NorthWest/British Columbia, Feb-Mar '07
From the desk of Rita McSorehouse, Special Assistant to Ezra Gale, Grand Poo-Bah of Tour Diaries and Minister of Information, Aphrodesia, LLC.
Mr. Gale wishes me to convey his apologies for the, in his words, appalling lack of tour diaries over the last several Aphrodesia tours. While his schedule is indeed busy, as one might expect, he wishes me to inform the regular readers of this page that his limited free time is not the reason for the dearth of anecdotes, news updates, humorous aside and occaissionally insihtful social commentary that has made the 'Tour Journals' section of the Aphrodesia website such an indispensible intellectual hub for the world of touring 11-piece American bands.
Rather, Mr. Gale wishes me to express his frustration with what he calls the "abrasive bigotry of high expectations", the incessant demand for ever-more adventurous literary forms in a medium ill-suited to anything but the most unadorned prose and unaccustomed to the transformative affectations of post-literary narritive dogma. It is as if, he feels, one was asked to imbue a simple wrestling movie script from the 1950's with self-aware insights into the creative process and the nature of inspiration. Mr. Gale has, at this point, tried everything from straightforward chronological narrative to interactive New Media hypertext, from a dairy written in 95 word-or-less blasts inspired by a Reno literary contest to a fictionalized interview to epic poetry. At this point, Mr. Gale, so barren of new ideas he has even sarcastically suggested that a letter from his assistant should suffice as his next tour dairy model, would like me to ask the readers of this page why, if the ostensible purpose is to inform a wide audience of the latest events concerning the band known as Aphrodesia, the facts are no longer enough. Why is it, he asks, that you the reader place such an undue burden and expectation on gimmick over content? Shouldn't the mere recitation of events be enough?
Take, for example, the group's last tour to the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, Canada, in February-March of 2007. Why is Mr. Gale, as a band member himself, not allowed to gloat in the retelling of a show to an over-full house at Richards on Richards, an old-style Vancouver music hall slated for demolition to make way for the new Vancouver's shiny loft-style apartments, an opening slot for a Canadian afro-beat group called Five Alarm Funk that saw Aphrodesia play to 800 or so people and wind down the night some blocks away at the afterparty in Five Alarm Funk's rehearsal space, where David, Mitch and Lara commandeered the jam session of an Armenian band down the hall. Why is he not allowed to delight in the spotting of killer whales on the ferry ride to Vancouver Island, or the packed houses that greeted the group in Cumberland and in Victoria? Or the sight of a Nigerian fan climbing onstage in Seattle to smack dollar bills on the forehead of trombonist Liz Larson, an act which, having travelled in West Africa, the band knew was a sign of utmost respect, but the crowd wondered whether to dial 911 on their cell phones? Shall he be required to dress in linguistic frock such shenanigans as a middle of the night visit by the Cumberland police when the liquor store window next door was broken by hooligans? Or the mad journey when Lara wandered off in a quiet Olympia, Washington neighborhood only to get lost and rescued by a good samaritan neighbor intent on reuniting lost lead singers and their musical accompanists? Take the drunk patron in Hood River who threw a hundred dollar bill on stage and told the band to play the Violent Femmes "Blister In the Sun" (thank God Mully knew the bridge), for example. Does such an exploit require embellishment? How should he buttress the account of a fading turbo engine on the group's trusty steed, Jeanine, that led to Blackberry heroics by Mully, a mobile mechanic named Denny fixing (sort of) the offending engine while the group played paces away at Portland State University, then fixing again (sort of) the same engine the next day in a rainy parking lot in Vancouver, Washington, while David egged Denny into verbal gymnastics on Chinese subjects, surrepticiosuly recorded and mixed into an electro-pop gem called "Feed the Box", which David played over the sound system that night in a Seattle Nightclub. Such events already tread on the bizarre and fantastic; fiction and literary chest-thumping have no place here.
Mr. Gale also wishes me to inform you that he feels similarly constrained by the expectations of dramatic arc in each tour diary, and wishes his readers understood that the rise and fall of real events is more dramatic than any gimmick he could possibly invent. The same recent tour is instructive here as well- with the group striking professional paydirt in Canada in front of an adoring audience of hundreds, only to flame out on a hard wood floor in Olympia Washington, a busted turbo engine on the bus draining the group's coffers and exacerbating personal tensions within the group, which are magnafied after a sub-par night in Hood River and a punctured tire outside the club in Seattle seemingly strands all hope of making the following day's gigs in Eastern Washington. The thrilling rise of the story from these depths of utter despair- the backs-to-the-wall motivation early the next morning that saw the group find a tire shop, fix the tire and have breakfast at a bowling alley all in time to drive across the Cascade mountains to Ellensburg, Washington, where both paychecks of the day were earned amid a glowing audience and the soul-cleansing sanctuary provided by promoter Ren and Sam Albright's ranch, which led to a solid night in Bend before the catharthic final night in front of 1300 people at Portland's Crystal Ballroom and the appropriate closure of the afterparty with the group's sisters-and-brothers-in-arms, the March Fourth Marching Band- cannot be amplified further by mere literary device.
It is Mr. Gale's position that the original format of the tour diary, so leaden and dull in the hands of bands whose routines subscribe to a simple rinse-lather-repeat rhythm of ride the tour bus, play the show, break the hotel TV, repeat, has life yet in the hands of an ensemble whose true-life exploits reside in the grey area between believeability and fantasy. As Aphrodesia is such an ensemble (see "Aphrodesia Tour Diaries, Vol I through XXXIX") Mr. Gale wishes he did not have to reach further than the truth to fulfill his duty of entertaining the community's many and voracious readers.
That said, Mr Gale finally wishes me to convey that he knows that this is, after all, show business, and does not expect nor want a lowering of expectations in sheer entertainment value. This letter has been dictated by Mr. Gale, who is at the moment speeding through Iowa on his way to another East Coast Tour with the group, and he wishes me to inform the readership that he is already scheming ways to make the ensuing tour dairy more intersting, possibly involving giant dragon allegories, geo-politics as it relates to the New Jersey Turnpike, and the need of every musician for good clean underwear, or themes to that effect.
Rita McSorehouse, Special Assistant to Ezra Gale, 4/24/2007.