Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Vegas is Deceitful Above All Things

I've been waking up earlier than everybody else. Sometimes the bus is still moving, sometimes we're parked in a club lot or a Generic American Truck-stop, but either way it's glorious privacy and I can almost pretend I'm at home. I shock and awe myself at the pleasure I derive from doing the dishes in the sink of the bus kitchen. It feels like being home. When I was at home over this last break, I did the dishes first thing every morning, practically before the crust was out of my eyes. I don't know why but there they were and I was always drawn to them. I think it was the beauty of the mindless task, those few moments of freedom before the thoughts set in, before I realize that there are defintely priorities above the dishes, that the dishes can wait, that there is email in the inbox, phone calls to be answered, clothes to be laundered and bills to be looked at....before that avalanche came down on my poor little head would just stand there and scrub, throw teabags into trash, and put away the dry ones from the morning before. Amanda, the enemy of routine, actually deeply enjoying this. Something is not right. But as I feel myself aging and the little wrinkle lines appearing, I find myself enjoying things I never have. These things creep into my life surreptitiously, some dish-doing here, some exercise there, some terrible pop music here, a lack of typical inhibition here. It's all fine with me. I'm just watching. I think I spent so many years convincing myself of what would anchor me firmly in a wonderfully cool neverland of admirable recklessness, sexy carelessless, and an artistic-devil-may-care lifestyle that it's taken years of resistance to old habits to actually become a free man.

So in the morning, I wake up early and do dishes and clean and pick up JT LeRoy where I left off. Bill H sent me a copy of "Sarah" before out last european tour and I devoured it (that book left me feeling more sad than any other in recent memory) and I've started this tour off with the book that came out after that, "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things". Bill H sent it via secret messenger to the Paradise show. And as we bump along the Great American Highway I plummet myself into his world of ten-year-old prostitutes and anal rape and mothers who leave their children out to rot and other unspeakable horrors, and I make reality collide with Semi-Fiction as we stop to shower at a truck-stop and I eyeball the big burly men sitting there in the Driver's Lounge, eyes glued to the screen, wondering if they too fork over greasy twenties to little boys dressed as girls when the sun goes down over the cemetery of shining Peterbilts outside. I read long after everyone else seems to be asleep, like the good old days with the flashlight under the covers long after I'd been warned a second time. But I still wake up earlier than everybody else. Napping is key.

My birthday came and went under the tacky Vegas sun without much incident. I had been to Vegas twice before, once on a cross-country trip when I was five (my mother let us each gamble a dollar at Circus Circus)
and once in 1999, when I went to visit with Brett and his uncle and tried to make some money on the strip as the Eight Foot Bride, my living statue charater. I set up illegally in front of different casinos until they chased me away. Brett put on his tuxedo and we got married by a mime in the Venetian. Brian had never been, so I took him for a walk on the strip and we indulged in AquaMassages and ten minutes of Oxygen Inhaling at a kiosk next to an outdoor cover band playing Eagles covers. Vegas fascinates me. It is a place, and yet a non-place. A tourist attraction from the ground up, a disneyland for the depraved. But somwehere off the strip must be a real town, i wonder where....maybe The Killers could tell us. But they're mormons. Ah, who cares.

The show with Nine Inch Nails that night went well and the NIN folk sent an Amanda birthday cake over to the bus. All Black, one solitary candle. Very NIN. The band and crew have been wonderfully kind. The NIN keyboard techs went to town on my abused Kurzweil the other night and I watched like a nervous mother watching her child get a appendix out as they spent a solid half-hour trying to get it open to see if they could repair a broken key. You can tell when people are passionate about gear, they get this gleam in their eye that reminds me of little boys pulling the wings off of flies. Mr. Trent Renzor and some of the other guys in the band and crew came out to our non-NIN show in San Francisco and apparently loved it. Trent loved the Brigade and the performers....it was an A+ night in the world of the Brigade, Casey pulled out all the stops and there were painted crazed people everywhere, stilts, puppets, evil, costumes that had to be seen to be believed and the crown jewel of the Vau de Vire Society, a wonderful troupe of vaudelvillian pranksters who did a choreographed stage show to both Missed Me and Girl Anachronism. Little Sunday, one of our youngest fans (i think she's 4) wheeled her toy piano backstage in a red wagon and played me the opening chords of "Coin-Operated Boy" on it for my birthday.

The Coachella festival was a surreal experience and felt like a historic landmark for the band....the desert filled with music and illuminated palmtrees and sound sculptures, made me regret that my hallucinogenic days came to an untimely end long ago. All of the artists (there were at least 40 bands on our day including Bright Eyes, NIN, Gang of Four and New Order) were set up in this wonderful David Lynchian Trailer Park with Picket Fences, so that every band had a little home and a yard set up in a grid about the size of a city block. The Arcade Fire hung out in our yard because it was in the shade and I felt very honored. They were amazing, though we only got to catch about 6 minutes of their set as they went in right before us. I can't wait to see them again. Our set was in a large tent and it was packed to the brim with about 3000 people. We played one of the most intense 45-minute sets of our career and left stage delirious. More unreality set in as Peter Murphy grabbed me back stage and told me that he loved the set (important note: Amanda was a Bauhaus Fanatic for a while in High School). He came back to our
yard and we drank wine while I pinched my proverbial arm every fifteen minutes or so. I went and forraged for cigarettes for all of us.

Brian and I just bought airbrushed T-shirts at the Generic American Truck-stop in Arizona yesterday. His is reddish orange has a big Wolf and mine is blue and purple and has two Dolphins.



p.s. media lately:

Antony and the Johnson's new CD "I am a bird now" is fucking genius, a cd to cry and die to.

kathleen edwards' new cd - "back to me" is growing on me, still very standard alt-country but brilliant songwriting.

just finished "the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime" by Mark Haddon and highly recommend, it can be a long one-sitting read....


Tess said...

this post hurts to read..
i really wanted to see you guys at coachella but being an unemployed brokeass i am i couldn't get things together to see you. i'm sure you guys were incredible.

Julia said...

that book was a really good/interesting beach/pool read.


Winnie said...

Amanda, Brian, i saw you at coachella and you two were AMAZING. like wow. and with the beer, and the pissing, and i could feel the speakers in every organ of my body and it was so intense that my heart almost took on the beat to girl anachronism. hopefully you'll be coming back to california soon! luv ya MUAH!
-Winnie (you signed my cd yay!)

muruch said...

I love Antony & The Johnsons. It's so nice to see them getting some recognition. I Am A Bird Now is such a beautiful album, as is their previous self-titled release. No matter how many times I listen to Antony's voice, it still shocks and moves me. He's my first big musical obsession since I took the advice of Caitlin R. Kiernan and checked out some band called The Dresden Dolls. :}

Raiychelle said...

I would have done a lot of crazy things to go to Coachella.

But alas, it has passed... and I can't turn back time.

Stacy said...

Thank you!
Just dropping a big thank you for performing in Sacramento.
My partner and I got to see you there, and we loved it. The show itself was just plain awesome.

Happy belated birthday by the way.

We'd love to see you again if you are making it back to Northern California sometime in the future.

But thanks again for such an awesome experience.

Girl Called Robert said...

Saw you guys at the SF show. It was the bestest show ever! I almost feel silly for saying this.. but I cried all the way through 'good day'... Who the hell cries at a show? *sigh* hehe It was in an amazing atmosphere, a wonderful experience and something that just can't be put into words. Thank you guys so much. I just hope we can experience another one of your fantastical shows!

Angela said...

It is absolutely amazing the things you and brian have achieved. Yea, so I wanted to say thanks for being an awesome band as well as some great people. You took the time to talk to me after the Stone Pony show recently and answered my questions as to how you managed such success and any advice you may have had. I really appreciate your taking the time, and I've taken what you said to heart. I just wanted to say thanks again, and I can't wait to see you guys play again.
-Angela B.

metaphorge said...

The show at the Great American was my first time seeing the Dolls, and I was totally blown away (I wrote a review of the show at my other blog) to the extent I had to catch you guys again in Sacramento.

I can't wait until you're back out here at the Shores of California. :)

EthalMermon said...

There is nothing like the feeling of exchanging sweat, tears, body odor and adrenalin with the strange neighbor squshed in aside you while waiting for the Dolls to come on stage. After a suprisingly eye opening performance in Salt Lake City last November, I made it my mission to fly down to Cali for the Coachella show. I wasnt disappointed. YOu have a following of delightful individuals and my boyfriend and I are pleased to be a part of that. Thank you so much for allowing us to share in such a wonderful experiance. You have brought us closer together and I couldnt be happier. Thank you again. The offer is always open to come back to Utah. I know not with the present tour but please done forget about all of us up here. We love you guys!!!!!!!

spike said...

SF was the first show my underaged ass has finally gotten to go to. I've been pining away for a while now, waiting for the chance. Glad I finally got to see you, since I know that the next time you come around I'm going to be paying fourty dollars for the tickets. Or rather, wishing I wasn't so poor and had the fourty dollars to go. You guys are ethereal.

MintyFreshDeathThreat said...

The black birthday cake sounds pretty awesome. and very NINish indeed. Happy birthday to you, by the way. You were amazing in Asbury Park NJ, by the way. A month ago friday! my, how time flys.

Kelsey Jarboe said...

black birthday cake... oh trent.

Euphobic Optimist said...

I was In the Front at Coachella you two .... were sooooo great .... Ive seen you play once before in San Diego you where great then too but you two just seem to get better & better. The performance was to good for words.
The way Amanda's makeup ran during Missed Me couldn't have been better it made Amanda Look Insane my neck hurt afterwards because i have too watch both of you!! Brian is a god with those drums playing so fast you can Hardley see the sticks hit.. so fast you can see the shadows play off the movement of his sticks. One of my faveriot moments is when you where playing coin operated boy and you could tell everyone who just listened too the radio version by looking at them singing along and stopping at "i can even fuck him in the ass" with the mouths wide open and then cheering ^_^ Oh my yes you where good . My only letdown was being turned away for signing because i had a t shirt & no CD :_| but i figure thats not you guys thank ye for the concert ty very much ...

stefani said...

"Vegas fascinates me. It is a place, and yet a non-place. A tourist attraction from the ground up, a disneyland for the depraved. But somwehere off the strip must be a real town, i wonder where....maybe The Killers could tell us."

This is the most common misconception of gambling cities.
After graduating high school I remember people asking me where I went to school. When I said RENO, more than a few times people responded, "they have schools in RENO?"
I swear to God!
I left Reno after graduating mostly to find some culture and more importantly that I wasn't a freak. Up until about NOW Reno was made up mostly of *clears throat* Rednecks.
But, after ten years of "globe trotting," and getting my "worldly experience," I have come back to Reno to settle down and have a family.
Yes, there is a real town out there. We are slowly and most toddler-like building an Art community. There are book stores, coffee houses, schools, and get this, even libraries. There are doctors, clergymen and yes, even mailmen...or rather "letter carriers" this is how I finance my chosen lifestyle. It's a mundane job, not creative in any way. But it pays the bills. I spend the morning listening to other letter carriers talk about how they didn't walk through the yard with the John Kerry sign because they might step on a syringe. Or what Tom Licchus had to say the day before. And yesterday I actually got hooted at by some construction workers, who've obviously never seen a female letter carrier.
Then there are the rehab centers filled mainly with people who've thrown there life away for gambling more so than drugs.
So, yes to answer your question, twisted as it may seem, there is a city out there...

stefani said...

"people who've thrown there life away"... ahem, i mean their...

Ramsey said...

I like to just sit and people watch in Vegas. I have no poker face, so I just go outside and sit and watch. So many people are usually hunting for something (Money, girls, a free T shirt)that something interesting happens sooner or later.