NOVEMBER, 2002 E.A.
TOUR DIARY / FINAL DAZE
"You'll succumb to temptation" Mike Cuddy laughs as we walk towards the band's tour bus a few hours after the Fresno gig. " Not tonight" I tell Mike (who has been recording the shows on his Pro-Tools rig). "I'll see you in Reno." He smiles as if he still doesn't believe me, and then turns towards the crew bus. Using my cheat-sheet, I punch in the alpha-numeric code (NE1469) that unlocks the door and climb aboard the near-empty bus. My plan: to get in my bunk BEFORE Danny and Justin get on the bus. Maynard is sitting by himself in the front lounge, waiting for someone, or so it would appear. I tell him that I'm going to bed. "Liar" he says as I continue down the aisle, passing by Camella who is seated at the 'kitchen table', busy working on her laptop computer. "I'm going to bed" I tell her. She looks up and smiles. "Surrrre you are." Knowing that Danny and Justin aren't too far behind me, I throw my backpack and leather jacket into the notorious "junk bunk" (meaning that it's the extra bunk where miscellaneous objects are placed) that's located right above Maynard's. After taking my boots off, I close the black curtain and fasten the snaps that should keep it shut. And there I lay, being as still as possible, hoping I won't be missed. In the darkness, I soon hear several other people board the bus. This is followed by the muffled sound of laughter and clinking of beer bottles. Within a few minutes, driver Al starts the engine. Over the low rumble of the idling motor and strains of ambient trance music (one of Justin's CDs no doubt), I hear Danny tell tour manager Craig that the bus can't leave yet, as Blair must still be in the building. "Dude, Blair's in his bunk" Camella says. "What??? That pussy!!!" I hear Danny exclaim. But for whatever reason, he doesn't walk back to ask what the hell I'm doing in my bunk at only 1:30 AM. I breathe a sigh of relief and close my eyes, hoping that I'm home free... for one night at least.
DIARY ENTRY FOR NOV. 21 - LOS ANGELES/SAN DIEGO
10:00 AM. Drove to Danny's house to park my car. Took a taxi to the Renaissance Hotel on Hollywood Blvd. Grabbed some Starbucks with Camella and climbed on the bus. All four band members are already there, along with Craig, John the bodyguard, Sabine ( a.k.a. Lucy's 'mom') and Nicole. The guys planned on stopping at Oakley to pick up sunglasses, clothes, shoes, etc. on the way down to San Diego, so Craig decided that it might be better to stop for lunch somewhere on the way, giving the band enough time for sound-check at the venue. Traffic is a major concern. Someone mentioned ****'* **. But I reminded them about '****'*' pro-life stance, so Craig looked for other suggestions. Half wanted El Pollo Loco, and others *****'*. So we needed to find a *****'* that was next to an El Pollo Loco. Looking out the window, I kept seeing the same businesses, architecture, etc. pass by, kind of like the background scenery in a low budget cartoon, or a low-budget alien abduction where a person seems to be driving down a country road, etc. while they're really on the examining table inside the craft. During hypnotic regression, the experiencer sometimes describes passing by the EXACT same scenery, such as a bridge, farmhouse, clump of trees that are identical to those they've already passed by moments before. Found the two fast food places and stopped to get something to go. While eating, watched old Beverly Hillbillies episodes (dumbf*** Jethro still trying to get laid). This gave Maynard and I a chance to discuss a few things that will 'spiral out' in the near future.
Stopped at Oakley for about an hour and a half. An amazing place. Continued on to the venue. Watched soundcheck with recording engineer Mike Cuddy. 5:00 PM. Several people waiting with Simson's Treehouse of Horror. Two received tickets and aftershow passes compliments of Adam. 6:00 PM. Walked out to the back of the venue where the bus was parked to meet blonde surfer girl. LOT'S of black widow spiders all along the fence. Several crew members were taking photos. Surfer girl was hungry so we grabbed something from a concession stand (nasty). Also beers from crew bus with Mike Cuddy and Breck (projections).
Adam asked me to follow him into his dressing room. There he showed me a four-volume set of books on the subject of ufology (Naud). A nice set I told him, but I already had them (after he tried to give the books to me). Thanked him for the nice gesture, though. He then pulled out a pair of black dice with alien motifs that he found in Japan. Put these in my pocket, to add to my collection. Sasha and Kat finally showed up. Teased Sasha about new laminate (ongoing thing over the years. laminate = dressing room beers, and good place to sink piss during the show). Having stuffed several bottles of Red Stripe into our jackets, we stocked "Knobby's" cooler (for ourselves) prior to Tool taking the stage. Watched the show from sound board with S&K and surfer girl. Good show. Afterwards, more drinks backstage, then to catering room (aftershow people). Spoke with some old friends and met a few more humans. Surfer friend Alex was there. Had some good laughs, and grabbed more beer from crew bus. (Jokingly) told Alex not to be hitting on the surfer girl. He said he just wanted to give her lessons (I'll bet he does). Asked surfer girl to trim my hair before we left. Bus took off for Fresno. Dinner served (at around 2:00 AM). Foie gras pizza (the fatted liver of a force-fed duck). Seemed we went from the basement to the penthouse in one day. No French delicacies/subtlety of flavor s*** for me... Just another beer, please.
More drinking - Danny, Justin and I polished off a good bottle Scotch. Good to have caught up on things with them. Lots of stories. As there is no smoking on the band bus, at some point during the night, Justin asked driver Al to pull into a truck stop so he could have a smoke. There he tried to give him a twenty for gas (to JUSTIfy stopping). The three of us got out. Wandered around in truck stop gift shop, laughing at the strange (at the time) things for sale to truckers. More drinks on bus as the sun rudely came up. Passed out cold (along with Justin) in lounge area. Dead to the world. Awakened by Craig in Fresno, who kindly asked us to get in our bunks so that he could do some work there (although he had to admit that he was impressed with what we did to that bottle of Scotch). Time to try the Witches' Milk.
DIARY ENTRY FOR NOV. 22 - FRESNO
11:00 AM. Walked around in a bit of a daze after getting only a few hours of sleep. Crew was busy erecting the stage. Pretty, young blond thing walked by. "Who's that" I asked Junior (light guy) who was engrossed in whatever it was that he was reading. "An old catalogue." he said without looking up. "No, the girl?" I said. "Didn't see her." he replied, again, without looking up.
"Damn, couldn't you at least smell her" I was thinking to myself, but I just walked away instead. (she turned out to be the venue's masseuse). Found Camella and grabbed some coffee. Wandered into Danny and Justin's dressing room. Both were sitting there, hungover as hell. Sara from Culinary Underground (catering) walked in and carefully arranged paper napkins in the form of a seven-pointed Star of Babalon. I watched as she then placed knifes and forks in nice "X" shapes. Nice. Found Camella again, and asked her to take a picture of the arrangement for me. Noon. Lunch with Cuddy in catering. Justin riding his little bicycle with the red devil's head up and down the hallway. "Great", he said to me while consulting a clock, "the day's almost gone."
Sound check. Cuddy, Breck and I boarded the crew bus. In the back, a 'sniper' was firing paintballs at inanimate objects in the parking lot through a cracked window. By where the local radio station had set up their carnival-like tents, etc., crew members with walkie-talkies were calling in potential targets and accessing the damage. Later, Cuddy and I amused ourselves by dealing with those people who claimed to be with papers, magazines, etc. Oh, the lengths people will go to get backstage. We'd let them explain their situation, and play along until the last minute before telling them that they were full of s***. But we always told them that it was a nice try (those with the better stories, that is). (NOTE: there was one exception: Two kids who claimed that Danny and Justin had come into their head-shop, Kaleidoscope, to purchase a lot of smoking paraphernalia, etc. Knowing this was true[ because I knew that Craig was horrified as the two left together on Danny's motorcycle] we gave them the tickets and passes, but only after making them give us the full list of items bought.) Almost show time. Ritual of loading 'Knobby's cooler with beers to drink while watching from the house. Before the band took the stage, Breck showed me a computer program that he uses to record kick drum counts. This turned out to be quite interesting, especially with regards to the number that Stinkfist generated. During sound-check, Breck had pointed to the finally tally without saying a word. The numbers spoke for themselves. We planned to go over all the data after the last show. Junior then enlightened me as to some of the problems he faced. That night, it was ushers shining their damn flashlights in his direction. And of course, there was always the dreaded laser pointer.
At intermission, I walked to the "Cuddyhole" ( the room where Mike was monitoring his recording equipment). Although I couldn't see the stage from there, it was great to listen to the band through the headphones as they were being recorded. While listening, there appeared to be some kind of problem on the stage. Turned out to be someone in the first few rows holding up a cell phone that caused problems with Adam's monitor. Maynard asked the people in the audience to turn off their phones and invited those on the other end to come join them. I also noticed that Cuddy's computer monitor went dark from time to time, this as a result of the crew's walkie-talkies.
After the aftershow, I made a decision not to party on the bus that night. I remembered how bad I felt in Germany after going for three days without sleep. Also, I knew that there were plans for an extended sound-check in Reno the next day, so I imagined that Craig would feel a lot better about things if we didn't pull another all-nighter. Of course, after nearly a year and a half, Danny and Justin are in great shape for such things. Sneaked onto the bus and quickly climbed into my bunk (junk bunk above Maynard's digs) before the rhythm section found their way home. Wrote in diary by dim beam of maglite. Managed to fall asleep on bumpy highway.
DIARY ENTRY FOR NOV. 23 - RENO, NEVADA
10:00 AM. Woke up feeling pretty damn good. Asked Danny how long he stayed up. Told me that he only had a couple of St. Pauli Girls before going to bed, and that "It was probably a good thing... but that we'd get back on track after tonight's show." But with Justin, it was another matter. He gave me that disappointed look as if I'd let him down big time. Even Sam gave me a hard time - joking in her British accent that I was a lightweight, and hat I was letting everyone down by "not partying like a proper rock n' roller, darling."
In the dressing room, Danny and I tried to order some hard to find ADC books for the P.U.P. archives from our source in London. Ben must have still been in the local pub as he didn't answer. Sent him an e-mail order instead. As I was getting ready to take a shower, Danny read me a funny e-mail sent to him by a fan. The person wanted to know "what Crowley's whole deal was in a nutshell?" And then there was another guy who claimed to have figured out the hidden message of Lateralus, and that he was ordering the necessary 3000 lb. of timber as he wrote, awaiting further instructions. "Goddamnya, Blair, do you think this guy's building an ark?" Danny asked, "Because if he is, I sure don't want to discourage him." Meanwhile, Sara from Culinary Underground made another paper napkin Star of Babalon and arranged the knifes and forks in Xs.
Noon. Decided I'd like to go to a casino for some video poker. Word of this soon reached Craig, who asked me (showing considerable patience) if he should get a runner to take me there. But now Danny also wants to go gamble a bit. This, of course, was cause for concern on Craig's part, but he reluctantly agreed (hell, he had to) to get a runner to take us both to a casino. Danny and I found Cuddy, and asked him to join us. In the van, Danny asks the lady driver where she was taking us. "To the Hilton" she explained, "because that's where Maynard is staying." That was the instructions given to her by Craig, so that we could all come back to the venue for sound-check at the same time. When we found out that the Hilton wasn't on the Reno 'strip', Danny told her to promptly turn around. She said that she didn't make U-turns on the freeway, but that she would take the next exit. El Dorado Casino. Video poker. Stiff hands at first. Then Cuddy decided to go "analogue", and try his luck at the blackjack tables. As soon as he left, both Danny and I hit a four-of-a kind, and soon after that another one. Coronas and their amber cousins. Realizing that it was about time to leave (2:30), we cashed out. But then something curious happened (at least by Las Vegas standards). When I hit the 'cash out' button, my screen went blank and all of my 402 credits disappeared. Then the screen flashed "jackpot." Called the attendants and explained what happened. Took several of them to try a figure out what the problem was. Eventually they paid me the $100.00 and shut down the machine, still scratching their heads as we left. All of us were up, Cuddy the most with $200.00.
3:30 PM: The dreaded extended sound check which lasted for well over an hour. As we watched them play most of the first half of the show, Cuddy, Junior and I wrote strange little messages on the red squares of confetti that fall as a special effect of sorts during one of the songs (I forget which one). B*** from San Francisco showed up and changed into a black leather dress in the 'Cuddyhole.' After doing so, she told me about how one of her girlfriends called her on her cell phone last night from the first few rows of the Fresno show. I told her that she might not want to mention that to any band members.
Masaharu Hori, the band's friend from the Japanese division of the record company, arrived. Everyone was happy to see Masa. Dinner in catering (pretty good salmon). While we ate, several of the crew members (Henry) and Danny's drum-tech, Joe Paul appeared to be greatly amused by a "KettleCadaver" DVD that someone had tossed up onto the stage in Fresno (or San Diego). They had me watch a little, but mostly I laughed at the crew's dry wit. Things like: "Mom, don't come down here while we're filming" or: "We're smashing all our equipment because our parents bought it." Adam dropped by to take a peek, walking away after a sarcastic "that's too scary for me." It was, however, too scary for a member of the Temecula Police Department, because I read on the box that "the show was stopped after exactly 26 seconds."
Later in the dressing room, I heard Danny tell Justin that Masa has never seen the band play "Third Eye" live, and that, as it is his favorite Tool song, he (Danny) thought that they should play it tonight. Justin seemed a bit reluctant, wanting to play something else instead, but eventually agreed to give "Third Eye" a try.
Show time. Ritual of stocking cooler with beers. More kick drum data from Breck. After the show, I told Breck that the visuals on "Third Eye" looked really good. He frowned and told me that he missed a few things, but that the next night it would be better. Lucky Masa!
Aftershow. Drinking! On the bus, the band members were all in a good mood with only one show left on the tour. Maynard opened a bottle of Dom Perignon and poured everyone a glass. Made some funny toasts. Strawberries. And then he pulled out a bottle of La Grande Dame. More toasts. Even funnier this time. After the others retired to their bunks, Danny, Justin and I stayed up all night, listening to Cuddy's recordings of the last few shows. With the dreaded extended sound check, the show itself, and the live recordings, I think I heard a few of the songs about five times in one day. Another truck stop in the middle of the night so that Justin could have a smoke. Again, he offered driver Al a twenty for gas, but it was returned with the same explanation that the bus didn't need a drink yet. I wondered if this went on every night during the tour (and with the same twenty)? Staggered to my bunk about 6:00 AM, climbing over Maynard without trying to disturb him before the bus stopped at his hotel.
DIARY ENTRY FOR NOV. 24 - LONG BEACH, CA.
With Danny, Justin and I having just gone to bed a just few hours prior, Craig made only a half-hearted attempt (though he later refuted this) to wake Danny up when the bus stopped in Hollywood. (Note: the plan was for Danny and I to get off the bus in Hollywood so that we could drive down to Long Beach later in the day). Instead, Craig told driver Al to head to the venue, with an unsuspected D.C. still asleep in his bunk.
Arrived in Long Beach. Dropped off Maynard at his hotel. A groggy Danny appeared in the lounge area where Craig, Camella and I were seated. Danny asked if we were in Hollywood yet. I told him we were at the venue. He didn't seem to believe me until he took a good look out of the window. Wasn't too happy, but turned and walked back to his room.
Camella and I went to get coffee, scouting out the local eateries on the way. Wanting to get away for a while, I called the surfer girl and asked her if she wanted to drive up from San Diego to see the show. She's game. Met her in front of the venue and went looking for the nearest margarita. Returned to watch sound check. Dinner in catering with some friends. Show time. Cooler ritual. None of the promised chaos in the sound board area (that usually goes along with L.A. shows). The final show of Lateralus. Afterwards, friends of the band were escorted by John the bodyguard and Sabine to a club inside the venue: (Kevin Willis, Robyn Breen, Chris Graves (toolband and toolarmy), Mike Savage and Shep from the Pigmys [where was Peter?], Dale, Alex [who asks the surfer girl if it's alright if he talks to her], Brenda, Noelle and Greg, Laurie, G.E. Giunca [dannycarey.org], Ben, Charles Blanchefort, Angelo and many others). Party afterwards in the large dressing room, complete with a cake in the shape of the Tool 'wrench' logo. Said goodby to everyone, and thanked them for a great four days. Back to L.A. with surfer girl at the wheel. Stopped at AM PM for a bottle of Merlot at ten 'till two. Vinegar. Terrible. Schism on the radio. Turned it off... well, down. Other thoughts that night - missed Michael's antics on this one.
Where does Al sleep? I am perplexed...
Thanks to Danny, Justin, Adam and Maynard.
Also to Craig, John, Sam, Mike, Breck and Junior, and last, but certainly not least, to Camella Grace. And finally, in the spirit of sacrificing gasoline to Salamanders, an offering of the blood of the Red Lion (read line?) to SEKhmet.