1993, Fall - Untitled Article

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Linnell writes about his experiences on the road in 1990
by John Linnell
TMBG Info Club
Fall 1993

    Saturday, Nov 10 1990
    We're in the sky again, eating honey roasted peanuts or sleeping with our mouths open in a seated position. I'm drinking lots of water but I still have the unpleasant sensation that my clothes don't fit and are bunching up around me. We're beginning the wumpteenth and final leg of our year-long world tour promoting our third album, this time to the pacific rim. Tonight we'll be in Hawaii, having left New York this morning after a week's vacation. None of us have been to Japan, New Zealand or Australia before and are equipped with very general and probably useless stereotypes of things we'll encounter when we get there.

    Tuesday, Nov 13 1990
    Spent our day off (after two nights of our gear falling apart on stage at The Wave in Wakiki) uneventfully.

    Friday, Nov 16 1990
    The Southern Cross hangs upside-down outside my hotel window here in Auckland. To the right of the Cross are Beta and Alpha Centauri, respectively. On the opposite end of the sky is familiar Orion, though he now hunts in the north part of the dome. And next to Orion is Mars, making its closest approach to Earth for the next ten years.

    We've only done press so far in New Zealand, our show here is tomorrow night. In preparation for our trip to Japan I've taught myself the Katakana characters, which are the ones that represent foreign words. This enables me to read certain shop signs, such as the ones I saw in Hawaii that read Po-ru-no (Porno) and Ba-be-kyu-ri-bu (Barbeque Rib)

    Today I bought a real 35mm camera and some film.

    Saturday, Nov 24, 1990
    We've had progressively rowdier audiences as we've moved through Australia this past week. Melbourne's two shows were in a theater, which partly accounts for the initially subdued response in that venue. Adelaide last night was considerably peppier, and tonight in Brisbane we had our first Aussie stage divers.

    I've been whipping through the film with my little tourist's camera. I bought slide film which I thought would look nicer, though I'll need a projector to view my pictures when I get home.

    Sunday, Nov 25, 1990
    I found out today that we're about 500 km south of the Tropic of Capricorn, which explains why at noon on this late spring day everyone's shadows are directly under them, and why I prefer to stay indoors until it's later in the day.

    Popular expressions besides the oft-cited "G'day" are "How're you going" and "Good one," as evidenced by our crowd chanting "Good one, John!" during last night's show.

    Thursday, Dec 6, 1990
    This drawing is my first view of Japan, an island to the southeast of Honsho, seen from the northwest as our plane approached Tokyo. I still don't know its name. This is our second day here and the feeling I have of being under the influence of psychedelic drugs has only worn off slightly.

    Sunday, Dec 9, 1990
    Two shows at Club Quattro very well received. It's hard to put one's finger on the difference between Japanese & Western audiences, though the difference is unmistakable. Both crowds applaud and scream and sing along (last night's audience sang the TMBG theme after we left the stage). The language barrier has a much more obvious effect here than in Germany or even Italy or Spain. The Japanese laughed at between-song comments but when Flans asked in English for everyone to raise their fist and shout "Love!," raising his own fist in example, we saw only three fists in the crowd of 600 plus.

    Tuesday, Dec 11, 1990
    John and I are in Osaka tonight, the crew and management are over in the Pacific, going home.

    We've seen three bands in Japan this week. One was our old friends Poi Dog Pondering who played at Club Quattro the night before our first show there. We also went to a Wayne Horvitz, Bill Frisell & friends gig in the Roppongi district of Tokyo.

    Wednesday, Dec 12, 1990
    The third and most excellent band was our opening act in Tokyo "Constance Towers," who Jamie describes as "Weimar Republic Pop." Their songs and arrangements were all first rate, though I didn't have a clue as to what the lyrics were about because they're all in Japanese. The singer and apparent leader of the band, Yuichi Kishino, is also a fan of TMBG, and he showered us with gifts of rare Japanese records from his collection after our last show together.

    Tonight we are in Kyoto, an older looking city than the other three we've seen. This is due, we're told, to the fact that Kyoto wasn't flattened by bombs during WWII. I am continuing my quest for Japanese products with interesting English expressions on them. So far the best ones have been too expensive or impractical to take home. I found a boy's sweatshirt that said, "New York Papa - Boys Will Be Boys - both Lincoln and Kennedy remained a child at heart." I did purchase a bust of a black man with a saxophone that had the inscription:
                                                     The Sepia Portrait
                        Once upon a time when the man was the man and the woman was the woman they
                                  had something to elegant ferocity with each other.

    Saturday morning, Dec 15, 1990
    I awoke this morning in a ryokan: a traditional Japanese inn with tatami floor mats and a communal hot bath, plus a TV and air conditioner. Hoping to avoid creating an international incident, I read as much as I could about how to conduct oneself in a ryokan, but it is clear now that if I inadvertently violate any formal rule my hosts are generally too polite to correct me. For example I went downstairs last night for my bath with my robe wrapped with the left side over the right side; later I read that this arrangement is reserved for the dead.

    Monday(?), Dec 17, 1990
    The jet in my mind's tired eye is pointed backward now, we've recrossed the international dateline by now, forever having lost Wednesday November 14th but receiving a double ration of Monday December 17th as compensation. In Kyoto we visited the Heian Shrine and the Kiyomizu Temple and the odd lesser shrine, twice we bowled at Dream Lanes, the most high-tech bowling alley I've ever heard of (where your score is kept automatically and video cameras monitor your bowling form and show a close-up of the pins going down). Yesterday(?) in Tokyo we returned to our favorite conveyor belt sushi bar in Udagawa-Cho, Shibuya Ku, just down the street from the Tobu Hotel and below the strange weekly event at Harajuku. On Sundays at this southern edge of Yoyogi Park, Japanese rock bands perform on several stages and hordes of teenage and pre-teenage girls stand in rows in front of the bands and perform highly choreographed dances. Each dance appears to correspond to the individual song that's being played. And how such a large group establishes such a complicated repertoire is a mystery to Flans & me. We thought maybe they learned the dances from each other at school.

    New Jersey has appeared in my window. Wedges of snow are scattered among the little lakes and hills.

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