More graffitti from "Juice," the drummer of Grotus
When we pulled up to this club I was sure we were in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Masquerade. It's becoming a habit to pick out places in America that are reminiscent of our surroundings and just act like we're there; comforting to me in a certain way. When I press the issue, say cheerfully, "Hey, we're in Atlanta! You know, at the Masquerade! I hate Atlanta!" more than about 10 times in 10 minutes though, people stop looking confused at me and just start looking bored. It's ok; I'm bored too. I'll find some way to cheer people up, even if the only way I can do it is to irritate them enough that they realize how happy they are when I leave. (Once again I'm amazed at how tolerant all these guys are. I'm trying to test their limits.)
Upon walking into the backstage room, a large room with 10 beds, tons of food, and Nutella spread, among other things, it becomes obvious that we'll be sleeping here tonight. All of us in this big room, on little rickety camp-beds!
Food and Geek Fest
A French Guy Cutting Up Peppers and Pears
All I remember tonight is that we had a good show, there were weird guys from Australia at the show with plastic lobsters, and there was a girl from Champaign at the show. Steel Pole Bath Tub were marvelous but loud - crappy sound in the venue tonight. Then after the show the real party started - there was enough alcohol there I think to keep everyone occupied, but not enough food, so we decided to try to figure out a way to create a meal with the supplies that were left in the bed-backstage room, thinking we'd have to break into the back room- kitchen. Finally we got into the back room and I saw Macintoshes! "UH, EXCUSE ME, CAN I USE YOUR PHONE LINE?!!" Both Mike from SP and I took turns going on and off line (he's actually doing real work, coding and sending programs home without being able to test them, while I'm just sitting here writing words) while Darren and Jean-Luis created a wonderous meal for us, of pasta with garlic, wine and pear sauce. Rick and others cooed over an amazing catalogue from 1970 filled with Austrian children in ski clothes with airbrushed faces so they looked like they were smiling. I was just thrilled to be able to check my web page to see if it was still working, and to actually ftp onto prairienet; I can virtually travel home at least! Tonight RULED.
A show, and then a Day Off In Vienna! Woohoo!!
We spent the day off very well. Vienna is such a light and airy city, it's hard to be depressed here. Rick, Howie, Mike and I leave Hotel Furstenhoff, (the crazy hotel with bright red space-bathrooms we stayed at last time), get on the subway and first go to see a Monet exhibit in a museum that was almost as impressive as the paintings. Rick mentions that seeing a retrospective is fun because you don't only see the "good" famous paintings by the artist, but all the other ones that didn't make it; sort of like listening to the whole album instead of the single cut. I used to get intimidated by art exhibits because I don't know a lot about art history, but Rick has really cured me of that - he tells me that I don't have to know anything at all about the art. I just have to look at it and if I like it, then it's good. Nothing else. I don't have to know the artist or the history behind it, he says. That's so punk rock!
All else I really got out of the Monet exhibit was that I noticed that he made some textures look different than they usually do: there was a picture with grapes that looked like they were made of glass, and a picture with really fuzzy peaches. I also noticed that he uses a lot of different colors; definitely doesn't just stick to one set. I guess he was a pretty good painter. I don't really love old paintings that much, I guess. They don't move me at all.
Folk Art in Vienna, Irritating Americans, and McDonalds.
After this exhibit, we went to look for a McDonalds, salvation from classical Vienna and art, passing guys walking around with guns right outside the Monet museum. There is some sort of student unrest going on? We stopped on the street discussing where one might find a McDonalds, and some old man who was listening in on our conversation directed us to a StevensPlatz (??) big tourist area where we'd been last year, filled with every store you'd imagine and a huge church, where we were accosted by a shady-looking Renaissance-girl in a cape wanting to know if we wanted to come see a Mozart Concert that evening. We'd have to pay in advance, there were only 60 (?) seats, but they'd sell us tickets for discount, and we could go right now to look at the room where the concert was to be held, if we wanted. When we found out the musicians would consist of a cellist and a guitarist, and Mike looked over and noticed a man standing not too far away, dressed as Mozart, also trying to sell tickets, we passed on the offer.
When we got to the McDonalds, we realized we'd eaten there last year, at the same one. Something about being in Vienna makes you feel like you can go eat at McDonalds and not feel like a moron.
"The Spiral Makes No Mistakes"
Mario (bus driver) had sort of been talking about Hundertwasser for a couple of days now, even stopping at a WienerWald truck-stop designed by the architect, looking like something out of Disney World, trying to get us inspired. Superchunk had turned him onto this architect, the tour before ours. I was disturbed I'd never heard Rick or Jim talk about this guy, and scared to even try to learn about him since I didn't have any info on him in the first place (pretty silly, huh?), but Rick decoded the tourist map we got from the hotel and led us straight to the Hundertwasser Haus apartment complex, while I tried not to get hit by cars. The house is lumpy, asymmetrical, covered with mosaics, different-sized windows, and not open to the public, because the tenants are probably really sick of 22-year old smelly American liberal-arts students walking around too friendly in their hallways, taking pictures of their laundry, but there was a gift shop where you could spend lots of money on Hundertwasser postcards and memorabilia. The street was full of generation Xers, it seemed like the first Americans we'd seen in years, and yes, they were irritating as hell. Americans are always irritating in Europe; it's a rule. There was a Hundertwasser museum, too, where we peeked in and sat for a while, tired. The ground floor of the museum contained gift shoppes, a beautiful fountain made of different color stone from all over the world, and mosaic toilets, and the floor was completely uneven, like a skate park! The architect has a bunch of manifestos, of which excerpts are on display all over the museum: (these are copied from the book I bought)
The Uneven Ground
"Humans have more than just eyes to enjoy beautiful things and ears to hear beautiful sounds and noses to smell beautiful smells. Humans can also feel with their hands and feet. The flat foor with straight lines has been recognized as a real danger to humans. The uneven path becomes a symphony, a melody for the feet. This path makes one vibrate with joy." I have to admit it was really neat, but Rick watched two old ladies with canes nearly fall over while trying to walk across the floor to the door. He was not amused.
The Third Skin
"Man has three skins: the actual skin, cothing and the walls of his dwelling. Each of the three skins must renew itself; it must constantly grow and change. When the third skin, when the walls of his living space, does not change and grow as the first skin does, it will become rigid and die. Houses are growing beings just as trees are. Houses grow as plants do: they live and change constantly."
There is a great deal of writing about the importance of windows and the environment, and being able to feel free in the buildings and looking at the artwork and multi-colored (and multi-shaped) pillars you get the idea that Hundretwasser was inspired by Gaudi, FLWright and Gustav Klimt; all very in vogue right now. There are folk-art "Save The Whales" posters in the gift shoppes. The final line in the one excerpt that sticks in all of our minds because it pushed us all over the edge (suspended our suspension of disbelief) is "The Spiral Makes No Mistakes." I am sure there is a spiral somewhere that screwed up. All in all though, I think we all found the place a happy one to spend some time. I'm more apt to go home and mosaic my backyard than I am about to go home and paint a bunch of pictures of flowers. Why does modern art help me think more than the classics? Is it freer - open to more interpretation and applications, or are my standards lower than they should be? I guess I'm bold enough not to care, and to just enjoy what I enjoy. Yay!
Blue In The Face
Then we topped off the evening with the movie "Blue In The Face" - a great movie by the guy who did "Smoke" I guess. It all takes place in a tobacco shop in New York, it's a bunch of improvisations, and it has Harvey Keitel and Madonna in it and nobody gets shot or killed. Interesting. The movie tickhets [sic] we bought had reserved seats in them even thought the theater had about 70 seats in it; of course when we went to sit down, the only 2 people in the theater at the time had taken our seats. We took the row in front of them, and soon got yelled at and forced to move. It seems really stupid to have reserved seats in a movie theater. America really is starting to seem like "The New World."
Tue Mar 19, Nurmberg, Germany
Like I Even Know What You Said
All I remember about today was that this was a pretty good show for Germany: the people were really responsive. The bus was parked in the middle of a huge shopping district with at least 3 McDonald's in a 1-mile radius - and there were a million fashion stores all over the place and everyone who went outside the bus, shopping, got yelled at. Amy was told that she "wouldn't find any shoes that she'd like" at this one store she stopped in, after the woman saw her boots. I got yelled at by some girl's boyfriend in a clothes-store: "Yaga yaga yaga yaga yaga yaga yaga" (in German) he yelled pointedly at me, and I said right back to him, in his face, (in English), "Yeah, like I really even know what you just said." Sometimes you just have to tell these people who's boss. I have no idea what that guy actually said to me.
One of my favorite moments of the whole day was getting to walk around with Dale and Darren for a little while. I am trying to give people their space these days, but I always notice when people are being nice. Dale and Darren are so quiet - much quieter than we are, I think - and much louder and scarier when they get on stage. I love this tour.
usually i like to put my hands through windows
One of these last couple of nights was the night where I decided I could drink alcohol again, because I hadn't done anything stupid the last time (the other day), so I figured it'd work out fine again. I guess one of the things I do when I drink is sort of try to destroy my hands. I talk about math and I try to destroy my hands. Last night (I think it was last night, I can't even remember), it didn't work out too well, and I behaved like an idiot. I remember crying in my bunk, pounding my fists on its ceiling and the walls, and screaming. Rick reminded me not to break the windows because they weren't ours, and I'm glad I took that into account. Usually I like to put my hands through windows. Howie took it upon himself to comfort me, while I screamed nonsense and pounded on the ceiling of my bunk. i don't exist anymore! fuck you! fuck you! fuck you! fucking youth. The rest of the guys were trying to watch the movie K-9 about Jim Belushi, a police officer trying to catch an evil drug-lord (the guy from Emergency who isn't Randy Mantooth) with a Canine Partner! wacky! - remember, we are people who can barely stand commercial films - about 10 feet away from my screaming, hysterical, bunk-padded mess. I don't even want to think about what was going on in their minds. I don't want to think anymore.
A Really Good Day To Do Laundry
Today was the only day this week that I didn't eat at a McDonalds. I really don't have much else to say about this city. The venue we played in was an old subway station - and it had a really nice hot shower. A guy reviewed the show and asked for our names so I gave him fake ones. Days are starting to really blend together into grey Germany. Darren's plan is to watch Schindler's List each night now to keep himself sane through Germany, but he falls asleep in odd positions while watching it, which the rest of us find funny. I wouldn't give this touring up for the world!
More about Steel Pole Bath Tub
I find these guys really quiet and really sweet; the sweetest band I've ever known. The sweetest people really, that I've ever known. I find I love to watch them walk on the stage and become these shy monsters of rock. I find myself even wanting to imitate their speech patterns; I love to listen to them talk. I guess we fit great with them because we are pretty quiet off the stage too, and then when we get on the stage I think we transform, also. I also find that I like to listen to their CD after the show when I'm laying in my bunk trying to go to sleep. I can't get enough of them.
Tour Manager Jean-Luis: "I am not allowed to take risks."
It's a little skate park out here! Mike (who has been wearing a Thrasher sweatshirt this entire tour) and Dale have these incredible grins on their face because they are going to sk8 - I think they were professional skaters at one point. Now they say they are old, but this skate park is filled with little teeny 12-year old smoking skate kids who I'm sure will be impressed with grampas Mike and Dale. Amy and I walked around the little park and wherever we sat, little boys would skate by and do tricks for us - Amy tells me that it is the norm for guys to sk8 in front of girls to impress them. I have no concept of guys trying to impress girls/especially ME, so I had to think about it for a couple of hours, running the equation (Guy -> wants to impress chick, and I == chick) over and over again in my head.
nothing that a bullet wouldn't cure
This was the greatest meal on the face of the earth tonight, cooked at the venue, chinese food and later on there was a bonfire outside near the ramps. It's been a wonderful day (compared to the days without skate parks), most everyone is smiling, but I think that they are gritting their teeth behind their smiles. Somewhere along the tour I learned from one of them that even if you feel badly, you still have a responsibility to act like everything's all right, for the sake of everyone else on the tour. Oh. woops. Dale and Darren keep talking about "when the tour goes into single digits, then they'll be happy."
Germany's greyness can sap the life out of anyone. Possibly to combat that, or boredom, I have sort of a emotional virus going on in my head that has to be kept in check; one of those thoughts you can't seem to get rid of. Today I start thinking about how to start learning amateur electro-shock therapy. I am not unhappy at all; I am just thinking way too much. I love everyone on this tour, everything is going well. I just need some sort of hard kick in the head sometimes, you know?
Tilo is My Dancing Partner
I hated this audience so much that I just stared at them and tried to drool while we played. In fact at the end of the show, I said "Fuck You Very Much," which had Patrick from Surrogat in stitches, although I am apparently supposed to pay Mike some royalty because it's his saying. When Steel Pole went on, finally, Tilo (bass player and awesome dude from Surrogat) and I started our very own mosh-pit, bashing into everyone at the show. Enough already! This band deserves to have people bodies being bashed into, sacrificed and torn apart while they play. (this is a good thing.)
Everyone enjoys a good fire
There is a bonfire tonight before and after the show. You know everyone enjoys a good fire. staring at water-at-night is almost as good as staring at a fire. Fire is one of the things that you can stare at and not have to think. That and TV, I guess.
There was plenty of wood, bottles, metal and other things laying around to burn, which were taken advantage of. At the end of the night I laid in my bunk in the bus and had a beautiful clear view of the fire, probably 50 feet away, which without my glasses on looked like 3 small bright orange stars vibrating through the darkness with halos around them, Steel Pole Bath Tub songs engraved in my brain, running parallel with all of my thoughts. I want so badly to go out there, run on the ramps, get lost amidst the trees but I lay motionless, staring out my bunk window, afraid of the fire, always afraid of things I love too much. But try watching a fire without your glasses on one night. It works ok.