Sunday, October 28, 2018

Nurse the Hate: NFL Week 8

The only people that will be watching the 49ers at Cardinals game today will be complete degenerate gamblers, people so sick that they should never show their faces in daylight.  The level of depravity it takes to spend a few hours watching this completely irrelevant football game makes wearing assless chaps in a nightclub seem sensible.  I should know, because I will be one of these sick twisted individuals, watching it via my NFL Sunday Ticket satellite package.  Yes, I ponied up the extra money necessary to watch the unwatchable.  When the 1-6 San Francisco 49ers take the gridiron versus the 1-6 Arizona Cardinals, you won’t need the whole seat, you’ll just need the edge.  Well, you will if you have a sack of loot on the 49ers…

I am “taking a position” on the 49ers.  This flies right in the face of a Vegas axiom.  Never bet on a bad team.  However, I think the exception to the rule is when that bad team is playing a worse team.  The Cardinals are awful.  One of their three good players, Patrick Peterson, demanded to be traded last week.  The team, in an unsurprising move, said “Um, you’re one of our only good guys and you are under contract, so get the fuck out there”.  That’s not helpful for what is known as “team chemistry”.  Toss in that rookie QB Josh Rosen, who has looked dodgy in an antiquated offense, is playing with turf toe.  One of the things I am not interested in doing while having turf toe is running away from big angry dudes intent on hurting me.

Now while the 49ers are 1-6, they have been recipients of some horrible luck.  Of the last 14 turnovers in their games, they have lost all of them.  That’s not all on Beathard.  This is a trend that will equalize, and I’m hoping it will do so today.  The 49ers have kept playing hard, and look like a 6-10 team.  The Cardinals look like the worst team in the NFL that’s not Oakland or the Giants.  Don’t judge me.  I’m betting on San Francisco +2.

The Los Angeles Rams are probably the best team in football.  The Packers sort of suck.  Well, except they have Aaron Rodgers, who can make any team he plays for look pretty good.  It’s annoying watching national TV broadcasts where the guys in the booth spend the entire game touching themselves because they are so excited about how well Rodgers is playing.  The thing is, they are right.  That fucking guy is unbelievable.  He doesn’t even look like he’s trying.  As a result, The Public is absolutely pounding the Packers as an underdog, moving the line from Rams -9.5 to Rams -8. 

I will say it until I am blue in the face.  The Public doesn’t know ANYTHING.  They think Tim Allen is a funny comedian.  They think the Ford F-150 is a sensible automobile.  They like the music on the Top 40 and Country charts.  They are goddamn fools.  The Public also is very focused on the Saints beating the Vikings tonight.  The narrative says that the Saints will want to exact revenge for their flukey NFC Playoff loss last year, in some sort of “we’ll show them” redemption moment.  This line has gone from Minnesota -1.5 to now Minnesota +1.5.  Couple quick facts here…  If you blindly bet the Vikings at home in their current regime, you’d cover 72% of the time.  They just win at home.  Also, in their last three games, they have allowed 5 first downs from third down conversions.  Five.  That defense has come together.  As a result, I am going to fade The Public.  I am going to take Minnesota +1.5 as well as a tease of Minnesota +7.5/Los Angeles -2. 

Season Record: 4-2          

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Turbulent Waters

When I was a teenager I had a teacher that showed us his Beatles ticket stub from Shea Stadium.  It was an amazing artifact to a 15-year-old, our version of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The 1960s at that point were our older brother’s record collection, a faded color film clip of a time that might not have really existed.  The romanticism over the 1960s has already started to kick in by then, and I don’t think it was until that moment that our little peanut brains put together that our teacher had been a young adult like us during those turbulent days.  I remember one of the other students saying “Mr. Layman!  You were alive during the 60s!  That must have been so cool!”.  Mr. Layman looked a little sheepish as if considering wading into the deep waters of that time to explain what it was really like versus our cinema version of 1968.  He looked down at the carpet and quietly said “It was a really stupid time.”.  I have always remembered that.

In the last few days we have had bombs sent to political opponents of a president that spends most of his time at his version of Third Reich rallies whipping up dissent towards half of our population.  The news source for most of these disciples is Fox News, a government propaganda tool that is untethered to the professional standards of journalism.  They spent the broadcast day of the letter bombs focused on the “migrant horde” descending on our “dangerously flimsy” southern border ready to inflict rape, murder and mayhem.  They breathlessly tell their audience the administration’s talking points of Middle Eastern sleeper cells hidden among the dangerous brown people.  Somehow these people are part of a Democrat plot to cause mayhem in the country.  It doesn't make sense because it doesn't have to.  Logic is dead.  Mike Pence, when faced with the complete lack of basis in fact of this claim, stated in effect “though it might not be true, no one can prove it isn’t true”, thus providing justification to the simple-minded audience.  Who can blame some lunatic for trying to assassinate people our leadership has finger pointed as being “enemies of the state”?  These are turbulent waters my friend.

I think the real revolution going on in America boils down to one point.  It is the stupid and uninformed versus everyone else.  There are a staggering number of Americans that don’t read anything, are fundamentally uneducated, and have no experience in travel.  They haven’t been anywhere.  They haven't done anything.  They know their little corner of the world and have been taught to be afraid of anyone else that looks or thinks different.  Is it elitist to suggest that most people are as stupid as woodchucks?  Maybe, but I’m in advertising and I can tell you that the only mass messages that work must be dumbed down to a level that a second grader can understand.  This is, of course, the president’s wheelhouse, and why the country is in big trouble.  His true gift is to understand what the disenfranchised mob wants to hear and how to press their buttons.  Now while a debate could be held if it is inherently evil to mislead a large portion of the nation you are pledged to serve, there can be little debate about the effectiveness of the tactic.

The talking points haven't yet been assembled on today's mass shooting in Pittsburgh.  There will be some horse shit dodge to suggest that our current national tone has no impact on "the actions of a crazed individual.  Thoughts and prayers." It doesn't take a genius to put together that the daily rhetoric from leadership and their propaganda machines that people different than you are a threat and need to be dealt with is going to plant seeds in unstable minds.  I don't know how much longer this can keep going in this direction.  I know when I go to vote in the upcoming election, I am going to vote against anyone that has an "R" next to their name.  While most of these people certainly are not the cause opening this Pandora's Box of hatred and fascist thought, they are all complicit in not trying to stop it and riding the wave for personal gain. 

I am concerned that my worst fears will come to fruition after this election.  Are those among us that believe in discourse, freedom, and equality be outnumbered by the "nationalists"?  There is the very real possibility that I am part of a minority in a Nation of Dicks.  I hope not.  But I am not optimistic.  Things have just gotten away from us.  These are dark times.  Maybe we turn the ship around and in the future groovy movies will be made about this time making it look exciting.  Years from now some kid will look at my picture at a Father John Misty show and say, "Mr. Miller!  You were alive in 2018!  That must have been so cool!".  I'll think for a second about what happened, try to figure out how to explain it, stare down at the ground and say, "It was a stupid time."  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The Master Sommelier Debacle

I have been following with great interest the scandal that has rocked the Court of Master Sommeliers.  I recognize that this is perhaps the most pompous sentence ever typed in this blog, but hear me out.  The Court of Master Sommeliers is the highest level of professional achievement for a wine professional in the hospitality industry.  It is a series of three almost impossible exams designed to be insanely ballbusting that were popularized by the documentary “Somm”.  It was designed to be the most difficult exam in the world to pass.  It’s one of the reasons I flung myself into the WSET Diploma.  I watched Somm and said “I bet I could pass that.”.  I decided that since a Master Somm title would include me becoming a middle aged waiter, I would see if I could pass the equally impossible Master of Wine, which doesn’t require serving wine in a restaurant.

It is also worth noting that the lack of understanding of what a sommelier is much less how to pronounce it here in Ohio made the Master of Wine title more intriguing to me.  At least once a week someone finds out that I have passed the WSET Diploma and then asks “So are you a soma…somma…summa…serma…?”  I then answer, “You mean a sommelier?  No, I don’t know anything about service.  I went on trade side which means...”  At this point the person I am speaking with has checked out of the conversation.  Nobody really gives a shit unless you are deep in it.  Let's be honest.  It's just wine and most people could care less.

The interesting thing is that the Somm documentary made some of those guys minor rock stars in the restaurant world.  When I say “rock star”, I mean like “Modest Mouse” not “Metallica”.  Still, there are perks with being in Modest Mouse.  Suddenly there was more incentive to try and get this title.  The financial compensation is much better as a Master Somm too.  The salary differences for a Master Somm and the next level down is an average salary moving from $80k to $120K.  That’s a good hit.  So if you are in the somm business, the pressure is on the get that Master Somm title.  Nobody cares if you are the next level down.  Hell, I don’t even know what it’s called and I’ve got my toe in that world.

I noticed about a month ago that the Court of Master Sommeliers had made an announcement that a record 24 new Master Somms had earned the title at this year’s exams.  That’s an amazing number.  For example, in 2013 there were 70 people that tried to pass and only 1 of them did.  Nobody that sat the exam in Europe this year passed.  Most candidates sit for the exam 2-3 times and some take it as many as six times.  Only 9 people have ever passed it on the first try.  There are only 273 people in the world that have ever earned the distinction of Master Somm.  That is a smaller number than have been in space.  Yet, 24 of 56 passed this year?  Well, that seems odd…

This is where things become murky.  After the results were announced a lawyer contacted the Court of Master Somms to convey that “some impropriety had occurred” around the tasting exam.  By the way, I love that it was put that way and not “some fuckers cheated”.  The lawyer told the Court that the identities of the wines had been “compromised” prior to the exam by someone within the Court.  Cue dramatic music!  It appears that one of the “Masters” on some committee or another told some candidates what the wines were going to be on the exam.  I am not sure of his motivation in doing so, but I am sure that info is still to come as he is cast from the Somm Kingdom in shame.  I’m hoping for a ceremony like the infamous Game of Thrones “Shame! Shame!” scene. I’d fly out to San Francisco to be part of that mob, because who doesn’t like to be part of a mob?  I’d make sure I was real dirty and spoke in broken Olde English as I threw my rotten fruit too.  “Ya fookin’ piker!”  (Please note, I am not really 100% sure what a “piker” is, but it sounds good in that context, so cut me a break.)     

The tasting portion is the most notorious part of the Master Somm exam.  Candidates are given six wines.  Within 25 minutes they must accurately describe and identify these wines.  It’s unbelievably challenging.  Blind tasting is a lot like hitting a baseball in that some days you see the pitches well, and some days you don’t.  You still have to come in and take your swings.  In the case of the Master Somm exam, it’s like taking an at bat in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the World Series, bases loaded, your team is down by one and it’s ALL ON THE LINE.  Your entire life has been focused on this 25 minutes.  The tens of thousands of hours you spent on preparation comes down to the fact that on a particular morning, are you picking up the scent of sour cherry and dust that lets you know this is a Chianti Classico and not a Riserva Rioja which has cherry fruit notes but usually cleaner and with a hint of American oak?  Meanwhile your pulse is maxing out and the clock is ticking ticking ticking…  The opportunity to know what those wines were walking into that exam would have been hard to resist.  An extra $40,000 a year for a couple decades is a cool $800,000 more of income.  I get it.  

So now the Court has stripped the title of 23 of the people that passed because they can’t know for sure who cheated and who didn’t.  They are all shrouded in guilt, regardless of how fair that is. These people are all going to have to re-take the exam, which even if they passed legitimately last time, is no indication that they will pass again.  The cruelest fate would be to have passed, strut around for a month after you got your results, have it stripped away, and then fail on the re-take when you never cheated in the first place.  It’s what I believe is referred to as “a sticky wicket”.  The exam, unbelievably pressure packed, would now have the additional pressure of positioning you as a cheat if you failed on the re-take.  Sure, no one will come out and accuse you.  It would be even worse, with sideways glances and smirks behind your back.  It’s a bad situation.

Perhaps the best part of all has been the vindictive and self righteous attacks amongst the somm community in online discussions of this topic.  It's as big a story as "Japanese Bomb Pearl Harbor" to this group.  There doesn’t seem to be a level of self awareness that almost no one knows or cares about the achievement outside of this tight circle, which I always find fascinating.  It’s like when two guys turn on each other fighting about if an obscure band is truly “punk rock”.  If you strip away the words “indications of oxidation” and replace it with “Black Flag was hardcore not punk”, these arguments could be from an issue of “Maximum Rock and Roll” magazine circa 1992.  This proves that dudes will argue about anything and love to make special clubs for themselves.  As far as I can tell, there has never been a single woman that has lowered herself into the muck of an online wine argument.  Oh, and hardcore and punk are essentially the same thing but with heavier guitars in the case of hardcore.  There, I said it.

Grown men that are members of a “court” have lost face. When men that wear fussy suits are pissed, no one is going to like what happens next. I sense “edicts and proclamations” forthcoming.  I don’t know how it will all play out in the end, but I will tell you this.  That re-take exam will be the ultimate ballcrusher that NO ONE is going to pass.  Look for obscure wines with razor thin flavor differentiators put together in an order meant to blow minds.  The guy that leaked the wines is going to be strung up on the tower at Chateau Latour while crows peck at his eyes.  Fookin’ piker.  I feel sorry for those poor bastards on the re-take.  It’s a long grim road ahead.  They need to focus on what is important.  They need to listen to Black Flag’s “My War”, clear their minds and wonder “Is this hardcore or just punk?”.    

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Nurse the Hate: NFL Week 7

I was reading an article on the overwhelming financial success of sports gambling in New Jersey.   It is dumbfounding that this is surprising to people.  These must be the same people that didn’t think legalized weed would work in Colorado.  “I just can’t wrap my head around it.  Who would have guessed there was a market for easily accessible pot and football betting?  I’m just going to play it safe and invest in VCRs, coal mines, and non hurricane grade Florida beach housing.  This gambling and weed fever will blow over like the Charleston dance craze I tell you!”

I recognize some of you reading this clicked on this disappointed and thinking “damn, he wrote another sports one”.  Understand this.  For a huge swath of the population, betting on NFL football provides one of the only diversions that allow us to maintain our sanity.  This quote from the article about the legalization of sports gambling in New Jersey says it best.  “This is definitely the most incredible thing that has ever happened anywhere, for anything.”, said Mark Taran.  I challenge you to find anyone more excited about anything, not just now but in all history.  There was less enthusiasm about the fucking moon landing.  DEFINITELY THE MOST INCREDIBLE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED ANYWHERE.  Absorb that sentence in.  It speaks for itself.  

This is why I am filled with joy as I ready myself to make a large investment in the Tampa Bucs to beat the Browns.  It’s a terrible idea to normally latch onto the Bucs.  They have reliably produced disappointment for the greater Tampa St Pete area for decades.  However, this week things look to be in their favor.  The Browns don’t travel well.  They have not won a road game since 1986, a game against Cincinnati that I attended in stone washed jeans and a mullet.  Please note, I did not know this was a critical fashion mistake at that time.  And before you crucify me, we were ALL doing it.  Don’t be smug.  There’s probably a picture of you looking like Vanilla Ice or maybe one of those Saved By The Bell kids.  We all have baggage.

Let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?  The Bucs can score.  They can apparently score on anyone.  They just can’t stop anyone.  Here’s the thing.  The Browns don’t appear to be great at stopping real offenses from scoring.  They also just lost their starting middle linebacker, the guy who made all the calls on the field.  That’s not ideal.  Let’s all just agree that unless the Bucs turn it over six times like Pittsburgh, they’ll score 31 points or so.  This means the Browns need to score 28.

In what was an interesting front office move, the Browns decided yesterday to address their lack of two legit receivers by trading away their effective starting running back.  This would be like if you were cooking spaghetti, realize you didn’t have any noodles, so you trade away the sauce in exchange for a bag of chocolate chips.  It’s hard to understand the end game.  Regardless, the situation is now that the Browns are starting an unproven running back in addition to two unproven receivers.  Oh, and the tight end can’t catch either.  

This leads me to believe that the Browns, traveling from 54 degree CLE to 87 degree Tampa, might not have all the horses they need, despite Tampa’s defense being terrible.  I don’t like the 3.5 point line, so I am going to buy it down to Tampa -2.5.  This might be the single greatest thing that has ever happened.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The Porn Blackmail Letter

From: Trudy Juszczak 
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2018 11:52 PM
To: Miller, Greg
Subject: gmiller - gregmiller

L‌ets get stra‌ight to po‌i‌nt. No on‌e ha‌s pa‌id m‌e to‌ i‌nv‌esti‌ga‌t‌e yo‌u. Yo‌u ma‌y no‌t kno‌w m‌e and yo‌u are pro‌ba‌bly thinking why yo‌u ar‌e g‌etting thi‌s ‌emai‌l?

L‌et m‌e t‌ell yo‌u, i s‌etup a‌ so‌ftwa‌r‌e o‌n the xxx vi‌ds (a‌dult po‌rn) w‌ebsi‌t‌e a‌nd yo‌u kno‌w wha‌t, you vi‌si‌t‌ed thi‌s w‌ebsit‌e to ha‌v‌e fun (yo‌u kno‌w wha‌t i m‌ea‌n). Whil‌e you wer‌e vi‌‌ewing vi‌deo‌ cli‌ps, your bro‌wser b‌ega‌n functi‌oni‌ng a‌s a‌ R‌emo‌t‌e D‌eskto‌p ha‌vi‌ng a‌ k‌eylo‌gger whi‌ch pro‌vi‌ded me a‌cc‌essi‌bi‌li‌ty to‌ yo‌ur di‌splay scr‌e‌en a‌nd a‌lso web ca‌m‌era‌. aft‌er tha‌t, my so‌ftware pro‌gram gath‌er‌ed every o‌n‌e o‌f your conta‌cts from your M‌ess‌eng‌er, Fa‌cebo‌o‌k, and ‌e-ma‌i‌l . N‌ext i‌ ma‌de a‌ do‌uble-scre‌en vi‌d‌eo‌. First pa‌rt shows th‌e vi‌d‌eo‌ yo‌u w‌ere watchi‌ng (yo‌u'v‌e got a‌ go‌o‌d ta‌st‌e lol . . .), a‌nd 2nd pa‌rt di‌spla‌ys the r‌ecording o‌f yo‌ur w‌eb ca‌m‌era‌, a‌nd i‌t i‌s yo‌u.

Ther‌e a‌r‌e o‌nly 2 o‌pti‌ons. L‌ets und‌ersta‌nd th‌es‌e typ‌es of o‌pti‌ons i‌n pa‌rti‌cula‌rs:

1st o‌pti‌on i‌s to ski‌p thi‌s ‌e-ma‌i‌l. a‌s a r‌esult, i‌ a‌m goi‌ng to‌ s‌end your ta‌p‌e to‌ ea‌ch o‌f yo‌ur yo‌ur p‌erso‌nal co‌nta‌cts a‌nd thi‌nk co‌nc‌erni‌ng th‌e sha‌m‌e you wi‌ll g‌et. K‌e‌ep in mi‌nd sho‌uld you be in a‌n i‌mpo‌rta‌nt r‌ela‌tionshi‌p, ho‌w i‌t wi‌ll ‌eventua‌lly a‌ffect?

Latt‌er a‌lt‌ernati‌v‌e wo‌uld b‌e to co‌mp‌ensa‌te m‌e 3000 USD. W‌e wi‌ll thi‌nk o‌f it as a‌ do‌na‌ti‌o‌n. Co‌nsequ‌ently, i‌ will a‌sa‌p r‌emo‌v‌e yo‌ur vi‌deo‌ reco‌rdi‌ng. You wi‌ll conti‌nu‌e o‌n with yo‌ur wa‌y of li‌fe li‌k‌e thi‌s n‌ev‌er o‌ccurr‌ed a‌nd yo‌u sur‌ely will n‌ev‌er hear ba‌ck aga‌i‌n fro‌m m‌e.

Yo‌u wi‌ll ma‌k‌e the payment by Bi‌tco‌i‌n (if you do‌n't kno‌w this, s‌ea‌rch fo‌r 'how to‌ buy bi‌t‌co‌i‌n' in Goo‌gl‌e sea‌rch engi‌ne).

B‌T‌C‌ addr‌ess to‌ s‌end to‌: 1CtKg9PBeeemMLezLsuaXLjNncyqNMfdkn
[Ca‌S‌e-s‌ensiti‌v‌e copy a‌nd pa‌st‌e i‌t]

if yo‌u ma‌y b‌e thinki‌ng o‌f go‌ing to‌ th‌e la‌w ‌enfo‌rcem‌ent, goo‌d, thi‌s ‌e-ma‌i‌l ca‌n no‌t b‌e tra‌c‌ed ba‌ck to‌ m‌e. I ha‌ve cov‌er‌ed my a‌cti‌o‌ns. i a‌m not lo‌o‌king to‌ d‌emand a lo‌t, i‌ si‌mply wa‌nt to‌ b‌e pa‌id. Yo‌u ha‌v‌e t‌w‌o da‌ys to‌ ma‌k‌e th‌e payment. i‌'v‌e a sp‌ecia‌l pi‌x‌el in thi‌s ema‌i‌l m‌essa‌g‌e, a‌nd a‌t thi‌s mom‌ent i‌ kno‌w that yo‌u hav‌e r‌ea‌d this ma‌i‌l. i‌f i‌ do‌ no‌t g‌et th‌e B‌i‌tC‌oi‌ns, i‌ d‌efi‌ni‌t‌ely wi‌ll s‌end o‌ut yo‌ur vi‌d‌eo to‌ all of yo‌ur co‌nta‌cts i‌ncludi‌ng clo‌s‌e rela‌tiv‌es, co‌wo‌rk‌ers, and so‌ o‌n. N‌ev‌erth‌el‌ess, i‌f i‌ do‌ get pa‌i‌d, i'll era‌se the vi‌deo‌ i‌mm‌edi‌ately. if yo‌u rea‌lly wa‌nt pro‌of, reply with Y‌ea & i d‌efi‌ni‌t‌ely wi‌ll s‌end your vid‌eo‌ reco‌rdi‌ng to‌ yo‌ur 10 conta‌cts. Thi‌s is th‌e no‌n-n‌ego‌ti‌a‌bl‌e off‌er th‌er‌efo‌r‌e pl‌ea‌s‌e do‌n't waste my tim‌e & yo‌urs by respondi‌ng to‌ thi‌s ‌ema‌il messa‌ge.


From: Greg Miller
Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2018 9:51 AM
To: Trudy Juszczak
Subject: gmiller - gregmiller


Now take it easy!  Let’s not do anything crazy!  There certainly is no reason to get all my contacts involved in my cinematic viewing habits, is there?  It’s not like I did anything wrong here…  The reason I went to view the clip from Hot Anal Nurses 3 was that I felt the second of the series finished in real cliff hanger fashion.  I had to see what happened!  Would Mercedes and Brock get back together?  Even after they had each coupled with the other’s spouse?  I had to know!  There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, is there Trudy?  I think you will agree that Hot Anal Nurses 2, while a well done film, did not provide the narrative closure one would expect from the Hot Anal Nurses franchise.  Hence, my natural curiosity about the plot line…  That’s all it was…  Attention to craft.

Now I realize that the cam might have shown me doing some things that would appear to be compromising.  Let me assure you, the particular pair of dungarees I was wearing were a bit snug and I merely had to loosen them a bit for comfort’s sake.  Any motion you might have seen in that area was only as a result of a bad allergy I recently caught in Belgium in a man called Andre The Not So Giant’s apartment.  I think they might be chiggers, but I’m not positive.  I am a tad embarrassed to admit that I have quite an itch “downstairs” at the moment, but am hopeful that various creams and ointments will do the job and get me back on track.

I am glad we had this opportunity to clear up this simple understanding.  I wish you the best of luck in your blackmail endeavors and hope you have a super day!



Monday, October 15, 2018

European Tour Diary 2018: Day 13 Frankfurt

We get up early.  We are spread across the efficient bunk beds.  I wander downstairs after a shower to find some breakfast.  There are 716 Danish kids wandering around in small packs eating rolls and cold cuts.  I would kill for two scrambled eggs and turkey sausage.  I watch the kids put on their various identities.  The sullen boy.  The confident girls.  The In kids.  The Out kids.  It’s way too much hormones for this hour.

It’s a long drive today to Frankfurt.  We try to show Hex and Chanda Checkpoint Charlie but the roads are closed for reunification parades or something.  It’s hard to say what as there is no activity whatsoever, but as it is Europe, it’s closed.  Here’s a quick traveler’s tip…  Europe has amazing points of interest.  There are museums, cathedrals, galleries, etc.  They are all closed.  They are open the third Wednesday of the month, with the exception of this month because it is a church holiday no one can identify.

We make the inevitable gas station stop for a piss and a sandwich.  Leo comes up to me.  “Hey, you got any change?”  I ask what he needs. “Whatever”  What do you mean “whatever”?  What’s your goal?  “I want to get some snacks but I’m not changing any more money.”  For about 11 of the 14 days Leo has been bleeding cash from the rest of us.  On tour, you can get by without almost any cash.  You will get your breakfast and dinner from the clubs.  If you pace yourself, you don’t really need any money.  Drinks will be free.  All you need is the occasional .70 for a pay toilet.

Leo has made the exact same mistake on every tour.  The move is to withdraw Euros from an ATM at the airport.  Your bank will charge the market conversion rate, and you’re ready to go.  What Leo does is arrive with too little American money.  He then walks out of the airport, directly past all the currency conversions stands, to climb in the van and have NO local cash.  As we have discussed, banks are always closed. Leo also lacks a focus on the mission of getting his cash changed over, so as a result he walks around hitting all of us up for “a loan”.  He does intend to pay you back, but he is so fucking baked all the time, who knows if he’ll remember. 

So this particular cash shakedown strikes a chord with me, probably because I have slept 11 hours in the last 14 days.  He has no grasp that while to him they are just “coins”, but in fact are 2 or 1 euro coins worth $3 or $1.50 each.  He’s like a Bangladesh street beggar that hits you up for $7.50 when you walk into a gas station.  Making matters worse, when we finally got him into a bank on Day 4, he didn’t change all his dollars to euros.  He now has $50 useless American cash, no credit card and no bank card.  What are you going to do, fuck him over and not give him food?  I give him $2.50 but I’m pissed like Robert De Niro in The Deer Hunter.  “No way Sal.  Put down the boots.  I said no…”

Leo then starts giving me a hard time about not just handing him my own last Euro cash.  “Do you know how much I spent in Iceland?  I spent $82 on a round of shots!”  I think I did make the point that he didn’t actually NEED to spend the $82 on shots and could have passed on that expense, but he soon flickered back to victim mode.  He munched on his $3 sandwich pissed I told him to change the rest of his money.  “Dude!  I don’t want to spend any more money!  We are only here one more day!”  He clearly does not register that he is making his problem our problem, and maybe we don’t want to have to fund his remaining snacks because he doesn’t feel like changing his currency.  Eh, what are you going to do?  It’s the same shit every tour.

We have come up with an exit strategy.  The plan is to dump our luggage at a hotel near the airport.  That will allow Christoph and Antje to leave after the show, and we can take a shuttle to the airport.  I purposely book us into a “business class” hotel so we can make a transition from “tour life” to “normal human being”.  They are normal hotel rooms, but seem opulent with the new fluffy bedding and large showers.

The show is at a club we have played a few times before, called Drekonigskellar.  It’s a cellar club, like a smaller version of the Cavern Club.  I had heard the place was shut down, but apparently an old employee has purchased it.  We pull in to unload, and something is a bit off.  The owner, a very disheveled guy in a filthy shirt, walks out to greet us.  I remember him from before.  He is an odd duck.  The club seems sort of fucked up, like it has slipped in upkeep.  There are absolutely zero posters up for the show.  The club Facebook and website is spotty at best.  This feels like a disaster.

We decide to get some local food and pretend the Spidey Sense of looming debacle isn’t happening.  Antje gets some poor info on a local place a decent walk away.  We pass through a local festival where revelers drink apfelwein, sort of like hard cider, and eat snacks.  We are looking for Frankfurt specialties, and can’t seem to find the right spot.  We cross back over the bridge near the club and find a place we have eaten at before.  I eat an enormous hunk of pork.  Sugar is making her happy noises with her “hand cheese and music”, which is a bland cheese with sliced onions on top.  It’s a monster meal.

We head back to the club, not so much looking forward to the show as much as being willing to endure it.  The whole thing feels wrong.  Christoph has to work the door as the club doesn’t have an employee.  We can’t get a private room to do the tour finances.  Then, an odd thing happens…  People start to show up.  The entire room fills, and not just people that wandered in by mistake.  They are fans of the band.  The crowd is pushed up close to the tight stage.  Two guys to my right are super into it.  Another guy is singing most of the lyrics into my face.  It’s a total blast.  It will have a place in Daredevil Lore as “The Miracle In Frankfurt”.

We sign records and have a few celebratory beers.  It’s hard to believe we are done.  The 14 days went fast.  It was so much easier than the last few tours have been, everyone on the same page and working together as a team.  Hell, I don’t even mind buying Leo his gas station pretzel now.  The people at the club are great, and we have a fun time hanging out after the show.  We load out the rental gear for the last time and haul it up the punishing staircase to the van.

We pull the van up outside the hotel.  Christoph and I head into my room to figure out where we ended up with the money.  It appears everyone is going to be paid that needs to be paid.  It’s getting late.  Sugar and I fly out in five hours.  It’s hard to say goodbye to the Roths as they are part of the family now.  I walk downstairs to see if I can scrounge up a beer.  Sugar tells me they closed everything up, there’s no way to get a beer.  I wave goodbye to Christoph and Antje as they pull away.  I walk up to the front desk, where they tell me it’s “impossible” to get a beer.  I tell them, “Hey man.  I just did two straight weeks of shows, and I am old.  I fly home in five hours.  You sure you can’t find a cold one for me?”  The desk clerk smiles and says “hold on”.  He comes from the back and hands me an ice cold bottle of a local beer.  I sit in the lobby by myself and sip the beer.  I feel tired.  I feel good.  I feel like myself.  

Saturday, October 13, 2018

European Tour Diary 2018: Day 12 Berlin

The expectation of a Berlin show is always high.  We have had great shows there in the past, nights that twisted into morning in a haze of smoke and mexicaner shots.  The city is one of the world’s most notable.  It is a place of linked neighborhoods with almost unlimited options.  Museums, galleries, performance spaces, specialty shops, The Wall, clubs, and secret spots where you need to know someone that knows someone to find.  The closest comparison is to New York City but without New York’s vertical elevation.  Berlin is a sprawl of five story buildings.  It is a beacon to artists, and so often the focus of the tour is on that show.  When that show is over, it usually feels like the climax.

The club we always try to play is the Wild At Heart.  It is where we cut the Live in Berlin record.  It is a room that just sounds good.  Soundcheck always takes 14 seconds there.  Plug in.  Sounds good.  I have all kinds of memories here from what must be 7-8 shows here in the past.  The bar owners are great, and always make us feel welcome.  It is a really good club.  Our gig tonight is set up perfectly.  Even though it is a Tuesday, it should be a party night.  Tomorrow is a holiday for German re-unification day, commemorating when the wall came down.  Everyone is off.  Trixie and the Trainwrecks, a band with local ties is the opener.  This is a no-brainer.  It should be a great time tonight.

The drive to get to Berlin is brutal.  Stuttgart to Berlin is usually about 7 hours.  It takes us 9 in a constant rain.  We make a stop at a gas station for provisions.  It takes about a week until we are back in the van.  We just can’t seem to make it to the city.  Stopped dead for traffic.  Another traffic jam going in.  A missed turn.  No place to U-turn.  No parking spot in front of the club to unload.  We don’t get out of the van until 7p for a quick load in.  Afterwards we go next door to the sister restaurant, a tiki themed Thai place, for the pre-show meal.  Christoph takes the van on a clandestine mission where it appears we have been the unwitting mules for a bike and washing machine for his daughter.  The city seems oddly quiet.

Mosh, our old label guy from Knock-Out is coming by later.  Stevie, a distant relative, is supposed to show up too.  We drink beer at the bar and wait for the crowd to show up.  They never do.  It’s a bust.  There’s some talk about the train line being shut down and free concerts in the city, but that’s all nonsense.  If people wanted to come, they’d come.  A small, unenthusiastic smattering of people stare at Trixie and the Trainwrecks.  That same group later stares at us.  There is no energy coming back.  It is literally one of the least satisfying shows I have played in years.  Even Hector about three quarters of the way through says “what the fuck dude?”.  He is the ultimate good sport and finds a silver lining in any cloud, but this is all rain.  We are playing well, but no one cares.  Mosh is a no show.  Even Stevie slinks off without ever entering the main room.  It is so far away from what we expected. We get a round of shots after the set that feel like a mercy kiss.

Afterwards I sit in the back dressing room.  It is worn down with stickers from previous tours plastering every inch.  I scan the wall looking for an old Daredevils sticker.  I think I put a Cowslingers sticker up there about 15 year ago.  It’s gone now, another band sticker having taken its place.  I can see a Turbo ACs sticker I remember as being fresh and crisp, now faded and old.  I wonder if the era has passed for the bar and myself.  It is a small existential crisis.  It was that type of night.  We load out fast and head back to the hostel where the club has put us up.

This is a new and different hostel from what we have stayed at in the past.  There is still a new carpet smell.  Overstimulated Danish teenagers bounce around the spacious lobby and common area with the freedom of personal independence.  Everything is new and fresh to them.  They practically crackle with electricity.  The grizzled rock band walks in with guitars and gear and go to the 24 hour bar at the desk.  Hex, Chanda, Leo and I all have local beers with the kids buzzing around involved in their teenage mini dramas.  We are going to cut out early, 9am to Frankfurt.  We need to put some distance between us and Berlin. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

European Tour Diary 2018: Day 11 Goppingen

A transvestite sits on a bench in the main walkway of the commercial strip of Stuttgart.  Oversized women’s sunglasses, a sundress, and boots.  He is strumming the basic melody of “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” while juxtaposing the lyrics to “Like A Rolling Stone” in an effeminate voice.  Passersby ignore the open guitar case with seed money meant to entice a hand out.  It might be the worst busking attempt of all time.  I am sipping an espresso leaning on an outdoor table in front of a café.  I am looking at Google Maps.  I am on a mission.

I have many things I want to accomplish in Stuttgart today.  There was a plan afoot last night in the van to meet up and do something that sounded dangerously like “brunch”.  I avoid “brunch” as a personal policy as I don’t care for buffets, cheap sparkling wine, or people that love “brunch”.  I also know that this alleged “brunch” will be a Fool’s Errand.  Without strong leadership and vision, the amount of dicking around the combination of Leo, Sugar and Antje are capable of cannot be overestimated.  They had said that they were planning to eat at 11am.  There is no fucking way that will happen.  I remember last tour when the three of them got lunch at 6pm.  I am going full Lone Wolf today to avoid that madness.

By the time I get an email around 4pm saying that they are almost ready to leave Antje’s apartment, I have already eaten two meals.  I have also gone to the art museum, browsed the art museum bookstore, strolled the farmer’s market, been to three wine shops, tried on lederhosen at an upscale men’s shop, bought a bottle of scotch for Oliver’s hospitality, walked through Oktoberfest, had another coffee, wrote a blog post, sold some TV advertising, contacted the pressing plant to deal with a problem on “American Songbook”, visited my friends Andi and Anji at their music shop, discussed German microbrewing culture at a specialty shop, bought a book on German local breweries, bought chocolate, and then went to my favorite upscale supermarket (whose name I can never remember) which is like a German Dean & Deluca.  There I buy a favorably priced bottle of Roederer NV Champagne to drink at tonight’s gig.  I then head back to Oliver’s apartment to get ready for the gig tonight.  I’ve really had a terrific day so far.

Oliver and I walk to meet the team at a café by the train station.  As expected, they ate “brunch” at 445pm.  Their progress was delayed even further as Sugar stopped at several shops putting together an outfit.  She has jeans with crazy screen prints on them, a jacket with leopard pattern arms and a T-shirt that she somehow found that combines the word “Sugar” with “Stuttgart”.  The whole effect is to make her resemble one of those Japanese girls that look like they are 9 years old while still maintaining adulthood.  She does appear wildly happy though.

We slowly extract the group from the café to head to the train station.  During the walk to the train I hear grumbling about how the day has gone so far.  Leo got cranky because he couldn’t get anyone to realize the goal of getting food.  The girls had gotten cranky at Leo because he was so intense.  It had been a disaster, exactly as I had known it would be.  The gazelle continued to walk to the station while the cheetah confidently strode ahead with a chilled bottle of excellent champagne in his mic bag.  Leo starts to tell a story about the time “Greg, Ken and The Land Sailor abandoned us at a train station” that I clearly recall as “Leo/Bobby/Sandy not getting on a train we plainly told them to get on and the doors closing on their faces”.  Land Sailor looped back to get them in about three minutes to find them walking around the station yelling “Oliver!  Oliver!”. 

We take seats on the crowded commuter train amongst people heading home from work.  Leo is using his “outside voice”.  It is making the Germans very tense as he is wildly breaching the mass transit protocol of “we’re all in this together, so let’s quietly get this over with and not bother each other”.  He is completely violating their idea of personal space and custom.  He is also 100% oblivious to this.  The final straw is when he falls on the floor when he does not consider the seat automatically folds up.  A man gets up and leaves the car.  A mousy girl sitting next to him stares straight ahead as if to will this breach of etiquette away by mental focus.  Thankfully we arrive at our stop.

The plan was that we will take a train outside of town to rendezvous with Christoph and the van at the gig.  The show is at his father-in-law’s bar, a small grungy pub that reminds me of The Beer Mug in Erie.  We had to differentiate this from our normal Stuttgart show as it is so close, so we have decided to do a set of punk rock material mixed with all new stuff we just started working on that hasn’t been played on the tour.  This will either be fun or a complete disaster.  The bar is adorned in two major points of focus, 1. The Stuttgart soccer team and 2. Motorhead.  At almost every club we play on this tour, there is a shrine to Lemmy somewhere behind the bar.  He has become the new Johnny Cash.

We cram into a small space in the back room.  We set up on the floor, Old School style.  Christoph’s kids are here as are many of his social circle.  He must have twisted some arms to make them come out on a Monday night to see a band that many of them saw two nights ago.  It’s a total friends and family night.  We pose for a picture in the front window to join the gallery of “stars” that have played here like Antiseen and Joe Buck.  I open my Roederer Champagne and demand appropriate glassware just to tweak Christoph. Antje and Sugar see this and hone in.  We have to play early as the bar is in the middle of a residential area.  Let’s go.

The set is fun.  Some of the new stuff sounds great, some not so great.  It’s the first time we’ve ever played “I Don’t Care”, “How Do?” or “Ward C” in front of anyone, so the crowd cuts us some slack.  We bomb through the punk stuff.  A guy standing on a table in the back of the room suddenly falls on the floor.  A drunk girl in the front wearing a creepy silver dragon necklace becomes belligerent.  The PA isn’t so good, the room is too small, it’s too crowded, and we are too loud.  It’s everything a rock show is supposed to be. 
After the show the super drunk dragon necklace woman wants to take someone home.  Anyone.  Most of the bar receives and then declines her offer.  Her friend pours her out of the bar and out into the street.  Christoph and Antje appear with a sack of doner kebaps which we devour like angry raccoons.  I hadn’t even noticed how hungry I was.  I buy a Motorhead themed shirt from the bar, only after leaving discovering it is too big for me.  I must remember to find someone that is an XL who would appreciate it.

We make the short drive back to Stuttgart in the van.  Oliver and I get dropped off by Goldmark’s and make the short walk back to his apartment in the quiet of the sleeping city.  It was a good Monday night.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

European Tour Diary 2018: Day 10 Villengen-Schwenningen

I am not feeling my best when I wake up.  There’s a bitter taste in the back of my throat.  A heavy fog fills my head.  Rudy the Cat stares at me judgmentally.  Oliver wakes up and looks at me sitting in the kitchen area.  “Yes.  It’s like being run over by a truck or something, yes?”  We team up to fry up some potatoes, sausage and eggs.  Strong coffee brews.  We sit in the sunshine on his roof overlooking the Stuttgart city center and slowly morph back into being human.  The sun is warm, but the smell of Fall is in the breeze.

We re-group at Antje’s apartment and then retrieve Hector and Chanda.  They are staying at a weird little hotel that Christoph always books.  It is run by a group of Chinese that don’t seem to speak any language useful to them in their current situation.  Hector tells us the story about how a Chinese guy knocked on their door when Chanda was showering.  He wanted to come in and use a tape measure.  Hector tells him to come back later.  The door closes, and the man quickly knocks again.  Hector opens the door and the man tries to walk in with his tape measure.  Hector now has to literally shove him out the door telling him more forcefully “later!  later!”.  Chanda is now out of the shower and starting to dry herself when the sound of a key entering the lock is heard.  The man lets himself in, Chanda dives under the covers, the Chinese man walks into the bathroom like he’s alone in the room, takes a measurement and then leaves without a word.  This is not the type of service that gets you four-star Yelp reviews.

We drive out to Christoph and Antje’s mother’s house for a traditional Swabian lunch of Schwabische Maultaschen.  These are like a cross between pierogis and meat filled ravioli but are cooked in scrambled eggs.  It is a heavy meal with a capital “H” but very good.  She’s a very good cook.  Sugar at one point lifted her plate to drink the salad dressing, a dining move that even Leo regards as a bit over the top.  Sugar continues her efforts to wedge herself into the Roth family by posing for a photo with them all.  She has constructed a loose plan of moving in, changing her name, and living her days as a new German.  Christoph is very firm in his view of this scenario being “impossible”. 

We wind through the countryside to the small village of Villengen-Schwenningen, a place I reflexively call “Finnegan Shinnegan”.  It’s a pretty little town where at any moment a gnome might pop out of a corner and do a little jig.  The place we have played in the past, Café Limba, is either closed or not doing shows any longer.  There was some high drama when the maim character at the café, Bernard, was ousted from control by a midnight change of the locks and cast out from the kingdom.  He and his minions were rightfully pissed, and now do shows elsewhere while looking for a new club to call their own.  I spot a “#notmyLimba” sticker on a post driving in.  Hence, the show tonight is at one of those Euro youth center/cultural space/coffee shop/ café multi use areas.  It is clean, welcoming and well appointed.  Yet, it does not have the element of mayhem and chaos the old Limba had.  There the fans are inches away from you and the entire room became one energy.  This is just a show at a club for some cool people.

We are all pretty wrung out from our Stuttgart night.  I got back with Oliver around 3:30.  Dance Party went until 4:30.  Leo, of all people, pulled the plug on the night and tore Antje away from The Gigolo Cowboy.  Hector and Chanda discovered their entire floor had been rented out to Oktoberfest Bros that sung traditional songs at the top of their lungs until daybreak.  We are not very well rested.

It takes a few songs to get the juices going.  Bernard and some women with the Bohemian Finnegan Shinnegan Counter Hippie Look are dancing hard.  A couple guys are videoing everything.  For a Sunday night at a youth center, this is well beyond expectation.  The second part of the set is actually pretty good.  We get a couple of encores.  It is a fun show as it always is here.  It is inspiring to see that this group of people has pulled together to make a scene for themselves. It is a DIY Socialist idea that is working.  I hope Bernard’s scheme for a new club by the train station is realized.  These folks need their own space.  We eat some post show sausage and cheese and hang out with the people.  I like it here.  Eventually we crawl back into the van for the 75-minute ride back to Stuttgart.  The Riesling has made me sleepy.   

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

European Tour Diary 2018: Day 9 Stuttgart

The day begins in glorious fashion.  I have a shower in a large clean unit, a place where normal human beings live their lives.  I wrap myself up afterwards in a large fresh soft towel.  I then sit in the morning sun at a round table enjoying a nice breakfast of the ubiquitous rolls and cold cuts with Jochen and Sarah.  I have hit the point where I don’t want a ham and cheese sandwich first thing in the morning any longer, so I spread nutella on the fresh roll like a six-year-old.  I have eaten more bread this week than I have the rest of the year combined.

We are on a tight schedule for me to visit Felix, a mutual friend of the team.  He is a winemaker locally with vineyards in the south Pfalz and a small hotel to receive guests.  He is the 5th generation of his family to be involved with winemaking and he has radically increased quality from when his bulk minded father ran the operation.  Felix is generous with his time as he is still at the tail end of harvest.  There is some sauvignon blanc and Riesling still hanging in the vineyards, some with noble rot, in the hopes to make a high quality beerenauslese style wine.  The fruit looks good.  He just needs to white knuckle some more quality hang time.

We drive up a ridge to see a special vineyard, a Riesling vineyard on a slope overlooking the valley.  It’s a panoramic view, the entire valley up to the Black Forest is visible.  We head back to his cellar and he and I start to get wine wonky talking about fermentation vessels, indigenous yeasts, and old oak casks.  This is about the point that Jochen and Sarah start to glaze over.  It must be absolutely brutal if you just have a passing interest, but for me it’s a great learning experience.  This only gets compounded for the couple when we sit down to taste Felix’s wines and bomb through 12-16 wines including a low dosage sekt, scheurebe, pinot gris, and pinot blanc oaked and non-oaked.  Then we get down to business with the Rieslings.  As expected, the sloped vineyard is special.  I buy two bottles of the Riesling and one of the oaked pinot blanc for Sugar’s birthday.  I wish I could carry more home.  Felix and I go back and forth with talk of acidity levels, secondary flavors, and speculation of aging potential while poor Jochen and Sarah must want to kill themselves.  They show admirable patience with me.

I have to take a train to Stuttgart to meet the band for soundcheck.  The combination of the Germans having no faith that I can take a train by myself mixed with the potential fury of the Stuttgart concert promoter Robin “Reverend Reichstag” Baeur has everyone petrified.  This fear has Jochen walking me to the platform to insure I get on the right train.  There are only four platforms.  Each one of these platforms is clearly marked.  I could not fuck this up if I tried.  I try to explain to Jochen that I am the “grown up” of the Whiskey Daredevils organization, the go-to person for logistics.  He can go home.  This has no impact whatsoever.  Jochen shakes his head.  “If anything goes wrong, I want Robin to know I did my job and put you on that train.”  It’s that type of thinking that explains a lot of how World War II happened.  I’m not being judgmental, just observant.  I also don’t blame him.  Robin will lose his fucking mind if I am late.

I switch trains in Karlsruhe.  It’s a tight switch and I have to hustle over to Platform 10.  I make it with about a minute to spare and the train lurches from the station.  I note on some railroad materials in the seat pocket that “Stuttgart” is not at the end of this line.  Instead it is some town I have never heard of.  Oh no. Did they switch the platform?  If I am on the wrong train, the consequences will be devastating.  Not because I can’t figure out how to get to Stuttgart on another train in time for the show.  That would be easy.  The real disaster would be the ceaseless wave of criticism I would receive from Christoph for messing up something so simple as a train trip.  It would be a dishonor I would literally hear about it for the rest of my life.  “Ah, Mr. Jagger…  You cannot be trusted to get on the correct train!  How could I trust you not to lose the van keys?  I had better go with you to unlock the door!”  Let me assure you that for the rest of my days I would hear, “…just like you took the wrong train from Landau” as a feature of every future conversation. 

There is no question I will do whatever is necessary to avoid that scenario.  If necessary I will exit the train at the next stop, buy a car, and then abandon the vehicle in Stuttgart without a word of it to anyone.  No expense is too high to avoid a smug Christoph.  A text message pings in from Sister Ant.  “Are you riding on the train to Stuttgart right now?”  I can practically feel the nerves crackle across the phone.  Sister Ant is now on the clock and facing the potential wrath of Reverend Reichstag.  I am “the package” and I must be delivered to Robin.  I respond.  “Decided to smoke cigarettes and drink Desperados with some cool Turkish guys I met hanging out at the train station.  I’ll get to the club eventually.”  She knows I am probably kidding, but she can’t be 100% sure.

The train makes a local stop.  Rapid fire German comes across the PA speaker.  I think I might be OK as I pick up a couple of words.  I am not 100% sure, but the position of the sun lets me know I am at least headed in the right general direction of Stuttgart.  The topography begins to look familiar.  Stuttgart is a city sitting inside a giant land bowl and the train cuts through tunnels cut into the hills.  The station approaches.  Thank God I don’t have to haggle in a German used car lot this afternoon.

I have to take my roller bag about ¾ of a mile to the club.  The train station is filled with Oktoberfest revelers in non-ironic lederhosen and St. Pauli Girl dresses.  Most of these people are in their late 20s/early 30s and look a little wasted now from “pre-gaming” on their way to the event.  These look like the same guys that cruise every nightclub strip in every city on the weekend.  It’s like an NFL tailgate with no game, just endless binge drinking.  It’s a German Bro scene all the way.  Rumor has it the beer tent gets pretty “rapey” starting around 9p.

I have to walk through a street fair for a portion of the walk.  It’s the Cannstatter Volksfest, an Old World version of a County Fair.  Carts with faux old time adornments sell German versions of funnel cakes and cheese on a stick.  In this case that means wild game sausage, cheesy flatbread, and chocolate covered gingerbread cookies.  I pass a ride that spins around and around over small hills.  I think they call it The Alps at most amusement parks.  Just like every one of these I have ever seen, there is a big PA system blasting 70s rock music with no inherent connection to the old fashioned Alps recreational scene on the ride.  I don’t know what Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier” is adding to the ambiance, but perhaps it is better than Foghat.

I get to the venue, Goldmarks, and find the backline has already been set up.  Robin’s mother has cooked dinner for us, which is the norm.  She always makes us regional home cooked meals, which we love.  Stuttgart is always a special show on the tour for me, and I can already feel an electricity in the air.  I am ready to play today, and we are doing two full sets.  Hector sits across from me and tucks into the meal, which is a chicken dish served with rice.  He seems really happy that it resembles Puerto Rican food.  It can get tough after a week of eating oddly named sausages.  Leo and Sugar nap in a room on the side of the stage.  It feels like we are in a good place to bring it tonight.

Friends we have made over the years begin to trickle in.  I get a pair of briefs from the guys in the Klapprad Motherfuckers, a really funny idea where a small group of guys race these fold up bikes while wearing gang type color jackets and bushy 70s porn mustaches.  These guys show up at these mild recreational events waltzing around in dangerous looking jackets with “Klapprad Motherfuckers” on the backs facing off against suburban looking competition that don’t seem to have a grasp of what these guys are all about.  It really makes me laugh.  I would definitely join if I lived here.

I meet an interesting man known as “Frau Schmutz”.  He is a guy in his late 50s that is a local character.  He is wearing a sparkly tight red top like a superhero.  Silver bikini briefs are stuffed like an enormous cock Superman.  These are worn with assless leather chaps.  We talk for a bit and I learn he is on welfare, which is not surprising in that I think most offices have policies against assless chaps.  He carefully plans for special events like this by being very careful with his money.  He maintains a focus on his own personal fashion sense as his identity, making most of the outfits himself.  He plans on doing some dancing tonight.  He is a real character, an important part of any real scene.

We play our two sets to the best of our ability.  The crowd responds with a lot of energy.  This is a good room.  Hector is killing it tonight.  My voice, which is really tired, is somehow raising a tick to the challenge of the two sets.  We play a total of 37 songs.  Frau Schmutz is dancing like crazy with a preppy young girl he just met.  People are crammed in tight.  It’s loud, but in a good way.  The room just feels good.  It is my favorite show of the tour so far.  I’m proud of how we played.

We are still in the “Official Sugar Birthday Window” (as defined by Sugar and Antje).  They are now completely focused on the dance party after the gig. A DJ starts spinning really good genre friendly tunes.  Antje has connected with a man in a cowboy shirt that we codename “The Gigilo Cowboy”.  Sugar dances with Frau Schmutz. I am knocking back some really good local pils making shit talk with some guys when Antje orders me to take part in “Dance Party”.  That rockabilly re-make of “Tainted Love” comes on the sound system.  I do a special dance where during the two beats before the “Tainted Love” chorus I make exaggerated pelvic thrusts.  Sugar sees this and screams out loudly over the music at me in a frustrated rage.  “YOU ARE RUINING DANCE PARTY!”  My plan has worked. I am off the hook.

I am staying with Antje’s friend Oliver again in his apartment on top of an office building in the Stuttgart City Center.  He is the guy that I mistakenly assured that Trump wouldn’t win the primary much less the Presidency, so he could just relax.  Oops.  It’s late.  We walk back to his place through the shattered remains of the Oktoberfest Bros.  Guys weave and piss in the shrubs.  A girl sits with her head in her hands on a bench.  I roll past with my suitcase, the wheels making a racket on cobblestones.  Rudy the Cat greets us as we get into the apartment.  We discuss Oliver’s separation from his girlfriend over scotch.  She did the 2018 version of opening a cupcake shop.  She left all of her possessions and relationships behind to become a wandering yoga instructor.  This yoga shit is dangerous, like Scientology.  People just get in too deep. 

I sleep in a bed with mosquito netting as Rudy the Cat looks on with disapproval.