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we have a date with the underground, chapter 13
by Turtle Jones
This is the 13th in a series. Tales of an anonymous punk rocker. This whole series came out when Michele and the Turtle met and some stories were exchanged. This is the product of both their ideas. Turtle writes them, Michele provides some inspiration and crossed the i's and dots the t's. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy putting them together.
Touring. It wears on you. Sometimes it does. I have no idea about these bands that tour all year. What the hell. All year? I need my own bed too much for that. I will tell you I loved it. But, I won't lie and tell you that it was always fun. Sometimes, we begged for a day off. We just did too much. Did it too fast. Did it too much. That's all. We just needed a break. Just a day. Please, just a day. I needed to just sit and watch TV for a day and actually eat something and get my head right. Just a day. One day. Is that too much to ask?
I'm not saying I couldn't take it. I could keep going. I could keep moving. That was no problem. But I just wanted to breathe. Just a day. I was tired. And I felt like shit. We only had gas money, so detoxing off cigarettes was kinda a gimmie. It was gonna happen. I just had to wait til the shakes started. I knew it was coming. I just needed a break. Anywhere.
We had a day off!
And we had a friend who lived halfway to the last gig! Ok. This was good. Day off. Small town. Not many expectations. TV. Day off. Get me there by three in the morning and let me sleep til nine. That's all I need. Just a floor and a place for me to sleep. I'm cool. Open the door to let the cool air in and let me feel it on my skin and smell it in my nose.
At the end of a tour, you kinda stop thinking about having fun. It just becomes a job. Especially your first tour.When you walk in a club and just smell beer. No one is there. Just you and the other bands. You make friends with them. You just try to have fun. But you know no one has ever heard of you and no one is going to be there on a Monday night. Obligations. You said you would do it. Break the case and get ready for a total of ...three...wait..that's four fans, to show up. And these are the same guys who made you spaghetti the night before.
Why do we do this?
Paying the dues.
So anyways. Every once in a while you are really breaking down. Your body is just spent and you are grouchy as all hell. You don't wanna sleep and you don't wan't to play. Strange town and strange area. But you just know that you need one night off. Just one night. Just to sit on a sofa and watch TV. Grab a beer and just watch it. Just slow down for a second. Smell the fresh air and just sit back.
Well we had our chance. One day off. Thank god. One day to breathe and detox and just try to calm down. Take a shower and eat tons of free ramen. Oh yeah. If you are in a band, you get used to eating ramen really fast. And eating food out of cans gets to be second nature. If you can shove a can of chili in your pocket along with buying a pack of ramen at the local liquor store? Pure dope. Pure fucking dope. Shoplifting? Well, yeah. I guess. I made my reparations to places I've done wrong, so no one lecture me on it, ok? But it worked. It was dope so good it would kill anyone in jail who fixed it. Cause you know what that meant? Chili noodles!!!
So we had a day off. Just sleeping in late. Well, sleeping in late for me really means 9 o'clock, but still, that was a lot for me. So what to do? Where were we at? Some long hair guy asked me if I wanted to play volleyball and have some drinks. Drinks? Ok. Volleyball? Hm. Maybe. We will see. Let me get a buzz going. Then we can talk.
A phone call was made and an owner was woke up. The bar was opening early. Right on. Piling into cars, not the van, that fucker was dying hardcore, but cars. Arriving at a...golf course? Oh. Really? Well, this is weird. This is weird. I need a drink. A round of Long Island Iced Teas passed around. This is good. I can deal with this now.
Wow. That's something I never thought about.
Long Island Iced Tea. I need to ask Michele what the story is behind that name. She's from Long Island. She might know. Or maybe she will just say "Kennedy". Hell if I know. Hm.
The liquor soaked in. One day off before the next show. Some band was playing tonight with a bunch of our friends. Well, I didn't know them, but a bunch of friends of some of the guys in the band did. But this was the daytime, Many hours before that show started.... What to do? In all honesty, I could have spent the day on the floor sleeping and just waiting for the gig to start. But, we were hanging out with a bunch of hippies who listened to local punk rock bands and ate ramen all day. They wanted to show us the town. They wanted to show us what they had to offer. Why their town was cool. Plus the owner of the bar was the girlfriend of one of the hippies! Score!
Ok. I'll tell you thing about these longhairs. They had money. I could tell. This was a kinda rich place. This area. Wherever the fuck this was, I could tell, this was a coin operated area. You could just tell. These guys weren't in a band, but someone bank rolled them. I don't ask questions in situations like that. I enjoy the free food and the floor to sleep on. But I'm not gonna say "Hey dude, you have money. The fuck are you eating ramen for?" But hey, that might be how they got the money in the first place. I don't know. I stopped asked questions about that kind of stuff along time ago. You are rich. I can't read minds. Ever since I stopped paying my dues to the Scientologists, I lost my ability to see into peoples minds. As soon as Tom Cruise joined I felt that L. Ron Hubbard sold out, so I left.
What was I talking about anyways...
Volleyball and alcohol!
I decided to play. I was in shorts. Our singer was at some skatepark. We were all drunk. What the hell? "Let's serve that fucker" I kept yelling that. Over and over. Isn't that what you say? I think it is. I think I remember that phrase from the Olympics. I think. It's kinda hard to listen when you are so fixated on girls in bikinis diving in the sand. Hey. I'm not sexist. But hey. Asses up, diving in the sand. You would have to be Abe Vigoda not to stare at them wide eyed. And he would even have a hard on. Assess in the sand, man. Assess in the sand.
*This is the part of the story where Michele tells me to knock it off*
Anyways, we decided to play volleyball. Ball in the air. Rules decided. Or, really explained. I don't know how to play that game so I'm gonna have to trust them to not lie to me. I hate doing that cause I know the type of people I associated with were all a bunch of liars, but this was volleyball.
They have to tell us the truth.
Places put and shirts came off. I guess it wasn't shirts v skins, but you guys know by now I don't like wearing clothes. That's just me. And what? I can't smoke while playing this? Um, ok. See here cowboy.... that's not gonna work. See this scar on my chest that looks like a quarter? That's a cigarette burn. I even tried to smoke while I sleep. Yeah, sometimes there are some drawbacks, but I always have a smoke. That little burn tells you I will be smoking while we play. So don't tell me I won't be able to breathe. High altitude and shit. Thanks for your advice. Hit the fucking ball. A drink is calling me. Hit the ball.
It's in the air! Here we go. Being half drunk running around for it. Ok. It went down. We can touch it how many times? Really? Three? That's all? You do know we are going down guys, right? And worse than that. There seems to be some burning hot like thing in the sky that is making everything bright. I don't like that thing. The what? The sun? S..U..N... No. I don't like that word. I don't like that thing. That's kinda sucky. It's hot.
So we were getting our asses kicked. It happens. A bunch of guys ending a tour that kicked their ass usually aren't gonna be the best volleyball players. I might be overstepping my line there, but that's my opinion. Professional time wasters can beat anyone who plays in a band any day of the week. That's what they did. Play volleyball. That's all they did. Play volleyball. That's not what we did. They seemed to take an almost sadistic pleasure when we agreed to play them.
Another ball hit at me. Fuck. I missed it. I was right at the line trying to get this. I thought it was going out. I missed it. I let it go. Damn. Then another one straight at me. I let it go. I thought it was out. Damn. It was in. Damn. OK. If he hits me again, I'm hitting it. I don't care where it goes. I'm hitting it.
Ball hit. Walk under it. Get it!
Unfortunatley for me, the sand bank dropped off at the side and hit a grass pad about one foot down. My foot fell down. It stayed. It stuck on the ground. My body kept moving. I heard a rip and I fell. I'm not gonna say it hurt. But I knew my walking days were going to be limited for a few days. I might have screwed up.
Five hours later, getting out of the hospital with a huge cast on my leg, I sat and wondered about the last show. Oh man. I fucked up.We can't make it. I can't be on stage like this. Wait! It's ok. We have a roadie that can play my stuff!
Getting in the van.
A body next to me. What the hell? Who is this? Pulling off his blanket. Laying on the floor. Breathing slow. The lead singer? Is that him? What the hell is that? Something on his arm. A sling?
"What happened to him?"
Seems the singer had crashed into some concrete on his skateboard.Dislocated his shoulder and was hopped up on Morphine. There would be no show tomorrow. He was so high he could barely breathe. I was so hurt I couldn't walk.
That was it. That was the end to the first tour. Turn the van home and call it quits. Too much too fast. Next time we will have learned a little from this lesson. But right now, this is over. I always hated bands kicking shows. "Oh! I'm too sick to play." Things like that. That was always lame to see. I hated that. People pay to see you and you can't show up. Always seemed lame. So I always made all shows unless the place burned down. But I think we talked about that story before. If not, you will will hear it later. But anyways...
This was the only time we did that. But hell man, fifty percent of the band couldn't move without help. I think we kinda deserved this one.
Little did I know this was nothing compared to what was ahead of me.
One thing I learned from that experience, though...
I'll never play volleyball again.