Hey whatup from The Road, Maximum. I am on tour! I’ve been on tour for a fucking month and I feel like I’ve been tired for that whole month and it’s kind of hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t, and like which way is north or whatever, but if you know anything about the Road you know it’s one of the best kinds of exhausted and disoriented. Right now I’m on this posh as hell Amtrak train headed from Philly up to Vermont, where I’m gonna get to sleep in the same bed for a week. It’s gonna be so rad. I can’t wait. I’m gonna eat hella kale and do yoga and align my chakras and wash my hair and fuckin I don’t even know, just like take a break before I do three more weeks of readings every night down the east coast, like to Texas, then back up to Canada.
I think other writers might not treat book tours like band tours?
This book I wrote called Nevada came out at the beginning of March, even though the release party was in the beginning of April, two days ago. But I toured for a month before the actual release party. My publisher Topside Press was like, “we will give you money for gas and food to go on tour for two months,” and since my experience with touring is the week and a half tour my band Correspondences did with Swaath, where we felt like we were the greatest geniuses in the history of dumb loud rock because we sold enough tapes and shirts not to lose money paying for gas, I kind of figured this would be the same kind of tour. Which means, like, camping, and staying on friends’ couches, and sleeping in the car, and never showering or getting any exercise. Turns out if you get some money from your publisher to do a tour you can stretch it really far if you panickingly believe, all the time, from the get-go that you are about to run out of money.
But it’s been unreal. Seriously, write a book and get Topside to publish it, I recommend this shit very strongly. Actually I also recommend dating my girlfriend Alex, too. With Tom at Topside and Alex collaborating on Excel spreadsheets or whatever the fuck, all I’ve had to do is read sentences out loud, eat food, and buy shoes. Like in Seattle I got a pair of britpop Pumas that make me feel like I am in Elastica and then, a couple weeks later, in Hollywood I got a pair of black cowboy boots that I’m preeeeetty sure used to belong to Slash.
I just have a feeling.
Anyway. Tour stories.
I think the raddest tour story is that when I was setting up the show in Olympia, Kelsey, the librarian at the Timberland Library, was like, Oh really, you can only be here on a Friday? Hmm nobody ever comes to readings on Fridays, do you want to have a band play? I didn’t know what to say and Alex was like Dude, RVIVR is from Olympia, so I was like Oh yeah! How bout RVIVR! and Kelsey was like, Sure, they love the library.
So I got to do a reading with RVIVR at the Timberland Library in Olympia for the second show of tour. It was rad, the poet Sarah Pinder read with me for the first few nights, and she read first, then I read, then we talked for a minute and then RVIVR played, like, the first half of their new record The Beauty Between (which has been the soundtrack of this tour- although also can I tell you that Swaath from Maine, some of the best boys that I know, finally set up a bandcamp page so you can download their side of the split they did with Correspondences there? I’m so stoked, I’m listening to it right now, it’s killer sludgy doomy very loud metal stuff from the frozen basements of Portland, Maine. When I move back to the bay at the end of the summer I’m totally gonna bite their vocal distortion thing, it’s so fuckin good. They’re at swaathmaine.bandcamp.com) and then… what happened was, Erica from RVIVR was like, Hey since this is your thing do you have any requests? I panicked and started listing all the RVIVR songs I like, I was like, Will you do Tiny Murders and Paper Thin and Seethin’, and Erica was like ok we will do Paper Thin and Seethin’ but not Tiny Murders. It ruled. They just did the first half of the new record straight through, which was awesome, and then Seethin’ and then the Hunger Suite from the end of the new record.
Man RVIVR is so good- we traded books for records and Mattie talked about the politics of growing a beard as a genderqueer person between songs and they were like “If it’s weird to be at the library when loud punk music is playing, imagine how weird it is to be in the library playing loud punk music.” Then after they played they went directly to Europe.
Oh also a rad thing happened where Erica was wearing a Ragana backpatch on her vest and I had one on the back of my hoodie and I said something about it into the microphone, like I don’t know, like “Ragana rules” or something, and then fuckin after I read and was selling books and stuff Maria from Ragana was like, hey thanks for reppin my band into a microphone. Haha. I didn’t know she was there! I think Olympia is kind of magic. The next morning I took the obligatory picture of a sign that said Sleater-Kinney on it, fucked around at a Starbucks for a couple hours and then went directly to Canada.
What happened was, Alex worked out a hundred tons of logistics- pretty much every possible thing except checking whether her passport had expired last June. So while me and Sarah smuggled books into Canada to do a reading that our friend Kay Lamothe- who’s in the bands Screaming Queens (myspace.com/eastvanscreamingqueens) and Velvet Fist (velvetfist.bandcamp.com)- set up, Alex camped an hour south of the Canadian border with our dog Pants and a laptop full of audiobook mp3s. She told me that she ate a whole box of fruit snacks and half a bottle of wine, threw up, and then had the best night of sleep she’d had in a while.
Meanwhile in Vancouver Sarah and I read with Amber Dawn, another amazing writer, and then I ended up having a really amazing conversation after reading about trans women’s space in queer and punk communities, and the overwhelming frequency with which trans women self-select out of those communities in disgust, frustration, or hurt. And we talked about inclusion theater, patriarchy, sex, whether the trans movement is forty years behind the women’s movement (the answer is that it is not, for a lot of reasons, including the fact that forty years ago nobody got to read bell hooks), and honestly? One of the best things about that reading is that Natalie Reed was there, which meant if I got tangled up in trying to talk about some very intricate thing I could just be like, I don’t fuckin’ know, Natalie, will you explain this thing? And she would. Do you know Natalie? I don’t know what she’s going to be up to by the time this is printed but right now while I’m writing it she’s just finishing up over a year of blogging at freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed, which you might check out if you want to read thousands of words laying shit out for you about trans women and oppression and everything.
Kay and Sarah and I got sushi with her afterward. It was awesome.
Man there’s a lot of other stuff that happened, I got to read at the Denver Zine Library with Kelly Shortandqueer, where he talked about tailoring his pants ’cause he’s short and I talked about tailoring my shirts ’cause I’m tall, and I got to read at One N Ten in Phoenix, and Casa Libre in Tucson, I don’t know. Modern Times in San Francisco, Pegasus in Berkeley- that one is actually up on youtube somewhere if you want to see video of me wearing a filthy Girls Rock Philly 2011 t-shirt and cussing. Colin Entropy came to the book release party in Manhattan and gave me all the issues of Slice Harvester! Annie Danger did tattoos at the book release party, I got a pink line most of the way around my wrist and my friend Dave got the logo of his band Sex on his ankle. Somebody else got Eve pawprints on her chest and I forget what everybody else got but it ruled that we did tattoos at the book release party in the Queers For Economic Justice office in Manhattan (thanks QEJ). Probably lots of other stuff. One cool thing is that the book is called Nevada and the west coast half of the tour pretty much circumscribed a donut around the state of Nevada without entering it. That was unintentional and weird.
Like always, if you want to talk about it email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve been posting short tour diaries at topsidepress.com if you want to read them. Whatever. Did you know that last summer on the Swaath Correspondences tour we stayed at Colin Entropy’s apartment? He wasn’t there, which was a bummer, but we listened to all his records anyway. One thing that rules is listening to the second self-titled Rancid album with a bunch of other punker dorks. Okay this is Rancid signing off for now! Until next time we’ll see you guys later! Fuck yes.
(ALSO, JUST SO YOU KNOW, Colin Atrophy’s name is Colin Atrophy, not Colin Entropy!)