Excerpt from The Road, an upcoming collection of road stories edited by Tony Patino
In our very early days of touring, a road trip would usually be a weekend jaunt up to San Francisco or a drive through the desert to Arizona.
Being a band in Southern Ca was like that–we didn’t have the luxury of all those different cities bundled together like you had on the East coast.
Nah, it took mind-numbing drives along the freeway just to escape the Death Star-like pull of Los Angeles’ tractor beam.
And it being the early days of hardcore punk, there just wasn’t a lot of goddamn places to play!
We’d hear about some beer hall out in Phoenix, usually owned by some deaf alcoholic widow who snored through the mayhem inflicted on her bar each weekend. And word would spread, hey, there’s a new place to play!, and all the LA bands would descend on the place like locusts, stripping it down to a destroyed shithole, before moving onto the next poor suckers’ joint.
So we somehow got booked for 2 nights at some club in Tucson. It was rare to have a 2 night stand anywhere back then, but we didn’t question it when offered.
We drove out there overnight on a Thursday- drinking the whole way– of course—and made it into Tucson just as the sun was rising over the desert.
There was a motel called the Tucson Inn, run by a family of Vietnamese immigrants, and I think the rooms were about 18 bucks a night. We checked into a couple rooms and continued drinking by the murky pool all day. We were all in good spirits, me and Kimm, Larry and Mike Burton, and our road crew (drunk friends) Chris, Duane and Mike Schmidt.
I had a paper on Hemingways‘ Nick Adams stories due by Monday, so I brought a few paperbacks.
I figured I’d knock out my homework while resting in the air conditioned room all day, no big. Do you see the good intentions we were capable of back then?
Never opened those books up, but I did discover the restaurant next door to the motel made a drink called the Rattlesnake, which was 8 parts Whiskey.
So I was learning something.
By the time showtime rolled around we were all just blasted, and we got up there and did our set, and were pretty surprised that we started and ended the songs together.
And the crowd actually liked it! With a second wind, we closed down that little bar and went back to the Inn to continue our night.
How it came to be that me and Kimm, (my best pal since the second grade and still my bandmate in CH3) got into an actual fistfight that night is still a puzzle. Maybe I made a crack about his then girlfriend, who was along for the weekend, or maybe I wanted all the show money to buy bathrobes (a strange habit I still have out on the road). But there was an argument, cuss words yelled, I took a swing and missed, and Kimm landed a jab straight on me and broke my nose.
So this puts us at 4 am on Saturday morning, we still have another day to get through, and another gig to play that night. I am staggering around the motel room, trying to bleed on anyone who is pretending to sleep, Kimm has an fucked up guitar playing paw, and now he has to contend with his girlfriend who wants to immediately drive home.
We have now split off into 2 different factions, and those with girlfriends along wake up the poor Mamasan to get another room, while I rally the boys to start the new day with a warm Budweiser. The sun rose over Tucson as we closed the blinds, and we were waiting at the restaurant door when they opened at 11 am to start in on the Rattlesnakes again.
The 2 rooms stayed incommunicado for most of the day, me continuing to rant about my poor beautiful schnozz in the trashed bachelor pad, while Kimm soaked his swollen hand in a cardboard icebucket in the other room.
At one point, we got the bright idea to set a small fire to the mattress of one of the beds. After we burnt a satisfying 15 inch diameter hole in one mattress, we then had the fantastic thought to start taking dumps in the drawers of the dresser.
I don’t know why these brainstorms never occur when you’re sober, but at the time it seems so logical!
And if you’ve never seen a turd sitting in an empty particleboard drawer, well, let’s just say it is a piece of art that can only be improved by putting a lit cigarette out in in.
So proud we were of this tableaux, we decided to take it over to the couples’ room and leave it on their doorway. I’m saying it’s about 3pm Saturday now.
Retalliation occurs, as it must, when Kimm and Mike Schmidt burst though our door as we are in the bathtub. We have reasoned that the pool is far too dirty to swim in, so Chris, Duane and I are sitting side by side in the bathtub in our boxers.
Kimm and Mike have taken a fire extinguisher off the hallway and spray down our room, then burst all the pillowcases, also tossing the turd into the bath with us.
We are all crying now, tears of laughter. Kimm and I hug it out, and bless the powers of friendship and punk rock, we reconvene to make it back to the club and play the second gig.
We make toast after toast to the good people of Tucson, and are allowed to stay in the bar until the sun comes up on Sunday.