Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Bielefeld

3.5 Bielefeld

I wake up confused as to where I am, as I do almost every morning.  I get up from the inflatable mattress with my back letting me know it would appreciate some support sometime soon.  I decide to go for a walk and discover our section of Bielefeld, though nice enough, is pretty charmless.  I also discover that I have become somewhat native as I stand at an empty crosswalk waiting for the crossing signal to change despite no cars in sight in either direction.  I am obedient to the rules and system.  There has been a quiet change.

Leo, Antje, and I go for a trip to what the sign calls “wash duck”.  For the first time ever on a tour, I may have enough clean clothes to see me through.  This comes with the caveat of understanding the indecipherable directions and Euro washing machines in the Laundromat of course.  With Antje though, we do have a ringer.  At least she understands what the directions on the machine are attempting to say, though it proves to be of little value as the directions themselves make no sense whatsoever.  We persevere, and I walk down the street triumphantly with three clean pair of jeans and t-shirts. 

Close to Tobi and Steffi’s place is a photo portrait studio with pictures displayed in the storefront.  Three of the pictures seem very odd to me, but I wonder if it is only a cultural difference.  “Hey Antje?  Is it weird that this man and young boy are posing next to a motor scooter without their shirts on?”  It becomes clear rather quickly that it is not a cultural difference, but is pretty fucked up no matter what your cultural touchstones.  We all stare at the pictures and are creeped out in various degrees. 

We head over to Desperado, a small bar where we picked up a show on what would have otherwise been an off day.  Tobi comes with us with his son Milo, a young boy with long brown hair and a baseball cap that makes him look a lot like the lead singer of The Hellacopters.  Tobi had been having some problems with his downstairs neighbors who would come home late at night and blast techno.  I think Tobi would have been OK with rock music being blasted, but the techno thing made him crack.  After repeated requests to come to some sort of agreement with these guys, he went out and bought Milo a drum kit, which he set up right over the bedroom of the neighbors.  This move decidedly shifted the balance of power in the apartment building.  

Milo likes to now take his drumsticks and beat on anything.  We set up our gear and put Milo behind the kit for soundcheck.  He is sitting on Leo’s leg beating on all the drums with such a serious look of determination on his face.  He is really cute, as in “stupidly cute”. We all applaud at the end.  Hooray for Milo!  He’s tired out and goes back home with Tobi, leaving the care of his mother Mirjana.  Mirjana is a sleek dark haired beauty with chiseled Eastern European features, and has put up members of our band(s) for years.  She sort of looks like Ines de la Fressange used to look.  One of the real downsides to being in a relationship with Tobi is having to put up his deadbeat friends like us.  Since Milo is taking his room back at Tobi’s, that means Leo and I now need a home.  Bad trade for Mirjana, good trade for us.  She is super cool, and has a great record collection to boot.

Mike from the bar is really cool and sets me up with a couple of Franziskaner wheat beers.  We talk about the sorry state of Bielefeld football.  The tiny bar fills up and we play, though not nearly as well as in Finnegan Shinegan.  My voice is finally starting to give out a little bit, and the smoker friendly air of the German pubs is starting to take a toll.  We have plenty of friends here.  There is a guy that saw the Cowslingers a decade ago.  Tita and her sister (whose name regrettably escapes me now) who put on that first Cowslinger show are here too.  There are lots of good people here.  At one point I play the maracas and manically shake them while grooving out the front door.  Two polizei are standing humorlessly at the door, wondering what the noise is all about.  It’s me and these two cops out in the now quiet street as the door shuts the music behind me.  Shicka shicka shicka goes the maracas.  “He, ist was los heir?” shicka shicka shicka…  “Hey man, I don’t speak German…” and I walk back inside leaving the confused cops staring at each other.

After the show I get my ass kicked with shots of Patthorster Waldgeist magen-bitters.  Think of Jager but with a healthy dose of back pepper at the finish.  It’s really brutal.  I buy a bottle to take home.  Please be advised if you come to my house in the next few months, you will probably have to do a shot of either this or that badass Black Forest schnapps.  Either are very unpleasant and will leave you hating me.  One of the great joys of my traveling is assembling one of the most punishing home bars in America, with rotgut horror liquor from across Western Europe.  "Here... Try this.  It's a nice little digestivo I picked up in the German town of Bielefeld.  It has an interesting finish."   

The post show experience is falling into a dangerous routine.  We give the crowd a really good time.  They want to keep the party going and show off their local asskicking booze.  You can’t really refuse this hospitality and the next thing you know it is 2:30 am and you are trying to figure out how your equipment fits in the van.  I start to get a second sense of when these shots are coming, and drift away.  Not tonight though.  I’m having a good time.

Leo, Mirjana, and I walk a few blocks to her cowboy cool apartment.  We are all starving so I root around her kitchen like a raccoon and whip up a pasta sauce from scratch that’s not too bad if I don’t say so myself.  We are all starving and start to scarf up the pasta with an open bottle of sekt, Germany’s version of champagne.  Let me go on record and say for all of the downsides of the French, and there are plenty, no one makes sparkling wine like those smug fuckers.  The sekt is higher in residual sugar than classic champagne, but it goes down easy with the food.  Sleep comes easily, which is strange after 200 beers, local shots, and a big bowl of noodles. 



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