IT SMELLS LIKE A
MENTORS SONG IN HERE!!!
thought I’d be in a situation like this ever again in
my life. But will you look at me? Crammed inside a van, stuck
in a horrendous traffic jam on the middle of 95 North. I gotta
full bladder, a turtlehead, and a fucking tuba logged in my
shoulder. It’s ‘been awhile’ since I took
a Rock ‘N’ Roll road trip with a gaggle of soundicians
and right about now I’m feeling not unlike Danny Glover
in a flipped over squad car. So now I hear you chime in to
quit my bitching. Fair enough. Then I hear you axe why I’m
even here in the first place. Even fairer. You see, the challenge
was thrown down Burt style for me to ride a psychedelic shitstorm
right into the eye of the New Wet America with three groups
of urban conceptual gorillas (yes, that is the correct spelling).
And I took it. Took it like a man. Right now, I’m sitting
on the amp head (and I repeat, amp head!) that belongs to
Brian Sullivan of Brooklyn based monster chomp duo Mouthus.
I am occupying space in their van along with William, one
of the two members that make up Axoltol, a Brooklyn-cum-San
Francisco duo of genuine weed fueled nutbars. Somewhere ahead
of us in a sporty hatchback are those cute / fuzzy / constantly
throbbing Double Leopards and crazy Carl from Axolotl. Many
hours from now we will all meet up and converge on Hampshire
College in Northampton, Massachusetts to drink, smoke, throw
snowballs at frat boys and other such bizz. I got my box cutter
at the ready like I’m Mackie himself. Those hippies
won’t know what fucken hit ‘em, man.
I was saying, we’re stuck in this horrific traffic jam
and we haven’t even got out of frigging New York yet.
The minimalist techno booming through the van via William’s
iPod makes the situation even more plodding and hopeless.
At least to me it does. We curse the fact the weed supply
is in the DL mobile and make do with staring at the interior
of the van or at our shoes or into the sun. I’m not
much of a talker and I feel sorry for William for this fact.
Nothing like being stuck in the back of a van with someone
who just might look over at you mistakenly and cast a nervous
smile your way. REAL comfortable. After two hours (no shit)
of not even stop ‘n’ start (just stop dude) we
finally sail up and around the flipped over tractor trailer
that burdened us for so long. Pallets are strewn every which
way and the thought of the individuals actually involved in
this thing pass like lightning. Thoughts of a wide-open road
are just too appealing and I concentrate on that. All of us
are so enamored with our newfound freedom that we immediately
stop (?!?!?) into a truck stop for toilet help and foul fucken
grub. After evacuation, I stand by the van and wait for the
others. Nate (drummer for Mouthus) comes towards the van with
an actual factual cafeteria tray that has a closed Styrofoam
container on the top of it. He looks bewildered to say the
least. He opens the container to reveal a foot long, foot
width hot dog covered in chili, relish, the works. ‘I
didn’t know what I was getting!’ he exclaims as
we marvel and giggle at the phallic foulness of the meat product.
Above all the juvenile cackling Nate blurts out ‘It
looks like a horse cock covered in shit!’ Oh...too rich.
foot long in question. Exhibits A + B.
we get back into the van and the vibe seems a bit more lively.
We might actually get there this time around. ‘Bonzo’s
Montreux’ blares out and I feel much better. William
writes a postcard while leaning on a tambourine, a most romantic
and asinine gesture. Perhaps it’s to a love in San Francisco
or a family member or absolutely no one at all. Nonetheless,
it’s a sweet sight to see after the hollow misery we’ve
been through in that grueling jam. As the wheels spin faster,
I gaze out the window. I watch the guardrail breeze by faster
and faster until it corrodes from my senses and becomes extinct.
It’s not poking me in the ribs like a tuba or a violin,
so it doesn’t adhere to my reality. I stare at it all
go by like it’s nothing. The WWF headquarters in Stamford,
Connecticut rolls by and reminds me of coming into the state
to see Hardcore shows in my younger daze. That building was
always the sign we were that much closer to getting there.
That much closer to having my windshield busted by thugs or
standing on the side of the stage at The Anthrax or scoring
a Wide Awake shirt…yeah, all the shit floods by and
stops dead in front of my mind’s eye and it ain’t
coming back anytime soon, so fuck it, let’s rock. Right
now, all I want is my ass to be on something cushioned and
to drink a beer sometime in the near future. As darkness falls
upon the outside world, I have no more entertainment in my
window to the world. I close my eyes and fake sleep to avoid
eye contact and conversation. I close my eyes and see a girl.
her eyes. I see her hips. She looks down to the ground and
her eyes…wait…you say you’ve heard this
to us actually getting into Northampton. The whole place looks
like a hippy Norman Rockwell painting. All snow and red barns
and all natural this and all natural that. All of a sudden,
something feels like it’s crawling up my back. We finally
get on the Amherst campus and everything is like a Southwestern
apartment complex designed by Escher. Real gross. The pad
where the gig is going down is completely barren right now.
From the outside, it looks like a quaint winter hideaway in
the middle of nowhere. Inside it resembles a 7-11 in the middle
of the tundra. Once it fills up, it will carry heavy Brady
Bunch vibes. We get back into the van to acquire beers and
bad Mexican food and upon return, it seems all of our entourage
has arrived. This party is starting to swing. I sit in a cushioned
chair and Chris from Double Leopards hands me a beer. It’s
about damn time! Fat guys (other than myself) and scruffy
collegiate types start to fill up the place. Numerous joints
appear out of nowhere and are passed among the visiting types.
I axe if anyone in the weed circle has a bottle opener and
I’m handed one of those big ass bottle/can openers with
the white handle that you usually keep in your kitchen. I
later find out it was stolen from the kitchen of a NYC celebrity
who ‘frequents’ this neck of the woods when he
needs his temples massaged with maple syrup and root wine.
Before I can scream ‘eBay!’, the object is torn
from my palms and visions of buying both Lucy Davis’
undergarments and the Crowbar single are gone, gone, gone.
So I decide to just get fucked up a little more while privately
bemoaning the lack of collegiate ass on a college campus (?!?!)
while also waiting for the local yokel opening act to begin.
when I’m warm as a strudel the locals, bathTime, decide
to start up. Two scraggily kids with three (count ‘em…three!)
laptops and a real young girl who looks like a punk extra
from a John Hughes film playing the violin. To be honest….this
didn’t look promising. But pretty soon, I’m just
standing there and they got the whole room humming some sorta
wordless electric prayer of legitimacy. I am officially intrigued
as are my jaded NYC compadres. An awkward stage presence on
the part of the fiddle player adds to my interest. Not only
that, but they know when enough is enough. Twenty or so minutes
of scalp scorching and bing bang, they’re oaf like a
corset in the night. The CDR they were so gracious to hand
off to me entitled ‘Just Creatures’ ain’t
all too shabby itself. The tracks that are obviously more
computer generated are decent enough, but the ones that seem
to be using old school electronic elements are the ones that
turn my mind into so much mulch my dad would make me lay on
warm Spring mornings. There’s no info what so ever on
the packaging of this thing, so I dunno how to tell you to
lay your hands on it. Pray to the church of Alex Pain and
perhaps it will come to you in an erotic dream.
be my state of intoxication getting the best of me, but it
seems Axolotl have somehow magically set up out of nowhere
and are rocking the house something fierce. Not to say everyone’s
got their scarves out and over their heads, but they sound
damn fucken good. The set they threw out last night in Brooklyn
was alright, but lacked something to keep my attention fixed
on them and their orgo-droning. Tonight they come off like
Ralf and Florian reborn as suburban U.S stoners. Tiny beats
ping pong around the Technicolor fog kicked up from their
various boxes and switches on the ground. I close my eyes
ever so slightly to concentrate on the subtly pulsing rhythms
zapping around the rec room. My insides vibrate in time to
the sound confusion like a tightly wound thumb. My outer shell
feels intense pressure and reacts in the same way your ocular
cavities do when you push your palms right into them. A physical
sensation of red and green dots with a black background. A
drunken etch-a-sketch fantasy coming from the imagination
of a grown man. And just before I can get to level three of
Donkey Kong in my head, the set is over. I open my eyes to
see many others waking themselves from self-administered reality
deprivation and I don’t feel so stupid. Maya and I bathe
William in glowing praise and I go off to bum a smoke and
sit in the gazebo.
Axolotl (right) get the 'thumbs up' from a
Double Leotard (left)
point, it might be quite obviously a bad idea to document
anything going on around me. Beer flows like urine into Schnerbo’s
mouth and the bud supply seems never ending among these wacky
white college kids. In Brooklyn, snow is the obtrusive gray
equivalent of dog shit. Here it seems such a natural part
of the surroundings. Like they would preserve it in the warmer
months just to keep the serenity afloat. My drunken eyes look
up to a sky free of loss. A dark sheen acting as a bubble
over the area to conserve the celebratory joy of our surroundings.
As much as I love to be a prick, there really is something
special about this area of the Northeast. It’s so obvious
in its beauty and mysterious in its allure. Just like a cheap
perfume. It’s no wonder every fanboys’ spiritual
father Byron Coley spent many a barefoot winter here in his
youth breaking both collarbones and hearts. And now a human
sized bunny rabbit has found its way into the proceedings,
blending in perfectly with the snow and not so much with the
den room. But there’s no resurrection of Christ for
two more months. What gives? Before I can reach out to grab
fur, the bunny is gone in the night. Lost forever? Who knows…and
who knows what the fuck that thing is supposed to symbolize
in my fog of inebriation. Perhaps I should just go inside,
warm up, talk about Suicidal Tendencies and wait for Mouthus
to start up.
Mouthus enjoy -- Fun, frolick, long walks on
the beach, Iron
Maiden, the new wave era of Blitz and sitting on snow drifts.
night Pete Nolan called Mouthus ‘The saddest cavemen
in the radiator’ and I will gladly nick that line from
him. The dilapidating duo have really been coming into their
own in the past six months, finding newer, even stronger legs
to hoist their concrete assault from. The no-wave spasms that
seemed their trademark for awhile have opened up into wonderfully
dark closets of mirrored mystery. All Java drones and metallic
overload covered in paper lace wrapped boulders. Their upcoming
LP on the Troubleman imprint will tell the best story so far
from these hair farmers. Recent live performances have been
some real intense purging and tonight is no exception. (Man,
the clichés flow like water ‘round here, no?)
Once Nate drops the gruesome thud down, ominous black sludge
chants ring out into the air. It’s almost as if they
were hanging there by some strange force of false nature.
But let me clarify this ain’t no dumbo metal drone dirge
nor a brainless noise barrage. There’s something sorta
religious in what they emit. And just when I think that, I
look around to see the majority of the crowd with their heads
down and eyes open, almost like they’re in prayer mode.
And then out of the corner of my eye I see the fore mentioned
bunny reappear. But he holds his head up high. Of course he
would, he’s a bunny for Christ’s sake. Mouthus’
throb skids to a stop, rises to the ceiling and hangs there.
Claps all around. Double Leopards know they gotta tough act
to follow, so they go out and roll a number to figger out
their plan of attack. Will I join them? Oh, but of course!
kind of praise can I heap on Double Leopards that hasn’t
already been heaped on them by journalistic types with more
qualifications and Euro improv records than I? Well, I will
say they have taken the temporary absence of member Marcia
Bassett in great stride the past few months. It’s almost
as if Marcia was the mom of the band and the rest of the members
(Maya Miller, Chris Gray and Mike Bernstein) have treated
her U.K. veh-k as the equivalent of a weekend alone with car
keys and an empty house. Their jams still hold their meditative
purposes, but they seem more abrasive and contemptuous as
of lately. The set they turned in last night in Brooklyn was
sorta phenomenal. A constantly enveloping roar that was turning
my already tweaked head into gray lunchmeat. So, tonight I
will watch them through the huge plate glass windows that
surround (and I assume support) the building outside and treat
the act as some sorta mental condom. Their warbling starts
quick and fast. From my outside advantage, it sounds like
the bubbling bellow can hardly be contained in the performance
space. But I am out here in Gentle Ben territory enjoying
it at a safe volume while Coley points out Lydia Lunch’s
former fave make-out spots on campus. Sometimes life is so
sweet and safe, I just wanna explode, y’know? And the
whole time this is going on, DL never seem to ‘splode.
Like a well-meaning boil or Jim Brown’s toe in ‘I’m
Gonna Get You Sucka’, they pound and throb and pulsate,
but never release. They simply bring the swelling down and
heave their bodies off the floor. And that’s their beauty,
man. A totally subtle force. A totally subtle force WITH A
TUBA. Soon after their set’s complete, Chris axes me
if it was loud. ‘Not as loud as last night’ I
reply sheepishly. ‘Really? Everyone else said it was
louder than last night’ he says in total surprise. I
decide to finally confess ‘Well, I was outside for the
whole thing’. He gives me the universal ‘dude’
look for ‘You Pussy’ and I feel sorta like a choad.
I mean, I did watch the thing. It’s just very rare when
I’m around such natural beauty and to be surrounded
by that and to hear DL through a plate glass window, it sounded
like a nice idea. And it was. Don’t you understand Chris?
Do ya? Am I allowed back into the BBQ Chris? Is all forgiven?
If not, F.U. and your tuba too. P.S.—Have a cool summer.
Double Leopards leave their mark wherever they
Maya + Mike (Double Leopards) dance the dance
of the perpertually joyous + chronically stoned.
band of the night is another Brooklyn unit, Excepter. Their
flagrant exhibitionism doesn’t really jive well with
what preceded them and at the end of a very long night (What
is it? 2? 3?) the last thing I wanna see is Jeff Ryan with
a telephone sticking out of his jacket sleeve. Any other night,
any other time, right now I’m beer logged and would
rather throw snowballs into the parties on campus. I nailed
one frat boy who was on (at least) a fourth story balcony.
Corsano was impressed. So was I. It seems my arm has held
up since being a pitcher in the Babe Ruth league. I drunkenly
tell C.C. my tale of how I ditched one of the final games
of the season to go see The Dead Kennedys and how my dad (who
was the coach of our team) didn’t talk to me for weeks.
Chris seems actually interested and doesn’t treat me
like I usually treat old drunks at the end of the bar. Wudda
polite kid. I then notice Nate’s foot long hot dog lying
in the snow. A forever haunting piece of wienerdom that thing
is I tell you. I go back inside to drink any fucking beer
I can get my hands on (plenty of half drunk ones in the crapper)
and for some reason I don’t know, I’m still in
pitching mode in my drunken state. I go up to the pool hall
upstairs where Chris DL and some other blurry dudes are shooting
pool. A CD wallet rests on a heater. I look through it. I’m
so drunk that I can’t even tell what this stuff is.
Is it good? Is it bad? Whose CD’s are these in the first
place? Ah...who gives a shit. FLING! One after another go
flying down the balcony into the crowd watching Excepter.
I was desperately trying to nail this kid who was sorta ‘rave’
dancing. One got him in the back and he looked up. I waved
at him and smiled. Sometimes I wonder if I can ever help being
a total dick. I think what I need is an old fashioned ass
whopping to straighten me out, but I’m not really axing
for it. Anyways, the music’s over and now comes the
inevitable drunken humping of amps (yes, unfortunately…just
amps) into the van.
says something about some sorta ‘rager’ going
down either on campus or around it. Mouthus and Axolotl are
gonna attend. Me and the rest of DL opt to crash with the
Apostasy kids in peace and Brian Eno ambient records. Yeah,
we’re wimps. We get to their secluded love cave and
Chris and I force one more Pabst down out throats. We come
to the logical conclusion that it's time for some rest. And
now the unavoidable has to become a reality. I have
been friendly with the DL dude/dudettes for awhile now and
I felt now was as good a time as any to let them know about
a horrible secret I’ve been hiding from them for far
too long. I HAVE A HORRIBLE FOOT ODOR PROBLEM. I mean, it’s
brought grown men to tears, women to go running from bedrooms,
dogs to yelp uncontrollably, etc. So the shoes come off and
no one really says anything for a good while until Chris blurts
out ‘Jesus, it smells like feet in here!’ ‘Uh
I say half under my breath. ‘You should try some of
those charcoal joints in there, man.’ He says rather
politely. Politely considering the stench his nose is under
right now. But hey, we get to sleep, Chris nails me in the
head with a pillow in the early hours of the morning for snoring
too loud and all seems sorta right in the
world FOR NOW. It’s not until we wake the next morn
that Mike and Maya realize the reek is coming from me and
they are thoroughly disgusted/confused. ‘I kept smelling
myself because I thought it was me’ sez Maya. Mike is
just perplexed by the smell. ‘It’s not even a
foot smell, man. How do you do that?’ Well, I wish I
could share my talents with the pleasant smelling people of
the world, but I really don’t know HOW I do it. I just
chalk it up as one of the many
precious gifts God (or whoever) blessed me with and I thank
him for it everyday by being a total asshole to the rest of
the entire world.
breakfast, a meager record store haul and one last number
for the road in the Apostasy kids’ barn sends us Brooklyn
bound around two p.m. the next day. I keep my shoes on and
navigate/feed jams into the CD player while
Mike and Maya drift in and out of shnore city in the backseat.
The first Van der Graf Generator is voted ‘too theatrical’
by the others and is taken out half way through. No respect
for Hammill? What is this world coming to? ‘Give me
something that rocks! No hippy jams!’ sez driver Chris.
I throw in a mixed CD of J.F.A, Redd Kross, Circle One, Ten
Minute Warning, etc. and it seems to keep Chris’s trap
shut and his eyes on the road. The ride back is somewhat uneventful,
as is my return home. But even after a shower and a very numbed
out viewing of the Fox Sunday night line-up, I’m still
buzzing in the fact I got to get out of the city for just
one night and do it up with the crew. To blur and heighten
my senses in better surroundings. To talk to peeps I don’t
normally talk to on a weekly basis. To see my pals
play stellar sets. To find out the first Suicidal Tendencies
demo produced by Spot is really good. (Anyone got that one
on their tape trade list? Pony up Bill Wend!) To see a garage
full of paper. (Thanks Aaron.) To hurl CD’s at poor
unsuspecting college kids. And of course, to witness foot
long wieners in all their glory.
Mouthus -- Drummer Nate looks up briefly from
his drumming duties to witness the author winging a Fiery
Furnaces CD off the balcony + directly at his jugular.
Mike (Double Leopards) catches up with the
bunny in question + gives him 'the business'.
(Believers, Son Of Earth, Apostasy
Recordings, etc.) sez 'Don't call me shorty honky!' We comply.
photos by Maya Miller)