25 November, 2009

east coast / west coast feud

i'm always a little sad when the van turns east and starts to head home. today, at 530am, we left los angeles to bang out a drive to denver in one day.

i grew up in virginia and have spent the last 10 years between rhode island and massachusetts, so i'm pretty firmly east coast. i've been touring since i was 17 (i'm 24 now)(just kidding, i'm 32), and i've traveled around the US in pretty much every direction and combination of geographies you can imagine. but, for economics and practicality, i always start my driving tours from home. thus, the east is the beginning, the freshest point in the tour, where the cities are clustered, and my days are busier.

as i head west, everything expands. the drives are longer, the landscape flattens, and with it, so does my mind. i slow down, life gets simpler, friends and obligations drift away in the rearview mirror. by the time i get to the west coast i'm like a zen master living in a cave, unaware of the hours of the day or even the people i am traveling with. i am concerned only with that night's show and not getting swine flu.

i've been on the road 42 days without going home. most of my shows have been with my friend jill sobule, and all of the days have been with my trusty friend and tour manager desdemona "bunty" burgin. every tour manager needs a nickname in quotes. bunty's dates from childhood, not from some unspeakable road happening that's remembered in an obscure nickname. wait! i should probably lie and say we call her "bunty" because of "that night in san francisco".

playing with jill has been a blast. i didn't know her before the tour; our managers thought we'd fit, and they were right. she's funny nearly all hours of the day, a great songwriter, and a fantastic musician. she's just got bucketfuls of style, whether it's her songs or her clothes or her palatial LA estate that she bought with money from her fans who thought they funded her record. just kidding about that last part.

in the east, i am a do-er. i never stop moving, processing, agitating either myself or those around me. i get quiet in the west and serious. the landscape is like a meditation to me, the soporific drives leave me feeling so relaxed and blank sometimes it's hard to rally to ordinary conversation. and sometimes in the west, i am just battling mere exhaustion, the result of the 4-5 weeks of touring to get out there.

for me, the east is plugged and west is unplugged. i hesitate to say which is better, but i can say after this long that the west is possibility and the east is the known comfort and electricity of home. so the moment where we turn back and start the trek home is always a bittersweet one for me. i'll be glad to get home, but i'll miss the simplicity of driving through unbroken horizon.
as we head east to philadelphia, i'll try to fill in the blanks and share some of what's been happening for me the last couple months. here's some road pictures to start.

bbq in memphis TN

book in my dressing room, portland OR

sprinter the day we left goshen MA

pittsburgh PA. dont know why i think this is so funny.

lorraine motel in memphis, where MLK was shot

church on the interstate near cincinati OH

sign in the ladies room, louisville KY

graffiti in the ark dressing room, ann arbor MI, from 2002

our van got graffitied in santa barbara CA. dont be jealous because we have universal healthcare and gay marriage

bedspread in a hotel, charlotte NC

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