March 31, 2005
Bittersweet

Here I sit in this cafe ... Waiting, waiting - where are they? Aww, man - they're an hour late in picking me up, and the coffee cup is empty and I'm just sitting here waiting, pissed off. Fuck! Don't they know that I'm a busy guy? I've got shit to do! Music and all that other stuff. Another 15 minutes and I'm gonna go bonkers. WHERE ARE THEY? I am totally aggrivated and ... Whoah. Suddenly I look across the road and verrry slowly, there'a guy in a wheelchair rolling along, with no legs. Oh, man, and I thought I've got it bad. Geez, look at that poor guy. Everyone turns away, ignores him. They're the ones that are disgusting. Reminds me of another time in Seattle, when a similar thing happened. Stops ya dead in your tracks, or it should. Funny how we rush around and get upset about things that aren't really that important ...

What the fuck do I have to complain about, really?
-Todd

Posted by calico at 12:31 PM
March 30, 2005
Happy Ost-ern in Potsdam!

Happy friggin' Easter, everybody! The day we all celebrate a guy named Jesus who was hung on a cross. Gruesome! And to think they did it just because he was black. Today's story takes place somewhere in (former) East Germany, where I was lucky enough to spend the weekend with one of my friends from the band The Inchtabokatables. These guys are my favourite band in Germany, to be sure, and maybe all of Europe. He picked me up at the S-Bahn station in Babelsberg. (where Marlene Dietrich and the rest filmed all those great movies in the 20's and 30's!) First a glass o' wine in the pub, where we officially got on a roll. We decided that when you're on stage, you feel like you're about 2 feet taller than you actually are ... then we decided that the normal, every-day grind of life makes you feel like you're about 2 feet SMALLER than you actually are. Hilarious!

C'est La Vie. Then we were whisked away to a house somewhere in Potsdam, where all sorts of interesting characters were assembled around a campfire. We ate, drank, and howled at the moon. Great stuff. Someone attempted to shoot off fireworks (almost successful), which, of course, drew the neighbours over as well. There was an old guy with a Confucious/Lenin-esque beard named Klaus, who kept taking my picture, and asking me all kinds of strange questions (in broken english) like, "What's your last name?" and "How long do you playing the trumpet?" Someone whispered in my ear, "Just another photo for the secret files ..." "Stasi or FBI?" I whispered back. "Stasi, definitely!" they answered. Oh, well - fuckit - I've got nothing to hide except my hide. We all just people. Livin' on the other side o' the fence. I just hope they got my good side!

Woke up, pumped, knackered, relieved, had a kingly breakfast. ("Wir haben es schon wieder überlebt!") Radio 1 was playing in the background, and they were doing songs with colors: Blue, red, pink. Quaint. "Red House" from Jimmy Hendrix, "Blue Monday," etc. They played "Little Pink Houses" by Johnny Cougar. Never heard that song played on the radio in Europe before! My friends from the East said they've NEVER ever heard that song before! (It was a hit in the 80's. Thank Gawd THAT's over!) I sang the 3rd verse for my friend, a verse I'd learned somewhere back in the Midwest, to sing with some cover-band. Oh, the shame. But the lyrics are good: "Cuz they told me - when I was younger - They said, boy you're gonna be president! But just like everything else - those little crazy dreams just kinda came and went - Aww, but ain't that America - for you and me ..."

I yearn to be some kind of bridge between America and Europe. I live in, around, and for the Music. Music hath no boundaries.

Peace. -Todd

Posted by calico at 07:48 AM
March 17, 2005
CREAM With Coffee

Hi all. Just anuddah fun story from the travelling diaries, this time from Frankfurt/Main. Hung out in this cool drum shop called, "Cream" (enter your own joke here) right near the main train station. If you're a drummer, check it out! Even if you're just a plain ol' ordinary musician, I urge you to go and drink some coffee there (fresh brewed!) and chat with the boys. Anything goes, and you will partake of endless folklore and musical chit-chat (with varying degrees of importance) and have a good time. I was there for a few hours yesterday, waiting for my ride, and the discussions got more and more interesting and, er, weird. It started out with the gospel guy named Fitzroy, who was telling tales about playing in Belgium, Switzerland, etc., etc. and the problems he has with his musicians, especially getting them on the bus! "Hear ya," I said, as a thousand random memories flooded my mind, times when we flew to Frankfurt but the bass itself ended up in Paris, or when we couldn't even FIND the bass player! (But geeze, it sure beats workin' for a living, the normal job blues must be a real drag.) And he said he'd just done a tour, and sent one of his musicans home, 'cuz they were always late, and I nodded again, remembering the time I brought this great trumpet player over and he layed in the hotel room for 2 days, just sweating bullets from some kind of withdrawal from some weird designer drug, and I just said to him,"You're flying home, TODAY." Yep. Recalled a tale about the great drummer Buddy Rich, who was arguably an asshole, but certainly a great musician and gave everything for the music, including the time he was yelling at one of his horn guys for flubbing the notes, as sweat drenched the poor lad's shirt, soaking wet. And Buddy took off his own shirt, yelling at the guy as he did it, saying he'd better get his (musical) act together, etc. He was strict and furious, but even so - he would give you the shirt off his back! And then someone said that Prince is so extreme (meaning good) that he charges his band 50 dollars if someone is 5 minutes late to a rehearsal. (I've heard this one before, and I think it's true.) And hey, Prince had that song, "Cream" - perfect - we're sitting in a place called Cream! Sweet. All the ups and downs. It's a tough biz. As Fitzroy said, you gotta kick some ass to get to the point where you can kick some ass! (On stage. Gotta get everyone to the gig to have a gig.) Be strict, mean business, and play tha Wicked Show! Next was a whole family of Cuban guys who played some dangerous congas. And they had a child in a baby-carriage who kept smiling at me, and I pointed at him and said real loud, "The world's youngest percussionist!" And the moms who had him in tow all just laughed. Man, those guys were jammin'! And you should have seen the faces of the guys working there, when these guys all walked in, with their wives and their brothers and their kids! That was some funny shit! Just another day in a drum shop. By this time, I'd had about 20 cups of joe, and I was flyin' good. I was spittin' out music tales, and could keep up a-runnin' with anyone who popped their head in, or sat down to join the Kaffee-klatsch. Then someone told me about an obscure record with Philip Boa (great singer) and Dave Lombardo on drums. (Heavy-metal kids reading this right now reserve the right to scream, "Slayer!" at the top of their lungs.) That was a CD I'd never heard of, and that sounds pretty fuckin' righteous. Gotta get it. Never know what you're gonna learn at the drum shop. And then I got into a really interesting discussion about, "What is Punk?" which included brief mention of the Sex Pistols, The Police, The Clash, even hitch-hiking and threesomes. All to the clink-clink-clink of coffee cups and spoons, and the occasional, "No, no! That's not punk. Punk is ..." and so on. This other cool drummer guy named Jens said that the first 2 Nina Hagen records are punk (for him) and the other guy said that it's not punk, because it's too popular. And then we wondered aloud if something can still be punk if it's popular, too. (Like REM or Green Day.) And we decided that each person has his or her own definition of what punk is, if they even think about it at all, and that people's own personal values are different (really) from their neighbors, and then someone said that in a little town somewhere someone bought a whole castle for a deutschmark, promising that they would fix it up. And then I said, "How many zlotty's is that?" and someone else said, "How many cows is that?" and we realized that exchange rates fluctuate, and that each has his own personal rate of value. Yes, different people value different things. And someone said, "Imagine you could fix your car or fill up your tank for the price of a castle and three cows!" That was pretty hysterical. That's punk! Make your own way. And then, just when I thought I'd had too much coffee, and was going to wander back over to the train station and come down, the weirdest guy walked right in, and said, "HEY! Who wants a turkish sandwich? On me!" And he whips out this huge piping hot meat pie, no one else wanted it, and plops it down in front of me. Whatt?? And he looked like a lumberjack, in a whackey outfit from some nature-hike catalogue, and he was a big bear of a man, and obviously crazy. Everyone just stared at him in wonder. I'll eat the thing, I bellowed. And that was the only time I'd been brought a hot turkish sandwich in a drum shop! And then he mumbled something about wishing that someone would give him some schnapps instead, and made his way out the door, stumbling and grumbling. Strange! And wonderful. The perfect dream-like ending for a perfect adventurous day ... And I just thought, "If it's poisonous or I die here, the headline will read - American Singer Chokes To Death On Meatpie From Large German Lumberjack."
Peace. -Todd

Posted by calico at 04:06 AM