We're on the road now. Mike bought a van yesterday for like $2000. He just registered it & got its insurance & everything today & now we're going to drive it across the country & he's probably just going to sell it when we get back. I got your postcard from Wyoming & I hope you're doing okay there. I hope you're not lonely. You won't get to read this until we get back but maybe it can make you retroactively not lonely hah.
Last night I got drunk at the bar & this afternoon I woke up hungover. But I just napped in the van & ate a Subway sandwich & so I'm feeling better now.
It rained when we were loading up the van & we had to hurry & kinda just threw everything in haphazardly. I dug my notebook out from beneath a box of shirts to start writing this to you. I wanted to make sure I started to write right away to set myself a precedent. I think writing everyday will help me.
Seems like there's a lot I could talk about & I want to make this first letter extra good because beginnings are more important supposedly but I'm not sure what would be an extra good thing to tell you here. The clouds just broke & out my window is a cool white sun. Terri is driving. Mike is shotgun playing music from his iPhone. Chris & I are in the back. He's playing Pokemon on Terri's Nintendo DS.
The van is a white Ford Econoline. It's pretty nice...for $2000. It smells like sunscreen. We're going to be late for our first show but it's okay because there are like a million bands playing & we can just play last or whatever.
Driving through Indiana right now & it’s farm-y. Maybe "idyllic"?
I only took 2 small Wittgenstein books on this tour because I'm going to try to stay mindful & aware & to write things & notice them. Feel like there's a sort of "finality" to this tour & I have to capture the moment of it, like a picture. I have a pretty poor memory & when we stopped at the music store earlier to get some shit we needed I forgot what kind of drums I have lol. The guy at the music store asked me what kind of drums I have & I was like, "I don't know" lol. & I had to ask Chris. "Pacific," Chris told me. I have "Pacific" drums.
My phone’s dead & I can't mssg you. I bet when I get a chance to charge my phone I will have mssgs from you upset that I'm not responding. I don't have a "poor memory" really...it's just that I remember some things & not others. I remember what's important to me & not very much is I guess. You are.
Wanted to tell you that we listened to Disney songs on Spotify & Terri played that one Mulan song you like & now I really like that Mulan song too.
Chris & Mike are talking about moving the date of our Portland show or something. Mike is asking Terri how the van's driving & Terri is nodding & saying "good."
Terri is asking Chris which starter Pokemon he's choosing & Chris is saying "Snyvi" ( the grass one?).
Terri is calling Chris a "bitch" for picking the cute one.
Meanwhile I am worried about how this punk-rock tour will go & also my life.
No, I'm not really, the more I think about it.
The sun is hiding behind a cloud but its rays are beaming through it & over the farm-y land...it looks Godly.
We are talking about how Chris ate a bunch of vegan "chicken" nuggets the last time we were in Birmingham & laughing.
Before tour I wondered if it'd be bad or weird to write about my friends like this, while I'm around them, if they'd be uncomfortable. But the more I thought about it...I figure if I just write things plainly & truly, then nobody should be upset about that. Feel like there will be a point on tour when someone will steal my journal & read all this & I'll be embarrassed but I don't think I can prevent it. I can't hide that I'm writing really. I'm trying to write things as they happen.
I'm very glad I don't have to work at Domino's Pizza the next 3 weeks.
Chris is saying we have to figure out which vegan restaurants we are going to go to. I'm hoping to not spend too much money this tour, so I can't go to too many fancy restaurants...
We just passed a water tower that says "Gas City" in Comic Sans typeface lol.
We are listening to "The Taste of Ink" by The Used.
I'm remembering a poem I posted on Tumblr that got a lot of notes, which went, "Whether it's beginning or ending, it's ending."
Seems like something I want to express in my very first letter here.
Mike is looking at the pile of stuff in the back of the van & is saying that it looks like a baby packed the van, which is accurate.
Mike is already asking me about what I'm writing. He's asking me if I'm writing a novel or a tour journal.
I say, "Yeah, a tour journal novel."
Instead I'd like to think I'm just writing letters to you.
Stopped at a rest stop. Mike is checking under the hood. The fluids, or whatever.
When I told you I wanted to be a "rockstar drummer / novelist" I wasn't joking, although I'm not sure if that's what I want exactly anymore. It's hard to tell whether I'm living my life purposefully enough or if there's more I could be doing. There probably is. There always is more you could be doing I guess. The upholstery in the van is kinda fucked up. We think the van used to be used by painters.
Read something on Tumblr a few days ago asking how much money would you need to be paid in order to stop experiencing art? If you could be paid by someone to not listen to music, not look at paintings, not see movies, etc., what would be your price?
The singer of The Used is saying, "The cup is not half empty as pessimists say / As far as he sees there's nothing left in the cup."
The Tumblr question is loaded & depends on your definition of "art" but most people were agreeing you couldn't pay them enough. They'd rather be able to have art than money.
It's hard to feel like our emo band's tour is in any way important or artful, but maybe in a small, hopeless way it is? What do you think about all this, Ally? Why do we put ourselves through all this? It's getting dark outside & I'm going to stop writing for now.
It's bright out, it's morning. The show in Indiana last night was called "Super Mega Slam Fest 2" & it was in a garage in a backyard. It was pretty good. We met a very friendly guy named Kenton. He tried to analyze my Count Your Lucky Stars shirt with animals all over it. He thought the animals were zodiac animals, because "Stars," but I told him they're just random animals. He was very friendly & insistent on having Terri & I drink some of his friend's vodka. His friend's name was Demetri & Demetri brought out some very good weed for us all to smoke.
This morning we went to Whole Foods for breakfast. I had a banana & a peanut butter Cliff Bar. Then we went to Starbucks because Chris & Mike needed to use the internet. My phone started to ring & it came up as "private number" & I was wondering who was calling me when I heard Kyle on the phone calling me a "Mother Fucker." He was calling from a payphone in Berlin & couldn't talk long because it was costing him like $1.50 a minute but I asked him how's Europe & he said Europe's good & I told him we were getting internet for a minute at Starbucks & he said, "Dude, if I had to describe my time in Europe so far, I'd describe it as 'getting internet for a minute at Starbucks'" lol.
Feel caffeinated after coffee. Feel good.
I used the internet to check my Facebook & was surprised to find that Steve Roggenbuck had mssgd me. His mssg regarded a post I made in the "Alt Lit Gossip" Facebook group about "Heiko Julien" randomly blocking me on Facebook. Steve said he was in a car with Heiko once & Heiko mentioned he blocked me because even though I seemed new to the alt lit scene & to literature in general I made cultural commentary as if I were a real "visionary" & because I didn't seem "well read." I thanked Steve for letting me know why Heiko blocked me & asked if he still lives in Chicago & told him he should come to see my band in 2 weeks when we'll be in Chicago.
Seems bad someone would block me for speaking boldly / not seeming "well read." Frankly, I am actually v well read lol. I mean I literally have read a lot of books. Not that it matters...
Schopenhauer says that humbleness for the genius is not admirable but dishonest really.
Sometimes when I post bold things on the internet ppl mssg me saying they agree & are glad that I "spoke up," which makes me happy. I think ppl should feel free to speak boldly. I think ppl should think themselves geniuses. Why not. Because who can really say whether anyone is or isn't a genius? I'm just trying to have fun. I'm just trying to live my life.
Currently need to urinate but am stuck in the van. Shouldn't have drank so much coffee at Starbucks.
We're heading to St. Louis. The Facebook event page for this show only has like 20 ppl "attending" & we are feeling like this probably won't be the best show. We'll see how it goes...
Feel upset at "Heiko Julien," or anyone who thinks you need to have some sort of qualifications to speak frankly. Feel interested that a busy man like Steve took the time to mssg me about this stupid internet fight.
Ppl have been inspired by our band I think, which seems insane if I think about it. Ppl have mssgd me about loving our band & our music "helping" them.
Just drove by a sign that says St. Louis is 226 miles away. Seems far.
I'm humbly requesting aloud we stop at a rest stop so that I can urinate.
There's a feral cat at the rest stop, grey & skinny. A woman sees the cat & tries to pet it & the cat shies away & apparently doesn't want to be pet. But the woman keeps trying.
Feel like my life on tour is vaguely like a feral cat's. We count on ppl to let us sleep in their homes. I'm always surprised when they do.
Thinking about "feral cat" life versus "domestic pizza delivery" life. Hard for me to determine which is preferable. Cat life is more romantic, pizza life is more secure. I could list pros & cons forever...
There was a fish tank at the house we played at last night. It had white "ghost" fish & a small, shark-ish "sucker" fish.
You love fish hah.
Mike is saying that when we get to California he will teach us to surf.
In the van we're listening to music we listened to in high school on Spotify, like Chiodos, & now I'm requesting we listen to As Cities Burn, particularly the album "Son, I loved you at your darkest." The album title is a biblical allusion I think.
I wonder whether Heiko Julien or other ppl who think they're well read have read the Bible. Seems like the Bible is considered anti-intellectual or something now, because atheism is cool now, but the Bible is probably like one of the most influential books ever written & you probably can't really claim to be well read without understanding it. Damn.
"Son, I loved you at your darkest" is a beautiful line IMO.
We are texting each other right now. I apologized for not having phone battery & you said you figured I just probably didn't have service or whatever. I miss you. Last night I looked at pictures of us on my phone. We are wearing formal clothes & we look happy.
The singer of As Cities Burn is saying, "My God, what a world you love / Men bury their sons / & without thought / They walk away." The song is called "The Widow" & it's about a heroin addict I think.
I've been wondering why music is important. Like, why do ppl care about music? It seems on the one hand superfluous, a delicacy, but on the other hand it seems completely necessary & life affirming or something. I need to make you a summer mix CD still. I listened to the summer mix CD you gave me while I was delivering pizzas last week & I really liked the last song on it, the rap song. I really liked the line "America is a garbage can." Or was it "garbage man"?
Seems like there are orange construction cones on the shoulders of literally every highway in America but never any construction workers or any work being done. The roads never seem to get better, but there's supposedly all this construction happening. Seems like some sort of metaphor for...something. Lol.
Sometimes wish our band was more politically engaged or socially conscious or whatever, but other times feel like the best way to be politically engaged is not to be. If that makes sense. I interviewed the author Noah Cicero for my alt lit blog & he told me this story about his friend watching a TV show about extraterrestrials & yelling at the TV that he was upset that the government won't admit there are aliens. Noah was like, "But why do you need the government to admit there are aliens?" That's a good point I think.
There's a lot of corn everywhere. Lol. #Midwest.
We organized all the stuff in the van better after the show last night & we have much more leg room now. Mike is v good at organizing the van. He's good at "van Tetris."
You're texting me that you're “opening up to people" at camp & that's great. I'm really glad. Supposedly you're bonding with somebody about Lady Gaga? Lol.
I already need to urinate again. Sometimes feel like I'm supposed to be some sort of hardass rock-n-roll road warrior who never needs to pee, but I just always need to pee whenever we're driving lol.
We're passing a water tower that says "Home of the Popcorn Fest" & laughing about it. This country is absurd.
We're listening to some post-hardcore band I don't know the name of. Terri is joking that we should stop at the next Guitar Center to get me a double bass drum pedal & I'm joking that I'm going to play blast beats over all our songs.
I don't mind long car rides. I think they're nice really.
I don't think anyone in our band will kiss a girl while on tour. (Of course I won't; I wouldn't do that to you.) Seems unfortunate. Lol. We're somewhat awkward.
It smells like clementines in the van because Terri bought a bag of clementines at Whole Foods.
Listened to audiobook of "The Meno" by Plato on my phone thru headphones lol. Socrates & Meno inquire into whether "virtue" can be taught. It can but it isn't, they decide. I think that's what they decide anyway. Plato thinks Good is Knowledge. I don't know what Good is. I think music is a big part of it sometimes.
In "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" Douglas Adams says that if aliens came to Earth & wanted to eradicate us the main argument we could use against them is our music, theater, paintings, our arts. What do you think? If aliens came to Earth & wanted to eradicate us, why shouldn't they? TBH I'm not sure I'd be entirely against them eradicating us. Humans are kinda bad.
We're listening to Katy Perry now. I think we act like we like her facetiously but we probably just like her for real.
We stopped at a Marathon & I urinated a lot of Starbucks coffee. The sign on the gas station says "WELCOM E TO SERVIC ECENTER."
Chris says he named his Pokemon "Donut." I say Pokemon is more fun if you give your pokemon good nicknames. Mike is saying that if we keep the van after tour we are a getting a vanity license plate that says "KAWAII."
Terri is smoking a cigarette.
There was an inexplicable screeching noise in the men's bathroom & a urinal covered in a plastic garbage bag someone may have pissed on. Mike took a video of the urinal with his phone lol.
"Rachel B" mssgd me on Facebook about our show in Chicago. She was trying to help us find a venue but I think Chris already found a venue. I'm charging my phone in the van with a 9v adapter or whatever. At 3 p.m. my phone already has low battery. My phone's battery life sucks.
Terri bought some Jack's Links Beef Jerky.
The Marathon is also an Arby's. & it's also some sort of gift shop...I guess because it's on the Illinois / Indiana border.
A sign on the gas pump says "Fueling the American Spirit." Jesus.
Mike has eaten like 5 clementines & he is drying the peels on the dashboard. Supposedly this will make the van smell good. I don't think it will work. I think Mike's clementine behavior is kinda insane.
We're listening to Ke$ha. She says that we should make the most of the night like we're gonna die young. Pop music is beautiful in its own way.
Outside there are Super Mario-y clouds in a deep blue sky.
Terri is asking if we've ever received a foot job. Terri is the only person in the van who has received a foot job, we learn. Lol.
Steve mentioned that it seems strange Heiko doesn't like that I say bold things online when Steve himself says a lot of bold things online & Heiko is supportive of him.
Ke$ha is saying your love is my drug.
I've been thinking about "love." We say we love each other...what do we mean when we say this? What if we'd never learned the word "love"? How would we explain what we feel for each other?
I think writing an account of my band's tour & giving it to you is one way I'd explain what I feel for you. If that makes sense. I think I would text you "sup" at least once a day. Just "sup."
Sometimes feel like...what else is there to say except "sup"?
I tried sending you a pic of us in the van but idk if it sent. My phone's bad at sending picture mssgs for some reason.
@postcrunk tweeted that we can no longer only adopt the aesthetics of subversiveness. Feel like I like this tweet but idk what it means if I really think about it. What are we supposed to subvert exactly? & to what end?
The night before I left for tour you & I got drunk & we talked “politics" & I more or less meant what I said when I said that the best thing that could happen to the world at this point is some sort of societal / technological collapse. I think it's more or less terrible that society has "advanced" into what it is now. But I've been trying to focus less on the world & more on myself & you.
Vaguely remember this prayer / quote: "God grant me the courage to change what I can, the patience to accept what I can't, & the wisdom to know the difference."
Typically during v long van rides everyone talks for like one hour & then is quiet for the rest of the ride. Right now we are quiet. I guess there's always about 1hr of stuff a group of ppl can talk about, & then after that it's a stretch.
Feel like a person needs to be p ignorant to like capitalism. Vaguely remember a quote from Socrates maybe about ppl not being inherently bad but just acting badly due to ignorance.
Writing is saving me from "cabin fever" in the van I think.
Feel like everyone romanticizes "travel" but nobody mentions the long, boring hours in vans or airplanes or whatever & the extreme decadence of even being able to travel in the first place. Personally simultaneously feel lucky to travel &...neutral about it.
Seems like I kinda just fell into being this band's drummer, like the world more or less pushed me into it, like a kid pushes another into a pool.
Anyway I think this band makes ppl happy somehow, so I guess I'm glad to be part of it.
So much fucking corn everywhere. We're in Illinois I think. Last summer when we were on tour we mssgd each other poems. I think sending each other poems is a way I could explain "love" without using the word "love."
We are listening to La Dispute & Chris is saying they are the best band.
I'm running out of words / thoughts & will read my Wittgenstein book, "On Certainty," now I guess.
I love you more than the overabundance of corn in Illinois.
We're arriving in St. Louis. I can see the Arch, the gateway to the West.
I say, "I can see the Arch."
Mike says, "It's just McDonald's."
It's not. But in a way it is I guess.
We're crossing the Mississippi river. The Mississippi river is beautiful in a specifically American way.
The only way I can describe St. Louis is that it looks bigger than I thought it would.
We are being directed by Mike's iPhone to a vegan BBQ restaurant.
I like how we text each other "bb." Remember when "bb" got autocorrectd to "BBQ" & so you called me "BBQ" lol? I miss you.
Passed a place called "IMO's Pizza" & I thought "in my opinion's pizza."
We are stopping at a traffic light & for the first time the brakes are making bad, screeching noises.
Feel like I want to notice beautiful things in St. Louis so I can describe them to you. In this way love can make me a better person I think, by noticing beautiful things.
Passed sign that said "A GREAT EDUCATION DOESN'T HAVE TO MEAN GREAT DEBT" & feel upset that I'm in great debt. Seems bad to me that "in debt" is a thing a person can even be in the first place. It seems somehow incorrect, like a cheap optical illusion, one you find in a psychology article online or something.
Chris is asking if we're now in a different time zone & we don't really know & are trying to figure it out.
Concluded that we are.
I'm having trouble noticing anything particularly beautiful, tho. The Arch was maybe. But now all I see are generic buildings & roads. & something smells like sulfur.
We're at a Firestone in Indianapolis.
Ended up back in Indianapolis because we forgot my snare drum & cymbals there, we realized last night at the show in St. Louis. Luckily the drummer from this jazzy sounding band let me borrow his cymbals & snare. We had to drive 4 hours out of the way to get my own cymbals & snare back. We're supposed to be in Tennessee right now.
The show in St. Louis last night was in a sort of DIY art space. When we got there this kid (who turned out to be the son of the owner) was mopping the floor, which...I don't think I've ever seen someone mop the floor before a punk show. It seemed considerate.
The show went okay. There were maybe only like 20 kids there but they all really liked our set & danced & bought our records & shirts & stuff. I'd rather have 20 kids at a show who really like it than 100 who only sorta like it I guess. An old guy wandered into the show from a bar down the street & he really liked our music. He shook my hand & told me he "appreciated" us.
After the show the mop kid served us salad & pasta, which was unexpected & great. His dad, the owner of the place, returned from a different concert & talked to us for like 2 hours while we ate. He pretty much literally told us his life story. He grew up poor in Serbia, came to America, got an undergraduate degree in music composition, considered going to graduate school in anthropology, went to grad school in something else, worked with an African-American woman who started supposedly the country's only self-sufficient ballet troupe (whatever that means), & finally eventually moved on to teach poor kids ages 4-7 music in St. Louis. I'm not sure I got all those detail right...but that was the jist of it. Anyway this guy was a real talker. I guess hospitality is a big part of Serbian culture? For example, he got upset at his son when we rinsed off our own pasta dishes. He made his son wash our dishes. For another example, he told us about this one time he showed up at a Serbian girl's house at 1 a.m. & her 90 year old grandfather upon hearing a guest arriving at his house at 1 a.m. got out of bed, put on a full suit, & greeted them at the door.
I think hospitality is good & all but TBH having my dishes washed by someone else when I'm not at a restaurant makes me uncomfortable. & if I woke up a 90 year old & he greeted me in a full suit at his front door I would probably be v frightened / confused.
I can't even think what else to tell you about this Serbian guy. He was a real talker, & his conversation (more like..his "lecture") included everything from: pianos, the Holy Roman Empire, the Reptilian Brain (a phrase he used to describe the way some things are neurochemically rewarding, like TV & videogames), generational gaps, social anxiety, a book called Operation Manual for Spaceship Earth, etc. Jesus.
I was being kinda quiet. At first I felt kinda bad about not talking too much, as I usually feel when I'm around talkative ppl, but the more I think about it... our host was sorta just spouting a bunch of random stuff & not exactly giving us a lot of room to respond...idk. He was full of rhetoric about our generation's dependence on technology & our ignorance of history...it all struck me as kinda specious & empty.
Not that he was trying to like argue with us. But he sorta was in a way. & I felt like I couldn't really argue back, because we were his guests.
We slept in his art space on some old couches.
We didn't sleep long, had to wake up at 5a.m. to drive back to Indiana to get my snare drum & cymbals. Stopped at the very same "WELCOM E TO SERVIC ECENTER" on the way back. Consumed some gas station coffee, then became worried I would have to urinate a lot today, but haven't had to urinate a lot today yet.
Which brings us to Firestone. Because the brakes were screeching.
Firestone takes a look at our brakes & the news is extra bad. It turns out that our "1 squeaky brake" is more like 4 fucked up brakes. Apparently the back left brake is in danger of locking up.
We want that fixed.
Firestone says they have to fix all four brakes, not just the one that might lock, & that it will cost a million dollars. It's their policy that they can't fix just one brake or something if all four are kinda bad.
We tell them we just want the one extremely dangerous brake fixed.
They won't fix just the one.
So we leave.
Now we're at another car place, "All Tire."
We're hoping they can fix just the one brake, unlike Firestone.
I have that Mulan song stuck in my head.
I miss you in a way that specifically makes me mad at Firestone for not fixing our brake.
Vaguely remember graffiti on the wall at St. Louis venue last night: "WE SPIT ON YOUR POLICY."
Still waiting for All Tire to give us a verdict.
I'm curious whether teaching the poor kid's in St. Louis music really is helping anything. I'm kinda a cynic about programs like that...
We also talked with the Serbian about Detroit for a bit. He said he'd heard about the city's bankruptcy on National Public Radio. (Of course he had.) He blamed the city's problems on one gaping wound: the decline of the automobile industry. I don't know whether I agree with that. I mean what does this guy living in St. Louis know about Detroit, except what NPR tells him?
My dad works for the automobile industry. He has for like 30 years.
Frankly feel like I didn't like the Serbian guy, despite his hospitality. He seemed like a total sophist.
I'm so sick of sophists.
All Star Tire says our brake won't "lock up" but they don't recommend that we drive our van on our four shitty brakes. They give us a price estimate similar to Firestone's.
All Star Tire is unable to help us, albeit they're unable to help us in a way that is slightly better than Firestone.
Mike decides we are going to drive the van to Nashville on bad brakes.
He says the brakes might be bad but so long as the van stops & nothing is in danger of "locking up" we should be fine.
The tire experts at All Star Tire & Firestone don't recommend that we drive our van but they probably aren't used to dealing with situations like ours. We have to go play rock music in Nashville.
So we're back on the road now.
I hope we don't crash.
A traffic accident seems like one the worst ways to die.
The Serbian highly recommended the book Operation Manual for Spaceship Earth. It's supposedly about human survival & thinking about problems in novel ways. For example, everyone thinks we have an "energy crisis." But we're really only running out of very specific types of energy, namely the kind we put in wires & tubes & gas tanks. Other types of energy, like sunlight, are nearly limitless.
Idk how viewing the "energy crisis" in this way particularly helps anything, at this point, but it's interesting I guess.
Right now I'm thinking of automobiles as problematic in terms of traffic-accident deaths & not in terms of fossil-fuel consumption. This is how I pass time, en route to Nashville.
This is how I pass time in general, just thinking about things.
Prefer thinking to talking.
"Fuck those assholes," we're saying about Firestone in the van.
Just passed a hospital with a big, cartoon-shaped heart on it, like <3. I think it's good a hospital would chose to display the cartoon model of the heart, instead of the medical model. The medical model is ugly.
I'm sitting shotgun, browsing through #Alt Lit on Tumblr. I just reblogged this quote: "Actions speak louder than words. And thoughts seem to speak louder than any music can."
Spotify just cut out & now we don't have limitless access to music & we all just said, "Fucking internet, shitty internet, fuckin shitty internet" etc.
There are like 10 dried-up clementine peels on the van's dashboard now.
Chris has been playing Pokemon nonstop all day & I estimate he will beat the whole game in like 2 days.
Seems insane we have like 20 more days of tour & the van is already in danger of like...not being able to stop.
Corn fields are bad for internet reception apparently.
Terri is saying, "I thought Obama was going to give the whole world internet."
Vaguely remember the Serbian telling us about a black minister he knew who was v against Obama. For whatever reason.
The Serbian thought it was v odd a black person was against Obama. I don't think that that’s odd.
Meanwhile the sun is beaming through the window & making my legs hot.
You're texting me that it's your free day at camp & you're at a lake & I also just got a picture mssg from you: you're in a van with a bunch of ppl & super smiley & this makes me extra happy like nothing else right now would. Before I left for tour you kept saying how you were going to miss me & you asked if I was even going to miss you because I didn't seem like I was going to. Of course I miss you. Being around you makes me instantly happier, like when the weather is nice.
Cities seem so crowded but the highways between them can be so empty. Idk...
Passing the time thinking about the phrase "What it takes to move forward," which is also the title of one of our record label owner's albums. I'm thinking about what it will take for our band to move forward. I'm thinking about what it will take for me to move forward, what it will take for our relationship to move forward (or if it even needs to "move forward"), what it will take for humans in general to move forward.
Seems like it's going to take an awful lot.
The Serbian told us an anecdote: he was driving a car down a dark alley in Detroit. He noticed the alley switch from concrete to dirt. He noticed the alley getting more & more narrow. At a certain point, he said, you don't know whether to turn around & drive out the way you came in or to keep plunging ahead into the increasingly narrow darkness in hope that you'll be able to squeeze out the other end.
This is a metaphor for society as it stands, he said. We are in the alley, at a certain point where we don't know whether to keep plunging forward or to turn around.
Seems like we will choose to keep plunging ahead. That's what everyone always chooses, for better or worse. There's seldom good criteria for deciding.
When it takes you longer than usual to text me back I get anxious.
Can't recall whether the Serbian said he kept driving forward or turned his car around.
It's a cloudy, muggy morning in Nashville, TN.
"Waiting for the stars to align / there is a restless rain cloud in my mind," the singer of Cold Cave is saying through the van's speakers.
The show last night was in a dirty room behind a laundry mat in a mini mall. The space was called "The Owl Farm." Every DIY music space has to have a stupid name, as a rule, seems like.
The room was spacious & had a bookshelf with a bunch of punk zines. I read through a few of them. Seems like the consensus in punk zines is mostly that police & the government are v bad.
Punk aesthetics are kinda unappealing to me TBH. A lot of the art in the zines was of like...nasty faces & gross dogs...idk. Maybe I'm a hypocrite for saying this because I myself am in a vaguely "punk" band. (TBH I don't think we can really call ourselves "punk," despite what Chris thinks.)
I walked over to a "Z mart" to get a beer. Tennessee has this beer called "Yuengling" that MI doesn't. I got one of those. While I was waiting in line to pay a young black man got into an argument with the arabic cashier. Idk what the argument was about. The black man started to yell at the cashier & even said he was going to kill him. "Don't fuck with me, man. I'll fucking kill you, man," he was like.
It was insane because nobody seemed to be frightened about this behavior. Nobody even seemed to notice it. The cashier literally just "shooed away" the black guy. He was just like, "Go on. Get outta here." & he waved his wand.
Walked back to the Owl Farm & drank my beer & read some more zines.
Feel like...I like the idea of zines but when I sit down & actually read them the writing & art always strikes me as kinda boring & cliche. Feel like...few punks are conscious of how neatly they fit into the stereotype of "punk." For better or worse.
Sometimes I feel like I've lost faith in "punk," which I've been vaguely involved with for so much of my life. Sometimes feel like I'm growing up.
Mostly I'm just tired of watching men..boys...sing to crowds of boys in dirty rooms about how girls have ruined their lives. I can't relate to that anymore. I am too old for that, & we are together.
Before playing a song the guitarist / vocalist of this one band said his next song was about how "you should never fucking tell someone you're the most important person to them right before you break up with them, which is what my ex-girlfriend did." & then he added that he said this on stage at a show his ex-girlfriend was at, right to her face.
Seems bad. I keep thinking the word "sophist."
Feel like...I can sympathize with relationship drama but like I disapprove of telling small crowds of ppl that your ex did something kinda shitty...as art.
I don't know. It's easier not to be jaded about music & kids & their relationship woes if you haven't traveled all over the country & seen different versions of the same kid saying different versions of the same shit to crowds of boys wearing band t-shirts.
Not sure whether our band is any different TBH. I stopped trying to analyze Chris's lyrics a while ago. It sorta just lead to arguments. But I don’t think they’re all about girls anyway. At very least I think our band is all v good at playing our instruments. We're all at least pretty technically proficient musicians I mean.
At some point I walked back over to the Z Mart & got another Yuengling. I guess at this point I was feeling sorta blue. You called me & we talked on the phone a little before you were seated at some restaurant. You talked about having fun camping & drinking with ppl, which made me happy. All night I was getting random, nonsequential duplicate mssgs from you because my or your phone was fucking up. Slightly drunk, the mssgs made me imagine you as schizophrenic or something & made me extremely anxious. I don't know why phones don't just like..work..at this point in technology. I mean I know they're complicated devices...but...at this point..shouldn't they just like...work? Lol.
This kid Matt, whose house we ended up sleeping at after the show, wanted to take us & another band to a cliff to go cliff diving. But we were all really tired & declined his invitation. The really unfortunate thing about touring is you're constantly surrounded with opportunities like cliff diving but you're always too tired from driving & eating fast food & sleeping on floors that you don't really want to do anything fun.
So Matt took us to his house & Chris & Mike instantly fell asleep on a couch & the rest of us watched TV. I chose Mulan on Netflix lol. That one Mulan song had been stuck in my head perpetually ever since tour started. Mulan's good because the main female character in it isn't a stupid princess or whatever.
We were able to shower at Matt's this morning, so now we're smelling / looking decent.
We stopped at a Walmart on our way out of town. In the parking lot Mike said we'd see a lot of crazy ppl in the Walmart because TN supposedly has crazy Walmarts, but everyone in it seemed pretty normal TBH.
We also stopped at a Guitar Center. I hate Guitar Center. You can't step a foot in a Guitar Center before some 40 yr old rockabilly sophist starts asking you what kind of drum set you have & whether you're in a band & what kind of band etc. I mean it wouldn't upset me if they asked you genuinely, but they seem mostly to talk to you only because they're trained to have great "customer service" or something. Idk.
Feel like Guitar Center is...like...an icon of capitalism's vice grip on music’s testicles.
Anyway I bought some overpriced cymbal felts. I was going to shoplift them but as we approached the cashier Mike noticed that I didn't have anything & he asked if I needed anything & I got nervous & took the cymbal felts out of my pocket & paid for them. The cashier asked for my name twice & my zip code literally like 5 times & my address & I don't know why he even needed all that information. I hate Guitar Center. It's just Walmart with a different name. Now that they have my address & everything I will probably get a bunch of fucking spam mail from them. Jesus.
We're listening to Neutral Milk Hotel in the van: "In the dark we will take off our clothes & I'll be placing fingers through the notches in your spin."
Driving through a ravine lined with lush trees & it's really quite nice. I'm worried about the van handling the hills, though. We haven't gotten the brakes checked out again yet. Supposedly we will once we get to Birmingham.
Hope the show tonight goes well. The first 3 shows were..good enough..but they only had like 20 ppl & so they were kinda just bands watching other bands.
"Bands watching bands" is a concept I've been thinking about. It happens a lot at punk shows where like 5 bands play & no ppl who aren't in one of the bands comes to watch...the show just ends up being the bands watching one another, mostly out of politeness more so than interest.
I want to say shows with just bands watching bands is fine, that it's good to have an audience who are musicians themselves, but my gut feeling is to be highly annoyed at shows with just bands watching other bands play. Which a lot of shows are nowadays, at least in the DIY / punk scene. Idk. Just seems like..."mutual masturbation"...or a "circle jerk"...more than a real concert. It's a sort of unspoken rule that if you're playing a show you should stand & watch every other band play but I'm typically not v interested in the other bands & tired & just want to sit somewhere far away usually. Maybe I'm an impolite ass really.
Stopped at a gas station at the border of TN. This gas station had a whole area with tables set up designated for scratching off lottery tickets. There was a family seated at a table, scratching. Jesus.
Defecated in the bathroom.
The bathroom door had permanent marker on it saying: “Please don’t mess up the bathroom.” With a line going up from “don’t” & adding “Key word here.” Seems absurd, especially bc of the permanent market & poor penmanship.
I’ve been thinking about the unattractive punk zines, Guitar Center, Walmart, “bands watching bands,” sophists, lyrics about ex-girlfriends, & I’m getting a cloudy sentiment about Capitalism I want to write about but I don’t want to use the word “Capitalism” anymore or any other word ending in “-ism.” & it seems extremely difficult.
I guess the best way to describe what I’m feeling is that we’re driving across America to play rock, & it’s muggy outside, & the singer from Neutral Milk Hotel is singing, “God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life.”
You’ve asked me about God before & I’ve always danced around the question. Well, I guess my aim with these letters is to be candid, & so I want to say something more direct about it. Problem is, I don’t think there’s a direct way to talk about it. All I know is that you & I exist, & but that the facts of the world aren’t its end.
A question nobody will ever sufficiently answer is why there is something, instead of nothing.
Now’s also probably an okay time to tell you I was a virgin when I met you. TBH I don’t think it’s that important, but I lied to you about it & I want to set it straight. Feel like in my life I have little or nothing to hide & being honest is the only viable option in the long term. So, sorry I lied to you. I haven’t been dishonest about anything else.
Terri’s saying that the van’s engine is struggling up some of these mountains. If the van makes it to California I will be shocked.
At this point I’m beginning to wonder what the fuck we’ll do when the van breaks.
Everyone seems not worried about it, tho.
So we just keep on driving. Seems like a metaphor for something.
We’ve all been making fun of Chris for playing Pokemon all day yesterday, & he’s becoming slightly upset about it. He has stopped playing Pokemon, for now.
I want to watch Mulan with you.
Chris is saying, “I’d like to get drunk tonight.”
Mike is saying it’s good that we’ve “paced ourselves” on this tour & haven’t gotten super drunk every night so far.
I’m beginning to not really like alcohol. Two Yuenglings put me in a cloudy mood last night. Supposedly the antidepressant I take reacts badly with alcohol. I’ve never really noticed any bad reactions, but maybe it’s starting to catch up with me. Idk. It seems bad that ppl have to drink to be able to interact fluidly with one another. Also seems bad to not drink & thereby alienate yourself from ppl drinking. I’m hoping to smoke some weed tonight actually. I think if I just smoke a little, not even really enough to get “high,” I’m able to interact with ppl well.
My ears are popping from driving up & down these hills. The vans engine sounds like a bad lawnmower.
Now we’re listening to the rough mixes of our own new songs. Lol.
What is anyone supposed to do? I keep thinking this out of nowhere. Just, like, in general...what’s anyone supposed to do? I hope you’re not lonely at camp. I hope you’re having fun.
Jessy from Arizona texted me asking if we’re coming to Arizona. We are not, weren’t able to book a show there. I text her saying we might go to Las Vegas instead for a day off. She says, “God don’t go to vegas it sucks. Everyone sucks and it is just horrible and expensive.” Lol. She asks me sup & I say I’ve been working at Domino’s Pizza & playing Starcraft on my computer & now I’m on this shitty tour. She says she works at a tea store & is interning at an art museum and is quitting tho to teach Somalian refugees English. & she’s applying to grad school.
Jesus. Jesus Christ.
Tonight after the show we’re going to drive overnight to Texas. I think I’m going to take the wheel for a lot of it. Somehow I have a reputation as a good night driver within our band. I guess I am sorta an insomniac. I just listen to talk radio & drink coffee & it’s pretty easy to stay up all night.
Stopped at a rest stop in Alabama. Inside there’s a touchscreen with Alabama tourist information that makes a high-pitched beep every time you touch it & it seems straight out of the year 1992. I urinate & look at myself in the mirror. I look moderately haggard. I have a p nasty “neck beard” going on & will need to shave the next chance I get. I have some new acne from not washing my face & from sleeping on dirty couches. At every rest stop Mike check’s the van’s oil & fluids & idk what else.
Chris has begun playing Pokemon again & I expect we’ll be making fun of him again. Terri’s smoking a cigarette. He is the only smoker in our band. I’ve considered picking up smoking on this tour, mostly bc I’m bored, but have ultimately decided against it to save money. Coffee is better than cigarettes anyway.
I’m going to stop writing for now. I hope the show tonight is good.
Will try to finish my Wittgenstein book now, which has been p good so far.
I’m in a Starbucks in Mississippi, drinking a Taco Bell Baja Blast Mt. Dew & a McDonald’s coffee. I wish I were joking.
We went to Taco Bell, so I got food & a Mt. Dew. Then we were sitting in the parking lot between McDonald’s & Taco Bell so Mike could use McDonald’s wifi to download stuff for his job. So I went in to McDonald’s & bought a coffee bc it’s my turn to drive & I need to wake up. After a bit Mike realized the wifi in the parking lot was too weak to download whatever he needed to download. I suggested we sit inside the McDonald’s but Mike didn’t want to bc he hates McDonald’s, so we drove to this Starbucks & now I’m sitting in here with two different fast-food beverages. This is a long description for a fairly insipid situation, but it bears noting.
It’s v hot outside. Chris has applied sunscreen, although we are mostly sitting inside places lol.
Taco Bell Mt. Dew + McDonald’s coffee = weird, bug-like flavor.
The show last night was in a DIY space called “The Forge.” We’d played there before, on our last tour. It’s nice. It has a bookshelf w/ a lot of good books & some cozy couches nearby. As soon as the show started I grabbed a copy of Donald Barthelme’s “Sixty Stories” off the shelf & plopped down on a chair to read some of my favorites from it.
Mike took a good panoramic pic of me sitting in a corner reading while a few meters away a band is playing & literally everyone else is watching them except me lol. #Loner.
One rlly good story in Sixty Stories is “The Rise of Capitalism.” I know I said I’d stop using the word “Capitalism” to describe things, but this story’s really good...I think I will copy paste the whole story here when I get home.
(THE RISE OF CAPITALISM by DONALD BARTHELEME:
The first thing I did was make a mistake. I thought I had understood capitalism, but what I had done was assume an attitude—melancholy sadness—toward it. This attitude is not correct. Fortunately your letter came, at that instant. "Dear Rupert, I love you every day. You are the world, which is life. I love you I adore you I am crazy about you. Love, Marta." Reading between the lines, I understood your critique of my attitude toward capitalism. Always mindful that the critic must "studiare da un punto di vista formalistico e semiologico il rapporto fra lingua di un testo e codificazione di un—" But here a big thumb smudges the text—the thumb of capitalism, which we are all under. Darkness falls. My neighbor continues to commit suicide, once a fortnight. I have this suicides geared into my schedule because my role is to save him; once I was late and he spent two days unconscious on the floor. But now that I have understood that I have not understood capitalism, perhaps a less equivocal position toward it can be "hammered out." My daughter demands more Mr. Bubble for her bath. The shrimp boats lower their nets. A book called Humorists of the 18th Century is published.
Capitalism places every man in competition with his fellows for a share of the available wealth. A few people accumulate big piles, but most do not. The sense of community falls victim to this struggle. Increased abundance and prosperity are tied to growing "productivity." A hierarchy of functionaries interposes itself between the people and the leadership. The good of the private corporation is seen as prior to the public good. The world market system tightens control in the capitalist countries and terrorizes the Third World. All things are manipulated to these ends. The King of Jordan sits at his ham radio, inviting strangers to the palace. I visit my assistant mistress. "Well, Azalea," I say, sitting in the best chair, "what has happened to you since my last visit?" Azalea tells me what happened to her. She has covered a sofa, and written a novel. Jack has behaved badly. Roger has lost his job (replaced by an electric eye). Gigi's children are in the hospital being detoxified, all three. Azalea herself is dying of love. I stroke her buttocks, which are perfection, if you can have perfection, under the capitalistic system. "It is better to marry than to burn," St. Paul says, but St. Paul is largely discredited now, for the toughness of his views does not accord with the experience of advanced industrial societies. I smoke a cigar, to disoblige the cat.
Meanwhile Marta is getting angry. "Rupert," she says, "you are no better than a damn dawg! A plain dawg has more sensibility than you, when it comes to a woman's heart!" I try to explain that it is not my fault but capitalism's. She will have none of it. "I stand behind the capitalistic system," Martha says. "It has given us everything we have—the streets, the parks, the great avenues and boulevards, the promenades and malls—and other things, too, that I can't think of right now." But what has the market been doing? I scan the list of the fifteen Most Loved Stocks:
Occident Pet 983,100 28 5/8 + 3
Natomas 912,300 58 3/8 + 18
What chagrin! Why wasn't I into Natomas, as into a fine garment, that will win you social credit when you wear it to the ball? I am not rich again this morning! I put my head between Marta's breasts, to hide my shame.
Honore de Balzac went to the movies. He was watching his favorite flick, The Rise of Capitalism, with Simone Simon and Raymond Radiguet. When he had finished viewing the film, he went out and bought a printing plant, for fifty thousand francs. "Henceforth," he said, "I will publish myself, in handsome expensive de-luxe editions, cheap editions, and foreign editions, duodecimo, sexdecimo, octodecimo. I will also publish atlases, stamp albums, collected sermons, volumes of sex education, remarks, memoirs, diaries, railroad timetables, daily newspapers, telephone books, racing forms, manifestos, libretti, abecedaries, works on acupuncture, and cookbooks." And then Honore went out and got drunk, and visited his girlfriend's house, and, roaring and stomping on the stairs, frightened her husband to death. And the husband was buried, and everyone stood silently around the grave, thinking of where they had been and where they were going, and the last handfuls of wet earth were cast upon the grave, and Honore was sorry.
The Achievements of Capitalism:
"Capitalism sure is sunny!" cried the unemployed Laredo toolmaker, as I was out walking, in the streets of Laredo. "None of that noxious Central European miserabilism for us!" And indeed, everything I see about me seems to support his position. Laredo is doing very well now, thanks to application of the brilliant principles of the "new capitalism." Its Gross Laredo Product is up, and its internal contradictions are down. Catfish-farming, a new initiative in the agribusiness sector, has worked wonders. The dram-house and the card-house are each nineteen stories high. "No matter," Azalea says. "You are still a damn dawg, even if you have 'unveiled existence.'" At the Laredo Country Club, men and women are discussing the cathedrals of France, where all of them have just been. Some liked Tours, some Lyon, some Clermont. "A pious fear of God makes itself felt in this spot."
Capitalism arose and took off its pajamas. Another day, another dollar. Each man is valued at what he will bring in the marketplace. Meaning has been drained from work and assigned instead to remuneration. Unemployment obliterates the world of the unemployed individual. Cultural underdevelopment of the worker, as a technique of domination, is found everywhere under late capitalism. Authentic self-domination by individuals is thwarted. The false consciousness created and catered to by mass culture perpetuates ignorance and powerlessness. Strands of raven hair floating on the surface of the Ganges...Why can't they clean up the Ganges? If the wealthy capitalists who operate the Ganges wig factories could be forced to install sieves, at the mouths of their plants...And now the sacred Ganges is choked with hair, and the river no longer knows where to put its flow, and the moonlight on the Ganges is swallowed by the hair, and the water darkens. By Vishnu! This is an intolerable situation! Shouldn't something be done about it?
Friends for dinner! The crudites are prepared, green and fresh. The good paper napkins are laid out. Everyone is talking about capitalism (although some people are talking about the psychology of aging, and some about the human use of human beings, and some about the politics of experience). "How can you say that?" Azalea shouts, and Marta shouts, "What about the air?" As a flower moves toward the florist, women move toward men who are not good for them. Self-actualization is not to be achieved in terms of another person, but you don't know that, when you begin. The negation of the negation is based on a correct reading of the wrong books. The imminent heat-death of the universe is not a bad thing, because it is a long way off. Chaos is a position, but a weak one, related to that "unfocusedness" about which I have forgotten to speak. And now the saints come marching in, saint upon saint, to deliver their message! Here are St. Albert (who taught Thomas Aquinas), and St. Almachius (martyred trying to put an end to gladiatorial contests), and St. Amadour (the hermit), and St. Andrew of Crete (whose "Great Kanon" runs to two hundred and fifty strophes), and St. Anthony the Pillar, and many others. "Listen!" the saints say. "He who desires true rest and happiness must raise his hope from things that perish and pass away and place it in the Word of God, so that, cleaving to that which abides forever, he may also together with it abide forever." Alas! It is the same old message. "Rupert," Martha says, "the embourgeoisment of all classes of men has reached a disguting nadir in your case. A damn hawg has more sense than you. At least a damn hawg doesn't go in for 'the bullet wrapped in sugar,' as the Chinese say." She is right.
Smoke, rain, abulia. What can the concerned citizen do to fight the rise of capitalism, in his own community? Study of the tides of conflict and power in a system in which there is structural inequality is an important task. A knowledge of European intellectual history since 1789 provides a useful background. Information theory offers interesting new possibilities. Passion is helpful, especially those types of passion which are non licit. Doubt is a necessary precondition to meaningful action. Fear is the great mover, in the end.
I met “Austin Davis” from “alt lit” at the show. He introduced himself & was friendly. He said he’d read some of my poetry on Tumblr. He danced a lot to our band & seemed to have fun, so that’s good. In fact almost everyone “danced” (i.e., violently shook & jumped around) & seemed to have a good time. I’m glad everyone at the show danced & stuff bc TBH at the beginning of the show I was feeling terribly depressed for no particular reason.
After the show we went to this 24hr. Mediterranean / American restaurant called “Al’s” with our friend Kristen (whom we’d met on our last tour) & some kids from the show & we ordered like 10 orders of french fries. Al’s is really nice, has a nice patio with a fountain. I guess it’s like a choice hangout spot for kids in Birmingham.
After Al’s we went back to Kristen’s house to chill out. Kristen, Terri, & I smoked weed lol. I think I like weed. I at least like it better than alcohol, which reacts badly with me nowadays. I’m hoping to experiment more with weed on this tour lol, while I have the opportunity.
After a few beers & some weed we watched “Hitch,” the movie in which Will Smith teaches Kevin James how to get a woman lol. I highly recommend this movie.
At some point we figured out we miscalculated how long the drive from Birmingham to Texas is, & that we wouldn’t have to drive overnight. So we got to sleep for a few hours before leaving early in the morning.
I dreamed deep in the van. I had a dream where tour was almost over & we were going home & I was going to get to see you. Obviously I’m homesick. I am slowly getting acclimated to the road, tho, & as long as kids seem to have fun watching us I probably won’t get too depressed.
Vaguely remember hearing Kristen talk about her creepy neighbor as I fell asleep last night...He’s some sort of stalker? He gave Kristen a book about cats. Sometimes he watches her sunbathe. One time he took an octopus decorative thing off her front door & replaced it with sushi(?) (I overheard this all while falling asleep...probably didn’t hear all the details exactly right.) The point is that Kristen has always been rlly friendly to us & smoked weed w/ Terri & me & gave us all beers & I wish nice ppl like her didn’t have creepy, fucked up neighbors.
Some ppl give me faith in humanity, & but those very ppl’s neighbors take that faith away, & I don’t know if there’s ever any sort of balance struck.
“Austin Islam” from “alt lit” is supposed to be at our show in Texas tonight. I’m excited to meet him. I think he’s one of my favorite internet friends. I’ll try to talk to him so I can write you some good dialogue lol.
In Mississippi it is legal to drink alcohol while driving if you stay under .08 BAC or whatever the limit is. This seems categorically insane.
Seems like we sold like $200 worth of merch last night at the show, which helps us out a lot.
Seems like we’ve tacitly chosen to ignore the brake issues with our van for now. I don’t know how this decision was made. Seems insane.
I wish music, & art in general, didn’t depend on money. Seems bad we have to worry about selling enough shirts & records in order to go from city to city.
A little while before we left for tour Chris posted on Facebook that he feels like his music has become “commodified” & he can’t just show his friends new songs or just post them on bandcamp anymore. Instead we have to, like, release “records” & sell them. Ppl gave Chris shit for this Facebook post but I think he rlly expressed something painful & true—the pressure to bend your creative endeavors into a marketable “product,” or something. #Commodification. #Capitalism. Idk.
I’ve been thinking about this all in reference to these letters I’m writing you. Mike has asked me if I’m going to post this all online or make it into a novel or something.
Feel pressure to make this writing into something “useful” or “marketable,” but feel like I really just want to write letters to my gf while on tour, & where the fuck is this “pressure” even coming from?
Anyway I’ve decided the only right thing to do is let you decide whether I blog this all or make it into a book or whatever. TBH I will probably be upset if you don’t want me to, bc I like sharing what I write, but I’ve decided I’d be more upset if I like “commodified” letters to you while you wanted them to remain between us or something. Idk. Have I mentioned lately that I love you?
Leaving Starbucks now, have to start my first driving shift.
Texas is hot as hell. I don’t know how people live in states like this.
Our show last night was at a house called “Macaroni Island.” It was a really nice house. The guy Michael who lived there & set up our show seemed to really have his life in order. His house was clean, the show ran smoothly, he was very polite.
I got a little drunk off malt liquor before our set despite planning to not really drink anymore. I guess I drank bc it was a house show & a lot of ppl were drinking & I wanted to be on the same level as everyone & not alienate myself.
The crowd’s reaction to our set was pretty weak in comparison to the shows we’ve played so far, but one couple drove 2 hours from Oklahoma just to see us, so that was kinda exciting. After our set Terri & I ended up smoking weed with them lol. They said they thought we’d be assholes for some reason but we seemed nice. Anyway I got really high…& for some reason really horny. Is weed supposed to make ppl horny? Anyway I just miss you.
Austin Islam from alt lit was there. Everyone from Brave Bird liked him. He’s a very friendly guy, easy to talk to. I can’t remember any of our dialogue really. I think we just sorta talked about summer…& Tao Lin for a bit. Terri or someone told Austin that I was writing a “secret blog that no one can read” & he asked about it. I told him I was writing letters to my gf who’s camping in Wyoming & that I’m not sure yet about posting them online. Austin invited us to a bar & we wanted to go but none of us were sober enough to drive, so we stayed at Macaroni Island. Michael set up air mattresses for us & stayed up for a bit to chat. He was rlly cool. He’s a graphic designer & he records bands in his house. He also roasts his own coffee & is trying to start his own nonprofit coffee company or something. Idk. He was really just the kind of guy who speaks placidly & seems to have his shit together.
In the morning he made us great coffee & even roasted some beans for us to take home. Mike (Brave Bird Mike) is kinda a coffee aficionado himself, so he & Michael talked & geeked out about coffee all morning.
After we showered & packed up our stuff we went to this extra good cafe for breakfast. I got a “monkey bowl,” which was like a yogurt / granola / banana / acai dish...it was super good. I instagrammed it. I also instagrammed a selfie this morning, just for fun.
Can’t remember too many details from last night, was v high / drunk.
Still think I react better to weed than to alcohol. Think it reduces my anxiety at these shows. Terri always finds ppl with weed somehow & then I just join them when they smoke. I don’t know how Terri finds the weed every night but he does. Feel like I could never just, like, ask someone if they have weed.
We’re en route to Houston & it’s hot as hell. At this point the van’s fucked brakes have somehow become a non-issue apparently. Whatever. If they start grinding terribly or lock or something Mike has AAA auto insurance that we can use to get towed up to 100 miles or something.
Wish I would’ve gone to school for “graphic design.” Seems like such an easy & rewarding field of work. Lol.
We listened to the song “Damn it feels good to be a gangsta” in the van yesterday & it’s definitely one of my favorite songs.
The show in Houston tonight is at a bar & we will probably get free drinks & I will be unable to refuse them & I hope I don’t get too drunk. The Facebook event for tonight’s show doesn’t have v many ppl attending. I hope the show isn’t depressing…
I had sex dreams about you last night. As I said, the weed made me v horny for some reason. I felt like my whole body was a penis.
Forgot to charge my phone last night bc fell asleep early drunk / high. Hope you’re not like texting me right now & getting upset bc I’m unresponsive.
Feel caffeinated & optimistic right now.
Was slightly anxious about meeting Austin Islam IRL last night & am glad that that’s over.
Currently the van’s stuffy despite the AC being on full blast. Texas is an oven. Can’t wait to get out of this heat. But we still have 3 mores shows in this big ass state...
I wonder what having a life like Michael’s (Macaroni Island Michael’s) would be like. Seems like he has $ & all his shit in order…& cool shows at his house &, like, how has he been able to do all this? Seems like there must be some fatal flaw in him we missed. Maybe he has a disease, or will get one. Lol jk. Feel like Michael was my fav host of tour so far. Bc he was v mature. He was totally not a sophist.
Terri’s driving, Mike is sitting shotgun, I’m behind him, Chris is back here with me playing Pokemon. Christ always sits in the back. Mike doesn’t let Chris drive. Supposedly Chris is a bad driver. Chris did crash my car in Chicago last summer…
Feel like the difference between extreme heat & extreme cold is that w/ cold you can just add enough layers of clothing to feel comfortable, but with heat you can never remove enough clothes to feel comfortable & AC is your only defense & not everywhere has AC & it’s sometimes weak...Idk. I just hate this heat right now & want to complain lol. Maybe if I don’t think about it so much, it will seem less bad…
Feel like we’ve entered this transient state of tour in which it’s hard to remember your life outside of it. The van has become our home away from home. & sleeping in strangers’ houses gets less strange & more ordinary every night.
I’m requesting aloud we listen to Motion City Soundtrack’s album “Commit This to Memory.” Motion City Soundtrack is an underrated band IMO.
Used to have a best friend in Macomb who rlly loved MCS. Haven’t talked to him in like a year. Wonder if he knows I’m touring in an emo band right now. Maybe he saw something about us online.
Funny how lives split from each other & one of you ends up in Texas & the other ends up doing who knows what. Idk. For a while now I’ve been meditating on whether there’s any real rhyme or reason to the way ppl’s lives go, & for better or worse I don’t suppose there is really. Driving an econoline across the country for 3 weeks to play emo music in houses & DIY spaces & bars is absurd if I think about it. & sometimes I do think about, but mostly I’m just here, being swept across the states as if by some natural, unavoidable impulse.
The sun has been covered by a patch of clouds, providing a brief reprieve from the heat.
I think I would like to move to Canada. Not sure why except colder weather. Is weed legal in Canada?
It’s a v cliche thought, but why is alcohol legal & weed not?
Feel like I disagree with 99% of “culture.” Culture is a word like Capitalism: I should probably avoid it. It’s easy to forget how extra bad American culture is, bc we’ve mostly been interacting with punk / alternative types, but every time we stop at a gas station & see ppl buying lottery tickets & high-fructose corn syrup “food”...& everytime we get on the highway & pass hundreds upon hundreds of McDonald’s billboards & get stuck in traffic & see construction crews perpetually repairing broken roads & ppl getting upset at them for causing traffic...the feeling is like when I wake up after a night of alcohol & weed & remember what life is really like & that nothing will last forever, especially an emo band.
If weed makes me feel better than my antidepressants, why am I taking pills instead of smoking weed, except that that’s what our culture agrees I ought to do? Sorry for using the word Culture again…#cliches
Feel like I’ve been trying to smoke weed a lot this tour under the pretense that I’m “partying” or something but TBH feel like I’ve been smoking it bc it mitigates my anxiety / depression at shows. Shows trigger my anxiety / depression. I’m not sure why. They’re supposed to be fun. They are fun, to an extent. Then they are stressful. Idk.
Last night was the first time I messed up a drum part so far. It was a v minor mistake, but Mike / Chris noticed it & of course mentioned it afterwards. Feel like it’s unfair they specifically mention when I make a small mistake while they mess up their own parts all the time—way more than I do in fact. Feels like I’m being punished for not consistently fucking up...bc it’s more noticeable now when I do actually fuck up. Idk.
Seems like expectations are almost always a bad thing to have.
“Let’s get fucked up & die. I’m speaking figuratively of course,” the singer of Motion City Soundtrack is singing.
Vaguely remember talking to guy with glasses & septum piercing last night who works at Cracker Barrel. He told me about how someone found a grasshopper in their grits, & another person found a spider in their blackberry pancakes. He said he likes his job at Cracker Barrel & I have trouble believing that.
The grass on the side of Texas’s highways is deader & drier than other states’.
Forgot to mention: in Birmingham we ate at a Chinese restaurant & Mike got a fortune cookie with no fortune inside of it (!) This seems like an incredibly bad omen. I’m awaiting disaster. Lol. Mike asked the crowd last night what they thought the empty fortune cookie meant & Austin Islam said, “Choose your own adventure.”
Last summer we read Goosebump’s “choose your own nightmare” books to each other & this is one of my favorite ways to be in love.
I like the phrase “commit this to memory.” I like the idea that remembering something is a “commitment.” I have committed so much of us to memory bc I like to recall the fun things we’ve done, like when we went mountain biking & carved our names & a heart in a tree & instagrammed it.
We are in Austin, Tx. It’s so hot it sucks.
Last night we played in Houston at a bar which used to be a discount clothing store. The show was sorta bad. It was “bands watching bands.” The bar was p dirty. They didn’t even offer bands free drinks (bc we we’re the only ones there I guess…) They did give us $1 PBRs tho. I ended up drinking like three of them despite not rlly planning to drink any. Terri & Chris bought me them.
Somehow Terri was a little drunk off $1 PBRs & so we kinda messed up one song p bad. Feel like I didn’t really care tho TBH...bc the show was just bands watching bands.
You called me & we talked a bit. Apparently you were swimming with ppl somewhere? Or you were with ppl swimming but you were talking with me on the phone lol.
We are both p homesick & lonely right now. We are both tired from not sleeping enough. I miss you. I told you I’m writing you letters. I ruined the surprise. I felt like sharing bc I’m lonely & Tx is too hot. You seemed excited about the letters. You wanted me to include lots of details. I do too but I’m bad at details sometimes. I’m better at general notions of things. But I will try to remember some good details for you. For example, there were some really bad female nude paintings in the bar. I don’t know why, but lots of punk places insist on having bad art on their walls. It’s a sophist thing, I think.
On the way to Austin Terri & I ate at an all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut lunch buffet & it was only $4.80(!) but now my stomach hurts.
We had a p sweet txt mssg conversation about being loner badasses & being in love last night. I’m going to include it here:
you: I just wanna go to bed really early like rn but ppl are hanging out I feel weird. No ones going to sleep yet but I’m so tired
me: that happens to me every night lol. bc we have to wait for these late ass shows to be over
omg I really want to but ppl would prolly judge me
me: just dop it it’d be badass fuk the haters
you: lol going to bed at 10pm. So bad ass.
Fuck I’m doin it
I probably won’t even get to sleep for a while bc ppl are up talking
Feel like I need to be more badass on tour via going to sleep earlier, sitting down while bands play, generally being boring & quiet & not caring
you: ya that’s me on this trip
Just being quiet & boring
you: I try sometimes but most the time I’m just like fuck this I wanna go home
we need to stop feeling bad / being apologetic about it I think
Let’s just be badasses
you: Ya I’ve been I feel like just caring about it less lately and just accepting this is how I am
And at least we have each other!
me: ya idk im fine with talking to ppl when I want to I just rarely want to
& ya we have each other soooo
you: ya lol
So we never have to talk to other ppl again right? We can just talk to each other
me: im never talking to any1 but u again yo
you: ok deal
omg ilu so much bb
me: I’ll just write instead of talk rest of tour
yeah I love you a lot too actually how did this happen
& the conversation goes on. I miss you.
After the show in Houston we went to this kid Jacob’s parents’ mansion to sleep. It was literally a mansion. I instagrammed it. It was nice bc he gave us his wifi password & I went on my netbook & checked my blogs & stuff. I got an email from “Metazen” saying they want to publish one of my short stories I submitted which is way longer than their submission guidelines allow but for which they are willing to bend the rules. Seems good.
Received a very earnest email from some guy submitting a very long epic poem to Alt Lit Press. Idk how he found my blog or why he thinks his poems fits on it, but I told him I’d post it after I read it. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet bc I don’t want to waste my phone battery. I hate my phone. It dies too often.
Driving to Midland, last night we played Austin. Last night was p bad, or at least the show was. Seems like I enjoy just about every part of touring except the shows themselves…
We stayed at this band’s house. They had v good AC & a deer head mounted on their wall. They had a dog named Dagger who was half chihuahua half weiner dog. He was great.
Before the show Nick & Shane (the guys from the band) took us swimming at this place called Barton Spring which was amazing. It was a giant natural pool with extra cold water. It was beautiful. Mike instagrammed it. Swimming there was p much the first time since we’ve got into Tx that I felt not hot & miserable.
& before swimming we got vegan ice cream & our pictures taken, I forgot to mention. (Trying to remember all the “details” for you.) I got one scoop of “cinnamon almond” & one scoop of “coffee donut.” It was rlly good.
Our pictures were taken by some kid from Twitter. He was young & somewhat awkward. He wanted us to, like, jump & move around for the pictures but we preferred to just sorta stand in front of our van. It was really hot outside & we didn’t exactly want to get photographed by this kid all day…
The show itself was at a sketchy ass bar. It was definitely in like a poor part of Austin. Prostitutes & homeless ppl were gathered outside the bar all night, doing whatever it is they do. The bar itself was dirty & pretty much only served cheap, shitty beer & fried food I can only describe as “suspect.” I was rlly hungry so I got a fish sandwich & fries, despite not wanting to eat at this bar.
Anyway again the show was p much just “bands watching bands.” Maybe a few ppl watched us who weren’t in bands. But they all left after we played & only like us & three other ppl stayed for the last band, which was the band housing us for the night. They seemed disappointed that barely anyone watched their set…
A detail: as we were loading out our gear after the show a homeless woman on the street said that she really liked our music & that she’d been listening from outside. I really appreciated her saying that. Her saying that meant a lot more to me than, idk, a kid with an iPhone buying our record.
Nick & Shane wanted to “party” after the show at their place (of course) but we couldn’t get anyone else to go back to their place with us, so after the show it was p much just our band & their band chilling in their living room & drinking beer. Which was a good enough party for me—preferable really. Nick brought out some weed & he, Terri, & I smoked. Smoking weed has truly been my savior this tour. It relaxes me & helps me forget that things are sorta bad. The weed made me sleepy & I more or less instantly passed out on the couch.
Showered in the morning, left their house around 11.
On the way out of town we stopped at a food cart called “Biscuits & Groovy” for breakfast. It was a vegan place, or it at least had vegan options. I got some biscuits & gravy with fake meat & soy cheese on them & a glass-bottle Mexican Coke. It was p good.
Now we’re en route to Midland, which I’m not excited about. The Fb event for the show has like 4 ppl attending. This show will almost certainly be a bust. I’m so eager to get out of this hot ass state, & this dumb show tn can’t be over soon enough.
Pulled into a gas station & the van made a worrisome noise. Mike & Terri occasionally check under the hood for idk what & then decide the van is fine. The van needs an oil change bc we’ve driven at least 3,000 miles by now. & we have much more to go.
Even with the van’s AC on full blast the temperature is hot enough in here that I’m more or less constantly covered in sweat.
Feel like I’ve been more or less dehydrated for 4 days now. I’m tired & homesick.
Last night I texted you idk if I can take another tour. This might be my last. It’s such an effort, & idk why I make it. TBH I’m not v passionate about drumming, & I am losing money. I’m stuck in a hot van & I just want to be home.
You seemed against those sentiments. I don’t know why. You say you just want me to be happy & I’m telling you this tour maybe is making me unhappy, & then you just say to “stick it out.” This is frustrating.
Feel like I’m trying to make the most of this experience & simultaneously I cannot deny how I feel.
“A man can do as he wills but he cannot will as he wills” - Schopenhauer.
We are both shy ppl. I have spent so much of my life doing what other ppl want me to do, bc I fear confrontation & making choices. But this tour is pushing me to a point where...feel like I have to start caring for myself better.
Feel like in the end ppl have no choice but to be themselves, & who I am might not be an emo drummer.
Unfortunately this raises a question: if I’m not an emo drummer, then who am I? I truly don’t know. I like you, & the internet sometimes. I don’t generally like ppl. I prefer colder climates to hotter ones. But are these things any sort of criteria to base life decisions on?
If I weren’t on this tour I would just be working at Dominos Pizza. That hardly seems preferable. But not having any better options is a specious reason to do something, I think. It’s the old “lesser of two evils” argument or whatever.
There are always options, I feel, even if they aren’t always clear.
But...in a way this tour & a lot else in my life have seemed less like an option I chose & more like an inevitability I fell into vaguely somehow.
Tangential anecdote: when I got out of the hospital that one time my mom found out bc it came up on our insurance bill & she called me to ask what happened & why I had gone to the hospital & I told her I wasn’t sure like 100 times…& eventually we were just talking & she said something I’ll never forget. She said, “I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but it seems like ever since you were a kid you put other people before yourself & have disregarded your own feelings, & maybe sometimes this lets people take advantage of you.” & that over time this may have added up & worn me down & made me unhappy. Even when I was really young I’d let people cut ahead of me in line or take my things. I’d get bullied. & I wouldn’t get upset. I was forgiving always.
& as she was saying this to me I felt a sadness wash over me, because it was true, & it still is true, & I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it.
She was telling me, in a roundabout way, that I was being slowly punished by people for being nice to them. & I have always understood this is the way things go & I know there is nothing to be done about it. The good die young, & the meek will absolutely not inherit the Earth.
TBH I want to be more arrogant & selfish, I actually do, but it’s just not who I am. I can’t help who I am. This is the default for me, not a self-righteous choice.
So I’m in a van in Texas & will be playing drums for a few kids every night for the next couple weeks & then after that I don’t know.
We’re in Arizona. Feels good to be out of Texas. Texas is too big & too hot. It’s bad.
Our show last night was in Midland, a small city on the edge of Texas that really only seems to exist because it’s on the way out of Texas. The show was at this...building...called “The Pinebox.” It used to be an auto shop or tattoo place or something. The show was our worst attended so far. I can’t even call it “bands watching bands” because except us only a solo acoustic guy & one other band played, & some of the other band left early or just didn’t watch us after they played lol.
Feel like I ought to be bummed out about the attendance but TBH I’ve more or less stopped caring about how our shows go. Feel like I’m just “along for the ride” at this point. The shows are the last thing I’m worried about really.
The walls were covered in dick graffiti, I shit you not. There were in fact so many dick drawings on one wall that somebody wrote “Why are there so many dicks on this wall?” on it.
There were also a ton of band stickers everywhere. I guess at every place there are always band stickers everywhere. While staring at one collage of band stickers on a door the thought occurred to me: what makes all these stickers different than the billboards on the highways? Seems like everyone everywhere is competing for attention, whether you’re a band or a restaurant chain. Everyone just wants to be loved. Anyway I’m sick of it. I’m so sick of “bands.” We all seem...so fame hungry, plastering our ugly stickers everywhere. We all seem so unoriginal. Maybe I’m just jaded. Maybe I’m just homesick.
At shows everyone’s always saying we need to “support the scene” & go to shows & buy bands’ merch. The idea seems nice at first, but the more I think about it the more it seems like a big, glorified version of a McDonald’s, & I don’t exactly see the moral imperative behind supporting a punk scene oversaturated with mediocre musicians who are apathetic about almost everything except furthering their own band’s fame, or bands that sound like them. Idk. Maybe I’m just a cynic…
After the show we went to Denny’s with Nate, the guy who set up the show. He was friendly & talkative & interesting for about 20 minutes, but then after about 2 hours of hearing him wax on & on about this or that band & this or that new record I got to be pretty tired & annoyed. Chris & Mike kept conversing with him (they’re the more polite & social half of our band) while Terri & I more or less counted down the seconds until we left & texted each other jokes. I don’t know. I like long conversations, but not long conversations about punk bands, which tend to be full of sophisms. It was especially annoying because we had an overnight drive ahead of us to Arizona, so idk why we we’re trying to get a late start on it by talking to this guy all night.
We started our drive at 2:30 a.m. Now it’s 2:30 p.m. & we are almost there.
So glad to be out of Texas. It’s cooler here in Arizona, surprisingly. I don’t know if it’s the elevation or just today’s weather, but it seems way nicer out.
Feel like leaving Texas marks a sort of halfway point for the tour. It’s not exactly halfway in terms of the number of days, but it feels halfway because most of our shows were booked in Texas & California, & now we’re headed to California.
There are nice mountains visible all across the horizon. I mssgd you that there are cool rocks here & you mssgd back “fuck rocks.” This surprised & upset me bc you used to like rocks. I always liked how you liked rocks. & dirt. I will be sad if you really don’t anymore.
We’re going to stay at Jessy’s house (her mom’s really) after all today. We couldn’t get a show booked today & her house is about midway to California, so it’s an ideal place to stay really. Jessy’s been my friend for a while, I met her freshmen year, & I think she’s changed a lot since then. Not necessarily in a good or bad way...she’s just different now. I guess I’m quite different now too. I guess everyone is. Seems inevitable.
Not sure what we’ll do today once we get to her house. I think we all more or less just want to relax but Jessy will probably want to go out & do something fun.
Now pulling into Tucson, maybe will write more later tn if I get the chance. I also want to copy all this & type it on my netbook, in case I lose this notebook. I’ve written a decent amount now & it would suck to lose it. Ppl have told us horror stories about bands’ vans catching on fire & ppl losing all their belongings…
Seems like it could happen to us p easily TBH.
In AZ driving to California.
We hung out with Jessy & her friend Olivia all day yesterday at Jessy’s mom’s house. The house was nice. Everything in AZ is desert-y. There are cactuses...cacti…& rocks. Supposedly there are herds of wild pigs that run around & tear shit up. Supposedly they’re a problem. Jessy told us about them & we laughed. Life is absurd.
So at Jessy’s place we sorta just watched “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”Jessy’s mom offered us food & beer. “It’s not a trick question,” she said while we hesitated. So we had some beers & some strawberries.
Then we spent like an hour trying to figure out what the hell to do besides Law & Order SVU. Eventually we decided to go to this place called “Eegee’s” that has good slushies. You called me as we were getting the slushies & I tried to sorta wander to a corner of the restaurant to have a private conversation but Mike came over & started talking to me. He kept asking if I was on the phone with Kyle. Everytime I’m on the phone he thinks I’m talking to Kyle for some reason. Anyway I feel like I was curt on the phone bc I didn’t have any privacy. Sorry. I feel bad about it.
After Eegee’s we watched some more Law & Order SVU of course.
Later we went to this bar called “The Surly Wench.” It was a p nice bar I guess. Ppl we’re playing board games in the back bc it was “nerd night.” We didn’t play any board games. We just drank alcohol. $4 shots of Jameson were the night’s special, so we did a few of those. It was ok.
After getting sufficiently drunk Jessy (designated driver) drove us all to “Makeout Point,” which was this hilltop where you can look out & see the whole city. It was awesome. It was actually beautiful. I mssgd you that we were at makeout point & that ilu. Taylor Swift’s “Love Song” was playing from Jessy’s car’s radio. We stood outside & looked at the city lights for a good while. I don’t know how to describe it. I took a picture, but the camera captured the view terribly inaccurately. We drank wine & took in the night. There were even some stars out in the sky, visible despite the city lights. I guess when you’re a little drunk & seeing an entire city laid about before you...makes life seem like an amazing, fragile thing.
Eventually we drove back to Jessy’s & watched even more SVU, I shit you not. We played the SVU drinking game, which has like a million rules. Basically any time a plot event happens or a character does something, you drink. Chris & Mike passed out p quick. Terri & I went in Jessy’s “spool” (spa + pool). The water was cool & nice in the night. There’s a mountain overlooking Jessy’s neighborhood...idk. Can’t describe how nice the view was to you. Terri & I wanted to turn on the spool’s bubbles but couldn’t figure out how to, drunk. So we just kinda sat there quietly in the still water for a while.
This morning we found the bubble switch in plain sight by the spool’s stairs…
We left Jessy’s early bc we have a long drive ahead of us. Feel slightly hungover. Why do I keep drinking alcohol & then keep writing that I don’t like alcohol. We still haven’t done anything about the van’s brakes of course. But we did get an oil change.
We are out of the desert we made it to California. Yesterday we drove like 7 hours across barren, hot nothing. It was terrible. There was only like 1 Chevron every 70 miles, nothing else.
We stopped in a random desert town to eat & noticed this place called “Brakes Plus.” Well, our brakes were now v audibly grinding, so we stopped in. We stopped in as if on a whim but truthfully we’ve needed the brakes fixed for like hundreds of miles now.
It took like two hours to get them fixed. We ate at a Taco Bell & wandered around a Walmart while they worked on them, bc this is what ppl do.
Currently I’m drunk lol. It’s noonish, & we’re en route to San Diego. We stopped at a cafe for breakfast an hour out of LA. We had mimosas. That’s how I started to get drunk. Now I’m drinking leftover wine in the van.
The weather is so nice here! So much better than Texas. Fuck Texas.
The show in LA last night was at this DIY place called “Bridgetown DIY.” It was in a mini mall, next to a pizza place & a Mexican grocery store. The show went p well. There was a decent crowd & a few kids sang along to our songs. Our friend from college Adam was there & we went back to his place after the show. Suddenly everyone decided they were deadly hungry, so we piled into Adam’s Honda & looked for food. We went to a few bars but they weren’t serving food bc it was like 1:30 a.m. on a weeknight. Eventually we bought some pasta at a liquor store & cooked that for ourselves. Before passing out for the night we watched “The Hunger Games” on Netflix lol. It was really good. I think I’ve made fun of you before for liking The Hunger Games, but I rlly liked the movie last night hah. Unfortunately I fell asleep like halfway thru it, so I’ll have to finish it another time. I liked the character “Katniss.” I like female characters that aren’t stupid, like Mulan.
Yeah, so, en route to San Diego now. Drunk from mimosas & wine. Felt slightly embarrassed when I became drunk at the cafe from fucking mimosas, but now I’m just in the van chilling with Terri & everything seems fine.
Seems like I need to find something else to write you about besides where we’re going & whether I drank & how the crowd was...idk. Feel like I want to be more creative. I was inspired by The Hunger Games last night. The Hunger Games is rlly creative.
I’ve been tweeting a lot. I tweeted, “I miss you like dinosaurs miss existing.” I tweeted some lines from “The Rise of Capitalism.” I made a Tumblr post about something Lena Dunham of HBO’s “Girls” said in a Rolling Stone interview that I just recently remembered for whatever reason. She said poems are like dreams in that they seem poignant & interesting to the person who has them & everyone wants to tell ppl their dreams but nobody wants to listen to other ppl’s dreams bc they just sound incoherent & dumb to everyone except the person who had them.
Seems terribly, terribly true to me. Feel frightened that these letters to you will sound like an incoherent dream of mine. Except not even I am particularly interested in this dream. In fact the only reason I’m sharing it is that I miss you.
What else is there to say except where we’re going, how much I drank, whether ppl in the crowd danced & sang along?
You mssgd me that it’s getting hard to still be at camp. I hope you’re ok. You only have a few days left at camp.
Feel drunk & extremely inspired by the first half of The Hunger Games.
Feel like I believe in the power of narrative.
I was going to post / publish a book of poems but idk if I will anymore, bc of The Hunger Games & Lena Dunham of HBO’s Girls.
I like stories better than poems.
Vaguely remember driving around Adam’s block last night for like an hour, trying to find a parking spot. California is overpopulated. Literally every parking spot in Adam’s neighborhood was full. Signs in the neighborhood said you weren’t allowed to circle around the block more than three times to look for parking. I guess otherwise everyone would just be circling around every block 24/7, waiting for a spot to open up. Seems like a metaphor for something.
Society is absurd & whoever doesn’t think so, fuck them, feel like.
Stopped at a gas station to piss bc too much alcohol.
Katniss from The Hunger Games reminds me of you. You & her have similar mannerisms I think. But I guess I always say the main girl in every movie reminds me of you…
I think I’m going to start writing less about the shows & where we go & what we drink & more about just me & you. The Hunger Games has inspired me to take a new direction in my writing lol. The Hunger Games & alcohol…
A feeling I’ve had throughout my life is that I want to have one piece of writing, or one song, or one picture, or one Something, that when I die or if I die early, I would be glad that this one thing existed & accurately represented me. I just want to account for myself, for whatever reason. I want to write an “apology,” in an older sense of the word, not in the I’m-sorry sense. & I feel like this is it. Bc I am 22 & I love you, & I am in a van in California. The weather is beautiful.
So if this isn’t it, what even could be.
“My corpse is my final poem,” Steve Roggenbuck wrote.
There are palm trees here. The main difference between California & MI is the palm trees.
Feel like I have a need to “account for myself” bc nobody has ever rlly understood me, including myself, trite as it sounds.
You are almost certainly the person who has most understood me in my life. When I talk to you I feel more natural & truthful, & when I talk to others I feel more uncertain & lost.
Keep thinking...what is anyone supposed to do?
The person who has understood me the 2nd most in my life is my mom, precisely when she said I put others ahead of myself & it lets ppl take advantage of me.
I have no idea what I should do when I get back from this tour. I can’t work at Domino’s too long. Is it Dominos or Domino’s? I don’t even know or care lol. I’ve been trying to think of ways to make art my life other than playing drums. I have a few ideas, mostly involving the internet. They seem far off.
Feel like if it weren’t for you I would try to intelligently commit victimless crimes, like some sort of “fraud,” but you are v against me committing crimes & I guess getting arrested would be a stupid ass way for me to keep us apart. If we have to be apart I should at least be doing something like touring in a band I suppose.
I’ve decided that one thing a person is supposed to do is ignore more or less everything. & then focus. Just focus on like...a few ppl to love, & some activities you perform well, & keep doing them?
This seems terribly trite but I don’t care.
We might go to a beach I think.
Yeah, we went to a beach. It was nice. There were a lot of ppl. The sky was kinda grey & overcast. I instagrammed it.
Mike & Terri swam but I napped in the van bc too much wine.
The show was at the “Che Cafe” (named after that Che Guevara guy) on the University of California San Diego campus. The campus was treeful & college-y & nice.
The Che Cafe was probably the nicest space we’ve played in so far. It wasn’t dirty & shitty like everywhere else. They gave bands free coffee. There was a nice patio area with a table full of “free” zines. I took like 10 zines about anarchism & stuff like that & “donated” $5 for them. The turnout for the show was decent. It definitely wasn’t just “bands watching bands.” I’m glad the show was overall p good bc frankly I’m p homesick & tired, & I feel on edge.
We drove overnight to San Francisco. Or we’re actually in Santa Cruz, which is just outside of San Franciso, right now, I think. Mike used to live here, when he interned for NASA, so he seems to know his way around. He seems to miss it.
Tensions in the van right now are a little high. Maybe we’re all starting to get a little sick of each other. As I was half asleep in the van last night Chris, Mike, & Terri were arguing about how Chris never drives. Chris said he’ll drive, but we don’t really want him to bc he’s bad at it.
Being around ppl gets old.
Being around ppl gets old.
All the houses in California...the main thing I can say about them is that they look expensive.
A sign just informed me that San Francisco is 76 miles away. So Santa Cruz maybe isn’t “just outside” of it after all…
All the grass here is brown & dead. Supposedly there’s a water shortage in California. All along the highways there are political billboards about this or that proposition & voting yes or no on it so that ppl have water to drink. A few of the billboards claim that this or that politician caused the water shortage, which is so funny & absurd to me—as if a single person causes water to run out…
It’s the overall circumstances, not the individuals, that are ruining everything, somehow, if that even makes sense, I feel intuitively.
The highway we’re on right now runs right along the coast & I can see the Pacific Ocean outside my window.
My shift driving this morning was from like 4 to 8 a.m., & I mostly listened to Sigur Ros & we were going thru mountains & it was cloudy & cool out & I guess I got to feeling p...small. I think I still have some feelings lingering from the first half of The Hunger Games.
I also have some feelings from reading a bunch of anarchist zines & posters & stuff at the Che Cafe last night.
For example, there was a big colorful poster titled “Capitalism Is a Pyramid Scheme.” It had a giant pyramid diagram on it. In the bottom section of the pyramid were farmers & fast-food workers & soldiers & janitors. In the top section of the pyramid were CEOs in business suits & politicians. A stream of money was somehow flowing from the bottom of the pyramid to the top. The “somehow” here is supposedly Capitalism.
Sorry I keep using this vague, pointless word, “Capitalism.” A more direct way to describe it is that I’m incredibly unhappy about my given lot in life. I mean I have trouble talking -isms & politics, but I do know I feel stuck, & angry, & pyramided over & systemed under in a nearly endless, inescapable way. I doubt I’ll ever have v much $ or things, or will ever hold a job long.
But slowly I’ve been deciding I can’t worry too much about the overall set up of society. All you can do is live your life. I’m such a fantasizer; I often think about how things could be different, how I would organize the world if I could. I’m so tired of feeling responsible for what I can’t help. What is anyone supposed to do? I don’t know what anyone is supposed to do except live their lives.
Feel like if I had a chance to steal a lot from a big corporation or a v rich person & not get caught, I would absolutely do it & feel absolutely no remorse.
When I was a kid & just starting to learn to play drums I told my mom I wanted to play music when I grew up. Like, for a living. She discouraged it. She told me about being “realistic,” & about how many ppl are really able to live out their dreams. & in a way she was right to do so, because the world almost never rewards ppl for dreaming. She was being honest. But there are different kinds of rewards. There are worldly rewards like money & jobs, & there are rewards of the spirit.
& I have rarely, if ever, tasted a spiritual reward. But I know they exist, I have faith, & this is how my mother & every career-ist ever has been wrong.
My mother used to tell me, “Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to. That’s just the way it is.” True enough, but how often must we do things we don’t want to?
For forty hours a week for the rest of my life am I supposed to do something I don’t want to? The reason I have been unable to chose a “career pathway” is that none of them are worthwhile. Contemporary culture & our economic system haven’t created jobs worth having. Why are so few ppl willing to admit this? It seems so plain to me:
You don’t have to do what you don’t want to.
But it’s just so very hard to actually live in such a way. It’s just so much easier to get swept into the flow of society, apply to a pizza place…
“The most I have ever empathized with a character is when Padme said, ‘You’re not all powerful, Ani, & Ani said, ‘Well I should be,” Steve Roggenbuck wrote.
This is how I feel in my heart’s heart, Ally. & I want you to know it’s not about egoism or pride but my basic, default unwillingness to see humans sitting at the bottom of an invisible pyramid, being taken advantage of. I hate working at Domino’s, & every place like it, so much that it literally makes me sick with depression. I take pills to keep sane, but they only do so much. For now, I’m only buying time with “jobs,” but as soon as I see an escape route, I will take it. There has to be an escape, I have faith. I have to let you know this now in case you’d planned on me ever becoming, like, conventionally wealthy or successful, with a 9-to-5 job.
I would die for people. But I won’t live for them. My life is my own to lead & to share with those whom I love. & I love you. & so I hope we can make something of this meager existence we’ve been cosmically afforded. I hope that you can take me as the dreamer I am, bc I couldn’t change even if I wanted to. & in a sad, sad way, I do want to...
Allison, isn’t life too precious to be wasted?
& it is at times like this, when I’m feeling like I do now, that, yes, there is God for me, I’ll admit. Not “a” God, or Gods, not a sloppy personification of human power & virtue—but there is Meaning, I think, & truth, & value to the big rock in space on which Life chaotically lives itself out. The v last place to find Spirit is in churches made with hands, & Holy Books, & I believe that dreams weightless & half-formed hold more weight than the facts of human sciences, -isms, laws—& that love in the end is the only reason for being—& that the sum-total of notions like these is itself God—or as close as we come, striving.
& I wouldn’t tell you this if I didn’t love you. I would be too afraid to.
Meanwhile we’re on our way to the Apple headquarters to visit our friend who works there.
Before Apple tho some details: we stopped at a “secret beach.” It was like right off the highway & down this sorta steep cliff path. It was just a little semicircle surrounded by p big cliffs with a few caves in them. The main detail here is I saw a crab in a tide pool. A little brown crab. He crawled under a rock when he saw me.
But so the Apple HQ. Our friend from college Andrew works there, so he got us into the cafeteria. It was nice as hell. What else would you expect. Andrew told us a little about his job & the concerts they have at the Apple campus & movie screenings. He seemed really content with his situation there. I felt a little jealous, like I wish I had his job, & strange, bc I just wrote my whole like diatribe against “jobs” & everything lol.
Andrew bought us juice & cookies.
Vaguely remember reading something online that at the Apple manufacturing plants in China workers were committing suicide via defenestration so frequently that they put nets around the factories so that workers couldn’t kill themselves by jumping.
The way contemporary society works is that instead of shutting down factories which make ppl want to kill themselves, we put nets around the buildings so they can’t kill themselves. Jesus...has there ever been a better metaphor for Hell?
Anyway we’re en route to San Francisco. We’re going to pick up a few of our friends there to give them a ride to the show. The show starts at 6 & is supposed to end at 9. It’ll be finished p early, so we’re supposed to party at Andrew’s place after. I hope he will give me & Terri weed.
Wish I had a bunch of $ & an easy ass job, like an Apple employee, but also know that if I worked at like Apple I’d slowly become more & more discontent until I was eventually suicidal, probably.
The show in San Francisco was in a garage. A bunch of ppl came. P much the whole garage was full.
Before we played this kid with a “Thrasher” hat & ear gauges asked me to sign has Brave Bird record. This was the 2nd record I’ve signed this tour. The kid seemed to really have fun watching us play.
Probably the best part of the show was the dog there: Edwin. He was one of those friendly, dopey, droopy faced dogs. I petted him so much hah! He was the coolest person at the show by far.
I’m tired of writing about shows, tho. They’re all p much the same. Except a few details, like Edwin. From now on I’m just going to remember a few interesting details & not too much other boring shit.
After the show we went back to Andy’s place to party. A bunch of our friends from MI who now live in Cali were there. So it kinda felt like old times, like when we would party in college. Anyway it was nice to chill with ppl who weren’t complete strangers for a change.
We’ve stayed with some nice ppl on tour, but Andy was by far the nicest. Some hosts just have a certain way of making sure you’re comfortable. Andy gave us beer & weed—he more or less insisted we smoke all his weed, bc his mom was coming to visit in a couple days & he “needed” to get rid of it supposedly. Of course he could’ve just hid his weed from his mom, & also Andy’s an adult so it wouldn’t really matter if his mom found out he smoked. That’s what I mean when I say he was the nicest: not only did he offer us weed, he made it seem like we were doing him a favor by smoking all his weed lol.
Andy showed us all this YouTube video of our friend Todd who now lives in Japan. Do you know, like, “TED Talks”? TED Talks are like these conference things where like intellectuals (i.e., sophists) deliver short lectures about specialized ideas. Well, Andy’s video was a “TODD Talk,” & in it Todd talked about how one time at a high school graduation party a wasp flew in his pants & stung his penis twice. He had a powerpoint & penis / wasp illustrations & diagrams & everything. It was actually hilarious. I haven’t laughed much this tour, but I laughed at this TODD Talk. Which is another way Andy was by far the best host, bc he knew the right video to show everyone on YouTube.
After everyone was high / drunk Andy & this other guy started talking politics. They were v discontent with them, politics. They made me relieved. Sometimes it seems like I’m the only one discontent. Andy said the political situation now doesn’t matter so much, tho, bc “the singularity” will be reached soon. Are you familiar with “the singularity”? Personally I’m not v familiar with it, but I think I get the general notion of it. The idea is that technology is connecting everything more & more, & so eventually everything will be so connected—our minds, computers, matter, energy itself—that the universe will be One, like, One Conscious. Or something. It’s a crazy ass idea, but it’s a crazy ass idea because it sounds half believable. Anyway “the singularity” is how Andy keeps himself not too worried about politics. Keep in mind we were all drunk / high when talking about this bullshit & so it seemed a lot more profound at the time. The idea that we could escape this all if we just pushed technology far enough.
Mike’s old roommate from when he interned at NASA in California was there, & she asked whether anyone believed in ghosts. It was kinda a weird transition in the conversation but simultaneously it was a perfectly understandable transition. It turned out that everyone except her was highly skeptical about ghosts, despite accepting something like “the singularity.” Everyone seemed to agree that when you’re dead you are dead. This seems to be the popular opinion nowadays—& a tautology.
I said, “I like Ghost in the Shell,” which is an anime movie I’ve watched like 3 times. Everyone ignored me, probably because my comment didn’t particularly make sense & I was p high.
In hindsight, the reason I even remember this is I think Ghost in the Shell has a lot do with “the singularity” & spirits / souls / ghosts...idk. I was hoping someone else had seen it & would discuss it with me.
The “Ghost” in the “Shell” refers to a person’s soul being somehow contained in a machine / robot / computer. Do you think that’s possible? To like, download someone’s essence onto a hard drive? If the singularity were to include human consciousness (which it would have to; it would have to include Everything) it would have to shell up all our ghosts sans our bodies. But this presupposes that there is a ghost / soul which can exist sans body. Which Andy & everyone would disagree with...
It’s usually after I hear ppl having an ostensibly deep & profound conversation that I pinpoint the contradictions in what they were saying. & then it’s too late.
“Ghost in the Shell” the movie is titled after a philosophy / neuroscience book titled “Ghost in the Machine” or something, the thesis of which is that the “mind” is really just the physical, squishy brain.
I don’t think it is.
& regardless, what difference does it make really whether we want to say our essence lies in some hunk of matter in our skulls or off in some cosmic plane: does it bring us any closer to figuring out what anyone is supposed to do? Does it bring us any closer to figuring out why we’re here, as something, instead of nothing? But if you ask a question like that, suddenly you’re the one who’s being absurd...
The point is that after weed & drinks at Andy’s place we went to a Taqueria & got v good burritos. I got a beef burrito despite having eaten vegetarian the last few months. I guess I was p high lol.
After burritos we went back to Andy’s & went to bed. Well, everyone else went to bed, but I stayed up for a little while & smoked the rest of Andy’s weed left on his porch, which he’d said he “needed” finished, right? There was more weed left than I thought & I guess I ended up getting p high lol. As I was falling asleep that night I was imagining the most beautiful music & experiencing complex geometrical shapes & colors with it. I was experiencing “synethesia” I think. Idk how to describe the music now. It was just so so intense & complex. It was like Tchaikovsky mixed with Beethoven mixed with Skrillex mixed with pop punk & the new Daft Punk album. But everything remained separate & yet together & nothing got lost in all the other sounds.
Before long I woke up & it was morning.
Woke up, ate at Chinese place, started drive to Redding, California.
We Crossed the Golden Gate bridge. We got a good view of it from hills on the other side. It was really windy outside while we looked at it.
I guess on the other side of the Golden Gate bridge there are a bunch of old, abandoned military bunkers & stuff in the hills & mountains. We did a little exploring in them & enjoyed the view of the ocean & the wind & the city. We were v high up. Birds were flying below us, off the cliff edges & over the ocean. When you threw a rock off the edge, you couldn’t even see it hit the water.
On our way down one cliff Terri jammed his big toe on a shard of metal stuck in the ground. The shard cut right up under his toenail & it started bleeding a lot. Chris & Mike went down to the cliff to get bandages from the van & I waited at the top with Terri. The cut didn’t look too bad except it was bleeding a ton & Terri seemed to be in a lot of pain. Anyway when Chris & Mike returned we cleaned it up & wrapped it. Terri will be fine. He might lose his toenail, tho.
We ended up being like 3 hours late to the show bc we got stuck in some California traffic. I slept thru most of the traffic. P much whenever we are in the van I just sleep. Or write. What else is there to do?
We were headlining the show so we actually ended up getting there just in time to play. Like 5 bands played before us. The show was at this big guy named Brad’s house. He was nice. He smoked tobacco from a pipe & made us & the other bands macaroni & cheese.
We drove overnight from Redding. We’re on our way to Seattle right now. It’s like...noon?
We stopped in Portland for lunch. We went to some food carts. Chris’s old math teacher was working at a kimbap cart. He was nice. He gave us free food.
Seems weird he quit teaching math to work in a food cart. He seemed happy there, in his cart. It’s funny what ppl choose to do to be happy.
Not sure what I should do to be happy.
After food we met up with our old friend from MI, Zach. Zach is p much like Andy, is super nice, except he doesn’t have a tech job. He’s critical of Silicon Valley, how young ppl are moving there & overcrowding everything & producing gadgets & getting 6-figure salaries they don’t rlly deserve.
“The fetishization of gadgets,” is a phrase he used, I think.
Anyway Zach prefers Portland to San Francisco bc ppl care less about what your job is & more about who you are, supposedly.
Could see myself living in Portland, or Canada.
Signed two records last night. Seems insane for someone to want my autograph. I work at Dominos/’s Pizza.
The best part of the show last night was that there was a young wallflower girl with black smudged eyes who seemed not to talk to a single person the entire show & then was picked up by her dad in a Porsche after the show. She wore a really worried expression. We made eyecontact a few times & I feel like…”kindred spirits.”
I skipped a day of writing for the first time since tour started. I think I’m becoming extremely tired. Staying up late every night drinking & smoking & sleeping in a van has worn me down.
We drove overnight from Redding to Seattle. I took first shift on driving. We went on a twisty ass road thru some mountains & I’m surprised I didn’t crash & kill us. The Pacific Northwest is quite beautiful. You can see a lot of stars at night & there are nice green trees.
Not too much to say about Seattle. I slept thru most of the show & only woke up to play our set. The show was at “Hollow Earth” radio station & was broadcasted live I guess. We also got a recording of us playing but it sounds like shit bc the mics were set too high or something.
After the show we went to an area of Seattle called “Capitol Hill” where there are a bunch of bars & shit. We went with Terri’s friend Karl & a bunch of his friends. Drunk ppl were wandering all over, sometimes in the middle of the streets. Someone smacked our van’s window as we were driving thru.
Karl took us to one of the fanciest bars I’ve ever been to. For example, we tried to order their “cheapest pitcher of beer” & were told that they don’t serve pitchers. So we had to buy glasses of not very cheap beer. I skipped dinner, so I got drunk off like two beers. I was sitting at the bar & watching an MLB baseball game. I didn’t much feel like talking to the random ppl at this bar, who were all like wearing nice clothes & ordering fancy, expensive cocktails. Idk. It wasn’t really our scene, this bar, & I don’t think we had v much fun. It was too crowded with sophists.
But after the bar we went to Karl’s friend’s house (I forget his name) & drank some more & smoked some weed. We smoked the weed out of a like 3 foot bong with a double percolator, & after one rip I got so fucking high. Everyone’s words seemed to lose denotational meaning. Everything just seemed like vague noises. I was rubbing my own thighs & rubbing my back on the couch & it felt great & I kept laughing out loud for no particular reason.
We ended up sleeping in our van in this kid’s driveway. Idk why we didn’t ask to just sleep in his house. I guess we were all p drunk / high…
Next day drove to Portland. Met up with our friend Zach again & also our friend Drod from college.
Went to bar with them, went to show with them, which was at a “radical” bookstore. Went to another bar with them after the show. Drank & smoked weed at Zach’s house, slept there. Can’t remember too many more details…
Zach has a cool turtle named “Earl.” Earl is 25 years old.
I guess my mind was cloudy yesterday bc at some point I learned my friend Victoria from the internet died. Someone told me she died via Fb mssg. I didn’t remember her too well at first, but then I connected the name Victoria with her twitter handle, “@cosmic_lagoon.”
I don’t know how she died & I don’t want to know TBH.
I cried in Portland, on a street corner outside of the show. Chris / Terri / Mike asked me what was wrong & I told them a friend of mine had died. I didn’t say who. I didn’t want to explain. I only knew Victoria online, but I knew her well. I’ve never dealt with the death of an online friend. It is strange, & it has affected me a lot more than I would’ve imagined.
The last Fb mssg Victoria sent me said she wanted to get to know me better. She sent it in April. I didn’t respond. I don’t remember why I didn’t respond. I may have just not even noticed the mssg.
Last night I responded, “I am so sorry I missed your message.”
Victoria & I were of a similar disposition. She “liked” many of the things I said online, & I reciprocated.
Ppl like to bemoan the internet, the way it supposedly damages human interactions. Maybe Facebook has damaged face-to-face interactions...but I think we shouldn’t be quick to dismiss online friendships. It makes no difference to me whether I meet a person online or in person. If we talk with each other, our friendship is valuable.
I’ve been on the road 2 weeks now & alive 22 years now, & I have met so many ppl & have rarely taken the time to truly appreciate them. It is terrible that it takes a death for me to awaken to the fact that I need to appreciate the ppl in my life, & to know them, & to let them know me, for we truly don’t know whether we’ll all be here tmrw…
The feeling Victoria’s death gives me, while on tour across America, drifting between states...Life is so very weak, held together by only the slimmest connections, & to be alive in this world means to face the vulnerability of human reality every day.
We are driving thru Oregon. There are cows in a field to my right. It was raining earlier, but now it is not.
I’m picturing the universe as a “cosmic lagoon,” full of ppl flailing their arms, struggling to stay afloat in a vacuum, kicking nothing, & hoping to propel toward one another or some nameless thing.
& in this cosmic lagoon there is unheard music, the kind I’ve only imagined while stoned like a moon, & everyone just beats on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into an endless past.
I haven’t written in 3 days bc I’ve been too tired. Feel like I’ve been barely conscious for the last 72 hrs.
Trying to remember details...after Portland we played Boise. Played at a nice bar / coffee shop. After the show a guy whose name I forget took us out for pizza & then to a bar. Instead of socializing with ppl I mostly played arcade games.
Went to Salt Lake City next. Played in a DIY space called the “Shred Shed.” There was a giant mural of a Holy Mary-ish woman with the words “the revolution starts within” painted above her. I liked it.
After the show we went back to this kid’s house...I forget his name too. He & his friends really, really liked our band, & they were kinda geeking out about us hanging out with them, which was cute or endearing or something. There were two really cool dogs at the house: a black one named “Apollo” & a wolfish one with crystal-blue eyes named “Luna.” (Funny how I remember the dogs’ names but not the ppl’s…) Anyway someone bought 60 beers & we drank all of them. Beers in Salt Lake City have less alcohol than everywhere else. They’re only like 3%ABV. The city has some weird Mormon law about it or something. Idk. Anyway 60 beers was enough to get most ppl p drunk.
We went on the roof for a bit. Ppl kept pissing off the roof. It seemed like the thing to do. I hadn’t drank as much as everyone else & was feeling kinda alienated.
Then someone decided we should smoke weed. A phone call was made & like 20 min later a guy with a curly mustache showed up with a bunch of weed & a pipe that...it was just like a glass tube? I’d never really seen a pipe like it. It hit hard. I coughed a bunch on my first hit from it.
After we got high we played Super Smash Bros. As you surely already know, I’m a Smash Bros. expert, & so I kicked everyone’s ass. For some reason being high made me v competitive & I was trashtalking everyone. Like, I’d kill someone then say, “Get fucked, bitch.” Lol.
The colors & movements in the game looked so amazing high, I vaguely remember.
Fell asleep sitting up on the couch.
Was woken up p early bc we had to drive to Colorado.
On the way to Colorado we got a flat tire. I slept thru it popping & only found out what was going on after Mike called a tow truck.
The tow truck took us 40 miles backwards to a Firestone. They changed the tire in like 15min., & then we were back on the road.
Anyway the drive was longer than hell & we p much showed up just in time to play of course. We were the final band. The venue was a house named “Beer Punk Mansion.”
True to its name, everyone there seemed p wasted. When we played everyone sorta push moshed & a few ppl crowd surfed. Someone stepped on Terri’s guitar cable & broke it or something. It was p rowdy, as far as emo shows go.
Anyway everyone really seemed to love our set. When I was cooling off outside on a patio after we played kids kept telling me how much they enjoyed us & I kept just saying “thanks.” I never know what to say except “thanks.” I’m not a v prideful person. One kid...whose name I forget lol...asked me if I needed anything, like a beer, cigarette, weed. I told him that actually some weed would be nice. He went to look for some. I didn’t see him for the rest of the night. But when we were driving later Chris / Mike told me that the kid had told them he’d told me he’d get me weed but couldn’t find any & felt really bad about it & more or less avoided me the rest of the night bc he was embarrassed or something, which I think is funny. It’s not as if I even cared whether I got any weed.
I think that brings us up to speed.
We’re driving thru Kansas City, Missouri right now. I guess there are two Kansas cities, or part of it is in Kansas, part in Missouri, or something. Idk.
You are home from camp now, back in Michigan. I’m jealous. I wish I were home. I’m so over this tour.
Everyone in the van is really short with one another now. We don’t talk much & occasionally argue. The night we were in Boise Chris & Mike got into an argument bc we stayed out too late at the bar when everyone except Mike just wanted to get to sleep. Mike said he agreed to go to the bar to be polite to the guy who invited us, but I feel like he just wanted to party lol.
Feel like some ppl have the personality where...if they get invited to party, they absolutely can’t decline, & they try to soak up every last fun opportunity they can & don’t ever want to miss out on anything...Whereas I have the personality where...a lot is just boring to me, & I couldn’t care less whether I miss a night or two of partying. I’m “phlegmatic,” is the word for it I think. Everyone else seems “sanguine.”
I want to know what “went wrong” for me to experience this tour in a way I imagine as different than most ppl would. I want to know what went wrong for me to not enjoy myself. Driving thousands of miles & hitting drums...it just feels somehow like overcompensation to me. But overcompensation for what?
What is anyone supposed to do?
I’m picturing the cosmic lagoon again, myself in it, struggling.
Just remembered this story by John Barth...it’s called like…”Night-Sea Journey” or something. Anyway this story describes my feelings well so maybe I’ll just copypaste it here for you when I get back.
(THE NIGHT-SEA JOURNEY by JOHN BARTH:
"One way or another, no matter which theory of our journey is correct, it's myself I address; to whom I rehearse as to a stranger our history and condition, and will disclose my secret hope though I sink for it.
"Is the journey my invention? Do the night, the sea, exist at all, I ask myself, apart from my experience of them? Do I myself exist, or is this a dream? Sometimes I wonder. And if I am, who am I? The Heritage I supposedly transport? But how can I be both vessel and contents? Such are the questions that beset my intervals of rest.
"My trouble is, I lack conviction. Many accounts of our situation seem plausible to me—where and what we are, why we swim and whither. But implausible ones as well, perhaps especially those, I must admit as possibly correct. Even likely. If at times, in certain humors—striking in unison, say, with my neighbors and chanting with them 'Onward! Upward!'—I have supposed that we have ever after all a common Maker, Whose nature and motives we may not know, but Who engendered us in some mysterious wise and launched us forth toward some end known but to Him—if (for a moodslength only) I have been able to entertain such notions, very popular in certain quarters, it is because our night-sea journey partakes of their absurdity. One might even say: I can believe them because they are absurd.
"Has that been said before?
"Another paradox: it appears to be these recesses from swimming that sustain me in the swim. Two measures onward and upward, flailing with the rest, then I float exhausted and dispirited, brood upon the night, the sea, the journey, while the flood bears me a measure back and down: slow progress, but I live, I live, and make my way, aye, past many a drowned comrade in the end, stronger, worthier than I, victims of their unremitting joie de nager. I have seen the best swimmers of my generation go under. Numberless the number of the dead! Thousands drown as I think this thought, millions as I rest before returning to the swim. And scores, hundreds of millions have expired since we surged forth, brave in our innocence, upon our dreadful way. 'Love! Love!' we sang then, a quarter-billion strong, and churned the warm sea white with joy of swimming! Now all are gone down—the buoyant, the sodden, leaders and followers, all gone under, while wretched I swim on. Yet these same reflective intervals that keep me afloat have led me into wonder, doubt, despair—strange emotions for a swimming!—have led me, even, to suspect . . . that our night-sea journey is without meaning.
"Indeed, if I have yet to join the hosts of the suicides, it is because (fatigue apart) I find it no meaningfuller to drown myself than to go on swimming.
"I know that there are those who seem actually to enjoy the night-sea; who claim to love swimming for its own sake, or sincerely believe that 'reaching the Shore,' 'transmitting the Heritage' (Whose Heritage, I'd like to know? And to whom?) is worth the staggering cost. I do not. Swimming itself I find at best not actively unpleasant, more often tiresome, not infrequently a torment. Arguments from function and design don't impress me: granted that we can and do swim, that in a manner of speaking our long tails and streamlined heads are 'meant for' swimming; it by no means follows—for me, at least—that we should swim, or otherwise endeavor to 'fulfill our destiny.' Which is to say, Someone Else's destiny, since ours, so far as I can see, is merely to perish, one way or another, soon or late. The heartless zeal of our (departed) leaders, like the blind ambition and good cheer of my own youth, appalls me now; for the death of my comrades I am inconsolable. If the night-sea journey has justification, it is not for us swimmers to discover it.
"Oh, to be sure, 'Love!' one heard on every side: 'Love it is that drives and sustains us!' I translate: we don't know what drives and sustains us, only that we are most miserably driven and, imperfectly, sustained. Love is how we call our ignorance of what whips us. 'To reach the Shore,' then: but what if the Shore exists in the fancies of us swimmers merely, who dream it to account for the dreadful fact that we swim, have always and only swum, and continue swimming without respite (myself excepted) until we die? Supposing even that there were a Shore—that, as a cynical companion of mine once imagined, we rise from the drowned to discover all those vulgar superstitions and exalted metaphors to be literal truth: the giant Maker of us all, the Shores of Light beyond our night-sea journey!—whatever would a swimmer do there? The fact is, when we imagine the Shore, what comes to mind is just the opposite of our condition: no more night, no more sea, no more journeying. In short, the blissful estate of the drowned.
" 'Ours not to stop and think; ours but to swim and sink....' Because a moment's thought reveals the pointlessness of swimming. 'No matter,' I've heard some say, even as they gulped their last: 'The night-sea journey may be absurd, but here we swim, will-we nill-we, against the flood, onward and upward, toward a Shore that may not exist and couldn't be reached if it did.' The thoughtful swimmer's choices, then, they say, are two: give over thrashing and go under for good, or embrace the absurdity; affirm in and for itself the night-sea journey; swim on with neither motive nor destination, for the sake of swimming, and compassionate moreover with your fellow swimmer, we being all at sea and equally in the dark. I find neither course acceptable. If not even the hypothetical Shore can justify a sea-full of drowned comrades, to speak of the swim-in-itself as somehow doing so strikes me as obscene. I continue to swim—but only because blind habit, blind instinct, blind fear of drowning are still more strong than the horror of our journey. And if on occasion I have assisted a fellow-thrasher, joined in the cheers and songs, even passed along to others strokes of genius from the drowned great, it's that I shrink by temperament from making myself conspicuous. To paddle off in one's own direction, assert one's independent right-of-way, overrun one's fellows without compunction, or dedicate oneself entirely to pleasures and diversions without regard for conscience—I can't finally condemn those who journey in this wise; in half my moods I envy them and despise the weak vitality that keeps me from following their example. But in reasonabler moments I remind myself that it's their very freedom and self-responsibility I reject, as more dramatically absurd, in our senseless circumstances, than tailing along in conventional fashion. Suicides, rebels, affirmers of the paradox—nay-sayers and yea-sayers alike to our fatal journey—I finally shake my head at them. And splash sighing past their corpses, one by one, as past a hundred sorts of others: friends, enemies, brothers; fools, sages, brutes—and nobodies, million upon million. I envy them all.
"A poor irony: that I, who find abhorrent and tautological the doctrine of survival of the fittest (fitness meaning, in my experience, nothing more than survival-ability, a talent whose only demonstration is the fact of survival, but whose chief ingredients seem to be strength, guile, callousness), may be the sole remaining swimmer! But the doctrine is false as well as repellent: Chance drowns the worthy with the unworthy, bears up the unfit with the fit by whatever definition, and makes the night-sea journey essentially haphazard as well as murderous and unjustified.
"'You only swim once.' Why bother, then?
"'Except ye drown, ye shall not reach the Shore of Light.' Poppycock.
"One of my late companions—that same cynic with the curious fancy, among the first to drown—entertained us with odd conjectures while we waited to begin our journey. A favorite theory of his was that the Father does exist, and did indeed make us and the sea we swim—but not a-purpose or even consciously; He made us, as it were, despite Himself, as we make waves with every tail-thrash, and may be unaware of our existence. Another was that He knows we're here but doesn't care what happens to us, inasmuch as He creates (voluntarily or not) other seas and swimmers at more or less regular intervals. In bitterer moments, such as just before he drowned, my friend even supposed that our Maker wished us unmade; there was indeed a Shore, he'd argue, which could save at least some of us from drowning and toward which it was our function to struggle—but for reasons unknowable to us He wanted desperately to prevent our reaching that happy place and fulfilling our destiny. Our 'Father,' in short, was our adversary and would-be killer! No less outrageous, and offensive to traditional opinion, were the fellow's speculations on the nature of our Maker: that He might well be no swimmer Himself at all, but some sort of monstrosity, perhaps even tailless; that He might be stupid, malicious, insensible, perverse, or asleep and dreaming; that the end for which He created and launched us forth, and which we flagellate ourselves to fathom, was perhaps immoral, even obscene. Et cetera, et cetera: there was no end to the chap's conjectures, or the impoliteness of his fancy; I have reason to suspect that his early demise, whether planned by 'our Maker' or not, was expedited by certain fellow-swimmers indignant at his blasphemies.
"In other moods, however (he was as given to moods as I), his theorizing would become half-serious, so it seemed to me, especially upon the subjects of Fate and Immortality, to which our youthful conversations often turned. Then his harangues, if no less fantastical, grew solemn and obscure, and if he was still baiting us, his passion undid the joke. His objection to popular opinions of the hereafter, he would declare, was their claim to general validity. Why need believers hold that all the drowned rise to be judged at journey's end, and non-believers that drowning is final without exception? In his opinion (so he'd vow at least), nearly everyone's fate was permanent death; indeed he took a sour pleasure in supposing that every 'Maker' made thousands of separate seas in His creative lifetime, each populated like ours with millions of swimmers, and that in almost every instance both sea and swimmers were utterly annihilated, whether accidentally or by malevolent design. (Nothing if not pluralistical, he imagined there might be millions and billions of 'Fathers,' perhaps in some 'night-sea' of their own!) However—and here he turned infidels against him with the faithful—he professed to believe that in possibly a single night-sea per thousand, say, one of its quarter-billion swimmers (that is, one swimmer in two hundred fifty billions) achieved a qualified immortality. In some cases the rate might be slightly higher; in others it was vastly lower, for just as there are swimmers of every degree of proficiency, including some who drown before the journey starts, unable to swim at all, and others created drowned, as it were, so he imagined what can only be termed impotent Creators, Makers unable to Make, as well as uncommonly fertile ones and all grades between. And it pleased him to deny any necessary relation between a Maker's productivity and His other virtues—including, even, the quality of His creatures.
"I could go on (he surely did) with his elaboration of these mad notions—such as that swimmers in other night-seas needn't be of our kind; that Makers themselves might belong to different species, so to speak; that our particular Maker mightn't Himself be immortal, or that we might be not only His emmissaries but His 'immortality,' continuing His life and our own, transmogrified, beyond our individual deaths. Even this modified immortality (meaningless to me) he conceived as relative and contingent, subject to accident or deliberate termination: his pet hypothesis was that Makers and swimmers each generate the other—against all odds, their number being so great—and that any given 'immortality-chain' could terminate after any number of cycles, so that what was 'immortal' (still speaking relatively) was only the cyclic process of incarnation, which itself might have a beginning and an end. Alternatively he liked to imagine cycles within cycles, either finite or infinite: for example, the 'night-sea,' as it were, in which Makers 'swam' and created night-seas and swimmers like ourselves, might be the creation of a larger Maker, Himself one of many, Who in turn et cetera. Time itself he regarded as relative to our experience, like magnitude: who knew but what, with each thrash of our tails, minuscule seas and swimmers, whole eternities, came to pass—as ours, perhaps, and our Maker's Maker's, was elapsing between the strokes of some supertail, in a slower order of time?
"Naturally I hooted with the others at this nonsense. We were young then, and had only the dimmest notion of what lay ahead; in our ignorance we imagined night-sea journeying to be a positively heroic enterprise. Its meaning and value we never questioned; to be sure, some must go down by the way, a pity no doubt, but to win a race requires that others lose, and like all my fellows I took for granted that I would be the winner. We milled and swarmed, impatient to be off, never mind where or why, only to try our youth against the realities of night and sea; if we indulged the skeptic at all, it was as a droll, half-contemptible mascot. When he died in the initial slaughter, no one cared.
"And even now I don't subscribe to all his views—but I no longer scoff. The horror of our history has purged me of opinions, as of vanity, confidence, spirit, charity, hope, vitality, everything—except dull dread and a kind of melancholy, stunned persistence. What leads me to recall his fancies is my growing suspicion that I, of all swimmers, may be the sole survivor of this fell journey, tale-bearer of a generation. This suspicion, together with the recent sea-change, suggests to me now that nothing is impossible, not even my late companion's wildest visions, and brings me to a certain desperate resolve, the point of my chronicling.
"Very likely I have lost my senses. The carnage at our setting out; our decimation by whirlpool, poisoned cataract, sea-convulsion; the panic stampedes, mutinies, slaughters, mass suicides; the mounting evidence that none will survive the journey—add to these anguish and fatigue; it were a miracle if sanity stayed afloat. Thus I admit, with the other possibilities, that the present sweetening and calming of the sea, and what seems to be a kind of vasty presence, song, or summons from the near upstream, may be hallucinations of disordered sensibility....
"Perhaps, even, I am drowned already. Surely I was never meant for the rough-and-tumble of the swim; not impossibly I perished at the outset and have only imaged the night-sea journey from some final deep. In any case, I'm no longer young, and it is we spent old swimmers, disabused of every illusion, who are most vulnerable to dreams.
"Sometimes I think I am my drowned friend.
"Out with it: I've begun to believe, not only that She exists, but that She lies not far ahead, and stills the sea, and draws me Herward! Aghast, I recollect his maddest notion: that our destination (which existed, mind, in but one night-sea out of hundreds and thousands) was no Shore, as commonly conceived, but a mysterious being, indescribable except by paradox and vaguest figure: wholly different from us swimmers, yet our complement; the death of us, yet our salvation and resurrection; simultaneously our journey's end, mid-point, and commencement; not membered and thrashing like us, but a motionless or hugely gliding sphere of unimaginable dimension; self-contained, yet dependent absolutely, in some wise, upon the chance (always monstrously improbable) that one of us will survive the night-sea journey and reach...Her! Her, he called it, or She, which is to say, Other-than-a-he. I shake my head; the thing is too preposterous; it is myself I talk to, to keep my reason in this awful darkness. There is no She! There is no You! I rave to myself; it's Death alone that hears and summons. To the drowned, all seas are calm....
"Listen: my friend maintained that in every order of creation there are two sorts of creators, contrary yet complementary, one of which gives rise to seas and swimmers, the other to the Night-which-contains-the-sea and to What-waits-at-the-journey's-end: the former, in short, to destiny, the latter to destination (and both profligately, involuntarily, perhaps indifferently or unwittingly). The 'purpose' of the night-sea journey—but not necessarily of the journeyer or of either Maker!—my friend could describe only in abstractions: consummation, transfiguration, union of contraries, transcension of categories. When we laughed, he would shrug and admit that he understood the business no better than we, and thought it ridiculous, dreary, possibly obscene. 'But one of you,' he'd add with his wry smile, 'may be the Hero destined to complete the night-sea journey and be one with Her. Chances are, of course, you won't make it' He himself, he declared, was not even going to try; the whole idea repelled him; if we chose to dismiss it as an ugly fiction, so much the better for us; thrash, splash, and be merry, we were soon enough drowned. But there it was, he could not say how he knew or why he bothered to tell us, any more than he could say what would happen after She and Hero, Shore and Swimmer, 'merged identities' to become something both and neither. He quite agreed with me that if the issue of that magical union had no memory of the night-sea journey, for example, it enjoyed a poor sort of immortality; even poorer if, as he rather imagined, a swimmer-hero plus a She equaled or became merely another Maker of future night-seas and the rest, at such incredible expense of life. This being the case—he was persuaded it was—the merciful thing to do was refuse to participate; the genuine heroes, in his opinion, were the suicides, and the hero of heroes would be the swimmer who, in the very presence of the Other, refused Her proffered 'immortality' and thus put an end to at least one cycle of catastrophes.
"How we mocked him! Our moment came, we hurtled forth, pretending to glory in the adventure, thrashing, singing, cursing, strangling, rationalizing, rescuing, killing, inventing rules and stories and relationships, giving up, struggling on, but dying all, and still in darkness, until only a battered remnant was left to croak 'Onward, upward,' like a bitter echo. Then they too fell silent—victims, I can only presume, of the last frightful wave—and the moment came when I also, utterly desolate and spent, thrashed my last and gave myself over to the current, to sink or float as might be, but swim no more. Whereupon, marvelous to tell, in an instant the sea grew still! Then warmly, gently, the great tide turned, began to bear me, as it does now, onward and upward will-I nill-I, like a flood of joy—and I recalled with dismay my dead friend's teaching.
"I am not deceived. This new emotion is Her doing; the desire that possesses me is Her bewitchment. Lucidity passes from me; in a moment I'll cry 'Love!' bury myself in Her side, and be 'transfigured.' Which is to say, I die already; this fellow transported by passion is not I; I am he who abjures and rejects the night-sea journey! I....
"I am all love. 'Come!' She whispers, and I have no will.
"You who I may be about to become, whatever You are: with the last twitch of my real self I beg You to listen. It is not love that sustains me! No; though Her magic makes me burn to sing the contrary, and though I drown even now for the blasphemy, I will say truth. What has fetched me across this dreadful sea is a single hope, gift of my poor dead comrade: that You may be stronger-willed than I, and that by sheer force of concentration I may transmit to You, along with Your official Heritage, a private legacy of awful recollection and negative resolve. Mad as it may be, my dream is that some unimaginable embodiment of myself (or myself plus Her if that's how it must be) will come to find itself expressing, in however garbled or radical a translation, some reflection of these reflections. If against all odds this comes to pass, may You to whom, through whom I speak, do what I cannot: terminate this aimless, brutal business! Stop Your hearing against Her song! Hate love!
"Still alive, afloat, afire. Farewell then my penultimate hope: that one may be sunk for direst blasphemy on the very shore of the Shore. Can it be (my old friend would smile) that only utterest nay-sayers survive the night? But even that were Sense, and there is no sense, only senseless love, senseless death. Whoever echoes these reflections: be more courageous than their author! An end to night-sea journeys! Make no more! And forswear me when I shall forswear myself, deny myself, plunge into Her who summons, singing...
"'Love! Love! Love!'")
We’re en route to Omaha, Nebraska.
Last night we played Kansas City. We played in the back of a pizza restaurant of course. There were sacks of flour & stuff.
The show was okay. I don’t really care to describe the shows anymore.
You know when you’re driving somewhere & your mind starts to wander, you’re daydreaming, & before you know it you’ve driven like 5 miles without even realizing? That happened to me last night when I was playing drums. I played like 2 songs without even realizing.
We couldn’t find anyone to let us sleep at their place, so we decided to sleep in the van in a Walmart parking lot. Supposedly Walmart allows ppl to park overnight & sleep there. Truckers sleep in Walmart lots often apparently.
We went into the Walmart to buy booze to help us sleep. The Walmart only had warm shitty beer, tho. So we drove to a liquor store. The liquor store was closed. So we drove to a gas station. The gas station only had 3%ABV beer, like Salt Lake City. Apparently we’d somehow crossed into Kansas on our alcohol hunt, & apparently Kansas has v strict alcohol laws. Anyway after some debate Mike & Chris decided they’d chug a bunch of 3% beer to fall asleep while Terri & I decided to pass. But when Chris went to buy the beer the cashier informed him that they stopped selling alcohol at like midnight of course. It was like 2 a.m. at this point.
Defeated, we drove back to the Walmart lot.
Instead of sleeping in one of the van’s bucket seats I decided I’d be more comfortable sprawled out on its floor. I cleared out all the trash & shit on the floor & made myself a nice little bed with my sleeping bag. Mike put on a couple episodes of “Bob’s Burgers” on his iPhone, & before long we were all asleep.
I slept surprisingly well on the van’s floor. I feel well rested.
I’m drinking coffee from a gas station. It tastes like mud.
Can’t wait to be home.
Finally finished my Wittgenstein book, “On Certainty.”
Certainty’s only a property of language. It doesn’t exist IRL.
Take one moment, any moment, & use it as a metaphor for all the other moment in your life.
Here’s one: last night we played at a kids’ parents’ house in Wisconsin. Everyone there was p young. I felt tired & out of place. I napped in the van for a bit. When I woke, I was feeling p horny for some reason. I decided I’d masturbate to the snapchats you sent me. I closed the curtains on the vans’ windows. I pulled a blanket over my waist & touched myself. A band had just started playing, so I was fairly confident everyone would be inside for a bit. Then the van door opened & Terri was standing there & he said “sup.”
I wasn’t sure whether he knew he’d just walked in on me masturbating. But without hesitation I said, “I’m going to be honest: you just walked in on me masturbating.”
Getting caught masturbating in the van in Wisconsin is the moment in my life I’m choosing as a metaphor for all the others.
Now we’re in Chicago. We just ate breakfast at the “Chicago Diner—meat free since 83’.” I instagrammed my coffee mug.
Today is our final show of tour. Steve Roggenbuck is supposed to come out tonight & I am excited to meet him.
They were playing this Daft Punk song at the Chicago Diner & now it’s stuck in my head: “Everybody will be dancing & they’re doing it right, Everybody will be dancing & they’re doing it right, Everybody will be dancing & they’re feeling all right…”
Mike went to have coffee with his ex-gf, who lives in Chicago. Seems stressful. I hope their conversation is ok.
Terri went to meet up with his friend Karl, who moved to Chicago from Seattle just in time to see us in both cities hah.
Chris & I are at our friend Goo’s house, resting off our big breakfasts.
This is the last or maybe second to last letter I’m going to write, & like the first one it seems like I need to put something extra good in it.
I don’t know what to put.
The moment when I think I need to put something good in a first or last letter but don’t know what to put is a metaphor for all the moments in my life.
Last night I drunkenly tweeted, “The revolution isn’t coming.” & I believed it & I believe it.
There is no enlightenment.
What do I know about God & the meaning of life?
I know that this world exists
That I am placed in it like my eye in its visual field
That something about it is problematic, which we call its meaning
That this meaning does not lie in it but outside of it
That something about it is right, which we call love
That love is the only good reason to do anything
Music is an approximation of the inexpressible, & poetry is music itself
Whether it’s beginning or ending, it’s ending
But perhaps every ending is in itself a new beginning, & I would like to make the end of this tour the beginning of my new life
I have become so tired of not living purposefully, drifting in our cosmic lagoon of a world. There seems to me to be only one real path, & I’ve spent so much of my life denying it, avoiding it, all the while wandering toward it, on it.
If I’m being honest, all I can see are dreams. I don’t see real life. Except they’re everyone else’s dreams, not mine, everyone who never bothered to get burdened by reality in the first place. Well, if I’m going to be living in dreams, they might as well be my own,
I can’t wait to get home.
I can’t wait to be alone with you.