Tour Diary - Halloween in Harrisburg

I have wanted to do a party with husband & wife DJ's, The Thing With Two Heads for quite a while. Back in 2005 or so, the moment I walked into Magnetic Field, where he was spinning, Bazooka Joe's very next record to play was by the Oblivians, called No Reason To Live. That was my favorite punk rock song of the 90s, and most of my friends know that. So, I gotta give props to a DJ who knows my fave song and plays it when I walk in the room. That sealed the deal for me and TTWTH...we'd do a party together sometime somewhere.

I have written at length about how I believe the Oblivians restored my faith in a post punk rock kind of punk rock, devoid of new wave stupidity and the fashion applications of grunge. No Reason To Live was a song that also hearkened back to real 1970s punk rock - all nihilistic and noisy. No Reason To Live completely connected the dots between Bob Dylan's Queen Jane Approximately and punk rock. Weird to you, but a completely and perfectly normal association and correspondence for me. If you are still confused, I suggest you pick up a copy of EMW Tillyard's slim volume entitled, The Elizabethan World Picture and many things will become clear to you, Shakespeare included. Would I steer your wrongly?

Pictured here are Bazooka Joe Diddley, Billy Synth, Christine Sixteene and Sarah Bellum - not any of their real last names, of course... as is the punk rock / underground hipster way. On my first night in Harrisburg, October 30, Joe, Christine, Sarah and I paid a visit to Billy Synth, an 80s punk rock underground icon from Harrisburg. He lives in a tiny record-and-CD-filled apartment near the Susquehanna River. The neighborhood is a quaint collection of colonial style row houses and blocks, probably there since the Colonial days. The scale of the rooms is small, as is the scale of the buildings and their narrow entry ways. I just don't see a bigger than life size flat screen TV fitting in here... but I digress.

Seeing that I started with this tale in mid-point progress, let me re-digress and take you to the beginning of the journey.

My journey began at 6 AM Thursday morning, October 30. The taxi I called was coming to get me at 7 am for my 8:30 AM flight. As usual, I worked on all number of things til about 3 in the morning, as I do every day. Basically, I took a nap and then jumped in a cab. I brought only a carry on bag, filled with smaller size prints. In a separate art box, I had a 20x24 poster and a framed 16x20 print. You know these art boxes - they're basically flat and measure what your print measures - this was a 21 x 25 x 2 inch box - not heavy, but completely unwieldy, so, I used a luggage trolley to cart the art box and my carry on bag in one simple space/time continuum. However, the airport and the airlines saw things differently.

I am not a morning person to begin with and the alternatingly chipper and cranky airport personnel, from greeters to Transportation Safety Association people pretty much made sure that I continue to be not a morning person. I learn in ways both nice and nasty that my little trolley is considered a whole piece of luggage! WTF? Who made up that rule? Its wrong, I tell ya! One airlines "customer service" lady snappped that I had 4 carry on items - the trolley (give me a f***ing break!), my art box, my carry-on and my purse. Well, I shoved my purse into the carry on, taking out just my money and iPod. I had to ditch the trolley and this was the most difficult task of the morning. Airport people suggested a wild goose chase path... but I took that trolley all the way up to the boarding gate. A nice gate agent offered to tag the trolley and take it to the luggage office and I could reclaim it on my return trip. That was the nicest thing to happen to me all morning.

You see, prior to my getting to the gate, I was turned inside out at security, where my carry on bag was unpacked by a bitchy white trash lady and well groomed Black man. Yes, yours truly was singled out and given the full-on terrorist screening. The rivets on the corners of the pockets of my jeans made the metal detecting wand go off, and that prompted the bitchy white trash lady to have to pat me down. Just to enhance the level of discomfort, I said "good thing I'm not wearing my regular bra. The underwire always made the metal detector at the IRS go off." I don't know why, but that statement just unnerves people. Its just an undergarment with metal in it!

I think that bitchy white trash lady saw it as a form of assholery on my part, and well, it was. But what's a gal to do when she's getting electronically frisked and then felt up by a TSA bitch? When the TSA lady and man started rifling through the carry-on bag, I got concerned that they'd manhandle my photos to the point of damaging them. Luckily, I've been singled out as a potential terrorist before! I brought with me the copy of the MODE, Harrisburg's version of the Village Voice / LA Weekly / Nashville Scene / Memphis Flyer / Chicago Reader... you get the point --- there was a big full page article about me and my show and one of the photos in the paper was a photo I was carting around with me. I was able to prove to them that some people like and even buy my pictures and they should take care not to fuck my shit up.

I do believe I have "Troublemaker" invisibly tattoo'd on my head - either that or there's a neon sign over my head that I can't see. This happened to me in 1978 when I was returning to the States from Tijuana in my very own car with Pleasant, who had switchblades, fireworks, valium and who knows what else. The border patrol disconnected the horn in my car when they turned it inside out. Pleasant and I tried our best to make the border patrol matrons uncomfortable with us. Just because I was a smart ass punk, I opted to speak French to the border patrol. You know - because I could... and because it was illegally crossing Mexicans they were concerned with - not French school girls.

Thirty years later, and I'm still getting stopped by security people. Since I'm on the soapbox, I do want to say that I'm fairly certain that none of the people who get pulled aside and searched with full terrorist treatment is anything near a terrorist. In fact, one of the hallmarks of a successful terrorist is that they can evade detection. I think the TSA is going about it all wrong. Just because I look like a deadbeat doesn't mean I'm going to blow up a plane or hijack it. I also don't see how taking away my bottle of Clarins moisturizer and my Chanel lipstick are going to make the world safer. The TSA at Nashville airport made me $80 poorer before I event left town. For the record - the moisturizer came in a bottle that was 0.6 ounces more than the limit - but since it was half-empty, I really really don't see why it was even an issue. And I think the white trash TSA bitch just wanted my lipstick. Its Chanel - even the white trash knows that is a fashion name of some renown.

Eventually, I get out of there and on the plane for the first leg of the journey which takes me to Detroit. I know the airport very well. Its got a Taco Bell! Also, because its a hub for Northwest, there's a lot of Japanese influence - two sushi places to eat, announcements in Japanese and this fabulous disco walkway through a tunnel in between the concourses.

The plane from Detroit to Harrisburg is a tiny tiny plane. I'm 5'2" and conked my head twice on the overhead bins. Other than that, it was an uneventful flight. I manage to find a poorly marked bus stop at Harrisburg's airport, board a bus, and for $2.05, ride to the center of town where Joe and Christine Almeida - aka The Thing With Two Heads - pick me up.

Joe's prepared machaca for our dinner. And the city of Harrisburg has declared that Thursday night - October 30 is the night that children will go trick or treating. Weird, but the Almeida's are prepared. And when trick or treating and our dinner of machaca tacos is over, we go off to visit Billy Synth with our friend Sarah.

Billy Synth is a local legend and mostly unsung hero, but not to Bazooka Joe. Joe pointed out that in the early 80s, no punk bands were covering the kind of neo-garage obscurities that Billy was... and that Billy, as a collector and expert was responsible for suggesting many chestnuts that ended up on many of the garage compilation records you love so much (on the Norton or Get Hip labels, to name but two... I think Billy worked with Bomp a bit as well).

Joe, an avid record collector himself, pretty much makes Billy show us everything he owns, and plays a lot of it too. We girls are all extremely tired and ready to go to bed, but Joe could stay up all night... eventually we leave.

Halloween Night itself is a blast. Spent the morning scouring Good Will and Salvation Army stores for funky picture frames, then we installed the exhibit and before we knew it, the party began. People showed up in costume, Joe & Christine were throwing down an eclectic set of jams ranging from punk to garage and a little bit of soul and roots rock. People who came to the party left with The Ramones and Stiv Bators....

And then began the return home...

For all my own airport hassle getting to Harrisburg, going home was flawless, except that I had a 3-hour layover in Detroit, and that's just too much time to be waiting for a plane. I was surprised in Harrisburg that the people in the security x-ray checkpoint ahead of me had BULLETS (a big ole box of em) in their carry-on and were allowed to keep them.

Needless to say, had I attempted something like that, I'd be in jail.....

If you haven't already done so, GO VOTE TOMORROW