Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Viva L'American Death Ray Music European Tour Blog Pt. 1

The Tight Pants, Small Cars Tour 2008

May 28th, 8:00 pm EST over Nova Scotia. Flight 102 to Amsterdam.

Left the airport in Jersey at about 5:15. Thirtysix hundred plus miles across the Atlantic.
Should arrive about 7:18 am local time. Amsterdam is 6 hours ahead of NYC, and 7 hours ahead of Memphis.
Jeff and I both arrived in New York this week and spent a couple days with Nick and Laura, eating nice meals and going to a David Mancuso disco party. Laura put a tiny, purple lame (as in the fabric "luh-MAY" - can't type the accent over the "e" here) hat on my head and told me it was worth $200. One of her clients is running a new fashion line and gave her one to try out. Only in Brooklyn, people. We took a camera and went out, stumbling down the street . I couldnt even take myself seriously with this hat on, but people kept telling me all nite how great it was. My entire sense of whats right was thrown outta wack. We went to Congee Village on the Lower East Side in Manhattan one nite and I had abalone and frog congee, sweet potato pancakes and a lychee martini. The Congee Village is right over the bridge.
This flight is gonna be long. We will be in Europe until July 1st.

Im like a thunder stealing photo gnome appearing in the craziest places. The thunderstealer takes Brooklyn . . .


8. Terminator 3 (but not until the end . . .)
9. Hell Comes To Frogtown
10. Living Dead . . . series
11. Rabies
12. I Am Legend
13. La Jetee
14. 12 Monkeys
15. Day After Tomorrow
16. Planet of the Apes
17. The Stand (T.V. Miniseries)
18. The Day After
19. Cloverfield
20. War of the Worlds
21. Stuff

1. 1984
2. Brazil
3. Soilent Green
4. Fahrenheit 451
5. Logan's Run
6. THX 1138
7. City of Lost Children
8. Children of Men
9. V (T.V. Miniseries)
10. Minority Report
11. Escape from New York
12. Rollerball
13. Nuke 'Em High
14. Blade Runner
15. Them
16. Total Recall
17. Screamers

*Also reference NEW version of Dr. Bronner's Liquid Soap where he comments that World War IV will be fought with sticks, stones and other melee weapons; An idea I've ALREADY considered.

ESSAYS 2 Finish:
“World War IV: Methods of Melee”
“Toads: Good to keep or to eat”
“There Will Be Blood v. Giant: parallels, powerful assholes, prairies, etc.”

Groningen, Holland.
Jeff DOES fit into those blue jammies! He left them at my house last year when VLADRM played the Shangri-La Pops Festival, or was it when we recorded in December? Yes, I think so. Those fucking jammies are so small, every girl that's tried to put them on has failed. We're at Robert's place now in Groningen, relaxing. After the rendezvous with Harlan this afternoon at the airport, Jeff and him split to take our equipment here by van. Harlan has been in France for several weeks already, chilling with Anne in L'Argeles, eating ice cream and screwing. Me and Nick stayed behind to catch a train since the van was full. While waiting to go to the train station, I snapped a picture in front of the airport and was immediately accosted by two Dutch cops with submachine guns. I had to explain to them that I was a tourist and a musician. They aggressively wondered why I was at the entrance to the airport when I said I had just landed. I had no fucking idea myself, but I surely didnt see why I had to explain it to these two clowns. Talking to pigs can really remind you of what a space cadet you can be. I felt like I was stuck in a bad comedy skit (I took a shampoo over to Holland). The picture that got me busted:

After that debacle I found Nick and we took a very pleasant train ride with Nick from Amsterdam thru Amsfoort to Groningen, where Robert, our booking agent and go-to guy, houses his bands before they go on tour.

I think he organized the Intelligence's and Jack and Harlan's tour recently. The town seems cool at first glance, but my jetlag was too overwhelming to notice anything. We practiced in an old Catholic hospital from a million years ago. The lights down the long, dark hallways would flicker and I wandered around in a daze, turned a corner and saw Harlan creeping aroud like a monster, trying to scare me in the strobe of the overheads. The band thinks the closer in proximity that I get to the space, the worse my mood escalates. We went over many, many songs. I don't know how many. But many. Mostly new ones. Why look back? We did that old stuff. It's time for something new. So afterwards we rode our bikes in the cool, dark night back to Roberts where I sent an email home and completely crashed.
Roberts apartment is filled with rock and roll memorabilia, comic books, movie posters, show flyers, toys and robots, etc. It makes me feel at home in a way. Yesterday we were trying to figure out where to sit in the van and he says, “You have to sit in the back. You're the fat one in the band.” Everyone started laffing. “It's easy to be the fat one when everyone else is anorexic,” said Jeff.
The sun is shining today. My jetlag is over but Im up early. Took a walk downtown with Jeff. Saw a floating pancake ship on the canal that runs thru the center of town. Will have to eat there before we leave. Then ran errands with the dudes. Saw a giant pump organ at the thrift store for 30 euro. Rifled thru a record store. Passed Vera, a club that I read about tonite in an Oblivians tour diary from 10 years ago or so. Also read a little of Ben Waller's tour diary. Smoked some Dutch cigarettes, rehearsed. Rented bikes downtown and rode around.
It was beautiful outside today, and nice and cool tonite. Rode thru the red light district. Hooks in giant windows sitting in tiny rooms set up to look like cozy, sexy bedrooms. They looked old, bored, roly-poly. Saw two balloons that looked like Dr. Seuss titties. One smiled at me, but I didnt feel like slowing down to chat.
There are lots of frogs outside. They sound loud and crazed. Robert lives across the street from a park with a huge lake. I bet theyre all swimming around in there.

Spent the weekend rehearsing in the hospital, laffing hysterically at everything. Nick and I heard air sirens today and they sounded weird. Rising tones that fall very quickly and then begin rising again, but to a higher note than before, with another quick drop and so on. Nick was pretty frightened. He said, “Futureshock!”
We are sitting in Robert's living room, working on album covers and stencils for t-shirts, listening to the Fall's Extricate.
Bought two Thai cigarettes yesterday. Nick's stuff wasnt really working on me for some reason. But the Thai stuff wasnt that much better. Anything that comes in a blister pack cant be that good.
The candy here in this country is horrible. So are the cookies and pastries. The food in general is horrible: spongey, chewy breads, mystery meats and bland, barely ground beef. Bland, brown sauces and catsups. And everything is expensive. The dollar is shit.

To Berlin.
Our van is red. Perfect size to stuff our equipment into a massive puzzle in the back. The band is very fond of both antiquated technology and that of the present and future. We have a magical telephone that can call the states or anywhere around Europe. We have a telesponder adapter for the digital music player so that motherfucker will jam thru the car stereo. We have a Global Positioning System, about the size of a deck of cards, that sends an atomic signal up to this satellite somewhere in space where a little monkey sits and punches buttons, peels bananas and watches Mr. Belvedere and Battlestar Galactica. Then the signal comes back and tells us where we are. We just look at our van driving around on the screen and this woman tells us where to go. Futureshock!
We are smoking at separate times to keep the cabin from filling up with acrid smoke. Im thinking Berlin is at least 6 hours away. It's a fuggin miracle we left as early as we did. We might have some problems on the border, so I hear. As far as I understand, I probably wont get arrested. So thats good news. What a refreshing change! I can just see it, “Hes done jailtime the world over!” Nevertheless, we've collected our mass of stuff and ditched some, disguised the rest. Jeff, I think, has some Moroccan stuff. I have half a cigarette of Thai stuff and Nick has some SnowWhite from somewhere. I also have some sleeping pills, but I have a script for those. Not sure if the German border patrol will care . . .
Harlan is jamming on Ennio Morricone. He says Golden Triangle should cover Magic & Ecstasy. Harlan and I agreed recently that GT is a far better band than VLADRM for the sheer amount of youthful energy they have.
VLADRM has played Berlin twice before, but this is my first time with them. I quit right before the band left for their first European tour. And a few years went by. I remember standing on the sidewalk outside the Cotton Exchange (Jamie and Todd Valentine's place) when it used to be open on Cooper. I was completely strung out and talking to Nick, “I cant do this anymore. Im too far gone. Im just going to continue to fuck things up.” And Nick begged me not to quit. He was begging me. I think he wanted to keep me safe, to watch over me by keeping me close to him. But I fell out anyway and finally shrunk down into nothingness.
But now Im back. Im a fucking machine.
Its busy here. Ive had the best falafel Ive ever had this morning. Harlan and I stayed at Razzi's girlfriend's flat. It was a consuming darkness last night and we walked down the street and thru a courtyard, then up a pitch black staircase several floors to her place. Everything is making me think of modern industrial Germany, socialist nationalism and Nazi rule. Its not really that way, obviously. Its just funny how this place, in my imagination, is an amalgamation of things like Christiane F., Herzog/Kinski, and all the kraut band Ive ever dug. This morning when I woke up I could hear what sounded like old nationalist folk music coming thru the open window from the courtyard below. I sat in the bathtub for awhile and shaved and the sunlight filled up the bathroom. Later Harlan and I sat down at a picnic bench outside a cafe and drank coffee. People were everywhere. Big fat German guys yelling into the street and Middle Eastern women gossiping with each other. I walked around the corner to buy some cigarettes and eventually bumped into Nick.
Last night's show was my first ever in Europe. It was as normal as any other show, for the most part. The Bang Bang Club is in the Mitte, basically the center of what was once West Berlin. The club sat under a railway line near the canal and the Dom. The promoter was this lively German girl in a t-shirt and cotton skirt. She rode up on a bike while we were waiting outside. And within minutes of letting us in, there was coffee, bread, meats and vegetables, candy and chocolates, wine, soda, water and beer all set up for us in the green room downstairs. Razzi (Boy from Brazil) showed up with a French TV crew led by this tall, blonde chick who was very plastic. Her sense of enthusiasm was unsettling. She was so excited about everything. “Yes, it is a very exciting day for you to be playing.”
Nick did a stream of consciousness interview comparing and contrasting Berlin to other cities in the world. And this chick kept having to re-ask him her mundane questions. I piped in with a capper and they were gone. Her eyes were just too wide. When she walked in everyone was smoking doobs. I dont know if that was weird for them or what. Anyway, I put on an Indian headdress and with a very hazy mind went upstairs and onstage. The show went well. The film crew was in our faces. The crowd was dancing. Everyone went bonkers after Creem Dreem Blues. I kept looking out at them. They were German.
After the show we sold a bunch of records from the stage. I met these three British soldiers who were on leave in Berlin. One of them had just gotten back from Afghanistan. And one was yelling in my ear about his stupid band. I asked the other one, “What was it like over there?” And he said, “I was sitting in a trench, huddled down looking at a picture of my wife and family, crying, with bullets flying by my head.” I wanted to ask him why the fuck he would want to do that. But I didnt want to get into it.
The crowd was pretty intense. They loved the show, apparently, and they all wanted to talk to us at the same time. So I went back downstairs to chill.
Later a disco party got started upstairs. I went up there to pack up my gear and stood on the stage, motionless, watching 16 year old German girls dancing aimlessly to Joy Division. I quickly went back downstairs where I was informed by Razzi that 16 is the legal age in Germany. Yikes. Razzis quite a trip. His sense of humor is evolved in a way, similar to ours. That shit never seems to gel. But it did with Razzi. And although I would have liked to stay up and take in the city and talk to him about girls and Can, I chose to hit the haypile instead.

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