Tuesday’s my meltdown day. It’s only a partial meltdown—my body kind of downshifts a gear, goes into a hibernation state to recoup a bit. So I use the time to do something I’d always wanted to do but never did in all my previous years in Amsterdam—I go to the Rijksmuseum and get to see the great paintings by the Dutch Masters. I’m proud of myself for finally doing something cultural and worthwhile with my time. But by the evening, I’m ready to pop the clutch and kick it back into overdrive.
My worst meltdown happened at the 11th Cup in 1998. It was the night of the great nitrous party at the Quentin Hotel when I set my all-time substance-use record: I was high on pot, hash, beer, Jaegermeister, coke, Ecstasy, mushrooms, and nitrous all at once. I collapsed on my bed and I lay there in the dark, awake but unable to move for hours. I could hear the party raging downstairs in the lobby, and all I could think was, “Gotta get up...gotta go down...missing the party.” But each time I tried, I fell right back down. On my last try, I actually made it to the door but got so dizzy, I just swooned back over to the bed and gave up. Total Chernobyl.
I get back to the Arena to find that Potstar’s bed-in has grown in scope. Like a modern-day stoner Gandhi, Potstar’s now vowed not to get out of bed until there’s peace all across the world. Only when all violence, racism, and religious persecution end, when marijuana’s legalized and all wrongs are made right, will he emerge from his bed like some cosmic groundhog. In reality, Potstar’s bed-in only amounts to a few hours a day, but he insists it’ll be effective nevertheless.
We go to the Melkweg that night to see George Clinton, but the crowd’s too dense. The rest of the Vice Squad split, but Juliya and I hang around to see The Machine do its rendition of Dark Side of the Moon synched up with The Wizard of Oz. I enhance the experience by popping a hit of Ecstasy and eating a space muffin.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of great bands at the Cup, many of them from behind a camera (I worked on the video crew for several years)—Fishbone, Murphy’s Law, Jefferson Starship, 311, Patti Smith, Galactic, Steel Pulse, Gas Giant. I even got to see Apocalyptica one time. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re a string quartet that plays heavy-metal songs on cellos—sort of thrash chamber music. They performed at the Melkweg at the 11th Cup in 1998. They stood across the stage, dressed all in black with their hair flailing, and did killer covers of Metallica and Slayer songs on electrified, distorted cellos.
After the Machine, we end up back at Black and White. Moe, the German bartender, sees the iron cross on Potstar’s baseball cap and gets offended, taking him for a fascist. “That’s the symbol of the Luftwaffe,” he says. Potstar shrugs. “To me, it’s just the symbol of a skateboard company.”
By Wednesday, Merilee and Zena succumb to the bed-in movement. Potstar decides to start a foundation and take donations. “We’re trying to collect enough funds to build the world’s largest bed,” he says in his slow Texas drawl. “A 100-cubic-foot mattress, complete with toilet and kitchen—so that I can live entirely in bed and never leave for any reason.” Fed up with Potstar, I take a stand against the bed-in; I’m anti-bed, pro-partying. “No Sleep, No Peace!” and “Ban the Bed!” are my slogans.
Despite his proclamations, Potstar and I are expected to host the judges’ lounge at 4:20 p.m. I premiere High Volume: The Stoner Rock Collection, the new compilation album I’m putting together for High Times Records. There isn’t a big crowd but they seem to dig it; I definitely see a couple of guys rocking out in the back.
That evening, we stop by the blues club Bourbon Street to see the only area performance of the legendary High Hat Harry, undisputed king of the cymbal. He has his trademark single-stand Zildjian and stool, with a small spotlight. For 30 minutes, this Jimi Hendrix of the high hat lays into that cymbal, ripping the most insane fills and shimmering solos while keeping perfect time. He plays behind his back and with his feet, and for the grand finale he douses the cymbal with lighter fluid and pounds the flaming high hat into submission. It’s truly the greatest a cappella cymbal performance I’ve ever seen, and I’m not just saying that because of all that Salvia divinorum I’d smoked, either.
On Thursday night, the hotel serves a Thanksgiving dinner buffet. After stuffing our faces, Potstar and I head to the Melkweg. Tonight’s the big awards show; Potstar and I are giving out the first Cup, for Best Expo Booth. I have a slight stage-fright problem, which I usually deal with by wearing shades and getting shit-faced drunk. To make matters worse, I can’t find my shades and I’m not nearly buzzed enough by the time I get onstage. I’m a bit shaky at first, but we pull it off without a hitch. When the overall winner of the Cup is announced—the Green House’s Hawaiian Snow—I realize I accurately predicted the top two winners, including NYC Diesel, at the pretest.