Monday, March 25, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Final Thoughts on Europe

I really enjoyed this tour of Europe.  The shows were all fun for the most part.  The clubs were all cool.  Having the Roth Dynamic on board was perfect.  It is always in the best interests of efficiency to have a German keeping everything running with cold calculated precision.  The best part of the tour was without question the people I got to meet and get to know even just for a little bit.  We met so many great people that welcomed us into their lives and showed us what made their town something they are proud of.  To find that sort of hospitality no matter where we went was well beyond expectation.  Thank you to every one of you.

I think I finally “got” the Netherlands this trip.  I had always thought of them as the bastard cousins of the Germans/French, and struggled to understand how they fit into the mosaic of Western Europe.  I really enjoyed the off day in Ghent, and always love hanging out with Bux and Chris from the Ace Café.  Belgium and Holland need further consideration and in depth travel.  Thanks to Ben and the somewhat scary bartender with the Lucifer eyebrows at DB’s for finally helping me to understand what the fuss is all about with those Belgian beers.  I had always thought of them as something too sweet and/or sour for my palate, but the bell finally went off for me on those.  My new rule for Belgian beers?  Look for the gnome or the cute woodland creature, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

Something for Americans to understand is that Europeans have a much larger and in my opinion healthier attitude towards the arts than we do here.  The European attitude towards art and performance is that of appreciation of the effort and craft it takes to finally show it to the public.  While they might not care for something, it doesn’t mean they don’t respect the effort it took to create it in the first place.  They realize that art, music, and literature are things that improve the quality of life and should not be taken for granted.  Why in America musicians and artists are regarded as hustlers and treated as grifters is beyond me.  It takes so little effort to realize that while you may not have heard of a band, seen an artist’s work, or read their output it doesn’t mean that this work (and therefore the creator) is without value.  Open yourself to experience.  It will always reward you, even if you don’t care for what you experience.

The obesity epidemic in America is very real.  After a few days in Europe, you don’t even notice that everyone is essentially in scale.  While I will not go so far as to say that the people of Europe as a whole are model physical specimens, they are at least able to walk in a normal fashion.  We can argue about cause & effect, but the bottom line is something has to change in America.  I’ve been overseas to Europe ten times or so, and each time I land in America I am shocked by the sight of enormous people laboring around the airport.  While I am gone, I just forget.  The jolt of seeing people that can’t even wear clothes that fit correctly, or have to climb into a cart to be driven to their gate because they can’t walk a half mile is embarrassing.  I think the key is the reasonable portion sizes of meals, less fast food, and focus on organic and local produce.  Germans are eating bread and chocolate all day, have a meal of pork and potatoes, and then are firing back beers into the wee hours.  How are they healthy looking?  I don’t know, but they are doing something right.  Maybe it's all the smoking...

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns over there though.  Why these people can’t seem to provide comfortable heat anywhere is a problem.  If you are in Europe from November through March you will be sitting in drafty rooms wondering if your feet and hands will ever be warm again.  Those charming old buildings?  They are all fucking freezing inside.  While a 300 year old farmhouse or a club inside a former 1700's govt building are great to look at, the lack of central heating can be a real drag.  I think Sugar was cold for 12 straight days.  Thankfully we got to jump around in front of stage lights and sweat our asses off.  How none of us caught colds I look at as a small miracle.  Be forewarned.  You will always be cold there.

The people of Europe have not caught on to the clothes dryer.  I can’t tell you how many crunchy line dried towels I used.  It is like drying yourself with leaves.  Everyone is walking around with $600 eyeglass frames, a smart phone, and keys to an Audi in their pocket but no one knows about the clothes dryer apparently.  I know electricity costs more there, but so does gas and every Thom, Dick, and Helmut is out there driving around.  Germany is one big traffic jam.  Don't even think of driving in/near Brussels.  You guys need to get more clothes dryers over there and less cars so I can wash the smoke out of my jeans while still maintaining the proper fit.   

My longstanding bitch with European plumbing continues.  Germany, Holland, Belgium, and especially Switzerland love to blend form and function with design.  Why they can’t create functioning showers that contain water in the shower area is a national crisis.  I would like to invite each one of you from The Old Country reading this to come to my home where you can enjoy a shower in a large glass box with room to move comfortably, and afterwards you will dry yourself with a large fluffy towel.  You will be so pleased at this experience you will probably immediately apply for US citizenship and begin singing “Stars and Stripes Forever”.  Afterwards you will angrily wonder about the government conspiracy that has kept this shower experience out of your life for so long.  Come on over.  The big fluffy towel awaits.  

This was the first time I have traveled to Germany and not been yelled at by and old woman at a shop because I didn’t know “the system”.  I will never forget when an old lady working at a coffee stand in Bielefeld ripped my scrotum out because I asked for tea incorrectly.  As Ken (fluent in German) was standing there and heard the whole thing, even he said, “I don’t know what the hell happened.  You asked for tea correctly.  She just went fucking crazy.”  This now puts me at over 12 months without being screamed at in a foreign language, the last incident being an Avignon, France bakery shopgirl peppering me with rapid fire French when I bungled my bread order as others looked on in frowning disapproval.  I sort of missed the experience.  Maybe I need to go back to Paris.  They love to ream you out there.

Thanks again to everyone that came out to the shows, bought a CD or shirt, or offered a helping hand.  We look forward to coming back sooner rather than later to our favorite towns, and hopefully add more cities and countries next time.  It’s a lot of work putting it all together, but like they say, “it’s good work if you can get it”. 

See you soon.


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