#3: Name 3 perfect ideas

Sept 24, 1999 - Paris, France

Interviews ALL DAY! We have never, ever had so many interviews in one day! The French distributor for City Slang is called "Labels" and they are a division of Virgin Records. And they sure know what the fuck they are doing. Very, very professional.

The day started with 2 photo shoots, then lunch, then about 5 or 6 interviews - I lost count, and Howie fell asleep in one of them. And they were French interviews, which always have the best questions. Two that stick out in my mind: "Are you looking for danger?" (Which in America could be misinterpreted) and the best: "Name 3 perfect ideas or people." You try it. I took it upon myself to answer that one - and wimped out with "mathematics" - I know I'll get shit for it, but if you think about it, it's the only language where the rules are simply truth. I threw in a compulsory disclaimer that any system that was perfect had to allow for imperfections and then gave an example of Infinity and mumbled something that nobody (including me) probably understood about someone being almost assassinated for discovering Infinity. I seem to remember that the powers that be were not happy with the invention of infinity when it was first discovered, and that the inventor got a lot of shit for it.

I invited the rest of the band to chime in with other perfect ideas but they declined, so I went on blabbing. The 2nd perfect idea I said was the idea of "compassion" because I am into this Buddhist thing now. Rick tried to get me to elaborate but I didn't want to talk about religion like that. Anyway, what I should have said was "the idea of happiness." For the third perfect idea I said "Well, there's really nothing like a good Chicago hot-dog."

howie and french food

Sept 25, 1999 - Lyon, France

I can't fucking believe I forgot to take a picture of this fantastic audience.

On the 5-hour drive to Lyon, I talked to JC about why Americans are so rude. One of the things he mentioned is that Americans will just walk into a restaurant and start speaking "American" he said, without even bothering to speak any French at all, not even bothering to try. I know I have done this before, and it's because I don't want to pretend I know French when I don't, I said. What is the use of me saying "Bon Jour" when I don't know hardly any other French? It's like I'm being false.

But after a while I thought about it. What a crazy presumption, to go to another person's country and expect them to speak your language. That's TERRIBLY rude! In fact, I'll bet the Americans who go to France and are angry that the French people don't understand them are the same Americans who get mad at foreigners in the states who can't speak good "American." You know they are the same people.

So I vowed once again to learn French. I have more words written down now in my Palm Pilot. I mean, how hard can it be to learn another language? Babies do it all the time, and I can learn more than babies! It's just the pronounciations that are hard.

Pez-Ner is GREAT!

We have been so excited to get to Lyon because we are playing in Pez-Ner, a place where we have played before. We've been talking about it for a week now, how great it will be to get back to this club. But in fact, I remember only the computer room of this place - I remember it was extremely impressive. When I walked in, I recalled everything about the club - except the playing in it! Tonight there were some technical difficulties going on - the board had to be replaced before the show went on, but it was almost a perfect night tonight - lots of fun on stage and even though Rick's TV set that he sings through during the song "Karoshi" broke at the beginning of the song, we still pulled off a good show by a thread, we thought. We got a nice encore, too - this crowd is wonderful.

The meal here is AMAZING - potatoes, cous-cous, the best pizza/quiche I've ever eaten in my life, tomatoes, cucumbers, bread, pork, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. The kind of meal where you just want to sit and stare dumbly at the table after you finished with a big smile on your face. The people here are all very nice, although I am now starting to be very, very ashamed that I don't know French, and can't talk to them.

The person who drove us here is named Jean-Christophe - he works at Labels, the French label that is our distributor. Labels is REALLY taking good care of us. JC has a crazy accent - he's French of course, but when he speaks English, he has an American mid-West Coast accent, the accent of Palo Alto, California. It's very disturbing, especially to hear him say "Excellent, Dude" with a perfect Californian accent, in the midst of his beautiful French.

My accent is disgusting. I may as well be from Long Island. I try to get JC to teach me some more French - I have a bunch of words written on my palm pilot, phrases for me to learn, and it's good to have a teacher this close by so I can learn the pronounciations. Why didn't I pick up more on that month-long tour with Les Thugs?

So tonight I spend talking to Velma, the 3-person Swiss band from gorgeous Lausanne, Switzerland. They drove 2.5 hours up here to see and meet us. I delivered their new CD to them - it is an Enhanced CD but it was broken and I got to fix it for them. I had to cross-platform it to the Dark Side (windows). They brought me some wine and chocolates. It was fun talking to them. Their record is coming out pretty soon on Emperor Norton Records here in the States, but oddly enough, they can't find a European label to distribute it. Kind of the opposite situation as we have.

Whoever did our sound tonight made it PERFECT. And I don't know how he did it, either, because he had to completely replace the sound board an hour before we went on. And I know it was perfect, too, because they played our set for us - they had videotaped it and also webcast it. This was really the first time I ever saw Salaryman play live on a tape. And do you know what? We ROCK! I couldn't believe it - I finally understand what is going on on the stage now! We actually Rock! It's not rock like Poster Children of course, but it's still some kind of rock! I feel like I can maybe begin to understand now, anyway. I am grateful that they played this video for us - maybe it's a turning point in my love-hate relationship with this band.

And tonight for the first time I grabbed my keyboard during the encore and pulled it off the stand and played it, holding it like it was a guitar. I probably looked really stupid. But I just wanted to get closer to the audience. You just can't do that when you're trapped behind a keyboard stand. I'm going to figure out how to make a more interesting visual show for the audience.

At the end of the night, a guy from Pez-Ner hands me a typewritten page, and it's my own writing, taken from our website, 2 years ago, my impression of Pez-ner. It mentions the computer room but certainly doesn't do Pez-ner justice. So today, I give Pez-Ner an A++++. One of the best venues in the WORLD!