I was introduced to punk rock in 1987 while attending Cistercian Prep School in Dallas, Texas. Actually it was a year or two earlier that I’d gotten my first taste of it thanks to a Skate Rock compilation produced by Thrasher Magazine. I just didn’t realize it was an actual genre of music so much as something scary to freak out the grown ups. I mean, when a magazine with a monthly column called “skarfing material” (that was really just a collection of snack recipes calling peanut butter and jelly sandwiches “bloody guts and vomit bread” ) released a collection of bands with names like Suicidal Tendencies and Red Hot Chili Peppers, it had to be a joke right?
I tried to kill myself twice as a kid.
I say twice but in all actuality I only really tried once. The first time I just talked about it, freaked out my family and landed myself in years of counseling.
The first Hot Water Music tour was as DIY as it gets. I feel confident saying that because I booked it myself, mostly through contacts I’d made either through selling records or hanging out on #punk on irc. Also, we didn’t even have a single vehicle big enough for everything we had to bring so ended up in a convoy consisting of a small van and a pickup truck. The pickup was the lifesaver because not only could we put the amps in the back, but if you were riding in the back you could actually lay down flat and stretch your legs out straight which was something you couldn’t do in the van because it was just too small. In reality we probably could have all crammed into the van, but our friend Canaan had just bought the pickup truck and volunteered to join us on the tour as part driver part roadie and we all liked him so there was really no reason to say no.
Yes that’s right, on the first Hot Water Music tour we spent many an hour sleeping in the back of a pickup truck while it was speeding down a highway somewhere along the east coast. That’s an awesome story in and of itself, but this gets even better.
We’d left town almost immediately following a show in Atlanta because we needed to be in Hot Springs, Arkansas the following evening. I admit when booking the tour I paid more attention to making sure our route was a continuous loop starting and ending in Gainesville with little or no doubling back on itself and less on how far individual shows were from each other. It was the first tour I booked, what can I say.
The first business I ever recall being involved in was probably around 1979 while I was attending the Burgundy Farm Country Day School just outside of Washington DC. I was in Kindergarten. Burgundy Farm is a “progressive independent” school on a former dairy farm that had classrooms actually built inside renovated barns. To a kid my age this place was kind of a wonderland. The classes were held inside, but with all the doors and windows open it seemed like outside, and everything we learned pulled art and creativity into it somehow. There were farm animals and a stream running through the campus where we often found crayfish and I distinctly remember once building a fort out of fallen leaves and sticks that you could climb inside of – it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life. Us kids used to get bused in from miles around in our parents hope of us getting our first prep for the real world. If we were lucky the bus driver would stop at a 7-11 during one leg of the trip and we’d rush in like sex starved sailors at port to buy whatever candy we could afford. My favorite thing to buy was this mini hamburger shaped thing that was actually bubblegum.
In unrelated events, this was also the time of my life when I was convinced I was a robot pulling a big scam on everyone else around me who thought I was just a normal little boy. I confided this in one of my classmates once who responded by telling me he was an alien but I could tell he was a big fat liar.
– Continued from part 1 –
I looked back and said “I think that was it back there…”
“Yeah, I’m just looking for a place to pull over.”
Usually a comforting thing to hear except when the street is full open parking spots you are being driven right past. This was the worst excuse ever.
“I can just jump out at this light, no problem” I said.
“Don’t be silly, I’ll get you there” she replied and kept driving. Driving away from the hotel. About four blocks away she made a left and started driving up a hill “Since we’re over here I just want to show you something” and kept driving up the hill, away from my hotel. Half of me was trying to figure this out, perhaps there was a good view from somewhere on this hill, maybe there was some area of the city that a traveler might never see? The other half of me was quietly freaking the fuck out and knowing that something was very wrong and getting worse by the minute.
I didn’t really know if Tabitha was her real name, she and I had traded only a few e-mails over the previous weeks. I never asked for her last name and mostly just talked about the details of my visit. I’d been introduced to her after mentioning online somewhere that I was planning to visit Cork on my next trip to Ireland and was hoping someone might have some recommendations. A few people suggested things to see or places to stay, and someone suggested I meet up with a friend of theirs who could show me around. The introduction was brief but as the date of my trip got closer we talked more frequently. Mostly loose planning– I’d email her once I was settled in my hotel and we’d meet up for drinks later that evening. It wasn’t a date, simply she and some friends often met up near where I was staying and I was welcome to join them in wherever the evening might lead.