We’re finally checked into a hotel after being either in the van or venues in Katowice, Vienna, Fribourg and Florence. In four days. I honestly don’t know how we kept going after the drive from Vienna to Fribourg which was over ten hours but such is the power of rock. As soon as we get to the venue and hear the sound of Yo La Tengo soundchecking, a Pavlovian response kicks in and we start unfurling guitar cables, sharpening pics and rewriting the set list.
Poland was really interesting and I’m eager to go back there. I didn’t think I’d be saying that – in fact I almost thought we were going to turn around and head back to Germany once we crossed into Poland because the road was so bad our heads were practically banging against the roof of the van from the jolts. They’d put up a lot of helpful signs that had a symbol for “bad road” – silly, because the spots where the road smoothed out were so rare, that’s what they should have been announcing. But it’s amazing how quick you can get used to anything – after the initial ten minutes of cursing and exclaiming and wondering if anyone would miss us if we didn’t show up at the gig we were shouting at each other to converse as if we did this type of thing all the time.
By the time we got to Katowice, the road was more normal. It was all looking faintly exotic, an intriguing mix of austere Communist architecture and ornate Eastern European domes with that incomprehensible language on signs everywhere reminding me of a stroll down Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint.
The hotel the festival put us up in was probably the only five star hotel I’ve ever stayed in. A thirties building redone very creatively with glass that kept the old parts intact. Deco rugs and furniture and a super-fancy restaurant which we ate in cause by now it was almost eleven at night and hey, who knows how much a zloty’s worth anyway? The meal was amazing and served so impeccably which I really appreciated because we were looking shabby and road-worn and the young, very clean-cut waiters still poured the wine and grated the pepper like we were David Lynch, who was also apparently staying in the hotel.
Next morning I went in search of the pool. It wasn’t easy, as I was half-awake and the signs were all in Polish. I wandered into a locker room and panicked when I saw a manly leather satchel on a bench. I fled what turned out to be the men’s room and went through another door – the laundry room. When I finally got to the pool, it was like stepping into a perfume ad – there were all these tall muscular men in tiny bathing suits, splayed out in lounge chairs and walking pantherlike across the tiled floor. I was really desperate for a swim so I blocked out the male parade and got in the water, but I had to pass on using the sauna.
I have more to write but really need to sleep – tomorrow is the last show, in Paris. Last show. Funny, I already feel nostalgic for life on the road, even as I write this from some anonymous hotel on the autoroute.