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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Oh, Goddamnit!

I have sold my soul and promised to give my 'blogs from the Reading and Leeds festivals to So I pinky swear to let you know when they post those, as I know you're dying to read about our supper with Kim Deal, Zachary's break-down in our Leeds hotel, and our all-night dance party with Michael Tapper of We Are Scientist in Leeds' only gay disco that never closes.

Coming soon to this site is a detailed account of our T on the Fringe appearance with Hot Hot Heat, our last night in Edinburgh and the UK altogether, and, of course, tonight's proceedings.

In the meantime, gaze into the hypnotic eyes of the lovely Zachary. You are growing sleepy. Very, very sleepy.

Friends, you will come to the Troubadour show tonight. You will dance as you've never danced before. Then you will drive to the Star Shoes bar, where our dear, dear friend Ricky Haley of Liars Club UK (who is seen here licking Ben Lee) will be spinning records. Then you will dance as you were dancing at the Blood Arm show.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Chewi Jewi

August 25- We decided to pause for a quick drink while going about the tiring work of prepping for our departure from London to Reading this afternoon. In the midst of all our rushing around, rushing around, rushing aroooooouuuund, I absent-mindedly left the knapsack holding the very computer on which I am typing this diary entry in the lobby of the hotel. Because of my hurried packing, the charger cord was sticking out of a side pocket. Within a matter of seconds, a bellhop came bursting into the bar with a pained expression on his face.

“The knapsack in the lobby, it’s yours isn’t it?” he asked. “Isn’t it?”

I immediately claimed the unattended parcel, and the man let out a deep sigh of relief. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s a bigger world out there in all the hustle and bustle of trying to get from one place to another in a timely fashion, and when one is ultimately reminded, he feels like an asshole. On the plus side—if there is a plus side—nowadays Londoners aren’t so quick to lift your bag if you leave it alone for a second.

The shows at White Heat at Madame JoJo’s and the 100 Club in London were phenomenal. JoJo’s is normally a strip-joint, and the backstage area is lined with computer printouts listing the call-times for pole dancing acts and the songs the ladies dance to. From what we could tell, most of the strippers have surprisingly good taste in music. There was Bambi dancing to “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin, Trixi with “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” by the Kinks, and Prissi performing to “A Quick One While He’s Away” by the Who. (All names ending in ‘i’! Are they playing to the stereotypes, or is it a happy accident?) Strip clubs usually make me extraordinarily uncomfortable—How would my mother feel? What would my wife think?—but with music like that, I think I could dig it. In fact, I think I would like to be a stripper myself, with the Blood Arm as my backing band. Chewi Jewi, that’s what they’d call me.

The White Heat club itself was even crazier than it’s locale. Most venues in London aren’t allowed to sell alcohol past eleven o’clock or so. White Heat, however, had somehow obtained a license to serve liquor until three in the morning. So everyone in the club started drinking as though they’d be forced to stop before midnight, and treated every hour after that as a gift from the beer gods. It was a madhouse. By the time I began my MC duties, everyone in the club was beyond thoroughly sloshed. Kids were wrestling, making-out, and bumbling into one another—the perfect environment for a TBA set. I’m guessing that through the cloud of their hangovers, all the attendees still remembered what turned out to be a very special performance the day after, with fuzzy visions floating about inside their heads of Nathaniel contorting himself around a pole.

If White Heat was intense, then the show at the legendary 100 Club took it to another level. As if possessed by the ghosts of Elton John, Johnny Rotten, and Mick Jagger (our favorite deceased performers to have graced that great stage), the band stirred the crowd to a rabid frenzy. At one point, Nathaniel stole a bottle of Tabasco sauce from behind the bar and emptied it into the eager mouths of gawking audience members, spicing up their evenings even more. Zachary somehow obtained a large bruise on his left cheek, presumably a result of the singer’s shenanigans. As his refreshingly good looks are a welcome bright spot after painfully early wake-up calls, I ordered an official letter of complaint through the Blood Arm management begging for the stop of Nathaniel’s nightly abuse of Zach. We’ll see if it’s heeded.

Tomorrow is Reading, see you there!

-Ben Lee

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Top Shop

We walked past the Top Shop on our way to the internet cafe and they were playing the 'Say Yes' video, so surreal. There's a party in Leeds at the Faversham at which the Blood Arm will be performing. Around eleven. Saturday! Be there!

Going Dutch

August 23- Jochem is our tour manager. He should hate me by now, for I am the Ugliest American. He’s from Holland and already I’ve asked him in beyond drunken moments what language they speak in his country, and tried to place what nation his accent comes from, guessing Denmark and Germany. Fortunately, he’s the nicest of the nicest and is readily accepting of my ignorance. Ignorant as I may be, I found it rather precious a moment when he was explaining to us his dislike of cooking. He said, “When it comes to food, I have no fantasy.”

Everyone seemed to find his lack of a cooking fantasy a little sad, so we all silently decided to share our own aloud, presumably with the intention of giving one to him. Mine involves my wife and some lingerie and some pan-fried bacon and eggs. Nathaniel made known a certain desire to see a loved-one bathing in a tub of fresh-fruit salad, and carries a list of fruits he’d like to include in his breast pocket. (“So it’s closer to my heart,” he explained.) Dyan apparently has a thing for polenta, and Zachary is a known whipped cream enthusiast.

Upon hearing all this, Jochem turned a little red-in-the-face. “Oh no,” he said. “Not fantasy. I meant I have no imagination for cooking.” Imagination. Then it was our turn to blush.

The music! The show in Brighton was amazing, as was the show tonight at Madame Jojo’s in London. The band are debuting a number of new songs, and all in attendance will agree they’re quite danceable. Now I’m more than slightly tipsy. I’ll try to keep myself in better check tomorrow so as to better recount the day’s proceedings. Oh yes, my dear friend Ollie wished for me to mention him in this diary, so there you have it. Yes yes yes yes.


Ben Lee

Monday, August 22, 2005

Sir Mick and Co.

August 21- Sometimes, especially when one is embarking on a rock ‘n’ roll tour, it’s easy to forget that there’s a war going on a million miles away in a desert country that has a lot of oil. The war has something to do with freedom, terrorists, oil, freedom, and terror. It’s not very rock ‘n’ roll at all, especially if the bad guys win—I’m told they’d like to outlaw music altogether, in addition to high-heeled shoes and internet pornography.

Fortunately for the UK (and the rest of the freedom-loving world), the Queen has installed a fail-proof last line of defense against those who would dare attempt to topple her… This being, of course, the Round Table of everyone’s favorite knights, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Sting, and Sir Ringo Starr. Who better to protect us than those who enjoy the fruits of capitalistic freedom the most? (Thank God the rest of us don’t have to cope with such responsibility, it might cramp our good time at Leeds and Reading.)

We’ve just arrived in Brighton from Heathrow, and it’s an unbelievably sunny day. While Sir Jagger and Co. fret about the wellbeing of this Great Nation, we of the Blood Arm party are going to check out the beach and enjoy what is likely to be the only sunshine we’ll see this tour. English friends, we look forward to catching up with you over the next week and a half, and fellow Los Angelenos, we’re equally excited about the first TBA headlining show at the Troubadour on the thirty-first.

Oh! Speaking of the Troubadour show, there was an overwhelming response to the free ticket contest, offering free tickets (of course!) to the first five persons who could name two songs from TBA’s first demo. Zebastian will email the winners as soon as he has a moment to sift through all the responses. For everyone else, the track listing for the demo CDR reads as follows:
1. Bad Timing
2. Tiger of the Talent Show
3. Oh, Vanity! (I’ve Got You Down)
4. A Brilliant Debut

Thank you to everyone who participated! If you missed out this time, email with “mailing list” in the subject line and you’ll never feel lonely again.

Now to the beach!

-Ben Lee

Saturday, August 20, 2005


And we're off! Don't forget about us while we're gone...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Acrobats, etc.

The Blood Arm: Hey photographer, don't look behind you, but there's a superbuff manimal swinging from a rope!
Photographer: Oh come on, you guys.
The Blood Arm: No seriously, it's crazy!
Photographer: Holy helllllllllll!

No shit, there were acrobats at the party.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Exclamations in Bullet Points

This is all so overwhelming—I’ve neglected you for so long and there’s really no excuse. Well, I did have a somewhat painful bout with pneumonia after the Maximo Park tour, but I could’ve set my laptop on my belly and had at it, I suppose. So shame on me… Shame, shame, shame.

Here are some half-assed exclamation points in bullet points from the past few weeks. (Future updates will be cleverer, promise this I do.)

•Pneumonia! After weeks of coughing and coughing, I finally visit the doctor. At first he thinks I’ve developed asthma, and plies me with a regimen of inhalers and steroids (a variant that doesn’t enable me to hit a baseball incredible distances, unfortunately). He x-rays my chest as a precautionary measure, so my relatives won't sue on the off-chance I die of some other complication. The results: I have pneumonia! Pneumonia! When swallowed with the fact that I broke my hip a year and a half ago and the growing hump in my back, I am officially mature beyond my years.

•Dyan’s birthday! Though I was barely able to sit through the celebratory dinner due to my illness, I’m told the night culminated in fireworks (literally, the really big illegal ones that we smuggled across the Washington border upon our return from the west coast tour), an impromptu swimming party at Professor Wendy’s place, and a threat of eviction by Wendy’s landlord if she is ever to bring such hooligans around again.

•A fight! We were showing some friends from out of town a good time at one our favorite eastside bars when Professor Wendy found a motorcycle helmet on a nearby table. Nathaniel has an uncanny ability to make any headwear look child-sized, and it’s always funny to see him do it. Of course, it wasn’t funny to the group of rockabilly bikers who walked in from a smoke just as Nathaniel was banging his head on the wall, trying to squeeze the protective covering onto his Brobdingnagian head, as the helmet belonged to one of them. And of course, when confronted about it, he points at me. “He did it,” Nathaniel says, in spite of the entire body of evidence resting on top of his noggin. And they believe him, of course of course of course, because, well, I don't know why. My wife, Dyan, and the Professor did their best to diffuse the situation, but in a matter of minutes we were surrounded by upwards of twenty bikers, looking for blood. Fortunately, we were able to shove our way out of there before things got really ugly, the only damage being the accidental shredding of three of Nathaniel's tires in our flight.

•My Birthday! The wife organized a Medieval-themed birthday party and talent show in honor of the occasion. Highlights included “Isadora the Queen,” an original rock opera written and performed by Dyan and Nathaniel, “A Kingly Prison,” a puppet show written and performed by yours truly, a very Welsh cover of “Baker Street,” the Jerry Rafferty classic, by our good friends Richie and Courtney, an adult-contemporary reincarnation of David Kleiler’s band Straight to Video performing Zach’s favorite song, “Tie My Shoes,” and the Professor taught us some magical spells.

Andy Hopkins, Conor Stevens, Amanda, Fukiko Aito, Jon Silverman, Lana Spitz, and Jeremy Tinsley, thank you thank you thank you for your contributions to the page redesign contest! Your mix Cds will be in the mail shortly with some added goodies for being so patient. (UK friends, I’m waiting to mail your packages until we get over there on the 21st in order to save some cash.) Fukiko’s winning page will make its debut before we head out over the Atlantic on August 20th.

This is all for now. Tomorrow I will be smarter, taller, and better-looking.


Ben Lee