a wagenplatz fest

Ah summer. It’s a good time of year for contented sighs and wiggled toes, for afternoon siestas and cold slices of watermelon. Every year around this time a Wagenplatz in the region celebrates its birthday with a weekend-long festival. A good opportunity to open a little photographic window onto life on other Wagenplätze for Click Clack Gorilla readers, I reckon.

I’ve been going to this birthday party fest every year since I moved into my first wagon-trailer in Frankfurt. During my first visit, my team won the rally/forest scavenger hunt and a rather poor flirt told me that the bags under my eyes were really beautiful when I smiled (top nominee for “worst pick up line ever” award). The following year the Beard and I borrowed a handful of the festival Platz’s axes and spent several hours in the forest taking faux fantasy metal pictures. And last year I rode to the festival on the back of a motorcycle, had a few beers, and rode home again before some impending drama managed to envelope us.

Friday afternoon people from other Wagenplätze start rolling up the bumpy dirt road that leads into the cool forest beneath which this Platz is nestled. On that road I always find myself wondering how the residents get out in the winter, or if they simply don’t. Big old-school buses and vans that have been turned into cozy wood-paneled living spaces line up along the road that leads past the fenced-in Wagenplatz and deeper into the woods, and the tents of those who have arrived by car, by bike, and by train dot the green-ferned, brown-leaved landscape between them.

Right: One of the Platz’s compost containers.

The Platz residents borrow electricity from their neighbors for the occasion, but usually they are reliant on the sun for such luxuries. Being there, needing a headlamp to find my way back to the van where we slept, I was reminded of what an extravagantly luxurious Wagenplatz we have here, how entrenched in the ho-hum of normal living with grid electricity and water. Outside my Wagen it is never dark; the lights on the building beside us burn a mockery of the moon into the night without exception.

If I recall correctly from conversations in years past, these folks have to bring all their drinking water up from the city (a task requiring a vehicle). From the looks of the piles of logs between wagons, I’d reckon that they get their firewood from the forest, and the community spaces beneath which food and music are served at the birthday fest are built of logs as well. A friend tells me it all started with one dude and a tent. Now, 20 years later, they are a community of six or seven who pay 750 euro annually for the privilege. It is one of the most beautiful Wagonplätze I’ve ever seen, but I am a sucker for the forest, and they are right smack in the middle of it.

At the festival there is music and there is beer (and sometimes there are rallies and beer case climbing competitions, but the games vary from year to year), and people sit in groups around bonfires and Swedish logs that spark chimney-like up into the night as the fire consumes them from the inside out. The bands they invite have never really struck my fancy, but that’s not the point. The point is a peaceful/rowdy/drunken couple of days among friends from the rest of the region’s Wagenplätze, and a good time camping with the folks from home in a new context. So without further ado, some photos from a relaxing Sunday morning spent among wagons and trees.

The two-story compost toilet:

Bonfire circle, homemade bass, and the cocktail bar on the side of one of this Wagenplatz’s community wagons (an extra-wide number created from two wagons pushed up against each other—aka both had one wall cut off to create one big room between them):

Part of an outdoor kitchen set up, though I’m not sure if they currently use it as such:

Some Bauwagen life propaganda. In English, “Daddy, why do other people work for half the month to pay the rent? Bauwagenplätze make you happy”:

Last but not least…

For those of you who haven’t already heard or done so (although it appears that it is possible to vote more than once…), please pretty please pretty please click over to Love and Trash to vote Click Clack Gorilla best of theirs (no registration required, only takes about 20 seconds). If you vote and leave a comment you can win a prize. My ego will thank you.

Monday May 30th 2011, 5:30 pm Leave a Comment
Filed under: conspiracies,wagenplatz

click clack gorilla for president

Woot woot, peng peng, I’m in the running for “best of” over on DIY blog Love and Trash.

Being a web editor myself, I’ll be the first to point out that contests like these are usually more about the mutual linkage and the clicks than any sort of actual glory, but hell, I like to pet my ego and promote myself as much as the next freelance writer.

So! If you have a minute, pretty please click on over to Love and Trash and vote for “Click Clack Gorilla” to officially enshrine me among their best. (They are giving away prizes to people who vote…) Just click here, click the box next to “Click Clack Gorilla,” and click “vote.” Thanksthanksthanks!

Saturday May 28th 2011, 3:47 pm 3 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies

travel light

Oh! What trash-spawned treasures I have to show you! But sun and song have kept me from the computer (though while scavenging delicious trash on Sunday the heavens emptied out all their water buckets on our heads), so in their stead this Wednesday I offer a song for the simple livers and the travelers among you. Diane Cluck sings like the bird on your porch and Jeffrey Lewis, well, he has a strange way of singing truth be told, but I love his lyrics.

So without further ado I present to you The Soundtrack to the Last Eight Hours of my Life (I like to listen to songs I like on repeat until I know them by heart/need at least five years before ever listening to them again):

“The ground is dirt, the dirt is sweet.” Amen. And speaking of prayers, wonder what the Rapture Christians are saying now. Or were they all been sucked up to heaven Saturday and this is hell? Well, I am at work today. I wonder.

On an only partially relevant note: Thanks to everyone who responded to my “weed or vegetable?” question. I was chagrined to look up and notice, on the very same day that I posted that question, that one of the trees around the garden had leaves of just the same shape…

Wednesday May 25th 2011, 5:30 pm 6 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,gorilla travel,music

a night in the life

A post I wrote quite a while ago to purge the demons…

One of the downsides to where I live—not the community, but the particular spot on which my little trailer sits—is the noise. My bed is about five meters from our concert space, and when the weather starts to get warm and people start to feel the urge to congregate around piles of burning twigs, they arrange themselves on a bench several meters away from my window to flap their lips and clink their bottles. And, naturally, they set up the stereo speakers so that they can listen to music as they do so, which entails pointing them directly at my wagon, where I am often laying in bed, head beneath three pillows, cursing their unborn children.

Most of the time it doesn’t matter. Most of the time I drink a beer with intentions of actually attending the concerts in the space just beyond my bed, only to fall asleep just as the music is starting. Last month I slept through four punk bands and a pepper spray explosion (pepper spray falls out of pocket during concert, gets stepped on, empties room, wrecks havoc). I wanted to see the last band, hell, I would have liked to have seen any of the bands. But instead a poorly timed wheat beer turned my limbs to lead and I lay in bed with the distinct feeling that I would never move again and the faint hope that I would be feeling normal again by the time the last band came on. “At least from here I’ll here it when they go on,” I thought just before dozing off for the evening. I am not a light sleeper.

Point is, I can stand quite a lot of noise, but I can only stand it as long as 1. the windows aren’t vibrating (I do not heart techno parties) and 2. I am alone. Add another person to the equation and I become so concerned with their tolerance for the noise that I can no longer handle it myself. Fast forward to tonight.

Tonight there was a folk concert in the house garden. When I saw the organizers tidying up the garden, I briefly cursed, and then I accepted my fate; the concert would be held just beyond my desk-side window, and I could escape no note as long as I spent the evening writing from the comfort of my nest, as I intended to do. And as I sat at my desk, stringing together words to give to you, I heard the overly earnest singers and the cliched lyrics (oh “folk punk,” so easy to love, so easy to hate). I heard the audiences’ polite applause and the crackling of the bonfire. And because all of it was in English, there was no hope of blending a second of it into background fuzz.

Two of the musicians were particularly interested in starting a discussion with the audience (generally, an awesome concept), and this too, I could not escape, though I would have liked to because I’d seen this group play here before and throughout their show and the conversation that followed, I developed a deep and lasting dislike for them, their music, and their art of talking about both. But that is neither here nor there. The concert was fairly quiet, if irritating, and now, with the music long over and the audience gone home, I can sit in quiet once again, and enjoy it all the more.

Tuesday May 24th 2011, 8:10 am 4 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life

friend or foe?

Does anyone know what these are? You see, I am a poor planner. Some of the seeds I planted I didn’t label, assuming that I would remember what had gone where (ha!). Others I did label, and then the labels blew away. And the things that remained neatly labeled decided not to come out of the ground at all.

So before I remove what I am beginning to suspect are really just weeds from my vegetable bed, I thought I’d send a plea for information out to all the other gardeners reading this blog. I could swear that I planted something in this spot, but I couldn’t tell you what, and this plant doesn’t look like anything I’ve grown before (and it looks suspiciously like some weeds I saw growing down the street). But if I end up weeding out what I intentionally planted, well, I’m going to feel rather silly. So here we are. Anyone know?

Monday May 23rd 2011, 8:14 am 9 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life

fame! glory! youtube! ha!

I don’t usually bother telling band tour stories because they’re usually kind of boring. Not boring to be in, but boring to retell. We drove somewhere, we drank beer, we soundchecked, we drank some more beer, we ate a really good/really bad dinner, we played some music, people liked it, people didn’t like it, we drove home/went to sleep. The details may change, people may like it more or less, the mattresses might actually be rock-hard gym matts in a room full of wasps and rotting socks, but the story line is always the same.

But today I thought I’d say a few more words than I usually do because Obenohneunten filmed our concert at der Bock in Mannheim on Saturday, and now it’s on youtube for me to share with you. So far there are three songs online. Here we come eternal youtube glory. Or something. So here are two of our originals for your listening pleasure.

The End Time Ballad

This is a new song that’s not on the demo, written from the point of view of someone who has survived an oil-crisis crash situation and is sitting around telling her grandkids about what it was like before. And oh man, the saw! I love playing the saw, but I’m no Saw Lady, and whoops in my rush to get set up between verse and saw part I put the microphone right in my way so I couldn’t actually play any of the low notes. Ah well, usually what happens with the saw is that no one can frickin’ hear it, so at least that point was in order for once. Now enjoy some post-apocolyptic tunes:

Two on the Road

This is one of my favorite songs that we’ve written, and the lyrics were something like a present for Katey Sleeveless when she invented friend song present week. You should sing along real loud on the chorus, so let’s practice: “It won’t take long to burn this city down, so let’s rise up, let’s rise up.” Peng peng!

And in case you hadn’t heard Judgement Day is this Saturday. Better get yer knickers ironed, the scorpions are coming. I may not stand by the Bible, but nobody can write apocalypse like Mr. John. See you in hell!

Friday May 20th 2011, 10:00 am 6 Comments
Filed under: black diamond express train to hell,conspiracies,music

the dining room

A cold, damp week has kept us from re-instituting the outdoor bed, and a new dining space has emerged in its place. Eating outside means you can be as big of a slob as you want without having the clean the floor afterwards (wohoo), but it also means that the little green bugs that live on the undersides of the maple leaves are always falling on your arms to tickle you.

The rocking chair showed up in the back of a friend’s van recently with another washboard (this one all metal) to add to my collection of household-items-turned-instruments. One of my favorite things about scavenging is that I am constantly giving my friends presents. A habit just as fun when you’re on the receiving end.

Do you have a special spot for summer meals?

Thursday May 19th 2011, 11:45 am Leave a Comment
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life,wagenplatz

dumpster find of the week: and the kitchen grows

Despite frequent trips to The Trash Across the Street, I haven’t found much in the way of memorable booty of late. (Though a particularly perfect blue metal pot does come to mind.) So instead I’ve focused on coaxing plants out of the ground, reading in the sun, and cleaning up the chaos that had sprouted between my walls while was I gazing off into space behind my computer.

Monday, mid cleaning spree, Doktor Karl knocked on the door. She had a peice of furniture for me, she said, if I wanted it. “Oo!” I said. “I’ll come take a look.”

What she was getting rid of was this pretty wooden cabinet, making room for another during her own spring cleaing and rearranging. “I went through a lot of trouble to get it here,” she told me, “so I wanted to make sure that somebody was using it.” In my excitment I forgot to ask where it had come from, but she had implied that it was the fruit of one of the estate clear outs where she once worked.

I told her I would take it, and we carried it across the Wagenplatz and into my trailer. “I thought about hauling it over to the trash so that you could find it yourself, get that scavenger adrenaline rush,” she joked. But I have to say I prefer the convenience of a direct delivery, fun as a good scavenge can be.

And what perfect timing. When I first moved to Mainz, I was part of a communal kitchen that we lovingly call Hell (here are some photos). Once upon a time Hell was a kids’ wagon with a slide leading down from the loft where we now sleep our guests into the main room. And, though I have a hard time believing it, one of the walls appears to be designed to flip down on hinges into a little deck.

But these days Hell is a cold, drafty place. A place where the vegetables freeze in their drawer in winter, and only several hours of roaring fire can even begin to take the chill out of the air. The beams are rotting, and despite a bit of re-siding and re-insulation last summer, it’s impossible to keep warm once the summer has waned. Yes, it has happened. Hell has frozen over.

This winter I evacuated to the tiny kitchen in my own wagon, and found myself starting to enjoy cooking again. It is very important to me to be surrounded by beautiful things and to have a kitchen arranged to make my life as easy as possible and my miniscule kitchen was just that. So now the Beard and I are contemplating giving up on hell and turning my wagon into a full-fledged kitchen, and his living wagon into a full-fledged bedroom. Which means there will be some flea market shopping in my future (attention dumpster gods and gods of the flea market, I need a gas-stove that has hook ups for bottle gas), some building, and some new rennovation-story blogging.

This post was a part of 2nd Time Around Tuesday at A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

Wednesday May 18th 2011, 5:35 pm 8 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,daily life,dumpster diving,dumpster finds,freegan

a boat dance for the dumpster gods

Mmm. Good morning internet, hope you’re well. I spent the entire weekend without you, and it was glorious the way time without the internet always is. The concerts we played at Ventil Verlag and der Bock were some of the best we’ve had in a while. Whiskey was consumed, songs were sung, smiles were exchanged, and a handful of people insisted on autographs on their CDs (welcome to the twilight zone). Here here, hallelujah, yip yip, and etc.

Now I’m back and in the middle of tackling some cleaning-shit-up projects in the wagon. It’s chilly, and I’m wearing the bright red winter coat I got for two euro at the flea market a couple of weeks ago. I already lit all the candles that I have, but it’s just not getting any warmer. Summers in Mainz sure are moody. But at least the spaghetti squash plants don’t seem to mind. Unfortunately, the tomato plants do. But that is neither here nor there.

I wanted to tell you about Have You Seen This Girl. Right now she’s planning a boat trip from Germany to Romania. And she needs a boat. A few months ago she wrote asking if I could save any boats I found in the trash for her. But, alas, the dumpster gods have been producing precious little in the way of boats. Ever. So I thought I’d share her plea for help with you all. If you’ve got a kayak on your hands you’ve been longing to get rid of, now is your chance.

I’m going on a kayak trip, a long one….down the Danube from Germany to Romania. It starts 25th June in Ingolstadt and ends on the 10th September at the Black Sea. 1564 miles. Shitting myself? Yeah, a little bit. Once there, I’m planning to spend the winter in Romania then, come Spring 2012 and the big thaw I will take a boat to the Crimea and commence my journey back to the West, on foot.

Not sure of timetable or route, only that I’ll be walking. That’s it…..all is open.

So, seeing as I have no previous interest in kayaking….doing this is basically an interesting way to get myself to Eastern Europe with no return ticket…..I have no kayaking equipment.

Can you….or maybe someone you know, help me out? I’m looking for second hand stuff, low budget equipment, maybe that’s been sitting in a shed for some time and can be hauled out, the dust blown off and given a loving new owner.

I’ve got a budget (a small one) so am not asking for charity. (Although that’s appreciated too!).

When I get to Romania I’ll need to lighten my load so will sell or give away the kayak and all paddling equipment. If you wanted to give something to me for free, I could make sure I donate it to a kayak school at the other end. Or, if supporting tourism in a poor country isn’t your type of charity, I could sell what you give me and give the money to an actual charity, orphanages, that kind of thing.

So….if anyone has anything on the list and they would like to sell or donate it…..please please please contact me. Or think of a kayak lover you know and forward this email.

I will be eternally grateful for ANY help you can give me.

Because I am a chronic wastrel this email is sent much later than it should have been but, you do have 3 weeks to contact me before I start arranging to buy a kayak in Germany!


A boat (hah)….sea or touring kayak. Not whitewater. Longer than 13 ft.

A paddle.

Spray/cockpit cover (one of those rubber skirt type things)

Life jacket

Small kayak transport trolley….for lugging it in and out of the river….portage etc.

Thank you.

So if you’ve got a boat for HYSTG, get in touch: haveyouseenthisgirl {AT} hotmail {DOT} co {DOT} uk. Let’s get the bartering-freecycling network cogs grinding…

Tuesday May 17th 2011, 11:36 am 2 Comments
Filed under: conspiracies,gorilla travel

people of mainz! people of mannheim!

I have been excited about this weekend for months. Excited because tonight (Friday the THIRTEENTH, *insert spooky ghost noises here*) we (Black Diamond Express Train to Hell) are playing a show with the lovely Phoebe Kreutz at Ventil Verlag—Boppstraße 25 in the back courtyard.

Phoebe gets down anti-folk style, usually just her, her guitar, and her hilarious lyrics. Her number one top best hit ever is a song called “Straight Edge Kids Really Freak Me Out,” but I couldn’t find it on youtube, so here another hilarious song that she wrote about her ass. And anyway all her songs are great.

On Saturday you’ll find us in Mannheim on the stage at Bock. We’re the only band of the evening, so we’re going to do a really, really, really long set with all the slow songs we leave out at the punk shows we always seem to end up playing.

And while we’re here, lookie lookie, we have a new website, helltrain.info. On it there are pictures and flyers and longs lists of places where we’ll be appearing in the near future. Tragically, however, we still haven’t gotten the mp3 player up and running, so if you want to sample our tunes, you’ll have to visit the miserable myspace site that we just can’t wait to delete. Speaking of which, anyone out there who can help us with the damn mp3 player? We’ll send you a CD in payment…

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Friday May 13th 2011, 2:30 pm 1 Comment
Filed under: black diamond express train to hell,conspiracies,music