Thursday, September 23, 2004
O.K., since you asked, and I’m so glad you did, I will tell you what I’ve been up to. This summer I went on tour with my rock star kids. There’s a movie made about them which premièred at the L.A. Film Festival called Rock School which was bought by Newmarket Films and which will be premièring in theaters worldwide March 5, 2005 (www.newmarketfilms.com). In conjunction with the upcoming release of the movie, we traveled to the West Coast by plane and then did 5,700 miles by bus, going everywhere from Las Vegas to Seattle to San Francisco to Salt Lake City to even—arghh—Boise, Idaho. Here’s what I learned on my trip:
(1) That no one over the age of twenty-five should ever have to spend three nights straight on a bus with just one driver who keeps falling asleep at the wheel (in spite of federal regulations that say you need two bus drivers if the distance is more than fifteen hours away. I know you said the bus company was reputable, but why did he have to keep saying he was Pakistani and didn’t understand me when I asked him simple questions like Where the hell are we?). Since you made me sit upfront alone and away from the rest of your band, I was appointed his chaperone by default. You see, once I heard him snore while we were traveling on Interstate 80 and we crossed the median and almost got hit head on by a tractor trailer, I was awake for the entire subsequent fourteen days.
(2) That when there is only one bus driver traveling that distance all by himself, he will never clean the porta-potty, thereby reinforcing my above remark that no one over the age of twenty-five, especially a pre-menopausal woman with an overactive bladder, should ever be on said bus in the first place.
(3) That there is a hostel in Los Angeles where your manager was kind enough to book us the few nights we did have a hotel which is a year-round residence for not just transvestites, but Goth transvestites. I’d never have known Goth transvestites existed and I want to thank you for the image I will have forever—thirty or so men with their heads shaved, wearing white face makeup and black eyeliner, lipstick, and nail polish, and high heels. Oh, did you happen to notice their apparel? Probably not, because you were busy getting something to eat while you left me in charge of watching all of your guitars and amps in the lobby for two hours until around 3:00 a.m.. Well, if it wasn’t so nauseatingly touristy, I’d have taken pictures, so I will tell you instead. They had vertebrae painted on their naked backs, and little miniskirts made of clear plastic, which did have haphazardly placed appliqués in front but absolutely nothing at all in the back. Within fifteen minutes, I saw thirty nude male asses, a new all-time record for even me.
(4) That when you turn kids loose in Haight-Asbury, even supposed straight-laced musicians like those you assured me were in your band, they will buy whatever illegal substance is offered, and you haven’t lived until you’ve spent the night with kids on mushrooms who have never done them before and don’t know enough to take them with milk. Can you spell V-O-M-I-T?
(5) That in spite of being fairly well known on the East Coast, it is not pleasant to be in the audience watching your pride and joys play to empty rooms in cities and witness the shocked and appalled expressions on their innocent faces when they find out they are not even the slightest bit famous and further learn that there will always be some asshole who shouts out “Play Freebird!” all evening long while said pride and joys attempt the difficult music of Frank Zappa. By the way, did it ever occur to you that audiences in Middle America may not have even heard of Frank? And to those who did, he is the enemy?
(6) That on said few nights we did have actual hotels in places like Boise, Idaho, and Salt Lake City, Utah, you guys had no reservations at all about kicking me out of my room at 12:00 a.m. so that you could have fun and games with your pals in private which led me to discover some interesting things. One, in spite of always saying how cool I am, I had heart failure walking the streets thinking about the possibility that my little girl was having sex with her boyfriend and my son might be drinking a beer or smoking a joint. Two, did you know bars in Utah can’t serve wine or whiskey and that you can only buy beer in ten ounce increments? That was probably for the best because in the state of mind I was in from both lack of sleep and worry, I probably would have gotten so loaded I might have done something stupid with a Mormon.
(6) That you can get killed just walking on the sidewalks in Las Vegas because they’re so crowded you can easily get pushed in the street and get hit by a speeding car, and speaking of said streets, you can’t cross them there—you have to use these sky walkways which always make you end up lost in a horrible maze, where, no matter which way you go, always take you to one place—the casinos. The scourge of America. Fifty-year-old women with fat bellies and midriff tops with tattoos. Smarmy men with gold chains. I even saw a woman drag an oxygen tank up to a slot machine there. The hope and despair I saw in that city will be with me a lifetime. It’s number one on my list of places I never want to visit again.
(7) That on the subject of casinos, did you know that other than the gambling and all the money thrown into them to make them so tackily gorgeous, they are nothing more than glorified shopping centers with Gaps and Dunkin’ Donuts? O.K., they have designer stores as well, but still—holy crap, it was like being in a cheesy strip mall in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, except every escalator down led to—you guessed it—the casinos.
(8) That as an East Coast liberal with all liberal friends who have assured me that John Kerry will win by a landslide despite my past experience to the contrary (i.e., still in shock that Nixon defeated McGovern in 1972—I call that the real popping of my cherry), there is a whole other, huge America out there who will be voting for Bush. And that there’s a very scary chance the bastard is going to be around another four years. Oh my god, I want to slash my wrists. Somebody do something!
(9) That I freaking love the East Coast and have no desire to ever live anywhere else. So when you guys get rich and famous as you keep telling me is both your destiny and in your immediate future, I will be wanting a brownstone in New York City, please.
Very truly yours,