Wednesday, July 9, 2008
The amount of Americans currently lacking proper affordable health care is startling. I, myself, have been a card carrying member of the NO CARE plan since 2001. Leave one little job to follow your dreams and the electric blanket of co-payments and marked down dental work is replaced with the wet napkin of, "If it aint broke don't fix it. If it IS broke and you can't fix it yourself, you're fucked because YOU'RE broke." During the passed seven years I've willfully endured financial hardships in order to dedicate as much time as possible to writing and performing music. I've chosen to work countless, actually I could probably count them, freelance jobs in order to barely make ends meet and now consider this portion of my adult life without health care to be, "The Saving For The Big Operation Years." People who hate their jobs are sometimes afraid to aspire to something more in tune with their true interests and passions because leaving would ultimately entail the relinquishing of certain benefits deemed to be survival necessities, i.e. steady income, health care, pension, etc. These earmarks of stability are by no means anything to scoff at. I'm actually jealous because the "independent contractor" position down at the Bluetooth office doesn't exactly come with a built in benefits package.
I want affordable health care. I'd even take free health care and then tip the doctor, as if he or she are a bartender, depending on how personable, adept, and thorough they are. Then, the amount one tips determines how one is treated the next time one returns to the doctor's office just as how much one tips a bartender determines one's "buy back frequency" at any given bar. I'm running under the assumption here that the universal buy back round for all bartenders when serving a well established tipper is the second round. This, of course, is wishful thinking on my part. To follow suit, let's say one visits one's family practioner for a routine check up. During a previous visit one throws down a twenty spot as a tip for the old MD. A perfect world would have it that big tippers don't have to sign their names on waiting lists or make advance appointments. Big tippers can just roll up, "Yo, what up Huxtable? You mind taking a peek at my bum leg real quick? I don't have time to wait for an hour and a half. I gots hot tracks to make. Y'heard?" By this logic, a local clinic is considered the equivalent of a well kept neighborhood pub whereas a free clinic is akin to a dive bar. Hospitals can be compared to certain bigger bars/venues/clubs, the Webster Halls/Henry Fonda Theatres of the medicine world. Doctors with better booking agents get placed at better venues and eventually become big name surgeons. Seeing a specialist like a proctologist is the equivalent of going to a high end wine bar like Terroir. You're paying for the best, no surprises. Doctors cut off and refuse care to hypochondriacs just as bartenders use their discretion in deeming when a patron has had too much to drink.
It is not esoteric knowledge that paying for an emergency room visit out of pocket is not exactly cheap. It pretty much costs a thousand bucks just for them to clasp that little plastic bracelet with one's name and DOB to one's wrist. I went to the emergency room three summers ago, just finished making my fifty dollar a month bare minimum payments, and aside from making me wear the requisite assless paper half-robe the only thing they did for me was give me ass cream. The visit literally cost me eighteen hundred bucks. You scream. I scream. We all scream for ass cream, the expensive kind of course. On that day, amidst the pain, little did I know I would eventually wind up paying almost 2 G's for the Ben and Jerry's of ass creams, not cheap.
All kidding aside having no health care is no laughing matter. So, at the end of the day I can sleep assured knowing that, at the very least, I have the NO CARE plan going for me. Mark my words, you will hear about the NO CARE plan during the upcoming 808 Sounds Great Presidential Candidates' debates. Furthermore, the NO CARE plan at its very core is precisely in tune with Barack Obama's defining message of HOPE in that, "I HOPE my fuckin' thrombosed hemmorhoids don't fall out of my ass on Kennedy Boulevard because if they do I'm fucked." Have you ever seen a pair of Christmas balls the size of two grapes? One may pose the question, "Well if you knew you didn't have health insurance why the hell'd you go to the emergency room Einstein?" A fair inquiry. The easy answer is, of course, a question, that being, "If you looked at YOUR own ass and saw something resembling a Christmas ornament coming out of it where exactly would you go?" In times of dire circumstances when experiencing severe amounts of pain or in times of fear for your life the right thing to do is ALWAYS to seek immediate medical care. And surely the older one gets the less one wants to fuck around. It sucks that on top of experiencing the anxiety of not knowing what one is in for physically coupled with knowing exactly what one is in for financially one without health care is thereby forced to leave the hospital, no matter how much better one may feel, with brand new pains, courtesy of the hospital, in one's nose, from it having been paid through.
If all this works out and Palestinian Bluetooth's vision for a greater health care system comes to fruition you will be able to buy gift certificates for your husbands fortieth birthday colon examination at participating Outback Steak Houses across our beloved nation. It'll be great. The whole family will go out and suck down ribs and scrimps on the barbie with fudgie the whale cake for dessert or whatever the fuck... And then after the whole Outback staff sings Happy Birthday and little hubby blows out his candles the staff will say, "And here's your voucher for your free Outback Steakhouse Fortieth Birthday Colon Exam On The Barbie sir. Enjoy." Eventually one might even be able to earn reward points or frequent flier miles toward hospital visits under the Palesinian Bluetooth health care umbrella.
Palestinian Bluetooth's model for reconfiguration so that hospitals and clinics are more like bars while doctors and nurses are more like bartenders and barmaids can solve problems that extend far beyond our nation's current health care dilemma. Think about the repercussions for people's sex lives. Fellas, if you're really looking to impress that lady you've had your eye on at the office, who finally agrees to accompany you for an evening about town, don't foot the bill for dinner at Hearth. Take her to the emergency room of the local hospital and say you refuse to let her health insurance pay for it. If you think she'll be impressed when you splurge for that 2003 Bordeaux, how do you think she'll react when you start the evening off with a little His & Her saline IV injection? Buy two bags of IV and you're in there like swim wear. "How are you both doing? I'm Robert. I'll be your doctor this evening. Can I start you two off with some drinks? Might I recommend the saline IV apertif with a little hint of Nexium for the nausea?" For the price a hospital charges for a bag of fucking salt water you'd think you were being injected with Austria's finest Reisling.
In earnest, all I'm saying is that hard times call for reliable coverage. Perhaps it's time that we start thinking in different terms when thinking about coverage. Palestinian Bluetooth already has. I urge you to do the same. Ladies, and gentleman interested in female wigs, all the answers to your coverage problems await you at www.paulayoung.com. Learn more about "America's natural choice for beautiful hair." Considering that a wig company is in essence peddling artifice, the antithesis of 'natural,' one cannot help but be reminded of the old line, "Who are the ad campaign wizards that came up with that one?"
So, in closing, as the hairline of our current health care system recedes beyond repair we each need to ask ourselves, "If I were choosing a quick fix wig for myself, would I go with a wisped away kind of feel, with monofilament parts, open ear tabs, and a hand tied front with a neck extension while deep down inside knowing that I'm only masking the symptoms, offering the perceiver a seeming sense of 'all's good in the hood'?"
And furthermore, "Would I feel comfortable wearing a hair piece that bears a human name?" For example, "Hi, it's nice to meet you. My name is Rose. The wig that I'm wearing is named Iris." If you can answer these questions honestly then you'll be OK when it's time to cast your vote for 808 Sounds Great Presidential Candidates ElectorATEs.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Justin Angelo Morey is a magnet for black-outs. On the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death me, Morey, and Wiley get caught in the maelstrom of a Pearl Studio power outage. We take solace in the fact that for once the absence of electricity is not caused by Morey's First Class hair drying apparatus. It turns out that the culprit is a faulty transformer which PSE&G apparently fixes the day before, apparently being the key word. We arrive thinking PSE&G's presence a second day in a row to be a bit strange. At first, the power in our room seems fully restored. The false sense of restoration lasts less than an hour. Lo and behold, the Black Hollies persevere against absurd conditions as the band finalizes a song arrangement in the hallway of their rehearsal space, at first under the hazard lights of the building's exit signs and then eventually in complete and utter darkness. The band notes shortly thereafter an investment in candles to be of utmost importance.
During the eve of the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death myself and Morey battle through a half-powered session trying to get ideas to tape without the availability of proper amplification. Our studio is barely lit by half dim X-mas lights as the air conditioner drools at an extremely weak frequency, kryptonite to Morey who is an admitted freon addict. Instead of calling it quits we decide to make due and hash out an idea by taking advantage of the fact that it isn't quite "rock o'clock" throughout the rest of the studio yet, meaning, "Dude, I punch OUT at five from the day job but I punch IN at 7 at the studio where me and the boys try to take it up a notch and let our neighbors know that the 90's were, and remain to this day, a very powerful time for music. Rock o'clock is the only time we can unwind after a long hard day of feeling Minnesota at the office." The jobless members of the Black Hollies prefer to keep early studio hours to avoid the off-putting rock o'clock hour at all costs. It is, at its worst, a time when the sounds emanating from other rooms in the studio produce a mock weight lifting, more specifically bench pressing or quad exercise motioning from either myself or Morey, meaning, "Hell, I drink Bud. I'm strong. My nation is strong. 'Aint no mistaken my fuckin' music is goan be strong. Raaaah!!! Riffs and spliffs, maaan. Candlebox rules!"
So, all the other tenants heed Joe Pearl's, aka the landlord's, notice that the juice in the joint is fucked. Apparently me and Morey miss out on the memo. Not a soul lingers at the studio so I place a phone call in a disguised voice to Joe Pearl's voice mail. I alert him of the power problem in case he is unaware of it. I say in a deeper than usual voice, "Joe, it's Tommy Plascko from The Boots band calling. There's something severely wrong with the power at the Forest street location. Just wanted to give you the heads up..." This way Pearl knows what's up but doesn't call anyone from The Black Hollies.
Distance from a landlord is crucial. It is important to note that myself and Morey avoid all things Joe Pearl related but not because upon first look Joe Pearl resembles a lost extra from the cast of Hillstreet Blues, sporting eggsalad yellow socks peeking over the cusps of a weather beaten pair of Spaulding high top sneakers which match his Spaulding sweatshirt, a paradoxical compliment to a pair of distressed blue denim cut-off shorts which bleed frayed white cascading shag just above the knees. In order to gain insight as to the particular vibes that Joe Pearl unknowingly channels please understand that Spaulding is to the 1980's what the Champion brand is to the 1990's. Pearl's hair is a relaxed curl congregation, the paradigm of Pert Plus in action. When checking any microphone Joe Pearl opts for the industry standard, "Two, two," sometimes straying and adding his own, "Hey, hey... Hey, two." The Black Hollies attempt to avoid all face to face encounters with Pearl because the band is admittedly first of the month challenged and suffers from a severe earning disorder which usually results in Pearl's outrage culminating in a voice mail left on Ferrante's mobile, the gist of it usually, "Nick, it's the 22nd of the month and I still haven't gotten a fucking check. I think you need to make a phone call. Click." To his credit though, Joe Pearl has been entirely flexible and supportive of every incarnation of band The Black Hollies have been involved in for the passed fifteen years, not to mention that Pearl can blow a mean woodwind.
Attempting to defy the power as it sporadically surges from the studio's damaged transformer, me and Morey record a sketch of an arrangement on the eve of the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death. We ignore the acid trip like swooping, swelling, speeding up, and slowing down sounds during playback thinking that the next day when the power in the studio is fully restored the aforementioned blemishes will remain undetected. After splitting a jug of southern wine we call it a night, encourage each other that we made the best with what we had, and look forward to working with Wiley on the arrangement the following day.
Deja Vu hits hard on the eve of the thirty-ninth anniversary of Brian Jones' death by drowning when the three of us listen to the previous session's distorted play back and go through the same emotions. We curse the lights as they die, not knowing when or if they'll be turned back on. At this crucial point, the easiest thing for the Black Hollies to do would have been to call it quits for the day using the excuse that the entire studio is maim as a result of not having any electricity. The funny thing is that the Black Hollies don't even discuss this option among each other. The band carries on sharing southern wine in the light's absence. While in the not illumined hallway we use cellphones to light our way in order to use the toilet. My camera's flash attests to how we each look ridiculous in the dark affirming once again that we're not dead but alive, not really knowing how far one of us is from the other, listening, and using our ears to determine which moves our hands will use to navigate the necks of our guitars. The best ideas often flow swiftly. So what a bummer it would have been to have to leave on account of a black out. More than ever we refuse to let go of our passion. After almost two hours of renegade operating the repaired transformer restores proper power to The Black Hollies' rehearsal space. The clock struck rock with the coming on of the lights as slowly but surely the other tenants arrived at Pearl to maximize their monthly rates. The Black Hollies celebrate overcoming the night's obstacle by sharing the final sips of southern wine together and putting to tape the structure for what the band considers to be it's most developed work, a testament to Palestinian Bluetooth's ethos that the easiest way is always the most boring and least fruitful.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Lest you believe that Palestinian Bluetooth is not working overtime to bring you, it's beloved readers, what you crave, guess again. Truth be told, there has been a severe stonewalling regarding one of Palestinian Bluetooth's most revered segments, The Women Of Home Depot, which initially began as a pitch to the Home Depot corporation urging them to manufacture a yearly calendar bearing the moniker, paying me for the idea of course, but turned into a spotlight on blue collar, hard-working, everyday women, actually one woman, Jackie Velasquez. My honest intention was to turn my meeting with Jackie into a monthly segment wherein different women of Home Depots nationwide get the chance to have a little fun, share a bit about themselves, and show people of all walks of life that a woman's place is indeed everywhere. This is not to say that Palestinian Bluetooth garners secret funding from feminists, wink wink. One would think that Home Depot would be into the idea as the megalith itself has been forced to close some of its locations this passed year as a result of fiscal laggings.
During the last week of May, about a month into The Black Hollies passed tour, I eagerly anticipate our arrival to Los Angeles, not to play shows or see friends, but because I have the perfect location planned for the month of May's Women of Home Depot, Sunset Boulevard. Much to my dismay I am shunned by their management as I plead and explain upon deaf ears, those happy kind of deaf ears that love to NOT transmit information from ear to brain to mouth to the saying of yes being uttered from aforementioned mouth. I plan to redeem the segment in the month of June and leave the Sunset Boulevard Home Depot in LA thinking of my failure as a minor set back.
As June begins with a day off in Prescott, Arizona, I figure it as the perfect day to pick up the broken pieces of what The Women Of Home Depot segment has become. I arrive and make contact with one willing female employee who shall remain nameless. I am lead on to believe that I'll have my scoop. Then the always ill fated words, "Let me run it by my manager." Needless to say Palestinian Bluetooth is forced by management to leave the Prescott, Arizona, Home Depot empty handed. Strike two.
After returning from The Black Hollies tour a friend of mine who goes by, The Reverend, voices his disappointment to me regarding The Women Of Home Depot's absence from Palestinian Bluetooth. So, as July swallows June, I venture out to the new Home Depot located just outside of the Holland Tunnel in Jersey City, NJ. I delight in the fact that this particular location is virtually void of customers and believe that I shall redeem Palestinian Bluetooth's lost segment free of hassle. I encounter four female employees congregating in a down time cluster. I introduce myself, explain what I'm there to do, and kindly ask if any or all of these lovely women would care to contribute by offering information about their interests, what they value as individuals, their positions at Home Depot, and whether or not they can offer a comment about the new location in Jersey City, NJ. Again, for the third time, the actual women of Home Depot are ready to bring the heat but their "higher ups" in management burglar the fun for everyone. So as a result, Palestinian Bluetooth is left with no choice but to say, "Strike Three Home Depot. You're motherfuckin' OUT!" Do I have time to spend my days scouring Home Depots for female employees willing to contribute? Actually, I do because I don't have a job... But I won't do it anymore on principle. From here on out it's strictly about The Ladies of Lowes. Home Depot, you blew it. We could've been something together. We could've turned those calenders into Hollywood Gold.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
A chance encounter with Casey Bonham Leto last night reaffirmed my belief that there exist people and things that are inherently good. The kid is destined for greatness. Watch him grow under The Others link. Underneath all The Black Hollies' belly aching and at the root of all the band's psychedelic comedy is a deep sense of gratitude indebted to all of our friends, family members, and audiences who have lent us support in trying to get this operation off the ground. The recently completed tour was certainly deemed a success. On behalf of the Black Hollies Palestinian Bluetooth would like to send out the sincerest of 'Thank Yous' to everyone at Ernest Jenning, our amazing friends and audience in Baltimore, the Nouvellas for playing with us in NYC and performing a truly inspirational set, Greenflower, Dan Rumain, our amazing friends and audience in Memphis, especially Dirk Kitterlan for allowing us the privilege of entering The Stax museum on the arm, Jonathon at The Hi Tone and The Bulletproof Vests for making the Buccaneer show come together in one day, John at The Mercy, John Forsdahl for taking Palestinian Bluetooth to Autozone in Grapevine, TX, Adam Schrader and everyone who took care of us at The Raven Cafe in Prescott, AZ, everyone who helped make our two Los Angeles shows come together in less than a week's time and all of our friends who came out to support us there, especially Bryan Brown, Jim Brown, Dave Clifford, Cliff Meyer, Paul Fig, Miles Wilson, Cara Heller, Mande Whitaker, Megan Barthalomay, Jessica Gronvold, Nina Tarr, Woju, Emily Meyer, Uncle Gerry, Jessica Simpson, Switched on Audrey, Nicole Claudet, Jennimatz & Lambskins, our friends who came out to the Hemlock in San Francisco, Jesse Carew, Phil Manly, our friends, amazing audience, and incredible staff at The East End in Portland, John Sherman, Kelly Hinkle, Dead Meadow, and our amazing audience at The Comet Tavern in Seattle. The Black Hollies know that the positive response from every individual the band had the pleasure of performing for is precisely that which carried the band home safely.
The Black Hollies are currently working on new material and hope to perform overseas in the immediate future. In the short term, the current dilemma is figuring out how we're going to put food in Foodman's mouth, a fair question. Another question I am often asked is, "What's a grown man doing spending so much time driving around in his grandmother's 1988 Lincoln Continental?" The car baffled on lookers on the show room floor of a Lincoln demonstration in '88 when the hood was opened to reveal an engine the size of a pea powered by a 9-volt battery. The short answer, well, time's are tough. The long answer to the aforementioned question is a question itself. That being, of course, "What's a grown man doing spending any time at all wearing his grandmother's wigs?"
Friday, June 27, 2008
What does every musician want to wrap his or her hands around each time he or she opens a door? A Yamaha seven string guitar neck, not unlike the one that Steve Vai uses to battle Ralph Macchio in the late 80's disgrace of a film known as Crossroads. That's right, a Yamaha guitar neck. Aside from smelling like day old vomit and an alcoholic geriatric uncle's day old feces, known in some circles as 'Bud Mud,' The Off Broadway club in St. Louis also knows what musicians want to grab onto when opening doors and has made it a point to adorn every door in the joint with a Yamaha guitar neck. The main entrance, men's bathroom, women's bathroom, and greenroom all offer Yamaha guitar necks as entrance enhancers. Above, Justin Angelo Morey taps his way into Off Broadway as he prepares to perform for a crowd of six, not including the bartender, soundman, and doorguy.
Speaking of Justin Angelo Morey...
There are two types of people in this world. There are people who refuse to reveal their own birthdays. And there are people who love their own birthdays. Justin Angelo Morey is one of the latter. In fact, Justin Angelo Morey is the East Coast chairman for the "I Love My Own Birthday What Are You Getting Me?" support group. And guess what today is? If you guessed Morey's birthday you're only half correct. The correct answer in it's entirety is Justin Angelo Morey's birthday as well as the beginning of the three and three quarters of a month countdown to the Yellville Turkey Trot, within which occurs an actual Turkey Drop, a yearly event held during October in Yellville, Arkansas, where roughly 10 live wild turkeys are dropped from low flying airplanes. The maimed turkeys that survive the drop on account of being half-inclined toward flight are often snatched up and raised as pets by the local folk. The turkeys who eat it are oftentimes eaten saving lucky carnivores the trouble of breaking the turkeys' necks themselves in preparation for the hot pot. In honor of Justin Angelo's special day, the Yellville Turkey Trot, and to coincide with Palestinian Bluetooth's return from a two and a half week long dentist's visit let us be the first to say, "Happy Birthday Turkey!"
How does he do it? How does a man who subsists on wine, liquid hot fire, researching Northern soul records, and belaboring over crafting tweaked out psychedelic song arrangements remain cool during the summer months? 'Morey's Weapons' is a brief Palestinian Bluetooth expose designed to shed light on the aforementioned question.
The Hair Dryer: Before leaving the house each day the hair dryer dictates when Morey's feet will actually hit the street. If when picking up Morey noon is the agreed upon time of inception prepare to arrive at the earliest 1:30PM and await his offer to come up to have some peas or green beans while he finishes up "shuffling."
Thee Hot Sauce: This particular hot sauce is referred to by Morey as the definitive hot sauce, El Yucateco. If Morey went to the movies he'd put hot sauce on his Milk Duds. Justin Angelo Morey refuses to attend movie theaters.
The Freeze Out: Song writing sessions for The Black Hollies are conducted behind the Ice Curtain in a 10X12 room that fluctuates between the actual temperatures of 58 and 62 degrees. Both Ferrante and Wiley have taken to wearing the poncho during rehearsals not as a fashion statement but as a literal source of warmth. Carlo Rossi jugs of Paisano wine provide the warmth for Morey and Gonnelli. The logic of the Ice Curtain is such that the frigid temperature acts as a sound proofing agent against a neighboring room which houses a band that Justin Angelo refers to as, "Motley Brew." The colder it is in The Black Hollies' room the less offensive are the sounds emanating from that of Motley Brew.
Friday, May 30, 2008
For the second time in its history as a touring steed Palestinian Bluetooth is wounded in battle, down but not quite out. The Black Hollies stop at a convenient store in an unknown small town in New Mexico in order for Nick to use the facilities. Wiley is behind the wheel. We notice a creepy elderly gentleman who resembles the Quaker Oats guy from This Old House begin to approach Bluetooth. The old creeper eventually makes his way to Wiley's driver side window and sticks his head in.
"Do you know me?" This Old House interrogates Wiley.
Wiley firmly responds, "No. We don't know who you are. We're from Jersey."
At this point, me and Morey straighten up and stand guard.
The old creeper then asks Wiley for change so that he can go to a store and buy a pair of Depends, adult diapers, without a doubt the weirdest pan handle I've ever witnessed first hand in my entire life.
"I'm sorry. We're on the road and we're broke. We don't have any change," says Wiley.
This Old House responds, "Well, I'm gonna go home and see if I can't get some money together to get someone to go out and buy them for me."
Ferrante is still inside the store. Me, Morey, and Wiley are stunned as we question each other asking if we're dead. I feel comfort in knowing that my friends hear the exact same words as me. This confirms the fact that I am indeed not dead but alive, not dreaming but awake, and not crazy but sane. The adult diaper pan handle attempt is extremely off-putting. We recount it immediately to Ferrante who is skeptical at first but then accepts it as truth when he ascertains the conviction in my voice as I explain the odd encounter. Wiley attempts to back out of the convenient store to get back on the road and Palestinian Bluetooth bizarrely stalls. It starts up again and we get back on the highway harboring an eerie feeling.
About ten minutes later the overdrive button on the gear shifter starts blinking, something that's never happened before. A loud grinding noise accompanies the loss of Wiley's power to accelerate. He immediately pulls Bluetooth over to the right shoulder. The band exits the van as our first inclination is that the engine is on fire. Smoke bellows. I open the hood to investigate, no fire. Wiley's initial explanation for the van's malfunction is karmic retribution for not contributing to the Depends adult diaper fund. The band thinks it over. The Black Hollie agrees that Karma doesn't boomerang that quickly and Bluetooth's fall is attributed to some other previously outstanding karmic debt. We wait patiently on the side of the road under a star spattered New Mexican sky.
Wiley confides in me that previous to the Depends incident while driving he notices a raven fly across Bluetooth's path. He silently ponders the symbolism of the black raven and makes it a point to look it up as soon as he gets the chance. He thinks about it a second time and then notices two black ravens cross the path of Bluetooth. Wiley ponders the symbolism a third time and shortly thereafter a group of three black ravens swoop across his field of vision. Wiley's fourth silent inquiry echos his spotting of a group of four black ravens crossing the path of Palestinian Bluetooth. Wiley wonders whether the first raven he sees is part of the final quartet he perceives.
The Black Hollies sit in darkness awaiting the arrival of a tow truck. The gentleman who shows up is named Lloyd, an incredibly personable and helpful father of three. The band squeezes into the cab of his tow truck. We share stories of being on the road. Lloyd listens as we explain the principles upon which the Black Hollies are founded, musicianship first and foremost, using the song as a grass roots way to communicate and reach out to all walks of life with the hope of bringing people together to forget about their everyday worries in order to have a good time. Lloyd mentions that the exact spot on Highway 10 where he retrieves us is somewhat of a cursed location. Without fail Lloyd always picks up the broken down from the very same location where Bluetooth falls. Lloyd transports Palestinian Bluetooth to his family's recovery yard on the outskirts of Las Cruces, New Mexico, where the band has the chance to meet Walter, a half Bull Mastiff junk yard dog in the traditional sense, meaning that if Walter's not on a leash and one crosses his path one's ass gets torn the fuck up. Lloyd then drops us off at the nearest Hampton Inn in Las Cruces which is ironic because in our minds we picture ourselves being dropped off from a hard night of giggin' in a limousine. Pulling up to a hotel in a gigantic tow truck snaps the reality brackets of each Black Hollies member back into place with a sobering definitiveness.
Palestinian Bluetooth is on life support, under close watch, and suffers from a sever case of transmissionitis. The medical bill will run The Black Hollies somewhere upwards of $2500, a small price to pay in exchange for making it home safely. With the insane prices of gas and our sometimes guarantee of $200 we should be dug out of this hole by around 2010. By this time music will be administered to children through a cable that comes out of the wall and is fastened to the back of a child's neck, a musical straw so to speak. Touring in a van will be a lost art and far too expensive for any normal blue collar band with out the backing of General Electric.
"Oh that's really cool. You guys sell calendars!"
"Actually, those are LP records, vinyl."
The Black Hollies extend our sincerest apologies to anyone who is planning to come to the shows in Austin and Dallas, Texas. We are hoping to get out of Las Cruces by tomorrow night if we're lucky. We may be here until Monday. We promise to come back to Austin and Dallas as soon as possible. Please understand.
It is now imperative to distinguish between the yarnix and the face melter/close talker for the sake of deepening The Black Hollies' lexicon. As mentioned previously, the yarnix is always a malignant fun smasher while the face melter/close talker is often times benign, unaware of the temperatures emitting from their mouths as a result of the proximity to one's face from which they are speaking. The close proximity is usually a result of the close talker's good intentions in reaching out but can take a detour, as if to say, "Great job up there. I enjoyed the show. Now here are some intricately detailed facts about me you may or may not wish to learn. And to boot, I'm pretty much going to french kiss these facts into your ears." A benign face melter gets in and gets out but still talks close. A malignant close talker can go on for a long time holding the victim's face in place with the hot fire bear claw that is the face melter's breath.
The Black Hollies are highly skilled in detecting if a band member is being melted from across a crowded room. There are certain hand signals The Black Hollies use to communicate with each other to gauge whether a save is in order. A simple walk over to the band mate caught in a cross fire asking the question, "Is this person melting you?" is usually all it takes to administer a save. However, in my two attempts to help my band mates and thwart face melters on this tour I notice that The Black Hollies in distress are too nice to admit that they are being melted. In this case, I leave them to absorb the final heat blast on their own and offer a benign diagnosis to the situation. I have been in several situations during this tour when I have been in need of a save from a face melter. My hand signals fall on blind eyes and I'm left to save myself. I find that talking even closer and louder to a face melter who is close talking me often works to diffuse the situation. Remember, it is important to take control of your own destiny. It's a jungle out there so if you wind up in a situation where you feel uncomfortable don't feel obligated to suffer from fear of thinking that a complete stranger is going think you're an unfriendly person. Just extend your right hand, offer a firm shake and a shoulder pat, and say, "It is a pleasure talking with you but I have to go do stuff." Honesty is always the best policy.
I am lucky enough to have specific documentation of the three stages of a face melt which occur at The Replay Lounge in Lawrence, Kansas, after a Black Hollies set there a few weeks back. It shall be noted that after the photo documentation I immediately fly in to offer Ferrante an out. He waves me off claiming the melt is benign. At this point it is every man for himself.
Phase 1: The Approach
Notice the angle of Ferrante's neck. His head seems to be parallel to his shoulder. This is a sign that Ferrante's ear is extremely hot. Too nice of a guy to say, "Look I need to pack my drums up, my tech has the night off, can we talk in a minute?" Ferrante willingly takes the plunge.
Phase 2: Taking The Bait
Notice Nick's expression. Benign close talkers often have interesting stories to tell. The particular FM under observation here is actually a great guy, a Lawrence local who owns the bar across the street from The Replay Lounge. Ferrante feels his flow and goes the distance until....
Phase 3: The Melt
Luckily eyebrows grow back. How fucking hot is Ferrante's face at this point? Immediately after snapping this photo I intervene but Ferrante assures me the conflagration is benign.
I suffer from a severe syndrome known around The Black Hollies’ camp as “Jumping The Gun,” or simply JTG. JTG is a combination of reacting first then thinking rationally after the fact. The side effects of JTG include an accelerated deterioration of one’s short term memory which often times results in the misplacing of important personal belongings as well as the flat out loss of valuables. Luckily, most times what is deemed lost is shortly recovered, met with any of three other Black Hollies’ response, “JTGG, Jump The Gun Gonnelli.” Anyone who jumps the gun is punished by adding their last initial to the acronym, JTGW, Jump The Gun Wiley, JTGM, Jump The Gun Morey, JTGF, Jump The Gun Ferrante, and so on and so forth. It is a great feeling to realize that what one believes to be lost is really not. However, it is crushing and difficult to accept the moment when one must move forward knowing that a personal item of irreplaceable value is gone forever. The grueling time frame of a low budget rock and roll tour often forces one to forgo vital search missions in the interest of making it to the next gig within the optimal arrival window. Why have a day off when you can play Jimmy's Crab Shack in Baton Rouge? There's no guarantee at the door but maybe you'll sell some merch. You get all the shellfish you can eat. And you can wash down that crawdaddy with a free round of Pabst Blue Ribbon from Jimmy the owner. Where do we sign up?
The Black Holllies celebrate the birthday of Nicholas Albert Ferrante in Denver, Colorado to a crowd rife with Ferrante enthusiasts, aka Nick’s old friends. The Black Hollies play to an appreciative crowd at 3 Kings Tavern, a dynamite venue. Colder Than Fargo, the openers, are a great bunch of fellows, extremely friendly. The Black Hollies’ performance culminates when three buxom women step on stage during Hold Tight Go Out Of Your Mind to shake it. The dancing women, no strangers to the stage, are known around town as the OO LA LA Girls, a burlesque dance troupe. Ferrante’s birthday bash is a success. The Black Hollies are entrusted with a parting gift from one of Nick’s friends, an eighth of homegrown Denver chronic. Two hits are enough. Anything beyond that, one risks a trip to Vietnam. The gift takes the heat off the following day’s spirit crushing eight hour drive to Salt Lake City, UT, dreaded because of its length but more so because of its final destination. Driving eight hours only to arrive in Salt Lake City is like behaving all year long only to have Santa Claus give you a huge pile of donkey turds on Christmas day. It is worth digressing here to note that in 1982 Herbert Joseph Wiley V’s baby sitter tells him that Santa Claus isn’t real. Young Wiley V is five years old. He, in turn, shares this information with his entire Kindergarten class the following day, only to be punished by his mother for telling the truth.
The Black Hollies prepare for their trek to Salt Lake by immediately purchasing a 5L mini-keg of Heineken in order to put it on ice for eight hours to ensure maximum refreshment upon arrival at the evening’s venue, Burt’s Tiki Lounge. Passed experiences in Salt Lake City dictate this fortifying of provisions as essential. Even though the Mormans renounce polygamy in 1890 it is still easier to legally marry eleven women in Utah than it is to find strong drink. There’s no way The Black Hollies are going into the trenches without back-up. I return to the Hampton Inn in Littleton, Colorado with the mini-keg on ice. In my excitement over the previous evening’s parting gift I ask Wiley for the bag. Severe winds pick up outside of the hotel which according to the weather report are at times in excess of 20MPH. I take the bag of natural medicine from Wiley and in the true JTG fashion of attempting to do four things at once I place the bag in the front passenger seat of Palestinian Bluetooth. I turn my back for less than a split second. Much to my dismay the bag seems to be misplaced. This is extremely odd as I don’t leave the front seat of the van where I place the bag. I desperately ask Wiley if he takes the bag back to which he replies, “Stop JTGing. Serioulsy, where the fuck is it?”
Sustaining the loss of valuable weed is a difficult blow to recover from. At first, I refuse to accept this outcome and rack my brain for possible explanations of how something could disappear into thin air. Is it deus ex machina, the hand of God intervening to let us know that the particular bag in question just isn’t meant for our enjoyment? Did I jump the gun and throw it in the trash by accident? The Black Hollies scour the entire hotel parking lot, pick through all the garbage cans, and tear apart the van for at least an hour before departure. A new acronym is born, JB, short for Junkie Behavior, which ties in nicely with the previously mentioned excavation wherein Justin Angelo Morey actually digs in the desert with a sliver of a blown radial tire in search of Dead Meadow’s natural medicine. The expression on Wiley’s face during the Denver search mission is what I imagine his expression to be in 1982 when his baby sitter tells him Santa Claus isn’t real, an expression of utter dismay. After going as far as to investigate a construction site about three hundred yards from the hotel parking lot I accept full responsibility for the band’s loss, a sad case of JTG at its absolute worst. I couldn’t just wait to get out on the highway right? The only explanation The Black Hollies agree on is that the angle of the van’s doors being open along with the severe gusts of wind cause the weed to be whisked away by the powers that be, perhaps a blessing in disguise.
Most of the ride to Salt Lake City is completed in dead silence. Acceptance slowly creeps in around the sixth hour. The Black Hollies arrive at Burt’s Tiki Lounge with enough time to tap into Bluetooth’s mini bar. Traveling without weed is a double-edged sword. It’s smart because in states like Utah where Mormanism flows like wine police do not generally look kindly upon the sweet leaf. Ganja’s absence though is a good way to reach out to new people. However, not having a personal stash places one at the mercy of the blend of the newly acquainted. In situations such as these proper discretion is essential. One needs to be wary of local lacings with angel dust, meth, crack, roach killer, embalming fluid, etc. The Black Hollies keep this in mind at Burt’s Tiki Lounge but take the plunge regardless considering the dire circumstances of the early afternoon. A few friendly folks turn us on before the show. When asked if it’s mellow or Vietnam they ensure the band that it’s good saying, “You’ll be able to function on it.” I wind up not be able to sleep until about five in the morning as I roam the streets around our hotel. I literally come within a pussy hair’s length of getting hit by a car. I witness police clean up a drunk driving accident. I’m wearing a pale yellow t-shirt and white jeans. My night concludes with a crackhead asking me, “Are you an impressionist because you look like mustard and mayonnaise?” I make my own conclusion regarding the local lacing.
The Black Hollies’ performance at Burt’s Tiki Lounge is noteworthy because it marks the second time during the tour that Justin Angelo Morey vomits in his own mouth as a result of the odor emanating from inside the bathroom. The first incident occurs at The Replay Lounge in Lawrence, Kansas. I witness both incidents. During the second incident I am in the middle of taking an aerial dump pretending that I’m camping ignoring the shooting pains in my knees. Anyone who believes that putting a toilet paper nest on a toilet seat in a disgusting punk rock bathroom is going to prevent one from contracting whatever disgrace is festering on the seat is gravely mistaken. Such logic is akin to believing that Nyquil cures AIDS. During the first incident in Lawrence, Kansas, I’m about to exit the bathroom as I hear Morey’s first dry heave. I turn around and ask if he’s alright to which he replies, “Please don’t leave me in here.” Morey then promptly vomits in his own mouth. In a mock wild man southern drawl, “But dude, WE PLAAAAYED!”
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Advice to the Beauty Bar: Stop franchising. The Black Hollies paid the owner's fucking rent in San Diego on Memorial Day. Two drink tickets a piece is laughable if not disgraceful. Spend twenty dollars on three beers at the bar or gamble with your life crossing the street to buy a couple of 22's at the 7-11, a hotbed for crackish activity in San Diego's El Centro district under watch by continual police presence. Morey opts for the former while I choose the latter. Who wins?
The bartender at The Beauty Bar is friendly but getting a buy back from him is much like milking an utterless cow. Promoter Sarah is personable as is soundman Marshall, truly genuine people. The crowd is amazing except for two yarnixes who perform the aggressive and always ill-fated two man crowd surfing routine, two hits of total bummer. The other bands on the bill, A Beautiful Noise and The Physics of Meaning, are great as they exhibit proper musicianship. Not getting paid a single dollar from the five dollar cover at the door is simply FUCKED UP, the equivalent of showing up to work after a long hard week and your boss saying, "Yeah, about that paycheck... We don't have it for you this week."
The irony is that The Black Hollies agree to these shows, fully aware of what to expect, nothing short of implicit financial masochism, a consensual monetary whipping, or, if you will, a fiduciary caning. Douche indeed. For what? The answer is pure; to remain true to the principle that it is never right to punish those who come out to see the band whether few or many. To pamper the aural cavities of all who listen with sonorum glorium is the task at hand. The Black Hollies are yet to receive any complaints and pride themselves on honoring their end of the deal night after night.
As a result, the price of drinkable beer should not be directly proportional to the price of gas for a band like The Black Hollies. When this occurs the work relationship deteriorates to the status of an “extended drinking vacation.” The Black Hollies arrive to perform not to patronize. Alcohol is a component, what we like to call “part of the works kit,” not unlike a stapler or a fax machine in an office work environment. It helps to put things together, facilitate transmission, get organized, get tight, and eventually unwind. Don’t make us pay through the nose for it especially if we’re not getting paid a god damn dollar at the end of the night.
As we bring bitter hour to an end it is worth mentioning a thing or two about the dilemma of pay to play versus cheapening the name of a solid band trying to spread its music via old time grass roots methods. The Black Hollies learn a valuble lesson from friends Dead Meadow during a chance encounter opening for them at Iowa City’s Picador a couple of weeks ago.
After talk of shakedowns and the obvious choice between a Koa wooden five string bass and headstockless four string Steinberger, let it be known that Steve Kille opts for the Steinberger, Jason Simon shares a great story about a bygone Dead Meadow show in Iowa City. Apparently the promoter for the evening comes up short with the band’s guarantee. The promoter is promptly driven to the nearest ATM by the band and advised to withdraw the evening’s financial short fall from his bank account.
Hats off to Dead Meadow for providing bands across the land with hope and proving the importance of holding people to their word. Aside from turning in a stellar set, both Kille and Simon play effortlessly while McCarty’s drum tones evoke those of Zeppelin I, Dead Meadow also divulge priceless information regarding specific coordinates for obtaining one of mother earth’s medicinal treasures. Two weeks later, The Black Hollies are currently enroute to unearthing an ounce of unnamed goods buried at a certain mile marker across the Arizona state border. Dead Meadow receives word a while back from friends passing through that the Arizona police are letting the doggies loose. As a result, Dead Meadow bury the hatchet so to speak. The Black Hollies plan to dig up the jar, take a hit, and re-bury it as a timepiece symbolizing solidarity and friendship.
The excavation is more difficult than expected. The Black Hollies spend at least an hour attempting to gauge the correct burial site. Several mile markers are pilfered but in the end Black Hollies fail to exhume Dead Meadow's holy relic.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The only way to combat a morale breaking long drive is to draw it out as long as possible, especially if the band is unskilled in early departures. When you know you're going to be late don't just be 10 minutes late. Take it to the limit. However, in order to prevent anger on the part of venue and promoter use the tour itinerary/day sheet to strategically determine the optimal arrival window. For example, The Black Hollies know that driving from Chicago to St. Paul takes roughly six and a half hours. Already too late to get an early jump, a 2PM departure is agreed upon. Coaxing certain Black Hollies to leave the comfort of a hotel room is akin to pulling a cat with unclipped nails away from a cat post laced with kitty heroin. This is phase one in combating a long drive and will subsequently be referred to as The Smashing of The Nest Phase.
Once in the van, the band determines what time load in, doors opening, sound check, and set time are scheduled to be by looking at the tour itinerary. So begins the art of crafting an Optimal Arrival Window. If load in is 6PM, sound check 7PM, doors 8PM, and set time 11PM The Black Hollies plug this information into a GPS-like device called an Optimal Calculator Simulator, OCS. The aforementioned information when plugged in produces a 9:30PM result as the optimal arrival time. One may ask, "How does the OCS arrive at such a conclusion?" Fair enough. The Black Hollies forgo all sound checks as a result of "knowing how we sound" which makes a check of it moot. A 6PM load in and a 7PM sound check are then redundancies.
In defense of early birds everywhere, and out of respect for those gracious enough to take a chance on booking you, it is always best to arrive before doors open. A failure to do so can rightfully result in serious attitude from particular promoters. However, sometimes one is left with no choice but to risk this which can be a small price to pay if the performance goes over well. Have fun or eat worms? The Black Hollies choose fun. The 8PM show time and 11PM set time tip the band off to the fact that there are several local openers on the bill. Toby heard The Black Hollies are playing so he has to get his band on the bill. And then Toby's cousin from across town hears that Toby's band is playing. He then does everything possible to secure the opening slot because his band is alt rock so it wouldn't be right to play after Toby's band which employs the quiet, loud, scream, quiet, loud, scream, double power chorus, rap-rock middle eighth, double power chorus, outro dynamic. A 9:30PM arrival serves to preserve one's ears and overall stamina which is of utmost importance on bills that are over stacked. Furthermore, a 9:30 arrival for an 11PM set time, leaves an appropriate amount of time for the right amount of drinking to occur without resulting in sloppiness. Many times a too early arrival results in over-consumption.
One may fairly interject here. A 2PM departure for a six and a half hour drive should produce an 8:30PM arrival putting The Black Hollies only a half hour late. Herein lies the rub and secret to The Black Hollies art of calculating an Optimal Arrival Window. The end of a morale crushing long drive, especially one against the clock, deserves a reward, just as one would wind down after a hard day at the office, slip on some isotoners, and have little snackski. Usually if the band hustles to get to a show, one hour away from the destination becomes the perfect time to sit down and enjoy a hearty dinner. The OCS puts The Black Hollies an hour outside of St. Paul at 7PM. This means that dinner follows from 7PM to 8:30PM, the absolute latest. If there are no boutique wine shops or exotic cheese houses in the vicinity, The Black Hollies are forced settle for some kind of reputable chain restaurant. Denny's has recently been crossed off the list of viable options on account of recent severe bouts with the crab apple splatters experienced by certain Black Hollies. Eating on the run is no fun. Proper digestion allows for the band to recap the previous evening's highlights, make some last minute transitional set adjustments to the evening's performance that lies ahead, and offer predictions for the current night. Most importantly, sitting down to collect each other's thoughts allows The Black Hollies to remain in tune with that which it values most, the present moment and enjoying each other's company. The dinner usually lasts about an hour leaving a half hour for miscellaneous dealings. Hence, the Optimal Calculator's 9:30PM arrival time.
The Turf Club in St. Paul is a top notch venue with a superb basement bar. Ryan, our promoter for the evening, treats The Black Hollies like family. Ryan is incredibly professional, hooks the band up with some pizza, books a solid DJ as an addition to the bill, and proves that he truly values staging "happenings" with the intention of expanding minds and promoting an overall good time vibe. The Black Hollies share the stage with St. Paul stalwarts, The Conquerors, who perform a brilliant version of Joe South's Hush. Justin Angelo thanks the DJ, Jennie, for spinning The Flirtations Northern Soul classic, "Nothing But A Heartache" per his request.
Minneapolis is a stone's throw away from St. Paul. The following evening The Black Hollies perform at The Hexagon Bar, established in 1934. Rose, the show runner/ultimate bad ass woman in charge gathers all four Black Hollies in order to explain to the band the way in which the evening will commence. Rose is a colorful character who cut her teeth in the mid-Sixties as a waitress at Minneapolis country bar, The Flame, where she fed the likes of Johnny Cash, Waylin Jennings, and Charlie Pride. When asked to share some of her fondest memories of performances witnessed she cites Lil Jimmy Dickens, Farren Young, Buck Owens, and Loretta Lynn as some of those that moved her back in the day. Rose exudes confidence while her experience and history are both a testament to the fact the she knows well how to treat a traveling band. Rose sums it up in saying, "Bands fight to come to see me and play here."
The Black Hollies meet bartender and talent buyer Tattoo Bob who refers to St. Paul as Shelbyville, a reference to the friendly rivalry between Springfield and Shelbyville in The Simpsons. Tattoo Bob assures the band that The Hexagon is a primo old school venue that is worth playing because there's no cover charge, plenty of parking, and The Hexagon boasts the cheapest drinks in town. Bartender Angela is more than welcoming to The Black Hollies as is sound guy Gabe. Annie from The Awesome Snakes performs in The God Damn Doo Wop band who headline. It's always a pleasure to hang with Annie.
A noteworthy incident occurs during the end of The Black Hollies set. The audience at The Hexagon Bar is the most enthusiastic of the tour, dancing and appreciative while facilitating a good flow which is met by The Black Hollies with a ground shaking performance. When alcohol is involved and human beings are excited into a trance-like frenzy via music and dancing the Dionysian urge can often times overpower the individual inevitably leading to destructive situations. The Black Hollies are all for sex, drugs, and rock and roll but there are certain boundaries that must never be crossed especially when pain is involved.
The particular example in question concerns the psychic pain of beloved Black Hollies drummer, Nicholas Albert Ferrante. A certain audience member, who will remain nameless as The Black Hollies admittedly don't know the guy well enough to forgo giving him a second chance if a personal apology is administered to Ferrante, gets on stage while The Black Hollies are performing (Hold Tight) Go Out Of Your Mind. The problem arises when said dude, the epitome of a Yarnix, starts putting his arms around Ferrante which in turn severely hinders his ability to perform. At first, no problem. However, the Yarnix is unrelenting.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a Yarnix is that crazy wildman who's so drunk that he's gotta piss in the sink because there's only one urinal in the bathroom but he aint gonna wait. GG Allen didn't wait, man. The Yarnix aint gonna wait. A Yarnix knows no boundaries. Trying to talk sense or reason with a Yarnix is the equivalent of driving a smart car down a narrow one way street until colliding head on with the ever approaching Mack truck. A Yarnix is a human cyclone not to be confused with close talkers/face melters whom are usually benign in their unknowing invasion of one's personal space. Like a face melter though, A Yarnix can have good intentions but they inevitably come out all wrong on account of ossification. The Minneapolis Yarnix in question painfully illustrates this notion and crowns himself The Ultimate Yarnix when he simultaneous bear hugs and screams in Ferrante's ear while the poor guy is playing drums mind you, not during a song break, as The Black Hollies are only offered breaks while Ferrante drums unaccompanied, that he loves Ferrante so much that he has to fart in his face. Ferrante tolerates the Minneapolis Yarnix like a true gentleman, keeping his cool the entire time , and finishing the set like a bona fide professional.
I am unaware as to the extent of The Yarnixing during The Black Hollies set as I focus on playing. I believe Rose diffuses the situation by eventually getting The Yarnix off the stage allowing for The Black Hollies to finish their set unmolested. Had I been aware of The Yarnix's psychically damaging statements while they were occurring I would have been more than happy to donkey kick the Yarnix in the back of his Yarnixie skull. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't because, truth be told, the only way to diffuse a Yarnix is to immediately walk away. However, this option is unavailable if you're in the middle of performing. Essentially, you become the Yarnix's prisoner and tonight Ferrante is sentenced to three to five minutes in Yarnix jail, an eternity. Absurdly, after the performance that the crowd severely shakes one down to, a few people apologize for Yarnix assuring us that he meant well and really likes us and that was just his way of showing it. Trust The Black Hollies, there are countless ways to show your appreciation for the music. Buy us a drink. Buy our record. Simply compliment one of us after the performance. Smile. Enhance the vibe so people of all denominations feel welcome and are encouraged to dance. Have fun.
Thank the lord for Rose. Without her regulating it could have gotten ugly. And many thanks to the wonderful Minneapolis audience. Nothing makes The Black Hollies happier than feeling the crowd diggin' it. In the end, The Black Hollies get out of The Hexagon Bar in one piece. Yarnix, thanks for painting a poignant picture of how not to thank a good band. Palestinian Bluetooth urges you to tighten up and offer Ferrante a personal apology, fucking hammerhead.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The Black Hollies roll into Chicago. The Empty Bottle is a classic venue, not snobby, just aware that it's a great venue and that most band's suck. They have high standards. This is a good thing. However, the Black Hollies, no strangers to the hierarchy of roadhouse politics proceed immediately to the liquor store down the block once they learn The Empty Bottle offers only half priced drinks to the band for the night. Being on a tight budget is no fun but drinking inside your van as if it's the green room at The LA Forum is. Justin Angelo returns from the liquor store with half a dozen 22 ounce imported beers. Palestinian Bluetooth posts up on the residential block perpendicular to Western Avenue where The Empty Bottle is located. Wiley joins us "backstage." Minds are bent as well as spirits consumed.
Just as the band gets in the pocket, a vehicle with a blinding search light approaches the van going the wrong way down a one way street. The Black Hollies realize the search light is attached to a cop car headed toward the van at a slow and steady creeping pace. At this point, it becomes every man for himself. Wiley turns into a vapor trail quicker than one can utter, "Two eggs over easy." Morey exits the side door expertly concealing his empty bottles in his boots. I exit the driver side door finishing my beer quicker than a sorority girl at a collegiate basketball victory party hiding the empty bottle underneath the van. The cop car stops and the officer in the shot gun seat interrogates Morey and myself without getting out of his car. He notices that Bluetooth is without proper residential parking credentials and advises that we move the van ASAP otherwise it may be eligible for a summons, to which I reply, "You mean you're going to write us a ticket?" The cop responds, "Yeah, a ticket. People on this street call us all the time about cars parked without permits." Morey and myself thank the cop too many times for the information. We move the van without incident and park it on Western Ave adroitly following the officer's suggestion. Upon doing so we run into Sean Towey, an old friend of ours from Jersey City, and Glass Trees band leader, who now lives in Chicago. The Towey encounter immediately raises spirits. The band and Towey proceed downstairs to the actual green room of The Empty Bottle for some last minute tweaking before show time. The band's performance to about 30 goes over well.
After the show a black cat from the headlining act gives Ferrante guff about The Black Hollies leaving their guitarists' pedal and cord cases in the middle of the floor hindering the cat's ability to get her drum set on stage. The cat says, "Yo, buddy, what's the deal with these fruity cases in my way? Whatta ya got make-up in there? Do me a favor. Pick 'em up and scram!" Ferrante, who usually confronts aggression with aggression, is speechless. He picks up the two cases and clears a path so the cat can set up her US Mercury kick drum. Ferrante later attributes the cat's harsh forthrightness to a natural competitive streak that lies deep within every drummer, whether human or feline.
I settle up with the extremely hospitable and friendly Kara, a bartender at The Empty Bottle. We get on the subject of her hometown, Richmond, VA. Immediately we discuss the origins and present whereabouts of infamous Richmond painting, Necktan, which Kara refers to as simply, Neck. Necktan is a found painting which exhibits an incredibly disproportionate face to neck color ratio, hence the moniker, Necktan. It's original curator, Martin Key aka Marty Violence brought this amazing work of art to prominence in the mid-90's by staging punk shows around viewings of Necktan, which gains a cult-following as a result. Kara claims to not know the current whereabouts of Necktan. I question whether the painting is at some point stolen only to resurface back in Richmond. Anyone with information regarding Necktan is encouraged to contact Palestinian Bluetooth.
The Black Hollies return to their hotel room to a find a special surprise of only one bed inside. Four Dudes In A Room is taken to new heights tonight.
The original show in Columbus at Cafe Bourbon Street falls through on account of the owner's eviction. Luckily, The Black Hollies succeed in last minute bill-swapping over to Carabar, an excellent venue across town. The band arrives early. Co-owners Cara and Ron roll out the red carpet. Justin Angelo is treated to a sampling of the venue's hottest hot sauces; akin to dying and going to heaven for a man who can't sleep in a room unless the temperature is well below 60 degrees on account of all the hot sauce percolating through his veins. In defense of his freeze-out tactics, Morey attests, "When you have four dudes in a room, the COLDER it is, the CLEANER it is. Heat incubates germs. The freeze-out is the anti-incubator." The rest of the band treats each night of lodging under the "ice curtain" as an outdoor late fall/early winter camping trip and comes equipped with thermal pajamas and at least two layers of blankets which at times may be pulled over one's entire head on account of the nose becoming cold enough to turn mucus to ice. A genuine Black Hollies freeze out is incomplete without a severe "opium factor." The Black Hollies fortify the frozen room against all sources of light that may pierce through the window's curtain come morning. This permanent darkness creates an atmosphere not unlike that of a Chinese opium den and facilitates band rest throughout the early afternoon. This, in turn, contributes to a better performance come midnight. The band is well-received at Carabar this evening. Ron and Cara make it very easy for The Black Hollies to tie one on. Hospitality like this never goes unappreciated by the band.
The most important event of the evening occurs during The Black Hollies' load in. Ron and band begin a serious discussion regarding the seminal late 1980's hit show, 21 Jump Street. Ron makes a valid point in attributing the show's downfall to the cast addition of Richard Grieco. The band and Ron agree that Grieco is the ultimate frown-burger. Landing the coveted Jump Street gig is not enough. Grieco's logic is, "If Depp can do it then so can I." Grieco perceives his inclusion in MTV's 1990 Rock And Jock softball game as the beginning of his rise to the top. In 1990, Rolling Stone magazine quotes Grieco as saying, "Yeah, whatever, me and Johnny never had any beef, I guess. And I know that him leaving Jump Street really hurt Peter DeLuise alot. I mean, I was there late at night on set picking up the pieces. If Depp wants to be a big shot and get all method, become a serious actor and shit, then I'd like to remind him not forget his roots. I challenge him to face me on the mound of this year's Rock And Jock softball game alongside such greats as Mark Slaughter and Kip Winger." Needless to say Grieco's challenge is unanswered as Depp turns his back on the entire cast of Jump Street. Griecos's attempt to emulate Depps rise to prominence on the silver screen is a hideous failure that doesn't transcend B-status. Also, Booker, the 21 Jump Street spin-off, which revolves around Grieco's character, Detective Dennis Booker, a young loose cannon with a bad attitude, inevitably dissolves. In Grieco's defense, I encounter Johnny Depp about 10 years ago in LA's Black Market Music, a store that deals used vintage musical gear. I silently observe as Depp tests out a plethora of expensive vintage guitars through a Roland Jazz Chorus amplifier. My ears bleed as it sounds as if Edward Scissorhands himself is stumbling through a few bars of Johnny B. Good.
In the end, when all the dust is settled, who suffers the most? The short answer is Peter DeLuise aka The Man In Many Shadows. Peter Deluise spends his childhood in father Dom's shadow. Being the son of a famous Italian cut-up does indeed have it benefits though, seemingly making it easier for Peter to get his foot in the show-biz door as early as 1975 later followed by a couple of appearances on Different Strokes and The Facts of Life. Landing the Jump Street gig is a dream come true for Peter Deluise. He truly feels that he comes into his own independent of his father Dominic's influence. With meeting two new actors, namely Johnny Depp and the Vietnamese born Dustin Nguyen, Peter feels to be part of something bigger than himself.
All this changes during the wrap party for the infamous "Fraternity Hazing" episode of 21 Jump Street wherein Depp carries a drunken fraternity pledge over his shoulder up a ladder taking a shot of alcohol at each rung. During the wrap party, Depp drops the bomb on Deluise that he is hitting the high road and heading for the green pastures of the silver screen, something about a guy named Burton wanting to put him in a picture about an autistic kid named Eddie who has scissors for hands. DeLuise thinks Depps news is some kind of a drunken joke poking fun at kids with autism. DeLuise swings at Depp and lands a right hook. Before Depp can counter, Dustin Nguyen gets between the two actors begging them to drop it on account of them being best of friends. Before DeLuise can muster a word, Depp pushes himself away from Nguyen and yells, "I'm gonna be big DeLuise. You'll see! I'm outta here man. I'm sick of this 21 Chumps Street which really aint nothing but nursery school nap time. Have fun with your new co-star, Grieco. I hear you guys worked on the Facts of Life together. Lose my number, DeLuise. And tell your dopey father, saying something in an Italian accent does not constitute a punch line. You need an actual joke to have a punch line." This fateful moment marks the last time Depp and DeLuise speak as Depp immediately resigns hitchhiking to Hollywood with a twig and a red handkerchief, a considerably long distance being that Jump Street is filmed in Canada. All things considerd, Peter DeLuise is alive and well in 2008. However, the quesions begs, "Has Peter DeLuise come to terms with his past, being in his father Dom's shadow, and his bitterness toward Johnny Depp and Richard Grieco?"
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Beachland Tavern in Cleveland, OH, is a dynamite venue. Although, Ken, our hospitable promoter this evening, immediately debunks any myths about Monday night at Beachland being a Grand Marquee event. The band appreciates Ken's candor, takes the news in stride, and proceeds with the evening's festivities by staging a cooking expose via Diary of a Foodman involving Beachland's talented and friendly in-house cook/classically trained flutist, Leia. Ken passes out drink tickets as if they're Kool-Aid rebates for the Jonestown Massacre. In hindsight, The Black Hollies note that in lieu of the on going Zagat-esque survey there are instances where an overabundance of free drinks can impede the band from a hasty exit once the, "LAAAST CAAWL...IF YOU 'AINT FUCKIN' THE BARTENDER GET THE HELL OUTTA MY BAR," death knell is rung.
The Black Hollies perform to an audience of three, not including Ken, Leia, and soundman, Clint, who late in the evening after the band is caught smoking in the basement long passed any paying patrons are left in the bar, says, "I wish I got paid to stand here and do nothing but I gotta go man." The Black Hollies oblige, apologize to Clint for frown-burgering the situation, sing a quick chorus of "Four Dudes In A Room," and call it a night. The band inadvertently makes the terrible Jackson Browne song about giggin' and packing up a reality. The surplus of drink tickets still in existence at the end of the night contributes to this as does the band's performance in front of a three person audience which comes off as a performance before a three thousand person audience. One of The Black Hollies' favorite past-times is treating performances in nearly vacant clubs as if they're performances in expansive theaters packed to the rafters with excited fans. In other words, every note counts. Following the show into the evening and continuing into the next day, The Black Hollies always make it a point to preserve this past-time and treat themselves as if they've recently sold out The Fillmore West. Activities which commemorate self-appreciation amount to taking long drawn "Calgon Take Me Away" style baths, ordering imported cheese plates accompanied by expensive French wine, paying for high end new age holistic massages, and booking four separate hotel rooms only on nights where the band takes in less than $30 at the gate. The Black Hollies are paid $27.00 for their Cleveland performance, $27.05 if one includes the envelope that Ken presents the band's money in. So, four rooms it is.
The following morning the Black Hollies celebrate the previous evening's till with a trip to Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Black Hollies receive free admission on account of presenting the Rock Hall with a copy of Casting Shadows and one recent press clipping from Rolling Stone Magazine wherein the band receives print, not in the form of a review or as one of a dozen bands to watch, but rather as a one-fifth ingredient to Rolling Stone's Top 5 Least Grossing Tours Of 2008 recipe, right behind Boston and Harold Faltermeyer. The magazine cites the signature Black Hollies guarantee of "refusing to perform for more than ten people while concurrently refusing to be paid more than thirty dollars" as reason enough for the inclusion. The listing which appears in the magazine's 'Smoking Section,' a random document of celebrity canoodlings, impresses Cleveland's Rock Hall which, in turn, accepts the band's cd and press clipping as a dual tribute granting The Black Hollies unfettered access to Stephen Stills' poncho which is normally kept behind a glass encasement. The Black Hollies extend their sincerest gratitude to everyone at The Beachland Tavern, especially Ken, Leia, and Clint for treating the band well and making it a memorable night for all.
Friday, May 9, 2008
After succeeding in spending Canadian money as quickly as possible, The Black Hollies cross the US border at Windsor and get back on American soil in Detroit, Michigan, home of The MC5. Palestinian Bluetooth spans the Ambassador Bridge which is one of the only privately owned international crossings in the world. Owned by billionaire suburban Detroiter, Manuel J. Moroun, The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest commercial border crossing in North America. This information as well as a great restaurant recommendation are passed along by the friendly and informative, Jennie Carol, a musician/bar tender at Detroit's Bohemian National Home. The band arrives at the venue a bit early and rings what seems to be a bell as the doors are firmly locked. Upon pressing the bell a real live loud dog barking sound is heard. At this point the band deems it necessary to head over to the hotel in order to let the dog cool down and to let the Bo-Natty Home get tight.
After checking in at the hotel, The Black Hollies notice ?Love exiting the elevator sporting his signature pick-in-'fro hair style, fresh to death. Too quick on the move for PBT to secure an interview there is speculation as to whether ?Love is headed to the corner of McComb and Brush which is located a few blocks from the hotel. The band learns that ?Love is in fact in town to DJ this evening but not at the corner of the aforementioned intersection.
The Black Hollies return to The Bohemian National Home where Joel, the owner, treats the band amazingly. Joel shares information as to the history of the venue and welcomes the band into his personal living space, a distressed work of art itself which displays his father's personal art work. There is a 600 capacity space upstairs. The smaller room down stairs feels like a spacious living room with couches, a beautiful old billiards table, and two sturdy pianos. The vibe is great as the band happily supports the cause forgoing the free cans of Miller to pay top dollar for New Castle Ale. The crowd this evening is few in numbers but deep in soul. The openers, The Dial Tones, are a fine group of young musicians. The Black Hollies meet and greet each person in attendance, connecting with The Muldoons, a great familial rock and roll trio out of Detroit. The Black Hollies extend their sincerest gratitude to all who attend the show at Bohemian National Home.
Before retiring I perform one aggressive walk through a casino close to the hotel. With hands shaking I deliberate over whether or not to let The Black Hollies' $60 net from the evening's performance ride on black. I gain my senses, exit the casino without betting, and eventually cross paths with a donkey. I ask the donkey if he'll give me a ride back to the hotel for a penny. My inquiry is met with the donkey's startling reply, "What are you kidding me? It costs the United States 1.4 cents in copper just to make a penny these days. If you think I'm giving this ass away for anything less than that you're outta you're fuckin' mind brother!" The conversation ensues into a discussion about our country's current gas price crisis. Mental note: Detroit, lots of midnight creepers as well as talking donkeys.
The Black Hollies cross paths with ?Love one more time during evening's end as they notice a brand new Mercedes Benz parked outside of the hotel lobby. The Mercedes is flanked by two beautiful women anticipating someone's return. As ?Love is spotted sporting a speedy gait across the lobby floor it is apparent that these gorgeous women are waiting on him. At this point Justin Angelo poignantly observes, "?Love rolls deep while The Black Hollies weep." The statement is made in conjunction with the singing of the final song of the night, "Four Dudes In A Room," usually the encore performed after the night's official closer, "Techin' and Giggin.'