Sunday, August 18, 2002
Astoria, NY

I'm sitting on the living room couch, dividing my time between this report and a cat who is not too happy that we were not here to constantly pay attention to him over this past week. Clearly, we are cruel and unfit pet owners. It's a good thing that cats don't know how to use the phone to dial the ASPCA and meow for help, or I'd be in jail.

We were all somewhat disoriented yesterday when we left Cleveland for Pittsburgh. Things started with a quick stop off at Thad's brother's house where we helped celebrate his niece's first birthday. We were going to give her a CD, but the difficult truth is that kids tend not to appreciate the Austerity Program until at least 2. After we got moving, I tried to take a nap in the back of the car, but was yelled at by almost everyone else on the team for hanging my bare feet out the window. Who would know that I was traveling with a bunch of prudes?

Pulled up to the Roboto Project at about 7:00. This place is a space run by Pittsburgh punks, just a mostly empty storefront that hosts shows and gives kids a place for political activism. Every city in the country should have a place like this. I would have been there every day had there been a Roboto Project place that I knew about as a Chicago teen. We were up first, burning through our five songs. The brown guitar snapped two strings and popped a good chunk of the fretboard, so it's off to the shop for that thing. My favorite part of the set was looking over halfway through the first song to see Matt munching down on a hummus and bagel sandwich that the place was providing for bands. Here Thad and I go through all of the trouble to create a cacophonous din, and Matt makes us look like dinner music as he snacked. He justified it by saying that he was hungry as hell. It made me laugh for about two songs.

We played with three other bands, my favorite being 10 Grand. They were nuts, fronted by a crazy dude with wacked out dreadlocks and pants cuffed way up his calves. This was show 15 for them out of an over 110 show tour, so it makes us look pretty wimpy. Go see them and get them a shower, as I guarantee they'll need it.

Drove for a bit after the show until Denny's, where Matt and I harassed the waitress for as much coffee as she would give us. Then it was time to cross PA. I took a good part of the middle of the ride, getting us to the Delaware water gap. I drove shirtless with the radio blaring immediately behind my head, which made a very loopy Jill laugh. I think she was concerned when she looked over at me in a rest stop, seeing a ragged looking shirtless guy talking to himself loudly and skipping rope. It can't be easy to see that and think "I'm married to that guy."

Thad took the wheel for NJ. The two of us sang along to as much of that crazy ODB record as we could decipher while the sun came up. Then I passed out and woke up as we crossed the George Washington Bridge. Dropped off Thad and Abby, unloaded the van back in Queens, dropped the van off at the car rental place. Matt and I drove his car back home and parked it at 9:19 AM. The tour was over.

Too bad for you. No fights, no stolen equipment stories, no trips to the hospital. What's left makes for dull reading, I'm sure. A few words of advice for you when you want to go on tour.

1. If you are not from in town and nobody really knows who you are , play in the middle of the bill. Do not be last if you can help it. You will be left playing in an empty bar to a waitress who had to sit through the Shenanigans.

2. Being older than 22 is not necessarily a bad thing. Although your expectations for personal comfort may be a bit higher, it's nice to not be totally broke as you are touring, and a bit of maturity among traveling companions goes a long way.

3. Play with bands that have a similar sense of aesthetic as yours.

4. Make sure that you have guarantees on everything if you are ever going to play in Baltimore.

5. If you have diet restrictions, stock up on your own snacks before you leave. And make sure that you always have plenty of good water.

6. If you are obsessive about the quality, organization and condition of your equipment (both musical and transportation) before you leave, it is one big thing that you won't have to worry about.

Here are the final numbers for the tour:
  • shows played to shows scheduled - 6 out of 7
  • white guys with dreadlocks at shows - 3
  • times Thad and Justin listened to the ODB record on the last four days - 9
  • dollars made to dollars spent - about 1 to 6 (not including food)
  • t-shirts sold to people that we did not know before the tour - 2
  • t-shirts sold to people that we did know before the tour - 9
  • bathrooms that Jill and Abby will never return to - at least 3
  • signs or license plates spotted with QQ on them - 4
  • guitar strings broken - 8
  • miles on the rental van - 2171

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