It's about a million degrees in New York City this week (give or take a few zeros), and while it doesn't take much to make (or rather, keep) me grumpy, hot weather does the job particularly well. Once the temperature reaches above, say, 68 degrees Fahrenheit, I start acting like a surly indoor cat: drooped listlessly across my sticky leather couch, I "blog" halfheartedly (most cats "blog," albeit silently and sans computer) and occasionally rouse myself to bat at a Kitty Frenzy or use the litter box. Lately, I've even taken to trying to stretch my leg above my head so I can "clean myself"; after all, it's been nearly two weeks of hot weather keeping me indoors and I'm lonely (not to mention in desperate need of a "grundle" cleaning, what with all the profuse sweating on the aforementioned leather couch).
Anyway, my point is that I'm in a mood to complain.
I will now proceed to discuss the second destination of my European weekend: Cologne, Germany.
I think the only thing that beats hot weather in terms of precipitating grumpitude in my person is a minor, irritating, potentially-avoidable illness such as a cold. A summer cold, in fact, is a "perfect storm" for rendering me nearly impossible to be around, and that's exactly what I came home with from my gig in Cologne two weeks ago. Despite not sleeping in Helsinki and taking multiple long-haul flights, I'm positive I caught this cold from the promoter for my Cologne gig, who saw fit to shake hands, shout (and surely spit) in my ear and engage in other space-invading maneuvers throughout the night of the party despite (unbeknown to me) being quite sick. "I am so ill, I feel just terrible!" he exclaimed as he counted out my Euros at 6 a.m., putting the "germ" in "German" and sending me into a hypochondriac panic that would be borne out over the next mucous-filled week.
I must confess that his behavior seemed particularly "Euro" (the xenophobic American epithet, not the currency) to me. As is obvious from previous posts, I have a complex love-hate relationship with Europeans (plus I also tend to talk about "Europe" and "Europeans" as if they are one homogeneous group, which tends to effectively irritate "them" with a minimum of effort on my behalf). Their cavalier attitude regarding illness and personal space is rivaled only by their cavalier attitude towards public breast feeding and Speedo-wearing (or worst of all, cavalier public breast feeding whilst attired in only a Speedo). Maybe it's because I'm from New York, where the average resident (for example, me) is a hyperventilating, hypervigilant hypochondriac, squirting Purell compulsively and ceaselessly fretting over his health. Nonetheless, I prefer a bit of considerate precaution, and only wish I had been afforded some by my snotty host.
While I'm being petty, which is of course the entire point of this "blog," I feel I should point out another faux pas on the part of this promoter (and/or Europe, since as far as I am concerned, he was an ambassador for the continent). Often, an artist or band must supply an invoice (documenting goods or services and the amount due) for payment for a gig. My complaint: if an invoice is required (as it was for this gig) and the promoter hasn't yet received one by the time he or she meets me at the hotel or airport, that promoter should apprise me of the situation then, and not after I play, when all I want to do is get paid, get away from the blaring music and sleep. Unfortunately, at nearly 6:00 a.m., this promoter actually made me wait in his office for twenty minutes while he slowly typed out an invoice with one finger, mumbling to himself about font size and formatting. I had of course already fulfilled my side of the contract (even playing an extra hour beyond what my itinerary specified), and could have just re-emailed him an invoice if he supplied me with a working e-mail address; however, he refused to pay me (or let me leave) before he had his invoice printed and signed.
His lack of trust left me with a bad taste in my mouth, which was further soured when we walked outside and hailed a cab to take me back to my hotel. Out of an abundance of caution and a gut feeling, I asked the promoter if he had paid for the taxi (as my contract specifies and is the norm). "Oh, actually, do you mind paying for it yourself?" he answered nonchalantly. "I don't have any money left for the cab." Considering his anal-retentive, compulsive business with the invoice mere minutes earlier, I probably should have replied, "Then go ahead and get some cash, you hypocritical, Teutonic fuckwit - I'll wait!" However, fatigue was winning out over principles, so instead I simply said, "Sure."
As for the the gig itself: it was sparsely attended, which the promoter blamed on the balmy weather. The crowd was inoffensive, neither enthusiastic nor hostile. Overall, it was fairly unmemorable, although they did have a giant video screen which brightly illuminated the sparsely-populated dance floor:
Upon returning to my hotel, I unsuccessfully tried to get a couple of hours' rest in the sleeping-bag sized bed, and before long the car taking me to Dusseldorf Airport was waiting for me downstairs. As I climbed into the back seat, the driver said it would be a quick drive. "We must get there before the game starts," he said distractedly, flicking off the dashboard TV and starting the engine. "It is England versus Germany today." I groaned inwardly as I realized I'd be flying home to New York via Heathrow, which (paired with Dusseldorf) probably meant a full day of having to deal with the World Cup, a tournament I take no interest in and by whose enthusiasts I am consistently annoyed (especially in New York, where this enthusiasm seems mercifully limited to hipsters, yuppies/Cityorkers, douchey New York Times editors and recent immigrants).
My worry was soon substantiated. Shortly after my arrival at Dusselforf airport, I found myself diving under a restaurant table in terror after Germany scored a goal as I was innocently purchasing a small salzbretzel. I found myself reminded of "Eric," my ranting friend on the "E" train from Friday's commute to JFK, and how positively sane he seemed in retrospect when compared to these screaming fußbal fans. Walking to my gate, I had a fleeting moment of hope when I misread a sign and thought someone had finally created a lounge specifically for men like me:
Alas, it did not read "Huge Junker's Lounge" as I had thought, and I was denied the World Cup-free oasis I had hoped for (to say nothing of the callipygian delights I imagined would be staffing such a lounge). It was a depressing end to the weekend, and despite having toured for the better part of a decade, I realized still was naive regarding the outer limits of airport pain: it all gets much worse when you add face paint and vuvuzelas.