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.

Bingo!

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.

Luck
pj

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

THE END OF A(N) (Y)E(A)RA

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?
Anyway
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.
BASTARD!
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!
BASTARD!

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.

OK
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.

Luck
pj

VRRROOOOOMMMMMM!

VROOOOOMM!
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?
AND WHERE THE HELL AM I?

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.
Whatever
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.

Luck
pj

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
THE SCENE
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
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

Anyway

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.
Anyway
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.

DOG 2, MONTH 6
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)

luck
pj

(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.

‘OH, IT BURNS! IT BURNS’

‘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.

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.

Okeyday.

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.

Fucker

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.

Cool.

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

Tuesday.
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
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.
Fuckers
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
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.
Oh
Wait
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.
OOOPS!
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.
Nope.
Just something I saw and filed away.
OK
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.
Fuckers
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!
www.stuartdavis.com
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 …

Aloha!

Luck
pj

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.
Harrumph!

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.
No
Really
I’ve got lots to do
Seriously
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 …
Boy
Anyway, last night was Link Wray, a most famous rock guitar pioneer (credited for having invented the power chord).
So
Anyway
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.
YEAH AND SO NO MONEY NO SHOW!
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
So
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.
Wait
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.
OK
(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.
They play SHITTY 60’S COVER TUNES.
I thought DB mentioned a singer … .
OH
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.
THE REASON WE’RE ALL HERE.
THE REASON YOU CAN GO TO SEE HARVEY MANDEL TOMORROW NIGHT.

LINK WRAY

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.
Why?
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!
WHAT THE FUCK?
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.

Enough.

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

Luck
pj

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.

Anyway

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.

Whatever

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.

OK

Luck
pj

LAST MAN STANDING AND OTHER LOVE SONGS

Sunday
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.

Luck
pj

Minimum of Four Letter Words

WOW!
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.

Tuesday
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.
Anyway
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
Except
For when the bandleader insisted that that be the order. Dancers, then singers.
Fine.
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?

Wednesday
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.

Sunday
Rain.
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.

Luck

pj

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

Sunday
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?
No
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?
OK
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.
Fucker.
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.

Luck

pj

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?
Anyway
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.
OK
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.
Really.
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.
Fuckers.

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.
Right?
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.

Luck
pj

I think I missed my stop

Hello Dear Readers,

What a wild few weeks!
News from the Dog Front, Misadventures in Recording and my So-Called Life…

The Dog: Is Mifune (aka Damnit) adjusting well to Ballard life? Well, if your definition of adjusting is DIGGING, then all is well here. I’m thinking of renting him out to a few landscapers I know for the purpose of excavating yards. He is a living breathing shitting roto tiller.
Newest chew toys: Gray leather couch, new sweater, 6 pack of Tecate, anything with shoe laces and anything to do with the recording studio.
Like Jazz, he likes fried tofu, but, unlike Jazz, he’ll eat his vegetables.
Have I mentioned that he can take up an entire queen size bed? His MO is as follows: If I’m already on the bed, he’ll hop up and lay next to me, head facing my feet. He’ll then fart twice (Hey George, here are your Biological Weapons of Mass Distraction!), and as my eyes stop watering, he applies enough pressure to actually move me a foot toward the edge of the bed. At this point, he employs some sort of Doggie Gravitational Brake (DGB) which renders him immovable. I wish my parking brake worked as well.
With the exception of the occasional lunge, he and Kaiju (Cat Like Object) seem to have plotted out their own Roadmap for Peace. Not sure if it’s all of the downers I put in their water,
Summing up: Less frustrating, more lovable. We’ll start obedience school next month.

The Recording Thing: If the dog proves to be less frustrating, then music has replaced it as the Head Scratching Why Am I Doing This Again? Thing. Since late December, when Ernestine Anderson cancelled her live recording dates THE DAY BEFORE, my recording biorhythm has been off of the chart! Everybody’s been sick, including me for once. Had great sessions with John Stowell, Jeff Johnson and John Bishop (my new record label Supreme Commander). Wylie and the Wild West Show & I finally mixed the Tractor shows from last October for live CD and DVD (I still have yodeling stuck in my head) due out this spring. Work threatens to continue on the Malavista project with only 2 cancellations for overdubs.
Happily, I’ve had my own butt kicked by Toddd Dunnigan, the Dog Girls keyboardist from Boise who moved with his family to Seattle last year. Todd and I record every Monday afternoon and the newest project is already halfway completed! Todd plays piano at Chopstix (sp), a dueling piano bar in Lower Queen Anne. Todd has always been my favorite collaborator and has helped me to focus on things in the living world.
The Hand of Dog, my latest project, should be coming out in July on Origin Records, a Seattle-based jazz label with an incredible roster and catalog.
Going to Portland in April to record my friend Sharon Gillenwater, who does this Italian Light Opera thing at the Portland Art Museum’s Wednesday After Hours series. I get to spend a few nights at the Mallory Hotel (my favorite old school hotel where they welcome dogs), eat lots of sushi with Sharon and Richard Donin and blow everything I make at Powell’s bookstore.

Life, We Don’t Need No Stinking Life: I’ve missed it for a while. Jazz’s passing continues to kick my ass, blacken my eyes, sweep my legs out from under me and something else I just forgot because I was distracted by Iron Chef. Oh yeah, it was rabbit punch me in the kidneys (excuse the fighting analogies, Rocky 2 was on TV last night!). Not having a dog growing up (as if I ever did or will) didn’t prepare me for the bond I established with him. I’m sure I’ll get over it’one day. Thanks to everybody for understanding and supporting me.

OK, back to bad TV and leftovers.

A final note’ I’ve become addicted to erika.net, the coolest Internet radio station ever. Lots of old jazz, international stuff, eclectic beyond belief. Check it out if you can.

Luck

pj

OK, a little slow on the uptake (or upload, such as it were)
It’s probably been a few weeks, maybe a month since the above written.
Even as we speak, I’m in Portland, drinking a beer and looking at the baseball stadium across the street, where I hope to be in 2 hours’
Except
Dinner with the brother and sister-in-law? At my favorite Vietnamese joint in town? Where I haven’t eaten in at least 10 years?
Baseball game and beer?
Brother and ‘beer?
Does he like baseball? Probably not. Beer? Well, last time I looked, we weren’t Mormon, but he’s always been the strange one in the family!
Nice looking baseball park, though. Really nice.
A couple more beers and it might be the game after all. Sorry Howard and Bonnie. Maybe sorry.
Maybe.

The drive down was uneventful.
Well, back up.
For the last few weeks, all I could think about was this trip. Get out of town. NOW!
My customer service chip has fused again. It’s almost time to answer questions truthfully! Bad idea.
I took the Jeep into the shop bright and ugly this morning for some service. Had breakfast and walked around until it was done. I get a call on my cell from the guy at the shop and he says…’Well, the oil change is done, but”
BUT WHAT, FUCKHEAD? I asked for an oil change and to check to fluids. He’s ready to sign me up for a full brake job, all new hoses and let’s rebuild the front end while we’re at it!
Please know that this is the same mechanic I’ve gone to for years and recommend to everybody. New kid at the front desk probably trying to show his worth to Roger. Always find out what your mechanic drinks (or other vices if you dare) and keep him well supplied.
After stopping off at a friends house to drop off some crap that’s been bouncing around the back of the car for months…. actually, this is good. I stop by Dan’s (after calling to alert him to my imminent visit).
Way the hell out of the way, area code, zip code, time zone, I think there’s something different in the air.
Knock on the door.
No answer.
I have a key anyway.
Try the door.
It’s open.
No Dan.
No Dan anywhere I look, except his bedroom.
Call his name and knock on the bedroom door.
No answer.
Drop stuff off.
Leave note? No, who else would leave his shit in the middle of the kitchen?
Take off. Call him from the road a few minutes later to leave a message.
He answers!
The FUCK!
Well, he’s not dead, sort of…maybe
I go back, drink a wretched cup of what he calls coffee and leave again.
The rest of the trip is a non-event, until 5 minutes from the hotel; Mifune decides to get green bubbly sick ALL OVER THE CAR AND ME. Heatstroke, maybe. I notice twigs among the debris on the front seat.
Wonderful!
OK, now for checking in.
I love the Mallory Hotel in downtown Portland. I’ve been staying here exclusively since 1993. Great old school, huge lobby, great bar and dining room. Dog friendly. 2 blocks from the baseball park”
Hello, says I. I’m checking in.
Indeed you are, says they. How about a credit card?
How about I paid in advance 2 weeks ago!
How about you didn’t?
How about this…
See the dog.
The dog is a pit bull.
The dog is hungry.
The dog is hungry because it just puked all over my car.
See the human.
He’s starting to feel like the pit bull’s stomach if you don’t find his PAID RESERVATION!
Oh look, they found it!
Take Mifune for a walk. We walk to the baseball park.
I’m talking to this guy outside the park, watching the teams warm up. He’s playing with Mifune. He mentions how strong Mifune is. I say yes, he’s already broken 3 leashes. I look and see the leash #4 has about 3 minutes of life left on it.
Shit!
Back to the hotel and try to repair the leash.
No go. I’ll buy another one tomorrow.
Grab my computer and go this great little coffee shop (across the street from the baseball park where the game starts in 1 hour 44 minutes now!). It seems that the hotel now wants $7 a day for wireless internet as well as a buck apiece for local calls.
Fuck this, says I. Free wi-fi and beer across the street from the ballpark.
Baseball game sounds awfully good right about now. I can see Howard and Bonnie in 3 months.
More beer? Hmmmmm….
The Beavers are playing Fresno, for what it’s worth. How often does this happen? Well, Pacific Coast League, probably pretty often.
Damn.
More beer?

OK, all of the pieces have just fallen into place. I’m talking to Evian, the owner of the Dugout, the coffee joint I’m drinking and writing from. I tell him of my quandary.
No quandary no longer, says he. He lays 4 tickets to the baseball game on me. I return all but one. The new plan is to catch an hour and a half of the game and then go meet Howard and Bonnie.
QUICK PLUG: The Dugout
742 SW 18th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97205
503.973.5441
Evian is the owner. Just bought the place. He made my day. If you’re in Portland, YOU WILL COME HERE!
They have coffee, food, beer, right across the street from PGE Park, music on weekends. CHEAP BEER! Could be a little colder, but what the hell. Maybe I’ll ask him to stock Pacifico or Rainier when I’m in town. The way I figure it, it’s probably cheaper in the long run to take the train to Portland and stay in a hotel to see the Portland Beavers play than to try to see the Seattle Mariners in my own city! I wonder if I can bring Mifune on the train’
Baseball game in 1 hour, 15 minutes. Working on beer number 3, no food since breakfast. I saw some mints on the table next to my bed. I’ve been advised that Budweiser’s cost $5.50 across the street. Must check finances. Don’t want to break the bank on cheap beer. It’s only $1.50 at the dugout. At this rate, I believe I might have to verbally abuse the desk staff at the Mallory.

OK, going to finish this beer and go back to the hotel. Drop off the computer, play with the puppy (make sure he hasn’t eaten anything or shit in the room), come back, drink more beer, go the game, meet the family.
I’ll be back.

Damn, what a day so far. Forget what happened trying to leave Seattle and entering Portland, what a day!
With Evian and Kate as new friends, the day has turned around.
The seat at the baseball game was right behind home plate, probably a $12 ticket. $200 in Seattle. 3x $2 Bud’s before the game and didn’t even mind the $6 Bud at the game. Warm, maybe 1/8th filled stadium. g-d, life is good right now. Going to meet Howard and Bonnie in 1/2 hour.

Even later.
5 AM. Sleep for about an hour at a time. Comfortable room. Great bed. History Channel is running JFK/Castro/Kruschev funnies.
OK, this goes up this morning and I’ll let you know how the recording went.

Luck
pj

Dog 2, Week 1

Well, it’s been a week now with Mifune/Allston/Doofus/Damnit (choose one) and what a week it’s been.

Some random observations:

The Name Thing. Maybe he responds to Allston, maybe he doesn’t. I’ve been calling him Mifune when I think about it, Jazz when I don’t. I think I’ll be making that slip for a while. This is one of the reasons I chose not to have kids. A very small reason. More reasons will sprout in these pages. Digger was also a candidate, seeing as how my backyard has more holes than ‘A Day In The Life!’

The Cat Thing. The scars are healing nicely since their first encounter, thanks. For the last week, it’s been a game of room switching when Kaiju would come home. Lock the dog in bedroom so the cat could be in the mudroom; Cat in bathroom, dog in mudroom, me outside. How did that happen? Panzer (d.v.m., acupuncturist, all around good guy, dog bless him) came over last week and met the dog. He brought a couple vials of flower essence over: Quaking Grass (briza maxima) and Walnut (juglans regia). The Quaking Grass is for helping to establish household order and the Walnut is for major life change (something everybody in the house has gone through in the last month). A couple of drops in their water and stand back!

It Works!

OK, not one minute ago, they were nose to nose with no blood loss! Outstanding!
Never mind’ back to square one. Film at 11.

The Dog Park Thing. When I went through the application process with Pit Bull Rescue, I told them that I would be taking the dog to the dog park as part of its exercise regimen. No No No, said they! People will freak out when they see a pit bull charging down on their Shi Zhu. I probably would, too. Anyway, after being dragged around the marina and plodding around easily escapable schoolyards, we headed to the off leash area near the house, overlooking Puget Sound. I think we were almost through the gate when he bolted up the hiking path. 10 minutes later, we’re inside and all is well. As I’ve mentioned before, THE DOG IS FAST! Kind of does the greyhound or racing horse thing, tucking his legs in and the exploding forward. Brakes? We don’t need no stinking brakes! He’s only shown aggression when dry humped by some other stupid dog. He gives them fair warning before going into the classic ‘I’m a Pit Bull with Large Sharp Teeth and I Will Tear Your Throat Asunder If You Do Not Persist in This Most Uncouth and Futile Act.’ The first time this happened, the offending dog’s human commented that our dogs don’t get along. I felt like mounting him from behind and asking him if he liked it! Probably would. Another reason why I don’t have kids! The dog has also found a way to escape from the off leash area.

The Dog as a Replacement for Jazz Thing. As reported earlier, this was neither the intention nor the reality. There will never be a replacement for Jazz. The reality is that this dog is a 4-legged Panzer tank with a bladder the size of an Olympic swimming pool that slobbers a lot!

The Dog as a Destructive Force of Nature Thing. So far, he’s chewed up 2 of his blankets, 1 Godzilla, anything with shoelaces, anything I’m wearing, my right hand, my desk, and the back porch’

OK, that’s it for now. I’ve committed the next 10-15 years to this mutt, so we’ll see what happens.

Luck
pj

Note 1: 15.5 hours until 2 weeks. I had the cat in my lap and the dog sitting at my feet. I was not, repeat not, wearing inch thick leather pads, Bad move on my part. All was well until the dog, who just loves to sniff butts, put his nose where it just didn’t belong. I’ve been waiting for Kaiju to let him have one across the nose. Well, tonight’s the night, as the song goes. No blood was drawn; the creatures went to their neutral corners and are, even as we speak, sitting this round out, though the dog is chomping at the bit (literally) to go again.

What was I thinking?

Dog 2, Day 1

In 15 minutes, I will have had the new dog for 24 hours. Here’s what I know so far …

If he has a name (Allston was supplied), he either doesn’t know it or chooses not to acknowledge it.

He is a male Pit Bull, approximately 1.5 years old. Abandoned, neglected, maybe abused. Fawn colored with a white belly and a white stripe running from his forehead down to his nose. Knee high. Weighs in the neighborhood of 60 pounds. He is a big baby. A very powerful big baby.Did I mention he and the cat haven’t quite seen eye to eye? Hmmm … well, sooner or later. I’m hoping for sooner. Kaiju (kitty) lived behind the bathtub for 2 weeks before she figured out that Jazz was cool. Of course, Jazz didn’t lunge at and chase her through the house. Kaiju is pissed at the dog and me. The dog just wants to be friends and so do I. I think my watchband will cover up last night’s scars. If you’ve never held a hissing cat, my advice is to not. Misdirected rage, fear … skin.

Anyway, it’s been over 3 weeks since the death of Jazz, my doggy companion of over 13 years. Those were the worst 3 weeks of my life following the best 13. I was never good at fractions, but I believe the good outweighs the bad in this case. Alas, the smaller number seems to be more concentrated, almost overshadowing the larger.

Allow me some explanation as well. I just spent almost one third of my life with one dog. I love Jazz to pieces and his passing kicked the shit out of me. I still have a hole in my heart the size of the Grand Canyon. My getting another dog is not a stopgap rebound knee jerk reaction. I’m used to having a dog. This dog needed a home and I need a dog. I was going to foster one, but why get attached to someone knowing you’re going to lose him or her soon? I understand the importance of fostering, but now’s not the time. When I own my own island, I’ll foster every animal that comes my way, unless it’s a shark or something like that.

3 minutes until 24 hours. I now know that he’s a digger. He just dug out most of the back porch. He was able to do this because I thought it was safe to leave him unsupervised in the backyard this time. The 2 times before I discovered that, in addition to being a digger and he can stand on his hind legs and knock just about whatever he wants off of the kitchen counter, he’s a jumper of some ability. 4-foot fences are no obstacle.

Shit.

So I found a long leash with a kind of choke chain that doesn’t seem to choke him, or for that matter, stop him. It gave me about 45 minutes of peace and computer time without having to repot the palm and chase biscuit crumbs. He seemed to be content playing with his tug rope and red bouncy thing, or so I thought. We had to dig some lawn up a few days ago because there was a possibility of a broken water pipe, so there was some loose topsoil lying about. But that was by the gate, not the middle of the yard, and not in such quantity.

The Great Escapes. Twice this morning. First time, I thought he jumped over the garbage cans. The second time, as I was covering the hole to the garbage cans, I swear I turned my back on him for 15 fucking seconds and he was gone, hence the mention of the fence. Realize, firstly, that this dog is FAST. Cheetah fast. With gravity and motion on his side, he’s already taken me and my neighbor down. I’m thinking he’s a mile away by now. Did I mention that he’s fast? He is. But he seems content (so far) to exploring no further than a few blocks and seems genuinely happy to see me when I catch up to him.

Reviewing: jumping digging strong fast slobbery leaping tugging cat curious sweet handsome stupid dog. He slept by my side, dreaming and snoring loudly all night. I missed that touch so much. Oh yeah, even though I outweigh him 3-4x, he still managed to occupy the whole bed. Unmovable. I cannot budge this fucking animal! He has managed to quadruple his mass! That’s ok, but I’m wondering what else the foster parents neglected to tell me? He came with a king sized doggy crate and, as much as I hate confining animals, I’d hate to see what he comes up with when he attempts to dig up my bed or the studio floor.

It’s 26.75 hours now. I haven’t seen the cat since it was sunny. It is now starting to rain. I’ll have to segregate the critters when I can coax her inside. Have to leave for work in a while. Why can’t we all just get along and do what the fuck I say?

Just got home from work. The cat was waiting outside for me and an explanation. After some maneuvering, the cat’s inside and the dog and I were out for a walk. The dog (whom I am calling Mifune for the meantime) knows that Kaiju is in the mudroom but can’t get to her. I think I’ll wait for some of the scars to heal before I try introducing them again.

OK, that’s it for the first day. I’m committed to this dog. He’s really quite a sweetheart (if you like destructive forces of nature!) Imagine Lassie and tabletop fission.

Luck

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

Jeebus.

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.

Sunday.
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.

Done.

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.

HoHoHo

dogwalla