1 / 17

Utrecht, The Netherlands

Dick van Doorn met us a Schiphol Airport this morning, since Gijs is away in Berlin today. The van was already loaded with our equipment. On the ride to Utrecht I asked Dick how the economy is doing in the Netherlands.

A bit shaky. People are scared.

Are there job losses happening?

Not really, not yet. More just rumors of what is to come.

At the rehearsal complex and music venue, Db's in Utrecht, they kindly allowed me to use the telephone behind the bar. I left a message for Wendy and Twan letting them know when to expect us this evening, at least I think I did; it is difficult when the recorded message is all Dutch to know if you did the right thing or even called the correct number.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

2 / 17

Bunnik, The Netherlands

Twan, may I draw your cell phone?

Well, yes, if you want, but I think it's sick.

Sick? You should talk; I've seen your drawings!

Yes, but they're all different now. I'm done with my penis phase.


The next morning we slept late. When Charlie left for school, two of her friends came to call for her at the front door. As she opened the door, Wendy told the children,
Shhh- there is a real American rock band sleeping in the living room. They saw us, and Wendy said they were really impressed.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

3 / 24

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The OCCII, located at the end of the Vondel Park farthest away from the centrum of Amsterdam is a venue that has been there for many years. Originally squatted, it has now been legalized. Run mostly by volunteers, they have a bar and a room upstairs with a kitchen to cook for the bands. During the day they have kids programs: after school classes and workshops. Sjoerd (pronounced S-yew-ard - sounds a bit like Steward) is the main guy in charge there and the only one who is actually paid for all the time he puts in. He took over the position some years ago when GRRRT tired of doing it. Arnold told us that Sjoerd had some previous experience in a similar position at another venue, and that he was the only one among the people involved interested in doing it and who had an interest in a broad enough range of musical styles.

Monday, 9 March 2009

4 / 17

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

We stayed last night with Arnold of Zea, now also of the Ex. He has joined the band recently as the new vocalist and he is also playing some keyboards. Jos (sp?), the original singer for the Ex recently decided to bow out after 30 years, leaving Terry, the guitarist, as the only original member. It is inspirational to me the way their band has continued to welcome change over the years and how their music has constantly evolved.

Monday, 9 March 2009

5 / 17

Nancy, France

Arnaud is one of that class of promoter peculiar to Europe who are yuppies, essentially, (I use the term descriptively, not in a derogatory sense) but who are interested in fringe kinds of music and seem naturally to combine these elements of the lives with no apparent disjuncture. In the U.S., when we meet a promoter who is enthusiastic about our music is typical that s/he would be living some kind of very alternative lifestyle, but here in Europe it is not uncommon to encounter a promoter who sets up experimental, noisy rock shows in the evening, and then goes to some very straight, usually kind of design-oriented office job the next day. And in the case of Arnaud, invites us to stay in his beautiful, top-floor, one-bedroom flat right in the center of downtown Nancy, where tall, sky-lighted ceilings display enormous, exposed wooden beams, perhaps 400 years old, and the whole thing looks ready for a Design Today photo-shoot.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

6 / 17

Geneva, Switzerland

It has been a few years since we made it to Geneva. The squat that we played at last time was closed down about two years ago, but Sixto and Marion have continued to organize shows at various locations, still under the name of Cave 12. It was sad when the original location closed. It was not just a venue, but an entire complex, where families were living, -a whole squatting community. Marion said that the tried squatting again after that, but that it has become impossible in Geneva. Now they have been working with the city, and they finally have been offered a place of their own to rent to continue putting on cultural events. At first they weren't sure how the could do it because the place is barren of everything, even water and electricity. But now they have some funding and the city will handle the expense of building it out, while leaving Sixto and Marion free to decide the specifics of how that will be done. It is great to see cultural funding going to two such deserving people, but it has been a very long wait for them and they have not yet arrived.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

7 / 17

Grenoble, France

Last night I asked Tiffany (sp?) whether she had personally felt anything because of the recent economic events. She said yes, because until recently she was living in a big house with five other people, one of whom was a realtor and was among the first to lose his job.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

8 / 17

Bari, Italy

In Italy this trip we have stayed in two hotels, an unoccupied condominium, a youth-hostel, and tonight we will be in another hotel. This is very atypical for us. Usually we end up staying in the homes of promoters, or someone involved in putting on the show. Staying in hotels has made finding access to the internet more difficult and has generally made me feel somewhat isolated.

Sunday, 15 March 2009, drawing at Hotel Cristal (Bari)

Text - Tuesday, 17 March 2009, (Rome)

9 / 17

Faenza, Italy

I asked Morena (owner, manager, soundperson, of Il Clandestino, and our host) whether they were feeling the repercussions of the economic downturn in Faenza. She said that they were, a bit, but that it is a rich part of Italy, so it is not too bad. But the region produces many luxury items, such as hand-made ceramics, so of course these things are not selling as well. she said that the real problem is that Italy is making the driving laws more strict right now. This is really a problem, she said. We didn't have the opportunity to drive anyplace with her at the wheel, so I couldn't form an opinion about this statement, but generally it doesn't seem such a bad idea.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

10 / 17

Tofori, Italy

Martina told me that she has been a vegetarian for three years now. I said that it must be difficult in Italy. She said yes, especially at the two restaurants where she works, the chefs think she is crazy. One thought it was very strange that she will eat eggs but not fish. She tried to explain that this is very common among vegetarians and that especially for her it made sense to eat eggs since she is very pro-abortion.

Friday, 20 March 2009

11 / 17

Villafranca Di Verona, Italy

In Villafranca di Verona our van broke down. After a number of calls using Martina's phone, we finally were able to get a mechanic to come to us. He sprayed some starter fluid into the engine and it started, no problem; but he instructed us through translators that further repairs were necessary and we needed to follow him back to the garage. There he began to disassemble the top part of the engine to gain access to the problem. I asked Martina to ask him what part it was that needed replacement. She turned to him and said, What part needs to be replaced?, forgetting to translate, or perhaps just forgetting which language she was speaking in. He looked at her uncomprehendingly.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

12 / 17

Linz, Austria

In Linz, I received a e-mail from Marco in Napoli. He asked whether I had made it to the restaurant he had recommended in order to experience the real pizza of Napoli, the original pizza. He had been eager that we try the real thing since we had been eating these burnt imposters in Bari and other parts of Italy. I replied that I hadn't made it to the particular restaurant he suggested, but that I did try some Napolese pizza while I was there, and it was pretty good, if a bit runny. We did have an amazing pizza the other night, I continued, in Bratislava. It was covered in canned corn and white asparagus.

When he wrote back the tone was pure disgust, You should not have told me this.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

13 / 17

Graz, Austria

In Graz, Andreas recalled the drawing I had done of this two-shot, stove-top espresso maker two and a half years ago. I told him that this tour I was painting telephones. He said, Wait, I have the one for you to paint...If I can find it. He searched through his stacks of junk for a few minutes and then produced this fine specimen of early 90's cellular technology.

Later, over several coffees, our conversation turned to the economy. He told me how a professor of his once had explained that if you thought of banks as mechanisms, or devices, and engineer could tell you that the money you put in the bank cannot go on and on accruing interest forever, at some point is must hit a wall. And yet, no one can imagine an economy that does not grow. This is the problem.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

14 / 17

Linz, Austria

Linz is the European Union cultural Capitol for 2009, which means that there is a huge influx of funding for events programming. KAPU, the venue where we always perform, was offered some of this money, but after carefully examining the guidelines and restrictions on how that money must be spent, the collective that operates KAPU decided to decline. Because all the funds for a program must be spent in one evening and none can be put toward infrastructure maintenance and organizational longevity, and because the Cultural Capitol ticket pricing guidelines would conflict with, undercut, and undermine the KAPU ticket pricing strategy, and for other reasons, they refused the money. There is a pattern developing with the annually shifting E.U. Cultural Capitol, that many jobs are created in the arts, and arts administration for only one year, after which funding is gone and people are left out of work. At KAPU, their work is made harder for the year, as thousands of Euros are poured into other venues which are then able to put on free or very cheap events, similar to what might be seen at KAPU. This has the effect of diminishing their regular audience, who now can see a show cheaper elsewhere.

Maria guided us a bit around the city on Thursday. She is not at all a cynical person, but she seemed to suggest that there was some irony in the fact that Hitler had wanted to make Linz, his birthplace, into Europe's cultural capitol, and that now that it is, this history is somehow overlooked.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

15 / 17

Innsbruck, Austria

Friday, 27 March 2009

16 / 17


Monday, 30 March 2009

17 / 17

Paris, France

1 April, 2009