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.

GLOBAL RADIO BLUES

July 29, 2004

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.

HAWKS PRESIDENTIAL POLL

July 29, 2004

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.

NORTH TO NEW JERSEY

July 29, 2004

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 […]

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SWITCHING DRIVERS IN KINGMAN

July 29, 2004

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 […]

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A SIMPLE DEVICE

July 29, 2004

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. P.

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PISS BOTTLE EPISODE

July 27, 2004

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 […]

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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA:

July 27, 2004

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 […]

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RALEIGH, NC TO RICHMOND, VA.

July 26, 2004

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, […]

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