We eat a great dinner tonight with a representative from our booking agency - the four of us sit at the end of the table kind of patting ourselves on the backs about all the things we accomplished this year. We toured a lot in the Spring, in the US - and did a couple of Europe tours - finished two albums this year. We are still amazed that we got that whole PC record done in the month in between Salaryman Euro tours. The best dinner item, in my opinion, was a huge potato-ball dumpling about the size of a softball, on Jim's plate. Man, did that taste good.
We are starting to think about what will happen when we get home. It sounds like we'll come back here in February for a short time, to play in France and Italy and other fun places we missed. Also, we just found out we have been accepted to SXSW, South-by-Southwest, the funnest music convention in the world, in Austin, Texas. This year it starts around mid-March, and both of our bands, Salaryman and Poster Children have been accepted - very exciting for us.
The new Poster Children album comes out on February 23rd in the Y2K - we got our copy back from Berthold the Booking Agent now, so we're passing it around the van some more. I've never listened to a new one of our records this many times. I wonder if that means anything. There are only 2 songs that I don't like to listen to, out of 13. So anyway, we get to tour the US in March, starting at SXSW. It will be so much fun - sounds like we may play some shows with the Fastbacks - I am excited to see them - I hear that we have similar live shows, and that they are really nice people, too. At least our SXSW show may be with them.
So we're communicating with our US booking agent now, she's emailing us a routing for our US tour.
Cool - Freiburg is really neat. It's a student-town, and very "green" - into alternative energy, we're told. There are lots of streetcars around, that's for sure. We walked around and found another one of those German Christmas fairs we've seen in every German town so far - lots of wooden huts in the center of town, selling tons and tons of hot sausages and christmas ornaments. I wish I could find something to buy for my parents around here, but they don't have christmas trees - anything that's really nice is too expensive, and anything that is cheap is kind of cheesy-looking. I always want to come back to the US with loads of crazy, interesting European gifts, and I can never find anything crazy or interesting. The only present I ever brought back was toothpaste in a container shaped like a tooth, from Germany for my dad, who is a dentist.
Now we heard that the Salaryman album is slowly but surely being released in the US -
Parasol is doing press for us, and we just got a message that SALARYMAN may be reviewed in
a huge magazine in the US - we're holding our breaths. We've never been reviewed in
this magazine before - once we were supposed to have a review, but it never happened.
Rick is terrified! He is worried we're going to get a bad review. It's so scary to
know you may get a review, but you don't know if it's going to be good or bad.
Ok, get this. SpinArt, our POSTER CHILDREN album label, has just notified us that the SAME MAGAZINE has requested another tape of the Poster Children album - they received the demo tape on Friday and on Monday, they called for another copy, for a writer. This means they may do a review of the Poster Children album!! Now, neither label knows the other has a possible review waiting, and we are all wondering what is going to happen if/when this magazine finds out both bands are the same people.
Today Rick and I found a huge Cathedral in the center of town - it was hard to miss, a large pointy building with a cross, off in the distance. So we walked there, and went into the church. I have to admit, I really like going into churches in Europe. I like going into any large building, but one with tons of ornamentation and stained-glass windows and a lady playing an organ is even cooler. There were a handful of people who were obviously tourists, just milling about, so we milled, too. I wonder what Rick thinks about in a church - does he remember any kind of prayers?
I like to touch the walls in the church - this church was probably made before the United States was taken over by Europeans - some of the other buildings nearby have dates like "1460" on them. So I like to find a rock in the wall higher up than eye-level, and put my hand with my palm flat down on the rock, and I think to myself, 'maybe I'm the only person who has touched this rock in hundreds of years!' I do this in a couple of places, just incase I am wrong the first couple of times.
It's astounding to me to look the hundreds of feet up in the air at all the golden and stone statues - I can't even imagine the work that went into making such a gorgeous place. Sometimes I may sound very confused about religion, but please believe me that it is the people who misinterpret and use it to hurt others, or especially the people who are hypocrites about it that irk me, not the religion itself. I just need to come to terms with it myself, I guess, and maybe to apologize to people who have misunderstood my confusion.
A woman plays the organ in this church, although there is no apparent organized service right now. It's a really nice touch. People wandering about are just able to think to themselves. I think that's very nice. And there are candles, banks of candles lit underneath a statue of a mother and her child, and suddenly, I realize that I need to light a candle. I am not sure what the candles are for in this Church, but in my religion, you light a candle to remember and honor someone who was very much loved. I get the feeling that even though I don't know what I'm doing, it's ok for me to do this. So I light a candle, underneath a statue of a mother and her child, in this Catholic church, for a mother and her child, in remembrance, in honor, our thoughts are with you and we hope your sorrow and grief pass quickly.
Today is the last day. Our little white (Mercedes!) van feels extra small today, like it shrunk, and like the seats are even more of a right angle than they have been in the past. The grey air outside looks very heavy with snow. I have no idea where we are in Germany - even though I keep looking at a map I still don't have a concept of where everything is. Lost, for last day.
So it turns out the review in the Important Magazine, if it even happens, is going to be a double-review, of both records. So now we're completely scared. At least we don't have to worry that they're going to find out our little secret and drop both reviews. Still, Rick can't stop worrying about this or talking about it. He says, "you know what's going to happen - they are going to give one of the records a 10 and the other a 0."
We played a nice show in a nice club with a nice audience, an opening band playing a drum machine and a guy noodling around on a guitar - and the audience went wild for them. I don't understand why people enjoy watching a guy play the equivalent of a CD-player, and it's really time for us to go home now. We finished around 1:30 and drove through an ice-storm to Koln, where we got to spend 2 hours in the most gorgeous hotel of the entire tour. We have to leave for the airport around 5am.
I am writing this a couple of hours after the plane to Chicago has taken off, and after my carry-on luggage and all my christmas presents for my family were searched, like I am some kind of international spy. I asked why, perchance, they were searching me, did I look weird or something, but the lady told me, "no, it's just a random search." If they search me again at O'hare, I will know it is because my hair is messed up and I look like a complete wreck. I feel so violated!!
I am still angry, after 4 hours. I have only had 2 hours of sleep - I guess this doesn't help. This was just the last in a string of crappy events - it has taken us 2 days to get on this fucking plane! There was a terrible ice-storm in Koln, and not enough ground support for BRITISH MIDLAND AIRLINES which is a piece of shit airline, to be able to de-ice the plane within 3 hours of when it was supposed to take off. Planes were taking off, and we were cleared for take-off, the pilot announced to us, but we had to wait for the de-icer. The fact that it was the ground support who screwed up is important, because the airlines say that if you are delayed due to weather, they don't have any obligation to help you at all.
We got to Heathrow airport at 10am the first day, with a half-hour to make our connecting flight - the stewardess on British Midland was pretty sure we'd make our flight, so she didn't call ahead to Virgin to make sure they knew we were coming. Big Mistake. After taking the bus to the connecting terminal, we arrived at Virgin Check-In desk at 10:10am and the person there told us it was too late to make our 10:30 flight. Sorry, we'll have to reschedule you for tomorrow.
I have NEVER been delayed an entire day like this - flying on United Airlines, they have always rebooked me somewhere else, if they didn't have a connecting flight. Our whole band was once reconnected to British Airways and put in Business Class. Today, we are completely shat upon, in the finest Christmas Spirit, first sent to Singapore Airlines, who haughtily exclaim, "WE don't fly to Chicago! Who sent you here?" and then next to United, who told us basically to go away. Then back to Virgin, who assured us they couldn't help us at all, and that we would have to go speak to British Midland, who fucked up in the first place. So back and forth to different terminals we went, screaming at different drones behind desks - Virgin even explained to us that British Midland would do everything in their power to screw us - so we would have to be quite firm, they said - and well, we tried to be quite firm, but it was no use. We now had the wonderful delight of spending another 24 hours on tour, at our own expense, because of fucking British Midland. They would not rebook us on another flight.
It is also worthy to note that the British Midland ticket grabber for the flight over to Manchester ripped Rick's Virgin Heathrow - to - Chicago ticket instead of their own ticket - Rick noticed this a couple of weeks ago. He had to get Virgin to issue a replacement ticket. What a half-assed airline.
When we finally made it onto this Virgin flight to Chicago, the next day, we waited ANOTHER couple of hours on the ground, because all the power went out at the Heathrow terminal, and the plane couldn't finish refueling. They announced it would probably take at least a couple of hours to fix this problem, so we were going to fly to Scotland and refuel at an airport there. After another halfhour or so, the problem was solved, but now I feared it was too late for me to be able to see my parents before they left for vacation. Virgin airlines collected notes from all of us with phone numbers on them to notify our rides that we would be late - and never sent them. Oh well.
It pains me to no end, wondering if there was something we could have done, like, if we looked different, if we didn't look like we had been on tour for a month, or if we looked like lawyers, would they have treated us differently? I really wonder. The stewardess on British Midland was taking care of so many other people on the flight, rebooking their tickets, but she just left us completely alone. We left the airline terminal after yelling at a robotwoman named Alison who is probably trained heavily in ignoring customer complaints, "Where shall we sleep tonight? Here on the floor in front of your desk?" and "Well, we hope you have a nice Christmas. We hope you get to see your family. Because WE WON'T GET TO SEE OURS."
Jim and Howie have made up this great commercial for Virgin Airlines. It starts out with the plane landing, a camera shot over the two pilots' shoulders. Everything looks normal. "Good evening, this is your Captain speaking, we are now beginning our landing procedure." And with that, the pilot turns around, and you see he's a shaven head-guy with a chin stud and an eyebrow ring and big bushy black eyebrows - he turns around to the instrument in back of his chair, which happens to be a turntable, and drops the needle, and this blaring jungle-techno music starts out, and he begins DJ-ing. The landing gear comes down and you see the plane landing with Richard Branson is out on a platform with a huge champaign glass, welcoming the plane down, with a crowd all along the sides, it's a huge rave. Jim says they should introduce the captain of the plane as "Captain [Whatever], your pilot and also world-reknown junglist."
I think this all comes from the fact that on Virgin airlines, they blast Rock Music over the speakers when the plane hasn't taken off yet. I have heard the song "Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz about 50 times now.
But we made it for Christmas!
Man, is it good to be home!
List of my New Year's Resolutions
thank you for reading.
Stay tuned for Radio Zero, our online radio show. If you want to hear members of Salaryman talk (and maybe you don't) you can find this link on either the Poster Children page (www.posterchildren.com) or the Salaryman page (www.salaryman.org), when we get it up and running again. Probably beginning of January.