Reader Discretion is Advised: My blog is completely unfiltered, profane and even disgusting. Do not read any farther if you are easily offended by harsh language. It is a brutally honest look into the mind of a traveling singer/songwriter. Thank You.
Caught in the Race
Reality sets in. Music doesn’t pay much. I’m going to get old. I will need money. I can’t get caught in the race though, I refuse. Fuck. Ok, think, think think. I open the crooked, mind controlling 1984 inspired social engineering website known as Google. “How many investment properties do I need to retire?”
A bunch of results come up…mostly irrelevant. A few of them are anti president for some reason. I’m already bored. The words on my screen go completely blurry. I stare out my kitchen window at the cumulus blowing by. Minutes pass. A dog from one side of my house is barking at a dog on the other side of my house. Another 225 cumulus monsters steam on by the window. They are all migrating East South East. I ponder what a dream retirement even looks like. Well, first I Google “How much does a cloud weigh.” 1.1 Million pounds the reply comes back. Holy shit how do they stay up there??? “Clouds are fucking amazing beasts “ I whisper slowly in a daze. Back to the retirement…
I imagine myself somewhere in Southern Florida spending most of my time aboard a 35 foot sailboat. These can be obtained on the cheap still. I’m wearing footwear about 3.8% of the week…no, the month better yet. I’ve befriended a couple of bottle nose dolphins from the harbor. I call them Tad and Millie. They always roll up around 2pm to squeak at me for my fish scraps as I’m sitting down with a fresh Cabo Margarita. I hand feed them a couple scraps and pat them on the head. They do some acrobatics for me and its back to the cockpit with a Bukowski novel I’ve read thirty times. Some Cuban music gently hums through the companionway.
My wife is is in downtown Dunedin on her teal vespa searching for a Portuguese wine we fell in love with years before. “Its the only wine that will pair with tonight’s mussels and linguine” she insisted. I fix another margarita. I’ll have to hide the evidence before she gets back. I always make a mess in the galley with all the salt and limes. She hates my day drinking.
A loud bang outside my window awakens me from my mid-day cumulus reverie. I’m back in the present situation. I start crunching numbers, tongue sticking out of the corner of my mouth. I lough aloud madly…I’ve figured it all out.
35 ft Hunter sailboat: $25,000
Live aboard slip: $1,000 month
Tequila and wine: $500 a month
Clothing: Don’t need it
Food: $0 (eat what you catch)
Cell phones, insurance and other boring shit: $1,500
Retirement is looking manageable. All and all it looks like I’ll need two rental properties to profit enough to be the marina rat I’ve always dreamed of being. I’m suddenly relieved. Everything is looking good.
The sky full of 1.1 million pound marshmellow clouds has turned into a dark gray haze. Wind and rain start to beat down on our Lithuanian house. I think about the sailboat. Tad and Millie. The Margaritas. My wife cooking in the galley. The smell of garlic and mussels wafting up through the companionway. The Cuban music. Shits gonna be alright.
4/8/19 - Fading Boyhood and the Reaching for of Money
I will soon turn 36. That puts me on the other side of 30. I have no high school or college education and absolutely no retirement to speak of. Lately one of my fingers has been barking at me. Is it arthritis, tendonitis? Is it going to take me out of the game?” I wondered. More than likely I was picking my nose too hard while driving down a barren highway in Illinois. But the worry still lingers.
I began obsessing over real estate. What better way to build a nest egg than to have a multifamily property sitting there being rented, collecting money while I’m writing, recording and touring. I stared at real estate ads until my eyes crossed. I’d lay in bed at night and see pages of homes for sale scrolling through my mind. I started carrying around a calculator. I was possessed. Me, of all people…obsessing over numbers, my least favorite thing in the world. The boy who would once take a backpack with a fork and plate into the forest and pick his own salad from the fruits of the Earth. The boy who carried his net worth in his tattered wallet up until age thirty five. My biggest worry over the previous fifteen years was how to avoid getting sucked into the cyclone of man’s redundant folly. The daily grind, the slave wage and the debt. The constant needing. Wanting and needing, man’s two ruthless masters. One of them will break our mind, the other will break our body.
I felt my innocence slipping as I faded deeper into the dollar signs. My brother (who has been obsessed with money since his youth) challenged me to a millionaire race. I accepted. Now my relationship with my brother, which was once the most innocent and playful thing in my life, had succumb to conversations about interest rates, net worths and profits. I used to laugh on the phone with my brother until I cried…now its all straight faced digit talk. Interest rates. Equity, whatever the fuck that is.
I always wondered what happened to the hippies. The Woodstock generation…like, shouldn’t there be a whole generation of old hippies just smoking weed and playing guitars? They vanished. They all grew up. They all started driving Volvos and building homes in developments. It always pissed me off to think about it. I always thought they were sellouts. They inherited some money from their dead parents and started investing. They threw their baja hoodies and linen pants in the trash. Blacklights, bongs, and Hendrix vinyls all to the curb. All of the sudden those unshaved, mangy freedom loving flower children who were listeners of great music were now sipping pumpkin lattes at corporate coffee shops in their two hundred and fifty dollar patagonia sweaters, listening to Ray LaMontagne or some soft and desperate trash. They didn’t smell like body odor, weed and sex any more. They smelled like fabric softener and Yankee candles. They didn’t play Fender Stratocasters stoned off their asses in the garage anymore, they were too busy going to town hall meetings and looking at 44 foot yachts on craigslist.
I used to get angry when I’d think about them. Now I get it, and its happening to me. It’s sad, but they grew up. And now I was growing up. Or trying to sort of. Like a ten year old smoking a cigarette. Like a bear cub trying to roar and only screeching. Like the juvenile albatross sprinting across the sand and making that first leap, only to tumble into cartwheels in the sand. The rebel inside of me was being beaten into submission by rational thought and fear of failure. I just hope I don’t get soft like those ex-hippies. God, some of them got fucking soft. Hearts of Gold, those boomers, I love them... and they will always have that peace loving hippy down inside somewhere...but they got real soft. White high tops and pot bellies, reality tv shows and light beer. Credit card debt and ugly divorces. I'd rather die of a drug overdose with my face in a pile of cocaine, empty whiskey bottles scattered about than to go out in such a safe inglorious whisper.
Why in the Christ are Patagonia clothes so expensive anyway? What fucking nerve John Patagonia has selling a sweatshirt for three hundred dollars.
The 2019 tour is on the horizon. We are excited for the motion and unpredictability. The miles and the scenery. The triumphs and the failures. To be elusive and unreachable. To have the option to disappear is the ultimate freedom. I pray that I never trade it for something safe and guaranteed.
New tour dates on calendar. Hope to play for you all soon. Especially you ex hippies!
6/15/18 - Lawnmower
That weekly call from down the stairs. Just as my first bite of trembling omelet was about to fall off the fork into my mouth. “Can you cut the grass, it’s getting long!” I dropped my fork in protest, the omelet bite fell to pieces.
My first reaction was obvious. “No! No it isn’t! Not today.”
I knew I would cut it today…but I had to resist. I can’t obey. I must remain boss-less…even through marriage. Every step to the grave must be in total defiance.
I love cutting the grass. It is thirty minutes that I know I will be left alone. The dogs barking in the neighborhood, the neighbors arguing in Lithuanian, my wife constantly making plans, cell phones, news, sirens…it all fades under the droning warmth of the grass machine. Nothing can stop my ridiculous wondering thoughts as they snake down the rivers and tributaries of my tireless imagination. The howler monkeys of my mind screaming from inside the folds of my pink spongey brain…all with their own mad demands.
I nicked a boulder with the blade and it screamed…It startled me so bad that I pissed a little. I chuckled for a bit, then got back to my bamboo raft floating down the Amazon.
“Maybe I’ll start a lawn mowing business” I thought to myself. I’d be invincible. Or…I could keep the lawnmower in the house, and just let it idle while I eat my breakfast. Both ideas seemed effective.
I rounded out the yard with that last satisfying strip. Dumped the bucket over the fence…watched the last blade of grass fall. It whirled down to the pile and sat elegantly on top, the final piece of grass just sticking up. It sort of looked like the pile was giving me the middle finger. “Fuck you too” I mumbled. Then my anger softened and I said “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that, see you next week?”
As I walked away I realized through the fence that our neighbor was digging in her garden about 10 feet away and had definitely heard that whole exchange between the grass and I. She doesn’t speak English but she knew I was talking to the pile of grass…it was obvious, I was crouching down next to it, making eye contact with it if that’s possible. I quickly held my hand to my head and pretended I was on the phone, making matters worse I’m sure. I went back in the house slightly embarrassed and watched baseball. Fuck that lady for eavesdropping anyways.
6/8/2018 - Exempt from the Rules
Damn the “B” String. On every acoustic it seems that the B string is the trouble maker for me. I sat in the corner of a bar down some dark Lithuanian St. People were all wasted and screaming in Russian. I prepped for another night of singing to the tourists. I prayed some Swedes would come in. They know the words to every Neil Young and CCR song…folks young and old. They tip like its their last day on Earth.
No such luck. I watched a guy in the corner fill up his party’s shot glasses under the table with a bottle he had snuck in. His face was as bright red as a baboon’s ass. He shouted some request at me in a language from I don’t know where and I stared at him, bewildered.
I refuse to play my original material on such nights…I’m setting myself up for some subconscious rejection by doing it. Giving them the opportunity to ignore my work, to not applaud something I made. It leaves a mark on the spirit. I dug into some of the more obscure covers from my youth.
I watched the staff run around like maniacs. Its not like America here…servers don’t get tipped, they work for a set wage. There’s no incentive to be cordial with the cattle that shuttle in the door. No need to smile. It cracks me up watching it go down. Just dead serious faces serving slightly confused tourists. Everyone fumbling through English to make an understanding.
I started day dreaming as I hollered Neil Young’s “Old Man.” into the bricks. The migration is approaching. The camper sits patiently in my mother’s driveway, ready to become a home again. Six months on the road, just me and Ieva. Exempt from the rules of life that were preached upon us through our fragile adolescence. “You can’t just wander around and play music, you need an education and a full time job…you need something to fall back on.” It still echoes to this day. I used to cringe, now I laugh.
The usual Rocky Mountain loop approaches. One hundred and forty-five performances. Sleeping unbathed underneath the sprawl of galactic infinity. The camp fire quietly fading outside the window. Bellies full of wild fish and beer. A symphony of tree frogs playing on through the pines. I was born for that life…nothing excites me more than the annual Rocky Mountain Pilgrimage. Just two coyotes slipping through the fences.
I finished “Old Man” with style. There was a silence. Then…APPLAUSE! Nope, it was just some lady’s flip flops smacking her heels as she stumbled to the bathroom.
5/24/18 - Ousting the Trouble Maker
I live on a hill in a capital city in Europe. Vilnius, Lithuania. An ancient gem. I sit at the island in the kitchen with my tea and look down on a swarm of people trying to get where they are going. Trying to make demented puzzle pieces fit into perfect ones…tattered rounded bits being stuffed into shear right angles.
Nine years ago I opted out of this race. All I had to do was learn how to play 45 songs at a professional level (guitar and vocals). Since then, I have not owned an alarm clock, I wake up when I’m done dreaming, I make my omelet and take a shit. Not one of these hurried shits…I finish the chapter I’m reading long after the last plop. Long after the trouble maker has been ousted.
I just couldn’t do it. Being a piece of the machine. Just a pipe or even a corner elbow of pipe amongst a sea of screaming metal and smoke. I couldn’t even finish school actually. All those fat sweaty liberal alcoholics relaying the government mandated information into our spongy pink brains. Snooze buttons and unhappy screaming and threatening parents yelling down hallways about how something violent will happen to me if I miss the bus. They really knew how to set a rebellious child on his path. How could you not rebel against that sham. Study lies, slave for the wealthy, wait for death…die in debt.
I was never one of these confrontational rebellious types. I’d always smile, apologize and cooperate until the authority figure turned its back. Then I’d peacefully do the opposite of what I was instructed. When I was a teenager, I moved in with my grandfather…it wasn’t working out at home so he took me in. The first day I moved in with him he laid out the rules…the last rule had grabbed my attention. “Do not bring a snake into my house. I fucking hate snakes.” He said with trembling hands. Almost tears in his eyes.
I was thinking to myself “why in the Christ would I bring a snake in the house. where would I even get it…like just off the ground in the back yard…like bring it in and just stick it in the cabinet? or something more innocent like…transporting it through, coming in the back door with it and exiting through the front. What is he even talking about…I’m not a snake fanatic.”
The next morning at 9am I was on my way to a reptile store in Providence to buy the biggest snake I could find. Not even knowing why…not even planning or thinking. It’s wasn’t malicious or hateful…I just have always done the opposite of instruction. I returned home with an adult 12+ foot Rock Python that could easily have eaten my grandfather’s dogs. I opened up my closet and introduced it to its new home.
The cars are piling up down there. They are almost hitting each other, tailgating as close as possible. A few horns beep, and I’m sure a few swears fly. I accidentally overfill my coffee, spilling it all over the counter…fixated on the maze.
I take my coffee to the back porch, surrounded by pines and olive bushes. I’ll go for a bike ride soon. After its safe…after they have all punched in.
2/21/17 - City Life
F***k prosperity. Man needs to regress a little bit. I’ll take a fishing rod and a can of beer over an office desk and a fat pay check any day. Money was never worth it. People stacked hundreds of feet high in neon light working double hours so they can pay double prices. Progress. Yeah right.
I sat on the toilet looking down at my feet. These feet aren’t built for city streets. I have high arches, I need the sand and the mud. Trails covered in roots and granite. City life is for the flat footed. I’m too skittish, too squeamish to walk the busy downtown streets…eighteen wheelers banging down broken side streets and the crashing of bulkheads against concrete by delivery guys…my heart just breaks. Wet cigarettes mashed into sand covered half melted snow piles. Ugly graffiti on already ugly buildings. Worried faces, angry faces. Cities are like open wounds. Infected open wounds.
I walked into a coffee shop and ordered an espresso. The barista looked like she was going to puke. She had a very defined neck…I could see every muscle in it. Maybe some repeating action that baristas did gave them muscular necks. Radio Head droned on in the background. I thought about Thom York while she made my coffee. He kinda sounds like he’s going to puke too. His neck is rubbery though…its like he doesn’t have bones between his shoulders and his skull. He should work as a barista half the year to strengthen that thing. I like that band.
I’m camped out in Vilnius, Lithuania while Ieva finishes getting her degree. I’m splitting my time between studying Lithuanian, recording a new project and booking our Summer US tour in the Rockies and West Coast. Another round through America. What will this one reveal? Every time I loop North America I have a life changing epiphany.
I’ve been playing every Friday and Saturday regular shows at Lečiu Bravoras and Bambalynė. Two Lithuanian style beer bars. Great people, great beer and bad tips. Lithuanians are some of the greatest audience members I’ve ever played for but this is certainly not a tipping culture. The insanely low cost of living here makes up for the lack of tips though. Though I’m not a city guy, Vilnius is easily one of my top five favorite cities in the world. The food, the beer, the old gritty streets that have endured several wars. It is seriously feels like another planet from my home town. People here are tough, shy and intelligent. They work hard and don’t complain. It’s a very unique combination.
There’s a balcony on the back porch of our fourth story apartment. I feed the birds sunflower seeds. The bird that comes most frequently is called the “Great Tit.” You could say I really enjoy watching the great tits while I eat my breakfast. How did these tits get sucked into being city birds. City Tits. They have wings…why don’t they leave? Aren’t they disgusted by humans? Maybe they write in their bird blog that they get to watch humans (great dicks) eat their breakfast too.
City life continues on. Dreaming of clear streams, mountainous backdrops and endless highways. Eagles, fields of tall grass, the milky way, crickets.
10/7/15 – Internet Hell (Pt 2)
I said bye to Lucas. We had a hell of a run in Montana. We played twenty shows, made dozens of camp fires, probably drank a thousand beers and saw two epic National Parks. He even helped me pick out Ieva's engagement ring. When you spend that much time on the road with someone they become family. Lucas is like a brother to me and he will always get the first call when I need a side man. I just hope someday I can pay him what he deserves.
I love Montana, and they are great folks but for some reason they did not feel the need to tip the band. It's never been so bad in all my touring. Maybe just a tough time of year I suppose. I'll always come back to Big Sky country. The beauty is too epic to pass up. If I cared about the money I'd get a fucking job.
I'm in Ogden, UT sitting in a McDonald's watching America eat itself to death while I use their free wifi. Hundreds and hundreds of emails have gone out to venues in Europe requesting dates for this big upcoming tour. A couple have replied. If I ever quit touring, quit music...it will be because of how much I hate booking. Staring at the computer until the blood vessels in my eyes are broken. Staring at the computer while the mornings go by...staring at the computer while my life passes me by. My heart filling with blackness and rage at the ghostly recipients who probably never see my messages in the first place. I've been day dreaming of starting a food truck lately. Ieva and I slinging vegan food out the window of a van somewhere in Europe...never having to look at a computer again. Stealing kisses between customers as the streets of Vilnius turn to gold in the late Autumn afternoon light.
Sigh. Back to hounding these fucking racketeers. Yes criminals...they are stealing my time. I should bill these motherfuckers. I get paid an average of “X” amount of dollars an hour to perform. I should get this much to book the shows as well. Netherlands alone currently owes me $3,491.91 dollars in unpaid booking time. “Dear Prime Minister...it seems your country's bill is past due with American songwriter Paul Cataldo. Please pay up or I will heave poop at your castle, or whatever the fuck you live in.”
It is currently Wednesday Oct 7th at 10:49PM. Since Monday Oct 5th at 3:30PM I have spoken to one human being in person. It was at Jiffy Lube. “Shit man, this trailer is pretty rad. You got everything you need in here. You are living right bro.”
“Why thank you sir. I do agree. It is an exemplary means of passage in this life whilst I incessantly quest for ultimate sentience and unification with the spirit of Mother Earth and lastly to know myself, to know that I have lived absolutely.” Hahah j/k. I said “Fuck Yea dude! Get one!” And that was the end of it. I bottomed out, causing a scene as I pulled out into the madness that was Riverdale Ave. I think a part of my camper fell off in the street.
For dinner I boiled two yams until they were tender. Strained them and put them on a plate. Smothered them with raw minced garlic, diced onion, cilantro, cumin, olive oil, salsa, hot sauce, avocado and lime. I ate quietly next to a couple tea lights in the camper listening to Bob Dylan's album “Desire.” An ambulance screamed past the camper. The wind blew. A dog barked at nothing. I could hear my chewed food shimmy down my esophagus. Solitude, such an alluring and comforting thought when feeling crowded. So definite and austere when it is found. Sometimes ghastly...sometimes just really fucking lonely. But loneliness is the bridal veil covering the face of limitless beauty and serenity. Moments before I die I will lift that veil and kiss eternity right on her crimson mouth.
I am looking forward to making my way back East. The direction of birth, of starting a new chapter. I have nine more shows and then this eight month epic pilgrimage is over. My neck hurts from not standing up straight in the camper. I have bags under my eyes from long days driving and long nights staring at my lap top. My shoes are worn straight through, one shoe has only half of a lace on it. The camper has twenty five thousand miles worth of insects plastered to it. I'm still smiling. Still loving every minute. I'm in too deep to turn around now. It would be like hiking aggressively into the forest, going to turn around and seeing a wall of pines, no trail at all. My whole life is invested in this. I'll pick my guitar and sing my way to the grave. Maybe rich, maybe broke, definitely smiling. Stay tuned.
Free, Wild & Restless
10/1/15 - "Neil Young"
Last night Lucas and I performed at the Murray Bar in Livingston, MT. The audience didn't give a fuck. Neither did I. Between songs Lucas and I played rounds of cricket on the dartboard conveniently located on the stage. We finished John Hartford's “Gentle on My Mind” with precision and grace, waited patiently for applause...nothing. What a bunch of fucking apes. I reached over and pulled three darts off the board, took a few steps back, and let them fly one by one. Oooooo a triple “20.” Lucas chalked it up while I aggressively poured a local IPA over my exhausted vocal chords. We were two sets deep and I was singing to the room like they were my children and I was scolding them. We tore into the bluegrass classic “How Mountain Girls Can Love.” Ieva and Gintare were sitting front and center and we very casually changed the words to “How Lithuanian Girls Can Love.” It was the last show of mine they would see in the states and we got a good cheer out of them for the gesture.
Ieva and I woke to a screeching phone alarm. Alarms in the morning are new to me. Mornings are new to me. I had to drive Ieva and her best friend (and now mine as well) Gintare to the airport in Missoula four hours to the West. They had to fly back to Lithuania because their visas were up in a couple days.
I watched them sling their 75 lb trail bags over their shoulders without a single grunt or complaint. I've never met such strong and independent girls. I've seen them fall asleep on gravel in the pouring rain in Alaska with a smile on their face. I've seen them wake up on two and a half hours of sleep to hitch hike back to the cafe they worked at several hours away. They gather firewood like its their job. They can clean a scorched pot or pan with one coffee mug of water and a thumb nail. Grizzly bear infested woods do not make them nervous...in fact I think it invigorates them. Four months away from home and they were still sad to be going back. It hurt to watch them go but it won't be long before I see them again. Today I canceled the last 21 shows of my eight month N. American tour and purchased a flight to Vilnius, Lithuania for October 28th. It is going to be a crash course in European survival for an American songwriter but I'm not too worried about it for some reason.
From the airport I immediately hunted down a ticket for the Neil Young show which happened to be that night in Missoula. Neil is probably the reason I haven't quit performing yet. The seat wound up being awful and I watched the whole show through binoculars. It didn't matter. Just being in the same building with Neil is enough. Besides, I like sitting with the poor people in the back row. Our backs pressed against the cold cinder block wall while we squint at the blur of light and movement. People passing around joints packed with dank weed while they sip away their last dollars on overpriced corporate swill beer. They clap louder than the front row people because their hands are calloused like leather gloves...and they need this. They FUCKING NEED THIS.
He opened solo with “After the Goldrush.” Then immediately a tech brought him out that old Martin and he started in on “Heart of Gold, Long May You Run and Old Man.” I knew what he was thinking. “Throw the hits at em' now so they stay off my back the rest of the night while I play the new stuff.” I was right. After the solo set his backing band “Promise of the Real” took the stage. Neil played for three hours without a break. Neil is 70. He tore the fucking place down. “Southern man better keep your head...” he sang on...shredding leads with pure fire and passion like a neglected teen locked away in his bedroom. I gazed out at the mesmerized audience and for a just a second I remembered why I bought a guitar in the first place...why I booked my first show...why I wrote my first song. “How can I get out of the miserable fucking bar scene” I wondered...how can I become something more than just a swarm of din buzzing through air of these turd parlors. I have to get creative. Shit isn't the way it used to be with music. Any asshole can buy a microphone now and press record. No one cares anymore. Turn on the radio...its a fucking disgrace. I feel embarrassed for our species when I hear this pop horse shit that is out now. I don't mean to sound like an old man...but fuck. Pop in the 50's and 60's had balls. What would Elvis say about Maroon 5. “Well ugghhh these guys are a bunch of fucking pussies.” Then he'd grab his balls and walk away. Adam Levine is a fucking disease. Anyways...
I'm Utah bound. Neil Young is King. Montana is Paradise.
Free, Wild & Restless
AND YES MUM...I am engaged. Yes it is real. No I'm not fucking around. Have you seen my bathing suite? I look like a child molester swimming at the local pool in my boxers.
9/17 – “The Ring”
I walked down S. Higgins St in Missoula with shaking legs. Partly because it was 40 degrees and misting and partly because I was picking up Ieva's engagement ring. I wasn't doubting what I was doing but I was for some reason coursing with adrenaline. It felt monumental...the cars passed by in slow motion and I could smell autumn blowing down the alleys. Orange and brown maple leaves chattering against old bricks and concrete.
I told Ieva that I loved her the first time we hung out. I asked her to marry me the second time we hung out. Never in my life has anything been so certain. One of my best friends insists that I am an idiot. “Paul, I waited five years before I proposed. You have to get to know her, you're just going to wind up getting a divorce” he demands. “If it took you five years to know you love your girl then you probably are too.” I replied. Lucas on the other hand has been egging me on the whole time and is throughly amused that Paul Cataldo is seeking permanence. “This is fun, can I film the proposal?”
I have loathed the institution of marriage my entire life...and then I met Ieva.
Will she say yes? I have no doubt.
We played at Blacksmith Brewing last night in Stevensville, MT. The building was absolutely gorgeous...another old wood extravagant Montana brewery. The crowd was adoring us and we were adoring the beer. These three blonde girls begged us to play an encore...”Please please please play Guitars and Cadillacs. You guys are making us so happy, we were so depressed before we came in. Pleeeeeeeaaaasssseee.” Can't say no to that. Lucas looked at me as if to say “Are you sure you wanna get married dude?” I rolled my eyes and wound up that hokey intro lick. They screamed.
Fast forward three days. I asked Ieva to marry me. She said YES!
Free, Wild, Engaged?
9/14/2015 – "INTERNET HELL"
Email after fucking email to these venues all over the world. I am so grateful for the opportunity to do what I do but this bullshit is lunacy. One out of every fifty emails I send out gets replied to. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. What poor fucking asshole would keep doing this anyway? If I practiced half as much as I emailed I'd be a virtuoso.
I stared at the screen today while the sun slowly climbed over the small businesses behind me and crossed over Main street in Phillipsburg, MT. As the morning turned to afternoon, shadows moved across the coffee shop and I sank into an internet hell. I felt bags forming under my eyes as I blasted the planet with my requests to perform in their venue. “Why aren't these motherfuckers emailing ME to perform at their place?” I wondered. I chugged down some coffee and the sweat ran through my torn “Live Slow, Die Whenever” t shirt as my legs tapped furiously to Beethoven's piano sonatas. “I'm living slow and dying NOW” I thought.
In between emails I wondered what Ieva was doing, where she was...I closed my eyes and saw her hair blowing in the salty Alaska air, the midnight sun reflecting in her green eyes. The feeling of almost fainting when her mouth touches mine. Her breath lightly touching my ear as she whispers“I love you” with her adorable Lithuanian accent. My world got thrown in the fucking blender when we met. The adrenaline, the confusion, the shaking hands, the uncertainty, the fire, the promises...the love. Suddenly I saw hoards of men reaching at her, pulling at her shirt and her hair. My muscles tensed and I felt sick for a second, then snapped out of it. “You devious fucking subconscious, you won't get me in the ring today.” I thought.
Back to internet Hell.
I watched a raven hop slowly down the sidewalk toward me while I waited for the struggling internet to load “Cafe La Palma's” Facebook page. All that blackness in one animal...they are like flying death, the gatekeepers. Little shadows of winged eternity. Silent reminders that we will be escorted out of this place at a time and date to be determined. “Show me the way” I thought to the raven not realizing that I had said it out loud. My own words startled me and I quickly looked back at my computer anxiously.
“Dear Cafe Whateverthefuck...I'm a songwriter from blah blah looking to play your shithole on this date assuming I haven't fucking hung myself waiting for your reply. You can get more info at www.paulcataldo.com. If this isn't sufficient credential to play your toilet please kindly stick your entire thumb in your asshole and choke yourself out with your free hand. Sincerely, Paul “Slowly Dying” Cataldo.”
Tomorrow I will save my internet tattered soul in the healing light of God. I will sit by the Blackfoot River and bathe my aura in the company of cutthroat trout while the gentle Montana wind cleanses all the broken glass, stale beer, fear, anxiety and dollar signs from my mind and body. Autumn is creeping in like the raven and I am finding death to be intriguing, slow, black and beautiful...always hopping down the sidewalk towards me.
Free, Wild & Restless
9/13/15 - "Dirty Traveling Whore"
Lucas and I played last night at a brewery in a very cute town in Montana South of Missoula. I pulled up late and started frantically throwing my gear around like a pyscho, rushing onto the stage. Lucas was already set up, tuned and ready to play. Lucas is always set up, tuned and ready to play. I am, on the other hand, a traveling disaster when it comes to logistics and punctuality. I have no concept of time and quite frankly I do not appreciate it always telling me my fucking business.
We were ON last night...just nailing it. The venue sounded great, the beer was going down easy and the licks were flowing. We'd execute a song with precision and the crowd wouldn't so much as look up from their conversation, never mind maybe....APPLAUD? After the fifth time it happened I turned my back on the audience and started texting Ieva. Then I began browsing the web and checking my mail.
Of course, on our break they shook our hands and told us we sounded great. Was it guilt? “Money's on the dresser sweet heart.” Such a weird thing that I do for a living. I'm a whore. A dirty traveling whore.
Today I rode my bike seven steep miles up to Granite Ghost Town outside of Phillipsburg. The views from the road were sensational. Montana's beauty is mellow and intoxicating. It's like being at grandma's house while's she cooking a feast. The smell of gravy and elderly calmness wafting down the hall past the outdated wallpaper and pictures of people you've never met. The days are slow, warm and euphoric. The nights are dark and serene. The milky way shines on forever, an awe inspiring enigmatic explosion of profundity and wonder...or something.
At the top of mountain was an old silver mine ghost town. As I walked through the ruins I felt the presence of the dead. I called out to them. “If I am in the company of the dead I welcome you to walk with me, to talk to me.” I heard in my inner ear their names. “Jennifer, Thomas and Wendell.” They were young, maybe children. Sticks were breaking all around me on the trail, my arm hair stood on end.
After exploring a bit and hiking with my new friends I blazed down the mountain with barely functioning breaks, missing some key scenery trying not to wipe out. I cooked a huge bowl of soba noodles when I got back to the camper. I covered them in toasted sesame oil, togarashi (a spicy japanese blend), raw garlic, tamari and diced heirloom tomato. Before I ate I wished with every ounce of energy I had left that all of humanity live with belly's full of good food and hearts full of peace and love. I so sincerely am wishing everyday for this. I wish this so fucking hard that my eyes well up with tears.
I have the next three days off and in that time I may make one of the biggest decisions of my life. Stay tuned. All three of you.
Free, Wild & Restless
9/11/15 - "Hunters"
We are all hunters. From what I've observed in my travels everyone hunts for a different reason. Some of us are pushing for an end goal and hunt results. Some of us are hunting to survive...the Walmart employee just barely hanging on, running a one man race just trying to make it to the finish line with enough strength to break the tape.
Some of us don't know what we are hunting for. Raving mad at all of humanity because they want something so bad but have no idea what it is. I find myself slipping in and out of this demographic. I am sometimes so passionately pursuing something that is as ungraspable and vague as deja vu. Like looking for a needle in a haystack but having no idea what a needle is.
Lucas is eating a bagel in front of me and singing the same John Hartford song he's been singing since the tour started in March. He hasn't showered in days but somehow still looks fresh. I had to take a whore bath outside of the venue last night. I felt like encino man standing there naked washing myself next to the swing set, siphoning ice cold water out of a five gallon jug from on top of my car roof with a piece of hose. It's like Cormac McCarthy's “The Road” except no one is reading this fucking book, not even Oprah. I have a feeling she'd be flicking her bean though if she could see this shit.
We had a really solid show last night considering it was his first show back. The folks really seemed to be taken by surprise by us. Wildwood Brewing in Stevensville, MT is built from ancient beams salvaged from an old Wisconsin barn and the vibe was quite unique. I looked around at the beautiful woodwork, the beams, all the shining vats of freshly brewed beer, all the effort, the sweat and tears. I became instantly tired. Why humanity's efforts fatigue me is something I do not understand. It seems the more work that was laid into a craft that I'm observing the harder the fatigue hits me. I had to sleep for a month after visiting the Dali Museum. I think that is why nature brings me peace. It doesn't try, it just shoots out of the ground. The tree isn't laboring for identity or perfection. It just is. In one exploding sigh, perfect madness.
My mind is a pack of coyotes howling into the empty sky as of late. The stars are puppeteering something magical, I have no doubt. I hope harmony finds you all. Have sex, drink good wine and scream obscenities at all things that confuse you.
Free, Wild & Restless
WHY DID TOWER 7 FALL???
9/9/2015 - Rebirth
I made it through Canada...barely. All my demons came out of the woods on this drive. Typically I find only peace and stillness in my lengthy drives but this was a different monster. “How much longer can I fucking do this?” I thought. “How will I have kids..will I play in bars my whole fucking life while people get plastered and scream at me to play Wagon Wheel?”
Moments of euphoria would overwhelm me. The Yukon and British Columbia are pristine and untouched chapels of the sacred Mother. I drove for miles at a time with goosebumps and tears of joy...how could this exist? How could my eyes ever even come close to relaying this message to my brain without causing it to explode. The Autumn was well in swing in the North country and the Aspen was shimmering gold in the brisk Tundra wind. I drove well into the night on one stretch toward Liard Hot Springs passing the shadows of bison and lodgepole pines lining the road. The Northern Lights took my breath away yet again that night...eerie and mysterious, dancing and hypnotic across the Canadian sky. Tears filled my eyes as I tried to make sense of what I was witnessing. It got down to 22 degrees that night and the morning soak in the Hot Springs was practically a rebirth. I got back on the Alcan and put in my time...all together driving 2,800 miles and dropping over $800 in gas to get from Anchorage, AK to Helena, MT.
I'd slide into trance as the rivers and mountains rolled by out of the corner of my eyes...I'd see a child reaching up to hold my hand, a shining aura of gold around her head. She resembled so closely a girl I'd fallen madly in love with in Alaska. I reached down to pick up the child but she suddenly exploded into ravens, flying away into the pines. I started to cry and then scream, then slap myself repeatedly across the face. I had no heat in my car and it was in the high 20's at night at best. The cold, the music, the love, the insecurity, the doubt, the joy, the disappointment, the miles, the longing, homesickness, email, wilderness, motion, stillness, time...it was all nipping at my tail. I was losing it.
I crossed the border into Montana and hollered half out of delirium and half out of joy. I blasted “Born in the USA” swerving wildly all over the road texting anyone I could think of (I finally had reception). I was at peace again for a moment. “Is this a trap?” I thought to myself.
I'm sipping wine on a patio now under a burning crimson sunset somewhere in Missoula. Lucas is back and ready to play. So am I. Playing keeps me sane, it is my anchor in reality...I will storm the stage foaming at the mouth tomorrow. I will perform to these people like they are my lovers and I am about to lose them. My songs are our children, the venue is our home.
Forever Free, Wild & Restless.
9/2/2015 - "Goodnight Yukon"
“We're all a bunch of fucking slaves” I thought to myself as I rode my thrift store mountain bike through the muddy streets of Dawson City, Yukon. A waitress walked down the street texting on her phone with a cigarette in her mouth. I wondered what horrendous shame she was coping with from the night before. One block down a grown man slaved away on his hands and knees rebuilding a walkway.
“What the fuck keeps people going?” I thought to myself...Its like the fighter that just keeps getting up, too dumb to stay down. We're all dogs at the pound waiting for our lethal dose I suppose. I rode my bike to the river and found peace, as expected, in Nature. I look into the face of man and see hopelessness and desperation. I look into the heart of Nature and find God/Goddess staring back at me...and not typical guilty religeous horseshit. Just unconditional peace, love and understanding. I'm trying so hard to learn to see God in the face of humans...and it does happen, just not today I guess.
I played last night at the Westminster Hotel for the second night in a row. If everyone else tipped like Canadians did I'd probably own a cabin somewhere in Maine and tour half as much. The Westminster was built sometime in the 1800's during the big Yukon Gold Rush. While people sat in front of me half listening to my original material I pondered the debauchery that took place back in the day right where I was sitting. The whores, the booze, the gambling, the fights, the loneliness, the hootin' and hollerin, the mud...all of it. I wish I could have seen it in the flesh. At least the whores and the booze. Let the men fight each other like dumb fucking apes, while I take the women.
I drove eight hours this morning through the Yukon, south from Dawson down to Whitehorse. The foliage was peaking on the aspens and it is only Sept 2. The mountains were snowcapped all the way and I hit only one town during the 400 mile drive. I stopped to listen to swans trumpet at each other, taking pictures of the indescribable beauty every hour or so. At exactly 7:30 a darling black bear strolled out of the aspen saplings and stared at me as I drove by slowly. I have an unusual connection to bears and I felt this animal's presence in my chest. The hair rose on my arms and neck and I felt an irresistible urge to touch the bear, to sit with her. Bears haunt my dreams and subconscious, I'd give anything to better understand this animal that is burned into my psyche and my soul.
When I finally arrived in Whitehorse I remembered that Ieva's ex boyfriend had washed out here after bailing on Alaska a few weeks ago. He knew I stole her from him and I'm sure he'd have a pretty violent go at me if we ran into each other so I pulled into the Walmart parking lot and laid low. I do not have health insurance, unlike the Europeans nor do I have enough “fuck” to give that would muster anything near what would manifest as violence, even to defend myself. I would just laugh as he broke his hands on my already fucked up teeth...bottle of shitty wine in hand and mozart blasting from my camper. My tea light is burning out and I'm falling asleep. Everyone's tea light is burning out.
Free, Wild & Restless