JULY 2014, E.V.

As the month of July draws to an end, let’s see what’s been going on with the band members between summer barbecues, larkspur, and sparkling fireworks… Well, some more writing sessions at the loft, wouldn’t you imagine… and wasn’t there a recent comic con international down in San Diego? Justin’s wife, Shelee, celebrated a birthday, and Maynard ought to be getting ready for grape harvesting and other oenological pursuits. Not to mention… Any other relevant news has already been posted; so let’s see what August might bring?

Fans of both Danny’s drumming and hotdog and sauerkraut stuffed potatoes can look forward to THE WEBB ALLSTARS performing at the world famous BAKED POTATO jazz club in STUDIO CITY, CALIFORNIA on WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27. If you’re new to the site (sorry!), the ‘tator’ is located at 3787 West, Cahuenga Blvd in Studio City… Okay, that should be enough – forget about fusion jazz and fancy spuds for a moment. There IS something possibly of great interest to Tool fans, but I thought it best to start out with the usual stuff about the Baked Potato just in case certain people – the wrong people - happened to be reading this, with my thinking being that by this point they wouldn’t continue any further, and what I really want to say will remain hidden, so to speak, from them in the middle of just another Tool ‘snoozeletter.’ Hopefully, this has happened (they already stopped reading), and I can now tell you about something very strange. Well, hopefully. Even though this occurred fairly recently, I’m having a hard time remembering certain details. Even as I type this, there are gaps. Although I have my suspicions concerning this memory loss, for now I’ll keep that to myself…

It began with an email from the band’s management, asking if I would be available to do some work on one day the following week. They didn’t tell me what this work entailed, only that it didn’t involve writing, and that I would be paid $15.00 an hour, with the money deposited directly into my bank account. (Being that I am ‘outside services ‘, I still don’t know how they knew my checking account?). After agreeing to come into the office at the appointed time, about an hour later I received another email. This time it was from an assistant to band’s business manager. She was asking me to please let her know what I wanted for lunch on the day that I’d be working by selecting something from an on-line menu whose link she had provided.

Not being familiar with “The Corner Bakery”, I chose one of their signature sandwiches - this being “Mom’s Grilled Chicken” minus the cheese and spread (not bothering to first consult with their nutritional calculator), with unsweetened iced-tea, and a fudge brownie (again, without first checking the nutritional calculator). Having replied to her email with my selection, moments later I received another email, only this time it was from the business manager, herself. It said: “I’m drooling! I’d kill for a fudge brownie. No, I would (watch out!).” At first I didn’t think much of us this – only that she wished she, too, had ordered a brownie for dessert. And because she didn’t, she was going to try to have part of mine. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that she was actually trying to WARN me about something? When she said “watch out!”, this was most certainly a coded message advising me to do just that!

When I showed up at the band’s business management office on Monday at 11:00 am and made it past the recently installed iris recognition system, the place was already a hive of activity, with several of employees (some who I didn’t recognize) carefully searching through boxes of files. Moments later one of Tool’s managers introduced me to the person (who I will call JOE) that I would be working with. Before I had a chance to ask him a question about the job, we were rushed into an SUV and driven to a nearby U-Haul place, where we were told to rent a large truck and a couple of dollies. As we stood in line to fill out the forms, I noticed the SUV take off in a hurry.

Once the U-Haul truck was secured, a couple of stocky fellows who had been hanging out in the parking lot, working on sudoku and crossword puzzles, approached to inquire if we needed any assistance with our move. Obviously being Angieslist-caliber types, I was tempted to hire them, suddenly remembering that I would only be getting $12.00 an hour to load the truck. However, both of us had been explicitly told that we were not to have contact or discuss with anyone what we were doing (what ever that might be!), and besides, it was doubtful that they both had the algorithm-matched iris required for biometric identification.

On the noisy, busy streets of the San Fernando Valley, halfway to the building that we were given directions to, the manager called (texted?) to inform us that we had been given the wrong coordinates, and that she would soon be sending the correct ones. By now, both of us were starting to get hungry and didn’t appreciate these little games. With the charred onions and peppers of bacon-wrapped hotdog carts wafting through the pedestrian traffic, all my drop-in partner could think about was his “Uptown Turkey” sandwich, with me praying to any god that would listen that ‘Mom’ didn’t put fucking goat cheese on my grilled chicken! That last thing I wanted was to be a victim of extraordinary rendition (i.e. torture) involving a signature sandwich.

With a new set of directions and the aroma of the danger dogs behind us, we had little trouble finding the place where we were to pick up the stuff. Backing the large U-Haul truck up to the storage place’s loading dock, I noticed that security personnel were carefully guarding numerous boxes and other containers that had been placed in a particular area. Before loading them into the truck, identifying labels and numbers on every container were being carefully checked off on a notepad held by one of the band’s managers.

As we carted load after load of boxes up onto the U-Haul, when no one was looking, I couldn’t resist taking a peek at some of the contents. So, the question becomes: did I see anything of interest? What was it that Howard Carter replied when asked if he could see anything upon entering the antechamber of King Tut’s tomb? “Yes, wonderful things.”

Inside the containers were Tool studio masters and slaves, ADATs, blank recording tape (?), and video and film footage, all individually labeled. Was this the footage that was taken many years ago for a possible live DVD? After the last boxes were loaded with a hand truck, I causally asked the band’s manager what was inside? “lenticular key-chains,” was the quick reply. Now, I didn’t need to be an expert on micro (facial) expressions to know that by using this ‘dangle’ there was something that someone was trying to hide. What these people didn’t know is that, before closing the door of the U-Haul, I took a couple of photos with my iPhone. If I remember to do so, I will post one or two of these on the ToolArmy site with a misleading caption (so not to be viewed by the wrong people).

With the truck now fully loaded, we were instructed to drive to another storage warehouse where we were to unload the boxes. Arriving there some 30 minutes later, after clearing the retinal scan, under careful supervision, JOE and I wheeled the containers into what can best be described as a large steel-fenced cage (a more secure area within a secure area) where another person (who I think I recognized from the last tour) was carefully sorting through them. As he did so, we were taken into a small room where I noticed a table with cups of iced-tea and small boxes that presumably contained our lunch. While eating (mercifully no goat cheese, but ‘Mom’, for some strange reason, put spread (mayo) only on one half of the sandwich), While eating the good half of the sandwich, I tried to figure out why the need for all the compartmentalization? Why the limited access, with me being told only what I directly needed to know? What were they afraid of? It was then that I noticed that The Corner Bakery had forgot to include my fudge brownie. Instead, both JOE and I had the same chocolate chip cookies in our boxes. (Weird!).

You’ll please forgive me, but at this point I’ll need to pick up the pace a bit, as my memory of the events is fading. Perhaps the quieter I become, the more you will hear? Again, certain details are now a blank, but with whatever someone wanted from the various boxes and containers now removed, we re-loaded the U-Haul truck and were given directions to a self-storage unit where they were to be kept… Come to think of it… it was after a taking a few bites from the cookie… raisin, I think it was… that I really didn’t care any longer about what was in the containers that JOE and I had been loading and unloading all day under the broiling sun for $10.00 an hour. Maybe it was the concert footage for some future DVD, or maybe it was the master of “Problem 8”, or maybe it was the so-called ‘curve ball’ that the band had put so much effort into not that long ago, or maybe it was just a drill (a trial run for the real thing), or maybe Tool’s management was simply cleaning house. Who knows?

There’s only one thing that I can tell you with certainty. When we finally had stacked all of the boxes in the self-storage unit, we received another text informing us that we were to return the rental truck to a different U-Haul place (why?), where we would be picked up by a woman in a white car. This we did, but after an hour of waiting, there was no sign of the lady or the white car. There was also no sign of a drink vending machine at this particular U-Haul place, and both JOE and I were really thirsty. As you might imagine, we were also physically exhausted. Well, JOE was, at least…

While we waited for a white car to appear, JOE wanted to sit on the curb in the parking lot. However, I persuaded him not to, lest we both suddenly turned into reliable movers with sudoku and wall Street Journals like those stocky fellows who had approached us at the other location. We were already too close.

Another 30 minutes went by and all JOE could think about was a ginger rootbeer. While pleading with him again not to sit on the curb of the U-Haul place, I tried to help my new friend with the epicurean thirst by telling him that he should put such thoughts out of his head. There were no vending machines here, and he would never make it to the convenience store across the busy street. “How about a potato gratin soda?”, I asked him. “How does a dauphinoise potato gratin soda sound?” Which reminds me… Fans of both Danny’s drumming and hotdog and sauerkraut stuffed potatoes can look forward to the WEBB ALLSTARS performing at the world famous BAKED POTATO jazz club in STUDIO CITY, CALIFORNIA on WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27.



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