We woke up at 5:30 am on the day following the accident, to make our way back to Clarence, Iowa where my van had been taken to try to get our things. Clarence is a really small town about ten miles from the scene of the accident, but about 50 miles from where we were staying in Moline IL. Our goal was to get there by 7:30am when they said they would be getting in.
When we were entering the junk yard, I remember saying to myself that “junk yards are grave yards for cars” and that was certainly true after seeing my van again. It didn’t look anything like what we remembered. It seemed lifeless. All the inside paneling was completely torn off the back half of it from the impact of the collision. The way the inside looked was almost like a small bomb exploded. Glass everywhere. Personal effects from the front of the van were now in the back of the van with the gear and merch. Random gear from the back of the van was now in the front of the van. Vinyl records were warped and bent out of shape from being violently thrown around with so much force. The screen of the GPS, which was sitting on the dash right next to me, was shattered into 100 pieces. Everything was covered in dust, dirt, and glass. To the point where even when you saw something you needed and wanted to keep you had to make sure you dusted and shook all the glass off it first before you tried to pick it up.
Seeing the van again made me really realize how fortunate we were to still be alive. I don’t know if it had really hit me before, due to the shock of it all and everything happening so fast. But seeing that van, in that condition, and knowing we were inside of it when it was transformed into that condition really hit me hard. I think it hit all of us hard because we were all pretty silent.
The largest vehicle available to rent was a pickup truck, so we had to get everything we needed out of the van and into the pickup truck and back to our hotel rooms in Moline. Initially, we couldn’t get to the merch and gear because the rear van doors were so damaged that they couldn’t be opened, so a guy from the yard brought a crowbar and pried them open for us. We salvaged what we could and left behind anything that was too damaged or wasn’t absolutely necessary. Some of my vinyl was warped from the point of impact and had to be thrown away. Some of the boxes and plastic containers were so damaged that we couldn’t even use them again.
It took about an hour or so, but we eventually organized, cleaned up, and loaded everything we needed into the rental pickup truck.
By the time we got back to Moline, it was 10:30 am. Even though everybody was wiped out, I moved all the vinyl into my room (so that it wouldn’t get damaged by the heat) and Groove and Supastition put most of the gear and merch into their room.
Once I was settled I got online to start looking for alternate transpo. I immediately noticed that finding a 12-15 passenger van out here would be more difficult than expected. Even though we are in Moline, IL which is a decent sized city, there were very few online listings from owners and even dealers selling passenger vans.
I saw another van that seemed strong on craigslist, but it was in Somonauk, IL about 100 miles away. I decided to take a chance to go look at it. I left at 2pm, driving almost 100 miles there and a hundred miles back, only to find out the van wasn’t in very good condition and would have been a step down and a risk. During the entire time I was driving to look at the van I had no internet connection and no data on my phone (no t-mobile support out here), so I didn’t really know whether anybody had read my blog or contributed to the gofundme. I had set it up, but I wasn’t expecting much. Plus, due to the severity of the accident I was on the phone almost non-stop the entire day with friends and family and couldn’t check the internet. But by the time I started my drive back to our hotel in Moline from Somonauk, I started getting texts and calls telling me people were contributing to my gofundme heavily and it was almost funded. I didn’t expect it and felt overwhelmed; almost to the point where I had a hard time believing it was real. Not a far stretch when I thought about how unreal it seemed that we had survived a collision of that magnitude without a scratch. But it was real. My fans were kicking in heavily for me to get a new van. It was extremely humbling. For those that have contributed, I appreciate you. I promise to handle your contributions with the same care and transparency that is in my music.
It really hit me yesterday that a lot of people think artists are rich. And in a lot of ways, it’s not their fault they believe that. Every time you turn around another rapper or celebrity is bragging (usually lying) about how much money they have, throwing it in people’s faces. Almost every news outlet runs stories on celebrity’s net worths and people tune in to keep the score. It’s unfortunate because it gives the impression that all of us are well off just because we are well known and don’t need the support of our fans. Some fans see this stuff and think, “Why should I support them? They’re already rich.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that I am a working class musician, and there are many others just like me. Artists who go to work just like you do everyday. Artists who do what they love because they can make a decent living at it, but not because they will ever get rich from it. We are not much different than teachers who choose education despite the fact that they will most likely never get rich doing it. Personally, I know what it’s like to make “good” money doing something you hate–I used to be a computer programmer. Really good money, but the emotional toll was very high. So I decided to give art a chance. Now I have freedom and get to do what I love every day, but by no means am I rich. I probably make less than most of y’all reading this.
Anyways, by the time I got back to the hotel last night from viewing that potential replacement van it was 8pm. I had been driving around this state since 6 a.m., I was exhausted, and I still didn’t have any leads on a new van to buy out here. I saw one in Cedar Rapids, which is an hour and a half away, but the person selling it wouldn’t answer their phone or e-mails about it.
I rode around the city to a bunch of car lots, but all the vans for sale were cargo vans, not passenger vans. Being unable to find anything out here has been very frustrating, especially when can I get on craigslist and see that there are so many more to choose from in bigger cities 3-4 hours away like Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee for example. But the last thing I want to do is to rush in purchasing a van. I feel that I have more responsibility to the people now because they are supporting me so much. Whatever I buy will allow me to tour and bring my music to them with more consistency, so I have to make the right decision.
Before heading to bed I checked on rental vans again hoping something became available or that maybe somebody cancelled a reservation (when we got here they told us flat out that everything was sold out), but there were still no vans available to rent. Most people who rent vans the size we would need reserve them weeks in advance, whereas I had literally showed up last night looking for one. I knew the odds were against me, but didn’t know it would be this difficult. The way things are looking we will have to make it to a bigger city before trying to get another van. We cannot seem to rent or buy one here in Moline, but I’m not about to let that stop me. We’ve come too far to give up.
More updates in day two…
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