So our beloved Long Beach Airport is going through a messy renovation eh?
Here’s to hoping they don’t fuck up yet another charming local institution.
Sure, gone is the dark hallway bar that we used to squeeze into to nurse hideous Bloody Mary’s at 6am, replaced by the fab new Legends bar upstairs.
We’ll take it.
But the real plus of this little ‘port has always been the ability to wake one hour before your cross-continent flight, race around the traffic circle in your pajamas and still make it onto the Jet Blue #204 for JFK.
You park just across from the art deco terminal, get waved through the sleepy Security trailer and are handed cheap headphones before climbing the old-school flight steps.
And just 50 minutes from your hungover awakening, you are sitting there, heart rate finally slowing, watching a black and white Andy Griffith Show episode while your jet taxis down the runway toward the sunrise.
Try that trick at goddamned LAX and you’ll make it as far as the Avalon offramp before you break down in tears and admit to yourself you’ll be waiting standby for the next six hours.
Good to be back in Phoenix and a show at Rip’s for the record release.
We pick up guitars at the gate and grab a sensible rental car (29.00 standard, return it full please) drop backpacks at a Residence Inn (free internet in the room, coffee always a-brewing) and wolf down some smouldering platters from Thai Elephant (this will hurt you far worse tomorrow, round eye!)
Playing with us again are Scorpion-vs-Tarantula , truly one of the rockingest bands out there–anywhere!
The crowd is in a nutty mood, and we are baptized with can after can of Pabst by the rowdy locals!
I haven’t washed the Land o’ Free shirt yet, and it has come to take on a life of its own…..ripe, brother!
We get up and do the thing one more time!
Played a few songs, shilled a few platters, and our work here is done.
It is time for a fantastically disappointing chow down at Waffle House of all places.
And you’d think they would know their breakfasts, but the food is gray and cold, takes forever to make….and, by God, hits the spot!!!!
Saturday: Van Nuys
The crew is grumpy as we drive out to the Valley, but we are consoled when we find Henry Rollins chattering away on KCRW, always a calming soundtrack on a Saturday evening.
That familiar, raspy voice and a wide selection of world music, just the thing before all hell- inevitable as the approaching last call— breaks loose.
Tonight Hank is spinning some good acoustic blues, of all things, naturally.
Oh, it’s not like you’d think he’d be playing non-stop SOA or Minor Threat, but sometimes the show is a long one-sided conversation that only teaches us how little we really know about music outside our little world…jesus!
But Henry on the radio, he’s become the Garrison Keillor for the black T shirt crowd.
A warm familiar entity just on the other side of the speaker grill, he guides us along the 405 until we hit the Burbank offramp.
Tonight’s assignment is the gala 15th Anniversary party for our chums at Big Wheel Magazine:
Hard to believe it’s been fifteen years since the birth of Team Goon, but God bless ’em!
I mean, who wants to take over, you?
To become the masthead leader of the punk yellow pages, a job as thankless as lighthouse attendant to Stannard Rock– is that what yer gonna do?
Didn’t think so.
So do a solid and support Big Wheel as soon as you can, won’t ya?
Now, onto the cocktails!!
Was it really before Labor Day that we last ran into these road warriors from Tokyo?
Since then they’ve criss crossed this wide continent on a relentless quest to play each and every burg that would have em.
Oh, we like to think we’re veterans of the road, hard working touring punk band and all that don’t ya know….
But god help us if there’s no terrycloth robe hanging in Anthony’s suite and better hide if we don’t have Alf home by 10pm on Sunday night to catch up with his Real Housewives of Atlanta!
Nah, these ladies toughed it out for two months + in a rather questionable looking van, rockin’ it out in any room that had working electricity and a microphone–check em!
And then we climb up there and do our little act yet again.
The crowd is kind and applauds politely, patronizing as greedy grandkids hovering over their dying rich Grammy……bless em!
Wednesday: Long Beach
We’re sitting upstairs at swanky Fingerprints Records deep –deep!– in the heart of the LBC.
We take another peek over the rail at the empty store below, downbeat in 15 minutes, and there’s maybe ten people in the joint–goddamnit!
We’re here to do another shameless promotion for the new record, an in-store performance at Fingerprints’ cool digs on 4th st.
Record Store performances, they’re a funny thing, we’ve learned.
Absent is the self absorbed chatter of the drunken twit, as familiar and soothing to a musician as the white noise of an offline television is to the night shift alcoholic.
No, the people that show up to these gigs tend to be sober, respectful, and –worst of all!-they actually listen to the music!
It is nerve racking, I tell ya, to play under the harsh fluorescent lights and face the respectful silence between each song—
give me the heckling Nazis at the Observatory any day brother!!
We console ourselves by screwing around with the awesome merchandise while setting up……
But our fears are eased when staff comes up and tells us that a nice crowd is waiting out on the sidewalk—whew!
So we go on down and do a few songs for family and friends.
We try to make the old ones sound like they used to, we try to play the new ones without peeking down at our cheat sheets:
Thank God that the attached Berlin bistro now sells beer and wine, for the crowd is loose and having fun.
And we thought it was going to be just another Comic Con Q&A session!
We tell a few stories behind the songs like we’re goddamned Def Leppard on VH1 Storytellers, we stick to the new ones and obscure oldies.
And then it’s meet and greet time before adjourning to The Pike!
We wrap up another extended weekend:
It’s with a wary eye that we glance down at the calendar.
We see the days circled coming up, count the ones past and canceled out with an X.
How much longer they-them! will put up with us, I don’t know.
But we leave the bags packed, as we leave for Portland on Thursday.
And we now know how the carny feels as he rolls up the tent before first light, its garish stripes slick with morning dew:
Ready to slink away from this provoked town and onto the next one, one blessedly unaware of the old tricks they’ll soon enough be sold.