Chrome Squatch Concert Tour USA
MELLY reporting events of Tuesday, 23rd of June --
We did a gig in the Akron Civic Theater last night. Usually we get to say it went well and we did all right, but not this time.
Okay, it wasn't a complete disaster: we did manage to perform the show, did the job we were supposed to do and I assume we get paid for it. But we never quite achieved smooth sailing because there were too many hecklers and interruptions. The audience was okay except for a few rabble rousers, maybe 25 out of the 2500 people who came to enjoy the show, but they were enough to stir up a bad vibe and make it hard to finish a song. Didn't help that we'd been blocked entrance to the music venue by an unwelcoming committee of a few religious extremists publicly protesting against our standards of morality. Also didn't help that Addy got shot in his left hand. All due to the leaked AooE Document, of course.
Let me fill in the blanks here. It's noon Wednesday, now, two days since we held our 2x22nd birthday party in Pittsburg. Right now Pokey is driving our S&F bus, heading South on Interstate 71 from Akron to Columbus, Ohio, where we are scheduled to do our next concert at 8:00 pm tonight. It's just a 2-hour drive, so we have lots of time. And I, Melody Ann Wielson, am writing today's chapter because I need to bitch a little. I am so pissed.
Ever since our AooE document "got leaked" a week ago we've been expecting some kind of protest to be awaiting us in front of the venues where we are scheduled to put on a concert. Well, they finally showed up yesterday.
A small crowd of evangelists and housewives and white supremacists were waiting for us to arrive at the delivery entrance behind the Akron Civic Theater. They were only about 20-30 people with no weapons in sight, so it wasn't especially threatening, but they did have signs and bullhorns and would have burned books if there had ever existed any copies of AooE actually published on paper.
Most of the signs were hand-made and hand-held, primitive and direct: "SHAME", "Perverts", "What would Jesus say?" "No to orgies!" "Stop all abortions now!" "We don't want you here!" "No indecencies here today, please!" "White Lives Matter Most!"
We pulled into town about noon and they were already waiting for us as we climbed out of our busses. Once we understood that they were protesting us personally for our unacceptable morals, Mike and Pokey wanted to start vociferously ridiculing them, but Adam had already laid out our strategy for dealing with them: being nice. Or as they say in Nokhontli, "Ø'ø'e'rah!"
Their spokesperson was a chubby evangelist woman in her mid-thirties named Monica, long black hair and dressed in working-class coveralls and a chip on her shoulder. She started with: "We are the Akron Activists and we don't want you here in our town, where we have children. Not with your orgies and disgraceful animal behavior." She sounded strict.
It was an almost comical scene: the David & Goliath image of short squat Monica squaring off against Addy's gigantic Bigfootness, almost twice her size, but she the one with clenched teeth and fists threatening the monster, who looked so nonthreatening and harmless.
Addy addressed her politely, "And is this little group speaking for the entire town?" Although he couldn't resist indicating their fewness with forefinger and thumb almost pinched together.
"Yes, I am," Monica said, with all the authority of a classic Karen. "We know all about your Satanic ways, demon-spawn."
"Well, I think you've been misinformed: we practice no satanic rituals that I'm aware of. Nor were my birth parents demons, just your regular Bigfoot folk."
"It's all there in your book! Adam out of Eden, as you so blasphemously call it."
"Really? Where in the book? Which chapter? What page? "
"I have not memorized it."
"But have you even read it?" Addy asked.
"I do not read such filth!"
"Then how do you know what my book says?"
"I've been informed. It's in the news everywhere."
"You could well be MIS-informed. I mean, how much can you know if you don't read it yourself?"
"Oh, you are a twister of words, I can hear that. Get thee behind me, Beast! We demand that you hand over all your obscene books that we may burn them."
Adam shrugs, "Sorry, but we have no physical books to hand over. As far as I know they only exist as digital text files and don't burn very well. But hey, you could always just upload some copies onto a USB stick and delete them, if that helps."
"You mock us and you lie."
"Okay, now I know you've never read the book, or you'd be aware that I really cannot lie."
"Unless that book itself is also a lie..."
"Exactly! In which case those immoral scandals you take so much umbrage with may be nonexistent. Perhaps have never even happened."
Monica frowned, puzzled, suddenly unsure of what she was protesting. "So then what IS true?"
"Well, I'm not saying, of course."
"But you HAVE to!"
"Actually, I don't. Do you publicly announce all of your own private personal secrets to any and all news media for them to publish whatever they want? Probably not, because nobody does."
"Then what you have published is a book of lies."
"The technical term would be fiction. Which we have, in fact, not published-- that story was pirated from us and illegally released in violation of copyright law. It is not our responsibility. Besides, I've already made an official statement that it is to our economic advantage to remain ambiguous about the validity of that book. Consider it just show business."
"It offends us."
"Well... too bad, sorry. You say US as if you really do speak for this entire city, but we suspect that you probably do not, since you seem more in the fanatic fringe category. And actually, we too are offended-- by the very concept of book burnings, that's what nazis and inquisitions do, the classic enemies of democracy and freedom."
"How dare you! We are patriots and Christians!"
Addy went for his favorite Dylan quote: "Yes, and patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings."
"Are you calling ME a scoundrel?"
"Not yet, I hardly know you, Monica. But it seems you are calling me one even though you haven't done enough research to read an easily available e-book about me, which may or may not even be true. You are operating on selective hearsay. You are moralizing according to your own puritanical concept of right and wrong, which is clearly not universal to this city, considering the tiny turnout you present here today. You are assuming the right to seize and burn property which is not yours to burn. You're not the good guys here, but enemies of a society which recognizes the separation of church and state."
"And you are a sexual pervert. A sodomite..."
"Sodomite? How'd you come up with that one?"
"Carnality between humans and animals. It's forbidden."
"Actually, it's not, since there is no literal definition of sodomite that does not include just about everyone on the planet in one way or another. And if you are defining ME as an animal, take note that I have passport and driver's license and social security number establishing me to be regarded just as human as you are. And I'm an American citizen as well."
While Adam was arguing with Monica the rest of us were loading instruments and equipment into the Akron Civic Theater. Some of the protesters tried to physically block the double doorway to hinder us from going inside, but Osmond Burnett, our security guy stepped up and did his job.
Of course Addy is the biggest member of our tour, but he isn't very good at threatening people, being too polite and understanding. Osmond is none of those things, and being a mature & muscular ex-con standing 6 foot six, he's big enough to make most trouble makers back off. He can also be verbally abusive and belligerent, like: "Get the fuck out of our way, you stupid cunts, we've got work to do."
There were only four men among the protesters and none willing to challenge Osmond for a toe to toe encounter. Also Benny Joe. Don and our grizzled old Aussi Ewan lined up behind him, convincing the protesters to back off real quick. But Monica was not backing off, it was obvious she relished conflict, putting herself in the doorway to block the roadies from rolling in a load of amps.
Osmond was losing patience and considering putting his hands on her when the theater manager, a 40-something guy named Larry, showed up at the back door, asking "What's going on here? What's the problem?"
Monica accosted him: "We are the Akron Activists and refuse to allow this band to perform their indecencies in our town. They are an affront to a Christian society."
"Well, I'm sorry madam, but this band is scheduled to play here tonight," Larry said, trying to be patient with her, as managers sometimes do, "Tickets have been sold out weeks ago, so it's too late to cancel the show."
"And this is a bloody civic theater," old Ewan pitched in, "not a bloody church where any self-ordaned Christian Society gets to call the shots." Ewan can get cantankerous when confronted with political correctness, like many Australians.
"Then we will be forced to call the police," Monica crisply explained.
Larry the manager thought about that for a moment, then nodded and said, "Very well, in fact I'll call them myself-- to arrest you for being a public nuisance."
"We will not allow..." Monica stuttered.
Larry got mad: "Allow my ass! I've sold 2500 tickets to people who do want to hear Chrome Squatch tonight. Is your fanatic Christian Society planning to reimburse them all? If not, go away!"
But Monica wouldn't go away and her fellow Activists settled in, sitting in the doorway. The whole mess dragged on for an hour, the police were called and we had to wait for them to show up-- along with some local news TV cameras crews and a whole bunch of passing spectators. It was becoming a show in itself. The protesters, mostly local housewives, were getting more arrogant and aggressive—bolder now that they assumed the police and public opinion had to protect them from any males who would dare to lay a hand on them, including a Bigfoot.
Addy was standing back during all this, doing wonders for his public image. He knew that it would be a major mistake to show off his superhuman muscles and manhandle those protesters in front of TV cameras. Magga and Masnia were also staying back, uninterested in getting involved with all those silly NokhSo females.
But the TV camera crews were interested and inclined to prefer some exciting action: they glommed onto their big chance to get live interviews with Adam Leroy Forest and his band. Addy was charming and cheerful, apparently not especially aggravated by the protesters, maintaining his perfect calm, definitely winning PR points all around.
I was much less gracious when they shoved a microphone at my face, but luckily Liss gave me a secret sign to cool it before I really started ranting about religious fanatics and the bored housewives of the most boring town in USA, Akron fucking Ohio. That would've gone down well, I'm sure.
Just in time the cameras moved on to Masnia, who seems to establishing her own media career. Well, she IS a darling and she speaks English so well now, even small talk. Magga doesn't get the same attention --unless she's dancing, that is-- since she's not nearly as fluent at English and she's big and strong enough to be somewhat intimidating.
As far as the rest of us Chrome Squatch girls were concerned (Liss & Maki, Sunny & Bunny, Marcie and me), we were getting pretty irritated with those "Akron Activist" bitches. WE could lay hands on them and get away with it, mano a mano (or maybe mujer contra mujer) on TV or not. But none of us are into punching it out as a solution to anything... I did mention being pissed off, right?
It came to a head when the police also lost their tempers and informed the protesters that they could not legally demand that the theater take a monetary loss for an arrangement simply because some “Christian Society” did not like it. After all, the USA is a capitalistic country, not a theocratic dictatorship. They were ordered to: "go home now, ladies!"
But Monica would not stop arguing and her protest pals continued to block the way, perhaps intending to wait it out until it would be too late to do the show. The police were reluctant to physically haul local housewives off to jail with all the TV cameras recording everything, although it was beginning to seem like that would be necessary.
Then a low growl could be heard. Just barely, as if far off in the distance, but gradually becoming more distinct, louder.
Addy was just standing there in a comfortable "at ease" military stance, feet spread apart, solidly planted, hands behind his back, absolutely relaxed, no expression on his face at all, not even boredom, Then he even closed his eyes.
The growl kept getting louder, now sounding a lot like an angry grizzly bear; very bestial. Definitely dangerous. It scared me and I could see that it scared those protesters too. Even the cops. But no one could see where it was coming from. Until Monica pointed and said: "It's him, the Bigfoot!"
But Addy was just standing there, eyes closed, still at ease, making no threatening moves at all. He could have been asleep on his feet. But the growling became snarling, even louder, even more frightening, the sound of a monster that could really rip you apart.
Then I recognized it, I'd heard it before: my abusive ex-lover, whom I tend to call the Slobbering Brute. It was the sound Addy makes when infected and enraged by a syssk, while being about as dangerous as a berserk Bigfoot could be. Except that Addy was just standing there at ease, hardly dangerous at all. All he was doing was making a sound which seemed ferocious.
And very effective; the protesters began to scream and run away. One of the cops did too. That bitch Monica resisted, not to be out-monstered by anyone, not even a Sasquatch. But finally she too shrieked and was outta there. Once they started breaking ranks it didn't take long and the pathway was soon clear for us to load our equipment in to the stage area without hindrance.
Addy opened his eyes and smiled, then gave a hand loading equipment as if nothing had happened. I could see that the police officers were shaken, as were some of our own roadies. Osmond, who was accustomed to scaring people, was wobbly on his feet. Although old man Ewan was saying, "That was bloody marvelous, mate. Brilliant!"
The police were unsure of what had happened, but were relieved to avoid having to round up and arrest all those housewives, some married to important and influential men in the Akron community. Some of the cops considered charging us with something about terrorizing the protesters, but were unable to define a violation. They had body cams to review what everyone had been doing: there was Addy on tape, relaxing, hands behind his back doing nothing visible, maybe just humming. There were no charges.
The Akron Civic Theater is actually visually amazing. From outside in front it looks like a seedy little place, but inside it's HUGE, starting with the lobby done in an ornate "Moroccan" style and fantastic colors, The main stage has an indoors sky with clouds and stars above an Arabian castle. Lovely. It was first built in 1929, then remodeled in 2001, if you need to know. Anyway, it was colorful and pretty, so after a rough start we began to warm up to doing this concert in Akron.
We were set up and ready by late afternoon, giving us a few hours to find some food. Right across the street was an amusing-looking taqueria serving Mexican food, so we tried it out. It was themed upon a masked Mexican wrestler, which is a thing in Mexico and kind of funny. It was obviously a popular eatery, we had to stand in line to get our tacos or fajitas for the vegetarians.
Mike/Miguel was all for some Mexican food, of course, but the most fun was that he got recognized: not for being an American rock star with Chrome Pie, but for being the flamenco prodigy Miguel de Santo back when he was a wonder-kid. The guys working in the restaurant were not Mexicans, but California Chicanos just like Miguel. Naturally they had a guitar lying around so Miguel had to play a couple of rancheros and Addy sang along in Spanish, knowing all the lyrics, as always. They were a hit. In another room, reruns of the original Star Trek TV series were running nonstop on a big screen, so everyone was amused, even Freddy and BJ.
On the way back to the theater we passed and crossed the Eerie Canal, flowing right under the theater building and through a nice little park. We-- or at least I -- had been expecting Akron to be a dreary & boring place (even though Google did say it used to be the rubber capital of the world) but so far it was seeming nice (except for the unwelcoming committee earlier that day).
We started our show at 8 pm, sounding pretty good. Scott, Charlie and Addy sang High Priestess together, one of Scott's original Chrome Pie songs, always a good warmer-upper, Lee and I sharing the keyboard parts, him on synthesizer and me piano. It was going smoothly and everyone was really into it.
But then the first hecklers started shouting through very loud bullhorns: "Adam out of Eden? -- No, Adam out of Akron!" Repeating all the way to the end of the song, which we refused to stop playing. And when we did stop there was chubby Monica again, still shouting activist slogans to the audience: "The City of Akron does not want sodomist perverts here!" "We insist that they leave our town-- right NOW!"
I recognized other faces, many of those who'd been with her earlier were now in the audience, sabotaging it! We couldn't believe it: had they actually bought tickets to the show they've been protesting against?
But we musicians also had supporters in the audience: "Hey lady, get lost!" "We've paid for this concert and we want to hear it!" Some less polite: "Hey, fuck off bitch!" Some more practical; "Someone call the cops to take her away."
But Monica continued to rant. Irate members of the audience stood up and approached her, fists clenched. It was getting ugly. We could have a violent situation on our hands pretty soon.
Addy had been hanging back, but now he took a microphone. "The police have removed your Akron Activists once already for being a public nuisance, Monica. I would imagine that this time there’ll be a fine or two for each of you to pay. This could get expensive for you.
"Can't we just drop it here? We've heard your message, you have succeeded in delivering it, your work here is done. Now you can all go home and we can give this audience the concert they have come to hear."
"No,” she answered, “You must leave Akron at once! We will not have you here!" Her nastiness reminded me of a Hitler speech, incomprehensible language but with universal intent: to rile folk up, to enrage. Already several angry-looking men were up and moving toward her.
Onstage Scott had put his guitar down and was now holding up his cell phone for all to see. "The police have been notified and are on their way," he announced, "So let's all just chill out and let them handle the situation. It won't take long."
Charlie Madison stepped forward, flamboyantly hoisting his electric bass, saying: "And in the meantime, let's play some real LOUD MUSIC!" He began a hot and heavy base line leading into Michal Jackson's Billy Jean, slightly speeded. Adam finally did the Moonwalk he'd been practicing for months and it got a lot of laughs, maybe even some respect, As a diversion it worked great: everyone hopped onto the beat instead of each other.
Monica and her cohorts were completely drowned out; they were yelling but no one could hear them. Frustrating? I hope so, chubby cheeks. There was nothing they could do until the number ended and the audience was enjoying their inaudible attempts at protesting whatever it was.
As Billy Jean was winding down to a finish Addy gave us a signal to start playing I Like To Run and the band seamlessly went into it full blast, keeping the volume high because everyone was having fun with the extremeness of it all.
But halfway through that number the whole concert went sideways.
A thin little bushy bearded man seated in the middle of all those rows of seats suddenly stood up and raised his hand-- with a pistol in it.
I recognized him; one of those four men with Monica's Arkon Acrivists, He fired a shot at the ceiling to get everyone's attention. It was a small pistol, the feeble paf! was just a little bit louder than our music, but a startling sound anyway. We stopped playing at once, but instead of silence there were screams from the audience around the gunman, people blindly trying to lunge away from whoever he was, but getting into a tangle of arms and legs because nobody knew which way to lunge.
The man started shouting; I assumed some sort of political message. It was incomprehensible in the noise of the screaming, he just sounded crazy. Later he, Harvey Plunder, explained that he'd been saying "down with those who sin!" Which still sounds pretty crazy, kind of like "Allah hu akbar", another terrorist favorite. Then he pointed his pistol toward the stage, where we were playing. For a second I thought it was pointed straight at me. trapped behind my piano.
Addy was so fast it was like he suddenly just materialized above the gunman, as if he'd hopped over sixteen rows of seats with all those scrambling people in the way, flailing in panic to escape the shooter: an all-too typical American scene. Somehow Addy avoided stepping on anyone, although some of them did bounce off him, but at least no one got squashed.
Addy quickly snatched the man's pistol with his left hand, unfortunately a little too quickly, with the barrel pointing right into his palm. The gunman pulled the trigger, whether by accident or intent unknowable-- shooting Addy in the hand. The bullet punched right through his hand and put another hole in the ceiling, along with a small but colorful spatter of blood.
With his right hand Addy grabbed the man by the leg and hoisted him up over his head, there to dangle upside down and screaming. It looked like Addy could have dashed the little guy down hard against the floor with all his strength, which would have killed him or ripped his leg off.
But Addy doesn't do that stuff, he carefully took the pistol away with his wounded and bloody left hand, then without any unnecessary violence took the man out to the lobby and waited for the police to take him. Which they did pretty quick, since they'd already been called. They'd also been on semi-standby because of the protest scene earlier that day. The cops offered to call for an ambulance, but Addy said he didn't need it and wouldn't be able to fit inside it anyway.
Harvey the gunman was unhurt, but rattled and embarrassed, apologizing profusely, saying he hadn't meant to shoot anyone, had just been trying to get the audience to pay attention to his words, but had been startled when a leaping Bigfoot grabbed him.
"Well,” Addy said, “I didn't know how crazy you were and I wasn't going to wait to find out."
"Oh, I get it," Harvey said with a shrug, "sorry I shot you."
"Could have been worse," Adam said, tucking his wounded hand under his armpit, but not complaining.
Benny Joe had to make a comment, "Yeah, asshole, you're lucky Adam didn't just pinch your hand off!"
Mike said, "Adam doesn't do that stuff, man." Guess he learned that from me.
The police arrested Harvey for public endangerment with a firearm, which was illegal whether he'd shot someone or not, and hauled him off to the Akron hoosegow. They took Monica too and some of her friends. Thanks, Akron.
Liss and I rushed to Addy to see how badly he was hurt. He was lucky: his hand is so big that the bullet passed between all the bones without shattering anything, being just a little .22 caliber it had made a fairly neat hole all the way through his palm and out the back of his hand. Bloody, yes, but it didn't seem to have ripped away any big chunks of meat. The pistol was a Walther P22, designed for target practice rather than assassinations.
Addy's blood was being smeared everywhere and we could tell that it hurt badly because he had to sit down and go into some kind of Nokhon trance. Magga came and did some Sha-haka-ma technique to help him stop bleeding and reduce the pain. Someone brought us bandages from a first aid kit. People were very sympathetic.
Meanwhile, the concert was paused, of course, but the audience was still milling around. People were shocked and confused, but also uncertain if the concert they had paid for was cancelled or not. I don't believe anyone expected Addy to continue playing guitar with a bleeding bullet hole in his hand, but the rest of the band were just fine and otherwise it had been going so well... on and off ...with all the heckling.
The Chrome Pie guys were upset that Addy hadn't gone to the hospital and offered to call off the concert, even though it would mean a financial hit. Addy explained that Magga would do him more good than a modern hospital ever could, that his Nokhon physiology was different enough from standard human to cause some perhaps dangerous medical confusion.
"You guys go start a set," Addy told Scott and Charlie, "I can't play guitar right now, but give me half an hour and I can probably sing along again."
"Hey man," Charlie protested, "don't give us that show must go on bullshit. You should go lie down and swig a bottle of whiskey!"
"That's exactly how I am different than human--" Adam insisted, "whiskey would just make me sweat and vomit, it sure won't make me feel good. I'm better off taking some khos, a Sasquatch inebriant."
"Where can we get that?"
Mike said, "Masnia is mixing some up right now. We have all the ingredients on our bus."
"You're traveling with drugs?" Scott asks, always the responsible leader. "Isn't that risky for crossing state lines?"
"No drugs that humans use, " Addy explained, "so no ingredients made illegal by white men's law ."
"Cooool," BJ says.
We went back on stage, although without Addy or the squatchettes, who were taking care of him Nokhon-style. The fucking show must go on, you know. The audience cheered, obviously comprehending all the drama going on before their eyes and ears. History in the making, right?
We did a set of Chrome Pie numbers, Charlie's comical Whenever Jennifer to lighten the mood. Then Scott's sob-fest I Wish I Was Happy to remind folk that life can be shit sometimes. 98 Light Years to offer an escapist fantasy.
Then Addy, Magga and Masnia came back up on stage again, him waving to the crowd with his neatly bandaged left hand, no blood stains visible anywhere, rock-solid proof that everything was okay again. Showmanship, he's good at it. We went into Mean To Me (written about Liss, that nasty slut!) and Addy's super-romantic That You Are (written about wonderful Me, his One True Love*).
Addy sang but did not play the guitar. He didn't need to; Mike knows all his routines. Nobody expected him to play anyway, so it didn't even seem awkward. Except that his voice may have sounded like a true expression of pain, you know, just like an old black blues singer shoots for.
(* among the others)
The next morning (today) we checked the local news stations on Internet TV to see what they might have to report about us. The first thing we came upon was an interview with Mrs Monica Wheeler her chubby self, representing those sweet Akron Activists. She was being grilled about the shooting.
Chubby Monica was on the defensive. "No, of COURSE we had NO intention of Harvey shooting ANYONE! It's all a big MISUNDERSTANDING. He was acting COMPLETELY on his own. We would NEVER condone..."
"Was Adam badly hurt?" the beautiful journalist asked.
"He didn't SEEM to be," Monica insisted, then shrugged, "but who knows if a Bigfoot even FEELS pain?"
I had to shout at the TV: "You BITCH! I'd like to show YOU pain!"
And Addy, lying in bed beside me, his poor left hand all packed in a fresh bandage, it clearly hurting him, says, "Aww, relax Mel, it wasn't her who shot me."
"Maybe not, but it IS her who brainwashes that fringe-group she dares to call a Christian Society!"
Inside the TV it seemed that the young female journalist interviewing Monica had an opinion similar to mine: "But why were you protesting against Adam Leroy Forest's concert? You say because of a book written about him, but what has he actually done to you --or anyone?"
"He has done immoralities all his life. He should have remained in the woods as a child."
"You mean after his mother was killed? He should have then remained in the woods alone? Perhaps to die? That's not a very charitable-- and certainly not at all Christian --attitude. In fact, I'd have to call it quite blatantly racist."
"How can it be racist if he's not human?" Monica was so stupid as to say on open screen.
The journalist, Joyce Novella, reacted just like me, so I have to assume that she's very cool: "Are you kidding? Adam Leroy Forest is a fantastic person, musician, singer, song writer. You should try to be so human as him! What you are saying reminds us all of how Louis Armstrong or Billie Holiday were treated back in the 40's and 50's, even after they became big stars, which remains a great embarrassment for the entire USA."
"You sound like a fan of that pervert," Chubby Cheeks admonished her.
"Yes well, I AM a S&F fan. And if he's a pervert, so am I! In fact, I have tickets for their next concert in Columbus tonight and can hardly wait."
That was the end of the interview, Monica was not given any more air time.
I said to Addy, "Let's give Joyce Novella an interview when we're in Columbus."
"Sure. Good idea. We could use a little positive feedback after all this."
Now Addy's talking on his phone to Scott over on the CP bus, sounds like we're all going to pull into the next truck stop and hold a briefing with everybody on the tour. I guess I'll end this chapter here.
the Adam out of Eden series