we have a date with the underground, chapter 24
by Turtle Jones

und50.jpgAs I said before and I will say again: It happens. You never know what will happen but you can always shrug your shoulders and say, "It happens." Pretty much the ultimate fuck off when I hear bands complaining about this or that. Shows sucking, people getting hurt, and their shit gets stolen. It happens. I've had so much equipment stolen off me I feel there is a pawnshop owner following me. Just watching me and where I stay that night. Call it careless? Yeah sure. I don't really care. It happens.

So when you have a big show in a ghetto playing with another band, you kinda have to think that. Something is going to happen. Something always does. If you let it get to you too much, you will be swinging off some bridge in New York screaming for your bed. Or your girlfriend. This happens. Kinda ruins a tour, but tour breakdowns happen. You don't really know shit till you have been in a van for six months. tat.jpgThat boredom mixed with the pressure of being there mixed with the feelings of out right hatred mixed with sleepiness mixed with drugs will fuck you up unless you can get it down. A simple formula to keep your head together.

"It happens."

We rolled into town late (you will find this a usual a theme in these stories) and dragged our equipment into the club. I knew what band we were playing with, but I only knew one member in the band. So, I wasn't too knowledgeable about who or what they were about. I knew they were a fun band who all dressed as cholos. Ok. This could be fun. We thru our equipment in the corner and grabbed our drink tickets. These are what we needed. Drink tickets. A few beers were put back as we looked over the crowd that was piling in.

Vatos. Tons of them. Coming in. In this barrio. At a punk rock show. Well, this could be interesting.

Now see this is when the normal person would probably be asking himself why didn't I leave?

Well, I will give you the easy answer.

I had five more drink tickets! So imma stayin'!

We played the show. No big deal. No real response to us. More response among the people fighting in the crowd. You ever have that totally dismayed feeling when you look to a crowd and see that no one really cares about you? The only thing they care about is who gets in the next fight? Yeah, it was one of those shows. It happens. The smoke was clearing as the set ended. The house was packed so don't get me wrong, it was fun. But not really. Weird feeling. You just know this would have been perfect but it wasn't. Something just wasn't right. Something was missing. It happens every once in awhile. When you look out as you are walking away and wonder what the hell went wrong tonight? What happened?

tire-irons.jpgYou can make the call cause I really don't care. Something went wrong tonight. I didn't think we sucked. I think we played pretty well. I don't know. And that's the bottom line. Something happened and I don't know. Taking a drink off a beer I just watched the headliner destroy the set. Maybe we did suck. Maybe we were off. Fuck if I know. I lit up another cigarette and walked out back to just watch the night. Crappy dirt alleyway like my hometown. Dust as cars drove by. I rose my head up. Great. Not only did we suck, I am sitting in a fucking dirt alley like I did when I was a kid.

When I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I looked around.

Why is our fucking equipment out here????

Our gear had been left out in the alley next to the club. Just sitting there. Under a street lamp. Just sitting there.

Aww fuck. This is no good. I did a quick check up and down and noticed that two pieces were gone. Ok. Calm down. Walking back inside I asked where the rest of the stuff was. Why was someone touching it? Why was it outside? The bouncer said he was just helping us move stuff out. Yeah. Bullshit. I know this line. I just happened to be walking outside when they were jacking us.

This is when it gets hard. Accusing someone of having a set up is tough. Cause really, I had no idea what happened. It just looked like we were marks and we were hit. I walked back out and got the rest of the band to watch what was left. Who ever stole it moved the cab. The cab was gone. That was mine. God dammit. There were drag marks on the ground. Those were my drag marks. A look back to the bouncers and I was gone. I grabbed an iron out of the van and woke up the band psychologist. He was easy to get on board to come with me. He knows if we can't can't play, he needs to find a real job, so he grabbed a bat and was by my side. We were going to find these motherfuckers. They took the bass head and the cab and they fucking weren't gonna get away with it if I can see the drag marks in the dirt.

We followed the wheel marks to a garage. It was open and dark. Only one other house on the block. I don't wanna get shot, but this is my fucking living they stole. I had to do this. I pulled out the iron and put it in my left hand and kept the Mag Lite in my right and walked in. The cab was there. Sitting in the back. But the head was gone. Half the battle won. I needed the rest thou. This was a long tour and I wasn't borrowing heads off of people for the rest of this thing. The cab was dragged out in the middle of the alley as our friends reclaimed it. Let's move on.

It's always kinda nice when you can look into someone's eyes and they know this is not over. There was more to do. No explanation was ever needed. Never asked. Never given. The equipment is life.

By this time a bouncer had run up to us. He had a baseball bat and was following us thru the alley. There was only one place they could have went with the head. This house. I climbed up on the fence and looked down. Some old ass house that I could go thru. My plan. The thieves ditched us by jumping this fence so, in theory, we have to do the same if we want to catch them. I looked back at the bouncer and asked him to come along.basscab.jpg

His response was "people get shot for shit like this."

Oh well. Fuck him. Hit the ground running. I ran thru the yard over the next gate running and searching around for anyone. Someone. I found someone if you want to call "someone" a cop. I had a Mag Lite in my hand and a tire iron thru my belt. Sweating. He looked me up and down and asked the standard questions.

Why was I there? Why did I have a tire iron? Why was I covered in sweat?

After I explained the situation, he calmly told me that the head was probably already sold for drug money and I might as well forget it cause it's gone.

I raised my head up and realized where I was at. This is the ghetto. It was gone.

A cigarette fired in my mouth. Looking at him I just said "well that's fucked."

He told me in a very calm manner.

"It happens."

We Have a Date With the Underground - stories about being on tour with punk rock bands - appears weekly on FTTW.



Another fun story.

Well, fun to read. I'm guessing it wasn't a lot of fun to live.


Bet it's kind of fun to look back on though.

"Remember that time I went hopping fences in the barrio, looking for the equipment, and the bouncer wouldn't even hop with me?"

Yeah, another fine one Turtle.


that just reminds me of a big party i went to with a bunch of people in Rancho Cucamonga. Yeah. We were waaay out of place, and didn't speak the language.


Good story, but damn, sucks that had to happen.


In 1988 I took a wrong turn in LA and ended up in Compton. I didn't have any band equipment with me, so maybe that's why I was left alone. I did have to stop for gas, though.


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