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July 2004


The alarm, if there was one, came much too early. But the Hawks were on time and on schedule. PM and SN checked out of the Al Qaeda Holiday Inn, drove over the George Washington Bridge, picked up PL and RW and got us on the road headed for Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility. Traffic was light and the Hawks made it to the prison nearly on time. And we would’ve made it to if it wasn’t for a blatant error in our Mapquest directions. DO NOT TRUST MAPQUEST. Their directions are often not the shortest route, rely too much on freeways, and, in rare cases, lead you in exactly the wrong direction.

The MVRCF experience offered much more than we expected. We had prepared ourselves for a romantic, classic country prison gig. Well, maybe romantic is the wrong word. But prison is just scary. Damn scary. We were lead through several heavy doors that locked behind us. The first thing to hit you is the smell. Prisons, like high school locker rooms, smell like sweaty men. They smell bad. The jacked up guards at the central console confiscated our cell phones, cigarettes, nail clippers, and made jokes about how they were not going to let us out now that they had us locked in. These jokes were not funny. These guys know how to intimidate people.We were soon to learn why intimidation skills are important. The marched us out onto the exercise yard right there with the general population. Some shirtless men playing volley ball. Some shirtless men playing basketball. One very heavily tattooed shirtless man and his small posse strutting around the perimeter bad-vibing everyone, looking for a fight.

But it’s not the prisoners that are scary. In fact, the prisoners who came to our show were quite nice. The listened closely, clapped and cheered. They particularly liked our tunes with overt drug references. “40 pounds in the back of my van,” got the loudest hoots. It is the prison culture which is scary. It strips away the dignity from both the prisoners and the guards. These kinds of hardened power imbalances diminish us all, I’m afraid. The folks in Attica had some solid demands. I don’t think things have improved too much since the early 70s.The show ended, we shook hands with many of the inmates, packed up, took some photos and headed for the warm home of Carter and Chani. Quite an experience.


This XM radio has a pretty good jazz station and a decent classic country station but most of the others totally suck. It’s just weird, the whole satellite radio thing. It’s cold, and global, and detached. I miss the regional flavor of good AM and FM radio. That feeling of good fortune you get when you find a great station on the dial in a town you don’t know well. That doesn’t happen on the space radio.


If the election were held today, and the national demographic reflected the four members of I See Hawks In L.A. exactly:
John Kerry would get 50% of the vote.
Ralph Nader would get 25%.
Michael Badenarik would get 25%
Who? You might be asking. Who the hell is–John Kerry?
Someday we might find out.


July 29, The Bronx.

Okay, so last night the Big Apple kind of kicked our ass, in the same way L.A. tromps on sensitive out of town bands—through jaded, cell phone augmented chatter in the back of the club,Was that whooping for a particularly hot solo? Nope, someone took a funny cell phone shot of his pals doing shots of Captain Morgan.

That’s cool. The big cities of this nation will eventually crouch in fear and awe before the mighty roots music caravans going forth from Los Angeles, like a fifth Crusade to the corrupt Infidel, firing RPGs at Clear Channel billboards polluting the I-10s and I-70s and frontage roads of the other 49 states, those unfortunate vast citizenries as yet not touched by the light of Americana California.Anyway. The other Hawks assure this writer (PL) that it was a fine show at the Rodeo Bar, and we prevailed. I yield to their clear-headed judgement.

Today, a long subway ride, Paul L. gets off the D line at 59th St/Columbus Circle, Rob stays on to 4th Street in the Village. Paul L. was treated to a salmon based feast from the Polkaman, Tony Patellis, from the late great Rotondi, who is now an irregular on the Sopranos and touring the world with a revival of West Side Story. Tony and Paul reminisced on their seven years as polka purveyors, with the usual bitter complaining about the failure of polka to break through to a mainstream audience.At that very moment, Rob, Paul M, Shawn, Shawn’s brother in law Mark, and friend Jim were touring Washington Square on foot. They encountered a young Caucasian, shirtless, spot diagnosed as insane by Paul M. The Caucasian told them that white men were terrified of their own orgasm. He then blessed the group with a Superball, and announced that “the hexagram is now complete.”

Band twilight rendezvous outside the Bitter End on Bleecker St., a Village institution christened by Woody Allen, Dylan, and every famous folk rocker who ever practiced his Maybelle Carter licks. The Hawks and Christina and Tom did acoustic sets, sounded great, tip o the hat to the soundman and system. Our fine Coles friends returned, this time relatively sober, some Didyks, and Rob’s large NYC posse, all contributing to a full house that felt like home. The Hawks were followed by Yowza ( www.yowza.com ), a pair of NYC rockers doing their debut on acoustic guitar. Both pointed out that you’re really naked when you play acoustic. Might be related to getting exposure in the clubs.Many sad farewells and embraces outside the Bitter End, local posses, Ortega band, Hawks going separate ways, Paul M. and Shawn driving back to the Ft. Lee 9/11 Holiday Inn for the thankless task of compiling Paul L. and Rob’s festering piles of miscellanea and shoving them into the Yukon. The guitarist and singer grabbed a last minute Ray’s pizza and got on the D train for that endless ride uptown.

The near-saintly Charles and Gina were still up, catching a History Channel special on torture and execution, which Rob and Paul L. eagerly fell into. We switched to the recap of the Democratic Convention, made it through the Spielberg promo film on Kerry the mad dog Cong killer/loving father, fell asleep as the Kerry daughters gushed on and on. Good thing we missed the Kerry speech, as we didn’t need electrifying at that late hour.Not to get all political, but isn’t it a little scary that the Convention hoopla gave Kerry a one point negative bounce in the polls? The Democrats are busy denying Nader admission to the convention and hiring a hit team to lure away his voters (good luck with the old hippies), making sure they don’t have to actually propose something new. Not very presidential.


We are racing the clock once again, for a radio performance on WFDU, the big folk station on the east coast. We’ve decided to stay at the Fort Lee Holiday Inn. Morbidly, it’s where four of the 9/11 hijackers stayed on September 10th. It has the best rates and it’s closest to public transportation.

We are curiously observing the Democratic National Convention from our place here in the Yukon and from television screens in the motels where we stop. Last night they had the big guns: Carter and The Clintons. They got things off to an exciting, optimistic start. That energy will likely drain out of the room right around the time John Kerry climbs onto the stage (though the DNC wisely put Lieberman on just before the nominee, the only Democrat who could possibly be considered more boring than Kerry). I know I can’t possible tolerate another four years of Bush and yet John Kerry does absolutely nothing for me. I also fear that the decision to alienate and isolate Ralph Nadar from the convention and the party will again drive votes to Nadar, siphoning off precisely the 5% Kerry needs to win. The Democrats are making the same mistakes they did in 2000 – locking out the far left and nominating a boring, cautious candidate who will nobly lose.


Tank One
408 miles
25.2 Gallons of Regular Unleaded Gas
We just made our first stop. Can’t believe no one had to pee until Kingman. I just turned the wheel over to Paul Lacques. In general, I trust Paul very much. He’s responsible, solid. But of the three other Hawk drivers, he makes me the most nervous. It’s a mild nervous but a nervous nonetheless. (let’s compare driving records, accidents, etc. – PL) I’m not sure if it’s his eyesight or his tendency to turn around and talk with me while I’m in back seat.

See, I’m in the back seat now. I love it back here. Somehow the seats are more comfortable. Still, it’s difficult for me to relax all the way as PL keeps turning around, telling me about the end of oil. I know that if I smoke, it will help. But I’m staying away from that, trying to keep my voice strong and clear for the many shows ahead.It’s strange but no one seems hungry. We thought about stopping at the Cracker Barrel but we decided not to support those assholes and their racial slurs. Right now the two Pauls are discussing the merits of Subway. They believe it’s a cut above the rest of the highway food. I think I agree and yet, somehow, I think we’re all being suckered.


A wooden handle at one end. A hard blue ball at the other. A flexible metal strip in the middle.
While driving, Rob begins beating his shoulder with it. “What’cha doin’ there Rob? I ask. “It’s a donger” he says by way of reply. It relaxes tight muscles.


Yesterday afternoon, running a little behind, heading east on I-40 between Gallup and Albuquerque: an overturned big rig miles up the road shut down the interstate, and traffic was stopped. Curses! Now we’re really behind schedule. We’d been sitting parked among big rigs and fellow civilian travelers for an hour, scrub Indian reservation land and thunderheads to the horizon, when Katie’s longtime theory about median strip piss bottles came up as a conversation topic. Briefly, Katie has been observing plastic bottles resting in grassy Interstate median strips for years, and is convinced they are bottles that (male) drivers piss in and toss out the window to avoid stopping to use roadside facilities.

Rob is convinced of the solidity of his wife’s theory, Paul M agreed, and Paul L. of course was duty bound to object. Almost immediately Rob spotted what he considered a prime piss bottle suspect glinting in the New Mexico sun. After some negotiation, Rob agreed to confirm the identity of any fluid in the container, and Paul L. leapt out of the idling Yukon, snatched the brown liquid filled bottle from the median detritus, raced back to the Yukon, passed the bottle to driver Paul M., who handed it to Rob.As Paul L. scrambled into the back seat, annoyed truckers looking down from their rigs, Rob took a strong whiff from the median strip bottle, began screaming, “Oh, god! Oh, god! Take it away!” Paul jumped out, tossed the now verified piss bottle back into the median strip, jumped back in the car. Rob continued his anguished wail. Apparently the water evaporates in the hot sun, leaving a very acidic liquid behind.


a look back from the high speed internet comfort of the Best Value Inn, just off I 85. Rob’s just got back from a shopping spree: air freshener, almonds, Wild Turkey101 (try it folks, you won’t regret it). The Yukon’s got a mysterious odor, and we’re going to kill it.

July 23, what day of the week was it, we do not know still. It did indeed get a little tweaked as we raced the clock to our Carolina goal. We pushed through Arkansas and Tennessee, our Yukon feeling a bit like a cave with a wide screen TV in front, showing us I-40 and its nearby off road temptations. As we passed through Nashville, Rob freaked out: the cruel modern buildings, the sleek Opryland compound, this place is big and perhaps unbreachable. A deep quiet spread through the Yukon, passing as we left the last suburban spread of Music City. It sunk in what a major effort and commitment our drive is, and we felt detached from our music and our mission—how would our regionally referencing music go down in these strange lands. A late night moment of existential angst.

Somehow got to a Motel 6 east of Knoxville at 5 a.m., got up 3.6 hours later, most like Friday, July 23, stumbled into the vehicle and drove to Charlotte through mellow Carolina woods and dales, pulled up at Gastonia College. The radio interview, with the kind and enlightened Randy Walker of WSGE, went just great, we played three songs on acoustic, dobro, bass, felt like we had a place in the southeast. Back in the Yukon, searching for lodging, everything is shimmering and we’re sweating, humidity and lack of sleep. Rob and Paul M. dug deep for some serious intuition, found a nesting spot just off highway 85, near a Waffle House and a Cracker Barrel: Best Value Inn, getting a strong Hawks recommendation. That night, drove to Winston Salem, played the funky funky Garage, an army of window fans humming like a plague of locusts, dim soothing light, kind soundman and audience, blue grass duo 2/5 of Kicking Grass opened, Paul L. sat in on dobro, they can sing, the mandolin player’s family has made moonshine for generations, but no one had samples.

We had a very good show, felt like the Cowboy Junkies, electric guitar but no Shawn on drums yet (playing this night with James Intveltd in Nashville, flying in tomorrow), felt good vibes from the audience, floated out into the night and drove back to Charlotte, south on our new friend highway 85. Next day, Saturday, July 24, highway by the airport, Charlotte, NC. Rob and the two Pauls recovered in the frigid darkness of Best Value Inn, waking late and emerging disoriented from their cave. Got some stony directions to food and coffee district from DJ Randy, involving a meander through downtown Charlotte, left on Central, cross the tracks and drive “till it feels right.” Damn if it didn’t work, and we got high quality caffienated beverages worthy of Peet’s in Pasadena (well, not quite) at , corner of Pecan and Central. Which segues into a Hawks NON CORPORATE ROAD RECOMMENDATION:

Get to Pecan and Central in Charlotte and you’ll find very cool antique stores with shockingly low prices, a cool cappucino place, John’s Country Kitchen, and the site of our amazing late afternoon meal, Mama’s Caribbean Grill (704) 375 8414. Paul Marshall had a strong instinct and led us in, and plates loaded with jerk chicken, greens, yams, peas and rice, and macaroni and cheese arrived in leisurely fashion. Food doesn’t get better than this. Stepped out of the AC into the always steaming Charlotte air, drove to the airport and after many wrong turns got in and picked up Shawn, straight off the plane from Nashville, where he played the night before with James Intveld at an Opryland outdoor event. It was cool to see our talented and kind drummer, as we knew we would now rock. Back to the Best Value to crash some more.


Waffle House visit number 3, 4, or 5, opinions vary, then we hit the road north on I-95, which Rob pointed out is both the heavy drug trafficking route (we’re pleased to make our modest contribution) and where Michael Jordan’s father was killed in a rest stop. Better a rest stop than a rest home, Mr. Jordan. We hit some heavy rain, Ford Exploder over the side in a ditch, then another vehicle. They’ve got ditches here. Paul talked to Judge Hinson in Texas today, who said just mail in the check, no personal checks, please. Wachovia Bank won’t do money orders or cashiers checks, even if you give them cash, unless you have an account (only then do they Wachovia you).

Pulled into Richmond, great old city, Confederate capital with old brick Lucky Strike factory and a very tall column with a Confederate General gazing out on a hill behind the club, Poe’s Pub. We had the privilege of setting up the P.A. and sound checking ourselves, so now we have no one to blame but Paul Marshall for how it sounds, which is good. A drive through decaying/gentrifying downtown Richmond to the Radisson, at bargain Southern prices. Then something sad happened. Shawn drove the Yukon with its unusually high Sears SV-20 roof rack luggage compartment down into the Radisson parking lot, shearing off the SV-20. We took our bags out of the SV-20, tossed the crippled unit behind the Radisson dumpster, drove to the gig at Poe’s Pub. About 20 enthusiastic fans, including some old hippies who knew all our songs. One 60’s vet is a geologist, says that there’s a maverick theory that subterranean bacteria is actually the source of oil, not fossil animal and sea life as the conventional theory says. This triggered a long oil supply crisis discussion among Paul L. and the geologist that the rest of the band widely avoided.
The show was pretty good, very enthusiastic audience, talking afterwards it was gratifying to see how dialed in people are to the music and lyrics.

Shawn and Paul L. walked up the hill to a Civil War Soldiers And Sailors monument, the mysterious column overlooking Poe’s Pub. 20,000 Confederate troops were housed in tents in what was the world’s largest temporary hospital. We didn’t see ghosts, but eerie shadows of the Confederate soldier floated in the fog high above, lit by the monument lights. Beautiful old brick houses and cobblestone streets. Packed up, back to the Radisson. —–