Monday, April 20, 2009

DAY TWENTY ONE - WE'RE HERE!

Today's account bleeds over from yesterday's as there was no sleeping. Tim, Andrew and Matt passed the time between the show and getting to the airport by taking in a little Mr. Bean's Summer Holiday. Sounds campy for sure, but it was surprisingly and naturally funny. Especially to three tired, liquored-up baffoons. Kent and Steve took a little sleep in meanwhile.

Charlie and the boys got us right on time at 3:45 and we took a dozy ride out to the airport. We finally got an airline that knew what to do with the MCO's, but it's another hurry up and wait process. We made boarding as soon as it started, and were off before we knew it. The magic of medicine helped us sleep the six hour leg to Honolulu. YES, we got a freebie on this one! We were greeted with a most awesome view of the island with the mountains and volcanoes in the distance.

From there we had to claim our baggage and re-check it in for the leg to Houston. Another six hour nap in-between the gastro-intestinal experiments they call food. Had a three-hour layover in Houston then a two and a half jump to Baltimore.

We were greeted by a big crowd of family and friends at the airport with posters and all. We can't tell you how it made us feel! Well, yes we can it's our blog. It felt wonderful, if not mildly embarrasing. For a group of guys that love their share of attention, we were caught well off guard! But thank you all for that.

We caught up at DuClaw's in Arundel Mills and they did their best to keep us up until nightfall. Matt showed off his extensive collection of "Engrish" shirts, and our range of inside jokes fell on confused ears. We parted ways for a good night's rest only to return to the beat tomorrow night at the Redhouse Tavern.

Sadly, this blog now ends. But we'll keep it up for prosterity anyhow. After all, this is the only written account in existence that will jog our memory of the whirlwind this tour was. To all that we met along the way, it was awesome playing for and hanging out with you. Thanks for all you do, and we hope to return soon!

Be safe. But if you can't be safe...just be real. -
Dapper Dan

Saturday, April 18, 2009

DAY TWENTY - SCUBA STEVE

Made another early day out of today. We were out the door and in the car at 07:15 and at the mini-mart for some water and food at 07:30. Made it to MDA, the Micronesian Divers Association by 07:45 and got the low down on diving. Got fitted for most excellent gear and took to the waters an hour or so later. Granted, we weren't down there for long, but man! I think we're hooked on this scuba lark. Steve stared down a Moray Eel, and we tossed around a spongy starfish (better than cinder catch anyday). Renee Paradis was our instructor and we vowed to come back and get certified. If anyone is thinking about doing something like this, come to Guam. $159 will get you certified. Anywhere else is anywhere from $500 and above. Think about it babaaaay...

Hit up the most awesome McDonald's on base and crashed for a couple of hours. Frank and Ken, our contacts for today loaded us up and took us to Anderson Air Base, but made a couple of stops along the way for some fantastic sightseeing. Ooh and ahh at this...
Another hot, sweaty setup outside of Bamboo Willy's. We may have lost ten pounds each from sweat here in Guam, and added a few more here. A very picturesque view of the water was behind us, and a magnificent crowd to our front awaited us. A lot of younger folks tonight rocked with us and were very vocal and made us feel quite the rock stars. Having run out of CD's, we sadly had to pass out cards to everyone to get an album download for free. We intended to throw out the old merchandise box after this last show, but donated it to someone's bedroom setup. We're quite the recyclers.

The thing that sucks about working up a good sweat, is that at night we get cold. Tear down was a lengthly process, as we had to load gear into the truck, out of the truck and into the lock-up stage, our gear into the truck, then our gear into Kent's room. We ended up back at the rooms at around 1 am, and are getting picked up at 03:45. So...who's for a little bit of not sleeping!? The party was in Matt's room this time. Nobody had figured out his was the biggest, and was like a small condo.
sigh...the perks of being on top of the orders.

So this is it! The 2009 AFE Asian tour. It's been a whirlwind of a time for us and we've met some most excellent people. We're honored to have served those who serve us and can't thank them enough for having us out. It's been tough work at times, and at others quite the vacation. We'll wrap it all up tomorrow because if any of the previous travel days are any indication, we're in for one final crusade...getting home!



Friday, April 17, 2009

DAY NINETEEN - SNORKLES

Woke ourselves up very early this morning to venture out to scuba dive. However, we got to the place and couldn't arrange anything, so we snorkled instead. Each of us bought these reusable waterproof cameras and took pictures of the many tropical fish. Arranged and paid for a scuba session for tomorrow at 8am, so couldn't wear ourselves out in the area too much.

Charlie picked us up at 2 for load in outside of Typhoon's. It was as hot as we've ever set up before, but we got the PA working something sweet. Ate at Nap's again and played for the Crawl-fish boil, bringing in the sailors and families from the base. We were very jealous of the moon-bounce off to our left where kids swarmed the entire night. We never got the chance to have a go.

We were dropped off at the rooms for the night, and we ordered a couple of pies in Kent's room and watched the latter half of Blazing Saddles and the Untouchables. It's Friday night, and we're being lame. But if you were scuba-diving at 8am tomorrow, would you stay out late? No, we didn't think so.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

DAY EIGHTEEN - 5 GUYS AND A PACIFIC SUNSET

Burned up most of today sleeping. We ALMOST collectively thought to say to hell with it and start the day with the rising sun, but it wasn't to be. Got out of the hotel around 1 to find Tim had rented a car! Learned of the woes of the Cheaters' stay here previously, and thought our own transportation would be a welcome and convenient change from what we've been having. We hauled ass off base to do something cool.

Ate lunch at Ya Mon, a Reggae restaurant and tried everything they suggested; the steamed local catch (yellow-tail tuna) cooked in coconut milk, ribs and a most toxic rum drink (arrgh!). Cruised Rte 1 looking for some water activities and found a nice stretch of beach to lay out on and get some sun. Low tide, but it made for some interesting views of the marine life. Sustained ourselves on Corona and Bud Light and some peanuts well past their sell-by date and watched the sun set at 7. Kent and Steve, always ones for improvised machismo devised a new beach game. We call it cinder catch, or really heavy-ass rock catch. For want of a medicine ball, this just had to do.

Showered and got ready for a night out. However, we stayed in Kent's room and watched the following: South Park, South Park, Reno 911, Daily Show, Colbert Report. It's awesome to be back in US territory! Sad though that we can't spend any YEN or SINGS anymore. Anyone want 'em?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

DAY SEVENTEEN – PEEPING TAMMIES

Downpours today. Just when we were thinking about rocking the city we get confronted by a huge storm. The cleaning ladies in the joint have no concept of privacy and will come in the rooms while we’re getting out of the shower, brushing our teeth, etc. They’ll say they’re sorry but will just keep on with what they were doing. I (Matt) brushed my teeth with her beside me restocking the bathroom. Tim, answering the door in the buff thinking it was only us was shocked to find his cleaner coming in to check up on things. Peeping Tammies…

Tried to get a little bit of daytime
Singapore into our bellies, so took a taxi down to Raffles Hotel, the famous one where the Singapore Sling was invented. Standing by the previous argument, Kent’s and mine are better. I’m just sayin’. We weren’t allowed inside the hotel because we looked fresh off the boardwalk of Ocean City. Clearly, these people know something about class.

Listened to our driver’s 80’s hair-metal band on his phone on the way to Changi Airport. He was a great driver and a huge music fan. You couldn’t throw something at this guy that he didn’t like. Jammed our way to the drop-off point and said goodbye to yet another awesome chap. More issues with these rotten MCO’s! They still look at these things as if we printed them off on an inkjet or something. Boarding started as soon as we got there, and were left to suffer with their idea of food.

A couple of quick hops got us to
Guam. Singapore to Manilla took about 3 ½ hours, and Manilla to Guam another 3 ½. No joke about security in the Phillipines. After we transferred from the first flight, we went through 2 security checkpoints all with scanners. Shoes had to come off as well. Twice. And we’re glad they give you the choice of Chicken or Fish. That meant on the second leg you get to try the other. But the reason we chose the one is because we didn’t like the other…oh choices.

Arrived here in
Guam at 3:43 am and were met with all our bags/instruments and some cool ass guys to take us to another Gateway Inn mansion. The sun rises now as we say good morning. Good Morning!


DAY SIXTEEN – THE TOUR’S SHORTEST POST

”Fog’s rolling in off the East River Bank…” – Simon and Gfunk


Wow, what a fog today. All in our heads mind you, but enough to keep us indoors until soundcheck again.

The show was fantastic tonight, with many of last night’s faces and even the Brit Dave who once lived on the base in the 60’s as a kid. We love meeting these rad people!

We chose to stay close to the base tonight, and after we dropped off the gear into the rooms, we legged it back to the Terror Club to hang out with Tommy and the gang. He gave Matt his Singapore cap, much to Tim’s relief. He’s constantly calling him a poser for his identical, but more awesome-cause-it’s-fitted Orioles cap. Had endless pitchers of Tiger and Dr. Steve Doolittle chased a frog into the pool and named him Freddy. Wouldn’t kiss it, even though we’ve seen him kiss much worse!

DAY FIFTEEN – A NIGHT SAFARI ON OUR OWN

We wanted to get out and do something today, but had slept in and didn’t have enough time to go somewhere substantial. Some of us went to the NEX to pick up some breakfast makings for tomorrow morning. Those that didn’t, didn’t. Tim, Kent and Matt took in a little sun in the backyard, crisping to a nice brown.

Some Fools & Horses met the Monkees today. A family of Rhesus monkeys approached out of the woods to be fed crackers by Andrew and Steve. One bared his teeth at Steve for some strange reason – don’t bite the hand that feeds you bro! Some killer video below of that (if you don’t see it it’s cause we haven’t uploaded it yet. Keep checking)

Matt was taken to the Terror club (grrr…aren’t you terrified!) earlier than expected to get the layout. We arrived at 3 for load in and sound check with Sound Waves Multimedia. A very professional outfit and a good system. You should see this joint. It’s paradise! Our stage overlooks the pool and surrounding greenery. It’s outdoors, so the only drawback would be the temperature/mugginess. We ate at the club, half of us choosing more Western fare, and the other choosing the hot as hell Kung Pao Chicken.

Our set was fun, and the audience included families of the Navy, with some other branches in the ranks. We met three nice kids named Perry, Mitchell and Mark who we planted the seed of their up and coming band. We love the 7 year-old mentality too, partly because our brains haven’t matured much past that level. Perry asked if we could have a sleepover while we were here. I told him we couldn’t, as we were going to be leaving in a couple of days. Picture that! We actually might have had a good time. We haven’t played guns in a while, or gotten our asses beat in a console game we’ve never played before. We could have shown them a rockin’ time. “Alright guys, go get mom to make the Kool-Aid, we’re gonna raid yer dad’s liquor cabinet.” Great kids.

Manager Tommy steered us away from our initial plans to go on the Zoo’s Night Safari, saying flatly, “it kinda sucks.” Say no more! Another guy, who’s name is lost at the moment, told us of a land not too far away called the Orchard Towers. Let’s just say the laides of the night are fairly rampant in these parts, and he promised us a most excellent time provided we didn’t buy them any drinks, kept moving, and kept sharp. So what did we do? Possibly the most exact opposite to that as possible. No, concerned parents, we were good little boys we promise. But it WAS an eye opening experience. Only on floor three at Club Romeo could you find some “ladies” who were not quite sure of their identity. Man, were those billy-boys aggressive! Bob, overall you were right about Singapore. Thanks for the warning!

We were in the district known as the Orchard well throughout the night and into the wee hours of the morning. There was a kick-ass band in one place that we were digging on most of the night, so that held our attention from the naughtier bits.

The cab ride back was about S $25 so between all of us, it was a nicer alternative to taking the train which had yet to open for the morning commute.

No, the Singapore Sling is not a good cocktail the way they make it. Kent and Matt have a much tastier recipe that will just about change your life, not to mention your state of being without even knowing it. GO SLINGS!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

DAY FOURTEEN – THE MILE HIGH CLUB THAT ALMOST NEVER WAS

A Big Happy Easter to the Christian World today, and a big, awesome Sunday the 12th to the rest. We’re currently 824km away from Singapore and 12,192 meters from the ground. (Do the conversions yourself. No calculator up here) We’ve occupied our time from Fukuoka to Singapore with old Super Nintendo games and crappy sit-coms. The stewardess (they are still called that in the Far East) has not cut Kent or Steve off from their Kirin fix, though Tim, Andrew and I are doing our best to keep hydrated.

Our bus got a flat on the way to the airport, making us pretty late. Now if this were in the States, we would not have been able to take the flight, but for some reason in
Japan 40 minutes in advance is all we seem to need! More trouble with our MCOs. These people act as if they’ve never seen this before. Mind you the ticket folks are the nicest in the world (a very stark contrast to our first experience at Northwest) but this is getting ridiculous. So we ended up having to pay $4,000 out of pocket for the excess baggage. It’ll be reimbursed at the end of the tour, so it’s not wasted. Just an avoidable hassle. Made the plane just in time for take off, and are now hitting some turbulence. Initially thought it was our innards turning over from yet another plane meal.
This stuff is intense! More from the ground later.

OOOH WEEE! MUGGY baby. Hot and muggy. Met Bama, our driver outside of customs and drove to the off-base housing in lovely
Singapore. Up until this point our digs have been very spacious, comfortable, and down right lovely. The ones here are almost a joke. We each have our own 2-bedroom apartment at our disposal equipped with a kitchen, laundry room, living room, as well as 1 & a half baths. The buildings look a bit dated from the outside and give off a haunted vibe, but other than strange noises from the neighbors upstairs (called the front desk: there should be someone up there) all’s lovely.
Kent, Matt, Tim & Andrew took the train downtown to check out the nightlife on an Easter Sunday evening. The river-side area reminds us of an Inner Harbor re-constructed by Disney. It’s unbelievably clean, and equally as expensive. Tried the famous Singapore Sling but gathered it’s not as good as the recipe Kent and Matt learned in bartending school. Upon returning to Sembawang, we were greeted with the men of the night who congregate near the housing area to meet up and exchange their love for one another. That could explain why earlier in the day they may have been making closer eye contact than we have been used to. We thought it was just Matt & Tim’s matching ball caps.

DAY THIRTEEN - THE LAST OF JAPAN

Ah…a sleep-in day. We pulled the blinds and the drapes and slumbered straight into the 10 o’clock hour. Blasphemy in the Rock & Roll world we know, but considering what we’ve had to do these last twelve days, that’s all that we’re going to get.

Left Sasebo Naval Base at around
3pm to hit up the Ginza, the local strip of shops much like we found in Hiroshima, but smaller. Found grape Chu Hi and strolled the streets picking up souvenirs. More Engrish shirts for Matt (think the total is up to 10, and at least 8 of them won’t even fit a small child of four) Ate American today. Steve finding a Pizza shop, and Matt hitting up the McDonalds. It’s just one of the things you do in a foreign country. You hit up the Hard Rock CafĂ©, you eat at a local Mickey D’s, and you go to their zoo. Have we missed anything?

A silly old man sat next to us as we people watched. He made little sense, but we could determine that he was pretty pickled on Sake and he liked Americans very much. We think he was a bit put off when we wouldn’t stay with him and finish our drinks with him. Like many bad dates end, we just ran out of things to talk about. Or try found wanting of anything to talk about. It made for some humorous video as Matt attempted to communicate with this Easter pickled Egg.


Tonight’s show was a slightly older and diverse crowd. Some got the Only Fools & Horses reference, and some still hung on to the hope that we were a Country band. (We’ve been getting that a lot. What are we in Australia?) We’re getting quite used to the light-speed pace of the tour, and just can’t seem to find any time to stay out and party with these fine folks. We’re very dependent on our rides from the gig to food and hotel, so much like High School Friday nights at the Ice Rink, when Mom pulls up our asses better be in the car.

Sianora
Japan! You’ve been ever so sweet, and simply marvelous. We’re coming back to you soon, so don’t worry. Just make the flight shorter please.

Friday, April 10, 2009

DAY TWELVE - FRUITS OF OUR LABOR


The five-hour bus ride from Iwakuni to Sasebo started the morning. We each took up entire rows with what couldn't be held by the seats suspended above the aisle floor. A couple of rest stops later, we were in Sasebo! The trip should have taken 5 hours +, but our most nimble driver did it in 4:30. Met our POC Ken and did the whole dance of getting passes and lodging squared away.

Tonight's show was a Teen Dance on the other side of the base. In a small room in the Teen Center, F&H sweated up a storm for these youngerns. Andrew couldn't stand the heat and intensity, choosing instead to squander the band's money in the gambling room next door. We're almost out of CDs, but decided to go for broke with them for this crowd. These folks hail from all over the country, so we've planted some little seeds that we hope will yield many Fools & Horses trees in the near future. What do Fools & Horses trees produce? What fruit tastes most like Fools & Horses? Check your Clay Aiken jokes at the door. And to that magazine that compared us to a
slightly harder edged Neil Diamond (a big emphasis on the slightly) - we've planted a couple for you on your front lawn. BOO YA

(I'm waiting on pictures from the other guys on this post...seems I've misplaced mine!)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

DAY ELEVEN - HIROSHIMA

Jimmy took us out to Hiroshima today. The 45km drive was all on a two lane rural road, dotted by towns along the way. The only thing that still stands from the 1945 A-bombing is the Atomic Bomb Dome (not called that then obviously. ) Because the bomb detonated a few thousand feet directly above it, it wasn't swept away from the pressure of thousands of atmospheres that every other building in the area was. It stands as a testament to the horror of the war and the Japanese resilience to re-build their city.

The Memorial museum was a short, but intense glimpse of what it was like that day. School children's charred and ripped clothing is all that remains of their presence that day. Each exhibit told a story of the child and where they were and when they succumbed to the effects of the bombing. Most impressive was the section of the steps and wall of a bank where an old woman was sitting and waiting for it to open when the bomb was dropped. All that remains there is her shadow. A most sobering look into that period of history.

After that we went shopping. Sounds so crass to say! It was rather surreal to be taking in a museum of one of the darker periods of human history one hour, and then the next be strolling through the city streets shopping for T-shirts. Matt must have picked up 7 all together. He's seriously addicted to their designs and words. Steve is turning Japanese as it seems he's overhauled his wardrobe with all Japanese clothing. He looks a bit like Michael Jackson, and we don't let up on the comparison.

Ate at a curry house and dashed into a SUPER-ENTERTAINMENT-COMPLEX-THINGY. It had 9 floors of pochinka, video games, claw games, bowling, table tennis, darts, pool, batting cages, and karaoke. We damn near tried everything! Our aspirations to join the Orioles next season were dashed again, as we realized we can't hit a ball.
The drive back was not too long, and we played the second night at Club Iwakuni. Full of Marines tonight, and one was celebrating a birthday. Really responsive bunch, and we saw some familiar faces from the night before. Went into town to do some FACE OFF Karaoke, where we'd pick a song for them (as wussy as possible) and they'd pick a song for us (equally as wussy, but we knew them all!) . If you ever get a chance to hear some tough-lookin' Marines sing Puff the Magic Dragon, it'll probably be them. They sounded like sweet, little angels underneath their tough demeanor. The band moved on with POC Jordan to a Reggae joint where they joined in a drum circle well into the early hours of the morning.

Life rocks.

DAY TEN - HEAD OVER EELS in IWAKUNI


Dave took us to the Yamoto museum today, and we took in some history of the town of Kure and of WWII. Our favorite section was the kid's hands-on level, where this one crazy old man ran around showing mostly German tourists how different scientific concepts worked. Kent and I shot off to the moon for a quick picture and were back to Earth before the next leg of the tour.

We were met by Jimmy & Jordan from Iwakuna and took another hour & a half drive to the Marine base. It seems like everything is an hour and a half drive away here. How do they plan these things!? Stopped by a Sushi house outside of base for a quick bite. They'd prepare different stuff and set it on a conveyor belt for you to take, ala buffet. Each plate was a Yen o' five, with some that cost a bit more. Tim & I tried eel for the first time. Not too bad! But don't expect us to eat it regularly.

Checked into lodging and met Armed Forces Radio for a quick interview. Promoted the show, and talked about what Selfish was about (sadly, it's a completely fabricated, but otherwise meaningful song you can connect to...can you?). Had Taco bell again at the Crossroads and prepared for load in to Club Iwakuni.

LSP was there with our equipment and sound again, this time with a larger spread. Played to some cool Marines and the ladies from the Sushi house. This was our longest show yet, but rocked it for 'em something fierce the whole way through. A Marine approached me during the break and said, "Do you know you're huge in Australia?" I stopped.

"REALLY!?"

"Yeah man, that song Sex on Fire is blowing up over there!"

Quite flattering.
A young lady in the crowd wanted to know what song # 3 was. I rushed back to the set list and saw we had played Eleanor Rigby third. I told her this, and she said that she may have been the only one who didn't know it was a Beatles song. I told her we forgived her. This tells me bands need to come over here more often! These awesome folks are starving for a bit of Americana. Tim, Kent and I left base with Christine and Kim (the Sushi gals) to take in a bit of the local flavor. Kim is the wife of a Marine on base, and Christine was visiting from Jacksonville, Florida. Took a cab out to Niagara, and had some Jack & Cokes with a Karaoke app. Patsy Cline makes for a great gender bender, and Beatles Medley 2 made for a rousing 2nd go-round. Bar hopped looking for some grape Chu Hi for Kim, only to return to Niagara. They were the only ones in stock. Our evening ended right at 2, cause that's what you do when you're in the Service. A bar policy that essentially says, "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." Go Orioles on kicking some Yankee ass. Is 2009 the year? Man I hope so. Are we big in Japan yet!? I don't know, but we're huge in Australia.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

DAY NINE - BILLY JACK WAS HERE

We started the day pretty early with a breakfast in the Kure Restaurant. Dave didn't want to bore us out of our skulls, so he took us on a cruising tour of the neighboring islands. To the north of the base stands the shipyard which produced many of the Japanese ships that attacked Pearl Harbor. Also, the Yamoto was built here. This was by far the most advanced battleship of its day, but was sunk during the battle of Okinawa in 1945. Go figure.


The Yamoto museum was closed today, so Dave vowed to take us back tomorrow. The views were spectacular in this rural area of Japan. Many of the houses are the old-fashioned wood structures you've seen in pictures and Big Bird goes to Japan. Things are slow going in the area, and the vibe is mostly industrial. Cherry blossoms abound here, and those of us with allergies were well aware.



We end our cruise in YOU ME town, much like a Walmart but by far classier. We refreshed ourselves with some more Chu Hi and sake, green tea and vitamin water. Spent some time on the benches outside with some elderly Japanese, who found it amusing that we were sampling the local flavors at 11am.

LSP sound loaded in at 1:30 and we sound checked around 4. Our best P.A. yet, as it is almost all homemade and the Father/Son/Mother sound team knows what's up. The video library at the base is pretty full and we rented BILLY JACK. Yes, it's a movie and no, we didn't know it at the time the song came about! So...Billy Jack was here. And we watched him. The sequel, the Trial of Billy Jack is equally as epic and we hit that too.


The show tonight was largely made up of the Japanese locals, most older folks but some younger. Again, what a great bunch! This one older cat caught all the solos and would whoop and clap after every one. Some took to the dance floor and showed the Americans what real rhythm was. SURREAL MOMENT - Elderly man rocking out to Redwings. SURREALER MOMENT - The blend-into-the-floor monitors claimed another victim and dropped him on my pedal board. I tried the old help-him-up-sing&play, but found it doesn't work as well in reality as it does in thought.

Got the F&H music out there, and notched another one up. Hung out with another Matt, who's fluency in Japanese is rivaled only by his ability to out last me two nights in a row. I had a go in the sauna close to mid-night, but realized it's not as fun by yourself. Like a lot of things: Egyptian Ratscrew, baseball, & chess to name a few. Many of the things I was forced to do as a kid because my siblings enjoyed torturing my mother's middle child.

DAY EIGHT - SQUID SNACKS & CHU HI

Another travel day today. We drove past and through some of the areas we’ve hit in the previous days and things are actually starting to look familiar to us. Japan Airlines is a first-rate airline and there was virtually no issue with all of our baggage like back in BWI.

The only snag we ran into was on their end. Our MCO’s are good for every flight on the trip, but for some reason they only saw our Singapore Airlines MCO and processed that. (Miscellaneous Charge Orders – They pay for the cost of the extra baggage, and have been supplied by AFE) Only after Spike cleared the situation with the desk were we able to pass through security. WE DIDN’T HAVE TO TAKE OFF OUR SHOES! I didn’t have a sweet little old lady wearing too much perfume to mask mine this time, so I’m very grateful for this. I snagged a couple of Rice balls and beers and boarded the plane.

The flight took only an hour and a half, but it was one of my favorites ever. For one it was not packed, and we could move around. Two, we passed Mount Fuji from the air, and the plane nearly tipped over from all of us rushing to the left hand side of the plane to take a look. Third, the landing was probably the most bizarre I’ve ever experienced. Hiroshima airport is a small airport sitting on top of a mountain, and it has what looks like a metal truss bar extending a few thousand feet off of the one side. We assume this is for lights. A steep bank turn and a nice forceful slam on the tarmac signaled our arrival in Hiroshima. The concourse was equally as small, and it took no time at all to get baggage and make the hour and a half bus ride to the Kure Army Depot.

This place is the smallest yet, but it has a gym that rivals any I’ve seen state-side. A sauna and a bar all inhabit the same building. It will be impossible to get lost, but I’m sure one of us will. Our POC is a friendly Dave Ricks, and he’s been managing the facility for about 6 years. The tour of the base took only the time to prepare the dinner we ordered, and we ate like we hadn’t eaten in weeks. A couple of beers at the bar (which was footsteps away) ended the evening. Watched some Old School with some Chu-Hi’s and J&C’s Kent and I gathered at the 7-11 off base. I got some squid snacks for the guys, hoping one of them would be brave enough to eat ‘em.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

DAY SEVEN - TOKYO - AND FINALLY SOME JAPANESE FOOD!

AH...The blessed day off. We had so many recommendations to follow up on and only one day to do it. We caught the train outside of Gate 4 at the station Soubudai Mae. Our first thought was to go to the Times Square version of Tokyo in Shibuya. Our first run in with the train system was confusing but we were not without help for long, as some of the locals were more than eager to point us to the Shibuya district. Koza-Shibuya is where we ended up. It was a little suburb that shared the name with the big district. But again, we were helped by a local and quickly realized where we had gone wrong.

I had a novelty/public Asahi beer on our way back to the station, and we quickly got back on track.
Our good friend Chris Quinn filmed a scene of his music video to "Love Song" which you can find HERE at Shibuya crossing. About 1000 people cross at every light. He recommended we go to Starbucks and people watch. That's where this picture comes from.

I kept my eyes sharp for Japlish, the often comical mis-translation of Japanese to American phrases. I found many. The fashion here is razor sharp, and has some hilarious prints. It's a shame the T-shirts were $40-50 each. We weren't going to pay that amount of money for silly shirts.

We were getting pretty hungry by this point and found a restaurant on the top floor of a business complex. In many shops, we have to go up or down and all around to get to them. (they build things UP around here. Only %20 percent of the land in Japan is suitable for developing.) We dove in to some Sashimi and Sake which was unlike any we had ever tasted before. Not so much the fish, as the crazy ingredients they gave us to combine it with. The Wasabi kills, and they don't give you much of it for good reason.

With our bellys full, Akihabara, the electronics district was our next spot. If it beeps, computes, or plugs in, they sell it here! We even came across a store that sold only Extractor fans. It was that diverse. One such store caught our eye called Discount Amusements. We love a good bargain and are easy to amuse, so no brainer here. The first two floors were dedicated to Pachinko machines (disguised gambling...it's illegal here and centers around pin balls), with the next two containing various video games and slot machines. Above them were the fashion levels, where I almost bought some really off-color T-shirts, but then decided I would never wear them in public. Appliances were above these floors, then more video games, and finally some very strange school-girl show. It was in effect like a Miley Cyrus thing, but with a group of Japanese girls dressed in school girl/maid outfits. Steve and I took a picture with some of them outside of the venue. After that, it was many escalator rides down to street level again and on our way we went.

Finished up in Roppongi, the night-life district. The sun had set by now and the neon lights were in full flood. We saw a club called the Motown Bar and thought this was perfect for us. However one expensive cocktail later we were out of there and moving on to Bar Matrix, down a side street. 500 Yen happy hour was all it took to get us in there. Both bars having seen us as its only customers, we moved on again, but were stopped by the owner of the Matrix who attempted to hustle us down an elevator to a gentleman's club. We were hungry for something else if you know what I mean and passed him off, but got a sweet tip for a nice Sushi Place.

We had our second round of fish and wasabi and practiced our Japanese to great effect. They could actually understand what we were communicating. Go US! Passed a McDonald's on our way back to base and I had to get the Mc-Hot Dog. Yes...they have that. Why not here!!!? It was pretty bangin," and very cheap.


So no souvenirs I'm afraid! We did try VERY hard. But, nobody wants a wireless mouse that plays 36 different national anthems do they? We fly out tomorrow for Hiroshima, and will continue the story there. This is Matt saying good night. Good night.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

DAY SIX - PAPER TRAILS & CHERRY BLOSSOMS

Matt – Because our schedule is so tightly packed and we’re on a new base every day, I’m prone to panic when I wake up in the morning. “Were we being picked up at 8, or 10, or 12!?” I can never remember. Early on in the tour (keep in mind each day feels like a month) Kent learned that waking Tim and I up right before we’re supposed to leave produces comical results. We bolt out of bed, pace around the room and have no clue of where we are. He thinks this is hysterical and this morning called my room to tell me we were 35 minutes late. He and Andrew ran to ring the doorbell (yes! A doorbell) and by that time I knew what was up. Oh pranks. Maybe I’ll put a fish eye in his pack of gum…Or miss the closet next time and tag his luggage. But we’ll all suffer for that. His odors are unique as they are. Why spoil a good thing?

The big Cherry Blossom Festival TODAY! Slight delay this morning in getting out of Yakota. We had a misplaced paper, and they're rather strict about things like that! Especially in today's world. Bussed into Camp Zuma where we set up to play for the Japanese public. The base opens the gates to the community and it's always packed! Had a quick radio interview and spoke of our friendly rivalry with the Cheaters who had been there a week ago. Did we mention they're liars too!? In case you run into one, IT never happened. Yes, that IT.

I must have some Japanese in me somewhere, because I can really relate to these folks. Always so kind and thankful (what I must think of myself!), and very appreciative of the music. We had some difficulties with the sound today, but Andrew steered the good ship Fools & Horses to a rousing Coda.

CDs flew out of our hands to the kids on base and the folks from the town. One enterprising fella had our promo pictures printed out for us to sign! Some of them actually did some homework before coming to the show. Super cool.

We were supposed to eat dinner with the AFE crew again as we did in Yokosaka, but they couldn't make it. Instead, we dined in the Garden Room with a lovely spread of NY Strip, Potatoes and Green Beans, with a delicious strawberry sorbet. AND we got extra plates to go! They treat us like Kings here. We certainly appreciate it.

Early night tonight, thankfully. We're trying hard to hang out with everyone we meet, because they're always dying to take us out. But the schedule is exhausting in itself, and to really hit these sets home we're going to need some beauty sleep. Even though it's Saturday. Tokyo tomorrow!

Stay tuned...

DAY FIVE – YOKOTA AIR BASE

MATT - Met the most informative Spike for our ride to Yokota Air base at noon. A bit slow going this morning, but some Taco Bell and great views of Tokyo brightened the mood. Yes, you’re asking “Why haven’t you guys eaten real Japanese food!?” Well we did, but it was more like Indian. We intend to so don’t worry! We’re not afraid of it. Except for squid…live squid. Spike enlightened us to the nutritional benefits of fish eyes. It has the consistency of hard gum, he says. I’m looking closely at every piece of gum I put in my mouth from now on. A prank like that would be right up the guys’ alley.

Checked in to our new digs and set up for the show at the Spectrum Lounge. This place had a really cool vibe to it. Very dark and moody. This show was our most packed yet, with a nice female element to it which worked wonders for us and our morale! I’m convinced I need to write more songs for the guys though…you know less about love and more about kickin’ ass. Sigh…I don’t think I have much ass-kickin’ experience. Had a blastin’ set and met tons of cool people. It’s amazing how disconnected some feel from things back in the States. Everyone laughs at me when I tell them the O’s are going all the way this year. Where have they been the last 11 years!?

My gut instinct told me to stay indoors this evening. My brain hadn’t been connecting things too well and I think it was telling me to take it easy. We're constantly on the move and it seems by the time I learn how to pronounce the name of the base and city, we're already on our way to the next stop! Sorry I didn’t meet up with you ladies at Eddy’s. You should be comforted to know that I caught up with the geo-political events that led up to the Nazi invasion of Russia. I’d been meaning to do that for a while. What were they thinking!?

Friday, April 3, 2009

DAY FOUR - ROONY, RODNEY, DONNIE & RONNIE - FUCK YEAH!





MATT - We took a nice ride out of Camp Fuji today and rode to the city of Yokosaka. Today was intensely jam-packed, and we didn't stop until 4am or so. The show at the Spectrum was fantastic and there's talk of us coming back to the area in August! The sailors we spoke to were really cool and had a range of jobs, of which most were not aloud to talk about. It seems as though the coolest jobs are also the most secret.

Enter Ronnie (who I by the end of the night called Donnie)

This guy was especially bad-ass, and works on the flight deck of the USS George Washington. He made a great guide and led us to the Rock Bar FUCK YEAH. The Cheaters were there just last week, and recommended it to us. We tried just about everything, from Absinthe to Cobra Sake. Taka-sahn was a most excellent bartender and kept our whistles wet the entire time. Ronnie led us to a fantastic curry place where we scarfed down some spicy eats. We finished the night at a bar called BOOT CAMP and ran that place dry. We also exhausted their catalog of Beatles karaoke hits. Those special glasses of Tim's are used when one is sleepy and wants to look energetic. I think. Check the explanation below at the end of the 2nd video!

Our new best friend Ronnie had to stop with the hard stuff at midnight, but was awesome enough to hang with us longer! We walked back to billeting (that's the cool word for our digs) and watched some Youtube vids of the USS George. This is the part of the night where exhaustion took over and I exited the scene shortly after. So to Ronnie, who by now I was calling Donnie - THANK YOU! Hope we cross paths again soon man. You have a budding karaoke career to look forward to! And sorry for calling you Donnie.


KENTAGON - The reality of North Korea hit me last night. Not a lot of Navy soldiers came to the show last night because they were doing last minute training before they got deployed this morning to wade in the waters near North Korea. That’s some sobering shit. Our new Navy friend Ronnie showed us around town last night – which crept well into the morning hours! Went to FUCK YEAH! On our way to another bar we ran into some “Massage-ies”. They offer “happy endings” to a massage, but don’t worry mom, we didn’t partake. We ate some food then went to BOOT CAMP (why do they capitalize the name of their bars here?) We sang the shit out of some Karaoke – they love that stuff here! We stumbled back to our pad (which was called BOH BILLETING by the way for all you B’more folk) I tapped out first only to be woken at 5AM or so by Matt…and some sort of curious raining sound. Anyways, show #2 went smooth and we had a blast hanging out around Setown with Ronnie! Thanks buddy! We’re cruising in a kick ass tour bus right now traveling about two hours to the next show. This is Kent saying goodnight, “goodnight”.

P.S. ~ They have canned, hot and cold coffee available via vending machines – I love Japan!

STEVE - Yokosuka. Rock Bar Fuck Yeah! Cobra Sake. Karaoke… always Karaoke!!!!!

TIM - Whelp never again will I drink a Nakita Express. Should be called The F-in’ Awful! I can’t agree more with Steve’s entry. Beatles medley 1 thru 5 is a must. Anyways, keep rockin’, readin’ and I cant think of another R word that’s fitting. Too bad. Semper Fi!

video


video

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

DAY THREE - THIS CLOCK SAYS 3 AM. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TIME IT IS


hey!!!! what's up everybody! Steve here saying hello.
sooo... Fools and Horses has officially branded Japanese air with our music. Played our first show tonight for our troops. kind of small turnout but we still put on a good show. Became amateur sound guys and Andrew got a crash course in running a mixer. He did sexily. oh and that reminds me, went to a bar called "sexy" last night. which wasn't very sexy at all. but they had Karaoke, so that's cool. WHOO JAPAN!! I think that's what explains the video I decided to make at 3 am. get your mind out of the gutters. will post soon. well, that's it for me for now, Japan rocks, tour's goin well so far and I'm really excited for the rest of it. I know it's gonna go by quick and that makes me sad, but I'll be happy to be back home. aight, ttyl!


Andrew here. I wish I wasn't.


Kent is this and this is Kent: We played for Camp Fuji tonight. I love the Marine Corps and I almost enlisted just after high school. I went to Annapolis, got all the paper work, filled it out and signed it...but instead of taking it back to the recruiting office I joined Fools & Horses - no joke! The best thrill I get out of this experience is telling our troops how much we appreciate their service and how much our country loves them. And the look in their eyes is 100% priceless! Thank a soldier! On a lighter side...they're very hot and instantly gratifying...lighters, that is, but I'm sure the soldiers are, too. As I was saying, I enjoy lighters when I want a candle lit or one of my cigars lit. Speaking of cigars, I hope to run into some Cubans. But ironically I'm running into a lot of Japanese. I'm going to learn Japanese and own a pad here. I think I'm turning Japanese...and Jello pudding tastes great and gives me strength. I love you - know that, understand it, respect it...Peas.

Andrew still here. I've changed my position. Japan is amazing! Mt
Fuji is staggeringly beautiful, and I finally understand why it's the subject of so much Japanese art (Tim and Steve took the rooms with views of it... bastards). The Japanese people are extremely polite and ingratiating. They make me feel like a crass American. And the Marines have been equally ingratiating, and damn good drinking buddies. I had assumed we'd be treated like employees, but we're guests. Everything on base is so cheap ($4.25 for a steak and king crab leg lunch), but everything off... well we collectively dropped over 400 dollars (or worse, 40,000 yen) at Snack Bar Sexy.

Tim: Hey, what's up? I am here, taking in the sweet view of Fuji, sippin' on my sweet cocktail. Hell yeah! Much respect must go out to the kick-ass Marines here in Camp Fuji, for they Rock & Roll and some sing a mean karaoke! Hope to run into the Cheaters sometime on this tour so we can settle an old score...whelp...Last night in Fuji and off to another. Love you all and to all a big Semper Fi!