Monday, May 08, 2006

Blue Monday

Eric Slick at Ram's Head Live, Baltimore, MD on May 6,2006

Hi there.

I'm finally decompressing from the weekend which included three days of editing and a visit to Baltimore to see Eric in his final week of the Project Object tour after which his dad remarked to me "Rob, do you believe we've been awake for twenty-four hours?"

But I digress.

So yeah, on Friday I received an e-mail from my editor with final major changes to Another Bite of the Apple, which normally would not have been a problem for me because I'm a geeky weirdo who loves to edit. But the timing was terrible because I knew I'd be in Baltimore on Saturday and wouldn't be home until late and I also knew the construction workers would be back early this morning to resume the death and destruction next door. And if I wanted the book released by the time of the upcoming convention in Florida, I needed to get those edits done in - ha ha - three days.

And of course the edits all concerned sex. I knew it! Because as I'm always trying to justify here, I'm not an erotica writer and Three Days in New York City was a fluke -- a chick lit book with graphic sex. I was really surprised when my publisher asked for a sequel and thought it would be a piece of cake but realized when I was finished that I had written a chick lit book for sure but I'd left out most of the hot stuff and since Phaze is a publisher of quality erotica they were understandably a bit unhappy and wanted me to, ahem, insert a lot more.

So I tried to take care of that Friday afternoon and Saturday morning but I had a lot on my mind and wasn't feeling very horny. Yeah, I know. Why do I need to feel horny to write a good sex scene? Beats me. Ha.

Right now I'm so sick of "glistening cocks" and "dripping pussies" if Neil Gaiman himself asked me for sex I'd probably run in the other direction.

Oh, okay, I'm a big fat liar but still.

Anyway, it wasn't easy but I pulled it off. At least I think I did -- I sent the edits to my publisher about two hours ago and am sitting here now biting my nails in between screaming obscenities at the men next door who are now banging so hard there is dust all over my kitchen and things are falling out of cabinets. And because these are brownstones, when I scream out the window trust me they heard and what I hollered wasn't nice. In fact, it concerns an act which two of the characters in my new book perform while drunk (cos' in my mind, you'd have to be drunk to...never mind)

Alright, enough of that. Let's talk about Eric.

My son is fucking amazing. Not having seen him in three weeks, when we got to Baltimore and I saw him on stage I almost fainted. The boy has muscles! He's thin as a rail but playing music four hours a night on stage and being his own roadie have resulted in, dare I say it, a bit o'buffness? And he wore a sleeveless muscle shirt!

Anyway, he's really come into his own on tour, and he's such a showman, I was dying. He plays drums standing up a la Keith Moon, he plays with one drumstick in his mouth and one in his hand, he sings unbelievable harmonies and cracks jokes all night into the mic...and every one of the band members told his dad and me and told us how great he is -- not just as a musician but as a human being.

My favorite remark was keyboardist Eric Svalgard who came up to Gary and me and said "You guys are the shit, you know that? If only my parents had supported my music when I was a kid..."

Svalgard is fifty now and even though he's a Berklee School of Music grad, he finally got to live out his dream to go out on tour when he joined Project Object two years ago.

Hi, Mr. Svalgard!

We also surprised Eric by bringing his girlfriend Carolyn to the show with us even though..sob...we knew he'd be spending all his down time with her instead of us. But hey, that's how it should be!

Anyway, I continue to surf for reviews but when I looked in the usual places, I was extremely pissed to see that all references to Project Object were removed from the Frank Zappa forum board. That's too bad. Frank's widow apparently has real issues with Project Object playing her late husband's music. I don't want to get into it here as I know she has her own extremely misguided reasons but I will say this: Censorship is never cool. In fact, here's what her late husband had to say on the subject.

I did, however, find a journal entry from one of the Rock School kids who opened for Project Object in Baltimore, and I'll respect her privacy and not mention her name (though I'd love to because she not only ruled on bass that night but was drop dead beautiful) but I will copy a bit from her blurb right here:

"Project Object was mind-blowingly tight. Dave Johnson's bass solo is probably the sickest, most amazing this I've EVER EVER EVER seen, and I am so happy that they closed with Village of the Sun which has rapidly climbed to my #4 favorite Zappa song. It has to be #4 because #1 is Packard Goose, #2 is Stick It Out and #3 is City of Tiny Lites and they're pretty cemented that way.

Anyway, I'm proud to have played with Eric. I hadn't really understood just how good he was until I watched him play Starless with John Wetton at the Troc and last night topped even that. Wow. When we walked in and saw P/O soundchecking, it seemed like a different kid behind the drums but he greeted us with "EVERYBODY GO ON TOUR... RIGHT NOW." And was in the dressing room with us talking about Svalgard's burrito farts while we ate and so I ceased to worry. I'm so happy for him."

So thank you, Ms. Anonymous, and I also read in your journal where you are so excited to be going to Germany for Zappanale 17. In a perfect world, I'll see you there! More details on that later...

But in the meantime, here's a little present for you, and trust me, if I were 20 years younger, I'd have a fan girl crush for sure on bassist Dave Johnsen, too:

Speaking of the Omega Rock School All-Stars, they were freaking fantastic in Baltimore despite missing some key players like Katie Jacoby on violin, Sara Zimmerman on slide guitar, and Foster L. on keyboards. But every one of those kids was fantastic and poised, and what a great song selection. I mean, really. Starting off with King Crimson's Red and acing it. Holy shit, Ms. Anonymous.

And while I didn't find anything else, yay! Eric updated his tour blog and once again, yeah, I'm taking credit for his humorous and wonderful writing skills. Oh come on, he got his music genes from his dad and my family; he got his looks and writing from me, right? Right!

Monday, April 24 Magic Bag Detroit

Ok, they had wireless and Dr. Dot's massage therapy. Two points there!
Eh, I don't wanna talk about the gig.

Note to self: Ask Eric about this later!

Tuesday, April 25 The Poison Room

Back on the chain gang. After what I considered a lackluster night in Detroit, we had a dazzling one in Cincinnati! C'mon they had wireless, a buy out for food (I had hummus wrap because the place was out of Falafel. Out of Falafel? What the hell!), and they had the best drum mic setup ever. A mic over the kit and one for the bass drum. Bonham style for sure, I was proud. They showed the best of Will Ferrell DVD before the show, and Svalgard never saw the more cowbell skit before. Always a good laugh. The Poison Room had amazing DVD's, they showed '69 Doors, '77 Marley, and '62 Ray Charles to top it all off. Ray Charles played saxophone?? One of the best sax solos I'd ever heard? I guess that's why his record was called 'The Genius of Ray Charles'. Everybody was fantastic tonight, Dre's solos were tasteful as always, Dave was just funkier than ever. Highlights of the night: Getting to play Roxy version of Pygmy Twylyte for the first time of this tour; the guy who enjoyed the show so much that he was depressed and put his head down on the bar for the entire second set.

Wednesday, April 26 Shank Hall

Shank Hall was originally a fictitious venue created in This Is Spinal Tap. Some guy decided to open up a place a dedicate it the movie, in fact there was a 18 inch Stonehenge hanging behind the kit. If there were midgets, it would've been crushed. We had Indian food beforehand, my first Indian food experience. The first set was weak because I had no monitor mix for the first song, and we blew an entrance. The audience didn't seem too excited which can be detrimental to my playing because I almost entirely feed off of them. The second set was almost a different show, it was precise and energetic. It's crazy how a show could take a 180 turn like that. The best is when you impress the people working there and they ask for autographs after the show. I jokingly signed my name as something else. I broke a couple of sticks that night, but that's almost every night. I think I play too hard.

Right on to the home of the baseball bat.

Thursday, April 27 Headliners

We were damn late to Louisville, Kentucky. There were so many broken exits, ramps with tons of road work, and intersections that didn't make any sense. I didn't get to eat anything all day except for tons of fruit so I was lacking the complete meal feeling. I will say that the energy was right on that night, and even though we played a big hall with not so many people, they were wild and enjoyed every minute. I loved the guy in the front who screamed at us the whole night - 'You guys f**kin rule!' 'Hey...hey....slick!' He had us cracking up. We also had a wonderful re-enactment of Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy by Taylor the drag queen....quite interesting! Props to the sound guy for getting everything done (monitor mixes, etc) in under 20 minutes. He had my Roland sampler mixed perfectly so when I did the gong in 'Broken Hearts' ( came back on Sunday for the Gong show) you could hear it and twas powerful. After the show we went to a place called Spinelli's Philadelphia Pizzeria. They had Sopranos stuff everywhere (I mean, i thought it was Joisey), Frank Sinatra pictures, and Sixers memorabilia. Ok, they were a little off, but they did have Tastykakes, which was an impressive southern import. I got a Stromboli the size of a toddler. An Aryan Toddler (nobody will ever get that joke and it will remain a secret)

A RAMADA INN WITH WIRELESS. I like the star treatment nights. Svalgard and I watched Gentle Giant videos on YouTube and I officially renamed them to 'The Band that Never Got Laid'. Hideously ugly dudes who can play music better than anyone.

Friday, April 28 Stella Blue

Ok, I must say that I love Mountain Dave. Mountain Dave, wherever you are, thanks for feeding us (an organic buffet of sorts),thanks for lending me a 50's bass drum pedal. He even gave me his 20 year old sticks because he said I was the only young drummer to ever impress him. Mountain Dave will eventually get a huge paycheck for some reason, because he gives so much to everyone and deserves a lot back.
Asheville, NC! The southern hippie home. We literally drove down the Main street and there was a enormous drum circle with lights and a drumset and people freaking out. It was like we had been transported to the sixties or something.
This was an important show for me because Denny Walley (70's Zappa, Captain Beefheart) was playing with us and I had never met him before. Denny is THE MAN. Nobody can come close to his slide playing and his voice is like buttah. He even did the voice of the Mom from Joe's Garage for me and I almost passed out.
We had a great crowd that night, but during the second set I was feeling very woozy and probably still a little queasy from the late night stromboli. Still, a good show overall but one of Seahag's last. Onto HOTLANTA!

Motel 6? Hard to compare to a Ramada.

Saturday, April 29 The Five Spot

I can finally say that I went crusin' in the ATL (OutKast references, anyone? Anyone). Atlanta was hectic, there were people all over because there was a block party in the Little 5 Points area where we were playing. Our stage was small, but that usually means that you can hear EVERYTHING which is an opportunity we don't get too often. Denny came again to this show and brought his lovely wife Janet the Planet (the girl who danced in Baby Snakes...Donna U Wanna was at Valentine's, I forgot to mention). During the soundcheck he whupped out 'My Human Gets Me Blues' on guitar and I started playing along. It was a touching experience for me, I worship Captain Beefheart and associated...Dr. Dot's massage therapy ruled, 4 bones cracked into place. She should've charged me for chiropractic! They had wireless, another plus. We had a screen showing the OUTrio DVD. The OUTrio is amazing...Terry Bozzio and Patrick O' Hearn back together - mindblowing. Just when you think Terry Bozzio couldn't push the boundaries of drumming further, he does and he is light years ahead of a lot of guys and gals on the scene. After OUTrio the Fillmore Flo and Eddie footage came on and that's always good for a hearty laugh. The show that night was right on again, cept Svalgard messed up Inca! Haha, it's okay, he's been kicking ass this tour, I served a decent amount of mistakes during my first 2 and a half weeks on this tour. What can I say, we don't have a rigorous rehearsal schedule like we all would want! My old high school buddy Eli came to the show (he goes to Emory, or as I call it Coca-Cola University). Thanks Eli!

Preparing nicely for a day off in Hotlanta...

So getting back to the Baltimore show, yeah, it was wild, and Andre and the boys were joined by an incredible trumpet player named Jimmy Wilson.

And here's a shot I took of Andre C. and Ike Willis:

Andre C.

Ike Willis

It was an amazing night of music but they didn't finish playing until 2:00 a.m., and this was only because Baltimore has a curfew. They were actually going to keep on playing and ended up cutting six songs from their set! Of course we hung out afterwards and talked some more, and when we left the venue, it was total insanity! Rams Head Live is right near the waterfront complex they have down there and no, I do not wish Philadelphia was like that at all. I imagine Philly is like that at 2:00 a.m. though because our nightclub scene is down at the waterfront as well but since I've never been a "clubber" even when I was young because I was a total hippie and then into punk, I was freaked by the vast amount of drunk people in sleazy evening clothes and glittery shoes swarming the streets as the bars closed. The parking lot where we left our car had police everywhere. Yuck! The worst thing about it, though, was that even though Baltimore has this lovely built up section at its harbor, it's the same damn thing as New York and as I've said repeatedly, even London. All of this gorgeous architecture is rented out to fucking Office Depot, Houlihans, and Fudruckers. In other words, no one but corporate chains can afford the rentals. So you have this gorgeous setting and all this money poured into the neighborhood and tourists come in droves to shop at the same damn stores and eat in the same stupid chain restaurants that you find in every single city in the universe.

At least Philadelphia still has cool neighborhoods full of mom and pop stores, art galleries, and small music venues. I've been all over the world now -- especially all over the United States -- and I can honestly say that I now appreciate Philadelphia more than ever. We're like mini-New York only much more accessible, and the mountains, beach, and said NY are all within a two hour drive depending on which direction you go.

But okay, yeah, if I could afford it we all know I'd be living in the UK tomorrow. But I think that's more for other reasons...(though politically they are as bad if not worse than we are)

Anyway, so we leave the venue and we're on the road home but we have to drop Carolyn off in the 'burbs and we have no idea where we are going. All I know is, I had to pee for about ninety miles and when Carolyn hinted that we might be lost, I almost asked Gary to pull over to the side of the road, that's how bad it was. It's now like 4:00 a.m. and people are getting their morning papers delivered already! Anyway, somehow at 4:30 a.m. we found her house, found our way back to Philadelphia, and at 5:15 a.m. practically fell through the door. Hence Gary's remark to be about being awake for 24 hours.

Now you might have thought I'd have slept until 2:00 p.m. Sunday, right? Well, I might have if Julie didn't knock on my bedroom door at 9:45 a.m.



"I made waffles!"


"Waffles! Here, Mom! Breakfast in bed!"

I opened one eye to see two huge Belgian waffles (Julie has a new toy) on one of my best plates, loaded with syrup and whipped cream.

"xo&%4xkx so sorry m*fuck* can't eat must sleep" I moaned.

"Okay...." she sighed, closing the door behind her.

And then of course I felt guilty as hell. Her brother is on tour having this totally exciting time and here I am not even making a fuss over what was surely delicious and beautifully presented homemade waffles.

I stumbled out of bed and thought Oh well, I have to do those edits anyway...

So from drippy waffles I went straight to drippy...

Never mind. You get the idea.

Anyway, one final note. Obviously I named this post for another favorite song of mine, but here's the real reason -- also from the Baltimore show: