689. Nightrain

(Thanks to the generous donations of readers that triggered this bonus post! And look, now we’re only $91 $90 from another one! -ctan)

“Have you got Ziggy there, too?” Mills asked.

“Glad you called,” Barrett answered, his voice taking on a chummy-yet-business-y tone. I mean, he always sounded like that, but it was like he turned it up a notch. “Zig’s here as well.”

“I’m in Hollywood,” Mills said, “or I’d drop by. So. You’ve got Venezuela and Colombia booked already?”


“You sure about that? I’m not so sure I want you going into some drug-infested battleground.”

Barrett raised his eyebrows. He had a chiseled chin and his hair combed back in a wave, giving him a kind of clean-cut politician-on-the-stump look. “Welllll, if you could get things moving along for North America I wouldn’t be so concerned with South.”

“You know it’s not that easy.”

“Isn’t it? I thought you said most of the lawsuits were frivolous.”

“They are. But Megastar corporate are risk-averse. They would rather sit on the asset than risk a lawsuit over it.”

Was the asset the album, I wondered, or Ziggy himself?

“Something’s got to give sometime, John,” Barrett said. “Did you ever consider maybe if BNC backed off first, everyone else might, too?”

Mills laughed. “Not likely. Not when Donald Marks is as crazy as a shithouse rat.”

Several of us had to work hard to keep from laughing at that, me despite myself.

“So I hear, so I hear,” Barrett said. “At any rate, assuming someday we get to North American release, did you have a chance to listen to those mixdowns we sent over?”

“I did. I’m going to take a couple of them to a radio network listening shindig.”

“Which couple?”

“‘Parade’ and ‘Into the Night.’ Not going to bother with that ‘Breaking Chains’ thing–I know they all love it but honestly that’s just radio people flipping out over something that feels subversive to them.”

Barrett failed to suppress his grin. “You think that’s what it is?”

“The charts are soft right now, none of the big releases of the year are coming until the fall, and stations are desperate for something that people will turn on the radio for instead of listening to on their Walkmans,” Mills said. “And the radio biz is still full of old hippies who love sticking it to The Man.” He chuckled in what I interpreted as an evil way, but you know I’m biased. “Tell me honestly. Did Daron Moondog have kittens when he heard it, or what?”

Ziggy’s eyes got very wide and he had to put his hands over his mouth to keep from laughing out loud. Barrett tried not to sound too too amused. “I didn’t ask.”

“I thought for sure you’d have another lawsuit on your hands when he heard you’d used his parts without his knowledge. That kid needs to get his priorities straight.”

“Gee, and here I thought you were going to be the one to have kittens when you heard it,” Barrett said, ribbing Mills.

Mills made a pshaw kind of sound. “I couldn’t give a fuck. He signed over his interest in the trademarks and band name so I got nothing to worry about. I’m guessing from the way things went at The Cat Club that you and he kissed and made up, eh, Ziggy?”

“You could say that,” Ziggy said, his voice light but his face was in a snarl.

“Anyway, I’d really like you to reconsider this South American tour,” Mills said. “Scorsese and Cameron both have projects in development that could get greenlighted any minute. Would love to attach Zig to them but can’t really do that if he’ll be out of the country.”

Barrett rolled his eyes. “It’s only two weeks. I call bullshit, John.”

“Yeah, well, I had to try. How much are they paying? Advance plus tour support? I know it can’t be that much.”

“Why, are you willing to outlay a little more to keep us at home?”

Mills laughed. “Ho ho, no. Don’t be surprised if you spend every peso you make on security, though.”

“Thanks for the advice, John. See you when you get back to the city.”

“You got it.”

Barrett picked up the handset and hung it up to end the call rather more forcefully than I expected. “He’s a ball-buster, isn’t he?”

“A real charmer,” the choreographer said.

“Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk album cover.” Barrett apparently didn’t feel Mills’s attempt to get us not to go to South America was worth talking about. He gestured to Linn, who dug into her portfolio for another sheaf of prints.

The meeting went on and I found myself zoning out, mostly replaying things Mills said in my mind. What the fuck priorities did he think I was supposed to have? And he obviously hadn’t heard the news yet that they were hiring me, or that I was joining WTA’s talent stable via Carynne. Barrett seemed content to let him find out later.

So was I. I rejoined reality feeling bolstered by the fact that, obviously, neither Barrett nor Ziggy were interested in kissing Mills’s ass. That was a very comforting thing to know. Linn had put up a bunch of prints of what I gathered were popular albums in various South American countries. It appeared they had a lot of male solo acts and the covers tended to have a pinup style photograph of the singer.

Ziggy was grimacing. “Boring,” he declared.

“Well, it wouldn’t be boring because it would be you,” Linn said matter-of-factly. ”

The skin prickled on the backs of my arms as I had a sudden deja vu. Was that in a dream I’d seen it? Or had I just imagined it one time? An album cover of Ziggy’s face, dappled with glitter and the whole background looking like stars. I could picture it clearly.

Ziggy put a warm hand onto the back of mine. “You look like you have something to say.”

“Um.” I blinked. “No. Just having a flashback to a…a dream I had.” I shook my head.

His purposefully raccoon-y eyes stared into mine. “What was it?”

The more I tried to evade saying anything the more he was going to dig. I could see that. There wasn’t really any reason to hide this, though, and certainly no reason to drive a wedge between us. “Couple of years ago I had this dream I was looking at a solo album of yours and it was like…a glamor shot of your face but you had sparkles in a stripe across your eyes, and down your shoulders, and the background kind of melded with you as if it was all stars and a galaxy and I’m really not describing it well.”

His mouth hung open slightly and his eyes were starting to brim with questions, but I guess they were questions for later because then he sat back in his chair and looked at The Aesthetician.

Who was flipping through her portfolio with fluttering fingers. “Aha, aha! Something like this?” She pulled out a sketch and put it on the coffee table in the middle of us. Barrett stood partway up to get a look over his desk.

Goose bumps crawled across my neck. “Yeah. Something like that.” The sketch was highly evocative, almost a portrait except that Ziggy’s eyes were even larger than in real life.

Ziggy was nodding. “I like it.”

Barrett nodded, too. “Certainly for Japan. How soon can we set up a photo shoot?”

“Tomorrow or the next day at the latest,” Linn said. “That gives us a strong basis for the opening number, stage visuals, and establishing makeup.”

“The opening number could be ‘Into the Night,'” Ziggy said. “A bit of a twist on the meaning. Into the stars, the night sky, space travel.”

Barrett rubbed his hands with glee. “Mills is definitely going to have kittens.”


  • s says:

    He needs to sort out his priorities. (Said in my best Ron Weasley voice) Seriously, though, wtf is that? I’m disappointed he didn’t already know they hired you. Listening to that bastard’s head pop off would have been so gratifying…

    Nothing quite like the man you love bringing your recurring nightmare to life…Zig, I don’t think he meant it as a suggestion.

    I hope you don’t end up a little angst-puppy by the end if this tour, Daron.

    Sanders, have a little GNR for your listening pleasure. 🙂

    • sanders says:

      I don’t think he’ll end up an angst-puppy. They both seem to be doing better in that area.

      Oh, GnR. “I don’t know what it is, but it’s weird and it’s pissed off, and it calls itself Slash.” Axl Rose, when not being a dick, is hilarious and wonderful and I miss classic Guns n’ Roses with this line up. I even miss the Use Your Illusion era GnR. Did you know Axl Rose has one of the widest recorded vocal ranges in “popular” (meaning non-classical) music? He’s recorded notes higher than Mariah Carey.

      This chapter. I have to think about this chapter before I can comment coherently other than “Fuck Mills.”

      • daron says:

        I have to think about this chapter before I can comment coherently other than “Fuck Mills.”

        That was pretty much my reaction to the whole thing. *shrugs*

        • sanders says:

          So, I thought about it and, yeah, that’s my pretty much my only coherent reaction. The rest is just the cackling like a Disney villain that you and Zig and Barrett couldn’t do on the phone. That man is a real piece of work.

          • daron says:

            Cackling wasn’t what I wanted to do but you know they don’t like it when you curse a blue streak and then piss on the phone. Unprofessional.

      • Kaila says:

        Waitaminute…Axl Rose has a higher register than the human dogwhistle herself?

        • sanders says:

          I actually was wrong about this. He has a wider vocal range than she does, but came in fourth in a comparison of highest notes recorded, behind Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, and Prince, per a listing from concerthotels dot com. It’s interesting to look at because you can sort by range, highest notes and lowest notes, and there are some surprising people who have the recorded ranges (Bjork and Dolly Parton, for instance).

        • ctan says:

          Here’s the link to that vocal range comparison thing sanders was talking about. Since I can un-spam my own comment and make the link live: https://www.concerthotels.com/worlds-greatest-vocal-ranges

    • daron says:

      I hope so, too.

      Maybe if they just keep me and Mills apart no one will get hurt.

      • s says:

        I saw my first concert since I began reading DGC last night: Tool. This story has changed my perspective on EVERYTHING! Here are my thoughts.
        1) The first band was some metal thing that I swear played one continuous song for 30 minutes, and had, I kid you not, a fucking keyboard…I kept thinking of the Megashits and also how they could REALLY use Louis’s help…
        2) I spent the next hour trying to figure out what drug I was supposed to have taken to understand Primus (band #2). When the video screens went from showing some creepy looking cartoon figures to an elephant on a trampoline that then started changing colors, I decided maybe acid was what I was missing…Remember the good ole days when bands could entertain a crowd without that shit…?
        3) Tool fucking KILLED IT! Brought the goddamn roof down!

        In their honor, I thought I’d share some of their lyrics that remind me of Daron and Ziggy.
        “Sober” (hopefully the old D and Z)
        “I am just a worthless liar
        I am just an imbecile
        I will only complicate you
        Trust in me and fall as well
        I will find a center in you
        I will chew it up and leave
        I will work to elevate you
        Just enough to bring you down”

        “H” (Tool fans have debated the meaning of this song for decades. Theories range from his son changing him to elements of childhood abuse to battling his own personal demons to drug addiction. Given the relationship between D and Z has elements of love changing them, addiction/obsession, personal demons and a little abuse, I feel justified saying it reminds me of them. Also the lead singer likes to answer questions about as straightforward as Ziggy so we’ll never know what it’s truly ‘about.’ Feel free to read all the lyrics or better yet listen to the song. It’s awesome)
        “Venomous voice, tempts me,
        Drains me, bleeds me,
        Leaves me cracked and empty.
        Drags me down like some sweet gravity.
        The snake behind me hisses
        What my damage could have been.
        My blood before me begs me
        Open up my heart again.
        And I feel this coming over like a storm again.
        I am too connected to you to
        Slip away, to fade away.
        Days away I still feel you
        Touching me, changing me,
        And considerately killing me.”

        • s says:

          Shit I almost forgot Maynard had a political message for us. He said if we want to save our souls from eternal damnation the choice is clear who to vote for this fall: Bowie and Lennon.

          • daron says:

            They’d get my vote.

            Sorry to hear Primus has jumped the shark. I really liked them when they first hit the scene, that first major label album (Sailing the Seas of Cheese) is one of my faves. They are from San Francisco so maybe acid is about right?

            • s says:

              It was definitely a strange show. I often wondered if lyrics came with the acid trip ’cause I couldn’t hear any for most of it. There was a 30 minute intermission while they set up for Tool during which someone vacuumed the stage THE WHOLE TIME and they turned on a fog machine. No idea why. Someone commented maybe they were putting hallucinogens in the air. I said they should have done that BEFORE Primus not after. Tool is weird and doesn’t give a fuck what people think so I expected it to be a weird show. I wasn’t disappointed. Lol

              Yeah I’d vote Bowie and Lennon too. That would seem downright sane next to Trump or Hillary…

  • chris says:

    Daron, you do realize you are becoming a creative force behind this album/tour…right?

  • G says:

    I just binge-read this entire thing over the last two weeks, including the comments. I am not sure the last time I have completely fallen in love with characters as I have with yours, ctan. Oddly, I feel like I know the rest of you from your comments, too! I even subconsciously wonder what one of you will say in your comment as I’m reading… is that weird? I have cried, shouted, put my fist in the air, shaken my fist at the tablet, laughed, screamed “YES!” while jumping around and howled in frustration. I don’t even know when posts happen (Tuesdays, Thursdays and bonus Saturdays?) and I’m deathly afraid I will miss them somehow because they aren’t already here. I feel… strangely lost without my guys…

    • ctan says:

      Welcome to the madness! You’re not the first binge-reader to reach whatever the latest post is and go into immediate withdrawal. Deep breath! There’s more coming. Just a bit more slowly. Yes, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and anytime the tip jar hits $100 total, Saturday too. (And if the weekly pledge total on Patreon hits $100, I’ll switch to posting 3 times a week permanently — or as long as that keeps up, anyway! Patrons also have unlimited access to the “adult” bonus scenes. Details here: https://www.patreon.com/ceciliatan?ty=h)

      Please join the fun and feel free to comment to other commenters. 🙂

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