Monday
Oct132014

Day 13

I wake up with a couple hours of sleep and get out of my car to stretch my legs.  The sun is starting to come up on a cloudy day and I am exhausted.  I acquire some coffee from the rest stop coffee shop and travel East towards Buffalo.

My lack of sleep makes for a painfully tiring, long drive and I stop at another coffee shop to charge my phone and acquire much needed caffeine.  I smell bad and haven’t changed my clothes or even taken my shoes off for days.  I get disapproving stares from both customers and employees as I plug in my laptop and they realize that I am going to be staying there for a while.   I am so tired I am nodding off as I try to organize the day ahead of me.

After a couple of hours I decide to try to check out Niagra Falls before I head over to the venue for the 5:30 load in.  I pack up belongings and drive to the Niagra Falls park (which is free!) but all the parking lots are under construction and I can’t park.  I eventually find a 20 minute parking space near Three Sisters Island and hastily walk towards the gigantic falls.  Once I arrive I feel like I am in a dream.  I am surrounded by fog and the falls are so gigantic I can’t even get a proper photo of them.  The water falls so violently it feels like I am witnessing a large scale natural disaster.  I am unable to comprehend how there is a enough water on the planet to allow Niagra Falls to exist in a constant state of propulsion. Canada looks like the land of Oz across the rainbow streaked mist.

I snap out of my daze when I realize I have to run back to my car or get a parking ticket.  I jog back across the park and get to my car in time.  I want to see if I can cross the border to Canada and view Niagra falls from the other side but when I get to the Rainbow Bridge I realize I am out of time and need to go to The Forvm to load my gear in.

Once I arrive I am met by the ultra organized Booker/Promoter Greg Burt who turns out to be a really nice guy.  I am the first one there and I load in all my gear and plug my phone in to charge.  The Venue is really big and has a nice big stage.  Greg has similar music interests as me and plays me some music he is working on while I backline my lights on the stage.  Eventually the other bands show up and the show gets underway.

First up is BlurrAngels, a female fronted EBM(ish) group who does a pretty good set.  Blue Lazer is second and is very bizarre.  They seem to just jam out music while the frontman talks over the set and asks puzzling questions such as “How many donkeys exist?”  I ponder this question the rest of the night and wonder if anyone knows…
Garda plays an electronic set with technical guitar parts and an interesting gear set up.  I play 4th and feel like it is a good performance although I have the first technical difficulty of the tour with my lights.  Third Realm plays last and does a good set that reminds me a lot of old Seattle goth/industrial bands I used to play with.  Overall the lineup is really compatible and the show is enjoyable.

I make about $40 and am given a ton of pizza at the end of the night AND I meet a photographer from DCL Photography who promises to send me some pictures of the show.  Once again I have nowhere to stay so I hit the road and drive towards my next destination.  Eventually I get so tired that it is a struggle to keep my eyes open so I pull of at another rest stop (now called “service stations in New York”  and fall asleep in my stinky, sweat-soaked clothes.

Tuesday
Oct142014

Day 14

The air is warm and humid.  I open my eyes and see grey clouds slowly drifting high above my windshield.  I open my car doors and get out to see the mostly empty parking lot of the rest area.  My wet clothes have caused chafing in my armpits and hips.  My back aches from loading all the gear.  My calf muscles cramp up when I walk around from sleeping in the driver seat.  I haven’t been able to get more than 3 hours of sleep a night for a while and I haven’t physically been able to even lay down for 3 nights.  I am in bad shape and have a weightless dreamy feeling as I make my way to the bathroom.

I have reserved a campsite on a lake deep in the Adirondacks and want to make haste arriving there.  It will be my best chance at getting much needed rest.  I am smart enough to write down all the directions for the campsite before my phone loses all of its charge and start my long drive.

The lack of sleep is causing me to have slight visual and aural hallucinations.  While driving I think I see someone moving  in the passenger seat out of the corner of my eye but I know no one is there.  I hear my name whispered behind me but know I am just tripping out.  I drive further and further into the hills and watch large flocks of black birds flying under the heavy clouds in the opposite direction of which I am headed.  I lose phone reception after passing through small towns and defunct mining communities.

I arrive at my campsite and am pleased to find that there is a power outlet.  There would be a pleasant looking view of a lake and some hills if it wasn’t for the threatening looking clouds.  I quickly set up my tent and plug in my electronics for charging.  The sun is starting to go down and a man with a large dog emerges from the woods and greets me.   He is the owner of the campsite and informs me there is a bathroom and shower down the street but I have to enter a trailer park to access them. He wishes me a good night and walks down the road with his dog.

I have to use the bathroom so I follow his directions to the trailer park.  It looks like the trailers are used as vacation houses in the summer because the trailer park appears to be completely void of life.  I walk through rows of empty trailer homes and  I find the bathroom and use it and note that there is a coin op shower in the small shack as well.  I don’t have any quarters on me but intend to come back and use it tomorrow.

This place gives me the creeps and resembles the woods from the Blair Witch Project.  I get in my tent and play some Fairway Solitaire to cheer me up.  My eyelids eventually get heavy and I hear a strange banging sound echoing through the woods.  I hear strange animal noises.  I hear footsteps on gravel outside my tent which alarms me.  I open my tent door and realize there is no gravel around my tent for feet to make that kind of sound.  I lay in the dark listening and hear more cautious footsteps on gravel and the voice of an old woman saying “Helloooooooooooo” “Excuse me” “Is anyone there?”
I open the flap of my tent and just see darkness and hear the wind blowing through the trees.   No one is there.  I am so tired I am losing my mind.  The ability to physically be able to lay down and sleep is amazing but my unhinged mind is weirding out so hard sleep will not come.  I hear the intro to the Smith’s song “How Soon is Now?” play and loop over and over outside my tent far into the woods or in my mind.  It never breaks into the song and I eventually am able to fall asleep.

Wednesday
Oct152014

Day 15

I wake up in my tent.  The day is windy and overcast.  I am disgusting and decide to walk to the shower.  I grab some quarters and make the long walk through the trailer park.  The shower stall is very small but the water is warm and relaxing.  I realize I forgot my towel somewhere and use my pajama pants to dry off.  Not wanting to put them back on I just walk back to my camp in my underwear.  The place is so isolated and abandoned I don’t feel uncomfortable doing so.

I pack up my belongings and finish charging my electronics.  I make the long drive back to civilization and point my car towards Boston.  At this point I am no longer avoiding tolls and it takes about 4 hours to arrive at the venue.  I am early so I take advantage of the time and go to a Laundromat and do some laundry while recharging my phone.   I watch the president assure the public that Ebola is nothing to worry about on the Laundromat’s television.  Boston is unusually hot and humid and I am sweating as I fold my laundry and head back to the venue.

Whitehaus ends up being a DIY venue in the basement of a large white house.  I am greeted by a Greek immigrant who helps me load all my gear into the basement.  I walk through the house and see a familiar face. Egan Budd from Xiphoid Dimentia is talking on his cell phone and he waves a ‘hello’ as I explore the house.  I acquire some water and head back downstairs to start the arduous task of setting up all my lights. 

The openers are Hard Rugs who do an awesome set using saxophones, a reel to reel tape loop and drummer doing bizarre quiet noises that escalate into jazzy flurries.  I play second and feel like I do a good set.  Dark Rodeo plays and is a two piece post-rock(ish) band that does interesting arpeggiated guitar parts that are simultaneously melodic and chaotic which are backed by complimentary drums.  Father Murphy then plays a pretty moody set with a fairly complicated set up.  Lastly Xiphoid Dimentia plays a crushing set that is atmospheric and rhythmic.

After the show I am asked by Egan if I have a place to stay and I say I do.  I am asked by the venue if I have a place to stay and I say I do.  I check my phone and have received an address to a friend’s house in Sommerville and their new phone number as well as an apology for not making the show because they were sick via facebook.  I head out to their house and arrive at approximately 2AM and park at the address I have been given.  I call my friends new number and it is not working.  The fact that they gave me the wrong number makes nervous about them giving me the right address.  I don’t want to walk up to a strangers house and ring the doorbell at 2am.  I message my friend on facebook that I have arrived and get no response.  I am so tired that I decide to just pass out in my car but then realize that I look like a crazy homeless person and if I am sleeping at the wrong address I will surely get the cops called on me.

I decide I should go to the front door of the house and knock softly.  If my friend is expecting me they will hear the knock and let me in.   I open the gate of the house, approach the front door and knock quietly.  I get no response.  I stand in the front yard having a debate about knocking louder and decide I have no choice.  I can’t sleep in my car if this is the wrong address.

I approach the front door and give it a good knocking.  I wait.  I hear loud footsteps approaching the door and hope that my friend heard me and I can finally get some sleep.  Suddenly the door violently swings open and a half naked man yells “ITS 2AM IN THE MOTHERFUCKING MORNING WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU KNOCKING ON MY DOOR MOTHERFUCKER!?!??!!??!”


I am not sure if this is a roommate or if I am at the wrong house.  I sheepishly reply that I am looking for my friend and that she should be expecting me.  He screams  “FUCK YOU!!!” and slams the door in my face.  I stand there for a few seconds not sure if I should wait to see if my friend comes to the door (surely they couldn’t sleep through what just happened) or if I should flee before they call the cops.  I decide not to take any chances and go to my car and take off.

I don’t know where I am going. I check my phone and it is dead.  I decide I should find some place to charge my phone and drive and drive and drive.  I can’t find a rest stop, or open restaurant or an open gas station.  I seem to be just doing loops around the Boston freeway system.  I have some friends in Salem and try to follow the freeway signs there.  I am hoping I can find Salem and then park and just wait until something opens where I can charge my phone but everywhere I am going looks residential.  I can’t find a place to park that isn’t in someone’s driveway.  I am completely lost at this point and somehow end up back in Boston. 

I am almost out of gas and use my debit card to fill up my tank at a random closed gas station.  I inspect the building for an outdoor electrical outlet and find nothing.  I take the opportunity to stretch my legs but I am so tired I feel like I am having an out-of-body experience as I walk around the gas pumps.
I get back in my car and decide that I need to get out of the Boston area so I can find a proper rest area to sleep at.

I drive more but am caught in some sort of freeway loop.  I try to go East, West, North, South I keep ending up back in Boston.  I am so tired that I am nodding off and I am crazily screaming to keep myself awake.  I feel like I am too sleepy to be safely driving my car but I can’t find anywhere to park and get out.  Feeling like I am in a dream, I take a random exit hoping for somewhere to park.  I drive and find some sort of unlabeled park with its gates open.  I enter the park and keep driving uphill. Up and Up and Up.  There are places to pull off and park but they are gated up and inaccessible.  I finally reach the top of the hill and there are cars parked on the right side of the road.  It appears to be some sort of overlook.  The sun is starting to come up and the low clouds are a dark black and pink.  Below I see a thick forest and a cell phone tower with slowly blinking red lights.  I pull out my pillow and attempt to get some sleep but notice something odd.

More cars are pulling into the parking lot.  Each car has one elderly man in it.  All of the elderly men look similar and have the same haircuts.  They get out of their cars as they arrive and engage each other in conversation.  The scene is so bizarre I wonder if I fell asleep at the wheel and have died and just didn’t know. Some sort of death dream purgatory where people drive in loops until they are old and grey and have no choice to watch the sun come up at this hellish cliff.  Who are these guys? Why would they all convene here before the sun comes up?! Some of them glance at me as they are talking to each other and I realize I am too creeped out to ever sleep in this parking lot.

I groan and start my car back up and drive back to the freeway feeling completely out of my mind and…

Thursday
Oct162014

Day 16

…I am now caught in Boston rush hour traffic.  I slowly drudge along in a never ending trail of brake lights.  I am so tired that tears are running down my face.  I try to have a conversation with myself to keep myself from falling asleep but all I can do is shakily sob the phrase “what have I done to deserve this!!?!?”  over and over as I regrettably make my way back towards Boston.

After sitting in gridlocked traffic for hours the sun is finally up and it has started to rain.  At approximately 10AM I see a sign for a Mcdonalds at the next exit and pull over.   I have been driving in circles for approximately 6.5 hours at this point.  I enter the Mcdonalds and go to the bathroom and splash some cold water on my face to wake myself up.  I go to the counter and order some coffee. I find an outlet and finally charge my phone.  I contact my friends Melissa and Jay in Salem and ask directions to their house.  They are new parents and I feel like I am imposing but they don’t seem to mind me barging in on their life, and invite me to stay the night.

I get some directions and find out that I need to kill some time before they get home around 5PM.  The coffee picks me up a bit and I am excited to have a GPS again.  I am still tired but am able to drive out to Salem in the terrible traffic.  It is pouring rain as I get into town.  I park and feed the meter so I have 4 hours to wander around.  I find a café and drink a lot of coffee and eat breakfast.  I research things to do in Salem and then wander around in the rain doing some siteseeing.  I am getting my second wind and feel less despair but the turbulent night has given the day a dreamlike quality.

Salem, MA day off #uglytour14

A photo posted by jake alejo (@jakeuglyface) on Oct 10, 2014 at 11:58am PDT

 

Salem in October is the most Halloweenish place I have ever seen! I am in a pretty good mood when I am finally able to meet up with my friends and am introduced to their new daughter.  I receive a fruit smoothie, edamame and pizza. Its great to see friends living happily and doing well! I get to talk and catch up. We discuss the horrors of child birth and I eventually pass out on their couch.

Friday
Oct172014

Day 17

I wake up on the couch well rested.  The baby slept through the night without crying.  Melissa has already left for work and I get a walking tour of Salem from Jay and the baby, Elinor.  Her face transitions from expressions of extreme joy to hard contemplation as Jay navigates the streets. He points out weird shops I should check out, filming locations of the movie Lords of Salem, and shows me some tourist attractions.  We stop at a vegetarian café called Life Alive for breakfast/lunch and I eat the healthiest meal I have had on tour. 

I eventually leave Salem and make my way to Connecticut.  The speed limit dramatically drops from 70 to 55 as soon as I enter the state.  This has a strange effect on traffic: approximately 85% of the drivers slow down and the remaining 15% dangerously try to weave through traffic to maintain their speed of 70+ MPH.  I see one driver in particular speed down the right shoulder of the freeway to avoid the massive bulk of law abiding drivers. 

Eventually traffic comes to a halt and I creep along until I pass a nasty accident.  It appears that the shoulder driving speeder from earlier had side-swiped another car, went into a ditch and flipped over.  After a weirdly satisfying rubbernecking experience traffic clears up and I am on my way to the venue.

Once I arrive at the Amity Teen Center I realize I have about 90 minutes to kill so I go to a coffee shop.  I break out my laptop and start plotting my course to the next shows and realize I have a big problem.  I have booked a show at a Gallery in upstate New York on October 18th which is a 5.5 hour drive from Connecticut.  Jeremiah (Automation Records) had booked a show for me in Baltimore on October 19th which is an 8 hour drive from the gallery in New York.  After my nightmarish drive in Boston I know I am not physically capable of safely making drives over 5 hours.  I eventually decide I need to cancel my show at the gallery so I can just drive from CT to Baltimore.  Even though I got one good night of sleep I am in no shape to make those drives.  I send an email to cancel and apologize.  I really want to go up there and am full of doubt but feel I made the right decision.

I head back over to the Amity Teen Center and there are Uglyhead flyers everywhere. 

The venue is vacant.  I am instructed to load my gear into a room off the right of the stage.  I am charged for a bottle of water. Another band shows up but there is no audience.  We both play our sets to each other. I am not allowed to use my fog machine so the light show kinda sucks. The show is over early and I am not paid and I sell no merch. Instead of driving to New York for the gallery show I make a 3 hour drive over to Bethlehem, PA to visit my friend Erica.

Throughout the tour I have been intentionally developing and maintaining a façade, appearing as a crazy homeless person living in a ghetto looking car.  I haven’t shaved, I smell like rotten butthole, my clothes are worn out and I have that crazy look in my eyes that only days of sleep deprivation can get you. The paint on my car is peeling and I have a mismatched door on it from a junkyard and it looks like it is full of garbage.  I look like someone with nothing of value.  Nobody has messed with me and no one has attempted to break into my car.  Mission accomplished.

One downside to this appearance is that when I show up to venues to play a show people think I am a homeless crazy person and are initially repulsed by me.  They won’t approach me or talk to me until after I have played my set and they see that I am a musician and not some weirdo who has wandered in off the streets.   The second downside is that police don’t like me.  I am immediately pulled over after I enter Bethlehem, PA. 

After the cop cautiously approaches my suspicious vehicle I explain my story.  When he asks me where I am coming from my mind draws blank and I can’t remember the name of the city where the Amity Teen Center is.  After sitting in silence for what feels like forever I just reply “Connecticut.”  He asks for my license and takes it back to his car.  I sit and wait while people drive by and yell, heckling me for getting pulled over. 

The cop eventually returns and is surprisingly nice.  He asks me a few questions about touring and tells me I need to check out the casino while I am in town.  I don’t get any sort of ticket or warning and he just sends me on my way.  I arrive at Erica’s house at approximately 1:30 AM.  She is still awake and has some food and beverage waiting for me.

Erica has a really cool older house that she shares with her fiance Ramon and his daughter as well as 3 Afghan hounds (one of which I used to dog sit in Seattle).  She has a spare bedroom with an insanely comfortable bed for me to use.  I catch up with Erica a little bit, watch some TV and eventually fall asleep in the very luxurious bed feeling like I made the right decision canceling the show NY.