May 15, 2004


I was going to give you all some deep dome stylings about how being in the van is like being in the space shuttle, eternal orbit of real life. My boyf., the beautiful genius who makes his living trafficking in extended metaphor, he says using a metaphor about van life as space shuttle is not okay at all when your band is named after the space shuttle which blew up. Meanwhile, I am already hard at work on a metaphor about playing shows and the ocean. Possibly involving sea turtles, krill and Costeau, lil' Nemo and wet suits. Or not.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, tour. I am on tour. I think we have played four shows since Pittsburgh. I was busy working on making work in the van loft to etch all of Appalachias verdancy to the internal hard drive. These things I know as true:

1. I got called 'faggot" for the first time in my life, while walking down the street in York. Two sunburnt speed freaks in a red t top and I engaged in some extended, yet tepid staring down at a light. My pigtails are a dead give away of my faggotry, and I am surprised it has taken this long for someone to bring it up.

2. The youth center had pool tables, hot dog and pop concessions and slate grey carpet stained from swet from the furrowed brows of hardcore bands and illicit grindings from their all ages Latin dancing weekly all ages club night. We asked for less light (take the Rent-a-Center vibe out a little) and had them turn on the $29 disco ball/party lights scheme someone got from PartyTown or where ever people buy wacky shit to decorate their dorm room... Al was on fire, a one man pit, moving the mic to the center of the audience, all zealously soloing and wiggling. You know how fucking hard it is to compete with Al? I have been throwing in the occasional foot-on-monitor/ windmilling arm on "Blackouts" -- but then I look over and Al is on his knees on top of the amp, doing hammerons with one hand and pointing vindictively with the other, or deep throating the mic and pounding on the stage like he's trying to jump into another vortex. And not like some bad band that does the shit for yucks, some like, Paris Texas style Foriegner/hairmetal irony. Al is for fucking real.

3. This is the only night on the 27 day tour that anyone got close to giving the bands their rider-requests. Tofurkey slices, motherfucker. Yes.

4. We stayed with the promoter, who is maybe 14 or 27 - no idea. He lives on a palacial wooded retreat, his family home. Tennis courts converted into a mini skate park, ample room for all 31 of us to stay in the basement. There was a game of hackey sack and I am super beyond proud to mention NO MEMBERS OF CHALLENGER BAND OR CREW HACKEYED. Most of the boys hung out getting drunk in the From Ashes van, listening to QOTSA and male bonding. I walked in circles in the driveway on the phone. Thomas from Strike gave myself and Steve from Breather nicknames: "The Phone Ghosts" -- always around, but never hanging out, always on the phone. I have also started calling our van "the Phonebooth" - as we have more cell phones than the rest of the bands.

5. I fell asleep to the sounds of about 11 boys snoring, and Darren Walters, Jade Tree Co-Owner regaling us with the frightful story of losing his virginity, as well as his on going debate of "who's got better ass - italian girls or spanish girls?". That conversation is second only to "Best Line Up of Black Flag" debate, which I heard about 11 times so far this tour. My contribution to the debate -- ever since I read in Joe Cole's Planet Joe tour diaries about Rollins fucking a girl (groupie?) after a show, and then while she slept, jerking off on her hair and leaving in a fit of laughter... like, I super did not give a fuck about Black Flag before, but that exiled him into riot girl jail. Keith Morris v. Rollins? Robo vs. the other dude? I cannot conjur a flying fuck on that.

1. First show at a new club, the only club in town. They were still sodering the wires and everything together when we loaded in. They had some homemade pa and monitor set ups - speaker cables and pressboard. DIY home depot style.

2. The audience at this show was all 78 kids in West Virginia who know what punk is. Polling found that only 4 of the kids in the audience were from Huntington, the rest had driven and biked from 2-4-6 hours away -- including kids from Ohio. I did my best to give them the best bassing I could, christening the stage.

3. Audience members were mostly music enthusiasts in the blending stage. Like, as punk as you can get and still pass. Pass for "skater" but not for "fag", or "raver reform" or "into metal" but not "weird", "goth" or "dyke"... ie. 11 yr old kids in CKY shirts, a girl with a middle part and a COBAIN RIP bootleg shirt and a tiny gold cross, a Lagwagon shirt offset by phat shorts, cowboy hats and flip flops pacing the pit during From Ashes, church shirts with the sleeves cut off, all black outfits from WalMart's Jr. Miss department, extra earrings, all patches homemade with marker because there is no place to buy them in a 5 hour radius . The real punk soul of America is a live and well and crying to itself under the bleachers while ditching class at Roosevelt High in Nitro, WV.

4. Driving through West Virginia seems like it could give you cancer just by looking at it hard. Nuclear powerplants abundant, and factorial industry belching monoxides into the sky ev-er-y where.


1. I was sweating so profusely my clothes became transparent and I had to rub/blow my hands dry 3x during the 25 minute set because I could barely play they were so wet. Richmond is Strike's hometown, and was our biggest crowd yet.

2. Andrew Beaujon , celebrity journalist was in attendance. Last seen with his shirt off, waving it above his heaqd ala Petey Pablo's instructions, doing the "pickin up change / lawnmower" in the circle pit during Strike's set. Impending fatherhood has the man living with a venegeance.

Tomorrow is Chapel Hill, non Jade Tree show benefit for Mike Tripplett from Fing Fang Foom and his 300,000$ medical bill from spinal meningitis... then final night - DC. PS> If anyone knows where I can get my hands on an American Flag bikini in either of these cities, hit me up.

Posted by Jessica at May 15, 2004 12:40 AM | TrackBack