Monday, December 31, 2007

Show Day in Miami

Have I ever mentioned how much I despise the state of Florida? I have absolutely no use for the place. It can break off and fall into the ocean for all I care.

So, anyway…

Happy New Year, everybody!

Don't be this guy:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Show Day in Columbia, SC

I was born about 6 blocks from today's venue, in Columbia's Baptist Hospital. The date was July 23, 1958 – not too long ago.

Here's a photo someone took on Christmas night at the PourHouse in Raleigh. This guy looks suspiciously like me, and even has a necklace similar to mine. The thing is, I would never wear such a sexist t-shirt, would I?

Would I?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day

Today would have been David Enloe's 51st birthday. Instead, he passed away 4 weeks ago today. I haven't felt motivated to write anything in my blog since then, mostly because I wanted to leave my last couple of blog entries at the top of the page, as a small tribute to my friend.

I'm writing again now…

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Photos...

Scroll down. New David photos below...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

David Alan Enloe, 1956-2007

The phone rang at 3:57am. David's gone. He passed away shortly after 3am.

He was my friend and I will miss him.

I am grateful that Terry called me and told me I needed to come home now to see him. And that I could be there for his last night on this earth. And that I told him that I loved him, because people don't seem to say that to each other nearly enough.

Mostly, I will be forever grateful that David Enloe had room in his life for me to be his friend.

Rest in peace, my friend.


The Fabulous Knobs - David's hair, second from left

David Enloe
The Woods (David center)
David and more David

Monday, November 26, 2007

Going Home To See David

Got my rental car and headed for Raleigh. I didn't have any CD's with me, so I tried to listen to the radio. It was all crap, so I pretty much drove in silence the whole way home. I had rented a 2007 Toyota Highlander, which is one of the two vehicles on my "short" list to buy. Now, I just need to drive a Honda CR-V. Nothing wrong with the Highlander, but I’m leaning toward the Honda.

Dropped the car at the airport and Greg Howard picked me up and gave me a ride home. Dropped my stuff and had just enough time to check for emergency email when Terry called to say he was on the way to the hospital.

I jumped in the car and met him there.

Poor Terry's been doing double-duty here recently. Not only is his best-friend-for-life David here at Wake Med, but his dad Carl has been here for 2 weeks for a heart procedure. Carl's in the ICU, so I can't go visit. Only family is allowed, and even then they're only allowed in there for 15 minutes at a time, 5 times a day. Weird.

So, up to David's room we went. I've known David for 27 years, so I knew it was him as soon as I saw him, but anyone who didn't know him well would never had recognized him.

David has advanced liver disease, which has the unfortunate side effect of Encephalopathy (google it). He's very gaunt due to the weight loss, and his skin is a peculiar shade of yellow. His breathing is very labored at this point and I'm not really sure he even knows who's in the room with him.

Terry and I settled in for the evening, and then Jack Cornell showed up. Over the course of the evening, a few more visitors dropped by. Peter Holsaple, Robert Keely, and Kevin Nunnery all showed up.

Some history here - I first saw a band called The Fabulous Knobs back in 1980, when I lived in Charlotte, NC. They consisted of David Enloe and Keith Taylor on guitars, Jack Cornell on bass, Terry Anderson on drums and Debra DeMilo on vocals. They were one of the most amazing bands I've ever seen – a distillation of everything good about the Rolling Stones, the Faces, Chuck Berry and James Brown. Nuff said.

All of my close friends in Charlotte became friends with everyone in the band. Every time they came to town, we would all go to their shows and throw afterparties at our homes for them.

After they broke up, David, Terry and Jack, along with Dan Baird (from the Georgia Satellites) became The Woodpeckers. After Dan left, the other 3 guys became The Woods.

The Woods were the first band I ever worked for. I was hired to be David's guitar tech. Were it not for him, I'm certain I would not have the career I have now.

David was also a great friend. We've been drinking buddies for 27 years. We've shared the best and worst of each other's lives throughout those years. Hell, at one point in my life, I got so tired of driving home to my place after leaving his apartment nearly every night that I rented the apartment across the hall from him. Staggering 10 feet was a hell of a lot easier (and smarter) than driving.

He helped me through the big breakups of my life (you ladies know who you are), and I like to think I helped him through his 3 marriage cycles.

One of the things that impressed me most was when he went back to school in his mid/late thirties to get his degree. That was not easy to do.

There are so many stories I could tell, but I can't sit here typing all day. Maybe we can have a drink one night and toast to David over it. I promise I'll tell you some stories then.

So, back at the hospital, it was only Jack, Terry and I after about 9pm. Then those two finally split around 10. I bunkered down and wanted to stay until David's brother Mark got there. I'd already decided to go home and get some sleep, then come back in the morning to relieve Mark from his overnight duty. Poor guy's been sleeping in a chair in the corner of the room for a few nights now.

Before I left, I told David that I loved him. I had probably said that to him 5 times tonight – maybe he heard and understood, maybe he didn't – but I just felt like saying it again.

I left about 11:30. Straight home, aspirin for my splitting headache (never ate today), then to bed by 12:15…

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Show Day in DC

Fifth show of a five-in-a-row run. Today's show is at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.

Terry Anderson called me at 5:00 today and as soon as I heard his voice I knew it wasn't good. He said that David Enloe wasn't doing well. I told him that I was already planning to fly home on December 3rd to visit him for a couple of days. He said that I should come sooner because David likely wouldn't last that long. David has been functionally ill for several years now. Technically speaking, he's got liver disease. He has been hospitalized for a few weeks now, and was in recent days moved to a "rehab/nursing" facility. But he had an episode yesterday that led to him being admitted to Wake Medical Center.

So, I went into a mad scramble to get home tomorrow. Cancelled my flight to Little Rock and rented a car, thinking I'll drive home instead. On the one hand it's probably just as quick as screwing around with the airport, and on the other hand, I'll enjoy the quiet time to think. The drive is about 280 miles.

The hotel sucked when I got here. The AC ain't worth a damn. And I saw a cockroach in the bathroom. I can't tell you the last time I saw a bug in a hotel. And this is an Embassy Suites, which are usually immaculate. Oh, well, I'll get my 5 hours of sleep.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rehearsal Day in Columbus

Pyro guy Reid gave me a few tips on how to fuck with someone on any tour that pisses you off. Take some small gauge multi-strand copper wire and cut it into tiny lengths. Then sprinkle it in the offensive person's bunk. Let 'em try and sleep on that crap.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Load-in Day in Columbus, GA

3:50am – woke up sweaty, hot.

3:54am – got out of bed, walked toward thermostat, kicked coffee table, broke fucking toe!

Great way to start my day! By 1pm it's almost completely black and it hurts like a bitch.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Day Off in Chicago

My friend Jillian came and picked me up at the hotel around lunchtime. I hadn't seen her in probably 7 years. She's a lovely as the day I first met her back in 1993 when I was on an American Airlines flight with the Cry Of Love guys and she was a Flight Attendant on the plane. I'm sure I said something completely stupid to her, but we became friends, anyway, and still are…

Day Off in Chicago

Or more specifically, a day off in Hoffman Estates, IL, 30 miles outside of Chicago.

We had to load out of the venue last night because of some previously contracted events. We'll be loading back in on Monday morning. In the meantime, I've got a few days off here.

Hoffman Estates is where the Sears Centre is located. It's a very nice, if smallish, new venue. Great place to do production rehearsals. Not a great place to be staying in the Marriott located a half-mile from the venue. There's a new shopping center a block from the hotel, but not much else.

Restaurant choices include the hotel's lobby restaurant, a Subway, a Jimmy John's, a Panda Express, and a place called Claim Jumper. I skipped lunch today, and opted for Claim Jumper for dinner. Had a pretty decent appetizer, the Avocado Rolls. Had the Cedar Plank Salmon for my entrée. Stupid-sized portions of both. I think I left more of each than I ate.

When I first walked in and sat at the bar, I was a bit perturbed that they were OUT of Budweiser. Let's see, it's only the BEST-SELLING BEER IN THE ENTIRE USA, but you can't seem to keep your inventory straight.

OK, whatever. I drank Pacifico Beer instead.

The atmosphere of the place was sorta like a Stonewood Grill crossed with a J. Gilbert's, with just a touch of "generic sports bar" thrown in. Pleasant enough way to kill a couple of hours.

I was back in my room by 9pm.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

OK, this is funny. And dumb. I can't believe how much I laughed. I just heard two new (to me) euphemisms for throwing up:

"Shouting groceries."

"Making a street pizza."

I'm sorry, that shit's just funny!

Oh, I'm fuckin' dying over here. It's 8 hours later and I just read something else that lit me up. I've got tears coming down my face right now.

Did you ever hear the expression "Well, if a cat had kittens in the oven, you wouldn't call 'em biscuits!" I've always loved that one, but I might like this one even more:

"You can paint a pumpkin black, but that don’t make it a bowling ball."

Oh. Hell. Yes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Day Off at Home

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll remember that my street recently got its first teardown. It's three doors down to my right. Here's today's photos of the house being built there.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Day Off at Home

I thought today was going to be the day I flew out, but I talked to Roshad yesterday and I'm now flying on Tuesday.

Here's what sucks: I'm here at home for 10 nights, and have now spent 7 of them laying low, feeling like shit. Sure wish I hadn't gotten sick – but I guess it's better than being sick on the road.

Chris Phillips, the drummer from the Squirrel Nut Zippers, called me this afternoon to remind me that they were playing a show outside in downtown Raleigh tonight. By 8pm, I was feeling well enough to go down and see them. Got there 30 minutes before they played, hung out in the dressing room and drank beer with them.

I tour managed SNZ for 3 years back in the 90's, and I've got a million great memories of my time with them. It was good times then, and it was a good time tonight, too. I wound up watching the whole show and hanging out a bit afterwards before heading home around 11…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Day Off at Home

Still not 100%. This has turned into a 5-day Montezuma's Revenge Nightmare. The fever seems to have gone away, along with the all-over aches and pains. But I've been shitting soup morning, noon and night since Sunday.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Day Off at Home

Lots to do. Still feel pretty crappy, but better. Taking mega-doses of Vitamin C, along with aspirin, gallons & gallons of fluids, and Airborne.

Spent the afternoon dealing with 4 bagfuls of mail that I got from Paige. Also, dropped a couple of pairs of shorts off to Miss Jane, my Vietnamese tailor. I have this annoying habit of walking around with my Parker Jotter pen in my right pocket a lot, and it eventually punches holes in the pocket lining. Then my change falls out. Doh! Anyway, Jane will fix me right up and I'll pick them up from her later this week.

As far as I know, I'm flying out this weekend to R. Kelly rehearsals in Bloomington, IN. I'll be on that tour until shortly after the first of the year.

Still didn't feel like cooking tonight, or going out. Had a peanut butter sandwich for dinner. Maybe it will help solidify my intestines. Still having problems.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

First Day at Home

Felt like dogshit when I woke up. Aches and pains all over, sore throat, swollen tongue, low-grade fever, and (how do I put this delicately?) intestinal issues. Of the variety that require frequent, sudden visits to the bathroom.

Not exactly the way I want to spend my six days at home.

I managed to accomplish much of nothing all day, unless you count the one load of laundry I did. Or successfully watching the NASCAR race on TV.

Kinda bummed that the Carolina Panthers have a bye week this weekend. I would have loved to veg out with a football game.

Couldn't get motivated to cook, so I went out and picked up some Chinese food to watch the baseball game with. The damn Boston Red Sux eliminated the Cleveland Indians and are now set to play the Colorado Rockies in the World Series, which starts Wednesday. Guess I'm a Rockies fan now…

Finally went to bed around 2:15…

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Headin' Back to Raleigh

After landing at LAX, I got to the hotel in LA last night around 8:30. I could have taken another red-eye flight home to Raleigh and arrived at 6:15am this morning, but I HATE overnight flights. The one from Manila was bad enough at almost 13 hours duration, but at least I was in Business Class. My domestic flights here are always coach and there was no way in hell I was taking a red-eye in coach.

It also turned out to be cheaper (to the tour) for me to stay overnight in LA and fly home to NC this morning.

The downside of that is that on the flight from LA to Dallas, I sat across the aisle from some schlub who coughed, hacked, sneezed, wheezed, sniffled and slobbered the entire 3-plus hours. He looked like shit and I just knew I was gonna pick up whatever the fuck it was he was sharing with everyone on board.

Which I did.

On the second flight, Dallas to Raleigh, we were still an hour out when I got that funny feeling in my throat. By midnight, my tongue was swollen and it hurt to swallow.


As soon as Paige picked me up at the airport, we bolted straight to my house to drop off my luggage and the brand new, top-of-the-line, 17-inch, MacBook Pro I bought the other day and had shipped to her house.

Cranked down the AC to artic levels, and we headed out to the fairgrounds to the Daughtry show at Dorton Arena, the worst sounding building in America.

Daughtry's tour manager is my buddy Shabba, so I told him I'd be out to visit as soon as I got home. The show was sold out, and by the time we got parked and inside, they were probably 6 songs deep into it. Shabba put us up on stage left, in monitor world. I had seen the show once already in Raleigh (a few months ago) and again a few weeks ago in Melbourne, Australia, on a night off.

After the show, we hung with Shabba for a few minutes, then headed out onto the fair's midways to find something to eat.

Needless to say, not too many healthy options. But when in Rome…

We opted for the deep-fried peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Interesting, but I don't think I'd ever eat another one.

Paige dropped me off at the house a bit after midnight. I was wide awake and knew that sleep was merely a fantasy at this point, so I had a beer and caught the news on TV, then decided to walk over to Northside, my neighborhood old-man bar. Nothing going on there, only about 6 people in the joint. I stayed for one beer (that the bartender bought for me, thanks), then headed home. Finally got to bed around 3am.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bombing in Manila

Because of the flight schedules heading home, we're here again today and get to enjoy almost the entire day off. We're supposed to head to the airport around 7pm for our 10pm flight to Los Angeles.

I woke up around 9 and had some end-of-tour work to get done. Dennis called around 12:30 and asked if I wanted to go to lunch with him at 1. He said the buffet at the restaurant downstairs was out of control. I had planned on going to the mall across the street for lunch, but he said I really shouldn't miss out on this buffet. I caved in to him, mostly because this would be the last time we could break bread together until March.

Well, he was right. I have never, ever in my life seen a spread like this one. There must have been 200 linear feet of some of the best food I've had in my life. Chinese, Thai, Indian, Filipino, I lost count. Hell, the desserts area alone was like a confectionary.

The bomb went off while Dennis and I were having dessert.

We didn't hear it, although it was only a few hundred feet away, across the street at the Glorietta 2 Mall where I had planned to have lunch. They say it went off right at 1:30.

Until we finished eating and took the elevators back up to the 28th floor, we still had no idea. Stepping off the elevator, we found our local security guards knocking on room doors and trying to account for all of our people's whereabouts. They told us what had happened across the street, and that we absolutely should not leave the building.

My room faced away to the other side, so we went into Dennis' room to try to see what was going on down there. We could see that the streets were closed off and there were a LOT of police vehicles and ambulances.

I went back to my room to pack up and sent out a few emails. As I sat at my computer, I heard many, many sirens approaching. It was an eerie and frightful sound.

JT called and said that because of the bombing that we were now scheduled to leave the hotel at 6. Manila is now under a Code Red Alert, and we may have issues getting from the hotel to the airport.

I went to JT's room, where she had live coverage going on her TV. There was debate that perhaps the explosion was caused by a gas leak or exploding gas cylinder in one of the mall's restaurants, but later they came on and said the C-4 (plastic explosive) residue had been found. The casualty number are changing every few minutes – 4 dead, 8 dead, 5 dead – as are the number of injured people being attended to, both at the site and at two nearby hospitals.

Some of our crew guys heard the explosion; some even felt the concussive effect from it upon their room windows. One guy took photos of the smoke plume and people fleeing the mall.

The band's percussionist, Tim, was eating lunch in another part of the mall and said it felt like an earthquake.

Last I heard, there were 6 dead and at least 84 injured.

Needless to say, I'm glad I had lunch with Dennis or I would have been somewhere inside the mall when the explosion occurred.

They're saying that the device exploded inside the Guess store, the very store that Janet and I had been shopping in about the same time on Tuesday.

Before we departed the hotel for the airport, in spite of the fact that our security didn't want anyone going over there (in case there was a secondary bomb), I snuck over to say goodbye to the girls at Outback. The restaurant was closed, as was everything else in the immediate area. I tried to get close enough to see the damage from the blast at ground level, but the police had the area zipped up tight.

We split for airport right on time at 6.

We've had police escort motorcycles with us to and from the venue each day, which has been great for getting through Manila's notoriously bad traffic. Tonight, we have even more. I saw 5 motorcycle cops, 2 SUV's with security guards, and then there were additional guards in the Party A (artist) van, the Party B (band and yours truly) 18p bus, and the Party C (crew) 18p bus. We had a pretty good-sized motorcade.

I got lucky and got upgraded to first class because business class was oversold.

Made it to my hotel room in LA, and I've since read online that it was a car bomb parked just outside one of the mall entrances. Death toll now at 9.

Here's the latest:

Military explosives used in deadly Manila bomb blast: police
Posted: 20 October 2007 1136 hr

MANILA: Military explosives were used in a huge bomb blast at a Manila shopping mall that left nine dead and 113 injured, Philippine police said Saturday.

Evidence collected from Friday's Glorietta mall blast indicates that the bomb "contained RDX, the main chemical component of C4," the police said in a report to Philippines President Gloria Arroyo.

In the Philippines C4 explosive is only used by the military.

The report was delivered at a top-level security meeting between the president and her security advisers at police headquarters in Manila.

Arroyo immediately ordered the country's police chief General Avelino Razon to check its source and pin-point the culprits.

"Is that already definitive... or is there going to be another more detailed finding of what kind of explosive was used?" Arroyo said during the briefing. "We need regular information bulletins on the status of the investigation."

Senior Superintendent Bert Ferro, who heads the police bomb data centre, said samples taken from the site leads him to "presume that those are of military ordnance components."

A chemist from the centre told Arroyo that it was possible that more samples were being collected from the site, but "at this point in time, that is what we have."

Razon said the government was putting up a two-million-peso (45,454-dollar) reward for any information leading to arrests.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, which came weeks after military intelligence foiled an alleged plot by Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Islamic militants to bomb the southern port city of Zamboanga.

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said authorities were also looking at the Abu Sayyaf as possible suspects, noting that the group may have carried it out as part of their campaign to attract funding from international terrorist groups.

Reports said officials from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were helping Philippine police in the probe.

Throughout the night bomb experts sifted through blast debris trying to find clues as to what sort of bomb was used.

The mall remained sealed Saturday, with a cordon of policemen guarding its perimeter.

Razon said the bomb was apparently left at a delivery bay near a popular Chinese restaurant at the mall shortly after lunch.

He said investigators were also reviewing closed circuit television cameras and interviewing survivors and witnesses.

Security in all malls, bus and train stations, as well as sea and airports have been intensified, Razon said, with elite police commandos patrolling streets.

Alfie Reyes, a spokesman for the mall owners Ayala Land, said the firm would pay all medical expenses for the victims.

Officials and witnesses said the explosion left an eight-metre-wide (26 foot) crater on the ground floor and blew a hole through the roof on the second floor.

Abu Sayyaf Islamic militants were blamed for the bombing of a bus near the Glorietta mall that killed four people on Valentine's Day in February 2005.

Militants also firebombed a ferry in Manila Bay the previous year, killing more than 100 people in the country's worst terrorist attack.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Second Show Day in Manila

Feels strange to not have Blaine in the office today. Janet taped a picture of him to his chair and no one was allowed to sit there. A Blaine shrine, as it were.

Here in Manila, the most popular public transport is a vehicle called a Jeepney. Also, known as Jitneys, these vehicles have an interesting history, which you can read about here on Wikipedia.

A few Jeepney photos:

I watched a couple of songs during the show last night and again tonight. Won't get to see it again until March, on the South African tour.

After the show, back at the hotel, was a huge after-show party thrown by the promoter. It was in Red, the cool bar/restaurant in the lobby. One of our security guys told me that it was fairly crowded, but right now only with promoter folks and friends of promoter folks. JT (Janet) showed up, and she suggested heading to the Outback for a couple of drinks while we waited for our peeps to start arriving at the party.

Five minutes later, the two of us are sitting at the corner of the bar, enjoying some tasty beverages and some cheese fries. My usual bartender is off tonight – I can't believe I forgot her name – as is, April, the manager. Waitress Hazel is here again tonight, and I get my usual "Hey, Bob!" shout-out when she spots me. After a few rounds, JT and me decide to mosey back over to the party, which should be pretty much full-on by now. Hazel makes me promise to come back before closing time.

JT slips away almost immediately because she and a couple of other crew folks are going to see a volcano tomorrow. You can see photos of the volcano HERE. Scroll down a bit to check them out.

On the same page, just before the volcano shot, there are a few photos from a Jeepney factory.

I slipped away from the party around 2:30 to do last call at Outback, but when I got there, they had closed early and Hazel was gone.

Back to the hotel and in bed around 3:15…

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Show Day in Manila

I'm told that Manila is the most densely populated city in the world. I believe it. I've never seen traffic like this before.

I guess all the big-shots here take helicopters in and out of the city because of the horrendous traffic. From my hotel room, I can count no less that 12 helicopter landing pads, including the 4 on this building.

Today is Blaine's last day on the tour. He's our Live Nation rep out here on the tour, but he's leaving early tomorrow morning to start the Ozzy Osbourne tour. He's worked for Ozzy for the last 7-8 years.

Hate to see him go – he's been my pal and co-conspirator out here since I joined the tour.

After the show tonight, I dragged a crowd of about 8 folks to the Outback. Walked in to the sound of 3 chiming little voices, "Hey, Bob!" It was April (the manager) and Hazel (waitress) and the bartender (forgot her name).

Everyone bailed out by about 1:30, but I stayed until nearly 3am. Spent most of my time there talking to April and Hazel.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Day Off in Manila

Woke up around 9 and just putzed around the room. Had about a hundred emails to wade through since I haven't been online for nearly 36 hours. Janet called around noon and asked if I wanted to go to lunch, so we hit the mall next door. It's a huge mall, hundreds of stores, and on the second level, dozens and dozens of restaurants. After some wandering, we chose a Vietnamese place. I had a big ol' bowl of Pho, the traditional Viet noodle/soup dish. JT had the same, but I gotta say, she's a helluva lot better than me when it comes to eating noodles with chopsticks.

We walked around window-shopping for about an hour, then headed back to the hotel. Nothing else on the agenda today, until dinnertime.

Oh, yeah, dinnertime. My friend Paige has been here before (and even stayed in our hotel), and she said I had to go to the Hobbit House. It's a restaurant/bar/nightclub owned, operated, and staffed by little people. DWARFS! I told a bunch other folks about it and 8 of us wound up going. We got cars and drivers from the hotel and headed over around 7:30. The cars were 2100 pesos each for 3 hours time. That's $47.73 each for 3 hours – a deal. The Hobbit House was a hoot. The little people love having their pictures taken and happily pose for photos with customers.

I had a Filipino dish called Sinigang and it was great. It was kinda like Vietnamese Pho, and was served in a clay pot. Lots of onions, tomatoes, daikon (Asian radish), beans, chili peppers, spinach, and lots of shrimp. And all kinds of interesting spices that I couldn't identify. Looked like this:

Here's a shot of Blaine with the bouncer, who was the smallest guy working there:

After we got back to the hotel, a bunch of us headed straight to the bar at Outback. I bailed out around 12:30 because it was a school night…

Monday, October 15, 2007

Travel Day to Manila

Four AM came awfully early. We've got a long day today, traveling to Manila. Left the hotel at 5:15am for the 30-minute drive to the airport. The first leg of our journey had us on a near 5½-hour flight to Singapore. Easy enough, especially sitting in business class. Today we're flying on Singapore Airlines. Probably the best airline I've ever flown on. And yowza, the flight attendants are gorgeous. Beyond gorgeous.

We have a layover in Singapore of a little over 4 hours, which is long enough that you could go see a bit of Singapore if you chose to, but no one on the tour leaves the airport. Lots to do here anyway. Some amazing shopping to be done. You can go swimming, take a shower, see a movie for free (today's selection is Star Wars), and more.

Audio guy Chris, Janet, and I go off in search of food and wind up at one of those sushi joints that have the conveyer belt system passing by not only the sushi bar, but also right past all the booths, too. Four different colors of small plates, holding all varieties of sushi and sashimi (even Edamame) flow by constantly, and you just pull off any plates you like. You pay based on what color plate you choose.

Thirty minutes later, we had about 20 plates all over the table. Good stuff.

Stopped in the men's room in the terminal. In addition to the "regular" toilets, I spotted this lovely one behind this stall door:

Over in Turkey and Bosnia, these are known as Turkish Toilets. Yuck!

Spent about an hour in the VIP lounge, then off we go again. The flight to Manila is another 3½ hours, arriving around 8:40pm. The whole day is pretty much shot by now.

The Manila airport is a trip. Military guards everywhere, carrying automatic weapons. We're met by what seems like an entire squadron of security guys, all hired by the local promoter.

We're whisked away to a private area and don't have to do the usual dog & pony show through Customs/Immigrations. Next we're herded into buses and off we go, with a 2-motorcycle police escort. On the way to the hotel, I'm thinking, "I've got a police escort, bitches!"

Wind up in the hotel bar with Janet and Chris, where a Corona sets me back 360 pesos, which is $8.18 USD. Definitely not gonna have another, as I've heard too much for too long about how cheap everything is here in Manila. Except here in the nicest hotel in town, of course. And believe me, it IS a nice hotel.

We've got the entire 28th (top) floor of the hotel and a bunch of rooms on 27, too. There are security guards at each end of the hall, and an additional guy by the elevators to keep anyone from coming onto our floor. It's kinda creepy.

There's a big gathering of our people in one of the hotel's restaurant/bars at 11pm, but when we walk in, it looks like everyone's sitting down for a late-night dinner. Not what I'm interested in – I want to get out and see what's around the hotel.

While Janet and Chris have another drink and socialize a bit, I did a recon mission in the immediate area. Came back and grabbed them and he went about 3-4 blocks away to a restaurant called Gilligan's, where we settled in for awhile. Had a table out on the front patio by the street. We were the only non-Filipino's there, which was cool. My beer of choice tonight is San Miguel pilsner, which cost 34 pesos each, about 77cents USD.

Let's see – I had 5 beers, Janet and Chris each had 5 or so mixed drinks, and we shared an order of calamari and an order of fries. Our total bill came to 1,052 pesos, $23.91 USD. Cool.

On the way back to the hotel, I talked them into stopping at the Outback Steakhouse, which had a decent-looking bar. The air conditioning was cranked up and the beer was far colder than Gilligan's. The bartender, manager (April), and our waitress (Hazel) were all very friendly and very attractive. My San Miguel beers here are 50 pesos, $1.13 USD.

Although they're open until 3am, we packed it in not long past 2:30. Tired, and I've been up for 22½ hours now…

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Show Day in Perth

There are a lot of Holden cars on the road here. It's an Aussie division of GM. The Holden HQ LS Monaro was the car driven by the Night Rider in the movie "Mad Max." See it HERE.

Mel Gibson's title character Max drove the Black Interceptor, which was a Ford Falcon XB Coupe, V8 351. See it HERE.

And there's a company from whom you can buy your very own Interceptor replica. See it HERE.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Travel Day to Perth

Well, OK, we flew into Perth, but we're staying out at Scarborough Beach, about 15-20 minutes from downtown. We're at the Rendezvous Observation City Hotel (mouthful), right on the beach. I've got a huge room with a dining table & 6 chairs (huh?), a couple of plush chairs and a pretty decent balcony. I'm up on the 22nd floor and here's the view:

Sail surfers? Parasailers? Whatever you call them, here they are:

Everything "to do" seems to be congregated within a 3-block area around the hotel. About 4 in the afternoon, I decided I wanted to find a place to drink and watch the sun go down.

After scoping everything out, I chose the Stamford Arms Pub. It was about 100 yards off the beach and had outdoor seating.

I've never seen the Indian Ocean before and I'm here to tell ya… Surprise, it looks just like every other ocean I've ever seen. Doesn't mean I don't want to watch a sundown, though. Well, OK, I've never seen a beach with pine trees on it, so it's a little different.

Called up Janet and she joined me a few minutes later. Then Blaine, then Wally, then Dennis. We had a few rounds and then at 7pm the pub started turning into a "proper" bar, which means the dress code starting being enforced.

Dennis went to his room to put on long pants. I couldn't do that because I didn't have any in my suitcase. After chatting with one of the bouncer dudes, I managed to stay there for a couple more beers.

After that, we went down the block and had a killer dinner at some seafood & steak joint that I didn't even get the name of. But damn, it was good…

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Travel Day to Adelaide

How funny is this? Adelaide is a 30-minute time change (back) from Melbourne. I never knew there were any 30-minute time zones anywhere in the world. I should get out more.

Got to the hotel around 2. Chilled in my room for most of the afternoon, then headed down to the hotel bar around 6.

Met up with a bunch of folks there, and had a few rounds. I cast a glance out the window at one point, and who's walking down the sidewalk but Lemmy Kilmister, the bass player from Motorhead, with some other bloke. Ten minutes later, they stroll into the bar and sit at a pub table about 10 feet from us. Not being the shy type, I walked over to ask when their show was – obviously not tonight or they wouldn't be here. I didn't want to bug Lemmy, so I asked the other guy, who turned out to be Tim, Lemmy's assistant. Nice guy, he was pretty friendly. Their show wasn't for another 2 days, in the same venue we're playing tomorrow.

Eventually peeled off to go to dinner with Blaine, Wendy, Luke (Oz promoter) and Nicole (Oz accountant). After a dining-options walk, we picked a Thai place about a block from the hotel.

Good food, good times.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel bar. Blaine and I have by now decided that we're gonna get our pictures taken with Lemmy. Hmmm, alcohol talking? He was gone, though.

A few more rounds with the gang, then off to bed…

Monday, October 8, 2007

Travel Day to Melbourne (again...)

Heading back to Melbourne, where we started our tour Down Under, for our other 2 shows at Hamer Hall.

Dropped bags, and went walking around for a bit. Met up with Blaine around 6 and we went to Spleen, the bar that's our adopted home here. Great little joint about 2 blocks from the hotel. Dennis joined us about 20 minutes later. We were sitting outside, enjoying the cool evening breeze, when our LD, Wally, walked by. He joined us for a few rounds, after which we went off in search of dinner.

Checked out a few menus in Chinatown before I made the call for a place called Post Mao. Glad I did. No shit, it was the single best Chinese meal I've ever had. We ordered far too much food. It was coming at us like in waves. We must have been there for 90 minutes and by the time we left, the four of us were all crippled from eating.

It was all we could do to get back to the hotel…

Friday, October 5, 2007

Travel Day to Brisbane

One thing I really like about all the airports here in Australia is that you can still go meet incoming flyers at the gate, without a ticket. Entire families greet people coming off of arriving planes and it reminds me of how things used to be in the US. You still have to pass through security, but no boarding pass necessary.

After flying in from Sydney, we made it to the Brisbane hotel just before 4pm. View from the room:

A couple of different people invited me to join their little groups for dinner, but I found myself to be in a bit of an anti-social mood. Every once in a while, I just want to go be alone and do stuff without anyone else. I can do what I want, when I want, with no one else to answer to or put up with. I might change my mind about a restaurant choice 3, 4 or maybe 5 times, just because I can.

So about 6:30, I headed up the street, away from the hotel and the river. Just kinda wandered around for a bit, checking out the pedestrian mall, and shopping area. Stopped and bought a book at Dymock's, a pretty good bookstore. Got the latest James Patterson paperback, which is called "Double Cross."

There were people everywhere, it being Friday night and all. Up at the far end of the ped mall, I found a pretty cool little outdoor joint called Milano's. At first, I was only gonna have a beer or two and do a little people watching. Easy enough, considering the parade of humanity streaming by. After taking a look at their menu, I decided that this would do nicely for dinner, too. Besides, I had a great table on the fringe of the bar area, with terrific views all around.

I've been drinking Crown Lager while I've been Down Under. Some places have Budweiser, but the Crowns are really good, so I'm sticking to them. After a couple of them here, I had the waiter bring me a Bud, just to compare. Didn't taste too good after the Crowns, so back to Crown I went.

Dinner was a mixed seafood grille, served over risotto. It had huge shrimp, wonderfully sweet scallops, and 2 Moreton Bay Bugs. Do you know what those are? I just found out last week myself. Most folks down here call them Bay Bugs, or just Bugs. They're larger than the biggest prawns (shrimp) you've ever seen, but smaller than a lobster, though not by much. I had 2 big ol' tails and they were really good. I'm a fan now.

A few more beers after dinner, and then I headed back to my room to start my new book. I wound up being there at Milano's for nearly 4 hours. Great chill-out night…

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Yet Another Show Day in Sydney

Napping kangaroo shot from the other day at the zoo:

Today is our fourth and final show at the Sydney Opera House. Heading off to Brisbane tomorrow for 2 shows there.

So this morning, I did one of the coolest things EVER. Blaine and I went and did the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb. A few other folks had been talking for days about going with us, but they all poohed out.

The whole excursion took about 3½ hours. First you watch a series of videos (introduction, facts, safety procedures), then you sign a waiver, then you're given a Breathalyzer test. You can't blow more than a .05 or they won't let you climb. Considering that it's a show day AND it's 11:00 in the morning, I blew a .00 as expected.

Next everyone in our group of 12 dumps everything on their person into private lockers – your watch, jewelry, mobile phone, camera, money, wallets, etc. Can't take anything up to the top with you. If you don't have it, you can't drop (or throw) it. I'm not even allowed to wear my hat, although they give me one of their hats to wear. Theirs clips to the jumpsuit that I put on next. It's a one piece, zip-up-the-rear, thin material deal. I opt to ditch my heavy cargo shorts under it in case things get too warm on the climb. I think Blaine said he ditched his shorts and his t-shirt under his suit.

There's even a place on the suit to clip the eyeglass lanyard I have to clip to my glasses. These people ain't foolin' around.

Next, we put on our safety harnesses, followed by more safety instructions. After that comes a run-through on the climbing simulator. Lastly, we all get radios and headsets, so we can hear our team leader during the climb.

Then, after clipping in to the safety line that goes to the top and back, off we go.

The climb was absolutely one of the 2 or 3 most amazing things I've ever done. Adam, our team leader, was a terrific guide. He was funny, and knew everything about the bridge a person could know. Blaine and I were right up at the front of our group and we got to speak with him quite a bit in between his running commentaries to everyone via our headsets.

You can check out the bridge climb web site HERE:

This is me and Blaine near the very top of the bridge:

Some other folks who've made the climb:

Click to enlarge the photos.

Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch and made it to the gig by about 4.

Post-show drinks and fun were once again in the bar atop the hotel. Here's the view from 32 floors up:

Sydney Harbor Bridge to the left, Sydney Opera House to the right. Click to enlarge.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Show Day 2 in Sydney, Australia

Not much to report.

Here's the view I have outside my office window all week here at the Sydney Opera House.

Pretty nice, I'd say.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Show Day in Sydney, Australia

Met Blaine in the lobby at 8 and we hit the Starbucks near the hotel. I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but I gave up my Starbucks habit upon our return from Europe during the first week of June. I got tired of being a slave to the habit and decided that while I was at home, I'd use my daily indulgence money to buy lottery tickets instead. From one habit to another, I suppose.

Anyway, it was en route to the legendary Sydney Opera House, where we'll be for 4 shows this week. The SOH is about 3 blocks from the hotel and you walk alongside the Sydney Harbor to get to it.

The building:

The view of the harbor from near the building:

The bridge by day:

Blaine and I decided that we're gonna do the bridge climb on Thursday morning. You actually walk up the top of the span to the apex, which is some 485 feet above the harbor.

Here you can see some folks doing the climb – click on the photos below to enlarge them and then look close at the specs on the bridge.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Travel Day to Sydney, Australia

Up at 7, breakfast with Blaine & Dennis around 9 across the street at Café Excello. Good stuff, best I've had since we got here.

We all split for the airport at 11 and arrive to find that our flight is delayed by an hour or so. I camp out at the gate with the lovely Janet Taylor and we do the chill & chat until flight time.

On the ground in Sydney about 50 minutes later than scheduled. Straight to the hotel, and I go hide in my room for a bit. Nice room…

Head out to look for dinner around 6. Run into Darren and Adam down by the harbor. We make plans to meet up on restaurant row around 7:30 and they head back to the hotel.

I walked around until meeting up with them, taking a few shots along the way…

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney Opera House

Central Business District

We wound up eating outside at a place called Wolfie's. The food was pretty good. I only had 2 beers and my share came to $90 AUD, which is about $80 USD. Note to self – find cheaper restaurants, so I might actually come home with some of my per diem money at the end of the tour.

All those years of seeing pictures of the Sydney Opera House and there I sat, eating dinner, and it was right there in front of me. Cool.

After dinner, we just kinda packed it in and went back to the hotel. I was in bed by 11:30 or so…