. I recently found an old SF magazine called Puncture (issue 13) from early 1987 and within it's very pages was David Lowery's tour diary for the previous fall with our beloved Camper Van Beethoven. I'm assuming it is after the REM tour but I havent been able to exactly match it up to anything over at the Internet Archive. I do believe David changed the names of the various support acts to protect both the innocent and the guilty and there's some wonderful tall stories rearing their welcome heads. It's such a fun read that I thought to share it here. . . Day 1, SAN FRANCISCO: The tour got off to a shaky start, but I think everything's okay now. When we arrived to pick up Jackson, our road manager, he told us he couldn't go, but not to worry because he'd gotten his uncle Les to replace him. Jackson said we'd find Les at the Mar Vista Country Club. He'd been camped out there since being fired from his job and then kicked out by his wife Imelda. So we drove up to the country club. Imelda was chasing Les round the parking lot with a five-iron, screaming she was going to kill him. We maneuvered the van between them, pulled Les inside, and took off, but not before Imelda had managed to break two windows. Now, a short while later, we are in high spirits driving northward on Highway 5. Les is teaching us how to make martinis. . Day 2, EUGENE, OREGON: We played our first show tonight. Everything went well, even though we had apparently driven off this morning without Greg, our guitarist. Fortunately he managed to hitch a ride and got here half an hour before show time. . . Day 6, BOISE, IDAHO: At a truck stop outside of Boise, Lenny (our soundman) incorrectly identified a poisonous mushroom as the mildly psychedelic Liberty Cap. The entire road crew and half of The Whitespots (our opening band) are in the hospital tonight having their stomachs pumped. The only person left to run our sound was Les, and he kept turning us down (or even off) so he could talk to the waitresses. . . Day 8, LARAMIE, WYOMING: Yesterday was a complete disaster. First, Fritz (our light-man), who was already kind of unbalanced learned that his girlfriend had left him. He spent the evening screaming in Lapland Finnish dialect about, we can only assume, his ex-girlfriend. Only when Les sedated him with a quarter bottle of Darvon would he sit behind the lightboard. Even then he was four songs behind us by the end of the show. As if this weren't enough, after the show Les took us down to the bar at the American Legion -- his old friend Hank Ferguson is commander of the Laramie post. The locals had forgiven us our appearance and were being downright friendly until the three male dancers for The Whitespots began doing interpretive dances to Elvis Presley songs on the jukebox. Mistaking this for disrespect for the King, the locals took them outside and bloodied their noses. Les and Hank intervened too late. Even Les' promises of golfing in Florida couldn't dissuade the dancers from taking the next Greyhound back to San Francisco. This morning Les and I got up early and went to Hank's house. Les has worked out a deal to take some antique rifles to Hank's brother-in-law, a gun collector, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Les explained that since the rifles are so valuable we must take extraordinary measures to keep them from being stolen. When we returned to the motel, the others were still asleep, and Les decided to conceal the rifles inside a speaker cabinet belonging to The Whitespots. Les asked me not to tell The Whitespots about the rifles because "they'll get nervous driving around with something so valuable in their van." . . Day 12, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: Les has asked us to go without per diems for a few days to prevent any cash flow problems. Apparently we haven't been making as much as we expected, and Les says he needs more money for "promotional expenses." . Day 13, VANCOUVER, BC: The Canadian border guards have arrested all The Whitespots on suspicion of smuggling and terrorism. They are accused of trying to smuggle automatic weapons to the ONF (October 19 Faction), a neo-Nazi group based in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Les thinks The Whitespots must have found the antique rifles and traded them for Uzi machine guns. We are also under arrest. . . Day 14: Les has persuaded the guards of our innocence, and we have been released. The Whitespots are still in custody, however. The Canadians claim "Whitespots" refers to the band's secret neo-Nazi political philosophy, although none of The Whitespots has confessed to being a neo-Nazi yet. Les says we should leave them to fend for themselves, since they abused our hospitality for their own narrow political interests. . Day 17, CALGARY, ALBERTA: I called our record company, hoping they could find us a new opening band. They have suggested a band called Big Naked. Apparently the leader of the group is a famous underground rock critic, and he won't write a piece on us unless we let his band come on tour with us. . . Day 18, EDMONTON, ALBERTA: Tonight we are playing the Ambassador Hotel. Then we have a week off. I feel fine, personally, but some of the band and crew look like they could use a vacation, especially Fritz, who has discovered his ex-girlfriend is now dating a lesbian folksinger. His lightshows, which are usually gloomy anyway, have now degenerated into the turning on and off of a single 40-watt blacklight. Even more disturbing is his adoption of his ancestors' belief in the existence of elves. Les has decided that during the week off he will drive one of the vans down to Moose Jaw and straighten things out with the gun collector "before things get out of hand." . . Day 24: During our week off we went to visit the gigantic Edmonton Mall. Chris Molla, our steel guitarist, got lost and wandered into the plains. Fortunately he was found and cared for by a group of Hutterites, a religious sect that refuses to use modern conveniences like electricity and automobiles. Unfortunately he has adopted their beliefs. Chris now refuses to ride in the van, and we must either leave him behind or cancel the next few shows so he can be deprogrammed. . Day 25, SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN: Les has found a temporary solution to the Chris Molla problem. Last night after Chris fell asleep Les carried him out to the van and locked him in a drum case. But some problems still remain. Chris refuses to play electric guitar, and will not allow his acoustic guitar to be miked or amplified in any way. We have decided that Big Naked will be our opening act for the rest of the tour. They will meet us in Winnipeg in two days. . . Day 27, WINNIPEG, MANITOBA: Victor is concerned that the mysterious holes we found in our van after Les' trip to Moose Jaw are bullet holes. Les says Victor is just paranoid from hanging around Fritz too much. He thinks we should send Fritz home, but I'm not sure things are that serious yet, although last night Fritz did drive the van off the road twice -- the first time to avoid a band of wood-elves, then again when he saw a UFO in the middle of the freeway. Big Naked have joined the tour. They seem like nice guys, with the possible exception of band leader Michael Albino, who is sort of strange, but probably well-intentioned. Yesterday when I introduced myself he told me he only accepted our invitation because he felt sorry for the audience, having to listen to our "pathetic drivel night after night and never getting the chance to hear Big Naked, a band courageous enough to sing about death, destruction, and the rape of the human spirit by the oppressive conventions of society." . . Day 29, RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA: Les has bought a slightly restored Porsche 911. He has also cancelled our per diems for the next week. I am beginning to suspect that Les may be embezzling money from us. The Porsche is actually a blessing of sorts, because it keeps Les -- and more importantly Ruby, the truckstop waitress Les has invited to tour with us -- out of our hair. . Day 31, MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: The Deadhead members of the crew threatened to quit if we didn't get rid of this Big Naked group. They complain that Big Naked's lyrics are violent and the music gives them "bad vibes." Victor pacified them by explaining that Michael Albino is a music critic and is probably making a statement of some,-sort, though Victor wasn't sure exactly what. . . Day 35, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: We are now down to a five-piece. Chris Molla, still refusing to play electric guitar, had taken to wandering through the audience as he played, so that at least some of them could hear him. Unfortunately the bouncers at the club last night thought he was some kind of weirdo and threw him out. We haven't seen him since. Another strange thing happened tonight: Big Naked didn't play because Michael Albino disappeared. He'd been seen earlier in the evening getting into the back of a van with three guys who were dressed up like soldiers or something. . Day 38, DETROIT, MICHIGAN: Michael Albino is still missing, and today when we showed up at the club there was a letter for us. It read: "Dear Camper Van Beethoven. You have five days to deliver the goods, or you will never see Mr. Albino again. Sincerely, The ONF." The letter was postmarked Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. I showed it to Les, but he said it was just a prank, and neither the neo-Nazis or his gun collector brother-in-law could have anything to do with Michael's disappearance. It is my belief that Albino has actually been kidnapped by the ONF. I called Homo-stud Records, Big Naked's label, to explain my suspicions; they told me it was probably a publicity stunt, and that if I happen to see him I am to tell him to phone Homostud immediately so they can arrange a promotional campaign based on his disappearance. The remaining members of Big Naked have decided to continue performing, with Lenny (our soundman) as singer. The only problem with this is that none of them can remember the lyrics to Big Naked songs. In the meantime Lenny is singing from a book of Richard Brautigan poems. . . Day 40, COLUMBUS, OHIO: Our show here was canceled at the last minute, but Les got us a gig as Tiny Tim's backing band at a club across town. I had Les take pictures of us together, because I don't think anyone will believe this story without proof. .
. Day 42, NEW YORK CITY: We played CBGB's last night to a packed house, but we only made $40 because there were 352 people on the guest list. This morning I got a call from our agency, Indentured Bookings, saying we'd got "a real creepy letter with an ear in it." By the time I got down there they were all too stoned to remember what they'd done with it. We have a few days off. Les, Ruby the waitress, and the road crew are going to Atlantic City -- Ruby has a friend there and Les is going to help him buy some property in the Bronx. . . Day 45: Indentured Bookings called again. They found the letter and the ear. The ear appararently belongs to Michael Albino. I decided it was time to take this matter to the police. I went to Indentured to get the ear, but someone from Homostud Records had already picked it up and taken it to a press conference. . . Day 50, BOSTON, MASS.: Our show at the Rat Cellar was canceled. There was a bomb threat -- and the police found a real bomb. They think a disgruntled band planted it because the club is run by the Mafia and has a reputation for not paying groups that play here. I overheard the road crew talking about going to the Bronx to help Les burn down a building. Alarmed, I asked Les what was going on. It turns out this building is on the property recently purchased by Ruby's Atlantic City friend, and according to Les it is both common and legal to demolish a building in the Bronx by burning it down, as long as the building is burned,between the hours of two and six a.m. . . Day 59, COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA: Seven of our last eight shows have been canceled due to bomb threats. We are nearly out of money, and Les says we may have to sell one of the vans. But he has kindly offered to let someone ride in his Porsche with him and Ruby. It is now obvious to everyone (except Les) that the bombings are the work of the group that abducted Michael Albino. So when we heard today that he had been released, we were overjoyed. Apparently his abductors let him go when they found out he is the great-grandson of Benito Mussolini. Both Greg and Fritz are no longer with us. Greg quit the band in Norfolk, Virginia, and got a job at a 7-11. Fritz saw a statue of a giant peach outside of Columbia and became convinced it was a secret wood-elf shrine. He could not be persuaded to get back in the van, and so we left him there. . Day 63, JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FLORIDA: Four days without a bomb threat. Things were beginning to look up. Then we get to Jacksonville Beach and Les' wife is waiting here for us. She shoots Les. When the police show up they arrest the entire crew and impound our equipment and van. They claim the crew and van were involved in an arson for profit scheme in New York. In the ensuing chaos Ruby splits with the Porsche and what is left of our money. Les is expected to recover, but is in FBI custody on arson charges. Needless to say this is the end of the tour. Victor and Jonathan are taking it the hardest. Les had promised them he would teach them golf once we got to Florida. They spent most of the morning at the Jacksonville Beach Country Club trying to get someone to take them golfing. Eventually they were told to leave or they would be arrested. Chrispy, our drummer, has found a job as an exotic male dancer. He says he can probably get me a job at the same place. But I think I'll wait and see if I can sell this tour diary to SPIN magazine, although when I called the editor he wasn't very encouraging. Apparently they have some really important stuff coming up: there's a story on Michael Albino's ear, and Lydia Lunch and Henry Rollins have written a piece about how they like to hang out at Ceiling Fan World in San Diego. David Lowery .
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching. It unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. The money powers preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me & the financial institutions at the rear, the latter is my greatest foe. Corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed." -Abraham Lincoln, (letter to William Elkins, Nov 21, 1864)