Driving to Washington, DC, Feb. 11. The cold
is deepening as we move north. Clear and about 40 in the sunny cloudless sky.
Sandspits, shallow water and ocean haze as far as the eye can see from the
bridge over the Oregon Inlet. We stop at beach after beach at the urging of
Salt-Water Thomas. It always turns out to be beautiful and restful, if brief.
No surfable waves today. We are running out of room for our found objects.
Shells, detritus and sand litter the floor of the van. From the rear-view
mirror hangs a kinetic sculpture. Three rubber fish skeletons. One horseshoe
crab carapace. Driftwood. Some dried wildflowers. A laminate. A sun-bleached
leather thong. A small wooden spider. A stuffed mermaid. Seaweed. A stick
figure made of twigs and mud.
The daily meals on the road depend on
regional customs dictated by economics and availability. I document here the
acceptable truck-stop fast foods. Snacks grabbed while gassing up, products
consistently available all over the country. V-8 juice. Cashews, peanuts and
sunflower seeds, cooked in oil and salt. Apple juice laced with spirulina
(brought from home) Sardines and anchovies preserved in oil and salt. Good
digestion is the barometer of happiness.
We visit the Wright Brothers
Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC. On top of Kill Devil Hill we take pictures of
ourselves underneath the inscription: "dauntless resolution and unconquerable
faith." Jim stands under "unconquerable." I stand under "faith." Martyn stands
The weather turns dark, cold and rainy as we get in the van
and head to DC.
Washington, DC, Feb. 11. The Bayou,
Formerly a barrel
factory and then a speak-easy in the '20s, this pit/monument to dinosaur rock
in the east coast played host to John Entwistle last week. The Potomac river
flooded up to their front step. Once again we missed the horrible weather.
Knock on wood. Met and enjoyed the two bands opening for us, Outer Body Llama
and Fun Lovin' Criminals, but the staff of the club was stand-offish enough so
that I never actually met any of them until we were leaving. The stage is six
feet above the dance floor and surrounded by a balcony. It's the Christians and
We meet Ivan Pongracic (or "Strato Cossack") from the Cowabunga
Internet Surf Music Discussion Group. Here is a man with a pronounced accent
and to whom English is a second language but you would never be able to tell
from his postings. This is one of the things I love about the Internet. I could
meet and talk with every person from the Net and I would never be able to
identify any of them. Their face and language do not, in my eyes, fit with
their postings to the web.
Bill Henke meets us by arrangement at the club
and takes us back to his parents house in Bethesda, MD. They are home, but
asleep. Too bad...we can't play with 'em. He tells us that they are
intellectuals and that he is a "big disappointment to them." He's 32 and living
at home in a bedroom transplanted from another time and place into a house
belonging to two retired people. I spread my stuff out on the floor of the
family room. That's the East Coast catch-all term for a room that is full of
stuff and things. Not to be confused with The Den, or The Living Room, or The
Rumpus Room. The house is well-insulated from the 3:30 AM blow-up outside. 30
mph winds bring the chill factor down to the teens. I am reminded of the houses
of my friends families from my childhood. I sleep like a rock.
Off at my
Mom's house, Feb. 12. We spend a night at my Mom's house. She and my step-dad,
Jim, live on the Tred-Avon river in Easton, Maryland, about 90 minutes from
Washington, DC, due east. The house is right on the water and surrounded by
trees. We have a big dinner, do laundry, and my Mom gives us all monogrammed
hand towels that say "The Mermen" and have our first names on them. Awww Mom
Long Brach, NJ, Feb. 13. The Brighton Bar. Breakfast followed
immediately by lunch at Mom's. Photographs. Up the New Jersey coast to Long
Branch. This is a neighborhood rock 'n' roll bar at the Jersey shore. 4 TV's,
all on different channels. A young Goth couple approaches me after the set. Len
tells me that he and Joanne were at the show we did last year here (attended by
about ten people.) He tells me that in 16 years of music playing and listening
tonight was the first time he had ever cried at a show. Great turnout and
response and we spend the night at Jim's brother's, in Tom's River, NJ. The
genetic resemblance is startling. But there the comparison ends.
On to my