Blowfly's Tour Diary: Crisis, Aftermath, and Hanging With Nardwuar and 2 Live Crew
There are very few people in the world who will pick you up and take both you and your singer, who live 25 miles apart, to an airport 45 miles away before the crack of dawn. Thankfully, my parents, both notorious early risers, are down for the cause. It doesn't hurt that I have taken both of them to the airport hundreds of times at similarly ungodly hours over the last 25 years or so.
It's still pitch black out when they pull up to my house in South Miami. I get in the driver's seat and speed up the Palmetto Expressway to Miami Gardens to Blowfly's house that's in danger of being sold by the Miami-Dade tax collector in four weeks.
We get to the airport in good time, and make it through TSA without incident. We meet up with Billy the Kid, our guitarist. I find myself standing next to Drew Rosenhaus, superstar sports agent. Times must be tough, because he's flying a $96 dollar Southwest flight to Baltimore. I introduce myself and make him nervous.
TicketsSun., Jul. 30, 7:30pm
TicketsSun., Jul. 30, 8:00pm
Straight No Chaser and Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox
TicketsTue., Aug. 1, 7:30pm
TicketsFri., Aug. 4, 7:00pm
Symphony of the Americas 26th Anniversary Summerfest
TicketsSat., Aug. 5, 7:00pm
We land in Baltimore and meet Shaun "On The Lawn" Dickerson, our bassist, at Alamo Rent A Car. We met Shaun in Austin two years ago when he played a gig for us there. We liked him and his playing so much we invited him to join the band, despite him living 1,000 miles away from us. He's only wrecked one touring vehicle since, so he's a keeper.
We soon discover that Shaun can't drive on this trip because his license has expired. So Billy takes his place and steers us north to the Biltmore Suites, just a few miles from our gig tonight at the Metro Gallery.
The Biltmore is a strange old rooming house that was built in the 19th century. It has 100-year-old furniture and no elevators. It has a haunted vibe and one gets the feeling that Edgar Allen Poe's ghost might be on site. This is not Blowfly-friendly, as he has two very arthritic knees. It's also much needed exercise for one of the physically laziest people on earth. He hobbles up to his room the third floor. I let him in with promises to get him food.
Before I go on the quest for Blow food, I get a text from the Birdman, our local bassist, who tells me Jacob Katel wants to interview Clarence and I for the New Times. We do a lively interview with a dash across the hall so Clarence can get his two cents in.
Our twofold lunch time quest -- junk food for Clarence and food for the rest of us who desire a little nutrition -- leaves us at Hip Hop Fish & Chicken. Clarence is deathly afraid of fish, but loves chicken strips. They don't have any honey, so we hit a bodega on the way back so Clarence can dump half the jar on it/attract the nearest bear.
I check our Indiegogo total, and we've raised over $3,000 in less than 18 hours. That's pretty good, but we need at least $8699.66 net, after Indiegogo and PayPal fees or Clarence is pushing a shopping cart and my wife is divorcing me because Clarence moved into our spare room.
We go down to the Metro Gallery, where we are perform this evening. After load in, I meet my best friend, John, who is both a photographer for the Secret Service, and an occasional Blowfly roadie. The show is fun, and we play to a very enthusiastic, if slightly smaller crowd than we can really afford to play in front of. Still, it's nice to start tours in Baltimore as the airfares are so cheap here compared to the rest of the East Coast. And there's always the chance we will finally hit this amazing grafitti spot.
We wake up the next morning and haul ass up I-95 to Brooklyn. The last time we were in NYC, we sold out the Metropolitan Museum of Art's MOMA PS1 dome, as part of a Mike Kelly retrospective.
Tonight's gig was booked last minute at Grand Victory, a tiny punk rock saloon in Williamsburg. Budgetary constraints force Billy to stay the night on his cousin's couch, a fate he doesn't mind because they are excellent at buying shots. As we roll into the Red Roof Inn in Long Island City, Queens -- the only affordable hotel that's not a total dive in a 5 mile radius -- we check the indiegogo page and it is blowing up. We shot past the $4,000 and $5,000 markers on the drive up and we are closing in on $6,000 by the time Shaun and I go on a hunt for pizza.
I am frantically drumming up support on our Facebook page, and then I start feeling the tell-tale signs of my stress monster. Unfortunately, there's no strategy on earth that could have prepared me for this mess, so I'm just going to have to deal. I turn off my phone, and do my best to enjoy the best pizza I've eaten since the Italian Chef known as LoneWolf OMB was in the band.
We hit the club, and friend of Otto Von Schirach/NY electro punk musician/ major Blowfly fan CX Kidtronik is waiting for me with a beer in his hand. This is clearly the start of a beautiful friendship. My dear friend Rachel Page, who I met at a 7 year Bitch concert I promoted at Washington Square on South Beach 22 years ago when she was 14, shows up to sell our merch. More old and new friends of Blowfly filter in, including: Taki 76 who makes our masks, Jonathan Furmanski - who directed our film "The Weird World of Blowfly" and Dave Tompkins, a writer with the New Yorker who is currently deep into writing a book about Miami Bass.
Grand Victory begins filling up, not a difficult feat as it is looks and feels like a fancy cigar humidor. The punk bands opening up for us throw down, but our crowd is milling outside and asking me questions about the fundraiser. Everyone gets how deep the shit Clarence is in, and the love for him is clear in Brooklyn. We wind up selling $650 worth of our most offensive shirt. The one in other cities that people just point and laugh at. In Brooklyn, wearing a naked female torso with Blowfly written in jizz is a good fashion choice. I heart NY.
We get onstage and KILL. Everyone is going nuts, and a blowup doll gets batted onstage, ostensibly to sing a duet with the Fly. We play for an hour and eat all the oxygen in the room. We may be playing to only 1/5 of our NYC audience in this 150 cap room that hipsters are deathly afraid of, but the 150 people here love us unconditionally and it's a beautiful thing. After the show, Shaun and I blow off some steam by closing down Grand Victory. We attempted a pub crawl, but every other nearby club, including the knitting factory where we have played twice before, is just so lame compared to the free drinks and fresh stage buzz at the GV. We depart at dawn, and before we crash, Shaun has an impromptu jam session with some "up with people" Columbian dork in the Red Roof Inn Continental breakfast room.
I wake up to Billy bursting into the room at 11 AM.
"Is it time to go yet?"
"No dude! Why are you yelling?"
"Fuck!" Billy replies. He then lays down on the floor and passes out.
An hour later, we've sobered up and head to Cherry Hill, New Jersey - where our hotel for tonight's Philadelphia show is. We check in to the Extended Stay, and the band and I immediately hit my favorite Chinese restaurant in the US, Han Dynasty. There's a giant sign on the front door that proclaims CNN's endorsement, and this may be the best reporting they've ever done. Their dan dan noodles are gone in 2 minutes and the garlic pork belly lasts a few minutes more. Finally, the Sichuan dry pot burn our mouths with delicious pain. We do 7 out of 10 on the heat scale here. Even Billy's Bolivian tastebuds that demand hot sauce on everything couldn't hang with 8. We get Clarence pork fried rice, one of the few non deep fried things he will eat.
Normally, we let Clarence chill at the hotel until a few minutes before we go on. As tonight's show is 15 miles from our hotel, that's not really an option. Plus, our weirdest Blowfly fan, ex-Bound For Glory drummer Texas Rich, is coming tonight and will drive him back from the club. So we load in Clarence and head off to Gunner's Run, where we are playing the owner's 40th birthday party tonight.
When we load in at Gunner's Run, I am astounded that the singer of a punk/wrestling band owns this joint. It is a straight up gigantic mall bar/restaurant that opens out onto the Piazza, a huge common open air mall/terrace shared by the businesses that line it. In South Florida, a joint like this would have cover bands at best, lest they offend the yuppie breeders that flock to those joints and their need to hear the Black Crows. Tonight's crowd is decidedly different than that, as is the entertainment.
We played Insane Clown Posse's "Gathering of The Juggalos" last summer and had a total blast. Philadelphia is the one city in the US, where that translated into us getting Juggalo fans who show up to our gigs. They were totally cool at our show last year, and I find myself defending them more than I should. Alas, this year, we got a different set of Juggalos who weren't housebroken. An hour before we played, they jumped some old dude in a suit, and then when the cops intervened and escorted them off the property chanting "Blowfly! Blowfly!" Thanks, guys.
Texas Rich then shows up, and I reunite him with Blowfly, who is tickled pink to see his most conflicted fan. Rich's grandfather was in the Waffen SS. He was a Prisoner of War in the latter part of WW2 and held in a Texas POW camp. After his release, he stayed in Texas started a family that included Rich's mom. Rich's mom married a deadbeat and with little Rich in tow, she moved to the Newark, NJ projects. When Rich was 11, he shoplifted "Blowfly Disco" for the naked girls on the cover, and became hooked. He grew up rapping Blowfly songs with the other kids in the hood, until his genetics kicked in and he joined Bound For Glory, the most notorious White Power band in the US. When Rich told me this tale in 2005 over AOL chat, my brain fell out of my left ear. He's since rejoined society, after a brief career as a soldier of fortune. Rich is nicer than your average hipster Blowfly fan and much more dedicated. When he sat in with us a few months later at the Spring Street Diner in Philly, I looked back at the drum kit and realized the most offensive band in history had been assembled.
So it makes perfect sense, that at the 40th birthday party for Jason Goldberg, a descendent of the SS shows up to take care of Clarence.
We hit the stage, and the joint is overfilled. Everyone from Jason's grandmother, who earlier posed for pictures on Blowfly's lap, to hundreds of old school punk rockers, to several dozen hip hop heads have shown up and they are primed. By the time we hit the second song, they are all going berserk. We dig their energy so much, we play for 90 minutes instead of the usual 60 and empty the set list. Clarence is exhausted, Rich drives him home, and we are treated to an hour of no "take me to the van" stress from Clarence and a nice hang with Taki, who sold our merch tonight and his lovely girlfriend Jenny Jen the Skatewoman.
The next day is a short drive to the Jersey Shore. We're playing the Brighton Bar, a storied punk rock joint in Long Branch, a few blocks away from million dollar homes and the beach that made Snooki and J-wow famous. We drop Clarence off a few towns away in a dumpy motel next to a BYOB strip joint, and head off to get Pizza.
It's always been my experience that New Jersey pizza is better than NYC pizza, and today hammers that home. This tiny joint owned by a former manager of an Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza puts out an amazing pie that fed us for two meals. We then walk a few blocks to the Beach. It is a gorgeous day. Shaun and Billy jump in the water. I can't due to the fact I'm walking around with the money from the last three shows because I haven't found a Chase branch. The motel we're at is filled with sketchy types, and I sure as hell am not leaving it in the van. So I watch Billy and Shaun frolic for half an hour before I remind them I had skin cancer last year and can't be out in the sun too long.
We head back to the motel, where Weylin from Girls & Corpses magazine is waiting for me with his mom and their friend Cindi. They are perfect road friends who bring me laundry detergent and help me drop off the money from the shows in a nearby atm. I check in on the campaign and we are past 8 grand, and the donation frenzy of the first few days has stopped. Money is still coming in, but people are guessing we will hit $11,000 no problem if we are already at 8k. I remind our social media peeps, that Clarence needs every penny if he's going to pay off the taxman. $1 less and Capital One will have his house in their wallet.
We hit the club, and bomb like Hiroshima. The opening band "Sex Bomb" has attracted just enough jean-jacketed Snooki wanna-bes to allow us to perform. They have the sense of humor of an angry Nun. By the 4th song, we've driven everyone out to the patio save for one dude in a Wu Tang Clan shirt and Weylin's crew. The perfect Spinal Tap moment happens during "Burning Pussy" when Blowfly warns all the women to "get the fuck out of here."
"OK" replies the last audience member with lady parts, as she walks out the door.
We wake up the next day, which is supposed to be a day off. Alas, due to Billy and Shaun's nearly 5 year old DUIs, we need permission from the Canadian government to let them into the country later this week. Billy was at the embassy in DC a few weeks previous and they told him he had to go to the consulate in NYC. So we leave Clarence in Jersey, and drive to Manhattan. After leaving our minivan in a garage that costs $56 for 3 hours, we walk to the consulate and discover that they've shut down the visa office. We walk around the building, and some jerk with a tie that has a maple leaf on it tells us we're screwed, but if we feel like pissing in the wind, the "not open to the public" visa office is a few blocks away. Off we go to Visa office #2. After a three hour wait, we discover that they don't even have the forms they are telling us to go to the internet to get. The internet doesn't have these forms either. So we've burned a day off, and nearly $60 in parking for no reason. Thanks, Canada! We go to a Cambodian joint that makes me the best sandwich I've ever eaten. In gratitude, I order half the menu, which isn't as good as that sandwich. We then head back to Jersey.
We grab Clarence and drive to Baltimore, where we are flying out of the next morning. After four hours, we arrive, drop Clarence and then look for late night eats. We finally find some in downtown Baltimore at some dopey bar that gives their pizzas dopey names. At midnight we stumble back in the hotel. I call downstairs and ask for a 4:30 AM wakeup call for our 7 am flight to Seattle.
I pass out, and then wake up 20 minutes before the wakeup call. I make a critical error and don't wake up Shaun and Billy at the same time, as they are musicians and not built for early rising at farmer's hours. Finally, at 5:30, we all lumber into the elevator and get in our van. The hotel is close to the airport, but the rental return at BWI is pretty damn far from the gate. We rush to the shuttle bus, and make the flight by 10 minutes. I get in my seat, close my eyes, and just as I begin to pass out..."
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are having an electrical issue with the plane. Please wait while we shut the plane off and turn it back on. This works sometimes."
After failing to reboot a Jumbo Jet like they would an old PC, we are ordered off the plane and told to go directly to baggage claim, as they are going to shuttle us to Dulles Airport, which is 50 miles away and south of Washington DC. As soon as we get our bags another announcement comes over the PA:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have fixed the electrical problem. Please return to the gate."
By this time, the morning rush is at TSA. It takes nearly 2 hours to re-board the plane. My seatmate, a lovely lady on the way to a camping trip in the Dakotas has her connection held for her. We aren't so lucky. Upon disembarking the plane in Chicago, Shaun is handed a boarding pass for the next flight to Seattle. Billy, Clarence and I are handed passes to Newark, NJ.
"Newark!?" I sputter in disbelief to the gate agent "We are going to Seattle!"
After waiting in United Airline's "customer service" line for 20 minutes, I wake up enough to remember that I am a seasoned world traveler and know better than this. I call the 800 number and tell the rep on the phone the following:
"I know this isn't your doing, but please bear with me. I am a product of the United States Public School System. And EVEN I KNOW that NEWARK isn't on the way to SEATTLE from CHICAGO!"
This gets a chuckle from the other end of the phone. I am then asked to hold. For the next 18 minutes, I am treated to United's hold music, which is an ungodly mash-up of the theme from "Chariots of Fire" and George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." After my ears try to commit suicide, she returns to the phone.
"Mr. Bowker, it appears your tickets were purchased with Canadian dollars. We're having trouble re-ticketing you."
"Yeah, well Canadian dollars were good enough to send me 1500 miles in the wrong direction. So they should be good enough to send me to the destination where they were already sending me to until your airline didn't hold my connection after they screwed up."
After another 10 minutes of the hold music from hell, the rep sees the error of her airline's ways and puts us on the next flight to Seattle that has available seats - at 8 PM. It is currently noon. The flight has us landing at 10 PM PST, 10 hours later than originally scheduled.
Billy and I find the gate, help Clarence find the restroom, and then go off to try and kill 8 hours without killing each other. We hit two restaurants, get a $7 spicy chocolate bar from the voges kiosk that was worth the $ (as was the bacon-infused toffee I got for my family), and finally settle in at Chili's and begin guzzling margaritas. Somewhere between his first and second margarita, inspiration hits Billy, and he raps "Pay Taxes" a parody of Blowfly's signature hit "Rap Dirty." Here is a video of Billy's performance, live at the O'Hare Airport.
21 hours after I woke up, we land in Seattle. Our bags beat us there and we hobble over to the airport shuttle for the dumpy motel we're staying in. Thanks to "SEA FAIR" , a summer corporate junket/festival that lasts nearly the whole summer in Seattle, every hotel save for this one and the one we're staying at tomorrow are booking their rooms for a 300-400 percent markup. Because of this, the van is stuffed with two families getting their sea fair on. As it's raining when we arrive at the motel, I bust out while the kids complain, and get first in line for check in before Clarence passes out/ throws a fit. I manage to do it just in the nick of time. Shaun is waiting for us in my room with a boatload of masaman curry from the joint next door. I am so hungry, that this good-but-not-great curry is the best thing I may have ever eaten. Immediately after chowing down, I pass out. Two straight lost days off = we have a very busy day tomorrow.
I wake up around 7 and check the indiegogo campaign. At six days in, we are closing on our $11,000 stated goal. As I came up with that figure without putting much thought into it, I now realize that while it's enough to stop the sale of Clarence's house and pay the internet fees for indiegogo and paypal and some of the postage - it's not nearly enough to hire a probate lawyer to get the house in Clarence's name so this sort of thing doesn't repeat itself. So I start planning phase 2, and begin adding more contributor perks in the hopes that folks will see the need and buy the new perks.
At 9, Billy and I grab a cab to Enterprise rent-a-car. Thanks to Sea Fair, the rental vans at the airport are $500 more for the week than the ones here, which are located a $30 cab-ride away. We rent the van, hit the terryaki joint next door and rush back to the motel to beat check out time. We then go to our next motel, a travelodge in the "U District" near Seattle University and the University of Washington main campus. The Travelodge that's near the club we're playing at tonight, is booking for $360 tonight thanks to the aforementioned city-wide Sea Fair gouging. I got this one, 5 miles away, for $103.
We put Clarence in his room, load him up on junk food and race to the Canadian Border, in the hopes that we can get both Billy and Shaun across for our two gigs with 2 Live Crew. If they don't get in, we have to use studio musicians who Clarence and I have never met, let alone played with. Not to mention find a place to stay for Billy and Shaun.
We know better than to even try messing with the main crossing known as the "Peace Arch" where in 2008, a soccer mom/CBP agent having a bad day yanked, our van door open and pointed a submachine gun in my face because she heard our paperwork wasn't in order from the booth. Instead, we travel 30 miles east, to a crossing deep in farmland.
We get there around 5 PM. After an initial dose of misinformation from the booth agent, we pull in and brace ourselves for the Canadian Border Patrol's favorite game: "Let's get the American to lie to us!" This game is played by the CBP agent pulling your interpol file and then telling you lies about it, in the hope that you will in turn, lie, and they can deny you entry into Canada. It is a really boring game, once you've beaten them at it once or twice. This marks my 10th crossing into Canada in the last 9 years. I dread it even though I am not at risk, as I have no convictions on my record.
After telling a blonde female CBP agent who seems like she's never met a bed she didn't remake twice, our story of tramping between the embassy and the consulate, she affirms our suspicion that only the border patrol can give a temporary permit to folks like Billy and Shaun who don't quite meet the criteria for "rehabilitation" - a process where they take the same $200 from you, ask you to write an essay about why you should be let into Canada- and then let it sit on a desk for a year. So she goes through the motions of separating us, and brings Shaun into a separate room where after making crazy allegations about his dui arrest and notes he has another one over 10 years old, which she is not allowed to mess with him over by law.
"Mr. Dickerson, you have two arrests, spaced 7 years apart. This seems like a pattern to me, especially since you perform at nightclubs where alcohol is served. Let me ask you something: whose name is on the rental agreement for the van?"
"Mr. Bowker is the one who rented the van."
"Are you one of the additional drivers?"
Shaun, who discovered his license was expired a few days ago at the rental counter in Baltimore replies with an honest: "No."
After that, they are given their papers. It's 7:30. We are due to be onstage in 3 hours, and we have a 2 hour drive back to Seattle to play the Barboza, which is the small performance room in a large entertainment complex that spans both sides of a city block. We drive as fast as we can, hitting pockets of brutal traffic twice. At 10:00, 90 minutes after the first opening started, we have Blowfly loaded in the van. The guy running the show is freaking out, texting me every 5 minutes about our ETA. In a normal rock club, pushing the show back 30 minutes wouldn't be a big deal, but this guy is running on House of Blues rules, and actually quotes the need to avoid overtime. Overtime is really a concern? For what, bartenders making less than minimum wage? Right. Thankfully, our man Ronald McFondle is Emceeing the show in his ghetto Ronald McDonald outfit that he both raps and wrestles professionally in. He knows how we roll, and he helps us load in the back door, right onto the stage and into the waiting backline in front of 100 people who suddenly have their patience restored.
I dump the merch next to a couple of our friends, and we hit the stage, and our mojo is back. The crowd is completely eating out of Blowfly's hand all set long and the three of us behind the Fly are hitting the funk right in the sweet spot. It earns us a rave review in one publication, which refuted some serious ageist shit talking in another one (http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Event?event=20353252)
The incredibly inaccurate smack talk about Clarence was by Dave Segal: a Rodney on the ROQ, Beatle wig wearing, Alternative Press washout who somehow forgot he, as a poison-pen wielding weekly rag music writer at the age of 52, has a much "sadder" gig than a beloved funk singer who still gets love at 75 - even if he made "bad business decisions" in the past. After all, it's not "musician" that always tops the list of the worst jobs in America list - it's "print journalist."
That Segal clearly based his "Blowfly's schtick just gets sadder with age" comment and his ass backwards version of how Clarence career progressed on our movie, "The Weird World Of Blowfly," and not our history of sold out Seattle shows, is just embarrassing. As someone with two decades of skin in both music journalism and music - I can say with authority that Segal is the worst hack working today in music journalism, next to Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald. Considering the current state of journalism - let alone music journalism - that is really saying something.
We wake up early to catch what I thought was one ferry to Victoria, but after a gross motel continental breakfast, I see you have to take a ferry across Puget Sound to reach Port Angeles where the Victoria ferry is. So we quickly get in the van and skedaddle to the first ferry. We time it perfectly and get almost immediately on. This is fortunate, as the timing to get to Victoria is pretty tight and they insist you show up an hour before boarding.
The only time prior to this that Clarence has travelled by Ferry was from Germany to Denmark in 2007, and it was without incident. In the intervening 7 years, Clarence has decided he doesn't like ferries, and insists on staying below decks for the first trip. His loss, as the shade of gray outside makes for some pretty cool scenery. We race across the peninsula and get to Port Angeles just in time to get under the cut off and wait for an hour before we're allowed to drive onto the ferry. Clarence is briefly cheered up by a bag of perverted donuts we bring him, but is very unhappy when he's told he's not allowed to stay below decks for the next voyage.
"Why not?! is it a federal law or something?"
"Actually Clarence, it's international law."
After a pleasant two our cruise, we land in Victoria and drive off the ferry to find the greatest thing a touring band can possibly hope for: only one border patrol officer for 400 cars. He smiles, asks if we have enough time to make it home before Billy and Shaun's permits expire and sends us on our way. Our hotel is only 6 blocks from the ferry, so we are inside our rooms in record time. Our host, Matt from Dirty Brown Camaro, sends over some friends of his with our deli tray, and Shaun starts feeding the mammoth seagull outside my window with it.
We get to soundcheck, lay it down, and lo and behold 2 Live Crew are in the house. As someone who rocked their stuff back in high school, no matter how punk rock I was and gleefully bought "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" from Yesterday & Today Records when it was federally banned, I am totally stoked to hear Brother Marquis and Fresh Kid Ice yell "Rap Dirty" at us from the other side of the bar. The dirtiest rap tour ever, short as it may be, is actually happening in British Columbia.
We take the stage around 11 to a crowd that's obviously more familiar with 2 Live Crew than us, which isn't surprising as it's our first time in Victoria. As I introduce Blowfly, some maroon starts heckling me. As you may recall, our motto is "Nobody Fucks With Blowfly," so this is a poor life decision.
"You're too old to rock!" says the ageist Canadian, somehow missing that I'm 10 years younger than 2 live Crew and 32 years younger than Blowfly.
"I'm too Old? Blowfly is 75 years old, and he just got done fucking your grandma."
The crowd laughs and we play a very well received set. I walk offstage and find that Matt's gorgeous wife sold a fair amount of our T shirts.
2 Live Crew hit the stage, and they are seriously nasty. They have two strippers onstage, and coochies are popping just like they would have been in 1989. A hefty lady heckles Brother Marquis and demands that he whip out his dick. So he rides her until she plops her udderly huge boobs out, and then invites her backstage to play doctor if she wants to examine his "Dick Almighty."
At the end of the night, Marquis tells me he wants to do a track with Blowfly. File that in Jeopardy category "Things that Would Be Amazing."
The next morning, I stumbled downstairs and had a lovely breakfast with 2 Live Crew. Apparently Marquis has grown genteel in his later years, and actually shushed me for being too dirty at breakfast. When he did that I pumped my fist in the air and proudly declared that I had been shushed for being too nasty by the 2 Live Crew. Afterwards, we head for the ferry to Vancouver, where are slated to do a video shoot with Dirty Brown Camaro today and a show with 2 Live Crew the next. Unfortunately, DBC don't have their shit together for the shoot, and there's no place for us to go because all the hotels in Vancouver are booked, save for a "band house" over a saloon near the former porno theater where we are playing Saturday. No one is going to be at the band house until 5pm. We have a phone interview with legendary Vancouver TV/Radio personality Nardwaur, or 7th such encounter in 9 years. Nardwuar worships both the Blowfly and the Clarence Reid personalities and regularly asks famous rappers like Snoop Dogg and the Wu Tang Clan what they think of the Fly when he interviews them. As none of us has a working Canadian phone, I make an executive decision to surprise Nardwuar on the air at CITR, which is located at the University of British Columbia.
UBC is not unlike FIU. It's a sprawling commuter campus that obviously wants to be a sleep-away college, but is doomed to remain a bigger version of its original mission. As Nardwuar has given Blowfly records and bobblehead dolls to a multitude of famous rappers, we bring him a Blowfly mask and a Clarence Reid "On The Job" (1975, Alston) Lp that Maskmaker Pete gave us in Philly.
Sarah, CITR's music director greets us, places us in the Green Room, and we listen to a funk DJ explain Clarence's place in musical history. At Precisely 4PM, when we are due to call in, Blowfly and I strut into the studio. Nardwuar is completely shocked. As he is normally 100% unflappable, it is a lot of fun to watch him stammer sentences that don't begin to express how blown away he is. He is infamous for practically stalking famous people until they talk to him, and we have come, voluntarily, to his much less famous gig at the radio station.
A highly spirited interview goes down. I plug tomorrow's show and the indiegogo campaign and Shaun on the Lawn makes his media debut as a member of Blowfly, some two years into the gig. At the end, I tell Nardwuar to play the final track on the Lp I gave him, which is "The Nappy Haired Cowboy." Clarence, who doesn't understand that both of his personalities are being celebrated here, starts insisting that's not on any record he did as Blowfly and declares :
"I don't know what the fuck you're talking about!"
"Clarence, I agree with you. Many times you don't know what the fuck I'm talking about. But the next song is "The Nappy Haired Cowboy."
After taking a 100 pictures with Nardwuar and the CITR staff we head off to the "band house" which is a beautiful 3 bedroom apartment on top of the Lido Bar. Upon our arrival, Clarence is enraged to learn that #1 we are sharing a 3 bedroom apartment instead of him having his own room and #2, there's no TV. He stalked the entire apartment like a panther who just did a line of bad cocaine, fruitlessly searching for a TV to watch ESPN on. When told that there isn't one, he starts smashing his fist onto the hard wood table and throws a full tantrum.
For the past two years, Clarence and I have gotten along so well, that there's a band joke/ song Shaun and Billy sing called "Tom and Blow are friends." This is in direct opposition to the portrayal in our movie, the Weird World of Blowfly, where thanks to some post-premiere editing, it appears that Clarence and I are on each other's nerves 24/7. After Clarence slammed his fist into the kitchen table, I lost my temper in a very loud and colorful manner and for the next 90 seconds, we earned our reputation. When I returned with both his dinner from KFC, and the Lido Bar's owner with a TV in hand and a MacGyver antenna that he spliced out of speaker wire, Clarence did something he's never done in 11 years of our partnership: he apologized. Tom and Blow still are friends.
Completely exhausted, and without a way to call the Dirty Brown Camaro dudes, I passed out and we missed both our video shoot and 2 Live Crew's booty contest at a strip joint that allegedly had a midget entertainer.
The next day, Clarence and I are both recharged and ready to tear Vancouver a new one. Shaun discovers his lady friend Kara from Texas is in town for her 21st birthday. She arrives just in time for Clarence to sing to her "Coochie Woochie" and escort Billy and Shaun to the Beach. I was invited, but stupidly decided to goose the indiegogo campaign which has slowed to a crawl since meeting our goal three days earlier. I also displayed a brain drain when I didn't catch that my laptop was still on EST and frantically im'd Shaun at 3 when I thought it was 6. All was forgiven though, when I took the three of them to my favorite sushi joint on earth, which happens to be in the hood our apartment is in, and treated them to the omakasi. Unfortunately for me, Sea Urchin is part of it, and I immediately can tell something is wrong when I bit into it. This comes to roost 5 minutes before our set time in the Fox Cabaret, the 70s porn theater-cum-nightclub that my buddy Ernesto just opened. The show is sold out. It is packed to the gills. And I can feel the Sea Urchin trying to swim out of me. So rather than start a barf-o-rama ala "Stand By Me" by puking halfway through our set, I opt to run to the employee bathroom-twice- and pray to the Porcelain God.
After all of my delicious raw fish is swam down the sewer line, we get onstage and absolutely KILL. It's our best show since NXNE in Toronto last Summer. Blowfly is on fire and hitting high notes he hasn't met in years. The band is killing it, and every joke I tell gets a laugh. This is our 7 th show in Vancouver in 9 years, and you can tell. This is clearly Blowfly Territory. The reaction is so good, that I don't notice we've played an extra 15 minutes, and combined with my trip to the BC Vomitorium, we're cutting into 2 Live Crew's set time. Fortunately, they don't really care. We finish, they get onstage with a beautiful afro-wigged dancer who can't dance, and thirty minutes later the show is over. Kara heads to an after party with us and gets in the spirit of being dirty by sticking a beer mug down her pants and rubbing up on every girl she can get away with in the bar.
Normally, when leaving Canada, we get up as early as we can and bounce for the border so we don't get slammed in traffic. Alas, Dirty Brown Camaro doesn't have a way to transport 2 Live Crew back to Seattle - so they ask Kara to do it in one of their cars. They also ask us to convoy with them. The going back and forth to get her passport and DBC's ancient BMW without AC takes all afternoon. By the time we get to the border, it's slammed. The Crew are disgruntled. Not helping matters is that a newly minted 21 year old hot chick calls them out for complaining the whole time. We finally roll up to SEA-TAC airport at 8 pm and drop off the crew. 15 minutes later we are at our hotel. I look up our flights, and learn that my idea that we were all leaving in the morning is dead wrong. Shaun is leaving in the morning. Billy, Clarence and I are all on the redeye after 2 Live Crew's. Whoops. So we go eat mediocre Mexican food and head back to the airport.
Comically, SEA-TAC has closed all the TSA checkpoints in our terminal except for one. So there are 200 people waiting in line in front of us. Clarence, who knows very well that if he gets in a wheelchair, he can cruise right through, is refusing to do it. So we listen to him grumble about his leg for 45 minutes while we trudge through the line. After getting through TSA we are then treated to a mile walk, to get to our gate which is only 9 gates away. Some of the concourses have one gate in them.
We board our plane and pass out for the first leg of our redeye. At dawn, we have a very quick transfer in Houston. Clarence hobbles over as fast as he can, and we catch it, cutting in front of most of the passengers as he is an obvious preboard.
"Hey! That's no Fair!" Yells Debo, 2 Live Crew's manager.
My brain, retarded from exhaustion, does not recognize Debo and admonishes him. 2 Live Crew laugh hard behind him and wind up sitting on either side of Billy, which made for a classic candid shot of the 2 Sleepy Crew.
We landed at breakfast time in Fort Lauderdale. Marquis greets my wife with a "Hello Miss Lai" and Lai is kind of stunned that the guy who crawled on all fours in the "me so horny" video on MTV when she was a sheltered 11 year old Chinese girl is now acting the perfect gentleman as she loads Clarence and I in the car for the trip home.
Upon arrival at Clarence's house I pay him and before he can say "Is that it?" I say "AND ONE SAVED HOUSE."
"Ok, you're right, you're right."
The next day I went to the Tax Assessor's Office and I paid Clarence's $8699.66 property tax bill with a cashier's check earned from the indiegogo campaign - 2 weeks before the sale that would have made him homeless would have been final. My cashier's name was "Jazz." Clarence wrote a song for Paulette Reeves called "Jazz Freak."
It truly is a Weird World of Blowfly.
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