Not recommended: beet, carrot, celery, ginger, garlic juice.

In Ohio we played at a comic book store in a strip mall. It was a fairly packed show but the largest contingent of the audience were apathetic teen punks dressed in standard black and faces that warned "We don’t do much." In stark contrast were Sharkie and Jesus, both from Cleveland and both unafraid to start any sort of shit they could. They were so far beyond the point of obnoxious that they were being physically threatened to leave. However, once HALT and us played the entire place erupted, much to the hired security’s chagrin. With one arm in a cast Sharkie took his good arm and hoisted a chair over his head and danced around with it. At this point security was already befuddled by the ‘dancing’ that was going on. They tried separating people like it was a junior high dance while all the mall punks were trying to call them down and explain that this kind of behavior was ‘normal.’ But when one of the security guards saw Sharkie dancing around with a chair over his head he turned back towards his friends and mouthed, "That’s just not normal."

Who says Robert can't skate?!

Two ‘bigger label’ bands played tonight and asked to be paid much larger sums of money than the other bands. Of course no one was there to see either band and when this was brought up at the end of the night the band’s manager explained that they had many more extra costs to cover, like all the money they owed to the label and of course the salary of a manger. It was explained to them that their extra costs were of no concern to anybody but them and if they needed more money they shouldn’t be playing punk shows. It was suggested that all touring bands be paid equally (what a concept!) and that’s what ended up happening. It was a learning experience for us all.

Somewhere in Ohio. If you're wondering,
this is what touring the US is like - hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks of this.

Note to people using amps: use speaker cables to hook amps up to speaker cabinets. It’s not common to have a blow up from using instrument cables but when it happens it is EXPENSIVE.

This sign should include little cartoon images of broken bones and stick figure's bleeding out of the head.

Casualty Max

Casualty Robert

Check out those gashes! Crazy waterslides!

Day 22 – July 12 – Cleveland OH
Cleveland marks the most anticipated night of the tour. First off, it was Cleveland where only 1% of the population would be considered normal and/or mild-mannered. Secondly, it was the GORDON SOLIE MOTHERFUCKERS last show. And lastly, it was the night Devon and Tony Erba were going head to head in a wrestling death match. Devon has been training for this night for a long time, he even brought along all his sparring gear so we could condition him right up until today.

Side note: Tony Erba is crazy.
Amendment: the GORDON SOLIE MOTHERFUCKERS create one of the most dangerous show environments around today with most ending with fire trucks outside.

While we were loading in a short, chunky drunk dirthead came up to me and asked if his band could borrow some of our equipment because they ‘forgot’ theirs. I asked which band he was with and of course it was GORDON SOLIE. We very reluctantly consented and my thoughts went back to how much money we just spent fixing our amps. I hadn’t seen him in about 8 years so I didn’t recognize it was Tony Erba who had asked me. He later explained that he wasn’t drunk, he was just diabetic and his blood sugar was dangerously low, and as such he was sort of out of it.

We played a mediocre set but HALT went fucking nuts. Ernie was the embodiment of a jungle gym that the good citizens of Cleveland used, abused, beat, battered and folded in half. Chuck did two spectacular leaps off the huge house speakers, the last of which had him land squarely in the drumset and lacerating his forearm something fierce. The crowd was going totally out of control and at some point I started to actually feel a little scared.

And then GORDON SOLIE started.

Some folks uprooted some trees from out front and brought them past security and into the pit while others brought phone books and catsup and potato flakes and fireworks and, naturally – because we’re in Cleveland – bricks. Before the first word was sung Tony Erba was bleeding profusely from the top of his head. It was hard to see past the blood and when he started singing the crimson streams flowed over his mouth and then splattered all over those in the front rows. The fireworks made it difficult to see or breath but through it all I could see Cleveland becoming totally uncontrollable.

Rather than wait to get attacked Devon took the offensive and suited up for battle. Unbeknownst to everyone except those in the wings, Devon had scaled the stage speaker towers and was poised to launch onto to Tony from above. He was wearing nothing but a wrestling mask and a jock strap lined with firecrackers. Chuck lit the brick of explosives and just as they started popping Devon leapt through the air and directly onto Tony. It was a dazzling and shocking sight seeing an incendiary half-naked man drop from the sky onto a growling, blood-soaked icon. A collective gasp took hold and I just knew Devon felt like he was at the top of his game, ready for this much anticipated bout and already with the upper hand.

But then a funny thing happened – Tony never got up. There, in a heap of silly string and ashes, covered in blood and pasted with potato flakes, lie Tony motionless.

An awkward hush fell over venue. The band stopped playing and the audience stopped dancing. Eventually the silence was broken by some guy yelling, "That asshole killed Tony!" Suddenly all we were thinking was that Devon was about to die in Cleveland wearing only a jock strap and a wrestling mask.

For nearly one very uncomfortable minute nobody knew what to do. And just when Devon’s disemboweling seemed imminent Tony jumped up and hoisted a stiff middle finger at everybody.

The rest of the show went on in the same unpredictable vain until Tony started to pass out from the blood loss. The after-show wrestling match never went down because Tony, delirious and falling into diabetic shock, somehow drove himself to the hospital.

Yeah, we're tough-guy hardcore.

July 13 – Ypsilanti MI
KUNG FU RICK, the best band I’ve seen this whole tour (aside from HALT), made for a very aggressive and violent atmosphere. The audience was a 50/50 split between punk/hardcore kids and rap/metal gangstas – two factions not typically seen arm in arm. Squirmishes popped up here and there throughout the rest of the night. At one point I was in back talking to the KFRick dudes. They were telling me how gracious and genuine Max was when Max walked right by us, grabbed a piece of his drum hardware, stuffed it down the back of his pants and walked back towards where all the action was. You can take Max out of Redwood City but you can’t take Redwood City out of Max. The show ended on a much fruitier note when Devon and I performed the water-dance scene from Flashdance during one of the songs.

At the Fireside Bowl in Chicago all the lanes are shut down and patrons are offered a bowling video game instead. It was an afternoon show with KFRick, AMERICAN NIGHTMARE and KILL YOUR IDOLS that for some reason just sorta sucked. And not just because Devon knocked me unconscious with a kick to the face.

Thanks for the new eye, Devon!

We then headed to a Fiesta de Revolucion in a Hispanic neighborhood called Pilson. Four times a year someone in the neighborhood hauls out a bunch of kegs and has a backyard party from late morning till the following sun-up. This party happened to be at Marcus’ house who incidentally got mugged and beat up during the party in the alley behind his house. He returned and seemed to have as good a time as everyone else. Having the opportunity to play both a proper club show and a backyard party in the same day only proved that backyard, in-your-face atmospheres are so much more punk rock and fun than clubs.

Ah...waiting on a curb in Chicago. Now this looks fun!

Just before midnight we headed downtown for a little demonstration. Somebody had printed up oodles of tickets saying "MTV Real World After-Party Needs Extras – Admit One" and passed them out to all the bars in town. When we showed up to the demo hundreds of hipsters hoping to be on the Real World watched as ‘protesters’ defaced the Real World Chicago House. It was quite a fancy ploy for attention and though it probably accomplished nothing it was fun to watch all the vandalism and traffic-stopping and gawking that went on. (Yet, as real as it was I doubt MTV will make any mention of it…)

Chris of Slug And Lettuce with her lettuce.

Chuck skating with kids 10 years younger and not much shorter.

Robert makes a move for Chuck's nards while Max gets a good ol' whiff of that 625 magic.

In the middle of Wisconsin a van war broke out between us and the Latin Limousine. It all started while sitting in traffic. Robert hucked a banana peel into their window. Orange peels fired back at us. We shot an ear of corn back at them. They returned both the banana peel and the corn. We squirt-gunned them. They coffeed us. We baby-powder-and-water bombed them. They peanut-butter-and-milk bombed us. At a stop light Max went up to their van with a jar of soyanaise and came back covered in lotion. Then a squirtgun full of toothpaste found us. We got other drivers on the road to start assaulting their van with random harmless substances. It all ended when I aimed a bottle of mustard at their open window that ended up backfiring and saturating me, my seat, and Max sitting behind me.

Two of my best-est buddies - Dug and Pete.
Dug was an ALL YOU CAN EAT roadie and the guy who drew the LOVE SONGS cover.
Pete does the AK table for bands like INTL NOISE CONSPIRACY and the WEAKERTHANS, as well as waters the plants at my house.

Huge ups to Andy from HOLDING ON for flowing the bro-est of bro discounts at Guitar Center.


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