Friday, March 03, 2006

The True Adventures of Shaggy the Love Van (Part II)

Parting with Amy and Lily was such sweet sorrow as the surf crashed onto the sand in the morning sun. I love them so much and I'm so glad we got to do this tour so we could all remember that glamour and pure joy rule over everything else.

I am now in the Po'Girl Love Van (Blue 1985 2 couch Starcraft- answers to "Shaggy") with my new bestfriends Allie, Awna, Trish, John and Diona. I was a little wary of traveling with two couples thinking it might feel like driving around with a time bomb but everyone is so in love, the vibe is catching. Diona and I have started to hold hands and share meals. We are Fleetwood Mac. We are Abba. Ibuprofen and Starbucks never felt so good.

Phoenix on a Wednesday. The Rhythm Room. Eighty bands sharing the bill. Had the hilarious moment of getting to play my guitar for Don Wyndham, the guy who built it, and not only breaking two strings but also getting the peg stuck and having to summon him for help. It was like lightening when he looked at me. Loser meets luthier. Rescued by Shane and Jackie whom we met in the parking lot at the end of the night. House with a 78 record player and snacks and a fireplace. Left us a map to breakfast and the key even though we let the deaf white cat escape. Orange and lemon trees in the yard.

Tucson. Club Congress. Played my set early and unannounced, resplendent in corset, beaver hat, and shoulder crow. I think I freaked them out but then made some of them love me. Had a total C.M. moment: Paying no mind to my boozy-chanteuse-from-The-Yukon outfit, the doorman tried to charge me to get in to my own show at the same moment the bartender came over to say a fan had bought me a glass of wine. This is why I never know how to act. What it is and what it looks like. Gave a private patio concert to my friend the Paleontologist and his friend Destiny since they'd got stuck in traffic missed the show.

Ate dinner with my friend Larry who had just turned fifty and changed his name to Cyril (which, in America, is apparently pronounced"Sigh-rul"). Asked him about turning fifty. Asked him if it gets better than the current hilarity of "you're-totally-gonna-die-and-you're-not-even-special" that is thirty-six. He said it gets way worse. Got to sleep with Lloyd the Greyhound of Love and walk him in the southwestern morning sun. Sigh.

2-3 hours late near Demming en route to Albuquerque. Best line of the day: "O.K. This is Demming," she said pointing at map, "and we're not there!" she said pointing outside. Hilarious day in the love van. Missed a turnoff and came up with a tourism slogan: "Nothing for miles and no place to turn around. Welcome to New Mexico!" There is so much love in the van that I suspect the shit just may be catching.

Albuquerque. Sold-out folkie show in a punk rock bar. Grey hairs in folk chairs all ready to listen. Felt so good, I started with some of my newer boring material. I'm gonna call it The Albuquerque Lesson: If you start boring and then gradually become more entertaining, people will be so grateful because most of them are already expecting boring and hell some people might even dig the boring stuff! And I suspect that my 'boring' is still some folks' 'wild'. So do not begin with The Whore Song while dressed as a whore with a giant fur hat, knee boots, and shoulder crow because out of context I guess it's just a bit too much, which is the Tucson Lesson.

Santa Fe. Went on an awesome radio show (Radio Free Santa Fe98.1 KBAC) hosted by this guy Luther Watts and then for dinner at The Cowgirl which seemed up and running. I say this only because when I tried to get a show there for myself, they told me that the place had flooded and that the owner's mother had just died. Usually it's one or the other when the club is not into having you play, but to play both cards must have meant that they were REALLY not into having me! And then the irony of ending up there anyway on someone else's tour to see first hand that everything's fine! Ah well if they only knew me.

We played two back-to-back sold-out shows, an early one and a late one, in an art space next door to a brewery. Sun-kissed lesbians and tie-dyed folkies. Po'Girls were amazing. Their forte is quiet. The strength of gentle. Feminine strength. People were loving it. There was a grand piano on stage but not enough room to play it, which was kind of a bummer. They had a beer tasting in between shows and the brewer gave a talk about different hops and what not. I introduced myself because I'm going to be playing at this very brewery on my way back in a month. Nice guy. Found me some wine after the show. Actually, Luther-from-the-radio-show turned to me as the Po'Girls were starting the second show making the universal "glug-glug" gesture and rescued me from my post between farting baby and lovelorn lesbian.

That night Trish found The El Rey Motel which was beautiful and adobe with a fireplace and beds for all. Diona charmed some wine out of the brewery man. We got stoned and used some bible pages to start the fire, and then started reading random passages aloud.

Proverbs 9 verse 17: "Stolen waters are sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant."

I've actually never read the bible before and commented that I felt like it was like horrorscopes or porn or The Muppets, how there's a limited variety of archetypes and everyone just casts themselves in the main roles in order to confirm the things they were already thinking anyway. Then Allie called me a hierarchical utilitarian and I don't know what that means.

Been thinking about The Pain Theory: It's all equally dispersed but not at the same time; like some people get it all at once and then never again. Some get it slowly allotted over time and some, and I suspect this might be the worst, never get any and then get it all at once at the end. Nobody gets it at the same time so nobody can relate to each other. The End.

Dreamt about an elephant. It wanted to get close to me but I was kind of scared that it would crush me. The feeling of how you want all animals to like you but not too much. Over to you Herr Freud...

Approaching Hot Springs Ranch, near Silver City, New Mexico. The swirling lost highway two lane blacktop mountain pass. Cocktail hour with wine and hors d'oevres brokeout in the back of the van. Ghost stories and past hells revealed. Then Allie, who is prone to motion sickness, had to puke which was fine with me and D. because we could smoke! There's a Chris and Kate song called "I Will Drive While You Sleep" but we started singing "I will smoke while you puke" instead because we are such nice people.

Okay so the part I haven't told you yet is where we were heading. I wasn't even telling myself. We were on our way to a COMMUNE to spend four days off. The word commune was conjuring up the word "colony" as in "nudist colony" which was conjuring up images of matching robes and assigned sleeping areas on mats. Nikes and Kool-Aid mixed in with The Simpsons' Johnny Cash coyote on peyote hiding in a cave and losing his mind, U.F.O.s, nuclear testing, outhouse cleaning, and, well, all of it was kind of freaky. John the drummer suggested we just refer to it as The Party Ranch instead of The Commune in our minds. Trish had the connection and was sensing our fears and pointed out that two songwriters we knew had grown up there and they turned out okay and we'll all be together and what can happen?

We arrived in the dark and met our hostess Sally who rules. A total rancher lady with amazing violet eyes and really funny, thank god. We sat with her for a while and then she said, "Well I'll show you your rooms and your robes(!) and we'll get in the pools!"Apparently the ranch was on a natural hot springs and there were warm pools everywhere. Me and Diona found The Mudpit, which turned out to be surrounded by wildmint. After I got over my tantrum, I fell over a log on the way there and cut open my leg (when I get home from this tour I'm gonna be all black and blue with just a couple of white spots), I got in and it was amazing and the water was warm and the moonlight forgiving.

There were pamphlets in our rooms with some rules:
Please understand that nudity at hot pools and ponds is the norm.
Sexual or voyeuristic behaviour at the hot pools is taboo.
Comments about people's bodies are not appropriate.
Do not mock the birds -their movements or their mating calls.

I couldn't help but think about the dude behind the rules The next day when I asked the locals, all of them said something to the effect of, "Oh yeah. That'd be Dave." Too funny. Spent the next few days climbing mountains, playing the grand piano in the common room with sunlight streaming in the windows, trying to track the elusive javelinas (wild boar's with tusks apparently closely related to the hippo), and petting the lonely horse.

We put on an acoustic concert for our hosts, some of whom did yoga and "body work" while we played. While we were outside during the break, Awna had a revelation: "Oh my God. We're coming here to get away from it all while these people are coming here to socialize!" We were the fresh meat. There were these two blonde kids that apparently live up a trap line somewhere and hadn't seen people in over a month. They were as adjusted as you would imagine.

There was a giant ring around the moon. I've seen little ones before but this was huge! We came running in to grab the locals but they said that it's always like that and we were like "Yeah, but how could you ever get tired of looking at it? It's amazing!" and this made me realize that this is what visitors are for. To make you remember what's amazing about your life with their fresh eyes. My fantasy version of living in the middle of nowhere includes many visitors. I could maybe get over the spooky way "The Members" refer to it as "The Land".

They put on a movie night for us and we saw "How Masturbation Saved Me from Teenage Alien Abduction" which one of the girls who grew up on The Land made and it was so good. Each life is a potential screenplay. The commune seems like a cosmos of everything- young vs. old, ladies vs. men, self vs. group- like a band or being married to 35 people. I don't know if I could handle it. "I'm a member. I grew up on the land."

That night's actual journal entry: "Tomorrow we rock the wine bar in Silver City! What a day. What a world. What a life! We visited the horse (named Valium) and gave her some love. Hope we don't drive by and see four legs in the air because of "The Potato". How am I ever going to remember this right? The advent of discovering that our lodgings are the site of a former sanatorium and here we all are in matching robes and assigned sleeping is slightly chilling. But oh the love! Trish liking my song feels pretty good. I love everyone and feel great too. What's happening to me?

Jessie, the cute blonde girl with the dead husband got us a show at the wine bar in Silver City-The Twisted Vine. Her brother's in a band so she grasps the two general principals behind concert promotion: Secure the venue and phone everyone you know. We had a fun show. The locals seemed to really dig it.

Apparently this area is famous for its "Strong Female Energy" so I felt bad about showing up with a band of hot ladies and not having any dudes, or 'fresh meat' with us for the local dames to flirt with. Oh sure we had John the drummer but he was so obviously Trish's bitch. I asked Jessie if she thought they wanted to claw our eyes out and she said, "Well just don't move here!"

The search for the elusive javelina continues. Therope swing. The ice in the river. The crystals in the sand. The fucking ring around the moon. How do you remember the light when it all goes dark? We left the next day at around noon. One of the members left us a note telling us where to go next under the wiper.

Balmorhea, Texas State Park.
Saw a big arrow sign lit up with Christmas lights that read "The Cutest Restaurant in Balmorhea". Of course we had to go in. Once we were seated the waitress asked us if we were in town with the scuba diving team! We were so excited. I mean the novelty of being recognized as a band kind of wears off faster than you might think but no one has ever asked me that before!Was it our sleek lines? Did we look especially buoyant? We had to ask.
The waitress said, "Oh groups of six always come in on Wednesdays cause we're near the pool."
"Oh. There's a pool?"
"Yeah. Some people don't like it because it's in a natural park and it's got an actual dirt bottom and fish in it. It's near the motel"
"Oh yeah? How do you get there?"

Over dinner, I sat accross from Allie and I think our tender spots converged. She seemed pretty nervous about being Black in Texas and kind of shushed me at dinner because she had the vantage of the lone old man eating at the next table appearing very uncomfortable with our appearance and unholy conversation. I know we were probably talking loudly about ass fucking or something tasteful like that, but it made me want to talk even louder about even more disgusting things because nothing makes me madder than a shushing. But then I just thought for a minute about her perspective and how lovely she is and shut my pie-hole. Things said are rarely meant to be taken personally. Most people are talking to themselves through you. If you can learn the code you are golden. Either that, or I am louder and more disgusting than I'll ever admit.

Somewhere in there my brother called to test me on myknowledge of the names of the McDonald's cartoon characters. If I didn't know better I'd think he was high. While I was outside a red Chihuahua ran into my arms. And then off to another gorgeous discount hotel. Lesbian porn on every channel. And here we are in Texas and on a nature preserve! It ain't like the movies. Weird. Too tired to smoke. Night off. The hilarity of The Golden Girls becoming a viable viewing option for a few minutes until John cracked and put his foot down. And then glorious slumber.

En route to Austin.

If you are ever in rural Texas with the ambition of wanting people to look at you like you are an alien, I suggest you enter a diner wearing a sun-dress and furcoat accompanied by a pair of straight joined-at-the-hip hipster/hippies, an inter-racial lesbian couple, and your tour girlfriend who could pass for an eleven year old boy and ask for tomatoes in your grilled cheese sandwich. Good luck getting the tomatoes. Texas. The desert changes a little. Still big sky but more green scrubby rock action as far as the eye can see.


At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well shoot, that sounds like TEXAS, y'all. Now you be sure to capitalize that word, y'hear? Now you go on an keep a-tourin' darlin'.


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