Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dirt Track Racin'

My buddy Foy Beal and I went to Clary's Speedway in Brinkleyville, NC tonight to see a little dirt track action, including watching cars in the Carolina Clash series run a 50-lap main event.

He picked me up a little after 3pm and we headed up the road. Made it to the track 4:30-ish(?) and got a good parking spot near the front gate. Not hard to do because there weren't a lot of people there.

Our view of the grandstand and the early arrivals:

This fellow here had the makings of a mondo mullet, just needed to get it cut right:

We enjoyed a few adult beverages as we got race-ready, finally going into the track just before 6pm.

A couple of water trucks had been spraying down the track the whole time we'd been onsite, in hopes of holding down the amount of dust & dirt that will be sent flying once the cars start running around. It worked great early in the evening, but the dust got worse and worse toward the end.

Some shots from the earlier races:

The main event, a 50-lapper:

Here's how bad the dust got during the main race. Note the fellows in the bottom left corner of the photo (red hat and blue hat), masking their faces:

It wasn't as bad as it could have been for us, as the prevailing wind carried the bulk of it to the other side of the track. We had a light coating, but had the wind changed, we would have been choking on that crap. No matter, I love dirt tracks enough to sit through it.

The winner:

Foy and I had managed to drink them slap out of Budweiser and had to switch brands for the last few rounds. I guess we'll need to warn them to stock up in advance the next time we're coming out here.

We just kinda sat in the stands after the race was over, recapping the event. We were the last guys to come down out of the stands, and Foy struck up a conversation with a fellow down by the concession stand that I believe turned out to be the owner of the track. Nice guy, and he gave each a 24oz. tall boy. Not my brand, but you know what they say: "There's two kinds of real beer in the world, free, and cold. And if it ain't one, it sure as hell better be the other." And seeing how it was free, no complaints.

We headed over to the other side of the track, where there was an after-party in the off-track pit area. Live band and a buncha drunk rednecks. Perfect!

Not sure what time we left the track, but we made it back to Northside Billiards in Raleigh at exactly 2:05am, just in time for last call. OK, last call by NB standards. I don't care, as long as I get that last one in…

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Wall

Finally hit the wall. Although the temperature hadn't yet reached 90 degrees at the time of my ride, I was done before I even hit the five-mile mark. I could have either pushed through, like I did yesterday, or pack it in. Considering I've ridden nearly 120 miles in the previous 5 days, I packed it in and went home.

Never spotted any critters – guess I didn't get deep enough into the woods.

Today's mileage = 10.03.

Current mileage toward the Thousand Mile Summer is now 129.51.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

28 Days And Counting

Twenty-eight days until the Big 5-0!

Critters: 2 baby bunnies, 1 Copperhead snake

Yes, I got off my bike, grabbed a stick, and knocked the tarnation outta that damn snake. Get over it!

Today's mileage = 24.15

Summer total = 119.48

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yet Another Beautiful Day At Home

Critters spotted during the morning bicycle ride: 2 bunnies, 1 chipmunk, 1 black snake

Today's mileage = 24.08

Summer total = 95.33

Monday, June 23, 2008

Let's Count The Critters

If I'm gonna ride a thousand miles over the next 3 months, I'm sure I'm gonna see a bunch of critters. Today, it was 2 big ol' deer. Soon as they spotted me whizzing by 'em about 75 feet away they were gone in a flash.

Today's mileage = 21.51

Summer total = 71.25

Oh, yeah, the Birthday Countdown starts today. I turn 50 one month from now...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Not Happy!

What I'm not happy about today is that it's my first NASCAR raceday back in my own easy chair, but it's a road course, which I just don't like. My buddy Foy reminded me that the original racin' was done in the hills of North Carolina (by the moonshiners runnin' from the feds), so there were plenty of right turns involved. True, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I watched it, anyway.

Took another great bike ride this morning…

Today's mileage = 20.36

Summer total = 49.74

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Thousand-Mile Summer

Today is the first day of summer, the solstice having occurred last night around 7:59pm. I hereby declare this to be The Thousand-Mile Summer. Meaning on my bicycle, of course. Shouldn't really be too hard, even though I'll be gone for quite a bit of the summer.

Today's mileage = 29.38 miles

Summer total = 29.38

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

First Day at Home

Believe it or not, I got up at 9:30 this morning and felt pretty damn refreshed…

Monday, June 16, 2008

Three The Hard Way...

Three flights, that is.

The band came off stage about 1:30am last night. Those of us who had early flights were thrown into a runner van and split the venue around 2:45. Made it into my hotel room just past 3:30, with just enough time to take a shower and re-pack both of my bags.

The shower kinda sucked because the handheld nozzle (which was the ONLY nozzle) was mounted above my head and was NOT adjustable in any way. It simply sprayed straight across the shower stall, over my head, which meant that to get the water to hit me anywhere, I had to hold it in my hand. Made me fell like I'd lost an arm because I was doing everything one-handed.

Lobby call for the drive to the airport was 4:30. My first flight of the day was Vienna-to-Brussels, departing at 6:50. Mark Wise (security) and Seth Kendall were on this flight with me. Once we reached Brussels, though, we split up as they were heading through Chicago next, and I was flying through JFK.

I managed to sleep for about 20 minutes on the first leg.

My Brussels-to-JFK flight was well over 8 hours of misery. It's possible that I slept for 30 minutes, but I doubt it. I had the sweetest little 60-ish Brazilian woman next to me and she was a tiny thing, but when she fell asleep, it was like she could take over 3 or 4 seats. She wasn't the reason I couldn't sleep, though; I just have a hard time sleeping in any kind of seat because I'm a "side" sleeper.

Got to JFK to find that my third leg, JFK to Raleigh, was delayed, but only by 30 minutes. By this point, I'd been awake far too long and was wicked tired. Finally, my flight announced for boarding and as I handed my ticket to the gate agent, she looked at it and said, "Sugar, you're on the next flight." Wha?

Sure as hell, this was a fuck-up of stupendous proportion. I wasn't gonna take it out on her cuz she was as sweet as can be and it had nothing to do with her. But man, not today, puh-leeze!

I had in my pocket my printed itinerary, which I pulled out and showed her. It had me on THIS flight, confirmed, yet when I was given the boarding pass for this flight some 12 hours ago, I was put on another flight 90 minutes later than the itinerary said. And of course, that one's delayed, too. This sucked with a capital SUCK.

By this point, I've been awake for 38 hours, other than the 50 total minutes of catnaps on the first 2 flights, and I’m gonna be awake for at least the next 6 or 7…

The world continued to suck. I even changed airlines (to JetBlue) and then THAT flight got delayed.

I finally got home at 1am. At which point I sat up catching up on email and waiting for the AC to cool the house down enough where I could sleep. After 3 weeks of European hotels, I was looking for a cold room to rest in.

I finally got to bed at 3am, which was 9am tomorrow in Vienna. All told, I've been awake for 49 hours, by far the longest I've ever stayed awake. And I hope that this record stands for all time, cuz I NEVER want to go through this day again…

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Show Day in Vienna, Austria

Today is our last show of this run. We're at the Nova Rock Festival in Vienna, Austria, which is held out in the middle of a bunch of what look like wheat fields. Also on the bill are Disturbed, Judas Priest, Incubus, Kid Rock and a bunch of really crappy bands -- typical festival fare.

I spent as much time socializing with fellow roadies from those other bands as I did working. It was like summer camp with trucks and buses.

Been meaning to bring this up -- what is UP with the pizza boxes over here in Europe?

The box a few days ago in Berlin:

And the box last night in Italy:

Last song of the night, the festival, the tour:

End of the show. Note Seth (our Audio Tech) sneaking a photo from behind the band:

After the show, it was hugs & goodbyes. Most of us are off for the next 3 weeks and will reconvene in Lisbon to start the next run.

Robert Long, our Production Manager, has to jump back over to the KISS tour as it continues here in Europe, and then he only gets a few days back in the US before we go to Portugal. I feel for him.

Off we go…

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Show Day in Modena, Italy

Man, I hate doing shows in Italy. It always seems like the worst kind of third-world country. Show expenses are out of control, stagehands are lazy, equipment breaks, etc. Anything that can go pear-shaped will do so here.

The view from front-of-house, early on:

Just before the band came on:

Front of house Audio Engineer Andy Meyer, on the job:

Here's an example of what kind of day it was. Drew Goodman, one of our security guys, had set up the band's ping-pong table in one of the dressing rooms, but then had to leave the room for a few minutes. When he came back, this is what he found:

The caterers must have been high, because they put out a bunch of the band's dressing room hospitality items on the ping-pong table. WTF? Don't you people have ping-pong in Italy?

Spragoo, at the Antidoping room:Antidoping, hmmm...

The first punters through the gates, sprinting toward the front of the stage:

Sooner at work, trying to overcome the slackass lighting rig and local crew:

Finally got away shortly after 1am. We have a bus ride of nearly 10 hours to Vienna, site of the Nova Rock Festival, our last show.

Home soon…

Friday, June 13, 2008

Day Off - Travel to Modena, Italy

Amazingly enough, we pulled up to the airport terminal ahead of schedule. I had woken up about 5 miles back, and we pulled to the curb at about 5:15. With our first flight scheduled for 6:45, all was good.

And even better, I'd gotten over 2.5 hours of sleep, which is waaay more than I thought I would. I catch a lot of hell from some of my buddies on the crew for crashing early on bus rides, but I'd rather get what sleep I can, when I can.

I think Sooner found a new hat at the airport:

The flights were both painless. Turns out that Brussels Air has more legroom in coach than any airline I've ever flown. I slept for about an hour on the first flight, and another hour or so on the second.

At the hotel, a few of us sat outside and enjoyed an amazing and tasty lunch, then everyone retired to their rooms for a few hours, with a plan to meet up for dinner.

Spragoo and I met up around 6pm and sat outside for a bit:

All 12 of us eventually made it to the hotel's restaurant, where we had what I though was one of the best Italian meals ever. The food was stupid good.

Back in my room around 10:30…

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Show Day in Hultsfred, Sweden

Today is the worldwide celebration of Carina Muehl's birthday! Just so you know.

Happy Birthday, Carina!

I woke up at 4:30am because I'd left my curtains and window wide open for the cool night air to come in – there is no air-conditioning in the hotel. The sun was up and the birds were all chirping, so I had to close the window and curtain and then I couldn't go back to sleep.

Met a handful of guys downstairs for breakfast at 9, then we had bus call at 10 for the 2-hour drive to the festival site.

Not one of the better festivals in Europe. The Hultsfred Festival is out in the middle of the damn old nowhere in the Swedish countryside.

I got to see Paramore play today on one of the other stages. Not as good as I'd hoped for, based on the record. But hey, I'm not 15, so I’m not supposed to like it, right?

Rage onstage, last song:

Leaving the gig at 1:45am. Gotta race to the airport in Gothenberg for our 6:45am flights and we may not make it…

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day Off in Jonkoping, Sweden

Whew! Long way to get here. Took 12 hours of driving and 2 ferry rides. I woke up about 6:30am, a few minutes before we reached the first ferry, which would take us to Denmark from Germany. Only Robert, Sooner and I got off the bus and went up top on the ferry for the 45-minute journey. I never stay on the bus on ferry rides. If that sucker goes down, I'd rather have a shot at a life preserver and a lifeboat than to be stuck in the bus inside the hull.

The windmills as we were leaving Germany:

I have no idea what this building is, but it was off to the left during the ferry ride and it looked interesting enough for a photo:

As we drove across Denmark, Robbie (our bus driver) stopped for fuel. I ran inside and found these:

Tall boys, no less. Made my day.

Made it to the hotel about 2:30pm. We're staying at the lovely Elite Stora Hotel here in Jonkoping, a tiny town a couple hours away from tomorrow's festival site. This is the closest hotel we could get a dozen rooms at, as there really are no hotels near the site.

During a short walk around the hotel area, I spotted this building:

Met Spragoo and a few others downstairs around 5:30 to start the evening's festivities. We sat outside at the hotel bar for a bit, then went next door to TwinCity, a large restaurant with great food and beer selection. Eventually, all 12 of us wound up over there this evening, although not all at the same time.

This town is pretty interesting. I've never seen so many beautiful women in one place. Blondes, Blondes with shockingly white hair, and brunettes with stunning blue eyes. Everywhere you turn…

Made it back to the hotel by 11 and in bed by 12:30.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Show Day in Berlin

Another group breakfast this morning, then 11am lobby call to check out and go to the venue.

The show today is at an old castle called Zitadelle. The place has a moat and drawbridge, of course:

Spent a few minutes walking around with Sooner, exploring the place.

Sooner with a very quiet man:

Sooner, atop the wall:

The view from front of house just before Rage came on:

Andy Meyer at work during the show:

End of the show:

We split around 2:30am. Supposed to be a 12-hour trip to Sweden, which includes 2 ferries. One, Germany to Denmark. The other, Denmark to Sweden…

Monday, June 9, 2008

Another Day Off in Berlin

Got up around 8am and felt like a million bucks. I don't think I've ever had a hangover from drinking German beer, as long as that was all I drank. Made the fatal mistake (back in '93 or '94) of mixing margaritas (we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant) with red wine and beer. Not smart. To this day, that night is still referred to by those present as "The Night of Bob". The next day was hell on earth and I missed bus call. A bit later that same day, Kelly Holland, the singer from Cry Of Love (who I was with at the time) induced a world-class puking session from me by just talking about vomit – thanks, Kelly! Back to the present, I called a few of the guys to meet for breakfast at 10 – Spragoo, Mark, Drew, and Andy. Then, everyone went over to the venue to dump the truck and check everything out.

Back to the hotel around 4, where several of us decided to go back to Doro for dinner. Following dinner, off to the KISS show, to hang out with our buddies. My old friend Jim Survis (Joe Perry's tech for 17 years or so) was working for them, and he hadn't made it to the beer garden yesterday, so if for no other reason, I had to go to the show to see him.

A few shots:Strange shot, looks like a very tiny place, but it's not.

I'm not a KISS fan, so I had no desire to stay for the whole show. They opened with "Deuce" and "Strutter", so right there, I'm done. Saw everything I wanted to see. By the time they started their sixth song, me and 5 other guys were outside in the van heading back to our hotel.

To the bar, of course, where we had a few nightcaps before heading to sleep…

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day Off in Berlin

Got into my room just before noon. Grabbed a shower, then went and met Spragoo, Drew and Andy Meyer (FOH) in the lobby at 1. Headed out to find lunch. But first, we found this piece of artwork around the corner:

A few blocks further, we came across this interesting bit – the old tower of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It was bombed in 1943 and is now one of Berlin's most famous landmarks:

As described here:

We ditched off the main drag and down one of the smaller side streets where we came across an Italian ristorante called Doro. Got a great table on the sidewalk, and a terrific waitress who looked like Anne Heche's taller twin sister.

Italian restaurants in German tend to be far better than Italian places in the States, and this was no exception. Their caprese salad was exceptional. Looked amazing, tasted even better:

Everyone had a couple of Warsteiner beers with lunch – the best! German beer is so good that I usually don't even order by brand name, but Warsteiner is superior to all the rest.

After lunch we went sightseeing. That lasted approximately 15 minutes, which is how long it took us to walk to the nearest BierGarten. That's a beer garden for you hillbilly types. Outdoor seating for a couple of hundred folks and beer by the bucket. Not actually buckets, but you could get full liter mugs if you wanted. And we did.

We were soon joined by some of our buddies from the KISS crew. They had just gotten to town at 2pm and jumped in a cab to come hang out with us. It was Knuckles (rigger), Shawn Shebecka (set carp) and Patrick Murphy (audio tech). I've worked with all 3 of them on various tours.



And in this photo, that's Patrick on the far left, along with Knuckles (taking photo) and Sooner (our LD). Note the gigantic liter mugs of beer:

Our fearless leader Robert Long:

Another shot of Sooner:

Spragoo's weenie dinner. (That's Drew, one of our security guys, on the left.)

On the way back to the hotel, all the Croatia soccer fans were celebrating their victory in the game that ended a few minutes earlier. (I think they take that soccer shit a bit too seriously over on this side of the water.)

Made it back to my room by 10pm…