This is my last blog entry for Powells, and I would never forgive myself if I managed to skate by without writing something about clowns. Clowns are okay. I don't have a problem with them, though plenty of people do. Clowns and I don't intersect all that much until I go on tour.
One of my guitar players is terrified of clowns. He's a grown man, my guitar player. Though I cannot believe it, he says his fear of clowns sprung from a singular experience. He was a small child at a birthday party, running around — perhaps a bit too hyperactively — and the hired clown grabbed him hard by the arm, gave him a shake, and said, "Don't be an idiot, kid." After that, he was (and still is) terrified of clowns, my guitarist. Oh, let's stop calling him "my guitarist" or "my guitar player." Let's just call him, jeez, I don't know, Peyton Pinkerton, for lack of a better name. Peyton is one of my dearest friends. I've played music with him forever, all over the world. He's like a brother to me. He's extremely generous and wouldn't hurt anything. He's a real sweetheart, gem of a man. So if he's so kind, why would my band mates and I try everything in our power to bring him in close proximity to clowns and clown paintings and stuffed clown dolls and clown-shaped cookies, etc.? It's fun to see a grown man squeal when he sees a clown. That's why.
We've done plenty of things like wave stuffed clown dolls in his face or stick a big clown sticker to the visor above the windshield so that he's frightened when he pulls it down. Stuff that's not really all that creative, but since Peyton's reflexive fear of clowns is so acute, we don't have to be all that creative to have a good time with him.
A few years ago, when my latest drummer Pat joined the band, the gags grew more sophisticated. The best one took place at the Orpheum Theater in Boston on during a New Years Eve Performance. Pat had been walking along Tremont Street prior to the show, and he saw a dude in a clown outfit. The guy was on his way to a paying gig. He looked a little bit like he'd dropped too much acid prior to a Cub Scout party in 1981 and never came back. So what did Pat do? He gave the clown his all-access pass laminate and 25 bucks. The clown agreed to come back later and stand in the front row, directly in front of Peyton and do nothing but stare.
I personally did not think the guy would show. I figured he'd taken Pat for 25 bucks. But it turns out he was an honorable clown, a clown of his word. There were probably two thousand people in the audience that night, but when they raised the curtain, the only two that mattered were Peyton and that clown. It was a very nice way to ring in the New Year. The clown made a little extra bread, had a front row seat for the show, Peyton got the crap scared out of him in public, and two thousand people had a laugh.
(Hey, Peyton, this blog's for you.)