The second part of Cex's tour with the Postal Service takes him across the East Coast and over through Chicago. But amid tales of crazy back-scratchers and Internet celebrities, Rjyan Kidwell's own introspection gives some real insight into life on the road.
Cex Tour Diary pt. 2
when we went to Atlanta
when we went to Orlando
Really though, the reason why I stayed up all night
in the van in Nashville was because of some phone calls I had made back to
Baltimore. I was nervous about having to be back in the MD/DC area for
this tour -- I hadn’t been back since I ran away at the end of
December—but I also felt somewhat removed from my home and myself after
a week on the road, so I got it in my head that it was a good idea to call
some people Baltimore. It was not a great idea. I was reminded that I had
no home, that I had fucked up and alienated myself from the one place
I felt I might ever feel a real feeling of belonging. Staring out into the void around
me in Nashville, the dark time behind and before, it worked something of a
dust devil out of the sand lying in the cracks of my tiny brain.
On the other hand, I ended up getting my first lap-dance ever, to my
favorite Deftones song, “Change (In the house of flies).” The only
thing I wrote about it in my crazy book was: "I wonder if Indra will
be mad." I remembered the dancer's name for a few days, but after a
while I wasn't thinking about it much and I forgot it.
Then there was the show on the twelfth, the first show I felt like I straight shanked.
There were too many things crushing my head at that show... the room was impossible to breathe in, the
audience was strangely extra-skeptical, the arms were locked and heads
were still, and I
felt like I was behind some sweat-soaked curtain of nerves and nausea.
Literally seconds before hitting the stage I ran to the bathroom and puked
up all the vegetables and pita breads I had eaten from the ginormous,
gorgeous backstage hospitality spread the club had provided. The air in
the club was thick enough to chew, and I wore corduroy pants like an
asshole. They were drenched by the time I was done.
The kids in the audience all sang along really, really loudly to the
Postal Service. That had happened a little bit in St. Louis but in Atlanta
it was out of control.
None of which helped me in the least while I tried to figure out who had played during my
set that night. Where was I on the twelfth?
Was that it?
Is this it-- is
the guilt, the release, all of that simply juvenile to them? This is a
Postal Service show, not group... and Kamps is right. Oh fuck he’s just right
It feels good after you vomit but there’s other ways to feel good, too.
For most people its not much of a choice. You don’t throw up just to
feel good afterwards, not unless you're sick. Set list: drive off, stop
eating, ghost rider, kill me, new maps, michael jackson, wrist elbow 2.
Never where I need to be not once not even close not once fuck whatever I
the next morning, I forced a few bites of pie into my stomach at the Waffle
House near the airport. Afterwards I lay in the grass near the van while the
rest of the crew finished their food. My stomach felt like it was made of
shivering thin worms crocheted hurriedly into a bag shape. I took a Xanax
that a kid in Nashville had traded me for a beer. I had been meaning to take
it the evening before but I forgot about it and it lived in the bottom of my
camera bag for a day.
The show the night prior had ended with a greasy mob scene in the band
room, tons of people spilling out onto the back porch behind the club, tons
of randoms moving in and out of the whole deal and eating vegetables. I was
trying to stretch the few beers left in the fridge there, remove myself from
the body which had just shanked a set at a packed show with a great bill in
the ATL. It was really hard not to want to sink my tongue into somebody's
mouth, but I didn't do it. To think about feeling wanted on a one-to-one
level is the quickest cure --quicker and surer than alcohol or pills. I
didn’t kiss anybody but I didn't feel noble or good or fulfilled or
anything about my fidelity, though. Just frustrated. I could feel the tour
sucking my sight out of my eyes, elongating and stretching the days out
until the only amount of future I could possibly comprehend or believe in
was the night right before me, the night I'd spend on a floor, in my
sleeping bag, staring at a motel ceiling and listening to somebody else
snore contentedly. I wanted a pep talk so badly that night, a trap door to
drop my anxiety into and then slam shut. A tube in my mouth to siphon out
In the grass near the van outside of the waffle house I sang Microphones
songs to myself, but loudly.
We got to Orlando and I hoofed it from the club to a Kinko's to do email; it
was the third time on the tour I'd done email. Jimmy and Jenny went with me
to some chintzy restaurant near the club and we got Japanese food and mixed
drinks and ate outside on a patio, watching all kinds of tan college kids in
big, fluffy hoodies roving around in packs. We talked about sex and dating, the
types of people we like and the types we find ourselves with. It wasn't
anything more than some shit-shooting over a meal, but it definitely had me
little less like the smelly kid and more like a part of the tour for a
The show that night was the second Orlando show I'd ever done and the second
time I'd had a blast in Orlando. The stage was high but there was a weird
pit sunken right in front of it, with some steps going up, kind of
bowl-shaped. The pit part filled up with young kids, and during my set there
was a lot of shouting and grinding. Not quite the mosh scene of St. Louis,
but very satisfying in its own way. Around the rim of the bowl and beyond
it, where the bar was, those people were not young and not grinding, but I
couldn't see any of them. I was busy getting groped. I don't know if this
could be jumping the gun or not, but I was beginning to take the amount of amped females at
these shows as a sign that maybe my super-adolescent Catholic guilt anthems
may have some kind of appeal beyond the super-guilty adolescent male
At the show I wrote in my crazy book a bit. After writing I went to the van
and called Indra, we talked for an hour. A lot of people were in the backstage area,
and while they weren't talking to me I noticed that they were drinking a lot
of our drinks. I hurried up my intake, quietly trying to
get all the alcohol inside of me before they could suck it up themselves.
when we went to carrboro
At some point during the car ride on
the fourteenth, Jenny told us about this fun game where everybody tries to
draw Bart Simpson from memory. It sounds weird but it's actually a good
game-- everybody's drawing was hilarious. I don't remember why (I don't
think there actually was any reason) but I drew Bart eating ribs, as you can
see from the caption.
In Carrboro, the club was tiny and oversold. A lot of people couldn't get
in. I felt like I was going to vomit, and I called my housemate, Richie,
told him about the weird turmoil that my body was feeling. He told me the
exact opposite of what I expected him to say. He basically gave me the pep
talk I was looking for a few nights earlier, but the whole thing made me
feel more drained than pepped. I threw my crazy book into the back of the
van after writing "Stupid shit like how I feel or what I'm eating,
Christ" at the end of what I had started writing about April 14th.
04/15/03 when we went to
And then I wrote nothing on the
04/16/03 we just hung out
The next day it didn't seem like quite
such a big deal. I busied myself in the morning at Eric Axelson's house,
sorting through my money and getting ready to do another deposit. I had
deposited 1100$ in Fayetteville, and then sent that money order for 1150$ in
Austin, so this was round three.
Nick Harmer and Eric A. and I kicked it
around town for a bit. I bought a Slurpee at 7-11, and then ducked into a CD
store to get the new Linkin Park, the new Deerhoof, and the old Lightning
Bolt. Then I deposited 2800$ into my bank account, making the balance 3965$:
the most I had ever had in my bank account in my life, up to that point. I
decided to pay off the 2015$ balance on my credit card right away, using an
internet website set up by my credit card company. There was absolutely no
way not to feel guilty about taking this much cash from these shows. The
idea of me myself ever selling out the Black Cat seemed like a complete
joke--- 700 kids in one town willing to jump from style to bastardized style
record after record, willing to read an obsessive and delusional website,
willing to ignore the fads in favor of a fragile experiment in turning a
human body inside out... in this lifetime?
We met up with the rest of our team for
dinner at Luigi's on 9th Street, a semi-nice Italian place. We were joined
by Jason C. and Joe E. from the D-Plan, as well as Heidi, Coburn, Allison,
and a guy from Chessie. It was a super festive meal with a bunch of wine
going around. At two separate points during the two hours we spent there,
other tables in the room got birthday cakes brought to the table and the
whole room joined in singing Happy Birthday in a very drunken way. Ben
Gibbard nearly made me explode from laughing and pissing when he chimed in
with, "Happy birth-DAY, crazy ran-DOM!" in the third line of the
song. You know:
"Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday (duh-nuh nuh nuh)
Happy Birthday to you."
And that (duh-nuh nuh nuh) is just
perfect for--- you get the picture.
So after that, I saw Jason talking to
the waiter for a while, and it looked like a kind of intense discussion. I
don't know how I got this idea, but I somehow got the idea that the waiter
was mad at me for standing on my chair during the second "Happy
Birth-DAY, Crazy Ran-DOM!" song and Jason was bailing me out.
Jason and I... we have some weird bond.
I mean, I have a kind of unbelievable relationship with all of the
Dismemberment Plan guys, but Jason and I seem to have the most conversations where
there is very little explanation, just understanding. We sort of speak the same language, I
guess—or our brains do. Our brains think in related dialects. He's a
little older and more mature than me, though, so it's not unusual for him to
be the one occasionally bailing my ass out of some trouble with somebody,
usually an authority figure. I
saw him talking to the dude and I was a little bummed that I had heated up
the restaurant staff, and then I stopped feeling bummed so I could feel like a complete dumbass
when all the sudden I
hear a third round of "Happy Birthday" and turn around and that
same waiter is bringing a cake with a candle in it to ME. So Jason punk'd
me. It was great. Gibbstack called for a speech so I gave one, and I think I
said something like: "I really appreciate you guys remembering my
birthday, and I'll be sure to remember your kindness when you all arrive at the Next Level." Something stupid like that.
(It wasn't really my birthday, by the
After the dinner we went to Jason's
house and rented videos. Nick and Jason and I were the video-getting team
and I was pulling hard for THE RUNNING MAN with Arnold, but I don't think
the store had it. So instead we got TRUE LIES. We also got THE RING, which I
had seen and which I was kind of against getting, because it's a
serious/scary movie and when you watch any movie with like eight other
people, there's no way that at least one person isn't going to be trying to
make funny jokes the whole time, and that's gonna take everybody out of the
zone required to enjoy a movie like THE RING. So as a nod to my persuasive
argument, we also got VAN WILDER, which I own, but which I was totally
willing to sit through again in order to educate all these old people who I
was sure never gave the time of day to a modern teen-movie classic like VAN
WILDER. Teen movies are the best. When I lived in Baltimore, we made a new
movie every Monday night, and one of our best was a teen-movie-esque movie
called “The Sorrority,” about three young men who attempt to instigate a
scandalous game of Truth or Dare at a sorority house. Whenever I show people
the Sike Trike movies, “The Sorrority” is usually their favorite one.
That or “Assshark.” Although when I went to the UK, “The Boarding
School” was a big hit. That one is about a boarding school in Britain
where all the kids speak in (our Baltimore approximations of) indecipherable
British slang and give each other HJs. The Mogwai dudes were really into
Jason, Nick, and I returned
with the three movies and I persuaded everybody to give VAN WILDER a chance.
I think some parts of it amazed the heads, but mostly I think they were mad
at me for making them watch it. We all ate ice cream out of the carton and
then everybody went to sleep. Jason and I stayed up on the porch, filling
each other in on the crucial details of the last few months of our
respective lives, and then I took my sleeping bag from the van to the front
porch and stole a pillow off the couch. I slept outside for a while, but the
wind was blowing so much that I had to relocate to the kitchen. On the porch
there were wind chimes that were ringing absurdly, as if some little kid had
grabbed them and was trying to break them against a wall. From the kitchen,
though, I could only barely make out their sound and it made it easier to
sleep. For a while, I wasn't worried about anything. I thought about the
tapes I used to listen to when I went to bed as a child--- Wonders of the
Sea, the "Lost in Dinosaur World" read-along story, and highlights
from the Orioles 1983 season. I hadn't thought about those tapes in years. I
had a big, bulky combo hi-fi with two tape decks, and you could put the
first tape on pause and then play the second tape, and when the second tape
finished, the first would click on automatically. I would rarely ever fall
asleep during the first tape, and the worst ever was knowing the second was
about to finish. Especially the second side of the Orioles tape, which was
shorter than the first side and which ended with this long song about the
Orioles and then a lot of blank tape.
04/17/03 when we went to Philadelphia
Nick and Lil Rob built a loft in the
back of the van the day before the tour started. All the gear went under the
loft and some of the bags with our clothes went on top. We also put a
blanket and my sleeping bag up in the loft, and it became a place where you
could crawl up in and sleep during the drives. It was pretty claustrophobic
up there, and not really very long, so I rarely went up there, but I did
name it, and its name was "The Baby Drawer.”
This is Nick in the Baby Drawer.
Philadelphia was the first day where
things were noticeably routine. The show came, went, and I didn't feel
nervous or anxious at all. Maybe being in DC had exhausted me, or maybe the
day passed so quickly I had just forgotten to be worried about anything. It
was a real short day, real short drive. We drove through the Fort McHenry
tunnel and I watched my old hometown sail by from the other side of the
van's window. Baltimore-- still ticking, still working, still the same. The
buildings themselves didn't look so mad.
I ate some Popeye's chicken and bought
a So So Def Bass All-Stars tape at the Chesapeake House rest stop on 95
North, and that was really as close as I got. I wouldn't get to actually
move around inside of the old city until the end of May, when I went back to
see my little sister graduate high school. In April, on the Postal Service
tour, I whizzed right by, straight from DC to Philadelphia, in a van with
five other people to whom Baltimore meant nothing at all.
The show at the North Star Bar in
Philly was the first of four shows where Certainly, Sir from Boston opened
up for us. I had played with them once before in Philly but honestly didn't
remember what they sounded like, except for a strong impression that the
word "piratey" was fitting in some way. I don't know what my
piratey thing was about, but I was glad to see them again because they're a
very good band. Very different. They've got a very dope "world
music" thing going-- it reminds me of Sting for some reason. Like a
slick new Sting. Maybe. I'm not good at describing bands.
The day seemed to last about
ten hours total. We drove into New Jersey and decided not to stay at the
Motel 6 because all of the guests were out in the parking lot in their
pajamas and there were a couple cop cars up front. We went to a different
04/18/03 when we went
I wasn't nervous at all before the
Brooklyn show. We played at the North Six, a club I've played at maybe 4 or
5 times before, and It turned out the polar fucking ice cap opposite of the
show I had played there with the Def Jux heads back in January of 2002. This
time--- this was one of the best shows of the tour. I did "You
Kiss" acapella about 3/4s of the way into the set and heads were
feeling it hard… acapella! Both Nick Harmer and a security guy who said he
used to be a wrestler for seven years told me that I took the show. Ben was
feeling kind of sick so the PS set was pretty laid back, but not bad by any
means. The wrestler told me, "Keep doing what your doing, because
you're going to go--" and then he made this loud POP noise, gesturing
an explosion with his hand.
I got off stage and went to the merch table and David Cross walked right by
me with a beer. He had interesting posture. Shy-guy posture. I wanted to
give him a dap or something but I felt out of place trying to do that all
casually, like it's no big deal, like I totally consider myself a guy who
can give David Cross a dap and not screech like a little Japanese girl right
afterwards--- so I didn't approach him at all. It was awesome enough just to
see homeboy walking around at a show I was at. It's hard to know how to feel
when somebody breaks through your television/movie screen and then walks
around in front of you like they're totally normal regular. It’s surreal
to me. But rolling with Jenny and Ben (but especially Jenny) gave almost
every night this exciting feeling of celebrity roulette, like anybody famous
could walk right in and no one but me would flip. I could really get used to
traveling around like that. Well, I mean I would like to do it more, but I
don’t ever think I’d ever be able to completely contain my enthusiasm
around people from the movies and TV.
After the show I hung out with my friend Jakob from Rochester. At Jake's
insistence, we ciphered with one of the other security guys in the empty
venue after everyone had left, then we took a train across town to some
girl's apartment that Jake's friend Kara was apartment-sitting. I drank a
case of Smirnoff Ice and Kara took pictures of Jake and I in the bathtub
together. It wasn’t sexual or creep salad or anything like that, though. I
think three sorority girls lived in the apartment, and I slept in one of
their beds. I examined all the pictures framed on the dresser and on the
wall, but it didn't make it less weird to be sleeping there. I was trying to
digest the fact that my life and the life of the girl who lived in that room
would never again intersect in any other way. That was it, just a butterfly
kiss of proximity, and then miles and miles and years and boiling-hot
degrees of separation flood in and push two tiny people’s worlds apart.
Not that I'm sad, not that I feel like I need to meet this person or know
anything about them, but sometimes when you're lying in a completely new and
strange bed, alone, with so many shows behind you, cities and days you can
barely recall, scenes that take effort to conjure and separate and replay in
your head, and with days and and days and weeks of new cities stretching
farther ahead than you can really contemplate... I don’t know. Maybe it's
just me. No, no, that'd be stupid-- I can't be the only person who falls
into these holes, these dark places where it seems like everything including
your own body is being moved by a fast and indifferent current much bigger
and stronger than you could ever describe. In strange beds it's easy to
think about all of the lives rushing by, briefly and arbitrarily nudging
against your own, then gone forever. Whole lives, packed full with as many
seconds, minutes, years as my own-- some even fuller, some extending much
farther back, all of them with their own logic and truths, and every single
one littered with sharp moments of world-ending, life-changing anxiety. It
feels like there's apocalypse everywhere, yet things are never ever over.
Millions and millions of little electrified tentacles tangled up in the
middle of the ocean, a primitive dogpile, different Sisyphuses spotting each
other in the distance, hell.
04/19/03 when we went
The morning of the nineteenth, I met
this girl Elena in the East Village so she could help me find platform
shoes. I don’t really know her all that well, but she graduated from the
college I dropped out of in 2001. In fact, the one real memory I have of
hanging out with/near Elena during college was this one time that I went to
a party at her house and there was this weird, uncomfortable argument about
whether or not 92Q, Baltimore’s #1 Hip-Hop and R&B Radio Station for
the Q-Munity, should replace the white-people music that was on the party
stereo. Then my friend Kevin stole Elena’s and her roommate’s
toothbrushes and we left. Anyway, Elena is one of those girls who you can
tell obviously used to be a totally down goth, so I figured if somebody
could point me in the direction of some platforms in NYC it would be her. We
searched around St. Mark’s for almost two hours and could not find a pair
of size 13 boots with a decent-sized sole. This one store, Religious Sex,
claimed to have a single pair of 13s, and I ended up buying them even though
they were almost $300 because there was just nothing bigger than a 12
anywhere, but after wearing them for a few hours it was painfully obvious
that these boots were not size 13. They had cool spikes on them, though, so
I think it was worth it. I wore them at every show on the rest of the tour
and they got a lot of compliments. More importantly, since I was performing
in front of the stage instead of on it every night, it gave me a little
boost so kids in the back could see me better.
In March of 2002, I had played two shows at the Bowery on the Death &
Dismemberment tour and they were both in the top 3 of all the shows I've
ever played in Manhattan, so I was looking forward to the shows at the
Bowery with the Postal Service. For the first show, Certainly, Sir didn't
play; it was just the Postal Service and I. And there was a lot of sun
outside, some of it even coming into the venue through a big window in the
balcony above the stage. The presence of sunlight makes a rock and roll show
weird for everybody involved. During that first show, the audience was super
spread-out and the fear vibe seemed high, and I felt kind of like a
douchebag without a thick mass of bodies to dive into. And I guess I didn't
drink enough water before and during my set to offset the alcohol I was
using to compensate for the sunlight, because after I finished and sat down
at the merch table, my vision started slipping out from my eyes. I tried to
fend it off but a migraine set in pretty fast and I was flushed out into the
van to try and sleep before I was needed at the night show.
I think I slept a little bit. The migraine wasn’t gone by show#2time but
my sight was mostly back. I still had a little trouble forming the exact
sentences I wanted to form, which is normal. During a migraine, I mean. The
second show went a little better but not much better. I couldn’t see
anybody’s faces up in the balcony and this irritated my migrained mind
much more than it would have irritated my regular mind.
Rjyan-with-a-migraine tried to express this to the audience and failed, if
my recollection is at all accurate.
After the show a bunch of us were sitting up in the VIP room and Brodeur and
Kristina from Certainly, Sir showed Nick H. and I their impression of a
sorority girl and a fraternity guy having sex. It was pretty simple ---
Brodeur saying, “Uh, uh, I’m gonna come,” and grunting really
mechanically while Kristina said, “Oh hell yeah. Oh hell yeah,” in a
sort-of-excited valley girl voice. It was funny.
Later on in the tour ---like a week or more later-- Nick asked me if I had
been thinking about that impression at all since we had seen it. I told him
I had. Both of us had been thinking about it. At the time, we had acted like
it was just kind of funny, but later on we admitted to each other that we
both secretly found it hot. Strangely hot.
04/20/03 when we went to Boston
On 420 we played at the Middle East, everybody’s favorite Boston venue,
located on Mark Sandman Square. Boston during the day was alright, nothing
real big, but at the show this kid named Kevin gave me the WRATH for not
going home to play video games with him and his girlfriend at a previous
show I had played at the Middle East. Holy shit was he mad. I tried to
politely explain to him that I had some other pressing matters to deal with
after the show but homeboy was not sympathetic.
It was totally at the point where you figure he must have been kidding, that he was just busting my balls for fun,
but it really didn’t seem like he was joking. I was trying my best to
plead for understanding with him when this girl walked up behind me, waiting
to ask about a shirt or CD or something, and homeboy was all like, “OH!
THERE’S A GIRL! YOU BETTER STOP TALKING TO ME AND TALK TO HER NOW!”
which was way over the top and totally not anything like what had happened,
but I had to laugh at him doing that anyway.
So that experience bummed me out a little, but I got over it. I didn’t
drink any alcohol in Boston because I was scared from the migraine.
Ben left with Certainly, Sir. He was catching a plane to Chicago to go hang
out with Joan, the girl he had been talking to on his cell twice a day since
the tour began. Joan used to work for Hopper PR, my publicist, but had left
to do a lot of freelance writing for various magazines and alt-weeklies and
things like that. I had met Joan on my first visit to the Hopper office with
the Dismemberment Plan in 2002. Instantly after meeting her everybody on the
Plan team, including myself and Radar, the merch guy, developed a huge crush
on her and in the days immediately afterward we would scream and punch each
other, fighting for the phone, when she would call one of the Plan guys to
tell them guest list or interview information.
So Ben left with Certainly, Sir in order to catch a plane in the morning
while the other five of us drove out of town to avoid Boston Marathon
traffic in the morning.
04/21/03 when we lost
On the twenty-first we had a drive day
to Detroit. Half of us watched an episode of Hee Haw at a rest stop off of
I-90, and I thought too hard about the beginning of that book INVISIBLE MAN
and suddenly couldn’t figure out what made my hand write.
We were passing through Buffalo, NY, which happened to be where Jenny’s
friends the Phantom Planet were recording an album with Dave Friddman. Jenny
got on the horn with them and decided we should all meet up at Applebee’s
in Buffalo for dinner. They were really cool guys, especially the skinny one
with long hair that looked like maybe he’s the lead singer. I didn’t get
a confirmation on that from anybody, but he hugged Jenny a lot and I got a
definite lead singer vibe from him. Jason Schwartzman was there, too, which
was bananas to me because I had just seen the movie SPUN maybe two days
before leaving for this tour. He was nice, too, and really hyperactive. I
think he left partways through the meal in order to buy some bread or
something at the supermarket around the corner. The other guys were nice,
too, but I mostly talked to the guy with the long hair and the hugs. Lil Rob
and Jimmy and I had margaritas, and then I had some kind of blue martini,
and then another margarita. It was pretty low-key. I think we may have
showed the Planet our slap pictures.
After we left Buffalo, we talked in the van for a while about corporate this
and hits that and a lot of generic career stuff, stuff you always talk about
on tours at some point, where everyone’s just going in circles and
guessing and agreeing with each other. Anyway, listening to some of the
conversation made me look at this: because I am afraid of failing, I will
always risk everything. I’m scared of failing, I’m scared of anteing up
and shooting for the big game and falling flat on my face. I know
that I would fail if I tried. Some people fail: it happens all the time. I
could be blessed tomorrow with the big microphone and the big money and the
expensive studio and I could make a record that no
one at all buys. I might fail. It’s the most likely outcome—I mean,
what makes me more special than all the other guys just like me who want to
BUT, if I don’t push, don’t try, don’t ante up, and I just do my thing
and some people buy it and some more people just never get the chance to
hear it and make a decision on it either way--- if I just settle into some
comfortable place where I can support myself on the indie track and tour and
live and have my little cult following… if I hit a glass ceiling and take
a look around and go, “OK, here’s my place. Here’s where I’m meant
to be, here’s where I’m going to be able to make a decent living,”---
well, I would be bored and sad. To me, that fate is worse than failure.
Having something to put on the line and keeping it, not taking the risk---
to me, that’s treason. Success, in any manifestation, should be motivation
to push harder, to do things bigger, to immerse yourself deeper.
Shit, I’m not explaining this well at all, am I? Let’s take it to the
ocean, then. I guess I see a lot of underground artists using the fans they
have and the acclaim they’ve received as a life-raft. They cling to what
they have and figure if a ship comes by, it’ll come by—that it’s out
of their control, and that if God is good and a ship does sail their way
some day, at least they’ll be alive, floating there, alive and ready to
board the luxury cruise ship and eat shrimp cocktail with the chosen.
Me, I don’t really want a life-raft. I don’t want to clutch some
floatation device and hang out in the water waiting. I want to use any fans
I might earn, any acclaim I may receive--- I want to use all that as a
depth-charge. I’ll make explosions out here in the water, I’ll blow up
everything I can get my hands on until the big ships HAVE to see me. If I
blow myself to pieces first, well alright. At least I won’t have to float
around in the stupid water waiting for providence to hand a real future to
me. And if one of those ships just happens to come my way at the wrong time,
I’d be just as happy blowing up and taking one of them with me, taking as
many screaming shuffleboard-players to the bottom with me as I can.
04/22/03 when we went
On the twenty-second, while driving the
rest of the way to Detroit, Jimmy, Jenny, and I played a game where we tried
to see if we could go an hour without making any noise. We read magazines
and I listened to my Microphones megamix minidisk that I made. At one point
in the middle of the game, I passed my crazy book to Jenny and we wrote
notes back and forth.
04/23/03 when we went to Chicago
got to the Abbey Pub in Chicago a little early, so Jenny, Jimmy, and I
walked across the street and went thrift store shopping. I found a neat wig.
Jimmy found a great t-shirt with a tiger on it, but he thought it was too
small for him so he gave it to me. Jenny helped me pick out a cute blue
dress. Back at the club, I put on the wig and dress and my platforms and I
looked exactly as if I had just escaped from some hospital. I went outside like that to
grab my merch from the van and, honestly, three different cars full of people
lost their shit when they drove by. Lost their shit. Not even saying words
or yelling anything--- just total wack attacks. After I got my merch out, I went into
the club and took the dress off and got into some maternity pants I had
picked up at the thrift store as well. I put the dress back on when I
played, though, and it was one of the best sets of the tour.
[RK] What about writing notes
[JL] notes are fuckin’ sweet!
[RK] It’s kind of too perfect right now to talk words
[JL] the scenic landscape is really pretty, but henster mckluck kluck needs
to take a chicken pee and eat some snacks (like birdseed or whatever) so
rest stop rest stop must be our new chant!! the passengers uprising must
[RK] I think Nick knows, there hasn’t been much proper civilization to
stop at for a while. He will find it though --- everything is perfect.
[JL] henster mckluck kluck is a Chiller dude… am I right? or am I
[RK] yeah, henster just totally zones out.
[JL] he’s a deep thinker for a chicken… its all that weed he’s toking
while we’re playing these silly rock shows… I mean, look at his
bloodshot eyes!! for fuck’s sake.
[RK] the music + the rain makes me want to cuddle, Jimmy better watch out!
[JT] Turn it up yeeeeaah. I’ll put my cuddle gloves on in case.
[RK] guess who my favorite guy in the world is?
[JT] Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssss sincerely, Jenny
[RK] Streaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam sincerely, the urethra
On the twenty-second, I wrote in my crazy book that I wanted to travel
forever. Absolutely no interest in stopping to play a show, I was ready to
keep going and going and going. In the back of my head I knew that buckling
down and trying to write a really beautiful album --- fuck, even a just
plain GOOD album--- would do my life much better than trying to play more of
these doofy sets at these random shows. Still though, when you’ve got
somewhere different to be every night it’s easy to forget to worry about
wasting your time.
That same day I had BBQ Ribs for breakfast, with mashed potatoes and bread
and a cup of hot tea. Later I got a Minute Maid freezey cherry drink and two
warm chocolate chip cookies at a rest stop in Ohio. And then at the Michigan
Welcome Center I ate a Breyer’s Strawberry Ice Cream Bar and a bag of
bugles. At the club I got a pizza with pineapple on it and an Arizona
Raspberry Ice Tea. I gave two or three pieces of the pizza away, though.
Then I drank a lot of Coronas.
Ben and Joan met us at the show. They drove in Joan’s car.
Before the show started I was feeling kind of lonely and Travis’s Jitters
started creeping up on me. I was looking at some kind of graf-writer-looking
kids hanging out in the restaurant under the venue and getting all anxious
for no reason at all. I started writing in my crazy book about how, for the
year 2001 and the first half of 2002 I had seen as a language in which could
elevate the stories of the disenfranchised. Whether or not you would
consider my story one of the disenfranchised is your business--- yeah,
obviously it’s not as urgent or as ignored or as pertinent to the rest of
the world as the stories which originally necessitated hip-hop, but
nonetheless I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that being in some kind
of white-people-OK! nostalgia-fest rock band (Remember 1996/1983/1974/1968?
Man, was music so much less complicated then! Let’s go back in time to
when it was easy to be edgy and cool!)
Then the show in Detroit itself turned out to be one of the best ones of the
tour. We didn’t have very high expectations, for some reason, but tons of
young kids packed the Magic Stick and the opening act, Midwest Product, got
them really riled up. There was a pretty good mosh pit going throughout my
set, and the highlight of the night was when I bled all over the place.
During my set I kept falling backwards into the kids around me while I
played, and at one point I fell into this short, excitable goth girl who
caught me with her fingernails. When I tried to move forward, she didn’t
let go and her nails got raked across my back. My back suddenly hurt like
hell but I didn’t really put two and two together at the time to realize
that I had been scratched. At the end of the song, though, I turned around
to queue up the next track on my laptop and I heard all these people at the
I didn’t get to see how bad it was until the set was over. If I had known
I was bleeding so much I would have tried to get it on my face and on other
people, do it Skinny Puppy style.
Downstairs, where the band room was, I got to see the living body of Ryan
Shreiber, the main dude who runs the Pitchfork Media website. I guess
something like six-hundred thousand people read that website every day, but
I doubt hardly any of them have seen him in person. It’s amazing—it’s
not like Ryan has intentionally built any mystique around himself, but
it’s just a natural thing that grows when you do things people can see.
Because, of course, they can't see you all the time, they see your things,
and they naturally started filling in the blanks themselves. I mean, it’s almost impossible to avoid if
you do anything at all for an audience--- write reviews, make songs, paint
paintings, whatever. I don’t know why I find the phenomenon of
pseudo-celebrity “mystique” so enthralling. I guess I just spent so much
time as a kid and a teenager fantasizing about the other side, and what all
those mysterious celebrities and pseudo-celebrities were really like.
Without any kind of high drama in my own life growing up, I tried to project
my heroes into the experiences I did know well---
taking out the trash, riding in the car to a restaurant, raking and
bagging grass clippings. It sounds stupid to say, but I don’t think I’ll
ever quite grasp the extent I was shaped by all the time I spent thinking
about Kurt Cobain raking his yard while raking my own.
By Rjyan Kidwell