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....