Monday, July 27, 2009

Remember Me?

I used to write here. I used to do all kinds of varied activities, and even read books. Now I can barely get through a short article in USA Today. "The Road" is taking its toll. I made it to the fitness room this morning, at least. I'm only able to attempt a post now because things are winding down. We played the WXPN festival yesterday (see review) and have a day off until Cleveland tomorrow. Then Eric's going home and I'm going to help Hazel move to New Orleans, stopping off to play a house concert in Champaign, IL. What a trip! I miss writing but I'll start up again soon (she promises others, but mostly herself).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Moonwalk Revisited

(I wrote this last year but since I don't have time to write anything new right now I thought I'd post it again in honor of the 40th anniv.)

In July 1969 I was ten years old. It was my second time at Girl Scout camp.

The first time I was too young. The camping wasn’t completely rustic, with cots on a wooden platform under a large tent, four girls to a tent. But I was only seven then and terrified of the outdoor latrines. So scared that one rainy night when I had to pee I weighed the options and wet the bed. Sleeping in a urine-soaked sleeping bag for a night or two was preferable to walking the dark path to a wooden outhouse where all kinds of insects might be lurking. It didn’t matter what the other girls thought, because I was too shy to talk to anybody anyway. Besides, once I went home at the end of the week, I’d never see them again.

Three years later I had more confidence and could deal with certain aspects of nature much better. Plus there was a lot to talk about with my tentmates, three girls from other towns in western Pennsylvania. The fact that we were strangers and would go back to our regular friends after sleeping in the same tent for two weeks made it that much easier to freely discuss all sorts of things. Like, which Monkee was the cutest? Had you ever looked at Playboy magazine? Did you have a boyfriend?

Shelley was the oldest in the tent. She must have been eleven. She said she knew Bobby Sherman personally and that she’d french-kissed a boy. We waited for her to elaborate.

She showed us how she’d turned her head sideways and, illustrating by holding her fist up like another mouth, how the boy had done the same. I held my breath thinking about it, wondering if that’s how babies were made. Somebody said they’d heard that if your mouths were open wide enough some kind of seed could travel from one person to another and that’s how you got pregnant.

A counselor came running up the hill and poked her head in through the tent flaps to tell us they were showing the moonwalk on TV. We all hurried down to the rec center to watch on an old black and white set.

That done, we walked back to our tent to get ready for bed. Seeing a man bounce around on the surface of the moon had been pretty incredible. But mostly I kept thinking about french kissing, and that part about the seed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tonight in NYC

Hazel's band Big Knife are playing a free show tonight at Otto's Shrunken Head, East 14th St btwn A & B in Manhattan 8 PM. With their pals Eyesight Television, these kids are touring the US, drinking beer, kicking ass, taking names and delaying the inevitable.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hometahn Blues

I have a fraught relationship with Pittsburgh. It's where I was born and spent the first sixteen years of my life. When people ask me where I come from, sometimes (when the Steelers are winning?) I come right out and say it. Other times, it's too complicated. I didn't get a driver's license until I'd moved away, so I barely know my way around. I didn't play music until several years after I left so I can't really call myself a Pittsburgh artist.

Except when I have a gig here goddammit. And then the whole town should celebrate me, right? I mean, Andy Warhol left when he was twenty one or so and they built him a whole museum!

But the promoter for our show in the `burgh this Tuesday, July 7, couldn't even be bothered to put us in their ad. They've got things going on in August, in September, in nice bold letters in their big half page ad in the weekly paper, but not us.

Years ago, there was a club called the Electric Banana here. Legend has it, the promoter kept a gun in his desk and if he thought your set was too short, he'd take it out and wave it around until you got back up on stage.

It makes me nostalgic for a time I never actually knew myself, when promoters cared so much. Now they book fifty shows a month in so many venues they can't keep track of who's playing where. If a couple shows do well, good. The rest of the acts will just have to get by some other way.

Who will know about the show? We had someone doing publicity but it's barely in the local listings. I've tried with the local radio and they've always been supportive but they must have other things going on. And today, in the local paper, they list us as playing on Sunday. I just double-checked and we are definitely playing at Club Cafe this Tuesday, July 7 at 7 PM.

If anyone reading this resides in what is actually a really lovely, interesting city with some of the friendliest folks in the USA, please spread the word. I don't want to be too depressed to not bother coming back.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Early Bird Special

We're practicing being senior citizens on this tour. It isn't hard to get the hang of things, as in France we're surrounded by retirees.

In the US we're already off to a great start by joining Costco and AARP. Yes, Eric and I are now card-carrying members of the Retired People's association! You only have to be 50 and with the card you get 25% off car rentals. Costco takes care of that pesky "additional driver" fee that at $4 a day starts to add up after a couple of weeks.

It's great to pretend to be retired because the truth is neither of us will ever have the option of kicking back and enjoying the fruits of our labors - we're going to be working in some capacity until the day we die.

So this tour is good practice for that. We're in a rental car that would suit Tony and Carmella Soprano - it's roomy enough to hold all our gear but several hundred dollars cheaper than a minivan or SUV. And it is class with a capital K. Our next goal is to find outfits worthy of this behemoth.

If there are still any venture capitalists left out there, here's an idea: hipster retirement homes. The Woodstock generation are going to be needing assisted living sometime in the not too distant future and it's not hard to imagine CSNY being piped through the lobby and elevator speakers in one of these places. Lots of vegan options in the dining room and Blow Up and Medium Cool showing in the activities room at 9 PM.

The thing is, we're staying in a traditional one of these places this weekend. My dad and his wife live in a very nice apartment in a senior complex. For four days and nights, we'll be kicking back with bridge and canasta, dodging walkers and mobility scooters in the halls and making nice with the neighbors who are still lucid enough to converse.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll try out our future potential career as entertainers on the retirement home circuit ("Remember that Ramones concert back in nineteen hundred and seventy six? These young people today, they don't know what music is. People had talent, back then!") After all, we've got to check that the equipment's working okay. It'll probably be one of the rare times in America that no one tells Eric to turn his guitar down.