663. PART SEVENTEEN: Shiny Happy People


Unlike the Costa Mesa amphitheater, Shoreline is huge. Seats close to twenty thousand. I overheard some venue people talking before soundcheck that they hadn’t been expecting a sellout the way initial ticket sales had gone, but that eventually it had picked up and they expected the last few would be gone by the time doors opened.

Carynne and Court were still along for the ride, though Court was headed back in the morning. Carynne was staying one more day to make sure I got where I was supposed to go, I think. I really wasn’t able to concentrate on much, feeling hyped up and both looking forward to the show and also to it being over.

While feeling hyper is probably not the best time for me to do an interview. Regardless, Carynne sat me down with a reporter to talk about the solo album, and we ended up talking for an hour about everything. Kind of like how Jonathan and I used to talk about everything except without the interested-in-you vibe. No really, I know I was clueless about J in the early days but this wasn’t like that.

I babbled way too much, I think. I kept saying things that Barrett had said, or that we’d talked about, and the guy of course wanted to know about the Ziggy radio thing, and Nomad, and all kinds of stuff, and I of course talked about them because, really, what is there to say about an instrumental album? I mean, yes, I could go on and on about musical details but only to someone like Bart. The only way this guy would have known the Circle of Fifths is if I named a band that. (Note to self…)

He was drinking a beer while we were sitting down talking and I thought if I had one I might calm down, but I also thought, no, I really ought to try to keep my head on straight while talking to the press. So I had water.

But after an hour that was done. I hoped I hadn’t made a fool of myself and that Artie liked whatever landed in print. Then it was time to worry about the show.

I’ll confess. There’s always a teeny tiny bit of dread tucked way back in a far back corner of my skull. You know I don’t get much of what you could call stage fright. When I was a kid there wasn’t enough at stake for me to stress over most of my performances, and when the stakes started going up, I practiced like a fiend so I wouldn’t have to worry. I had that weird stuff to work through during the warmup tour, remember that? But I got through it. Confidence and building a comfort zone go hand in hand. You get to where you really don’t worry anymore. Remo was right: half the reason I pushed the band to do the birthday songs was to keep us from sinking too much into a comfort zone. You have more adrenaline when you’re doing something different, something daring.

But yeah, there is always a tiny straggling thread you can pick at, remembering a time things went wrong, or worrying over the outcome somehow. It’s hard to explain. But you know how the littlest thing can turn into a huge thing if you’ve got depression or anxiety or anything like that–you pull on that loose thread and the next thing you know the whole seam comes apart. That was what had happened to Chris when he was having paranoia.

With me it was more like a superstition. Every now and then I’d have this feeling like this one, this show would be the one where something went wrong. It was never one of the ones where something was actually going wrong because then I had something concrete to worry about. It was usually a show where there was nothing to worry about so my brain had to imagine something.

It being like a superstition, the cure was to do something superstitious back, like make sure I had Cat Elvis. Except I hadn’t brought Cat Elvis with me on this tour.

Okay, but I had Miles. Ziggy left him to look after me. Therefore, things were going to be okay.

And they were. Nothing noteworthy about the show. I didn’t take any chances and I didn’t goad anyone else into doing it either. Nice, happy set. Remo let himself take an extra go-round on one of his solos, and grinned and shook his head as we all just followed him right through it without missing a beat. All got good ears.

The show was followed by an epic afterparty, it being the last night of the first leg and everyone was super-happy about finishing three in a row and not having to get up and do it again the next day. I may have mentioned in the past that Nomad partied hard. No drugs, really, except maybe a little weed here and there (we were so close to San Francisco and all), but they were a drinking crowd and liked to have fun.

I think we had fun. I actually really don’t remember. When I woke up I was in a hotel bed with Miles next to my pillow. I did the actual thing of wondering where I was, what city, what day, all that, and when answers didn’t pop up quickly I thought about Ziggy instead because why not.

My brain eventually caught up. Right. San Francisco. I was supposed to be in San Francisco.

The message light was blinking. I picked up the phone and made a guess at what button was the “retrieve voice mail” one, succeded at picking the right one, and a few moments later was listening to Carynne’s voice. “I’m down the hall in 403. Call me when you wake up.”

I decided to brush my teeth before calling her and looked around: my jeans were draped at the foot of the bed as if I’d crawled out of them. My travel bag, the Ovation’s case, and my backpack were all lined up on the floor next to the dresser. The side pocket of the travel bag had my toiletry kit and I took it into the bathroom with me.

There was a phone in there, too, on the wall between the toilet and the bath tub. I decided to fill the tub with hot water. While it was filling I brushed my teeth and then tested the water. Too hot, but it was only partway filled so I made the incoming water cooler and then I dialed Carynne’s room.

“Hey.” she said. “You up?”

“Just barely,” I said.

“What is that noise? Wait, are you in the bathtub?”

“Well, not yet–”

“While on the phone? Don’t you know you can get electrocuted? And jeez, Daron, you could slip and hit your head or something.”

“I’m not in the actual tub yet. What, you want to come babysit me or something?” This struck me as weird but maybe I overestimated my ability to keep from falling over. Maybe I’d fallen over a lot last night.

“I’ll be right there,” she said. And a minute or two later she knocked.

I let her in. “Are you actually going to babysit me while I sit in the tub? I’m not that impaired you know.”

“Are you sure? You look like hell.”

“I assure you compared to the MDMA hangover this is nothing.” I stripped off my shirt and tossed it onto my bag.

She grabbed my shoulder. “Whoa!”

“What? Oh.” The tattoo. “That reminds me to moisturize.”

“You… this is the….”

“Ziggy drew it.”

“Don’t tell me you got matching ones–!” Her eyes were wide in an excited kind of way.

“No. He got my initial as a musical note instead,” I said. I pointed to the top of my spine. “Back here, at the base of his neck.”

“You really are serious.”

“About what?” I went into the bathroom, dropped my skivvies, and got into the water, which still had another couple inches to go before the tub was full.

“Can I come in?”

“You’ve seen it all before,” I said. “Well, except for the tattoo.” The hot water made it itch, but it was healing well, just flaking a little like dry skin as the excess ink shedded.

She came in and sat on the toilet with the lid down. “Whew. I can’t drink like I used to.”

“I think there’s a little bottle of Excedrin headache formula in my bag.”

“Already took some.” She sighed. “Court made sure I swallowed a couple before she left for the airport this morning.”

“Everything all right at home?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Just haven’t been there in a month so, you know, wondering.”

“Chris is doing a bunch of renovations. Figured while you were gone was the right time for that.”


“Rebuilding the front porch, putting a new toilet in the second floor bathroom, some stuff like that. I guess he figures if money’s a little tight instead of working on houses to earn the money to pay a contractor, why not just work on the house himself?”

“I suppose that makes sense.” I shuddered thinking about the power saw incident, though. Apparently I can get goose bumps even while sitting in hot water.

Hot water, as I may have mentioned in the past, was an excellent invention on the part of humans. I think I soaked it in through my skin like a frog. For a while that’s all I did: soak. Eventually enough brain cells came online that I said, “So what’s on the agenda for today?”

“We need to be at the radio station before five o’clock, but that gives us a couple of hours to kill. What do you want to do?”

“You’re going to die of shock when you hear me say this but I think we should go clothes shopping.”

She feigned surprise. “Who are you and what have you done with the real Daron Marks!”

“I know, I know. But let’s go up to the Haight. I need some stuff to wear between now and home.” I dunked my head under the water by lying down in the tub. I stayed down for a while, holding my breath and listening to the weird sound that water makes when you’re under it. When I came up for air, I asked, “Didn’t you say I’m doing an in-store in Baltimore?”

“Annapolis, actually, plus a radio station and a couple of other press people to meet with.”


“Tower.” She stood and stretched. “I’ll go over all the details with you later. I’ve got all your plane tickets, too. Now don’t sit too long, you’ll get pruney.”

For some reason that made me laugh. Of all the things to worry about, of all the things to tell me…I don’t know. It just struck me as funny. It made me laugh so hard I couldn’t get out of the water. I had to just let it drain while I sat there, helpless, because every time I thought I was done laughing, I laughed some more. This made Carynne laugh, too, and she had to sit back down. She eventually threw a towel at me so I could at least work on getting dry, even if I really couldn’t do much but stick my face into it and laugh some more.

Eventually we did stop and I could breathe again, and I climbed carefully out of the tub. I was about half-dressed when she said, “God. Don’t do that again. My ribs can’t take so much laughing.”

I tossed the now-damp towel back at her. “Can’t help it,” I said. “I’m gay.

And that was it. We laughed for another ten minutes until the maid came, and I’m pretty sure she thought we were just plain crazy.

(P.S. Everyone, hope you liked the bonus scene last week. Yes, Daron watches his share of gay porno. Can you tell?)


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