For the people fighting for social change around the world:
Keep fighting like it really matters ('cuz it does) to mad hatters. Hats off! -Todd
(You know who you are ...)
One time I got on the train, quite punctually, and travelled far with no complications or major hard-ships. Everything was fine. That is not this story ...
"Berlin Blues / Ostbahnhof, 4 AM"
Waitin' for the morning train to go to Ani DiFranco's show. In Cologne. 800 kilometers away. 16 hours until the concert. No problem. Featuring my friend on bass! Got to get there. How to get there? Our Berlin promoter was going to drive me, but he flaked at the last minute. Typical! Woe is me. Time for Plan B (for Bonn) or C (for Cologne). I asked a friend to borrow his car. Said friend said clearly, "No." Typical, two! Flights would cost about a zillion dollars. Should I hitch-hike? Naw ... Bad time to hitch-hike 'cuz it's, um, midnight and it's raining. But I do everything for the music. On the radio in that lonely terminal Freddie was singing Crazy Little Thing Called Love. You know, "Take a long ride on a motor bike, hitch-hike." So I did. Because of the song, that’s the reason why.
Pre-amble: Hitch-hiking is an experiment in putting one's trust in Humanity.
So I go, "Yeah, it's the perfect time to hitch-hike!" Walk around the corner to the all-night gas station, nobody there. First I thought, "Well, I don't need 20 cars, I need JUST ONE." 'Tis true. Lights went out at midnight. Somehow I had this premonition the whole time that I gotta say I'm going to Hannover (next big city over) because to say that I'm going to Cologne is too far (for friendly mit-schleppers to imagine), less is more, step by step - and anyway it's, um, dark and it's RAINING! The odds are not good. But ... Do you believe in synchronicity? When things come together, deja-vu, etc. Had a card-board sign with "Hannover" scrawled on it. I could have written "Wolfsburg" or "Muenster" or 15 other obscure german cities, but I wrote "Hannover" ... Why, I'll never know.
"Each hunch is ammunition for the pre-monition."
Dozed in and out for an hour or two. Damn this fatigue! After a while, I got tired of waiting. Doubt started creeping in. Maybe I should cancel? I had the Berlin Blues. Doubt is a disease (when it comes to music and travel, that is). Crept in like a vision of wolves in the fog, twin animal cousins of Fear/Paranoia. Not a welcome friend. Solemn, of secrets and whispered back-stabbers, this thing called doubt. But then I said, "Wait a minute - I KNOW I'm going to make it. Where's all this doubt coming from? No cars, so what, lights out - fuck this doubt!" Looked up at the terminal clock all groggy, it was exactly 4 AM. "Go check again," I thought, "now he's there." What a bizarre thought, but I just KNEW. A risky proposition, though, 'cuz it's 4 in the morning and it's RAINING! So I walk outside and see just ONE CAR in the otherwise empty lot. Chuckled and shook me head. Wow. My pre-monition had been spot-on. There's this guy smoking in a car with - you guessed it - Hannover plates! Well, there he is, thought I ... Perfect timing. And here's the most incredible part: it was a TAXI. (I swear this is true!) A big yellow taxi in a big empty parking lot with big Hannover plates. "H." Walked up and asked him (he slowly, tentatively cracked his window) if it was possible that he had just driven from Hannover to Berlin and now he had to drive back to Hannover (I was right) and if I could perhaps join him. (Silence.) And then came this amazing moment, this decade-long pause in which he stared me up and down, had he been a scanner in fact I would've been his scanned material, I felt like a very official document at that moment. But then his face broke into a smile and he said, "OK - hop in!" I asked him why he let a stranger into his cab in the middle of the night. He said he looked in my eyes, and said he saw a "nice guy." I refrained from telling him all the bad things I've done. Heh heh. So the next 3 hours were nothing but pure magic, as we traded stories and smoked ciggies (sorry mom) and he drove and I sang. "I am from Persia," he said in bizarre German, with a smile. Later, after we had really, truly and officially become friends, driving down that lonesome highway, he told me the actual name of his homeland :
Wow. Here we are, I thought, cruising along in this taxi that normally would've cost at least 300 bucks, money matters not, and he's thrilled to death to meet an American who isn't a complete idiot (I'm recovering), and I am just tickled pink to have a ride to Hannover, just as I imagined it, and be with a fellow who is so smart (and a very good driver, too!) on the Autobahn where you can drive as fast as you want, even when it's 5:30 in the morning and it's raining! And we listened to classical guitar on his decked-out stereo system, all the while talking about our two countries. Quite Calico! I thought, if only it could be this easy ... No, wait - IT IS! Then he uttered/muttered that the good ol' boys back home (in my country) don't really understand what they've done. 'Cuz all the lands of Arabia, he said, will not forget this, um, conflict that we've started for the next 200 years ... Ugh. So I've absolutely NO COMMENT to that one, friends, except that maybe we should take a few moments and think about it all ...
And he was honestly one of the nicest, purest, mo' smartist guys I've ever met. Later he played me some new-fangled Iranian rock music that sounded really good. I asked him what the text was, and he translated it, basically as, "When you see a bird that has broken free from it's cage, think of me ..."
And it's all true, this story, and I say again that the universe is quite amazing, that a kid born in Hawaii and a Persian taxi driver can sit quietly together for hours on end and discuss everything under the sun, and hang out, despite ALL ODDS being against it. Again I say - always follow your instincts, even if the odds don't favour them. And at exactly 7 am he dropped me off at another gas station in Hannover. I was half way there. As we parted, he said one word in english. It was, "Unforgettable." Yeah, indeed ... When I think of him, Unforgettable is also the name I give him.
I had a 5 minute turn-around before I caught my next ride. I approached a semi-truck driver with Cologne plates. Can I ride with you? (At least it wasn't raining anymore.) "Sure!" he said, clapping me on the back. "But first we have to drink a coffee together!" Count me in. This is what they did in his country far away, he said, but nobody in "the west" has time for these things. I have time, I said. Another warrior on that psychic highway. Do you miss your country? I asked. Not really, he said. It was a no-fun country with a funky name. We went inside and warmed up. Why are you out here at 7 in the morning? he asked. For the music, I said. I told him about my destination, the concert. He promised to take me to Cologne. But first, I have to make a pit stop in Bonn, he said. I laughed out loud, a sonic laugh that filled that whole gas station. Actually, that was my true desination the whole time, to stay at a friend‘s in Bonn (very near Cologne). Perfect! I exclaimed. Another gruff smack on my back. So, as it turned out, I got two rides lickety-split and was dropped off directly at the Bonn Hauptbahnhof at 11 AM. The date was also 11.11. And precisely 7 hours before I‘d been sitting in the Ostbahnhof with some serious Blues. I called my friend and Balance Brother, he said, "You're here already?!" I took an unconventional route, but was right in tune. Never-the-less.
Balance took me to meet Mother Balance, who had tea and biscuits for the occasion. She said I’m a seeker/preacher of the underground. I said I’m just an eternal Outsider. She responded, "The world needs more outsiders. People are angry and bitter because they only see half of the possibilities, and do what they think they MUST. They live in a box."
We enjoyed the show that night. Ani announced, "It is really good to be here." Indeed. She’s a righteous babe. And my man, "the other" Todd Krankenfuss played a mean bass. Yeah, it was 11.11 and a serious carnival was about to commence, hence. I told everyone within earshot about how I got there, which prompted a synchronicitous discussion of "Can we see events before they happen?" versus "Or do we MAKE it happen?" Hmmm ... what do you think? Who knows, but I do know that what happened that night, my journey, simply cannot be explained by mathematics or science. I'm not hot on explaining it anyway, 'cuz I dig beating the odds ... Yeah. That's my kick, my fix. To turn a negative into a positive, that's the challenge. Some people like heroin, some are oil junkies, I like beating the odds.
And now, whenever I'm in Europe and I see "H" plates or "BN" I pause and think, "Slowly but surely - I'm on my way - Alles ist im lauf ..."
True stories from the road. Peace, -Todd
I'm in a foreign land
short on money ...
With a beautiful girl
who's driving me crazy ...
(Sing-song chant, Repeat)
Searing pain, cursing through the body and Soul. Pain to keep you real, on target, furious ... Pain will show you clarity. To shy away from pain is to shy away from the Truth. Cowards! Face the pain and understand why the world is in the state it is in. Peace, -Todd