My California geography sucks, mostly because I get a lot of the names which are very similar mixed up, but also because some of the dense parts take a long time to cross and some of the empty parts take very little time to cross. Therefore how far apart things are is skewed in my head.
As it turned out, the amphitheater where we were playing the next night was only an hour, hour and a half from the venue in San Diego. In fact, it was in Orange County, not far from Long Beach, which meant it was not far from Los Angeles proper. So the bus trip was fairly short and they put us into hotel beds for the night. Which was nice, although Remo didn’t stay with us. He kept on going up to his place in Laurel Canyon.
I caught up with Flip and Martin on the bus ride and then we crashed right away on getting to the hotel. I was not only still feeling sleep deprived, I think all the stuff with Ziggy had left me really emotionally drained. I mean, I felt good about everything but at the same time I had used up a lot of my usual capacity for dealing with that kind of thing, I guess.
While I was falling asleep I kept thinking about Ziggy. Specifically about how it had become suddenly obvious how afraid he was to tell me about the anti-depressants. Like he normally hid it so well, that when he finally dropped the mask he was startlingly vulnerable. I wasn’t sure I could explain it to him, but I could at least explain it to myself, that moments like that made me fall more in love with him, not less.
I slept alone, but very soundly that night.
In the morning we checked out of the hotel around noon and went directly to the venue. Nothing like having seven or eight hours to kill before a show. Yeah, soundcheck was going to take up a small amount of that time. The rest of the time you better have a hobby or good book. Or an addiction, I guess.
Fran and Clarice nabbed me for a good hour to get the Ziggy rundown. I took the opportunity to ask their advice about whether I should take the gig with him or not. At first Fran was like “yes definitely” while Clarice was “no way,” and after I’d explained as best I could what the issues were, they had each reversed their positions.
Remo hadn’t arrived yet, so with it seeming like soundcheck wasn’t imminent (I think the tech lead from the venue wasn’t even there at that moment) I took my notebook and climbed all the way up the bowl of the amphitheater and sat in the last row, center, and wrote. The cold snap had finally ended, although a lot of the SoCal natives were still grumbling about how it was merely 72 degrees, in the sun that was plenty warm for me.
When I say I wrote I didn’t exactly write songs, it was more like I jotted down various ideas that were floating around in my head, some which might make songs and some which were just thoughts about Ziggy, or Jonathan, or relationships in general. I wasn’t ready to try to work on them musically yet. It was like I needed to sketch out some concepts first. I’m not usually like that but it was kind of like my brain was cluttered and by writing some things down I neatened it up.
I have no idea how long that took but I heard the sound of Remo’s truck. No I’m not kidding. The parking lot of the place was huge, I was sitting in an acoustic bowl, and they drove right up to backstage of course. And I knew the sound of that truck. SUV. Whatever.
I went backstage to find Carynne and he newly arrived and everything copacetic. I got roped into talking Guitar Craft with Flip and Pete from Puddle in the Road. Next thing you knew Flip and I had gotten out the two guitars he kept tuned to New Standard Tuning and we were improvising with each other and blowing Pete’s mind. By the time it actually was time for soundcheck I think we’d convinced him he should try to study with Fripp in Virginia.
Soundcheck went fine. And then I finally had a chance to have a longer conversation with Carynne, starting with, “Your mom okay?”
“Crazy as a shithouse rat but that’s nothing new,” she said. We found a place to sit backstage where some folding chairs were haphazardly circled outside. “But yeah, she’s fine now. What’s this about you and Court having Digger arrested? She started to tell me but then didn’t finish.”
“He crashed security in San Diego, tried to hit me up for ten thou to pay his back mortgage so that the supermodel he convinced to have an abortion but who then got disowned by her parents so was living with him wouldn’t have to live on the street. Did you get all that?”
“I think so. How much of it is true?”
“Not totally sure. We told him to get lost, anyway. Oh yeah, and he was so drunk I don’t think he could see straight, so who knows if his car is still there or what?” I shook my head. “I have other things to worry about.”
“You and Zig still getting along?”
“Yeah.” The sky was blue with a couple of small white clouds in it.
“I got formal paperwork from Barrett, by the way. It’s a good offer. Top dollar with incentives.”
“What do you mean, incentives?”
“I mean not just a set dollar amount but bonuses if the tour meets certain benchmarks, which is interesting because it’s not like you have an ownership stake or any control over whether the tour meets those goals.”
“Huh. What does it mean, you think?”
“It means they really really want you badly, or maybe that Ziggy still feels guilty and is trying to make it up to you.”
“Or both.” I rubbed my eyes. “Most likely both.”
“He sent me details on how much you can spend hiring musicians, too. If you do decide to take this gig, my advice is you let me handle the negotiations. Ugh, god I forgot how dry it is here.” She got up to look for a drink and I followed her to the catering area.
As usual there was cold beer. I reached for one, then thought about Digger and changed my mind, but then I got angry that Digger’s fuckheadedness was still influencing my decisions and decided to have the beer after all. It was cold and good. “I’m happy to let you handle the negotiations. Would it not just be standard rate of some kind?”
“It would, but there are little things.” We sat at a folding table in the catering area and she took a long series of gulps from a can of ginger ale and then said, “You’re talking like you’re going to take the gig.”
“I don’t know. I told him I’d tell him my decision when I get to New York. The only thing I know is that I want to take the time to really think about it.”
Courtney sat down next to me. “Hey.”
“Hey. Finish explaining everything about the FOBD Club to Carynne because I left out a lot.” I contemplated the bottle in my hand without really seeing it.
Court launched into a much more detailed explanation of everything about Galani Gilliman and incidentally explained everything I hadn’t even mentioned about Janessa, too. The next thing I knew they were debating whether Ziggy’s paternity could be determined medically before the baby was born (yes, apparently) and some other things that made me mildly queasy so I tried to just finish my beer without listening. (To quote a famous squirrel: that trick never works.)
Martin sat down a short while later with a plate of food, and then Flip came along, and at that point I succeeded in tuning out the conversation because I got thinking about Ziggy and trying to think if there was an actual way to convince him–to make him feel–that I wasn’t going to flip out. I mean, did I know that I wasn’t going to flip out? How could anyone know?
I was toying with the empty bottle while I contemplated, rolling it back and forth on the tabletop from one hand to the other. The table was rough wood under the table cloth and the bottle clinked faintly as it rolled over the bumps and splinters. I set it spinning and watched it slow to a stop.
Suddenly I realized everyone else had been watching it, too, because everyone went silent when it landed with the mouth pointing right at Flip.
“Who do I have to kiss?” he asked, and the entire group cracked up as Martin leaned over and tried to plant a wet one right in his ear, which resulted in Flip fleeing and Martin chasing him.
Huh. It was the first time something like that seemed to me like two guys making fun of each other for being straight, instead of making fun of gayness.
(Psssst you guys! More reviews came in! So somebody promise me you’ll do just 2 more of DGC Vol 7 to get it to 20 and I’ll post the bonus scene this Friday, ok? -ctan)