Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Close Encounters

Whether or not we would make it had been hanging in the balance since the beginning. We knew we had to go, how and when were the details which were, at the time, irrelevant. The hour was rapidly approaching. Rental car turns into luxurious and fuel friendly mini bus. Bid farewell to the cramped quarters of the Euro eating wagon and slide into the future. The future inasmuch as theyve (Europe) had them for years and we (America) have shunned only to once again embrace the clean burning diesel.
An end to the days of bouncing around homebase is drawing near. Pack, repack, bid farewell to friends and lazily..almost to a fault, begin the push to Dunkerque France.

Arrive Dunkerque 12am after battling torrential downpour through most of Belgium. Nani at the helm navigates the storm like a fishing boat captain whose entire year is contingent upon making port. No hotels, revisit language barrier we keep meaning to tear down. Brief encounter at UK customs. One of us nearly detained and or sent back to from whence we came. We are on the ferry to England. 5 glorious days of English, of friends, the country, and the beach lie in wait.

Dover. Early am. Near terminal driving disaster narrowly avoided and a message from Zoe. We have a destination in London. Traffic is nearly as disgusting as NYC actually twice as disgusting as NYC traffic. Sprawling enormous city, something which in all the years of travelling to and from, never quite grasped. Hello Zoe, lovely to see you again. Brief rest in the garden, get aquainted with Charlie and we are on to the next.

It was a few years ago when first contact with Nigel and Bertie had been made. Mildly horrifying with wit just short of genious. They are the greatest comedy never produced for film or TV.

Greetings new friends again. Phoenix singalong winding through the narrow streets of sleeping London. Afterhours reggae dance party. Our entourage are the only attendees.
Sleep at last.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Expect The Unexpected

In December our Munich date had been cancelled. Apparently for lack of interest. We had heard upon returning home that people had in fact purchased tickets and were somewhat frustrated that we had not turned up. It was not our decision.
Leaving Holland in our wake, Munich was a quick 9 hour hop. These lanes are going to be our end it would seem. One can literally reach out and touch the traffic to the right or the median to the left. We opt for neither. Every 50 miles is met with a gasp of relief as the corridor gets wider. Beginning to hate the Autobahn.
We have been told Bavaria was the conservative district of Germany. Apparently the people are rather reserved, the traditions well accounted for, and the rules a bit more adhered to. Parking is impossible. All are very warm and receptive.
Aftershow dance party is assembled and our hosts gladly accept our suggestion in the mix, buy us drinks, and invite us back. Not only is this venue in their possession but the other in town, as well as a late night restaurant up the block. We are pulled into the street. Center of Munich contains a square within which all of the local youth and those not SO far removed from youth gather. Acoustic guitars again. Skateboarding, singalongs, and streets flowing of drink. We are ushered to the restaurant. Placing orders with a visibly displeased daughter, toasted to, and urged to carry on playing. This is the furthest possible concept of conservatism. Small group funnels out into the street taking residence along the curb and the songs continue. Polizei arrive to calm the commotion. They instead request more music. We are on about 4 hours of collective sleep. Bavaria is alive and well. Sun returns. Rest is a distant acquaintance. We wonder what happened in December. This couldnt possibly be the same Munich.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Three Gypsies

Random opportunity has been a theme for this operation. It has been with us since the beginning and carried us through the duration of our stay. Planning, rehearsal,direction...concepts and theories elusive for as long as memory serves. Not only a mantra but a lifelong pursuit. We landed in Europe half knowing the road ahead. Open dates, shifting schedules there is always room for a little movement. In Czech we had crossed paths with a woman whose mystery we would only begin to experience. She was in Prague having left home Amsterdam for an afternoon walk. She, having missed the Rotterdam event, put us on course for such a shift. Show is assembled in Amsterdam, day off is filled.
Arrive Holland. Road worn. Fatigue and financial duress are beginning to step out of the shadows. Europe is expensive for Americans. The exchange rate for the euro is hovering somewhere around 1.6. If we were not all consumed by the adventure we would probably start to notice.
Enough time to take in some of the town. Wander through the sand colored cobblestone and drinks on the canal. The call comes in, we are meeting in 20 minutes. Re-enter Farah with bicycle. Rendevous at the venue where she has obtained our second dutch show. Discuss over dinner life and history, we are sincerely worlds apart. Open mic, condensed set, busking in the city square. Few had noticed. Upon the discovery of no accomodation we are offered space with our host. Walk lazily up the Canal of Princes and enter second palatial spread in a weeks time. Discussion is primarily centralized upon our cultural difference. Suddenly starved for information. Again the hospitality is staggering. What forces are at work? Settle in. Homemade food, fireplace, accounts of eastern life, ceiling to floor mirrored walls and marble floors. Vampires waiting in the wings. The mystery evolves. Surreal morphing into almost fiction but somehow remaining very true while the fire cracks well after the hour. We are spinning. Evening winds down in the garden. One by one the crew begins to peel off. Sun rises and all left standing retire. Morning...early morning, stumble into the blaring light. Farewells. Farah and her young son pedal off into the ether as three gypsies are left to ponder the mystery. Coffee with the passing boats, our parking tag expires. On to Bavaria.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tale Of Two Cities

Early am wakeup in France and wearily pull out of town. Benji joins us to bid farewell to Clifton and family. Farewell friends. See you on the other side.

The road through Paris is long. Bastille day looms and traffic keeps us simmering in July car heat. Paris is an impossible city to drive through and/or around. The only direct route...using the term direct sparingly, is a 2 lane highway jammed with metropolitan traffic. Its a trying scenario sans any sight from the city of light in view. Miles of commerce, grafitti, and other horrible cars.

Eventually make our way back into Germany. We are 7 hours into this journey. If it hasnt been mentioned yet, there is no stretch of Autobahn which is not under construction. Traffic piles accordingly. The GPS still reading at least 4 hours left. Rain. Sideways rain. Sheets of rain.
Unrelenting then a break...somehow, and its not that difficult of a mistake to make, we had searched the wrong Muenster...There are two. One has an umlaut, one does not. We are pushing on towards the Muenster mit umlaut. We are 50 kilometers from our destination as a result. Its a break which suddenly breathes life back into the sails of this 9 hour hike.

Hello old friends, hello new friends. Thank you and goodnight.

Late night imbiss. Some drink in the park with our wonderful hosts. Hedgehogs, weasels, rabbits and then surly drunken German intent on a fight. Polizei step in and we are back in the room.

Morning to reconnect with our gear which was left in the club night before. Theres a lock, we dont have the key. Minute of panic then east coast sensibility enters to pop said lock and recover our belongings. Pack up. Out of town...onto the next.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Family Reunion

Le Havre illness lingers until mid-afternoon. Garrett and Nani head off for the countryside while the remaining two limp to the coast. Historic re-enactments are interrupted by the news from the earlier birds...'you wont believe this, get here immediately'.

Motor out or Normandie towards Le Mans. 5 hours later arrive Courgenard, France.

A winding, dusty, country road off the horror of French toll laden highways leads us to the center of a sleepy, almost medieval neighborhood. Gate opens, familiar faces direct us to park. The other 2 have been exploring these surroundings for the majority of today. They are still in awe of its grandeur. Chateau Pinon, is a stone throwback to life long before global wars, telephones, America, and more or less everything we are familiar with. It is a standing piece of history still fully functional and still in tact primarily due to the skilled hand of its inhabitants. A 500 year old farmhouse/palace, whose personality is nearly eclipsed by its neighbors.
The cast at this gathering, too rich of personality to properly describe, is in a word: electric.* Old friends, new friends, international stars, and a town dignitary share food, drink, music, stories, and laughter as the sun sets over a barely dusk bonfire. Local performers shower us with beautiful songs, the subject matter, we can only imagine. Night falls fully and the footlights blaze upon the stone farmhouse an eerie, yellowing light. To say this experience has been overwhelming is by far too limiting. The feeling of love and comraderie that descends upon us is like none we've experienced. The local culture, completely unreserved, is in full is the opportunity of a lifetime for those who care to embrace it. Jean, his wife, and grandson, neighbors of the Pinons and characters larger than life carry us through to the early morning hours in song. The fire is winding down, some have climbed the stone steps and retired through the ghostly halls. We could stay here forever and I have a definite feeling there was a plan within our camp to see that reality through. Jean has had enough, only because his audience is fading...and we are. Sunlight begins and this party sets off to sleep.

*There is far too much to consider in a single blog. This recount is simply highlights. To all who attended you know who you are. Thank you from all of us for making this such a special occassion. We will never forget it.