raul morales - drums
watt - thud staff, spiel
paul roessler - organ, singing
(left to right)
dutch dude calros - the man outside the van
sunday, april 3, 2005 - somewhere over the atlantic ocean
well, now it's april 4th I think...we've been driving, sitting, flying, driving, sitting, sitting for 24 hours or something I don't know, glamorous road life.
Hi to Helen, I haven't spun out into misery yet and maybe I won't. I just keep remembering before I left how we clung to each other for a couple of days, and it didn't feel one sided...you said "what choice do I have"? in response to me asking if you would be OK and you are so smart! So I'll try to be OK. You are the light of my world now for almost 27 years...I guess I can carry that light with me for a few weeks...what choice do I have?
I got Dylan's "Chronicles" at the airport, it was that or Phil Jackson...I was afraid I wouldn't get into this Ben Franklin bio I brought...now I'm sure it would have been fine. I almost finished Chronicles now I have to drag it around for six weeks. Alot of it was really good and interesting, some puzzling, sometimes it seemed honest, sometimes just more of his myth-making. Sort of interesting talking about working with Daniel Lanois. Dylan seemed so effortlessly brilliant as a kid and later he's self critical and doubts himself, it's interesting, every later artistic success is so hard won.
I think maybe I konked an hour though I was trying not to do any at all so I could be so wore out on the plane ride that I'd be out for most it and then pop 'pert-near when we'd land cuz that's supposed to be 9:45 am and then I'd be on dutch time w/them. wow, what a first sentence for this tour's spiel. well, that's the way I began it then, huh? what was trippy was that one hour of konk I got was a swirly kind cuz I was actually sitting at the little alpurse (my 'puter for the tour - an apple powerbook g4 12" aluminum model - I sold my tipurse to raul, his first 'puter), chimping in some advice to ben lee in an email. friday I played w/perk and peter in santa monica w/our hellride band (I don't like playing so near to shoving off for tour but it was d. boon's birthday and I wanted to go crazy w/the bass for him) and ben lee's bud jen came and told me he's getting stress by the opening act foisting some lame vibes, taking advantage of some good nature and wanted my take to pass on him. it's happened to me before and I found you have to face-to-face on the perpetrator and read him the riot act - not in a mean way but to accurately let it be known what's on your mind so hopefully there's little doubt in what you're trying to communicate. everyone grows up different and some get a little more comfortable w/making like a social organism and working a situation. it's ok if benign but an awareness w/how it might not be such has to be maintained to keep things kosh. it's only about being considerate, not a submitting to a powermove - that's what I'm trying to say. I think I was chimping to ben lee something along these line but using bob dylan lyrics ("all your seasick sailors are rowing home") and whatever... my mind was kind of blurred-up w/fatigue and not that together. it was all for naught though cuz when I shook myself out of the hour of konk or so, I found I must've hit some key that poofed it all. I tried to recall some of what I had chimped but don't know if most of meaning was lost - probably so but damn if my vision wasn't all blurry and time to bail for paul coming up on me. I flowed what I could muster so what was like five paragraphs became one made tiny. I think I related something about tour w/dezo's dc-3 and them getting the nickname from us fIREHOSE people "dc-three-hours" cuz their sets were running on more and more. dezo's a brother though and a little talk w/him cleared all that up. see, sometimes the sitch isn't even fathomed so it's not all about ill-intent. that's why I think things gotta be faced straight up so shit don't fester. me too, even though some stuff I had written once in an email got sort of misconstrued (I was actually freaking out over my own insecurities during the making of the last record), I was still put on notice not to take advantage of the good nature extended to me and not think I wouldn't be called on it. this kind of shit happens, we're humans.
the hellride gig went late and the we had our last prac before tour at seven bells (that's am), a time we've been doing the last five weeks me and raul have been showing paul the piece. paul came to the rescue cuz original secondmen organman pete had to do what original secondmen stickman jer did the tour before - bail on it cuz of work on the docks (both are longshoremen). paul works at a studio in malibu and hence the early moring prac. I don't mind cuz I'm up at four am anyway and I just get my pedaling or paddling in before that (tuesday, thursday and saturday I kayak in the harbor here and the other four days a week I pedal my bike around the cliffs and waterfront in pedro). I konk early, staying up most only for gigs I gotta do. I have to say, even though it's my fiftyfifth tour, the two weeks before I shove off are always anxiety ones driving me up the fucking walls - I just never seem to get used to it. aahh! once I get underway it's much better but beforehand is just nervewracking for me. last night I went to a surprise thing for pixies singerman charlie's fortieth birthday in silver lake. it was good to see him again and his new son jack, both adorable. he's a good cat. I'm not too good w/social things and talked mainly w/kevin haskins, a great stickman (bauhaus) and his family. he helpe me relax some, he always does. the gig the night before didn't relax me but that was ok cuz even though it was crazy intense, I got to blow off some steam that was filling me up to the brim and stretching my seals. it was weird to be up so long over the two days before bailing, usually scares me to cuz of inviting sickness but I wanted to fight hard against the jet lag. funny too, cuz of switching to daylight's savings time, we lost an hour there also. so five am comes up and I wheel the new boat over not too far away to paul's in walteria. his wife helen's letting me park the boat in the driveway so it'll be off the street for the six weeks we're on tour. grazie mille to helen. raul's roomie kevin is bringing him in the old boat (I sold it to raul but don't think he's learn to drive it yet!) and then we're all going to the airport in her - back once again in the boat I sailed for fourteen years.
good thing we're three hours early to the airport cuz there's a line out that wazoo to get through security. I gotta pay $110 extra for the oversize charge on pete's organ (the xk-3 he got last tour from the hammond factory - so much respect for him to loan it to paul) but it's worth it to have this baby aboard. I get the special search treatment (lucky me) but the folks doing it are nice. I'm bringing my pedal board (damn, glad is the last tour I'm using that! I'm a simple man w/my bass) in my clothes bag but it's paul's check-in bag that gets the big run-through. oh well, we make it through ok and to the gate where we learn all the 'puters have just gone out but coming early got us our seats so we don't have to fret much though it's kind of a cattle call for people to sit wherever... at least we're aboard and headed to phily. I konk the entire flight, popping just before landing - seeing the mothballed boats at the navy yard just south of town. it's a three hour layover before the flight to amsterdam but damn (!) if it don't seem like miles to hoof the way to the next gate. it's ok though, good to stretch before the next cram-in for my fucked-up knees. I think I like this better than the non-stop for that reason, if the layover's long enough. seems every time there's a short one, my bass and checked-in shit never makes it to the next plane - aaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhh. I looked in a book store and was going to get a medieval mystery written by some lady (sorry I forgot her name) called "prince of darnkness" but then figured since I gotta do all the driving and already have lao tzu's "tao te ching" (the d.c. lau translation - just opening it now reveals "thus a thing is sometimes added to by being diminished and diminished by being added to"). there's one of those internet pay-machines and I get one email out to relieve my nerves some... I get scared every time there's an impending hellride and getting to send what's kind of a "last word ever" calms me some - I know that might sound insane though. everything on time and ok for this flight though raul and paul are sitting on the other side of the plane from me (side to side, not end to end) but that's ok cuz we'll be close enough on each other for the next six weeks.
monday, april 4, 2005 - rotterdam, netherlands
Touched ground at around 9:00 am monday mourning, left the pad in pedro at five a.m. the day before, the longest flight i've been on. Won't go into the the details with that, usual flight disasters, computers out, over sold,fun stuff like that. One funny thing that did happen was the attitude the guy next to me had. The flight attendant was givin' him a hard time about the seat he decided to take, he just looked at her, and said "like we say in jersey", and gave her the stroke sign with his hand, flippin' hilarious, i felt sorry for the lady, but i guess you can't fuck with dudes' from jersey. I still can't believe i'm finally getting to tour europe, i've done the states so many times it's neat to take it somewhere new, not somewhere new, but new to me. Like mike told me, nothing's new, the only thing new is you learning about it. No, i didn't just learn about europe, you get what i'm saying. Got picked up at the port by carlos, he booked most the euro gigs, and is a stellar guy. He had the euro boat waitin', and soon we were on our way to get the gear, then to rotterdam. Rotterdam is a port town like pedro, folks on bikes everywhere, no traffic lights, cars and trains going every direction, intense scene. Only a couple hours before the first gig, so i gotta go check the city. I pass up going to the maritime museum, which was not to smart in retrospect, and go in search for a place to exchange my bones. After walking around for an hour i come across rotterdam city information, and get directed to the place with the best exchange rate... the central train station. It's about a ten block walk, not far at all, but man do i wish i had my bicycle. It's back in pedro, and actually all smashed up from an accident i got into a couple of days before tour, i'm very lucky, by all means i should be pickin' my teeth outta my gums, very lucky. What happened was i was flying down a hill and when i hit the brakes they calapsed, and i collided with a escalade going about forty. It was so fucked, thing looked like it got hit by another car. So fuckin' lucky i still can't believe it, i was scared shitless, even after it happened i was still waitin' for the broken bones, what a nightmare. Two days before tour, that's the thought that popped in my head as i went head on into this deal. As my front wheel hit it, i sorta jumped off my bike and turned my back toward the car, i had just picked up a new cymbal, and had it strapped to my back in my bike bag,and that took some of the blow, all i got were a few bruises and a sprained toe... the tour gods were watchin' me a few days early. I told tony that i had just somehow dodged death, he came back with no you didn't, death just played an april fools joke on you, he was defiently right about that.
Get back with a few minutes to spare, spend it readin' the newest meltzer... autumn rhythm. Time to start headin' to the gig, it's only a few blocks away from where we are staying. This is like the trial gig, pert close to where we rented the gear, so if something rye, we can get it straight on the way to koln. Sure enough, the horn in the leslie won't spin slow. Nick, our sound guy for the night is a hugh help, and gets someone sent over to check it out, and in a bout a half hour it's as good as new... or so we thought. No opening bands tonight, too bad, i was looking forward to playing with some rotterdam speed core band, oh well, maybe next time. As usual my nerves are goin' for it, and i'm chewing what's left of my nails off. I don't know, sometimes i wish i could shake the nervousness, but then i wonder would i enjoy it as much, Yep, i'm into the nervous tension, what a weirdo thing. Once were on the stage i get a bit more comfortable. This is what i'm here for, to play this gig, so i gotta give all my attention to the two other guys on stage. Doing this live is, if i don't let the crowd get to me, seems even easier than at the practice pad back in pedro. Not sure why, maybe cuz we were pracking at seven in the mourning, which leaves me with the rest of the day to think about, so i just can't give it all my attention, but i'm here in rotterdam for this specific reason and everything else is secondary. Thought we had a pretty good first gig. at one point though i did drop a stick, quick recovery , but i could hear someone sigh, but not in a bad way, it was almost like they were sighing for me. To be honest, it kinda was a clambake, but we weren't ashamed of anything up there, and just held it together, alot better than i had anticipated, but that's just the usual me. Paul did great for his first gig with us. Remember the guy fixing the leslie an hour earlier, well it went to the crapper during the second song, Paul had to troop through it, and he did just that. I think in a few days we'll become pretty streamline. I miss pete, and i'm gonna miss being on the road and playing music with him, but i couldn't think of anybody better than the infamous paul roesseler to fill his boots, he's a great guy, and has already helped me out alot in the past month that we've been doing this thing together.
After the gig paul and i were talking, going over the show, he said he went from feeling good to total despair... it really wasn't that bad dude, he shouldn't let it get to him, he's almost as bad as me. It just kinda blows when you give something your all and your still not to proud of the outcome. I was just happy we had our first gig done, and i had my first euro show under my belt. Met lots of cool folks, no, i didn't expect to meet a bunch of jerks, i really didn't know what to expect though. Lot's of people comin' up to talk after the gig, it was neat. most very fluent in english too, which is good, cuz i'm the dumb ass who can only speak one language. Even had a drummer come up who wanted to check out the cymbals, told me everyone has an individual sound and mine was perfect. Said he wanted to get the same ones, but it really wouldn't matter cuz it would never sound the same, wow it saved my life and still sounds perfect. He had a rad graffiti writer friend named bruno who was really into dolly parton... pretty weird, but whatever. Somehow a friend of mine monica came up in our conversation, turns out she was in town the week before doing merch for a band, and he had talked to her for awhile as well, wow, we had the jag offs together a few years back i tell him. He broke into his rendition of it's a small world world after all... great guys.
well, now it's april 4th I think...we've been driving, sitting, flying, driving, sitting, sitting for 24 hours or something I don't know, glamorous road life.
After we got into Holland we drove around and got the equipment, everything worked and was smooth. Driving around Holland could be driving around the midwest, except in the cities there's always some futuristic architecture, wild bridges, an occasional old windmill to keep up the image, smart cars.
What's really cool is listening to Dutch. I went to school in Dutch for three years, starting when I was eleven, so I was pretty fluent but it's been over 30 years, and it's faded and rusty. Still it warms my heart to hear it, all the cute little expressions and words: belangerijk, weet je well, tot ziens, onmogelijk...I can barely follow a conversation or make myself understood, but it's fun to try.
Hi Mom and Bill in North Carolina, Dad in Vegas, Jimmy, Quit, Marcia and Bernie in Knoxville.
Especially ALEX AND ADAM in Torrance...Much love to you...
KIRA and TIM in LA!!!
Jeff and Christine, Jim and Melinda, Josie, Will, Jacqui...all my friends
First Day and I feel lost and out of touch...I have great people in my life...so many...
ALOT of talks with Mike...he just brought up 1985 when right before we went on for a Crimony show, I suddenly asked him what he was going to wear...it sounds so ludicrous, and I was sort of embarrassed about it , but I had come out of a very flamboyant sort of Punkrock (Nina Hagen, Screamers, Nervous Gender, 45 Grave... all bands that knew that clothes and image were a statement, even if the statement was anti...) And Watt actually acknowledged that...so I got to feel like not the but of a 20 year ongoing joke, off the hook, vindicated if only till the next humilliation...still, Watt's image statement has always been clear, even if unconscious early on, though he probably defined it around the same time he abolished capital letters and songs over a minute from his band...
Too tired to site see rite now...in hotel...shower...read...nap thereby having a shot at playing great which would make it all worthwhile ...
Later: that nap was just a full on hour and a half anxiety attack. It's so interesting that the depression slides toward anxiety now...is that progress? Several hours of each day are passed in a state of some madness or another. Madness is super unpleasant and uncomfortable. You want to die to get away from it. It apparently doesn't really matter where you are or what's going on in your life. Just faulty wiring...
After the show. "are you hungry?" no "did you eat?" no "Are you tired?" no "did you sleep" no. "Can I buy you a drink?" a coffee "How was the gig?"
Star of the show: The Audience. Silent and attentive in the quiet parts, generous and enthusiastic ...Wow what a pleasure. No heckling. One loud belch...
We played about how I expected: solid, hit most of the cues, a few bad clams and meltdowns...
Fuckup of the show: the Leslie, a made-for-Hammond-B3 organ amplifier which actually rotates giving a keyboard a swirling cool sound (Think Steppenwolf or Purp, not Doors). Slow spin when it feels like it, intermittent problems the worst kind and generally poor sound, partly my fault: If I push it loud it sounds like crap, need to throw it in the monitors and play it softer. Stop by the rental place Protone before Germany tomorrow, and try things different at soundcheck.
Other heros of the show: Mike was great, supportive very focused...Raul too, high energy pretty damn accurate even, not carried away at all. We've been practicing at a low volume every day at 7 a.m. and I was hoping some of the accuracy and intensity of that approach would translate tonite and it did. Coming from punk rock alot of times onstage, I felt like my job was to get a mosh pit going, and I'm so over it. I'd love to play different than I ever did...accuracy and space, dynamics, choice rather than playing like a puppet to the crowds energy level...stoking them up and being stoked.
Another hero: Carlos, our contact in Europe who set up the tour. What a great guy...he read the Dylan book too and we had a long talk about it. We actually play a Dylan song in the set:"It's allright ma, I'm only bleeding" and though watt repeatedly told me I would be heckled while singing it (lots of stops and silences) it hasn't happened yet. Feel lucky.
I didn't really describe the club, or the people, or anything. I like the dutch alot. The club was a liquor dispensing establishment, it was OK we were in the small room, big room vacant (Monday Night) Enough people to really feel like we were playing to someone, and it was worth it, the room seemed sort of full. There's my powers of discription...I never really notice anything except the shadows crossing the hallways of my mind...
Anyway Raul and I are talking about the set, it's 1.am.(nice early night) and I'm not satisfied. Even though people were appreciative and I don't feel like I fouled the piece, I feel like I want it better.
I handed out stickers Jeff, you'll be happy to know and I told people they could contact me through the site. THE SITE:
WWW.burntchurchtheopera.com What's he talking about? Go look.
Time to sleep. My last thoughts are of Hellin. Have you got us a pet yet? We've had such FUCKED LUCK with pets lately, I'm almost scared to love one so much. Monkeyboy died and so did the Baby Wardenburg weasel. The things you love the most that give you the MOST JOY turn around and leave you vulnerable to SUCH AGONY. But we still have each other...
Through the torn paper screen
The Milky Way
coming out of the clouds, I see the green green land of holland - great, we brought some sun from cali! it gets raining in these parts and it can be way into summer and still be wet gray. my plan worked pretty ok as far as getting tired out enough to konk cuz I was out 'pert-near the whole way, only talking a little to the cat next to me when we took off from phily. I had a window seat and thought I was going to hate it cuz usually I ask for an aisle seat due to my fucked-up knees and also it's a real pain to go piss cuz you gotta ask people to move but there's a good thing about being by the window in the fact that you can use a pillow up against the bulkhead to konk against - you can't do that in an aisle seat. this guy was from new jersey and played drums when he was younger but had no idea how a guy like me exists doing what I do. I guess so much of what I do seems pretty much under the radar to the squarejohn world. he was a nice cat though and very curious. I spieled what I could 'til tuckered which wasn't all that long.
we land at schipol, the big amsterdam airport and man, what a smooth touchdown. dutch dude carlos has been booking my gigs in europe for nineteen years. we have an easy time getting through passport control and all our luggage has come into our hands w/out a problem and there's carlos waiting for us w/the van we're renting for the tour. it's a diks autoverhuur from amsterdam, a ford transit. I remember minutemen and black flag using the transit in our first euro tour in 1983 but these are a lot different. the part where we put the equipment is separate from where we sit so that makes things safer. it actually sits six (three up front and three in the back) so we got twice the room, nice. I go to take a picture of it w/my minolta dimage camera and fucking sure enough, it fails. damn, on tour in europe and the camera's kaput - aaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgggghhhhh! fuck, this makes me mad. oh well, only a machine - they're prone to such things. carlos drives us to utrecht where I've always rented equipment from a company called protone. good to see bossman eric again. I'm gonna use an ashedown evo II 500 bass amp w/an eden 410xlt and an swr 410 cabinets. raul's got a yamaha drum kit and paul's got a 760 leslie amp to go w/the organ of pete's he let him use. everything's in big road cases so it's good we got this bigger vehicle or no way would've everything fit. there's also two boxes of shirts - first time ever I've slung those over here. we make the fifty kliks (short for kilometers, 1.6 klik = one mile) back to rotterdam and go to the hotel near the venue. gigs in europe most of the time have pads to stay built into what you're doing them for - much different than the u.s. after getting the keys there, we go to the venue, a pad in what we're told is the "multi-culutural area" called nighttown. the bossman jurrian rode w/us from the 'tel and we do our first loadout. easy to see it wasn't a very good pack cuz shit shifted all over the place but we'll get that together. we set up to do a soundcheck w/soundman nick. my bass amp sounds pretty ok - the ashedown has this "valve" setting that lets me drive the frontend harder so grinds up sort of like an ampeg svt. carlos comes by w/his little girl - she's eight today (his ma his eighty tomorrow). she hasn't learned english yet but soon she will cuz all dutch kids do. we do the soundcheck and paul discovers the leslie speaker isn't spinning when set to low speed. nick calls a cat to come look at it and he takes things apart. at first, paul thought it was the preamp pedal but the man who opens the box discovers obviously it has to be in the leslie box, the motor mechanism that spins the top horn speakers. there's a lot of work done on it - seems this is the same problem we ran into when in chicago where paul took over the last two weeks of the "the cord that spun it's own top" tour a two years ago. ain't that a trip? weird luck for paul but I feel for him. the guy tried his best, even sticking a nail in to increase tension on the cord but he says at best it'll only for tonight so tomorrow we gotta hit up protone again. oh well, that's what a shake-down gig is for.
these euro gigs can have so much chow backstage, you'd end up bellin' like a melon if you chowed dinner on top of of all this so we just keep our buy-out monies. it's good shit too, the bread over here is night and day compared to what's in the u.s. I chimp diary while we wait to go on at nine - no opening band either, it's trippy like over lots of times - you just come on and play your brains out. that time comes and it's the first gig of this tour. whoa, the sound is pretty assaulting - this stage set up is almost like we're in the pit of a small aphitheatre and the drums are kind of boomy. no matter, the tour is on! I see carlos in the crowd cuz he's so tall. we blow some clams but as a whole do ok, I think. paul's the most nervous I think cuz he blows the most but I'm really proud of him for putting such dedication into prac and now it's paying off - what's a few clams? I got a little sharp in the first drama part of "piss bags and tubing" anyway. raul does good, have done the piece sixtynine times makes a big difference w/him and the first gig of last tour. I love my guys and am proud of them. I can't believe I lost my germs pin but I still got my john coltrane one (and three others of him as backups!) and look down on him for inspiration. I'm having the soundpeople at each gig put on the only live performance released of the entire "a love supreme" piece by him before and after we go on stage. much respect to john coltrane. the dutch cats are really nice while I'm slinging shirts and handing out stickers (I had carlos make me some "the man in the van w/a bass in his hand" ones), many kind words - danke well (thank you much in dutch). a couple of canadian cats here too - from calgary. I talk to them about finally playing their parts after so many years of tour - about time, watt! always so much more to learn than I'll ever fathom but I gotta keep trying.
man, like the load-ins, the load-outs are made that much harder cuz of the cases, whoa. at least it's stopped raining. a lady from the basstech.uk.net site named pris does an interview w/me about... well, bass. she's more from the fusion school and is very curious about my punk history and how the bass figures in that. cuz of that perspective, I get asked stuff I usually don't and it's an interesting spiel. she likes the "philosophy" parts or whatever about it - of course their important to me in my mind but it's generous of her to not to take me as a total lunatic. it really is interesting how folks have given respect to a scene pretty much totally ridiculed in the older days. that's why it's important I give folks a chance before pre-judging and laying into them, right? carlos liked the gig, saying the sound was pretty terrible at first but then soundman nick got things together good. carlos is always honest w/me and I can dig that - thank you, carlos. we say our byes and thanks, then I drive us back to the 'tel and konk comes quick on me. usually I get so many freaked-out thoughts after the first gig of a tour but my guys did good and maybe I didn't choke so much, huh? I know I got sharp in that first drama part of "..piss bags" (didn't I already chimp this?)... anyway, I'm too tired really, I am worn. konk, I do.
tuesday, april 5, 2005 - cologne, germany
Before our trip into germany we gotta make a stop back at pro tone in utrecht, 'member leslie is already fucked, it's good a gig was booked so close, pretty sure that was the reason, make sure everything is in order. Turns out it was over oiled, which caused it to lose all it's friction and jacked the the tension, which made it impossible for the horn to spin. it's good for us though get a second chance to load the gear right, on the way it sounded like we were a driving roller disco, pretty dangerous with everything jumping around while the boat's in motion. didn't take to long, and while i was waitin' for the boys i got a demonstration of some new kind of drum pads, that once you set it up for your set it makes it possible for any one to set up your drums perfect every time, sorta cheese. I don't know about anybody else, but i don't mind settin' up the gear, actually i rather enjoy it... whatever. Nice enough guy, was in some eighties hair metal band called sleaze beast who toured the states with bands like bon jovi and equally retarded bands of that nature. Maybe bon jovi hated settin' up and that's where the idea came from. Tried to sell me the deal for six hundred euro, i politely declined, but i wouldn't use the stuff if he gave it to me. once the leslie was done we where on our way to koln.
Woke up as we hit the city. We have directions, but that means zilch, and we get a little tour of koln. Finally paul decides to go and ask a local for the street that we're looking. guy was real helpful, and we're there in a few minutes. Playing a place called gebaude 9, maybe translates to building 9, not positive. Its in the industrial part of the city. Everyone who runs the pad is a big help, and the gear is onstage in minutes. It's a hugh warehouse with nothing on the walls, it's gonna sound like we're playin' in a roller rink, no big deal. The sound is massive, and there seems to be no way around it, it's like we're playing an arena or something, the kick drum is making the rafters shake, and i can feel it in stomach, turns out the sub wolfers are right underneath us... doh. They got this massive spread in the back, enough to feed fifteen atleast, after we're all done mackin', they ask us if we're ready to go to dinner. No fuckin' way could i eat another bite. Who did they think we where, it was like enough food for a week... really cool of them. Yes, all the stories you hear about the germans loving beer, cheese and bread are very true. After a couple boogies, sandwhiches, i need to walk this stuff off, i need some batteries, seeing as how my dumb ass left mine plugged into the wall back in pedro. I ask the sound guy where a good place to go. Turns out kuln is an early town, and most shops close around six. Paul brought a bunch of extra, and hooks me up proper so i'm able to go out and take some photos. Like i said, it's an industrial part of town, so there's not to much around except for these hugh intimidating warehouses that are like five stories high. Guy wasn't kidding, it was a real early town, and i didn't see another person on the street for about thirty minutes, started to creep me out. didn't really take to many pictures far away from the club, the last thing i wanted to be was a mark in the middle of nowhere with a camera around my neck, that reeks of tourist, which reeks of fresh meat. I've only been here an hour and should get a better feel for the place before i make an ass of myself, cuz i really don't know what the hood is like.
Second gig of the tour, and the second time we're playing solo. I hope this doesn't become a trend, that'd sort of a drag. Now it's time to play the waitin' game, the boss keeps pushing the time back cuz people are still showing up. While we're in the back, i notice a piece of graffiti that says san pedro= anarchy, what the fuck, pedro graff all the way in germany, what are the odds of that. I wonder who i could be, it made me pretty happy and i snapped a photo. Decent crowd for a tuesday night, and the boss thinks it's time for us to go on. I feel alright about this, not as ringy as usual, pretty relaxed. I thought it went over well, it's a pretty tough piece to except if your minds not open, and the locals seem to take it all in with smiles. There's some clams to speak of, but nothing devastating, i'm just getting used to playing in front of people on a stage, so i'm just happy to get through it at all without wanting to run and hide. It's a weird thing, for the most part i don't like crowds, bars, and people staring at me, so what do i choose to do... put myself on stage, what a freak. After the gig mike slings the shirts off the stage, and while i'm tearing down he ask me to get some more shirts outta the van, no problem. The euro boat has one central locking system, and one key. While i'm trying to lock the the back up through the front door i fumble with the keys and drop em, down the sewer. I screamed oh fuck out loud, what a nightmare, one key and it's down the sewer... no fucking way. As they were falling i followed em down with my hand and shoved through the grate i didn't reach em in time, but shoved my hand so hard that it got stuck in the grate and lifted off when i tried to pull it up, derp. Scratched my hand to shit, but it wasn't deep at all and i was able to get the keys back.
Gear's in and it's time to find the hotel, the promoter, mike says it's the first exit right off the freeway, and that it should be no problem to find, ha. We get off at the first exit and take our second tour of koln... yep, lost. The first people we ask are a couple of fun boys straight outta the bier garten, who don't know which way is up. It takes the two of em' to draw the rudest map that doesn't make a lick of sense, and then they tell to go up to the first light and take a right and go 1000 km and we'll be there in no time. I don't know if any of you know this, but that's about 700 miles... whatever, it was a nice gesture. After trying it out on our own for a few minutes, watt decides maybe a gas station might be of help, nope. After the two dudes in side pretty much laugh in his face, he goes up to some dude gettin' gas. Here's what he says. In very good english, your gonna go up the street, your gonna pull over, then your gonna stop, then your gonna look for someone else and ask them, boy was tanked, his breath could spin the wind mill on a dutch painting. Watt said he had a bag full of beer and assorted candy, one man party. I could tell mike was trying so hard not to bust up laughing, good attitude, what else can you do but laugh at a situation like this. Best to go back to where we started and try again, back on autobahn and take the second exit, supposedly it's visible from the freeway, sure enough it is, the flippin' building, not the sign, could've been anything, we're just supposed to know. Funny thing, it was about a block from the gas station, trippy that some people don't know there own towns, same thing happens in pedro, some folks are just oblivious to their surroundings. We did finally find it though, and then parking was a whole different game, and while paul tried to get into the hotel, mike and i drove up and down the street, and eventually said fuck it and he drove up on the side walk and park it right there in front, totally illegal I'm sure.
Stopped at Protones to get the Leslie looked at...tech got there, a calm, zen, Dennis Hopper type...totally together. I have total faith. We cross over into Germany, find Koln (club is called Gebouw 9), set up, and the Leslie isnt spinning. I'm looking at the next 36 gigs sounding like crap. I'm sad. Then it works. I'm glad but nervous.
Raul is checking his drums in the cavernous club and it's the most amazing drum sound ever, I'm wondering....how can I get a sound like that in the studio? John Bonham on super steroids. Unfortunately that will make it virtually impossible to actually play the set, where we need a tight compressed in your face sound. Watt senses a "character builder" coming, a "lesson" to be learned. To me, I feel like I've learned this lesson already, which by some laws of Karma I suppose means that I will have to continue to learn it again and again.
Discriptive passage bringing a tactile sense of Germany. Ummm. Flat farmland. Every inch of land used. I've been told you have to supplement the food grown here with vitamins cause the land is so used up. I don't believe anything, I just repeat possibly unfounded rumors.
Great Bridges. Google German and Dutch bridges.
I guess the nervewracking soundcheck sent me into a tailspin of negativity, because I sat around waiting for the gig more or less certain that it would be a completely empty room with sound so horrible we would barely be able to make it throught the set, and the Leslie working when it felt like it. I don't think I was the only one thinking that with all watt's talk of this being a "character builder". But at a certain point I went out there and people were gathering. Michael, who I think was the stage manager, asked us to push the show back a bit and we did. I tried to tell Mike and Raul that there were people showing up, but I don't think Mike believed me. And weirdest thing...when we went on, there was a very healthy crowd, at least as many as Rotterdam, and again attentive and very appreciative. And unbelievably, I go on stage and the sound has COMPLETELY changed to a very reasonable facsimile of what it's supposed to be. SO whatever, what the fuck do I know, once again, and THAT was the lesson I think I was supposed to learn...
The insanity works like this: I sit in the large empty hall with the disco ball throwing spinning blue dots over the room, expectant and peaceful. No one is there. It is beautiful in a strange gritty way. I am a musician, forty six years old and playing professionally in Germany, really a dream come true for me and many. Not doing some kind of schlock rock, but truly an attempt at something special and important, in the tradition of Dante, Joyce, Mingus, Coltrane, and many many more. I am featured and spotlighted, not in the back row of the choir or the orchestra; a soloist. And yet none of it matters one iota. Wave after wave of despair wash over, cognitive noise, distorted fuzzed-out hopelessness, racked-up self pity, vague suicidal ideation that I have long realized is not actually tied to any outside event or situation, but which precedes thought and gives rise to thought...sick twisted thought, useless, destructive and unable to curl back on itself to formulate a solution or any semblance of healthiness. Interestingly, the whole syndrome is very treatable with drugs or alcohol, but it's a treatment I have decided to reject.
The only reason I include this in the tour diary, I suppose, is because I am pretty much unable to notice much while in the throws of this low grade mental illness. Interacting with the incredibly sweet and supportive people we meet each day is overwhelmingly difficult. I try to hold conversations, and find myself spinning and panicky. But listen, you guys who come up and talk to us, you save my mind sometimes.
Sorry about all that.
So the show. Better than last night from a technical standpoint...the Leslie that I depend on for tone behaved, but I lost the razor focus I was looking for after the third song and it was intermittent after that. Lest I overstate and sound like it's a big sloppy trainwreck, what I'm really talking about is a total Zen mindfulness that I am TOTALLY incapable of in say, meditation, but which is sometimes sorta within my grasp playing music. I want every attack, release, tone, inflection to be deliberate and conscious...if my fingers, throat and body don't cooperate, I can accept that but I want my mind to be totally present.
After all that talk about my sick and demented mind!! You see what I'm up against.
Mike and Raul even better than last night. Audience hanging on every word. Mike has created a following that will absolutely go exploring where he takes them, and they are rewarded with a totally fresh experience and no pandering or insult to their intelligence. Huge props to him and them...
Passed out burntchurchtheopera stickers again. Got a bunch more when we went over to Carlos' beautiful and AMAZING house this morning (forgot to mention that...his bathroom is tiled in a pattern he got from the bathroom in the movie "Performance"!!) Jesus Christ Jeff! Enough stickers!!! I'm sure I have enough for the whole tour, I'm going to have to airdrop them or something.
After the show we wandered around lost for about an hour looking for the hotel. Then it took us another half hour to park and get to our rooms. Watt had to leave the van in a VERY compromised position, on the sidewalk across from the hotel, I hope to god it's there when we get up, there was NO PARKING! But it was neat to have our own hotel rooms, cute little German rooms with beds with weird comforters and kitchenettes.
It's a truly bizarre and scary thing that I can usually look at my wifes face or even just call her on the phone and feel the craziness fade, into a sort of comfortable amusement. We are SO FAR APART right now!!! Hellin you make me smile!!! You're funny!!!
I left her with a bunch of fucking fires to put out, our life always has a bunch of fires smoldering somewhere, and she's really not the best at staying on top of all that shit, she's much better at forgetting about it all and not worrying, which is a great skill, unfortunately, sometimes when you forget and don't worry about small smoldering fires they, well, burn down San Francisco...How are our sons my dearest, hopefully perfect expressions of filial piety?!?
"It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong WITH US"
B.W. 12 steps & 12 traditions
I pop at six bells and get myself together cuz chow'll be ready at seven - lots of pads in europe have the morning trough included w/the konk rate and why not shovel for free? good to hose off after both a gig and a hellride flight from pedro. I'm gonna try to shave every day too so I do that. fuck it, why not? same outfit as yesterday though, I'm gonna stretch them out as long as I can - I brought some liquid detergent to wash clothes in the sink or tub when I have to. the euro breakfasts are full of choices, lots of stuff so I shove down some yogurt w/the granola kind of cereal they got along w/a little sandwich and a pear. some black olives too, greek style (that's a trip). carlos calls and he asks me to hoof on over to his pad which isn't too far. his pad is righteous and huge... even though it's an apartment, it's several floors. he's done up real good, simple and austere. I would've for sure filled it w/tons of shit but he's kept things calm that way. we go outside - a little cool but the sun's out. he gets his bike - the dutch style kind where they look old-fashioned. he puts me on the back and we head over to where they got digital cameras, some german chain called medaimart. damn, when's the last time I've been on the back of a bike? it's trippy but carlos pedals safe. I find an econo version of my little broken dimage, the x31 model and get that for 170 euros. I just can't imagine not having a working camera on a euro tour, no way. we head back and he gets a walkie-talkie leash happening for me cuz the u.s. ones don't work over here - different system. his girlfriend monique makes me coff and it's a fancy kind, whip cream on top. carlos then rides me back to the 'tel on the bike and he'll bring my guys to his pad and let me pedal after him (usually I don't ever get to pedal on tour and have to wait 'til tour's done - man, do I jones!). man, this dutch bike is so much different than my pedro one! the handlebars are way low and the seat is one of these old-style funky ones though it's got a good spring to it and can handle the bumps ok. I keep it from falling over and 'pert-near beat carlos to his pad but discover the cable for the lock is missing - did it fall out while I as riding? shit, I go back and retrace my route to try and find it but no luck. carlos said he saw it fall right when I left and got it right then off the ground so my search was is in vain anyway. what the fuck, I got to pedal more anyway. I chimp away at emails I can get to - it's gonna be hard for to do that this tour for sure. I got no landline numbers to dial and the wifi at lots of pads is pay-to-play so crimony. carlos makes calls to protone in utrecht to get the leslie repair together and so it's time to say bye - big hugs for carlos from me... bye-bye, brotherman.
we make the hike up to utrecht, about fifty kliks (thirtyone miles). my first time really taking the diks-mobile on the road and she handles ok. paul navigates me in - gotta get both my men happening w/guiding me - even though raul doesn't even drive, he's getting better at the map thing. to think back and seeing the look on tom watson's face when I ask him for help - his face would have a blanker stare than the deepest pear into the most infinite realm of the cosmos... whoa, overwhelmed to say the least. protone eric is on the case - what we're dealing w/is a thirty or more year old machine w/even older technology and a fragile one at that. he has a cat come in that's blown away cuz of someone using grease on the mechanism. well, eric admits it was probably done twice - once by the rotterdam guy last night and then again by him ("I fucked up"). he's honest and doesn't pass the buck, much respect. this guy makes the delicate adjustments needed and then boots the thing to set it up - intense. well, let's give it another go. organ guys are kind of at the mercy of this weakness in the machinery and my heart goes out to them. so glad me and raul have easy stuff. big thanks to eric and we're on our way to koln in germany.
I think "cologne" is a french way of saying koln the same way we say germany for what the people there call their home deutschland. we still got the sun, the rain was just for last night - great. the cat starboard of me navigates and that'd be paul so he guides me towards arnhem, the last big dutch town before germany. trippy seeing the old border (zoll/douane) checkpoint - I remember those well in the days before the e.u. now we drive right through and the place is closed up and kind of full of weeds. man, that could be a big time hassle! kind of the same w/the currency stuff being changed w/'pert-near everyone on the euro. of course this is from a foreigner/u.s./touring idiot person's perspective - can't speak for any other. carlos has given us maps to get to the cities but inside them is where the real fun for us begins regarding the fine art of wandering. we're talking tiny streets w/sometimes hundred letter names, curvy "intersections," very old layouts built on horse and foot travel modes... the whole enchilada. you gotta laugh to yourself or all the hair on your head would get pulled out. what I really need is the road software I use in the u.s. which is a trip cuz the stuff I use on my mac, "route 66" is actually from a dutch company! there's just no euro maps I can find for me - just for windblows shit and fuck that. so wander we do. I did get a fax w/some drawing done w/what look like a crayon on a napkin but it's more like a crude sketch of the earth w/a dot that says germany on it and then the name of the club. danke schoen. only a few minutes of wander before I have paul run out to a bakery and get some sense of directions and eventually we hit upon it, a pad in a former industrial courtyard called gebaude 9. the bossman george meets us and right away wants me to try some "special" salsa he's made for us, some "special hell fuckers dip." well, I've said it before but what's hot to some folks would float ice cubes for others. it's got some flavor - he put sesame seeds in it but it's pretty tame as far as scharf (german for spicey). it's got what seems a ton of salt too - folks have different tastes, for sure. there's a ton of chow back here though - damn. it's really good too, excellent bread, strawberries, like three bunches of bananas (what the fuck?), apples, oranges, cheeses. mustard in a toothpaste tube, thin-sliced cold cuts, jars of olives, pickles, giant pimentos, sun-dried tomatoes... damn! even cereal and of course ten different kinds of beverages. the german agency that booked my gigs in this land has a rep here named michael and I ask him why would we need a dinner on top of this? holy fucking cow! he gives us a buy-out cuz no way could I get more down my gullet unless I had a stick to cram more down. crimony. I'm not complaining, just in a kind of awe. after the "shovel on arrival," we set our equipment up and soundman martin mics it up while I get my picture taken by alfred for spex (a great music zine that's celebrating its twentyfifth anniversary). then time for soundcheck. oh boy, a shotgun meatlocker-type rectangular cement room w/the bass bins under a plywood stage - pretty hairy for sound so we're gonna have to play soft - raul's kick drum is like a howitzer going off w/he hits it, whoa. like they say in vaudeville though: "work the room" and that's what we're going to do.
no opening act again so it's "pop out the cake" action once again. I play w/the bass turned down pretty much and I can tell paul's having trouble w/the leslie speaker box - despite all the repair action this afternoon... he's gotta keep giving it "reach-around" around action but luckily he's got a lot of experience w/that. what happens is the twirling speaker just quits twirling, damn. you can imagine how distracting that is on him but he still does pretty good. sure, there's clams but he's got good spirit and we hold together pretty good. the crowd is like the dutch in their attentiveness - they give us much respect, wow. much respect for them. a piece like this has so many opportunities for peckers to rip you a new asshole time after time but they defer on that and prefer to give us a listen and get into it. wow (again). it helps have my nerve up and I do even better than last night, not falling all into myself but engaging both my guys and the folks who've come to the gig. I'm trying hard to get better at trying to approach being an artist or bass worker or sorry entertainer (thank you daniel johnston) or whatever. shit, I've got lightyears to go but I don't want stay trapped in my own fucking head, stomped down w/the boot of little boy fear. it's been a war now w/me for more than twentyfive years - I seriously can't believe I can do any of this w/out d. boon, to even fathom that is so beyond me. it's his momentum instilled in me if anything, for sure. it's a trip - trying to be some sort of musician and let the piece breathe getting sick, healing up and then being grateful to pedal your bike, paddle your 'yak and pluck your bass... I'm so glad raul and paul are w/me on this. I can only imagine the battles they got in their own heads regarding this - "getting inside his needs and making them my own, caring as much as possible and stepping up to the plate even if my natural response is..." this is something a real artist/musician taught to me about sidemousing for someone you really care about. it humbles me much to know there's cats this caring and this sensitive I've been lucky to play alongside. to continue w/the those thoughts I just related: "...the way you do one thing, is the way you do everything. why would I half arsedly do this, then I might do the same for my own stuff" - this is what I've tried to distill in my own ideas (some people I've found have such a talent for open thinking - it's so inspiring and insightful) and just made so simply clear in an elegant way (not meaning glamour)... damn if it ain't what I'm trying to get at (in some clumsy-ass way of mind) when I've helped folks like perry, j and now iggy and the asheton brothers so maybe in some way I possibly might be able to "pay back" what I've found so generous in others to do for me. bottom line is I'm proud of raul and paul, much respect.
I sling a bunch of shirts and give out stickers to everyone who wants one. very kind words from the cats here, grazie from me, truly. after loadout, michael introduces me to gunter, the german gigs bookerman boss. he's very kind w/his words, saying he likes seeing someone on stage being happy w/what their doing and the relates me stories of rock star princess shit that he had to mire through. well, if he only knew the anxieties w/in me but I know what he means and it's the influence of others w/so much spirit (like d. boon) that has probably kind of rubbed off some and won't allow me to take any of this for granted - this I try to keep very fundamental to what I'm doing. I've learned it from older cats and even folks much younger than me too. it's important I think that I keep getting it beat into me. thank you much, gunter.
we pack up and now the next wandering begins. I though this might not be the case in a way cuz michael gave me very simple directions but they were one exit short of being the right one on the autobahn so we ended rolling through the wrong part of kalk, the part of koln where the 'tel was. it was funny in a way trying to get help from folks who obviously didn't know their own parts. one guy at a gas station looked me straight in the eye (well, he had some pretty intense ankle-swivels going and brewery breath that would've turned the windmill on an old dutch painting) and said, "you're gonna go down this road. then you're gonna keep going. you're gonna keep going. then you're gonna pull over. you're gonna stop. then you're gonna ask someone." too much. it took all I had not to bust up laughing cuz I think he really was trying to help. the guys at the gas station were just as lost as were two young men walking on the street (they told us to go "one thousand kilometers to the next street light" - that's like sixhundred miles!). what I ended up doing was getting back to the freeway and guessing it was the next exit. michael had said you could see the pad from the autobahn which was right but there was no sign visible to tell you that was it! life is funny. the last part of the adventure was parking cuz there was totally none. we saw folks parked on the sidewalk - even some parked on traffic islands! I took a chance and parked across the street on the sidewalk, right up on the side of a building. I have to admit I was not that relieved to leave it there but was indeed counting my blessings we found the pad and I was too wore out anyway to protest the konk that smothered me up anyway.
wednesday, april 6, 2005 - hamburg, germany
Wake up worried about the boat being towed, it is parked on the sidewalk, so the night before i set my alarm early so i could make sure it was okay, it was. It was easy for me cuz my room had a window facing the street, so i could just poke my head out and have a look. since i was up i decided to go down stairs and have some breakfast, the boys weren't far behind, and soon after we were on our way to hamburg with rawl and watt up front, and paul taking sleep duty in the back. On the way there navigating wasn't to hard, just a few big moves to make, but once we get off the autobahn, it's a different tune completely, nothing we can't come come back from, so it's allright. We find the club, or what we think is the club, no one around so we decide on going to the hotel, which was just as screwed as finding the club. Once we get in to the rooms, i'm out, gotta see the city. Hotel is a block away from hamburgs red light district, since their usually i no rules sorta place im expecting to see lots of public art. Sure enough this is a truth, and i end up walking for hours, taking over a hundred photos of mostly just stencils. Got lost a once or twice, but that's one of the best ways to see a city, it's kinda dull if you just stay in one direction cuz your afraid to steer of the path, as long as i make it back for sound check, i'm doing fine.
When we go back to the club, we find that it's not actually the club, it's somebody's apartment... doh. The club is two blocks down. Wacky system here, and all addresses repeat themselves block by block, with even and odd numbers on the same side, hard to understand, atleast for me. Playing with a band called love handles, the first opener, rad. Set up for the sound check, and wait for mike to finish up his interview, to pass the time paul and i make nice with the band, rad guys, the bass player reminds me of j.j. chaos, a good friend back in oakland. Once the check is done, i head back out for more rambling, this time in a different part of town. It's like a little williamsburg, but more compact. Run across a hugh carnival, and kill some time in there people watching and taking photos. This is like a carnival in the states times ten. Alot of the normal stuff, and then, outta nowhere, four story spook houses, not just one either, some psycho themed, some pirate style, and rides i would never even imagine. It's so massive i even get totally turned around and lost for a minute. It's getting pretty close to show time, so i make the trek back. By the time i get there, i'm so wore out from walking all day i pass out in the couch, and when i wake up the club is half full. To wake up, i down a couple red bulls which doesn't turn out to be the best idea, it just makes me jittery and gives me the feeling of wanting to barf. Love handles are alright, they're pretty poppy, and do it well. To save time the drummer uses my set up, and didn't rotate, so he's facing sideways, probably not used to it at all. Our turn, the sound wasn't to hot, another arena style sound system, the drums sound like I'm playing well micd wet card board. Make it through the set to a really receptive open minded crowd, the german crowds have been awesome so far.
It doesn't seem like the best idea to leave the gear in the van parked in a shady part of town while we're four stories away. So we pack up the gear and leave it in the the club and take a cab back to the ibiss. Guys from love handles asked us to go to the bar with them like thirty times, i'm sure it would've been great, but i can barely keep on my feet, Once we're back at the room it's a different story, and paul and i stay up till four in the mourning talking. He reads me, his what he calls depressing diary entries, while i go thru the hundred plus photos i shot earlier. I think his writing is great, i couldn't stop laughing. Maybe it's not the best thing to laugh at someone's despair, but i'm pretty sure he didn't take it seriously, cuz he was smiling too. I need to get some sleep, so i read some dylan and am crashed in a few minutes.
I think I was happy to have a room to myself last night, I was up scrawling all the above till 4 a.m.. Then I finished the Dylan book, then I started worrying that Hellin would forget to file the California Tax extension, then I started worrying about the Van parked illegally. Dozed off for a little to be woken by Watt at about 7:30 to leave. He was stressed about the van too. So LITTLE sleep. My throat felt torn up when I woke up...part of the fucking focus I'm talking about onstage involves not screaming my lungs out so I don't have to resort to sign language a week into the tour...I DO NOT have a strong voice, I sing all wrong, I get all excited, and then it's like I'm sick. There's all kinds of remedies, but the one I really notice is sleep, you don't talk and you rest. So I tried to rest all day. Raul and I are taking turns navigating and it was his turn, so I tried to sleep in the back and missed the whole 450 k drive. So no reportage.
When I lie there fading in and out of consciousness, there is no buffer between the vampire thoughts and my bloodstream. They go like this: what's the point what's the point what's the point what's the point whats the point. If I am upright and engaged it's better it really is. Actually they are so much more creative and varied. Aside from apathy is this incredible barrage of apocalyptic terrors. I wanna die I wanna die I wanna die I wanna die, But I'm not gonna die, not gonna die, not gonna die, worse than death worse than death worse than death you're gonna fail you're gonna fail you're gonna fail, fail and live fail and live fail and live, hurt those you love hurt those you love suffer suffer suffer suffer cry cry cry cry fuckin coward fucking baby fucking coward fucking baby baby baby baby coward coward coward. loser.
Fuck, does anyone care? I don't even care. It means absolutely nothing. Thoughts and feelings have little or no bearing on anything, unless they mean everything.
So we get into Hamburg, I drag myself into an upright position and Mike and Raul are involved in the daily ritual of trying to find out where the fuck we are and where we are going. We did get some directions but navigation in Europe is SO challenging. Raul was suffering, I'll try my hand at it tomorrow...
Ultimately, we find the club, we find the hotel and I go back to sleep. Raul goes sightseeing. He takes pictures everywhere, not of architecture, art, history, but European graffiti and I love him for it.
Start the Ben Franklin bio.
The sickness continues.
4:30 we head to soundcheck and we get a nice roundabout tour of the city. There is a space needle here, like Seattle! Watt says the NATO needle...
During soundcheck the Leslie begins to emit a screaming grinding whine. I hopelessly open her up, jiggle, kick, curse at, make no progress. Watt comes over, is a little rougher, she settles down.
The opening band, "Lovehandles" shows up. They're very friendly; after check I go to eat with them. Raul goes walking and Mike stays at the club which is called Knust. I get a small pece of meat and a big salad which is light and I'm glad I got it. I talked alot to the bass player, kristian, a heavy set gut who kind of reminds me of a D. Boone type. He owns a vintage instrument business, and really knew alot about music. I got out of my head and started to feel almost normal. Norbert the promoter joins us. I LIKE THESE FOLKS...
I watched their set and it felt good...kind of uplifting and melodic, and powerful. then it was our turn.
Well, i'm just having alot of equipment problems. I'm almost sick of bringing it up, but the Leslie kept stopping...at a certain point I reached back and took off the tension and it finally started working fine. Lemmee tell you the difference between me and Pete Mazich, my forebearer in this project. That fucking guy would have this shit figured out. He could take it apart and rebuild it, while I'm afraid if I take it apart I'll never get it back together. Pete could read this fucking diary and know the whole story. Props to you Pete.
In any case, again, the audience is attentive and appreciative. They let every opportunity for heckling and mockery slip by. They clap. They are wowed. We play straight through the Opera and then leave the stage, so they haven't heard a familiar note and a whole lot of unfamiliar, downright squirrly notes. But at around song four or five I think they understand that they are being challenged to try to digest a difficult piece in it's entirety, and god bless 'em, they settle down and swim in it.
I am 80-90% focussed which is amazing, but it doesn't mean it's 80-90% perfect. The mindfulness helps me deal with the Leslie shit, it keeps me from blowing out my voice (see if I get out of control I start screaming...it's like: "pump em up! pump em up! it's not enough! I"M not enough!") The solo's tell stories and cut off on time, the dynamics whisper and scream, the punches are like one guy, I remember all the ridiculously, complex elaborate circle of hell riffs, the organ SOUNDS beautiful, I look at watt or raul, catch cues.
But watching Lovehandles ( and actually before) I was thinking: "maybe I don't want to be mindful. Maybe I should seek MINDLESS. Or "just have fun" which is obviously setting myself up for failure" Lovehandles looked very relaxed and tight, but let's face it they are not attempting the fucking "rite of spring" like we are. Google "rite of spring".
This may be a case where it's not about "just have fun". It's fun if we pull it off, it's fun if we play it good, but if I start partying up there not fun is going to start happening. For now I'm reaching for an unreachable and pretensious perfection, and I'm getting good feedback. One guy who said he'd been playing guitar since he was 8 said thoughtfully:" yes, I think you're the best organ player I've ever seen." Well, I'm not the best organ player I"VE ever seen. But I know when I was ten years old I wanted to be voted "Playboy's best keyboardist of the year" so this is what I get. And for sure, most importantly, I believe my boss, Mr. Watt, would expect this "mindful and inspired, passionate accuracy" as the correct goal to strive for.
Things I would like to do: Get a calling card and call Hellin and the boys (one of these days) Get a throwaway camera (never happen) actually walk around somewhere and take pictures(walk around yes, pictures no) Get some euros (probably not).
My wife and I complement each other perfectly. All that stuff would get done if she were here, we'd have a great time, and have photo albums full of memories. Instead it's starting to look like I will spend my spare time rocking back and forth in the fetal position in my hotel room, chimping away at this fucking diary, going on and on around and around about my tiny hamster wheel obsessions. Hellin wouldn't be one bit surprised.
freud, among others, pointed out that there is true and false suffering...false suffering is a defense against the vigor and tumult of experience. Our true suffering is the shared lot of humanity.
-John Tarrant (the light inside the dark)
pop at six kind of scared for the boat... fuck, it's parked up on the god damn sidewalk! the 'tel room is facing the other way so I can't see either so I hose off quick and get out to check... it's ok, still there and nothing on the windshield (like a ticket or a fucking spiderweb crack from a bash). they got a free frustuck (breakfast) going so I go in the cellar where they got it and shovel some yogurt on fruit/cereal, bread/salami, tiny sausage/soft boiled egg pretty quick and then get my shit together for getting out the hatch and out to the boat. first I stop at the desk and ring raul telling him to get it happening for shoving off. finally paul comes and we're back up whence we came yesterday on the a3 autobahn but going north - the plan is continuing on the a1 through munster and onto bremen before we come on hamburg, getting to the west side of town via the a7. raul's manning the map and using the directs michael made for me last night. the weather's sunny again though I wouldn't say it was really warm but no rain is good enough for me, really. it can get wet over here and after the freak storms we had in l.a. this last january and february, this is really ok.
we left early like I said cuz of worry for the boat. this'll make for us getting early into hamburg which is ok too cuz we gotta pad for some time to wander, looking for where the pad and 'tel are at. traff is ok though what a plug going the other way towards cologne, whoa. time for gas - the first fillup for the tour and it looks like our little diks car uses diesel. I get us pumped at a shell station and show raul all the trippy candies they got for here in germany, lots of them made by a company called haribol. he gets a back of the variety kind. I see a pot of flowers outside - ones from bulbs and so I take some snaps. damn if that fucking sd memory card in the busted dimage camera ain't busted as well and all I got is the lame 16 mb one that came w/it - good for about something like twenty shots. fuck, gotta get a bigger one when I can. I get a shot of a tiny spider on a daffodil, that's trippy. whoa, fiftyeight euros to get the tank filled up - that's 1.094 euro a liter or about 4.14 euro/gallon. paul's pretty much konked in the back seat the whole time, I guess him and raul are alternating day by day who's going to be riding starboard of me and navigating. he stays up late after gigs where the shows beat me up pretty good and I'm quick to konk soon as the adrenaline wears off. it's nice in these parts, rolling through the hills and forests. autobahn driving is a trip too w/how fast some people drive - I mean fucking fast. you gotta watch your port-side mirror close cuz what might be just a dot will soon turn into this rocket sled, blazing right by. damn. one neat thing they got here is being pretty strict about passing on the right - it's not allowed so you can keep focus easier on making sure traff passing on the left is clear. I wish we had that back home, especially w/the motherfuckers coming up onramps who don't respect the fact that someone already on the freeway has the right of way and just barge right in on your ass. fuck that, it's scary. those candies raul got are trippy - all these kinds of licorice things. we both laugh while chowing them.
ok, we cross the elbe river through a tunnel - this is where it runs into the ocean. hamburg reminds me of back home in pedro - there's lots of hammerhead cranes on the docks to load/unload cans (containers) from the can boats and it's on the sea. maybe that's why I've had kind of a connect w/this town for a german one. we're in early, like one pm so we check out the neighborhood where the venue's in and then decide to head for the 'tel since I gotta get it and then will be reimbursed at the end of our german run. raul can't find it on the map but I pull over at a bus stop and find it on a map there. whoops, it was on raul's map too - he just didn't see it. looks like the pad is right by the raepperbahn, hamburg's red light district. we get the rooms and I konk for a bit, guess I'm tired some. 'pert-near time for load-in and so we roll towards where we were first time in town but it looks like we've overshot that and we begin our wander. damn, here we go. another check at a bus stop map and I find our bearings, bringing us to where we want. raul says that when I popped out of the boat to go look he told paul, "this is gonna be impossible" but I tell him he can't think like that, you gotta be thinking "can do" even if it's tough go. we find where "neue kamp 30" is but it's not a club - it's a clothes store! the cat there though is very nice and directs us to where it is, in an old building that's been turned into all kinds of pads. the club is called knust (german for "crust") and the bossman norbert is a nice cat. his soundman ollie helps us load in and we set the stuff up. it's a bar w/some trippy dimensions, looks like a neat place to play. paul's having trouble w/the leslie again. I have him turn it so the opening where the leslie is spinning is facing towards him so he can reach over and spin it if it's not turning. there's a grinding noise that comes on when the leslie's in the high or faster speed. I give it some wraps w/the screwdriver but it's still kind of intermitting. luckily paul's blasting w/that thing's running fast so there won't be too much a nightmare about the sound coming down that pipe. tonight we have our first opening band of the tour - local cast from hamburg here called lovehandles. that a trippy name. they're a guitar, bass and dummer trio. I know the bassist christian from the all tomorrow' parties festival last december - he was driving some band around for that. he's a good cat and has a mean tone on his bass, much respect. we both get done checking and he wants to come chow w/them (norbert too) but damn, I've filled up on the sandwiches and just can't chow anymore... sorry. the backstage chow is really good enough, damn I swear. I can't believe they call them just snacks! instead I do an interview w/nic from spex magazine who are celebrating their twentyfifth year. they're good folks and I'm happy to spiel for them. nic asks me good stuff too, know lots about watt it seems so insights there I don't have to introduce myself. of course I feel awkward but cuz of d. boon getting brought up, I like talking about that amongst the other watt stuff. I think this is what the pictures alfred took of me yesterday are for. lovehandles comes on and though I don't get a good view of them cuz I'm chimping up the previous day's diary but they sound good. christian's got a good grind on the bass.
our turn next. whoa, we're a little off the cues and I'm a little self-conscious but not too bad. some weird acoustics but not too bad. raul's rushing things a bit. this is what I'm reflecting on now but it was also going through my head as it was happening. my guys do good though, I pull them in and we go good - paul's blowing some clams still but they're not so bad and as long as he looks in on us, he can get back on. it's when he doesn't that were a little more untogether. he's still getting used to that though and it'll come around. I'm not as engaging w/the folks as I was last night but I'm not a total shirker/hider either. just a little trippy thinking for me at times - damn if this piece doesn't get me a little self-conscious sometimes but maybe that's ok for someone for me - like "go to the mirror, boy." it's not like narcissus w/his image in the pool either, believe you me! like I said, I got some awkward feelings tonight but they seem to come and go so it's not total disaster and yet it's not all the way happeing at the same time. the piece has got clams but they're in different places than the last two gigs so it's not a question of "hard" parts but rather of falling off time to time. the good thing is we recover each time and keep the tires on the road - no flip outs. there's not the big boom from the kick drum like last night's gig but in ways the sound here isn't as good maybe but how can you really tell from up on the stage? seems there could be weird little acoustic things but I don't know. the folks here make it nice to play for them cuz they're quite receptive and have a good amount of respect for us laying this weird music on them. they have us back for an encore and we do all the tunes expect for the roky one, like last night. paul drags the ending out some so I chuck a piece candy up at him as a subtle signal to get him to finally end it. ok, gig done.
I hand out stickers, sling shirts and talk w/the folks who ask me stuff. very friendly and nice, vielen dank. bossman norbert dug the gig but told me next to come in july cuz there's too many acts out in europe come the spring. he said thalia zedek's got one pre-sale for tomorrow's gig. tonight we were up against some band called blood brothers and then someone I do know, kathleen hanna and her band le tigre. I was told about this "competition" last night by gunter but was kind of tripping cuz it's his agency that's involved w/all three gigs! when I asked why not me and kathleen play together, he said her manager/agent/whatever said she "wanted her own show." it's hard for me to imagine kathleen wouldn't want me to play w/her so I think maybe this was an "upstairs move." ha, life is funny. norbert's a good cat, july might be ok here though I shy away from much summer touring in the u.s. but the summers are more moderate over here. we pack up but leave the equipment here. damn, there's a 'tel walking distance away instead of that ibis one by the raepperbahn. big byes to norbert and the lovehandle guys, then I have us take a taxi back to the 'tel and leave the dik boat here. safer that way.
earlier paul wanted raul to konk w/me since I'm on the deck anyway and their room had only one bed but I hear no knocks and maybe there was some after I konked but the konk made listening for a knock 'pert-near impossible.
thursday, april 7, 2005 - dresden, germany
Since we left the gear at the club, we make a plan to meet back there at noon, and since this is my first time in hamburg, i got some more exploring to do. I have a big bowl of cereal, and i'm out the door by eight. I start heading in the opposite direction of where i was yesterday, lots of residence, people commuting to work, walking the dog, mourning stuff, i wonder how bad i stick out as an american. It's flippin' freezing out side, and the wind is blowin' right at me. I'm headed in the direction of the water, and some how i get side tracked and never make it, pretty lame too, cuz we had driven past it on the way in, and i remember seeing a couple museums, and a hugh park which would've been cool to check out. I haven't checked out any museums yet, probably to early anyway. Did a lot of neighborhood walking in the mourning, picking random streets, and making turns with out direction, and pretty soon i was lost. Think it was a sub-conscience decision to do just that, i wanted to see if i could make it back. Almost hopped on the train, but that could've been a disaster, so i used the feet for travel. I had a couple points of reference, mainly a hugh tower, and the steeple of a church, but it's sorta like seattle, you know the space needle, and the shit looks the same from any direction, plus once your in the hood, the houses are so high you can't see em' anyway. I keep walking in the same direction, and and find myself in the same part of town we were lost in yesterday, and easy as that I'm back on track. Soon as i know where i am i find a city map, where the fuc was that a half hour ago. Hamburg is set up in a big circle, that's why it was easy to get back, i was on a main street, so it connects back up with itself. The screwed up thing was that even on the same street the names kept changing every couple of blocks, this makes absolutely no sense to me, it feels like i'm the only one. It's only ten, and the club is about a half mile away, so i spend some time bumming around the center of town taking photos of random weirdness. Lots of cool old buildings splattered in paint. I'm starting to get pretty beat, not muck sleep the night before, and i've been moving for hours, i think i should go back the club, i could just sit around and read for a half hour or so. There's a coffee place right across the street, so i grab a cup and a table outside, and read some. It's perfect cuz i can see when the rest of The band shows up, sure enough there right on time.
It's pauls day to navigate, we've been switching off days, while watt sails. Pauls getting directions for dresden, i tell mike this, and he calls bullshit, we're going to munster he says. We check out the schedule, and sure as shit he's right, then we check out another itinerary, and it says dresden, holy shit, we don't know where we're going. It takes a half an hour, and a couple to straighten things out. Things change, and shows get shifted, it just would of been nightmarish to start heading in the wrong direction, total suck. It was dresden, which is good for us, cuz to make it to munster in time we would've had to leave a few hours ago. And just like that we're out, paul's great with the directions, i just can't seem to get a grasp, and i'm always getting us lost, it's sorta intimidating here in germany. Paul and mike are up front, and it's me taking sleeping duty, i could use the rest too, it's already been along day. I sleep most the way, and wake up just outside berlin, to a hugh traffic jam. We think everything is turning into one lane, and after hardly moving for forty five minutes, we come to find that it is. Instead of cars taking turns, everyone is trying to go thru first... all it is was a flippin' hole in the ground... irritating. We still make it to dresden with time spare. Ever read slaughter house five, it's a kurt vonnuget book sorta about time travel and the secend world war, anyway most of it takes place in dresden. It's good, actually all vonugett is good, especially breakfast of champions and jail bird... check em' out.
Damn paul is good, i don't know if i'm just retarded, or if he has the luck of the draw, but we get there without a hitch. Seems like i always get the big cities, and he'll get the small towns. Tomorrow's berlin, how much you wanna bet i get us lost, i'd even bet against myself. Pull up to the star club right in time for sound check, and get lots of help luggin' the gear up a couple flights of stairs. Place is pretty big, and looks like it's been around for awhile, and has housed tons of bands, there's posters of all the bands that have played wheat pasted everywhere. All the guys who run the club are super cool, even made is a big dinner, finally something besides cheese and bread.
Playing with a local dresden band, there about to go on, so i follow em' outta the back stage, and watch em' play a few tunes. Total bar rock, even did a cover of paranoid, same deal as last night, and the drummer used my set. I guess is a time saver, but the shows start early, and there's only two bands, it's not like we're rushed, it does make it easier for me though, i can just leave the gear on stage. Our turn, the german crowds have proved to be the nicest bunch of people, ultra polite, it's a trip, and it takes me awhile to figure out if they're diggin' what we're are doing up there, shouldn't worry about the things i have no control over, it's kinda a waste of energy. Tough stage, and the sounds really weird, but i think we pull thru pretty good. To tell you the truth, i think the place is haunted, and out to get us. First off, pauls organ fell cuz the stand collapsed. During the second bridge, kinda freak out part of hell ride, the thing drops and almost smashes his toes, It's lighter than the other organ, but that could've been damage, luckily i was able to hold it up while he fixed the stand. Then after we finish the set and come out to do some more tunes, mike nearly gets knocked over the head with a falling ladder, close call. Later on i learn that the same sorta thing happened to curtis mayfield, except his was a stage light, and it came crashing down on his head and paralyzed him, tragic.
People here have been hilarious wirh giving us directions, and tonight is no different. The hotel we're staying at is right down down the block, and we get told to do the complete opposite moves that we need to make, it almost makes me think we're getting screwed with or something, it's weird, and funny at the same time. Tonight we all have our own rooms, and there's two beds to each room, feels a bit decadent, but i can't complain, it's a place to sleep. I end up staying up pretty late chimpin' diary, and watching weird german cartoons and kids shows. Now that i think about it, what the hell are little german boys and girls doing up this late, it's past one in the mourning. Little dudes up past midnight, having beer, learning how to count to ten.
The insanity works like this: everything is fine; the club in Dresden supplies us with a homecooked meal that goes down nicely. Everything has gone fine today, not lost, a bit of a bottleneck that holds us up an hour south of Berlin...I mean it's all good, and I do not despair, I do not tailspin, I do not fuck with anyone especially myself. But it lives in the pit of my stomach curled up patient and pie eyed, a fetus in vitu. To look at it is to give it life, I don't look all day as hard as I can, I just make grey observations about life. Whatever.
We drive and drive, 350 miles from Hamburg, around the Berlin city loop, then south towards Dresden in and out of rain. I'm navigating today and I'm sure to stay on top of it and it all goes smoothly; the German country slides by under grey clouds with occasional blue and rainbow. Enormous herons fly overhead like pteradactyls.
It is a land that seems shy on manna. Maybe they need a king, like America. We pass old farms but they don't seem quaint, they just seem old and the communist high rise appartments look like the worst Bronx projects. We pass through some incipent Taiga...straight evergreens standing in rows like Minnesota, and all I can think about is the czar and his family. But y'know this was all East Germany, under the evil empire, and the land isn't all well tended and overused and exhausted. Well, it is exhausted, but from the soil being watered with centuries of blood and bone meal. Bullshit, the west was tended the same way, and everywhere. And of course Dresden, of Slaughterhouse Five infamy...so it goes. Anyway, seemingly unused land. Never see that in Holland, no way.
The club has a big stairway, but a bunch of guys appear and we accomplish the setup with minimal pain. Our gear is HEAVY. The roadcases seem to double the weight of every piece. And of course the Leslie is an inhuman monstrosity, that I try to always get four people to lift.
This club, the Starclub, has been here a while, ornamented with posters from alternabands gone by. We are late due to an actual screwup by someone... some promoter somewhere has gotten our schedual confused and we almost drive to Muenster. I don't get upset or phased by anything. The top foot and a half of my emotional affect has been shorn off. Today I stay in a narrow controlled range of feeling...it's better that way. So I type tour diary and listen to the support act, Slow Death, sitting around the dinner table talking in German. It's not distracting at all.
I notice the singer from Slow Death right away. He's very tall, very thin; a little older, very craggy and rugged looking. I later learn his name is Schmaker or something like that which he explains means "tall and kinda stupid". He's been hanging around since the early 70's and writes the local music reviews. There band rocked in a fairly humble way, closing with a Ramones song. I just thought he had charisma I don't know what the fuck I sound gay.
I missed a good portion of their set, because I fell asleep backstage listening to a CD of Clancey. Clancey is sort of an LA skidrow guru institution, who runs the mission down there. He's a cool speaker. I've brought a bunch of CD's that my friend Mark Freund burned for me of various inspirational speakers...I think he thought I was going to lose it on tour or something. I won't lose it. I'm amazingly tough. I just whine and complain incessantly in this diary, not necessarily out in the real world.
So I wake up foggy, we're on quick, it's a kinda unpleasant feeling to wake up and walk onstage, Watt used to always do it on the American tour a few years ago, ick. But it's cool, I power a coffee, set up,we go launching into Boilin' Blazes and the first shocker is that the organ is blasting loud, drowning out drums and bass. Now the dilemna...if I play soft, I lose the distortion, punch and general animalistic rage that this setup is capable of. But if Watt and Raul are being blasted the way I am, Watt will be screaming any minute I THINK... Raul won't complain, he has such a sweet and accommodating nature but his poor ear is practically pressed bleeding up against the Leslie.
Now you're probably wondering...if I always play at this volume to get the snarl, why is the volume suddenly a problem, and the answer is I DON'T FUCKING KNOW but different rooms just are completely different and they can vary that much between soundcheck and the show. It's bizarre, and it has to do with acoustics of the room and stage; the materials the stage is made out of and how it's built can suck whole portions and frequencies of your sound into oblivion...The monitor guy can forget what he was doing at soundcheck and completely fuck you up...like: "let's see, did he want a lot of bass or keyboards in his wedge, what was it? damn it I don't remember, oh well I'll just give him nothing for a while then I'll edge up hmmm the bass and see if he complains..." This guy, shoot, was the monitor guys name Otto last night or tonight? anyway half way through the set mike looked at me laughing and said the monitor guy was ASLEEP! I didn't see. Also a room totally changes as you introduce warm meaty bodies and cover the reflective concrete floor and absorb more audio info. This stuff isn't really subtle, this is Chaos theory at work.
Mike added: Vocal mike picks up leslie feeds into monitors...
I opt to continue to Scream and try to adjust...Watt doesn't complain, and at one point seems to ask for it to be louder...I adjust my brain and my ears, and...I can work with this, yes lots of me is good...I can really microscope in on the clicks and wheezes that result from the intercourse of the hammond, the leslie and the volume pedal.
Oh the daily Leslie report. At soundcheck the gutwrenching whinescream does make an appearance, I reach through a hole in the back and shake, twist and rattle an ancient motor installation of some kind and it goes, comes back, goes, comes back, goes, comes back and then for no discernable reason goes and stays gone. Yesterday, the spin had been very fucked, it had stopped repeatedly, but we had turned the leslie around back to front so the spinning horn is in evidence and I can reach back and flip it and it will spin for a while. (Pete is LAUGHING his ASS off right now...) FInally in frustration I hurredly reach back in a miniscule break in the piece and try to adjust the tension wheel, and accidentally completely disengage it. From this point on the Leslie works perfectly. The great thing about turning the Leslie around is Watt can SEE it stop spinning, so he no longer berates me about the tone sounding like ..."the kazoo setting....weee weee weee....what's wrong with your tone dude it sucks..." He sees the kazoo make it's appearance, every time the spin slows to a halt, understands and realize I am juggling technical difficulties along with a piece that generates comments from other musicians like: "Fuck! what do you guys practice eight days a week??"
I put the tension wheel back on last night for travel, planning on removing it for the show today, but I turn it on and the spin is perfect for the whole show. So take that Pete...
4 shows down, 32 to go. I'm fine. The Leslie is terrifying. So far, this was the best it's been. It's getting better, fixing itself.
Back to the show. We come to the second chorus of Boilin' Blazes and I've settled in. I'm entering a zone. Things are really starting to feel magical.
Suddenly the keyboard is gone. No it isn't, it's there on the floor. The keyboard stand has collapsed. I hear laughter from the crowd. That is so wrong. Watt and Raul soldier on, entering the super quiet "be calm, Watt" section. I reach down, pull up the keyboard and stand, and I guess I fix it in time to come in on the next loud part. In the context of the rest of my life it's just another blow, and sometimes life feels like you're on the other side of Roy Jones in his prime. If you don't know who Roy Jones is , you should. If you've never seen the show "Deadwood" on HBO you should. And if you did a Google search for Rite of Spring and came up with an Emo band, I'm sorry, I meant Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.
It does flash through my mind that "the lesson" is that you can be as focussed as you want and events can conspire against you like Roy Jones used to conspire against middleweights. This is not a focussed thought to be thinking in the set. But I get right back on track.
I notice that Mike seems to be playing atrociously. Actually he is playing to a bigger room, making bigger gestures, reaching for a higher energy level, and making certain sacrifices in accuracy to do it. This is the right thing. I'm reeling a little from the Keyboard debacle but I let him gradually pull me higher till by "The Angels Gate" we're really screaming. I think that's OK too. I think the opera calls for me to be strong but not overpower the bass and vocals. It's not till the encores that Mike really pushes me to the fore for a few songs...And I'm really starting to enjoy those..."Corona", such a wonderful song anyway, is this great ULTRA MELODIC OASIS in an otherwise fairly torturous and often angular and atonal set. And today, the other guys might disagree, but I thought "It's Allright Ma, I'm only Bleeding" was far and away the best. I think the secret is to really get soft and low on the endless verses, and blast it on the choruses, it's not how Pete did it, but I see us going in that direction and it keeps getting better...
I think that all the shows have been reasonably good, but I think we're steadily improving.
I feel really cut off from home. This hasn't been posted, and I haven't sent any postcards or anything. I really don't want to obsess and spin out, like I have on other tours, and I'm not. I used to go away and really worry about the wife and kids and often for good fucking reason, but it's not like that anymore. After 27 years we've built such a strong, comfortable and yes, passionate relationship. I have total faith in her. But it's interesting how much richer my life is when I see her every day. She finds yummy little gourmet treats, she's interested in THINGS...stuff in stores, smells, tastes. I can't explain it, it's such a chemistry thing, it's like the DEFINITION of chemistry in a way, it's visceral and tactile, this love thing for me.
If Hellin reads all this, and it's totally within the realm of possibility that she will be totally bored by now, what am I talking about, the realm of PROBABILITY her comment would probably be:" Words, words, words..."
Do a google search for Hellin Killer, one of the most beautiful and original women of her generation...
To the hotel, right around the corner. "Turn right at the gas station, it'll be on yr right..." Actually it was straight at the gas station and on our left but that's OK... Watt is killing me with his delivery of the very boracho guy he asked for directions when we were hopelessly lost in Hamburg... "You're gonna get in your car, Your gonna drive down the road, you're gonna keep going, you're gonna pull over, you're gonna stop your car, then you're gonna get out and ask somebody..." Meanwhile melting Watts face with turpentine fumes!
The centipede was happy quite
Until a toad in fun
Said,"Pray, which leg goes after which?"
This worked his mind to such a pitch
He lay distracted in a ditch,
Considering how to run.
---from "The Way of Zen" Alan Watts
pop at seven bells this morning - what's up? I take my fish oil, flax oil, enzymes, one aspirin and glass full of metamusil before shaving and hosing off. I can get all this done in fifteen minutes, I hate wasting anymore time at it than I have to. I get downstairs and get the shovel thing on w/the chow. softboiled eggs w/the righteous bread and some yogurt on the fruit in a bowl. some coff down the hatch too. then back upstairs and chimp away at the diary-write. norbert said he'd have the club open for us to load the boat up and we could eat more chow - man, folks really want us to chow over here! I have to pass after having the big shovel earlier but he's a nice cat to offer. then something trippy happens... the itinerary carlos gave me says we're in munster but I have doubts... norbert's pad has wifi and I got on the internet and looked at both munster's and dresden's web sites and sure enough, both pads have their dates reversed to w/what carlos had for me. I have norbert put a call into carlos since I have yet to be able to figure this fucking walkie-talkie leash he gave me in rotterdam. damn, I'm a fucking idiot - I should've for sure tested a call out at his pad w/him there so we could shake down what we had to make sure things were happening w/it. as it is now, when I dial any of the three numbers he put into the phone for his home, office or walkie-talkie leash - the motherfucker starts ringing itself!!!??!! what's that about? when I dial a number manually, some voice comes on in dutch (a machine speaking dutch) and I can't tell what I'm doing wrong... aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh, it's so fucking frustrating. so, I talk to carlos and we indeed find I'm supposed to be in dresden tonight and munster saturday - time to make like a shepherd and get the flock out of here. the lovehandles cats get here to get their stuff and we give big byes to them and then get on down the road.
paul guides us out good and we make for the a4 freeway east to berlin. whoa, lots of windmills - not the old fashioned kind you'd see in an old dutch painting (where have you heard that before?) but these modern ones used to generate electricity, giant sons of bitches that look like they'd belong on some behemoth plane - one bigger than all fuck. we got some in cali - some near livermoore in the north and the mojave desert closer to where I live. it's wild, really. seems ours are all different types to test out different theories where here they've hit upon what they think works best and have concentrated on that. they're all over the place. the autobahns aren't so straight - different than our interstates back home so you're kept more aware cuz you gotta handle the curves. if we would've known it was dresden instead of munster we would've left hamburg a lot before one pm cuz it's almost a five hour drive - I did ask norbert though to tell the star club boss in dresden who's name is haiko that we'd be late and we've very sorry. we pass the former border that divided east and west germanies but there's no marker except a busted up farm painted up wild w/the word "freiheit" (freedom) and a big twirling peace sign. there's hardly any traces of the old east, it's been 'pert-near sixteen years now since reunification. we take the ring round around the east side of berlin and then head south to dresden. it's there we hit a giant fucking plug, taking like an hour to clear maybe an hour. turns out it was a patchjob on one lane of a bridge but getting the traffic down from two lanes to one is slowing shit down to fucking molasses, damn. we finally clear the hell and it's like, that's it? crimony! it's been sunny the whole way but weather w/europe can change on the dime, like that. I stop to get gas - second time for tour now - ha! we gotta wail though so I piss in a bottle while the boat diesels up - she's filling while I'm flowing, parallel universes! back on the road and soon into dresden - my first time here, first time playing a town in the former east. what a trip, we cross the elbe - the same river we crossed in hamburg, a big river in germany then, huh? paul's at the navigatori station and it's an easy move to venue, a pad called the star club. the bossman haiko meets us right out front - he reminds me a little of dutch dude carlos, a good cat. he has a crew that helps us get our gear up the stairs we need to take, that's very happening they're there to assist. it's seven pm so we set right up and get a soundcheck going w/soundman blitz. there's an opening band again tonight (wow, twice in a row!), locals called slow death and we talk to them some, nice cats. the room looks like it's done it's fair share of gigs, at least twelve years worth by the look of all the posters on the wall. wow, looks like a lot of different bands have played here too. one poster is for the red krayola who are coming here next month - I know both tom watson and george hurley will be w/them, two cats I've had the honor of playing alongside. there used to be a whole slew of u.s. bands that would tour over here in europe more than back home - sonic youth started that way even. I don't know if it's much like that anymore though, europe's changed. I sure like playing here though and should do it more. I like playing the u.s. though too - I like playing anywhere! I got playing in my bones and I always dig it much too when I'm playing a new town (for me) like tonight.
after soundcheck, they got some chow for us. not the usual we've been getting - breads, coldcuts, cheeses and etc. but a cooked meal w/cabbage salad, these trippy fishstick things (though they're not fish but more like vegetables) and pork tenderloin. it's really good. I chimp diary while slow death does their soundcheck and then their drummer comes in to rap w/me when they finish. he was actually born in texas cuz his pop was a cook in the u.s. but he came here young - actually in the west but came to the east part a few years ago cuz he said there was more opportunities for him w/music. he's a nice cat. their time to go on comes on and I go out to the boat cuz for some reason, weird fear feelings flood over on me. this happens to me for the strangest reasons, really 'pert-near no reason or anti-reason, illogical, irrational... a fucking freak-out. did I mention about pissing all over the leg of my levis before last night's gig? well, that a different thing - that's mindless but this is a strange riff of imagination grabbing up on me and getting me all hopeless. a fucking freak-out. I start thinking about the old boat... now I had that for fourteen years so if this new boat I got (back in the u.s.) lasts me as long and then it's time to get a new one then I'll be sixty years old or more - aaaahhh!!! that's funny, really but in the moment I got all desperate 'pert-near and starting weighing possibilities 'til finally deciding well, I am a bass wielder and that's what I gotta do. all that to get my nerve up for tonight's gig... I'm ready now, fuck it.
that was pathetic thinking I'm thinking as I get up on the stage. paul and raul have their stuff up and I hook up my gear and then tell the folks I'm gonna do a really long weird song but that's just what I gotta do at this point of my life. I'm really ready to give it to them, much more than last night. my guys are playing a little too careful, we don't need the showroom dummies thing but maybe it's cuz of me talking about some of the cues that've been blown. idiot watt, gotta be more tactful. I want both a weird tension between us playing together and having some sense of abandon. we'll get it together but tonight I'm hollering to get my guys live and out of "too careful" mode. right before the bridge of the first song, paul's keyboard stand collapses and his organ comes crashing down but I don't stop cuz he's supposed to play real low in that part anyway and I can make due 'til he gets shit together again which is what he does. I get a little over-anxious and blow some clams in the next few tunes but not too bad and it's the same w/my guys, I think we're doing pretty ok. the folks come in closer and check out why the bass player is going off so. that's ok, c'mon and check it out. I'm feeling a little nerve now and can even laugh at myself some. well shit, I have to... look at me! pretty good monitors, every gig so far. way different than the old days over here. everyone, the folks at the pad here and those in the crowd are very happening. paul's a little "buried in his work" but I know he'll come out of it more and more as he gets his confidence w/the material up more. sometimes his organ tone gets so brittle in the upper mids and it's painful for me - ouch. I think I undercounted one part and came out ahead but my guys are right w/me, good work from them. we do the piece and go off stage, I congratulate both paul and raul much, point out some things and then have us back on - whoa! a ladder falls down right behind me and man, wow! that would've really hurt if it hit me square rather than just brushing behind me. lucky watt. we do all our encores including the roky one ("I have always been here before") cuz of being so happy I overcame those fears that were ripping into me before we went on. I'm almost silly w/laughing in a way, silly watt.
I give out stickers and sling some shirts, talking w/the nice dresden folks who have many kind words to share. there's one cat who has a record store that sold this young man a "double nickels on the dime" record earlier in the day and I sign it for him, yes. there's a cat here from milwaukee, much respect. I'm so glad things worked out better for me and my crazy nerves. rain's come down a little as we load out down the stairs but there's lots of cats to help so it's alright. big hugs for bossman haiko, I thank him much for having us aboard and he says I have to come back so of course I will. he gives us what seem simple directions to the hotel but of course we must wander some but not much and make it to the 'tel pretty quick-like. man, I am tired but this shirt is stinking it up some four gigs now so I wash it in the sink w/some liquid detergent I brought from home. I do it to a pair of skivvies and levis as well but they'll take some time to dry - probably a few days where as the shirt should be ready by morning. then I konk like a rock sinking quick into the sea.
friday, april 8, 2005 - berlin, germany
Wake up early, and head down stairs for some breakfast, and after that go back up to the room and crash for a few more hours. So bad, eating than sleeping, but whatever, i'm hungry and tired i guess. Going to berlin today, im pretty excited about that, big city. We passed berlin on the way do dresden yesterday, so we gotta go back the way we came, little bit of rain in the mourning, but that clears up by the time we're an hour on the road. Pass by this this hugh old hanger on the way, thing was giant, double the height of the trees in the Forrest surrounding it, la ter i find out that it's a resort, and there's a man made beach inside, far out. I've heard there's the same sorta thing in tokyo, but instead of the ocean, it's a mountain, and you can ski on it. Rock climbing wall times ten, what's next domed ghettos in the rich neighborhoods. Ofcourse, as soon as the we get into berlin, i lose all sense of direction and the map is useless, somehow we get off course, and just like that find our selves on another street in the middle of down town, damn, i'm on some sorta streak. We don't end up roaming to much, it just gets frustrating, because we could be there, but instead we're in traffic, wait, lost in traffic that sounds right. We get some help from the first person we ask, what a life saver, we were totally turned around, and in bad need of help.
Engle, the promoter, is great, a sell proclaimed straight edge guy who smokes, that's kinda funny, but it seems like every german smokes, and they all hand roll their smokes too, rules. That's what i do, it kinda catching on in the states, the punkers the i know do it. It's sorta thought of like a poor dudes thing, hobos roll their own, or it's a jail thing, How smokes can become a status thing is beyond me... whatever, it's a shitty habit when it comes down to it, and i really don't even know why i'm talking about it. Berlin is a pretty big place, so i gotta get to it before it gets to late. With all this exploring, it becomes hard to keep up on the diaries, so if these first few days blow, it's because i haven't been giving them as much time as they need. I know it deserves high priority, but i think that seeing and experiencing these places first hand is pretty important. I can't just sit in the club in front of this computer. Paul had a pretty good suggestion, and said i should start attaching photos to the entries, so who knows. I sorta pull a hamburg, and get lost for a few minutes, it's the streets a that dern name change every few blocks, as soon as i get to expect it, we'll be in austria.
It's been raining today, and it's pretty cold, hope it doesn't get in the way of creepin' around berlin. I hope outside after sound check, and there's no sun, but it's not wet outside, so that's good. Head out the front of the club, and take a left for no particular reason. The way i do it today is, i let the things i wanna take pictures of lead me around, just follow what looks interesting to me. Sends me in all sorts of directions, twist and turns, thru parks and alleys, and one of the creepiest grave yards i've ever seen. Typical horror movie style, old monster like trees, low fog, really wet air, moss covering almost every inch. I've seen some equally as creepy in chicago, and new orleans, but today i'm alone, so the impact is a little stronger. I hear someone yell, and get the sudden urge to start running for my life, turns out it's just the gate keeper, and he just wants to let me know it's time to lock up for the night. I tell my self that i should get back to the club, so i can give the diaries some time and rest up for the gig. I think it's good for us to hang a while, before the show, atleast for me, i can get a sense of the other guys mood, and kinda take it from there. I think it helps me play with em' more, i don't know, maybe i'm full of it, or just delusional, but it helps me. Plus on tour it's good to rest up a bit, or atleast fix yourself in a place for a while. I've noticed that if i come right on stage after roaming around for hours, i got some other thought battling with the focus, but if i give myself atleast an hour buffer i do much better.
Once again, we're the only band playing tonight. Friday night in berlin, and it seems like it's gonna be a good amount of folks for the gig. While i'm inside chimpin' i meet a couple of people, one an american who's been living here for the past five years studying biology, good guy, his name is vincent, from san francisco. Do i just stick out that bad, like, look it that dude, he's definately not from here, he's definately in the band, maybe there was a picture in a music mag or something, cuz people we're just coming up already knowing what's going on. Mike's being interviewed behind the stage, paul and i go back to get him for the show, and that's when i meet mikes friend Philip, he's filming the interview, and he lifts the camera towards my face, and shakes my hand while they're talking, that's gonna look funny. All the folks in the club start coming to the stage, and the place is pretty packed, and i can feel a good energy. I thought we played the best we have so far this tour, the people are so close, i can almost touch em, i love that, Lot's of energy, lot's of communication between the band. Maybe it sounds pussy, but I'm into the eye contact the band has. i've spent to much time playing with my head down in my own world missing out what else is going on the stage, and this works for me better, i get more out of it. Unless it's like dirty looks and miscommunication, that blows. One thing that was kinda annoying in a very funny was way, was this supa' drunk local taking photos of us onstage. I swear he was talking to me trying to slap high fives right in the middle of songs, watt almost fell over backwards tripping on this guy, hope he got some killer phtos.
After the gig there's a party up stairs, and a club down stairs in the room that we played in. Since the hotel is right next door, after we check in, paul and i decide to come back over and check it out. All the folks we met early are still there, which is cool. The party upstairs was private, some girls birthday party, maybe we crashed it, i don't know, but the promoter took us up there, so it's not our fault. After hangin' up there for just a few minutes. It seems that we read each others minds and just started walking downstairs to see what the scene was like on the bottom floor. People start buying me drinks cuz at midnight it was the b day. It was pretty rad, paul roessler, and two german guys singin' me the birthday song. Well a few drinks turns into a few to many, then i start in on the whiskey. Paul's gone by this time, back at the room, and so are most the other people i knew there in the first place. It ends up being vincent from frisco, julia, someone who told paul she hated the organ, but he made her reconsider with his stellar proformance, and me, and we're sitting at a table smoking the biggest hashish blunt i've ever seen, and once that is done, she twist off anotherone,this girl must have the highest tolerance, cuz i'm worried i won't be able to find my way back to the room... next door. After hours go by, i realize it's beyond getting real late, and we got to drive to munster in the mourning, so we say so long and farewell, and i make way next door. Once in the room i dive on the first bed i see, it's pauls, and he looks shocked as hell, probably scared the crap out of him though... whatever, i didn't even remember till he brought it up the next day anyways... good times.
Tomorrow is Raul's birthday. For god's sakes try to fucking remember and make some kind of gesture.
This is the nature of the beast: I wake in the backseat of the van. We have pulled over inside the outskirts of Berlin so Mike can buy memory for his camera and Raul can get a battery charger. Mike asks if I want to join the team and get a digital camera. The sleeping warthog in my stomach awakens with a jerk, and the panic wraps itself around my head like a whitehotfreezingmetal band. He heads toward the German mall thing as if nothing is wrong, looking back to see if I am following. I wave weakly, find my wallet in my suitcase and start after him. Turning the corner, I don't see him, and by not looking too hard, I am unable to find the store. I return to the van and pretend to fall into a deathlike slumber.
Mike returns shortly raving about the prices, and asks what happened to me. I mumble incoherently, something about "don't want to hold you guys up", and I think Mike understands that I am asking for help. This is one of those examples of paralyzing inconsequential nonthreatening terror. I think the thought process is something like: I will get the wrong thing. I will spend 200 euros on something I will never use. Everyone will laugh at my stupidity, except the people like me who will mercilessly berate me. So I will stare straight ahead, or lie down with my eyes closed.
Mike offers to help, we go in, and they won't accept my Washington Mutual card. The bank assured me it would be no problem, and it may not be, this is the first time I've tried to use it. I have some dollars, the clubs throw food at us, and there are free breakfasts at most of the Hotels, so unless I need to get a camera or something I'll be fine. I haven't been spending ANY money, which is not surprising, because I am fairly incapable of spending money for reasons enumerated above. Fortunately my wife is great at it. And while that may sound bitter or like a Henny Youngman joke, I actually mean it so lovingly. One of her ways of expressing love for me is getting me things. God I miss her. I miss female in general, it's hard to explain, Guys outnumber dolls at our shows 10 to 1. That's gonna bring in fans. Maybe that's not true. Yes it is.
Raul's navigating may be a little shakey. I don't know, because he's done big cities and I've had it very easy. But he doesn't drive, and I think he navigates as if he's on a skateboard...sort of at a slower pace. I think I actually snapped at him ( in the guise of "helping him" and giving him "advice"). I apologized, I don't think I was too bad, I don't even think he noticed he was in his own private lostinberlin hell. But I think he shows a lot of symptoms of ACA and I want to do nothing but shower him with love and healing, so I'm a motherfucking bastard if I was mean.
I wrote till 4a.m. last night. I love writing this diary, it feels creative, and I NEED to feel creative. I got up at 8...had a GREAT free German hotel breakfast... They lay out eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, bead, rolls, croissant, 5 kinds of cereal, fish, tomatoes, juices, teas, coffee... the works. Then I, yes people, I actually STUMBLED OUTSIDE and walked along the Elbe hoping there was a castle or some other vintage shit within a 60 sec walk of the hotel. I am not a morning person, but the air felt great, but not as great as my bed was going to feel so I turned around and scurried back. I also found five euros in my pocket and BOUGHT 2 POSTCARDS, wrote to Hellin, Alex and Adam and sent them. Then collapsed back into my room. Sometimes we all get our own rooms, and being a spoiled, soft motherfucker, I like that. No, I just need privacy sometimes, we're around people ALL THE TIME! We hit the road at 10:30.
This was the same road we drove on yesterday, and I need my rest, so I put on my headphones and listened to a CD of a guy named Chuck Chamberlain, an alcoholic/philosopher who wrote a book called "A New Pair of Glasses". Mostly he did the lecture circuit. People told me about him, but I hadn't actually got into him. This was some heavy, heavy shit...truly a guy who had acheived some INTENSE SERENITY which interests me, I'm sure you can see why. I enjoyed the CD but the "buying the camera" thing happened right after so I'm still not well.
As I alluded to before, we got LOST AS SHIT when we pulled into Berlin, but it is really one of the neatest cities I think and you could say we were sightseeing, it's all how you look at it. We came up from the South and that route is mostly through the old east side, which is just very unlovely and ghetto in a soviet way. Maybe I just don't appreciate the aesthetic. But driving along the wall and seeing all the grafitti never fails to choke me up. The art just seems more inspired than any art anywhere, such a celebration, like little kids jumping on a trampoline. We pass a shantytown and Mike says, no, that's people's gardens, their little plots in the city where they get away and grow things. It's very overcast, and sorta grim, but really we've been lucky with weather, showers but nothing major and pretty warm.
We still arrive at the club two hours early which allows for leisurly setup, again we are helped with loading, fed generously, soundcheck seems promising, nothing goes wrong...it is a narrow brick room, real punk, with grimy siderooms, discos whatever. No opening band for the 3rd show out of five, which makes it easy for us, but seems lame for everyone else...aren't there local bands who would like to be on this gig, that would beg to be on this, for whom it would be a BIG DEAL? Wouldn't the audience like to see a little more? Isn't there a chance more people would show up? I just don't get it. Easy for us, but all around seems like a bad idea.
Ben Franklin!!! You can credit him with this whole american style of writing that leads to Mark Twain, Vonnegut etc. That never really occurred to me...
I can't help mention that I play with Nina Hagen to Germans, she's such a part of their psyche. In America she's marginal and culty, but here she's like this archtype. I don't totally understand it. When you say her name, they get this goofy look, roll there eyes, and admit she's huge. Today this guy said she was one of the"ones". He said he's heard her new song on the radio alot, it's the theme from a soap opera. Then he says:"she is just totally normal to me". I ask him if he's heard the big band album and he doesn't know what I'm talking about. She does alot of stuff. OK so she's mainstream in Germany, that's sort of my point. To me she is not "normal". She's politically outspoken, a sort of a spiritual seeker, impossibly artistically eclectic, impossible to polish. At least I can't polish her. But she polarizes Germans. This other guy said she was "culty". And he said she was selling out, doing some "unnecesary TV shows". People always seem to have this grudging respect for her. Being from the East and a woman may be some of it.
Obviously, I'm doing my very standard "GuesswhoIam" which is really pathetic. So I'll bring her up from now on without mentioning any involvement. Because I really do wnat to understand who she is.
I walk around a little outside but it is an unbelievably drab part of town, and I can find no landmarks, just row after row of five-story Eastern block housing with shops on the ground floor. Every window has a cross dividing the window panes, which looks like rows and rows of graves, or a tribute to the recently deceased pope. It is actually just how they make their windows. Unless a subtle protest against the soviet regime? I'm a bad tourist. I have no knowledge. Behind every one of these windows is a dozen stories. Everyone of these shops jammed with goods is a miracle for these people who lived wanting for so long.
The club seems pretty empty till about ten minutess before we go on, then fills up nicely. With the Coltrane and the general Berlin vibe it feels like it could be a jazz club from the 50's. We play. I realize that all that focus obsession may be good, may be bad. It's a hard piece, still new, it's admirable I give it so much dedication, but it will play itself when it plays itself. Tonight it plays itself better than it ever did. The crowd is lovingly attendant. The sound is good. A guy said he recorded it, and I wouldn't be afraid to listen to it. There was one or two disasters, a few questionable decisions. I guess Mike wasn't happy with the set, he seemed really angry afterwards, and sort of insulting. He said "you're in Nina Hagenland" by which he means I'm not cutting off tight enough in some places I believe.
I have a friend who is a surgeon, his name is George, and he is very wise, very intelligent, very spiritual. One day he said that people have quite an illusion of free will. A teenager jerking off thinks he's exercising his free will, but there is actually a genetic imperative that drives him, because fresh sperm is more potent. An alcoholic will choose a job or spouse, that facilitates her drinking. Someone will go to college and rush down a path that is laid out by their parents, their race, their socio economic status.
I'm just here. I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. I may not be bringing much fucking joy into the world, because I am pretty joyless myself. I'm sure reading this can be pretty joyless. I would imagine you might check out Raul and Mike's take on things. I can't do any better. This is it. I'm stuck with it, and if you choose to read this you're stuck with it too. How I play onstage is a result of 38 years of playing and it ain't going to change tomorrow. Maybe if I keep writing, I can dig out this tumor.
After the show, I spend a fair amount of time, standing in the club feeling completely alone and desolate.
I buck up a little loading the gear into the van, and sing happy birthday in the parking lot to Raul, who has just turned 27. I tell him he has so much sex and drugs still in store, and he says he's already cleaned his act up, so I tell him then it'll be money. The hotel is next door, we move our stuff in, and I tell Raul I'll go back to the club and watch him have a drink. Watt says he's seen this, guys who get sober and then want to watch people get fucked up. He warns us it's early in the tour and not to get sick, and I know he'll want to hit the road at an ungodly hour. I want to say unnecesary hour, but that is absolutely not my judgement to make and I'm in a dark dark place to be slinging judgements at all. But it's Raul first time in Berlin (my fourth), it's his birthday, and I love the kid and want him to know it. Does that sound patronizing, calling a 27 year old man a kid? Forgive me, my son Alex is less than four years younger than Raul. It really just means I'm old. I definitely don't want to see him fucked up. We leave the hotel at midnight, I'm back by 12:45. It's 1:30 now. I hope the birthday boy is having fun.
We went back to the club, wandered around, people drinking. Upstairs is a private party, there's some hors d'euvres. Raul has made contact with a guy from San Francisco. I look at women. We see the booker, Ingle and his partner Mike and we chat for a while, but I'm yelling over the music and that's a recipe for disaster so I head out.
I really don't feel like writing this anymore. I was able to laugh at the stuff for a while but this is unreadable. It takes a lot of time and effort, I see and do nothing and I should be sleeping. Things will look better in the morning. What the fuck am I saying.
To be somewhere with Hellin, no responsibilities, the future COMPLETELY EMPTY. The only problem is I would be there...
Goodnight my love, I think of you every minute, no thats not what it is...I feel a void in my heart every minute I'm not with you.
A drunken man who falls out of a cart, though he may suffer, does not die. His bones are the same as other people's; but he meets the accident in a different way. His spirit is in a condition of security. He is not conscious of riding in the cart; neither is he conscious of falling out of it. Ideas of life, death, fear etc. cannot penetrate his breast; and so he does not suffer from contact with objective existences. And if such security can come from wine, how much more is to be got from sponteneity?
pop at seven and get my morning thing on. they got the usual chow out for frustuck so I do the trough on that and then ring my guys up to bail. behind the 'tel is the river elbe and I go check that out while paul does his mosey (I had to send raul up to yank him out of his navel-gaze mode... funny what some folks use the diary for but I guess I do that some too). the current is pretty swift, whoa. there's some ducks huddle who make for the water as I approach, muttering their quacks at me. man, can they paddle w/those feet of theirs! the look kind of like mallards, very pretty. too bad I didn't see a lot of dresden - I kind of know of it through world war II history about it being bombed all crazy and the curt vonnegut novel "slaughterhouse 5" but it seems pretty rebuilt now from what I can see. it's gray out - no rain yet but maybe some soon. I take us back whence we came yesterday, retracing our steps back up the a13, north to berlin. the sun comes out though it's a little chilly. that place where all that plug was on the autobahn yesterday is all clearness now though the construction is still there, trippy. like a lot of germany, the trees are really tall and thin w/hardly any branches except at the top. we pass this part where in the distance it looks like a giant airship hanger, all silver painted and w/what looks like giant panes of glass on it - hard to tell cuz it's far but man, is it huge. we then pass this offramp sign that says in english "tropical island" so we're wondering, is this some kind of tourist thing or something? by me I mean me and raul cuz paul is pretty much konked in the back. he stays up late, way after we're done playing and chimps diary though maybe the volume of words might not show it (or maybe they do, what do I know?) cuz he types w/only two fingers. however, I can attest to the fact he does in fact spend a bunch of time at it.
so raul's at the navigator seat as we come off the berliner-ring into the southeast of town. I see a mall w/another one of those media mart stores like in rotterdam where I got the replacement camera. man, I need a flash card bad cuz this 16mb one is totaly bunk. they got a 250mb for twentyfive euros and I get that (it'll let the camera hold a couple hundred pictures at a time rather than just sixteen). paul tries to get a digicamera but they won't take his bank card - damn. for two euros I get one of those things that uses one aa battery to run. sure wish paul could've got a camera cuz I now there's lots of stuff he'd love to share w/his wife and sons adam and alex. back t the boat - only a couple of hours to get here but watch us do some wander - not to put a jinx on us or anything but damn if I'm gonna think it just ain't possible or even barely unlikely. beautiful architecture of the former east - a cross between housing proj and the cellblock/barracks motifs so generous to improvisation and variety. a pity some had to be torn down for just as creative flourishes in the discount supermarket vein. life is trippy. the old commie tv tower is still there w/it's goiter sphere three-fourths up it's uptight self. I use this as a landmark as we become lost and begin our wander - raul is overwhelmed by the maze he now finds the map has turned into (magically of course). I have to keep us safe and maintain the driving thing while paul balances raul's befuddlement w/his own fine sense of hysterics - c'mon, we gotta laugh at ourselves in a way - at least we get in some berlin sights, even if it's the east part. we pass over the spree a couple times which should serve as landmarks but the map michael gave us is of little help except for this volkspark friedrichlane part - I know if I can find this, then the pad should be right near. enough wander maybe, I have raul roll down his window and ask "ein frage" to a cat in a delivery van and he says it's near if I bear starboard. I kind of thought so cuz now the commie tv tower is on our left instead of our right - raul must've had us turn early, making michael's instructions useless (the scale of the maps prevented us from exploring other solutions if this happened). no huge worry though cuz that's why I have us leave early though paul almost seemed quite intent to try and debate this w/me this morning but not too insistent when he saw my eyes narrow. I don't need the added stress of having to hurry w/everything else weighing on me and paul understands. there! there's the volkspark, now I know we're close. finally, an hour after getting into town, we're at magnet, the pad we're playing tonight.
the weather's gotten gray again as we load in the gear. we're led upstairs and there's tables full of chow - damn, it's hard to imagine what's on their minds when they lay all of this out - do they think we got like a hundred man crew? there's only three of us! there's plates of lunch meats, buckets of butter, trays of strawberries and pineapples, bowls of candies and salad, slices and slices of cheese, boxes of cereals, milk, fifty bottles of cokes, waters and beers - incredible amounts that would have you stuffed up to water tower dimensions - crimony! really, it's 'pert-near hilarious though I don't mean to be disrespectful. it sure saves from having to throw ducats on buying chow. the cat helping us out is engo and he's cool people. we set the stuff up on a stage that I call a "cupboard" type cuz the ceiling is low and there's wall right at the sides - like we're playing inside on a shelf w/the cupboard door opened up. soundman peter does a soundcheck w/us and discovers my mic is a little weak so he lets me use his beta 57a, danke peter. we get done w/that and then I go chimp diary 'til we have to move from the upstairs cuz there's a party that's going on soon. the bosslady mary apologizes much but I tell her not to worry - the little room downstairs behind the stage is perfectly alright. this club being in the former east zone is in a building built in the style of those times and is pretty beat up but I think it's ok. I'm used to pads like this (yes, the exist even in non-communist era places) and they're a little easier to work for me. whoa, I'm surprised to find that philip has shown up - he's the brother of j mascis' wife luisa and his friend peter's w/him. I saw them both last in july when I was here in berlin at the columbiahalle w/the stooges. so good they came to the gig, that makes me happy. of course we have to talk much, phily is quite funny and smart, peter too... good cats.
no opening act tonight so we're on at 10:30, kind of late for a german gig but hey, this is berlin. in the old days, this was 'pert-near the only town in germany to not close down at ten pm or whatever but then that's when there was two germanys. I hear from people that berlin is a much different town then - I know it's the capitol now since they moved it from bonn but it's different in other ways too. hard for me to know personally though, not being from here but I can imagine. time to imagine the piece now or at least imagine it coming alive by playing it - we begin the gig. whoa, paul's organ's got some high midrange to it - a little too much. I think that transistor leslie isn't as warm as the tube version. we do good though, I think. the band's already getting it together pretty good this early into the tour - all that prac has really paid off even if there's still some clams to be blown. this crowd, like the others so far on this tour are very responsive and a pleasure to play for. my guys are a little less withdrawn and coming out a little more - I told them I didn't mean to intimidate them by mentioning we were a little off w/some miscues, I didn't mean for them to get totally self-conscious cuz then I'll feel a little lonely going crazy by myself! I think a good goal would be to reel out some intensity and then snap it back it in quick to keep on the mark. what I want is to make an interesting conversation out of us three playing together. trippy playing this tour and the last one cuz of no playlist - don't think I've ever done that before but this is one big song split into nine parts where it's always in the same order (inferno has to come before purgatory which is always before paradise). some guy's on stage w/a camera and taking all kinds of shots, he's cramping me up pretty intense and 'pert-near tripping me up but I manage to keep focus on the piece. maybe he's a little borracho? I sort of get the whiff of a brewery from his way. he gives me a lot of pats on the back and shoulder to let me know it's ok. it's kind of funny and no real harm comes from it. the tight stage makes things a little cramped w/him doing his snaps, that's all - no big deal. everyone had a different idea of what's a good time, huh? hopefully he got some good shots. I think phily and peter filmed the gig w/video. anyway, paul clams up the end of "angels gate" for the second night in a row but he recovers better this time - he keeps his head up and maintains eye contact w/us which helps much. he's learning! no, just kidding... it takes some getting used to playing this way and a power-trio is a trippy place for an organ player who's used to being part of a pad for a bigger band. I can tell cuz he holds notes a little long but he's getting it, gig by gig - paul's dedicated to getting this thing better w/me and raul. for his part, raul's a lot less on edge than last night though when I try to relate to him that his floor tom is ringing like a motherfucker and he's gotta use his hand to gate it, I guess my lips are a little hard to read but he doesn't acknowledge that so it's hard to know what I'm getting through to him. finally it gets clear and he does good to kill the hum that threatens to bogart on us big time. we finish the piece and are brought back on for the encores, doing all of them except the roky song cuz it's hard to follow paul up when's he's wailing so by himself at the end of "we are time" I just come out after to thank the folks, hand out stickers and make it be known that you can get a shirt if you want but it's not a hard sell cuz mainly I'm out on tour to play for people and not really just sling.
lots of nice cats come up and rap to me. two are from dublin and brought a buddy from poland - heck, there's a few from poland and in fact one knows this cat in l.a. named gregr who comes to my shows - what a small universe. there's a bunch of u.s. folks too, a couple from brooklyn - one who's moved to poland! I gotta play that land next time for sure and I tell that to gregr's friend who drove six hundred kliks to get here. there's a big man from lawrence, kansas too and I show him the bicycle spoke bracelet somebody made and gave to me there. good to see folks from back home but also the germans, like all the shows so far, have been great to play for and are very kind to me w/their thoughts/wishes - big thanks/welcomes back from watt to everyone, truly. the bosslady mary settles w/me and then wants me to have a drink so I do a tiny thing of jim beam - I don't drink 'pert-near at all cuz of it getting heavy on me (making me weak) but a little like this is ok a bit. man, I know why I keep away cuz I do in a way love it. I fight off the jones to go for more though - fuck that.
the 'tel is two doors down so we can load the gear up into the diks boat, back it in against the wall and then get it in the morning. midnight now - hey, it's raul's birthday and he's twentyseven years old. viva raul! we go to the 'tel and man, am I beat (yeah, yeah - I'm saying this yet again!) so I let konk yank me into the land way beyonder.
saturday, april 9, 2005 - munster, germany
Spent most of the drive to munster rotating between sleeping, and reading chronicles, i stayed up way to late last night, and woke up kinda hazy in the head. Somehow we missed a turn of the autobahn, and when i woke up were driving thru the back roads of germany, and it's starting to snow. Not bad, melting as it hit the ground, but it was pretty cold. The scenery reminds me of the midwest, big green fields, farmhouses. Drove thru some small towns. Munster sems like a small collage town, well actually it is a small collage, and probably much more. Playing a club called gleiss 22. It's a sort of community center with practice pads in the basement, a club on ground level, and artist lofts on the second and third floors. Everyone who runs the place is going beyond the call of duty. Seems last night we forgot to load out the keyboard stand at the the magnet in berlin, that's screwed, all that's around are tables that are about three feet off the ground, paul hafta play on his knees. One call from the promoter, and paul gets a stand delivered, and is able to buy it for thirty dollars, yeah not even euros, so that's way cheap, dude saved our ass. All shops closesd... the tour gods on our side. Decided to make a list of all the gear and tape it to the inside door of the euro boat, like a check list, and just check it off as we load it in. There's lots of time before the gig, and my energy is pretty depleted from all the walking in berlin i did yesterday, so i go to the room right down the road, and give the chimpin' some time, i'd love to check out munster, but it's raining, and i'd hate to sick so early in the game, or at all.
It was pretty nice of these folks, when paul and i show up back at the club for dinner, they have this hugh spread of home made food. The noki was badass, i'm not sure if that's the right spelling, it's probably more like gnocchi, but the taste exceeds words. Lena makes it back home in pedro, and it's kickin', but this, sorrry lena was super kickin', it was loaded with feta and spinach, and an avocado salad... like i said before, beyond the call of duty. It was total family style, we put all the tables together and the band and everybody who ran the place, including the cook sat down for dinner. Even had candles lit and bottles of wine at the table... geez. The first hot food i've had all tour, except one fried egg on the first mourning in rotterdam, much appreciated. Playing with a band from koln, called endearment, good guys, i had spoke to one earlier when he called the room asking to borrow a drum kit. I hate to tie bands to other bands, but i'm not writing reviews, i'm just stating fact. To me they sounded like a mix between built to spill and wire. Hell maybe you have no idea what either of those groups sound like, If not check em' out. In my opinion, built to spills best record is, keep it like a secret, and i really like chairs missing an album by wire, they have a few great records, but you know, screw opinion, threre's no treaty a wrong or right wit something like an opinion on music. They put on a decent show, and got a good response from the gig goers. The stage is low, so i can only see the bands if i'm standing right up front, but it's loud, so i gotta go outside for a ear breather. Damn, there are a ton of bikes outside, it looks like all most everyone here rode their bicycles. It's snowing.
Our turn to go up. Tonights like berlin, with a low stage, and everybody packed up front. I guess there was a reporter there, he was doing a piece for the german version of rolling stone. He planted him self in the front to the right, and i could feel him staring at me the whole time. Yeah i know, people are there to watch and listen, but just something a bit off putting about it., i don't know... whatever. During the set, while we're playing angels gate, the beater flies off the kick pedal... yikes. I don't really know what to, there's never really a chance to switch pedals, and mines in a case packed away. I try my hardest to get to the solo, totally play the cheesiest one yet, and while i'm doing it, i just blurt out bass pedal broke. Paul runs to the back stage, and grabs endearments gear, and a new pedal is on in a snap, and we fall right back into the song. Both those dudes saved the day. All in all, a pretty good show. We had to pack up quick, cuz right after the gig there's gonna be a disco, or a dance club, same shit. It proves to be hard as fuck to get these people to move for us, they just play oblivious, and on top of that it's pouring, which makes it hard to do the check list. I don't wanna forget anything though, so we do it anyway... whatever, it's just water, but getting sick would suck. The hotels close, so the boat stays, and we get to walking. After a while sitting around in the room, i walk back to the club and hang with endearment until they start their drive back to koln. It ends up being a couple hours, cuz there driver is busy dancing... aggressively gay disco dancing.
At some point in the middle of the night I hear Raul coming in, somehow I can sense he's boracho. I go back to sleep, but a few minutes later He's jumping on top of me, enthusiastically. I mutter:" What's your problem?" even though I know he's gotten confused which bed he's sleeping in, at least I hope that's what it was. He jerks back and I guess he must have knocked the phone off the hook, because I wake up with convulsively at 8:30, a half hour after I was expecting a wake up call. No harm is done, I eat a bowl of granola and we hit the road.
Watt is out of his fucking mind.
Last night I had dreams of women. I think it's just missing female. Hellin doesn't get freaked out for me to say that. I don't know why, only child security. I don't need to talk any more about this. Hi Hellin.
I also started thinking and just loving the shit out of my sons today. Watt talked about his Dad and said his dad was afraid of him and it got me thinking. I am a little afraid of you Alex. Every time I am able to lay one of my demons to rest there is one less demon in the world.
As I'm chimping the above, I unnavigate us onto the wrong autobahn. No big deal, we cut across the German country side on a secondary road and get back on course to Muenster. This is the west again, and the farms are nicer, the standard of living obviously higher, Big brick structures, with seemingly not enough land to really be profitable. I don't get how people eke out a living here, but that's always a mystery to me. But the agribusiness doesn't seem to have hit here...Mom and Pop farms apparently existing quite comfortably. Again, I am doing this thoughtful disertation based on blasting through about forty clicks of German countryside, with no actual knowledge whatsoever...
But we find the club pretty smoothly, I'm still looking like the pro navigator, although the scenic route probably added 30 min-hour to the trip. I think watt called it " pad for wander"...was that it? He can be comedian.
Unpacking the gear we find we have "donated" the keyboard stand to someone at the last gig. SHIT!!!!!!!!!! I mean, WE CANNOT be leaving FUCKING GEAR!!!!!!!! And this was mine, noone to blame, no way to dance, just a pure and simple FUCKUP OF THE FIRST MAGNITUDE. The people at the club are great Michel gets on the phone to his friend Andreas and there is an exact, but brand new copy of the old stand before soundcheck. I give Andreas probably too much money, I'm so grateful. Later I tell Mike: "I could say somebody stole it..." he says: "Yeah, blame the Germans"
We check and it seems like it's going to be really great. The club does a nice spread of food, the hotel is a short walk, Raul and I check in, I like that, got a base of operations I can retreat to if I feel the need. I take a little nap, Raul chimps then we head back for a GREAT meal, gnocci& spinach, salad, a deelish Yogurt and nuts desert. Usually we pig out on the snacks: cold cut sandwiches, fruit, stuff, and we're too full for the real meal, but this time it's great.
I'm feeling good, maybe because I survived the keyboard stand ordeal, the food is good, the people are nice, it's one of those little college town gigs that I'm so familiar with. I decide to take a walk up to the old town. I ask Bjorn, who seems to be in charge of the club and who picked up a british accent from a year in England, where to go and he points the way. " A five minute walk," he says.
I head off and sure enough, in a few minutes I'm walking through a beautiful little "oldtown", modern shops on the ground floor of centuries old architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, lots of beautiful old churches. Perfect. I'm sightseeing in Europe. Check me out.
I walk up to one big old church and hear organ music inside. My heart just LONGS to go in and sit down, and feel spiritual, but there's a sign on the door; it's in German but I'm pretty sure it says something to the effect of: "Recital, please don't enter while the music's playing." Disappointed, I listen for a minute, it's beautiful. Then I back away, and as I do a couple comes out the doors! I don't know what to do, but I'm a little pressed for time, so I just go.
Ten I see a cash machine. Yes! Finally I can get some Euros. I put my card in and the machine seems to like it. It asks me how many Euros I want. Then it asks for my pin. I look at the keypad and notice that it is numbers...no letters. I know my pin # by letters, y'know a little code word... I try to figure out what it is in #'s a few times. Every time the machine says, wrong pin, dude. Finally it says: Invalid card.
If you type in the wrong pin # a few times, will they suspect thievery and cancel your card? Or was the Washington Mutual guy just bullshitting me about the card working "everywhere in Europe"? Or did I never get the pin right? Who fucking knows?
I turn away from the machine, disgusted, and start to retrace my steps to the club. Again I am struck by the beauty of the town. I walk by a jewelry shop and look in; there are some hideous little beads that looks to me like junk jewelry from the Salvation Army selling for 400 Euros (what is that $500?) What the fuck do I know nothing. I'm fantasizing about this thing I'm going to write about Hellin in the diary, sort of trying it out, composing it...Maybe I'll get to it later.
I come out of the old town, and don't exactly recognize where I am. I entered just off a little roundabout; they've got these circle you drive around in Europe, not too much in US, and I don't see it. I start walking, and everything is unfamiliar. I think I'm going in the right direction, but...Anyway there's a map, I consult it and... Woo, I'm not at all where I think I am. I go back the way I came, but my mind is just in a fog, I can't remember any of the German names of streets that I'm looking for. I saw the circle on the map but I'm not getting to it and the street ma,es are long and confusing. I stop at another map, but it's dark and I can't figure anything out from it. I ask a lady and she says: "It's that way about 500 meters." 500 meters? that's half a click! I ask another lady and she just walks past me without answering. Plus I have to pee really really bad.
It's not really a total emergency, because I can't remember the name of the club, the hotel, or the street they're on. The clock is ticking. It's dark, it's cold, it's raining a little, my teeth are floating, and now I'm just walking aimlessly, with show time approaching. I remember Watt talking today about when he worked with the old people in the hospital with Alzheimers, how they wouldn't recognize their own childeren, they just thought they were bad people, locking them up. They would just stand in the hallways crying. That's how I felt.
I soldier on and am dumbfounded to see the club swim up through my tears. Thank Fucking God!
So let's recap:
1) Get us lost on the autobahn.
2) Lose the keyboard stand, freak out, have one delivered to the club, buy it.
3)Try to take money out of a machine, can't figure out my PIN and probably invalidate the card.
4) Get hopelessly lost, stumble on the club by the merest chance.
But I'm fine! This kind of stuff happens to everyone, and all this bullshit that flies through my head ( early onset alzheimers, permanent and progressive brain damage as a result of drugs, late blooming schizophrenia) when this stuff arises...just cut it out, just stop! It's just life and life only, ma, and all your whining just makes everyone sick. Put on a happy face. Or at least just STOP THINKING! You're a lucky guy, The sun smiles on your ass, you can't even list all the fucking blessings, WHAT EXACTLY IS YOUR PROBLEM? Cheer up EMO kid!!! HA! See! This weeks journal ends on an upbeat note, Can't wait to leap into the next week. We're going to VIENNA in two days! Some fucking nerve you have, you self pitying, egomanaical, horses ass. There's alot of people who would trade places with you in a heartbeat! I'm sorry I'll try to do better. I'll try to look at the glass as half full! A smile on my face and love in my heart! Really! I LOVE YOU ALL!
I make it to the show right as the opening band (Endearment-sorry guys missed you) finishes up. We set up and start. Watt is having a super hard time with the sound. He brings are volume down, down till we're playing softer than we were at our whisper rehearsels. I'm so bummed, cause all the balls are just GONE from the organ sound; no grit or distortion whatever. However I take it as a challenge, there are kinds of music that don't use distortion at all and this opera can be one. I even told Watt we could try this thing with piano and upright or guitarron or something someday.
So I bite the bullet. I do my best. I'm pretty sure he's going to be unhappy at the end of the set, and I feel pretty demoralized. Morale at an all time low. I care so much about what I do, I respect Mike and the piece so much, I really do as well as a person suffering from Alzheimers or whatever it is can do. I CAN'T DO ANY BETTER! There is no headroom, no extra gear, this is me with what God allotted me, flat out. Mike does this military: "Allright you maggots!!!" thing that I take totally to heart and personal. It crushes me.
To me, it's the worst set of the tour. I can't push the thing up and over into the frenzy that I have always feel the piece demanded. It's flat and lukewarm. I creep up a little in the encores, and it get's a little better...but I feel I haven't given what is required of me. I couldn't, without blowing Mike out.
But instead of coming off and receiving a dressing down, a punishing upbraiding that I was expecting, Mike is happy with the set. He says it was a hard room and we did great. The praise is such a relief that all the anxiety just leaves. I don't know if he's nuts, or if he's right, and I really mean that and I don't care. My job is to please him, because he knows what he wants to present to the audience. That's why it's so hard when he doesn't seem to think we're trying, or he thinks we suck or whatever.
I'd like to feel a little more relaxed. I would love to find an untouchable inner place of peace, centered, that noones actions can effect. My empathy, insecurity, sensitivity...all the components of my personality conspire to leave me off kilter, swinging on an emotional pendulum. Maybe there's good things about it, artistic, emotional, whatever.but it is sort of uncomfortable.
Hellin, you're face is my inner peace. If anybody is still reading this...Do you think I'm the corniest guy in the world about my wife!!!!!??????? Ahhhh, yer just jealous. See you next week, I hope!
Suffering alone exists, none who suffer
the deed there is, but no doer thereof
Nirvana is, but noone seeking it
The Path there is, but none who travel it
pop at seven and head down the same five flights of stairs I think I heard paul saying something about when we were coming up them last night... believe it or not, lots of times it's harder for me to go down than up cuz of my fucked-up knees - weird, huh? it's cuz I kind of get going too fast or something and it hurts on me, ponding down on the top of my shins w/what I got on top - sort of like "reverse totem pole" in a way ("totem pole" was what george hurley would call his situation if he didn't take a dump before us playing a set and then then the turd would pile up inside him and pound up into him cuz a drummer uses all four limbs to play and is 'pert-near balancing on his throne w/his tailbone). convenient I mentioned that cuz next I want to talk about the morning chow that had here for frustuck (german for breakfast). it was a trip in a way cuz there was this big plate laid out w/all this mediterranean chow, like rolled up grape leaves, marinated lima beans, sundried tomatoes, big stuffed green olives, peppers stuffed w/a basil/spiced paste of whatever, big black marinated greek olives - it was all really righteous. trippy cuz I had a weird dream about having to ride after the gig on some hellrides, something I really hate doing and avoid at all costs. I rather pop at the crack of dawn and roll rather than roll the dice w/a late nighter. shit, I did way more than enough of those when I was younger. anyway, it reminded me of another tour experience (now ain't that weird? having a dream where you're wondering about something else - like the dream in the first place wasn't a wondering thing already!), my first tour in europe - it was w/the minutemen and us opening for black/flag in 1983. I remember konking on the last row of benches, sitting up w/d. boon and there being no head rests but our heads right on the glass so every bump had our heads knocking like a ringer in a beel against that rear window. ouch! it got so bad that me and d. boon turned sideways so our the back of our heads were touching each other and the bumps would have us knocking each other, skull on skull rather than skull on glass. well - in this dream (right, back to the dream), after wondering about those memories, I felt myself doing the knock-knock w/the glass and my head all night and just couldn't for the life of me wake up and do something about it, like I was paralyzed or something to break out of the konked state. what started to "captivate" me or whatever was the rhythms of these blows to my head I was getting and trying to cipher what tunes cuz they seemed like beats to songs so in a way I wanted my head to keep beating up against that glass 'til I could gathered what tune that riff or rhythm was to. it was even gnawing on me saw like that, sort of just there on the tip of my tongue and it would be such a defeat to let go of pursuing what the fuck it was. trouble was, those beats were hurting on me, damn so it was indeed a dilemma - yep, one of those kind of dreams. never did figure it out either cuz I popped and got yanked out before I felt I had it.
I get my guys and we get in the diks boat for munster, a town here in the west part of germany south of where we played in hamburg so it's a backtrack whence we were a few days ago. the plan is to go east and hit the berliner-ring autobahn so we go through the minimum of city plug. kind of a trip, only being in the east part when most of all my other berlin experiences have been on the other side or right on where the wall used to be. funny to hear paul finding out that the wall has alway had graffiti painted all over them (at least on the west side since I've been here starting in 1983) - he thought it started when the wall got torn down. we pass a gig poster for an "oldie time party" that's pretty funny too. hey, dig this: we pass a newly built rolls royce factory! we hit the ring and take it like we did to get to dresden but turn west once we hit the a2. there's rain off and on but nothing heavy and the sun even peeks out from time. very mixed up in a way. it's much more sparse w/development, towns and population in these parts compared to the west and very rural around this road. we're heading towards magdeberg and this is where a lot of the tank action was going to be if there ever was going to be any and thank god there wasn't. off the port side in the distance, I see this hugh airship hanger - I mean really big, like the ones I've seen back in nor cal, in sunnyvale. on the ausfahrt (offramp) parallel w/it is a sing in english saying "tropical islands" and I'm guessing it's been turned into some kind of a resort thing. stuff changes, like I prac in the former officer's latrine at fort maccarthur back in pedro. we go by some giant-ass bunkers done up now different too. I gas up and then we pass where the former east/west border was - there's a sign there now that says "halo, zusammen" ("hello, together") w/a picture of people smiling. everything's ok now.
we get west to bielefeld where paul slips some on the navigating and we miss the onramp that would've kept us on the autobahn we were taking (this is just like going east on the I-10 from down town l.a. - you're on the I-5 or ca-60 if you don't take the right off ramps - you can't just "stay on the same road") so we gotta take a secondary road to get into munster w/bearings that'll make the directions we got to the pad work. no prob and it's kind of neat to see some little german towns up close. there's an election coming and the posters are up. there's a party that's a christian democrat one - that seems "foreign" to someone like me where I was taught the u.s. constitution wants separation between those two things (religion and politics) but funny how a lot of folks at home maybe want that changed. anyway, not to riff on that too much out loud but one of their posters has a man w/a worker's hardhat on saying in german, "enough is enough." oh boy. people are people and it seems lots of the same hustles get worked no matter what land they're in. tragic/funny stuff - ok, we'll puke later. we get back on the autobahn and into munster, paul gets us right to the venue. it's called gleis 22 and the bossman bjorn comes within minutes of us getting there, great. another nice cat who works there, michael, arrives too and they all help us unload into the place, one of those youth centers funded by the city. they apologize for not having the sandwiches and accompanying trough ready but c'mon, you europe folks are too nice to us! waiting to shovel for a few minutes is no big deal. it still amazes me how much chow has been put out for us, damn. we set the gear up and have soundman tobi mic up and do the check w/us (he says my mic is a little beat up so lends me one of us for tonight). we're playing one of those "cupboard" gigs so it's gonna be a little but not too bad cuz for one thing, we're working for nice cats and that means tons - always... fuck the physics - one life is made of many gigs anyway.
I do an interview w/a nice writer named carsten who asks me lots of different things than I usually get asked and I can much appreciate that. he asks what I've recently heard that I like and for once I can remember right off the bat this great stuff I heard on the web called el may. I talk to him about john coltrane too and how raymond pettibon turning me on to his incredible music has really had an influence on me. I talk to another man who's got a great zine - an excellent story on the old hollywood punk is in the issue he gives me but like a fucking idiot, I forgot his name and it was just a little while ago too. aaaaaarrrrggggghhhhh, that frustrates me to no end. there's a band from cologne called endearment opening up and I listen to them while I chimp diary in the room at the side of the stage 'til it's our turn.
whoa, tough gig w/the sound a little and the monitor's are a little toy but I think we do pretty good - I'm proud of raul and paul for all the effort and good spirit they put into the piece and helping me keep things together on this tour - much respect to them. paul had "donated" (forgot, lost) the keyboard stand in berlin but a righteous soul sold him one for thirty u.s. dollars. he made some adjustments to the leslie so it's not as brittle sounding so that's better too. both my guys are trying their best and it's really inspiring, really. there's some trials in the gig and some little clams but I find myself laughing much in spite of any of that - I think that's healthy. the munster cats are really cool about our set and though we gotta move and load out fast to make room for the oncoming disco, I'm sure glad I got to finally play this town. I read about the history here and in fact dedicate "the red and the black" to a tanner from the middle ages name florian geyer. "blessed are those who struggle" someone once said.
it's raining as we move the equipment out to the boat but we get it all loaded up and then back it up against the wall and hoof it to the 'tel which ain't too far. I smoked a cigarette tonight - my first of the tour. I have to say I wasn't jonesing much all week but just wanted to celebrate this first week done.
read week 2 of the tour diary
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