Salaryman Europe Tour Part 3
By the way, from what I'm told, Jimmie, Pot is not legal here anymore, it is just tolerated. But I suppose that is better than what it is in the US, where the amount you have is inversely proportional to the amount of legal trouble you'll get in.
I have mixed feelings about Amsterdam. It really does seem to be the place where peoples' rich parents send them to "find themselves." Anyone who is hip goes to Amsterdam, and I think that's why I don't like it too much. I'm always scared of anything "hip." I'm skeptical of anyplace that is too popular.
More on Languages
After being in Europe for what, now, 2 weeks? it has become apparent to me that there are probably only 2 or 3 sentences in each language you need to know in order to exist in our global village. One is "Where is the toilet" and the other is "Where is the food." It's almost a little depressing when you think about it, distill language down, and those are really the only 2 necessary pieces of information you ever will need from a stranger in a foreign land.
Amsterdam Tourist Life
I guess Amsterdam isn't that bad after all. We are staying in the most touristy, absurd area I've ever seen in my life, Americans are walking around everywhere, taking pictures and being really loud and obnoxious, with their little Amsterdam books. It's the first city we've seen Americans; actually, it's the first city where they've made themselves known. We were told to "watch out for all the stoned Americans walking around." An interviewer last night though told us "that's nothing, you should go to the beach and watch the Germans." I guess they all dig holes and then build walls around the holes and sit in them. The reason for this was never explained well enough to me.
But after getting used to watching the Americans stumble around, Amsterdam actually seemed kinda like home; it seems like it has the most American stores around it. We were walking around on a bunch of streets that looked like what "Holland-Land" at Epcot Center, little dutch girl statues and wooden clogs for sale everywhere, restaurants everywhere with Tourist Menu. People were walking around with GAP bags, and we actually ate ice cream at a Ben & Jerrys.
The show went well. There weren't many people there, but we sold a good amount of records and T-shirts. We spent some time talking with an interviewer after the show about American TV shows they have over here in Holland. "Do you get 'The Tick?' over here, I asked?" Confused look. Then, "Oh, that ees thee one where he ees like Batman only he ees shtupid?" Laughter from us. Then Talk Shows. "What ees thee one with the girl who used to be fat and now is skeeny?" (Ricki Lake.)
Not exactly the windmills you'd expect from Holland
This is a recording session for radio VPRO in Amsterdam. We set up and played in a nice little concert room that smelled from fresh paint. It was so early in the morning I don't even remember loading equipment in and out again. Howie's drumming is really starting to sound incredible. He is picking up loads of compliments on this tour. He's the only one that really looks like he's doing anything actually; the rest of us are standing around pushing knobs and keys. Even though piano is my main instrument (but only classical piano) I don't see how that translates to playing a couple of basslines on an electric keyboard. Rick has a good knack for finding sounds and samples that really fit well with the music, and Jim is really good at just basically making up really great keyboard parts. And he's got really good sampler sounds, too. As usual, I feel overwhelmed by everyone in the bands' talent, and lucky that I get to play with them.
Our last show of Europe coincidentally is at
Vera, the last club we hit on the Steel Pole Bath Tub tour, and it's probably
one of the best clubs in the world. Eet is also the only place left in Europe
where guitar bands can still play, no one wants to hear Grunge -- oops, sorry,
"Alternative Rock" anymore in Europe, it is ALL Techno. And
you have to call it "post-rock," you cannot call it Techno. Would you get confused
with all the Politically Correct Terminology you'd have to use in order to be
"cool" in the Indie Scene? Vera is being closed down for renovations pretty
soon, but they assure us they will leave the upstairs dressing room intact.
The walls of the dressing room are covered with promo photos of all the Indie
Rock bands you've ever known and loved. Dinosaur (from before the "Jr" was tacked
on), Firehose, Sonic Youth promo photo that looks like from 20 years ago when
they were in their early 30s, (heh), and lesser known bands like Steel Pole
Bath Tub, Seam, and yes, even Poster Children have a promo photo up. There is
a U2 poster from the BOY tour. And a half-ripped Slint album insert from the
Howie gets a mic for each of his rototoms cuz it's club Vera
The people at Vera take special care in setting up all the lights for the concert, and they spend an hour or two putting up a stage. Meanwhile we are fed Indian food upstairs and gorge ourselves on bottles of "Chocomel" which is REALLY good chocolate milk that you get in Holland. They do good chocolate here. We sat around the dressing room lounging on the velvet chairs and Rick flipping back and forth from Dutch-subtitled Steven Seagal movies to regular Groeningen TV programming to BBC1. The weirdest thing I noticed about Dutch TV is that a good percentage of the commercials are in English. American English. I found that kind of disconcerting. There was also a segment in a Dutch show where 3 Dutch Music SuperStar Men (not Hanson) surprised 3 teenage girls in each of their bedrooms by waking them up with Breakfast In Bed, their idols hand feeding them strawberry toast in their own little-girl bedrooms with a film crew behind them. The rest of the day was spent walking on a beach and then being serenaded by the band, and followed by camera crews everywhere. The girls looked overwhelmed but dreamy-eyed. I tried to imagine rolling over in my bed to the sight of.. what??.. Kim Gordon!!! What are you doing with that toast??!!
The show tonight cost 1 guilder which I think is less than a dollar. There were about 100 people there I'd say. They applauded loudly for an encore and I wished we had our guitars to play them a real rock song, but I guess they enjoyed the show. I guess maybe rock is dead for the time being. In Europe.
We're going to take a ferry back from Belgium to London instead of the usual English Channel Calais-to-Dover crossing. Rick is sad about this because he wanted to take the Chunnel, which is the underground train you drive your van into, which drives under the Channel. We can't go into France now because Alyson's boyfriend Mick is on board the van for a visit, and he is Australian. He can't go into France without a Visa.
This is a pretty long cross-country drive. It's still really hot outside, probably at least 85 or 90 degrees. The air smells really fresh early in the day. Outside the van it appears as if we are driving through central Indiana instead of Belgium, the only differences are the houses and shacks we pass by all have these weird shingled orange roofs. And once in a while you see a painted "Scoot Met Netheid" sign, which I think means throw out your garbage. "Don't Mess With Belgium."
Man, what an exciting boat ride! The ship we took was all grimy, not at all shiny like the Dover-Calais ferries. And it goes really fast, too fast to stand on the deck! About a half-hour into the ride, an announcement was made that there would be a special Test, there would be a helicopter training routine, it would fly over the boat for a while and then drop off some passengers and they would be "collected" at a later time! Man, was it exciting when it happened! A huge orange helicopter appeared and a guy in a wetsuit was lowered down to the deck of the ship. Then a larger guy, without a wetsuit, and with a huge mustache, was lowered. They stood around the deck for a while, flexing their muscles, and then disappeared for a while. A very sick-looking woman appeared from the lower deck, emerging from a gate which said, "No Admittance While At Sea" and sat in a chair across from Rick for a while, smoking. Then the two helicopter men appeared again and the 'copter lowered a wire and both of the men were hooked up to it by a hook on their bellies and both were raised back up to the chopper at the same time! Then there was an announcement that Charlie The Clown was On Board the ship and would be performing in the main area by the restaurants and Duty-Free. Rick jumped up with the rest of the children and started moving towards the front area, but came back disappointed; it wasn't that impressive of a clown. Rick said "He balanced a badminton raquet on parts of his body for no more than one second at a time." That was the entertainment. About fifteen minutes after Rick reappeared, the Sick Lady ran into the baby-changing room, probably meaning to run into the bathroom. Then we arrived in England.
We are sitting on the plane right now, trying to figure out a puzzle. We sat in the airport for an extra hour after the waitress announced "Passenger _______, please make yourself known. We are removing your bag right now." We didn't see anyone make themselves known. Bags have to match up or else they get taken off the plane; Security reasons. I had to put my laptop on the conveyor belt in this airport, and I had a hissy-fit about it; Security at Gatwick Airport is a far cry from O'Hare where you basically have to 'give them your word' that your carry-on gun isn't loaded. There was even a separate building for people going to Ireland.
Anyway, we still wait on the ground for another half hour and then some waitresses and waiters come to the seat directly behind me and Rick and start prodding the young girl behind us and telling her she has to leave the plane. They were really polite about it, and the girl started whining a lot. She looked like a model, really, long blond wavy hair and really, really thin. Very prominent cheekbones. She had a huge bag with her and she was laying across the seats. They told her she seemed ill and she started crying that she had just been to a doctor yesterday and that she was fine. She was crying and whining louder and louder. "I am going to my little brother's birthday party tomorrow," she said. "My dad is waiting for me," she cried. The waitress said, "You have just spent a lot of time in the bathroom." She replied, "I was washing my hands all that time." Everyone was bowing their heads. I wanted to just turn around and look at her. Her face was all flushed, from what I could see. Finally the waitress and waiter got her to get up and marched her off the plane.
I had to ask the waitress just now, "Was she contagious?" Rick is laughing at me telling me I'll never know what happened. The waitress replied that it was not really a matter of Illness. That the girl wasn't sick. There were Red Flags. A Security problem was posed, she said. She had to leave the airplane for our Safety. Some people on the plane are looking a bit sheepish now. There was a worried-looking very skinny-looking guy that looked to be the same age as the girl who got up after she left and was told to sit back down.
And that's all I know. What do you think happened?
Rick says that on every aircraft, there are people who are employed by the airline who are called "Distractors." Their job is to create a big distraction so no one notices the guys in mechanics suits frantically working on the engine in the back.
The European Tour Diary comes to an end here. We have about a week at home before we leave for American Tour, Salaryman in select places, and mostly Poster Children. I guess our single "0 For 1" just came out this week in America. If you feel like it, call your local radio station and request it. Their is also the new pkids-list Listserv, where email on non-Poster Children topics is strongly encouraged. There seems to be an awful lot of discussion about quantum mechanics lately. I certainly hope everyone knows what they're talking about.
My last image of this European tour is a field of flowers we passed in Holland, acres of different colored blossoms standing in rows just like the corn or wheat fields you see everywhere. This must be where flowers come from. I have never seen a flower farm before. I'm glad we're leaving again in 2 weeks.
"There are ships we can dream across, terrible rapids, against currents... our desire is wind and motor..."
-Thomas Pychon, Gravity's Rainbow