Doomed Pacific Northwest Tour 1999
Junkmailer Vol. VI, No. I
Text color key:
Black text = Craigums
Red text = Alan
December 10, 1998
It is decided that a short tour is feasible after the new year. The original plan was to go to Hawaii, but the only two weeks out of the year our Hawaiian liaison is not available was, of course, the only two weeks we could go. New plan: Pac NW. Everyone got the time off and I heard only little complaining. I work in retail where mid-November through mid-January is known as the Blackout Period, wherein no employee, management down through pee-on, may ask for, or receive, time off. My head honcho, kind as she is and generally excited to hear most stories I come back from tour with, allowed me the time off only if I worked all of my normal days off for two weeks preceeding my leave, and the two weeks following my leave. This meant a few things: with no breaks during the holidays and being in a retail situation, all my faith in humanity would be crushed entirely, and I could have little hand in setting the tour up. In my haste to do anything for time off, I passed all responsibility down to Alan. Without going into why this may have been a bad idea (like the fact that the last time we went on tour to Australia I had to actually call his parents to try and get some plane fare money because he was too busy ignoring me), we had few other choices. My laissez-faire approach to this tour was relaxing on the one hand, but proved unconsciously stressful in the end. Our trip was to go as follows:
Jan 2nd - Reno, Nevada
Jan 3rd - Twin Falls, Idaho
Jan 4th - Boise, Idaho (!)
Jan 5th - Portland
Jan 6th - somewhere between Portland and home
Jan 7th - go back to work two weeks straight
It sounded okay, less the possibility of snowy and icy road conditions.
Dec 15, 1998
We are all semi-excited about the tour, and we think it would be fun to actually have some merchandise to sell on the tour! We have 1000 10" records sitting in Craig's bedroom with no covers, and 1000 7" records sitting in Mikey's bedroom with no covers. Alex the Flying Poof is directly responsible for this lack of covers, and I decide to make cheap ass new covers for the 10". Since we aren't leaving for like 2 weeks, I ask Mikey if he could silkscreen the new covers for me and he says "Sure, No problem!"
Dec 20, 1998
We hoped to somehow finagle a van (with roadie!) from Robert Fuckface and Karoline, the Pom-Pom girl. She is going to be roadie-ing for Aus Rotten and Robert is stuck at home working the juice machine, so those plans are foiled. New attempts were made and it was slowly realized that the Cow Destroyer was likely to be our only alternative. Though Joe's van has gotten us and his many other bands around the country numerous times, it is far from what any of us (besides Joe) would call "reliable." Not to disrespect it, but it's actually more reliable to break down than anything else. But it is our only option and it must be embraced. Work is set forth on getting brakes, a carburetor, some prayer, a heater, and whatever else the thing might need.
Dec 24, 1998
Being that none of us (except Joe, he's got some weird pride thing going on) actually WANTED to take the Cow Destroyer out in the dead of winter (especially with no heater, a hole in the floor, bad brakes, a bad carburetor, no insulation, no seatbelts, no seats that were actually attached to the van, a creaky unstable loft, no gas pedal [just a stick you push down], a semi working radio, bad speakers, a bald tire, a leaky tire, no spare tire, no jack, one tire chain, a semi-working door handle, smelly carpets, an insanely loud engine, a severely cracked windshield and rear view mirrors that blew out of position every time a big truck drove by) we set out to find another vehicle that could haul us around. My parents' faithful minivan was out of the question, we had damaged it too many times. James from Betty's Love Child has TWO vans, but the last time we borrowed one of his (Mr. Color TV) we fucked it up so bad we had to write a song about it. So, we were stuck with the ol’ CD. Joe swore that by the time we left, everything would be fixed.
I get the covers done, but it's Christmas Eve and the Blueprint place (notice that Mikey works at a blueprint place which could have made the films too, but he suggests I go somewhere else so he doesn't have to do the work) is closed. I will have to wait until Monday.
While we're bagging on Mikey, I tried to get some old Junkmailers printed up because people were sending us hard, cold, dirty cash for them. Since he worked at a copy shop I figured we could save a shitload of money by getting him to do it. Three months later he says he doesn't want to. $60 later I have them sent out and one got returned because the guy moved. On a brighter note, Mikey's neck is getting bigger!
Dec 28, 1998
I get the films made, and I am $100 poorer because of it. I tell Mikey that they are done and he should come get them to make the screens. Mikey's response? "I don't want to drive all the way down there. Can't it be done some other way?"
Fully knowing that I am carless and not about to ride my bike all the way to his house (40 miles away) Mikey decides that he doesn't want to silkscreen the covers anymore. Sure, it would have been nice of him to tell me this BEFORE I spent $100 on the films, but whatever. Faced with the fact that I spent a week making the covers and $100 on the films, I decided at least we will make crappy photocopied covers.
Dec 30, 1998
Joe and I spend the day making repairs, and going to Toys R Us. And playing video games. Mikey, who has flaked on all of his responsibilities so far offers to make t-shirts (we haven't had t-shirts in like a year because Mikey hasn't made them) but first he needs new artwork. Being the band member with the least artistic skills (yet a job as an "artist," I just don't get it) it is decided that I have to do the artwork. "And I want Pac Man on that shirt!!!" Screamed Mikey as he hung up the phone.
Lucky for me, I had just bought a book called "Pac Man and the Big Race." Art was quickly lifted and stuck into a shirt design. Several hours later Mikey comes by, sees the design and says "too rave-y." I whip out a Beastman design and it is mulled upon for several hours.
A final design is settled on, and we go to Kinko's to print out the positives. I also give Mikey the art I made (again, why me?) to replace Alex's Weird Al art. Mikey, who works at a blueprint/photocopy/silkscreen place, always offers to make silkscreens and photocopies for the band but they never materialize. Since his silkscreened covers were scrapped, he promised to at least make the cheap ass photocopy versions for me.
Dec 31, 1998
Of course, Mikey's photocopied covers don't appear, and neither do his t-shirts. He claims that some of the screens are done.
January 1, 1999
The junkyards are closed and all final repairs must wait until tomorrow, the morning of departure. Last minute scrambling have gained us throw-together covers for our new 10inch and new t-shirts. It also gave Bradley and I enough time to perfectly alter our new Italian suits for our first stop: Reno. We will be Rollin' Hi with our $2 in nickels for the first night of tour, and our suits (and their fine tailoring) are crucial.
Many of Joe's promised repairs were done, at the following costs:
- Rebuilt Carburator - painted gold! ($140)
- tune up ($85)
- brake cylinders ($50)
- stolen junk yard pieces (free)
- muffler #1 ($25)
- muffler #2 (free)
- spare tire ($15)
- tire chains ($30)
- tire iron ($10)
- window for Jason ($35) (Joe bought him a window for helping us out so much)
Many of the other repairs had actually been done months before, but none of us had set foot inside the van in so long that we didn't know! The loft had been reinforced, the windshield was replaced and the carpets were cleaned. Joe and I set out to put insulation in the van but we opted for individual insulation instead (jackets). The giant hole in the floor was fixed by closing the vent that no one had noticed before. For 5 years we had complained about the hole in the floor and we never noticed that there was a vent down there. Brilliant.
Lest we not forget about Mikey, king of T-shirts and photocopies and all things silkscreened? Well, he and Joe stayed up late and made a bunch of shirts. They even looked halfway decent. Sometimes Mikey does come through! The photocopies never came through, and I was forced to wake up early (I had been up late partying like it's 19... oh, never mind) and drag my hungover ass down to Kinko's and PAY for shitty ass photocopies.
January 2, 1999
10:00am I awoke this morning ready to pack, ready to roll, and, most importantly, ready to ROCK. I got all my goodies together, bagged my suit, and loaded it all in my truck. There it will sit until my roommate drives us to the meeting spot where it will be transferred into the van. While packing the last of my things into the truck, I noticed what that smell was. For the last few days the cab of my pickup has smelled like the air let out of a bike tire: stale, subtle, old. After discovering the source, I can add these fun adjectives to that list: neon green, sweet to the taste, toxic. Turns out my radiator fluid is leaking into my front seat somehow. No matter now because I am just hours away from abandoning common society for a small slice of life on the road.
11:00am Called Joe and Alan to see if the repairs are done. "Working on it now," Alan says.
12:00pm Alan calls to say things are going slower than anticipated for Joe, but the rest of us still think we are way ahead of their schedule (i.e. Joe and Jason's "1 hour" usually means two or three). I remind them to leave room for me when they come pick me up. It never fails that the van is over-capacitated by the time they reach me, the last pickup on the line.
1:30pm "Alan, we have to be in Reno by 7pm. That means you have to leave San Jose in an hour and a half," says I.
3:00pm "Alan just called to say they are leaving Joe's now. Then they're going to Alan's to pick up his sleeping bag, then they are gone," say Bradley.
4:00pm Bradley again: "Alan just called and apparently the muffler literally 'blew up' on the way up here, so they turned around, bought a new muffler and now Joe and Jason are installing it. More news as it comes..."
5:00pm Call Pete in Reno to say "Thanks, but we ain't gonna make it..."
6:30pm Alan calls to say the shit is fixed and they're on their way.
7:30pm Bradley calls and tells me, "The muffler made it here, the van backfires steadily, we're waiting for Mikey to show up, then we're on our way."
8:20pm My roommate drove me to where the van was waiting. I was excited to see everyone and i started to get that feeling again: the "we're on tour!" feeling. Everyone clamored out of the vehicle and complained of headaches but I attributed it to everyone's usually cynical attitude towards Joe's vehicular-repairing (dis)abilities. Lil' Brother Seth was along for the ride and brought only a small backpack and a blanket because Mikey told him (as a joke, I can only assume) that it would be sufficient. Not even out of the Bay Area, he was already shivering. I gave the cowboy hat to Alan, thereby dubbing it the Passenger Hat, the Kaiser Helmet was given to Seth, and, at 8:45pm, we are on our way...
9:00pm As we merged onto the freeway I was awash with feelings of nostalgia, joy, and impending good times. I laid flat on the loft, perched above the other passengers and facing out the van's front window, and began to reflect on the numerous episodes our little band has endured, all the fun we have sustained, and all the possibility that lay before us. And the more I stared out that front window, the more I began to drift. In fact, there were times it felt like we were driving into a dream sequence, where vision becomes wave-like, depth perception non-existent, and my grasp of reality refracted. When the cold finally hit me and woke me from my fading consciousness, I found I was still facing out the front window and that those dream-waves were actually small, toxic clouds billowing out of the center console located between the two front seats. I started to recognize the headache the others earlier complained of. I asked if anyone else had a funny feeling in their throat. All agreed, except for Joe. Poor, delusional Joe, sitting too close to the fumes to even know that he was driving us towards eminent death.
9:05pm The muffler falls off after a particularly nasty backfire, and we see it as an omen to go home and cancel the ill-fated tour. Stuck on the north side of the Benicia Bridge, the six of us attempt to comprehend the events that led to this sad disaster. Unfortunately, we are all WAY too high from the gas fumes, and any rationalization is impossible. Few words are spoken until we get home, and Joe and I decide to make a big tofu/broccoli/rice dish and drink our troubles away. By the time we get to San Jose those hopes are compromised for a burrito, a veggie burger and two glasses of water. Ahh, the hard life of the touring rock and roll band.
9:20pm The best part the trip thus far, Alan forgot to mention, was our total DIS of the bridge toll. We crossed that monstrosity ALL THE WAY OVER and NEVER PAID!!!! Anyway, talk of making a band-less trip to Reno floats around but it is little consolation.
- Number of possible shows: 5
- Number of missed shows: 5
- Number of pre-tour van repairs: +10
- Average number of mid-tour repairs: 2/day
- Records sold: 0
- Total gas expenditures: 1 tank!
- Number of toll bridges crossed: 1
- Total spent on bridge tolls: $0 (ha-ha, fuckers!)
- Average number of underwear changes: None for me
- Number of area codes passed through that we don't live in: 0
January 6, 1999
Two days later Bradley picked me up at the auto shop where I was about to spend $500+ to fix my truck and high-tailed it toReno for some Hi-Rollin'. We stayed at Sticker Guy's house and he and Sundance showed us some fine dining and pictures of them naked. Amidst our fun was also big spending and, in my case, big winning.
Throughout the final leg of our travels we thought much of the Cow Destroyer, and Bradley had the good sense to illustrate our feelings:
Oh, I got home and found my phone turned off leaving me stuck in my mountain retreat (I live miles from the closest store) with no phone or car. But I had four types of chocolate, three kinds of cereal, and an Ab-Roller to help shapen me up for my walk to the nearest bus stop. Poor, poor, pitiful me...