Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Travel Day to Los Angeles

Well, a lot has happened since I last posted anything. On the Monday following my arrival home, all the windows in the house were replaced. Pioneer Exteriors did a great job and I'm really happy about it.

I hired Paige's mom to clean the empty house top to bottom the day after the windows were done. Then I hired a friend's daughter for a couple of days to help me pack. Then I hired Foy & Terry's son Cooper to help me move everything that we could move in his pickup truck.

Thursday the 25th, Paul Dickerson (the king of pinballs) came to pick up my 3 pinball machines. They went to his shop, where he and his son went over them with a fine-toothed comb before delivering them to the house on the 29th.

On Friday the 26th, the movers came for the big stuff (like the bed). That was the first of 5 nights I got to sleep in the house before leaving town. Spent a lot of time shuffling stuff around and getting ready to leave town for 3 months.

As usual, I had car trouble 3 days before leaving. As I'm writing this at the airport, the car's sitting in the driveway dead. Couldn't get it to my Honda guys because they were closed for the long weekend and I had no time to deal with it Tuesday due to all the last-minute stuff I had to get done. I ran around in a rental car for 2 days and turned it in this morning.

Went to the United counter to discover that my flight was YESTERDAY! Gee, is it just me, or do ya think they should have booked me on the proper date????? Evidently, the tour director books all the flights and hotels herself, which is a HUGE mistake. She seriously needs to be using a rock 'n roll travel agent. You know, someone who specializes in large group logistics. I called and woke her up in her hotel room in L.A. (5:15am her time). 30 minutes later, I'm heading to the other terminal. Now I'm on USAirways, going through Charlotte, and won't get to L.A until 6pm.

Finally made it to the hotel around 7:30. Meet a bunch of folks in the lobby. Nothing much going on tonight. I cross the street for a burrito around 9, wind up in bed around 11.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Day Off at Home

Wake up at 6, but I manage to fall back to sleep. Probably shoulda rolled out of bed, but screw it.

Did you ever have one of those days where everything's funny. Today's that day.

I love those moments where the absolute absurdity of something just cracks me up. I'm exchanging emails with Elton John's tour accountant and just laughing my ass off. Dude, it's 7:30 in the morning and I'm 'bout rolling on the floor.

Around 8:30, I'm sitting at Starbucks. Suddenly, Raleigh's turned into a cosmo city – a dude comes in wearing a skirt. Not a kilt mind you, a skirt. He's kinda professorial-looking, with a shoulder-style briefcase/man-bag, a black t-shirt, sandals, and an ankle-length cotton skirt. All the stuffy folks in the place stare at him. I wanna stand up and give him an ovation. Go brother, fuck with their complacency!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Day Off at Home

No motivation. That's what I'm feeling when I get up. You know what that leads to…

I go straight to the couch and watch 7 episodes of "24'.

I finally get it in gear in the middle of the afternoon. Go to Linens & Things, Home Depot, and Target to buy stuff I'll need for the move. Grab a bite at Mitch's on the way home (veggie chili, mmmmmm).

Go through 3 bags of mail that Greg gave me the other day, watch a little TV, and head to bed by 11:30.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Travel Day, Heading Home

Up by 7. Hang out at Starbuck for 90 minutes, enjoying a leisurely breakfast and people watching.

Check out and grab a cab around 11:40. I'm at O'Hare by noon. Head to my gate and chill. As the plane is boarding, I run take a leak. As I’m doing so, I take note that the PA system's playing "Amazing Grace." I'm sorry, but to me that's called FUNERAL MUSIC! OK, maybe not officially, but most folks associate that song with funerals. Why on earth would you play such a song? People are already wiggy about flying. Well, OK, not me, but come ON!

Back waiting by the gate. I hate standing in line inside the jetway, so I’m generally one of the last 2 or 3 people to get on. There's an alarm bell ringing from inside the jetway. Just keeps going and going. Stops. Starts again. Another guy standing there looks at me, seems he's a little panicky about it. He asks the gate attendant what's up with the alarm. Amazingly, the attendant says "I don't know what it is. Just some alarm." Hey, great answer, buddy. Isn't it part of your job to put your customers at ease?


Land at RDU. Greg picks me up and whisks me home. I make a couple of calls to arrange dinner plans. Run to my house to look at my beautiful new floors. Meet Foy at the Ale House and the drinking commences. His wife Terry joins us an hour later for dinner, then we head up the hill to Northside Billiards for more beer.

I split around 11:30 and go around the corner to the house. Lay my dumb ass down on my floors and just enjoy the moment. I really do want to move in during this break – there's just sooooo many details to handle to make it happen.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Work Day in Chicago

Up at 6am. The goal today is to completely wrap up the loose ends of the tour, accounting wise. If I can knock it out, maybe they'll let me go home tomorrow.

By 8, I'm hanging out at the Starbucks around the corner. By 10, back in my room working. Still following up with some of the hotels to get the folios. I call the office and tell them I'll be over around 1, and ask if they have a desk I can set up at.

By 5:15, I'm done. Roshad, the tour manager, gives me a ride back to my hotel and we say goodbye. I like Roshad – he's a good kid. He'd be fun to work with on another tour, away from these crazy people.

Another dinner across the street at McCormick & Schmick's. Man, they play some schizophrenic music in here. Here's what I heard, in order:

Tone Loc – Wild Thing
Spencer Davis Group – I'm A Man
Genesis – Paperlate (or whatever that damn song's called)
Bowling For Soup – 1985
Plimsouls – A Million Miles Away
Blondie – Heart Of Glass
Foreigner – Double Vision
Gloria Estefan – Turn The Beat Around
Fountains Of Wayne – Stacy's Mom
Flock Of Seagulls – I Ran
Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way?
U2 – Two Hearts Beat As One

Sounds like the crazy way I like to program jukeboxes at the bars.

After dinner, back to my room to chill out. Flying home tomorrow.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Travel Day to Chicago

I'm up at 8am. Don’t really need to be, because my flight's not until 2pm. I'm not an early-flying kinda guy. I get some work done and putz around, finally heading to the desk just past 11. Do the master checkout and jump in a cab with Roshad, the tour manager. He was supposed to be on an earlier flight, but R. Kelly kept him out until 7am. Poor guy looks like death warmed over, and he says he's only had an hour or two of sleep.

To the airport and we stop and grab a bite. I have my usual scone and drink from Starbucks. This airport has free wi-fi, so I take care of email and do some websurfing while waiting at the gate.

I'm screwed on this flight. Got a middle seat. Hate that. Do my best to talk everyone in my path into changing either the seat or my flight, but they downsized the plane this morning, meaning it's middle or nothing. And the next flight out is the red-eye. Screw that. Middle seat, here I come. At least one lady was kind enough to get me the exit row middle.

We land in Chicago just past 7:30 and I’m at my hotel by 8:30. They're putting me up at the Sofitel Water Tower in downtown Chicago. Great hotel, even if I'm not a big fan of these foofy-assed hotels. I'm attacked as soon as the cab pulls up and spend more money on tips in the next 5 minutes than I've spent in 3 years. You can't even open a door at this place by yourself. There's 4, yep, 4 doormen at the front. All they do is open doors. That's it. There's more bellmen here than there are hookers in Vegas, too.

I would never pay $355 a night for a hotel room, but if this is where these fools want to put me up, I guess it's OK by me.

A little after 9, I head out to find some dinner. There's a McCormick & Schmick's right 100 feet from the hotel's front door, but I take a walk around the neighborhood to explore my options. Great area, lots of restaurants, bars, and such.

I decide on McCormick & Schmick's. Calamari appetizer, and for dinner I have the Stuffed Salmon. Kudos to the chef, it's cooked perfectly. It's stuffed with Blue Crab and Brie cheese. Awesome!

Back to my room around 11. Watch TV for 30 minutes and go to bed.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Show Day in Sacramento

Ah, the last day of the tour. It's always a clusterfuck for me, because everybody's dumping receipts on me that they should have given me days, weeks, and sometimes months ago. The road manager has a float. The nanny has a float. The SUV driver has a float – R. Kelly has a guy drive his gigantic SUV all over the country so it's always available to him. The wardrobe chick has a float. All 7 bus drivers also dump their floats to me today, and I have to do end-of-tour settlements with them to get them back to Florida. Just imagine you're driving a bus that gets "about" 5 mpg from Sacto to Orlando – 2,895 miles if you're counting – and figure out how much money it'll take to buy diesel fuel for that bad boy to make it. I figured 4.5 mpg to be safe, threw in an extra 50 miles, and paid a rate of $0.75 per mile. We're talking $2,208.75 per bus, and that's just the ones that are going straight back. A few have to drop folks (and stuff) in Chicago (3208 miles, $2,443.50 in fuel) and a couple of them just stay in Chicago. R. Kelly keeps 2 buses at his disposal 24/7/365. Trust me when I tell you that it's not cheap to do that.

So anyway, I'm busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest all day. That's OK, though, because it just makes the time fly by.

Before ya know it, it's 2am and I'm at the hotel. Say goodbye to a couple of folks and head to my room. Flying to Chicago tomorrow for a few days to wrap up the tour…

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Show Day in Oakland

Second of two in a row here. Second to last show. Everyone's ready to be elsewhere.

Early to rise today. Early to bed…

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Show Day in Oakland

OK, three to go. Today is the first of 2 shows at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland.

I slept like hell last night. Left the bar and got in bed around 12:30 – 1:00. Absolutely, positively w-i-d-e a-w-a-k-e at 4:45.

Wicked tired after the show – go straight to my room while everyone else (except Janet) goes out.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Day Off in San Francisco

740 mile drive from Phoenix. Arrived around 1:30pm. Great hotel. Tiny, tiny rooms. Zero counter space in the bathroom, only a 5-inch by 3-foot shelf to hold all of their crap and all of my crap.

I have dinner with Sherry (my ex) and her husband Ed. Always a good time with those two. After they split, I join Gratton in the bar and get faced…

Show Day in Phoenix

Honestly can't say that there was a single damn thing worth saying about today.

I take that back. There were 2 things.

One of the runners had HUGE tits.

Why she was a runner and not a stripper shall remain a mystery…

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Show Day in Bakersfield

Up super early today. We're leaving at 7:30am to drive up to Bakersfield. Five shows to go.

My buddy Garrett comes out early in the afternoon and has lunch with me. He hangs out for about an hour or so, then splits. He's an old friend from Florida who moved here and got married a few years ago. He was the LD for King's X for 8 years or so, and we've worked together on Slipknot, BBMak, and the Deftones. He's been trying to get me to move to Bakersfield for years, but that just ain't gonna happen.

Do the show, head to Frisco…

Monday, May 8, 2006

Day Off in Los Angeles

The alarm gets me up at 8. Coulda used some more sleep, but I've gotta get up at 5:30 tomorrow morning, so I wanna make sure I can go to sleep by 11 tonight.

Make calls about my upcoming gig. Knock out a bunch of work email, then head over to Starbucks around 10. It's in the middle of all that touristy stuff here in Universal City. I sit outside and share my scone crumbs with a couple of sparrows.

Right next door is the NASCAR Speedway, which has those really cool, almost full-sized cars that simulate real racing conditions. Basically, it's a big video game, but you get thrown around in the car and actually have to drive the thing. I'm the first guy in the door this morning, right at 11. I buy 4 races ($25) and head for the #8 Budweiser Chevy. What, like you thought I was gonna drive some POS Ford?

You even have to take a quickie (3 or 4 minutes) class before they'll let you in the cars. This might be fun!

All 4 of my races are on the Daytona track. The first race I totally suck, trying to get used to the car. Keep stalling the damn thing out at first, then I wreck a couple of times. I still manage to pull out a 15th place finish. I only averaged 138.1 mph for the entire race.

Race 2 I'm better, averaging 171.2 mph. Do a much better job getting into the turns, hitting them in the high 170's. I finish 9th and I'm gettin' it done.

Race 3 I finish 10th, but my average speed for this race is 184.7 mph. Manage to get into turn 3 at between 186 and 190.6 almost every lap.

Race 4 (my last one), my average speed is only 178.0 for the race, but I pull out a 4th place finish. If the damn race had been 10 laps longer, I think I coulda won it.

After my races, I head out to the lobby where the attendant hands me computer readout of all my stats, race by race. That's how I knew all that crap above.

That was the best $25.00 I"ve spent in a long time. I might have done better if I wasn't all jacked up on caffeine.

Back to the room for a shower and some more phone calls. Audioslave's tour manager calls and says that they're blowing out the dates in Japan, Korea, Australia and the U.K. That was the tour I passed on to do the streetball tour for AEG this summer. Guess I made the right call. He says they'll start up in September now, which could work out schedule-wise for me. They still gotta come up with more money, or I'll take something else. I love working with the TM, my buddy Steve. But I’m not gonna turn something down that pays 500-700 a week more to do it. Not now that I have a big ol' mortgage to pay.

I've got the Evanescence gig, too. That starts October 4th. Looks like I've got the Cheetah Girls tour, too, if I want it. That would be with Gratton, the production manager I’m working for now.

Walk back across the street to see the 2:30 showing of Mission Impossible 3 in Digital DTS. Wow! Wow! Wow! The picture and the audio are probably the best I've ever seen and heard in a theater. The movies got some outlandish plot issues, but it's an adrenaline junkie's dream movie.

I'd met one of our backline guys at the movie, and as we're leaving, I tell him about the NASCAR place. He thinks it sounds cool, so off we go racin'.

I puss out this time, and opt for the automatic transmission. My finishes this time were 7th, 7th, 7th and 4th. My average speeds are 186.9, 184.8, 187.4 and 182.1, repectively. There were a couple of big wrecks in the last race, which slowed down the speed a bit, but I did some awesome passing to climb to fourth place.

Back to the hotel for some more work. I grab a quesadilla for dinner in the bar, then head up to my room to chill out, watch a little TV and hit the hay.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Show Day in Los Angeles

Ouch! My head hurts.

I kept dreaming that I had to get up early today and I was gonna miss bus call. In reality, bus call's not until 4:45 this afternoon. We're already loaded in from yesterday's show, so we just have to show up in time for sound check/rehearsal at 5.

I eventually crawl out of bed around 9. Feel like crap. Make some phone calls, do some work, etc.

Around 2pm, I walk down the big hill to Cahuenga Blvd. From the hotel, it's about three-quarters of a mile to the nearest Poquito Mas. If you never been to L.A., I gotta tell ya, this is the best damn burrito place I've ever been to. I always get the Grilled Ahi-Tuna Burrito. Simply amazing.

Now that walk back UP the damn hill was fun. I'm still nursing my head, but the fresh air is definitely helping. I churn up the hill and by the time I hit the top I'm winded but feel a lot better. The hill is about 3 blocks straight up – it'll give pretty much any hill in San Francisco a run for its money.

Take a little nap while watching The Bone Collector on TV. Head downstairs just in time for bus call. Do the gig, then head back to the hotel after load out. No bar for me tonight, just lots of sleep.

Try to watch Bill Mayer on HBO, but can't keep my eyes open. Lights out just before 2.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Show Day in Los Angeles

Today would have been my father's 78th birthday. He died in 1987 on the day he retired, at the age of 59. He death from heart disease is probably the main reason I became a vegetarian the following year. Miss ya, Pop!

Today is show day one (of two) at Universal Amphitheatre. It's actually called Gibson Amphitheatre these days, but it'll always be Universal. This is only the third show I've ever done here. First one was in '96 when I was tour managing a band called My Head. We were the opening act on the Scorpions/Alice Cooper tour all that summer. Now THAT was a great way to spend a summer.

And I did a show here with System Of A Down in April 2005.

The venue is located in the heart of the Universal Studios tourist area. We're gonna stay here for our day off on Monday, so hopefully I'll get a chance to do some "touristy" stuff.

Show goes well. No load out, so we split fairly quickly and head to the bar at the hotel.

Ugly night…

Friday, May 5, 2006

Show Day in San Diego

Die, bus driver.






Hardly any sleep. Did show. Went home to the bus around 12:45.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Show Day in Las Vegas

Up at 6am. Didn't really wanna be, just happened that way. Gonna be a looong day.

Found out today that after I go to Chicago for a couple of days following this tour, I then have to go to St. Louis for a day to meet with the AEG folks about my next gig, the And 1 Tour. Which only cuts further into the time I get to spend at home. Criminy…

Typical day, except that we lost internet service around lunchtime and never got it back. After the show, I had to resort to using AOL dialup service to send my work files to management. I'd forgotten how freakin' slow dialup service can be. My 2mb settlement file took 22 minutes to send out. I think whenever I finally move into the house in September, maybe I'll get Roadrunner from TW Cable.

Out to the bus around 1am. Think I'll do bunkyworld a little early tonight…

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Day Off in Las Vegas

Man, I swear I'm gonna have to kill this bus driver. I like him as a person, but he's a terrible driver. He drives a bus full of people the same way he'd drive a load of dishwashers.

Which means I spent most of last night holding on as best I could so I wouldn't get thrown out of my bunk. Part of it's this crappy bus, with its crappy suspension, but his heavy gas/heavy brake driving sucks.

Good news: Day off.

Bad news: Day off in Las Vegas.

Good news: There's a brand new Johnny Rocket's directly across the street from our hotel, the Hard Rock.

It's 92 degrees as we pull up. Most of us don't get room keys until around 3pm, which means we spend about 90 minutes goofing off.

I spend a lazy day in my room. Walk over to Johnny Rocket's and grab a veggie burger for dinner, then watch some TV and do some blogging.

In bed around midnight.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Show Day in Denver

Up at 6am. Get showered, dressed, packed, checked out, loaded onto the bus and across the street to Starbucks by 8am. I've got a lot on my mind today, trying to decide which one of these 2 gigs I want to commit to. And I only have until lunchtime today to make my decision.

Finally decide that I'm gonna do the And 1 Tour, which is a basketball exhibition of sorts. And 1 is a shoe company, and they sponsor the tour. The whole tour is being promoted by AEG, who is the number two promoter in the country behind LiveNation (formerly Clear Channel). I'll be on this one from June 2nd until August 31st. It most likely means that I won't get to do Audioslave, but their schedule is totally up in the air right now, and there's no way I'm gonna turn down this much steady money over the summer.

The only downside to doing this tour is the fact that now I can't move into my house until September. I mean, I could probably make it happen in the 2 weeks I have off between tours, but I'm coming off 3 straight months of R. Kelly and going into 3 straight month of And 1.

So screw it, I wanna just relax during my break. I can move in September.

Ten shows and counting down as of today. Long drive to Las Vegas tonight.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Day Off in Denver

Up early (as always). Today's our second day off in Denver. Ya just can't beat two in a row.

Read one of the local papers in my room, then head to Starbucks, where I have a scone and a latte and read USA Today. Back to the room in hopes of watching the race, which will start at 10am local time.


Because the race got rained out yesterday, it's being run today. But instead of being on Fox, today's it's switched over to FX so that Fox can run their regular schedule. Problem is, the hotel doesn't carry that channel. Figures…

I don't really feel like sitting across the street at Doctor Proctor's and watching the whole race, so I skip the first couple of hours of it and do some work in my room.

Head over later and catch the last 30 laps or so. Dale Juniors not in the running due to an earlier wreck, so I’m pulling for Tony Stewart. Some idiot wins, I can't even remember which one.

I walk around for about an hour, then start making phone calls about my upcoming gig. Trying to decide between 2 different tours, and it's a pain in the ass to make this decision.

I decided yesterday that I've done more gigs at more different venues in Denver than in any other city. Let's see…

The Lion's Lair
The Bluebird Theatre
The Ogden Theatre
The Fillmore Auditorium
Fiddler's Green Amphitheater
The Paramount Theatre
The Pepsi Center
After The Gold Rush
Denver Coliseum (formerly McNichol Arena)
Invesco Field At Mile High Stadium

That's as many as I can think of. I guess I'll have to do an LA list next, maybe NYC, too.

Go back to Doctor Proctor's for a couple of pre-dinner beers. Grab some chow at Wahoo's again, then head to my room to chill out. Feels like I might be starting to get the bug going around the tour. Definitely don't want THAT shit.

In bed by 11:30.