Friday, February 27, 2009

Talkin' To Me

I have no business being here. I'm too broke to be here. My friends, enemies and family probably look at me and wonder why the hell I'm here. I know that in a few days I'll be even more broke, and worn out, and eager to get away from it all and back to the country, and Eric. But right now this is the most magical place in the world, New York. It's that burst of oxygen I need.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Synchronicity Highway

There's this stretch of I-80 somewhere in Ohio that's really magic. It's after Toledo, where you think Ohio should have ended by now but it seems to keep going on forever. Flat, farmland, with just the occasional house or barn.

If you turn the radio on, it's like the road, the landscape and the airwaves know you're there and they conspire to give you something, some kind of affirming message, at very least an acknowledgement.

When I was driving Hazel to Chicago, to college for the first time, we were cruising along, nobody saying anything. I know it was no coincidence that we heard "Wild World" by Cat Stevens.

Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
and I'll always remember you like a child

(The effect was spoiled a little while later when they played "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace, but we were in Indiana by then.)

Sunday, high on sinus medicine. I've just seen my family in Pittsburgh, visited my storage space in Cleveland. Floating in America. The main thing tethering me to the place, my daughter, is sleeping in the passenger seat (she took the drowsy formula).

And then I hear it.

I can see why you think you belong to me
I never tried to make you think, or let you see one thing for yourself
But now you're off with someone else and I'm alone
You see, I thought that I might keep you for my own
Amie, what you wanna do?
I think I could stay with you
For a while maybe longer if I do

In the right moment, the slightest banal pap can contain all the wisdom of the universe.

Maybe you can't really know how you feel about a place until you step outside it for a while? It's good to get the nod, that somebody knows I'm back for a little while.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

World Without Lux(e)

It's snowing, I have a nasty cold, I ate pizza, dreamt of Ken Coomer and John Stirrat of Wilco, and woke up freezing - I must be in Chicago.

I'm here chasing some mythical French visa. Conveniently, my daughter Hazel lives in Chicago so I get to spend time with her. I try to leave her life out of my writing these days but she was laid off from her job a few weeks ago with no warning, and she's having a hell of a time finding anything else. What a terrible time to be looking for a job! If anyone knows of anything for a smart, responsible young woman, email me and I'll pass it on to her.

Being on the move in Europe the past few weeks, it was possible to fall out of touch with the economic situation. Here in the US it is inescapable - I'm wondering if therapists are seeing an increase in business because my feelings of stress, dread and hopelessness have increased dramatically since I got off the plane. (note to Hazel: look into becoming a therapist?) No wonder I finally gave in and got sick.

But there seems to be an increase in cheap and free things to do, or at least everybody is focusing on how to cope with no money. We took advantage of free admission to the Art Institute here the other day, and also went to see a double feature at the Siskel Center that was part of Hazel's roommate Libby's film class.

Just before we went in, Hazel told me that Lux Interior had died last week. Again, I felt like I'd been living in a little bubble, because I hadn't heard anything about it. The Cramps were one of my favorite groups in New York, back in the late 70's. I can't even count the number of times I saw them play.

The films playing were "I Walked With A Zombie" and "The Seventh Victim", 40's horror films big on atmosphere and impossible to follow. I know it was cheap to get in but I kept wishing that with my limited time here we'd gone to see something new, even if it meant shelling out a few more dollars.

But I kept thinking about Lux, and imagining him and Ivy getting a kick out of films just like this in their swinging pad, and that got me through.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Sound Of Muesli

The hills are alive with the sound of muesli
With towns we have played for the last ten days
The hills fill my heart with the sound of muesli
We eat ham and cheese and it even pays...

Sorry, I'll stop right there.

map of france
we have GPS but I still love maps
gas bottles
Gas bottles at a French service station
swiss cottage
Swiss cottage
Innsbruck from our guest house
If you lived here you'd have a hell of a time
I want to live in Munich and sit in cafes all day
Austrian design
austrian tiles
Bathroom tiles
Welcome to the east
the east
Funk Shop
Berlin in the morning
road to hamburg
The road to Hamburg

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Postcard From Frankfurt

Well, we didn't win at the Grammys the other night.

Much as I would've loved to be sitting there waiting to hear our name called, Eric in his tux, me in something swell from TJ Maxx, it was not to be.

Anyway, we were too busy playing in Zurich.

We've got one more show in Berlin tonight and then the drive home. We've been having a great time on this tour, riding through the Alps in our ambulance that has a bed, sink, kettle and cute rug and stuff. We can make cups of tea and fix sandwiches with the ham and cheese and amazing German bread from our dressing room the night before.

It's almost like a Robert Plant and Alison Krauss tour bus, only a tenth of the size. But I bet their bus doesn't have an oxygen tank and stomach pump.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Going Back Out Again

I forgot how the pressure keeps building as it gets closer to leaving for a trip. We've had a lot of stuff to do before we set off for Austria tomorrow, which we interrupted on Tuesday for a trip to Toulouse. For my birthday I wanted to go spend a night in a French city that I hadn't been to yet. I mean, it would be difficult to top the surprise trip to Venice that Eric gave me last year. Toulouse, three hours south, was just right. We found a nice hotel at a (sort of) bargain price through the internet, not realizing til after we'd booked that they'd had incredibly high winds and bad weather, with roof tiles flying all over the place and trees down. Sort of like we had here only much worse. But when we got there the sun was out and it was looking beautiful with all the pink stone buildings and used clothing stores everywhere. Finally! Now we know where to go for not too overpriced vintage clothes.

The ambulance (which you can read a full description of in Eric's diary - he is such a funny writer) was in the shop to get some repairs before the trip. Meanwhile our little Ford has been having problems with us leaving several quarts of various fluids (not ours, just the car's) on the lovely streets of Toulouse. So we couldn't drive the car and had a long walk to the next village over late Friday afternoon to pick up the ambulance. The garagiste had it running with the battery charging, which should have tipped us off that something wasn't right. We drove on to the supermarket and when we came out with the groceries it wouldn't start.

As you know, we're the only people around with no mobile phone, so we hiked on into the village to try to find a phone to call the garage. The battery was dead and wouldn't be started with a jump, so we left the van in the supermarket parking lot overnight. Meanwhile back at home, just as we finished cooking dinner the gas bottle ran out. So, no car and no van to go replace the gas bottle. Our friend Nick and Eric spent all day yesterday trying to replace the battery in the van while I tried to brush up on some of the songs we hadn't done in rehearsal. By the time we got to our local gig last night the last thing I wanted to do was perform. The skirt I'd been so pleased with a week ago seemed better suited for a lady lawyer, which I still like to believe could be something to fall back on if this music thing doesn't work out. But fifty keeps hitting me, this week, because all those little possibilities like that feel a lot more implausible than they did a few days ago. Silly, I know - it wasn't too likely a week or two ago that I would be getting a law degree any time soon but now here I've got the skirt and I'm having to face facts.

That's how I was feeling in the bar (the kind I'm used to, with alcohol) last night. Like, this is as good as it's going to get. Playing for a few people, setting off to play for hopefully some more people who might show up. But a funny thing happened as we started playing - I remembered how much I love it. I don't want to practice law and I don't think it really matters so much what I wear on stage (although I still draw the line at sports sandals and polo shirts). Thinking about doing some undignified activity at a certain age and actually doing it are two very different things.

As I'm writing this it's getting cold in the house. It looks like the oil tank's almost empty. The heating in the ambulance works magnificently. So it's a good thing to be going on tour, again.