Go! Koo's! Scott in Athens, GA is nice Scallen... Wicked. Simon's Rock College has no TV.

Hi. This should be an interesting trip. One week before leaving on the six week European tour, I was diagnosed with type I diabetes. I knew something was wrong because I was thirsty beyond belief. It was unquenchable, and I was peeing an insane amount… about every 45 minutes. After a week of almost no sleep due to the hourly peeing, I asked my dad about it. Fortunately for me, my father is a doctor who takes care of people with diabetes, so he recognized the symptoms right away and ordered some blood tests for me.

Type I diabetes is a disease where my pancreas no longer makes insulin, which is the chemical that assists the body in metabolizing sugars, carbohydrates and fats. Because my body no longer makes insulin, my blood sugar level was really high because I didn't have this chemical necessary in metabolizing food, so the left over, non metabolized parts of the food drove my blood sugar level really high, so I need to inject it into myself before I eat every meal and then once before I go to sleep.

The trick to type I diabetes is regulating one's blood sugar level. If one's blood sugar level remains too high for an extended period of time, long term complications can set in like blindness, losing feeling in ones feet, an increased risk in infections in one's feet, which can lead to amputation. Needless to say, I will do my best to avoid this stuff. If one's blood sugar goes too low, it's a pretty awful feeling. This is called hypoglycemia. It's a pretty awful feeling, in that one gets very sweaty, and weak, and shaky. If one's blood sugar gets too low, one can faint, or have a seizure or go into what is called a diabetic coma. The key is to use the insulin to take care of the food that one eats, so that the blood sugar doesn't go too high, but not too much so that it gets too low. In addition to these variables, there are other factors which affect one's blood sugar. Exercise can do one of two things to a person's blood sugar level. Most of the time, exercise, because it uses up the calories that one gains from eating, will bring down a person's blood sugar level. However, certain types of exercise, that are more adrenaline based forms of exercise, like with lots of burst type of running (I found out, that street hockey raises my blood sugar), and listening to the Def Leppard record Adrenalize, of course, will raise one's blood sugar ridiculous amounts.

For the week before I knew that I had type I diabetes, my blood sugar level was really high, because of my body's lack of ability to break down and metabolize the sugar converted from foods. It was about 550, where the blood sugar level of a normal person is between 70 and 110.

So, the week before the tour was a pretty hectic week learning to make the adjustments I had to make in regulating my blood sugar level. Luckily I had the support of my family and friends, and it certainly is MORE than convenient to have one's father be a doctor in the field of one's particular disease. So, type I diabetes is certainly an adjustment. It is very strange getting used to injecting oneself several times per day, and the process by how one tests one's blood sugar level is certainly something to get used to as well. In order to test one's blood sugar level, it's necessary to get a drop of blood (usually, it's easiest to get this out of the fingertips) and put it on a little travel alarm clock looking thing that beeps and tells you what the blood sugar level is.

Frankly, I felt pretty good about going on the trip. I was looking forward to seeing lots of old friends that I sadly, don't get to see too often, and a brief scare (the diagnosis of the diabetes), had made me really appreciate the things that I love to do and the things I like, even more so I think. It also was nice that the disease at least was in my hands to do something about it. I'm very compulsive so I think I'll be able to take care of it, and it's a disease that if taken care of, has risks of complications decrease dramatically. It gave me a boost of confidence knowing that my friends in the Canadian band Sixty Stories would be traveling with me for the first month of the tour, as would other friends throughout the trip, who would look out for me. Also, I felt strongly about learning to adapt the disease to what I do and work around how I live, rather than have my life work around how the disease operates. It was also kind of a relief to know that I wouldn't have to feel guilty about having to stop the van to pee every 45 minutes, thus making any long drives completely unbearable, now that the symptoms of the high blood sugar had been identified and treated.

Oh, one more thing. When one has a really high blood sugar, one gets really dehydrated. So, when I was diagnosed with diabetes, and subsequently brought my blood sugar back within normal range with the insulin injections, apparently, my lenses in my eyes were dehydrated, and they re-hydrate at different rates than the rest of the eyes, so that my vision was blurry, and the doctors I had seen said it may stay that way for up to a week.
Thanks for reading this and thanks very much to the friendship and support of those without whom this trip would not have been possible.

Friday May 2nd
Philadelphia, PA USA

I packed my stuff for the six week European tour, went out for coffee with ladyfriend Jenn, dog Books and my brother and sister. There's significantly less room in my bag than usual on tour, due to the big brick of boxes of needles, syringes and medicine to treat my newly detected disease. Thankfully, there is still room for 45 pairs of socks, which line the bottom of my bag. Jenn dropped me off at the new Philadelphia International Airport terminal which had its grand opening on this day. There was much fanfare, which included folks dressed up like medieval trumpet players, who … err… played festive medieval trumpet songs when people walked between them. However decked out the terminal was, strangely enough, it was impossible to obtain a copy of the local, huge paper the Philadelphia Inquirer. This was okay, as my eyes had not yet corrected themselves from the high blood sugar, so I couldn't really do much with the paper, had it existed in medieval airport town, but it would have been nice to try and do the crossword puzzle as I was at the terminal WAY too early, as is usual with my compulsivity. The activity and eventfulness of the last week was enough to make it quite easy for me to fall asleep for most of the flight to Frankfurt, Germany.
PHOTO: Aliza, Jenn and me going out for coffee before I left for the European tour.
Aliza, atom and Jenn drink coffee!

Saturday May 3rd
Frankfurt, Germany

I arrived at the airport at 6:30 am, and was supposed to be picked up by my friend Ingo. He was driving from Hamburg, which is about five hours away from Frankfurt, and had to make several stops on the way down, so he called my fancy cell phone that I rented, just in case my family had to get in touch with me for an emergency, and told me that he'd be quite late. I entertained myself at the Frankfurt airport by walking around, and using the totally excellent escalators, that allowed you to put your luggage cart on the escalator with you. It was just my type of excitement. It was weird enough that I felt as if I was doing something wrong, or dangerous, but in reality, it wasn't either of these two adjectives. Ingo finally arrived at about 4pm. Ingo has been a friend of mine for many years. He books my European tours, and is an excellent fellow. He's 40 years old, but is one of the most energetic people I know. He lives in Hamburg, and books tours for lots of different bands, and tries to make connections with the folks in the bands that he books personally, so in many cases, he travels, or drives the bands on tour for a bit. He's really goofy and a wonderfully sweet man, and friend. It, of course, was wonderful to see him. We drove back to his friend Stefan's house in downtown Frankfurt. I was pretty much exhausted from jet lag, so we ate some local Chinese food and then I went to sleep.

Sunday May 4th
Marburg, Germany

I woke up to my friends in Sixty Stories, Jo, Paul & Sarah, arriving at Stefan's. I slept through Ingo's going to get them at the Frankfurt airport. They had a long layover in Toronto, so it had taken them close to 24 hours to arrive in Frankfurt from their home in Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. We had our nice reunion, and then we each slept for a few hours more. The folks in Sixty Stories are friends that I met the last time I was in Europe on tour. We played 2 ½ weeks of shows together, and hit it off, and then toured much of the United States together earlier this year. They're great folks, and really fun. We stopped for gas, and I was reminded the weirdness of German rest stop treats. They have one treat called 'Bifi Rolls', which from what I understand is a beef-ish treat wrapped in some sort of bread (corn bread?) and sealed in a plastic wrap, and left on the shelf to die next to the candy bars, or perhaps, but not likely, eaten. Apparently since I was in Germany last, the Bifi corporation has added a treat called 'Bifi Balls', which looks mildly less appetizing. Also, at the first gas station we stopped at, there was a drink at the counter called 'Ejaculada', which was a milky white drink in a sperm shaped plastic container. I'm not sure who this drink was marketed for, but it definitely worked for us. The Sixty Stories folks bought a few, and I, stupidly thought that I'd be able to find this treat later on in the tour. Sadly, I didn't come across anymore Ejaculada for the rest of the tour, which made me wonder whether or not I was delusional, but the Sixty Stories swear by Ejaculada's existence, though not its taste. So, Ingo, Sixty Stories and I drove up 1 ½ hours to Marburg where the first show of the tour was to be. Dinner was good, and I took my insulin. I was nervous about playing, as I wasn't sure about what effect the exercise of playing a show would have on my blood sugar. I checked my blood sugar before I played, and it was on the higher end of the normal range, so I played, thinking that I would have a buffer so that it wouldn't drop too low, thus avoiding the awful feeling of low blood sugar, even if I played. Unfortunately, I guessed wrong, and had to take about 15 minutes off from playing in the middle of the set to check my blood sugar level, which was too low (from the exercise that went along with playing), and I felt weak, and shaky, while I checked my blood sugar level, and determined that I had to eat a few pretzels (which I always carry around with me just in case) to drive my blood sugar level back within the normal range. So, the show, while not really embarrassing, though probably really boring for the German audience to sit and watch me sit for a while midway through the set, was certainly not fun, and it worried me that every night for each of the next 42 nights that I was playing, that I would feel awful, and put on crappy shows. The good aspect of the show was that we met our friend Martin, who was to drive us for the next two weeks of the tour. Martin is known as the 'Metal Angel'. He's a big fellow with long, curly-ish hair, but he's a doll. He's a kind, gentle, sweetheart. He's been driving bands on tour for something like 2 years straight, so he's a bit burnt out, but I looked forward to having two weeks traveling with him. After the show, we drove back to Stefan's house in Frankfurt to sleep. On the way back to Stefan's, I started to feel shaky, weak, sweaty and the other symptoms of having low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), so I checked my blood sugar level in the van, and it again, was too low, so I ate a few of the sugar pills that I had also brought with me in case of hypoglycemia. What I didn't know was that the feelings that go along with hypoglycemia can last much longer than when your body's blood sugar has been raised back to normal. So, I ate a few sugar pills, as I still felt awful 10 minutes later, when quite likely, the first sugar pill that I took had probably already corrected the hypoglycemia. So, when we got back to Stefan's and I checked my blood sugar, it was WAY too high. This was very frustrating, but all a part of learning to deal with the disease, I suppose.

Monday May 5th
Stuttgart, Germany

We drove the couple of hours to Stuttgart to where the show was. In Europe, there are large number of youth centers that have come into existence because groups of people will take over abandoned buildings and fix them up, and eventually some of these buildings even get recognized, and funded by the states. Some do not. These buildings are called squats. Some are amazing demonstrations of how productive and wonderfully people can work together, while others are disorganized, and filthy. My friends Armin, Ute, and Olga came to the show, which was being broadcast live over a newly made pirate radio station. Armin runs a label called X-Mist records, and released a record for me a number of years ago. Ute has driven me on tour in Europe a few times, and Armin, Ute and Olga have each come to visit me and Jenn in Philadelphia at some point. It was excellent to see them, though it wasn't for a long enough time. The show went smoothly, and I buffered the inevitable drop of blood sugar level before I played by eating a handful of pretzels. It worked, and my blood sugar was normal before and after playing, thankfully. After the show, I went back to Armin and Ute's place in a nearby, small, pretty German town on the edge of the Black Forest called Nagold and got a wonderful night of sleep while Sixty Stories, Ingo and Martin stayed with one of the organizers of the show in Stuttgart.
PHOTO:Armin & Ute and their pup Lotte.
Armin, Ute and Lotte.

Tuesday May 6th
Freiburg, Germany

I hung out with Armin and Ute most of the day. Ute and I took their new puppy for a long walk and to the park to play with other dogs and then I hung around Armin's record shop that he owns until Ingo, Sixty Stories and Martin came by to say hello to Armin and to pick me up. My vision finally cleared up on this day too, which was very encouraging. We drove to Freiburg, where Sixty Stories and I had played together about a year and a half before. The folks who run the youth center there are super nice, and the show was nothing less than great. My worries about low blood sugar while playing have begun to subside after two blood sugar level-wise successful shows. There was a sleeping room upstairs for bands, so after the show, the Sixty Stories folks and I watched an episode of South Park on Paul's computer. Somehow, Paul was able to get his hands on tons of episodes of South Park and store them on his computer. It makes for excellent post-show, pre-sleeping entertainment.

Wednesday May 7th
Dijon, France

We got up, and ate breakfast with the Freiburg folks, and Ingo headed back to Hamburg to do more work setting up shows for bands. We would meet up with him a few more times on the trip. We drove through areas of southeastern France that were really pretty, green and mountainous. We arrived at the squat in Dijon which was very impressive. It was covered with beautiful, huge graffiti murals and they had an internet café in the basement, a yurt built inside the huge warehouse-like main room which had books and other good stuff. We were very appreciative of the folks who lived in the squat and did the show, though… hmm…. how do I say this? The toilets were not exactly our kind of toilets, but were the most interesting that we'd come across on the trip so far. The toilet in the squat had no running water, so to 'flush' the toilet, one had to take the bucket that lived next to the toilet, and walk into the main room of the squat and get a bucketful of grey water that was in a huge oil barrel, and take the grey water and throw it into the toilet and hopefully push whatever was in the toilet, away and through the pipes. Splashback from throwing the grey water into the toilet is not the most refreshing thing to have on one's face. The show was small, but decent. Two nice folks drove from many hours away to see the show, which was really nice. I took French for 4 years in high school, and amazingly enough, retained enough to (sorta) communicate with the Frenchies. It was really fun to attempt to do so, and I was pretty surprised at how well the French came back to me. On the diabetes front, I fucked up a bit on this night. See, the insulin injectors that I use before each meal are kind of these pen-looking things. They have a dial on top where one selects the dosage, and this raises the end part, and to do the injection, one presses the dial in from the top (a la spring loaded ball point pen), and this turns the dial back to zero. SO, I thought that one could just spin the dial back to zero (without pressing on it, as if it were a pen), and that would inject the insulin. However, this apparently isn't the case, so it turned out that I didn't end up injecting myself with the insulin even though I thought that I had, so my blood sugar level went sky high, and I didn't know why. It was pretty frustrating. Eventually I got a hold of my father in the United States and we figured it out, but to correct it, I had to give myself a dose of insulin before bed. Apparently I gave myself a bit too much because I woke up in the middle of the night, at the squat, covered in sweat and feeling all the awful feelings of being hypoglycemic. Fortunately, I had some sugar pills in my bag, next to my sleeping bag, and I was able to recover quickly, but it certainly wasn't pleasant.
PHOTOS (L to R):Sixty Stories packing the van in the courtyard of the squat in Dijon; Jo, Sarah, Paul and Martin at the squat in Dijon.
Sixty Stories excels at Tetris and van packing.Jo, Sarah and Martin in Dijon

Thursday May 8th
St. Etienne, France

Today was a national holiday in France as it is the date that World War II had officially ended. Most shops were closed, so Sixty Stories, Martin and I walked around downtown Dijon, which was old and beautiful. After getting some mustard for the Sixty Stories' friends and family at home, in Dijon, we split for St. Etienne, which not surprisingly, is another old and beautiful French city. The show was cool and fun, and the folks who did the show had prepared a special diabetes friendly meal for me which was super nice. The show was perhaps in the smokiest room I've ever been in in my life. My French was luckily, good enough to chastise the audience for making the air so awful, and my complaints seemed to be just as effective (which is, in fact, not at all) as they are when I make them in English to English speaking audiences, so I was proud. After the show, we stayed with one of the folks who organized the show. He was super nice, and due to a broken toilet, we stayed at a place for the second night in a row, where a bucket of water gotten from somewhere else had to be used to 'flush' the toilet. Exciting! Interesting fact: At the show, there were fliers for a show where a band was playing called 'You Fuck My Wife, and I Like That', which I think is probably only a phrase that could be thought of by someone who speaks English as a second language. Good stuff.

Friday May 9th
Toulouse, France

Last time I tried to play in Toulouse, the show was called off, because a local gang of badass kids attacked the squat where the show was to happen, so I was looking forward to the city of Toulouse, which I had heard great things about, redeeming itself. The show was in a really cool punk bar near the city centre of Toulouse, so we got there early, and Sixty Stories and I walked through the very beautiful city center, and got coffee, and sat by a fountain that someone had apparently dumped a bunch of soap in, so it was foamy with soap bubbles. Some friends that I had made when I played in nearby city Bordeaux a year and a half ago, came down for the show, which was totally flattering and cool. The show was great fun, and we stayed with a nice fellow named David, who allowed me to take…..my first shower of the tour! Gross.
PHOTO: Jo, Sarah and Paul sitting in front of a sudsy fountain in Tolouse.

Saturday May 10th
Angers, France

We drove the 8 hour, VERY expensive drive (the French highways have tolls and are very costly) to Angers. The show was at a political center. It was really fun, as we had a great French style dinner at a big long table with the folks who organized the show, with wine, and baguettes. They were really friendly and funny, and the show was really fun too, even though I had a strange lapse in my French speaking abilities which made for an awkward storytelling in between songs. We stayed at the place where the show was, and watched an episode of South Park after the show, and went to sleep.
PHOTO: Jo, Paul and Sarah just before eating a nice French dinner in Angers.
Baguettes and wine.

Sunday May 11th
Rouen, France

We had a great breakfast outside the venue in the beautiful town of Angers with the folks who set up the show and took off for Rouen. Continuing the trend of weird French toilet experiences, at the rest stop on the way to Rouen, I was forced to use the women's rest room because the men's room was being cleaned. The show was just okay as the soundman didn't know what he was doing, and couldn't get the not exactly difficult set up that I use to make sound through his p.a. system. Thankfully, Sarah from Sixty Stories was able to help out and play the prerecorded stuff from the sound booth. There was a group of weirdo hyper friendly Rouen folks who wore half sweaters and danced crazy while I was playing. After the show, we drove two hours to the ferry terminal in Calais, France where we would catch a 4:15am ferry to Dover, England, and then continue for 5 ½ hours driving to the next show in Leeds, England. It was a tiring trip, but fun to go aboard the ultra expensive, fancy ferry boat.
PHOTO: Paul, Sarah and Jo on the ferry to England at about 4:45am.
Sarah!  Don't forget your passport!

Monday May 12th
Leeds, England

On the way up to Leeds, Sarah, in her sleepy stupor left her glasses on the door van, and they got lost at a rest stop somewhere along the way. So, Sarah fully looked like an eccentric weirdo now with her cane and bum knee from an injury she had from the recent Canadian tour, and now, restricted to only having prescription glasses in the flavor of sunglasses, which she now wore at all waking hours, day or night. Sarah is a tough kid and hobbled around without a complaint ever. Eventually in the early afternoon, we arrived at my friends Adam and Mel's house in Leeds. They were at work but had left the key for us, so we went in and napped for a while. When Adam and Mel got home, Adam made us an excellent meal, and we headed off to the show. The show was excellent. It was at a really cool English pub, and I got to see a bunch of old friends from previous trips to England. The audience was really enthusiastic, and the heckling was plentiful and playful. According to some folks in the audience, I resemble a fellow named Timmy Mallet, who was a British kid's TV star. You decide (see pictures below). After the show we went back to Adam and Mel's, and watched an excellent news show spoof called Brass Eye. We giggled and fell asleep.
PHOTOS: Paul and me posing in front of the white cliffs of Dover, just outside the ferry terminal; Timmy Mallett
Jo! Don't smoke near the gas station! Jo! Don't smoke near the gas station!

Tuesday May 13th
Newcastle, England

Adam took the day off from work and showed us around downtown Leeds, which is really pretty. I bought a few British DVDs with no plan of how to actually watch them once I got home, as European DVDs are differently formatted than American ones. We stopped at our friend James's record shop and then drove to Newcastle. The show in Newcastle was fun, and the folks who organized it, a couple named Channi, and Quine (Quine is his last name, and very cutely, his partner Channi referred to him as Quine, not his first name) were super cool and hospitable.

Wednesday May 14th
Coventry, England

We went out for lunch at a really cool vegetarian food serving bar in Newcastle with Channi and Quine and then took off for Coventry. Coventry is kind of a gross university town with lots of drunk fight-looking-for jocks (British folks funnily call these types 'beefheads', which I suppose isn't too far from the American version 'meatheads') roaming around. The show was at a strange rock bar, and the fellow Mithy who had organized the show, very sweetly took the instructions about my newly diabetic diet from Ingo very literally (which asked for meals that did not consist entirely of pasta, or other starches, and made a few suggestions like cold vegetables and peanuts etc.) and had a huge bowl of peanuts, and carrots waiting for me, Sixty Stories and Martin. We met up with a cool fellow named Nick who, with his friend was making a short documentary on me and my Atom and His Package stuff for school. After the weird show, we stayed with Mithy and his ladyfriend, and Sixty Stories and I played Mario Party on his Game Cube. It was fun despite Sarah's winning the game.

Thursday May 15th
Exeter, England

We drove to Exeter, stopping on the way (OK! It wasn't entirely on the way) at the Hopeless Records distributor in England for me to pick up some more CDs for the tour. It was sunny out for a few hours, so I took advantage of this to take a few pictures of Sixty Stories and Martin by the side of the road. It ended up being the only sunny few hours of our entire stay in England. I know the United Kingdom has the reputation of having miserable weather, and it's true. It was May, and it was cold and rainy the entire time we were in the country. The show in Exeter was at a cool punk bar run by two friendly folks. The show was cool, with lots of enthusiastic kids, and we stayed with nice folks who sadly, we didn't get to hang out with for too long. After our nightly dose of a South Park episode, we went to sleep.
PHOTO: Me running to get into the picture with Martin, Jo, Sarah and Paul during the 1/2 hour of sunshine we got in our week in England.
Atom! Look both ways!

Friday May 16th
Folkstone, England

We drove to Folkstone, which is on the opposite end of the south coast of England from Exeter. We stopped at Stonehenge, but it was raining (of course) so Martin and I, who had seen the big rocks before, stayed in the van while the Sixty Stories ran out to look at it. We arrived in Folkstone and played some baseball-ish on a big soccer field with a tiny basketball and Sarah's cane as a bat with the younger brother of the fellow who had organized the show. Their names? Tom and Jerry. The show was TOTALLY insane. There were about 300 fourteen year olds there from the small town, with about 25 of them mildly interested in watching bands play. The other 275 were interested in drinking beer and making out. There were huge, bald bouncers there, who would step in to breakup making out couples if it got too hot and heavy. They could only be SO effective though, as we saw second and third base happening pretty regularly that evening and Martin saw a penis. It was pretty crazy. After the show, we went back to Tom and Jerry's house for sleep.

Saturday May 17th
London, England

We intended on getting to London early and spending most of the day walking around and doing touristy things in London, but it's such a huge city that even once we got within the city limits, it took us one and a half hours to find the show. It may have been better that way, as it was (of course) raining most of the day, so after walking around for just a little bit, we were happy to sit somewhere dry and warm. Sixty Stories went and did their laundry while I met up with Nick and Pan from Conventry and chatted with them. The show was great and after the show we went to a British pub with some of the folks who organized the show and hung out. We almost got to get in a British pub brawl, because a drunk prick blew a ton of smoke in my face (on purpose, for no reason) but the tension was diffused by someone who knew both of us. It would have been a painful (for me, anyways), and stupid thing to get into, but something very British sounding to get involved with. Oh well. Maybe next time I can get myself beaten up in a pub.

Sunday May 18th
Brighton, England

We slept in and drove to Brighton, which is a really neat, weird city because it's a beach town looking city, where I think lots of British folks go for holidays, as it has lots of pretty piers and boardwalk like rides yet it also has a gloomy ghost town feel because, although it's a vacation friendly city, every time I've been there, it's been totally cold and shitty weather out, so it seems like it should be located somewhere else completely. We ate dinner at a cool, vegetarian hamburger shop before the show and played with American band The Ghost, who rather obnoxiously I thought, challenged the audience to come closer to them while they were playing by saying, 'What, we're not Brit-pop enough for you?' It wasn't too playful, and a sign of being very impressed with oneself, I thought. We did however meet their driver Mikael, who is a nice Czech fellow, who we'd cross paths with a few more times on the remainder of the tour. After the show, we drove to Ramsgate, which is near the ferry port of Dover to save ourselves some driving in the morning, to stay with Martin's friend Paul. Paul was really nice, and didn't mind us arriving at 2:30am.

Monday May 19th
Gent, Belgium

We woke up and took the ferry back to Calais, France, and fortunately didn't get stopped at the border or anything. We drove to Gent, which, like many European cities is old (obviously) and really pretty. We arrived early, so I walked around for a bit, but not for too long, as I felt a cold coming on, and went to an internet café to email the family and friends in the states. In walking around, the Sixty Stories folks and I saw the word 'Atom' spray painted in a bunch of different places in the city of Gent. We joked about it being in preparation for my arrival. Little did we know that this was actually the case. The show was TOTALLY crazy. Aside from the spraypainting of my name around Gent, many folks who attended the show made homemade shirts, and signs, some of which said things like, "Atom = My Father", or "Atom is my hero". Some people even dressed up like me, with a baseball hat and glasses. I thought this would make my mom less nervous to know that there were at least 6 doubles of me walking around Gent, which would almost certainly throw off the terrorists, who in my mom's mind would be hunting me the second after I got off the plane in Europe because I'm an American. The highlight of the evening was being presented with my own pair of clean underwear that had a drawing of me and a cat and said "Atom and His Cat" silkscreened in the crotch area. It was all the more beautiful because I own no cat. The down side of the show was that the sound system of the small bar that the show was in was a total piece of crap, so the show sounded like shit. After the show, on the way back to the super nice folks who we were to stay with, Paul and Sarah were goofing around, and Paul hit Sarah with a pillow. Little did Paul know that in that pillowcase, was also Jo's hardback 700 page book that she was reading. So, Sarah got totally smashed in the jaw, so Martin and the nice folks that were putting us up took Sarah to the hospital to make sure nothing was broken. Nothing ended up being broken, but Sarah had two huge bruises on her face to add to her overall weird appearance with sunglasses and cane. Sarah, being super tough, didn't complain at all, and didn't even try to slit Paul's throat while he was sleeping. I on the other hand totally whined about the cold that was coming on.

Tuesday May 20th
Leuven, Belgium

At this point, I have a cold and feel pretty lousy. We stopped in Brussels on the way to the show in Leuven, and I slept in the van while Sixty Stories and Martin walked around for a bit. We arrived at the really dirty squat (note: still nice that they allowed the show go on at all… I swear!) where the show was to be. Ingo was to meet us at this show, and Martin was to take the van that Ingo arrived in and meet his friends band Forstella Ford and drive them on tour for the next 7 weeks. I was to cross paths with Forstella Ford a few times on the remainder of the trip, so it wasn't too sad a goodbye to Martin, though I certainly would miss his accompaniment. This place had the grossest place to pee and poop that I've ever seen. It had a sign on the area where peeing and pooping was supposed to happen that said 'toilet', but I can't allow myself to refer to it as a toilet. It was outside, and had a sign on it that you can see below. The used toilet paper was to be placed in a bin just in front of the toilet, so it was really horrible smelling, and looking, that is, if I may refer to used toilet paper with other people's shit on it in front of one's face as disgusting. The sign instructed the user of the 'toilet' to 'flush' by throwing a small piece of wood pulp into the cavern where the doo doo of the user was deposited. If people would like to live that way, that's fine by me, but it's certainly not for me. I do appreciate the gesture of inviting me to live that way, and the offer of hospitality of the people who do live that way, but I graciously declined, and scurried off to find someone who was willing to put me, Sixty Stories and Ingo up for the night. Luckily, I came across Michael, who played in the third band playing the show that evening, and who looked as frightened to be at the dirty squat as I did and asked if he knew of a place to stay. Very generously, he offered us a place to stay at his mom's place just outside of Leuven. The show was small, but turned out to be much more fun than I thought it was going to be, keeping in mind me having a cold, the tiny audience size, and the sound system's inability to handle both my guitar, and the CD player (not extremely demanding for a sound system, I don't think) that I use, being played at the same time. I used Jo's guitar amp, and the folks at the show were drunk and playful. After the show, we headed to Michael's mom, who had a very affectionate dog, and wonderful place to sleep and shower.
PHOTOS (L to R): The outside of the 'toilet'; the inside of the toilet, and the used toilet paper receptacle; Suggested use of the 'toilet'
Toilet? I doubt it. Toilet? Yes, but a yucky one.
Toilet rules.

Wednesday May 21st
Amsterdam, Netherlands

We woke up, and after a good night sleep, I felt 100% better. I proceeded to kick Paul's ass in Fifa Soccer/football on the playstation 2, even though I was a crappier team each time. We took off early to check out Amsterdam. I got yelled at for using a Johnny on the Spot that apparently was to be used by construction workers doing work in the area. Luckily, they didn't force me to reuptake my urine from the port-a-potty and just wanted to give me a hard time. We spent a few hours walking around the really cool city of Amsterdam and I successfully had my first non meal snack as a diabetic, because I couldn't resist the amazing Dutch French fries with chili sauce. We walked by the tons of coffee bars that sell coffee, hash and marijuana and sat outside of one and drank some coffee. Amsterdam is a really cool city with tons of canals and tiny, windy streets through the set of beautiful, old buildings. The show was at a cool youth center, political activity center called Ocii. The folks who did the show were really nice, and the fellow who did the sound for the show pointed me in the direction of a really cool Dutch band called Zea with whom I ended up being able to trade CDs. After the show, we headed back to a cool squat that one of the fellows who organized the show lived in. There was a cool sleeping space for me, Sixty Stories and Ingo, where we were able to watch an episode of South Park, and go to sleep. Someone stepped in dog shit outside the van, but I forget who. Dog shit is EVERYwhere in the Netherlands. They may be VERY progressive in terms of health care, the environment and bike riding, but in dog curbing, they're absolutely backwards culturally. We would soon have the dog shit smeared on the floor of the van to prove it.

Thursday May 22nd
Mullheim, Germany

We drove to Mullheim and played at this huge youth center with Berlin band Cassanova Action. I played a few good, competitive games of ping pong with a German fellow and ate an excellent, huge dinner made by the show organizers. The show was good except for an encounter with a drunk German woman who, after the show, asked me if I was Jewish. I said I was. She said, 'It must be horrible to be Jewish', and stumbled away. Lovely. After the show, I was walking with Ingo back to the sleeping quarters behind the building where the show was, and he kicked an empty beer bottle out of the path of where our van would be backing up the following morning. Somehow, the bottle broke, and cut Ingo's foot. We told everyone that Ingo injured his foot while fighting off a gang of thugs to defend my honor.

Friday May 23rd
Frankfurt, Germany

The show was in a big hall on a University in Frankfurt's campus. We met up with our friend Stefan, who had put on the show, and ate some pizza that he and a friend had made. A friend of Ingo's, Sixty Stories and mine named Hans met us at the show. Hans is yet another totally excellent person from Hamburg. He drove me for a week on my second European tour in 2001. The show was very well attended and a lot of fun though I had a brief confrontation with a few Americans who came to the show. While Sixty Stories was playing, I was standing towards the back of the room watching when three American folks approached me. They apparently knew who I was, because one of the guys said, while pointing to the biggest fellow of the three, 'This guy hates you.' I'm certainly not new to folks hating the stuff I do, and mostly it doesn't bother me, and makes for good stories to laugh about with friends, but that kind of thing is still pretty obnoxious, I think. Apparently, the other two fellows were fans of my stuff, and one of them was the boyfriend of a really nice woman named Lauren, who did an interview with me at the University of Richmond on my last U.S. tour, and dragged the third fellow to the show. While I was playing, the three guys were standing right up front, and being pretty obnoxious. I was playful at first, saying things like, 'Wow! Can you believe with ALL these people in this room (there were about 250 people there), there are three people who DON'T know that they're not the ONLY people in this room?!' But they had a hell of a lot of stamina in their obnoxitude, which has to be respected, but eventually it got really annoying, so I responded, a little less playfully by saying, "You know there are enough people who hate Americans, there's no need to give them extra reasons. Can you try to behave?" This apparently pissed off these fellows quite a bit (though not enough to make them leave before hearing their favorite song of mine, Happy Birthday Ralph, yow!) and they stomped out angrily. After I was done playing, and cleaning up my stuff on the stage, the two, apparently former fans of mine approached me, yelling at me, and telling me how 'uncool' what I said was, and how it totally went against everything that I sang about, and how it singled them out and that I 'didn't understand what it was like to live here (in Germany)'. I explained that I had not singled them out, but that they had singled themselves out by acting in an obnoxious fashion in front of lots of people who were NOT acting in an obnoxious fashion. I explained that my take on the situation was that they were annoying, and acting like jerks (which they agreed to), and regardless of whether it's justified or not, there is a lot of anti-American sentiment in the world today (they agreed to this too, of course), and like it or not, as Americans in a foreign country (the three of them, and myself included), we do represent Americans to a lot of people who really only know Americans from our leaders (who unfortunately are pretty awful, these days), and television (they agreed to this point too). So, they agreed to what my points were, failed to put together a coherent sentence, said 'Man… you don't understand' a few times, and stomped out while calling me an asshole. Awesome. After the show, we headed back to Stefan's apartment to sleep for the third time on this tour.

Saturday May 24th
Salzgitter, Germany

We arrived at the youth center where Sixty Stories and I were playing as part of a punk festival. There was a nice area of grass outside, and it was a gorgeous day out, so a bunch of folks were hanging out, kicking a soccer ball and talking. I walked a bit around the town and drank lots of diet soda. The show was long, but worth it knowing that I had gotten to play on a stage where Norwegian Black Metal band Immortal had played on years before. I saw the pictures to prove it. After the show, Sixty Stories, Hans, Ingo and I pulled out some mattresses and put them in the main hall of where the show had been and watched an episode of South Park and went to sleep.

Sunday May 25th
Gottingen, Germany

We woke up and found a public recreation area that had huge swimming pools, and huge pools with really high diving boards. I'm a giant baby and don't really like to swim, and it wasn't that warm, but it was fun to watch everyone else swim and watch Paul do a triple Lindy off the high diving boards. The drive to Gottingen was relatively short, so we stopped in a small town in the hills and played a game of German mini-golf, which instead of being on Astroturf-y stuff is on concrete. The holes were really weird, and I got really competitive and annoyed that Paul beat me. Actually, everyone beat me, except Sarah who tied for last with me, but it only annoyed me that Paul beat me. Hans is a ridiculous mini golf player and got something like 6 holes in one. We arrived at the show eventually, and the folks who organized the show cooked an excellent Chinese-ish dinner. Also, Hans's ladyfriend Karen met us at the show. She is also from Hamburg and planned to come along with us for the next few days. She too is really nice, and a damn good table foosball partner. The show was good, except I pissed off Hans, because I had asked him to translate one of the lengthier song introductions for a song I play called Shopping Spree into German. He obliged, and after he was done, I asked the audience 'Did that make sense?' to make sure we were on the same page, not because of any lack of confidence in Hans's German speaking abilities. While I don't understand German, Hans, a German, seems to speak and understand German quite well. After the show, Hans, came up to me and said, 'A big fuck you to you for doubting me!' Oops.

Monday May 26th
Munster, Germany

Even though Munster is sadly not called Monster, we still drove to the show, taking a slight detour to drop Ingo off at the train station in Hannover. He was to take the train back to Hamburg, where we would meet him in a few days. We arrived early for the show, and some very nice folks walked with me to the supermarket to get food that would work with the diabetes of me. Hans, Karen and I sat by the lake and played backgammon until it was dark out. The show went late, but was really fun. We headed back to very nice fellow, and show organizer Toby's place and slept late.

Tuesday May 27th
Oldenburg, Germany

Toby took us to the computer lab at the university, which for some reason that I can't really understand closed at 3pm, but I was able to email the folks at home which was nice. We drove to the show in Oldenburg, and played some table foosball (which is called kicker in Germany), ate food, played, and after the show drove to Hamburg where Hans and Karen dropped us off at Ingo's house to sleep.

Wednesday May 28th
Hamburg, Germany

Ingo, Hans, Sixty Stories and I spent the day at a wild animal park. The wild animal park was really fun, and a very strange place. It had rare, bizarre animals like Scottish Yaks, which are really funny (see picture below), and strange exhibits like open air bat houses, where the bats would flutter by one's face. However, it also had completely out of place exhibits like 'house mice' and 'rats'. It reminded me of this horribly run down zoo in northern New Jersey that my grandparents used to take me and my brother and sister to called the Turtleback zoo. The Turtleback zoo had the saddest looking animals and had exhibits that featured rare animals like the…. Cat… and the…. Dog. Overall the wild animal park in Hamburg was much less depressing, and we had a lot of fun. I especially liked watching the Sixty Stories doods, and German tots in the mini ride park near the exit of the wild animal park that I can only describe as err… very German. It was a park for kids with a lot of DIY rides, where one would put in about 50 cents, and a ride would throw you back and forth, or flip you upside down. My favorite and most bizarre 'ride', required the 50 cent payer to sit in a chair attached to a cable, which whipped the chair sitter about 100 meters backwards into a grove a trees, and kept them there for about 30 seconds and then returned them to the starting place. Jo dared to do this. I assume these types of DIY ride parks don't exist in the United States due to its overwhelmingly litigious society. The show was at this excellent punk bar in the Reeperbahn area of Hamburg called the Stortebaker. It was hot, crowded and really fun. Hamburg is very home-y to me because I have a lot of friends from previous European tours who live there and also, I think having a few nights sleeping at Ingo's house, and having a bunch of good friends around was a much needed recharge, especially with the impending departure of the Sixty Stories folks from the tour.
PHOTO: Scottish Yak.
Jo! Don't smoke near the gas station!

Thursday May 29th
Flensburg, Germany

Today was Father's Day in Germany. This is quite a different holiday than the one of the same name in the United States. In Northern Germany, it's a holiday where fathers (though it doesn't appear to really be a problem if you're not a father, but just equipped with a penis, to partake) go out with their buddies and get REALLY drunk. It's quite different than the United States version where fathers are supposed to spend the day with their (theoretically) loving families. I woke up and met my friend Sebastian, who had driven me through Scandinavia on my tour of Europe in 2001, for coffee. Our goal was to find me a sweatshirt which supported the left wing supported soccer/football team from a section of Hamburg called St. Pauli. We found the sweatshirt I was looking for quite easily and sat in the sun and drank coffee. I took the subway train back to Ingo's, and Sixty Stories and I headed to Flensburg, a city on the border of Germany and Denmark. The show in Flensburg was to be the last show of the tour that Sixty Stories and I would play together. After Flensburg, I would go in a different van, which would be driven by my friends Matze and Robert, and shared by Hamburg synth art rock band Broost Krew up through Denmark for the next few days, while Sixty Stories would take the van that we had shared for the last four weeks, and play two shows without me, and then fly home from Frankfurt. The show in Flensburg was weird but fun. There was a strange looking fellow, with Sesame Street tattoos and Sesame Street clothing, who was totally bald on the top of his head, but had really long stringy hair around the top of his head that went below his shoulders. He did not altogether avoid looking like the metal plate in head guy from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This fellow, after I played the first song blurted out, "Dude, your voice is funny!" The comeback was too obvious, I thought and kept myself from saying anything. After the show, Ingo, and Sixty Stories headed back to Hamburg, and the rest of stayed in Flensburg. It was sad to say goodbye to my Canadian traveling partners and friends. I had a wonderful time with them, and though I would miss them very much, their departure served as a landmark for the trip, and I knew that a good portion of the trip was done, and while I was having a wonderful time, I looked forward to going home.

Friday May 30th
Copenhagen, Denmark

So, now the group of us traveling together consisted of me, my two friends Matze and Robert from Hamburg, and Juddy, Raoul, and Becky who played in the band/performance art group Broost Krew, who were to play both of the Denmark dates with me. We all hopped into Ingo's smaller of two vans that was to be my home for the remainder of my tour. We arrived at the clown college (yes, a clowning college) early which was on the outskirts of Copenhagen, so Becky, Matze, Robert and I walked into downtown Copenhagen, which is a beautiful city, and is overrun with bicycle riders. We walked through the city center and part of the city called Christiania, which is a self governed artist community part of Copenhagen. The most striking thing about Christiania is that marijuana and hash are tolerated, so there's a walkway with about thirty different stands where folks sell all different flavors and strengths of hash and marijuana. I bought one kilogram of Afghani hash for my mom, one for my dad, and ten kilograms of marijuana and a postcard of Bob Marley for my Grandma, as requested. We arrived back at the show which was called a 'fest' as there were five bands playing. It was very slow going, and I didn't end up playing until after 3am, at which time the P.A. system had been totally decimated by the first few bands. I had a strange mixture of feeling very grateful that some folks had actually stuck around to see me play, which was very flattering, and very grouchy for having to play through an incredibly shitty sounding p.a. at a ridiculous hour. By the time Matze, Robert, the Broost Krew and I left the show to stay with a nice fellow named Andreas who was kind enough to let us sleep on his floor, because we were so far up north, the sun was coming up (at 4:30am) and was all the way up by the time we got to Andreas's flat.

Saturday May 31st
Aalborg, Denmark

We slept in and drove to Aalborg, which is on the northernmost tip of the main island of Denmark. It's a cute little town with lots of little streets, and pedestrian traffic shopping malls. It seemed really empty and quiet, and the sun stayed up until about 11:30pm. The place where the show was to be, was the most amazing squat that I've ever been in. It's now completely legal, and nothing short of incredible. The folks who organized the place have a spotless, huge building that houses living quarters for the people involved with the space, a recording studio, a darkroom, a bar and live music venue, an art studio, and a movie theatre that they built. It's an amazing place with a lot of really nice people involved. I had a lot of fun playing, and after the bands played, there was a big dance party. It was totally excellent.

Sunday June 1st
Kiel, Germany

After a really nice breakfast in Aalborg, we drove to Kiel where Matze had grown up and his ladyfriend's parents live. We stopped by the venue, which was a great vegetarian restaurant called Subrosa. We were early as usual, so we went to the beach where Matze, Robert, Raoul, Juddy and Becky went swimming. I sat on a bench and watched the Germans swim. Public nudity is a WHOLE lot more normal in Germany. There were lots and lots of folks of all ages, shapes, and sizes changing into and out of bathing suits on the beach. No one seemed to mind, so I figured I shouldn't either. Ingo surprised us by getting a ride up to the show at Subrosa. It was fun, and the meal they fed us was totally tasty. We drove back to Hamburg after the show, and Ingo dropped me off at his place to get some sleep, and then dropped off the Broost Krew and Robert and Matze at their respective homes.

Monday June 2nd
Leipzig, Germany

Ingo, our friend Al, who I've met a bunch of times over the years, as he's played in a band that I've played with several times and I went over to Becky's for a wonderful breakfast. Al is a great, low maintenance traveler and fun to be around. He's also an excellent writer, and I thoroughly endorse his zine called Burn Collector. After breakfast, Ingo, Al and I returned to Ingo's flat to wait for our friend Gunnar to arrive. Gunnar was to drive me for the remainder of the tour and lives about one hour from Hamburg, and when we finally got a hold of him, he had been under the impression that we weren't leaving until the following day. Oops! Al was headed to Berlin to eventually meet up with some family members, so he decided to come along for the ride, which would, at least, get him closer to his destination. So, we had a bit of a late start, but we got to the squat in Leipzig with plenty of time to spare. The show was with Forstella Ford, The Nationale Blue (two American bands) and a British crustcore band called the Bomb Blast Men. Martin, who had driven Sixty Stories and me earlier on this tour was now driving Forstella Ford, so it was wonderful to see him. Al, Gunnar and I stayed with one of the show organizer, a really nice fellow named Robert.
PHOTO: Al, Robert, Gunnar and Martin eating at the squat in Leipzig.

Tuesday June 3rd
Dresden, Germany

Dresden was only about an hour for Leipzig, so we had plenty of time to see the city and Robert was kind enough to show me, Forstella Ford, the Nationale Blue and company around. We went to see a museum on the division and reunification of Germany after World War Two. It was okay, but the explanations of each exhibit in only German stopped me from getting the full effect. Al got a ride with Forstella Ford to the highway heading towards Berlin with plans to hitchhike from there. The show in Dresden was wonderful. The fellow doing sound didn't speak a lick of English, which is certainly understandable, but it made for interesting communication about sound stuff for the show. The show was great, and the audience was enthusiastic, and even included an inflatable Yamaha QY700 (the 'package' for quite some time) that an audience member stole from his job at a music store, tossed on stage. I had a really crappy night sleep in the cramped, stuffy sleeping spot in the basement of the show venue.
PHOTO: Martin, sporting his fashionable sunglasses.
Hot stuff.

Wednesday June 4th
Berlin, Germany

I slept for most of the car ride to Berlin. Gunnar and I arrived many hours early so we walked around, got coffee and found a kicker table and a few record stores to browse through. Forstella Ford was to play this show too, so we got to meet up with them and Martin once more, and we all went out for some excellent falafel. The show was great but really really hot inside. After the show, Forstella Ford, Gunnar and I went back to Bob from Cassanova Action's flat. Everyone else went out, but me being a pooper went straight to dreamland.
PHOTO: Martin the Metal Angel and me before our last goodbye in Berlin.

Thursday June 5th
Prague, Czech Republic

Gunnar and I woke up, and I said a final and sad goodbye to Martin and we were off to Prague, one of my favorite cities that I've had a chance to visit. It's old and beautiful and has tons of teeny, windy cobblestone streets. We had no problem crossing the border into the Czech Republic. I've been nervous crossing borders since I had a terrible experience crossing into Canada from the United States where the van I was driving, records and instruments were impounded. The show in Prague was at a small club under a university student housing building. Strangely enough, it's the place where I ended up almost by complete chance when I was visiting Prague with my father many years ago. The show consisted of me, a Czech grindcore band, and a Czech spoken word act, which for me and Gunnar made little sense, as it was, of course, in Czech, but it looked like the fellow was saying interesting stuff. Less pleasant was the ass kicking that Gunnar and I received in kicker by a Czech fellow and lady. At the show, we met up with an old friend of Gunnar's named Aga. Aga is a Polish woman who has traveled all around Eastern Europe. She's a tough, but sweet lady who had lots of great stories from traveling to less traveled places, and was more than eager to answer tons of questions I had for her, and strangely was able to dampen my fears about the two border crossings we were to do the following day, entering Slovakia and Hungary. Aga, Gunnar and I stayed with our friend Tomas, who had set up the show, and with whom I had stayed last time I played in Prague.

Friday June 6th
Budapest, Hungary

Tomas was nice enough to take Gunnar and I to the hockey center of the Czech Republic so I could buy a nice Czech national team hockey jersey. Afterwards, we parted ways, and Gunnar and I drove through Slovakia, where we drove through for about 20 minutes, and I, strangely enough, in those twenty minutes was able to find a Slovakian national team hockey jersey in a gas station. We then crossed into Hungary, without any problem and drove next to pretty, expansive purple flower covered fields. We approached Budapest, and called our host Balazs, who met us at a gas station on the outskirts of Budapest. Balazs was an incredible 19 year old fellow. He spoke German, English and Hungarian fluently and had spent a year living in Germany and set up shows for bands of all sizes, from small shows like mine to shows in Budapest for Avail and other, bigger bands. He was really friendly, really funny and a pleasure to hang out with. Balazs, Gunnar, and I went back to Balazs's friend's flat, where we were to sleep later on that night, to hang out at and eat dinner before the show. Our dinner was interestingly interrupted by a Hungarian man with a megaphone in the courtyard of the apartment building complex announcing that in the back of his car, he had many vegetables for sale. Hungarian is a strange sounding language. It vaguely sounds like the speaker is talking backwards. Not acting like this was anything out of the ordinary, a few Hungarians trickled up to the car and bought some vegetables, and fire walked with them. The show was in a fancy underground club with 8(!) ska bands. I played pinball with a few friendly Hungarian youths and played with Balazs's assistance in translating my yapping in between songs into Hungarian.

Saturday June 7th
Vienna, Austria

Balazs took us to get some falafel, and showed us around the castle area of Budapest, and the Freedom Statue, which is a statue that the Communists erected when the Germans withdrew from Budapest after World War Two. Budapest and parts of the Czech Republic still have significant remnants from the Communist era. There are lots of old Communist made Skuda cars and mammoth, grey housing projects on the outskirts of cities like Prague, Budapest, and Brno. Gunnar and I said goodbye to Balazs and drove to Vienna. We, as usual, had lousy directions to the place where we were to be, but we found it with plenty of time to spare, and met up with the Nationale Blue fellows, who were sharing the bill with me again. We hung around for a while in the kitchen area of the squat where the show was to be and listened to an excellent dance mix that someone had made, though it was a bit ugly to hear Angel of Death, a song about Nazi experimenter Josef Mengele, in Vienna, the biggest city in a country which a little over 50 years ago, was more than welcoming to Hitler and the Nazis. The show was cool even with some sound system troubles, and a ridiculous amount of smoke. I've never really understood why punks, who often are the first to point out what human rights really mean, and tend to, and mostly rightly so, get irritated when innocent folks are disrespected one way or another, also tend to smoke a lot in poorly ventilated rooms where lots of non-smokers are. It seems to me to be incredibly insensitive. After the show, the Nationale Blue, their driver Mikael, Gunnar and I went back to an excellent fellow named Thomas's flat for sleepy sleep.
PHOTO: Balazs and Gunnar with Budapest in the background.

Sunday June 8th
Chemnitz, Germany

Gunnar and I drove for many hours through Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany to the big festival that I was to play in Chemnitz. The festival seemed to be very eclectic, with metal/hardcore bands, band like my 'band', and cool ambient rockers from Chicago 90 Day Men. I was really tired, and slept for most of the evening until I played. It was fun to play because it was at a huge music hall, and there was a sound person and someone whose job it was to aggressively control the lights and the smoke machine. The smoke machine operator only turned the smoke machine on when I was bending down to the equipment I was using, thus having my head right in front of the place where the smoke bellowed out. It turned into a ridiculous, smoky, but fun game.

Monday June 9th
Munich, Germany

Gunnar and I ate breakfast and drove the 5 hours to Munich. The show was with two American spazzy hardcore bands, Off Minor, and Mara Akate. I hadn't realized that I had known a few members from each band, and I had a really good time hanging out with them. The show was really fun, until after I played, when a member of the audience approached me and said, "Do you know what's really cool about you?" "No," I replied. "It's cool that you're Jewish and you DON'T suck," he said. I started to explain that I didn't appreciate his comment, and he shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Of course, there are assholes everywhere, but there's something extra shitty about coming into contact with that kind of stuff in Germany, ESPECIALLY at a punk show, and especially when I think that Germany has been really good with educating its citizens about the holocaust. Bummer.

Tuesday June 10th
Regensburg, Germany

After Gunnar and I ate breakfast, I spent most of the day doing my laundry. With only 5 days left to go on the tour, I wimped out and was absolutely unable to wear the pants that I had worn every day for the last 5 ½ weeks for 5 more days. Gunnar spent most of the day patiently waiting for me to do my laundry. Gunnar and I got to the show in Regensburg early, which was in the basement of a youth center. Gunnar and I grabbed dinner at a cheap, but good restaurant where I ordered and ate Octopus heads! The show was okay but the cavernous basement had lousy acoustics, and it sounded pretty awful. Afterwards, Gunnar and I headed back to Stefan's house to sleep. I had met Stefan on my first European tour in 1999 when Stefan and his friend Franz drove me for 10 days of the trip. Franz, at that point, had a beat up blue car with a hole in the gas tank that made it so we could only fill up the car to just below ½ a tank, before the gas would spill out. So, not only did we have to partially fill up the car every 45 minutes of driving, but I also remember sitting in the backseat, with my eyes closed for most of the journeys in said car, imagining us going around a curve with a bit of gasoline spilling out of the tank, finding a spark and exploding us in Bavaria.

Wednesday June 11th
Wurzburg, Germany

Gunnar and I drove to Wurzburg, and arrived at the venue that we had directions for, to be met by Tilman, the fellow who had organized the show, who took us to the recently changed, new venue where the show was to be. The show was small but good, and my request for no smoking in the small room, which had the windows covered with mattresses to dampen the loud sound, was only met with a little resistance.

Thursday June 12th
Trier, Germany

Gunnar and I arrived at the show early and played many games of kicker, and then a game of basketball. I did an interview with some punk kids, that found its way to the topic of the current Middle East conflict. They told me that they've run into a lot of people in the punk community that appreciate the tactics of groups like Hamas who orchestrate blowing up cafes, buses and other innocent civilians in Israel. VERY scary. The show was with a post hardcore band from the Netherlands called Face Tomorrow, and a fellow named Jason, from Seattle who does a one person accordion show and just got back from a tour in Russia. Ingo and his and Gunnar's friend Eike came down via train from Hamburg to spend the last few days of my tour with us. It was an excellent reunion with Ingo and Eike is a totally cool dood as well.

Friday June 13th
Cologne, Germany

Ingo, Eike, Gunnar and I spent the early part of the day looking at some unimpressive ruins of the Roman Empire (which at one point stretched up to Trier), like an amphitheatre that had high school football stadium-like bench bleachers stationed over itself, and getting falafel and coffee. We headed up to Cologne where I was opening for the hugely popular German punk band Oma Hans (Grandma Hans in English). I sat around doing crossword puzzles until it was time to play. I played just after eating, so it was pretty hard to gauge my blood sugar level, and it crashed as soon as I was done, so I was feeling pretty terrible after I was done playing, but that faded eventually. After the show, we drove to Ingo's friend David's flat and miraculously didn't get a flat tire even though we ended up driving over more than a few beer bottles that were left scattered all over the street in front of the venue.
PHOTO: Gunnar, Eike and Ingo.
nibble gunga.

Saturday June 14th
Blieskastel, Germany

We woke up and went record shopping in Cologne and Gunnar and I stopped at a grocery store to prepare for my plane ride home the next day. We got to Blieskastel a bit early and kicked a soccer/football-ball around with Becky from the Broost Krew's other band Amtrak and Sweden's Trapdoor Fucking Exit. The show was late, and the sound person was totally incompetent, so it was a less than triumphant show to end the tour on, but I was excited to be going home and was in a good mood anyway. I said goodbye to the Amtrak folks and Trapdoor Fucking Exit folks, one of whom made a joke to me along the lines of, "try not to crash the plane into any buildings." I guess I don't find that kind of joke funny and think it's really dangerous when people are so separated from real events and real loss of life and tragedies, whether it's by television or distance. So, Ingo, Eike, Gunnar and I left Blieskastel at about 1am and headed to the Frankfurt airport where the Germans were to leave me off to wait for my plane home the next morning at 11am. We made it to the airport without event, and I stayed up the whole night to make sure I wouldn't miss my flight. I didn't, and I slept an anxious sleep on the flight and was greeted by my family at the airport terminal that I had left from 6 weeks before. It was a wonderful trip and I got to spend time with a lot of old friends, meet new ones and see some beautiful things. As always, it was nice to go and nice to come home.

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