A Rose in Europe
Thursday, February 22, O'Hare Airport, USA
The "New Age Corridor" at O'hare aiport
The United terminal at O'hare airport has what I call "The New Age Corridor" which is a tunnel that is full of neon lights and "people-movers" (flat escalators) and while you are travelling through it, you hear this tinkly-chimy sort of new age music. I love it - even though this time, moving through it, I discovered that right at the end of it, you can hear a melody hidden in the chimes that is "Rhapsody In Blue", the United Airlines theme!
The guitars fit perfectly on the plane in the overhead compartments. There was another band (one I'd never heard of) from Milwaukee, called "Willie Porter Band" on the flight, and they had all the right hair and clothes; people were coming up to them and fauning over them. They were really nice; Howie chatted with them. Howie came back and asked me if we had any demo tapes to give them and I just said, "NO." I guess I was pretty aloof. I was tired, though, and I really didn't have any promo stuff with me. So there were many guitars on the plane. The movie on the plane was "Nick Of Time," a terrible movie, with a climax consisting of a token black shoeshine man getting shot in his wooden leg, breaking it off, and bashing the evil lady's head in with it. That made everyone in the plane laugh. I can't believe they actually played such a violent movie on an airplane, myself!
There were no surprises on the flight at all, and as we went through customs, no questions, really. They asked us what kind of music we play; that was sort of hard to answer. Then we walked through the area where they make you stop and empty out all your bags; nothing. We just walked right through. I have a bag full of those demo cassettes; I was worried about that, but no one stopped us.
Sunday, February 25, Nottingham, England
Lunch in England
We woke up in the rest area today, and the bus was so cold you could
see your breath. I guess the heat goes off at night. Brrrr... It
was ok because we had lots of blankets. The sky is dark blue outside
and it is raining. The truckstop had a KFC in it, but we didn't eat
there; we ate in the upstairs cafeteria; Rick and I had a very spicy
Chicken Masala, and Howie ate a "Fisherman's Pie." I wanted to know
what was in the fisherman's pie, so I asked the guy. He said,
"Fisherman's Pie." Oh. As we walked out of the rest area, there was a
little boy laying on the ground surrounded by police and a screaming
mother. People were crowded around, just staring at him. His eyes were
open, and he looked OK to me, but he was just laying down on his back.
I didn't know what to do, so I left. I thought it was impolite to just stare, but then I remember ML (our old manager) telling me that in Europe, people will just stare at you, and it's not considered impolite.
Monday, February 26, Edinburgh, Scotland
More Tour Bus
Touring in a tour bus is kind of good, but also kind of terrible; just
like I'd expect it to be. The worst part is you have no control. The
bus driver is in complete control; there's no stopping at each
truckstop for more "snack salads" and no stopping at the 50-foot scale
replica of the Jolly Green Giant. There is a VCR in the back of the
bus, so we watch a movie once in a while; we watched Speed
first; we'd seen it already, and it's kind of a dumb movie. My biggest
problem is I wake up in the middle of the night in my little coffin
bed, with terrible claustrophobia, lots of smokers on the bus and I
don't like smoke. Plus, the bus driver gets irritated a lot, for some
reason. Sometimes it is hard to understand Europeans; they get mad with
an accent. The other night we walked into the club and watched Mario
(bus driver) grab all our non-beer drinks and drag them out to the bus.
We freaked - did he want them? Did he think they were his? What were
we going to drink? I didn't want to just grab them back - I certainly didn't want to offend him, but we needed drinks in the venue for the show. It was very, very weird. If it was just us and the Steel Pole Bath Tub guys on the bus, it'd be way less scary! The other guy is the tour manager/sound guy, Jean-Luis, and I haven't gotten to hear him talk very much.
Sunday, March 3, Potsdam, Germany
"Ho, Ho, Ho, You Clumsy American"
We are in what used to be East Germany, and everything seems sort of
gray. We sat in the bus all morning and afternoon until we got so bored
that we walked a couple of long blocks away from the bus around 4pm to
find a little "donor kebab" stand and had some really great falafel and
chicken sandwiches. The owner of the stand asked us if we had falafel
in America and I wanted to tell him that they sold it at McDonald's. As
we stood there, a large man with a small screaming baby in a
baby-carraige came by and bought two small bottles of vodka, and
another large man in his 50s laughed at Rick as Rick dripped falafel
juice all over his plastic $15 Wal-Mart jacket. Rick says this is
"schadenfreude" - the German word for "taking pleasure in someone
else's misery." Rick is fascinated by the fact that the Germans
actually have a word - ONE word - to describe this. The man was
laughing and talking to us in German and pointing at Rick's sleeve as
Rick dropped another tomato onto the ground, "Ho Ho Ho, blaga blaga
blaga blaga..." (a lot of German.) We couldn't say anything back to him
because none of us know German; we had no idea what he was talking
about. I was still laughing about it later because Rick was sure the
guy was saying, "Ho Ho Ho, You Silly, Clumsy American; You have
Spilled Tomato Juice All Over Your Jacket, and it is Giving Me Great
Pleasure to See You In This State."
Tuesday, March 5, Copenhagen, Denmark
Terror on the Ferry
At 6 a.m. this morning I heard us drive over the speed bumps of the ferry
and then I watched as Jean-Luis hurriedly jumped out of the bus and
lock it. Then I heard the alarm of the ferry starting to move and I
realized that I was still in the bus, and the ferry was moving. When
the ferry is moving you cannot go up the stairs from the part with the
vehicles to the part where the people are required to
be. So I listened to all the buzzers and alarms and announcements
telling people to leave the vehicle area NOW, and got out of my bunk,
to see if I was the only one left in the bus. It turns out that almost
everyone was still in their bunks. I was terrified- if the ferry goes
down, the vehicles area gets filled with water first! Then I thought,
what if they suck out all the air from the bottom of the ferry? What if
they depressurize it? I was sure we were headed for instant doom, but
then I fell back asleep. I'm writing this later on tonight, so
obviously we've all survived, but all day today I've been in different
groups of us where someone has said quietly, "did anyone get out on the
ferry last night?" I guess we were all trapped in the bus.
Friday, March 8, Milano, Italy
Pizza In Italy
I woke up this morning with my face pressed against the bus window which is about 6 inches away from a brightly-graffitti-ed wall. Each morning actually the surroundings are different but the one constant is that we are always near a wall full of graffitti. To find the club, you go towards the highest concentration of paint. Today I ducked under a stone gateway and found a beautiful courtyard with palm trees and both bands in a great mood, eating Pizza. Real Italian Pizza. It was about 40 degrees outside, but sunny. We have finally made it to Italy!
Sunday March 10, Bern, Switzerland
This is about the most amount of graffitti I've seen yet. There are 3 more graffitti artists with about 20 bottles of spray paint working a nearby bridge, and one of them has a BMW. Do they get paid that much to do this?
Tuesday, March 12, Verona, Italy
This won't make any sense
A couple of nights ago I sort of had this nightmare about an equation that was supposed to explain some part of reality, but some of the components went into an infinite recurring loop, so the equation never got anywhere. A black box appeared around the part that went to infinity (actually it just recursed and oscillated) and I woke up terrified, wanting to scream. I've had my first "falling dream!" Anyway, for the last couple of days I've been mentally torturing myself either because of a) bad taste in my mouth leftover from the dream, or b) I'm bored. Or most likely, c) - I'm stupid.
The End Of The World
So while I was still in my bunk on the bus with my eyes shut, I
promised myself that I would walk around beautiful Verona and see a
gorgeous Shakespearean city that I'd read about in high school and I
would be repaired, and I would stop tormenting myself. I opened my eyes
to look out my little window and saw an unbelievable dirt wasteland
stretched as far as I could see, surrounded by walls. In the distance
outside the walls I can only see cranes, and a couple of apartment
complexes, maybe. We are in an abandoned warehouse district, weeds are
waste-high amidst piles of coke bottles, cigarette packages, children's
toys, and a couple of TV sets. A quick poke outside tells me the
temperature is around 15 degrees. It's really cold out. Rick
says, "Did you see it outside there? I'm not going outside at all
today. It looks like the end of the world out there."
The City Of The Future
So Howie and part of the Steel Pole Bath Tube (ha) ensemble went to explore the "real" part of Verona, taken sight-seeing by one of the guys in charge of the show I guess (they went to the arena and a mall, from what I heard), but Rick and Jim and I stayed in the wasteland and walked around for hours taking pictures. I told the other guys they were going to see the City Of The Past, whereas we were walking around in the City Of The Future. It was very Blade Runner. We are playing in what used to be a huge meat refrigerator, and there are gigantic buildings (abandoned) all over the whole lot with numbers all over them and train tracks leading to each one. Broken glass, wires and weeds are everywhere, but the buildings seem completely cleared out except for sporadic piles of garbage. The architecture was 1930s, I was told. I walked around for hours trying to figure out why I thought the place was so beautiful and then gave up trying to make sense out of anything and half fell asleep perched on the first floor of building 23.
Thursday, March 14, Graz, Austria
No, I WORK
Today I walk around Graz for hours, nearly get myself lost, and try not to talk to people in stores. Howie goes out each day for hours; I don't know how he does it. I lose some sanity points each time someone tries to talk to me, nobody in this town speaks English. There is a huge protest of students marching up and down the streets in town and I follow them trying to figure out what they're protesting. It seems like they want free education ("Then they've really got something to learn," says Dale, SPBT's bass player). When they all stopped at an intersection and people got up and talked, I tried to ask people holding signs what they were protesting, and none of them could or would tell me. The mood seemed kind of light on the outskirts of the crowd. Police were joking around behind the students. After about a half hour of attempting to crack the code (I even went up to the police and said, "Do you speak English" "Yes." "Can you tell me what they are protesting?" "Garble, Garble, Garble, Garble..." (the police don't speak English), I gave up, angry and frustrated - how weird is it to be around a huge crowd of protesters and not understand a word they are saying? Later on I asked the promoter if he had joined the protest and he said, "No, I WORK."
Friday, March 15 - Oslip-Cselley - Muhle, Austria
I finally venture out of the bus to look around. We are staying in little hacienda-style hotel rooms in a different part of the complex, and everything here is beautiful and clean. Now Mario is walking around grinning in a weird way and I find out it's because the bus is stuck in the mud outside the club - I mean, REALLY stuck in the mud. Like, it's sinking. It gets down past half-way through the tires before the tractor comes to pull it out.
Friday, March 22, Leipzig, Germany
Everyone enjoys a good fire
There is a bonfire tonight before and after the show. You know everyone
enjoys a good fire. Staring at water-at-night is almost as good as
staring at a fire. Fire is one of the things that you can stare at
and not have to think. That and TV, I guess.
There was plenty of wood, bottles, metal and other things laying around to burn, which were taken advantage of. At the end of the night I laid in my bunk in the bus and had a beautiful clear view of the fire, probably 50 feet away, which without my glasses on looked like 3 small bright orange stars vibrating through the darkness with halos around them, Steel Pole Bath Tub songs engraved in my brain, running parallel with all of my thoughts. I want so badly to go out there, run on the ramps, get lost amidst the trees but I lay motionless, staring out my bunk window, afraid of the fire, always afraid of things I love too much. But try watching a fire without your glasses on one night. It works ok.
Monday, March 25, Oberhausen, Germany
I like the little park where the bus is marooned - I wake up and am told that there is a fascinating mall a block away - but most importantly, there is a McDonalds even closer. The bus is on a patio surrounded by a sort of art complex - this is a neat area, and/but it looks a lot like America. In the mall, Dale, Jim and I bought brand new huge belt-buckles- Jim's says "Norse God" on it and Dale's says "Mason." I had to decide between a beautiful blue one that said "electrician" or a logging truck one; I opted for the truck because I'm not really an electrician.
Tuesday, March 27, Gent, Belgium
Hitting the Wall
I wake up(?) face pressed to my bunk window staring at a blurry image of the most beautiful burgundy-red brick wall I've ever seen. Brick red, criss-crossed grey lines, with a window reflecting the most intense, vivid deep blue sky, a color the sky should never be. I stare for hours it seems like, listening to other band members toss, turn, and breathe, trying to figure out why the sky is that blue color, and why this image of a brick wall a foot from my face can seem so complicated and beautiful to me, give up finally and just accept that my brain can malfunction like this and be thankful that it's making me happy and not sad. I want to walk around this city in my sleep, dazed and happy. We're finally out of Germany and the sun is shining bright white light straight down onto Gent, Belgium, dirty blonde concrete and stone buildings.
Monday, April 1, Travel
Intense Until The End
So we get to London, finally. I wake up in a terrible mood today for some reason, probably something to do with the end of the tour. I didn't even get out of the bus when we crossed on the ferry - I don't think I wanted to get to London. London sux compared to Europe; it's like playing in New York. I woke up to hear about a 1000 screaming children and looked out the window and saw we were parked in the ferry - I decided I'd rather die underneath the ferry, sinking into the channel alone than with a bunch of screaming 5-year olds above, on the surface.
Wednesday, April 3, Plane Home
Lip in Airport
My next recollection is we're sitting on the plane, and we're trying to figure out what Dale is saying right at the moment. Dale still has my watch, which I lent him at the beginning of the tour, and has probably just realized it now or figured it out a while ago and doesn't know how to change it to the correct time. I wish I had given him the little instruction booklet; I hope he figures out how to change the time. It really disturbs me to think about him stuck in an airport for an extra 12 hours, waiting to zigzag back the opposite direction to North Carolina (from London/San Francisco), with a watch that says the incorrect time.
Later I sort of drifted off and out of the fuzz ringing in my ears, oddly the Sonic Youth song "Cotton Crown" keeps repeating in my head now. I could be asleep now. I know the tour is over and I feel alone, but I look back on particular moments of the tour and remember being so happy, I sit now with a huge smile on my face. I'll take this with me forever. I don't really know if I'll ever be able to come up with a thank you that could actually explain how much fun I had, but I think you all saw me smiling.
- "Angels are dreaming of you."
Copyright © 1996 by Roseanne