No Depression Blog: When Joy Was Young And Happy

Lightning, Phoenix, AZ © thenotoriousmark

Transmission From Cucurbitacea #444 When Joy Was Young And Happy
By Kevin Russell
September 16, 2011

Cab ride to the airport was a good one. We all know the wild diversity with which cab rides can vary. Today as I departed for ABI I was fortunate enough to have a smart, talkative Kenyan-American driver. We first discussed the various electronic dispatch systems available to taxi companies and the future of such dispatch systems. He knew of a system in Paris that would contact the customer when a particular cab accepted their electronic request. They would be told by email or text when to expect their cab. This morphed into weird weather talk. Or, drought bashing. Central Texas is in the throes of the worst drought ever. So this is an endless topic of discussion and concern for all of us here. The concept was hatched there in that yellow car to undertake a massive public works project as part of Pres. Obama's jobs program; a national system of canals, channels and aqueducts to redistribute water from surplus to areas of deficit. As we worked our way through the many hurdles that would have to be overcome to accomplish this task we fell into the somber realization of a highly polarized and corrupt cult on Capitol Hill. I often suggest that term limits would be helpful. He told the story of how Kenya made term limits of two two-year terms for her parliament. He said Parliament immediately made laws providing themselves with full pension for their terms of service. Basically they made sure they would all maintain the wealthy, influential life style they have always enjoyed as the ruling elite. Then they have sat about using their powerful influence to keep their friends in power protecting there self interests at the expense of the common people. Like roaches they always get what they want. It is nearly impossible to stop them. To eradicate them would risk doing more harm than good to our constitution, or so I have been told.

I was dumped into Airport World. Immediately I saw max and Claude in milieu of controlled chaos. We exchanged pleasantries as we underwent processing at the secure checkpoint. The most bizarro thing was Jimmy's hair. Since I had seen him last he had gone from looking like a graying Allen Collins (circa '73) to something like a hair dyed rockabilly John Cale. I ignored it as he and I discussed our impending venture into the lonely violent west. If one does not know whether someone has indulged in vanity or engaged in comedy it is cause for old fashioned politeness. Just the same when one explores such alterations in appearance a certain amount of cruelty must be expected if not accepted. We are none of us "withering violets." though we completely support and respect the rights and wishes of all withering violets to the full extent of the law. Withering Violets have the same rights as such diverse groups as; Womanizing Delinquents, Plagerizing Media Whores, Aggressive Sadists, Mono-Cultural Platonist's, Multi-Cultural Irony Technicians, Honorable Chameleons, Sober Sophists, Shadow People, Straw Dogs, garden variety villains, petty thieves and vandals. Furthermore all Withering Violets are encouraged to exercise their rights to wither as "violettly" as they wish without prejudice, discrimination or reprimand.

Claude immediately called Jimmy out on his hair trip. Jimmy explained a long held curiosity about dying his hair. Change is good I think. To physically alter oneself changes the way one feels and the way others see and interact with. This can often lead to one acting different or making unusual choices. I thought for a moment about all of us dying our hair. But, I have no hair really to speak of save for me beard. Why is it that the beard grays before the scalp?

Flying on game day usually leads to a tough show. Most of us get up early to get the kids to school. Then we get on a plane and fly into another time zone. In this case we landed in the PST. two hours behind our inner clocks. That means we took the stage at 11:30 our time. And we played until about 2am Texas time. I would be lying if I said we weren't a little ass dragging during the Phoenix show. Still we enjoyed it. The good people at the Compound Grill made it easy for us. We appreciate that very much.

Now Phoenix is a unique kind of place. Honestly it is kinda weird at first impresssion. Built on a grid the roads are flat and straight and seem to go on forever in mile after mile of concrete, parking lots and "faux-adobe" strip malls. I shit you not, there were the same stores in massive retail colonies only a mile apart. It seemed that there were an unusually high number of mega Pet stores and office supplies. Now, I live in the burbs and have done my share of shopping at my monster stores. But, never had I seen such absolute adherence to this as a city planning concept. This place really feels like one big strip mall. Weird. I read about Rob Halford and how much he loves it there. He cited the lightning storms outside the window of his home over looking the valley as being," Heavy Metal Weather." he said he liked hiking through the desert for it's feeling of being in a wild American experience. And he mentioned a favorite place to get wings too. So, that about tells the tale.

Flagstaff was about 20 degrees cooler when we finally arrived up on the plateau. We arrived at the orpheum theater during some sort of street festival. It took us about two hours to set up, wire the stage and sound check. So many gremlins in the systems on this day slowed us down and kept us from using that time as productively as we had wished. Killed time until show joking around and talking shit with each other. Eagle Eye [Williamson] fits right in and holds his own in the comedic sparring that dominates our down time. Mundane topics like alternate timing and set list creation can become entertaining bouts of spontaneous verbal abuse, in a good way. A visit from Bob Graham and Walter Salas-Humara was a pleasant respite from our usual self deprecating carnage. A possible Humara-Gourds performance did not materialize, however, unfortunately. We are long time fans anf friends of Mr. Silo. But Eagle Eye joined us on lap steel for a Gin and Juice in the encore. During the show a massive thunder storm erupted over down town Flagstaff. At one point a lightning strike knocked out some of our power. We just kept on playing. A late night of cold pizza at a cheap hotel watching a replay of the Notre Dame- Michigan game was nice. It may sound dismal, but it's pretty fun actually. We got to bed late and had to wake up early for the Ravens-Steelers game. Ravens are Thenotoriousmark's home team. He was psyched to watch them completely route the three rivers rascals. On to LA for a video shoot, some grippin' and grinnin' with our pals at Vanguard Records. California here we come!!!!

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