Day 6 Karlsruhe
We decide to get up and not shower until we check into our
hotel in Karlsruhe. The facilities
here in the band apartment are not exactly luxurious.
The hotel will be better.
We get moving and do the unsavory load out. Let me tell you, after a night of apple wine and five herb
gin, loading out road cases up two flights of stairs is no way to start the
day. We roll out and grab
espressos and gas station sandwiches at the first stop. As opposed to risking your life in the
United States while eating gas station food, the German counterpart is a fresh
crispy crusted bread with good quality ingredients. It is a crime that these and Subway sandwiches are both
considered to be the same food item.
I see Leo get involved with a massive sausage that beckoned him from the
well lit tube in the corner. That
is served on a paper plate with a roll on the side. I don’t know why it is considered to be good form to pick up
the meat and dip the roll in mustard as opposed to a hot dog system, but that’s
the way they roll here. I tried to
make a hot dog out of one once in Dresden and some guy walked past and said
“barbarous”. Tradition must be
observed, travelers take note.
We get to Karlsruhe with too much time on our hands. This is not exactly an action packed hot
spot. Normally every city has a
decent art museum or interesting old city center. Not this one.
It’s a college town but seems to lack that strip of stores all other
college towns have of cheap Indian food, bong stores, Bob Marley posters and
run down bars. One universal truth
is that all college kids are under the impression that they discovered
marijuana and no one else knows about it yet. It’s kind of cute actually.
The main point of interest is in the center of town, some
old palace with a museum. We
decide to park the enormous van nearby and check out the immediate area. Leo needs to go to a bank to get some
cash exchanged. He sees a bank
logo on an office building but it doesn’t offer a retail location within
it. I point out that this is an
office location just like a second building just down the street. “Dude… Why would they put two locations
in the same area without offering a counter to help people?” It is clearly another office and my
insistent position that it is exactly like the Key Bank building downtown in
Cleveland falls on deaf ears. He
walks off on his doomed mission.
Sugar and I walk to the palace. There is an observation tower that requires us to walk 700
stairs to the top. It is well
worth it for the sprawling view of the well thought out civic planning. I’ve got to hand it to them. These Germans are organized. Sugar and I try to find Leo by yelling
“…leo…” very quietly on top of the observation deck. It proves fruitless, so we go off to get a snack.
I will tell you something about myself. I am very decisive. I will tell you something about
Sugar. She is very indecisive. I walk up to a
traditional streetside grill and within six seconds order Germany’s saltiest hamburger patty with
a side of potatoes and onions. As
Sugar can spend 30 minutes in a Speedway considering her choices, a full steam
table of unfamiliar foods is a real mindbender. She panics. "Wait! Wait! What are you doing? I thought we were getting pastry and coffee! Wait!" She
winds up getting a massive cut of ham with a pound of potatoes and onions. Just a light afternoon snack. If you were an NFL offensive
lineman. She bargains with me to
take a Styrofoam container of leftovers into the van. No way I want to ride around the German countryside with a
fermenting ham loaf and onions.
“I’ll give it to Leo!”
The Hotelwelt Kuebler lets us check in around 330p. It’s a really quirky place. Clowns, antiques, multi person bikes,
stuffed pheasants, 1970s living room pits, wooden traditional chairs, a
merry-go-round horse, a wine barrel converted into a sitting area, and an
underground bar combine in the manic decorating scheme. None of it makes any sense. This place has seen better days. I bet it hosts cashed strapped couples
for sad weddings. I have this
image of thin paper table coverings, balloons flapping in the breeze, and beers
in a washtub while the hotel staff brings mismatching silverware to the guests
to pick around their food on plastic plates. The wedding guests all grimly smile and pretend the reception isn't the bleakest thing ever. It is shabby and magical all at once. I sort of like it. It’s like a hotel devised by John
Christoph and I share a room. We go past the stuffed game birds down to the end of the
hall. Christoph turns on his
“information machine” (i.e. computer) to scour the internet for tidbits on
obscure metal/punk bands and social disasters of friends. I write a Defend Cleveland column. I take a shower and opt to leave on
only the Xmas style lights across the bathroom borders like I am a member of KC
and the Sunshine Band in 1977. I
sing disco songs in the shower. We
head to the club.
The Alte Hackerei is a club complex that used to be a
slaughterhouse for livestock. The
largest room is a theater where a long line of young people wait to get inside
to see something that turns out to be new metal band Bullet For My
Valentine. “Do not worry Mr.
Jagger. They are not hear to see
you!”, Christoph says with a laugh.
I have absolutely no idea who the band is but apparently a lot of other
people do. We load in to our club for
a quick soundcheck before yielding the stage to a local band called Tom
Mess. My voice is getting dodgy
after being in all of these smoky rooms.
When I am diagnosed with lung cancer this Spring it will be because of
nights in Frankfurt and the Café Limba.
I hope my cancer loosens up during the set.
We get dinner at a local restaurant called Zweibel. Christoph suggests passing the hotel
key to the waitress “Café Limba style”.
This was the way we had become convinced that a suitor in the Black
Forest would make his intentions known to the apple of his eye. Our theory of the “key pass” was to
take a major hit the following day.
We learned that when Sugar had been given the keys a couple of days ago
at Café Limba, it was only a guy from the hotel passing her the keys for what
was supposed to be our hotel. It
was not an invitation to a crazy sex party. We received a call from the hotel asking us where the hell
their hotel keys were and why didn’t we stay in the rooms? Oops. The keys join the growing pile of items we have mistakenly
taken with us around Germany.
Antje and her friend Porsche have driven from Stuttgart to
see us. This is not surprising as
Sugar has created a coven with these two.
They may have already learned some crazy ass spells from the Alps. Tom Mess starts playing, and it is sort
of like a lighter version of Gaslight Anthem. They’re pretty good.
They are also nice guys that Leo use a cymbal and special snare. We play and my voice comes back. Hey, what do you know?
This is one of those weird shows that remind me of the first
times we used to come over here to play.
It can be hard to tell if the crowd is disinterested or extremely
attentive as they give you very little back. I tell some stories in between songs when Gary tunes or Leo
adjusts his kit. They seem won
over at the end and give us a nice unexpected encore. After the show a guy says to me, “Every time you open your
mouth it is funny. I was quiet but
smile ear to ear. I did not want
to miss anything.” That does not
happen in the States where I find most people have an attention span of roughly
Leo heads up a hash smoking party outside at the bier garten
picnic tables. I sign LPs for
fans. Sugar orders the bar’s
specialty drink called the “Kung Fu Tiger” to enjoy with her ice pack on her
arm. The drink arrives with an
umbrella and a guarantee of a headache in the morning. A crowd of young adults gather around a
guy in the corner. They are all
waiting to have their picture taken with him. It appears one of the Bullet For My Valentine guys has come
over for a drink after their show and the horde of kids followed him over. One of the kids comes up to me. “That is so and so from Bullet From My
Valentine. Do you want to go over
and meet him?” I mean, no
disrespect, but I’m not a 17 year old metal fan. I don’t even know who the fuck that band is. The guy seems
like a perfectly nice guy and all, but this room is also filled with other people
I haven’t met yet. I tell the kid
if that guy wants to meet me, I will be over here by the bar. I do not meet Bullet For My Valentine
We head back to the weird hotel with the plan of being
wheels up by 10am. It’s a long
drive to Holland tomorrow.
Christoph opens up one of the beers he clipped from the backstage and
turns on his Information Machine.
I fall asleep to the sound of the underground Turkish rap on his