Dark's Corner

The Good, The Bad And The Painful – June 14th, 2000

Hey, I know that you’re probably sick of hearing about my life: so am I. Especially from other people! But it keeps getting in the way, obscuring the view. Taking perverse delight in being the center of attention. That’s my life for you and it has nothing to do with the person living it. It’s fairly compulsory, all one can do is sit around and make suggestions as to what happens next, but don’t you know—well, you more than likely do. That’s anyone’s life. Not to mention all the cool shit that can happen to a person. As a former girlfriend once informed me, I lead a charmed life. There’s a Yin to every Yang, however. An up for every down and the higher the highs, the lower the lows. Kinda makes you rethink that whole “shootin’ for the stars” mentality, doesn’t it? Collecting cool moments on Cloud 9 one day and then finding yourself hanging out at happy hour in Hell the next.

When David Schweizer got back into the real world recently, there was great celebration. His band, Princeton’s Guff, performed for the first time since the year 2000 was ushered in. He’s sort of like the Don of the Orlando music scene, a battle-scarred veteran of the pubs and clubs of the city “beautiful.” Sat and strummed while tourists tackled tough tomatoes, eh? Try that one five times fast. He changed his name to “Davey Rocker” and did a one-man show with a drum machine that was fairly left field for him. But it is with the Guff, as he calls his outfit, that Schweizer is at his luminescent best. With a face that carries time like a clear mask, he recalls a bygone era of troubadours, taking their emotive music to the people and offering salvation in a song. I’m not kissing ass, this guy is good. And if you’re not believing me, then come on out to the House Of Blues on Monday, June 19th. That’s where Schweizer hosts the Living Room Jam.

The series of concerts began last year and has failed to produce the kind of numbers that HOB talent staff were looking for. And no wonder. The music hall has a capacity of two thousand bodies. Your average local band brings thirty people to a gig. Multiply that by ten, subtract twenty for the acoustic nature of the performances and add three hundred walk ins by curious tourists that simply don’t get it and then turn around and walk out. You’re left with a cozy collective of folks spread around the edges of the place, still making the bands feel like they’re playing for the other bands. The furniture that’s dragged out onto the dance floor encourages people to get in close and comfy while the performances range from solo strumming to full-fledged combos. Schweizer handles it all like a pro, offering up his engaging songs between sets and keeping the music flowing. It’s a great place to tie one on, especially if you’re playing, which is what Mohave will be doing that evening. We’ll be hitting the stage sometime around 10:45-ish, but knowing how sometimes the line-ups have changed at the last minute, it could be one of those “can you go on now?” situations. In any case, the fun starts at 8:30 p.m., come on out and hoist a Bud with us.

That’s barring any future spider attacks.

On June 9th, we were to play Will’s Place with The Bandees and I had a run-in with a spider. We’re not exactly sure what kind of spider it was–sort of a bite-and-run vibe with the thing. One day I’m not bitten, the next day-I’m bitten. Small bump, upper thigh, thought it was a pimple. 24 hours later it was looking pretty scary. My lovely Chinesa, she’s no Florence Nightengale, tried to pop it like a zit and was not only unsuccessful, but the pain wasn’t worth the disappointment of seeing it there still, throbbing painfully and making me think about Tom Green. He’s the MTV clown who’s making scads of money, movies and bedding Drew Barrymore. Testicular cancer reared its head at him and he ducked, getting the cover of Rolling Stone and a t.v. special about his nuts. I love this country.

The next day, it started going away. This was fine by me.

It became ridiculously large, red and painful the next day, almost tender to the touch and most certainly painful under pressure. So I put some Benedryl on it, wore loose clothing and went to our first rehearsal with Robert Caban. No-one noticed that I walked a little funny and maybe it didn’t show nearly as much as I thought it did. The bite wasn’t itchy or anything, it didn’t even hurt. But there was a terrible sense of “thereness” that was eerily unshakeable. Was I psyching myself out? Chinesa had put the idea of spider-bite into my head and I was immediately confronted with a story that my best friend Rick Warner had told me years ago. It was a story about a guy who got bitten by a spider and he developed a blister on the bite area. Well, the blister got bigger, and bigger and it became quite alarming to the guy, who went to a doctor for examination. The doctor and nurse took a look at the boil on the dude’s arm and decided that it should be lanced. What happened when the scalpel sliced through the skin was enough to make the doctor scream and the nurse faint away.

Bunches and bunches, I mean bunches of little baby spiders came pouring out of the wound, running into the guy’s hair, down his neck, his arms, his back and across the examination table. He went into shock and remembers nothing else. My friend told this to me while we were sitting at a Chili’s somewhere in Buena Park, California and I have never forgotten that story. It was very much in the back of my mind returning home from rehearsal.

I’m looking at this bite growing bigger and bigger and thinking there’s something spreading out inside of me. What if the little baby spiders in my leg were already poisonous and starting to bite at the insides of my flesh, sending waves of venom down my leg and that’s what I was feeling? Benedryl was once again applied and I settled in for the night.

It had flared pretty bad in the night and at one point, I had reached down and flicked the head off the sore, leaving my finger wet. Disgusted and unamused, I went to the bathroom and cleaned up. During the day, it was clearly getting worse. At P.F. Chang’s in Winter Park, my love grabbed my thigh in a mindless moment and sent me scurrying. That strange feeling of an alien presence in my bloodstream came back in waves.

That evening, in the shower, I received the most sublime scare ever. This scare beats the time that we were riding The Grizzly at Paramount’s Great America in Santa Clara, California and the lap bars came up after the first drop, leaving us with no restraints for the rest of its layout. And The Grizzly is really a pussy coaster, but anyone who has contacted a lap bar on a wooden coaster knows that one little bit of airtime is all it takes to turn you into a launched object. That was pretty scary.

But not as scary as discovering a lump in your groin.

The water kept falling, but I had frozen still, hand to pelvic point, other hand against the wall–stabilizing me. My legs felt weak. “Oh shit,” I said to no-one in particular. Chinesa was in the bathroom as well, apparently. She had heard the dread in my voice and her cautious “what?” was filled with trepidation.

I said nothing, but kept looking and feeling the egg-shaped lump that was stretching my skin. It was hard, like a hard-boiled egg after it’s been peeled. I looked at her with eyes wide. They felt wide, my whole face felt wide, and hot.

It hadn’t been there nearly an hour ago and suddenly, there was a funny feeling in my legs. My head began to swim. Was I freaking out or was the weed that I got earlier that day some incredible shit? The possibilities were endless, I could’ve been working myself into a psycho-sematic breakdown, or was just really high on some laced-ganja, or was about to be set upon by hundreds and thousands of little baby spiders, running, biting, destroying. With only two hours before the gig, it came down to a decision. To cancel or go on with it. I stood up, felt myself sway for a couple of minutes, then decided to pack everything up and head to Will’s. If I collapsed on stage, we’d have the cameras rolling.

But there was no need to have any cameras–the twitching began on the way over, a distinct increase in pressure and pain, disorientation. It was all starting to kick in, some 72 hours after the bite. That was insane! Delayed reaction poison? I spotted Mikey, my bass player, as we pulled up. Walking up and letting him know that I wasn’t feeling so hot, I proceeded to go inside to find McGyver, the drummer. A buzzing began in my legs and suddenly, I wasn’t walking so well anymore. My head felt funny, no weed in the world had ever taken me to this edge–there was no question. I needed to see a doctor.

But that would mean cancelling the gig! This is a much-hated thing to do, it’s only happened with me once–and that was due to a car blowing up on a slick, rainy night. I’ve played sick, bleeding and exhausted, but bulldozed my way through whatever gig was impending. The severity of the sensations won over pride and gung-ho, I apologized to the on-duty staff and was led away to Orlando Regional Medical Center. By the time we reached the emergency room at Lucerne, I needed help to walk, my legs felt like pasta. In the waiting room, after signing the papers that proclaimed I was destitute, my head sagged to Chinesa’s shoulder and happy thoughts buzzed around in my head. “Stay awake, don’t go to sleep,” she said. Or something like it–my friend Ken sat on the other side and eyed me with concern. It was as if all of my energy had suddenly faded, like I had been narcotized. Hours passed in states of wakefulness until a bed opened up. They were probably looking for a way to re-direct me to ORMC general, since Lucerne was a private facility, but soon gave up and opened their clinic to the pauper. Nurse Theresa was a smiling, happy face in the otherwise dreary hospital atmosphere. The doctor was a less enthusiastic soul, checking me over with heavy lidded eyes and running down the checklist of patient questions like “when was the last time you were hospitalized?” and “do you use any illegal substances?” As I left the nurse’s station, I called out “thanks again” to him, but he turned only as I was heading out the door, his dulsatory gaze bouncing indifferently off of my back.

The great white horse pills of augmentin that he prescribed at 875mg a tablet get blown down my throat twice a day and have done interesting things to my morning bathroom rituals, but the bite is going away and I haven’t felt strange and tingly since the weekend. The prescription lasts for ten days, which puts us exactly at the 19th, which is the aforementioned Living Room Jam show. My necrotic arachnidism all but over with now, maybe I’ll get a chance to play–musicus interruptus is the worst part about dealing with a gig cancellation. You’re all pumped up to lay it out on the line, and then the opportunity is taken from you.

It’ll make the next time all the more worthwhile.


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