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tales from a weary traveller 2

Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2005

It was worse, way worse, way way worse than I thought….Perhaps it was Air Canada’s policy of seating the fattest people in one part of the plane, to balance it up or something. Or that they particularly chose the loudest snoring and evidently, stupidest, passengers to accompany me. Anyway, I was sandwiched in between five people who’d just done Europe in five days or something like that, and who proceeded to spend the next eight hours to Toronto loudly telling each other, and everyone else in earshot, what a bunch of rude assholes we Europeans are. The curious thing was that they were talking, through me as if I were invisible, as I was seated between two of them. Why would they do that?
What-Ever… As Mr Garrison would say, ‘there are no stupid questions, only stupid people’
So anyway, arrived in Canada, waited in line, for enough time for me to imagine the names and occupations of all the other three hundred people waiting in line and, of course, how they would look naked, something I find invaluable in those situations, then was pleasantly welcomed in to the country by a kindly immigration officer. No fingerprints, photos, guilty until proven innocent attitude, like a couple of other countries I can think of, just a big warm smile and a ‘Welcome to Canada’ that I truly believe he meant. For the next four hours at the airport and then the following five hours to LAX, I found all the Canadians that I spoke with, super friendly, and…. and I like this bit… they were speaking French to me and I could understand them and answer them, and that was almost surreal. It’s been at least ten years since I was in Toronto but at that point I was unable to speak French, but now that I can, I found it fun..Simple things amuse this weary traveller after some time.
So I arrived in Los Angeles thirty four hours after leaving my home. It was late… I listened to Continental in the car on the way from the airport to the hotel… the trip was the exact length of the album…weird….It pleases me to be back in the US..
Now, I’ll never get those thirty four hours back, they’re gone…so what are the positive things I have learned? I learned my laptop battery doesn’t last long. I learned to lose weight so I don’t get put in the fat person section of the plane. I learned that modern international travel is a slow and mind-numbing process, if you let it be. I learned to take earplugs with me. I learned that I probably need to spend more time in an anglophone society, as I’ve been talking my ass of since I arrived here in the US, and it’s doing me good. OK, the fact it is 81 degrees helped as well.
That’s all from the weary traveller, for I no longer feel like a weary traveller. Something has changed. Maybe it’s just being somewhere else. I always have made a point that somewhere else is my favorite place. I think I’m reconsidering that thought, as right here, right now is seems to work for me right here, right now….

notes from a weary traveller 1

Posted on Monday, November 14th, 2005

why my life gets really complicated when my internet connection is down…
Well for one thing, trying to sort out travel arrangements with no internet these days seems, not only frustrating, but rather inefficient. I mean, I’m an artist, I have more than enough things in my life which are inefficient, er, me, for example….
As I seem to spend a lot of my time bitching about France Telecom and my isp, and for good reason, as the fuckers seem to have blocked port 80 at their end of my dsl connection and are in complete denial about it, today I’ll try to spare you all from whining about that and, instead, whine about something else, that being, what I’m spending so much of my life doing at the moment, namely travelling what seems to be enormous distances in the name of art and the art of feeding my family. The two things tend to intertwine in my life, but then I guess I’m the lucky one…. Now don’t get the idea that I’m somehow ungrateful for this life, that couldn’t be further from the truth, it’s probably just that I spend way too much time on my own… watching… thinking… all the exact things I should avoid…:)
the travelling bitch
I’ve just spent nearly four hours on a TGV, en route to Paris CDG in order to fly to Los Angeles, tomorrow morning, getting up at the crack of dawn, in order to board a, doubtless, crowded aircraft, waiting in endless lines of check-ins and passport control then passing through countless security checks, while lugging lots of… luggage… (hmmm never quite grasped the tautology before……)..I’ll be burning up precious hours of my, all so, finite life, waiting…..in what Dr Seuss, so astutely calls The Waiting Place, although I’m not sure the good doctor meant it quite so literally. More about philosophy another time, OK?
Now I shouldn’t complain, after all I’m lucky not to be always stuck in one place, but why are the flights I always have to catch really early in the morning? It inevitably means staying in a hotel near the airport, which always cost sooooo much more than a normal hotel, followed by lining up for eternity in the morning to check out, waiting for an age for the airport navette and then doing the whole, aforementioned airport waiting thing. Couple this with the French attitude towards service and you know it’s going to be a l o n g day.. . I’m not being xenophobic, by the way, just try taking your kids to MacDonalds here and you will understand where I’m coming from.
This musician/artist thing, as a lifestyle, certainly isn’t very glamorous… at all. I have to say, though, that when travelling with a band, or even just with a tour manager, one has has the opportunity to share the tedium but share the excitement as well. Travelling on your own, over well worn paths, can really be likened to the daily drudge of commuting on the London Underground… And for a brief aside, for I am one to make those things, how come I was recently the only one on the London Underground without an iPod?… So many people packed so tightly together without any sense of community whatsoever is something we should be afraid of, in the whole scheme of things. It was quite disconcerting… That, and that the people panhandling me were wearing $200 trainers and asking for money for cappuccino……And they had iPods..
Anyway, I digress… comme d’habitude ….
It certainly never seems apparent when you see a performer doing a show, for example, up there on the stage, all lit up like they’re something so fucking special, that they have wasted away so much of their precious lives lining up for this or that, tracking down missing baggage, and waiting around for shit to happen. Life is too short.. Me, I don’t know what to think. It’s lovely getting affirmation for the work that one creates but sometimes it’d be nice just to to enjoy being instead of doing. I can’t truly be when I’m waiting, because the idea of living in the moment, while standing, packed like sardines into an car rental shuttle bus, seems strangely redundant to me…. right at this moment… One day perhaps when I’m old and hopefully will have acquired some wisdom, that simple truth may be revealed to me. In the meantime I’ll be waiting…….

progress not perfection….

Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

Sorry to be quiet of late. Had a few things to occupy me in the last week or so. First was a trip to London, which was to take part, a small part, in the London Film Festival, by being part of the jury to decide who got The Sutherland Prize. In short. Got back from San Francisco. It was good there, I was happy. It was warm. Then I had three jet lagged days of watching some of the most depressing films ever made. Don’t get me wrong, I like depressing films sometimes, but not a dozen at a time and not jet lagged, with a million emails to answer. Really, there was some fantastic cinema there, but, well, in small doses the experience may have made me less suicidal. Like most things, I guess. The trip to London was painful, the train being full of fat noisy English children, stuffing their greedy little faces with sweets and sugary drinks all the way and making enough noise to raise the dead, or at least fill this weary travellers dark heart with thoughts, along the lines of ‘give me 3 minutes with this kid alone, with just a pencil and a hacksaw’. I would have got up out of my seat to strangle a couple of them, but I hadn’t the energy. I doubt any of my fellow travellers would have objected. Then I arrived in London….
My usual good fortune at customs involved me being asked if I had any ‘guns, drugs or pornography’. When I answered ‘No, where can I get some?’ I was taken into a small room, by a kindly Indian gentleman who gave me a thorough search, happily without the aid of rubber gloves, who did his best with all his electronic gizmos to find some offending article,(Come to think of it, he didn’t question the pencils and hacksaw) but to no avail. I asked him why he picked me from the throng of visitors and he told me what gave me away. He told me ‘I believed you looked suspicious because you are a well dressed gentleman but you wear earrings’…You get that?, Well dressed…. My Lordy, what’s going on in the world? Well dressed? It’s still brings a smile to my face, even as I type it…. So now you must feel much more secure in the knowledge that Britain is safe from the scourge of drugs, guns and pornography due, in no part, to the real experts waiting at the other end of the channel tunnel, checking whether or not peoples jewelry match their attire. Now that I think about it, don’t the police do that in LA?
what ever ..
Anyway, the good news is that London seemed to have been tidyed up, especially for my arrival, Waterloo smells less of urine than it ever has, and they’ve cleared a path through the homeless people between the Eurostar terminal and the tube. I found it a little overwhelming, as I’ve not been there for a while. I lived there for twenty years but it’s no longer my city. I smile too much, for one thing. Maybe it’s just cities, but like all the movies I watched, there didn’t seem to be many people experiencing the joy of life.
However. I enjoyed meeting up with some special friends, finally meeting Ulrich Schnauss and his girlfriend Judith, who were charming, Seeing my publisher look at his watch constantly while listening to Continental (sorry David, you asked for it.. :).. ).. At the film fest meeting I mingled with the elite of the movie industry, well critically speaking anyway, felt completely under-qualified to comment on such a body of work, commented nevertheless, as I tend do do when I know very little about something, and had a thoroughly life richening experience for it. Lunch at the Groucho Club, however was shit. Well maybe I’m out of the habit of English lunch (they don’t have Marks and Spencer here), but I was kind of expecting, like, a pheasant, or spit roast wild boar, but got curly triangular egg mayo sandwiches instead…
My thanks to Vinita, Kevin and Greg who made my stay more manageable.
Got a decent cup of coffee when I got of the train…
Well, I’m here now with John Foxx who’s downstairs sleeping as I write this. He’s come back to finish off the album we started a while back and all is well as we effortlessly slipped into the groove of working together and have just finished our eighth piece together. More news about that later, I guess, but it’s taking shape beautifully. There are no surprises. It sounds just like me and John Foxx went into the studio together.. I think that’s a good thing… 🙂
Having a depressing time with my studio which seriously needs some upgrades. Spending too much time battling with old and tired equipment and not enough time creating music. I mean, it all works, sort of, but I guess unless I become able to throw some money at it, which I’m unable to do in the foreseeable future, I may have to seriously rethink if I can go on making music like this. It would seem at every turn there is someone happy to make a buck out of what I do, but channeling that back into the lives of myself and my children would appear to be an afterthought. There are some pretty dark people in this business, but for legal reasons I didn’t mention 4AD or the up and coming box set which they are releasing. If I had to make a comment, however, it would be don’t buy it, search the Usenet, or p2p and find the stuff there, download it, send us packages of food and clothes instead…. but for legal reasons I won’t make such a comment. On another note, ask yourself this. If you were to pay good money for, say for example, a CD box set.. wouldn’t you feel good in the knowledge that, at least, some of the money that you had spent, went to the artist… just a thought… what do I know?

Finally a brief apology for those of you who are awaiting a reply from an email you may have sent me in the last ten days…. sorry… I’ll get there….