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By Byron "Carnal Yodeler" Coley
Tour diary taken from Take It (I did, thank you very much) issue 6.
The summer brought the Flesh Eaters on a three week tour of America. Hiring one proud Byron Coley as their "Road Manager," by tours' end a then weary and humbled Coley redefined his function as "babysitter for the band." This seems odd though, as Coley spent his time wandering off in each city to scavange used-record stores, harass old friends, and (try to) rekindle old flames (unsuccessfully). Besides abandoning the group at each (of the many) Golden Opportunity, he was responsible for drummer Chris Wahl's black eye (given gratuitously in a friendly scuffle during dinner), cracking guitarist Don Kirk's head open (explaining to police that he had overturned him, endeavoring to shake out a pick lodged in Don's head), and sneaking pieces of meat into bassist Robyn Jameson's tofu casserole, giving him a ruddy complexion. (Later "convincing" an embarrassed Robyn to unlock his door, and with no time to spare hot-tail to the club.) As for singer Chris Desjardins, Coley, in a rare fleeting moment of shocking immodesty claimed "I tell him everything he knows." Somehow amidst all his babysitting, surgery, and tutorial duties he found time to keep a tour diary of which an excerpt is presented here uncut and unedited.
List o' characters: Chris D - C; Chris Wahl - W; Don Kirk - D; Robin Jameson - R.
7/11 HWD, CA: Kiss Lili goodbye, get in a rented van that's built Ram tough. My ass falls asleep afore we hit West Covina but perks up t'listen to an intereatin' monologue on cb where some old joker's carryin' on 'bout how he wants nothin' more'n t'find a coffee maker w/the liquid capacity o' his current GE model that keeps joe as hot as Mr. Coffe does. D feels that we're listenin' in on a big-time drug transaction. Rather than concede t'his argument I re-enter the land o' nod. Next thing I know I'm makin' a real wide U turn into the Las Vegas IHOP (which features slot machines & a guy who won't leave the commode). Hookers here all look like Secretariat & a conversation re: bettin' parlors ensues. When I arouse we're somewhere in CO & we stop at Short Dirk Waterfall t'take some snaps & get C's shoes wet. A coupla these nature boys "reckon" they'd like "t'settle down 'round these here parts." I return t'my snooze.
7/12 DEN, CO: At 5 in the mornin' Hojo's has two other patrons & both of 'em're waffle-woofin' cops. Drug users among our number become somewhat edgy, but the troopers finally leave & we make mincemeat o' 15 bowls o' steamin' hot porridge. Next concious moment occurs in Des Moines, IO & where the fact that we're no longer in LA's driven home when our wanderin' minstrels head towards a restaurant only t'have its doors shut & locked in their mugs. The owners stand behind the glass, shake their heads & look concerned. Simple country folk, they're apparently unnerved by the presence o' young people wearin' sunglasses this late in the day. I suppose another possiblity's that they thought "the gang" was the cast o' "Fantasy Island" & were simply indicatin' that their humble buttery had no tiny seats to accomodate Herve Villechaise. Whatever it was, the Ramada Inn had no such compunctions.
7/13 MAD, WI: After several interestin' detours through barren fields o' shit we arrive at the house o' Cole Markland (ex kingpin o' White Noise) 'round 4:30 am. And while at least one o' these sidetrips was self-imposed, I must say that the directions we got were exceedingly duff. So befuddled were we by the convolutions o' downtown MAD that f'r a while we actually thought we'd been hoodwinked & that the "house w/the orange roof" specifically referred to was none other'n the Hojo Motor Inn. At any rate we got there, shot shit f'r a while & passed out. Cole proved t'be a great guy (w/a slew o' Lee Ving stories) & as he works at Merlyn's (the scheduled site o' that evenin's fun) we got an early afternoon tour o' the place. Nice. Even nicer's the Plaza restaurant where burgers are king & we while away many hrs there tellin' Cole what a swell gent he is.
MAD ('r Mad City as the locals call it) has the ambience o' the prototype college town (w/most every lad & lass decked out in bike & backpack) & true t'my experience w/such places the local porn store has a petite clientele & a lotta homo loops (only one lezbo, can ya stomach that?); however each peep token has one o' those Kama Sutra horoscope things like ya see on flocked posters so that's OK. Sound check's OK too and Cole shows me the ropes on Donkey Kong while "Drag My Name in the Mud" rips chunks from both PA & ears.
Set tonight's a tad sloppy & loud as a fucker. Multiple cord fuckups make f'r some problems but the volume is in earnest. I wallow in the wonderful excess of it all, but not everyone shares my views: doorman holds hands o'er ears as if they were gonna up & scoot; & a lotta the attendin' butt-plugs in white trousers do not seem overly pleased when the speaker wind pins them to the back wall (even though their gyrations make for a keen visual treat, esp. when they writhe under the ultraviolet light). Is this a bit much? Neither Cole nor his pal Amy nor myself think so, but the kids seem t'be far more comfortable w/the Alleycats' brand o' muscle. After the show Serge (the guy who owns the place & a real sharp dresser) buys drinks f'r "the house" even though attendance was not what it shoulda been (at least partly because the skaters on the street outside could hear every note clear as a whistle & figured "why pay up?"). When asked what I thought o' the show, "Neat" was my retort, but the band did not concur & made me drive 'em around while they yipped & mewed 'bout all the problems like a buncha crybaby coyotes. They finally shut up in the wee hrs o' the morn & I got some shut-eye, but only after havin' had t'pass on a proposed tour o' MAD'a late-night eateries. Quelle domage!
7/14 MAD, WI: Wake up, cruise town & almost buy a leave it to Beaver t-shirt (which W & I were gonna customize t'read "Flesheaters' Tour '82 - Tooling For Beaver" in honor o' the Meatmen's classic "Tooling for Anus"), but fag clerk says they're ten bucks & I balked rathern' give him another sawbuck f'r KY. Split f'r Milwaukee. Drive f'r a while & end up at Irene J's (a bar that's been open since beer was invented & also serves as the home roost f'r the Ace Pigeon Club). The Pagans once sang 'bout the "Street Where Nobody Lives" & this place's right at the end of it. Ugliest, grimmest town I e'er did see. 'Course C thinks the decrepit old warehouses're "cool" & in fact likes the whole set-up; 'til we find out that "promoter" Kenny Baldwin had done none o' the work that his title infers & the only fliers're the ones put up by openin' band Die Kreuzen. In their seasoned opine no one's gonna show 'cause: A) This place's 50 mi. from any beaten path they ever heard of; & B) It's rainin'. Ah well. Die Kreuzen're hot shit. Good songs, great gtr & plenty more. Reminiscent of a faster Social Distortion, they play a real nice set to not that many people while the two old ladies "mannin" the bar watch tv & say the noise bothers them not one iota. Meanwhile, a coupla hot-shots demonstrate some 'Waukee-brand skankin & I hear a bit 'bout the MIL scene from a guy named Dick who runs the local f.zine End of the World: mostly built round a pack o' skate crazies the last yr's seen more'n more people're crawl outta the woodwork, but things're still real unfocused. I wish 'em good luck.
FEs play one o' the best sets I've e'er seen from 'em. D says it's like when ya have great sex after a fight w/yr girlfriend, I tell him I wouldn't know about that. Anyhow, mastery o' the Stoogely arts doesn't seem t'be quite fast enough f'r some o' the most rad attendees but one guy (name o' Wayne K.) makes out like he's the FE's #1 fan: flingin' his drunken body 'round on the club's floor & shoutin' out all the lyrics. I'm impressed & give him a t-shirt (later he feels up one o' the old ladies & is dragged away singin' & cussin' by the authorities). As ya can imagine, this was pretty fun but then Baldwin rains on our party mood by forkin' o'er a mere 7.2% o' the guarantee. He claims the remainder'll be sent post-haste but pence one has yet to appear. Next time yr in MIL slip the guy a Mickey & when he wakes up tell him, "That was the best blowjob I ever had." Wonen oughta just punch him. Pack van, leave town.
7/15 MPLS, MN: Pull into this sleepy fishin' village 'bout 8:00 am & head o'er t'Dave Ahl's house. W makes good on his threat t'sleep f'r the first time since LA & it takes four stout vikings & a high colonic t'wake him. While this scene's "goin' down" the rest of us shampoo our clothes at one o' MPLS' world-famous launderettes & check out Oarfolkjokeopus. After hearin' 'bout this store f'r many yrs I'm still o'erwhelmed by its incredible selection o' singles & many autographed pics of Andy Schwartz (a former employee). About this time we're joined by Dave's musical confere Chris Osgood (ex-Stingray, EIEIO, Commandos, Gay Pirates, Speed Weiners, etc., current L73). After a short drive to his stately pagoda, Osgood displays one o' the finest objects e'er seen: a plexiglass toilet seat inlaid w/hypos, spansules & pills. Place of origin's an unfathomable mystery. Incredibly nice thing t'have.
Show this night's at 1st Ave./7th St. Entry - a small room off of a huge club (that recalls the Starwood t'some of our worldly travellers). Again billed w/the Alleycats, their soundman Steve takes audio chores f'r FE's as well. Workin' w/a very difficult room (only 'bout 40 feet from stage-front t'back wall) Steve comports himself admirably & the set goes down well. This seems t'be the first place that there're many people on intimate terms w/the band & though a goodly number of 'em arrive towards the end o' the set (due to a contradictory buncha ads) a veritable ball is had. Not just by the FE's either. Alleycat bassist Diane Chai's wearin' a mini skirt tonight & a number o' the fellas up front're bendin' o'er backwards t'catch her, uh, "eye." And who's among these leerin' chimooks but Minnesota's favorite son: Big Bob Dylan. Either crippled by medication, 'r coked outta his skull, Bobbo swayed the night away in a blue Hawaiin shirt & too-small aviator shades. Afterwards he stayed around & shook hands w/all his admirers. Wotta guy. He didn't even flinch when W said, "Hey, you really used t'make some great records." A pro? F'r Sure. (In an interestin' sidebar: when Zimmo showed up w/his kid f'r a X gig seme time later it was duly noted in the LA Times. He came t'this show simply 'cause he'd heard 'bout the bands & no one in LA said, "Boo.") After packin' up we drove 'round town f'r a while & finally settled down t'eat. While munchin" we were pleased to observe many drunken Indians. Then we drove t'Chicago.
7/16 Outside CHI, IL: 'Bout 10:00 am we pause at a gas station t'piss & who pulls up but the Alleycats. We're near the flight path of O'Hare Airport & when a DC-10 vanishes o'er some trees in the distance I'm able t'convince their soundman Steve that we're nowhere near any airport & that crashes happen here all the time. He's tired enough t'believe me f'r a minute & I return t'the van w/a song in my heart. Hey, pig butcher o' the world might not be so bad after all. Right. While lookin' through the 3 f'r a dollar bin at wax Trax I find...the Pagans' "Six & Change!" [OBIK: Tesco found a copy of Six N Change in the dollar bin at Wax Trax a year earlier. What gives?] Be still my heart. I've sought this thing f'r yrs & from this point on, I declare the tour a success.
Show tonight's at this old theatre that's got one o' the most mysterious backstage mazes y'ever saw & as if this isn't enough no one in the place's ever heard o' the band that was scheduled t'open - Dayton, OH's Toxic Reasons. Primed by their 45s I'd been anxious t'get a gander at the brawlers but it seems that the club owner manages this horrible fagabilly ('r catabilly if ya wish) band & it was them that opened. They were awful & one o' their members had the moxie t'come t'the dressin' room t'TELL us that everybody in X was a "bad junkie" ("How else could Billy Zoom play gtr like that?" Our little bobcat wondered.). Sheesh. Sent straight to zombieland by the idiotic posin's o' the aforementioned fops it took a few numbers f'r the FE's t'warm the chuckleheads up, but when they finally got movin' they pretty much refused t'stop & some diehards stayed 'round poundin' shit long enough that when I came down t'tell 'em that there was t'be "No More," I was made a liar. After a buncha unscheduled tunes the dorks finally shut up though, & I was able t'sneak off t'the Super Bowl Grill f'r a plate o' grease & some spoons. A friend later wrote me that he found the band to be "too intense" & I couldn't agree more. The Manor Motor Inn beckons.
7/17 CHI, IL: Findin' their "Pound o' Porridge" special t'be too good t'pass up, we spend three hrs in the Manor's stately coffee shop afore headin' off t'DET. Again, I find the environs t'be unfit f'r human consumption & C's entranced. The club (Clutch Cargo's)'s a former women's gym & while the pool downstairs lends a certain je ne sais quoi, the drop-in center f'r alcoholic parolees directly behind it detracts somewhat from its elegance. Still, the club's big & cool, & I wish ya coulda seen the routine the soundman went through during the check: he puts on this tape he made of a recent Cramps show, turns the volume up to 10 & proceeds t'stick his head inside every fuggin' speaker in the place. It was a spectacle fit f'r kings & here this guy was squanderin' it on us rooks. Good soundman too. In fact, the sound at this show was probably the best o' the whole tour. It was also the fastest.
Reckonin' that the top-billed Effigies'd draw an h.core crowd the decision was made t'play everything fast as possible. Jesus shit. They blew through the set as if they were searchin' f'r their mainline like fuckin' mad, & those skins that were familiar w/the band lucked the Hell out. The ones that weren't already hep t'the groove held way back however, provin' that their views on modern music're not too open. It was like they seemed t'be convinced that the Effigies were a faster, stronger band than the FE's & while the Ef's were real sharp (esp. gtr-wise) their BPM count was verifiably lower than the FE's & I defy anyone to tell me that there're more'n a handfulla groups that can match the FE's punch-for-punch. On a good night (& this was one) they blast out one o' the most levellin' rant/beat meshes ya can conceive of & if these prematurely bald miscreants woulda bothered t'look at function instead o' just form they woulda shat. Ah, fuck 'em. Ya can hear one o' DET's selections on the flexi, you tell me what thrash is will ya? Anyhow, everybody was happy after this one & after dodgin' Barry o' the Necros (who'd sworn that he was gonna bust into the van t'swipe my Pagans single) we sped off into the night only t'pull o'er in some rest stop t'sleep.
7/18 LANSING, MI: Day off's spent in some hotel room. W attempts t'turn his bass head into the Sistine Chapel, D & R tune into some tv show 'bout M. Monroe, C & I go to Iggy's favorite drive-in porno theatre but "pull out" early when mosquitos threaten us w/tiny tire irons (we were sorely outnumbered).
7/19 E. LANSING, MI: Another college town w/the gig scheduled in this really wholesome lookin' restaurant called Bunches. A guy from the Crucifucks works there & tells us not t'worry 'cause it's OK. After a while Tesco Vee (the genius behind the Meatmen & Touch + Go Recs) shows up, & w/one o' the skimpiest prompt sheets I ever espied proceeds t'interview the band. I don't wanna blow his cover but this guy's not like his image'd lead ya t'believe & he's got as good a handle on truly disturbin' noise as anyone I've ever met. Plays tapes of a great load o' stuff & some of it's top notch h.core scree (watch esp. hard f'r Meatmen's "Crip Kids" ep).
Set tonight's weird. Lotta new stuff gets played & some o' the longer ones tend t'lag a bit. Still, crowd acts like it enjoys it all & one long hair announces that he drove some godawful distance t'make it. Did this drivin' fool enjoy it? Fuck yeah. Heartened by a good reception in an odd little town we handed (figurative) stogies t'Tesco & his lovely fiancee & made tracks.
7/20 BUFFALO, NY: First taste o' East Coast Itai cookin' comes 'bout noon & my little angels snooze it off in the promoter David lives. David's this guy who's just outta his teens if he's outta them at all & of everyone dealt w/on the tour he's the one person who's fully earned the "promoter" title. He did fliers, made radio ads, set up a prime time radio interview (w/a fairly clueless dj) & packed about 300 people into a place called Mr. Goodbar on a Tuesday night t'see the FE's (w/the first set startin' right around midnight & no openin' band). A real sharpie, he even had the nerve t'say the followin' sentences t'C: "Hey, you know who you look like? Jack Nicholson. And I'll bet you even try to play that up, don't you, cowboy." Cowboy. Wow. I was impressed w/the kid & even if he's got 'bout the worst rec collection I've seen, he's gonna do some shit. This's not t'say that Mr. Goodbar's a great place t'play, mind, ya; there're no monitors & part o' the wall faces the "stage" from a distance o' some 5 ft, but David packed 'em right in. They didn't seem t'know quite what they were watchin' (vast majority of 'em looked like blue collar singles who own every Joe Walsh alb), but they attended & they paid money t'do so. Kay, Buffalo! The police were pretty nice too as they arrested neither D nor myself f'r "fightin'" on the sidewalk. "We're just fooling around, Sir." Bye, Buffalo!
7/21 NYC: Restin' at the palatial estate o' Thomas Alva Givan usually gives one the yearnin' t'live the good life always & this time was no exception. As we sat in his expansive Brooklyn backyard roastin' cats o'er the BBQ pit we all felt that someday a life like this might be made available to us as well. Later that night Tom threw one o' his room-mates out a 3rd floor window to open up some extra bunk space & all was well w/the world.
7/22 NYC: A tour o' the Times Square peeps began the day & a rousin' drive through the slums ended it. What happened inbetween's not all too clear (I was on medication this day) but what I remember's not all that glorious. Show that night was at the new Peppermint Lounge & all I can say's the sound was as bad as ya can imagine. The gtr & bass drum were so loud that they made R's Bass & C's voice all but non-existent, it was the worst FE's show I've seen (far as I know I've only missed this line-up 'bout 4 times) & I was pissed. None o' the the emotional carnage that makes makes their best sets so outstandin' was present, & I was desultory as all get-out (even though a peck o' puds who'd never seen the band were pretty pleased). Givan was mad too, but it was probably the inhuman amount o' beer he'd consumed (rather'n outraged aesthetics) "talkin'" when he started shovin' patrons around. Still it's hard t'tell.
7/23 PHILA, PA: Would you go into a place called The Love Bar that had as its main feature an old burnout who ran around yellin' 'bout how he turned in Lenny Bruce TWICE? Me neither. I slept in the van while a buncha 30 yr olds went cuckoo inside.
7/24 WASH, DC: Imagine wakin' up Howard Wuelfing at 7:00 in the mornin' & bein' greeted warmly. It's quite a treat. Howard has one o' the swankest personal rec collections I've seen (from Half Jap tapes t'Blowfly rap disks) & his room-mate/drummer Richie's no slouch either (even if he does sleep in the livin' room). Got t'listen to all sortsa good stuff plus check out Yesterday & Today Recs at long last, so the day was plenty fine. Night was good too. On a bill w/Panther Burns at the 9:30 Club, the FE's turned in a solid show &, even though I was a tad dissappointed that the FE's've decided t'dish up a lot less feedback, the fun was fun. Jad & David were there, Mike Heath was there, Howard was runnin' 'round crawin' 'bout how great it was & everything was hunky dory. It wasn't even too hot t'breathe 'r anything. We eventually ended up in some Palestinians-only pizza place & after not gettin' served f'r a while we drove around & yawned.
7/25 NYC: Back t'Givan's. Tom breaks 3 bottles of ether w/a magnesium baseball bat so we go t'Hoboken. Go t'the Amiis/Hubley residence t'listen t'the Wm. Shatner alb & prepare f'r the night's show at Maxwell's w/Chain Gang. Chain Gang're one o' the very best bands that've e'er existed & their set's a bruisin' restless hunk o' beauty. The FE's're blown outta the water & they put out like mofo's f'r a crowd o' NY's "heppest". Chairs're flyin', C continuously blasts off the stage t'land on his knees, the air's filled w/the very finest noise, Andy Schwartz's groovin' out & when Michael Hill calls f'r an Al Green song he gets it. Voted most fun night.
7/26 NYC: Fool around w/Tom's brass knuckles collection. R & D go hang glidin'; C shacks up w/Vanessa Del Rio; W "borrows" a car & drives it through the window of a Thai Restaurant. Leave f'r BOS.
7/27 BOS, MA: Feelin' that the band's come off as bland & bored in interviews I advise 'em to lie as much as possible. They do this & find it richly rewardin'. Stayin' at Valle Dwight's house in Allston we take a break t'visit her at work t'learn the intricacies o' computers. She tells us everythin' we need t'know & that too is rewardin'.
7/28 BOS, MA: After spendin' their day leisurely processin' information, the lads're excited t'discover that there are rats at the Rat. There are actually quite a few & W gives each one a pleasant Biblical name. Ebenezer quickly becomes a favorite but he scurries in terror as Wayout West take the stage. I remember Sam as a quiet guy who was often at Rebop Recs; what happened? He sure as hell raises one huge pile o' noise now, does he not? And howzabout when that other former shy rec clerk Dan Foole joined him? Talk about the meek inheritin' the earth. Sounded more like they were destroyin' it t'me. The audacity o' throwin' Randy Holden gtr licks into a screamin' cover of "I Wanna Be Yr Dog"'s 'bout as purely trash an aesthetic move as anybody's ever likely t'make & why the fuck isn't there a tape o' this show around? I wanna know.
FE's were on their turf tonight. Sound wasn't very good (gtrs & vocals sounded muddy) but they did the longest set o' the tour & there were still gumballs yellin' f'r more after a 4 song encore. C's pipes were 'bout as raw as they get but what the fuck're ya gonna do when ya got a buncha bravos yellin' shit like "Play every song you know?" Gotta humor 'em right? Right. So they did all this stuff & still there were unsatisfied pups. It was late though, & it was Wednesday so they didn't play everything, if they woulda done that the show wouldn't o' been out f'r a while. They know a lotta stuff. At last count they had 14 'r so songs they haven't waxed yet, & when ya consider that they're thinkin' o' bringin' back some tunes even older than "Home of the Brave" ya oughta get the idea that they've got material comin' out their collective ass. And the real skull-breaker o' the whole thing's that damn near every song's friggin' great.
7/29 BOS, MA: The tour goes on, I don't. More tired than my wildest dreams I opt t'rest up at BOS' swell Aquarium while they keep knockin' themselves out. What'd I miss? PROV & NYC again. What'd I get? 3 seals & flashlight fish. Would I do it again? Why not.
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