Monday, May 10, 2010

Swiss Mess

Life moves in cycles. We are born helpless and we die helpless. Love sparks, glows; passion subsides into compassion, then fades. Retainers are paid to matrimonial lawyers, then the lawyers themselves fall in love, blissfully unaware of their perilous futures. Wild fields of chest hair blow savagely about in Autumn's winds, only to be scythed into martinis come spring. Blind, newborn kittens maturate into snarling pit bulls, killing everything in their path, only to revert into back into kittens right before they die, dry out and disperse in the wind as floating, seed-bearing fur clumps that eventually fall back to earth and sprout into new, cuter kittens. Blocks of feta are purchased and lovingly snacked upon, but eventually spoil; alas, the cheese is too salty to eat every day. Then: "We need feta, the new crop of kittens is eating through our spanakopita like gangbusters." The cycle begins anew. Blogs are born, raised tenderly; but by and by, their writers lose interest, and the blogs shrivel into digital decrepitude, like some unwanted, salty kitten.

In other news, I feel like the creative writing course I've been attending at The Learning Annex is really paying off. I enrolled because I needed a firm kick in the tush (that's Yiddish for "testicles") to get back on track with these blog posts.

I think the cyclical nature of life is on my mind because, much to my chagrin and/or disbelief, I am scheduled this Thursday to once again board a plane, this time to Spain, where I'm booked to spin records in the rain, mainly on the plain (actually, I'll be in Barcelona and the Grand Canary Islands). I've barely recovered from my month in Europe, and while I'm looking forward to meeting the Grand Canary himself, I'm less than enthusiastic about the looming transcontinental travel, especially considering the very same ash hole that screwed up my April tour is wreaking havoc once again. I'm developing a terrible case of carpal tunnel from compulsive reloading of the Eurocontrol homepage, though that could be a handy (pun intended) excuse for the blog posts dropping off in the likely case that I end up expelled from the Learning Annex. (I'm currently on "strike two" for frotteurism with my non-consenting, nonagenarian writing partner, Mrs. Ivanovna.)

Moving on, I want to make good on the promise made in my last post: the documentation of heretofore undocumented travel from my April tour. I'll start with Zurich, where I played at the excellent (and dangerously hot) basement club, Zukunft. Zurich has a fairly rough red light district, despite being the one of the world's leading financial and reggae centers. The main language in the city is Zürich German, but anglophone travelers like myself encounter very few translation issues insofar as essentials are concerned:

As is my custom regarding good gigs, I shall spare you the mundane details (nice sound; enthusiastic crowd; fee paid in gold stolen from Jews) and instead pierce the crusty bread of affliction with the dipping fork of recollection and swirl it around in the cheesy fondue of shame.

I was picked up at the airport by Alex Dallas (his real name, despite sounding like the name of someone who might co-star in a film alongside the product pictured above). Sitting next to Alex was a gentleman who looked vaguely familiar to me and seemed to know my name. I had no idea who he was, and to make matters worse, I couldn't even remember if I had met Alex before or played at his club. I have an awful memory for faces and names (one might even say I have a memory like a Swiss cheese), and this weakness certainly isn't helped by my profession. For example, I find it difficult to establish a reliable mnemonic device if the subject is standing inside a giant subwoofer, illuminated solely by the blinding flash of a strobe light.

Mercifully, Alex volunteered that I had played his club as part of Kelley Polar's band years before, and my memory of the place (and the whole band's nearly passing out from the sweltering heat, despite our machismo) clicked into place. Still, I was desperately trying to piece together the other gentleman's identity from the scarce clues I had desperately gleaned from my perch in the back seat (he had just played in Italy; he moved to Zurich from Austria). My anxiety grew as we drove on, and I broke out in a sweat when the mystery man glared at me through the rear-view mirror and intoned, "Yes, this lifestyle of ours is so strange - you meet so many people, and then you meet them again somewhere and sit there hoping they will drop some clue in conversation that lets you know who they are."

I knew only the cruelest of sadists would toy with me in such a manner, so I began to run through my memorized list of the most evil beings in the world of Austrian-Swiss dance music, working backwards through the alphabet in an effort to focus intensely on each name. Having dismissed Yello, it suddenly dawned on me: the mystery man was the Prince of Downtempo Darkness himself, Richard Dorfmeister!

While I could forgive myself for letting such a common last name slip from memory (we had at least 20 Dorfmeisters in my elementary school in New Jersey), I chalked up this particular block to psychological repression, so traumatized was I by childhood experiences (well, in my 20s) experimenting with Kruder & Dorfmeister records. Suffice to say these recordings made GWAR sound like Simon and Garfunkel. K&D's labyrinths of jarring, aggressive, evil sound struck terror into the hearts of even the most hardened wearers of linen suits, and to this day I find I'll instinctively quicken my step if I accidentally walk by a time-worn copy of Ibiza Chillout or Give 'Em Enough...Dope, Volume Two in a used record shop.

Anyway, I was profoundly relieved to have remembered his name before he turned into a bat and flew out of the car's sunroof.

Reliving this trauma has so exhausted me that I must finish this post at another time.

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