Last night, I time traveled to the high school gymnasiums I occasionally played with my first band. This is because of the ambiguous school/nightclub environment we found ourselves in. This is good and bad – mostly good. I was told by a very in-the-know fellow that Jonathan Richman broke up The Modern Lovers because they refused to do gigs like that, and I understand the charm he must have found in them.
Of course, there were no chaperones, or pretty girls for that matter, as Greg's audience invariable skews male-heavy. The adoration of a guitar god, and he is legitimately that, is a funny thing to watch. Again, the German audience was more like a still life with bodies, but that's their way of going crazy, I guess. They applaud every number and scream for encores.
The town was Eschweiler, outside of Aachen, home of Charlemagne's leg. It is small but with a bustling downtown that included a sort of ethnic food alley – cobblestone, of course. We grabbed some serviceable Greek eats, and due to a mix-up, the food arrived late and nearly made us late for the gig.
Tomorrow, we get up at the crack of dawn and soar back over the ocean to a jet-lagged homecoming. Being here has made me more aware of things I like and miss about America. Let's face it: Milwaukee is giant ethnic food alley, and that is a big plus. Don't know if I could eat German all the time ... Italian maybe. I love American audiences, and can't wait to have my lyrics understood and perhaps chuckled at.
I am now a confirmed urbanist. Cities are done well over here, and every city center seems to thrive. Bikes are everywhere, along with bike lanes. In Denmark, they even had a small curb. Some towns have streetcars, perhaps the most romantic and fun way I can think of to get around. Frankly, if things were a little harder for cars and easier for pedestrians, we'd be better off. The occasional inconvenience is well worth it if it makes the destination worth arriving at. When and how did we become so car crazy? Rant over.
American cities win the diversity contest hands down, and the monotone nature of this country often makes it seem suburban-boring. It will be nice to see something other than people who like relatives.
The hotels have been mostly good to great. The continental breakfast was perfected here. It's better than the ones at your average Holiday Inn. It consists of cereal, including muesli, fruit, yogurt, cold cuts, cheeses, hard rolls and fresh bread, coffee and juices. The formula changes at each hotel, and in Italy they add something sweet. In Denmark, they have the danish served by the Danish. All yummy and everything, but I'm ready for something substantial that screams U! S! A!
The people over here have been kind, friendly and generally very helpful, including last night's soundman. He has the unbelievable name Bernd F*cker. Now the Koch's, both father and son, have endured a lifetime of mispronunciation of their name to laugh at it. Bernd, whose nickname is Broxel, umlaut over the "o", has developed similar skills. He is calm, professional and delivers the best monitor sound of the tour. Does changing names ever occur to guys like him or Richard Trickle?
It's 4:30 a.m. after another really fun gig in a sweet mid-sized town called Krefeld. We meet in the lobby and start a long day. Two and a half hours to the airport and a 9:40 flight to Detroit. We're going the wrong way; the wind and the clock will fight us. When we touch down at Mitchell, our day will have nine or ten extra hours. But I'll be in big old complicated and beautiful Milwaukee, U.S.A., and I'm sure people will notice the difference in me right away. Yes, I'm a little more continental.