The Vaudeville Tour
Thought For The Day
Dispatches From Vaudeville
Good ol' Kinko's. Photoshop-equipped Macs in every town. Now I can post my digital snaps of the Vaudeville Tour even as it happens.
Boston. Sunshine, discovering chic Newbury Street (Japanese shops, excellent thrifts), a guide called George, a hotel way out on a highway somewhere, but with a classic bowling alley next door (carpet on the walls of the amusement arcade representing Space Invaders and jagged computer tanks).
We tour MIT and look at the Media Lab and nearby bookshop. Rich intelligence. Nearby Harvard. Aromatherapy and Pokemon in the stores.
At the show I make instant portraits of three audience members. I'll do this at every show from now on. Except Philly, where about thirty people will queue up wearing name tags ('Hi, my name is... ') and, on payment of a dime each, get an improvised line about them.
Drive to New York. Only a couple of hours. Queens, then Manhattan. I get really excited by the idea of living here for several months next year. A girl from a band called Mascott offers me a room in her Brooklyn apartment for 380 dollars a month! But I'd rather live in Manhattan. Clinton Street. I hang out at the Lotus Club cafe, my favourite.
Off Soho Suites Hotel. Wandering around Soho with Gilles and Matt. The Knitting Factory shows. Pretty good. Stars, the support, grow on me, despite being incredibly 80s. Afterwards, Young Kim takes us to a very nice, very dark sushi bar called Decibel. We also tour the very impressive Visionnaire offices and are given copies of their new offshoot, V. The editor tells me they're looking for music writers just now.
Philly. Halloween. I feel more at ease in my kilt and eye patch, since everyone is in fancy dress around town. Sunshiny and warm. We sit outside a cafe on the very colourful, touristy South Street. Horses and carts take people around, the buildings are all painted brilliant colours. At the instore I meet Christian Carl, one of the parody competition winners. He's wearing a t-shirt that says 'I am Track 12'.
Stephanie Pappas takes us to a Greek restaurant, but the wait is one hour. We meet her three Greek sisters, who talk about postponing marriage as long as possible.
Washington DC. Drive from Philly after the show. Get there about 5 am. We're staying at the house of Jenny Toomey, but she's forgotten to tell us the apartment number. We have to call a friend of hers in LA, after wandering the corridors and consulting with a gay man in a sauna (for some reason all Jenny's neighbours are gay).
I give a lecture at the Corcoran museum. It goes very well, my sentences come out perfectly formed and it all makes sense, makes people laugh. ('Postmodern culture is like a snake eating its tail, but I like the taste of snake...') Bernard Welt is nice, and promises to alert Dennis Cooper to our LA show. I meet Count V, one of the stalwarts of alt.fan.momus (though certainly not an uncritical one... he's yet to be impressed by Stars Forever).
We're really late for out midnight flight to Atlanta, and I advocate driving instead. Prescient, because the flight is a total nightmare. Turbulence is so bad that the crew is strapped in for the last hour, unable to collect our cups. Toilets are totally forbidden. The storm in Atlanta is so bad that we take three attempts at landing, all aborted because the plane is being tossed about too much to land. We all think we're going to die. But finally we touch down after an hour of circling through driving rain and thick cloud. Ugh! I'm ratty, and complain to Matt that his planning is unduly arduous. Two nights now we've had no sleep.
We drive to Athens. A really pretty little college town, like something from a hundred years ago. Next day we drive to a National Park in the surrounding forest. A covered bridge, falls. Gilles slips into the river and gets his legs wet. We play on swings, chutes.
The local radio interview. At the show I do a portrait of the DJ. Gilles makes a very off-colour remark onstage about how local KKK members probably have 'stuffed niggers' in their log cabins in the woods. He attributes the joke to Matt, saying 'It's okay, he's Jewish'. This doesn't save Matt's embarrassment. 'Everyone hates me now!' he says.
The support is 8 track Gorilla, a man in a gorilla suit who sings over 8 track ballads and disco from the 70s.
Drive to Altanta the next day. Sunny but cold. Newspapers are full of random shootings and plane disasters. I have a three page interview in the local paper. A call comes in from Bran Van 3000 asking me to sing on a track on their next album. Since the last one sold 600,000 copies, this will bring in lots of moolah. I'm to do a track with reggae rapper Eek A Mouse. Will get a CD of the track in LA and record it in Montreal.
The Atlanta show, in a really scary poor part of town, is probably the best so far, very warmly received. Afterwards some Florida label people take us to the Clermont Lounge, a cosy strip club where we sit at the circular bar and offer strippers dollar bills. I've never seen a strip show before. Afterwards I negotiate with Tina Turner lookalike Blondie to buy one of her poems. She altercates with us when we want to read it first. 'This poem is registered with the Library of Congress!' she expostulates, before recounting tales of G.G. Allin, who used to live upstairs.
We see an exhibition of self-taught African American folk art then have a blessedly uneventful flight to Texas.
We drive to the Johnson Space Center and take a guided tour of the Mission Center. Unfortunately the 60s control room is being restored to its original Epoch state, and all we see are some off-the-shelf PCs and a few satellite dishes. I get the distinct impression that the technology I have at home is higher than this. It's all a bit shabby and neglected. As we tour round in a little white train I'm talking on a mobile phone to James from Bran Van 3000 about a contribution to their next album. I will hear the demo of a track called 'Shopping' in LA and record my vocal when I get to Montreal.
We stop at Kemah, a funfair on the Gulf of Mexico.
Houston is a grid of shiny towers with no human interest and no recognisable city beneath them, surrounded by hispanic shanty towns. The local paper evidences an interest in pick-up trucks and religion (one record review says of a soul diva 'without a guiding spiritual philosophy, her voice leads us to a place of dangerous sensuality').
We drive to Austin, stopping at a Czech town called Lafayette, founded by people who came here to escape the nationalist uprisings of 1848.
Texas is so huge, so hot, and so empty.
Part Two is here.