A Great way to make a Lousy Living

Patrick is hard at work on a personal memoir about touring and recording called "A Great Way to Make a Lousy Living."

Here are some excerpts:


On playing with Vic Chesnutt:

Vic had been telling me for months to hold a little back, that there was a moment for all that crashing and bashing, but not now. It wasn’t that he didn’t want me to be his drummer; he could have asked nearly any drummer in Athens to play in Angle Lake, and I’m pretty sure that Matt and John would have consented to trying someone new. He wanted what I did, he just didn’t need so much of it all the time. The guys in Angle Lake valued the sturm and drang I was capable of creating, but the thing I needed to learn was to hold it back until the right moment. And so, as we were approaching the climactic moment of the show, I started to feel like maybe my moment was coming.

The last song was one that Matt had written and it had originally been a real thrashy number about drugs and desperation. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name. When Vic arrived, the arrangement had gotten slower and sparser until it became a thudding, dark meditation on addiction, that slowly built to a crashing climax. I hadn’t really connected with it before the show, but I probably also hadn’t given it the consideration it needed, since I had been chafing against my new role as timekeeper. As we approached the big moment, Vic actually slowed the tempo of the verse, then turned around to look at me in the heartbeat of silence before the downbeat, and with wild eyes said one word: “NOW!”

I unleashed everything I had in that moment. In that downstroke, I gave as completely of myself as I could with no regard for composure or dignity or technique. I ceased to think at all and lost myself  in a hail of flailing limbs and lumber and spit and sweat and snot. Matt, John and Vic threw themselves into it just as completely. As a corporeal, sensually obsessed boy from North Carolina, this is probably as close as I will ever get to the Buddhist notion of the annihilation of the self.

I never played with Vic again.


On dealing with the French Police:

...that that’s just the way that the National Police in France present themselves- no visible badges, no guns, unmarked Renault. The only indication that I had that I wasn’t just dealing with some thug was that he had a maglight, a buddy who had the same maglight, a floppy patch that said “Police Nationale” in a wallet next to a photo ID that I could barely see in the dark, and he had shoes on that no Frenchman would ever wear unless he had to. French guys just don’t do clunky-black by choice.

The whole thing took about ten minutes, and I just kept talking to them in my nervous French and handing them documents and bags that they hadn’t asked for in order to keep them busy. I find that if I do these things with as angelic a look on my face as I can muster, all the while asking completely innocuous questions, the police often just get tired of taking things from me and answering insipid questions. Imagine spending an entire evening shaking down a guy who keeps looking you directly in the eye and saying “So, do you need my work permit as well? I have six copies- and the original is down at the bottom of this bag. Here- you can look through the bag… while I try to find that permit…. is this copy clear enough? Oh, look, here’s another…”

Actually, considering the state of my French when I am nervous, what I probably said was:

“So, sir, do you need my tractor certificate? I have sex. Down at the bottom of this bag is a pack of small birds. Hear that? You can see all sorts of things down there in these bags. I will fly to St. Tropez in the meantime… How’s the weather? Oh, look, your mom called.”

They probably let us go because they didn’t have the facilities to deal with a crazy person. Especially a chatty one.