Sunday, June 12, 2011

A collection of travel journal entries I did when Porkchop and I went out on the road in February!

pork chop the sequal
by Bob Reuter on Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 3:11am

Pork Chop's car got totaled in Hannibal tuesday night-he's ok but it fucked up one of his guitars (not the National) unbeknownst to him, his license had been revoked for failure to pay a parking ticket he got for a parking ticket he got three years ago when he lived in Nashville so he was cuffed, arrested and brought back to the station where he was written a ticket and released - he called me and asked if i knew anybody who could get him to his next gig in Minneapolis - i was the only one i knew without a regular job so I hit the road in my 94 Geo - a donut tire on the back, twenty five bucks and a half tank of gas - the whole car shaking like a bitch every time I hit 60 - long story short, We're up here in the land of eternal winter right now - we're staying at the home of the guy who stages the Deep Blues Festival in Minniapolis- Large bag o'Barbecue awaited us when we pulled in at midnight! two gigs in two days, here and in St. Cloud - no one will be home here tomorrow so we plan on sleeping till like two in the afternoon

on the road with bob and pork
by Bob Reuter on Friday, February 18, 2011 at 5:13am

Porkchop played a gig at a place called the White Horse tonight in St. Cloud Minn - i played his break - each of us individually had chicks up dancing which was pretty f'n cool but DAMN is this state COLD!!!! People ujp here thought it was warm tonight just cause it wasnt near zero, it was like 38 but the wind just rips right through ya!! Anyway, i sold some pictures so made a little bit of monies!!

We're staying at the home of Chris Johnson who puts on the Deep Blues Fest which is a big fucking deal if you're into sort of gut bucket non polished and punk ass type blues!! The fest ran for like three years but now Chris owns a little Q joint called Bayport BarBQ so he can book individual acts year round and also sell some really fine Q! The joint's multiple tv screens showing all the great acts, Chris has booked - all now personal friends of his!

So Chris and his wife and kids have this great place outside Minneapolis where he lets all these blues cats stay and that's where we are - tomorrow night it'll be us, the band Henry and June, Johnny Walker"s (who's band was the Soledad Brothers) plays bass for them - it's actually a re-union of a band that broke up quite a while ago - the white stripes covered one of their tunes so some interest developed and they're doing this gig to maybe sell some of the original cd's all playin tomorrow night for hte big grand opeing of the joint!!

Anyway, today was a lot less wacky as i think our kind of hard travelin was just generally catchin up with us plus Porkchops having totaled the car and the reality of ii was really startin to settle in - You cant even imagine the road conversations - it's really starting to hit me what a brilliant mind this cat has, I mean considering he's nearly entirely self educated (he was kicked out of high school for pulling a pistol on the school principal) In so many ways we're really beginning to feel like twins separated at birth - the pattens of our madness, the childhood fucked upness we endured... our total obsession with the music that's enabled us to work past it all...

i asked him what his mama said to the news of why he'd been kicked out of school... he said,

"Are you alright sweetheart?

"yes Mam. They say they want me to go into a hospital for a little while"

"and what do you think baby?"

"I guess so mama, i'm just really tired and mixed up right now"

"OK then baby."

I feature keeping this man as a friend for life.

Pulled into a town i was sure was Iowa City - asked a woman on the street how to get to the university area and she said there wasnt one in town - I said, "No university in Iowa City??" she said, This isnt Iowa City , this is Cedar Falls!" then she told us how to get to the highway and on our way to the Highway and it started raining and i didnt have any rubber on my wiper blades though they still functioned some -but they also said "SCREACH- SCREACH SCREACH!!!" very loudly, - like i say, we couldnt see at all without them so I just began screaming, OH I BEEN WORKING ONTHE RAILROAD ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY!!!" and the next thing i knew Porchop was screaming along with me! next thing we knew we were miles down the road and found an auto parts store where Pork bought us some new wiper blades - the local who came out to put'em on took one look at the rubberless wipers and and was like,

"So, drove ya mad Eh?"

We traveled about twenty more miles and saw a sign that said, "Cedar Rapids 35 miles" so who was crazy?!

Later Porkchop said of my singing "I been working on the railroad" - "that it was a fine example of a man with advanced survival skills!"

long last day up north for bob an'chop! OR pork and the professor at the festival of meat!
by Bob Reuter on Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 3:42am

jesus, slept in - I scored one of Chris's son's room - members of Henry and June were downstairs where I slept last night and I scored a room of my own! I'm being treated as a hero for getting porkchop up here for this gig! We kinda slept in - round 1pm

Today when we finally left the crib, we headed into Minneapolis looking for film and a tambourine that would fit his foot (he'd lost his somewhere along the way) So we met us some photo and music people - non squares with those "Fargo type accents" - when yer traveling with Mr. Holder, you're like part of the medicine show, I found myself working in tandem with old boy - we'd walk into a joint doin this whole vaudeville routine, i'd lob one to'im and he'd knock it out o'the park! Another thing is that if you have any inkling of a southern accent yourself, close contact with old Doctor P Holder, your drawl's gonna increase exponentially - Pork took to introducin me as "Professor Bob Reuter" and it felt right to me.

Meanwhile back at the bbq joint we were fed like kings again and i set about shootin pictures which continued all night - if ya didnt catch my earlier posts Chris Johnson who's put on the Deep Blues Fest (a celebration of dirty, punk, jook joint and just broken fucked up blues acts by bands heavy on the dirt, grit and ragginess - T-Model Ford was on the bill) for the past three years (a pure labor of love which had to have lost him like 50 grand per year) decided to take another tact by setting up Bayport BBQ - "a Deep Blues Joint" where he could serve some truly fine Q while hosting his friends and favorite deep blues cats from all over the map!

What i always love shootin best is the players shootin the shit, laughin - drinkin - catchin up -getting ready to play and just generally being amongst their own tribe. I LOVE catchin that shit, seeing what only the players and a select few others get to be part of and sharing it with the rest of the world! I shot like three rolls of film in the green room alone - in this case, in the basement with the forty-five dollar a plate revelers moving back and forth cross the hard wood floors over our heads sounding like a hear of cattle bein moved in a very un-orderly fashion towards the slaughter.

Now to be honest I gotta say that an event like this could have been like a million times better had this all taken place back home with a roomful of my unwashed brothers and sisters of the great St. Louis Southside but you take your holy rituals where you find'em and to hear Mark Porchop Holder, the Rue Moor Counts and Henry and June all playing some hot as hell blues rockin sets backed by a glass wall and a backdrop just the other side, of huge shattered hunks of broken ice just slid down off the pitched roof - a truly jarring sortof juxtaposition. The crowd was a bit upscale for my taste but though reserved, they really WERE an appreciative audience and who can ask for anymore than that?!

Anyway, so after the gig and the squares filed out, a little make-shift lo-fi recording session went down and I got a crack at pickin up Pork's beautiful Stella guitar while he wailed on harp by my side! - then more shootin the shit, "coming down" and exchanging recordings I'll be bringing back and playing on the radio show - Bob's Scratchy Records for you to hear!- did a little discussing the possibility of bringing some of these great sbandds back to the Lou at some future date - I'm thinkin it's a match made in heaven so if you dug seeing Porkchop at CBGB's or Kid Congo Powers at either CB's OR Off Brfoadway - wait'll you get aload of THESE cats! It could happen - we're still talking!

Tomorrow - the nine hour plus ride back to heaven including a stop in Hannibal so that Mr Holder can get another look at his hillbilly scrap heap of automobile which being a po boy from Chattanooga he has not YET surrendered to a MO state junkyard grave! He's threatening to mask what's left of the shattered windshield with see through tape - takin' a hack saw to any metal twisted up and in contact with the front wheels and driving the pile of foreign steel, on back home to tennessee under cover of night when it's profile would be less highly visible. More will be revealed- a nine or ten hour ride - Christ i'm ready to go off meat for a good long while!

honey badger dont care!! - end of pork and bob on the road!
by Bob Reuter on Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 7:44pm

Where do I even begin?! It's now four in the afternoon on Sunday, I've slept in two hour bursts since I passed out at six this morning. I'm back home safe at the crib and there's seventeen inches of snow headin for Minneapolis.
I woke up at Chris's place yesterday morning on five hours sleep - went to the Q joint to say our good-bye's - by the time we got there it was already late afternoon, a few customers were lingering but he'd already locked the door - there was a woman two tables behind us periodically crying over her brisket and cole slaw and an old man ordering that last slice of pecan pie - Chris brought a tray of assorted meat - pork, halves of chicken, brisket and pulled pork, then another of sides - potato salad, slaw, beans and big mason jars of ice cold water. each of these deliveries came slow as we were getting it for free and came only as he was able to get to it. The man's a giant, a huge viking gentle giant of a large hearted northern american republican deep blues fanatic - Hey, this is america he'd say, you can have whatever you want as long as you can pay for it (my mind flashed to Mark Porkchop Holder wearing shorts that broke just above his two ace bandaged legs, which had been scraped of dead flesh twice a week for eight weeks till they "looked like nothing so much as a couple of fried chicken drumsticks" He stands up with his cane in the front row of a town hall meeting back home in Chattanooga last summer,
"You know..." he says, "If health care was something I could steal, if I could take it from some rich man by force, I'd just pull out my pistol and take it, there's be no problem at all...!!" and the Black folks in the crowd had all jumped up and cheered)

But Chris aint a bad man, aint stupid, mean or lacking compassion, that's clear to see in his face, in the way he deals with strangers and shit - maybe we all just are what we are.

" Johnny Walker", who had taken that name when he dove deep into the blues in his own deep way so many years ago - (he told me what his real name was, or something at least close to it - it was something that started with an "H" and just screamed Russia or eastern europe or Jew) Back when he and Ben formed the Soledad Brothers taking up the name of the fallen seventies Black revolutionaries (George Jackson's family had had given their blessing to the use of the name). Anyway, Johnny's doing music as a more of a hobby now he says- he's gone back to being a doctor - Psychiatry. He works with people who are seriously fucked up and lost now - they wonder out loud whey he dont talk to them like a shrink,

"Cause half my friends are just like you." He tells'em and then he excuses himself saying he's got to answer a text he just got about a particular client back home in Ohio.

So we didnt even leave town till like four in the afternoon - plenty of time for reflection, plenty of time for Mark and I to tell our stories - you know how stories of your life pour out in cars or planes, busses or trains going a long ways from one place to another - like maybe you might die so it dont matter, same as how you think no one can ever see you picking your nose when you're in yhour car alone - safe in your personal space. - and the drill rolls on - Mark lights up a smoke, cracks the window, north wind chills our little chamber, I crank the heat, get overly hot crack my own window, kill the heat, he dowses the tube, wind chills us again, i crank up the heat, start to get hot and then kill it again... mile after mile, frozen fields all stark and white, beautiful in their desolation - hella fat full cartoon, big ol'moon - moving grey clouds cross it and you get peaks of cold black sky - all so beautiful and lonely.Silver pellets of sleet exploding n the road - thousands of'em smashing down in shine of our brights! - grey sky covers the frozen plain like a roof without walls you can see the cloudless black on the horizons. Then it's lightening and thunder - our new wiper blades work like champs - "Next time you're screachingly bladeless" says Johnny Walker later, tie socks on'em, works every time!"

Somewhere into Iowa again we're on the "Avenue of the Saints" which runs "from St. Paul to St.Louis" sounds like we're almost home but fat chance, five more hours minimum and Mark gets a "black rumbling" in his belly - Quick trip toilet - ever notice how safe QT feels, how you can BUY your every possible need, all the comforts of home... pre packaged lovin. I ask a gramma Iowa lady with name tag badge i never read, on her red QT smock.

"How long till Hannibal?" i ask

She almost takes me by the hand, "let's go look at my favorite book!" she says as she cracks open a softbound copy of a road atlas - this is where she tells me about "Avenue of the Saints", this is where she tells me bout driving to her sisters who lives near Hannibal, this is where she asks me if my big friend needs any help and asks about his maybe being sick since he's gone back to the can a a couple of times. "Here" she says, "bring him these saltiness they'll settle his stomach" she says, "or ask him if he'd like some Imodium" she says, "That would always fix me right up!" sxhe says, "That was before I found out I was lactose intollerant." I tell her, yeah I am too. Then I glance at the Chester's Chicken heating bins - I ask how often Chester brings his chicken in - the old bitch behind the food counter dont get that I'm jokin' I go back to gramma. - I point to the pre packaged cheese burgers in their tin foil wrappers, "Would you eat one of these I ask, "Oh no!" she says, "I wouldnt even eat one of those if they were fresh!, I love the chicken sandwiches though!" and here her eyes swell with delight! I buy the dry chicken on a tough bun and grab a mayo packet then go grab one of the chairs flipped on top of the dining tables and sit by myself with a bag of chips - some "farmer looking" young man approaches my table, "Excuse me", he says, "I think you might have dropped out of your pocket" he says extending to me a bent and twisted twenty dollar bill. What the hell??!! Where the hell are we? are we in heaven??? No. Iowa. The Imodium and two Kools settle Pork Chop's belly and we head back out on the road.

OK, see Pock Chop's a country boy - pig sloppin country then raised up in town - them people dont waste a thing so he's bound and determined to head back to Hannibal and drive the wreck back home - he aint like us. I try to pretend he's just talkin shit, like he'll change his mind when we get close, then again half his shit's still in there and we're already looking like the god damn judd family bound for California...!

You ever been to Hannibal?? You know them scoundrels Sam Clemens wrote about - well this is their kin - man, it's this dirty ol'river town, cool as fuck in a lotta ways but dont know that you'd really wanna live there. We pull in round two thirty in the morning down this dirty old industrial drive type road and just as we do, and remember there's no one anywhere around as far as you can see...'cept for this tow truck driver, same one that towed Porkchop three nights before and they talk and cash for storage is exchanged and we hit the road again - hillbilly a rollin! Hell yeah! ol'boy's down the road makin the limit and up into the seventies - totally spiderwebbed shattered windshield, hood smashed up like an accordian - hunk of the body hammered away from where it rubbed on the wheel, deployed air bag all tied back and pulled aside...made it all the way to bout a half hour out past the St. Louis airport - we stopped to'pee and the wreck wouldnt start again Ol'boy went mad, I shot some pics then Mark declared he was just too tired to fight for the night - we'd head back to Saint L get a rest and fight again in the morning and in another three hours we was home - cept then we hadda hit QT to buy Pork some dinner.

Last I saw Mark he was headin out my front door three hours ago, wearin his bibs and holdin a claw hammer in his hand - Ryan from my band Alley Ghost comin to pick him up and go make another run at the wreck - if they get it goin he'll be back and keep the thing runnin while he packs up his shit - dont try and change a hillbilly's mind, i dont feature it'll work.

Off shoots - I got to meet, eat, play, shoot pictures and then left an alley ghost cd with Chris the deep blues connection. Me and my pal Mark Porkchop Holder got plans to do little music makin tours throughout the south and up north like maybe three times a year together - we been baptized in the blood, in the fire and
ice - through chest pains and bein sick in truck stops - through hell screachin wiper blades - hell buddy, the Honey Badger dont give a good God Damn!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Well I was Walkin Through the Jungle...

hangin on the corner across form where i lived as a kid was a confectionary - that's what they called little neighborhood stores that sold like milk, bread, candy, soda and just all kinds of sundry shit you could need in the neighborhood. First it was called, "Millie's" and then it was "Uncle Frank's" cause it was bought by some dago from some big family down the block and everybody got to callin him uncle frank- next door was a barber shop and between'em was a phone booth - the barber, al, drove a big black 63 Desoto which looked like some kind of gangster ride, he had to be doin' pretty well - this was pre-beatles and long hair...Next door to that was a family with a kid who couldnt play cause he was "a bleeder". my mom set me down and explained that the reason he couldnt come out was cause he was sick and if he even just fell down he'd bleed to death and it'd be all my fault! I didnt even know there WAS a kid there, i mean, i never saw him. but that was probably cause he was a bleeder and didnt come out - him knowin' i was waitin out there to kill him.

so anyway, this little store was a natural enough place to hang out there on the corner. the street was made out of bricks and there was this one little spot where the bricks had kinda sank down cause there was like a water pipe broke or somethin' and there was always a little puddle there where the pigeons and stray dogs could drink no matter what the weather. I used to think it was maybe built on a spring but the broken pipe theory seems to (forgive me) hold more water.

So you could go to this store any school day round seven in the morning and see jimmy sisco eatin his breakfast of powdered donnuts and an orange sodie. Jimmy's mom was a hair dresser who always wore high heels and she left before him so she'd give him the money to buy breakfast. Cross he street was this big ol'bean pole of a guy named dennis who lived with his aunt and gramma - a fuckin hillbilly, looked like a goofy ass six foot howdy doody and he played guitar out on the front steps - an electric with a little bout ten inch amp. he only played parts of country songs. he had a cousin though who came and stayed sometimes, his name was lenny, he was a good lookin greaser of the james dean variety and all the teenage girls had crushes on him. all he had to do was drive a fast car. one summer night the news came down that he died in an auto accident somewhere out in the country. there were two girls with him when it happened but only lenny died. details were few and i dont think we knew the girls anyway so that was kind of the end of that.

There was this kid, little ricky who'd come up to the confectionary from like three blocks away. he was about six and kind of cute, always wore a brown leather bomber pilot jacket with a pink rabbit's foot hangin from the zipper. he was a charismatic little fuck and the older guys would teach him dirty songs. a couple even had little dances that went with'em. One was like, ricky would do this little walking in place move and sing at the top of his lungs,

"well i'm goin out west where i belong" then he'd swing one arm up over his head like he was about to lasso somethin and with the other hand he'd grab his dick and go.

"daw daw daw daw daw daw! duh daw daw daw!!" for the little guitar part

"where the girls are horny all night long -
daw daw daw daw daw daw duh daw daw daw!!" and he'd repeat the dick grabbin and throwin the invisable rope. the song just kind of stopped there. his big number though was this one was like a finger snappin beatnick rap that went,

"well i was walkin through the jungle with my dick in my hand
i'm a real cool fucker from the congo land, i looked up a tree and wha'did i see
a big ole nigger pissed on me, i picked up a rock, hit'em in the cock, and he fell
down on an elephant rock!!"

That was his money number. people'd throw him change. the kid was a charmer. problem with bein a charming little kid is that you get good at it and ya get lazy - your drive to learn and work hard kinda dwindels to nothin'. I mean i dont know for sure cause i never been all that charmin, least not back then but that's the way it looks to me from a distance.

now back behind or place, across the alley was a a big old place - used to be a mother and her three daughters lived there. I dont know, it was two floors and I'm thinking maybe eight rooms. Well niether the mother or her three daughters had been all that bright to start with and one by one they all died cept for edna. edna was a scary ass freak show, least to us kids, her face was all twisted and retarded she was kind of fat and wore all these, what they called house dresses - looked like they were from the thirties or forties. some of'em were patched an'shit. edna wasnt so bright and didnt exactly draw friends. when we'd be playing ball in the alley she'd throw open her side window stick her spooky ass head out and yell in a screachy voice.

"YOUSE kids quit throwin that ball - ya wanna break a winda r'somethin and it'll be all your fault??!!"

I mean we'd just freak! and dont EVEN let her come waddelin down the alley cause, i dont know what we thought she was gonna do but no one wanted to find out! on the other side of edna's back yard was some r. crumb lookin mother fucker livin in a little house completely over run with vegitation- grass and weeds - shit was just everywhere with no reason or rhyme, his whole yard was edged with honeysuckles which drew bees and wasps an shit - we called the guy "jungle jim" kids'd always be edged along the outside of his yard in the summer catchin bees in jars and suckin the stems of honeysuckles - i remember my sister havin a mason jar with no lid so she figured to make do with using her other hand -what she found out was that bees must sting them metal lids cause that's what they did to her hand and it swole all up till they had to run her to the doctor.

One time jungle jim, who rarely ever showed his face outside his little house, was out in the alley smashin up a porcelin toilet bowl with a sledge hammer. he had it smashed into some big old pieces and was gonna just leave'em there like that when my grampa came out and read him the riot act for gonna blow out somebody's auto tires when they rolled over his toilet hunks! well ol'jim went nuts and started screamin how every body already knew my grampa was a known nigger lover and a catholic marrier and he better keep his mouth shut. grampa stood firm and jim eventually hauled the toilet chunks away. i dont think anybody ever really understood exatcly why jim had called grampa a nigger lover but i do know i felt pretty proud to be his grandson for a good while after that even though grampa never did speak to me all that much and never seemed to really understand what it was that made me seem stranger than most of the other boys in the neighborhood.

Yeah that was a time - they had these big water tank trucks that would come down the streets onece a week and shoot water out into both gutters while a team of men swept the trash and leaves stream down towards the sewers. we'd all sit on the curbs with our shoes off and let it splash us like our own little city swim party - when it was hot in the summer the milk man would come round and we'd all grab a rag and he'd break us each off a little chunk of ice to lick while we sat on the curb - would i shit you??!! christ i actually remember junk wagons driven by crabby old men and there big ass draft horses wearing blinders -

"dont try and pet the fuckin horse or he'll trample and kill ya and it'll be all your own damn fault!!!"

anyway the beatles came out one year and a bunch of us got guitars and started letting our hair grow longer - Al the barber with his stacks of orange "confidential magazines" and old boys tellin dirty stories just stopped talking to us altogether as though we were conspiring against him on a personal account. across the street, the guitar playing fool, dennis had gone nuts and got thrown out of his aunts house and word was he was doing drugs and stopped takin baths. sometimes he'd go over to the barber shop and play harmonica or dance then ask the men to throw him change. Roger the teen age boy next door, was shootin some kind of speed, livin in the row apartments with a dancer gal and dyed his hair bright orange - nobody did crazy shit like that in 1966 - not in north st. louis anyway.

Well round about then the Blacks started moving in and marking out their new turf. seemed like they'd move in during the winter but you wouldnt really notice till it got warm out - civil rights was heatin up and the streets were a war zone. i kept spending more and more time at the band house down off broadway near the river and only touched down back home on occasion. One of the last things i remember is hearing a big commotion over cross the alley - old edna had gone blind and for several years would just sit on the her front steps waiting to hear somebody pass at which point she'd screech.

"HEY YOU!! watt TIME is it???!!!" if you gave her that, she'd ask could you go to the store for her then before you could answer she'd cry out about the time again - moslty folks'd just shuffle off. so this one week i hadnt seen her out for a while and when i asked about her i was told,

"aintcha heard? you heard about that aintcha??!!" i'd say i handt and they'd say

"'member little ricky??? cute kid with the dirty songs??! well, he'd heard stories bout edna and her mother's money and broke in over there sayin he'd go to the store if she wanted, then when she went to her purse he beat'er with a rubber hose he had. anyway, she's in the hoepital, nah she aint dead or nothin and littel ricky, they took him away - the cops!

I'm all like "Rickey??!"

and they were like, "oh yeah, thart little fucker got mean!"

"he get anything?!"

"few bucks, nothin really."

"to old edna... for a few bucks???!! Ricky??!!

"tha's what they say."

"Damn. little ricky."

Things change, ya know? I guess i always knew but that was the day it really hit me. damn.

"well i was walkin through the jungle with my dick in my hand..."

The sun's going down on Grand and Gravois

The sun's going down on Grand and Gravois as a skittish Mexican hairless makes it's way east 'cross four lanes of traffic. This town's beginning to look a lot like some foreign country - barefoot goat herding survivors of floods, cat in a turban leads his llama through the Tiny Bubbles Launderette - proverbial Black Hole of Calcutta, giant Negro pirate with a bird on his shoulder

"Why you hardly seem Black at all, in fact you sound like some tea swilling Brit!" she laughed.

Sittin' at the Taco Bell drive up window awkwardly shoving your money over the top of your door cause the electric push button windows no longer work and you run out what's left of your last quarter tank of gas. Six minutes left on the "pay as you go" piece of shit Chinese phone in your pocket. Gun shots off in the distance as sweat burns your eyes. I been spending like a broken yo yo for weeks without feeling the least bit better and now it's really time to pay! What the hell YOU lookin at?! This is AMERICA GOD DAMN IT!!