Salaryman Winter Tour 99 - Part 4

Monday, Dec 6 - still Stuttgart, Germany

Tonight we get across the street to our motel, and Jim and Howie unlock their doors, and find two people already in their hotel room. Now, guess what else? These are not just any two people, but they happen to be Adam from Swervedriver and I think it's a person called Nathan who maybe is the tour manager. Adam is touring with another band now in Germany - they are playing Stuttgart tomorrow night! (Us and Swervedriver go back a long ways - Poster Children had one of our most fun - and successful tours with them, years ago!)

So after everything got sorted out and Jim and Howie got new hotel rooms without any English Rock Stars in them, we got to talk with Adam for a bit. What's really exciting to me is that his buddy runs a record label here in Europe and he asked over and over, what is Poster Children doing right now? Why aren't you playing in Europe? And told me he loved Daisy Chain Reaction when it came out. We left him with our email address and what appears to be our only surviving copy of our new Poster Children CD-R that we have with us - who knows? Maybe ... just maybe ... maybe we can find a label in Europe!

I guess I feel a bit better now. I said I felt like a broken toy before because I felt like an inconsequential piece in this tour, like I really didn't matter, and on top of it, I was a broken inconsequential piece. But I guess I feel better now.

This hotel is crazy - it looks like a hotel transplanted from Miami, Florida. It's all pink and stucco and half of the corridors are outside, and here it's about 20 degrees F, grey and cold Germany. So nice to see the Swervedrivers again!

Tuesday, Dec 7 Howie's Birthday, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

After a pretty long drive, we arrive home, at Extrapool, the artist building in Nijmegen, This town really is great, I don't see why anyone would want to go to Amsterdam when there is Nijmegen. All the great things about Holland, the great design, the nice people, all the pleasant surroundings - and legal drugs - can all be found here, without all the self-righteous, Cooler-Than-Thou attitudes of all the surviving tourists in Amsterdam. Although I am not very pleased at having to spend US$17 on two enchiladas and two small glasses of coke - the Mexican place we went to here was great, but I wonder if the "English Menu-Cards" we had also had different prices on them. Probably not. Mexican food here in Europe I am told is considered very exotic - and so it's pricey.

After our dinner today, we experienced our first bit of REAL European culture - we went to see the new James Bond movie. It's a day off; and we always tend to see movies on our days off. So we went to this theater in the middle of town, paid about US$6.50 to sit in these chairs that were like la-Z-boy recliners; intensely comfortable, in a gorgeous, huge theater - one that would have been divided up into about 25 smaller theaters in the US - and we sat through about 30 minutes of commercials before the movie began. THEN, about 45 minutes into the movie, a good 20 minutes before the first sex scene, there was an INTERMISSION, and a 15-minute SMOKE BREAK. I AM NOT KIDDING! We looked at each other in disbelief - then I joked, "They're going to play more commercials now" - and then they DID! I think a Coke commercial came on. About 30-40% of the people in the theater wandered out of the theater - Howie went out about 10 minutes into the Break and looked to see what the hell was going on - he returned and reported, "People are just out there smoking and having cups of coffee!" It was really weird. Then a while later, people ambled back into their seats and the rest of the movie went on. We had already forgotten what had been going on in the movie! How WEIRD! Different culture!

Rick is not happy with the movie. He thinks it sucks, but he wonders if he's just too old to appreciate James Bond. This is the only James Bond movie I have ever seen, I believe - except the one where Simon Le Bon plays James Bond. I thought it was ok because it had nukes in it. But now I really want to write a movie where the cast is almost all women, and they are all wearing pants suits, and there are 2 males in the cast, and one of them is a scientist and the other is a beach boy type, and neither of the males are ever allowed to wear shirts. In fact, the beach boy, must always be walking around in a speedo bathing suit with his hairless chest oiled. There must be no reason for him to be in these skimpy clothes; just gratuitous bodyness. He has to be really stupid too, and the other male can be a Smart male - but he has to be kinda scatter-brained. These are my characters in the movie. I don't have a plot yet, but I'm sure I can squeeze one out - that's secondary to the bodies and costumes.

Wednesday, Dec 8 - (not so) Paradiso, Amsterdam

Hotel Sign in Amsterdam

Rick has finally remembered to ask Willem why there are racist cartoons of a wide-eyed black guy dressed as a cook next to all of the Santa cartoons in the windows of the stores. "He is a Knight," says Willem. Apparently he is one of Santa's slaves - oh, sorry, "assistants." Willem tells us that December 8th is SinterClaus, that when you are a kid, you are told that if you are a good kid, Santa Claus would bring you presents on the 8th, but if you were bad, one of his Black Assistants would carry you off to Spain in a bag.

We made it to the Paradiso and loaded our gear. There is absolutely no mention of this show anywhere; there isn't even a promoter putting up last minute Salaryman fliers inside the show like many of the others. I always wince when I see people hanging up the fliers INSIDE the clubs on the day that we arrive, but now I know why they do it - because the 50-80 people inside the club tonight when we played had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHO WE WERE! There is no mention of our name ANYWHERE! Some girls who apparently enjoyed the show enough to actually DANCE to it had to come up to Willem later on and ask him if we were a local band, and what our name was. For the 3 people who asked, I'm sure the other 67 or so people just went away wondering who we were... for 5 or 10 minutes, anyway.

There is a larger band playing in the larger room tonight - called the Beta Band, (English) who also had a pretty dismal amount of fliers hanging around here - and some sort of sicko reggae party going on in the dressing rooms downstairs. A DJ has planted himself in the hallway outside the dressing rooms in the basement of the Paradiso, hours before any of the shows have started. Here in Europe, it is completely normal to see a guy setting up a couple of turntables and a couple of boxes of records anywhere; in a hallway, on a street corner, in a bathroom stall. It's called "being a DJ." You play records, one after another for people. Apparently if you choose the records that people want to hear, and play them at the right time, you're good at being a DJ. And I think that if you can get the beats to match up between songs, you're a GREAT DJ. It's the strangest thing in the world, to me. And I think I may want to try it sometime.

Thursday Dec 9 - Koln, Germany

Things have been getting really depressing - and then we got to Koln! We were late tonight - caught in a terrible traffic jam. We drive up to the club and the door of the club swings open and a happy promoter with a big smile on his face is here to greet us! Posters are up in the club already! This promoter is so nice and so happy to see us, our moods lift as we drag our equipment downstairs.

We ate at this restaurant 2 doors down - and I had the greatest STEAK of the tour! YUM! There were 2 dogs in the restaurant, too. And many people at the show. And afterwards, best - a fight outside the club! I like Koln. I wanted to stay outside and watch drunken people pick fights with each other, but we had to leave.

Koln seems to be a much more lively city than the others we've been to lately - and this is good. There are even stores and restaurants and bars open after we play - past MIDNIGHT even! WOW!

The only thing that pissed me off today was the band Karoshi, who asked if they could play shows with us - and we thought it was a great idea because they are called Karoshi - same name as our album - so it's funny, ya know? So they sent us a tape, and we said, sure they can play with us! They are really good, but when I met them, the first thing I said to them was, "I am so happy that we are getting to play together," and one of the guys in the band replied, "Yes, but for FREE." What the hell, do they think that 1) I am the person who hands out the money? and 2) That we are making any money on this tour? We aren't!! Apparently they didn't say anything to anyone else in the band about it. WTF?

Friday Dec 10 - Opewijk, Belgium

Hm.. I think it's nice to be outside of Germany, although I am not quite sure. We are playing in a big room tonight in a little town. I'm not sure how nice Belgium is, actually. It definitely looks different when you're driving through the towns here, and I can't quite put my finger on it. The stores in the towns are all right up against the streets, all brick, and everything seems pretty clean. There aren't a lot of trees... it all reminds me of one of those new ugly developments they build on the outskirts of your town.

This crowd is pretty nondescript. I realized while we were playing that the TV set had a movie going on in English - and I thought that was really, really great - until I realized near the end of the set that the movie was subtitled, so the whole time that I had the volume down, I didn't really have the volume down. People could watch the movie fine, and understand it fine, too. Which may have been the reason that for the encore, people were screaming, "Turn the TV back on!!" -- so I did, and we left the stage. Heh. We need to do this more often.

Willem informs us that in Belgium, they have these French Fry places that are completely amazing, so we go out hunting, in the middle of the freezing night, for such a place. And we find one. And the fries are amazing. This will probably be a meal to remember.