Sunday, September 16, 2007

GC / EC Tour Diary #3

We've somehow landed in the illest house in NC... it's a summer home with 3 stories of party potential, a hot tub, a pool, wireless internet, four showers, pictures of boats, Stovetop Stuffing in the billions, and every Matt Damon movie ever released (the racier, unreleased Damon tapes Dua from EC had in a special bag that has a picture of Damon with his arm around Tina Turner on the front of it). The moment we arrived a pack of us sojourned out to the sea toting two surfboards and huge grins. Flash forward about four minutes and those grins were transformed into full-face grimaces as we drank wave after wave of the Atlantic and tried to keep the boards from hitting our faces. Technically I got up twice but it was that type of "surfing" that should only be filmed from the waste up, so you don't see that the water is about a foot deep.
Tonight was the third in a string of very strange shows for me... strange in a few ways, really.

Ok, number 1: my equipment is totally functioning. Not a single thing has fritzed! As a result, I've started playing songs at my shows. Now before we jump to conclusions and embrace the idea that the universe wants me to play music and make the world a better place with it, we have to consider the more realistic scenario. I ask you to consider this question: would the Universe be so cunning and conniving as to set me up with a set venturing on flawless in order to make the nutwist all the more gruesome when that same flawless set goes virtually unnoticed in a room full of people that are more interested in shouting the zingers from last night's Scrubs episode to each other than watching a dude take on the persona of a 76 year old hospital stock room worker? The only reason I can think of, albeit cynical, for this good fortune is that it's the good cop to the universe's Bad Lieutenant. It's probably a little Gavin-centric of me to think the Universe could spend that kind of effort on tiny me, but it really does seem like a well crafted blow to the proverbial groin.

2: I'm sounding better and better... my man Salim is mixing my set exclusively now, and killin it as far bringing the clarity and those oodles of effecting that make me sound much closer to Pink Floyd, which is the goal. So that's weird 2 - my signature sound is shockingly coherent.

3: NC is rising to the top of my Weirdest States Ever list. (just two slots behind our reigning champion, Wyoming). For one they have this obsession with the phrase "I'll tell you what..." It bookends everything from "I'm going to get some Dorritos" to "you guys are the best party band I've ever seen."

4: Also, the women here are almost another species from those up north. They're disproportionately aggressive (and physically disproportionate, in some ways), as if the ratio of men to women is way off down here. Like if a dude goes "excuse me, which way to the restroom?" a likely response is, "I'll show you where it is if you put a baby in me." Though my friends in Eclectic Collective have been promoting Team Hetero with a passion that makes Will Chamberlain look like Spock, this forwardness, coupled with my none-too-recovered heart makes for a wonderfully awkward concoction. She will put a hand on my chest and ask me how such a beautiful voice came from in there, and I will tell her, "the only thing in there is stomach cancer." She will suggest we come hang at her house after the show and partake of her stash of exotic drugs and I will tell her that "normally we'd jump at the opportunity but 3 of us have to be at court in the morning for child abuse charges."
My game is off. My heart is literally not in it.

This is not to say we've been approached by legions of women since arriving in the area, it's just to say the few that have been sober enough to recognize me as the guy who they just shouted over for 40 minutes can smell my heartbreak like a poopy diaper (yes, you might point out that it's very likely my actual diaper with poop in it they're smelling but I'm really speaking figuratively here and that's a whole other blog). It's like that species of African hedgehog that can sense when one of it's litter is sick or injured so they take the whole herd (that's zoologist speak for "group") a few miles away while the sick one is sleeping. [for the record: it's exactly that kind of "every man for himself" attitude that's kept the African hedgehog on my shit list for years]. In some ways it's probably good for the soul to feel repulsive on so many levels... I'm not fishing for reassurance here - I'm not doubting my worth or whether or not I'm an attractive person - I'm just saying it's interesting how much my innards are effecting my outtards.

On a slightly different note, I'm having a blast with these 7 dudes and 1 lady [except for RP, the keyboardist, who refuses to bend the brim of his hat, and insodoing has caused a huge Rift (I capitalized that because I know somewhere, on a toilet, he is reading my blog, and will love that reference to the Phish album that his failed Phish Cover Band The Outlet were HUGE fans of) between us that no amount of alcohol (on his part) can remedy]. I've spent so many nights just talking about feelings and guy stuff with Dua, the lead singer that I feel like we've been with each other for years. Last night we were in the hot tub, with our shirts off, and he kept asking me if I prefer a stick to an automatic and at first I was like "that's kind of a weird question to ask me at this hour under these conditions" but when I said "stick makes me feel more in control" he was like "yeah, yeah, me too!" and I realized (in a really poetic kind of way) that sitting there like that, in a hot tub with our shirts off, and nothing but the ocean-scented night air to separate his dark skin from my bleachy white, we really aren't that different. We're just dudes, you know? He asked me if I wanted to write a rap with him about cars, and I was like "duh." Then he asked me for a hug to seal the deal but I was so exhausted I just sprinted to the house and shut the porch lights off so he wouldn't have to do it <--- For the record, that kind of considerate behavior is becoming more and more natural for me... not to toot my own horn but, I just feel like as I get older, I really am developing into a more compassionate, more muscular guy. One of the strangest nights was maybe 4 days ago when we played in the desolate town of Winston-Salem for a fairly receptive audience and a wonderful staff. We met this wily dude that was really enthusiastic about my music and touted the cities' plethora of ripping musicians (most with names like Funkalicious Groovecakes, or D Dolla Holla At Me, or Ya Momma's BIg Booty Band, etc.), all of which he was eager for me to meet because of how much I reminded him of them ("but wit that loopin shit"). He opted to buy two records and a t-shirt (well, in truth, he only bought the CDs... the T-shirt rested comfortably on his shoulder for the majority of the night but he sort of forgot to pay for it, and he was kind enough to take us back to his place so it got to that point where you gotta just swallow that one rather than create an awkward situation). He was very stoked for the EC set, and during it introduced me to his girlfriend and brother, who was leaving for duty in Iraq in 3 days. They offered us $200 to play another set back at their apartment, but I couldn't tell how serious they were... I asked the soldier if he seriously had that kind of money and he said, "I got 20 G's, I don't give a fuuuuuck" which was weird because I'd been under the impression that 1) the military did not pay all that well, they were just good about putting you through school, and 2) anyone with any money at all would not be desperate enough to risk life and limb to protect our right to air episodes of Cribs.
and afterwards invited us all (by way of an ill freestyle about acquiring contraband for us and cooking pasta) back to his apartment for what was to be the sickest meal of our lives. It should be noted that earlier in the night he'd handed me his business card that read "Personal Chef" and told me how he'd done the screen testing for Hell's Kitchen and was confident that he would probably be a contender. He assured me that he would drop my name on the episode if he got on, and I knew that would open a whole new market for me, so I hi-fived him.
We followed them to Walgreens, where he went in to get some "food." Not 3 minutes later he came sprinting out... as if he had... robbed the place... With armfuls of "food."
So we rolled up to his apartment, where there was this tiny terrier looking at me with the crook-eye from the moment I arrived. My man went straight to work at the stove, while his girl testified to the exaltation wrought by a meal prepared by his gifted hands. I was subjected to an episode of Family Guy, only eclipsed by the drunk rantings of the soldier, who was clearly more than a little perturbed by America's misconception of it's "progress" in Iraq. I found the internet and so went into my little glowing world for a few minutes, until the police arrived.
Apparently the neighbors had accused the Personal Chef of having a meth lab. Again.
The injustice of it enraged him - he cursed them loudly and creatively. What irritated him most was that he felt his apartment clearly did not have the proper dimensions for an adequate meth lab. Furthermore, if he was running a meth lab, most of the product would be devoured by the "rat problem" that his management refused to address. I went to read a book in the RV.

Maybe 10 minutes later, there was a knock on the RV door, which I answered in my usual falsetto, "Yesssssss?" When no one responded, I figured they thought I was doing something secretive and so left me alone. It did occur to me that this would be the perfect time for that little terrier to make his move, but I knew that was the contact lunacy I'd fallen victim to, and not, in all likelihood, a real threat. There came a knock again, and I opened the door to my personal chef's girlfriend, who was holding out a steamy plastic bowl of noodles. She graciously offered to come back to retrieve the dish but I told her I was headed back inside. Once seated with our crew in that tiny smoke-choked living room (by the way, where exactly were we supposed to perform this extended encore, and wasn't there a good chance that $200 would never materialize once my Personal Chef was sent to jail by his neighbors? food for thought), the night got realer.
My man brought out the dinner in 3 courses, and they were as follows:
1) Ramen. In bowls.
2) 3 cheese microwave pizzas
3) I missed the 3rd one cause I went back to the RV. I saw him mixing Spam with actual Pork and I bounced.

When I woke up in the morning, all but two of us were crammed into the RV. The Personal Chef was shirtless and screaming at the apartment complex security guard from across the parking lot. Apparently the neighbors had called the cops on him again because we had an extension chord running through the foyer door and into his apartment. Since I'm road managing this tour, it's my job to get us all out to the RV and on the road on time. On average, it is a minimum of 42 minutes to get 8 people on the road from the point at which you first say, "Ok, let's go." That morning, we were mobile 4 minutes after the Personal Chef first shouted,"I'll tell you what, I don't give a fuuuuuuck!"

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