Friday, September 30, 2005

Tears Behind Velvet: Hello New York! (Part I)

We made it to Toronto last night. I asked Rigby and Tolan to make sure I got to bed at a decent hour but can see now in the clear light of morning that they may have been the last people on earth I should have asked to perform handler duties...

It made me really miss my friend Shawna who turned out to be a great handler last weekend at the Edmonton Folk Fest offering such thoughtful and timely suggestions as "Aren't you going to be wanting your guitar?" every time we left good old room 815 at The Airport Ramada.

I got midnight drunk and tried to get Martha Wainwright to hula hoop with me side stage during Mavis Staples but she declined. I distinctly remember her unclasping her wrist from my fingers. The next morning there were reports of Our Martha missing the morning workshop due to "guitar technicalities." Hmm. Strange.

I emceed on the Friday night and was told by Steve Earle's people that the man required no introduction. I said I knew all about that from NOT introducing him last year in Calgary. So after the 70 year old French Canadian fiddler finished I went backstage to get my purse and a hula hoop or something and Steve's road manager leans down from the stage and shouts "There's no work for you here!" and points to the tent exit. I felt like a matchgirlwhoreclown. (I was in the red polka dot dress). I swear I could feel a big red nose appearing on face and my shoes lengthening as I moped out of the tent and spent the rest of the night in a mood trying to think of all the scathing comebacks I could have laid on his yankee ass: "I was getting my purse asshole!" or "Well I could show you a little contract here that would prove that there is indeed Work For Me Here, Mister!"

Ooh. I was so mad. Does he think that I was born with a burning desire to introduce people anyway? Or that after my juggling act I'd try to stuff My Demo down Steve's modern Levi's while begging to be taken on tour. Jesus darling, I'd rather be singing, and if I was like that, I'd go to The Source and stalk Prine. He seems like way more fun.

I guess the part that struck a nerve was realizing that I am just another clown wanting to be taken seriously.

Well, to continue on the petulant asshole front, Ryan Adams took the stage wearing the hugest sunglasses and hiding behind his moppy hair. He played about twenty minutes of distortion with his band (chick bass player) and after some cryptic banter about morphine and orange peels, he announced "This one's about fucking a whore!" to the Saturday-evening-sunset-families-on-tarps crowd and their little faces just fell. It was funny for like a second because he was probably thinking "I'm in fucking Canada. Who cares?" whilst everyone there was adjusting their monacles and thinking "This is the Edmonton Folk Festival! Show some respect lad!"

A funny person could have gotten away with it but I don't think Ryan Adams is a funny person. He was so mean it just made everyone there feel terrible and I thought of all the people I knew back home who were dying to see him and all the good times we've had listening to his records. You shouldn't be so careless with peoples' love. I could almost hear Leeroy Stagger's heart breaking when I told him the story.

Apparently at his Vancouver show after a ten minute diatribe about the non-smoking laws he laid into the lady bass player for like ten minutes until she got on the mike and said "Apparently I'm going to go fuck myself right now." Could he be working some kind of American Performance art angle? Entertain in order to destruct? I think not. Why would you go out of your way to make the people who came to see you feel so uncomfortable? Maybe the man just hates himself. But which came first?

John Prine and Alejandro Escovedo were there representing the overbite contingent. Alejandro looked like a sexy praying mantis and was wearing rust suede pants and an infant. Hilarious side note: I saw him in the beer tent and suddenly remembered playing like three benefits for the man's ailing liver and thought he was wearing some sort of organ compress or hot water bottle until I laid my theory on Mark Davis of Old Reliable who looked over and said "Um.... That's a baby." Silly me.

Shawna and I mostly hung out with The Weakerthan boys and Tom from Old Reliable -- all the sweet spindly poets. It's like you wanna offer to carry their books.

My friend Luann has taken up jogging, smoking and tanning to replace The Drinking while Suzanne has blossomed into full blown meth whore looking just like one of those twitchy Vancouver ladies. She took me into the bathroom and lifted up her tiny dress to reveal biker shorts underneath saying "I've got my (slap!) ASS COVERED!" She speaks only in metaphors and paranoia now. Her best line came out when she was telling me that crack dealers had poisoned three of her cats. I was wary because crack dealers don't seem to be that motivated, unless of course they're trying to find more crack, and Cuckoo the Siamese was like a hundred when I first met Suzanne. Apparently the replacement kitty was named Friday by her daughter and so the moment Suzanne turned to me and said "I spent thousands of dollars keeping Friday alive!" shall be forever etched in my mind.

I bet you did honey. I bet you did.

It feels like my mission is to keep the car between those two ditches -- between Suzanne and Luann -- constantly monitoring the gauge to make sure the needle isn't pinned to the red on either side. Mavis Staples was all fucked up on old age and has no high end left and kind of sounds like Bill Cosby, but she looks fantastic. Plus what else is she gonna do? Everyone factors in their own mortality when reviewing her. "I thought it was pretty good," they say nervously, hoping that people will cut them this much slack when they get old and still want to rock.

While Mavis unveiled her her new song "God is Not Sleeping!" a huge fork of lightening lit up the night sky which was pretty impressive proving there's life in the old girl yet.

Unlike the Dawson City or Calgary festivals, they didn't keep me very busy -- one workshop and one night of emceeing. ("There's no work for you here!") And it's a huge festival. It's the Big One. Like ten thousand people and sixty acts. They basically paid me to party which I guess to some would be living the dream but us farm girls know that drinks taste so much better after chores so I went into to town and played Saturday afternoon at the Black Dog with John Guliak and Phil from Vermont on guitar who totally rules and had a blast and played for three hours to twelve people drinking pilsner thinking "Yesss, back to normal."

So now I'm here in T- dot trying to be good. The men are 'round the pub talking about gear and slurring. I just had a beverage called The Liver Flush from some yuppie purveyor of greens health chain outlet and oh boy. Maybe it was too sudden. Sweating, gut ache. burping ginger. Shouldn't have messed with the formula this late in the game. It's all about the maintenance now.

Ah, I'm sure it'll wear off by morning.

Twangfest was pretty nice except they used the old 'legs in the air' photo for the poster and Photoshopped in a jaunty blue line drawn cowboy hat. Yeesh. And it was everywhere. Like I mean on buses and billboards and television! A Sex in the City moment but without the sex. And, you know, country.

September 1.

Damn. And I was hoping for an Indian Summer. (First Nations summer now is it?) I'm in the kitchen bright and early still on Ontario time I guess cuddled up to a cup of coffee and shivering in my Indian sweater (Indigenous sweater? Who knows?) All I know is that if I'm still three hours ahead maybe it would be technically okay to allow myself a cigarette this disgustingly early.... Just this once I swear. I'll hold off for a bit to savour the exquisite torture of desire denied.... Ah, who am I kidding? Hello, lighter. Hello, Benson. Good Morning, Hedges. Oh I could never stay mad at you guys. Take my first born (Please!) and my last breath. Do what you will with me you devils but mess with the face and the deal's off, got it? This morning's address apparently is to serve a two-fold purpose. Randy, my editor, who moonlights as the head of Mint Records has asked me to pen a little something for a 'zine' he intends to distribute 'round New York during the prestigious CMJ festival this fall. I shan't be attending this year as it is an honour I dream not of. Well, that and since us musician types are so famous for our ambition and foresight, I shall at that time be releasing my duets album at a hall in Vancouver.

Actually I was just in New York City. We wormed our way into the core of the Big Apple once again. Our first New York Hootenanny. Went well. Dozens rejoiced. Norah Jones was there. Picked and grinned until the wee hours in Chris Brown's backyard in Brooklyn. Luther Wright's latest girlfriend brought a selection of cheeses, bless her. And the next day when the others had left, Tolan and I got to record back-up vocals on some guy's record in bed! A microphone was brought to us and we oohed and aahed into its awaiting diaphragm adrift on a sea of cushions and cat hair. Now that's glamour, my friend!

This tour started on August 11 when Tolan and I flew to Toronto and met up with Agent Rigby at the airport. Our mission? To play at an event called T.O. Twangfest which was held down at the Harbourfront Centre. Us and all our "rootsy" friends -- Luther Wright, NQ Arbuckle, Luke Doucet, The Sadies, The Brothers Cosmoline, The Rizdales, Atomic 7, Nathan etc. got to strut our stuff in more glamourous settings than we are usually accustomed. A fine idea.

Everyone rose to the challenge and sounded fantastic. Boy when you can really hear the words it makes all the difference. Suddenly everyone feels included so the battle is half won before the war even starts. Unlike the other bands, our invitation came with the caveat that I would emcee for four days because I guess someone told The Man that I was good at it. Who are these people? I mean, I guess I'm good at it but only when there are no rules and they just want me for me but by day three, having to thank the Government of Canada and the State of Texas (this year's door prize sponsor -- "First prize is a trip to Texas. Second prize? Two trips to Texas!" threatened to slip off my tongue with every glance at the clipboard) became a task far more odious than waitressing. But I wore a wig and danced to all our friends' bands in the sunshine by the water and our friend Dan who sings with The Brothers Cosmoline and writes The Best Lyrics Ever took us all out for fancy pants dinner on the Canadian Songwriters Association tab at this restaurant where all the food was tiny and vertical and the men were drinking white wine.

To my horror my last two tour-mates (We'll call them Luther and Neville) were seated dangerously close to each other. I've toured with both of them a lot this year but SEPARATELY and so within moments they started, within earshot, to dissect my mysterious ways and alarming snippets wafted on the wind to my bionic ear ("Do you find that she is like this?") as they sipped away at the pinot grigio while I pretended to talk to Dan about his work. This was a most alarming tableau to behold especially when I was unable to even seek the usual comfort of voluntary oblivion in the gleaming carafe of free(!) Smoking Loon that loomed before me as my motor skills were still required later that evening to introduce the bafflingly legendary Billy Joe Shaver and announce the raffle winners. What fresh modern hell is this? I am too often the executor of my own perfect torment.

Oh dear. Forgive me, New York. I fear I have become the deranged swaggard at the cocktail party holding you hostage with my rambling tales famous for their huge casts and scant plots. I suggest you simply change the names to those of people you do know like when you're reading a Russian play and think of it all like a giant metaphor. Or is it AS a giant metaphor. Oh dear, now that's a simile isn't it? Shit, where were we? Ah yes. Toronto. Twangfest.

I emceed for like a week straight and now I can't stop introducing people. Got a tongue lashing from The Organizer for skipping some sponsors on the list because I got too excited about The Sadies starting to make it through the whole damn list.

Unfortunately the tongue lashing occurred just as I was about to take the stage for my concert with my sweet and rehearsed men who were vamping in a professional R and B fashion so there were a few tears behind the velvet. (Alternate Biography title perhaps -- Tears Behind the Velvet: Tales of a Boozy Chanteuse? It's that or Tomatoes on the Side: The Carolyn Mark Story.)

Ah, whatever. Subsequent interaction with The Organizer revealed that it was his first year running the show. Turns out he was really sick and feverish too. Go another layer down and the dude is a former teamster so is all about how 'people should WORK when you're paying them.' Good luck with them artists, bud. Though he was quick to pull out the Art School Card when I commented on this fact, I know that he is an alien even if he doesn't.

We did get to stay at The Sheraton on the Lakeshore for three nights -- albeit right beside the Fetal Alcohol Family.

By the end of the third day we had totally overdosed on the country music so me and Rigby and Tolan had a hotelivision night instead of going to the wrap-up jam at The Cameron despite the lure of an unmanned piano. My kidneys offered me an ultimatum too, along the lines of "Go there and we're leaving!" and for once I was listening.

Rigby left this afternoon so it's down to me and Ford and Tolan.

Spent a couple of days on the wagon strolling around Toronto and charming My Biographer Derek into lending us his Chrysler New Yorker for two weeks. "But Darling, if we have no car, this part of the story will just be a write-off, don't you see?"

We had just passed the mandatory emissions test and affixed the insurance sticker when Derek, who still had control of the wheel, said, "So my ex-girlfriend got married and had a baby four months after she broke up with me." I said, "I just found out my mother's been having dizzy spells and hiding it from everybody." Just then we got pulled over by the cops for running a red. Good thing we had the sticker. We played in London at a beautiful theatre called The Aeolian Hall. So pretty. Red velvet curtains, a Steinway for Ford. They said I could play it if I promised to not, and I quote, play it WITH MY ASS like last time and the last show of this spring's Hootenanny Tour came flooding back to me in a Proustian rush. The sound man did an amazing job on the vocals.

Dan Walsh from Fred Eaglesmith's band who is the former president of the Ontario Truckers Union joined us on the dobro and made us sound like real musicians.

Day four of no drinks and it feels okay. I'm saving up for the full moon in Wakefield where we get to stay upstairs and nobody has to drive. On Thursdays I goes wild! We got back to Toronto just in time to miss Dallas Good of the Sadies who was DJing at Mitzie's Sister but we hung out with him on the back patio for a while and he told me that he was born without a sternum and let me feel his unprotected heart.

Next stop: Peterborough. Opening for The Silver Hearts at a cute place called The Cinema which was one. After nearly packing it in, The 'Hearts are back in stride and had just recorded an album with Deadly Snakes' singer Andre Etier. A genius idea. Since they are a twelve piece band they need to be led by a leader who's not one of them to get them all facing in the same direction without anyone feeling compromised. We stayed up late on Kelly's porch and they excitedly played us all their new songs. I'm so glad they didn't break up as they are magic together. Washboard Hank's young red-headed daughter kept trying to get Tolan to take her to the rock quarry and came back with bleeding legs claiming that he had pushed her down a cliff. Tolan looked at me and mouthed the word "Help!" from behind his guitar. But then she passed out in the armchair.

Tears Behind Velvet: Hello New York! (Part II)

After a three day reunion with The Hootenanny Crew with a genuine kook named Melwood Cutlery who writes haunting and beautiful songs but is prone to furtive late night arm stroking and a relaxed and summery Amy Honey thrown into the mix this time. Oh yeah, and a typhoon-sized storm which submerged several on-ramps and had our man Ford arriving in Kingston, pale and visibly shaken from his voyage, we all ended up on Wolfe Island at Virginia the Witchfarmer's house.

Wolfe Island is a crazy place indeed. So close to Kingston, yet surprisingly rural with its swirling open skies, pastures of forgotten hay bales and an outhouse resembling the final scene in Kingdom of Spiders. Even William Shatner himself might have for once, considering the odds, taken the road less dramatic, and relieved himself outside.

It has of late become difficult to diagnose which physical symptoms are the result of the residual mistreatment and which are curable. I am referring to the difference between voluntary experimentation versus downright poisoning. Since you'd have to be sort of fucked up to do any of this, it's easy for the lines to become blurred. When something feels really wrong, it is interesting to note that the initial reaction is something like, "Well I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner." Or "Wow, at last a sign that there are some parameters in place here!" What I am leading up to is that when Tolan arose the morning after Wolfe Island he was puffed up to thrice his normal size.

Indeed, Tolan was swollen. And of course, everyone became instant experts on the matter.

"I think I was bitten by a spider," said Tolan.

"Nah. That's Swimmers Itch!" said someone authoritatively.

"It's hives I tell you. Hives!" said Ford who suffers.

In any event, the dude looked like a cross between the Elephant Man, the kid from Mask and (how's this for an obscure reference?) Keefer Sutherland after Reese Witherspoon goes to town on him in Freeway 2. Dan Whiteley suggested that since we come from Out West, our immune systems are just plain ill-suited to the foreign Ontario atmosphere -- like we were from another planet or something, which explains why we don't know what the hell they're saying around here half the time but that's a whole other rant. Wait until this fall when we show our cousins from Back East the majesty of mould and silverfish that the dampness brings and see how ye fare me hearties!

That morning we were on our way to the Annual Fred Eaglesmith Picnic which is held on a Nature Preserve near Aylmer. Tolan said he felt up to going and lay in the back seat of the New Yorker the whole way there in hopes of returning to normal size for show time.

When we arrived six hours later, Canadian folk legend Willie P. Bennett took one look at Tolan and steered him to the trunk of his car where he opened a suitcase containing an impressive selection of drugs. "How's your breathing?" he asked while scanning the labels of various bottles. "Mmm. Hmm. Your heart all right?" He then gave Tolan a horse sized antihistamine saying "Just take one. Taking two doesn't help. And don't drink. Your heart will explode."

And in moments Tolan had shrunk down to his usual dimensions. He was still kind of pale but way better. We played a set to all the Fred Heads who were sated from three days of music and toadish in their lawn chairs in the bright sunlight. Tolan assured me that he was feeling all right and didn't mind staying even if he couldn't drink and so I partied for two, meeting up with a former lounge piano player from Manhattan who knew all the words to Every Song Ever Written. I believe it was close to 5am, the fire glowing embers and the sky tinged with pink when we sang one last lusty chorus of "Don't Pull Your Love Out On Me Baby!"

Shit. What was I thinking? I should get a tattoo on my wrist that says "Remember Tomorrow, Genius!" Or maybe an ankle bracelet that would cause some sort of noticeable discomfort starting at 2am and not cease until I was horizontal with my eyes closed and alone. Six hours back to Kingston to play a benefit for a community garden at a cafe called The Sleepless Goat. Again, what was I thinking? A sea of nursing mothers, a nasty old PA and, of course, bongos. A bunch of kale hung suspended from the ceiling above the stage. I asked, "If I stand under here do I have to kiss a hippie?" It's okay. It's not like anyone could hear us. Luckily Sweet Annie was there to give us carrot ginger soup and take the edge off the Irony Deficiency these breeders were obviously suffering from. Virginia hauled our sorry asses back to Wolfe Island where we could rest up for the next day's voyage to NYC.

We packed up the next morning, evicting several spiders who had decided in the night that our luggage was a great place to raise a family. ("Did you pack this suitcase yourself, Ma'am?").

Wolfe Island is located between Ontario and New York State so we got to take the cutest three-car ferry to Cape Vincent and had the most casual border crossing to date. We used the old 'I'm-a-piano-teacher-he's-a-roofer' angle.

"The car? Oh yes. Borrowed from our old friend Derek! Yes. Rather sporting of him indeed!"

We didn't even have to resort to the usual Jedi mind control tactics. "These are not the terrorists you're looking for and we're totally not in a band."

The drive was amazing. It's like a two lane video game through The Catskills and The Palisades Parkway and then all of a sudden you're in Fuckin' New York City! To go from the starry skied ruralness of Wolfe Island to bustling Manhattan is a curious thing indeed. We are starting to feel like we're starring in a perpetual reality TV show. "Today on 'What the Fuck's Going On?' Carolyn and Tolan teleport between two countries both geographically and spiritually in under six hours. Hilarity ensues."

We pulled up outside The Living Room on Ludlow basically just in time to play. Luther and Jenny and the gang had, unbeknownst to me, bailed on the hippie benefit in favour of arriving a day early and showed up looking annoyingly acclimatized. I bolted with Jenny across the street for a wine and a smoke to take the edge off the drive so I could get into character and not be spewing pure poison into the microphone for our first ever New York Hootenanny.

It seems like every time I get out of that car I'm in some sort of rage.

Nice crowd for an early show. Chris Brown and Kate Fenner played with us and Melwood and Ford and our friends from Ireland, Prison Love, showed up and it was all over by 11pm so the next show could start. Turns out a little filly named Norah Jones was gonna play a few Bob Wills tunes with her country band. I wanted to tell her how much I liked her records but the six Grammies kind of made it seem redundant. I mean, EVERYBODY likes her records. It made me want to tell her that I couldn't stand them in hopes that she'd be so taken by my refreshing candour that we could just get on with the business of being friends. But I just stared.

After a lovely day off in Brooklyn, complete with backyard dinner with Chris Brown who is such a righteous dude. He's always helping someone. I bet there's a big old groove on the call-waiting button on his phone.

Our friend Frank came ove and took Tolan to ride the rolly coaster at Coney Island. I declined and spent a wonderful afternoon on the phone arguing with a promoter in Edmonton. The highlight was when he paused and said, "Do you know how much money I've lost putting on your shows over the years?!" which I had to admit kind of stung a little. My friend Geoff suggested I offer to give him a tax receipt like a charity. Good Times and glamour, my friend.

We left Friday morning and headed back to Wolfe Island to pick up our instruments and visit with Virginia and all our spider friends but overshot the ferry by a good forty miles. Virgie was working late so me and Tolan played guitars on the porch and actually learned up a couple of much needed New Songs accompanied by a chorus, led by Lenny the Dog, of cats, coyotes and grasshoppers and whatever else was out there. "How perfect to 'debut' in Montreal!" we thought. "Perhaps during the 'encore'?" Tres amusant, n'est pas?

Got up early the next day and swam nude in the mouth of the St. Lawrence in lieu of showering which ruled except I kept thinking someone was gonna see me and/or steal my clothes as a prank or something. Damn small town high school, makin' me so paranoid....

Tolan drove and I spent the next five hours dozing in the back seat. When we got to Montreal and I got out on St Laurent, I felt really weird. I felt like I was going to die which, until that moment, I had thought was just an expression. People say it all the time. "I thought I was going to die!" and I always nod knowingly so they won't suspect that I am an alien. But this time it's like I finally knew what all the humans were talking about. I felt kind of pukey and crampy and retarded. My tongue was thick and my hands were swollen and it felt like my head was filled with bees. I thought it was just the Ladies Pains 'cause that was going on too but wow, I almost thought of checking myself in which I never think to do because I know if I were to go to a doctor they'd have me put down.

My friend Alexis came and got me and we sought comfort in the restorative powers of vintage dress shopping at the street fair. I scored two five-dollar gowns and felt a little better. Then we went to the drugstore and got some Midol which I've never taken before and holy shit, turns out it's like pure speed which made me feel even weirder! I told Tolan I felt a serious bout of Tourette's coming on but you can't expect someone else to know what it means when you tell them you're feeling crazy. Believe me. I've been on both sides of this.

My friend The Vampire always tells me how crazy he is and I never believe him. I'm always like, "Well you can't be that crazy if you're able to tell me that you are." Someone really crazy would just be grunting or screaming like Harvey Keitel crouched in the corner howling with indignation at the Universal Horror which, come to think of it is how my friend The Vampire ends up most evenings. I think maybe I'm going to start believing him.

Mental illness aside, the show was really fun. The Main Hall has great sound and Tolan played great and everyone loved him. Li'l Andy opened the show with style and we played to a small yet appreciative 'crowd' before heading out into the night where, in the highest comedy of scheduling hilarity, we discovered Luther Wright was playing up the street. I leapt upon the unmanned piano to keep my hands busy but it was too loud to hear anything. The next morning, we attempted to stalk Leonard Cohen at Bagel Etc which we know to be one of his favourite haunts, eager to share with him our awesome idea of how he can get his finances back into the black: He could simply pull a Willie Nelson and do a Taco Time commercial! We even came up with the campaign slogan --"I've seen the future and it's delicious." Voila. That oughtta put booze on the table. But there was no sign of Lenny. Probably forced by his accountant cut down on the eating out no doubt.

I located Tolan and we blazed to Toronto. This time Tolan slept in the back seat while I drove. Apparently a gin drinking contest had broken out at our friend Larry's after the bar and Tolan was still feeling the effects of his apparent victory.

When we got to the back alley of The Horseshoe Tavern, Tolan got out looking really fucking bizarre. Not hangover green. Not blood pressure red. None of his usual colours, but kind of grey. Taupe maybe?

"I don't feel so good," he said.

"Kind of pukey and retarded?" I said, "That's how I felt YESTERDAY!"

We both looked at the back seat accusingly. "Maybe there's an exhaust leak," we both said. Oh my God. Carbon Monoxide poisoning. It made perfect sense as the whole trip flashed before my eyes. New York. Kingston. Montreal. And now Toronto. We felt the weirdest after all the longest drives. So I felt like I was going to die because I WAS GOING TO DIE! For some reason I felt vindicated that in no circle would I be considered a pussy based on my threshold for discomfort. When I told my friend Melissa about it she laughed and said she found it telling to note that the last thing we would think to blame our discomfort on would be an external force as a result of all the residual 'party guilt.' But then she rang off explaining that she was in the middle of an experiment where she was attempting to harness the electricity of human excitement and had just blown a fuse. For some reason I pictured nipple clamps, a car battery, and a coffee grinder and shuddered. Guess she's feeling better.

Toronto went well. We reunited with Our Garth on the drums and NQ Arbuckle opened and their new songs are awesome and they've got quite the ambitious new lighting guy at The Horseshoe now so it all felt rather epic.

At the sound check, someone noticed that we were down a bass player and Basil from Blue Rodeo was summoned and man, the dude is a soldier. Fearless. Throwing himself into the front lines of our chord changes like that. What was he thinking? Perhaps the man was on some sort of suicide mission. I don't know but hats off to Basil!

We played two big sets and I ended lying down and hanging my head off the end of the stage singing upside down during the Elvis explosion finale and it made me think of old times with The Vinaigrettes. Before I played guitar and just danced. Well, pointed mostly.

The promoter was AWOL so we got paid less than I was expecting which also made me think of old times. Well, most times actually.

ACTUALLY, most times are reminding me of other times these days. Like the fifth and last time I ever did acid. I noticed we were talking about the other times we'd done acid WHILE WE WERE ON ACID so it just seemed kind of redundant. Like talking about food while you're eating. Or talking about touring when you're on tour. Or talking about drinking while drinking. I like singing about drinking though. It feels more noble. I love all those 'bar room as prison' metaphor songs. Oh my god, now I'm writing about talking about singing about drinking while drinking. O The Layers! I'm wondering if it's too late now to change The Script? Shit, that could be scary. I know all my lines now.

People can get used to anything.

Worse, they can become nostalgic for anything. I have been wild for too long to start working for anyone else. I mostly get paid for being myself. And the self that used to pride itself on being so spontaneous, as accommodating as water, now feels as though it's starting to harden into just a bag of habits and one liners. It's all parlour tricks for catnip as my friend Ed used to say. What I'm doing is a lot of peoples' dream. The difference is that usually it's kept as a dream. And fantasies aren't generally that well thought out -- "I'll just kill the husband and then she'll love me forever!" or "Wait until I'm dead. Then they'll be sorry!" etc. The Fantasy of Playing Carnegie Hall doesn't factor in the twelve years of touring, or any of the lead up. It's just that moment.

In the fantasy version, it would of course be Saturday night and you would be headlining and you would have no memory of the twelve hour drive or the border crossing or all those hours you spent learning your instrument or thinking homicidal thoughts about your bandmates. In the fantasy, somehow you just miraculously know what to do and you would totally win over the sold out crowd who'd adore you and be familiar with your work and it would feel like your mother folding you into a warm towel after the bath. Most of my friends know which part to keep as the fantasy. These are the ants who will take in this grasshopper in The Fall when she realizes that there indeed was a later -- that The Future was real and not just a conspiracy to keep people in line. Well I'm hoping they will anyway.

Right now, I'm having a date with myself in this hotel room in Seattle. Yup. Using the soap dish as an ashtray. "But I thought you were at home?" you say incredulously. Yeah well, so did I. There's just this one show, see? Present relocation be damned, I feel like I want to finish the story.

The last day of the tour. Quiet on the set.

Take One. Rolling. Speed. Action:

After our show at The Horseshoe, our drummer Garth, to celebrate the proximity of his house to the bar, had a party. In the seven block drive we got to relive a condensed version of all our past tours. I was sober. Garth and Tolan and Ford were all crammed amidst the gear in the backseat drunkenly arguing about how to get there and I had to parallel park The New Yorker right in front of a benchful of screaming frat boyz who had stationed themselves in front of the house. "Are you guys Blue Rodeo?!" they screamed viciously when they laid their beady eyes on Ford's keyboard and silver temples.

Once we were safely inside with the drinks poured, we of course stayed up way too late post-morteming the show and figuring out the world. "You were great. No. You were great. Holy shit is it five?"

The next 'morning', Bernard our Eastern Enabler helped me return Derek's car. (Derek, if you're reading this, I didn't want to tell you about the exhaust leak lest you mark us as ingrates. Also, I thought it very unlikely that you would spend five hours in the back seat of 'The Cherry Bomb' with the thing in motion which is when you start to notice that you're feeling weird and without you we're nothing etc but Darling, I'm telling you now.)

We ended up down at The Harbourfront (full circle or what?) and chartered a water taxi to take us to our last show. The Toronto Island Jamboree which is an annual event held in a pagoda style hall. The weather was perfect and the men had purchased one of those balsa wood airplanes that you wind up with an elastic band and were immediately flanked by an army of children eager to do their every bidding in exchange for the chance of winding the propeller. A pug named George made sweet love to several paper plates and our set went well and the people danced and we initiated yet another bass player. This one, I believe, went by the name Mr. Tickle. I am starting to see the importance of these people.

Later we watched Brian Connelly's band The Atomic 7. They are an instrumental trio known for their extensive practising and artful segues. Bernard turned to me and wondered aloud if Brian ever thought about the words when he was playing. I think definitely not. With him it's all about melody and tone and in most music those damn words just get in the way of the Precious Guitar. Like I keep saying, a well chosen occupation masks the lurking fetishes so for a perfectionist in love with tone, an instrumental band is the perfect forum. He is the embodiment of class but not in the usual "Could you fuck off with the perfect for a second?" He is just so lovely that watching him makes you want to become a better person. That night I was struck by the revelation that a band is made up of people essentially all just rooting for their own teams. The drummer wants to hit the goddamn Drums but the singer's always making him wait while she sings the all important Lyrics and the bass player has a whole different agenda and so on.

And you're all supposed to work together? Hilarious. Someone brought up the part in that Standing in the Shadows of Motown movie where they ask the drummer about what it was like to record all the Motown hits and all he talks about is the drum fills -- "Badaba ba boom diddly boom -- Now that's an intro!" -- because that's his perspective. I bet if you asked any of my bandmates what happened on the last tour their answers would all be different. Like if you were to ask a monkey about his travels in the jungle he'd probably tell you all about the bananas and what a great time he had because there were so many bananas. But if you asked the anteater he might say with a sigh, "Oh it was okay I suppose. Not a lot of ants though..." And perhaps some of the animals never find their natural habitat and are constantly disappointed and just become sort of resigned. "Yup. I knew it. No ants again..." Maybe some mutate. " I guess these bananas aren't so bad." I'm thinking it'll be good for this monkey to stay home for a while. Turns out they ain't kidding when they say that you can die from exposure.

I just found a quote by a man named Leroy Robert 'Satchel' Paige (1906-1982): "Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain't restful."

You said a mouthful, Satch.

I'm gonna go see the penguin movie. After that, I guess I'll just wait for The Director, that big Cecil B. DeMille in the sky to hand me the new script. Even though I know better.

We are all our own directors.

Thank you New York. Don't forget to drink water and try to get some sleep.

­ Carolyn Mark