“WHAT ABOUT SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS?”
Daggummit, I’ve been getting more e-mail and telegrams asking about the rescheduling of the postponed San Antonio Tool show than I do about endogenous DMT release formulae from Thelemites on standby flights to Zothyria. Like a booger that you can’t thump off are these emails about the San Antonio make-up date! What, is the rodeo season over already? In that I’m currently busier than a one legged man in a butt-kickin’ contest, rather than respond to all these emails of frustration individually, I’ve decided to give the fans in San Antonio their very own newsletter (which, not unlike a shiny box of CrackerJack, even contains a prize in the middle!). So, consider yourselves privileged, all you Tool enthusiasts in San Antonio, as no one gets his or her very own newsletter (except for Miss July, who got two or three if I remember correctly). Anyway, like I said, even though there aren’t exactly tumbleweeds blowing across my computer screen these days (I’m simultaneously working on two books for future publication), here’s an official Tool newsletter just for you – those of you whose show was taken away due to illness…
(Note: I also had tickets to that concert scheduled for September 12th, and I came to the Lone Star state all the way from L.A. (and not for the Pace picante sauce as some of you in New Jersey would like to believe). After seeing the band at the Woodlands in Houston, my girlfriend and I had planned on driving to San Antonio (though, avoiding 630 Elizabeth Road at all costs), and then to Austin (to see ISIS at Emo’s), followed the Dallas show before returning to Houston and all its glorious chuck wagons. But hours after the Woodlands gig, while scrounging around for drinkables in a plastic cooler in Danny and Justin’s dressing room, I received the word about the next night’s show being called off. At the time we were switching over servers for the Tool websites, which made it nearly impossible to post any news, no matter how earth shattering. However, after making some frantic calls to the new web host, I managed to get a message up about the postponement, although at the time I had little information about when the show might be made-up.)
In the dubious annuals of cryptozoology, let it be noted that it was on a stretch of highway somewhere between La Grange and Bastrop, Texas that the thing with the terrible glowing red eyes appeared in the headlights of my girlfriend’s 300ZX. It was late at night at the time. We were headed to what has been touted as a loop hole in the Bible Belt at that hour with hopes of beating the “Austin City Limits” crowd that would soon be arriving for the weekend’s festivities. With ELP’s “Tarkus” blasting on the car stereo, although there wasn’t much traffic on the road,horror vacui being what it is (even in Texas), seconds earlier I had been amused by the crawls on a digital billboard advertising what else but Texas pecans.
Much to the annoyance of my girlfriend (not to mention the current reader), I was calling off the list of pecan products out loud as it crawled across the lightscreen like the advertisements one sees on a blimp these days: “Pecan pie… Roasted pecans… Chocolate-coated pecans… Praline-covered pecans… Cinnamon-sugar pecans… Candy-coated pecans… Amaretto pecans… Pecan Divinity Logs…” when I saw the monstrous little thing right in the middle of the road. I’ll try to describe it the best I can: It had scaly grayish skin, actually appearing more like a bony armor shell if you can imagine that. As my girlfriend hit the brakes, I swear to any god in a ten-gallon hat that will listen that it jumped straight up into the air, emitting a loud high-pitched squeal, the likes of which I’d never heard before nor ever wish to hear again. As it seemed to hover in mid-air, I could see those large glowing eyes. They were blood red, and burning like the fiery coals of hell, itself. The creature also had razor sharp claws and a tail of strange bony rings sticking out from its armor-plating.
And then it just vanished. I couldn’t believe it. Had some Chupacabra been caught in a dust-devil? Was the fabled Texas Big Bird real, after all? Could it have been the blood-sucking Mosquito Man of folklore? The alien occupant of a cow-napping apparatus? Just what kind of Satanic cult with their paperback Necronomicon and dark conjurations were at work here in the woods along Highway 71? Strangest of all, right before the repulsive specter disappeared, in my mind’s eye I clearly saw the word AZOTOchtli. So it was the dreaded Necronomicon after all (“Don’t squat with your spurs on”, I’m pretty sure the Mad Arab warned in his black book!) At the time I didn’t know it, but there was another mental image implanted in my head, something other than the barbarous word.
Moments later we pulled over and I rolled down the window. With only a slight breeze tickling the trees, I could hear the hypnotic rhythm of cicadas. I was both mentally stunned by the sight of this decidedly Fortean creature, and feeling nauseous. Now I wish I hadn’t eaten that peppermint tamale. At least I didn’t have any klieg conjunctivitis from its dazzlingly bright red eyes. With both hands still on the wheel of the parked car, the Houstonian looked over at me, smiled wanly and uttered these mysterious words: “Panzer schwein… shlittlebiddle.” At that moment, in the side-view mirror, I saw someone running away from the road. I swear to any god in jeweled cowboy boots covered with mud that will listen that it looked like a kid in a Boy Scout uniform!
I had a hard time sleeping that night at the funky Austin Motel (“No additives, No preservatives. Corporate free since 1938”). Although I hadn’t mentioned the flying anteater with red eyes like bicycle reflectors to any one, I kept waiting for those guys in the black Caddy who drink Jello to show up. Finally, with thoughts of morning tacos and Dr. Pepper at El Sol y La Luna, I drifted off to sleep.
The next day was rather uneventful by comparison. At twilight we stood near the bridge along with other tourists and observed the spectacle of the world’s largest urban bat colony (which also seemed to be the site of the world’s largest mosquito colony). Afterwards, we shopped for knickknacks on 6th street, and had a couple of beers with our friends in “Isis” on their tour bus. I’m not sure if it had anything to do with our sighting of the creature the night before, but moments before we boarded the band’s tour coach, it had been side swiped by an Austin Metro bus, causing considerable damage to both buses and injuries to several passengers. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was meant as a warning.
Isis sounded great at “Emo’s” that night, and I got a chance to talk to a lot of understandably disappointed fans who planned on attending Tool’s San Antonio show, with many of them asking me about the current status of the Dallas show. It was a go, I assured them, hoping that nothing had changed since I last spoke to the band’s tour manager. After Isis finished their performance, I had planned on celebrating bass guitarist Jeff’s birthday with the others, but I suddenly wasn’t feeling all that hot. I wasn’t sure why I was having these headaches and a persistent ringing in my ears, but as for the bout of nausea, well. I probably shouldn’t have eaten all that deep-fried Coca-Cola from a street vendor… Yep, I had one helluva headache, fried Coke doughnuts burning a hole in my stomach, mosquito bites on my ankles, ringing in my ears, but at least I wasn’t sunburned. Walking around in that Tejas heat, I expected to be as burnt as the Tomato Man of Laredo!
On Thursday we decided to skip the Dallas show. Instead, we wanted to visit the Harry Ransom (Humanities) Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin in order to check out the Aleister Crowley collection that’s housed there. This is a magnificent collection to say the least, with some 18 boxes filled with galley proofs, manuscripts, printed works, correspondence and legal papers that is probably rivaled only to that at the Warburg Institute in London (and perhaps the O.T.O. archives). After jumping through a few hoops such as filling out forms, viewing a required orientation video, and putting on white gloves, we began going though the card catalog, searching for items of interest, and penciling these on slips that we handed to the friendly staff.
While carefully examining “An Evocation of Bartzabel: The Spirit of Mars” bound in a faded little red notebook (Box 1, Folder 7), I noticed some marginalia on the back of a page in which Crowley had jotted down some designs for the cover for his forthcoming book “Konx Om Pax: Essays in Light” (which originally he was going to write under the pseudonym of Kwaw Li Ya). While attempting to decipher his notes, once again the word “AZOTOchtli” flashed in my head. What this (or the encuirassed creature on the highway with eyes like the taillights of a 57 Ford Thunderbird) might have had to do, if anything, with the Bartzabel Evocation, I wasn’t sure, but as we continued to examine holograph and typescript versions of works familiar to most students of Crowley, I couldn’t help but think that it was in some way important to all that had recently happened.
For diner that night we ate at “Stubbs Bar B Que”, opting to walk there from the Austin Motel rather than ride a free metro bus that was called “The Silver Dillo” for some reason that I couldn’t fathom. Once inside the restaurant, with Texas alternative music playing on the Juke box (someone strumming a charango), the pretty blonde waitress in the tight jeans suggested that I have a “Lone Star”, as they didn’t have the beer that I wanted. “Okay” I replied. “But as we say in L.A., you can put your boots in the oven, but that don’t make ‘em biscuits.”
As the Houstonian picked at her sub-par fried green tomatoes, I was all set to dive in head first into my barbecue chopped beef brisket sandwich from that legendary kitchen. But as I lifted the bun to check out the meat, for some strange reason I froze in place. As my girlfriend later described, it was as if I had gone into a trance. Now, as if unconscious of my surroundings, I stared at the thing, cocking my head and lifting the bun to eye level in order to better examine the mound of chopped beef. “No, that’s not right” I mumbled to myself, adding some BBQ sauce and rearranging the pile of meat. “That’s still not right.” Next, I put the sandwich down and began playing with it, at first with my knife and fork and spoon, and then with my fingers, sculpting and molding the stringy, glutinous beef into a shape that resembled the freakish creature that we encountered on the highway the other night. “What does this remind you of?” I asked my partner. But when I looked up, I saw that she was glowering at me. “This means something… this is important” I whispered to her. “You have moppin’ sauce on your chin”, she told me.
Apologizing for my strange behavior at Stubbs, we walked down busy 6th Street looking for a place to have some drinks (and on 6th Street in Austin, that’s not a hard thing to find). For whatever reason, we decided on a place called “The Blind Pig Pup” that had a connection with the Spoetzl Brewery and Shiner Bock and all that. While sipping Jack Daniels whiskey and drinking cold Budweisers on the rooftop patio, the Houstonian made a remark about how pretty Texas girls were. I agreed with her, but being from L.A. I told her that I was used to such things… “Of course THAT one looks pretty good!” I said, putting down the copy of “The Horse Whisperer” that I was thumbing through with hands still a bit greasy from earlier working on the engine of the 300ZX (I tightened the loose vacuum hose). “How about playing some Garth Brooks?” I asked as a waitress walked by. “Damn, and her little friend looks good, too… and the other one, she’s as hot as a two-dollar pistol! Wow, maybe you’re right, sweetie… There sure are a lot of pretty girls in Texas.” At that point another waitress approached and asked if we wanted a complimentary copy of the October 2006 issue of Playboy magazine. As it turned out, the Blind Pig Pub was having a promotion that night with lots of Playboy playmates on hand (hence the table full of women finer than frog’s hair). And I swear to any god in a Texas longhorns cap with molasses barbecue sauce stains crawling with dog shit-green flies on its brim that will listen that the first girl I saw was Miss July, 2006. Yes, there she was with that 32B… Sara Jean Underwood, sitting right next to me! As has been said of magick, it often comes at you sideways, as opposed to straight on. Indeed, it does!
(PRIZE: That night I had Miss July sign one of her glossy promo photos, making it out to “The guy at Toolarmy”, (complete with a XOXO!!) and the first person who lives in San Antonio, Texas, and who is a member of ToolArmy (that I can VERIFY) who sends me an e-mail with his/her name and mailing address, I’ll send the photo. Now, there might be a slight stain on it from some chipotle jam that I spread on my toast the next morning at the Austin Motel, but other that that it’s in fine condition. Sailor Jack and his dog, Bingo never gave away something this good.)
Now imagine if you will the following scene accompanied by a majestic John Williams score: The implanted vision that I received several nights ago while witness to something that had to have been from elsewhere now had me driving that 300ZX on Highway 71, heading back towards Houston. Although I wasn’t particularly hungry, for reasons I couldn’t explain at the time, I stopped at just about every barbecue shack along the way, and ordered not one, but several barbecue chopped beef brisket sandwiches. Unpainted, flyblown, neglected, makeshift, dilapidated, or positively forlorn – it didn’t matter. Just as long as they had barbecued chopped beef brisket sandwiches (and Dr. Pepper). Still not knowing how to explain my strange behavior, I told the Houstonian that I wanted to sample all the different ones in order to see which was best. Hell, I could even get a Tool newsletter out of this, comparing the Texas BBQ with Danny’s KC stuff. Some I’d Fed-X to Volto himself. I’m sure he’d appreciate anything smoked with pecan wood. With several full cups of Dr, Pepper on her lap, she finally looked at me and, out of sheer frustration shouted, “I just hate Dr. Pepper!” Honestly, I didn’t know why I was doing this, and thought that maybe I was going a tad mental. But so strong was the compulsion, so powerful the urge that I continued buying these BBQ sandwiches all the way to Sealy (where I ordered several more from the drive thru at Hinzes).
Back at my girlfriend’s apartment in Houston, with the lights dimmed about 60%, as she took a bath, I began to spoon all the chopped brisket from the buns, placing it in a large pile on the dining room table. With inane sitcoms on the television in the background, in what must have seemed like sheer lunacy to anyone else, I continued working with a calm, peaceful tempo, shaping and molding the viscid meat into a much lager version of the sloth-like creature with the bizarre armor-plating than the unsatisfactory one that I had sculpted at Stubbs. Hours later, it was almost complete. As a clamorous game show came on, I took two cold stale French fries that came with one of the orders and carefully placed them on the thing’s ‘head’, giving the fantastic creature longhorns. I then looked around for additional materials to use on my grotesque model. Seeing nothing useful there, I went into the bedroom and removed a mirror from the wall. This I broke into numerous small pieces with a meat tenderizer mallet, placing the individual shards onto the sticky beef so as to form the creature’s silver shell (as it appeared in the implanted vision that I received). In the spaces between the jagged pieces of mirror, I placed strips of aluminum foil from the wrappers for some of the sandwiches. Once I had satisfactorily ‘armor plated’ the thing, I went in search of something to make its eyes - those red eyes like flaming circles that what ever it was that I had seen had. This I accomplished by using some bright red caps from a couple of bottles of ‘gimmick’ hot sauce in the Houstonian’s refrigerator. Finally it was right.
When I had finished with my creation, I slumped down on the couch and placed my head in my hands, wondering what the hell I had just done. Surrounded by Styrofoam boxes, aluminum foil wrappers, wax paper wrappers, brown paper bags, napkins, cups of stagnant Dr. Pepper and numerous discarded pickles. I stared at the monstrosity that I had fashioned out of BBQ on the table, and tried to figure out exactly what it meant. Just then the evening news came on. Great. What’s it going to be tonight? More painted cow statues for the parade? A sale at the local Blacksmiths R Us. The ribbon-cutting for another Southern Baptist church in a strip mall? Nope, according to the anchorman in the Stetson hat something was happening on Lower Kirby near U.S. 59. This was some kind of accident from what I could gather. But as I watched the local reporter, in the background, to my utter astonishment, I saw a much grander, mammoth version of the thing that I’d constructed on the dining room table. I jumped from the sofa and knelt before the television, touching the screen with my sticky fingers as if the vision was something truly miraculous. “Call the dogs and piss on fire!” I shouted to my girlfriend who was still soaking in the tub. “We’ve got to go to 5015 Kirby Drive, right now… C’mon, it’s better than riding a mechanical bull on Ketamine!
About 20 minutes later, after nearly running over a guy leaving a domino parlor with his trusty Winchester, the 300ZX pulled up to the hitching post of establishment I’d seen on the news. I quickly got out of the car, hardly believing what I was seeing. “Oh my God! Do you see that?” I asked the Houstonian. “Well, yeah. I’ve been wanting to bring you here for while”, she said, looking up at the massive stainless steel aberration with the Texas longhorns protruding from its snarl, and those terrifying red glowing eyes. Roadkillibus texanis was the Latin name for this creature, which the Spanish conquistadores called an “armadillo.” Well burn my biscuits! Shit, of course I’d heard tales of these things – little Harrier jets uglier than a lard bucket full of armpits (as we say in L.A.), but I thought everyone was only kidding.
Seated on a leather bar-stool inside Jim Goode’s “Armadillo Palace”, a saloon with sawdust on the floor, pool tables, and a Texana décor of tooled saddles, Navajo blankets, antler chandelier, and antique revolvers, I ordered a Lone Star beer (who needs a bottle of Belgian Chimay from “Spec’s” when you can have a Lone Star?) and spoke with some of the local cowpokes about the place. As I came to find out, the ‘Palace’ used to be the site of the BBQ Hall of Fame until the owner decided it was best to turn it in to a honky-tonk. As for the towering, smoke-belching 14-foot, 22-foot wide silver ‘dilla’ erected out front, it had been transported by a wide-load trailer from the front of a restaurant somewhere in Wyoming (Hey, isn’t that where that “Devil’s Tower” thing is?).
After a couple of Lone Stars, I thought I’d try a Gunslinger (this being a specialty mixed drink - I just thought I should make that perfectly clear in that I was in the state of Texas). It was at this time that I began thinking about the close encounter on the highway, and the implanted vision of the Uber-Dilla, which my girlfriend referred to as a Panzer schwein (meaning “armored pig”). Staring into my glass, I tried to make sense of it all. Why the paranormal theatrics? For what reason had I been compelled to come to this place? Were there others who had the same vision but didn’t make the psychic connection? Was I supposed to use a ritual of ceremonial magick such as the Bartzabel Evocation in the notebook of the Crowley collection at the Harry Ransom Research Center in order to conjure up several replicas of the enormous fire-breathing silver dilla with Texas longhorns to be used in some kind of military psychological warfare campaign against terrorists?
Or maybe have the damn thing fitted with an anti-matter reactor and armed with Texas torpedoes (fried jalapenos) and Habenaro pepper egg-bombs to attack our enemies? The sight of such a thing would certainly scare the bejesus out of most people. (I could just see that guy putting it in the crosshairs of the scope of his 243 Win. Remington 700 varmint rifle, thinking the behemoth silver dilla was another UFO piloted by blue monkeys from Andromeda.)
Maybe… just maybe, for violating the embargo on 10,000 Days, I was supposed to project a thought-form (tulpa) of it to Andy King as he sits in his London flat staring at a K-LEE TV test signal on his telly (that would teach him to poke fun at Dick Cheney).
And then it hit me. SAN ANTONIO. Of course, SAN ANTONIO!!! As part of the light show for the make-up concert in San Antonio, the band should suspend the titanic armadillo above the crowd and project multicolored laser beams on its mirror-faceted surface! Pink Floyd may have had a flying pig, but a colossal stainless steel dilla… now that would be truly awesome! Of course, because the thing is made of concrete and mortar and stainless steel it might be kind of dangerous to hang it directly above the San Antonio Tool enthusiasts in their expensive floor seats… “Don’t worry about the mule, son. Just load the wagon”, a little voice said in my head. So, there it was. Unfortunately, I’m sorry to report that there’s still no official date for the show that I can announce at this time. However, as sure as ants have five different noses, as soon as I receive the date from the band’s management, it will get posted on this website.
One last thing: While I was in Texas, had I not been busier than a cat covering crap on a marble floor, I would have headed to Aurora to place bluebells on the grave of that Martian who crashed his spaceship into a windmill on April 17th all those years ago.
NOTE: It looks like we already have a winner (of that signed Miss July photo) in San Antonio, and fortunately he doesn’t live on 630 Elizabeth Road in the suburbs of Terrell Hills!