A Day In the Life (Of a Touring Musician with Too Much Exxon and Not Enough Energy): July 15, 2010
I wake to the sound of vuvuzelas. I don’t know how, or why, or from where, but there they are. If going back to sleep is an option, I’m picking it, then again, then again…
Going back to sleep isn’t really an option. I gots places to be. Like Philadelphia, tonight, for a show, and DC, later tonight, to sleep. But right now I’m in Brooklyn, and I’m pantless. One thing at a time, Chris.
On R train, somewhere between earth and hell, somewhere between Brooklyn and Manhattan, on my first of four modes of transportation today. My car is in New Jersey, chilling, and I’m coming to get her.
Walking from Times Square to Pier 79. I have a guitar and messenger bag strapped to my back and an overloaded suitcase lagging behind me. I am hitting every tourist in New York with my travelwares, and everywhere I go I am in someone’s way. Also worth noting that I look like a tourist right now, which is to say if this were an average day for me in Manhattan, I would hate myself.
The walk is between seven and thirty blocks, takes me between fifteen and ninety minutes, and the temperature is around “hellish.” Also, the world smells like garbage and I’m already exhausted and Pandora just assumed I want Wham at this moment.
I don’t want Wham at this moment.
On the bright side, I am wearing pants.
11:54AM, Weehawken, NJ:
Reunited with Ruby and pointed South for the first time in weeks. Sun? Shining. Springsteen? Rocking. Caffeine? Coursing through my veins like a nuclear missile of happiness. Toll roads deter me not: I’m a new man.
12:32PM, Somewhere in Pennsylvania:
I’ve seen three states in the last hour. Little do I know that I’m just getting warmed up.
1:54PM, Ardmore, PA:
Hello, understated strip malls! Greetings, luxury vehicles! Howdy, cougars in expensive sunglasses! It feels great to be here. Thank you, thank you, thank you for having me.
4:04PM, Ardmore, PA:
A squadron of kids just surrounded me in Starbucks. Here’s what actually happened: I’m typing an email on my laptop a back corner of Starbucks. Nine teenagers enter Starbucks, bypass the “buy stuff here so you can be in this place” section, race to my section, pull up chairs, aggressively form a circle around me, and then do not talk to each other. They just sit, all staring at me while I pretend to type something of substance, rock out to the earbuds, and ignore them.
If I get attacked here, will a cougar in expensive sunglasses come to my rescue? Start the Audi, honey.
5:13PM, Ardmore, PA:
Hey look! An apothecary! Next door to the tannery, and the blacksmith.
8:01PM, Milkboy Coffee, Ardmore, PA:
About five minutes before my set, and I’m chilling at the venue, which is a large independent coffee house with great sound and a really nice staff, and my body says, “hey, you’re kinda tired, maybe take a nap,” and my head says, “you’ve gotta be kidding me.” My guitar says, “let’s do this, compadre,” and my voice says, “mic check,” and we’re off and running.
The thing about show days is that all physical needs are deferred until after the set. Tired? Sleep after the set. Hungry? Eat after the set. Need to catch up on work? After the set. Driving to DC? After the set.
The problem about show days is that, as you can see, these post-set needs aren’t congruent. How are you driving to the next city and napping at the same time? Semi-successfully, at best. I’m about to find out.
9:41PM, Ardmore, PA:
I thank the kind folks at Milkboy, apologize to the other artists for being “that guy” who skips out early, and head toward DC. I am that guy. Ugh.
11:06PM, Somewhere, MD:
The guy in the Tiger Mart had a Southern accent. We’ve officially reached that latitude.
11:28PM, Baltimore, MD:
Wahoo! I love driving through/past major cities without stopping, especially cities like Baltimore that are unassailably cool and tied to a pop cultural benchmark (The Wire). Somewhere out there, Jay Landsman is getting some pit beef. And Snoop’s on the prowl. And a “McNulty” type is looking for a drink or six. Ah, the blurred lines between reality and fantasy and….
11:29PM, Baltimore, MD:
Yep, I’m getting pulled over.
11:37PM, Baltimore, MD:
The bad news: you can’t switch lanes in a tunnel. The worse news: I didn’t see that sign. The worst news: I switched lanes twice, directly in front of the cop, because I didn’t know I was breaking a law. The good news: the cop apologized when he gave me the citation. So, I’ve got that going for me.
11:59PM, Washington, DC:
Getting close to my destination, which is a party near DuPont Circle. I’ve got directions, I’ve got gas, I’ve got caffeine, I’ve got my obligatory ticket out of the way, and I’ve got OK Computer blasting out the moonroof. Spirits are high.
12:03AM, Washington, DC:
My directions have led me to a place that looks like a set for the first Ninja Turtles movie. The only things missing are giant rats, smoke fuming off the street, and the foreboding tones of an synthesized oboe. I don’t know where I am, but I’m guessing this isn’t the party.
12:19AM, Washington, DC:
This is the party. Turns out the party is 1960’s themed, and everyone’s dressed like a combination of Don Draper (1962 theme, you know) and Colonel Sanders (lots of ex-SEC fratboys). I didn’t know about the party’s theme. I’m wearing what I always wear, which is to say I’m “appropriately dressed.” I meet my buddy, who is an ex-SEC fratboy himself, and we have a big ole time that leads us…
12:43AM, Washington, DC:
To the roof! Where an impromptu GlamourShots photo session happens, along with the requisite “whoo’s!” you’d expect, and where I finally collapse with a dum-dum in my mouth. This means it’s time to go “home.”
1:06AM, Washington, DC:
But not yet. Because I’m now the ride home. Which is great, because nobody should risk driving at this point, but it’s not great, because my car’s small and there are now five people in the backseat. If you’ve ever seen Ruby, or can envision Ruby, five people cannot fit in the backseat. Three people can’t (really) fit in the backseat. Five people in that backseat, even if they’re on their best behavior, is de facto dirty.
1:51AM, Washington, DC:
There is a couch. I aim for it. I fall. I hit it! Success!
Lights out, Washington.
So, that was one Day in the Life. Six states, four modes of transportation, nearly 24 hours, one show played, one party attended, eighteen gallons of caffeine consumed, and one very great (short) night’s sleep. And to think it all started with a vuvuzela…
Meanwhile, there have been four Days in the Life since then. Thankfully, they’ve been filled visiting with friends, seeing family, and driving through some of the prettiest stretches of country anywhere.
And now I’m in Knoxville, I’m back in Tennessee, and I’m waiting to play a show tonight. It’s a little sweaty, and plenty hot, and it’s tiring, and exciting, and it feels strangely familiar. It feels a lot like I’ve been here before. It feels a little like home.
I’ll close with some photos from the past 4 days, which say more than I’m fit to at this point. Suffice it to say the last four days with friends and family has been great.
What have y’all been up to?