Perpetual Motion Roadshow, Jan 3-10, 2005!
featuring Bob the Angry Flower creator Stephen Notley

** updated with pictures Friday, Feb 11, 2005 -- scroll to the bottom! **
Early in 2005 I dida multi-city road trip down the west coast as part of the Perpetual Motion Roadshow, an indy-publishing promotional thingy operated and organized by Jim Munroe of No Media Kings. I co-appeared with rhymer/rapper More or Les from Toronto and artist/zine enthusiast Christa Donner, and it was some fun. The dates, locations and times were:

Mon, Jan 3 - Seattle, WA
  Confounded Books (315 E. Pine St.), 7 pm.

Tues, Jan 4 - Eugene, OR
  Feinstein's Museum of Unfine Art (537 Willamette), 7 pm.

Wed, Jan 5 - San Francisco, CA
  Modern Times (888 Valencia St.) 7 pm.

Thurs, Jan 6 - Los Angeles, CA
  Flor y Canto (3706 N. Figueroa Ave.) 7 pm.

Fri, Jan 7 - San Jose, CA
  Anno Domini (150 S. Montgomery St., Unit B) 8pm.

Sun, Jan 9 - Portland, OR
  Reading Frenzy (921 SW Oak St.) 7 pm.

Mon, Jan 10 - Victoria, BC
  Solstice Cafe (529 Pandora Ave.) 8 pm.

So how did it go? 

Monday was Seattle. I'd arrived the night before by train and crashed at the great pad of Brad Beshaw, owner of Confounded Books where the show was to be. Christa Donner and Les Seaforth showed up Monday afternoon, we had some tacos and then did our first show. Christa read some samples from her zine Ladyfriend, stories about a little boy wanting to be Wonder Woman for Hallowe'en, hair between tits, pageant dresses, plus "clever and shrewd", which is the first definition you'll find in any dictionary for "cute". Les did a kind of game show/rappin' thing, getting volunteers from the audience to chug down bottles of water before he could finish speed-say one of his pieces, getting others to hold up letters for him to freestyle on. And I had a bunch of cartoons (this bunch, actually: As the Whole World Watches, September 11, 2001, Disputed Territories, Brood Leeches Are People, Too, Slogor, Iraq Attacks, Smartiac Vs George W. Bush, Cheney, and Grand Theft America) that I would flip around on a thing not quite the right size I'd made out of PVC pipe that morning, reading the cartoons, commenting on them, all while wearing the flower hat.

Confounded is half a comic/zine store, half a record store, not a huge space, but a bunch of people showed up and they seemed to dig our stuff. People bought books, chatted afterwards, and Christa's passed-around toque bulged with $50 worth of gas money at the end of the night. A great start to the tour.

Tuesday was a realitvely leisurely drive to Eugene, a town where every store has a peculiar name. Take, for example, Feinstein's Museum of Unfine Art, the wee little used-record shop that hosted our show to a fair crowd. The owner had an art show going based on the theme "Virgins and Dinosaurs", with a good couple dozen pretty cool variations on the theme. That night we crashed at the home of the parents of our agent Ryan, there to encounter the frickin' cutest little dog I've ever met; he could have bounced right out of a Tintin comic.

Wednesday was the long drive to San Francisco and the Modern Times bookstore, the most formal of our settings. Show went well, I met a superfan named Jill who hooked me up with folks who may publish my next book if we can work something out. Meanwhile two of the audience members in Les's show goofed up, one spurting water all over herself and the other wandering away with the letter-sheets. We spent the night at agent Melissa's place, and she was kind enough to offer us a place on our return back from San Jose.

Thursday, after some monkeying around with the freeways, we made our way out of San Fran and plowed on to Los Angeles to the Flor Y Canto space, a pretty cool little community centre type area with the first computers we'd seen since we departed. Show went well, some fans showed up, smaller crowd but attentive.

Friday morning it had been raining all night and was still raining, the beginnings of the huge storm that was to plague us for days. We were just about to head out when the agent we'd been staying with bustled out of her house to tell us the I-5 Interstate was closed, so we ended up taking the I-101, the seaside route. We pulled into San Jose just too late to get a tour of the Winchester Mystery House, a bizarre 180-room mansion built by the makers of the Winchester rifle and which appeared in slightly altered form in Swamp Thing #45, "Ghost Dance", the one with all the crazy ghosts. Arriving at our venue, Anno Domini, and at first we were kinda skeptical, since it didn't seem to have a sign or anything and it was in the meat-packing/tractor-storage part of town. The space itself was huge, cavernous, a big warehouse split in two by a thin wooden wall in Anno Domini, a gallery space, and another zone that emitted really loud dance music all night. It's weird, doing a presentation against heavy sound; you don't get a chance to take any of your pauses, so you just rush through it. Regardless, tons of people showed up, our biggest show, and lots of folks hung around and chatted and bought stuff. San Jose Rulez! Then we hustled the realtively short drive back to San Francisco and naptime at Melissa's place

Saturday... oh, Saturday. This was our "day off", which we knew would be spent driving to Portland. We weren't long on the road before hearing that the I-5 was blocked to vehicles without chains, so we were forced to buy $100 chains from two men at a little U-Haul station in Redding, their office covered with notes featuring apostrophes misused everywhere they could possibly be. To them, I'd just like to give a little personal shout-out:


Because of course, those expensive chains turned out to be the wrong size, as we discovered upon pulling up through downpuring snow on the first slopes towards Mt. Shasta in Northern California. We were told we'd have to take it slow. Top legal speed when wearing chains is 35 mph; the chains started going "knock knock knock" against the wheel-well at 12 mph. It's an unreal experience, rolling along a highway at 12 mph, looking up at a sign that says "60" and thinking "Hey, that's only five hours away." Christa took us over Mt. Shasta and down the other side until we saw a chain station on the other lane, so we pulled in and ditched our chains, which was a fun 15 minutes or so under our SUV in 4 inches of slush. Then we found out there was another mountain, but this time we resolved to simply lie to the Chain Control Officer and tell him we had 4-wheel-drive, then to inch up the mountain at what seemed like a speedy 25 mph, me tensely at the wheel.

We got out of the mountains around 11pm with still 250 miles to Portland to go, slowing like hell, so we got a hotel room and crashed into uneasy sleep.

Sunday was the rest of the push to Portland, not as bad as the previous day. We got in aroudn 3ish and wandered, finding Portland to be a pretty cool little berg. The block that had the comic/zine store we were reading at, Reading Frenzy, also contained a comic/porn store, a huge record store, a DVD rental place that organized its films alphabetically by director, a tiny store packed thick with collectibles including Shogun Warriors I hadn't seen since my father was alive, and a rockin' Thai place. Hell, just walking into Reading Frenzy I ran into Craig Thompson, one of the sweetest and most talented humans on this Earth, winner of all the awards comics has to give with his 600-page book Blankets.

So with all Portland's aura of cool, it was a bit of a disappointment to put on our show in front of a mere 9 people, and it was an addtional shock to witness an entire room full of people simultaneously not get my cartoon. One guy even stopped me, twice, once to request explanation for this "Bob" character, was he my protagonist?, and again to ask for clarification on the specific nature of Brood-Leeches. Yeesh.

And what of Monday, and our show in Victoria? Sadly, as interested Victorians already know, there was no show in Victoria. After our brutal transit to Portland we looked at our Victoria plans and found them lacking. It was during the two-week period where no ferry runs from Seattle to Victoria, so our plan was to drive through the middle of the night past Seattle up to Port Angeles so Les and I could catch a ferry at 8:30am. With the weather being what it was, we balked at that, tried to see if there was a red-eye bus from Portland to Vancouver so we could catch the ferry but there wasn't, so we jammed. Sorry, Victorians. Any Victorian fans who showed up and found us no there, send me your mailing address and I'll mail you some stickers.

So our trip ended with something of a whimper, and then a void, but it did end. It'll be a bit before I wanna do it again --I'd prefer to have a better presentation next time, and a little more cash so I wouldn't be worrying if I had to drop a couple of hundred unexpected dollars-- but it was worth it, worth it for the driving, and the folks I got to see, and for hanging out with Christa and Les, and hell, just for having to get up early in the morning for a week straight.

Roadshow Photos, crazy!
Courtesy of Christa Donner and her magical digital thingy...

Our "compact car".

Me, Christa and Les doing our album cover photo outside Confounded Books in Seattle.

Some of the crazy Virgins & Dinosaurs at Feinstein's Museum of Unfine Art in Eugene.

Christa doing her thing

Christa doing her thing at Flor Y Canto.

Les doing his thing, same place.


The cavernous space in San Jose.

Les with some tasty Thai food in Portland.

Me with also tasty Thai food in Portland.