After a few days of some pretty dodgy and weird accommodations, last nights stay in Warsaw was some type of miracle. Can you imagine a bright, shiny, super clean, super new, super modern, efficient hotel staffed by nice people? You can? Well, I didn’t think I would ever see something like that so give me a minute to enjoy it, ok? sheesh.
Today we go to a little town called Broumov on the border of the Czech Republic and Poland. It’s a last minute show so we don’t really know what to expect. What we get is pretty much a total metal festival explosion including foot on monitor deep throated groaning and full on mettttaaaaaaallllllll!!!!! Which is fine but you know who isn’t metalllllll?… Paramount Styles, that’s who. These people are going to hate us, Really hate us-“bunch of fucking pussies, we should kill them!” Which would be appropriate because there always seems to be some sort of fight when we play. Luckily, I just found out my health care premiums are going up so I’m ready to make that insurance company pay!
My favorite thing about this show is that our backstage room (luckily we have one) is literally in the women’s bathroom. No joke, we have to walk through a bunch of terrified girls to get into our little room, complete with sink, toilet, couch, shower and single hanging lightbulb. If you think hanging out in a girl’s bathroom is a way to meet the ladies, you are sadly mistaken. Luckily my czech is terrible so I don’t have to listen to the girls call me “douchebag” every time I walk through.
I remember when I first drove from Berlin to Poland in 1989 before the wall came down. The highways were all fenced off so you couldn’t exit into any towns; you could only stop at the official rest stops run by some seriously fat and grumpy soviet era women. The highway was mostly cobblestone, a technological marvel for 1940, so you can imagine what that’s like to ride on for hours and hours as your tiny little brain rattles around in its cage. I suppose if I was pulling a wooden cart and I was being pursued by mongol hordes or black death and it was 1338 I would be pretty psyched to find a road like that. However, that was then and this is now and our tiny little brains are rattling around in their cages on the way to Warsaw.
Today is Veterans Day or Armistice Day all over europe. It’s also going to be 11 November 2011 so two times in one day it will be 11/11/11 11:11;11. You say, “but I don’t care.” Well, I can’t make you care about that just like I can’t make Germans like my band. But hey, life is all about little victories, right?
Speaking of victories, today is a day to celebrate among other things the end of WWI. Yes, that war that ended a little bit less than 100 years and you could make the case that it led to the next big war, WWII. And what do most people take away from that war? Well, for one thing, it really really sucked for a lot of people. You could make the argument that it really really really sucked especially for Poland since Germay practically wiped the Poles and Warsaw off the map and then the Soviets came in and made life pretty spicy for those who loved to party, I mean, who loved the Party.
But I would say one of the big things is that life was pretty hard for the Poles. So why, you ask, on Armistice Day in Warsaw, would 10,000 right wing extremists/nazi skinheads/hooligans show up to demonstrate and mar the celebration of the end of WWI and veterans and bring out the police in full force with tear gas and riot gear? I don’t know. Some people are just assholes, I guess.
I had a bit of a restless night as I was afraid that someone was going to come in from the unlit, haunted, windswept and litter strewn compound and stab me 14-17 times in my sleep and have sex with my corpse. Of course, at that time I probably wouldn’t really care but still, my mundane worries kept me tossing and turning. My clothes are fully pressed now as I have been sleeping in them all night. Libor took one for the team as he had no blanket or rag to cover him; the rest of us lucked out with some old blankets and sleeping bags.
The promoter was very nice to provide us with a delicious breakfast and we sat around a laughed about how he washed a sleeping bag and so forgot it so Libor had to sleep just under a jacket. Ha hah hah! so great. Then after a nice conversation punctuated with “can you leave? I want to go to sleep.” we hit the road! Berlin here we come. And cold here we come too-the temperature has suddenly dropped however much it is that makes you miserable. That much.
We don’t have high hopes for this show since the last time we played in Berlin there were a whopping 1 people here, maybe less. I can’t remember, I drowned my sorrows in drink, something I do pretty much every night. Oh liver, I love you so, please don’t quit me.
Luckily our sprits are boosted because some old friends showed up and we had a nice time and actually quite a nice show. And the place upstairs where we are staying even has heat! Sadly, some of us are becoming quite sick and Blinky Midnight, our leader, decides that it would be best for us if every horizontal surface should be covered with damp snot rags. Yes, you are right. That is disgusting. I’m no doctor but food and snot rags should not share the same space. Just my opinion, though (non-doctor, sadly).
Another short drive and we cross the border into Germany. I’ve never been to Dresden and well, let’s just say it has a pretty turbulent history. There are actually still some old buildings standing but I can’t really gauge how the city is set up. It’s starting to get cold which, of course, pisses me off. Then again it is November so it’s to be expected. At least it’s not snowing like it did in New York in October. That’s just unacceptable.
So we arrive and the people are very nice though I’m getting a squat vibe here, but that can not be because there is a kindergarten on the top floor. We wander around the cold, cobblestone streets looking at H&M, the Gap and Marks and Spencer-typical examples of indigenous german culture and then make our way back to the venue.
There is what I can only describe as a profound lack of enthusiasm for this show. We take bets on the number of people who will show up with Libor being the least enthusiastic better with a wager of 8 people. Even he is too optimistic. In fact, the promoter was worried he was going to take a bath on this show and yet even he, nice as was, didn’t show up until the last song. He proclaimed that, while he was drinking outside so was able to only see the last song, it was very good. That’s a bit of what we call the old “back-handed compliment.”
Since we are on the subject and in Germany, home of the back-handed compliment and the offensively blunt comment, let me list a few of my favorites:
-I liked Soulside (our old band) better, your band (Girls Against Boys) is very boooorring.
-I drove very far to see this show because my girlfriend likes your band. I do not like your band. Can I have a beer from your back stage?
-I was looking very much forward to seeing you but I was very disappointed. You were very terrible and it looked like your singer was very sick. Why were you so bad tonight?
Ahh, but on to better things like the hovel sleeping conditions awaiting us. I look forward to delousing myself in the future. Optimism can only look up!
The great thing about Europe is that many of the cities are very close and not many people seem to want to travel too far. So our drive was about one hour, except for the traffic which turned it into a 4 hour drive. But stillâ€¦ well, that was pretty long, I guess. The entire reason I play in a band is to be a perpetual tourist but this is not going well, since the two things I know about the Czech Republic are that they make the sun go down pretty early and their president likes to steal pens. So you sit in a dark, cold van with steamed up windows looking at huge dark objects pass by – could be an old factory, could be a fallen spaceship or could be some sort of unholy alliance between a grossly irradiated 50ft. wall of toxic sludge and Danzig. One remarkable thing is that we take a chance and stop at this roadside restaurant which features a stage with real alligators and turtles under it. I guess if you are a bad band they feed you to the alligators?
The club tonight is a cool place called Mumie and we are playing with a local band quite well known called HoupacÃ KonÄ›. I’ll be damned if these people and the promoters aren’t all super nice-what is it with all these nice people? Getting fucking sick of it.
Anyway, we have a great time, the audience seems very happy since they hit their hands together instead of hitting their hands on my face. And we are excited because, though a rare event, Blinky Midnight shows up and shows off his djing skills. The dance party has commenced. And a weird soviet style school hostel awaits us with paperwork and weirdness. But whatever, just one night.
PS-We hear in 3 days that there is a big fire in the club and it does a fair amount of damage.
We wake up after having being savagely attacked by a french bar and a man who hates canadians. We put one foot in front of the other, we insert croissants into our apparently open mouths, drain coffee cups of their coffee and take our places. Today is going to go like this:
stop. look at some stuff in a convenience store, taking utmost care to buy the best products-chips? chocolate bar? coffee? chips? chocolate bar? coffee? chips? chocolate bar? coffee?
It’s a beautiful morning and the sun is shining through the vines into our castle in the sky, but we must leave for France today. It shouldn’t be too bad to leave the land of sausages for the land of bread, cheese and wine. Today we play a festival in Audincourt with Pneu, Jack and the Bearded Fishermen and Tractopelle in Versailles. Should be fun and it’s a good opportunity to pretend to speak french.
Little do we know that we are being set up for a massive ambush. The show progresses well with all the bands showing off their exceptional skills – for example, Pneu manages to play at 221 bpm for their entire set while we stand 40 cm from them. Impressive! We play and all goes as planned – there’s even a fight after the show! Paramount Styles and a fight between some drunk people is like yin and yang, like apple pie and ice cream, like Metallica and Lou Reed. Well that last one, maybe not so much. Speaking of which, if I may digress, there are 2 security guards here: one older, tall and thin, the other younger and not so tall but definitely not one with whom to pick a fight. So some drunk guy starts causing trouble and the tall thin one drops him like a sack of potatoes. Amazing and a lesson to learn-he is not the one I would have picked to win a fight.
Anyway, Jerome and his pals are actually on a mission to destroy us: we return to the backstage area and there is a fully stocked bar ready to attack. We are no match for the onslaught of beer, vodka and whiskey. Out of the corner of my eye I saw it coming but I had no idea of its ferocity. We really could have used that security guard for protection.
Oh so funny… well, what’s actually funny is that I flew in to the Frankfurt airport with a big stupid bag, took the train into the city, ate a wurst in the town square because I was trying to to be all local.. and then I walked to the venue with my big ass bag. Sounds fine right? except the walk was 7.5km so that just means I’m dumb. Big, dumb and stupid, that’s the way they grow us.
Today is the first day of our tour and we begin at the Hafen 2 in Offenbach am Main. It’s a cool club with bounteous amounts of coffee – perfect to fight jetlag. Everyone is happy to be reunited even though it seems like it was 2 days ago or something.
Robert tells us an interesting story about this club and it led me to devise a way to save the economy of the entire world. The city is going to tear down this club to make way for a new school. The demolition will take place next spring and if the club can raise enough money, the city will give (i.e. loan) them money so they can build a new club down the street. Never mind that maybe the city could build the school somewhere else, like, say, next door on the big vacant lot. Or next to the big vacant lot in the neighboring vacant lot. Let’s just say there are other places construction could take place but I realize I’m ignoring the bigger picture! So one thing that really gets the economy going is construction. If the government tells everyone that owns a house or a building that they must tear them down and build new ones and the city will loan them the money at, say, 5%… well, global meltdown fixed! Tons of new building, tons of new jobs, tons of loans-problem solved! You’re welcome, G20-feel free to call me if you have questions.
Well, there it is. That wraps up this particular short little jaunt. Everyone spreads across to the far reaches of the continent to resume their otherwise fabulous and glorious lives. It was great to see a bunch of new towns in France and Spain and sample their differing types of gas, taxes and alcohol. It really seems like these products could catch on with a wider audience.
We will be back in November in the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Slovenia and Croatia. We hope that these countries will be more than willing to allow us to sample their gasoline, taxes and alcohol as well. I hear that they have quite a supply.