Notes from the Rock ‘n Roll Expressway Volume III

Asthmatic Giant! Tour Diary
By Darren Delmore

12/31/08 – Lompoc, California

A New Year’s Eve gig in the Santa Rita Hills? We couldn’t believe it. Opening up for Oysterhead in SF, maybe, but not a gig in the high end heartland of the ripest, dankest, Pinot Noir grown in the Golden State. Shlune confirmed via fax that Asthmatic Giant! would indeed be finishing up our Year of the Giant 2008 World Tour on a Grand Cru Chardonnay and Pinot Noir site for a private party. Someone saw us at the Troubadour and the word got out. The big news to us was that our bearded, devoted manager would not be there to toast away 2008, as he was obligated to a high stakes poker tourney on a yacht deep into international waters. “The fiscal future of the band depends on it,” he warned us. “I’ve got a big night, dude.” This left the Giant, yours truly, and roadie Pat Patten to pack up two tour vehicles on the morning of the 31st and head straight for J-Lama. We’d draw a cool five grand plus some merch sales from the show. Heinous Chanus’ rider demanded barbecue and mini-verticals of heavy hitting Pinot Noirs. Mine and Pat’s merely requested easy women. We were all out of keychain inhalers after the Hot Tokyo Nights! leg of the tour and were down to posters and the crotchless Asthmatic Giant! G-strings that were designed in Hossegor. The fluorescent ones blew out all across Asia and funded a major, mutual sashimi and Riesling fetish. Women proudly wore them to the next gig, and a visibly soiled pair was flung at the Giant’s face in Singapore as he twenty minute solo’d out on “El Corazón de Pete” with his eyes closed (or more likely unconscious).

Windswept Jalama Beach had provided much of the inspiration for our hit song “El Serpiente”, but after playing it 200 nights in a row around the world to full capacity crowds, we were losing focus. Widely reported in the tabloids, the band had angrily broken up in May, only to reform in August with an offer we couldn’t refuse. And now at the tail end of 2008, raw nerves were exposed once again. The Giant would only speak to me through his attorney, and I’d gotten wind of his talks with Michael Mann about producing his instrumental film score for an upcoming Al Pacino heist flick behind my back. All of this after making my life hell on our last show of our five night run in Quebec, when he fucked up mid synth solo on “The Upper Bench” and smashed the Yamaha in two, leaving me and my acoustic onstage with nothing but Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” to cool the tempered, Canadian crowd.

We needed to get back to our roots. Back to the illicit rhythms and simple pleasures of our Irie Mondays era. Experiences. By the time our heels hit the warm rocks of Tarantulas reef and a chilled bottle of 100% Trebbiano was popped and poured into stemware on the rare 75 degree winter day, spirits were heightened and thirsts were quenched. We murmured our band’s prayer in an emotional huddle before hitting the icy waters for a surf. P. Patten conjured forth the spirit of George Greenough out there on the kelpy right hand reef pass, while H.C. kept it to the shallowest pockets. I played it cool on the shoulder and got some of the longer, lumpy ones. By sundown we were laughing at our luxury, and ready to once again bare our souls through broadcasted folktronica.

Then came the three car pile up. As my tour bus slowed to make the left hand turn across the oncoming lane on Highway 246, the stony L.E. followed suit and took a fifty degree blow from behind! The impact sent the chronic dust of P. Patten’s nearly rolled blunt to the wind. They in turn collided into the back of the tour bus, causing thousands of dollars in damage by erupting a case of 1989 Cristal and ejecting a crate of live Maine lobsters out onto the side of highway 246.

The Giant’s Ray Bans lay broken on the steering wheel. The new Yamaha mysteriously played an E minor organ note – unplugged – then caught fire. An instant Walgreens prescription for unlimited slammies materialized out of thin air in the Giant’s bloodstained palm, and he acknowledged the heaven sent miracle with a tooth cracked grin. A back injury from Pat’s days as a spandexed personal trainer in Cambria was rekindled. The man at fault’s engine spewed fluids onto the highway, flattened in half and immobile as cars roared past the scene at 65 miles per hour.

As all parties got out of their vehicles, there was a primal roar of some bull elephant seal or maybe an enraged Grizzly bear. We watched as the Giant ripped his thrashed bumper from the rear of the Element and heaved it across the highway. The family at fault cowered across the highway. I knew where this was going. I flashbacked to the fate of Tokyo Tony, the pimp and uppers dealer that failed to come through with H.C.’s Oxy purchase on our Japanese tour. We spotted him on his way into the raw bar we were chilling at after the gig, finishing a 17.1 percent alcohol Melville Viognier with blue fin and yellowtail plates. Now they call him Tony Pepperoni ’cause the Giant ripped the man’s nipples off in the back alley and they turned up crispy on a disturbed customer’s Domino’s pizza the next day. I’d never seen H.C. with the look of a lockjawed pitbull before.

As Babylon arrived on the scene of the accident, various Ziploc baggies went sailing off onto the roadsides. Even ground squirrels were chucking their shit. The reports were given. The Giant was given roadside I.V. sedation once the cops ran the check that mentioned how his fists were registered lethal weapons. Once the scene was diffused, we got word that the show would go on.

The 30 acre vineyard with its double wide trailer arena, outdoor space heaters and fire pits welcomed us with open arms. Burgundy Riedels were stuffed into our shaky hands. On the liquor table, a vertical of Clos Pepe running from 2005 to 2007 lay in waiting, as well as a vertical of Arcadian Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir from 2004-2005. Also represented: The La Vie 2005 Rasta Rita Pinot; three new Santa Rita Hills area releases from Loring Wine Company; the Cargasacchi wines; and Flying Goat’s “Goat Bubbles” sparkling . The vigneron himself Peter Cargasacchi was there, and he demanded that we try the bacon wrapped gopher that was on the outdoor grill. “There is no other meat that shows off terroir,” he added, and after grinding on the skewer of it, we had to agree.

Midnight. Fireside. Time to perform. We came on acoustic with “Cazadero”, then headed straight into the Dead’s “I Know You Rider” with our rhythm guitarist and guest fiddle player chiming in. The crowd went nuts for the stripped down sound. Without the usual technological luxuries at hand, the Giant’s God-given gift of percussion shined through, and for the first time in months, I noticed him smiling as he impeccably slapped on the bongos. Clos Pepe’s Wes Hagen came on as guest percussionist on “Dire Wolf”, as the audience was grooving to the Grateful. He and H.C. high-fived mid-simultaneous drum solo and then we roared back into it. By then the baked goods were well ingrained in Pat’s skull, and he went AWOL into the darkened Santa Rita Hills in search of a supernatural Ms. Right. The Giant and I shared a smiling nod as we pounded out “El Corazón de Pete” and a woman ripped her tank top off. Typical show. It was time to finish up 2008’s tour with a song that rocked the Toobs anniversary party back in March: Merle Haggard’s “Branded Man”. Absolutely killed it on that one, even without a screaming drunken Eskimo in attendance.

We packed up amid wails for “One more!”, and “Hot Tokyo Nights!” and decided to join the crowd for a 2003 Vintage Port before the new frosty blackness of 2009 set in.

13 Days of Christmas

With a work conference along the Central Coast slated for January 6th, I convinced my boss that he should give me an extended 13 day holiday away from San Diego to “work” from home until the nearby conference began. He surprisingly agreed. While I didn’t gather quite as much documentation as I would have liked, below is a little sprinkle of what life is like in the heart of the 805 during the height of winter.

12/26/08 – Framegrabs from a beachbreak just north of Pismo

Louie came out of the Grover City woodwork for this session and showed off his backside steez.

A perfect left and a perfect right both squandered by a young Baby Seal Pup.

Baby Seal Pup redeeming himself shortly after (left). Willie Richerson withstood the frigid water temps long enough to sample a few backlit bowls as well (right).

The swell was initially thought to be a little too small, a little too short period, and a little too north for this particular spot. Mr. Robles begged to differ.

12/31/08 – New Years Eve, Shell Beach

Don’t do drugs kids. Willie, Roldy, Briggidy (left). The morning after (right).

1/2/09 – Framegrabs from a beachbreak just south of Pismo

Roldan showed he still had a little Shaolin ninja in him on his return to the Central Coast.

It wasn’t epic but the conditions were right and Ryan Moore took full advantage.

“William, Bill for short.” Willie takes Brett’s incessant badgering to heart and gives a little extra push on this turn.

Red Dog drew out of this stylish snap directly into an inside bowl in what turned out to be the wave of the day.

Black Joe Buckets. Ryan Moore’s got some serious power on the knee.

Willie impressed me with his belly style antics on this trip. Riding the foamball.

Ryan Moore taking out Los Osos sewage controversy aggression on this little insider.

Snap. Carve. Tail. Roldie can juggle his entire repertoire on a single wave. Click for full size.

1/3/09 – Asthmatic Giant show, San Luis Obispo

Wine and music. Great minds think alike along the Central Coast.

Manager Schloonis showed up with the 2-for-1 double pack of Planters Peanuts and a quarter pound of Spicy Peppered Oberto Beef Jerky to accentuate the sugary residuals of Hellmore’s Home Blend. Buy this shirt now.

While the naysaying connoisseurs in attendance scoffed at the idea of blended guac, Delmore whipped up a masterpiece before our very eyes and won over our hearts and our stomachs. (Recipe withheld at Darren’s request.)

The lineup for the evening. Estery orgasm.

The Giant must stand! Years of waterpolo have reduced the Giant to standing-only performances.

The eerie film that seemed to loop on the inlaid tv set in the background coupled with Hellmore’s deep submergence into otherworldly distorter melodies was oddly surreal. Some audience members (back right) had to take a break from this reality with a little help from the vaporizer.

We thought the show had ended when in fact it had really just begun. Delmore’s switch to the keyboard led to an intoxicating finale that brought out a greater depth of AG than I had ever seen before.


Light Santa Anas and a west swell familiarizing themselves with a remote Central Coast beachie.

Lost in transition. 2007 Pipeline Pro heat ‘tweener.

Post-rain shrapnel at the river bar.

Staring into the glare of Mighty Mouse before the PWC days.

Keiki Green Light Special.

Black sand, blue skies, and green barrels. Not your typical Mexican flag.

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey. Mexican fire drill.

Doesn’t take much fishing in Oz to catch a quality wave.

Two crispy babies chewing on down the line.

California dreamin’.

Miller Time II

Bachelor Party/Pre-Wedding/Baby/Birthday Photos
(Photos by Sarah Fibich, Mark Miller, Lauren Ross, Alex Statom, Nick Statom, Phil Strnad)

Miller Time

By Adam Terpening
(Photos by Sarah Fibich, Mark Miller, Lauren Ross, Alex Statom, Nick Statom, Phil Strnad)

Six pairs of fresh Chuck Taylors, a brewing baby Aiden and more small town heart than your daughter’s bake sale, were just a few of the many elements that joined together for the marriage of Mark “Wilbur” & Courtney Miller. With Josh Ralph, Nick Statom, James Murdock and Louie Robles as the best men, there was a scent of reminiscence in the air. Not to mention the boys were lookin’ extra sharp thanks to Salon de Neanderthal. The ceremony took place in the village of Arroyo Grande, with a crowd consisting of half family and friends and the other half of what was looking like a gathering for a typical NF premiere.

After a smooth ceremony, for everyone except “do you need a glass of water” Wilbur, the flock headed out to the remote Loomis barn, in the even more remote part of the Central Coast, Huasna. There was tons of mingling, laughs and beer sipping inside and out of the barn. But after the triangle rang Le Chef de Cuisine, Davers and Sous, and Brett “Red Dog” Roldan had the crowd lined up for the timeless Central Coast feast. Cooked to perfection Tri-Tip, moist rotisserie style chicken, classic F. McLintocks beans, fresh garden salad and loaves of q’ed garlic bread. After dinner, a span of lives slide show and short cut speeches thanks to MC mic-nazi, the tables were cleared, for some good ol’ fashion barn dancin’. At some point during the festivities, and I’m personally not sure how it happened, but Euroland’s Andreas “I wear J-lo glasses at night and will steal your youth” Laden, yanked Nick Statom out of his chair only to come in contact with a bystanders forehead, resulting in a cracked schnozz. No worries though, ice from the trough eased the pain and the dance floor morphed into a dance-off circle, with the groom opening the unknown vault of leg hopping dance grooves.

As the crowd began to dwindle down, Mark and Courtney left in their canned caravan and the rest of the posse proceeded on to the town’s local watering hole, R & D’s. The beer count increased and the karaoke mic heated up with the night peaking during a Josh Ralph Billie Jean partial strip show and an epic Jake Parish Angus Young impression. Good times and memories overall and our best wishes to Mark, Courtney and their new baby boy, Aiden. We can only wait for him to carry on the way of the boogie.