Monday, August 25, 2008

tour... flying east is flying west...

We'd somehow managed to drive 3,000 miles on our rental car, 2,900 more than we were allowed. So we felt perhaps things were turning in our favor. We cooked a large breakfast the following morning at the home belonging to the band Blanket. Sort of a fantasy L.A. bachelor pad... every room in the house had a deck overlooking a gorgeous swimming pool. So we swam and frolicked, sure of our good fortune from here on out.

Before leaving town, we met up with Jon, who works at Aperture Music. Earlier this year, they'd signed {{{ SUNSET }}} to a music placement deal. Essentially, they place independent music in big-budget films and split the money with the artist. I'm not sure what I was expecting when we headed down to Culver City. I suppose my visits to the Capitol building had created a strange lens through which I view the music business, especially out in L.A.

Culver City wasn't all that impressive, though. Very bland suburbia with highly trafficked streets and people looking bored siting in their cars at stop lights. Willis, Will and Jon ate at In N' Out Burger and I watched. Then we swam at Venice Beach and it smelled kind of funny. My mind wandered to lunch, when Jon said swimming in Venice Beach was like "swimming in your own urine." We didn't stay in the water long.

From Venice, we headed just a little North to Santa Monica and hopped on I-10. The road home!

Things went fairly smooth for a few hours. Out east of Indio, the trouble started. Uncle Buck started sputtering, the engine shaking and convulsing in fits and spasms, and I watched with great alarm as our speed dropped and kept dropping, eventually topping out at around 20 mph.

Now, keep in mind we're on I-10, with trucks whizzing by at about 90 mph, hours from anywhere, the middle of the desert, the middle of nowhere. I pulled onto the shoulder to let the trucks fly by, and fly by they did. If I'd put my arm out my window, it would've been knocked clean off. So we drove down the highway in what I would without a doubt call the most intense driving experience of my life.

The highway's shoulder was littered with remnants from 18wheeler blowouts, tire treads shredded and spread across the whole shoulder; we had no choice but to drive over these pieces. They shook the car and Will was shuddering in the backseat every time we ran over a shredded tire, car bumper or other pile of debris. The car chugged along in this way for around 3 hours; I started laughing every now and then at the incredible absurdity of our situation; Willis and Will looked at me like I had completely lost it. Maybe I had?

A cop pulled us over about 7 miles outside of Blythe.

"What the heck is going on here guys?" The police officer was laughing at us. Seriously.

"Well, we can't get above 20 miles an hour."

"Well, uh, guys, I pity you." He laughed. "You know, there's a motel about 7 miles up called the monarch or the butterfly or something. It costs 30 bucks." He stepped away. "Stay safe, and stay away from the trucks."

A big-rig whizzed by, right on cue. We all shuddered. I started the wagon back up and we limped further up the road. That evening, we stopped at a California fast-food chain called "Del Taco." On the menu, I noticed a curious item called "Bean and Cheese Cup."

"What is the bean and cheese cup?" I asked into speaker.

"It's, like, a cup of beans and cheese."

My drive-thru "waitress" didn't mention the congealed red gelatinous goo on top, nor the bit of styrofoam that seemed to have melted into the beans. Oh well. I ate around it. My bean burrito came with the green sauce, which looked alarmingly like the ectoplasmic slime in "Ghostbusters." I ate it anyway.

At the motel, the front-desk lady chastised us for squeezing extra people into the room.

Without provocation, she yelled, "You're cheaters! That's what you are!"

She was old and fat and angry for no good reason.

"Is this how you do things in Texas? This is California!"

Despite all her bluster, she charged us the normal rate and we proceeded to the room, where we watched infomercials, drank a 12 pack of Milwaukee's Best, then bit our nails through that gripping thriller, "Basic Instinct." I'm kidding, of course. What a bad movie. I guess Sharon Stone is pretty, o.k., but is there anybody who doesn't immediately know she's the killer? Of course she is! The only real suspenseful part of that movie is wondering how long before she and Michael Douglas hit the sack again.

We all drifted off while two info-salespeople hawked a "revolution in lawn care."

I woke the next morning wondering what the hell I could do. I called rental car agencies in town, but nobody would do a one-way trip to Austin. U-Haul would do it, but it would cost $1300. So I drove our ailing Uncle Buck into downtown Blythe and stopped at a small repair shop called "EZ Lube." The extremely energetic owner shook my hand and smiled and admired my vehicle, shooting off praise in a thick Italian accent.

"Beautiful vehicle! What a beauty! But she a-drive-a-slow." He kissed the hood and rubbed it and told me he'd change the fuel filters and that would solve my problems, and it did. The man was an Italian prince in mechanic's clothing and true champ and his name was actually Luigi.

So we pulled out of Blythe early that morning and flew through Phoenix, flew through New Mexico, and pulled into El Paso just as we ran out of waste veggie oil (the stuff we'd picked up in New Mexico on our drive out). So we agreed to find some WVO (waste veggie oil) somewhere in El Paso, but first we stopped at Taco Cabana and had our fill of decent quality fast-food Mexican. Queso, beans, rice, and more until my stomach felt full and happy.

Then we set off, searching grease traps behind restaurants all all the I-10 frontage road. We would pull up to a restaurant and find its dumpster area. Some places collected their grease, some didn't. Most of the places I saw had metal 55-gallon barrels whose tops had been removed and, by the looks of it, somebody else had recently drained all their oil. Some other oil stalker had hit up the area already. At the bottoms of the barrels was a thick, white congealed clump of grease. We ventured off the highway a bit and, score! Behind the Panda Inn Chinese restaurant, we found 10 gallons of used soybean oil.

Searching further, I stepped in numerous sticky piles of disgusting goop that had spilled from various grease traps. My shoelaces are still greasy and I have to wash my hands when I tie my shoes. That stuff really does not come off.

Another grease trap I looked into behind "SUPER CHINESE BUFFET" appeared to be filled with blood. I started dry-heaving and spit up a few chunks. That was the worst smell, like if a megaton bomb filled with dog shit had been allowed to "age" for a year before exploding inside of a meat rendering plant. Then the whole place caught on fire and the ashes were put into an enchilada.... it smelled kind of like that.

We kept driving and stopped for the night at Balmoreah State Park once again. Slept under the stars, then woke early the next morning, filtered the previous evening's oil, pumped it into the car, then hopped back into Balmoreah's cool blue waters.

We drove further, stopping for a breakfast in Fort Stockton that probably took a week off of my life... the greasiest beans ever, of all time, ever. I think the restaurant was called "Bueno Suerte" (good luck in Spanish).

We were now driving full speed, running on the previous evening's veggie oil, and feeling quite proud of ourselves. At some point, diesel vapors had invaded the car. I pulled over and Uncle Buck appeared to be bursting diesel fuel from about five different places. Will again mentioned death, and how he wasn't ready to die. Well, I wasn't either. I changed the inline filter, which looked contaminated and like it wasn't really doing its job. I then took off for a test drive, leaving Willis and Will at the gas station. If the vehicle was gonna explode, I figured I could take the heat.

But it didn't explode. So I picked up Will and Willis and we sped the brutal last hours into Austin, five hours more of Uncle Buck... no a/c, diesel fumes, thoughts of death. All in a day's work.

We arrive back home and, well, what can I say? I'm ready to go again.

In the end, the tour went through several names.... from "Fry into the Sun" to "Deep-Fry into the Sun" to "Will Billis and Will" to, ultimately, the most apt name, "Struck Down by the Gods Tour." Struck down, but not out. Look out America! We'll be back.

tour... what goes up must come down...

In Crescent City, we took Uncle Buck into a mechanic shop. On the wall, hanging at a slight angle, dangled a photo calender depicting some partially-nude mechanics holding wrenches, covered in motor oil, each wiping the sweat from their brow. These "mechanics" were of ample bosom, frizzy hair, and big smiles. Our mechanic did not look like this. Main difference here being that our mechanic was not an attractive female wearing a bikini. In fact, he was missing a few front teeth, had two hoop earrrings, and smelled like a dumpster. Not that I could tell what those pin-ups smelled like, but I'm pretty sure they didn't smell like that.

"My name is Bob. How can I help you boys?"

"Our check engine light came on. And there's a horrible rattling sound coming from underneath the car."

We walked outside and he connected a small computer to a hole underneath our steering wheel.

"Hmmm." He shuffled his lips over his gums in a strange sucking maneuver. "Hmmm."

"What's wrong?"

"Looks like your cat's gone."

"My cat?"

"Yeah, your cat."

"I don't own a cat."

"No, your catalytic converter." He paused and huffed. "Are you trying to mess with me?"

"No." At that moment, I noticed a tattoo of a black cat on his left bicep.

Bob moved away from the car. His dumpster stench remained like a sticky yellow cloud.

"That'll cost you.... well..." Again the sucking noise of lips rubbing over toothless gums. "400 dollars, I'll bet."

Well, this was clearly not possible.

"What could we do for twenty dollars?"

He laughed a kind-of disturbing laugh that rattled somewhere deep inside, as if the tar on his lungs were rattling their jail cells and wanted to get coughed up. Right on cue, he lit up a smoke.

"Boys, I'll tell you, when the cat goes, the whole damn thing could just die." He took a drag. "Just sputter off and die."

This presented something of a dilemma. The contract I'd signed with Rent-A-Wreck said we could drive the car no more than 100 miles, and here we were, 1000 miles away, with engine troubles. If anything went wrong, Rent-A-Wreck wouldn't fix it... we'd be on our own.

Bob shrugged and took a drag of his smoke. "If you hear the engine start rattling and screaming, pull over, I guess." And with that sage advice, we headed down the road, speeding onwards, taking the cut-off towards Medford, where we would re-connect with I-5. As the road followed a deep river valley, we had plenty of chances to pull off and dive off cliffs into deep blue river water. The Klamath River I believe? Could be.

Our troubles seemed all behind us. Refreshed and new, we shot northwards, directly into stand-still traffic about an hour South of Portland. After sitting in traffic for an hour or more, pulling our hair and grinding our teeth all the while, we pulled onto some farm roads, taking tips from a gas attendant on the best route to Portland. Using his advice and our own questionable map-reading skills, we crossed into Portland. Several hours to drive 100 miles. Hell, I know people who can run faster than that, while texting and eating a ham sandwich. Ah well, Interstate 5 would prove to be our nemesis later in the trip. But that comes later.

So we pulled into Portland at 11pm, with nowhere to eat but Denny's. We bit the bullet and went there. Maybe a better metaphor would work here? We bit the turd, we bit the stink heap, we bit the bullet while shooting the gun?

One thing I will say about Denny's... they're consistent. I mean, every single piece of food was the same color. Even the vegetables. I have to admire that kind of consistency. It'd be like saying "blah" to every single question during a job interview.

Our waiter was a real hop-to kind of guy, working the graveyard shift at Denny's must've energized him somehow. Either that or he'd taken a handful of speed. He literally hopped around the restaurant, his horn-rimmed glasses slipping down his nose as he zipped about with our glasses of water and metal cups of mayonnaise. Yes, metal cups of mayo. He brought me two of them; nevermind that I hadn't even asked for one. Perhaps he was attempting to underscore the pale pallor-ed grandeur of the place. After all, what better way to garnish a bleached, flavorless meal than with a fistful of mayonnaise?

Aferwards, I felt like somebody had been slapping me for 10 minutes: numb, slightly pained, grimacing. I sat in the backseat while Willis drove.

Next morning, we woke underneath some fantastic Southern Washington forest. Willis had driven us two hours further North while I slept. I must say, waking outdoors to the sunrise... nothing like it. The fresh air soaked my lungs and spilled down my arms and legs. Waking up in the forest, you feel fully energized somehow. Perhaps this only seems remarkable to me because, back at home, simply rising from bed is a half-hour long death struggle involving groans, the snooze button, and a pillow covered in drool.

So from our beds on the forest floor, we rose and drove the 100 miles into Seattle. Hard to say much about that city except all the trees seem to be gone. We arrived with the finest weather imaginable... 70 degrees, sunshine, light breeze. I've seen Seattle when the clouds squat low and sweat all over you. That's no fun. This was better.

We drove to KEXP, a well-known and respected radio station, to play live on-air. Set up our projected drummer, our equipment, and played a respectable set. The DJ, Cheryl Walters, said many nice things about the music, and I didn't disagree, not too much.

Afterwards, we drove to Lake Washington and laid on a dock covered in bird shit. It was really much more enjoyable than it sounds.


That evening, our experiment in touring continued. Seeking an alternative to the bland, smelly, often soulless club scene, we'd sought out alternative venues of all sorts. This evening's show was no exception. As part of Seattle's burgeoning DIY scene, New Crompton seemed the perfect venue for our slightly off-kiter stage show.

For weeks, folks had been asking us the address of the venue. Since New Crompton is a house venue, they don't want to give out their address, which poses something of a dilemma for a touring band. Should we ignore their wishes and advertise the show as we would normally? Or keep the address secret and risk not having anybody come to our show? In the end, we didn't advertise the address, and that didn't really work out too well.

Also, we played after 3 different local acts. A curly-haired smiling fellow named Benjamin Blake had biked up from Olympia, just for the show. Kind of impressive.

So we watched the show, and the poor girl who actually lived in New Crompton was yawning the whole time. I don't think she knew there would be a show that night, and she looked like she'd had a very long day.

So the groups played, everyone was really nice and cool. Then our turn... and -- poof -- everybody gone. I guess that's what happens when an unknown touring band plays after 3 local acts. Quick note to bookers, DIY or otherwise... this is not the best way to ensure a warm welcome for a touring band.

We played anyhow, for 3 people. Rough. Benjamin Blake was laying on the floor during our set. He had nice things to say. Almost immediately after we finished, the girl who lived in New Crompton stood and announced she was going to bed.

So we left and stayed with our friend Neil, who runs Unseen Worlds with Tommy. We drank and drank and listened to that David Crosby album, "If I Could Only Remember My Name." The album title felt apt as I drank myself into a stupor, slouching into Neil's couch until my head had fallen between the cushions.

Next morning, woke on Neil's small patch of lawn. I'd somehow made it out back and slept outdoors yet again, drinking in the pacific northwest morning air. Soul food, that air is.

Back into the van and zipped down interstate 5, with smooth driving and only 2 different "check engine" lights flashing. Then Portland again. Traffic came to a complete standstill about an hour north of Portland. We pursued a few alternative routes, Willis and I arguing over the correct course of action. In the end, he was right. We pulled into Portland after a mere 4 hour delay. Stopped for some amazing coffee at Stumptown and a burrito at 11th and Hawthorne. Then further down the road.

That evening, we limped our way across Oregon and slept alongside the (former) Shasta Lake. I say former because, well, it just wasn't there. We pulled to our campsite, eager for a midnight swim under the moon, but the damn lake was completely dry, at least where we were. So I imagined the moonlight glittering off dark waters and fell asleep to the night's gentle hum.

Woke the next morning and found a spot further up the road where we could bathe. A marina set about 200 feet too high on the shore. I suppose water difficulties have hit Shasta in a bad way. We swam and lathered up with our Dr. Bronner's and continued down I-5. After several burritos from Taco Bell and around a gallon of coffee, we pulled into Los Angeles. Success! Our rattling rent-a-wreck, the blue turd, had pulled through. That evening, we feasted on burritos and drank ourselves silly in a swarm of L.A. yuppies at some swank bar where Chris' friend was celebrating her birthday. We drank them down.

Next day, returned the car to rent-a-wreck, careful to get the hell out of there quickly. We had put 3,000 miles on the car and didn't want our asshole-ish desk clerk there to notice. So we drove Uncle Buck (which Chris had been nice enough to pick up for us) and dropped the blue turd and that was that. We played that evening in Chris' backyard after a fabulous day at Manhattan Beach. The show felt good and complete and we played with our new friends in the band called Blanket.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

tour entry 3: san francisco, northern california

So after our arrival into L.A., we spent the evening drinking whiskey from flasks and bottles going clockwise around our little pool party which we were supposed to have played. The residents of the home were the band Blanket, a band made up of two dudes named Scott. Yes, very similar names. Our members are Bill, Will, and Willis, so we bonded.

I jumped in the pool and caught a chill, then slept under the stars and the fragrant breeze out in Chris Colthart's garden. Woke with the sun, forced Chris out of bed, drank coffee, called a car rental company called "Rent A Wreck." They came and picked us up, only an hour late, and took us to a non-descript, somewhat bleak neighborhood right off the freeway called "North Hollywood." The streets were mostly empty and there wasn't a tree in sight. Lots of parking lots. Our driver was somewhat of a maniac, pulling through lanes, yelling into his cell phone, asking me questions all the while. I looked back and saw Will gritting his teeth as we screeched around a curve.

The "rent a wreck" office felt bleak and depressing. The air was thick and stale and slightly sweet, like a carpet slightly damp with cleanser that hadn't properly dried. The "rent a wreck" sign was chipped and faded, appropriately so, and perhaps even intentionally. We picked a blue mini-van, hurried through the paperwork, and were shown out to the vehicle. The doors wouldn't open, the windows wouldn't roll up, the seats were ripped, and the engine made a loud repetitive "thwack" sound when in reverse. Perfect. We christened the vehicle "The Blue Turd."

After being assured and re-assured the vehicle was in tip-top shape, we headed north on I-5 towards San Francisco, stopping to check the engine's vitals and filling the air with tires. We pulled across the Bay Bridge around 9pm, and as I called ahead for directions to Adobe Books, I could hear Mark already playing in the background. And one of the my favorite songs too! I wove through traffic, pushing our beloved Blue Turd as hard as she would go. We made it to Adobe Books in time for a song and half of Mark's... and such sweetness we did hear. He now has an upright bass player, quite sympathetic. We played our set... very innaresting. We had recorded John Kolar playing drums before we left, and we burned this onto a DVD. Using my toy projector and an audio feed, we projected John playing onto the wall and it came off pretty well... looked like John had been astrally projected into the room with us. We played amongst Adobe's stacks of books and felt warm and happy and people were actually dancing while we played! Never in Austin, never in clubs... we had to hit a bookstore in San Fran to finally get people moving. We played an unrehearsed encore consisting of "It Glows (memory" and "Zombies." I do believe I was screaming louder than I'd ever screamed. To honor the scholarly feel of the venue, I screamed "Zombum," a sort of Latin take on the song. To honor the place, I suppose. It felt right.

I roamed the shelves and bought Willis a copy of "Terminator: the Novel." It was pparently based on James Cameron's screenplay. For myself, bought Djuna Barnes, Balzac, Gide, and The Psalms, all in beautiful Penguin classics editions.

Afterwards, we feasted on pastries pulled from a dumpster down the street and drank another bottle of whiskey. We ended up at a dive bar nearby, where we commandeered the piano and sung like the drunk folk we were. The bartender didn't like us much, and kept yelling at us to "shut up." Metallica was playing on the jukebox and honestly, I didn't think Metallica deserved any special treatment, so we kept singing until we basically got kicked out of the bar. The back to Mark's house where we smoked spliff up on his roof, feeling the fog in our lungs, and taking in the hills bulging up all round the city. Everything felt back on track, finally.

Willis slept up there and passed out on the floor in Mark's room. He dragged me by the leg and I slept on his couch. We woke to another amazing day and walked a short ways for a fine Salvadorian breakfast, thick tortillas, queso fresco, rice and beans, the works. Cheap price.

Then walked back with Mark to his place, talking all the while of music and growth and change and travel, honoring the creative instincts, moving on, life and death, the passing of youth, and also digging all the crazy murals all over his neighborhood, the Mission. We stopped at a cheap tourist shop and Will bought a belt decorated with drawings of marijuana leaves. It looks pretty good.

Stopped back into Mark's, listened to his new album (a work-in-progress) and I got the chills 3 different times. Good job, Mark. Man oh man.

Then dropped Mark at work and we headed North on the 101, stopping briefly on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Took some photos, got our hair blown around, and headed further north, on into Humboldt County. At some point, our "check engine" light came, definitely an ominous sign.

Arrived into Arcata, and drove still further north to Trinidad, where Willis' friend Mike had retreated to the forest. We set up and played music on his porch, sat by the fire, drank more whiskey, and smoked spliff til morning. Mike is quite the gardener, if you understand my meaning.

Next day, we hiked several miles up Redwood Creek and found a pristine spot, untouched, nobody around. We swam and soaked the sun, surrounded by ancient redwoods and pine and spruce and we stopped all along the path, picked fresh blueberries and blackberries and other berries I don't even know.

Campfire, warm dinner, guitar playing, more spliff.... perfect.

Now we are headed futher North, to play KEXP in Seattle tomorrow morning. Hope our engine makes it.


Willis McClung's thoughts:
It has been about 5 years since I last saw my friend Mike Black in his town of Arcata California. To see him again, this time further north just outside of trinidad, CA, Brought my great joy. We hand picked our dinner from his garden with broccli, Kale, and carrots fresh from the dirt to bring on a trek thru the Redwood National Forest. With Sunshine the dog by our side we arrived creekside at a campsite where we swam and reflected on all things beautiful. We said our goodbyes and Peace was restored to my soul.


Will Patterson's thoughts:

Humboldt County is the most rediculous place I have ever been. Guarenteed fun. Were leaving the town we stayed at and are journeying north to Seattle. Our rented wrecked minivan is on the verge of breaking. Hopefully if we break down, there will atleast be fields of blackberries. This is the most interesting and exciting tour I could imagine. There is a lot of improvising.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

tour entry 2: lost at sea


So we went down to Bentley's, but the coffee shop had already shut down. Undeterred, played an impromptu show in the parking lot of this bar called "Dirtbag's." The bouncer stepped outside, wearing very baggy shorts and two large diamond stud earrings. He listened to us for awhile and asked us to come inside and play a show... we of course agreed. This would be the best show ever, of all time, anywhere.

But then word came down from up on high... the manager said not only could we not play a show at "Dirtbag's," but we weren't even allowed on the property. Which included the parking lot. "We can't have guys like you associating with Dirtbags." I'm not sure the bouncer knew how that came out. He didn't seem too incredibly self-aware or to have much sense of humor.

Oh well. We videotaped our performance and it will be a youtube sensation, I can just feel it.

We drove to a hostel nearby that was kind enough to let us sleep on their back porch for ten dollars a head... we drank beers and sang songs and saw the whole west coast spread out before us... our minds spread to the pacific and then northward. Perhaps the world would be our oyster.

But perhaps this oyster would be from Long John Silver's. In other words, a rancid oyster, a smelly stale, over-fried clump of batter, with maybe a few curly hairs from the "chef" thrown in for good measure. In other words, maybe the world would be our oyster, but our oyster's expiration date had long since passed. Maybe the world would be a pretzel shaped oyster.

None of us could sleep too well that night. Seems flies had overtaken the back porch of the Roadrunner hostel, and had taken a liking to our faces. We all woke with the sun and limped our vehicle (now nicknamed "Uncle Buck," in reference to the fine John Candy film and the slumping station wagon featured in the film) to Pep Boys. For four hours, we writhed in the waiting room. Willis played a great Blind Willie McTell song surrounded by shiny hub cups (are they called rims?).

The mechanic replaced the hoses that had sprayed like madness the previous evening. Our rear axle had lost its protective rubber "boot," and could no longer remain lubricated or protected from the elements. In his broken English, our mechanic Saul told us to fix it very soon. He then squirted the thick thick oily goop all over it and wished us well.

On our way out of Tucson, we stopped at a donut shop. God, I hate donuts. Took one bite and off into the trash. They had these things called "photo cakes" wherein they took some pre-selected photo and somehow engraved into a cake's icing, to make for some extra special birthday treat. Some of the cakes were just strange to me, though... like the screaming shirtless pro wrestler, veins popping from his neck and popping off his biceps. He was either trying to be intimidating or maybe he was just screaming in agony. He was wearing these very very small shiny red shorts that were in no way intimidating. And I just sat and marveled at these cakes and wondered what child would want an aggro-steroidy-glistening wrestler screaming back at them from their birthday cake.

We took to the highway and things seemed fine, for a bit. Willis bought a translucent plastic hat with retractable sunglasses built-in.

But a horrifying noise came crackling from beneath our rear axle... we had run out of luck, if we ever had any to begin with. I called AAA and we were picked up from Quartzsite, Arizona, an hour or so later... our driver Stan told us all about his tours of Iraq and killing people and war in general, his wife who divorced him and screwed him out of all his funds while he was away fighting the war. We kind of bonded with the guy. Will called him "the biggest hard-ass I ever met."

He dropped us in California, our vehicle still not working but we could only get towed 100 miles as per my AAA account, so we called Maverick and he saved our asses, as usual. He let us piggy-back on his roadside assistance account and that got us all the way to L.A. That was the bumpiest ride I have ever taken. Ever. It was like those exercise belt machines you find in gyms that you kind of strap yourself into and then the thing shakes violently. I was never quite sure about those things... were they supposed to shake the fat off your body? Is it possibly to exercise without actually using any muscles? Well, this teeth-chattering tow truck ride didn't much feel like exercise either, maybe just an exercise in withholding screams of terror. The driver played screeching glam metal the whole way, through a crackling speaker right behind our heads. Still, we all three managed to pass out on the drive. I awoke and felt the tremble of our tow truck descending into L.A.'s glowing valley. Willis and Will remained asleep; their heads shook violently back and forth, sometimes bumping into one another.

Pulled into town and headed straight to Echo Park... missed our pool party, but arrived in time for some killer karaoke by the pool... Willis sang some steely dan and I sang a song by Travis Tritt. Will watched and laughed.


here are some thoughts by Will Patterson:
The idea of powering a tour on vegetable oil seemed to me to be very funny. Although we have not broken into grease traps (yet), we have still managed to run in to some extremely strange and funny situations. In New Mexican city Truth or Consequences, aka "T or C" on highway signs, we hooked up with a dude who truly blew my mind. I have seen many of his type before: dressed in Camo shorts, a large brimmed hat, sunglasses, and impressive dreads, but he was much different and productive than any other new-age hippie I have ever met. In a renovated RV lot, he and his wife had a plethora of wondrous inventions and projects, all which sustained his life's needs. He showed us this crazy LED plant growing system which emitted red and blue light but only used a fraction of the power of normal grow systems. It seemed very simple to me yet, I would never be able to invent such a thing. In addition, he showcased all of his gardens, solar power systems, and innovative housing technique which used recycled trash. He actually had a 30 foot tall volcano he made using the same material. It required twenty gallons of vinegar, ten pounds of baking soda, and one gallon of red ink # 5.

When we left T or C, me and Willis embarked on a new series of exquisite corpse drawings. We drew imaginary turned out quite nice. By the way Willis really sucks.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Photo courtesy of Mikey Sklar

Well, tour so far has been very very innaresting. Incidents thus far: running over a dead deer, surviving a fly infestation, police search and lengthy interrogation by state trooper (" you guys are crazy! this vehicle is going to explode! "), back axle making very disconcerting noises (likely as a result of the dead deer we hit), hot springs, bathing in crystal pure waters (using our trusted Dr. Bronner's), trespassing and swimming in fast-flowing creeks on a farm, long mountain drives, a death threat from a drunk man, our engine exploding into a hissing cloud, buying butter at a Circle K and being literally bombarded by drunk people in the parking lot, 15 gallons of bio-diesel, 80 gallons of waste vegetable oil, the confused looks of fellow drivers who see us filtering oil in a parking lot using a filtering sock into a plastic barrel, tour of a former RV park now a completely off-the-grid compound inhabited by an inventor (Mikey Sklar and his cool lady) who recently sold his latest invention to NASA, a tour of a biodiesel facility... to filter their oil, they had constructed a copper pyramid and were piping in Tibetan monk chants through speakers to create spiritual intention for their filtering process. And we are about to play, uninvited, unannounced, at a coffee shop called "Bentleys."

Mikey Sklar's blog entry about our visit can be found here. He also included a nice photo!

Mikey is the aforementioned inventor who just sold a patent to NASA.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"Deep-Fry Into the Sun" Tour

On Wednesday, we will be leaving for a West coast tour we have dubbed the "Deep-Fry into the Sun" tour.

Our vehicle is a 1984 Mercedes station wagon that has been converted to run on waste vegetable oil. We have a pump that filters oil from grease traps, and plan on filling up the whole way using waste oil from restaurants. This will be a first for us, and for any other band I've ever known.

This is very exciting. Free fuel (!!!!!), provided the restaurants allow us to pump. If they don't, we could always go "ninja-style" and liberate the oil. This neatly circumvents the insane problem of "touring cost" that most bands are facing right now.

Environmentally speaking, this is a revolution waiting to happen. We're removing ourselves from the grid of ridiculously overpriced gas stations that pollute our world and have distorted/dictated American foreign policy for quite some time.

We're also not burning million-year-old carbon (petroleum) to fuel our car. This closes the "carbon loop," so to speak, since the carbon we're releasing would have been consumed from the air (by the plants that created the oil) within the past few years.

It's really kind of like Dr. Brown in "Back to the Future." Remember how he fueled his car on Marty McFly's trash... he poured beer and a banana peel into the tank, remember that? Well, looks like the future's here, folks.

I will be blogging extensively along our travels. This tour is an experiment, a bit of research into a new and hopefully better way of doing things. So stay tuned for updates from the road.