concert photo

"We must know where we came from to know where we are going."

Having finished their West Coast dates with King Crimson, the band members are now preparing for the arena tour that begins in September. We will we focusing on these shows in future newsletters, but for now I would like to share some of my impressions of the Tool/KC event. Like some of you, I was fortunate enough to see a few of these shows that featured two of rock's most innovative bands. Although I missed Red Rocks, I have heard from many people just how great the vibe was there, this despite the fact that there were a few bugs to be worked out. On that night, and at every show after, Maynard spoke elegantly about the influence KC had on the members of Tool and their own musical pursuits. In Berkeley, he told the audience how the "present" show was really a fusion of the past and future - how KC were the "brick-layers" who laid down the foundation (at times in relative obscurity) from which Tool would build upon in the future, and acknowledged their debt to them, even joking how "Now you know who we ripped off. Just don't tell anyone, especially the members of King Crimson." Anyone who doubts how much the music of KC has inspired certain members of Tool needed only to look at the smile on Danny's face as he sat in on "Red" and, on the next night, "Frame By Frame." For those who know him, this was a dream come true. Although I was a little disappointed at the turn out while KC was on stage, I was, nevertheless, pleased at the courtesy and response they received from you - the fans of Tool. I only hope that the little sampling has prompted some of you to check out their other music.

For me, one of the highlights of the tour was when Robert Fripp joined the band on stage to perform his incredible "soundscapes." This part of the show evolved each night until it reached fruition during the second L.A. show. As Adam's somber guitar melody faded out during "Reflection", Fripp was already fading in with his soundscape. This then built to an intensely beautiful crescendo as the majesty of a praetor-human figure pirouetted gracefully in some abysmal void on the overhead projections (this being the artwork featured on the cover of the Salival box-set). Later, as the multiple layers of Fripp's guitar-triggered devices faded out, a Danny Carey drum roll led the band into the dark, heavy chords of "Sober." The overall effect was quite dramatic I must say. For those interested, Fripp's "Soundscapes" can be found (occasionally) in good record stores. There are three volumes; all recorded live in Argentina I believe. There is also one called "The Gates of Paradise" which happens to be my personal favorite.

Another great moment came on the night of the second L.A. show when the tabla master, Aloke Dutta, joined the band on "Push It." Afterwards, Aloke received a huge applause from the crowd, and deservedly so. I understand that with those magic fingers of his, he even got a couple of phone numbers from some women backstage. Watch out for the cobra, ladies! If you are in the L.A. area and want to see Aloke perform, his percussion band, "SWATI" will be playing at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica on Sunday night, OCT 7th at 9:30 PM. The club is located at 1026 Wilshire Blvd. This is a great place to see (and meet) him. I hope to see some of you there.

After the L.A. show there was a party at the Hollywood loft (drinking headquarters of the P.U.P Lodge) in which all of the members of KC attended with the exception of Mr. Fripp, who did, however, show up at a barbeque hosted by Adam days earlier. I found them to be very personable, and even warned Trey (who lives in Seattle) about our friend T. Agrestis. By the way, it was great meeting some of you newsletter readers backstage after the Berkeley show, especially Victor C. who is now helping me with Latin. Also, Samaki and Sohrab who were supposed to come up with ideas for this newsletter. C'mon you guys, I'm still waiting. Where are those promised gems?

Okay, I know what many of you are thinking: How can those of us who don't live on the West Coast, or couldn't get tickets for the small venues still get one of those nifty King Crimson/Tool tee-shirts that were designed to commemorate the event. Well, as it turns out, there are about a hundred or so left over from the boutique tour, which are going to be made available on the Tool store. Not only do these shirts feature great artwork (the fusion of both bands), but also they are sure to become regulars on e-bay (so don't wear them too often). For additional details, check out the Tool store.

At this point, I'm almost done with the KC thing, but not quite. By now, most of you are aware of the influence King Crimson had on the boys in Tool. But I just wanted to briefly mention how their original lyricist, Peter Sinfield was such a huge influence on yours truly. Recently, I was turned onto a Web site that featured his lyrics and work with the early KC projects. The site is called "PROMENADE THE PUZZLE: THE POETIC VISION OF PETER SINFIELD, and it deals with the alchemical symbolism and Jungian archetypes in his lyrics, especially those on the first four KC projects: "In The Court of the Crimson King" sub-titled "An Observation by King Crimson", "In the Wake of Poseidon", "Lizard" and "Islands."

With regards to the first album, the author(s) of the site identify the Crimson King with a historical counterpart - the medieval emperor, Fredrick II, who was considered either the Messiah or Anti-Christ, depending on whom you were talking to. Here is a quote about him that appears on the site: "... It was a court where for the first time poets, as Dante noted approvingly a century later, sang a sophisticated early verse in the Italian vernacular. There eunuchs guard harems of Moorish women and the pious were daily offended by the comings and goings of infidel Moslems and Jewish alchemists, philosophers, astrologers, and mathematicians." This apparent fusion of east and west reminds me of the mysteries of the Knights Templar and the medieval Grail romances. Alright, no need for me to parrot the site any further - I highly recommend those interested to check it out for themselves.


Congratulations to Sash and Kath for celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary (hey folks, that's one year in L.A.)! You may recall the reception at AJs that I wrote about in last year's August newsletter (the night after the meteor showers). So what's their secret? Well, it turns out to be Kath's feet, in particular her beautifully polished toenails - like cherries in the snow - I have seen them in sandals and (on one occasion in Aloke's mouth). Lucky Sash, with all those rubied toes to play with!

CREED FREED! After a lengthy investigation by my private investigator, Simon IFF Jr. and at great personal expense to myself, it turns out that NO members of the band, Creed were involved in drinking any of Tool's beer prior to last year's live web-cast. It seems that I owe them all an apology. It turned out that the band (Tool) had requested an imported beer from Amsterdam called "Duvel" which is how Mr. Iff determined that it couldn't have in any way been drank by members of that particular band. Mr. Iff is now focusing his attention to the rattlesnake that nearly bit Danny during a Piaste cymbal photo shoot. And speaking of Paiste cymbals, I received an e-mail a couple of weeks ago that I thought was quite funny. You may recall that in the last newsletter, I said that everything I wrote would be the complete truth except for one thing. Well, my e-mailer said that he believed the one lie must be the part about Danny's new drum kit being made from thousands of melted down cymbals. No, I informed him - that was true. The lie, dumbass, was that I haven't really had nine out of twelve Penthouse Pets in my Malibu hot tub! I've only had three.


One of the most common e-mail questions I get is, "What bands does Maynard listen to?" "I have no idea" is my standard reply, but, alas, I now have reliable info that, at least, one of the CDs he's wearing out is forthcoming release by Tenacious D. Due to hit the stores on September 25, I believe this will be the duo's first commercial release EVER (they were signed by Tool's original A&R; person, Matt Marshall). For the uninitiated, Tenacious D is Jack Black (aka JB, Jables) and Kyle Gass (aka KG, Rage Cage). The guys will also be on tour from Sept 20 thru Oct 31. Some of you might remember when they opened for Tool - in fact, I remember seeing them once with Zaum and Tool at the Ventura Theater. So you've got your heads up - these shows will sell out fast! For more info, check out their site at


Q: I was curious as to what the EV after 2001 on the top of the newsletter stood for?
A: We've covered this material before - it's Era Vulgari, or "in the common era."

Q: What links have the members of Tool with that bizarre spoof band Green Jelly of the early 90s - is it true that Maynard and Danny were members?
A: Danny was the drummer for a while when they were called Green Jello (they had to chance the name when threatened with a law suit by the good folks at Jello), and Maynard was one of Bill Manspeaker's characters, although I don't remember which one. Maynard also sang some vocals on their MTV hit, "Three Little Piggies." (NOTE: I would have just changed the spelling to "Gello.")

Q: I was just wondering who the opening acts are for the upcoming arena tour now that the King Crimson shows are done?
A: Fantomas will do some shows. The super band features Mike Patton, Buzz Osbourne (King Buzzo), Treavor Dunn, and Dave Lombardo - at least that's what Sohrab tells me, having finally e-mailed to help out with the newsletter.


The military has moved its testing facilities away from Groom Lake (Area 51). It's now located approx 250 N of White Sands, New Mexico... If you don't believe me, begin reading "Aviation Week" magazine (or, as the Russians called it, "Aviation Leak"). Try some back issues as well. You'll find reports of squadron relocations in the small articles. Occasionally (more frequently now), you'll see articles stating that squadrons in Groom Lake have moved to the base north of White Sands, NM. The general public has access to these magazines at libraries, but actual subscription is limited. I, being in the Air Force Reserve, can subscribe. There are ways. Look into it or contact me. No worries, I'm obviously not going to be in any trouble for telling you this. It's all been (whether it be accidental or not) publically released. You just have to read a little closer, look a little deeper...

Well, my well meaning friend, actually I don't have to look any deeper than the article in the POPULAR MECHANICS June 1997 issue entitled "THE NEW AREA 51" which, I believe, anyone can get. It tells the exact same story - all a load of bulls*** (whether misinformation or disinformation I don't know) written by some guy standing at a rusted cattle gate INSTEAD of the guard shack at the perimeter of Area 51. From this, and the lack of any security patrols to come chase him away from said rusted cattle gate, he concluded that the whole damn base moved elsewhere.

Besides, my father is a retired Air Force full colonel and I have a brother who is an agent with the DIS (Defense Investigative Service) so I think I could get a copy or two of "Aviation Leak" if I wanted to, either through them or the public library in Anytown USA. Before I give you the latest on what I recently saw out there, let's dissect our friends e-mail a little further. He speaks of reports of "squadron relocations" (from a base that officially doesn't exist, no less). Well, yes, secret government installations will rotate people out to keep what's going on compartmentalized - that is, to keep the right hand from knowing what the left hand is doing. He also claims that this information of the new secret location has been released to the public. Why in the world would the powers that be fight like hell for several years to take 5,000 acres of public access land away just so that people couldn't hike up a ridge and sit in bleacher seats looking down on the base, only to close it down and move every thing to another "publically released" location. For years I've been reading about this red herring of a "new secret base" - how the launch site for Nasa's space plane, the X-33, is to be Area 6413 at White Sands, with a landing site at Michael AAF near the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah.

This reminds me of a little episode that happened prior to a Tool show several years ago. Coincidently, the gig was in Las Vegas. A few hours before the show started, a couple of band members and myself were sitting outside behind the venue where the band's trucks and tour bus were parked. Suddenly, a young kid and his girl friend emerged from some bushes. They wandered over to us and asked Danny if HE'D seen any members of the band hanging out. "No", was Danny's reply, "but there's their tour bus" he said while pointing to the big black coach. "No" said the kid, "That's the FAKE bus - it was just a decoy - the real bus is parked somewhere else." We all had to laugh. Did this kid have any idea how expensive a tour bus was? Well, it's the same thing with a facility like AREA 51.

With this said, there is one good reason I can think of for shutting the place down. This would be if it had become an extreme bio-hazard, like the case reported in the U.S. News & World Report, January 16, 1995, of workers exposed to toxic substances illegally burned in open pits at the base and the subsequent civil suits filed by the EPA and the Justice Department investigating the alleged violations of federal environmental statutes. But, after thinking about it, how do we know that the whole "toxic waste" thing wasn't fabricated by the government, itself, as a way of scaring people away from the area? Have you ever seen "Close Encounters of the Third Kind?" Can't you just see some cigar-chomping bastard thinking this up, horrified that the entrance to his secret base lies just off a road with signs designating it as the Extraterrestrial Highway. The Los Angeles Dodgers triple A baseball team moved from New Mexico to Las Vegas and changed their name from the Dukes to the 51s for God's sake - complete with a Grey alien face on their caps!

Ever since I wrote about Danny's and my own experience behind the borders of Area 51, I have received dozens of e-mails telling me that the base has closed shop. So, I knew that one day I would have to go out there and check this for myself. Well, that day came last week. Here's how it went down:


(NOTE: My story will be peppered with Tool-related info, so you just might want to hang in there.) At 7:30 PM I go to the Sunset Junction Street Fair to watch Danny C. perform with the Pygmy Love Circus (new CD to be released soon, and sounding good I might add). There I meet up with a couple of buddies of his from KC (that's Kansas City, not King Crimson). This is Mulligan (of Zaum) and Rich, who I haven't seen in years. Afterwards, we all go back to the loft to party. During the revelry, Rich wants to know when I'm going to take him to Area 51. "How about in the morning?" I ask, knocking back another Corona... "Let's get up early in the morning and take off..."

MONDAY, AUGUST 20th, 3:00 PM

I grab a rental car and pick up Mulligan and Rich, who, still in a daze from the night before, catch some sleep as I head to Las Vegas and beyond. After stopping to get a small barbeque grill, some burger meat, dogs, chips, pistachios (saucer nut snacks), ICE and a case of beer, we haul balls to the huddle of trailers that is Rachel, Nevada, home of the Little Ale'INN where I have reserved a trailer to spend the night in.

On the way, we see a fireball streak across the night sky, the meteor breaking up as it nears the ground. This is the first time I have seen such a fireball out there, and I tell my friends that that was probably the coolest thing we were going to see that night. Driving around 95 MPH, all eyes are watching for cows that wander out onto the road. (NOTE: I know that this is an open range and that cows standing on the roads are one of the biggest dangers out here, but the reality is that I need to be at the Inn to pick up the key before they close at ten.) As we pass road signs with pictures of cows on them, I notice that someone has used a stencil to paint black UFOS above the animals, complete with lines indicating that they are about to be lifted by beams of light. We make it to the Inn with ten minutes to spare, grab the keys and then drive 30 miles to a place in the desert where I like to park. (NOTE: I no longer like to park near the perimeter of the base, choosing instead to pull off route 375 near a small ridge on the opposite side of the road, a few miles from Groom Lake Road.) With some difficulty (it had been nearly two years since my last visit), I find the right spot and ease the rental car down onto an overgrown path in the middle of the high desert.

11:30 PM

With only a fingernail crescent moon (which quickly disappeared behind a hill), there is no light - you literally couldn't see your hand in front of your face - and my friends are amazed by how many stars appear in the desert skies. This, I explain to them, is the main reason I still like to come out here - that and the sense of isolation from the rest of the world. "What's that smell - like incense?" asks Rich. "It's sage, being burned by the catalytic converter of our rental car" I inform him. "Shit, I hope it doesn't blow up."

Using up the precious batteries in my mag-lite, we assemble the grill and prepare a late dinner. Enforcing restrictions on the use of our sole flashlight (the rookies didn't think to bring one), I quickly run into a problem. While dressing up a dog with a squeeze container of mustard, I lose track of the amount coming out, clicking on the flashlight to find a huge pile in my hand. It's all over me, on the sleeves of my desert camo jacket, on my pants, and now on my cherished mag-light - this much to the delight of my friends who were becoming nervous as bats from a nearby abandoned silver mine wheeled above their heads, and the sounds of coyotes came closer to where they foolishly discarded bits of meat. Filled up on excellent burgers, we sip ice-cold cans of Coors and watch the skies as shooting stars fall with blue, white and yellow trails. Thus begins a sophomoric discussion about being approached by female aliens - you know, the tall, Nordic blonde types with the intense golden-hazel eyes from Sirius or the Pleiades. As my friends entertain such notions, I continue to admire the celestial tapestry.

Oh, by the way, had we any batteries in our blaster, we'd have been listening to Lateralus. Well, not really. I'd brought along Tomita, Philip Glass, and The Planets by Holst, but without batteries, all we had was our own sick humor and the yelps of approaching coyotes (and I've got the mustard already on me).


It's time to drive to the perimeter of the base to see if anything is going on. From 375, I turn right onto the graded (FRESHLY GRADED, I MIGHT ADD) track that leads to the base. In a little over thirteen miles I will come to the now infamous signs which warn of a military installation and state that "the use of deadly force is authorized." Having driven about 5 miles, we suddenly see something that causes me to slam on the brakes and all of us to shout out in unison, "What the hell is that!!!" This is a vividly glowing light, the predominant colors being the green and blue of a peacock's tail, only luminous like a plasma that became extremely bright. (NOTE: there were also reddish and whitish colors at the center). Whatever this was, it lifted off from the ground in the direction of the base, performing an extremely erratic maneuver before it quickly disappeared behind a ridge. The whole thing happened fast, and I've no idea what it was (only that it was NOT a flare or missile). However, it was as dramatic as anything I have ever seen caught on videotape by people claiming to have filmed an alien (or reverse engineered) spacecraft.

So, for the first time in over 30 trips to the area, I've finally seen "something." Now, I'm not saying that we saw Lazar's sport model or anything like that, but I am here to tell you that there are still strange things going on at AREA 51 - experiments with complex energy systems and such. What is more, the entire time we were being watched by the cammo dudes patrolling the perimeter. Other than the fact that they now have a fleet of Ford F-150s to go with their White Jeep Cherokees, nothing much has changed. They even still played their little psyche-war games, hoping to scare us away. But, instead, we pulled out lawn chairs and opened a cold Coors, sitting right in front of the warning signs, hoping to see something else over the base.


With nothing happening but an occasional flash of light from the cams parked on their little ridge, we decide to head back to Rachel for some sleep. On the way back down the graded track, two cammo dudes in Cherokees follow us, with another vehicle approaching just off to our left. They want to make sure that we are leaving the area. This is a game I have played many times, my poor pony covered with clouds of plutonium-laden dust has I hit 50 MPH, jack-rabbits darting in front of me as I suddenly brake, watching the cams slam on their own brakes. Once on route 375, I can't resist the temptation to hang a left at the "mail-box" road to further mess with them. Seeing us, they back off - these goons of a satellite government who can't have any contact with us ON OUR SIDE OF THE BORDERS.


We are awakened by the thunder of jet fighters engaged in war games of sorts. As I walk out of the trailer to have a look, the ground is shaken by a huge sonic boom. At first I thought one of the jets had crashed. Then I hear a familiar laugh, " Sounds like a B1-B, heading over the valley." Turning around, I see Chuck Clark standing there with a smile on his face and the ubiquitous Diet Coke in his hand. So he still lived in Rachel. In the good old days, I had gone to the perimeter with Chuck on several occasions. Being an astronomer, he had moved to Rachel in the mid-90s to photograph the night sky for a book he was working on. Since then, he had become the number one gadfly to the cammo dunes (this after Glenn Campbell moved away), and is now considered the local expert about the goings-on at the base. Having photographed it through the lens of his Celestron telescope many times, he told me that he recently hiked up Tikaboo Peak (yes, Virginia, there is still a spot where we can all view the base) whereupon he noticed that a couple of the huge fuel-tanks had been removed from the farm, but that little else had changed. He would be going back in a week to see if they had replaced them. When I told Chuck about our sighting, he thought it was probably a test of some kind involving ion fields. As the jets continue to buzz us, we head back to Las Vegas, glad that we decided to make the trip. So what do we have? In a matter of about twelve hours, we've seen a dramatic sighting of something very exotic over the base. We've been shadowed by the cammo dudes who still patrol the perimeter. We've seen war games with military fighters near the base. We've been shaken by one hell of a sonic boom. And we've seen a fireball to boot. So, to conclude, AREA 51 is alive and well, thank you. Oh, yes, one final thing. When we turn the car radio on near Vegas, they're playing "Schism."



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