Thursday, December 28, 2006

for the literal: a recipe.


i've been enjoying my life immensely, onion cellar notwithstanding. the shows are regularly scheduled and going very well for what they are. people are happy. i show up at night, and during the day i am doing things i want. it's been so long since i have.

i sleep late, read late, go to yoga every day, let the mail continue to pile up and am shocked to find that i don't care as much as i thought i would...don't care about pushing forward, don't care about standing still, am simply happy to be where i am most of the time. this must be rare, i think, i should enjoy it.

i go to rob's apartment in harvard square and he pours the wine and spins the discs....old discs, seventy-eights that he's been collected for forty-some-odd years. bix beiderbecke, hoagy carmichael, the old jazz from way back when. his apartment is an old refuge, a dusty library of music and art, the cats who count. the other night was zappa night. i hadn't listened to "absolutely free" since high school. rob dug the libretto out of some hidden place. i sat listening and happy, nagged only slightly by the voice i've gotten so used to over the past six years "get up and go. there is too much other shit to do." "fuck you", i answer, "i sit and listen". we fight, that voice and i. through rob i met a wonderful francophile math professor named sandy who is letting me crash in an empty room in his harvard square house. i have a key and crash there when i don't feel like driving home to the south end. i eat scallops and mashed potatoes. i drink tasty beers during every performance. my belly is toned (from the yoga) yet substantial (from the beck's). it's gorgeous and i fondle it a lot.

as for MY apartment, the need to escape is easy to sympathize with. there are IMMENSE piles of cultural debris and barely any blank spots. i've been letting mail and "objet d'tour" pile up since about 2003, saying "i'll get to that when we get a break". out videotapes, photographs, CDs, books, press gathered from remote lands, books i've bought or been given, random everything is scattered. i got even lazier in this past six months, knowing i would have this time off. i would come home from tour and dump piles and bags thinking "january. I Will Deal." this wouldn't be so bad if i weren't the sort of person who didn't feel a compulsion to archive, save and savor. but every painting or drawing given to me must be photographed, shared and stored; every book must be read; every CD listened to; every press clipping dated and filed. i know, i know. i could liberate myself and throw it all away. i can't. i mustn't. i need a bigger apartment. as my friend marcus once said...."aahhhh i'm drowning in my own biology!" (this was right after: "i'm urinating in the fields of the zeitgeist!!"). he's my favorite poet.

i haven't played any real or new music yet. this comes after things are clean. it's also freezing in there. but songs are always in my head. i jot down lyrics on envelopes and leave them in a pile on the piano. my mind is sifting, shuffling, preparing to make new things. music things, book things, theater things. i miss thinking about art. i've spent so much time thinking about the business of the band that i'm very rusty.

i am still working on a long rambling blog about the onion cellar. and by the way, my friends, re: the last blog:

(pr-bl) n.
A simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson.

there is no melanie. there is no zucchini cake. it was a metaphor, fucking. well, i suppose a parable doesn't necessarily have to be fictional. i should have elaborated. though i did have a lot of fun trying to distinguish between those who commented to further the metaphor, and those who actually wanted the cake recipe.

for those who are coming to the play in the coming days, just one request:
please make lots of noise. don't be afraid. the crowds (mostly the ART subscribers) can be mighty timid due to their expectations. help them.

oh and anyway: for my parable, i had wanted to find a weird cake that would still seem delicious. i googled "weird cake recipes". this is what i had found. mad love to barb, it's her recipe. if you bake it, please share with all of us the degree of it's actual deliciousness.


½ cup soft butter or margarine

½ cup vegetable oil

13/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup sour cream

2 cups shredded zucchini with skins on

2 ½ cups flour

4 tbsp cocoa

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

you may add chocolate chips if you like, mini’s or regular size, as much as you want


¼ stick butter

6 tbsp milk

1 tbsp cocoa

1 box powder sugar

1 cup chopped nuts, your preference

Mix margarine or butter, oil and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, sour cream and zucchini. Mix well. Add dry ingredients, mix. Put in 9 x 13 or similar sized pan, greased.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until cake is done in the middle


Bring the first 3 ingredients of frosting to a boil, then remove from heat and add the last 3 ingredients, and mix. Pour on hot cake. Cool cake to eat.




Thursday, December 21, 2006

the onion cellar: a parable



it is your friend john's birthday. his friend melanie, who you barely know, offers up her large house to host a surprise birthday party and dinner. it's an excellent idea. various friends from different walks of john's life call around and the guest list grows organically: there will be a collected 16 guests, some people you know and some who you don't. so that melanie doesn't have to cook up a huge dinner, everybody agrees to bring a different dish. you agree to make a giant cake. you are very excited. you love to bake and have an old family recipe for a zucchini-chocolate cake that everybody always goes mad for.

however, your kitchen is covered in unopened mail and CDs and papers and your stove is from 1947 and doesn't have a thermostat. melanie, being a totally decent human being, offers to let you use her kitchen. over an email, she informs you that not only does she have a state-of-the-art kitchen with every single amenity you could ever want, but (did you know?) she used to be a professional chef before she went into internet marketing. she know everything about cooking and would love to give you hand if you're rusty and guide you through her kitchen's funks as she cooks on the stove-top for the dinner. she tells you that she loves to cook with other people and a cake baked together has twice the love in it. you are overwhelmed by her kind offer and pleasant demeanor and agree to meet her at 3 pm at her house. the party starts at 7 pm. you bring her a nice bottle of wine for herself to say thank you.

when you get there, melanie greets you warmly and shows you into the kitchen. she was right: this place is unbelievable. marble counters, 6 burners on a island-stove, pots and pans of every size hanging from the ceiling. the place is equipped to the gills. melanie puts on some soothing classical music and helps you unpack your groceries & ingredients. she chats away about how she loves cooking. as you take the zucchini out of your grocery bag she gives you a weird look. you laugh and tell her that you know it sounds odd, but the cake is a a zucchini-chocolate cake and has been beloved by three generations of your family. she smiles kindly and tells you how much she loves more "creative" cooking. you think you see some hesitation when she says this and possibly a patronizing tone in her voice, but you barely pay attention. you talk for a while about cooking a recipes and uncork the wine you brought. the atmpsphere is congenial. at 4:00 you realize that time is flying and you should start baking.

by 4:30, you're cranking on the cake. melanie is kind enough to let you use her basic ingredients like flour and salt, and she shows you how to use her futuristic oven. you're still adding things to the batter when melanie approaches you with a question.

listen, she says: listen, i should have mentioned this before but a couple of people that are coming are vegan. would you mind terribly if we cut out the eggs and milk and butter?

you are confused. you've already made the batter. but she asks you so nicely. um....i don't know, you say, i'm pretty sure that the cake needs those ingredients to bake. melanie looks at you kindly and says, guess what? they don't! i used to work in a vegan bakery. i know just the trick, and it'll taste almost exactly the same, she says. really? you are incredulous. really, she says. i'll help you out and tell you exactly what to use to replace the dairy, it just so happens i have all the right ingredients. you feel it is impossible to say no. she's being nice about it, and she's letting you use her awesome kitchen. ok, you agree. sure. so she pulls out a bunch of soy and tofu and other unknown-looking vegan products from the fridge. you feel a little skeptical, but feel you can instinctively trust her. she was a chef.

she guides you about how much of what to add to your original batter, and you start the process over. you're getting a little nervous about the time, but it should have plenty of time to bake. people aren't coming over until seven. you can let the cake cool during dinner and ice it right before you serve it. no problem. the batter looks a little clumpy, but melanie assures you that it will come out fine. you start getting back into the happy cooking process, chop choping away at your zucchini.

at around 5:30, melanie lets the real bomb drop.

listen, she says: listen, i should have mentioned this before, but i'm allergic to zucchini and i actually can't stand chocolate. i feel my eyes starting to water and my skin is breaking out into hives. can you please ditch the zucchini part of the cake? and you're in luck...i have CAROB in the fridge, tons of it! we can use that instead of the chocolate. and your icing should be fine, she says. she really looks nervous, and she's right...the hives are starting to show. you feel terrible. are awestruck at the absurdity of the situation. why didn't she tell you this when you were unpacking your grocery bag and laying your ingredients out on the table?

i guess so, you say, now fully disappointed that your cake will taste NOTHING like your cake.

then you think for a second and say:
melanie, i think maybe you should bake this cake alone. and i'll help, you add. but i don't know anything about vegan cooking.

no no! she looks at you earnestly. this is YOUR cake and you wanted to bake it! i'm just asking if you can change a couple of ingredients.

melanie, you try to say nicely, you're asking for some pretty serious changes. my recipe was for a zucchini-chocolate cake with dairy. you're talking about making a vegan carob cake. that's sort of fucked up.

are we making this cake together or not? she asks impatiently.

you stand there staring at each other, at an impasse. melanie finally says fine, she'll do it. but she's grumpy.
five minutes later she turns around and says: listen, i really think you should be doing this. you agreed to make the cake. i have all these other things i need to cook.

you are paralysed with the ridiculousness of this all, and you start throwing carob chips into a blender, just to get the bad vibes out of the room. in your head, you're already waiting for dinner to be over so you can forget this experience and go home. then things go from bad to worse as melanie starts complaining about the way you're dealing with the carob.
you throw your hands up.
melanie, you say, make the damn cake. yourself. i'll do something else. i'll chop carrots. whatever you want, i'm just not going to deal in the cake department. it's 6 pm and there are people coming over in an hour. we need a cake.

fine, she says, quietly. i will.

your friend bob comes over early and dips his finger in the cake batter. he looks at you questioningly.
melanie smiles warmly at him and tells him that you two have been having a good time and baking the cake "together".
you try to keep your mouth shut.

the party starts. birthday john comes over and is pleasantly surprised. you try to forget your cake debacle and enjoy the dinner. the cake is finished and drying on the rack. melanie comes over and whispers that you need to ice it. you leave the table and go to the kitchen. you take a crumb-sized bite of the carob vegan cake. it tastes heavy and alien. you try to let go of what you want it to taste like. you try to open your culinary mind. it's not TERRIBLE. it's just not like anything you wanted to eat. you were really looking forward to eating the zucchini-chocolate cake. you sigh. at least the icing is delicious.

as you enter the room with the cake, everybody oohs and aahs. melanie announces that you two worked very hard together on this cake, and that it's an old family recipe of yours.
this pisses you off.
you do not want to ruin the party, but that last part was just too much to handle.
actually, you tell the assembled guests, it isn't a family recipe.
actually, you say, this is not the cake i wanted to bake.
melanie wanted to make the cake vegan and i let her do it, you say. and it tastes ok for a vegan cake, but you might be underwhelmed.

the room is hushed. you've insulted the hostess. this is not cool.

people eat the cake. the icing is complimented. the vegans in the room assure you that for a vegan cake, it kicks ass.
everybody compliments the two of you. the party is still a party. nobody seems fazed by the cake debacle. you feel silly.

melanie wraps the cake up (unsurprisingly, there is a large chunk leftover), and gives you the tupperware container to take home.

in the car on the way back home, your two best friends, doghead and arty, can sense your shitty mood as you lay down in the back seat.
we gotta be honest with you, doghead says.
lay it on me, you say.
the vegan cake wasn't that bad, he says. it really wasn't. but i've had the zucchini-chocolate cake. i feel your pain.
really? you ask.
arty, who is sitting in the passenger's seat, takes your hand.
i know you slaved in a kitchen all day, he says, and the icing was to DIE for, but, honey?
yes? you say.
that cake was NOT FUCKING CAKE., he says. it was a brick of doom.

you all laugh.

you tell him you know, and thanks for being honest.

it's a long drive home (about 38 hours) and there are no rest-stops on the way, so the three of you will be forced to eat nothing but this cake for fucking breakfast, lunch and dinner.

several hours later, you are very hungry.
you scrape off the icing and eat that.
you think that fasting might be healthier than eating non-stop cake.

you try to remain cheerful and look out the window at the big world which is passing by as the sun starts coming up over the horizon.
the party was a good party despite the cake debacle.
and it feels almost good to be hungry, you feel sort of lean and mean.
you are looking forward to getting home and making a cake you like.
you drift off to sleep, listening to your friends chat in the front seat....still hungry, but happier than ever to have friends who will be honest with you about your cake, because they truly understand and love you. this is better than cake.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

nine awesome things


since i often use this as a tablet in which to mourn the negative aspects of my existence, i thought i would share some nice/awesome things to make up for all the recent darkness.

then, of course, i will follow up quickly with a very dark and self-absorbed post.
blogging karma.

1. last night i watched THE ENITRE INDIANA JONES TRILOGY...yes, all three, back to back, me & cormac in our pyjamas, pomegranate juice, pumpkin and corn soup, fresh guac and chips and gingersnap cookies. we took a break between each episode and walked around cormac's neighborhood in chilly moonlit allston, in our pyjamas, coats and hats and scarfs. raiders is classic, temple of doom sucked even MORE than i remember it sucking (WTF with that one???? did they fire ALL the good writers? ech...) and last crusade was a triumphant comeback. very few movie stars i could actually admit wanting to bang, and harrison ford is one of them (jack nicholson is another, and i think the only other is heathers-era christian slater...maybe judd nelson from breakfast club...ok, and maybe buster keaton). anyway, it was AWESOME. only the penitent man shall pass.

2. i managed to get ALL of my christmas shopping done in UNDER three hours by deciding i would but NOTHING BUT BOOKS for all of loved ones. luckily the amazing harvard book store was at my disposal and i walked through it's graceful aisles and i found something for everyone. i overfilled one eeuuuuge shopping basket and had come back with my car because i couldn't carry it all. spoiler: here were multiple copies purchased for various friends of "towelhead" by elicia erian (AWESOME). i am free.

3. cafe pamplona, which is cosmically located one block away from the zero arrow theater where we are putting on The Onion Cellar, has had garlic soup almost every day i've been in. they also added an extensive tea menu to their kitchen. need i say more? it's AWESOME. i sit there, journal in hand, and feel bliss unending.

4. my apartment is a fucking mess but i DONNNNNNNNN'T CARE. i haven't opened my mail for two weeks. i used to get excited about opening packages in the mail and now i get excited that i have the willpower to step over the pile without feeling anxious. it feels: AWESOME.

5. during my book shopping, i found a coffee table book of bansky's work. i didn't know he was so known and published. if you don't know his shit because you live outside the UK, go look and feel hope for the universe and the future of art and mankind: he's: AWESOME.

6. sand from someone's hair from the sky from the theater in my bed. music left like a gift. AWESOME.

7. december and NO SNOW. global warming blows but AAAAHHHHH AWESOME.

8. coconut green tea from tealuxe alone every morning. my apartment. alone. my piano, untuned. my CD collection. my clothes. all the things i miss about my life. FUCKING AWESOME.

9. being able to look at my life next month and actually see blank days and time to do WHAT I be able to say yes instead of always no no no, i can't, i'm sorry, i'm be able to choose what i am doing instead of being a slave to an unrelenting an unfamiliar gift....time to spend around things that make me happy, time to make music, time to write, time to collaborate, time to read, time to listen to music again without irritation, time to clean, time to sew, time to drink, time to plan, time to laze, time to travel, time to sleep, time to be around good and nurturing company, time to breathe out, time to waste.....time to do AWESOME and i've waited so fucking long to get here....

next installment: compliments, complaints and reflections about the current theatrical state of things. i'm over the worst of it.

we're doing nine shows a week. brutal but not as hard as it sounds. it's like vegas, i assume.
for those of you who are local and coming to the onion cellar, instructions to follow.

holiday cheere



10: this was just too perfect not to add but i had to come back and edit the post. as soon as i posted this, i literally i got up from the computer and went to the bathroom to pee and my cell phone was in my back pants pocket and LANDED IN THE BLOODY FUCKING TOILET. i fished it out and and it's FINE. it turned right back on, lit up like a fucking christmas tree. god is on my side. c'mon. must i point out how AWESOME that is? i think not.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Million Dollar Dead Dancers Society


i've waited so long to articulate everything that's happened with the Onion Cellar in the last few months that i feel like i will alienate everybody with a blog that is so vast and epic in length and scope that only 4 or 5 people will get to the end.
maybe i should offer a prize? a cake?
but how will i i know? maybe a test or an essay question at the end

PLease write an essay of no less than 1500 words describing Amanda's experience with the American Repertory Theater.


Please choose 2 out of the 4 following questions, in essay format. Each answer must be no less than 1000 words.

1. Why did Amanda ignore all the red flags waving in her face when she still had time to fix the problem?
2. Is there a difference between art that is "good" and art that is "bad"? What about art that is "safe" or "not safe"?
3. Do you agree with Amanda's decision to continue on with the project despite the drastic turn of events? Why or why not?
4. Please expound on the difficult artistic terrain between "integrity" and "responsibility".

i'll work on it

put on pot of tea. boiling and ignoring it.
2 shows down. 38 shows left.

i feel so fucking weird and alone up there. i can't describe it. i'm working on it.

i needed the onion cellar, it self, most of all. for my self. we make what we need. that's how it works.
there was only one solution tonight:
had to borrow pope's computer, since my disc drive is broken, crawl into bed with headphones, insert Dead Poets Society DVD, watch entirety and weep.
had to put pope's computer back downstairs, still weeping, steal some of his toilet paper (i'm out) come back up here and sit in my cold kitchen.

tomorrow night maybe i'll watch Dancer in the Dark. then the next night, Million Dollar Baby. i'll alternate.
my own little onion cellar atop a few square feet of comforter. crying into stolen toilet paper and getting it all out of my system.
maybe 38 shows later, and Dead Poets Society x 12, Dancer in the Dark x 13 and Million Dollar Baby x 13 later i'll be ready to get up, get dressed, go to the cineplex, watch Borat and start life afresh. hope it's still playing by then.

all the water boiled away, just added more.

right now i'm alone, it feels fine to be alone, standing to the side, and all i have to do is look around and remind myself that for fucks sake, maybe it really did have to be this way, and that every person in the world who's ever tried to make anything real has had to deal with exactly what i'm feeling now.
i should not ever expect it to be easy....i expected that, how stupid...
i SHOULD expect that the majority will not want to cry, splatter, shake, grab, yell, mess, smear, pull...YAWP the world out of it's sleepiness, kicking and screaming!aaahhhhhhhgahgahgfahgfhashfgashgahjlehd.......

I went to the woods because i wanted to live deliberately.
i wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life...
to put to rout all that was not life;
and not, when i came to die, discover that i had not lived.



Sunday, December 03, 2006

swivel chair 101

as stupid as this sounds, i can't really write about what's going on. i've actually attempted several times in the past few weeks to write here but find myself impossibly frustrated and stumped. too sad, too many sensitive people and situations and it just plain fucking sucks.

i'm trying to put something longer and more articulate together for later, but i'll just say: the last few weeks have been the hardest of the past few years, harder than touring, harder than anything. i've had to watch this play/project that i've been working on for over two years take a direction that is out of my control...hours of brain and soul work lost. the show still emerges, but under someone else's somewhat alien wing. it's been painful in a deep way, like a creative miscarriage and a forced adoption on top. whatever. the worst hopefully came and went four or five days ago and i'm on the mend, no more tears, ready to see if i can at least make sense of this story. the adult theater world. the big. real. theater world. it's....different.

stories are helpful. here's one.

four days ago i went to see a theater project put on by the American Repertory Theater Institute students who are part of our play (the onion cellar) which goes up next week. they are acting students. a group of 15 of them put on a performance in the theater that our show will be held. it was a really well-rehearsed, directed, lit and staged set of solo or duo vignettes called "object exercises" in which the students had been given 6 weeks or so to create a physical performance using a simple object. the actor plus a broom, plus a trash can, plus a water bottle, etc. you get it. one performer did a piece using a black office swivel chair, you know the type, adjustable back, 6-forked swivel bottom, cheap-ass upholstery. he dressed in a tux, knee pads and elbow pads and did a performance/dance with the chair using the james bond theme. he slid around on it, danced with it and under it, bounded, glided, generally become one with it. it was amazing, astounding even.

tonight i went to my friend andrew's house. greg was there. we drank malt liquor forties and break-danced to wu-tang and run DMC for 3 hours non-stop. at one point, i was taking a breather in the kitchen and greg collapsed in a black office swivel chair next to me. andrew came in and force-wheeled greg back onto the living room dance floor. greg went mad, dancing with the swivel chair and doing moves heretofore unknown by any break-dancer.

no plan. no rehearsals. no director. no set designer. no dramaturgs. no assistant dramaturgs. no office and no xerox machines. no ten-minute breaks every hour and fifty minutes. no stage manager. no assistant stage managers. no assistant to the assistant stage managers. no lighting designer. no speech coach.

it was better.

metaphor digested.


cross-posted to

Friday, November 10, 2006

the price is Right

I've come home, this time, i know i'm staying.

But it doesn't change the feeling i get the minute i walk in the door--that i've grown so accustomed to, that i realize is normal: that i need to get out. Every time i come home from tour (and for some reason, usually because of the night flight times) i drop my bags on the floor, hop in the shower if i'm feeling ambitious, and head straight out to the bar and grab whomever is in the house to aid and abet me to listen to whatever entertaining stories i can come up with (there are usually none, either that or i'm always so wasted and tired that i can't be entertaining).

Not to drink. just to be out, i can't stand the instant silence; it compares well to being on a train that stops with a jerk. your brain keeps moving. Here, i'm still in London a little bit. i don't think i'd feel very much different if i was sitting in the lock tavern in camden instead of on columbus street a few blocks from my house. same buzz, same bullshit, same noise of humanity covering me like a soft sponge that i need to get lost in. it can be anywhere you go, anywhere you find yourself. but...the music in the bars and cafes in the UK in considerably more interesting.zzzzz

tonight the house is empty...lee is in montreal and pope is on his way to tierra del fuego or greece or wherever artists go to escape the brutal boston winter. i don't think he even knows where he's going, and he's probably sitting in the airport. killing time, at some parallel bar (but being far more entertaining than me).

i never feel like i need company but i sometimes want it. i watch my itchy finger reaching for the cell phone the minute i get in the cab, just to connect, with someone. what did i do before i had this phone? reflect with less distraction, this much i know. i noticed yesterday that on my london off day i didn't even consider leaving my hotel's neighborhood. to do what, exactly? sight-see? i can't imagine anything i'd rather not do. cafe-seeing is about as far as my tired imagination can go.

i watched the couple in front of me with 7 pieces of matching red luggage while i was waiting for a taxi at logan airport in boston. i got off thinking on a wild tangent about the Price Is Right and those afternoons eating ramen noodles in front of the TV, watching people absolutely LOSE THEIR SHIT about the matching luggage set, fingered and pawed at by those barbie negligee-clad vixens, only to obviously reveal "....and you'll need that matching set of luggage when you go on your all-expenses-paid-10-day-vacation to.....ACAPULCO!!!!"

hand sweeps over 12-ft airbrushed poster of beeeech
4-inch-high hairsprayed hair in turquoise banana-clip goes WILD!!!!!

they were EXCITED? to get on a PLANE?? and go to some random place and stay in some random probably-two-bit fucking hotel and do...what? escape? stir-fry themselves on a poolside doing nothing but feeling lost? argue with each other over Myties and fried shrimp appetizers with special spicy sauce? fuck it, i just have become completely bitter and removed from the working class and their desires. i've become able to commiserate only with the traveling businessman, the traveling salesman and the typical touring band. none of which i actually have Fuck All in common with except for our flight itineraries.

I remember when i was about 13 or 14 and i realized that the Price Is Right was actually one long commercial, I was PISSED. and i was even more pissed at myself for still being in awe of that huge, green, sparkly spinning wheel they used to determine who would contend in the Showcase Showdown. Let's not even START about Press Your Luck and the whammies.


sitting here alone with my 2nd pinot noir i contemplate whether bob lefsetz is drunk when he writes his blog-posts. i can totally imagine gearing up, saying...ok, i'm going to WRITE ONE, and going to the the fridge, whereupon he cracks open a microbrewed beer and sits behind his laptop at his desk, cranking out those very capitalized-word rants about how rock as THEY knew it is DEAD. i love him but i want to hate him. he's a different monster, from a totally different era, that man from the glory days of rock, but i relate to his enthusiasm. he wants people to CARE about MUSIC, he wants the dream the way most genuine musicians want it, except he's coming at from the viewpoint not of a musician (which everybody today seems to be), but as a CRITIC.

the day after our show at the roundhouse, he posted a blog-thing-mailer-i-don't-really-know-what-they're-called-it's-basically-a-letter-that-goes-out-to-gazillions-of-people-on-his-list thing about seeing the Who play in the states at the hollywood bowl. and how totally awesome and powerful and meaningful it was and how (suggested) there's nothing around like that today. It's not like it WAS. and i wanted to strangle him and put him in a brief time-warp and drop him 5th-row center at the roundhouse show the other night with everybody freaking out and being all in love at the dresden dolls show and say, NO SEE? it's just not where you're looking. every time i read a post from him about how nobody BELIEVES anymore and how the spirit of music is GONE i want to fucking scream.

here are some choice excerpts from his...:

"Back before it was how you looked. Back when what came out of a speaker could save your life. There was a song on the radio that appeared infrequently, but riveted your attention every time it came on. There was an acoustic guitar. Which started off slowly, and then the player started to STRUM! And suddenly, there came a blast, from over the horizon, like a SHOFAR! Calling you to worship at the altar of rock and roll. That song was "Pinball Wizard"......

....There's never been another [Keith, drummer of the who - a.] Moon. You know this if you saw him. His reputation as a loon undercuts the legend of his playing. This guy was not the bombastic Bonham, he wasn't about brute force, there was a subtlety within his sound, it had CHARACTER! Akin to a Jackson Pollock drip painting, initially it was hard to comprehend, but it all made SENSE!.....

...Nobody's looking anymore. They've found it. You do what you must to get the money. Whether legal or illegal. You need a nice ride, a crib in a gated community. Flowing champagne. We're not all in it together, everybody's about pulling AHEAD! Leaving the general public BEHIND! And once you make it it's all about lifestyle. Supposed heroes like Paris Hilton claim they're dumb. When did stupidity become revered? Intelligence radiated from the Who records like brain waves from Einstein, and that was part of the band's appeal....

......We used to look to musicians for direction.
We can again. By playing his heart out, by not just replicating what was on the albums, by doing a ton of new material, Pete Townshend was serving notice that he was not done yet. We should embrace this message.

And if tickets were fifteen or twenty bucks, if only the younger generation could see a show like this, they might believe too. Pricing has made this the Bentley of rock tours. It's exclusive when the music of yore was INCLUSIVE!

You can debate ad infinitum whether music can change the world.

But I'll tell you one thing for sure, music can change the individual. Can inspire him. Can instruct him. Can change the direction of his life.

That's what it used to do. That's why it's so powerful. That's why
they call it classic rock."

(if you are interested in reading more:

somebody out there who knows bob lefsetz, please invite him to a dolls concert (and buy him a few drinks when you get there).


meanwhile, back at the bar in boston.

the roundhouse shows were all that for me and more, because it went way beyond the music. all of those people, all of those artists, the feeling backstage, the feeling in the crowd, the feeling in the lobby, the challenge of giving people not just a show, but an experience. something that they themselves feel a part of of, simply by existing in the crowd. that we're not here to sell tickets or t-shirts or cups of overpriced beer...that we genuinely want to grab people and give them a good time, more than that, something to make them open up more, think more, feel like they were a part of something genuinely real, whether it's good or bad, amateur, or professional, that's totally irrelevant, the idea is that you're right there. this thing we all fantasize was happening all over the plance in the sixties. back THEN, when, according to bob lefsetz, people still BELIEVED. i see people wanting to believe so badly they do it til it hurts them. it keeps me up at night when i try to go to bed. maybe i'm taking something for granted. eh?


i just noticed how different the SHAPE of my blog is from bob lefsetz's. he writes in SENTENCES (with frequent capitalization, which i find charming). i write in long rambling paragraphs. one-line sentences keep people's attention for longer. more space. less density.

fuck it. i could try it.

none of this necessarily has to even make sense.

pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony pony

there are those moments, sometimes they happen in clusters, sometimes rarely as i find myself brainwashed by my own life, the denial and simultaneous realization that EVERYTHING is NORMAL, that there is no such thing, that everything is relative. i walk to the bathroom on the plane, always performing, feeling all those eyes on my as a brush pass this little swath of humanity, black-man-old-man-all-business-man-white-woman-japanese-man-hip-kid-small-child, smell that familiar smell and realize that i'm at home here, that i'm used to this. that i like the privacy of the bathroom on the plane the way other people look forward to walking to the coffee shop across the street from work on a lunchbreak. i'm thirty, i tell myself, i'm flying to london to shoot a few days of video and then return home a few days later to work on a play. that this is normal. that i've very possibly achieved what i've always fantasized about.

i sit there, smelling the combination of chemicals and air fresheners in the metal bathroom, that anorexic airplane air that swirls into your hair and pores, and all of a sudden i'm fifteen, i'm sitting in the bathroom stall in C-house during english. so bored every period that i take strategic bathroom breaks during each and every class just to have something to look forward to and somewhere to go. i look at my 15-year-old self in the mirror, god knows what i was wearing back then...i remember a blur of colored hair and berets, heavy overcoats and long thermal underwear worn under mens' boxer-briefs - printed with diamonds and polkadots - with crucifixes dangling suggestively over the thin, open flap in the front (the more expensive once had a single button but the kind that we usually wore, me and holly, came in three-packs from sears and had no such adornments). all that heavy black eye make-up, all that hiding, all that hating, all that confusion and loneliness, wet my hair perfectly messy and make famous faces in the mirror, daring someone to barge in and catch me.


i also wonder, truly, how this blogging phenomenon works as a social conversation forum. mr. lefsetz culls and selects the comments he posts, pro and con, like an op-ed puppetmaster.

i've noticed that the nature of comments comes in waves, that they follow patterns.
that i've come to rely on them and their existence the way i rely on certain people calling me back when i leave messages and some people.....may never call back, some people can be counted on to not call back.

so i have to ask you: do you people who comment read each other's comments?

do those of y'all who don't comment read the comments of others?


trick question: when the blog is this fucking long, do you find you usually don't get to the end?


cross-posted to


Monday, November 06, 2006

lon done. and please.

i am wasted. the shows in london at the roundhouse were....fucking historic.
they truly felt like a reward for six years of effort. all of the people, all of the performers who have been with us for so long, all of the musicians we played with, my mind was just blown every time i turned the corner. the brigade was in top form, with so many people from so many countries creating absolute chaos and beauty in the lobby. have to say the roundhouse itself was a little sterile and the newly renovated architecture made it feel a little like an airport, so we had our work cut out for us. it worked, it worked. it was beautiful. friday was good, saturday was epic. we filmed, it was captured, it was real, it is over. we're done touring for at least six months. my voice is gone. not lost, gone. will it ever come back? i miss it.

i am laid flat, can't say much and about to get on a plane back to boston and my brain is pudding, but must say this.

for those of you in the states: please, please, please. vote tomorrow. please. please.
if you have time, go to and make calls tonight.

a lot of you registered to vote with Music For America at our shows......
if you know you're registered and don't know where your voting location is, it takes three minutes of searching on the net.
if you don't find it, google "(your city) election department" or city hall and CALL THEM. they will take your name and birthday and tell you where to go. you can do it.

michael moore said it good in an email he sent this morning, so i pass it along.



Tomorrow night, those who sent 2,800 of our soldiers to their deaths -- all because of a lie the president concocted -- will find out if America chooses to reward them -- or remove them.

As good as things look for the Democrats, do not pop the corks and start the partying yet. Do not believe for a second that the Republicans plan on losing. They will fight like dogs for the next 24 hours -- relentless, unforgiving, nonstop action to squeeze every last conservative voter out of the house on election day. While the rest of us go about our day today, tens of thousands of Republican volunteers are knocking on doors, making phone calls, and lining up rides to the polls. They're not sleeping, they're not eating, they're not even watching Fox News. A day without Fox News? That's right, that's how insanely dedicated they are.

But the reason they have to work so hard is that, before they can get the vote out, they first have to completely turn around the massive public opinion against them. Almost 60% disapprove of Bush. Over 60% are opposed to the war. Those are landslide numbers. And the American people are not going to turn pro-war or into Bush-lovers by tomorrow morning. So it should be easy for us, right?

Yup. Just like it was when we won the popular vote in 2000 and when we were ahead in the exit polls all day long in 2004. You know the deal -- the other side takes no prisoners. And just when it seems like things are going our way, the Republicans suddenly, mysteriously win the election.

Well, it's not really that mysterious. They're out there busting their asses this very minute, right down the street from you. What are YOU doing? You're on a computer reading my cranky letter! Stop reading this! We have only a few hours left to wrestle control of the Congress away from these "representatives" who, if returned, will continue shipping our young men and women over there to die.

Here's what I'm imploring you to do right now:

1. Go through your address book on your cell phone and computer and call/e-mail everyone you know. Tell them how much it would mean to you if they vote on Tuesday. If they don't know where to vote, help them find their polling place.

2. Contact ASAP. They will connect you to the folks who need you to make calls.

3. Contact your local Democratic Party headquarters. There are close races in nearly every state. They'll put you to work -- on the ground or on the phones. Or go to the local HQ for the Dem candidate running for the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate and say, "Put me to work!"

OK, turn off the computer -- and I will, too. There's serious work to do. The good news? There's more of us than there are of them. Let's prove that, once and for all.

Is there anything more important that you have to do today? Nothing less than the rest of the world is depending on us.

Michael Moore


will recover soon and tell all.

lots of punk cabaret love


Monday, October 30, 2006

randomness & CMJ & call for change

i am home for about 36 hours. the bus dropped me off at home this morning at around 9. i always love that feeling when the bus pulls up to my actual apartment building, suddenly being in a space warp, like the scene in the fifth element where the take-out chinese place actually comes to your apartment window instead of yo' lazy ass having to walk down the street. the roving coffin-bed and makeshift home i've slept in is mere yards from my actual resting place and kettle. it's, like, queer. we had a bona fide raging party for all of two hours last night after the show in sayreville, managing to cram all of member of the red the red paintings, sxip and dancers of ladybird, our entire crew, barnaby and his boyfriend and 8 other random people in the front lounge of the bus while brian DJ'd from his computer (lots of Boyz II Men and Jackson Five) and we tried to drain of all the leftover rider beer. it was truly wonderful to watch. trash and i slow danced, 8th-grade style. the buzz and the smiling and the wild hands as people talked about things with sore throats and mad gestures all around me, it's what i want, i only had to close my eyes and actually pay attention to it for a second, it's the only song i want to hear most of the time, all of those people talking at once.

i am sad to see this tour over, i am sad to say goodbye to the red paintings. trash (the lead singer) is from my planet, running around trying to make the impossible happen, organizing live painters and human canvasses (that are painted black and then designed with day-glo paint that teh band supplies during the bands'set). last night i painted a canvas on stage and actually created something not painful to look at. it was a wonderful goodbye present for me and them both. trash left a canvas out in the lobby of the starland ballroom and every person at the show painted a portion of the surface, creating a masterpiece of love. it will hang on the wall of wherever i live until i die. barnaby brought a pastel portrait he'd been working on and blew everybody's brains out with his genius, a bunch of brigaders brought birthday cake (the band is officially SIX tomorrow, we're getting OLD) and though i can barely talk today, i don't mind. i fucking love my band, i fucking love our fans.

i went to desi's new loft a few hours ago to get my hair cut, and stared into the void of his brand-new stainless steel kitchen sink with my eyes closed and the water swooshing over my head and mark came up behind us to offer the information that the news had just announced that elephants were self-aware. then he walked away again.



I rarely post about politics but fuck it:

from a email i got today:


We've got less than 192 hours to go before Election Day. So if you've never made a political call before in your life—now's the time. This week can be a turning point, but we need everyone pushing together to tip it over the top. You can get started right now by clicking here.


YES: the scary 2006 elections are in a few days, comrades, and many people my age or younger don't really see how they can change an increasingly fucked-up system. it's huge and daunting.

However, it's also the future. the internet and the magic of PHONES has made it possible to take a couple hours out of your life, or LESS, and help change the course of events in what's going to be an HISTORIC election. lots of the races in many states are PAINFULLY close.

You can use your phone, call voters, even attend (or throw, for fucks sake) a party in your neighborhood where everyone makes calls together.

Using this resource to call active voters to convince them to get out and vote is crucial.
Even if you're too young to be registered to vote: YOU CAN DO THIS, your voice doesn't have to wait until you turn fucking 18.

from the website:
"This year, victory will come down to voter turnout. We've found the Democratic-leaning people who often don't vote in mid-term elections like this one. If we can just get these “unlikely voters” to vote, they'll provide a winning margin in a whole bunch of races.

Over 30 races are in a dead heat – margins of a few thousand or few hundred votes. We’ve tested these calls, and we know they work – the people we talk to are much more likely to turn out. Your calls could tip the balance – but we're in a daily struggle to make sure we're reaching more voters than the Republicans’ infamous turnout program. Can you help?"

if i know anything about our fanbase, you're not shy folks.
please give this a shot and also pass the info on to others via your blog, myspace page, whatever you can.

here is the link again for emphasis:



on a less serious and more rock note:
if you're in NYC or in town for the CMJ music marathon this weekend, here's what to see:
(venue info up at

if you personally run into any of these folks (lots of these venues are small) say hello from me, they're all allies.



mo pitkin's
Tue 10/31 9 pm
*NOTE, this is not an official CMJ event*

last chance to catch the red paintings before they jet for aussie.
also, ask anyone who saw him open for us this last tour: sxip is a one-man wonder of amazingness.


Rocks Off Boat Cruise
World Inferno Friendship Society
Tue 10/31 11:15 pm

the legendary punk rock big band. prepare to get sweat on and possibly punched. dancing/drinking is obligatory.



Jake Brennan
Wed 11/01 11:00 pm

a boston hero, jake sings true blues rock and roll. wicked old school solo guitar, for fans of the rock.


The Tank
Thu 11/02 10:15 pm

another boston band, very experiemental jagged rock. awesome guys.

Union Pool
The Fatales
Thu 11/02 12:00 am

beautiful hooky indie rock, i've been trying to see these guys live for years.

Living Room
Casey Dienel
Thu 11/02 12:00 am

casey sings gorgeous flapper-y and sweet piano tunes.
she's native, so if you miss her (or can't make it to see her open for me at the paradise in boston on nov 27th),
check out her site and find her some other way.


Hiro Ballroom @ Maritime Hotel
Erase Errata
Fri 11/03 07:45 pm

grrl indie rock, very post-punk-wave-angular and jarring but somehow awesome.



Canal Room
Saul Williams
Sat 11/04 10:00 pm

saul is a force of nature, electro/rapper/spoken-word/poet bad-ass. amazing stage enrgy, fucking inspiring.




p.s. i'll see a lot of you fuckers at the roundhouse in a few days. it's going to be epic.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

a months worth less

oct 23rd.

sitting in the Again Cafe of Nashville: the cafe coco, open 24 hours, playing hits of the eighties and making my life bright. before bonnaroo i waited for doni from trail of dead to show up here for two hours. i was so tired i fell asleep under a table in one of the smaller rooms. the cafe coco has a front and back yard, a huge porch and some tacky statues. it was here that i filmed the first (though it wound up on the cutting room floor) footage for the kaiser chiefs' video i made at bonnaroo. i put the tennis ball on the head of this madonna-like statue wrapped in christmas lights. it looked beautiful, all blinky.

i've been feeling this strange reluctance to blog lately. it's typical, there's just too much happening and i feel like i have to write something poetic and profound. fuckkit

i've had this one sitting in my outbox for about a month, i wrote it during the aussie tour and just didn't post it for reasons probably having to do with laziness, as it probably needed editing. now it doesn't need editing: it's "archival":


(approx sept 17th)

we had our first shit show of the tour last night in melbourne.
yet shit show is relative.

there are certain nights when enough things conspire against you to make you want to just give up...pull a diva and flounce off stage in a flurry of kimonos saying (in a very high-pitched italian accent) I CANNOT VORK VEES ZEEEZZ CRAPPPP!!!!!!!!!!

we've been renting keyboards on this entire tour and this was the first night the company we were renting from didn't have a kurzweil. the control buttons of the kleyboard were much closer to the actual keys, so at the beginning of the set i immediately started alternately accidentally hitting the patch-change buttons (causing some interesting slap-bass, wind-chime and clavinova sounds to take the place of the piano during "sex changes"), knocking the the volume knob to zero by accident (causing a very noticable silence and accidental drum solo, and causing many running-around-stage-techs wondering why the keyboard had gone away) and accidentally hitting the instant-super-turbo-reverb button (making the piano sound like all my bloody valentine's releases were being played simultaneoulsly). this was all just in the first 5 minutes of the show. add to that the two keys that instantly broke, and the gerbil-being-strangled persistant pitch that was coursing through the monitors due to some sort of magnetic field/aussie-alien invasion problem, and i knew this was going to be a shit show. i also realised that this was the show that had been ADDED in melbourne after the first one sold out, so we didn't have our ueber-forgiving, hard-core fanbase. most of the audeince had never seen us. and they were seeing a shit show. however.

i know, from road experience, that a shit show doesn't exist. one can just use these technical difficulties as fuel for one's emotional fire, bare all warts and hope that the audience will love you for your vulnerable & honest self. i was also tired as shit, after almost five straight days of flying every morning and never getting a full nights rest. i was asleep an hour before we hit stage. peeling myself out of bed was almost impossible. peeling brian out of bed WAS impossible. we were downstairs in the lobby of our hotel, ten minutes late for our ride to the club, wondering where he was. we called his room. we banged on the door. no answer. ultimately we had to get the porter to unlock his door and we all barged in and found him passed out in with the kind of oblivion that i believe is usually reserved for the dead. we were tired. we've been tired every show of this fucking tour, since we got here. somebody told me that jetlag realistically takes one day for every hour. i buy it. in this case, we'll be almost caught up by the time we fucking fly home.

i was watching my head during the show last night.
when things are particularly bad or frustrating, i tend to let go more. and by let go, i don't mean try less. i don't mean try harder. i think i simply mean i let things show more. i figure that if the audience knows what a terrible time you're having on stage, that you're actively wrestling demons as they look on, they might see more. appreciate more. care more? i don't know.

i watch this happen with my voice. true to form and raining and pouring, my voice also crapped out about halfway through the set (probably due to the lack of sleep and warming up, but add in the overcompensation for the shitty piano and you've got a winning combination). once is really goes, i let it. i try to keep it in the neighbourhood of what pitch it's supposed to be hitting, but otherwise i let it do what it wants. trying to make it sound pretty, or powerful, when i know i'm just doing more damage can be impossible. but i trust people to hear it for what it is. it's a trick. "i am in pain tonight and too tired to be playing a rock show for you" my little voice seems to croak "maybe for this reason you will take pity on me and hear my songs with a very sympathetic human ear". i think it probably hit people differently. one person may simply say "wow, the bitch can't sing. i want my money back." one person may say "wow. real." i also watch my flights of fancy as i listen to what sometimes amounts to little more than a croaking shadow of my usual voice. i usually start thinking about who is out there. our label reps. the promoters. the crew. some very childish part of me still hangs on to the naive fantasy that once people hear whats happening to me, sometimes night after night, even though I've made these decisions myself, even though I approved the adding of a second show in melbourne when we should've taken a day off to rest, even though things are thoroughly and utterly Under My Control....that they will magically see the error of the way we're/they're leading our life and run at breakneck speed to the closest phone booth and Call God, screaming "don't you see what's HAPPENING?.....sir, this is an OUTRAGE!" or more realistically, pick up their cell phones and call...who?....our agents? our manager? isn't there someone actually dedicated to organizing and caring about these things meticulously, who can stop me from overworking, who knows me better than myself? shouldn't someone be taking copious notes and making sure we do this right? this fantasy just won't go away no matter how much reality i face.

the reality is that there is no reality. the reality is that i make random decisions and sometimes they work. and often they don't. and that i'm usually way more interested in pleasing other people and appearing to be a hard worker than i am in my own health or art. nobody else actually looks out for that, nor should they. my fantasy entourage is never going to bust through the door and say "amanda, we've decided, from your peaked complexion and ragged voice that you need to take a nap this afternoon instead of doing press. we've cancelled all but one key interview. here's a cup of tea and some water. now go to sleep." nobody gets this kind of treatment. even madonna and britney-level pop stars have an entourage of specialized people...who need to get their own jobs done. i don't htink any of them have a mental and physical health professional onboard 24/7 who has the magic power to veto everybody else's decisions. nobody on the planet needs to give a shit about that but me and my few close friends (who are, probably very thankfully, never on tour with me), who have been warning me for a few years now to get off the rock hamster wheel lest it all end in tears. and, poetically, the sympathetic and distant readers of this journal. often when i read the comments on here i just feel like i'm reading one big terrible amanda-pity-party. but whatever, i'm not here to make anybody's fucking day. i'm here, for the moment, to bitch and complain. now i feel better. and maybe you feel better. and now we all love and understand each other's pain. now it's a love-fest. see how easy?

the last few weeks, since europe, have been a pretty uneventful blur of shows and airports. i've collected six decent memories since leeds, which is a stunningly good average. one (1) was sitting and drawing in a cafe in berlin the morning of our show. it was a perfect place to sit for three hours (cafe schwarz sauer, for you berliners, in kreuzberg...or was it prenzlauerberg?). two (2) was playing with my musical hero, edward ka-spel, in germany. i think i'll have to address that separately at some point. it was too overwhelming to go into right now. three (3) was walking on the beach in new zealand with ashley, who was kind enough to borrow his friend's car and drive me out to kare kare to the tall cliffs and the black sands and the little shells which i am keeping in a coffee cup stuffed with kleenex. four (4) was playing with ben folds, although it wasn't the actual playing that was the moment. it was the meeting him and knowing that he's one of the few people on the planet equipped to understand the sorts of things that i constantly think about. he's an ally. five (5) was finally seeing my friend glenn in brisbane and riding on his motorcycle out to his new house in the middle of the woods and seeing a goat and eating an egg-and-avacado sandwich while glenn played me the new go-bewteens CD. six (6) was watching the zen zen zo butoh theater perform at our show that night in brisbane. they covered the stage, all nearly-naked and real, and had another 8 actors out in the audience. the crowd sat down on the sticky club floor and the actors performed in place, the lights splashing off their white-painted bodies. people who rehearse for hours, unlike us. they were sublime. it was like we all fucking created a magical moment that lasted five whole minutes. we're going to try to import them over to london for the roundhouse shows.

i didn't collect any good memories in japan this time around. i spent most of the time trying to kick jetlag and trying to keep my head from exploding every time i looked out my 18th-floor hotel window at the 568,378 people simultaneously crossing the street in shibuya below. i swear, i've never seen so many people crossing one street. the show is japan was good but not great. the audience was very excited but very quiet. it was hard to understand.

everything else amounts to a neutral or bad memory of blurry travel and shows. good shows still don't leave good memories. maybe because there are too many of them, maybe because they don't leave a unique impression, maybe because i don't want that to be what makes me happy. who knows. i love it when it happens, i don't let myself be too bothered when it doesn't. increasingly, amanda amanda, it's only rock and roll. it all seems more and more absurd. watching "an inconvenient truth", al gore's documentary about the global warming crisis, was a nice moment of despair as i sat on the plane, leaving trails of jet fuel in my wake. i strongly urge you to see it if you haven't. having just read the mindblowing bill bryson book "a short history of nearly everything", it all wove together nicely (&i noticed someone commented about it.....all i have to say is YES YES YES, and i've been meeting people on the road who have read it and it is becoming a kind of cult, where we look into each others eyes and go...yes, yes, yes....we now share some cosmic connection through bill bryson and our knowledge of impending ice ages and taxonomy).

so also on the plus side i have finished two more books by mr. bryson ("a walk in the woods", a hilarious tale of hiking the appalachian trail and the brand-new "life and times of the thunderbolt kid", a childhood-in-the-golden-fifties memoir) and he is now among my favorite authors. his writing style in all three of these books tends to follow the same perfect pattern. pick a topic, write about it, yet go off on perfect tangents that are in turns gut-bustingly funny and deeply, the-world-is-about-end tragic. if he blogged, i'd read it.

we have three more shows, a quick sit-in with ben folds again back in melbourne, and then we fly home for a 10-day rest before we hit the states with the red paintings, who, along with jason webley, have been the most divine and perfect support band. you guys in the states are going to love them. imagine muse in costume with live painters on stage. they are sublime.


(back to now, oct 23)

a month later, i can agree that the red paintings still are sublime. they're had a string of misfortune that seems almost biblical: tour manager left the tour, sound engineer left the tour, gear fell out of the back of their RV, the leas singer trash fell off of stage and developed a ancient-cell-phone-sized lump on his head. he's ok. they get better and better with every trial and tribulation. they play with their hearts.

the last show with ben folds was brilliant. he remains a steadfast ally.

we flew home, and i can't remember exactly how long we were there. a little under two weeks. i re-united, as i do, with my bed and pillows and bathtub, and tried not to think too much or do too much. i didn't touch the piano. i went to yoga every morning. there were meetings about the upcoming play, costume fittings, conference calls. i sat in the cafe drained cup after cup of green tea while alternately reading the boston globe and new york times and emptying my head of random thoughts and worries onto the pages of my moleskine journal. i sat with pope and gave editing feedback for the panic video. i ate chinese food and watched a movie with my sister.

i went to the boston music awards, where the band was nominated for six awards and won three. it didn't feel wonderful. i felt sad for my town because the event felt superficial and uncaring. brian dressed up in a full bear costume and kick-started a mosh pit during Gang Green's set but it wasn't enough to save the evening.

i walked my bicycle through the public garden and made eye contact with a man sitting on a bench. "do i know you?" he said, in a gravy french accent, "i think i know your face."
i stopped, said nothing, kick-standed my bike next to bench and sat down next to him. "i don't know, maybe you know my band. we're called the dresden dolls."
"no, i have never heard of this band."
he was older than me, probably in his sixties. he was an oncologist and professor at harvard. he invited me to dinner. i said no. but we sat there for about a half hour, talking about the nature of mortality and belief and emotion.
we had seen the same woman crying on the bench across the way, about ten minutes before. she had been talking on the phone. we discussed cell phone technology and how it affected human interaction.
we took some photos of each other with his new digital camera. with the ducks in the background.
i had picked up a fallen leaf from one of the maple trees that was all green-gold-flaming-red, intending to take it home and press it in the book i was reading. i gave it to him and kissed his cheek and walked my bike away without turning around.

that was my (#1) decent distinctive memory from my off time. my (2) decent distinctive memory from off time was going to see the secret machines play in the round at avalon. we all ended up at my house and though my distinctive memories of the event are very very dark gray (i wouldn't call it a full blackout) there was much piano-playing and laughing. i paid the next day. my (3) memory was seeing regina. she also played avalon, wore a sparkly top and has a band now. watching her slay the piano in front of two thousand people, when only a year and a half ago she had barely any fanbase in boston, was like mainlining hope into my veins. there are plenty of people do like good music. we spent some good time together and got to see each other again, this time at our show, a few days ago in minneapolis. we ate vegan soup and talked about a lot of things that bounce in our brains like labels and fame and how it doesn't matter what you say in an interview, the press can do what it wants with it. the only other (4) memory i can think of that is sharable was seeing elizabeth and the catapult play at the middle east. i liked them so much i asked them to open up for my solo show in boston on november 27th, so if you come you will see what i mean.

then i re-packed my red suitcase and we left for tour.

i packed my rollerskates but i don't think i am going to get a chance to use them.

this tour has been back to happy basics, i am in the dresden dolls and not a pissed-upon opening band. i have art-allies on the road with me in the human forms of sxip shirey (our fucking amazing MC and circus composer), katie kay and erin of Ladybird (who have been doing twisted dance routines during our set, you may recognize them as d'grrlz from the dresden dolls vs. panic video) and our crew has been functioning with love and precision. we've had time to see friends on the road and catch up with other musicians....david j came out in LA and treated us to his minibar when the hotel kicked us out of the bar, in san fran we saw the whole sleepytime gorilla museum/faun fables crew and thomas dolby, whose daughter is a fan (and she also made an excellent assistant during one of paul nathan's magic act - and speaking of paul nathan we saw his magic little theater & absinthe-bar digs and they are incomparable), i hooked up with victor from the violent femmes in milwaukee and saw his built-by-hand-with-love home recording studio, where hopefully the dolls can make an impromptu mellotron and bongo record someday, and i got to see aberdeen city open up for the electric six in portland. i got to take a nap with lane in chicago, jeffers brought some homemade chocolate in chicago and some wonderful fans of ours in san diego brought us homemade mango salsa and guacamole. this is what makes tour bearable.

but the highlight was portland, where i took a full two days off and bought a plane ticket to catch up with the crew while they rode the bus to minneapolis.
it was there that i finally got some breathing room and true time to myself, and i sat down to start writing the play we're about the perform, in earnest. the rehearsals are two weeks away.
it's time. i should have done this months ago. but i didn't. i feel like mozart in amadeus trying to stave off the hoards...."it's all here in my noodle" i say crazily as the directors and set designers worryingly prepare for a show that doesn't exist yet. it exists. it's coming into existence, fastly and surely. it's just in my head and i need to get it out right.
we played at the crystal ballroom, then drank til the wee hours with aberdeen city and i parted ways with my crew and checked into a hotel. i walked to osco drug, bought a 75%-off terribly scented candle, 2 childproof lighters (i only needed one, once, but that's how they came) and some iboprofen and spent the entire next day moving between four stations in the hotel room 1) bathtub, which i kept at a tepid temperature for hours with my terribly scented candle burning brightly by my side 2) floor, where i would read prostrate on a towel until i got cold and would return to bathtub 3) bed, where i would read prostrate on the quilt until i got cold and would return to bathtub and 4) desk chair, where i would read (email, mostly) upright until i got cold and would return to bathtub. i became very wrinkled and eventually dressed myself and headed to powell's where, after my baptism, i felt finally ready to start my writing process in earnest.

powell's ( is a portland landmark one of the biggest and best bookstores in the country. it's stacked and organized like a libarary and has an extensive zine collection and adjoining cafe. if i lived in portland i assume i would make frequent trips. i pored through the gunter grass section, bought some new books and a blank yellow notebook. then i took my bundle down the street to mary's all-nude revue (, another portland landmark, ordered myself a ginger ale and spring water, got my change in ones, and started to write up my notes. the girls were dancing to all variety of music, as they do, from the beatles to tom waits to the clash, and i occasionally looked up from my seat in the back, where i assume i too being eyed furtively by the other (mostly lonely, certainly all-male, most certainly not all-nude) patrons of the club. if the music was good and the stripper seemed like she was at least trying to entertain herself or anyone around, i would wander up to the stage and give her some ones. she would smile at me. then i would go back to my notebook and try to piece together the dresden dolls, war, art, rape, nightclub entertainment and the other pleasant and fun-for-the-family themes that are going to make up "the onion cellar".

the play has taken over my head, and it's not a bad thing. it's an awful lot like cramming for a test or writing an essay the night before it's due...which is the way i always functioned in school anyway. and i always knew i would do my work at the last minute, and after a while i gave up trying to be the sort of person who actually planned ahead and accepted that i was the sort of person who made specific plans ahead of time to not plan ahead. controlled procrastination.

so now i know how my life will be for the next week, i will tour at night and write during the day, and take a few moments out to maintain my band, since we have two massive shows about to go up in london on the 3&4. we are filming. if you are coming, FOR GODS SAKE LOOK NATURAL. that means, DONT LOOK NATURAL AT ALL. twist! scream! crawl!!! it's posterity!!!! we've put more effort into booking these london shows than almost any other show in history. the line-up in insane: Margaret Cho, Edward Ka-Spel, The Red Paintings, Jason Webley, Sxip Shirey, Baby Dee, Circus Krin&Jonas (yes, the very ones with their very wheel of death), Future Cinema, Zen Zen Zo from australia, art from Nick Vargelis, the Pish Dolls, fancy burlesque, aerial feats and more more more more more. brigade folks from all about europe are coming to art out. i am excited yet daunted by the organizational nightmare.


(now is now not now. now it's oct 24. it's later, but soon will be earlier)

in atlanta, next to criminal records at aurora coffee, trying to wrap this up in some meaningful way.

here are some open letters anyway...

dear the man in the hotel exercise room in portland,
i'm sorry if i made you uncomfortable if you noticed i was crying while doing my workout on the elliptical machine. i was listening to a really good song and getting good ideas for my play and got all emotional.

dear the guy who posted his fantasy about me offering you a cigarette as a response to the last blog,
i only bum cigarettes from other people, not the other way around. you will have to change your fantasy sorry.

dear the yeah yeah yeahs,
i watched your DVD in preparation and for inspiration in making our own in a few weeks and it looked like you had a hard show and the audience was kind of lame. that sucks.

dear the electric six,
you rocked live and it was nice to see you and fuck the jocks your political statements did not fall on deaf ears. i hope you get what you want and that the rest of the road is kind to you.

dear cloudy gray sunglasses,
where did you go? i miss you a lot.

dear matt pepe,
i DID put you on the guestlist but the club fucked up. it wasn't my fault. please stop bad-mouthing me to our hometown friends, i want only peace.

dear Barbara Ehrenreich,
"nickel and dimed" was amazing, thank you for writing it. i just finished it and my head was pried nicely open.

dear cafe meshuggah in st. louis,
thank you for being such a perfect Again cafe and thanks for finding me when i lost my wallet. i will be back soon

dear the man who walked into the dressing room while i was naked in milwaukee,
don't feel too bad because generally i don't mind people seeing me naked and i'm sorry if the security was kind of mean to you but you shouldn't have sneaked back into a land where you don't belong.

dear the security staff of the club in perth,
you guys treated our crew so badly that we're never coming back to your club. fuck you and try being nicer to people, it works.

dear the terribly scented candle i left in the hotel in portland,
i'm sorry if you felt abandoned but i had no checked luggage and frankly you were way too heavy to take in my backpack on the way to minneapolis. i left a note with housekeeping to keep you if they wanted and hopefully you have found a nice home with some nice people.

i now have my own myspace page. i'll gradually be moving my diary over here for good so if you're reading this elsewhere, soon it will be living on the dolls site and at
be. friend. me.

Friday, October 06, 2006

dolls VS panic! is up

so, THE DRESDEN DOLLS VS PANIC! AT THE DISCO video is now up, and it's awesome:
everybody who has seen it so far seems to love it, but i did make a serious mistake sending an initial email to folks saying that "this is what i did in place of killing them or myself because the tour was so difficult". i guess you don't make jokes like that. i can't gloss over the fact that that i thought the tour WAS HELL when i was in it, despite the fact that i loved the guys in the band and, against all odds and everybody's assumption, really respected what they were trying to do.

i read their cover article in SPIN magazine the other night, which actually read like a 3-4 day tour diary of a chunk of time we were with them. it brought me right back to that month, which i have shelved as a distant nightmare. but the truth is the truth, even if it's only mine. if anyone watches that video and doesn't see the love and two bands having a good time, which we were, fuck 'em. that said: it's very difficult when a band exists as a concept in one world, as a musical entity in another, and as a group of human beings in yet a third. i know, because we are very much at the mercy of the same triple-edged sword. i've met or heard about tons of people who don't like my band simply because they think they shouldn't. and they've never seen us live, much less heard the music. sometimes it's hard to not take that personally.

why do i bring that up? because it's fucking difficult for me to try to navigate the fact that although i had plenty of love for the actual human beings in Panic! At The Disco, and beyond that a real sympathy and admiration for what they (and especially Ryan, the only one who I really got to know) were trying to achieve, i didn't have any fucking love for the environment i was in when we toured with them. some of their crew were downright mean, and many of their fans were the antithesis of Rock Love. however, since the tour, it's actually been really therapeutic to see some more crossover and gap-bridging between our fans and theirs via our forums (and plenty of our fans were just as judgmental and nasty as the panic fans) and i assumed that this video would dissolve that bullshit even further. so far, it has. i;ve learned more about who was there and paying attention. the panic fans that sucked the most were also the most vocal, and i'm only now seeing the nicer ones come out of the woodwork. people are way more likely to shout out "YOU SUCK!!!" than "YOU RULE!!!!" at an inopportune and quiet moment in a song. respectful and open-minded people will simply be listening. and plenty were. so thank you, you new fans who saw us on that tour. we're goddamn glad you're here. to any of the other panic fans who hated us: you're probably not reading this, but do us a favor...make yourselves useful and send us some concrete hatemail to post on our site. we're running low nowadays.

whatever, as i always say, this is how wars start. but for the record (and this IS THE RECORD, motherfuckers): it was also wonderful. i managed to have good times. i had fun making this video. i made some friends. i got our music out to the few people who were interested. i learned a lot of really, truly valuable lessons. i will never again regret i wasn't famous at 18. it could have been worse, the band COULD have easily been assholes and actively treated us badly. they weren't. they were sweethearts. looking back, would i do it again? fuck, yes. i don't believe in regret, and everything happens for a reason one way or another.

so that's the word on that. enjoy the movie.

meanwhile....i've been keeping a running tally of what to share about the last european/japan/aussie tour on paper and in my head, but i've been sleeping instead of putting it altogether. we leave for the US tour in a few days and i'll try to do it once i get my shit packed and together. i've been catching up all week, trying to act human, trying to pretend i don't feel buried. my right index finger is slightly sprained, giving me a wonderful excuse not to practice, but making me a but paranoid about how it will hold up on tour. i went to see the secret machines play in the round the other night at avalon in boston and they were intense, excellent musicians and fantastic people....if you have a chance to still catch them on tour, go. tonight, regina's playing tonight in the same club with her new band and i'm giddy....just about to leave to see her. fuck packing. i'll pack when i'm dead.

see you out there


go see "little miss sunshine" - best movie i've seen in ages.


Monday, September 04, 2006

the condition of the bride

sleepless, mindless, on a plane from manchester to munich after three nights off in leeds.

disrupting the pattern of touring is heartbreaking, Real Life shoves itself in my face like a battering ram, and everything real looks so unreal, so untouchable, every common, mundane object takes on some sort of sacred quality.
i suppose disrupting the pattern of life is heartbreaking for anyone. maybe enlightening, always bizarre. there it is, everything you've gotten used to in stark relief to something else. look! you're tired! look! you're homesick! ha! thought you'd gotten used to that, no? look! you haven't been falling in love very much. i'm not homesick. it could be anybody's home...anywhere but here. right?

right. it's most fulfilling when i'm off on my own, the crew and the touring machine a distant nightmare, some life i try to forget i have. there are no airports, there is no soundcheck. i have no voice to lose, nobody to be. i think i'm permanently motion sick. going at a pace too fast for any amanda human. i know i sound like a broken record. i know. i know. i know. i know.

we finished the reading festival and the rest of the crew pushed on to munich via london for the time off. i got in a car that took me to a train that took me to a station in leeds, where ricky picked me up. i spent most of the next 24 hours in bed. new sheets. new house. new bed. he just moved in. it's beautiful. the house is on a quiet cobbled lane and the first morning i floated myself down to the cafe. everything was made of stone, dark, wet brick walls lined every street, covered in thick vines that caught the light. walked down the sidewalks with my eyes half closed. i'm in england...remind yourself, i'm in england and i'm freeeeee. i ran my hand against the walls and tried to walk without looking, dragging the roughness under my fingers, trying to pretend that i had recently had a near-death experience. i tried to imagine what it would be like to just be laying there, under the wheels of that drunken car. or in that bloody hospital bed with the beeep beeep beeeeeep getting more frightening. and thinking: oh what i wouldn't give for morning. roughness. walking. eyes closed. brick wall. fingers. now.....look you're alive.

in leeds, it rains for a few minutes and then it's blazing sunshine. then it pours again. people seem to be used to this. it's like boston weather on permanent times six fast-forward. the rain puddles and reflects the light and everything is always shining. i went outside yesterday to see what the weather was like and lay down in the grass where the shade from a big wall of trees met the sun. i decided to stay there. the dirt and the cut grass smelled wonderful and i was reminded that i never touch the ground anymore, barely ever see it. much less smell it. there's always something paved in the way. i used to grow out of the sidewalk.

the weekend before we left for tour, i went to harvard square and did the bride. it feels odd needing to explain what that means. everybody who knows me knows. for five or six years, before the band broke and we went off on endless touring, this was how i made most of my money. for a good part of the year i would work up to 4 or 5 days a week, doing 3 or 4 performances a day for an hour and a half each, totally exhausting myself. i always wanted to write a book about it. there's a booksworth in it. i was a living statue, a street performer, standing on a hidden pedestal wearing a wedding gown with my face painted white and every other inch of my skin covered with gloves and tulle. i would stand there, completely motionless and holding a bouquet of white daisy poms, until some passerby dropped money into a box at my feet. then i would come to life and share a short moment with the person who had set me free. i would give them a flower, sometimes a kiss to go along with it. i made, on average, forty dollars an hour. sometimes much more. sometimes much less. some people tossed in pennies. some people tossed in twenties. i was an art stripper. it was the most extraordinary job. i loved it with everything i had. i hated it sometimes. i dealt with the most obnoxious street scum assholes berating me (get a fucking job you whore) and encountered the most profound artists and poets (you have changed my life today), who would sometimes sit for hours and sketch, write poems about the bride and the crowd, young romantic boys and girls who would stop and stay, let themsleves fall in love with a stranger. i often fell in love back. then they'd leave.

a few blocks along the wall, then in the cafe, i sat down for a green tea and took out my journal. oh a little piece of paradise. one thing i love so much about england is the standard quality of music, everywhere. people sing on the train (probably because people also drink on the train), typically trashy bars play incredible songs. the leeds shopping mall was blasting radiohead. the cafe was playing the white stripes. the owner came over and sat down next to me. i ordered eggs. sat and wrote and waited and soaked it up like a sponge. i live for these moments that cost me nothing. for just a few cents a day - the cost of a cup of coffee - you can save a starving rock star. won't you please consider donating? by now i'm in hamburg, sitting at another one. the music here is terrible. there's soccer fever in the air. there's loud americans at the next table. no ground left to see, back in the grind but there's such a bright light at the end of the tunnel. i forget what it's like to like people sometimes.

children would be terrified or enraptured. countless marriage proposals. lots of tears. lots of screams of o-my-god-it's-real-you-scared-the-shit-out-of-me. i was free to fixate my gaze on anybody or anything i wanted, and it was perfectly acceptable. nobody looked away. they would stare right back. i would play games like this with people for stretches of up to five minutes. daring people. people would tease me, taunt me, poke me, try to make me laugh. tell me to get a fucking job. i earn more than you, fucker, i would always want to say to the meatheads who yelled that at me. and i'm doing more. when was the last time you made somebody fucking happy, you fucking twit?? who'd have guessed that under my mona lisa smile and longing eyes was a complete bitch. some days. not all days. not most days. most days i would just let it all slide off, let my heart surge with love when the harvard professors would stop and stare, and stay. sometimes i would put poems down at my feet. shakespeare. keats. most people didn't read it. but the ones who did...they did.

i've decided that what i like most in life isn't as obvious as singing or performing or writing. i think i've come to realize that my true passion is for surprising people. that's it. that's all. really. truly. one person, thousands of people. kin dof doesn't matter. the bride was very handy for this.

i traveled with her sometimes, packed up my box with wheels and did the bride in florida, LA, vegas, germany, australia. it was surprising how similar groups of people are all over the world. the same patterns. the same types. the stories and pieces of paper i collected could fill a two volume novel/scrapbook. everythings piled in a drawer at home. it wasn't until we really started touring, on stage, under lights, every night, that i realized how painfully perfect she was. a white knife that cut straight to the heart of all of this, so little in the way.

he took me to the hills outside leeds, to a rock formation called the cow and calf - guess which one is the small one. there was graffiti up there from the 1800s, when people really took the time to do it right. all etched out in olde englishe font, so much care put into every line and corner of each letter. it looked like the scottish highlands up there, all rocky and barren with the wind whipping something fierce, pale flowers and weeds clinging to the rocks for dear life. sheep tottering around aimlessly. it was a bank holiday and so families were doing what he said the english call "rambling". i can ramble. i can rumble. watch me. we went to a stand and ordered popsicles and for some reason i could not get over the hysterical sound of a grown man ordering a "lemon lolly and raspberry lolly". he told me to stop making fun of him. we sat and ate our lollies, wondering why we stupid enough to be eating anything frozen when it was freezing outside. he showed me the spot from which he painted a landscape when he was sixteen. later i saw a photograph of the painting. it was beautiful. he used to paint. now he doesn't. la la la la la....oh, manchester, so much to answer for....there is a light and it never goes out. etc. we used to do all these things. and now we get up in front of crowds of people and thrash around. we agreed it's ridiculous.

some famous german, nietzsche i think, said "all art aspires to the condition of music". i think all performance aspires to the condition of the bride. fifty or fifty thousand screaming fans couldn't touch the feeling of looking into one unsuspecting person's eyes for a few moments. they hadn't been expecting me. i hadn't been expecting them. we just found each other for a second and the world stops, something vital happens.

we find each other like this sometimes, this is what it's like. trying to prolong a moment like that almost never works.

while i was back in boston on the last break, i ventured out to the cambridge arts council and bought my $40 street performing permit for 2007. i left it tacked to my door. we left on some tour or another. ah yes, the panic tour. thank fucking god that's over. right. and came back. on friday night i crawled under my loft-bed and dragged out the box. the smell alone when i opened it up brought me right back, a totally unique combination of stale make-up and sour sweat and wig spray and powder. it's never changed at all. i dusted everything off and fell right back into 1999. the air outside starting to turn into fall, the airplanes making that sound that i swear is totally unique to chilly late summer mornings. it must have to do with the air pressure outside, but there's this SOUND they make, only when it's bright out, and morning, a piercing sound that sounds like cosmic paper ripping apart.

in germany, a week before, i watched the torrents of rain come down on the crowd while they played their set. not just any rain, it was biblical, sheets of rain and freezing. but the crowd, they all stayed and danced. they clappped, they lost their minds. the band knew how to take care of them. it's a different fucking world, it's a different set of expectations.

one evening was spent making up dirty limericks. he was much better at it than i was. i want our fans to dance, i said. he said, it's all nonsense. i said, the hit single will be called "you make them dance, i'll make them cry". i woke up in the morning with a limerick in my head. it wasn't funny, and it was too depressing to start the day off that way. i let him sleep, rolled off the bed and onto the floor, scratched it on a piece of cardboard that was lying there.

the basement of toscanini's smelled the same, the ice-cream cups all piled in the same place next to the freezer, the pipes all hanging janglely, and the little bathroom where i used to get dressed was still out of soap. i put on the dress, caked my face, donned the wig, pulled on my gloves, cut up the flowers with the scissors from upstairs. i felt like i was moving through a drawing of myself. my motor memory was right there, no time had passed. that walk from toscanini's to the spot across from au bon pain is always the most interesting, and totally different from the walk back when i'm finished. i am a grown woman, walking two city blocks and waiting at stoplights, wearing full bridal gear with veil and my face painted. it always gets some strange looks. i always felt this mixture of pride and embarrassment. nothing to see, nothing to see, please go about your business. then up to the pedestal, climb on top, fix my eyes on one spot and wait. i wondered if any dresden dolls fans would wander by and know it was me. the sun was in my eyes and i had to squint.

returning to the tour in germany i looked at my life like an outsider. the stultifying superficiality of the road and the care we all must take with each other, because every nerve seems to be a frayed one after four days on the road. the lack of privacy which has become de rigeur, shut shut shut shut shut your mind off, turn your body and your voice on, become somebody you were and remind yourslef that you'll sort it all out later. soon enough.

i find myself wanting less and less. and less and less and less and less and less. i know. i feel like i'm somehow disappointing everyone around me by not caring about certain things i used to care about. i think about january coming, with time to myself, time to learn how to play the piano, time to write new songs, time to become myself and everything else just pales. records not selling? that's fine. label is dropping us? wouldn't mind. world is ending? about time.
it all feels like a very irrelevant game compared to washing some dishes, running my hand against the wall, smelling the ground, feeling somebody's arms reach for me even if it's only for a second.

typical tourist influx, the passersby of harvard square on a random summer saturday, the harvard students and the average people. my wondering: there was one boy with a cure t-shirt who gave me a i-know-who-you-are smile. it was very sweet. but mostly it was glorious to stand there unknown and ignored or loved for standing on a street corner in a dress painted white. i can love everybody here so safely. everyone can love me but nobody can touch me. why did i ever think this was perfect. of course i know. it is perfect. i stood there for two hours in heaven. an old man in a tweed jacket with glasses came and stayed for a half an hour. he came back up for a final flower and we looked at each other for a long time. he knew. that was enough for me. that made my year worthwhile. we must be really close to the football stadium. i hear giant cheers. everyone at the bar was wearing a st. pauli shirt. it must be hunting season.

back in the bus, i try to care about our sets, throw myself into the music for two hours with everything i have and scratch off days on the calendar. all or nothing, all of this. sometime i look at brian and don't even recognize him. the unrecognizable has become common, i get it, i get it. i tried out a brand new song in bochum last night...i wrote it a few months ago. the long way out. it ties all of this together. it's the long way out. past the bar, and past the awning. past the yawning crowd. back into the end of harmony. back into the grind. back into the non-music land of music.

i dragged my box home, up the stairs to the apartment, and felt like i had given myself a profound pinch. i left it there, not unpacking the box or even counting the money i had made for several days. i almost wanted to just give it away. i used to think it was so absurd, to get paid for doing something that i probably would just do anyway. maybe that's why it's still so impossible for me to come to terms with the fact that i have a job. fucking ridiculous. it is. it's not. i don't expect anything. i expect everything. it's two o'clock, time for press.

an odd couple lay under the covers
who could never attach to their lovers
as she packed up to leave
he just smiled and agreed
"tis a joy reserved solely for others".

Saturday, August 26, 2006

o fuck my mouth has fallen into the john

i'd been slowly and carefully composing a new diary entry in my head, which involved long-winded and clever meditations on the nature of art and street performance and blah blah blah (don't worry i'm sure i'll still wank it all over you once i get this out of my system) when my plans were laid to waste. the last 48 hours happened and it was all too good to skip.

we were home for about a week, and we've been back out on this european tour for about a week. it's an odd one, we have no bus. we're a crew of just 4, brian and me and emily and our wonderful sound-man psycho-dave, hopping from european city to european festival in planes and trains and automobiles and it's incredibly uncomfortable and disorienting. there is not only no home routine, there is no road routine, there is just chaos every day. my inner rainman is really bitching. one day in germany, next day in belgium, then next day england, next in germany, next in england. i've stopped noticing.

i used to be REALLY bad about losing and breaking shit. beyond. i couldn't keep a set of keys or a wallet for more than a year and every item of clothing, body part, family heirloom and any other possibly portable-outside-of-my-home (and even indoors, things weren't necessarily safe) was invariably broken, lost, sprained, stained or otherwise mangled in my careless, billion-mile-an-hour clutches. at a certain point i realized that instead of adjusting my habits, which seemed impossible, i would simply adjust my sensitive attitude towards myself and my belongings and realize that they were simply fleeting, earthbased baubles, meant to be broken and lost ANYWAY in the great churning of cosmos movement (ohh and maybe i was just some cosmic helper, not only part of the universal puzzle but there to speed up the process of things!....oh!! special! special!! charming!) and fuck it let it break and let it get lost. i dun carrrre.

this may have started to be a decent solution for own collection of earthly goods and mortal coil, but it didn't make me many intimate friends as i was likely to break them. there was a time when i was about 22 when i remember absolutely Freaking Out. i had been living in my little harvard square sublet, street performing and working at toscanini's (the awesome ice cream & coffee shop) and basically living bohemian paradise before moving back to germany on my fully accidental graduate student scholarship. it was the day that i lost my wallet, my keys AND left the water running over a crate of strawberries in the kitchen sink for a full few hours until it hit me (one mile away) that things were getting out of control. i wondered if there was some kind of medication you could take for flakiness. i could go on and on about how i've left my wallet in my refridgerator, slept through my finals, accidentally brushed my teeth with shampoo, fallen over a 12-foot balcony, gone to the emergency room for drop-kicking a cactus which permeated my thick german army boots giving me possible tetanus, drank myself into a blackout in belgium and woken up naked and penniless in a strange....i'll stop there. you name it, if it was stupid, i've done it. i need to spare my mother the details. hi mom. i know you're reading this.

it wasn't too long after that i discovered sitting zen and started slowing my shit the fuck down, even a little bit, and i think i've made progress. i even fold my clothes out of the laundry (once or twice a year) and have started folding my clothes when i pack for tour (they do not stay that way after first unpacking). i try to make lists. i try to take deep breaths. i try to clean as i go. it is not at all natural. but it does feel amazing when it happens. i started wondering what it was that made this way, unlike some Other People that i knew who were clean, organized, dependable and otherwise upstanding compared to my overwhelming (but charming!) haphazardness.

i developed the theory a few years ago that i had, at one point in my warped life, decided that cleanliness and dependability were the polar opposite of freedom and independence and must therefor be avoided at all costs. this is, obviously, complete bullshit. the total freedom to make a complete fucking mess of my apartment as i write, compose, sort, correspond, paste and create is one of the things i hold dear. but it took me years to realize that i could create much more effectively with a clean space. the problem NOW is that it seems i reallly have to choose between one and the other. my space is never dirty so much as it is cluttered; lists and piles and unpacked packages and clothes tower in my room from the dawn til dusk and i usually start any given day with the cheerful optimism that i can spend the afternoon attacking the piles and then retire into an evening of artmaking. but i can't make art if the piles are there. so i work on the piles until 3 in the morning, fall into bed exhausted but feeling rather satisfied that, because i've made so much progress, tomorrow will be different. it's never true. i wake up to 74 emails, a load of complicated problems, more CDs from tour that i uncover, there's always something. i am unable to clear my mind. it stays perpetually cluttered. i think this is one of the essential keys to unlocking the mystery of Why I Cannot Write On The Road. things at home are hard enough, and when i start traveling my brain can barely keep up with the amount of daily to-do shit and stimulus that any creative output starts to seem like a distant dream. things come in, but don't come together. things come together when the table is clear, when i feel like my brain doesn't have mundane things to do. i've gotten to the point in my life where i feel like an "adult" because i am taking care of my "responsibilities" and the cost seems to have been the part of me that is an artist. self-fulfilling prophecy? probably. i thought that getting a team of managers would solve this problem but instead, because of the amount of shit involved with running a band, i spend more time keeping track of what people have and haven't actually taken care of. shit, i digressed.


it's 24 hours later but i must finish we came back on tour, played a few festival shows, and went to edinburgh for a few days off. i wanted to be at the fringe festival. i had wanted to be there for an entire month, but three days, with a show in the middle, was all i got. it was better than nothing, i fell into the fringe like a fucking junkie diving headfirst into a hefty-sized bag of dope...just walking down the street during the fringe is like paradise to everywhere, street performers everywhere, music everywhere. home. paradise. i found reggie watts, an amazing hip-hop/spoken word artist/singer/comedian and we spent the majority of the fringe hanging out and going to shows and generally making each other laugh. i took regina and her right-on russian mom over to his show (after hers, which was brilliant as always) and she loved him. everything felt good. even though i'd pulled my fucking neck out and spent every morning at the chiropractor. i turned my computer off and at this moment have an automatic message answering that i have vacated the planet and have over 450 mails to answer, post-spam. i don't care.

the second night, i was kicking it at the spiegel garden outside the fabulous famous spiegeltent, a portable wood-and-glass circus venue i've been in love with since i first laid eyes on it back in melbourne a few years ago, and a general meeting spot for actors and fringe folks til late late at night. i was moving too fast, trying to meet up with one person and another, and rushed off to use the bathroom (they have these trailer port-a-bathrooms off stationed there all month) and there was a line of five or six women waiting for the female toilet (as they call it in britain). there was nobody in the line for the men's. i went for the men's, out of habit. years of travel have made me impervious to such distinctions, but i do still take pains to look as gay boy as possible when walking into a men's room. i was wearing a freakish outfit (and i was at the fringe, for god's sake, where everybody's a fucking actor in a post-modern performance art piece anyway) so i figured i was fine. i got a few raised eyebrows from my friends at the urinals. warning: the following scene is about to become uncomfortably graphic. so i went into a stall, shuffling and huffing and covered with backpack and fanny pack (don't say that in the UK, they laugh their heads off at you because it translates to "vagina pack") and drink in hand and realized that i had to change my tampon. i usually use the sponge, but i was out of sponges, and i usually use applicator-less tampons, but i had left those at home in a packing snafu and so i was left with the box of super-absorbant tampax that i bought that day at the convenient store. i grabbed the box out of my backpack and ripped one open, whereupon it promptly fell on the floor of the stall and rolled neatly under the divider and into the well-polished shoe of a man at the urinal directly to my left. i made an attempt at retrieval while trying to utter a "he he why isn't this just delightfully funny" little chortle but my grabbing hands pushed mr. tampon further out of sight and at that moment i was distracted by my ringing phone (my blackberry, to be precise, or crackberry (as they call it in new york, or blackmailer, as they call it over here). my ringing phone was Fabian from future cinema, i was supposed to have a business meeting with him and we'd arranged he would call me when he got to the area. it felt urgent. we'd been trying to meet all day and night, and i didn't want to think i was blowing him off. i suppose i could have patiently ignored the call (ass on toilet seat, tampon-debacle in full swing) and waited for a calmer time, but noooo, i answered it. however, as i went to answer it i also realized that my Somewhat Feminine voice would give away my stall ruse, so i answered with a deep " Hullo" that was, uh, the best impresison of a man i could muster at the moment. only about two sentences were exchanged while i tried to gather my self, my wits and my tampax and as i rose from the throne, mid-conversation, my phone slipped out from between my ear and my neck. it was one of those beautifully cinematic slow-motion movements where my face contorts into a silent "NNNNNNOOoooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" as i spin, looking toilet-ward, in just enough time to see it splash all swan-lake- like into the murky blue pond of port-a-john. this was a flushable port-a-john, so there was nobody else's piss to contend with but my own, and my hand instinctively shot into the murk to try to slavage my two-hundred dollar device (and, if possible, my business meeting). no suck fucking luck, it was frantically vibrating with a blank screen and i heard that electronic death toll ring.

the rest of the night was a wash (no pun intended) and i went home to email fabian that, though it sounded like the lamest excuse in the world, i had indeed dropped my toilet in the phone during our conversation and could we possibly re-schedule our appointment for tomorrow evening? i thought i heard you taking a piss, he said. my god, is it always that obvious? i do it all the time, does that mean EVERYBODY knows? at least i know now. i glumly attempted to remove all moving phone parts and covers and batteries and sim cards, letting them air out in the clear scottish breeze, but to no avail. the phone stayed dead and i found myself giving myself that familiar old lashing. stupid stupid girl!!! what are you thinking, using mens bathrooms and changing your tampax and disguising your voice for important business meetings all at the same time. BAD!!! grow up.

as my friend asked when i told his this story: ah, pretty telling. are you TRYING to flush your life away? this was food for thought.
perhaps. yeah. maybe. so??

things went from bad to worse the next night, when i decided that playing a THIRD show, after our spiegeltent show (relatively awesome) and future cinema event (also awesome - these people created a MAGIC fucking space in a building based on the original nosferatu...). brian went back to our communally rented apartment to hit the sack and i met up with reggie watts at the bongo club for the after-after party. we didn't have any songs planned, but we';d been beat-boxing on the street the day before and it sounded pretty good (well, HE sounded pretty good, he's reggie watts....i sounded like a white girl punk cabaret singer with a torn-up voice trying to beat-box...but, you know, charming!!!) so we grabbed two mics and mikelangelo, an amazing mulit-instrumentalist who had MC'd our show (and fronts an amazing band, i'l give you the link below), took to the drums. we just free-formed and got totally into it, jumping around on stage and acting like complete clowns until i knocked my front left tooth out with my microphone in a moment of over-enthusiastic mouth-drums. it (well, a piece of it) landed on my tongue and while reggie kept the bass going (and mikaelangelo didn't miss a beat) i explained my situation to the crowd, handed my tooth to larisa, the gorgeous promoter in the front row (asking her to pleeeease keep it in this glass of water...cos....i might need it) and kept on singing. i'm not sure if it was the impact of the microphone itself that did it, i've certainly been whacking my teeth against the damn mic for years now, maybe it was just fractured....ready to go and wanted to wait for the right show. not to mention i use my teeth to open everything from beers and bottled water to bags of crisps (uk) and fedex packages and basically anything else that my impatient little mits can't tear open in under 2.5 seconds. i may never know. but the tooth wasn't even fully real to begin with. in true amanda fashion, i've knocked it out 5 times now starting with:

1 - age 7, ran down fiske elemantry schjool hallway in wet snowboots, slipped and face-planted. this was the original break
2 - age 10, was chewing feverishly on a tunafish sandwich when it gave way again. not so dramatic
3 - age 12, hit it on the pool-bottom while doing a backflip underwater in the lexington recreation center. i was probably showing off
4 - age 19, lost it in a clearly humilating make-out session with mike ouyang, with whom i was drunkenly snogging on an armchair at a college house party. he was rather taken aback and (perhaps wisely) we never made it to second base
5 - age 30 - beatboxing with reggie watts, hit with beta 58 microphone

if i view this as a kind of an ongoing life/status chart, i think i'm doing fine, making progress.

back to the night, i ignored the jagged gaping tooth-hole and we followed the beatbox numebr with reggie's magic "what about blow jobs?" song - a heart-wrenching 80's ballad in c minor ("What about blow jobs?/In the middle of a dark and stormy night?"), me on piano and impromptu back-ups and mikelangelo still doing drums. it was an epic rendition. i fell off stage, and started blearily wondering how i was going to fix my tooth, when larisa announced that she had found a dentist in the audience. what? there were only 60 people in the whole dark noisy club. she grabbed him. enter chris cunningham, the senior community dentist at Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust, had come along with his son sam, a 19-year old scottish lad. they were both fans. i love our fucking band. i love our band so much. they had seen the spiegeltent show and wandered over to the after-party to see what was happening. chris had the next day free, and he offered to fix my gaping tooth-hole, pro bono. i almost cried. i felt all covered in tired universe band love. i had to sleep. we set a time over the din of dance music and i grabbed our fine friend max melton, (who needed a crash space - and i'd offered the floor) and we went in search of a cab home. i was barely conscious. it took us half an hour to find one and by the time we got to the apartment, i could barely make it up the stairs. i didn't have keys, brian had them, and he had left for home hours before.

we reached the fourth floor landing of the apartment only to find brian passed out, using his backpack as a pillow, in front of the (locked) apartment door. he'd been there for three hours. he didn't have the key. much ironic laughter was heard. we called emily in despair to see if SHE had them, and she managed to bribe psycho dave to cab it over and let us in. it took another half hour. i collapsed into bed at 5 a.m., toothless, phoneless, lifeless....but actually feeling quite content.

so here:

1 - have i actually grown up? this may never happen
2 - is it time to throw everything i own into the nearest body of water and live in the woods,
until such point when i learn to fend for myself or get eaten by a bear?

i'll leave the other musings i want to muse on for later but fill you in on the latest news & gossip, in no particular order.

1 - we went to see muse (great live, but i was zonked) in edinburgh right before leaving. amazing piano player, that guy is.
2 - my chemical romance opened and i met the singer, gerard way, who has been a really vocal fan of the dolls. he was a sweetheart and we talked for a while about music and music and touring then watched muse together...from behind a glass security window. seeing their life reminded me of being on tour with panic, though...their inability to go out because fans will maul you still seems scary to me. mental note to you: if we do get famous, please don't maul us. what a terrible problem to have at a rock show.
3 - leeds was good but not fantastic and the kaiser chiefs song went over very well with the local punters. sometimes i wish we played dance music.
4 - mr ben folds and i have been writing and plotting and it looks like we're going to join him on stage in aussie for a few of his symphony orchestra shows (for now, brisbane and melbourne, but its not confirmed). he's awesome.
5 - i ordered a new blackberry from the states and as of today, have fully resumed sucking on the electronic teat. yum!!! i have decided, however, that my emailing habit is out of control. i have admitted i have a "problem". we'll see what happens next. my fantasy is to try to go a solid month of 2007 email free, once we get off the road
6 - speaking of which, we're FINALLY TAKING A FUCKING BREAK from this madness, it's official. starting in january, once the play in boston is over, we're taking about five months off from touring so i can live, write, do some solo work and hopefully magically turn back into a Full-Functioning Human Being with Real Friends and Relationships, just like they have on the TV. joy!!!!!!!! rapture!!!!!!!
7 - my tooth is now repaired care of the Most Amazing Dentist in Scotland, who treated me like family in his little office. sam came along and we hung out and chatted it up and hit it off. i want to adopt them. chris put on his favorite Nick Drake CD while he drilled my tooth away and put on a nice new one. sam told me about drama school. we ate italian and chris and i discovered our shared love of bill bryson and john irving. we got sam a ticket to the leeds festival. when i come back to edinburgh (all of next august, if all goes according to plan), i'm moving in with them, if there's room in their garage.
8 - avril got married. did you SEE the wedding pictures? WTF, avril.
9- before i lose my mind and keep going, one more thing...we are touring with the most incredible band from australia in the USofA this october (and in aussie, coming right up).....and you should all educate yourselves and prepare to be blown away: they are looking for live painters and human canvasses for the shows. email them. all tour dates are up at as usual.

and now, more links....

1 - reggie watts. my new musical hero:

2 - mikelangelo and the black sea gentlemen. nick cave meets cabaret. go, go go!:

3 -