West Virginia...Wild and Wonderful indeed.

We have just left West Virginia.  Wild and Wonderful West Virginia where the infamous White family lives and represents, if you have seen the documentary.  But it wasn’t because of them that we were weary about going.  It wasn’t our first time.  The last time we were there I (Chicky) was was told that I shouldn’t brag about having a black, at-the-time, fiance.  But that it was ok because God still loved me anyway.  That memory has sat vividly with me since then.  Driving in on our first and only day off in a long while, we were anxious at the thought of having to spend the night in a car at a truck stop or Walmart.  Of course, we are used to it by now… but we just didn’t feel comfortable doing it in West Virginia. 

Keith Proctor came to our rescue though.  Brother of Scott who used to play in a band that Jason used to tour manage.  Both of whom J has talked a lot about in high regard.  Keith needed rescuing as did we.  He left his car keys at home in Huntington… two hours from the motel he was staying near his work, in Flatwood.  It was only an hour away from where we needed to be the following day, in Clarksburg.  So we found something to do.  We picked him up to drive him home and we gained someone to hang out with. 

We picked Keith up at Laurel Creek Motel.  A very small motel hidden in the woods.  We screeched to a halt, almost missing the tiny and obscure dirt drive-in.  Already that brought up some attention.  By a family of seven chillin’ on the patio outside one of the motel rooms.  These people… looked like the Whites family.  Methy…clad in camo and hunting caps…and very very curious looking.  Keith said to get out of the car.  I moaned.  Fuuuuuck.  I just knew these people were going to want us to start running so that they could come after us.  But I was lucky.  I had Jason on my side.  Funny and charming and friendly Jason who very soon started to talk to the inquiring group about bears and wild animals and how terrified he was to be a victim of the wildlife.  And they laughed.  And they asked more questions about who we were and what we were doing there and no Jason didn’t get his tattoos from “going down” and don’t worry about the people who yell out of their cars, “Niggers!” because they won’t actually harm you and that you can always count on “little country motels being safe”.  Yes, we enjoyed each other’s company.  A pleasant surprise.  We were actually a little bummed that we couldn’t play the mini performance for them that they had requested. They were even ready for us, with a power outlet on the tree stump across the way.  But, alas, we don’t travel with our own PA. 

We packed Keith into our already full car.  Amazingly.  And off we went on our road adventure.  On the way, Jason got a message from Candy Mowery.  From Sugar’s in Parkersburg… another two hours away.  Sugar’s is a strip club that Jason had went into four years ago with the band Nova, who he was managing.  In fact, that’s also where he met Keith.  Keith had to leave for work at 6am the next day but how could he possibly pass up the opportunity to kick it at a strip club with some rock stars???

Four hours later, Keith’s mission accomplished, we arrive at Sugar’s.  This is where I meet Candy for the first time.  Jason has raved about this woman for years.  We had even tried to visit the last time but she wasn’t around and Jason hadn’t given any notice to us arriving.  So I actually started thinking she was just his imaginary friend.  And she greeted me with the warmest hug.  And I knew right away why he said so many great things about her.  Because she is that.  fucking.  awesome.  And she introduced us to everyone there.  And it was empty enough to chat and get to know the people there.  And girls danced for our friend Keith.  And we were offered to film a music video there.  Crazy, right?

All that happened before our show in Clarksburg at PJ Kelly’s.  Spontaneous good times with spontaneous people after being so worried about having to sleep in the car in scary West Virginia!

At PJ Kelly’s, we met Emily the bartender who was surprised there was a band tonight.  Great, we thought.  We hate it when that shit happens.  But Emily told EVERYBODY coming in and out who we are and that they had to stay or come back.  We met JT who prepped our sleeping quarters in the beautiful upstairs and let us do a big load of laundry (which is always a lifesaver for us… that shit costs $10 each time at a laundry mat!) We got fed some amazing amazing food and were treated so wonderfully by the whole staff.  We met Carl who was thrown a surprise birthday party by his best friend, April, and all their friends were super super friendly.  So friendly, in fact, that Carl had tipped us for a CD BEFORE we played! The birthday boy!  He shouldn’t have had to do that.  (Dude, Carl had even made our morning as we woke up to a beautiful email about how we had made his night… he really didn’t know that HE AND HIS FRIENDS had made OURS!)  And to add to this amazing group of people we were meeting, Candy convinced her friend Mike to drive an hour out to come see our live show!

How could we not try our very best to entertain? 

Without bragging about the awesome show we had put on for them, let’s just say that our budding relationship with new friends was officially reinforced. 

We were reminded of some very important things the last couple days.  Other than learning that West Virginia was not as scary as we had remembered it to be, there are good people EVERYWHERE.  And finding them is one of the highlights of doing what we do.  We fall in love every day with the new people we meet.  They enrich our lives and open our eyes to the many ways of life that are led here everywhere across the country.  It is truly motivating and inspiring.

I WILL brag about this.  We are rich.  So. Very. Rich. We have homes all over the country with many open arms waiting to warmly embrace us. 

That’s some pretty good shit, isn’t it??

~Chicky 

My devices....my vices....

I was once a slave to consumption.  A consumer of stuff.  The more stuff the better.  A room full of DVD’s.  More movies than I could watch in a lifetime, a closet filled with clothes with tags still attached, not because it was fashionable to keep the tags on, but because the garments were unworn.  I lived across the street from the #1 draft pick of the Golden State Warriors at the time, Patrick O’Bryant.  I had a Range Rover.  Paid for in cash.  Life was good to the outside world.  I had it all.  A gorgeous family, a beautiful wife, a successful business, and lots and lots of stuff.  The “stuff” validated my existence.  Not my wife nor my kids, but my stuff.  People don’t look at you and say, “Wow, that guy is in love with his spouse, and his kids are great and so well mannered.” That’s only said after they look in awe at your car, house, watch, etc. 

I grew up with not much so once money started to roll in I had get things to show people I had arrived.  Taking friends out to lavish dinners for no reason, throwing parities all the time.  I mean, I got this big ass house in the hills of Oakland next to actors and athletes for a reason…Right…?

As time went on, the business went under.  I had to start to part with all of my meaningless possessions.  It was hard.  I fought every day to keep those things.  At the height of my financial wealth, I was unhappy.  The carefree and fun nature that was the catalyst to my success was replaced with the desperation and fear of losing all of this nothing I had gained.  I mean, what would I be without my collection of $3,500 Rado and Tag Heuer watches?  What would I be without the house? THE HOUSE ON THE HILL NEXT TO THE FAMOUS PEOPLE!!

I, like many people, lost my identity in my things.  My devices…my vices.  I had forgotten who I was.  I thought people only wanted to be around me if I was buying dinner, or new clothes, or spending $100’s of dollars on their kids birthday party (I always had to bring the biggest gift). Isn’t that what made me universally liked?? I don’t know.  Maybe to some.  As the money was gone, so were many of the people.  The house disappeared and so did I .  Into a deep cavern of depression.  I was just a nobody.  No car, no house, no wife, no kids…well, I did have kids, but I couldn’t spoil them with $300 dollar trips to the mall on Sunday, just because it was Sunday.  Who could love a dad who couldn’t do that?

It took a while.  Lots of traveling and working abroad.  But I, again, found out what was important.  People, relationships, experiences.  Memories and life lessons you can’t show off on Facebook.  Understanding the true kindness of strangers.  Really seeing how people live all over.  Living with them and experiencing their every day lives.  Eating different food, seeing the sunset in the big sky of Montana, to marrying my wife and bandmate in the countryside of England.  Doing it all with what some call strangers, but we call them “La Fin Family”.  Through my band, La fin Absolute du Monde, we have a place to call home all over the world.  That means more to me at this point in my life than a big house and an iPhone 5…you know?

So thank you to all the people that have given us a couch, a floor and a bed to sleep in.  Thank you to everyone that has purchased us a meal, or given us a ride so we can perform at a show.  Thank you to everyone that has purchased a CD, a shirt, or a ticket to come to see us live.  Thank you to the people that house us back home in the Bay FOR FREE so we can keep this musical dream alive.  You people are the reason we can continue to do what we do. Make passionate, angry, beautiful music that hopefully will make people think and and inspire a musical revolution against the monotony of the commercial drab that ruins the airwaves and internet.

Thank you.

La Fin Absolute du Monde

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