Sunday, August 23, 2009

ich bin ein berliner (part two)

i shared a room with robbie and svalgard.

we collectively drank a pitcher of potent german beer during our "phuk et meal". careening down die fabrik hallways at 3AM, we were shouting, obnoxious amerikaners. when ike came into our room to use robbie's laptop, he barfed out the definitive phrase of the eerie hostel experience: "zo, gentleman. we are killing ze girl tonight?". laughter ensues, a loud knock on the wall. angry neighbors! sleep.

early rise. die fabrik cafe is right next door and we all agree on it for our frühstück (breakfast, for my american readers). a huge plate of dunkelbrot and käse. the danceable morning music ranged from the bangles to madonna to weirdo kraut jams. i coaxed the very german baristas into doing the robot with me. also, robbie and I put our iphones next to each other to simultaneously film wide screen freakouts of eric svalgard's face. one day we'll project it on a giant screen, i'm sure.

went to the schallplatten shop across the street. picked up records by gyorgy ligeti and gil evans. i delved into the obscure bin and found a german mad magazine LP, which brought back memories of my alfred e. neuman obsession. goodbye, 40 euros.
after the seratonin release of record shopping I walked around the corner, only to find remnants of the berlin wall!

a moving experience. i was only 2 years old when the wall was destroyed, too young to realize the significance of the event. the residual effects of its destruction are obvious. walls of the once pale industrial buildings are now splattered with paint and large line drawings. this kind of freedom is infectious, and evidently it's still new to the people that live here. 20 years is not a long time, not long enough to undo the kind of oppression they endured for more than a quarter century.

strolled back to die fabrik and hung out until it was time to set up our gear at the dot club. thanks again to the fabulous merlin ettore of trap. not only did he blow my mind, but he also lent me his drumset!

great 3 hour show that night. the crowd seemed to enjoy it. the evening's most entertaining moment: a group of young floozies came in during one of our more cerebral jams. can you imagine a group of paris hilton type socialities attempting to do their ancient ritual slut dances to an odd-time keyboard solo? a hilarious sight for any musician. the legendary joe jackson was in attendance as well. i bit my tongue when i shook his hand, because i almost started singing "is she really going out with him?".

afterwards i met my new best friend flora. we discussed the state of american pop culture. it's a shame, i feel like i have to defend myself sometimes, you know, because i'm an official ambassador. our long discussion about bret michael's "rock of love" brought us to the the crux of the matter. mainstream television is devolving at a rapid rate. you have to furrow your brow when an educational network like national geographic is now all reality programming. maybe I should blow up my TV. why do i even pay a comcast bill? oh right. thank god for adult swim. let's all push the envelope together.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

ich bin ein berliner (part one)

our next sequence went like this:
bilbao to madrid, madrid to berlin.

the latter flight was delayed due to technical issues (the plane sounded like a loud dentist drill). we waited 45 minutes and then we scrambled onto a shuttle bus. the driver seemed to be lost, because he gave us a head-spinning tour of the airport and all of its underground tunnels and pathways. fascinating, but not my idea of a good time during a day of dehydrating travel. speaking of dehydration, i'm a bit pissed at iberia airlines. where do they get off charging their customers for things like water and snacks? even southwest airlines - which is practically a chaotic free-for-all - has free drinks and snacks onboard. the going rate for an unappetizing cheese sandwich on an iberia flug is a bank-breaking €7.50, or $10.50 in hard earned american doll hairs! oh well, i'll stop complaining. i was in europe after all.

robbie and i were silly on the trip to berlin. in a deliriant frenzy, i managed to create a realistic cat out of a barf bag. robbie added accoutrements and filagree to this paper cat, and suddenly we were convinced that it was real. we made it nuzzle and purr while confused spaniards looked on and shuddered at our childish behavior. we even made a music video of the paper cat. the guy next to me remained stoic and straight-faced during our shoot, which makes it that much funnier.

here's a picture of the fantastic paper cat after we touched down in berlin.

iberia also lost our luggage when we did the shuttle bus switchover. this meant no clothes or toiletries for most of the group (except for me, thanks cheri). we filled out a bunch of papers, met our fabulous show promoters. i was losing patience though, and at this point, i was starving. so, we cabbed it to a thai restaurant which totally summed up our day with it's name. ladies and gentleman, phuket:

for our "phuk et meal", we were joined by none other than the great bob rutman. rutman was a huge part of the downtown nyc avant-garde scene in the 1970's. he was respected by stockhausen and cage, and he collaborated with robert wilson (of philip glass fame) and the recently deceased merce cunningham.

here's a video of his meeting with john cage:

but wait, it gets better! our sleeping quarters for the evening was "die fabrik", a beautiful punk rock hotel in the hip area of kreuzberg. from what i've read, it's a converted factory building from the early 1900's. i loved it immediately...except when we got there they only had 3 rooms for 7 people. ugh. fich mich!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

roll over, eindhoven/la-re-do, a deer, a female deer

the joy of being alone.

sometimes i undervalue the perks of having time to think, time to breathe. according to CNN, most americans have replaced "free time" with "weisure", or rather "work + leisure". a portmanteau word. another abbreviation for our fast paced lives. perhaps it is more fitting to create a blend from this simple equation: work + leisure = seizure, or as i'd like to call it, weizure. i recently purchased an iphone - the shining beacon, the sexy face of weizure. it's an overwhelming device, and when i'm in my multi-tasking/rapid text message/websurfing/twitter mode, i can feel my tongue rolling back into my esophagus.

work and leisure should be separate entities, you know, like church and state (here's looking at you, bush administration). my at&t contract is less than 90 days old, so when i went to buy an international plan for my european tour, i was denied. i knew what this meant - in order to communicate with my bandmates, i'd have to remember their hotel room numbers and whereabouts. no phone calls, no text messages. this also meant that i'd have no access to a 3G network. no social networking, tweets, friend requests, or anything of the like.

and suddenly, less anxiety. more fresh air. time to breathe!

which brings me to my last two touring locations: eindhoven, nl and laredo, spain.

holy shit. maybe last year i was jaded or ignorant, because i don't remember this kind of beauty. on sunday we played to a packed house in eindhoven at one of my favorite clubs, effenaar. effenaar has the BEST backstage food. a delightful vegan buffet comprised of a salad bar, curried vegetables, and cayenne eggplant. oh yes, i could live here.

the sidewalks have separate bike lanes with traffic lights, so i'd be less prone to a serious bike accident like this one:

i could also live in spain. goddamn. here's the view from my room:

it took us a full day of travel to get to laredo. our connecting flight in madrid had technical issues so we had to take a shuttle bus to another plane. naturally we didn't get to eat very much, so when we arrived in laredo, robbie and i went searching for a restaurant (at 11PM). after getting totally lost, we found a group of 3 restaurants: telepizza, the texas embassy, and dablos. which one sounds the most appetizing? i knew you were going to say telepizza. however, we used our collective brainpower and ultimately decided on dablos, and it was one of the best meals i've had in a long time.

also, they had duff beer in stock!

the next morning svalgard, robbie, and i went to the beach. swimming in clear ocean water. this is the life.

last night we performed at an indoor soccer arena with filthy habits ensemble and the grand kazoo. a complete evening of zappa music. such great people.

and now, on to berlin. you better "take my breath away", berlin! (get it? like the band berlin? from top gun?)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

czech please/prague rock

i'm writing from the park hotel in prague, czech republic. it's located right off the dukelskych hrdinu - a gritty street with pawn shops and xxx stores that leads to the town square via the palackeho most bridge. the bridge overlooks the shimmering vltava river, which houses two floating restaurants, a disco, and an old island that looks like alcatraz. the walk to the town square is much more glamorous, because on the way back it kind of looks like pittsburgh. here's a picture courtesy of cz wikipedia:

i flew over here on lufthansa with project object keyboardist/viking eric svalgard. a painless flight, except for the occasional outbursts a few rows behind us. on the seatback telescreen i endured the 2009 film "i love you, man", a pointless but entertaining study on Broism and it's effects on engagement plans.

on the way to prague we had a 4 hour (!) layover in frankfurt. during this waiting period, i played many games in my head such as "european or american?", a terrible exercise in poor judgement. i try to figure out if the passengers are european or american based on the amount of hair dye they use. am i going to hell yet?

in this process of amusing myself, i was interrupted by a young female airport employee. she decided that i was the perfect candidate for the "frankfurt airport questionnaire". my face must have shown great signs of apathy, because she began to pummel me with some hilarious questions. i provided arbitary answers, which she captured on a portable touchscreen computer.

our exchange went like this:

"excuse me sir, but do you have some time to answer some questions concerning frankfurt airport?"
"okay, um, what do you think about the cleanliness of frankfurt airport, rate 1 to 6...1 being the best."
"1 is the best?"
"yes sir."
"uh, okay, 1."
"and would you recommend frankfurt airport, rate 1 to 6?"
"i'm going to give it a 2."
"are you traveling for business or pleasure?"
"and are you from frankfurt?"
"no. i'm american."
"where are you located?"
"and how would compare frankfurt to other airports, rate 1 to 6?"
"i'm going to say a 1."
"how old are you?"
"i'm 22 years old."
"would you say that frankfurt airport is clean, rate 1 to 6?"
"that's a 1."
"how about the lighting, rate 1 to 6?"
"ehh, i'm going to say 2."
"i see."
silence. then she speaks.
"well, sir. we appreciate that you've chosen lufthansa. have a nice day!"

too much fun. the perfect soul draining medication for the following flight to prague.
now i'm sitting in my hotel room, waiting for the 1PM soundcheck. how strange. our show is early tonight. the lucerna bar turns into an 80's disco after we finish playing. i will be filming my attempts at dancing with sleazy czech beauties. i'll probably fall asleep though.