Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Falling backwards down the stairs.

Hello. I have been back from tour for just under two weeks now. Things got a little hectic on the road, and before long it became an uphill battle to put everything down into this blog; I fell behind, naturally. For the next few posts here I will probably re-cap some of the more particularly keen moments. Like, drunken disorder, fights, injuries, black-outs and black eyes and book sales.

I would like to thank everyone who came to the shows and certainly anyone who shelled out fourteen dollars for a book. I had a fine time drinking that money down almost directly after acquiring it, I can tell you that much for sure. Also, it would become appropriate to thoroughly thank my friend Johnathon Ford (from Unwed Sailor) for bringing me on tour again. And to the whole band for making it a pleasant trip and a successful tour and of course, thanks Sybris too, especially Angela and Eric, whom I grew to love and to want to see naked.

Things started to go crazy almost instantaneously the moment we arrived in Austin, but I didn't know it right off the bat. After loading everything into Emo's, Johnathon and I made our way to the Driskill Hotel, which is a tradition of Johnathon's upon playing any and every show in Austin that he does. This was probably my second or third time along for the trip. The Driskill has a beautiful bar, and this really fucking keen Irish bartender named Shawn (if I spelled that correctly).

While Shawn went through teaching us the various acceptable cooling degrees of Guinness and the proper servings and the accepted servings and the absolutely bullshit servings that he does not approve of or even like to talk about too loud for fear someone may get an idea that it's a good idea, some guy sits at the stool next to me, a little to close, and almost nudges me right out of my seat. It was fast and easy to just forget. This sort of thing happens all the time, right?

Johnathon is on the other side of me and doesn't notice it happening, and although Shawn is on the ball at all times, his back is turned to the stranger while he's pouring either Johnathon or I yet another frosty Guinness. By the way, this guy Shawn pours the best glass of Guinness ever. If you ever have the pleasure of being served a beer by him, just watch him pour one and you'll -- or you should, anyway -- agree.

The guy who's just nudged me a little too gruffly has his back to me also. He's really big so I decide the proper thing to do would be to not jump to conclusions and instantly get myself into trouble by opening my mouth.

But the fucking guy nudges me again, harder, and again, almost knocks me from my seat. Neither Shawn nor Johnathon can see what is going on, because they're both on the other side of me. I take a sideways glance and still can't get a good look at this big fucking guy's face, so I don't know if he's just clumsy and drunk or if he's actually trying to push me out of my place at the bar. So I don't say aything. Either way, I'm not letting this guy push me out of having a good time. So I blink, picture koala bears in my head and good-looking girls in checkered dresses on a dance floor or a funeral parlor or something, I grit my teeth and try to forget about it.

A good couple minutes later, halfway into a new Guinness, the big guy shifts about on his stool, his elbow connecting with mine and my beer almost topples. I'm pretty sick of this by now and I say, "Jesus fucking Christ." Everyone at the bar is looking at me like I'm the drunk jerk who's just spilled his own drink probably for the third time that night. Shawn is ready with a towel and wipes away the spilled droplets, and Johnathon's eyeing the big guy now because he finally saw what happened.

Seeing as how this kind of thing can lead quite easily to a truly uncomfortable experience if handled in the wrong manner, I'm trouble-shooting in my head on how best to say something to this guy, who looks about six times bigger than I am, because I'm ready to and if I don't come up with something good soon, I'm about ready to say something stupid. Around this time I've begun to not really be all that concerned if the guy feels like hitting me after I call him out on his fumbling, because I just really want to say something, and loudly.

With his back still to me, I tense my fingers around the chilled Guinness, furrowing my brow. Then the big guy sighs and I hear him whisper out, in a smooth, silky, almost smoky voice, one single line of delicate song. Almost too quiet for anyone else to hear it but me. He sings, to no one, "...I really WISH these snakes were your arms..."

And I start to laugh. "Motherfucker," I say and slap the big guy on the shoulder, and he turns to me finally and starts laughing. It's Chino Moreno.

"Damn," he says. "It's about time, you slow son of a bitch. And I thought you were gonna hit me too, little man."

The line he sang to me was from a song called Kimdracula from his last record Saturday Night Wrist. The last time I had seen Chino had been at that very bar (on another tour stop with Johnathon), a couple of years back, and he was writing that song at the time, penciling in the words on a sheet of yellow notepad paper while drinking straight whiskey with no ice. I'd taken a look at the sheet and pointed to the line about the snakes and I'd said how romantic that sounded and how I was impressed with his ability to say something so lovely in so curt a fashion. He'd invited me to come along to photograph some of the recording sessions, which were not going so well, he'd said, and wasn't actually sure when the devil he'd really get around to putting it on tape anyway. But it's funny he remembered that I liked that line, considering how drunk he was when it happened. That was years ago.

Johnathon and I stayed for a few more rounds of whiskey and I leaned into Shawn and had it all put on Chino's tab (even the several beers and cocktails we'd had before Moreno's arrival). We didn't tell him we were doing that, and I never got an angry call that night, so I don't think Chino even noticed.

Not that I'd have been able to answer the telephone too properly that night. After Johnathon and I left the Driskill, the evening went sort of berserk.

And that was the real beginning of tour.


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