Monday, December 6, 2010

VLADRM in Bordeaux Friday the 13th 2008

I cant stress enough how beautiful the weather is right now. Au Cafe Pompier, where we played, is an art school. So lots of very young art students. Not at all different from any other art school in the world. The building was real old with huge, arched doorway fitted with another tiny door to walk through. The cafe area had murals, artwork, photos, an old upright piano that Jeff immediately sat down and started playing Monk tunes on. We walked around the narrow streets for awhile, stopped in a shop with a ton of synthesizers and pedals, etc. Came back and had a good soundcheck, dinner, wine, coffee and hash. Met Jay Decheman , a guy who looks vaguely like Steve McQueen and has a one-man electric organ band. DISCOUNT ORGANS was the name of the album, apparently. We also met Buzz, the promoter for the show, who rolled us plenty of cigarettes and had a stroke recently. He was friendly and funny and seemed healthy enough, I guess. Also met Simon, who seemed in charge of everything. He reminded me of a more subdued Matt Melton. Simon was to take care of us during our stay in Bordeaux, did an excellent job of it, and almost made me want to grow a mustache. I think he's got a band called the Weakends and they're gonna play with us sometime soon. I talked to the young,  French kid from the opening band for awhile. Cowboys from Africa, they were called. He was excited about us being there, but I dont think he knew us from Adam. A few of the dudes saw Jay when he played there and liked the Barbaras. The kid mentioned Bennet alot. Ill have to remember to ask them about Bordeaux when I get back. While I was talking to the little dude out in the courtyard behind the cafe, the young girls surrounding us would pop up and fuck with the kid, making fun of him in order to flirt with me. His buddies thought this was hilarious. But I was deep in conversation with the kid about guitars and shit like that. To get the girls back I brought up a foolproof, entertaining line of questioning concerning dirty French words. The girls quickly became embarrassed and split.
His band sucked. I mean, they were just kids. It was sophomoric garage punk, but the kid was actually a pretty good guitarist, especially for his age. While they were playing, the club filled up with more kids, young girls, art-fags (literally - art students in half-drag), older rockers, etc. It was past midnight when they finished, although it seemed earlier because the sun goes down so late around here. They took forever to break their shit down and the kid never broke his shit down at all. His guitar (A nice Eko. Italian, I think) sat under my keyboards the whole show.
Once we started playing the place was packed. The people went bonkers. Fags dancing on top of the bar, people making out, singing the lyrics to the songs even if they didnt know them. I had a teenage girl standing on the bench right ahead and next to me the whole set, waving her hair and dancing and screaming in my ear the entire time. I watched the bench bounce up and down as she danced, but it never broke. Blah. I think she bought a record later, she enthusiastically promised me she would between our set and the encore. After our last song I went over to the merch table, within direct site of my shit setup only 15 feet away. As I was selling records with Nick, like every night, I noticed two young dudes dressed all in black, one with dark curly hair, looking at my setup. I thought I had seen them before that evening. I didnt see them rummaging around or anything. Regardless, after a couple minutes I left the merch table to go and check on my shit and immediately noticed that my Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phaser was gone. I double-checked the area very quickly, to make up for my bad memory and then firmly decided that it had been stolen. I raced around the club looking for the two dudes, mentioned it to Jeff and Simon very quickly but made my way around, into the courtyard and then out front. The school is flanked by an old hospital-turned-squat (common in Europe, I guess) and an enormous, old church. I'm sure I had a crazy look on my face. I was fucking livid. I searched around the lot, questioned a couple of drunk kids who I'm sure were mocking me, and went back inside. It was over, gone. It pretty much ruined my night. Then, to top it off, I misplaced my sunglasses for a few hours, only to find them in my keyboard case the next morning. That shit with the pedal, though. That will never happen again.
Nick deejayed records for awhile and the people at the show danced crunkenly for quite awhile until it was time to close up. Simon took us to an apartment nearby that was pretty small, but had enough mattreses laid out in the living room so that we could all sleep comfortably.
Early in the morning I could hear a baby crying in the hallway. I spoke out, with my eyes still closed, "Does anyone besides me hear that baby crying?"
Then the door opened and in walks Buzz, who later said he was still drunk. "I forgot my keys," he said, and walked into the kitchen where there was a rack of several dozen keys hanging from it. But behind him, standing in the doorway, is a little kid maybe 2 years old at the most, who isnt crying anymore. He's just staring into the room at the 4 of us sprawled out, bewildered. I looked up at him and said, "Bonjour." Jeff and Harlan also said hello. The kid just stared. He was dumbfounded. Then Buzz came back from the kitchen, scooped him up and split.
Later we met Simon back at the school, packed up our stuff and walked around for a bit. Ate a falafel, went to a record store where Nick found a Television Personalities record before I did. Is it better to start at the 'A's or the 'Z's when having a record-digging race?
There were all different types of people walking the streets outside. Middle Eastern folks, French wiggers, girls in high-heels. A scary looking little old guy was slowly walking in front of us, hunched over with a copy of a Stephen King novel in his hands, held behind his back. We thought he was half crazed and looking for prey. It was sunny and warm out and we headed back to the van, took some photos, said our goodbyes to Simon (who we were to hook up again with in Toulouse in a couple days), and split. Next was La Rochelle.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

France, the Mediterranean and bitching in paradise


Dont remember much of this. I think Jeff and Nick and I went into a fuck shop before the show and looked at french dildos. Theyre much smaller here (wowm, WOWM...).


I dont even know where I am in France. All I know is that there is all the ice cream I can eat and the flat Anne C. has got set up for us is in spitting distance from the Mediterranean Ocean. We are staying in a small, very very small resort villa, 40km or so from Perpignan , until our next show there on Thursday. Anne's family owns an ice cream shop near the beach, bunched in a group of boardwalks filled with cafes, arcades, gift shops, bars, more ice cream shops, etc. Im brushing up on my French. I walked out to the beach with Nick and Jeff and we rolled up our pant legs and stepped in the sea. Too cold to swim, but we marched up and down the surf, yelling and carrying on. Looking out over the water towards Africa, I stared at the emptiness, the sea was flanked by a dark range of the Pyrenees, and to the west sat a castle up on top of a long peak surrounding that side of the bay. The view was incredible.

I ate two ice cream cones, Pistachio and Dulce Le Leche. We sat at the bar on the other side of the shop and drank wine with Anne's family for awhile until we were good and drunk and the sun had set. Harlan was really excited about his rendezvous with Anne. He was nervous and giddy. The street are filled with rich, old European women, parents with their wild children, young brats, loud teenagers, lotsa couples holding hands, kissing, hugging, which makes me alternately angry, jealous and homesick. I saw a dad holding his daughters hand, pulling up her skirt while her undies were around her ankles, pissing in the gutter. Fucking French! Nick pointed out that many of these vacationers have smug scowls on their faces. Its almost as if the more fun we are having, the more depressed they get. We also spent much time discussing our enjoyment of food signs that portray the animal consuming itself as a food item in a cannibalistic way.

Anyway, we made our way back to the flat after ice cream and I immediately turned the record player on super loud as Harlan and Anne rushed into the bedroom. I went for a walk, looking around the beach and the boardwalk. Later Nick and Jeff came with me and we hung out in the arcade for awhile, found some telephones and computers and sent messages home. It has become extremely difficult to email or call our girlfriends. I think L is sore at Nick. I dont think she understands the conditions over here. Every girl I look at makes me miss home.

Harlan and Anne made us a huge dinner with duck, pasta, salad, beef and pepper skewers and several bottles of wine. We also had some kiwi juice left over from a roadside stand. After dinner, tho, everything in town closed up. Harlan and Anne left to get a hotel room and we couldnt figure out the television, had no cigarets, no entertainment; we couldnt call our girlfriends, no internet, etc. All of a sudden it was a crisis. It was funny that we could get so bored and frustrated in a place like this. So we went to bed laughing.

Then, in the middle of the night, the kitchen light popped on and Nick rushed into the bedroom saying something in an alarming tone. I was half asleep and said, "Hey would you turn that light off when youre finished." But Nick was frantically looking around the apartment. I got outta bed and went out to the kitchen. He was telling Jeff that he woke up just a half a minute earlier and someone was standing in his room. My blood turned icy and Jeff shuddered. Nick continued, saying that when he sat up and said "HEY!" whatever it was turned and ran out of the room and around the corner. He searched the entire place and the weird thing was, the dog, Murph (and the Magi-Tones), wasnt spooked at all. In fact, when Nick came rushing out of his bedroom the dog was standing there wagging his tail. So as I laid back down, still half-asleep, I started to try to make sense of what happened. I could see Nick at the large, glass double-doors to our balcony, trying to lock it. He was serious. But he couldnt get the latch. If it had been a burglar, the dog would have freaked. Now, I very strongly dont believe in ghosts. So, if it wasnt a burglar, then what the fuck was it. The intruder would have had to vault the wall of the balcony, 2 stories up, or escape out of a locked door. The power of the imagination can be very strong, especially in the proximity of a sleep state. But Nick was pretty convinced. He has been known to see things. So I ended up laying in bed with my eyeglasses on, staring out my door at the balcony door across the kitchen, waiting for something to happen. The moonlight was flooding into the room from above the courtyard outside. Eventually I slept.When I woke up, Nick was still a little confused about the whole thing. He made breakfast and we put some Joe Gibbs on the record player and sat out on the patio.

Turns out that someone was in the apartment. Anne heard about the incident and said that it happened before where someone would crawl along the rooftops and over the wall of the balcony and into the flat. We started locking the patio door.

We decided to stay another day in L'Argeles. We have been walking around town, eating ice cream, trying to find telephones, internet, laundromats, etc. I was able to finish making the covers for my CDRs at this little internet cafe. Nick found a Tangerine Dream LP, WIlliam Friedkin's Sorceror OST. We played it and bugged out. Jeff and I took a walk last night around dusk, south along the beach and into a harbor filled with dozens of sailboats. I almost bought a seahorse at a scubadiving shop, but let the impulse pass and saved my money. We walked out on the peninsula and climbed on some giant rocks down into the water. You could see right through to the bottom of the ocean floor. Lotsa fish, tiny ones, swam around in little schools. There was all kinds of strange sea life rooting around down there. Some large fish, too; as big as your arm. I peered into the little cave behind the rocks and watched the water ebb and flow into it. I could have stayed there for hours. After climbing around I stood up on the highest rock and looked out into the distance towards the mountains. The sky was filled with clouds, rolling over the beach and into the mountain range. I could see huge, crumbling fortifications standing up on some of the peaks. And even further in the distance, towards the west, I could see a huge peak with snow on the top. I just stood and stared.

Last night Nick cooked a big dinner and we drank wine and watched French television. I went to bed early, exhausted from being in the sun all day.

This morning I woke up early and Nick and I went out to the beach. It was gorgeous out there. Nick had his captain vacation uniform on, consisting of a terrycloth Philippines shirt and a pair of green bathing briefs. No one laughed at him, surprisingly enough. I guess when youve got old men in even smaller bikinis and topless women of all ages and sizes, a skinny, Italian guy in an antiquated bathing suit isnt really a big deal. When we hit the beachhead, I undressed and hit the water immediately, and it was fucking cold. I was only in for 30 seconds or so. And when I went far out enough so that my feet werent touching the bottom, I got kind of spooked and started swimming back towards the shore.

The beach wasnt really that crowded. It was still pretty early. So I went back to my beach towel and laid down in the sand. the ocean was amazing, and the sky again for the 3rd day in a row is filled with dark, rolling clouds.


Went out drinking last night at La Divine Comedie, set in a narrow alley a few steps away from Anne's place in Perpignan. Its busy here, wild. Lots of Pakis, Indians and North Africans. And, again, many rich Mediterranean women, dudes on motorbikes, fat, crazed-looking Frenchmen, etc. Anne's apartment is filled with Indian artifacts, strange musical instruments, blankets, pillows and window dressings. A tall door opens up into a courtyard. We picked up all the instruments last night, smoked some hash and went crazy making up stupid songs. Really, really stupid songs. Anyway, me, Nick and Jeff went out to the bar (Harlan is staying with Anne back in L'Argeles, and I dont blame him. We are on a stoned rampage) and when the bartender found out that Harlan was in our band, he gave us our beers for free. Our flyers have been put up all over the narrow streets and alleys in the neighborhood surrounding the apartment.

I went out today, had some coffee, walked around to the grocery and hit Music Action for a couple hours. I found Kraftwerk's Exceller8 LP, Can's I Want More 7", T.Rex - Hot Love b/w Woodland Rock & The King of the Mountain Cometh 7" and Arthur Brown - Fire b/w I Put a Spell On You 7". The weather is beautiful. We had oysters and crawfish for dinner, drank wine and smoked more hash.
The show last night was okay. The club, El Mediator, was a really nice, new typa club in the center of town near the canal and right across the street from a huge carousel or la menage. Our soundcheck sounded good. The guys from Zoo Trash were nice enough and again, very enthusiastic. We told some jokes in the green room, compared some French slang, talked about Farfisa organs and Holger Czukay (I saw one of his singles at the record store, but ran outta Euros). Me and Nick walked back to the apartment to bathe and shave. My union suit has been temporarily lost, so thats out of the question for the time being. When we got back to the club, Harlan was standing out front, waving his hands frantically. Apparently, Anne had gotten some band beers from the front bar instead of the green room and when the bartender charged her, she threw the beer on him and then made her 'cute face.' Well, this didnt go over too well with the bartender (who was a jackass, anyway), who promptly threw her out. When wind of this got out, that Harlan T Bobo's girlfriend got thrown out, I guess there was some hubbub about it. And somehow Anne found a way to get back into the show by mopping the barfloor. As Harlan finished his story for us, Anne came outside and cried on his shoulder (they were both wasted already) lamenting how "Yoo think Im stoopid" and saying "Fuck yoo, 'Arlan." Ah, love. C'est tres amuse. I beat it inside and found Jeff. We had a good dinner at this wavy-gravy vegetarian restaurant called 'Peace N Love' with a ridiculously corny mural on the wall of the Beatles (Ringo had a huge, cartoonish nose, etc.) and Christ on the cross and maybe Jah or something, too. But the food was great and the waitress was helpful and spoke some English. Jeff is desperately trying to grasp the French language. He was about to fucking EXPLODE! earlier in the day as I was trying to help him find a pisser. We were standing in the back of this Biomarche in front of this door that said 'Personnage' or whatever, and I kept telling him, "If someone comes out that door say "Ou est la toilette?" or "Avez-vous une toilette?" I wasnt so sure myself, but I figured when the grocery boy saw the look on Jeff's face, he'd get the picture.

Anyway, back at the club, things were getting crazier still. There were a bunch of people both backstage and out front. I sat down in the green room where they had watercress salad (my favorite - remember that swan ate that at the Waldorf Astoria in E.B. White's book Trumpeter of the Swan?), roasted chicken, rice, tomatoes (which are completely different from tomatoes in the US; they actually have a meaty taste), olives, plenty of wine, cookies. Shit like that. We ate with the French bands (I only had coffee at the veggie place) and talked about E.B. White, invisible cars, Philip K Dick movie adaptations and Alan Arkin (The Russians Are Coming, The Slums of Beverly Hills, 13 Conversations..., Little Miss Sunshine) in broken French and English. After dinner I sat alone, trying to get a moments peace before the show, and this older French woman in her 40s walked in a rolled a giant cigaret with tobacco and hash. She kept getting embarrassed and blushing as she tried to attempt speaking English, but it wasnt that bad. She wore dark eyeliner and deep red lipstick, had long, thick black hair and a black dress. She looked good. Her name was Linda, I think. And she kept going on about how young I look for my age. One thing about older French women: Alot of them try to remain in vogue and stylish. And many of them are classic and beautiful, even as they get older. The men, however, young and old, are shit.
Right before we went onstage, Anne grabbed me and gave me some shit. Nick took a little as well. And I assume Harlan had also done some. Nick and I took the stage first and started a guitar and organ rally for several minutes. I set a random LFO rate on the Realistic on a super-slow pace, and set the resonance filter real high so I could get a wider range of frequencies, and then clicked on the delay pedal. Nick began to play open E octaves with a quick delay. This gave me a chance to look out over the crowd. They were your basic bunch of hip French people. There was one guy I recognized from the street earlier. Harlan introduced him as Syd Barrett, but he looked more like some asshole that stepped off the set of Les Miserables or Straw Dogs. He had a book of music he had written that was the size of a telephone book. But he had no knowledge of written music and just spent months scribbling notes down on staff paper. There was also grumpy guy, a young guy that stood there, his arms hanging down, looking like he would rather be waiting in line at the post office than watching us. This guy is usually standing next to the dancing girl, who is very excitable and will usually buy a
record. Sometimes they can be ugly, but most of the time they arent. There are also groups of girls, very made up and pretty, usually smoking cigarets, that just sort of stand there. Every time you look at them at least one of them is staring at you intently. The other ones are usually staring at Nick. I can almost always read their minds. I always wonder why people dont want to have more fun. During the show I connected with Jeff, who can never really hear the entire band during the set. Me and Nick match match solos on Recovery and High Numbers, which goes well. The only problems tend to be technical, which the most annoying part of being on a European tour, having to play on borrowed equipment. Or being in a band like VLADRM, which is still very much on a street level even after all these years, and has to rely on cash flow from within, or from extraneous day jobs, to fund equipment. I mean, I like my equipment okay, but if I had some real money to get the shit that I really need, than I would never have problems with volume or guitars cutting out during the solo in Hashishans or any of the bullshit that happened tonight.

Harlan climbed up on his amp for J'ai Mal Aux Dents again, and played a drunken balancing act until his guitar cut out and a frantic dash of Frenchmen came to his aid, all swarming around below him like in the movie where the guy climbs on top of his wrecked car while all Gene Simmons' poisonous robot bugs crawl around below him until Tom Selleck comes to his aid while Giorgio Moroder plays in the background.
After we left the stage, as I walked back to the green room, I heard my fucking organ being played onstage. None of us were up there, but Nicks guitar was sitting there, feeding back. I pointed out at three dudes standing nearest to where I was set up.
"Who was it? Who the fuck was that?"
I was fucking pissed. I didnt want to play any longer. Nick told me not to worry about it. But if theres one thing that you dont do, you do not fuck with someones equipment onstage. I shouldnt have played the encore, but everyone was trying to tell me, "Oh its okay. No big deal. They didnt hurt anything." Which wasnt the point. But with everyone acting like I was making a big deal out of nothing, like I was crazy, I went ahead and lulled thru two more songs. The three, young crunk dudes, waving around their beer cups and acting like assholes, eventually disappeared. And after packing up my shit, I went out for fresh air. The place cleared out pretty quickly, and as my adrenaline from the show wore off, I realized that the shit that Anne gave us was completely fake. Not weak, but a complete fugazi.
I sold one Teledildonics 5000 CD to an older guy who remembered 68 Comeback, yawned my way through some conversations with some girls. And Jeff, Nick and I took off on foot back towards Anne's apartment. Once we reached the canal, which Nick had been hoping to go down to but was never able to find a way - beautifully landscaped lawn and huge flower gardens down there, these French disco fags rolled up on us and one rather clumsy looking, frosty haired beanpole came up to me and tried to reach into the box of food I was carrying. My hands were completely full and all I could do was turn away, Then him and his friends started yelling shit at us. Well, Jeff steps up with a big bag of potato chips he was munching on nonchalantly and goes, "Hey man you want some chips?" And then he throws the handful of chips in the dudes face and says, "Fuck you!" It was fucking hilarious. The guy tried to grab the bag of chips, but Jeff was too quick for him. I had dropped the box and had my knife in my hand, and all I could think was, "Alright guy dont do something stupid thats gonna make me do something 10 times stupider. Cause I would love nothing more than the feeling of stabbing a French guy right now." But the dudes backed off as Jeff continued to yell at them. He started laughing as they ran off.
Once we got back to the apartment, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. Sold VLADRM records to Action Music today. Got coffee, rolled a hash cigaret, rendezvoused with Harlan; and now we're off to Bordeaux.