Here I am busier than a three-legged cat trying to bury crap on a marble floor when I realize that it’s damn near time for another newsletter. Add to this that I’m just getting over a nasty bout with the flu (living off of DayQuil, peanut butter hoagies, and dairy-free mint chip ice cream) and you can see why this particular endeavor might be somewhat of a struggle. But people must have their news, so let me down another gulp of the foul tasting stuff and roll up my sleeves (damn, should have chosen Jiff!). Alrighty, then… with the incessant pounding of yet another shitty ‘occupy’ drum circle on CNN, and the equally annoying DING! DING! DING! from a neighbor’s flagpole which, as you might imagine, with every gust of wind, sounds like a fucking woodpecker trying to learn how to play an xylophone, let’s see if there’s anything noteworthy in the world of our favorite band - other than they’re scheduled to perform tonight at the Mohegan Sun Casino Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Mohegan, huh… Heck yeah, Chief Rolling Clouds proud roulette spinners and blackjack dealers. Good news if you’ve got a $69.00 ticket, but good news to all Tool fans as well, knowing that, once again, all four band members will be working on new material during the extended sound check (just like I told you they’d be doing). Exactly how much writing and arranging of new songs they’ve managed to accomplish so far during the winter tour I’m not sure, but let’s just say that they, too, are busier than a pair of jumper cables at an Alabama funeral. Not sure if “doom metal” YOB is opening tonight or not, but I can tell you that I was actually pushing for the even more doomster FreeCredirScore.com band as support this time around. Wonder if some of the guys in Tool are intimidated by them, or if FCS just wanted too much money to rock the place? Sure would have been a great match, though! Let’s hope it happens during the next tour (pirates and lasers!), before those dudes really hit the big time… DING! DING! DING!, no Ian Finkel, this bird…
Since there really isn’t much pressing Tool news (finally!), let’s take a gander, shall we, at some current tour-related e-mail. However, before we have a look at this resplendent sampling of questions and observations of undoubtedly incalculable pertinence – so I can use it as a tax write-off next year - here’s my much anticipated (hehe) report of the Las Vegas show at Mandalay Bay:
With my rented 2012 black Impala fully gassed up (yep, from the scary Enterprise cult with the purple Kool-Aid), I picked up “Merch” (not the name listed on his birth certificate) and the other cotton tech, along with several boxes of special tour posters – those in which a stylus and bottle of cobalt chloride had been employed to create invisible signatures, messages and/or artwork of inestimatable value (even so, I wouldn’t advise putting yours under a hot iron or into a heated oven – a light bulb test should suffice). Now, I’m assuming the cat’s out of the bag concerning these posters, but if not, perhaps I should have posted this using a Java steganography tool. Either way, with the precious cargo loaded, we headed through the desert, encountering along the way one of the worst tumbleweed storms that I can remember (when an enormous laser guided one hit the car straight on, we were lucky that – to use the vernacular of those most esteemed gator hunters – our engine wasn’t killed.)
By 3:00 pm we rolled into the parking lot of the SouthPoint Casino with its prized Steak & Shake tucked inside away from prying eyes. Once seated and supplied with paper hats, I warned the S & S virgins in no uncertain terms not to order anything but a double Steakburger platter and chili (with extra oyster crackers), and a milkshake of their own choosing (although the heathen near-vegan himself doesn’t partake of this other trademark decadence). Having finished, we headed to our ultimate destination – the Mandalay Bay hotel/casino.
Arriving at the loading docks of the Mandalay Bay Events Center (parked next to those magnificent silver eagles, which, in this case, were black), we had no trouble getting the boxes of posters to the venue merch people. All we needed to do now was pick up our credentials for the evening. Since I had requested an All-Access laminate, I first had to undergo a battery of tests, some of which actually weren’t too unpleasant. Along with a standard background check, urine samples, and a not too invasive physical examination, were several written tests that merely consisted of answering a few pages of questions (to determine whether or not I might be the decoy BMB). These tests were fairly typical of others I’ve taken over the years, with questions such as: “How long does the Silver Coleman keep ice before melting?” and “Which band member not only has enough money to burn a wet elephant, but has actually done so on at least two occasions?” And then there was: “In Maynard’s full-scale replica of the ‘Nautilus’ in his swimming pool, what song by what band does he most often play on its magnificent pipe organ?” But my favorite was: “During the outdoor show in which Maynard was pretending to be a roadie (complete with blond mullet and gaffer’s tape) prior to Tool taking the stage and launching into “Hooker With A Penis”, who was standing right next to you the entire time on the side of the stage - who you never noticed until being told?” The answer, of course, being Pamela Anderson Lee. After some verbal humiliation by security personnel while placed temporarily inside a glass box and asked to play a tin, wind-up Huckleberry Hound ukulele, which was followed by further observation by a stage psychologist whose fingers were orange from munching on handfuls of bar carp, I was given a pill to take with a Dixie cup of water and told to enjoy the night’s show. Instead of swallowing the pill, I put it in my pocket, at which time I noticed the other was stuffed with tiny plastic army soldiers. Those guys! (NOTE: In case you’re wondering, I don’t have any qualms being subjected to tests that are designed to determine stability and character whilst in the close proximity of gods. And besides, if it gets me into the Green Room, a backstage Stella and handful of stale Goldfish, I’m more than happy to wear a Beanie and Cecil propeller cap while taking a Rorschach test with a blindfold.)
Moments later, finding myself in a confusing labyrinth behind the various hotel/casinos, I managed to get back onto Las Vegas Boulevard at the far other end of the Strip, and eventually made my way back to the Luxor. There, I met up with LaraLee, who had flown in for the night (having a life-long phobia with tumbleweeds), and, after checking in, proceeded to the nearest “Texas Tea” machine (being sure to touch all the surfaces of elevator buttons, payphones, escalator rails, etc. along the way for good luck).
While enjoying ourselves at the Texas Tea slot, every few seconds my phone would ring from people worried about being on the guest list or getting passes for the aftershow. Having reassured Danny’s friends that everything wouldn’t be all right, we concentrated on getting oil derricks or at least a dividend bonus from Texas Ted. And then, while repeating my last bet, suddenly 5 armadillos appeared on one of the wagered lines (there was no mistaking it!). However, in that same instant, the oil tycoon, himself, ran one of them over with his longhorn-festooned Cadillac, thus depriving us of a large payout, and leaving gory roadkill presumably on a stretch of Texas highway. WTF! And here I thought that we were partners…
Soon it was time to go watch the show. Not having tickets, LaraLee and I found a spot at the Front of House behind the video projection director, Breck. I don’t have to tell you how good the band sounded, but while they were stunning the cheering crowd, someone directed a flashlight beam on my lammy. It was one of the band’s security honchos, and with a menacing deep voice he wanted to know who the girl that was “prettier than a red wagon full of speckled pups” was? “That’s LaraLee”, I shouted over the thundering rhythm of “Stinkfist”, realizing that we’d only been together for five years now, so how did I expect him to recognize her (perhaps, he thought she was a decoy?). I was then asked if I had taken my “vitamin” – the pill that was given to me earlier. When I said “no”, he suggested that now might be a good time to do so. Pulling it out of my pocket, I noticed that once again, someone had placed a few tiny plastic army soldiers inside it. Those guys!
Once the show was over, and the fish had been fed (with drumsticks, guitar picks, bottles of water, autographed oranges, etc.), certain of us were gathered together and instructed to go wait in a particular section of the arena until we would receive further instructions. After 45 minutes I thought about making a break for it with my All-Access laminate, taking Laralee and a couple of others with me. This included Danny’s good friend, Randy Wolf (pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers) and Glendon Rusch (former lefty with the San Diego Padres). However, prior to doing so, K.U. hoops star Eric Chenowith calmly talked me out of it, saying that we’d be better off obeying the security people, and going along with the strict procedure, no matter what that entailed. I knew in my heart that Eric was right (always the voice of reason), and that any attempt to sneak away through the various corridors and bowels of the arena (even though I did have partial blueprints) was futile (this wasn’t a 70’s Fleetwood Mac concert!). After all, I didn’t relish the thought of having to hide behind anvil cases, sandbags, and balc fill in the load out area, taking the chance of being discovered by clag-laden Brits with tell-tale scraps of gaffer’s tape on my boots. Also, for all I knew, there might have been a tracking device in my lammy… or even implanted somewhere in my body. No, rather than being locked inside the tour coach bog with only a well-used bunk sock, it would be better to wait along with the crack and peel guests for further instructions. Needless to say, though, we were quickly losing our treasured buzz…
It was finally time to be taken to the backstage area (where we were told to keep our eyes lowered at all times), and led into a room where it was rumored that catering had planned a special birthday celebration for Adam. There was even the mention of a barbecue. Having several times gone through the turnstile of the tryptamine circus, and even loitered in the Mauve Zone, what I encountered in that spacious room was absolutely terrifying. Although it’s difficult to describe, the feeling of uneasiness surging through my body was now escalating to the point that I couldn’t even speak. I had conflicting thoughts, even about the barbecue motif. Whose cockamamie idea was it to come here, anyway? What jeweled cornucopia were we all expecting? This wasn’t a 70’s Fleetwood Mac aftershow, for god’s sake!!! Was it the pill? The so-called vitamin that I was asked to take? Did it contain some mysterious substance that caused an irrational fear of being back stage? Along with the anxiety and disturbing images parading in my brain, there was a voice asking me repeatedly “How would you like it if the band members and their family and friends all came over to watch you work, and then wanted to hang around for hours drinking all your beer and nibbling on your favorite snacks?” Suddenly I had an uncontrollable urge to rush back into the casino (touching the rails of the escalators for good luck) and drill for oil on the Texas Tea slot. YES, there would be gushers of bubbling black gloop. Black GOLD! I would become rich… having enough money to burn my own wet elephant…
Okay, now that I’ve justified a tax write-off for the Las Vegas show, after another cup of DayQuil, it’s time to answer some of the e-mail that I’ve received concerning the current winter tour. As always, I’m looking forward to what astute minds are thinking about.
EMAIL SUBJECT: “GREETINGS FROM EARTH”
“Hey Tool Dudes, today is my son’s 14th birthday and my wife and I gave him tickets to your show on 2/1 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ (about a 6 hour drive from our housein Western NY). It totally blew his mind! He’s so excited to finally see you guys live! And I can’t believe his favorite band is a group I used to listen to back in the day. He’s really a huge fan, he has every album, even ones I was having trouble finding for him like Salival, somehow he managed to find a copy he could afford! Anyway, this is his first big concert! And I want to make it an awesome experience for him. There isn’t any way to get a couple of backstage/vip passes to that show at
the Izod Center is there? He would really love to meet you guys, it would blow his mind! I can’t wait to see you guys myself!” (names, address and phone number deleted).
I know that you think you want a VIP pass, etc., but I’m telling you that you really don’t. Kids that have got back there in the past are now truss monkeys.
EMAIL SUBJECT: “TOLEDO SHOW”
“Hello, Is there anyway I can get any backstage passes or listen in on sound check for the
TOOL concert in Toledo OH? My significant other and I have seen TOOL, PUSCIFER, A PERFECT CIRCLE all in the last year!!!! It has been AWESOME. I gave these tickets to my boyfriend for his Bday!! He is a major fan. He has posters up nicely framed in every room of our house. If you have any connections for the Toledo Concert next Tuesday let me know. Hey it is always worth a shot. I also wanna throw in here that I will be driving all the way from Lansing (social work 3 day training) to Toledo for the concert, then Driving all the way back!!!!.”
One of those girls who went missing in Aruba… I might have seen her doing the crew’s laundry… or driving a forklift… something back there… Maybe it wasn’t her at all, but another girl. Either way, the shows are great, but you don’t want a backstage pass.
EMAIL SUBJECT: “LUNCH”
“Do you think the band members would interested in having lunch at my place the day
of the show in London, Ontario? I would pick them up to keep it discrete. Although, they will have to squeeze in. I mean others can come but we will need cabs then. I actually live close to the downtown core, so walking will be an option. Let me know of any dietary concerns. You can contact me at”… (Phone number deleted).
That’s a very generous offer, and I feel absolutely terrible that I just now opened your e-mail. Even more so because I’m sure that the guys are tired by now of their catering service and a chef who not only provides a personalized menu for each band member, but will also prepare anything at their whim (or, in Justin’s case, at his freakish fancy). If your kind offer still stands the next time Tool is in the area, I’m sure they’d be much appreciative of some home cooking. As for any “dietary concerns”, not really, although I wouldn’t try to impress them with gourmet shit like Enochian alphabet soup, lobster omelets, diamond fruitcake, or those roasted birds that are kept trapped in a shoebox so that they’ll taste better (Adam does like duck fetus egg in blood sauce, though.) Instead, think simple. Vienna sausage with mustard on Wonder bread with Fanta orange soda (Tang is also good), Tuna Helper and 7UP, or deviled ham on marbled rye with Hostess pink snowballs and/or chocolate covered Chex-mix for dessert. Hell, anything that is Hormelishous!!!.. as long as you’ve got a box of saltines. Be sure to have some poop coffee and mint-flavored toothpicks on hand. After all, there are some creature comforts that are hard to do without. Am I right?
EMAIL SUBJECT “SOPA/PIPA”
“I would be interested in hearing the band's opinion on the subject of sopa/pipa?”
Living in L.A., I’m fairly certain that they all like various Mexican dishes, even those with honey poured over them. If you ask me, though, they’re better when stuffed with beef and topped with lettuce and tomatoes. Oh, and dude, I think it’s spelled, sopapilla.
EMAIL SUBJECT: “TOLEDO”
“Can you show us the Toledo poster please?”
What’s the magic word?.. Oh, right… Actually, no one from the band’s management or even a cotton tech sent me the Toledo poster.
EMAIL SUBJECT: “MONIKA *********”
“Hey Blair, my name is Monika Schneider.I am driving from the Detroit area tomorrow for the Toledo show. I am really looking forward to the show, since this will be my first. I don’t have a ticket, and am told it is sold out. If there is anyway you could set me up with one I would really appreciate it. I can also be reached on facebook under (deleted). Hope you get this and if not, take care:)”
Unfortunately I can’t… because I suspect… that you might just be… a Russian spy, Natasha, along with your no-goodnik’s friend Boris Badenoff! Both of you are probably involved with some fiendish plot to eliminate all… (Sorry, this DayQuil is starting to affect my brain functions… Please allow me to sharrup my mouth).
EMAIL SUBJECT: “HUNGTION CENTER”
“I was just recently at the show in Toledo, and I was ejected from the show as soon as tool started playing (hooker with a penis). I was dancing when an old lady security guard was most likely frightened and told me to quit when i ignored her and a undercover police officer wearing street clothes ejected me saying that i was trying to start a mosh pit when i wasnt touching anyone. I called the hungtion center and they told me that the liquor control (and I wasnt drinking) reported that i put hands on the security guard and then escorted me out with out arresting me. Im just really bummed out ive been waiting four years to have money at the same time tool came to town and if there was anything i can do to get my money back or something?”
Dancing! Yeah, I guess you’re really not supposed to move at all while the band is playing. However, I believe you when you say that you weren’t trying to start a mosh pit (whatever that is? Oh yeah, didn’t I see a mosh pit on the last episode of “Swamp People?” That’s where they found the tree shaker gator, right?). Liquor control, huh. Damn! Well, unfortunately, short of creating a unique perichoresis in order to effectively and simultaneously travel to a parallel Hungtion Center so that… Ah, fuck it. How about a free “Aenima” lenticular keychain? Well, you did say, “something.”