valentine Damnit Newman.’

I waited for him to finish before I dragged him further into the water. Daylights burning and I have to pee now. As each tiny wave lapped his feet, he would leap vertically and try to run ashore. Then I’d pull him out a little further. Repeat.


By the time we made it back to the car, he was begging for a surfboard and wetsuit. I promised him a pail and bucket and maybe a cheeseburger.

Next, we headed further south and stopped at Manhattan Beach. The beach was beautiful and deserted. I’m thinking, he has to go off leash sooner or later. Sooner is now, later could be disastrous.


The second, I mean the absolute moment, that the connection between the collar and Mifune’s neck was broken, he bolted. Have I ever mentioned just how fast this fucking dog is? It’s like watching a thorobred horse fly around a racetrack. Instead of running down the beach, he ran up a dune and sprinted away in tall grass.

Have you ever tried shouting against the wind with an ocean competing for attention?

Yeah  …

10 minutes later, he came trotting back like nothing happened. I suppose to him, nothing did.


We hit the road again and arrived in Oceanside at about 3:30. I didn’t think the house was ready yet, so we drove to the beach parking lot.

Now, if you’ve never been to Oceanside, let me tell you what little I remember about it. It’s 9 miles west of Tillamook (home of cheese and little else). Oceanside is the epitome of a one street town. There’s a caf’ (lunch and dinner only), a coffee shop, a community center and a post office the size of my bathroom. There used to be a restaurant/bar, but it’s being renovated. There’s a hotel with maybe 10 rooms and some rental cottages.

That’s Oceanside.

We stayed at the same house as last year. A very nice 5 bedroom, 2 bath overlooking the ocean, but you have to walk through town to access the beach. Big beck, hot tub, TV and DVD player in every room.

This year’s cast included my younger brother, his daughter and their 2 year-old pug named Blueberry. My older brother and his wife, her daughter and her 5 year-old twins. The parental units and their 6 year-old golden retriever. The next day, my cousin and aunt from Portland came down for a night. The year before I was pretty much in a vodka tonic haze, which pissed my mother off to no end. This year, I had a beer in hand at all times, not wanting to get dehydrated.

As soon as we settled into the house and had a few beers, we hit the beach in earnest. This beach has 3 large rock formations just offshore, kind of like Cannon Beach. Mifune was interested in dragging them back to the house, but we were going the opposite direction. After about a half mile, I let Mifune off leash again and hoped for the best. Maybe the best was that he’d run away and I’d never see him again and I could get another plastic dog for the front yard. He ran off for about 30 seconds and then came back, ready to play in the waves.


That was the routine for the next 3 days for me. Eat, beach, read, eat, beach, read.
I had to leave Friday to get back to work. Everybody else stayed until the following

Maybe next year …

Back home, after a few Tractor shows, I jumped back into festival mode with the Bite of Seattle, a 3 day celebration of food, crowds and shitty music at the Seattle Center. Since the emphasis is on food and not necessarily on entertainment, the booking tends to be a little … desperate. I mean, the money is shit and who wants to wake up before sundown anyway? This is where I come in.
Day 1 is load in day. There were between 5 and 9 stages (I never got a clear answer on that). I was mixing front of house at the Mural Amphitheatre stage. I didn’t know my crew beforehand. The monitor guy looked like 2 people I know. He’s too short to be one of them and not 1/10th the asshole as the other! The 3rd man was the designated ‘Patch,’ making sure that the microphones were where they were supposed to be. I stress supposed to be.
Anybody can do sound. Well, just about anybody. I figure that if I can do it, being the stupidest and laziest person on the face of the planet, then the gig’s up for grabs. You don’t even have to like music. The idiot who did sound while I was at the Triple Door hated music, judging from the way he mixed and treated the artists.
This is why I drink.
Anyway, we unloaded the truck and began to set up quickly. There was no reason that we shouldn’t have finished by 3 pm at the very latest
Except that during the free-for-all that we call load in, people were cannibalizing gear from stage to stage. If you weren’t given what you needed at first, somebody else had it and could deal with it later. Apparently, that’s what happened to my drive snake and extension cables. I could only get one side of the mains to come on at a time, due partly to the fact that I didn’t have electricity to both sides of the stage at the same time until late in the afternoon. I troubleshot with the best of them for hours. My best guess was that the digital processor/x-over was messed up, even though it worked the previous afternoon. We went back to the shop and I got a cheap replacement and a beer.
By the time we returned to the grounds, we had less than 30 minutes to get EVERYTHING up and running before the union stagehands started into serious overtime.
My friend Mike was on the main stage and swung by to give me a hand. After explaining my troubles and what I’d done, he told me that he had spent the previous day making sure that I wouldn’t have any problems. He set up the system in the parking lot back at the shop and said that he even ran a special return snake for me …
‘What snake? The one running across the lawn?’ I asked.
‘ No no no,’ replies he, ‘This one!’
Mike spent the next 10 minutes discovering that the cannibals had, indeed, struck early and left me Snakeless in Seattle. We ended up running a couple of mic cables 150 feet from the stage to my console and all was well
Until Day 2
This is where we scramble across the grounds trying to recover what was stolen the day before, except that of course it was in use at that particular moment.
Did I mention that my car pretty much blew up on the way to the gig?
Oh yeah, that
Anyway, one of my cooling system hoses decided to shear itself in half between parking lots? I decided not to worry about it for the next 11 hours’
Back to my stage, I finally get a copy of the stage book, with all of the technical information I needed for each of the bands for the next 3 days. I have every cover and tribute band that I’ve ever heard of (and some which I hadn’t known existed). I had a Led Zeppelin tribute band followed by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The next night was Rush and then AC/DC!
So, my stage starts off with 2 covers bands (surprise!), 1 good and one not so good. Shape of things to come. They are followed by a couple of indie-type bands. Nothing to write home about, but not worth loading the 12 gauge for.
Now the fun begins. We have a 4-piece jam band setting up, but no drummer to be seen. All of the bands get 40 minutes starting at the top of the hour with a 20-minute turnaround. Well, we’re about 10 minutes into their set time and they start playing w/o the drummer. At one point, the bass player asks if there are any drummers in the house who want to sit in. Seconds later, a drummer is up and the band continues. It turns out to be their drummer, who says he was caught in traffic, but he had time to stop and get coffee.
He was fired on the spot after the gig.
Following them was a pretty good singer-songwriter from Austin who hired some jazzer buddies of mine to back him up. Another good local band and then the 70’s returned. The Zeppelin band had all of the guys in The Song Remains The Same era costumes. Now, I’m a big Led Zeppelin fan and I found them pretty entertaining, except for the lead singer who looked as much like Robert Plant as I do. They had their own sound guy who did not impress me at all and I would have him back the next night as well’
Lynyrd Skynyrd (sic) closed Day 1. They were ok, but the snare drum took a dump right before they played. We were able to replace it 5 seconds before the band started.
Saturday kicked off with a Caribbean steel drum band that thought they were supposed to show up at noon, not start then.
More folkyhornbandDoobieBrothersSantanajambands. An Afropop/Reggae band missing their keyboard player started late and ended very late. Keyboardist showed up halfway through the set.
I wonder if he got fired, too?

Hazy Flashback Insert.
In 1977, I saw Bruce Springsteen in L.A. Before the show started, there was the usual goings on, stuff flying through the air. This one Frisbee caught my eye. It left the main floor and was headed to the upper levels. Its trajectory put it for a crash intersection with this guy who was talking to someone, not paying any attention to the Frisbee. I’m watching this, waiting for the guy to get bonked on the head. At the last second, without looking away, he snakes his hand out and grabs the Frisbee and keeps on talking as if nothing happened!

I bring this up because, after the next band, which starts with a couple of Cheap Trick covers, shit starts flying. Beach balls the size of Volkswagens knocking little kids over. I was looking down at the console and glanced up to see a Frisbee cross the stage. Out of the corner of my right eye, I see one heading straight for me. Trying to keep my cool and not look at it, I wait until the last second and jab out with my left hand and catch it without looking up. A number of people saw it coming and were probably hoping for me to get my nose broken.
No such luck.
Without breaking stride, I tossed it on top of my effects rack and kept mixing.
Also, during this band’s set, I noticed a man and his children selling bottles of water for a buck walking through the lawn. Normally, I don’t pay attention to pirate merchants, but since this festival’s main sponsor was a water company selling their water for $2, I was expecting security to converge upon them with the swift hand of injustice.
Just something I saw and filed away.
The Rush tribute band had the same bassist as the Zeppelin band yesterday and the same mixer, but he was better tonight.
Right before the AC/DC band went on, we discovered that someone had stolen half of the cymbals from our drum kit onstage.
There is a PARTICULARLY NASTY CIRCLE OF HELL for those who steal musical instruments, even drums!
We were able to replace those, again with only seconds to spare.
Whisk them off and put up the Fire Dancers!
Go home.

Oh, did I remember to mention that first thing Saturday morning I lost about half of the signal/power to my house right stack?
Probably not.
Absolutely no reason and/or explanation for it. I was able to make a quick fix that lasted the end of the weekend (I hope!)
Sunday (Happy Day) starts out with a swing band. Why do these nuts wear all black for an outdoor event under a very hot sky with no cover on the stage? Another Seattle anomaly.
A crappy jam band, a very good white soul group and finally another 60’s party band.
Now I leave so I can go to the Tractor.
One of my all-time favorite artists played that night. Stuart Davis. If you’ve never heard of him, check him out!
The only way to briefly describe him is a cross between Gandhi and Satan with an acoustic guitar!

Tuesday, I helped my friends load up a 40′ cargo container with their worldly goods in preparation for their impending move to Hawaii. I was invited to fly over, live in a tent and spend a year or so helping them build their new home …
Maybe …



Word Up, Yo! And Other Urban Myths!

I said that in earshot of a bartender yesterday and she politely/frostily/eyerollingacidtingevoicedly instructed me never to say that to her again … or maybe just never say it … period.
What’s it mean, anyway? Panzer learned how to say it in Russian and it makes even less sense to them …

Ah, summer in Seattle.
Sunburns, white puffy flesh sizzling to order, the scent of sunscreen wafting across the dance floor.
As is, we forget how to drive in the rain or snow first thing every fall, we forget the powerful intoxicating powers of the sun for those 2 or 3 weeks we see it in the Pacific Northwest.
I tried to experience it myself so as to report back to you, dear readers, and prepare you for the pleasures and dangers of this alluring heavenly body.

At first, I tried my hand at outdoor festivals, but from reading my last missive, you’ll recall how I was forced at gun and stress ballpoint to stay inside a small trailer, out of reach of the heat rays emanating from the skies.

Next, we tried our hand at camping. Last Monday, research assistant Mifune and I boarded the pickup and headed east, always East towards the mountains. We ended up outside of Roslyn, WA. (where they filmed Northern Exposure) in a groovy little campground called Red Hat or Red Mountain or Red Somethingorother. By the time we unloaded our scientific equipment (beer), it was raining and darkish. Got the tent up in respectable time and the fire caught on the first match!
Now comes the part where I put my finger where I shouldn’t have and burnt the living shit out of it! Extremely nice 2nd degree burn on my left index finger. Suffice to say that I won’t be playing guitar for a while.
Tuesday’s experiments were hampered by research assistant Mifune’s bad behavior, as in his saying, ‘Take me off the leash, Dad, and I’ll conduct field research the likes of which you haven’t seen before!’
‘You’ll run off and I’ll never see you again,’ says I.
‘Not true,’ says he, eyeing the highway uphill from the campsite.
Still leashed, we head down to a little beach down from the tent. Apparently, it was Mifune’s first glimpse at open water and was he ever confused! He would bark at rocks that I tossed into the water, but when he quite daintily dipped his paws into the water, he freaked out and almost snapped my arm in half.
Aside from that, the sun spent half the day hiding behind small, insignificant looking clouds. Decided not to burn my finger again.
Wednesday, we awoke to startlingly beautiful blue cloudless skies just in time to pack up and leave.

Back home, a friend from out of town stayed for a few days and that’s all it took. 2 days of the backyard and beverages and I have a healthy tan/burn/full body-peel happening.

Other than that, things have slowed down to a brisk pace. More festivals are coming up, but my phone remains silent. Most likely, word of my demands for Samurai swords has spread throughout the production community and everybody is pitching in to get me A VERY NICE AND VERY EXPENSIVE AND VERY VERY VERY SHARP set and they don’t want to call until an appropriate pair has been procured.
How thoughtful.
But I wouldn’t wait too long, kids. My calendar is filling up.
I’ve got lots to do
Work on the front house continues. We’ve filled up our 3rd 15 yard dumpster. Most of the framing is done, we’ve begun wiring and plumbing can’t be far behind. After we’re done there, we move on to my remodel, which includes a new recording studio addition and quadrupling my bathroom (can you say party shower?).

The release date for the new record is August 23. I’ll add a link for Origin Records and merch stuff.
The Hand of Dog t-shirts are almost gone. The original batch just has the picture of Jazz w/o text. Maybe do 2 runs, one with and one w/o text.

A couple of great shows passed through the Tractor last week. We were visited by the Campbell Brothers, whose Gospel tinged Sacred Steel shook dust from the rafters. Local pedal steeler Dan Tyack sat in and added to the filling jarring experience. Later in the week, Chuck Prophet and Pete Krebs rocked the joint.
And last night …
Last night …
Anyway, last night was Link Wray, a most famous rock guitar pioneer (credited for having invented the power chord).
We paid the 50% deposit weeks ago. Wednesday night, we get a call from the road manager (?) saying that Link won’t go onstage unless he gets paid in cash beforehand. No problem, old school Chuck Berry stuff. The road manager reiterates that he wants to be PAID IN FULL, as in 100% of the dough.
But no, say we. We paid the deposit. The check has been cashed. You seem to have misunderstood the dynamic of the deal … .
No, reply they, we are QUITE AWARE of how things work. Although we cannot explain the internal combustion engine or make sense of most of what Einstein was babbling about, we FULLY COMPREHEND the concept of NO CASH NO SHOW.
So, we wonder, what became of the 50% we already paid.
Well, reply they, the agent and we are parting ways.
‘YEAH AND SO?’ says we.
After speaking with the agent and being reassured that the show will go on (where have I heard that before and why am I searching for my wallet and my scrotum?), we await the day (and have ALL OF THE CASH ON HAND JUST IN CASE … )
Because they lent us a guitar amp, Eddie and the Helldregs was the 1st opening act on the bill. Eddie wants so desperately to be Iggy Pop and the Helldregs wouldn’t know the Stooges if they beat them up in an alley after a gig. This being said, they were pretty cool. Loud but not earwaxmeltingly so, animated but not cartoonish. What I probably missed by not hanging out on the Sunset Strip in the last millennium. Up after Eddie was a rockabilly band that I’ve worked with numerous times over the years.
And then
I’ve been stuck at the console, so I have no idea if Link and the Wraymen are here at all. Making my way backstage, I encounter the drummer of the above-mentioned Wraymen. I point out to him the drum kit that I had partially assembled and told him he could have the stage. He nodded and looked away. I then ran the risk of repeating myself when I pointed to the drums then the stage and back at him. Again, he nodded.
AHA! A psychic connection was made and in his own silent way, he said ‘Do it for me, ass monkey!’
Fine’the sooner the show is up, the sooner the show is over.
Shall I be proven wrong?
Read on, literary spelunkers, read on’
OK, I set up the drum kit and the bass rig, mic the Marshall half stack and retreat to the board.
It can’t be that simple
I fight through the small but vicious crowd and find the drummer.
‘What’s your lineup again?’ I ask.
‘We’re in Bellingham tomorrow night … ‘
It takes only a few minutes to convince him that I really want to know who’s going to be onstage tonight, so he relents.
‘It starts as a quartet, but when Link plays, it’s only 3 people.’
‘Um’ Link isn’t playing guitar?’
He thinks about that for a minute. ‘Well, not at first. See, the bass player plays guitar before Link comes up, the bass player disappears and the singer sits down.’
OK, so what part of Idon’tknowwhatthefuckyou’retalkingabout don’t you understand?
I have to send him into the dressing room for a Drummer-to-English dictionary and/or somebody who can clue me into what’s going on. After 3 round trips, I discover that Link’s trio is actually 6 people and an OompaLoompa. Alexander (he who made the revealing phone call) starts out on guitar then switches to bass when Link comes onstage (as per drummer boy). He has a Nelson haircut and is wearing a black fluffy billowy blouse. Alexander also requires another guitar amp even though he’s using the same amp that Link will use and won’t need it when he switches to bass.
‘But why does he need it?’ I ask Murphy, the Tractor manager.
‘Because I told him we had it.’
‘But he doesn’t even need it,’ I inform him.
‘But he wants it!’ I send Drummer Boy back into the dressing room for what turns out to be 7th time for info. DB (Drummer Boy) says that Alexander probably won’t use it (NO SHIT) but wants it anyway, even though he wants it on the WRONG SIDE OF THE STAGE for his use.
(Remember: The sooner they go on, the sooner I go home.)
DB is kind of tall, thin, goofy mustache and beret. To what end, I’m not sure. Bass player #1 is seemingly nondescript, but that will prove to be a false assumption later.
The band begins.
The play LOUD.
They play with PASSION.
I thought DB mentioned a singer … .
Here he comes
It’s thin Elvis. He’s in all black, black tunic with a leopard skin collar.
He, like his compadres, is competent but COMPLETELY SUCKS SHIT.
After 6 or 7 songs, Alexander primes the crowd for THE MAIN EVENT.


Link hobbles onstage with the help of Alexander and what turns out to be his girlfriend or wife or ?
Link is short, stocky, old. Link has a ponytail halfway down his back. Link has a leather jacket.
LINK IS OLD. It takes a while to put his guitar on him and figure out the amp.
Link begins with Rumble, his signature tune. It goes over great. He does 3 or 4 more, each one becoming more challenging to get in tune.
Oh, did I mention that the wife/girlfriend is now the tambourine player?
Typical wife/girlfriend gig. I’m sure that’s how Linda McCartney got her start.
OK, after 5 tunes Link hits one of his patented Power Chords and drops his guitar on the stage then shuffles off.
Quite the dramatic ending, but why is he ending now?
After about 10 minutes of crowd noises, Link is dragged back onstage, does one more tune, drops his guitar again and then reverts back to his subatomic level.
Show Over.
Or is it?
Total time of various Link Wray music(ians) onstage, oh, about 45 minutes. The contract, which obviously doesn’t mean shit to them anymore (as if it ever did) called for a 75-90 minute show. They must’ve thought that included opening acts as well.
So, I’m thinking that the show’s over and I zero the console. But wait’Alexander is back onstage with his guitar.
Is he going to show some awestruck concertgoer a few of his powerful licks or pose for a beefcake photo?
No, they’re setting up to play again!
I find Dan and Murphy (club owner and manager, respectively). During the show, they were both upstairs performing quality control on a bottle of cognac. Murphy just shook his head and said he didn’t want to talk about it. I find Dan rummaging through a box. I ask him what’s going on because Alexander said he specifically told them to go back on. He looks at me and said something about a light bulb in the men’s bathroom’
OK, I reset the console on the fly and they still only play 3 songs, old fucking surf tunes.
‘This is why I drink!’ I mutter to anyone within earshot.


We leave for the Oregon coast in a few days for the annual family vacation (my favorite oxymoron).


The Voice of god, Lunch and Other Mysteries Explained

Doing what I do is a 2-edged sword. Sometimes, the music (sic) is so bad I want to rip my ears from my head and feed them to Mifune so I cant get them back for a few hours until thoroughly digested. Where I have no real problem with people expressing themselves through music, I just wish they’d wait until they’ve had the chance to listen to it through somebody else’s ears, preferably someone who either isn’t related or interested in getting laid by said ‘artist.’

This being said, I’m happy to announce that the other side of the coin does exist and sometimes lands face up in your palm.

Case in point, I heard the voice of god last night. She sang to me, shook her hips at me and offered me some watermelon after the show. Her name is Juana Molina. She hails from Argentina. Dan, my boss at the Tractor, had been raving about her for months. Unfortunately, due to apparent scheduling conflicts, I was going to miss the show. Fortunately for scheduling conflicts, I was able to work the show.

Juana Molina is considered an Electronica artist. What’s that mean, anyway? She has a bunch of electronic effects and synthesizers onstage.

Big Deal. So do I. Does that make me Electronica or Consumera?

Armed with what looked like a late 60’s Martin 000-16 and 2 synthesizers (a Korg 01-W and a Karma) plus some other gadgets, she weaves a lush swirling tapestry of sonic lushness. Words left me, partly due to 5 beers and 2.5 pain killers (back flared up all day with no relief in sight). Sampling and looping her voice around guitar and keyboards, she sang songs in Spanish and French to me and me alone. Other people were there, but she sang to me alone.

It was a Beatles moment.

I also heard half of a turkey sandwich call to me. It was my leftover lunch and it was as delicious as Juana’s music.

2 nights earlier, I lucked out again by working with D’Gary, an incredible guitarist from Madagascar. I had worked with him a few times before at the Triple Door, but always had to run around and not catch his entire set. This time, stuck behind the console, I was rewarded with another hypnotic evening of magic. D’Gary was joined onstage by Mario, a singer and percussionist. The amount and quality of sound these 2 men generated was astounding.

You must check these 2 artists out.

Alas, no turkey sandwich Monday.

I’ve been doing this so long that I get jaded more often than not. It’s great to be brought back to Earth and remember just why I do this.

The day after the Korean offensive, I got to work with another of my musical heroes, Peter Himmelman. I cannot say enough about the brilliance of Peter, his music, lyrics and unique performances. I’ve been working Peter’s shows since the early 90’s at the Backstage. Solo or with a band, he is one of the most captivating musical forces I’ve been fortunate to witness. One highlight of this show was when some guy walks up to the side of the stage and hands Peter a note. This note turns out to be an autograph. His autograph! The guy turns out to be a Caldwell brother of Marshall Tucker band Fame. Of course, the 2 Caldwell brothers from the band died years ago, but the band still perform with a few of the original members. The story, this night, goes something like this’.

This Caldwell boy, Tim, was supposedly coerced by his parents to cash in on the Marshall Tucker band brand by having Tim, who has never sung before a crowd in his life, join the band. They are supposed to play a gig in Seattle in November or December. It’s May.


Tim is slightly drunk (kind of pregnant?) and decides to give Peter an autograph. Peter drags the poor kid onstage and tries to make him sing a Marshall Tucker song. The kid freezes. So Peter changes it to Ska, then Reggae and finally Klezmer. The kid’s eyes are bugging out of his skull and Peter keeps the heat on for a while before Tim flees from the stage. I do some research and discover that Tim is not nor has ever been in the lineup.


Days later, I’m back in Festival Mode. This time, I’m radio base for the Fremont Fair, the summer kick-off neighborhood party freak fest. Summer Solstice Parade run by amateurs, nude bicycle riders, freaks, battling dog owners and assorted food vendors. There are 4 stages running simultaneously along with buskers, pick pockets, fainting prescription drug abusing drunks and more naked people. It’s the usual cast of production folk, most of them leftover from the Korean debacle. Radio base consists mostly of sitting on my ass being verbally abused by any and everybody with a radio, cell phone or juice can and string. There’s a Kid’s stage boasting an act called planet of the Puppets. Everybody hates clowns and has no use for hippies, except for practicing negligent driving maneuvers. 14 plus hour days, the weather hasn’t made up what it wants to do yet and the food is catch as catch can. I was the grill master for dinner last night and I had someone’s over salted cat with noodles and cabbage for lunch today from a Vietnamese joint. My day consists mostly of saying ‘Go For Base’ and waiting until they quit squawking, repeat what they say and as soon as they realize that their answer was part of the question, hang up.
Only 3 days on this gig and then hopefully going camping next week. A book, a case of beer and a few steaks and I’ll be happy.

OK, I’m tired of tired people yelling at everybody else. 2 hours left today.




Father’s Day
June something.
Nearing the end of Fremont Fair. The last band just quit. The radio is now coming alive with stage managers, trouble monkeys, crazed volunteers and vendors of all levels of vehicular range.
Here’s how it works’.
Festival ends, stages and booths get torn down, garbage is collected, signs removed and pedestrians mowed down. We had over 300 food and crafts vendors, 4 music stages, an art car caravan, a catapult ride and rogue human organ harvesting teams. A broiling hippie cluster fuck with overflowing trashcans and portapotties under the hot summer sun.
All of the vendors are lying through their hummus spackled teeth in an attempt to breach the ground to load their crap out. Never mind that the grounds are still packed with fairgoers. ‘Of course we paid our percentage. Of course the vendor manager cleared us for entry.’ The owner of the production company can’t even drive his car onsite, but your piece of shit Olds Delta 88 spewing gas and oil on the ground is getting a police escort.
It’s sheer chaos and I’m sitting here monitoring the radio listening to it getting chaosier. We have 16 individual channels on the radio, but for some reason we’ve just dropped to 1. It’s like I’m listening to a full blown invasion of my borders, the guards trying to hold back the enemy, but they’re ceaseless in their desire to overrun us.
They all say that they’ve been given permission to enter!

Did I mention that last night, Saturday, we hosted a party in the base compound for the former head of this festival? Or that my day began at 6 am and this party started at 10 pm? 15 pizzas and untold cases of beer and other intoxicants. I left at about 9:30 on my bicycle and didn’t look back. Of course, it took me until 2 am to fall asleep, then back here at 8 am.
It’s now 8:02 pm.
I spent part of the day composing haiku and eating crappy festival food. I think I ate part of somebody’s cat from a Vietnamese place yesterday and there was what tasted like lawn clippings in some tabouli from a Lebanese stand.
It’s 8:15 now. Radio traffic is as bad as vehicular. People are jumping channels, creating their own pirate radio stations. Reception sucks. 2 hours ago, I was nodding off. Now I’m wide-awake and going to wait this thing out.
45 minutes into load out and already 50% of the vendors are gone!
I’m flashing back to all of the festivals I’ve worked in the past and my levels of involvement thereof. Bumbershoot, WOMAD, Bite of Seattle and Taste of Tacoma. Usually, I do 1 thing only. Sound, backline, office manager. If I’m a Production Manager, yeah, I’m all over the place but more often than not have enough people covering their specific areas that everything’s pretty much laid out like a jigsaw puzzle and all I’ve got to do is sand down the wrong bits to make it fit (a solution for every problem!).

Much Later …
It’s all done but the crying. Except
Of course
For the lost dogs and the kidnapping?
And the police and the pizza and
Budweiser in metal bottles?

After about 17 hours on the last day of the fair, it becomes obvious that one of the production vendors is not going to swing by and remove the stages. So, everybody lock and load and move them so traffic and commerce can flow Monday morning.
I had some pizza and a couple of beers (the second one had to be in a glass bottle, the aluminum one freaked me out) and then climbed on my bike and sailed into the sunset …

Post-Fair Script

It’s now Tuesday morning. Raining like Hell. It’s a good thing I didn’t go camping after all. Luckily, there’s plenty to do around the old homestead, like more construction work on the main house and plenty of guitar parts to play on the new tracks. John Bishop, uberlord of Origin Records, sent me the mock-up of my new cd cover, and boy howdy, is it ever spanky! I hope the music sounds as good as the graphics!
Release is slated for August. I’ll let you know if there are any officially sanctioned happenings associated with it.


Minimum of Four Letter Words

I was going to start with FUCK!!! 100 pt bold taking up page 1, but I figured every clown that Google searched that would hit this.

I apologize in advance if my cursing gets out of hand, but it’s been that kind of day and, except for the decibel level, doesn’t look like it’s going to change soon.

Got to sleep late, alarm went off at 4:30 jolting me 6 inches off of my hide-a-bed-of-nails. The mattress (sic) is maybe an inch thick and actually left bruises on my body. We got to the tent, which is actually only 100’x 200′ instead of what I stated earlier, at 7:30 and never looked back. I don’t remember it raining very hard last night, but the tent did! There were 3 pools gathered on the roof, dimpling down like a pregnant blue whale. That the canvas did not burst was a miracle in itself, but that might’ve exacerbated matters further. The tent poles were fully askew and the pool of water above the stage actually had the roof resting on the light truss! Remember that the roof was a full 4 feet above the truss when we left. We cranked down the sound towers and I called one of the guys from the stage and lighting company to find out where the motor control was so we could take the light truss down. He yammered a bit and suggested that we wait until he could send a few of his guys our way.
The local tent people arrive and set pumps on the roof allowing the water to flow down through hoses. At first, they set the hoses at the base of the tent so the water ran back into the tent! After a few very dirty looks and some pointing, they ran the hoses to the parking lot, away from us.

Yep, that’s water pulling the canopy down onto the lights. When the sound company showed up, the crew chief looked up and then pulled his crew out, then called his office to check on their insurance. We were scheduled to see the first band for rehearsal at noon, but decided to move everybody back 2 hours. My bottom line was that if there were a single drop of water hitting the stage, I wouldn’t let the performers on.
This decision was, I’m happy to report, backed up by my boss. I missed out on the conversations with Tent Boy when he finally arrived, but I believe the gist of the conversations left him toothless in a corner with not much fight in him. The local tent monkeys, Dog blesses them, were here as long as us today (16.5 hours) and did everything conceivable to remedy the situation we were in.
Besides the leaks, there was quite a bit of standing water on the asphalt floor in pools trying to find the few drains scattered about.
Remember, this is a parking lot.

The Koreans.
Yes, we have no Koreans. It wasn’t as bad as I was told. Fine, they didn’t seem to care much for the other bands or teams, but language barrier aside, they were all sweethearts and here for the same reason we were. To put on a fucking show. I was having issues with the leaders (?) of the groups, partly because the translators didn’t know production speak and maybe partly because they are arrogant fucks. Musicians and dancers’go figure! The only ethnic groups I have a more difficult time with are actors, radio people, record company people (a dying breed, I’m assured) and record company people. Everybody else who tells me that they know how to do my job better and if I could get them a coffee or that blonde’s phone number are just plain stupid. This I can appreciate and ignore.
The first group (the Gangwon Province Arts ensemble) arrives. Musicians and dancers! Great. It was dancers first and I had to clear the entire stage (after we had completely wired it). Very cool traditional Korean dances, great costumes and props, They did about 5 numbers under the direction of a short pony tailed bespectacled old old guy with bad lipstick who made grunty noises to signal the dancers. Next up was the band. There are 18 or 20 of them, all with traditional instruments (except the synth). I personally enjoy Traditional Asian music and this is very good
For when the bandleader insisted that that be the order. Dancers, then singers.
Except (again) that it only takes 3 minutes to completely strike the stage and at least 25 to reset.
Come on, there’s 20 of ’em, and then, of course, they want a complete sound check every time they play. Please, give us credit for writing down the console settings. Maybe we’ve done this once or twice before… The sets are either 30 or 60 minutes long during the festival. You do the math. I finally convince them to switch the order, although I still don’t think they understood why!
The second band (Balkwang) arrives. They are anything but traditional or ever vaguely Korean sounding, but what do I know? When I bartended in Irish pubs, I didn’t always play Diddley music (Trad Irish). When people asked me why, I told them to take a guess what they listened to in bars in Dublin. I’m guessing U2 instead of the Clancy Brothers. I’m not quite sure how to describe their act. They all wear silly jumpsuits and stupid grins. The music is a percussive cacophony. When they do their version of ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee,’ the crowd goes ape shit and we grit our teeth. It’s circus music for the blind and we’re all pretty sick of it. If it weren’t for the fact that they are incredible nice folks, the body count would’ve risen into triple digits by now.
It gets worse?

The 3rd of the Korean bands (Goo-oun Mong) check in today. They supposedly played on the same instruments as Balkwang, but with even more shit. A Marshall stack, an SVT rig, another synth, 4 tympanis, gongs, the better part of another drum kit, a glockenspiel in addition to 2 marimbas and a set of vibes. We’re busting our asses to come up with all of this stuff, but finally get it all. Seriously, we’re shitting blood to get it here in time for their arrival and tech rehearsal. They show up and say they don’t need it; what’s onstage is just fine.
Somebody’s going to be hurt.
The first 2 days (Wednesday & Thursday) feature matinee shows for school kids and private events at night. The first night was a party for Asiana Airline (probably the largest sponsor of the festival). We’re all in dress black. 8 hours or walking on asphalt in my dress shoes has thrown my back into seizure. My tennis shoes blew out and all I’m left with are my hiking boots. These I never wear for 16 or 17 hours at a time, and never on asphalt. My feet are killing me and I’ve got some nasty shin splints as well.
Bitch Bitch Bitch.
We somehow manage to pull the program off. Very happy clients. They admitted that they had low expectations of the evening just because. This makes me slightly cocky, but I still see trouble ahead.
Dig, these are VERY LARGE, COMPLEX AND LABOR INTENSIVE BANDS. If we were doing rock or jazz groups, I could do 4 or 5 in my sleep. The instruments and levels vary only slightly and any adjustments can be made on the fly. The musicians are usually drunk by show time anyway, so they don’t notice anything. The opening gala on Thursday had 2 of the international bands, plus a shitload of locals, including a 60-piece chorale group. Almost immediately, I’m 20 then 30 minutes behind schedule. By the end of the evening, almost an hour late. I expect to be fired or have to commit seppuku.
No such luck.
Please note, when I’m talking about this, it’s not just me. I have 2 stagehands and the sound company has between 4 and 6 techs. Plus, there are supposed to be 3 translators, but they’ve either wandered off and don’t speak English for shit. There were a few that were VERY CUTE, but chose to station themselves at front of house before sneaking off to the bar or buffet.
Everybody understands the impossible task I have stupidly taken on and either congratulates or pities me.

For some reason, most of the companies that have booths are giving away stress balls. I spent the last 2 days with one in each hand. Whenever anybody saw me without one, they would run off and re-supply me.

Saturday was a COMPLETE CLUSTER FUCK! Even setting up 4 microphones takes 30 minutes! Why haven’t they fired me yet? The fuck ups just won’t stop. People who aren’t even involved with production go out of their way to come backstage and fuck things up. My only consolation is that absolutely nobody else could work within the timeframe I’ve been given under the identical circumstances and succeed.

It’s 1:37 Sunday morning. I’m back at the tent in 6 hours. It’s the last day of the festival. I hope to be out by 7 pm, pick up my dog and then be home by 10.
2:06 Sunday morning. The bars have closed and my room is now hosting 5 more people shooting craps, doing kung fu and something else. There’s somebody I’ve never seen before sleeping on my bed.

Everything’s wet again. Nobody bothered to shave (or shower, we were very late today). Just as I was waiting for the Kimchee stand to open, someone brings me a to go container of chicken fried steak and eggs. All I need now is the Sunday paper and 3 Bloody Marys. My friend Panzer came down. He ate Korean pancakes and noodle, tells me I look like shit and leaves. I can’t even count the minutes until the end because it’s a full tilt schedule with events on all 3 stages, one firing after the other. My turnaround times have been cut in half, but after the first 2 acts, it’s all tracks and dancers.

It’s over. The second the thanks and goodbyes have been announced from stage, the entire tent goes into teardown mode. People and heavy things are flying everywhere. I finally get somebody to fire me so I can go. There’s a whole box of stress balls by the door. They are now mine. Obviously, I only remember when I’m 10 miles up the freeway that I left them by the entrance.

I’d like to state for the record that the crew I worked with are insane. They are incredibly talented and hard working people. I am humbled in their presence.
They are my friends.
Thank you for watching my back and covering my ass.
Thank you.



ps… There are a lot of episodes which didn’t make these pages due to the fact that names would be named and I never got the Samurai swords promised early on. Ask me sometime over a beer and I’ll eat cheese.
I’ll put more pictures up soon.

Travel Advisory 101

Mother’s Day
May something

The problem with pretzels is that it’s hard to tell when they’re stale. Ignoring the ‘Born On Date’ or ‘Best if Used By,’ what’s a pretzel anyway? Flour, water & salt? What’s to go bad? Look at Matzo. Same ingredients, maybe no salt’the Hebrews slogged around the desert for 40 years and nowhere in the bible do they complain of stale Matzos.
What’s with the pretzels then, you ask? Am I sitting on my couch, cold beer and unquestionably fresh pretzel within reach, watching something mildly entertaining on a widescreentelevisionhdtvstereonomakethatsurround7.1eventhoughionlyhave2earsbutdoesmynosemouthotherholeinmyheadcount?
Consider this. I am in room something or other of the fabulous Comfort Inn in fabulous Sea-Tac Washington.
Where and why, ask you? Where is easy. Sea-Tac is located between Seattle and Tacoma along the fabulous I-5 corridor. (Sorry, just corrected – we’re in Federal Way at the Commons which used to be the Sea-Tac Mall, or maybe still is – dunno) Why….
OK, we’ll jump into the Way Back machine a week or 2 and pick up where I left off.
Where was I?
Right, back from Portland and already had a weekend with Midkiff and corporate fun. So why not have more?
But, how about no.
How about NO!
How about I had about the WORST GIG OF MY LIFE! That’s a bit closer to the truth.
Without going into too much detail (there still are innocents to be protected and a paycheck lost in the mail’), it was another gala fundraising auction. This one was done in the round, which comes with it’s own issues. Long story short, gear failed, cues missed, buttons that shouldn’t have been pushed and knobs that shouldn’t have been turned ended up pushed and turned. A few things actually were my fault, others not.
Did I mention that it was the worst gig of my life?
I ended up either quitting or getting fired, doesn’t really matter. Stevie Boy was very cool over the phone, but…
Why does he call me a few days later and offer me more work? Apparently when I quit or was fired, he says, ‘Did I say that?’
Thinking back, no, but that’s no reason to be loading shit into a hotel at 5 in the morning. Besides, where is my theoretical last check? Everybody else got theirs? Hmmmm , maybe I did get fired.

Sea-Tac. Why am I in Sea-Tac already? Yes, I’m working for the HanWoo-Ri Korean Sports and Cultural Festival and possible kick-off of WWIII! From what I’ve heard, not only do the Koreans hate just about everybody else, they can’t stand much of themselves either. Rumors of church soccer games turning into brawls! Like Shaolin Soccer? Now that’s entertainment!

OK, it’s Monday night now. After 15 fun-filled hours of walking on pavement (we’re in a parking lot), I’m back in the room. I’m ok with the hotel. I remember staying at its cousin in Leavenworth a couple of years ago on a cross-country ski trip. Indoor pool, decent continental breakfast, nice staff (nearly human). This (returning back to the room) was probably the only good thing that happened today.
Let me explain’
So, I mentioned the parking lot and the mall. What I failed to mention so far is that we’re in a tent. A big tent. A 100′ x 400′ tent. Kind of looks like a circus tent (seems appropriate so far). The tent came from a company in California. Southern California, really. I mention this because it doesn’t (usually historically normally) rain down there as opposed to the Pacific Northwest, where precipitation is one of our biggest exports. It’s been raining pretty good for the last few days and the tent has been leaking pretty good for the last few days as well.
Water is pouring (well’spewing) directly onto the lighting truss above the main stage, dousing a few lights before hitting the stage deck. Water is also falling onto the Pavilion stage. My guess is that when we build the 2nd stage, it’ll be raining there, too. The installer from the tent company was a day late arriving for the build Friday afternoon. They barely got it up in time for the stage, truss and lights to go in Saturday morning. Sound and more lights came in Sunday. The second the tent was up, the installer disappeared and turned his cell phone and pager off.
The local contractor has been paged hourly and seems to have turned theirs off as well.
They did a piss poor job erecting the tent. Once water started accumulating on the roof, the poles started listing noticeably. Not good when you realize that the lighting truss is hanging from these poles and that the sound towers are right below.
Why, you ask, am I going on and on about this? Good question.
The short and simple answer is that the tent is a GIANT PIECE OF SHIT THAT LEAKS AND IS PROBABLY GOING TO FALL DOWN ON TOP OF ME, and if it doesn’t kill me, it will in all certainty fuck me out of another paycheck!
Did I mention that I’m here for 8 days? In theory, anyway. The devious fuckers I’m working for don’t pay me until the day after the gigs over, and then only half at that. The other half comes 2 weeks later. I should live so long!
When I return to the tent in 7 or so hours, there is supposed to be the A-Team of tent monkeys ready to scale the canopy and seal it up. The first group of Koreans arrived this afternoon and looked at the puddles on the stage. I assured them that when they returned for tech rehearsals at noon on Tuesday the stage would be dry. Tent monkeys better not make a liar out of me.
You know, I realize that if I chronicle this entire event, it’ll be the size of a Stephen King short story.
Read on!
Last bit of tent intrigue for the night. Dr. Z has chosen to camp out in Oliver’s and my room (smart boy) instead of sleeping in the tent tonight (questionably smart boy). After reading up to this point, he has filled me in with more bullshit about the tent build, including intentional dereliction, shoddy construction, broken or incorrect tools for the job. At one point in the evening, I’m watching a fool on a forklift ramming the poles in an attempt to straighten them. Fuck, I’m going to die in a big tent with a bunch of pissed off Koreans and drift in Production Limbo until my Karma account is audited.
I’d better post this tonight in case my predictions come true.
In the next episode, I’ll include some hilarious (incriminating) photos and introduce you to some of the characters in this comedy of errors.



Read the directions carefully!

Read the Label…Carefully!!!

That, being said and done, brings us to the present.
Having survived 6 inexpensive and 1 overpriced beers, a AAA baseball game and dinner with my brother and sister-in-law takes us to the next day…SHOW DAY!
The reason for this mini-road trip was to record my friend Sharon Gillenwater at the Portland Art Museum’s Museum After Hours performance. The day started off innocently enough, coffee, dog walks, replying to about 30 e-mails and sushi (in that order). Retrieved all of my gear from the hotel and headed for the museum.
I have recorded at the museum plenty of times in their Grand Ballroom and Grand it is! About 10,000 square feet of space, 40-foot ceilings… A Grand Echo Chamber. The trick there is to close mic everything and hope that there are enough people there to absorb the sound. Of course, with 800 people talking and drinking, you have to decide what’s noise and not.
The reason I bring this up is because we did not record in the Grand Ballroom this time. The museum is renovating the room, so we are in a 40×100 foot tent.
Did I mention the construction happening just outside the sheer fabric walls? Or that you could tell what type of jet is flying directly over you by the number of fillings jarred loose from your mouth?
I haul my gear in, set up and deal with things. There are 2 stage hands/staff workers at my bidding and a house a/v guy. They are cooler than shit. I thought the sound guy, Alan, might be a little ticked because I brought in all of my own mics and changed everything that he’s already set up. No problem. He’s very helpful and doesn’t mind when we have to do some things over. And over. And over.
The band straggles in. The guitarist has only seen the music once before. The original guitarist had to attend to a family emergency in Peru so the guy they find is a teacher at Portland State University. I’ve worked with the bassist many times and the pianist is a 23 year old who everybody fawns over. Of course, he pissed me off the second he walked in by raising the lid of the piano. It is now a 6′ microphone.
Sharon is nervous as hell. Richard told me he had to stay out of the house for 2 days leading up to the show.
She’s better now, but her voice is shaky and there is fear in her eyes.
Sound check? What sound check? This is live, baby!
The show begins and there’s not much more I can do until it’s over, 2 hours later.
Well, there is more to do. Alan and I are sitting next to each other in the back of the room. Somehow, the conversation turns to the operatic nature and language of the songs to be invocative of Satan. Fair enough. He informs me that the space we are on is over a Hellmouth.
To prove his point, he points to John Entwhistle, the bass player for The Who, who died a year or so ago in the arms of a prostitute and an ounce of blow in a Las Vegas hotel room. Sure enough, it is John and he’s in line for the buffet. Apparently, the chicken is too fresh or not bloody enough for his taste. He moves to the bar and gets a glass of red wine. I point to a woman who used to be a man and Alan points to a man who used to be a man.
Did I mention free beer if you say you are doing sound?
Just 1 beer.
OK, it’s done. We pack up and I go back to the hotel to drop stuff off and go to dinner. It’s a neat little Lebanese joint by the river where Richard is having his book release party May 4. When we show up, there is another couple that was at the show. This couple turns into 5 or 6 more folks, some much louder than others. Somehow, my reputation preceded me and, although everybody there seems to know who I am, they don’t know that I’m me. This takes quite a bit of explaining over quite a bit of hummus.

It’s Thursday now. Back to Seattle. Absolutely nothing to report on the drive back.
Get home, do laundry. Get a haircut.
WARNING: When you go to get your hair cut and the barber/stylist/butcher doesn’t speak English and you don’t speak Vietnamese, make sure you know what #3 means before you sit down. She looked me up in their computer and apparently somebody said that I like my hair mangled.
Silly me.
Anyway, they gave me 50/50 that it’ll ever grow back. When she pulled out the mirror at the end, I violently pushed it away. The way I see it (or don’t), if I can’t see it, it’s not really there.

Lots of beer in the house; good, because we’re back to tracking the Mala Vista record. It’s vocal night. Oliver and Jon show up about 6. Oliver called and said that Jon had a flat tire and they’d be there soon. Flat tire now means they stopped for a few beers on the way over. Later, Jason arrives and we finish all but one vocal track. I’m getting excited to mix this thing. We recorded the basics back in May and haven’t touched them since. Jon and I are strategizing a release schedule. A single here, an EP there. We’ll probably record a live set and use some of those as B-Sides.
Many beers consumed.

It’s Friday now.
Working with Stevie Boy again. You may recall me ranting at him on some of the earlier blogs. He who left me in Tacoma for a week subjected to x-mas music.
This gig is a benefit to help with school programs in the schools. Apparently, it’s more important to wage war all over the world than it is to give kids a chance to see and hear and perform music. The Seattle Symphony has sent a group over, about 30 pieces, along with the conductor, Gerry Schwartz. Most people around here know him as Gerard, but being with the in-crowd as I was, Gerry was just fine.
Did I mention that the 2nd course was Vanessa Williams? Probably not. So, the plan was simple. Start to set for the Vanessa until the Symphony shows up, the sound check to Symphony. When they’re done, resume with Vanessa til her sound check is over. Reset the Symphony. Do the Symphony. Reset Vanessa. Do Vanessa.
If you haven’t seen her up close, she’s kinda scary’ Sycophants tripping over themselves with glasses of orange juice, band members just plain tripping. I remember working with their monitor guy from about 10 years earlier when he was with Driving and Crying. He took everything in stride until we had to totally rewire the monitor rack. Even then, he kept his cool, though I’m sure his blood pressure became dangerously high.
Tear down and go home.
Guess again.
So, there’s another show in the Westin the next night that we’re working. In a more perfect world, we would just put the microphones away and call it a night. But for the fact that we (all sound, lights, video, decorators) have to shift 90 degrees so the band can play to the short end of the room. Who thought this up? Since I’m working the show Saturday as well, I’m released early for good behavior after 16.5 hours.
Saturday’s show is a party for a certain bank who was celebrating the raping of the greater Seattle area. Instead of lowering interest rates, they blow big $ on a party. The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies were the entertainment.
I’ll leave it at that.

Since then, I’ve caught up on sleep, seen a couple of movies (Sin City and Kung Fu Hustle, both great) and chased the dog around. Also brought over about 10 wheelbarrows full of dirt from next door to try to fill in some of Mifune’s holes. He thinks I’m just refilling them so he can dig again.
I guess I am.