My old band was the Kerosene Kondors, and I’ve told the story of our one attempt at a national tour so many times that it’s become almost more story to me than reality. How Jubal bought a van for 700 dollars and rigged up the back like the run-down but comfy living room of a punk house. How, despite being a west coast band, we booked almost the whole tour on the eastern seaboard – in the middle of winter. How I brought nothing to wear except one oversized blue jumpsuit and some underwear in my guitar case.
How we had nothing but our instruments, no sound system, no amps, figuring we’d just take our chances from club to club. How everyone but the person driving sat around in the back – no seatbelts because no seats, only couches – drinking whiskey and taking trucker speed. How we pissed in bottles so we didn’t have to stop. How we got to Portland, Oregon, our lone west coast date, and busked on the streets in what seemed like a gritty, real, cheap town. How we played the first show of the tour there, in a basement with The Shaky Hands. How one of us ended up bringing a trans prostitute to the house party, not for sex, but just to hang out and bullshit and smoke crack cocaine. How I missed that party because I had left with a friend’s recent ex, who couldn’t find her house, so we ended up hooking up in someone’s front yard, without taking the proper precautions.
How I did my driving stint in a windstorm, the winds buffeting the giant van nearly out of the lane in the pitch-black night. How we broke down on our way to Chicago, blowing the head gasket on an Iowa freeway after midnight. How we persuaded Angie, our lone female member, to stand on the side of the road to flag for help in the freezing cold. How we ended up staying that night at a Motel 6 in a town called Walcott, home to the “Biggest Truck Stop In the World,” where we spent the next day. How we finagled a ride to Chicago from there, where we played our second and final gig of the tour, cancelling all the other dates after several nights of acrimonious arguments.
How Jubal and I stayed with my old college friends, Keith and Eric, in an apartment previously inhabited by my old love, and not far from my first place in Chicago. How good it was to see them. How I wrangled some intense pharmaceuticals from an old Chicago buddy, whose arms were needle-wrecked, and swallowed them on a night out drinking, ending up thrown out of a bar for the only time in my life, physically thrown out in my opiated haze.
How Jubal and I drove Angie, who had fought hard to continue the tour, back to her childhood home in Ohio, a long and awkward drive, and how we returned to Chicago the same day so I could see a girl I’d just met. How somehow or other, despite my unwashed, mutton-chopped, jump-suited state, I ended up sleeping with her, the niece of a famous, now disgraced Chicago politician, in the back of her car on a residential part of Wicker Park.
How we had to call Buddy Stubbs, our older, somewhat legendary guitarist, who had wrecked his car in Nevada, but planned to meet us in New York, and tell him the tour was off. How David Jones had said, “I love you” to Buddy during that phone call, and how he, a somewhat reserved Southern gentleman, had paused a moment and said, “I love you too.” How Buddy made New York, which hadn’t gotten word of our cancellation, and played the gig anyway.
How Jubal and David and I journeyed home on the Amtrak, our tour abandoned, returning bedraggled and depressed to the community that had put up money to send us on the road and spread the word of Mendocino’s music scene. How we recovered as a band, in one form or another, but never ventured far from home again.
Actually, some of those things I’ve never told before, the more salacious parts, but these pictures, recently scanned and posted by Keith, bring back those stories. Jubal is dead now, Buddy too, while arbitrarily I’m still here, certainly not out of an abundance of caution, with a shitload of memories and some songs. Thanks Keith for sharing these pictures and reminding me of when I was really young and fucking crazy and hanging out with the coolest people on the planet on a nightly basis. I regret nothing, not a thing.