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Michael Devin's Blog
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  • 2011-11-27 05:07:47
    The Wild, the Mad, and the Glorious (Insane in the Ukraine, Pt. 1)
    On a jumbo flying from Tokyo to Seoul... The "Seoul Jet". The airline has made the behemothic mistake of seating me next to Tichy... one whale of an oversight. The Badger. If you are a passenger on this flight and you’re seated around us, apologies in advance, but you will know no rest. As he and I sing an original entitled, "Fire in the Basement", the stewardess serves up some nosh. Reb turns around and hands me US magazine.... a futile attempt at quieting us down...he insists I read some piece concerning Demi Moore and her man. Reb loves to drink up the Hollywood gossip. Want to know what’s happening with Brangelina? Ask Rebellious. As I peruse the cover, I notice from the corner of my eye what appears to be a "crumbling" taking place next to me, as though someone is letting all the air out of Tichy...and his seat. He and his seat are, in fact, imploding. The Badger is folding in on himself. Literally. He has a look of desperation, helplessness, as though nothing can be done to save him from this catastrophe. He’s goin’ down...mayday. You see, Tichy decides he’s going to make use of the seat’s "bed mode" whilst eating...so the dinner tray is out, above his lap, when he engages bed mode... a really bad idea. So now the Seoul Seat wants to be a bed, but it can’t be a bed while the dinner tray is out... but man, it really wants to be a bed... so the Seoul Seat is frustrated, it’s agitated, and the poor dinner tray is losing screws, cracking, popping, fighting for its life, crushing down on Tichy’s legs. The Badger is slowly sinking. He’s got a plate of food in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other. Screws are flyin’. I can barely see through tears of laughter this test of wills...The Badger versus the Seoul Seat. Man versus Machine. The Badger looks at me... he’s losing this fight. I gotta do something here, offer up some help, so I push a button. Shit... that just made it worse... now the leg rest is extending. Ah, shit... sorry, man. The motor inside the Seoul Seat is now grinding its metal teeth... it is determined to be a bed. Badger is bummin’. Uh, excuse me, stewardess? The stewardess approaches the turmoil with great caution. She laughs…shiny smile. A single push of the correct button and the Seoul Seat eases itself back into the upright position, table straight, glass of champagne back in place. Somewhere in the ether, Buster Keaton is smirking...


    Korea is chilly in November… crisp air... pumpkins, crunchy leaves, frosty breath, smokin’ chimneys… reminds me of New England this time of year. Got some Jeff Beck blazing on the iPod, en route to the venue for soundcheck. When we arrive there’s a gift waiting for me... a white jazz bass built by Korea’s own, Moollon Guitars. What a gift! Sure is pretty... feels good in my arms, too. Dynamite surprise... huge thanks, Moollon. We shall baptize the new bass in a pool of sweat at tonight’s gig... and what an enthralling gig it is. The People pack the house for a heavy dose of hard rock... how we love that. There’s a banner draped over the balcony at the back of the venue that reads, "We’ve been waiting for you over 30 years." Sterling dedication...


    Tonight we are literally blowin’ the roof off in Tapaie City, Taiwan. Chunks of plaster fallin’ at my feet... I look around the stage...there’s a bit over there by Ruedy, a piece by the drum riser... hells bells, a chunk just fell into the audience. For a moment I think our production manager should be made aware of the demolition we’re causing with our rock ’n roll hammer, but then I come to my senses. If I tell him he might have us all turn down, for the sake of the venue...and...well, we just can’t have that, now can we? That would be entirely too reasonable. The basic nature of a rock band is not one of courtesy. A rock band is supposed to be very loud... very unreasonable... willing to take wild and glorious risks from top to bottom, bottom to top...staring life, the devil, the world, straight in the eye...shining ever brightly, if only for a couple hours a night. At least that’s how I see it... and how can I get in the way of that? Great Gatsby... there goes another chunk of ceiling...


    Tonight’s after-show dinner in Tapaei City will be served back at the hotel...in our respective rooms. But this won’t do, Readers. See, we’re used to eating together as a band, post-show...in the dressing room, or on the bus... wherever we are, we’re eating together and the scene usually resembles a pack of wild dogs gnawing on slop from the same bowl... Tichy rarely uses utensils... he thinks a spoon is something you bend with your mind. How do we eat together if our meals are in our rooms? We corridor dine. Yes, corridor dine. The boys decide we should roll our tables into the corridor and eat as a band. Reb will have none of it tonight because he’s got TGIF chicken wings and can’t take the chance of someone asking for a bite. We roll out for dinner... within 5 minutes Security Guy is crashing our dinner party, asking what in God’s name we think we’re doing. "No worries... you see, we’re a band." says Doug, with great confidence...as if this response should be sufficient reason for the makeshift restaurant we have set up in the hallway. "Yes, well, you cannot do this. This is a fire hazard. You are blocking the door to the suite on this floor," says Security Guy, " and we cannot have this." "It’s ok", says Doug, "we know the person in the suite. He’s the singer of the band, David Coverdale." I should make mention, Ruedy is wearing a plastic bucket on his head, like a Masonic ceremonial hat. Security Guy is outright baffled..."You are Whitesnake?" Yes. Now he is really stupefied... he’s lost for words... the crossed wires in his head are zapping his thoughts. He forgets why he’s here. "Ok...well...if there’s... fire... you...move...tables." Did he just say that? Right, he did. No sooner is Security Guy gone, in a quick blond flash and a robe, DC comes blazing out from behind the double-doors, laughing with camera in hand... snap snap... "Brilliant! Hilarious!"... snap snap... and back into the suite he goes... man-o-man, I’m tellin’ ya... I couldn’t make up half this stuff...


    Malaysia is a bustling city… a multicultural melting pot... very friendly people here... warm and welcoming. It’s a fascinating drive through the city... skyscrapers cast giant shadows over tiny shacks, built on stilts. Fab show tonight...big TV screens blowing up all our sweaty parts… Tonight I jump in on Tichy’s drum solo for eight bars of funk. He’s still rockin’ the chopsticks and Ginsu knives during the solo, inspired from the Japan gigs. Recently he’s added in some glow-in-the-dark sticks for the finale… quite the spectacle, I say. On the way to the van after the gig a concertgoer gives me a mooncake... a sweet pastry, filled with bean paste and egg. Not really my thing, sweets, but when I ask the driver if he would like the mooncake he snatches it quicker than I can finish offering it. He gobbles it up in big bites. With a mouthful of pastry he attempts to give me a history lesson... I see small wads of dough flying out from his face, splattering onto the windshield... he’s mumbling something about the Chinese people filling the cakes with secret messages in the past... if there was a secret message in there, he ate it without a care of what it read, and if there was ever a turning-point in my life in no longer tolerating a person blathering on with a mouthful of sugar, bean and egg, it is probably here...but it’s hard to tell.


    What is Bogota Blowout, you ask? Well, I’ll tell ya! Bogota Blowout is a stomach virus caused by some suspicious Columbian cuisine. Legend has it the stomach turns into something like a bubbling can of soda pop. Ruedy is dealing with the Blowout. Aldrich coined the term after suffering bouts of the dreaded Blowout himself for a few days. Lots of band and crew members had the Blowout. Red Bull Ruedy is reigning champ of the Bogota Blowout clocking in at five weeks of Swamp Ass. Is this subject matter blog worthy? Probably not... probably too much information here...


    The first line of, "A Customs Guide for Singapore Travelers" reads... WARNING: DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS UNDER SINGAPORE LAW ... wow... thank God I only have an apple in my bag...


    Singapore… we’re camped out on the 28th floor of the Ritz, overlooking the bay...quite the view from up here. To the far left is a sea full of cargo ships, from this height they look like toy boats in a bathtub. To the right of the sea, at the shore of the bay, sits the most unusual building I’ve seen... outside of Gehry’s Disney Hall... the Marina Bay Sands Resort. Three buildings shaped like clothespins support a rooftop oasis... and the rooftop is in the shape of a cruise ship. If the Love Boat could take flight, this is what it would look like, though I doubt Isaac Washington would be tending bar in Singapore. No sooner do I take in the panorama, thunderclouds charge in...growling, booming ... lightning strikes from cloud to ground, like the contorted fingers of a Halloween Witch... the toy boats are smokin’, floatin’ on the storm water…smokestack lightnin’...


    Post-show Singapore ... the band makes its way over to the Marina Bay Sands for a rooftop party... it’s a hoppin’. I walk by the ice skating rink on the way to the elevators. Bizarro. Check out this place... [link] The infinity swimming pool is wicked psychedelic... giving the illusion warm water is flowing out of the pool and over the edge of the edifice. Reb will stare at this illusion the entire time we’re here. The view from the top is astonishing... breathtaking. The view on the rooftop is breathtaking, too... lots of stacked beauties mingling with the band this evening. It’s a high time of a night... gobs of mirth, merriment galore...we have a ball. The next morning I awake with cobwebs over my eyes... need some coffee… I get in the elevator, rock ’n roll comatose, whose face do I see...none other than The Badger. He starts giving me grief about the fact that "I" stopped “his” elevator… now we’re in tandem, two grumpies on their way for coffee. I come across DC in the lobby and he says, "I heard you guys were surrounded on all sides by a bevy of exceptional beauties last night." I’d say so, DC, but I really don’t remember...


    The Ukraine… instant culture shock. Such a broad difference in our cultural personalities… the way we express, the freedom we exhibit, as Westerners...it’s palpable in this land. We express our freedoms in the way we walk, talk, laugh, eat, drink, play music, express love, make love, make hate, debate… basically, we stick out like nuns at a bikini competition. It’s a very subdued and restrained kind of personality here in the Ukraine. So put a rock band, post-show, in the restaurant on a Friday night and folks are starin’. The Ukrainian people are so damn’ lovable. They want to get into the music, feel the weight of rock music, shout it out from within. They’re dying for it. It’s as though we can’t give ‘em enough when we play live for them, yet they’re so quiet in the taking. It’s a cultural “coming-to” for rock and roll... blows one’s mind to witness. Ukraine fought for their independence twice, once following World War I and again when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. I’ve never seen so much beauty in one place... architecture and faces. There are beautiful people everywhere.


    Pertsovochka is a pepper vodka...Ukranian style... smells like turpentine. There’s a chili pepper in the bottle, like a fat worm floating ’round in a bottle of Mezcal. I try to focus on the faint smell of honey emanating from this "dessert liqueur". It’s no use. What the hell, I’ll take a sip. Boom... wow...interesting...not so tough...then it begins to settle into my stomach and onto my tongue...Holy Mother of God that’s some hot stuff... whew... holy smokes, now it’s really burnin’... my eyes are fireballs... my nose is running...my tongue takes the shape of a chili pepper... the roof of my mouth is in flames...shake it off, Devin... shake it off...
    The following day I’m entering the venue with DC...he says, have you tried this? Holding up a brand new bottle of Pertovochka. My eyes water just lookin’ at it. I inform our beloved singer that I cleaned the tuning pegs on the ’63 Jazz bass with the stuff. I suspect he stuck with the sweet Chilean wine...


    We’re goin’ insane in the Ukraine! I’ve got the proof. Granted, we may - - I stress may - - have had a couple of beverages before the 2AM elevator jam session, but here it is, in the raw, uncut... oh yeah, that’s Reb walking away in utter disgust at about 0:41 - - [link]


    There’s more to come in a couple of days, Kiddies...keep your fiddles in tune for Part 2...


    DEVIN

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