May 31 - Live At Leeds

Tonight is the last night of the tour, which means I'll get to see Lauren in a few days.
Verdict: Win

May 30 - Nottingham Nights

Honest ales, jugs, fags, birds, scrumpies. Nottingham, you are a fairy tale.

Verdict: Win

May 29 - Return To The Boat Life

Today we played a boat in Bristol.

Verdict: Win

May 28 - Northampton Socks

Northampton, the gritty little surprise in your old wet socks.

Verdict: Win

May 27 - London Bawling

Did I mention I pissed in a bottle today?

Verdict: Loss

May 26 - Van

Half of my 30's has been spent in a van.

Verdict: Loss

May 25 - Hey, Gimmee A Fuckin' Slice-a Dat Bizano's

From the beauty of the Pyrenees to the squalor of Bizanos.

Verdict: Win

May 24 - Fun

Look at all the fun I'm having getting old and fat and sleeping on floors.

Verdict: Loss

May 23 - The Reality

I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it?I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it?I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it?I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it? I love touring! Touring sucks. Why do we do it?

Verdict: Loss

May 22 - Tharagotha

Our Spaniard pals know how to treat a band well.

Verdict: Win

May 20 - Salamanca Salivation

Too many butts. Must relocate to secluded area.

Verdict: Win

May 19 - Slaughtered In Spain

We played an old slaughterhouse today.
A killery.
A deatheteria.
A murdertorium.
We were the hogs.

Verdict: Win

May 18 - Late But Nice

I felt terrible for being late and forgetting my camera.
But it was a delicious French dinner with delicious French wine and wonderfully generous and understanding French friends.
Thank you, Sylvain and Stephanie, our Nice friends.

Verdict: Win

May 17 - Zurich Is Stained

But it's not my fault. It's James Joyce's.

Verdict: Win

May 16 - The Black Forest Is Stupid

Today I ate a doner box in the Black Forest of Germany.

Verdict: Win

May 15 - Okay France, One More Day

What a way to lose money!
Verdict: Win

May 14 - It's Pronounced "Mess"

Our triumphant return to Metz.

Verdict: Win

May 13 - Belchin' Waffles

Today was our first time playing in Belgium.

Verdict: Win

May 12 - Mind vs. Nose

I am trying to be open-minded, but sometimes I just have to close my nose.

Verdict: Win

May 11 - Mastermdam, goo d job

Breakfast was an individually packaged danish and explosive yogurt.
The Bitter Tears landed at the Schiphol Airport in The Netherlands.
For this tour we are a quartet: Alan (guitar), Mike (bass), Reid (keyboards) and myself (drums).

We picked up the van in a suburb of Amsterdam.
It's a nicer van than the last one we had.
It's a Ford version of a Sprinter with only 46k kilometers, and mostly importantly, it has seat belts!

Mike drove to another suburb through the endless canals of Holland. We saw strange leafless, lifeless trees that looked like giant ginger roots. We saw windmills, cyclists, tiny bridges, cows, and sheep along the one and a half laned biways. Eventually we were in an industrial park and picked up our gear from Gijs, a well-humored Dutchman. His name is pronounced "high-sh", not "jizz", you American smart asses.
I'll be playing a smaller Ludwig kit with a 12" snare, a 14" floor tom, and a 20" bass drum.
Jizz told us to follow him to "the most famous cafe in all of...the world."
We thought maybe we were going to Paris, but instead we ended up at this place.
We drank a total of 10 cups of coffee, and ate assorted Dutch fare, like bread with ham and fries with mayonnaise. Jet lag made everything taste tired.

Mike continued driving to Amsterdam, where we met my friends Rod and Lieselotte.
Alan and Reid split off to find Alan's friend Greg at a squat for a vegan feast. Oddly enough, Lieselotte had met Greg earlier in the week, and could describe his girlfriend. Small world.
Mike and I crashed at Rod and Lieselotte's flat until the simmering smells of dinner aroused our spirits. Rod had made a traditional Dutch dish of rookworst with stampot, sausage with mashed potatoes and cabbage. It was delicious and comforting.
Plans for a boat ride and an evening of open mic jazz were aborted when Amsterdam's cold rain decided to blow down on this Tuesday. Instead, we walked a few blocks to a groovy bar, where quality beer flowed inexpensively and conversation veered toward cooking.

Back at Rod's we enjoyed fine generic chocolate and stroop waffle with hard candy butter waffles made by Dutch Masterpieces.

I crashed upstairs with Mike and a hard copy of Curb Your Enthusiasm The Book.

Verdict: Win

May 10 - In The Air Tonight

Today The Bitter Tears boarded a plane for Europe.
This will be our second tour of Europe.
It will also be my fourth extended visit to the continent in two years.
Seems I like it there.

In the air I watched The Odd Couple and Temple Grandin's biopic.
Some people cry when they watch movies on airplanes.
I get crushes on Claire Danes as an autistic legend.
Verdict: Win

May 9 - Oh Brother's Day

Today was the last performance of Rush Limbaugh! The Musical. I will miss playing this show. I don't know how to convey it without sounding showbiz sentimental so I won't bother trying. Suffice it to say, I spent a lot of time laughing during the entire process.

Today was also Mother's Day, so I took my mom out for dinner at Big Jones. We ate pork belly, croquettes, gumbo, wreck fish, and of course desert. It was a great feast.
Sometimes or always, my mom isn't the best listener. She likes to interrupt and finish your sentences, which end up being different sentences than the ones you had started.
She asked about my new moustache.
"So what's going on with this thing?"
I told her I was going for a sort of Spanish look.
"You want to look like Jesus?"
No, I don't want to look like Jesus. I want to look like I'm on foreign currency-
"Oh, kind of an Abraham Lincoln look you're going for then."
No, that's American currency.
I don't want to look like Abe Lincoln or Jesus, I just-
"This gumbo is a little spicy."
Nevermind, Mom.

What are you going to do?

Verdict: Win

May 8 - Nurse Nausea

A whole day to myself!
I watched Chinatown, I fell asleep, I ordered a pizza, I drank beer.
I ate over 100 square inches of pizza.
That's too much.

Tonight The Nurse Novels played our second preview.
We played Cal's Bar, located just blocks away from the Metra, the way to really die.
The set went really well.
This time we practiced before the show, AND we had a setlist!
Now all we need are some monitors and a sound check.
We threw in covers by Van Halen, Brian Eno and Willips Brighton.
The Nurse Novels are here!

Immediately after the set, I felt completely ill in my downstairs. It would require action soon.
Unfortunately, I was at Cal's, one of my favorite places to play, but one of my least favorite to shit. It's a scummy, one-man hole. There would be lots of dudes knocking and waiting while I painstakingly rid my body of sickness.
So I zipped out of there and into the van, homeward bound.
Lake Shore Drive seemed like Ohio, it went on forever.
Meanwhile I felt more and more green, and it got hotter and hotter.
I cracked a window to no avail.
At Montrose, I exited, hoping to find a spot on the harbor to just puke or something.
But the harbor was closed and some guy in a car was hanging out by the barricades.
So I went back onto the on ramp for LSD, but my body would not let me continue.
I put the blinkers on and got down on all four in front of the van.
The damp dirt felt cool on my palms.
I started to wretch, but the muscles that wanted to work weren't in my throat.
I clenched everything tightly and carefully wobbled back to the car.
At home, I did my business.
But I couldn't stay long, as the van was double-parked.
And I had to go back to Cal's anyway.
That's where my drums were.

On the way back, I listened to The Heavy Bombers CD that the bass player had given me prior to my illness. When I walked into Cal's they were playing a song I had just listened to in the car. Unfortunately, most of my friends who had come to see our band had left, and I never got a chance to say thanks. Meanwhile The Heavy Bombers covered Little Richard and The Vaselines, and I bopped around until I felt sick again. So it was back to the van to lie down.

We didn't make a lot of money tonight, and I don't like feeling sick, but The Nurse Novels proved something to themselves tonight.

Verdict: Win

May 7 - That Toodlin' Town

This morning I had a delivery to a gift shop.
The name on the package was Russ.
Russ used to be my supervisor when I worked for the Chicago Trolley Company (1998-2000).
Russ didn't like me very much.
I didn't like him.
Russ was kind of a dick.
And I was kind of a spazz.
One time I flipped out in the trolley barn before going out.
See, my trolley's stereo had eaten one of my tapes.
It was a cassette of a Pavement bootleg (Appetite For Deconstruction) that I had just gotten in a trade with some kid in Ohio or Montana or somewhere.
At the time (1999), this cassette was new and very important to me.
So when it got eaten by the trolley, I fucking flipped out.
Russ laughed and made fun of me.
In retrospect, rightly so.
But at the time, it was like making fun of 9/11.
Also, at some point I called the trolley supervisors "nazis" over some stupid bullshit.
Like I said I was a spazzy Pavement troll.
But Russ enjoyed making my life difficult, particularly about dress.
"You look like shit," he told me one time based on the tasteful collared shirt I was wearing underneath my trolley jacket.
"Those aren't khakis," he would point out when I wore tan colored jeans instead.
One time Russ, who was in charge of assigning the trolleys, issued me an old borrowed trolley with air brakes.
To operate a vehicle with air brakes requires hours of training and a certain kind of license. My training was a couple of laps around the stockyards.
I had to use this monster to pick up the bride's party for a wedding.
Then drive around Michigan Avenue for pictures.
I did a competent job, but competent is not what is demanded of anyone on a wedding day.
Any time I had to brake abruptly, the whole trolley jerked like a bronking bull.
If you've ever been on a city bus with a new driver, it was like that.
Everyone on board gave me dirty looks, like I was an incompetent fucking asshole.
They complained about the fumes from the old diesel engine.
I smiled drowsily.
That day I worked my ass off, and got no tip.
Because of that ugly, diesel-fuming, bronking trolley.
The one that Russ purposefully gave to me.
I dunno, I have forgotten about most of that stupid shit.
But I do remember our relationship as adversarial.
So when I saw his name on the package, I hadn't decided how to feel.
It's been ten years.
I was ready to let go of the silly nonsense that defined our relationship.
But it's been ten years, and I was still in the humble position of messenger.
Then again, he's working in a gift shop.
So I decided to bury the hatchet and just be human when I saw him.
Unfortunately, the gift shop was closed.
Even though it was supposed to have opened two hours ago.
Maybe he saw me coming and got scared.

So after all that, I never saw him.
Our relationship would remain unresolved, like a broken suspended 4th chord.
Russ and I are a Cdim9.

That made me tired, and it was around 11am, so I took a nap in the van under the El at Randolph and Wabash. When I awoke, the traffic was horrendous for no reason. The radio informed me that a murder-suicide had occurred at the Old Navy on State Street, just a block away.
Also in the same breath, they mentioned that the chief of Metra had committed suicide using one of his own trains to run him over.
Sounds like that Sinatra song could use a rewrite.

Chicago, Chicago
That toodlin' town
On State Street, that great street
I saw a man
He shot his wife
And then himself
Dum-dum doodle-ee dum-dop
Chicago, Chicago
That skoodlin' town
Where bodies of honchos are found
Oh Metra
It'll getcha
The town that Mayor Daley wants to shut down
Doom-dom deedle-deep dop doom

After work and band practice, I went home and fell asleep on the couch.
On the couch I had a nightmare.
I was driving in rush hour traffic, when it just stopped.
Then it began moving backward.
Most cars lost control and crashed.
When people got out of their cars, they were coughing and choking.
Most people collapsed to the ground.
They were dying.
Some sort of terrorism with gas was happening.
I ran out of the car and back, looking for Lauren in a Jonestown sea of bodies.
I pictured having to discover Lauren.
So I woke up.

Verdict: Loss

May 6 - Me To

My pager went off at 8:30am.
Yes, a pager.
My work issues them to the messengers.
It has a full qwerty keyboard.
You can email anyone you want.
I actually prefer my pager to my cellphone.

So at 8:30 my boss was paging me:
WORK: tony, are you on the way?
ME: Not yet. I work every minute of my life and i'm exhausted.

Decent day at work.
They sent me up to Waukegan, Glenview, and Winnetka, which enabled me to drop off The Nurse Novels 1/2" reel to Carl Saff for mastering. Our single will be mastered within the month!
Carl lives near the site of an old Magikist sign, a giant pair of lips that used to lurch over many Chicagoland expressways. Coincidentally or not, there's a small street right around there called Lipps Avenue.

The afternoon was dead and I slept for over two hours in an Office Depot parking lot before heading to Nurse Novels practice. It was our first time playing since the lackluster Quenchers preview. Repairing the rust.

Speaking of Quenchers, that's where Thea and I went after practice to see The Columbines. They opened with a few new numbers that sound right. John grips this one chord that covers eight frets or something, like he's on the cover of Cave Guitar World Magazine. We booped around with popcorn in our mouths, which made it difficult to sing along with Knox on their version of Danzig's "Killer Wolf". But I did. And then I bought their record on vinyl.

Verdict: Win

May 5 - Crazy Town

It was noon and I was in Pilsen, Chicago’s most known Mexican neighborhood. So I went to Taqeria Los Comales III for lunch. What a zoo! There were scores of chattering field trip groups, excitedly screaming and talking about tacos. The line to the register was crowded with kids, fogging the glass containing a variety of Mexican candies. In the myriad of decibels and chaperones were three distinctly separate races in the same room. In Chicago! Black, white and Hispanic. We had the Moonbenders sitting next to The Van Pelt Rolos. And nobody was wasting nobody. Caaannn yoooooouu diiiiiig iiiiiittttt!

Wow, this place was doing great business for a Thursday afternoon. A few hours later I realized it was Cinco de Mayo.

Later I met my friends Jess, Ross and Nikki at Davenport’s in Wicker Park. It was the world premiere of Crazytown, a cabaret starring the vivacious and voluptuous Meghan Murphy, the hilariously prickly Jordan Simonson, and kooky Diana Lawrence, all under the direction of my bestest homosensual friend Mitchell Fain.

I think cabaret may be my favorite medium for entertainment. You get music, you get comedy, you get honesty, all in a loose atmosphere that encourages participation and dialogue.

MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: You've got great tits!!
MEGHAN: So do you.

Meghan, dolled up in a dazzling 60’s bouffant, sang some favorites from the ship (“Pearl's A Singer"), dabbled in Lou Rawls sing-speak, and performed an original instructional club hit about preventing your breasts from getting weird. Jordan sang a trifecta of tragedy about love lost that had me crying with laughter.

JORDAN: Your hair looks really fucked up in the back.
MEGHAN: Your face looks really fucked up in the front.

At one point in the show, after a particularly stirring number, I could only yell “FUCK YOU!!” I had a great time at Crazytown. So fuck you.

After the show, Ross, Nikki and I walked to the crotch and drank at Big Star, formerly the Pontiac café. Whoa, man. I know Wicker Park has changed over the last twenty years, but this is way koo koo. It looks like Southport Avenue. We only need one of those, you know.

The more things change, the more they still stay the same. Now I’m just as scared of Wicker Park as I was in 1991.

IRRRRRRRegardless, we had a good time drinking all of the beer. I drank nine beers in all. I don’t remember a lot about what we discussed. Bob Dylan…tacos…chips…Blonde on Blonde….horchata….Highway 61….

The other day I subbed a class at The Annoyance. During an improv exercise, one of the students asked, "Did you come up with this when you were high?"
This is one of my least favorite things on earth.
Since goddamn grade school, people have assumed that I am a pothead.
For the record, yes, I have smoked marijuana. I first tried it when I was 18 and I had just moved to the desert. I smoked it every day for a month, and then I got tired of it.
And haven't smoked it with frequency since.
I've gone years without smoking marijuana.
I have never owned a bong or a pipe or a one-hitter.
I have never purchased, sold or grown marijuana.
I have never owned my very own personal marijuana.
I think the hemp movement was stupid, and continues to be stupid if it still exists.
I don't enjoy pot humor.
Other than "Basketball Jones," I find Cheech & Chong boring and unfunny.
I have plenty of friends that smoke with frequency, and offer it to me.
I have no issues with this.
But I usually decline it politely and life continues as it was.
When I do smoke I'll get either really goofy or really anti-social.
I like being goofy.
But I certainly don't need pot to be anti-social.
The last time I smoked was in September when we were in Amsterdam.
It was fine, but unnecessary.

So when people suggest that I am a pothead, I don't like it.
It's usually said with a tinge of judgment.
And it's usually after I say or do something that requires imagination, or I'm choosing my words carefully, taking my time in the process.
If you ask if I was high when I came up with something, what you are doing is negating that I could come up with something imaginative or thoughtful on my own.
That in order to have an imagination filled with humor and color and well chosen words, I need steroids.
My brain is just better than your boring one.
So fuck you, but for real.

Meanwhile, back at Big Star, I was Big Drunk. A fellow stranger accused me of wearing a Members Only jacket and offered me a cigarette.
"Is it laced with angeldust?" I slurred.
"Yeah, man. PCP."

So you see?
This mind can only come up with that good and imaginative stuff when it is lucid and free of toxins.

Verdict: Win

May 4 - 100,000

This morning just after 9am the van drove its 100,000th mile.
In its four years, this van has travelled to:

Iowa City, Iowa
New York City (twice)
Austin, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Cut and Shoot, Texas
Indianapolis, Indiana
Bloomington, Indiana (3 times)
Lafayette, Indiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Highway 61
The Natchez Trace
Lincoln Highway
The King's Highway, Canada
Route 66, Illinois
Peoria, Illinois
Loami, Illinois
St. Louis
Buffalo, New York
Gary, Indiana
Cairo, Illinois
Centralia, Pennsylvania
Buttzville, New Jersey
Laredo, Texas
Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
Monterrey, Mexico
Hot Springs, Arkansas (3 times)
Branson, Missouri
Memphis, Tennessee (twice)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Erie, Pennsylvania
Shanksville, Pennsylvania (site of 9/11 plane crash)
Madison, Wisconsin (4 or 5 times)
Milwaukee (7 or 8 times)
Minneapolis/St. Paul (twice)
Louisville, Kentucky
The UP
The Green Mountains of Vermont
The Adirondacks of New York
The Ozarks of Arkansas
The House On The Rock
A gravity hill in Pennsylvania
The site of Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment (3 times)
Baltimore, Maryland
Akron, Ohio
Holly Springs, Mississippi
Washington, DC

But most of these miles belong to Chicago's streets, expressways, suburbs, and loading docks.
It's fitting that this milestone occurred en route to work.

Verdict: Loss

May 3 - Deep Rest

I am not depressed, but I could use a deep rest.

So today I played hooky from work for the first time in years.
It felt amazing.
For a few minutes.
Then I realized I had a lot of shit to do:

Go to post office to hold mail
Get Mother's Day card
Find moustache wax
Grocery shopping
Catch up on this fucking blog

I rode my bike on a beautiful day. The line at the post office wasn't overly excruciating, and I was out of there in about an hour and forty minutes. Okay, fifteen minutes.
Moustache wax was found way up in Roger's Park at a Sally Beauty Supply. It hung on the lowest rung in the bottom corner of the tiny men's quarantine.
A wonderful blank card of the indie variety cost only $5.

While grocery shopping, my friend Holli called. She's a production coordinator for various film and TV projects. She needed a production assistant to buy light bulbs and drive cameramen to Peoria at 5pm. It would pay well.

Holli's trying to save part of my life. The part that makes me most miserable: the day job. If there's a way for me to do more of this PA work, I would have more money and more time. And that would make me less miserable. When I get back from the tour I will pursue this further.
In the meantime, I had some light bulbs to buy and some cameramen to chauffeur.
The light bulbs were found at a hardware store, along with a complimentary styrofoam cup of coffee and a peanut butter sandwich cookie.
I met the crew in Logan Square and we were off to Peoria, a 160 mile drive.
As the stop-n-start heart attack on the 55 opened up to sunset farmland, the talk of shop (gear and lenses, the nature of the business, Los Angeles) turned toward energy (windmills) and then to silence.
I dropped them off at the Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino, located on 21 Blackjack Blvd in East Peoria. The room overlooked the magnificent river and a multicolored variety of gambling trash. I filled out some paperwork and visited briefly with Holli before hitting the road around 9pm.

The drive back was nice. I got lost on a rural road and had to make a 7-point turn on a gravel road. It made me notice the stars.
A sign on the road indicated a 24 hour restaurant lay ahead: That 50's Place.
Ooooh! This would be fun.
And it would have been. If the sign had been correct. The restaurant was closed.
They should have told that to Betty Boop, who stood holding a tray for eternity while Jake and Elwood Blues remained frozen in mid-cocaine smile. Ah, the 50's.

I ended up in Dwight, Illinois at a place called Vivid Spirits. It was anything but. A giant cleanly, dimly lit barn with 30 foot ceilings. It's something you might see after hours in the fictitious cowboy town of Crawford, Texas. The spirit of the few patrons inside was local and bored. But it was open and they were nice and served me food.
I enjoyed a patty melt while alternating between Letterman and Nightline on a variety of flat screen TVs.
Back on the road, Lauren called right when I was starting to get dangerously tired. She kept me company all the way to Lake Shore Drive. I got home around 1 and was asleep on the couch with my contacts in by 2:30.

Verdict: Win

May 2 - Depp & Dali

Today was the penultimate performance of Rush Limbaugh! The Musical, and a lively good one, too. The Timeless Wavelengths (our dopey band name) were in fine form, goofing around and trying new fills and runs and bombastic flourishes. I will miss playing with TJ and Trey.

I was expecting mostly ridicule from the beginnings of this moustache on my face.
Today I received many compliments about it. Most of them from women (?!?)
Colleen: Wow, Tonze! You look Cuban or sumthin'.
Emily W: I like your European Johnny Depp look.
Trey (pointing): Hey, I like this!
Heather: I didn't recognize you with your new Salvador Dali look.
John: It actually doesn't look that bad.

After Rush, I went to Quencher's, where The Bitter Tears would perform in several hours. The openers, a couple of bands from New York, had requested the use of my drum kit, and would pay for my food and drinks in return.
I washed down a Cuban Reuben with a couple of lagers on tap while Thelma & Louise subtitled on the television.
Then I got very tired.

Despite fatigue, the show went well. Even the crappiest Bitter Tears shows are at their least weird and of interest. Lots of friends came out to see it, including five students from my Annoyance class. That was cool considering live music often seems like Kryptonite to improv nerds.
We played "Murdered at the Bar" and Alan got nostalgic, prompting reminiscing from each member of the band. Alan and Mike remembered how they met on a tennis court as teenagers. John reminisced about his drinking days, showing up to parties naked except for fresh fruit covering his genitalia. I waxed nostalgic about seeing a vivisected pig lying next to the trampoline on my aunt's farm. Then the show just sort of ended.

As did the night.

Verdict: Win

May 1 - Groomble Grumble

It's a new month! It's a new asshole!
I don't know what I'm saying.

Today I got up at 7am, when really I should have just kept sleeping.
But I really needed to download six Van Halen albums, plus the first two with Sammy Hagar.
I didn't lose sleep. Sleep just lost to Van Halen.

I met Thea at her apartment in the afternoon.
We recorded a bonus track for the Nurse Novels single.
It's called "A Mouthful Of Sores Ain't No Fun" and was originally recorded by Willips Brighton. Unlike Willips, we did have fun, despite having to relocate to the bathroom on a count of sawing trees.
It might be the first time I've recorded drums while sitting on a toilet. Just like Bonham on "When The Levee Breaks", man. That's how he got that fuckin' sound! Mama Cass was so blown away by that drum sound she choked on a hot dog in Jim Morrison's tub. And then Jimi Hendrix gave Keith Relf a handjob with his teeth because he blew his nose into a handkerchief soaked in acid, man. And that's back when acid was goood. Nothing is as good as it was in the 60's and specific parts of the 70's. Nor will it ever be. And then the fat guy from Canned Heat, man. And The Munsters. It was like Passover and Black History Month and The Stanley Cup all in one!

It was time to groom the facial hair. I needed a moustache comb and some small scissors.
Osco had nothing. I searched for 15 minutes. I drove to Target. On the way to Target I realized I could have just ridden my bike. I don't even think to ride my bike anymore. This is sad fat news.
Target did not have a little men's grooming kit. I spent about 25 minutes looking in the same three aisles. How come I couldn't find this seemingly simple item? I went to Walgreens. It was looking grim. Doesn't every third male in Chicago have a moustache? Where on the earth do they get their fucking bullshit? I was beginning to think that having a moustache was an exclusive, restricted club, and that some connected asshole would have to approve me before telling me the secret of how to acquire a tiny comb.
But then a door opened. There, in the women's make up section (??), was the very last moustache grooming kit. I grabbed the fucking thing and split.

At home, I tamed the ugly caterpillar into a style similar to what I had intended. To celebrate, I stayed in, rewatched old Freaks and Geeks episodes, drank Manischewitz and ate leftover Easter chocolate.

Verdict: Win

April 30 - Sissy Fuss

A cellular phone rang at dawn. It belonged to me.
"Tony. It's Yvette."
Yvette is the woman who does night phones. That means she answers the phone between 5pm-8am, and makes all the deliveries in those hours. I did night phones for half of 2007. It was a peculiar kind of hell.
"(An idiotic corporation) has a package that needs to be in Kenilworth by 7:30, and I cannot do it. Can you do it?"
Any order done in those hours pays double. After last week's towing debacle, I could use the money.
"It needs to be there by 7:30."
I had no idea what time it was.
"It's 5:30."
Well. I'm up now anyway.
So I did the order. The guy on the other end of the Kenilworth mansion's intercom was a condescending prick. I tossed his package onto a tree stump, like he ordered. Life goes on.
Then I went home, took a shower, and ate breakfast.
I went back out and drove and drove and drove in Sisyphean traffic until 4:30pm.
I don't know where I obtained the energy. I was up last night after 2am mindlessly watching fucking Speeders, while drinking canned beer and contributing more pointless air onto Facetown.
"Speeders just pulled someone over in your hometown. Thought of you."
After a few beers I turn into an emoticon with sunglasses.

The evening was spent doing laundry and recording demos in the kitchen. I found a neat drum set up, approximating a cymbal stand with a drumstick lodged in a drawer. It actually sounded pretty good considering.
Considering sleep loss has eroded the lobes in my brain that recognize quality.

Verdict: Win

April 29 - Beef Hat

I never want this stupid bloog to become a whiny bitchfest about my dumb, dumb day job. But it's hard to convey the misery of it without doing so. So here's whiny and bitchy.

Today, in addition to the three hours of regular old driving I do in the city, I spent six consecutive hours in non-stop bumper-to-bumper urban and suburban traffic.
I spent 65 minutes on the inbound Eisenhower, accelerating and braking in 2 second increments.
Another 75 minutes were spent braking and accelerating on the outbound Kennedy, making sure no one cut me off, because I will go crazy if someone does.
45 of today's minutes were also used to accelerate and brake often and always on the southbound 294.
It's like trying to listen to the same song for six hours, but the song keeps falling out of rhythm, and skipping, and stopping, and restarting. And you have to keep this song constantly going with your right foot. But you don't even like this song. Because it's a very shitty song.

Between all that, there was traffic on the main streets.
There was traffic on the side streets.
There were lane closures.
There were passenger trains.
There were freight trains.
Everything I wanted to do, I couldn't.
Lately I've been using the brake more than the accelerator.
My right knee feels burnt by the end of the day.
The rest of my body is worn out and out of shape.
All I did was sit on my ass the entire day.
And I'm completely exhausted.

I wish I had a different perspective on the city.
Being on the roads all day paints an ugly, ugly image of Chicago.
The roads are not its heart.
The roads are its asshole.
The roads are where people behave with unending anger, selfishness, and inconsideration.
The roads are where people scream "Fuck you" at each other over simple negotiations.
Where people oblivious to the rest of the world operate machines that can kill.
Where people make lifelong enemies in a matter of seconds.
You don't see that so much in the supermarket aisles.
The roads bring out the worst in me.
When I am wronged on the roads, there's no escape.
There's no break room.
There's no coworkers to commiserate with.
You must keep driving.
And you either spit or swallow the hate.
If anger accumulated on my face like dirt, I'd come home every day looking like Al Jolson.

This job does have its freedoms.
But the roads are not free.
You are stuck.
That is perhaps what I miss the most about bike messengering.
You are never stuck.
In the short term that is.

After fucking work, I found a place to eat by Midway.
It was called Angelo's Beef Hut.
The hut looked like a hat.
I ordered a gyros plate.
The cook piled a giant mound of gyros meat on a pita.
It looked like a hut.
That looked like a hat.

I met Greg at his studio on the south side to do rough mixes of the remaining Nurse Novels songs. After that his wife Esther met us at a bar formerly called Mi Segundo Divorcio, which translates to My Second Divorce. Everyone was too friendly to us, and treated us very differently because of our race. We just wanted to drink a beer, and they thought we were yuppies or something, and interrupted our conversation several times to apologize about their modest bar and to offer tequila.
Beer's fine.
Bar's fine.
What was I saying...

Nice night but what a shitty, shitty day.

Verdict: Loss

April 28 - Shove On

Somebody wanted a twelve-foot long roll of wallpaper delivered to a McMansion far, far away. I drove through the tiny village of Cuba, passing eateries with names like Kooker's, and road houses that looked like all of the fun. It turns out that the pride of Barrington is a gas station.
I don't mind these road trip runs too much, even though I don't get home until 7.

Rest hasn't been happening. Sunday we mixed until 2am, Monday I taught and went out for drinks with my class, last night was Bitter Tears practice. I try to catch a nap in the van between runs when I can. But there remains a line of Z's waiting to be helped, growing impatient and angry.

While I made guess what for dinner, Lauren and I chatted on our cellphones. Speakerphone is so cool. It enables us to step on each other, mishear things, and repeat full sentences.

LAUREN: Am I on speakerphone?
TONY: Yeah, I'm making dinner.
LAUREN: It's hard to hear you.
LAUREN: You go.
TONY: Um, I don't remember what I was going to ask you. What were you going to say?
LAUREN: So what are you doing?
TONY: I'm making dinner.
LAUREN: Oh, I thought you said you were on your computer-
LAUREN: -I was...
TONY: Go ahead.

We ended up just taking turns talking in paragraphs. She's in Phoenix now and they'll be opening that version of the show soon. We're a little disconnected right now, so I've been sending her a song for each day in an email. I like doing this.

After we got off the phone, I noticed my Mom had called and left a voicemail. Before relaxing with that night's DVR'ed American Idol, I listened to her message.
"Hey Ton, I guess they kicked off Siobhan. I don't know. I fell asleep, but I woke up and she was singing her farewell song..."
Ugh. Thanks, Mom.

Then I got really bummed out. I liked Siobhan. I thought she was kooky. So of course America rejected her before some less talented but more boring contestants (Big Mike, Elf kid). I don't know. There's been a lot of coffee house talent being inflated to ridiculous proportions. I thought Siobhan was at least a little bit original. But America doesn't necessarily go for original. Well, I guess I don't need to watch American Idol anymore. That's a good thing.

This is stupid.

Verdict: Loss