Tuesday, December 02, 2008

TVOTR Part Nine: We Are Apparently Pimps and Prostitutes Too...

We stopped at some desert town on the Grapevine. Woke up in the morning and paid the one-armed man at Subway before hitting Starbucks for a milkshake that they besmirch by with the name Frappuccino.

The Warfield is a dignified place of performance and everything ran smoothly, bar Pat in a shouting match with some club worker about the guestlist. For our last show with TVOTR we played strong and floor-tom in-the-crowd/deconstructionist-stage-load-out seemed to really impress the crowd.

While cleaning out my bag in our dressing room between sets I happened upon a handful of "Fart Bombs" I'd bought at a corner store in Providence. Having not utilized any of the ammunition on the entire trip, I figured then was as good a time as any.

I cracked the bag of chemical as sealed in a gaudy mylar packaging. The two previously separated substances would soon join and commingle in an unholy pong. After starting the process, I blindly tossed the packet into the adjoining room. It landed at Mick's feet, he surveyed it curiously and it erupted with an inauspicious "pop" in his face.

While I would in any other circumstance consider myself a tomfooler of the utmost caliber, I can, with the joy of hindsight, offer that stinkbombing your own dressing room is a faux pas as gauche as recreating a silent film-era slapstick and having the protagonist slip on a plantain peel.

Everyone backstage from the TV on the Radio dudes, our guests, the security guards and the somewhat abrasive Jon Dwyer all found time to comment on the overpowering stench. It was clearly in bad form on my behalf, but, to be fair, I made sure to sit there throughout the tang's duration rather than escape to more fragrant pastures.

Joined TVOTR for their encore with the rest of the Dirtbombs and reveled in the massive percussive happening. Snuck out without saying goodbye to most and after-the-fact felt it was a tad impolite.

Ko would find herself on Danzig's tour bus later that evening. Clearly she wins.

The next day would prove to be a scheduling miracle…a day off in San Francisco, the likes of which we'd only dreamt of. Staying with Kelley Stoltz and he'd bought me half-a-dozen donuts as he revels in the fact that they're my breakfast food of choice. We met up with Mick and made time cruising the shops on Valencia.

After stocking up on postcards at the McSweeney's storefront, gawking at the taxidermy next door at Paxton's Gate and picking up a package containing a Kevin Ayers' solo record at Stoltz's PO box we made our way to the myriad of record shops in the Haight.

First to Rooky Ricardo's…I stocked up on pins of old record labels (Fortune, Palmer, others) and bought an LP that was visually reminiscent of the first Stripes' album cover. From there to some other record shop where I bought nothing, then onward to Amoeba, the temple.

Bought CD copy of the Dion album that was recommended as "sounds like Spiritualized" (produced by Phil Spector), the Cool Kids full-length, used copy of the Langley Schools CD, the Figures of Light CD (FINALLY!) and possibly other things that've since slipped my mind. Had good chats with all the requisite employees too…Tom Lynch, Shayde Sartin, Brock Whateverhislastnameis.

From there to Burma Superstar. Crowded as all get-out on a Monday night, this grub was the real deal. The tea leaf salad was enjoyed by vegan, vegetarian and real-people alike at our table. I personally delighted in my Nan Gyi Dok. Dining with Stoltz and his star-power found us enjoying complimentary dessert. The establishment gets utmost praise from all in our dining party.

Then down the street to Green Apple Books…I finally cross the LP copy of Beck's Mutations with bonus 7" and issue #6 of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern off my audio and literary want lists, respectively.

We spent downtime at a bar and caught up with various Stoltz band members while watching assorted sports highlights.

Stoltz drove us up to a hill overlooking the whole of San Francisco, a twinkling vista that made the burg seem smaller more than anything else. Zack and I soaked it in with Kel while Mick talked on the phone.

Back at Stoltz's to enjoy his "spatially inappropriate" Altec movie theater speakers and original pressings of Revolver and Black Monk Time.

The next morn we pick up Mick and him and Kel chow fish tacos while I'd early indulged in leftover donuts.

We then hit up Grooves, Kel's place of employment. I scored vinyl copies of the Flat Duo Jets' Go Go Harlem Baby and a mono copy of Mitch Ryder's Take a Ride LP. I also won some cool knick-knacks in the old-style crane-game in the shop…a slide whistle and a miniature cast of Nipper, the RCA Records logo dog.

From there back to the Haight to Groove Merchant Records that'd been closed on Monday. I got a Lorri Randolph 45 on Tri-Phi and a peculiar single by a band called Water Melon that's rambunctious weird '69-'70 rock with organ and the side "African Song" kills. After that we eat at a Pakistani (?) place in the Mission, on the same block as the Kil-o-Watt. Naan bread delicious, the rest of my meal not terribly so.

Big plan for the eve was a pizza party at Mike Gabriel's. Having attended one before, I knew what fun I was in for. Mike and his gal Jen prep with pre-portioned slabs of dough and assorted topping possibilities. Each person takes a turn assembling their own ideal pie and the rest of the party samples it with the requisite critique, ribbing and general good-hearted fun. The dough and I weren't getting along, but I still stand by my prime "How-To" example of a pepperoni pizza. Lots of stories told, records listened to and a general appreciation of life was shared by all.

Next morning Mick and I spent approximately 45 seconds inside Revolver (our distributor) to pick up copies of We Have You Surrounded on CD and LP. This is a new record as trips here usually become protracted bouts of scouring the racks for long-forgotten or mis-filed gems.

Slowly met up with the rest of the band and soon made our way out of the city.

After hours of driving and the lavatorial needs of one and the lodging needs of all was best squelched by a stop at a PETRO truck stop in Medvale, just inside the Oregon border. I made quick way to the bathroom, followed shortly thereafter by Pat who says "Ben…you should buy a "Greatest Hits" CD."

"Why?" I respond.

"Just do it," he says with a smile.

As I head back toward the register, I see a cardboard CD display case for the "Playlist: The Very Best of…" series of green-friendly repackaging of certain Sony-related artists' greatest hits. On top of the four-foot display was a mini billboard topper, listing the series title and its affordable $9.98 price. But neither the name nor the price could obscure the mind-boggling jaw-drop of seeing a picture of THE DIRTBOMBS on this advertisement.

Mick spotted it first. He was buying something at the register when his eyes caught the picture (one of our silhouette promo shots for...Surrounded) and he just stood there dumbfounded. When pressed by the cashier, Mick flipped the whole display around for the worker to see and said, "You'll never believe this…but that's ME!"

Zack nimbly negotiated the exchange of one CD copy of …Surrounded for the portion of the unit depicting his bandmates while we all just sat there kinda befuddled. No, they were not selling any Dirtbombs records at the stop. No, the records were not bootleg. No, no one in the band or at the label or even the photog had signed off on this.

We made a pledge to stop at any more PETRO's we saw the rest of the trip (with hopes of procuring more of the ads) and we saw not a one. A call to our record label and a call from him to friends in the photo licensing biz were encouraging, but apparently without the Sony logo anywhere on our visage, we've apparently been pimped without hope of retribution.

So here's a call to you faithful readers: If anyone can shed ANY light on this situation, if you know who does the layouts for the "Playlist" in-store advertising, if you find any more instances of this pic

at PETRO (or other) truckstop CD displays, if you steal/buy/barter for its possession or can just simply explain what-the-fuck is going on, please let us know and you will be rewarded HANDSOMELY by the band.

It's not that I don't like Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash or Heart…it's just that I never in a million truckstops thought that the band's picture (and to a degree, my image) would be used to shill products without any regard for consent or permission. Does this mean we're big time? Once we start getting screwed over? Surreal does not even begin to describe the situation. Two weeks later and it's still completely flummoxing and aggravating all at the same time.

At the same stop, Ko was utilizing the free WiFi to try and book hotels for the night. With our sights set on Portland, we'd discussed just straight booking rooms at the Jupiter Hotel, but with their quoted price as $150 per room, per night, we decided to take our chances with Priceline.

When the $60 per room, per night option for a 2 1/2 star hotel near downtown and the convention center popped up, we were a bit skeptical. Two and a half stars? Really? The luxury of the stay would be not having to check out the first morning…oh what a deep, restful luxury it is. We threw caution to the wind, booked it and were elated to find out we'd been placed at none other than…the Jupiter Hotel.

You win this round Shatner.


Lee said...

Given the creepy aspect of that photo (and that none of the other artists in the "Playlist" series are really all that... Dirtbombsy), maybe it's a prank from a fan. Whether it's more likely that such a prank would be pulled at some level within Sony and its umbrella or by a rogue who went and swapped the store sign, I'm not sure.

In 2006 British graffiti artist Banksy replaced the liner notes of a bunch of Paris Hilton CDs at stores with his own versions. Of course, this wouldn't be as sensational or ironic of a prank. But it'd be interesting to see if other musicians have inexplicably wound up on "Playlist" banners- or if you guys were singled out.

Anonymous said...

To find your nearest Petro: http://www.petrotruckstops.com/location_search.sstg

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm listening to Brian Turner on WFMU at work right now (archived from yesterday, 12/2) and he opened the show with "Politicians In My Eyes." Thought you might like to know.

Anonymous said...

Could other band members be punking you?

Captian Desctruction said...

Shatner got Shatnered. Damn near killed himself. He always spoils the fun.

Anonymous said...

I hate that you spell the C-word wrong...carry om.

Anonymous said...

my cousin works for the nations largest designer/manufacturer for those displays. not sure if they did the one in question, but...