Wednesday, September 2, 2009

zappanale = utopia

a painful 10AM wake-up.

much like the "red alert" signal on a punctured submarine, my iPhone alarm is loud enough to wake up the entire crew of the U-96 (even after its demise). i wipe the crust from my unabrow and head to the lobby. grab a cup of strong coffee from my cafe dance partner. she seems wistful, but i'm sure doing the robot will get her out of it.

10 of us scurry into an 8 passenger van. one of us has not showered for days, which makes the drive comparable to being put into a 4 hour headlock by a homeless prizefighter. no worries though, we're on the way to one of my favorite places in the whole world. a quaint village called bad doberan. it's 15 kilometers west of rostock, and it's the home of zappanale, a week long festival dedicated to the genius of frank zappa: composer, filmmaker, guitarist, politician, iconoclast.

i wish i could describe the festival in full detail, but it's difficult for me. it's as close as i've come to some form of heaven. an endless supply of vegan food, a bizarre collection of avant-garde LP's. loud dissonance and difficult rhythms. art. weird girls. hangmatten. clean air. a lifetime of memories.

this year marked my 5th visit to the mecca of zappa. it gets better every year. there were two stages this time around! i still say it's the most organized festival in the world. you can quote me on that. i rubbed elbows with some of the all time greats, such as david aellen (of gong fame) and kawabata makoto (of the mind-melting acid mothers temple). eating a continental breakfast with roy estrada was hilarious. i will never forget it!

i also became best friends with the fine people of discorporate records. discorporate is one of the leading avant-garde labels in europe. coincidentally, they signed my close friends capillary action, a group led by oberlin grad jon pfeffer. jon and i played in a band together when we were 10 years old. it was called...well, the name was crude, perhaps even downright offensive. nevermind.

zappanale ended with a smashing late night performance on the second stage. johannes (drummer of schnaak and co-founder of discorporate) led the most inspired zappa/doors tribute group i've ever seen. their regular set closed with a rowdy cover of "L.A. Woman". for the encore, they played "girls just wanna have fun" - in the nude.

and that concludes my recap of the project/object european tour.