Sunday August 8, 2004

Admiral Von Pinchenstein ("Pinchy"), the Ecuadorian hermit crab, begs humans to "stop the madness."


Well, it's all done for this week. Just a matter of another 7-hour drive back home.

We left around 11 to hit some shops looking for new shells for our pet crabs. What we found was appaling. In almost every store, "Hermit Crabs For Free", or "Free With Purchase Of Crab Care Kit." It literally made me feel sick. Then I saw the crabs and the condition they were in. It should be illegal. The crabs were all piled up on each other on chicken wire. Hundreds and hundreds of them. They had no water of any kind and nowhere to molt. A lot of them were so small they couldn't move across the wire. The little bit of rotting food was too high up for anything but the biggest crabs to climb to. For those who don't know, there are two major species that you'll probably see in stores. The Caribbean variety (orange, pink, reddish, purple claw) and the Ecuadorian variety (big eyes, more tan - see left). The Ecuadorians not only need water but salt water, too. I saw exactly one Ecuadorian in this massive pile. He was already dead. It broke my heart.

To me, this is no different that seeing puppies or kittens with no food, starved, no shelter and left to die with bigger dogs who will kill them. Hermit crabs may be small but they have their own distinct personalities. They talk (chirp), get depressed, get happy and playful and deserve better than that. Do me a favor. NEVER, EVER support any store that would do this kind of thing. It's evil in my opinion. No, I'm not buying a tacky souvenir from a place that sells torture and death to animals that I call my friends.

The people responsible deserve the same treatment.

So we left Myrtle Beach. Stopped at a Florence Pizza Hut for lunch (Amanda wanted Apple Annie's but it was closed) and hit Camden around 2. We went and saw Amanda's parents for a while, then swung by the cemetary for a day late birthday "visit" with my Dad. I was glad to see that my sister and brother didn't forget him this year. I was a bit dismayed that my flowers had been removed (they were still in good shape) but not surprised. Of course, we hit Grandma's before leaving the county, too, for one more check up. She seemed a bit better today.

Back on the road again.

Got back to Athens around 7. Relaxed with a KRP, TZ and a comfy, comfy bed. Sleeeeeeep.





Saturday August 7, 2004

Loretta Lynn brings the Van Lear Rose to Myrtle Beach.


Today is my Dad's 56th birthday...even if he's not around to celebrate it. Happy Birthday, Dad.

Maybe because it's my Dad's birthday, things just kind of fell into place.

First, we decided to go to Alligator Adventure. Amanda has always wanted to go there. It looks like we chose the right time. When we got there, we casually mentioned that we had been working at the House Of Blues for the last two nights. The girl smiled and said, "Then you're guests of HOB. Just sign your name here and come on in." Wow! It's kind of creepy that we don't have to pay but I can get used to that creepy! I've got to say that Alligator Adventure was much more fun that I thought it would be. Those were some big, scary suckers. We even just happened to be there when it was time for the bi-weekly feeding of UTAN, The King Of The Crocs. This crocodile's head was (I'm not exaggerating) the size of our kitchen table. When the handlers went in to feed him whole, skinned rabbit, the croc decided to keep going for the handler. One of UTAN's teeth even popped out as he lunged. It took another handler with a metal pole to get attention back on the rabbit! Yikes. We almost witnessed more than we bargained for.

We then figured, let's see if it works again. We went over to House Of Blues next door for lunch. We showed 'em our passes and they said, "Great, you get to eat for half price." Amanda took great advantage of it - ordering some nice, expensive food. Me? I still got the cheapest thing on the menu.

Then we switched to an ocean front hotel. We tried to go for a swim but the water was just too darn cold for me (all time record low in MB for this date). I gave it the old college try (what does that even mean?) but it was like icicles slicing through me.

I had hoped that I'd be able to catch Loretta Lynn today. Sure, I could've used a day off but I couldn't justify missing a living legend if I could get in (especially on my Dad's birthday when it's someone he might've liked to see). I had no luck at all with Loretta's record company so Amanda and I traipsed on over to the Alabama Theatre and explained the situation to the staff. They looked at me like dogs that heard high pitched noises. They didn't seem to understand the difference between a photo pass / backstage pass or whatever. They were very nice people, though, and they grabbed Loretta's manager Gene so I could let him know what was up.

He looked over at the theatre people and said "Give him those last two tickets. You shoot whatever you want. You're okay." Killer. The last two tickets were ours. So I was lucky enough to be allowed to shoot the whole show again. Since they were so nice (thanks also to David and Tim at the Alabama Theatre) I stayed completely in the shadows and out of the way in front of the soundboard.

Before the show, I ran into a photog buddy of mine who was also shooting. He told me about Rick James. That's sad. He was a ripe bastard but a legendary and truly great musician / performer. He was just in Atlanta. I shoulda went. At least I got to see him a couple of years ago. Too bad I wasn't a very good photographer at the time. See my pics of him here.

Back to Loretta, it was almost exactly what you'd expect. She didn't have a set list of any kind. She opened with (after a short set from her daughters The Lynns) "You Ain't Woman Enough To Take My Man" before announcing to the sold out crowd, "Just yell up here what you wanna hear. We'll play 'em if we can remember 'em." And that's just what she did. Of course, tonight of all nights someone had to yell up "They Don't Make 'Em Like My Daddy Anymore." Yes, I admit it choked me up a bit. Among the relatively long list of songs was "Fist City" (Amanda's favorite), "The Pill", "One's On The Way," etc. She also performed "Family Tree", "Portland, Oregon" and "Van Lear Rose" from the new album. This wouldn't be a big deal to hear songs from a new album with most artists, but Loretta had never performed these songs live before (according to her daughters). She was impressed to get requests for them, so she did 'em. She forgot lyrics on occasion but she got through okay. So I sincerely heard a rare show. She played her very first 2 flop singles "Honky Tonk Girl" and "I'm The Other Woman" (which she also just did on request and for the first time in years) plus we got to hear her brand new stuff. I was thrilled to get to hear 'em. After playing a half-hour longer than she was scheduled, she gave 'em the old "Coal Miner's Daughter" before taking off. No encores, no crap. Perfect.

After the show, it was only 9 o'clock (yep, show time was at 7 - country's a different world) so Amanda and I went for dinner. Then it was back to the hotel for a stroll on the beach. Right before midnight, I wrote "Happy Birthday Dad" right on the edge of the sand and water so it could be washed away by the incoming tide.

The last day I saw my Dad alive was September 7, 2003. I was on my way back from Myrtle Beach.




Friday August 6, 2004

My place of employment for 2 days in the summer of '04 (and Edwin's transportation to it - they call it The Black Pearl)!



I laid in bed 'til about 10:30 today. Then Fran came down to the room to pay me and give me my per diem, etc.

Same old story. I'm so miserably exhausted...again. Amanda and I lazed around 'til lunch. Then across the street to Broadway At The Beach. Then back to the napping 'til time to head out to work at 5 o'clock.

It kind of sucked having to go out so friggin' early when I knew that Edwin wouldn't be on 'til 9. I had to go shoot atmosphere / external shots, though, so I was there and functioning.

The differences were few tonight. Kevn Kinney opened up the show with an acoustic set. Then Edwin and band did the same set in the same clothes. There were more audio technical probs tonight than last, but that's why they shoot 2 nights, right? The balcony was open to the public tonight so there were a lot more people. I think that accounts for the better energy (if not a better performance).

The show ended 11ish and my work was done. I was back in the hotel by 12 or so and I actually slept hard!



Thursday August 5, 2004

Edwin McCain sees the light in Myrtle Beach, SC.


Well, today was rough. First off, I had to get up early (after being up late) to edit KISS pics for Pollstar. Then, we had to get on the road at around 10:30 to begin the long, ardous journey to Myrtle Beach for two days as the hired photog for Edwin McCain and his upcoming DVD. I coulda travelled with the crew yesterday and made things easier, but I had to see KISS again.

We made it to Lugoff, South Carolina by two-ish and swung by my Grandmother's house to check up on her. She wasn't feeling that well and didn't even feel able to go to the mailbox and mail out bills that were due immediately. (I still can't believe no one around there can't help her out with little things like that. It's a shame, an embarrassment and says a lot more for the people who alledgedly care about her than their words do.) So, of course, I mailed 'em.

Then back out on the road.

We pulled into North Myrtle Beach sometime around 5. By this time, I was wiped out. I felt awful. Exhausted and stressed again. I pulled through (thanks to Amanda's help) and we got a decent dinner before our arrival at the House Of Blues around 7:30 to sign contracts and the like. By the time I made it out into the house, The Blue Dogs had already started. I didn't shoot them (trying to conserve space on the cards) but they were SO much better than the last time I saw them that I can't even describe it.

Edwin started late (of course). He went on at about 9:40 and played an extra long show for the taping. I must admit, it's always nice to be the only photographer allowed AND to have an all access pass. It makes work as easy as possible. I appreciated that. The second floor was only for Edwin's family and friends so I got a lot of cool shots from up there. He ended his set around midnight (nice, solid show - ended with a strong cover of "Maggie May") and I had to wait for the clearance from the record company and Fran (the DVD director) before we could leave. I didn't wind up doing anything else but sitting backstage for an extra hour that I could've been trying to sleep.

Speaking of which, when I got back to the hotel, I was overly exhausted. I couldn't sleep. I laid awake for hours and hours and hours. Finally sometime around 5 a.m., I started sleeping about 1/2 hour at a time. It was fits and starts but it was something.

It's nice to be an all expense paid trip to the beach (that's why I took the gig) but it kind of sucks not even seeing the ocean for the first couple of days you're in town. It's nobody's fault but my own lack of sleep, though.



Wednesday August 4, 2004

Paul Stanley reaches for the lens in Atlanta.

After the morning edits, I began re-arranging and re-tracking "Feel It." I played the instrumental of it yesterday for Frank and my work today was to expand his favorite parts, minimize his least favorite parts and basically make it less hurky-jerky. It worked well. It's much better. I even managed to ad lib some halfway decent lyrics, too. Much improved. Now it really is a Q-Sign sounding song.

At 5, Frank, Tom, Mary Katherine, Amanda and I hit the road to the KISS / Poison / Zo2 show in ATL. I bailed on the exclusive backstage photo shoot with Zo2. I just didn't have the time! I did get some cool live shots of them.

Poison did a typical Poison set, although I swear Bret Michaels is more of a Southerner every time I see him. What's up? He didn't have a drawl back in the day? Now he's even got a cowboy hat. It was almost ridiculous. No matter - they did a crowd satisfying set to end their run of dates with KISS. Great energy, too. I got too many good shots of C.C. and Rikki to even mention.

On to KISS.

First off, I've got to describe the shoot. We only had 2 songs ("Love Gun" and "Deuce") and almost no room in the pit for 5-7 photogs. It wasn't easy. When Paul saw me singing along, he came waltzing right over to me. He spent about 1/3 of his time singing to me. He singled me out and showed huge preferential treatment towards me. He did give the other photogs a few shots each but he always came back to me. At one point, he was posing for me with a KISS pick on the end of his tongue. Then he very slowly took a deep breath and blew. The pick arced through the air in slow motion toward me and hit my chest, then bounced INTO my pass / laminate holder. After he scored the direct hit, he started laughing and sent another one toward me. This one bounced off of my forehead and I gave it to a fan in the front row. Paul kept posing for me. Too close in fact for me to even focus on him with my long lens that I was using. He actually leaned in so far while pointing that he touched the camera. Odd. Oh, the pics I missed because I had the wrong lens to catch 'em. Next time I shoot them, I'm going totally wide angle 'cause I got all the good long lens shots this time. The cool thing about the long lens is that I got really great shots of Eric, too, which is not easy. Gene posed a bit for me but I've got to admit that I was distracted with Paul for most of the ten or so minutes.

Well, I've got to say. This show itslef was a bit of a disappointment. With Eric Singer back on drums, it should've been much more powerful and intense. It wasn't. It was basically the same as far as that goes. They're even still doing "Detroit" too slow. Seeing as how Eric can handle it with his eyes closed, that tempo must be a direct order from Paul and / or Gene. I will give them major bonus points for shaking up the set list. I enjoyed "War Machine," "Got To Choose" and even "Christine Sixteen." Unfortunately, "Unholy" was more like "Unnecessary." It didn't have the oomph it needed - especially for the blood spitting / flying routine. The worst was yet to come, though. "I Was Made For Loving You" was atrocious. Paul oversang it as usual and I expected that but the background vocals were truly awful. I can't even describe it. Before the encore, Paul made the most apolitical political speech I've ever heard. Hey - for KISS that's still a big step. Now if only they had something to say... "God Gave Rock And Roll To You II" didn't quite cut it either. Of course, "Rock And Roll All Nite" closed it out with lots 'o' confetti and fire. It didn't seem like as much as usual but it did the trick. Basically, I'm glad the guys are shaking up the song choices. They need to keep doing that until they find a groove that works. At least they're moving again. That's a good sign.



Tuesday August 3, 2004


What did I do today? I spent a huge chunk of the day updating this freakin' diary (there, Benji - happy?). Also did some of the usual. I've got KISS tickets for tomorrow coming out of my ears. Another two lawn tickets are to be left at the VIP entrance tomorrow for me. Forget that I have at least 5 others already (yes, that makes 7!). I wish I always had that problem. Frank and Tom have dibs on the two reserved tix that Amanda and I aren't using. I'm gonna offer the other three lawners to Andy. Unless you want 'em? If so, let me know.

I hope they make it. Apparently Paul Stanley had to be hospitalized this weekend. He succumbed to exhaustion and dehydration in Florida. They cancelled (which is rare for KISS) the next two shows. I think they're supposed to pick up again tonight.

I hope the old Starchild is back to his normal ridiculous self and ready to introduce KISS virgin Tom to the nuclear blizard and the "rock and roll party."



Monday August 2, 2004


No trivia. No worries. I'm thrilled to have the night off. I got the rest of the (first) edits done today and uploaded the RUSH pics to Retna. Since the middle of May I've put over 1,000 pics up for sale there. Unfortunately, due to the nature of this business, I won't know how they're selling for a couple of months! I'll wait.

Today, I was making a Rush CD for Tom when I heard a loud banging at the door. To my surprise, it was Frank! Woah! He lives here now. He's found himself a place in Normaltown and is still trying to get the job situation nailed down. At any rate, he moved into town yesterday. He and I did lunch together. I lost a bit of work time but it's cool to have him around.

In the afternoon, I did an elaborate demo of a new song tentatively titled "Feel It." It's segmented and a bit much right now. I've got to shave it down to something more attractive but there's a good core to work with. You know I'll post it here when I can.

The evening was relaxing. It involved the couch, TV and (surprise, surprise) WKRP and Twilight Zone. Those are my simple pleasures. Add in some greasy bar-b-qued potato chips and a Brown Cow and it makes a peaceful night even better.

Click here to see last week's updates with pics of Rush, Collective Soul, The Cure and The (International) Noise Conspiracy.