Sittin here, Long Beach Airport, cloudy Friday morning.
Waiting on the 11:40 non stop to Seattle.
Thank God they’ve let Legends come in and give us a curved blonde bar with a view of the runway– although the dark little hallway you used to sink Bloody Marys was pretty fun too.
Nothing like drinking overpriced cocktails at a rudely early hour with other drunks and nervous travelers!
I mean, where else can you go through three 22 oz Sam Adams at this hour without feeling like the lush you really are, hmmm?
Maybe the trips aren’t quite as arduous or often as they once were, but we do alright.
Nowdays, a long weekend qualifies as a tour. Jet Blue out of LB for a leisurely lunch and soundcheck. Maybe a show in another town Saturday, eat where the locals tell us, drink where they tell us not to.
Home Sunday evening in time to watch the East Coast feed of Californication before turning in for the night.
But there was a time when we were true road animals, just itching to be out there in the wilds of America.
We’d count the days til the next jaunt with a wild gleam in our eyes, like landlocked sailors whiling away each dry day in a dockside pub: one eye on the glistening ocean, feeling the rough caress of tackle and block even as they pawed at the moist crotch of the shanty whore.
Of course, you wouldn’t always face the road by yourselves.
Besides taking the roadie and merch guy, often you were joined by another band for a tour, or maybe just for a week- long stretch.
Anyway, you get stuck, by promoter or booking agent, with another band for a stretch, and sometimes it goes well, other times…meh.
We onced played through Texas with Husker Du, this was at the very earliest stages of both our bands.
Serious musicians with a strong work ethic—them, not us, silly! —they seemed bewildered, and not in the least amused by our antics.
Surely we should’ve known, even then, that certain bands have the outlook of Blackwater operatives, solemnly showing up to do the job, get paid, and get out of town in the cover of night.
Other bands? Well, let’s just say they treat a jaunt out of town as a free vacation, and they behave accordingly:
We have favorite bands to play with, yeh!
Our pals Kraut on the East coast, Doormats in the Bay area, maybe Youth Brigade— as long as Shawn is quiet, which means sucking face with a skank in the corner.
But it was Stretchmarks, those fearsome men out of the frozen North, that beared witness to some of our finest hours, as well as our most shameful, and yet still miraculously! count us as friends to this day.
The Stretchers first came into view on the BYO Comp, and somehow, it was decided that they would accompany us as for a bit on the loooong 1983 Lights Out tour.
Our shyness with the new guys faded quickly, by about the second piss stop on the way out of town halfway to Tucson, when I pulled the ol Knock Knock-Who’s There?-John-John Who?-John the Baptist! joke on manger Matt, and sprayed a full beer up his nose.
By Dallas, Mark, the maniacal bass player (fittingly dubbed Terror by then), was convinced him to shave off his eyebrows.
No problem, really, as we would apply electrical tape to his brow each evening–inverted for angry, or at an obtuse angle for bewildered!
We traipsed through the Southwest like brothers, spending a long weekend in Austin with the Big Boys.
And then it was off to the natural wilds of Woodshock Festival, an anarchistic collective of clattering generators and burnt out malcontents.
The highlight of the day was when I jumped off a 80 ft cliff, hand in hand with Mark, into the murky green quarry water below.
Of course, we were there to play music, not just braid each others’ hair and tell ghost stories. Though there was a lot of that!
A great team—They’d set em up, and we’d knock em down, The Stretchmarks coming out each night and roaring through their Hardcore manifesto!
Unfortunately, we never got a chance to actually see them play, as we were always out in the van listening to Prince or sneaking cases of beer out the back door of the club….
They’d come out, sweaty and winded, as we’d be trying to learn the chords to Little Red Corvette in the Blue and White.
Oh well–we’ll catch ya next gig, promise!
In the years that followed, we met again for a few shows.
They cheerfully put up with our growing hair, and just shook their heads with a wistful smile when I’d pull a harmonica out of a cowboy boot in front of a crowd of spitting punkers.
And though they probably thought, what the fuck are these guys doing?, they still bought us a beer when they sold all their merch and we forgot to bring any!
Punk Rock Bowling has become the high school reunion for aging punkers, and I can’t wait for the day that they start to include seminars on Medi-Cal for the punker or demonstrations on how to remove bad Social D Skeletons from your sagging triceps.
But it was here that we finally reconnected with our chums. They looked great, to a man, just great.
We all reconnected, marveled at times past and present situations.
We told them how we were a serious band now. This punk was a business afterall!
And then they just smiled and shook their heads as we proceeded to get blasted in front of them once again, and they’d wheel us to our rooms and tuck us in.
Just like ol times!
But the following year, a monumental event, they reunited to actually play at the Festival!!
I hear they were great, but I think we were in the circle bar when they played …..
We’ll catch ya next time though, promise!