The nice thing about having a blackberry, besides the fact that I can check email while sitting on the toilet, is that I realized I can directly blog while anywhere and send the text to myself. Since this feels like a candidate for one of the more miserable days of my life, I'm going to keep an ongoing log. While sitting in chairs and in cars. While waiting.
8:00 am boston time - logan airport. in a chair, waiting.
I woke up at six. I was still incredibly tired and the first thing that occurred to me is that I was leaving and I wouldn't sleep in my own bed for a while. So a strange impulse overtook me and I hugged my quilt and pillows goodbye, realizing immediately that it was some bizarre half-asleep lame-ass excuse to stay in bed. We canceled our show in maine last night. Brian wasn't able to play in vermont two night ago, he had a fever of almost 104. He stayed in a hotel bed and I played solo, inviting the audience to sit on the stage and pellet me with requests. I did my best. I was already sick myself at that point and my voice sounded like shit. I forgot the lyrics to "girl anachronism" so invited members of the audience to come up and sing them instead. Charming. I fucking hate that: I hate being able to charm my way out of a sloppy performance. But who cares, it is it is. We drove to new hampshire and both got onstage for a last gasp, canceled the maine show and drove home to collapse. Brian went to the doctor and was diagnosed with strep throat, I'm going to go to the doctor the minute we land in japan. We have almost 20 hours of flying and layovers in front of us. When we land, we're supposed to sleep, wake up, and talk to the press immediately. I'm not sure how this is going to go down now that I've lost my voice and have been communicating to emily and brian via pen and napkin. One thing is certain: if I were talking, I wouldn't have the inclination to be writing this. I talk a lot. It’s too strange to stop. We talk about nothing when we travel, anything. We listen to the sounds of our voices to remain human. Look at that. Remember that. Why is that. Why is there a giant dunkin’ donuts cup in the terminal? Where do they actually manufacture these huge coffee cup sculptures? Your dandruff is growing. I hate The Man. Do people steal salt and pepper shakers from airports. We should email the japanese label rep. When are you knocking yourself out? Is "glorified" always used ironically? I wonder if I'll ever grow to like bloody marys the way I grew to like spinach and broccoli. Ad infinitum....we just talk. We talk to feel not alone. Words make our mouths exercise. We stop listening to each other and we don't even care. It's understood.
9 am - sitting at the gate. in a chair. waiting.
I went through my Logan Airport Hudson News Stand Ritual and bought two bottles of water, The Economist and Teen People. Life is all about balance. We looked for spin magazine, because we know we're in it, but they didn't have it. No early morning narcissism fix for us. The plane is stopping first in chicago, two hour layover, then tokyo. I'm knocking myself out when we get to chicago. I've been reading the early reviews of the record online. Everyone is able to download it, and I ain't gonna blame them. It's the future. I can only remind all of our fans that the artwork packaging is beautiful and the experience is not complete without owning it.
The reviews are 98% amazing, but we will focus on the 2% that think the music is terrible and the lyrics are trite and overdramatic. How does one scrape oneself out of the goth pigeon coop? This has been a problem from day one. I never thought that wearing whiteface on stage would land us in the predicament of being compared to Marilyn Manson. Are you shitting me? Have you listened to our music, fool? We have as much in common with Marilyn Manson as we do with Cher. Did people lump KISS and david bowie together?
On a different note, in the wake of last weeks bombing of the iraqi shias' askariya shrine, a wave of sectarian reprisals ensued, mainly against sunni arabs, raising fears that the country might tip into wholesale civil war. Despite a four-day curfew and the deployment of american and iraqi troops, the communal strife continued, leaving at least 500 civilians dead; some morgue officials put the toll at more than 1,300. In addition, our shoot with emma roberts (yep, julia's niece!) was a total lovefest! The star of the new movie "aquamarine" divulged her crush on singer Teddy Geiger and her Juicy Couture obsession ("I'm a walking ad for their stuff!") and raved about Teen People: "I get my copy every month!" Get her glam look with a Michele Busch necklace ($140; michelebusch.com) and Charles Worthington Smart Fixx Curl Enhancing Cream ($7; at Walgreens). President Bush's ratings are at an all time low of 34%. Gloss plus balm in one, soothes lips as it shines. Security issues surrounding the sale of six American Ports to a Dubai-based company. Advanced Any-Angle Self-Tanning Spray. Yes!
12:30 - chicago time. in a chair. waiting.
Kate calls it InLove Chicago. Hard to tell from the airport.
2 pm - Chicago Time. in a plane chair. waiting, pretty much, to land in tokyo.
In the air after a layover that included bad food and a trip to the bathroom. Emily and I got stared down by our fellow passengers in the gate for spreading out and doing yoga on the floor. Thirteen and a half hours is a shit long time.
I started to get airportitis on the terminal shuttle waiting area. We accidentally developed a new game called "beached". I lay down on the ground and told brian I was a beached manatee. He said that a manatee wouldn't flail its arms out like that, so I scrunched them in. He then listed off names of beached animals (norwall, scallop, lobster) and I would do my best to imitate, writhing on the floor while we waited for the shuttle to terminal 5.. Emily noted that we were freaking out the midwesterners. My voice is coming back, but I can feel my sore throat in my bottom teeth.
Some Time - the screen tells me we're over alaska. It’s10:52 tokyo time. chair. sit. wait.
I just watched a movie that seemed like it was made with the intention of ripping me apart. I don't often cry at movies. One scene in "million dollar baby" got me six months ago. But it takes a lot. I cried four separate times just now, breaking my own record by far. The movie was "north country" and I'd never heard of it...just flipped it on. My god. painful sexual harassment scenes, teenage rape and if that wasn't enough, a central character who comes down with Lou Gehrig's disease, which killed my step-brother Karl when I was 21. No wonder I lost it. I think its time to go to sleep, clutch my luckiness like no day in recent history as much as right now, right now, right now.
7:30 pm - tokyo time
We're on our way to the hospital so I can ask the doctors if they can help me with my throat. We is me and Koji, our roadrunner label rep. You never know with these guys, but he's cool as shit. He picked us up at the airport and got us to our hotel. Emily is staying behind with brian to poke him with hot tongs so that he doesn't fall asleep and start the evil jetlag cycle. I want to drink some Aquarius and they didn't have it in the vending machine outside the hotel. Aquarius is a lovely cloudy powerade kinda water that tastes like lychees. Its habitforming. There are vending machines EVERYfuckingWHERE in japan. Drive 80 miles to Nowhere, see japanese trees and grass and not a human soul around, but there WILL be a vending machine at the intersection of any two dirt paths. I remember the last time we were here for a few days, my life seemed strung together by moments in which I would dawdle off to find a vending machine that sold Aquarius. We tend to like that which we can understand. Put money in, get drink out. Much less difficult that pointing, gesticulating and bowing like mad for forgiveness of the intrusion. Vending machine could give a shit if you're a whitey or a brother or a martian. Just knows you got the cash.
8:30. Pm- tokyo time. sitting in car. waiting.
The doctor at the hospital said I have a clinging lowgrade flu and an allergy to an unknown substance. maybe I'm allergic to music. He gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way.
11:30 am - tokyo. on subway. sitting. waiting.
I crashed hard after dinner, woke at 4:30 am, popped half an ambien and crashed til 9. The journalists and crew don't come pounding til noon, so I am soaking up these few moments of freedom, I've been wandering around shibuya all morning, finding a bank and buying haircombs and feeling that dark feeling I feel every time someone walks by me wearing a surgical mask. I would estimate that one in 30 folks here in tokyo sports the surgical mask full time. Its like some strange twilight zone episode if you're not used to it.I wandered into a dept store and checked out the surgical mask display. There are dozens of options.
On an internet note: The band hosts a forum (many of you are probably familiar with it, if not a part of it: www.theshadowbox.net) where people log on and discuss the band, the shows, each other, whatnot. I browse it often and post once in a while but have generally watched it evolve into its own ecosystem, for better or worse. There's a vast assortment of intelligence and pettiness, although the trend seems to be leaning towards the petty as the older fans start getting turned off by the squealines of the newer, younger fans who post thirty times a day and sort of dilute the relevance of topics with inanity. This is just life, so it goes. But last night I saw something that hit a nerve.
Basically, some teenagers sporting mall fashions posted a clip to YouTube of themselves drunkenly singing along to "coin-operated boy"...on a boat. Nothing creative about it, just some drunk Ordinary Fucking People having a gas, but the overall reaction of the forum-dwellers was this high-minded "how dare the/rhese people should die/this makes me want to puke" reaction. I fully understood, there's a part of me that totally related to feeling this about a band. But this was downright unsettling. In response, and I partly blame my cranky jetlag, I posted to the thread and voiced my disgust at the elitism. You can see the whole thread here: http://www.theshadowbox.net/ddbb/viewtopic.php?t=7892.
And as I sort of expected, some people jumpily apologized, but most were understanding. I reminded them that I have the disadvantage of never being able to discover the band for myself; I'm in it. Music is for Everybody, but I also remember really vividly the protectiveness that I felt about my favorite bands when I was younger, especially when the jocks in my school started listening to the cure. DIE, I thought.
Its such a fine line between being open and honest and being preachy. I never want our audience to feel like there's A WAY to listen to our music. There's millions. Every band who becomes popular has to deal with this. He’s the one. He likes all our pretty songs. And he likes to sing along.
Anyway. All food for thought all the time. I'm glad I at least feel safe and confident enough to have this kind of conversation with our fans, even if its a dicey one. How the fuck else would they be able to trust me, or me them?
12 noon - tokyo time - sitchairwait
Yesterdays interviews and shoot were simple and went off without a hitch. I was expecting the questions to be more on the typically japanese conservative side and they mostly were save the guy who asked us if we could remember our first orgasm experiences. Brian explained in Long Graphic Detail and I was spared because he took so long. Last night emily, eric (long ago friend and dolls supporter, he used to come to all of our boston shows wearing adam-ant war paint on his cheeks) and I went to the white stripes show in tokyo. We didn't get in touch ahead of time so we got last-minute tickets through Koji but luckily ran into the Stripes' tour manager, who worked for us once in new zealand. This was lucky; we got to watch most of the show from the side of the stage and meet mr jack and ms meg. They reminded me so much of me and brian after a show...tired but gracious, and jack was a total gentleman. We griped about label control and vocal throat sprays with each other and jack showed me his amazing holga camera with multi-colored rotating flash (sort of like those 4-colored clicky pens). meg was also very sweet and relieved to be coming up on the end of a solid year of touring. jack looked nothing like michael Jackson in person. Their show kicked, great energy. And I was pleased to hear them using pre-recorded guitar sampled on one song. Not purists = good.
5 pm tokyo time - sitchairwait
More journalists, more questions, more sticky rice snacks and more walks through the streets of shibuya. One thing I can not get used to over here is the utter lack of male gaze. Emily says she loves it, but she's probably a far greater general victim due to the fact that her tits are twice the size of mine. Italy is pretty bad, there I often feel like a piece of meat walking down the street, winked at, sized up, clucked at and generally drooled over even when I am thoroughly unwashed and look like shit, just because I have a vagina. Here, if a gaze happens to fall on you, it doesn't rest, and it certainly doesn't ever return for a double take. I find it disconcerting. I'm used to the attention. Its like: wait, what the fuck? Why aren't you staring? I washed my hair, I made an effort, asshole! We’re all so conditioned.
some night-time on the plane from japan to australia
i take it ALL FUCKING back. north country was obviously not a touching movie, i'm just dealing with early PMS, as proven by the fact that i just cried, TWICE, during a HARRY POTTER movie on the plane. either that or the stress is really getting to me.
This shit is unacceptable.
March 15th - Many days later, after Australia, in Austin, TX for south by southwest.
3:37 am. this time i am not waiting. i am alone, in a hotel room. i am avoiding sleep.
my blackberry proved to be a poor up-to-date blogging tool. I wrote up a storm (see above) and then couldn’t send the fucking thing to myself for a week because of technical difficulties. It’s not the future yet. It’s now a week later and I am alone in my texas hotel room, jetlagged and blurry, spent.
We went to Sydney and Melbourne and did press and radio stations and relaxed a little bit before flying here to texas. We played a last-minute gig in Sydney, at a teeny weeny burlesque club, during which I started to botch Girl Anachronism again...but this time no pretty young girls volunteered to do karaoke, so we skipped the tune altogether. People were completely shocked. This was a HUGE single for us in Australia. Eh, I said. We should’ve rehearsed. But when? Where? In the airport? This schedule is shit. We’re not being musicians, we’re being promo whores, it’s not good nor bad, but a whole different frame of mind. Getting up on stage to play all of a sudden feels about as natural as getting ripped out of a hot shower and tossed naked, complete with skis, boots and poles, on top of a black diamond slope. In a different country. Maybe exciting. Ok. Not normal.
I got my period on the plane from Syndey to Los Angeles and beached myself, squishing, in the back row of seats on the plane. Brian and I always joke that all of this touring and travel is terribly unnatural for a menstruating woman, who in the olden days would have been sent away from the tribe to squat quietly over a nice patch of green moss for 3-4 days to bleed and suffer in peace. Nope, stuffed liek a lemming into a long sardine-can with wings bulletting through the sky with 245 other people in my breathing/bleeding space. Very far, very far from the nice patch of green moss. i want my moss. I watched three movies (brokeback mountain, the squid and the whale, walk the line – was not tempted to cry a single time), ate chocolate and decided never to have children.
In more exciting news: we received our first terrible review for the album a few days ago, in venus magazine (I’ll give you the bad highlights):
“...Unfortunately, The Dresden Dolls’ lyrics are still self-absorbed and cynical. Palmer’s lyrical concerns have become a bit cliché and, let’s face it, talking about fucking in pop songs hasn’t been shocking for the past ten years. While the rock production is compelling, one becomes suspicious that it might be masking some weakness in the writing, which becomes particularly evident on the latter half of the album (by the time you reach “Me & The Minibar”, you realize this is the third nearly identical ballad on the CD). This album quickly loses it’s ability to surprise you. Despite the fact that the music, dealing with intimate sexual matters and detailing troubled relationships of all sorts, should be confessional or at least personal, it seems as though the Dresden Dolls hide behind songwriting convention and sonic sheen. This album may leave you wishing the Dolls had traded in their fancy production for a better set of tunes.”
Should I be nick cave and not read the terrible ones? No no no!!! I must. In fact, given the popularity of the Hate Mail section of our website, I think we’ll have to start a Bad Press page. Much more exciting to read than the good press, and more revealing. And now I feel naked: hiding behind songwriting convention has always been my specialty. Next they’re going to do the exposé on our secret writing collaboration with the Matrix and the fact that an aged and greedy Vivienne Westwood actually designed our entire aesthetic from scratch 6 years ago in a secret New York boardroom amongst equally aged and greedy old suits with Punk Cabaret pie charts and stripey cloth swatches. “Let’s start them off in Boston....New York would be a dead giveaway” they whispered. “Nobody will ever suspect!”
Ah, oh well. Hey, ho. Here we go.
Bring it. I’m ready.