next stop: the forest kindergarten, the gingerbread house, and the squatted tennis court
I started the week with photos from a squatted school in Cologne where we played during the last Black Diamond tour. And today the frieght rolls on with more photos of some of the inspiring places where we rested our heads and sang our songs this June…
After a watermelon-filled, sunny breakfast in Cologne, we piled back into the bus and headed to Leipzig where we spent the night at the “Forest Kindergarten” where we played music for and with the presiding kittens the following morning.
The concept of a forest Kindergarten is that the kids spend as much time as possible outside. Brilliant. As were the two Bauwägen that they had on site:
The following day found us in Berlin at a Wagenplatz so green and quiet you’d never know you were in the country’s capital city. But, cough cough, I forget to take pictures of the place, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Did you know that there are about twenty-something Wagenplätze in Berlin? Fuck yeah.
On our way back West we spent a night at a campground very close to a town whose name translates into something like “Stupidville.” Oh how sad we were that Stupidville wasn’t quite on our way. Because we all really wanted to camp there and take hundreds of ridiculous photos. To this day we still wonder what the reisdents of Stupidville call themselves. Stupidians? Or just plain Stupid? The potential for horrific jokes is beautifully endless.
But alas! After a night’s pause we rocketed into Amsterdam, Holland for two performances: an afternoon live on the radio (as the tour progressed, I got worse and worse at remembering to take photos) at the public library and an evening at the Occii, an charming once-squatted alternative venue that has just been restored to look like the gingerbread house it apparently was in a past life:
After the show two French fellows making a documentary about independent politically radical music interviewed me, so maybe, just maybe, you will someday be able to see what I look like at 2 am, covered in sweat, and cracked out on the sugar cubes I was downing in order to stay awake.
Last (of the gigs in Holland) but the farthest from least was the squatted tennis court I refered to in last week’s post about pallet-built furniture. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: it was the kind of place that when you visit, immediately spawns fantasties about staying forever. Imagine the Waganplätze that you could build on nine (roughly, I didn’t count exactly) empty tennis courts!
But Wagenplatz culture never really took off in Holland the way it did in Germany, perhaps because of the ease of squatting actual houses (that is, until recently, when the government forced a squatting ban through that has been responsible for ending one beautiful house project after another since it went into effect). At the tennis court, there is just one Bauwagen (being stored there), a lived-in truck, a huge club house housing three people, and a whole lot of trees and birds you won’t find inside the city it skirts. Absolute fucking heaven. If it were any closer, I would have moved in already.
In the photos you can see the clubhouse, the greenhouse (which is part of what used to be the clubhouse cafeteria), and the truck-inhabitants and pallet-furniture-builders (swirled into anonmynity) enjoying the fruits of their labor.
going to utrecht
Everyone has a fantasy, right? Marriage, puppies, orgies, the lottery. As for me, well, lately I’ve been imagining lovingly piling all my books into a few cardboard boxes while wildly throwing clothes I don’t need out the fifth story window. Leaving everything else in a pile on the street to join the urban tumbleweed. Locking the door and never looking back.I never get to the part where I go somewhere else afterwards. To the part where I need somewhere to put the boxes. To the part where it’s still a little cold at night to be sleeping on the street. To the part where I have to make a thousand appointments to visit a thousand WGs. And a thousand more appointments and paint purchases and nail holes in new walls before a different room on a different street starts feeling like something like home.
My typewriter problem is certainly not going to make it any easier. (Herman, umm, let’s just say ‘sprouted’ two friends.)
It’s a thought I’ve been kicking around for the last few weeks. Brewing. Fermenting. Not yet articulatable. That’s where the emergency vacation came in. Better get the hell out, I thought, before my nerves snap into a thousand tiny peices that I’ll never be able to figure out how to peice together again.
And Holland, Holland was the perfect choice. As fucked as any other country with a government and a couple thousand conservative fucks, but with the right people, in just the right light, it’s the land of milk and honey. (That’s soy milk, and the stroopwaffel honey, mind you.)
I’d been sitting on the train station steps for exactly three minutes when the pretty punk girl with the bike and the double lip peircing asked me if I needed a place to stay. The first inkling of magic after two nights without sleep and a hazy three-hour recovery train ride. Naw, I told her, I’m waiting for someone. But thanks. Thanks a lot.
Turned out that she was staying at the farmhouse squat in Lent, and that’d we’d meet again the next day on a trampoline at the squatted villa with the empty swimming pool.
B turned up a few minutes later with a pur-dy old maroon racing bike. We recognized each other from the pictures and the stories. Friends of friends. Friends of friends who happened to have sent us both the same patch. The same patch which we were both wearing, hastily stichted to the back of our shirts. Friends of friends with the same bracelet and the same god damn glow in the dark Clear Channel My Ass underwear. Oh North Carolina, you wiley dog you.
We spent the day wandering Nijmegen, looking at stencils, sharing music and stories, dipping peices of chocolate in soy yogurt on some bustling green in some bustling square. Watching a couple of macho types flaunt their urban gymnastic flips to squealing 14-year-old girls poured into too-tight pants. The usual suspects. Getting mind fucked by the new David Lynch film while trying to quietly chew paprika crisps. Falling asleep to Bonnie Prince Billy and the faint scent of lavender.
Everything about Nijmegen was magic, I reckon. The peaceful vacation feeling of being suspending in time and space, of being far far away from problems and grocery shopping and time-to-go-to-works. Holland is just so god damn wholesome. At least it is when you’re staying at a beautiful once-squatted, now-owned house in the middle of town with six other silly funny vegan types, hypnotized by the strange almost-familiar sound of Dutch.
Maybe the word wholesome never would have occured to me if it hadn’t been for the little blond boy at the fleamarket. I was sitting on the steps, old steps leading into a building suspisiosly resembling something out of Harry Potter. I had been waiting for D and listlessly eyeing a basket of mismatched knitting needles when the very small, very curly-haired little blonde boy in very red rubber boots walked straight up to me, put his soft little hands on my cheeks, and kissed me right on the lips.
First the nanosecond of American-style panic: Where’s his mother, and is she going to sue me for child molestation?
Then, awe. I tried to talk to him in German, but he just giggled at me in Dutch, so I gave him a little plastic Nemo until D showed up and asked him how old he was. Five years old, he told her.
See what I mean? The land of fucking milk and honey.
Today I’m in den Hague, full of Thai food, and hiding from the impending end of the spell in the little guest house above my parents’ old college friends’ garage. But the dull ache just below my hip bones keeps reminding me that I have every reason to panic. I’d turn to rituals for comfort, if I had any rituals left, but I guess there just wasn’t any room for them what with Recipes for Disaster and grandpa’s old winter coat hogging all the room in my suitcase. There’s no reason to worry, there never really is, I’ll get off the train in Frankfurt with a feeling of home. I’ll move out of my apartment. I’ll teach my Saturday class. I’ll return those borrowed dishes and find that lost key. I’ll ride my bike to the river and I’ll watch the refletion of the sun setting on the skyline. Hell man, it’s only a ride.