Winter Tour, Entry V, etc.: On the Edge of Veg

Posted: February 12th, 2013

Hola!

It’s Sunday night in Lafayette, Indiana. moe.’s playing their 5th show in a row, and they’re tearing it up. I’m amazed. I really am. You go to a moe. show, you’re gonna get a 100% of what these five guys got to give. Stamina, a little tequila, love of the game—and the energy of the crowd—it’s there—the push—night-after-night—every show. A good example of that was the previous evening, in Chicago. All five members of the band sang lead vocal on at least one song because they had to. Rob has had the chest and throat funk, and his ability to sing is limited, as in, he really can’t or shouldn’t. He would sing once, anyway, and that would be for one of their signature songs, “Rebubula.” After the show, Skip, our tour manger, mentioned he thought it was a first—all five band members singing in one concert. I don’t know if it’s ever happened before. But it is what I’m talking about—the effort these guys give. When Vinnie had mono last summer he played for days until he all but keeled over under the Brooklyn Bridge—and then his wife came and forcibly took him home. It was an extraordinary effort. The thought of that, even at this instant, makes …

… Me? On the other hand? Right now? My ass is dragging. I have no stamina, but I will do shots of tequila, if only for the jolt, when need be. I’m in a reflective mood. Exhaustion does that to you. I’m 5 years into a gig that was supposed to be a summer job. “You can sell our merch and your book,” they said to me, “it’d be just like ya runaway and joined the circus.” True. It was. My first day on the job I was handed a broom, a shovel, and the way to the elephant stall. These years later, I’ve put on 25 pounds, my son calls me One-Eyed Grey Beard, and tonight, after 5 straight shows, I’m on the edge of veg. I feel like each step I take is through a snow bank. That said …

… You know I’m very grateful for the opportunity. It’s not lost on me that I get to hear world-class musicians play each evening on the job, even if it’s from the merch booth (near the elephant stalls). I’m surrounded by great people and the tour schedule gives me time to write the little stories I like to write. No, mi amigo.moe.litos, what wipes me out is the multi-tasking. Many things to do, seemingly all at once, all day long. It’s: Go! Go! Go! And here’s the rub, if truth be told …

… I’m a serial single-tasker. Always have been. I do my best work in installments. For instance, I just sold a sticker to a guy. That was hard enough. It was even harder not to ask him about his mullet. You don’t see that hairstyle too often anymore. You barely see it on someone in their twenties. I think: is the mullet a sincere expression of one’s fashion sense or sensibility? But the task at hand is to sell a $2 sticker. And before I can even begin to think about mullet sensibilities …

… My thoughts are interrupted by “Chromatic Nightmare.” I like the song a lot and Jim’s taking it to it. I feel like I’m dancing a waltz as I walk through a funhouse on a midway. Combined with Huffer our light guy’s lightshow, which, at the moment, is like watching currents of electrified spaghetti attacking the theater walls, well, it’s wild and surreal. And because I’m so exhausted, I feel like I’m on the verge of a flashback. Not that I’d know anything about such a thing, except for maybe that time in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, when I encountered all those pigeons with Mohawks. (Swear to God. They had Mohawks.) But I shouldn’t count that. Actually, now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t even be talking about it. In fact …

… I’m starting to hear the opening refrains of “Mexico,” another favorite song of mine, which puts me at ease. I’m in a different place and time … there I am, drifting down to Ciudad Juárez, cross the bridge, over the Rio Grande, just south of El Paso, in search of Cubans (cigars, i.e.), donkey shows, and burritos; but instead run into hookers, drugs, and the banditos. Dicey, sketchy, and mostly, crazy—circumstances being what they were—desperate—I survived, if for no other reason, finding myself that day, “down in Mexico”

…  truly yours, on the edge of veg.