Back to Greece

Ian and dad on Lesbos

November 8 2001

Back to Greece.

Well, shit howdy dang. what a turnup. Here I am onboard a shipbound for Athens out of Mitilini. I am in a cabin seemingly all on my tod with a laptop and plenty of time to kill.

One may smoke here, presumably not be disturbed, something vaguely resembling the writer’s dream situation I might have imagined for myself 20 or 30 years ago. I have reached the lofty age when there are events in my life that long ago. woo hoo. Lamentably, possibly not, no internet from here. there is a phone. perhaps we shall see if that too is possible. If so, nothing but download or send messages. nothing else. I want to call susi in the worst way but now my cellphone thinks it is in turkey.

Now, is it too soon to try and analyze what just went down with Athena and my son?  Let us list some things as they stand now in my non compus mentis. Well, there is the kid. He is very much  boy physically active and macho, rough and tumble, solid square little body proportioned like a man and not a midget.  He is beautiful, he slays everyone he meets, charms all the ladies.  He is bright, presumably he likes me. I think I touched base there. He is a handful, he is exhausting, he is forever into this and that, toddling off in search of some thing sharp or dangerous, he might fall, he might burn himself, he might do this, he might do that. He will also get down and throw a tantrum a la reininger pere over things like not being able to play with a knife. He appears to be musically interested, perhaps talented, surely able to imitate dada when he plays one of Ian’s little instruments. He had a little guitar with fishing line strings made of plastic with an accurate fingerboard and a very reasonable sound which I picked up and played. He has a xylophone with colored keys that strike the bars confined to the key of DO, which is plenty for lots and lots of chords and melodies and which daddy also did virtuouso turns upon. Impressive when he thoughtfully banged one or two keys, registering what I had just done. I played his little drum with plastic head, also quite adequate as an instrument with a mallet and a chopstick. I also used the thumb to tighten and relax the head, making wobbly arabic type beats. In fact I played a lot of araby sounding stuff for him. It seemed the thing to do. He wasn’t all that impressed with the fiddle, eggchewally, perhaps it is too much for him. Not plastic and brightly colored. Endaxi. I entertained him, also not to omit his little blue plastic tambourine upon which I felt obliged to accompany myself on “hava nagila”. It was gratifying to see him imitating old dad on all of the above instruments, down to using a chopstick on the drum as if storing this quick burst of knowledge for future reference. Likewise verbally, my never-ending monologue seemed to have an effect on him and by the time I left he was murmuring in some sort of pre-verbal glossololia. Not yelling, speaking in conversational tones as if likewise delivering a monologue. I taught him to say “ahhhhh” after drinking water and he repeated it. He says DaEEE and Glayne! He says NEE, of course MAMA is in there, mameee, maa ahhh, lots of things. He will be a mama’s boy. He behaved differently around her, more prone to flip when he wanted breast access. She is still breast feeding him a year and a half after fetushood. I suppose she knows best since she is in touch with women in La Leche League and so forth.I was mostly delighted with him. I took pretty much  two whole rolls of film of him, one b&w one color. some good photos. photogenic little guy like da.

departure  

And so, on the way out of Mitilini, I realized that Athena could see the boats go by (if you spend the night beside her) on the way out of the harbor, leaving like a cardboard cutout against a painted backdrop in a cheap hollywood epic. I called her on the cellphone as I neared her general area, and installed myself where I would be visible, i.e. against the floodlit white background of the smokestack. I stood there talking to her, she turned the veranda light on and off, I saw her, she saw me, “How’s that for a cinematic good-bye” I said as my ship pulled out.

later that same night ,onboard

This room is just what I needed. The whole damn boat is very far away, I am blissfully alone on the open sea. This typically simian Greek porter or whatever the hell he was came to bring in the dreaded bunkie in this room which is supposed to be a double. I didn’t know we would stop at some other island, but we did and there was the poor guy waiting to come in. This porter was the same geek who led me to this room without offering to carry so much as one of my cigarettes to lighten my load, considerable as always. He came in here and started scolding me like a child and I just said “Enough of you!” I called reception and told them to call him off, give me the other bunk in this room, I would pay. This fool tries to take the phone away from me and talk directly to them and I wave him off. Greece always comes down to these confrontations, more than one such in a year is more than I can stomach, and these sort of things happen all the time.

 After my necessary “assertive” tantrum, my “don’t fuck with me there, stavros” I have this room to my lonesome. Steven is right. This is the way to go. Ship. In a cabin, a floating hotel room, little traffic with the other passengers necessary. Now I should get some sleep. First I must retrieve coti’s new address from my email files. then away.

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I Want to Live

Thursday July 5, 2001

Re: I want to Live!

There’s good news and bad news after my visit to the doctor. The good news is the doctor says I am “top fit”, nothing wrong with lungs, liver, heart, cholesterol, and etc. The bad news is that I am “top fit” and must now start to get on with the rest of my life and make a few plans for the future. Sigh. I was nurturing the stupid notion that I was not long for this world. A side effect of grieving and so forth.

Yesterday I went to the general practicioner who drew several vials of fresh guido blood and sent me out for my dreaded CHEST X RAY! I got the x ray which I had to bike back to the doctor and I naturally took a look. I saw some white stuff which looked like it didn’t belong in my lungs, so I was convinced that this was it. I smelled the grim reaper’s foul breath. My friend Chris said that I had “A Woody Allen moment.” He was right. Some time later the doctor told a pale shaky me that the white stuff was plaque in my arteries, evidently nothing to get too worried about and that aside from the fact that I SHOULD QUIT SMOKING VERY SOON, my lungs were okay. I wept for joy outside her office. I was surprised to find out how much I actually want to live. Live and learn.

I also went to the eye doctor yesterday for a complete exam including the eye drops and so forth and the touching of my eye ball to determine pressure in my eye, which makes me squirm and writhe. I rode back to my apt. on my bike with my pupils opened WIDE by the drops and my eyeballs numb from the local anesthetic they contained. That was a very strange feeling, numb eyeballs. The feeble watery rays of the Berlin sun were like the glare of Jehovah’s throne, and I had to ride the bike in the shadows up on the sidewalk.

Now it’s time for old guido to wear bifocals. Damn.

Thus, I have taken advantage of my German health insurance to find out that I am in good shape for a man my age. I intend to quit smoking. Enough is enough and I want to continue the re-write of my life which started with getting off the booze and other recreational chemicals which fucked up my 20’s and 30’s. Old man on a bicycle, tobacco booze and dope free out seeking some kind of happiness. Seems incredible but true.”

I told Susi of this news and I wept for joy, the first bout of cathartic weeping I have had in a long long time.

So there you have it. I see the possibility of actually having a life, clearing my mind of all intoxicants (except my beloved caffeine) and attempting some sort of frontal assault on the stool and mucous carnal illusion, attempting to work up to my potential in the creative fields I have slung myself into like a ball of dough into hot lard.

(editor’s note. There is more to come…)

Opening Night

Das Lied vom Tod

Saturday June 23, 2001

Opening night was well attended and everything went well. I had a mild case of jitters, I found myself walking through the role in a strange depersonalized manner. I was an outside observer watching me do my thing onstage. that is the reason for all of that rehearsal. the object is to become zombie like in one’s ability to present a character irregardless of physical or mental state. as the performances continue I am more at home and in the role. Acting is like an existential exercise for me. It is a competition bewixt me and some ideal of perfection, and or a challenge I set myself, to perform actions in a detached and zen like manner. does this make sense? first, of course I invest the character with a portion of my soul energy and it lives in some back part of my brain where it can be accessed every night.

the first night i found myself pissed off leaving the stage. this is because I was told to play the part in a less sympathetic manner, the character is a real dickhead, a murdering sadistic swine. I summoned up some good vile negative energy and it took a while for it to pass away into my “real self”.

I don’t usually go on about acting, I don’t consider myself an actor, but as time goes on and I work in more theatre I am becoming one. I talk about “my character” in a detached manner. I want to work hard to preserve my “beginner’s mind” in this field. I do like this acting stuff. I find it a hell of a lot more rewarding than working with the bottom feeding scum who litter the music business, playing in stale beer smelling squalid holes, the whole drill. the play is like being in a big congenial school, a group of ne’er do well bit players. We were looking out at the fairly small crowd last night (the weather is shit cold) and I joked about how we were like some gypsy troupe. “look giorgos, ten people, we eat tonight!”

sorry I have avoided other life issues, I am buzzing in show biz land. things on my own personal emotion horizon are fairly benign at the mo. feeling good is good enough for me…..good enough for me and and bobbi mcgee.

Olive Loves Popeye

Thursday, June 7, 2001

Dear Carolyn,

I wish I could answer your question about meditation. I also find myself unable to spend any time in meditation and sipping from the ever-flowing spring of nectar which gushes forth from Shiva’s head, but hey, I never much liked drinking from someone’s dreadlocks anyway.

I do think that to every thing, turn, turn, turn, there is a season etc. That is to say I think that provided I keep the fundamental things in mind (life is carnal illusion, desire is suffering, ego is fantasy, olive loves popeye) I can just take it for a given that I can’t meditate just now. All things must pass. And so on. This is a Sufi notion as well, we construct the scaffolding of our belief from the materials available to us AT THE TIME; we must just try to avoid becoming attached to any particular edifice when it is time to move on. Make sense?

Presumably there will come a time, if not in this incarnation, in the next when this soul shall dedicate itself to endless contemplation of the godhead and not be distracted by mundane considerations. It is liberating in the extreme to consider that there is really no hurry as long as I don’t bitch when I have to go through this mess again because I was too lazy to resolve it this time around.

Oh, blah blah blah. You ask why, if Berlin is so great, I will return to Italy? Well, this is just a matter of prior commitments, work wise. It becomes ever clearer that this is a dynamic city full of possibilities, resources, opportunities and that I like it in spite of the weather. Why, just the other day I was in an absurdly well-equipped public library. After the deserts of Brussels and the non existence of such resources in Athens, you can understand why I was enthralled. How long since I have been able to have access to information or reading material without purchasing it myself!

I close now. Having come to the conclusion that brevity is the core of things in this medium, I go ahead and rattle on anyway.

Reading from a computer is like eating at McDonald’s, the memory fades almost immediately upon consumption, often before.

Buffalo Schneider

 

Buffalo Schneider (Kirsten Schneider)

Saturday June 6, 2001

Another day another deutschmark. I woke early, cycled down to the local watering hole where a free internet connection lives, ordered my daily Milchkaffee (cafe latte to you) and there you go.

Last night was a run through of the play. We open Wednesday (june 20). We had the horses, chickens, real guns firing blanks, make up, and the pyrotechnics. Yes, at one point they blow up a coke machine. The girls are all wearing wigs, the narrator whom we call “Buffalo Schneider” is made up like Buffalo bill in a costume with gold chaps containing white LED’S.

After much strutting and fretting in an armored ham manner, I must die in this play as well. I must lie motionless with a harmonica stuck in my mouth until I rise to sing a duet with one of the greek boys. We do “rock and roll suicide” by bowie and then we return to the dead. I, of course, had lots of practice being dead for hours at a time in Agamemnon so this is nothing, nothing I tell you.

When the chickens are onstage, held aloft by a chorus line of spanish dancers wearing huge mustachios and wigs, they talk about how frank, my character, started his career as a cold blooded killer by killing more chickens than his family could eat. I then give “the chickenspeech” in german where I tell of my delight in killing a nine year old boy at the begining of the film. When I shoot him, a chicken jumps on his neck and pulls out a vein, drags it across the farmyard for 12 meters. whoo hoo. big fun for the whole family.

enough. the coffee is kicking in and I am getting long winded.

A Rogue's Life

Susi Claus

Thursday, May 24, 2001
to: steven brown
re: a rogue’s life

howdy zippy,

been working like the big dog. they got me singin and dancin and doin all kindsa stuff including playing the git-tar. what a hoot to play that theme from “once upon a time in the west” with a blazing guitar, wearing a cowboy hat.

At this writing I am in a bit of a state. There is this Susi, who is 25 and is sweet, affectionate, sexy, can’t get enough of old guido for some reason. Steffi found out because I told her, unable to lie, or at least 100%.

Steffi

To tell the truth, though it pains me, I wanted out of this thing with her. She was getting strange, I was getting stranger, there was a lonely and sad element there that began to increase as my time in Italy wore on. In the end, the sex which was a large part of my dickhead reason for getting so involved began to dry up and I began to feel very strange indeed.

The issues this raises are perplexing. Am I getting out because I am a regular dickhead man who loves ’em and leaves ’em, or is it just that not every relationship is the girl of my dreams and there is no reason beneficial to both parties to keep it going?

Big issues raised here, old bean. At the outside, I am learning something about how this “love thang” works. I am also learning that I don’t have the stuff to be a casanova. It is too damn hard to play three woman at the same time unless they are likewise unattached and “carefree”. There is a state of being and/or lifestyle known as “polyamorousness” or something like that. In this fairly sleazy approach, one is ever capable of having several partners, caring for them all, while avoiding the necessary deceptions, heartbreaks, all of that trash contingent upon quasi-monagomous attachments. If in the pursuit of this, I hurt others, I will pay the price. shit.

Confused, but still happy. susi is marvelous. Steffi is hurt. I feel bad, but I must be as true as I can be to myself without becoming an absolute cretin.

Tuxedomoon, no problem. Got lots of new ideas, new gear, performing onstage will be good for my work with youse dudes, no doubt. Have no fear.

as ever,

guido

Obst Und Gemüse

Sunday May 20, 2001

now i am in a cafe called “obst and gemuse” fruit and vegetables in the former east now called “mitte” meaning center. this terminal is free free, you just have to wait for people to get finished.
got your mail while riding my bike out on the streets of berlin. this particular woman is away for the weekend, I have a day off…damn. work tomorrow. saw a guy playing sax on the bridge with the sun going down on the spree (local river which used to mark the frontier). he was a jammin with another guy making for some pretty cinematic sunset scenes. not only but also. we got to talkin, guy turned out to be american, blah blah blah, i was in a band called tuxedomoon, ever heard of ’em.

“tuxedomoon!!!!!! wow, just singing no tears yesterday. I was looking for a miracle and here it is!!!”

nice.

now back home to take a nap and or sleep. I await further sms messages from susi. she said we (our little fling) remind her of last tango in paris. hmmm…..old geek with dead wife and young geekess. add one pack of butter. lord lord. life do go at de hectic pace.

luc will mos’ likely come for rehearsal, recording, not for gigs. we shall see.

love and bratwurst.

guido

Email to Nina

Sunday May 13, 2001

I be ridin a bike around Berlin. This town is beautiful indeed. The eastern part was where all the good old stuff hides out and that is where I currently reside. I took in many sights today, just by accident, museums, old cathedrals, all kinda big ol´german stuff. there is a river here which was not accessible in the days of the wall. it is called the SPREE (pronounced SHPRAY as in “I haff ein new hairshtlye und I must SHPRAY it mit HAIRSHPRAY”) yuk yuk yuk.

gotta run, there is party this afternoon for all us actin types since it is sunday and we have a day off. what better way to hang out than with the people you work with every day and will see constantly for the next 2 months?

Monday May 14, 2001

Dear Nina,

So now, recent events in my ever-entertaining love life. Only that there are two, count ’em, two womens appearing regularly in my inbox and on the screen of my cell phone. Yes, Athena, mother of my little hellspawn is in regular contact with me again. Stefania calls every day. Local action is scarce and I am getting…….anxious.

Talk me out of even considering hanging with Athena just because it represents some kind of fixed landmark in my nomadic, devil-may-care wrinkled ladykiller existence. All I have to do to take the wind out of my narcissistic sails is remind myself that I have been cultivating this “wears shades all the time even at night” thing to go with my black levi’s and black leather jacket, just because the shades covering an annoying megazit between my eyes which has plagued me periodically these last 30 years. shit.

Well, lech is as lech does. I say now, there are few sights on this poor haggard planet to rival that of a well-formed woman riding a bicycle in a miniskirt. Matters not be she young, old, Italian, German, be they white be they black, be they…..whatever. (this last a quote from woody allen which often entertained me and the jayj.)

Since I am rambling on and I mention JJ, I come to realize that the enormous throbbing cloud of black goo which represented “blaine’s Grief” has abated somewhat. A hell of a lot, in fact. I find myself with this inexplicable will to live. Amazing. I don’t suppose it takes much imagination to realize that not long ago I would readily have joined her in the great beyond, balancing death against continued life in Athens without JJ (or even with) and finding life sadly lacking.

Ah, but I am one lucky stiff, that is true. Look where I am and what I am doing. whee dang.

oh well, you know ol’ guido do go on about heself. forgive me.

First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2001

First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.

Ciao Italia, guten tag Berlin.

Finally here in the big ol´ city of sin. What we have here is some very elegantly decadent people strumming up and down the street, 21st century as they can be, all pierced all over the goddam place, green and fuchsia mohawk with braided gold pigtail, snakeskin jockstrap, gold platform inflatable sandals riding by on a graphite transverse bicycle listening to techno online and that´s only the women.

Where I am staying used to be no man´s land and is now hoppin humpin throbbin with all kinda street cafes jammed with young and old berliners nursing beers or exotic cocktails of herbs and fruit juices or enormo coffees.

I am in the civilized world again.

Looks like Suzanne, my Berliner baby from the tour, won´t work out. such is life. such is rock n´ roll. we´ll always have Berlin. Stefania, whom I care for a great deal waits for me in Italy. Athena is writing me as well. She don´t seem so bad from this distance. We did have some great sex. We do have a son. Things can probably work out somehow. I know this will all catch up with me and there will be a karmic price to pay. Perhaps I have paid it already and things are moving in retrograde inversion. Perhaps I am just a geek who thinks with his willy.

As you may or may not know, I am here to be an actor with a German director of my acquaintance. I play Henry Fonda in a version of “Once Upon a Time in the West”. I wear a cowboy hat. I smoke a cigarillo, I carrys a six shooter. I play the theme song on my new electrical gee-tar. I do the funky chicken with a chorus line of german girls, greek men in drag speaking spanish, my roommate schlepping around on crutches which I kick out from under him.

Today I was called upon to perform at the very limits of my new acting abilities. I had to do a rehearsal for my first “luuuuuuv scene”. I must dry hump a rather pneumatic young blonde german gal, fondle many taboo areas and genrally comport myself like a swine. I was nervous as hell. The main thing on my mind was “LIMP! soft!” Be professional, think wilted cucumber, think molten popsicle, think about the catholic church. Think about Barbara Bush naked. Think about Aunt Bea naked. Thankfully, this actress is a veteran of this sort of thing. She is also spoken for and that´s good. Her boyfriend is a german body builder who could kick my ass in his sleep. Still fun to have to stick my head in a big ol pair of german tits every day. It´s just my job, boss.

Thus, I suppose my life could be worse. I just left italy where I hung around, saw medieval ruins, played music and bought musical instruments with wild and reckless abandon and now I am forced to come to Berlin and fool around onstage for pay. Every fool thing I do is encouraged. This is light years from Agamemnon. Looks like it might just be….dare I say it….FUN? Now I am off into the wild blue.

What, oh what, has old blaine become? Lecherous old git. Ah well, I am still sort of kind of almost quasi young if you catch me on a good day in the right light. Might as well get this out of my system before time, gravity and a chain of cigarettes that would orbit Jupiter comfortably if put end to end do it for me once and for all.

Berlin Sojourn Begins

Maria in "Spiel Mir Das Lied vom Tod" Me in black hat under her arm.

Dear Isabelle,

I forward a piece of an email to a friend that qualifies as journal entry type stuff. As to “telling it all” well, my intention in my online journal was to entertain. I have the skeleton of an autobiographical diatribe back in athens that is considerably more personal. If I wrote a book, I would certainly tell all. I am of the romantic school, I woke into artistic consciousness informed by the notion that the detritus of the artists’ inner world was the very stuff and fiber of art. The idea was and is to dig up jewels or less savory objects from deep within and display them for all to see in the hope that all will see something of themselves and will thus be reinforced in the notion of the preciousness of their “individuality” a renaissance or protestant notion that was not really important in the ancient world. There.

“Now I understand why Christopher Isherwood called his Berlin book “I Am a Camera”.

Yesterday I was sitting at a cafe table watching the Berliners promenade by, trying to record everything everything everything. Not poss, unfortunately. I have discovered that I am now an avid, even passionate CYCLIST of all things. (I still smoke like a steel mill, though, even on the bike.) I bought a bicycle in Athens as a means of obtaining some sort of independence in the burb where I was forced to dwell by my unfortunate collision with “my wife” Athena. Carless, drivers’ license-free, a bike was the only viable option. I soon came to love the damn thing. I have been blessed in that everywhere I have landed these days there has been a velocipede available to me. Where once I knew the whereabouts of every pharmacy, liquor store, bar in a given area, I now know where to find all of the bicycle shops. This town is a delight for cyclists. There are hordes of people on bikes, there are covered bicycles for hire called “velotaxis” which pedal tourists around this legendary city as well as a score of transverse bicycles where the pinheads ride reclining.

There are few sights in this life to compare with that of a well-formed woman riding a bike in a mini skirt, let me tell you. A well-formed blonde teutonic goddess, well it takes your breath away. A sunny day beckons. This is rare and wonderful up here in the north country.

Let me tell you, there is some kind of compelling karmic link betwixt old guido and Berlin. Everything feels “right” here. Maybe I have found my city at last. This is like New York except there is a streak of anarchy and a black leather sexual license that seems to be lacking in the large manzana. off we go, enough diet coke fuelled verbiage to put in your pipe and smoke.

love, bratwurst, vast pinwheeling mandalas o’delight shedding sparks in the multiplex universe and other such acidhead nonsense”

Dear Jackie,

How did I come to be acting in Berlin? Well, the story is like this. I was acting in a movie in Athens for a director named Nicholas Triandafyllidis with whom I was working closely at the time. He was a fan of my music and my stage persona and thought I would be good in films. I did about five for him. I met  Anna, this young actress on the set, not long after JJ died, maybe too soon, but what the hey? to make a short story long she was working with this director here, Albrecht Hirsch, a German director of some repute in theavant garde scene and I came to know him from hanging around the stage door like the stage door Johnny I was, lusting after the young things in the dressing room, sneaking a peek, hell sticking my head in and taking a good long look.

Later, I started doing the role in Agamemnon, another connection I made through this film director and this German guy saw me doing ag. in Athens, his wife saw me in Zurich and hey presto I was cast as Henry Fonda  in this here thing.

This piece is a hoot extraordinaire, I am indulged all over the place, I have largely written my own part, I do all kindsa stuff as I may have said. there are horses, chickens, all kinds of livestock.There is music involved, of course. I play guitar and sing two songs not my own “No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley which I loathe and “Rovin’ Gambler” by God knows whom as sung by Robert Mitchum and re-arranged by me for Octave-divided guitar and scream.

The soundtrack includes Ennio Morricone (of course) Marilyn Manson singing “Sweet Dreams are Made of This” some German Schlager cowboy song about horses and La Bamba. I love it.
The piece is called “Das Lied vom Tod” from the German name for “Once Upon a Time in the West” or “Cera Una Volta Il West”.

 As for keeping limp in my love scene, it’s just work ma’am. There is, however, this polymorphous perversity that sets in after a great deal of overindulgence when the world feels like a vast piece of skin freshly lubed and awaiting the final hump. ahem. In this wise the love scene with her is a sort of continuation of the whole experience here in my dream Berlin. subjective experience is so….subjective. others may view this town as cold and rainy and gritty, I am moving through a well lit Weimar republic dream of sensuous decadent berlin, lolling around in crumbling apartments in east Berlin. watching the morning drool come drooling in with my arm around a woman 22 years younger than old Guido.

he do go on about his own bad self. I must be off into that good day. do try and write me more often, dear.

take care

blaine

Belgrade After the Cruise Missiles

Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2000 6:36 PM
Subject: Belgrade

Just got back from Belgrade. We only had one day there. We played to a sold out house, 1500 people and they were fanatic fans of our work. We sat around signing autographs and generally holding court in a club after the gig, watching the young thangs gyrating most delightfully to the throbbing presentation of DJ Hell, our co-touring companion whose influence was pretty much responsible for this whole hootenanny.

Belgrade itself was in remarkably good shape, we were in the company of a guy who runs the one radio station that people used to listen to to hear uncensored news, B-92, unadulterated by the Milosevic regime which pretty much everybody hated. He told us a hell of a lot of what life had been like in Yugoslavia over the last 10 years but no one seemed to be down in the dumps. For once, we all just shut up and listened, not tempted to put our ill-informed two dinars in. We saw a couple of bombed out buildings, in particular the former party headquarters which was hardly touched. Them damn missiles is so accurate, they would fly in through the elevator shaft and blow up everything inside while leaving the building still standing. amazing. The city was buzzing, cars were once again polluting relentlessly since it was no longer necessary to buy gasoline on the street corner from Mafia types. I guess acquiring certain things under the sanctions was like scoring crack, you would give some sleaze bag some money and he would run around the corner to his secret stash and bring it back. Belgrade looked pretty much like any other european city, shops open people milling around, a hell of a lot better off than the poor miserable denizens of Georgia. Almost anywhere seemed better off than Tibilisi. The Yugoslavians were never as isolated as the russians anyway, they had plenty of access to information and entertainment from abroad, including weirdos like us. Once again, the primary source of our records was from bootlegs, made in bulgaria and sold on the cheap. We found all sorts of our own stuff for sale including a couple of my own solo records that are no longer available in Europe.

I am not annoyed by this bootlegging. Without it we wouldn’t have an audience in these places and I wouldn’t get to go there.

Alive in Berlin

In the Rasthof

Sent: Friday, December 1, 2000

subject: back in germany

Here I am, back in der vaterland. Somehow I have always liked Germany. call me crazy, I speak the language, I like the orderly way things are set up, the hi-tech cleanliness of it all and the rather constipated but relatively violence-free manner in which the natives comport themselves. I suppose first on that list is the fact that I am fluent in this language unlike any other except english. I can make my way through a german town with little hindrance and I can maintain a low profile which I like. For this I must thank Mr. Rendon at East High who drilled this language into me and made it stick.

At the moment I am rather pleased or content, you might even say happy if you were feeling reckless. I can’t quite figure out why precisely. I am glad to be on the road, glad to be back in what I call civilization, glad to have some money in my jeans, glad to have the support of my band, sorry lot of old gits that we are. We went through one hell of a lot together and there is a love and a familiarity there that is not unlike family. This damn band is 23 years old for god’s sake and we have made about 50 or so records either together or solo or in collaboration with someone else. Not bad for a mexican half breed boy from pueblo.

I am at an internet cafe in Munich in the rain (well it’s outside). I got your e mails about melancholia and you are right about me, I am flourishing out here in the big wide wonderful world. I have to think deep and long before returning to the emotional miasma of Athens. Ifeel like I must do “what is right” don’t want to be a rock and roll asshole and leave kids trailing in the wake of my libido. I am however afforded a chance here to have an alcohol free adolescence again, to really SEE the places I go and to feel what there is to feel and get all jazzed up and alive, tiring though it is. We have been working like 10,000 dogs lately riding around on a big green tour bus, sleeping between one german city and the next. We have one more show in D’land then we go to Belgrade, then back to Italy and then presumably back to Athens for little guido’s first christmas. The night is shimmering in a black rainswept manner, gone all liquid and magical and I am on my own in one of germany’s great cities.

Got nothing on Berlin, though. Berlin is one hell of a town and I love it dearly. We always do well there and this time was no exception. Our hotel looked over the last standing piece of the god damned wall which is gone gone gone and the whole city is alive and buzzing in a way unlike any other european city. Berlin is like a politer version of New York. I wish you could have seen it with me.

On top of everything I met a woman  there who has my head a spinnin’, tall german beauty named susanne and I am in severe infatuation. Help me lawd. Makes a man feel alive to be walkin down the street with a german goddess kissing in doorways in the icy Berliner night. I don’t quite know what to make of this. This makes me duplicitous and furtive in communications with “the wife” but hey, men are all bastards, right?

In your working boy’s not so humble opinion, I have suffered through a whole hell of a lot of trauma these last coupla years and I relish (deserve?) a little hormone-laced self delusion, or call it romantic enchantment whatever you like. this is still all so new to me.

What is it with you women? You’re a member of this bewildering race of beings. You tell me and we’ll both know. Cliche upon cliche. Guido is in
love (or something) hurts so good.

whoopeeee. I am having big fun. I feel so damn alive I can’t stand myself

Inside the Coliseum

Tuesday, November 21, 2000 4:03 AM
Subject: blaine in roma

Found myself sitting in the Coliseum today, the sun came out, it was my first time inside the old colossus, I have seen it from outside many times but it never seemed to be open.  this place is crawling with tour groups of the faithful from all over the world since it is the Jubileum, the Millenium of Christianity. I find myself wishing that Julian the Apostate had been successful in re-instating paganism. Damn christians everywhere. We went to a Mithraeum deep within the bowels of some cathedral or other, an old temple to the cult of Mithra which was the immediate predecessor to Christianity as the going religion in rome and from which Christianity lifted much of its symbolism, its mythos, its sabbath, the birthdate of its deity (December 25) the fact that he died and rose, even the communal feast and on and on and on.

Ya caint spit without hitting some piece of ancientness chock full of history and roman good time stories. “This here’s where they flogged the prisoners of war to death. This here’s the cliff where they threw unwanted babies onto the rocks. this here’s where they fed lions to the christians.” Oh my god, they forced the christians to eat whole lions. what savages.

it’s morning we’re in rome, have to go out and rehearse soon. we’re all staying here in an apt. we have rented for five days then it’s more concerts. this is one hell of a large town and unlike athens the ancient co-exists with the modern. can’t walk down the street without seeing some old thang, some column or some pillar with 1000 year old inscriptions.

we rode out to the place where we will play here along the appian way its own bad self. turns out that Via Appia is a prestigious address (makes sense) and many of the great and the good vie to live there. the original road survives to some extent. i felt a sense of exhiliration to be moving through a perceived corridor in time, somehow at one with emperors and baggage trains full of the debris of empire on their way in to this city.

I feel ambivalent towards all of this papal voodoo as only a lapsed Catholic can. I just wish that the christians hadn’t planted the cross atop every phallic symbol around, every obelisk, Trajan’s column, everything. Ah well.

Here until Thursday, on to Germany, Russia, Austria, back to Sicily, Naples, then back to Athens.

Tuxedomoon Fridge Magnets and Bandanas

Saturday, November 18, 2000 6:35 PM
onbus3gigolo_office-250x166

Subject: roma agin

Here I am back in Rome after going to florence for yesterday. We’s here until 23 november. Seen a lot, will see more, felt a lot, will feel more. We sellin’ records, t-shirts, mexican bandanas with tuxedomoon logo, fridge magnets, my particular favorite. I have been plugging these fine items shamelessly from my privileged vantage point on stage. Last night I came out wearing one of the tuxedomoon bandanas folded cholo style in order to demonstrate what it was for the benefit of the italians. I also demonstrated the fridge magnet (which is cunningly fashioned from old computer circuit boards, very cyber). Then, elvis-like I removed the bandana, anointed with sweat from my furrowed brow and threw it out into the crowd. what a cathartic moment. also the fridge magnet. I think these antics helped sell more.

I have also been playing toys in the show. I have two toy cell phones with voices in italian and a rather dandy ray gun, all very electronically noisy. I play the cell phones into my guitar and I fire the ray gun which blinks in a very theatrical manner into a microphone. I waves it all around and caper and cavort like a true bozo. It surprises people since we are supposed to be so serious. I have routinely been getting rounds of applause over the toy cellphone bit. go figure.

anyhoo, we are here on the road, sitting in vans, trains, planes, lugging equipment up stairs, being a band and it feels like old home week. not to mention that we are stars here. we sign autographs and the whole 9 yards. whoo.

Well, as I probly said, we’se back in roma, it’s rainin’ like a ol’ cow a pissin’ on a flat rock to quote my daddy Mort.

So much for my notions of renting a bicycle down the street and taking my life in my hands in Rome traffic. I finally found a place with worse traffic than Athens, as if I were looking for one. In athens, they might slow down a bit before they turn you into roadkill, here they don’t even see you trying to cross the street. A fine fine place to go cycling. Last time I rode a blessed bike was in zurich. that was sheerest heaven, as I may have told you. Even if I did get a flat tire and had to walk the damn thing back. T’wasn’t far. I had this big smile plastered all over my visage as I rolled at speed through banks of golden fallen leaves on the lakeshore. Switzerland is just so damn purty. And so dang CLEAN. You can swim in the river or lake and you can eat the fish you catch there, even if you are fishing from a bridge in the center of town. whoo. why am I on about switzerland when I am in rome? Me not know.

Ah well, we might just go out and eat. Eating is the predominant form of entertainment in Italy. Forget cinema, theatre, music, it’s TIME TA EAT! Andiamo mangare!!. I may just pass until dinner. Of course Italian cuisine is the finest on this planet in my estimation. Go into a restaurant and ask “Uh, do you have anything besides Italian food?” Hah. They got all the bases covered.

the holy road. RETURN OF TUXEDOMOON

Thursday, November 09, 2000 7:30 PM
Subject: the eternal city

The 2000 Tour Bus “Rock and Rest”

The holy road, eternal adolescents still out lugging heavy cases full of electronic musical devices and huge bags of dirty clothes from taxi to train to plane to show to tv up the stairs down the stairs into the elevator down the street through the rain into the hotel crash pad what have you whaddya want where we goin’ anyway?

At least we are in italy italy italy, they likes us here, they treat us like respected elder statesmen of music, roll out the red carpet, let us stay in their theatres, houses, studios, it is an honor mr. reininger.

hyar i be in rome, just got in, feeling a bit worn out so i have remained behind in our quarters while the rest of the boys is out doing one thing or other. things keep shifting, this is kind of a beverly hillbillies tour of europe, but we are getting where we are going, we find places to stay and to work, we are making money and pretty much having a good time. of course we’s all old and wrinkled and the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be so shifting our enormous wad of baggage and gear on the fucking train, into cabs, up stairs hither and yon is a bigger pain that it once was. luckily we all seem to be in relatively good shape for old gits. I am a bit worn from climate change, lack of sleep etc. but holding up. hell, i just wanted to have some time with a computer on my own.

amazing how disorganized this is and how we are still managing to keep our peckers up. i guess the sense of adventure hasn’t disappeared entirely and we are getting plenty of press and so forth, not to mention that cd sales at the gigs are paying living costs nicely, thank you.

for once, and i don’t know why it comes to mind, we have some merchandise to merchandise. we are selling records at gigs and this is going well, steven has had t shirts printed up and peter has made fridge magnets from old circuit boards. for some reason the t shirts are held up at customs and the fridge magnets are on the way.

we were on tv last night with “red ronnie” whose name may or may not ring a bell with you, he is a journalist with whom we had a drunken altercation (or at least I did) 20 years ago. now he has a rock show on tv , we did it last night, a fairly painless session as such things go, he forgot all about it, we played and there you go. okey dokey. we saw the fabulous francesca bigazzi, steven’s friend chiara (the origins and significance of whom remain uncertain. her nice though. make us food at her place outside of boloney). there you go. update from your working boy.

well, I salute thee from the holy road, the endless highway one trudges in order to move plastic ware, keep them sms messages comin when you gots a mind to do so. I may change my cell phone subscription to an italian one so that my phone can be of more use in locating me or others in walkie talkie fashion, at the moment i am limited to sms messages

Blaine