Quick update to the last post:
I forgot the best part of the whole Berlin experience, so quickly: in the cab on the way home from Dave’s awesome Italian joint, our cabbie was a younger Turkish guy with limited English skills. He was nice and had the kind of sweet face that dumb drunk hoes probably talk about throughout the ride, saying things like “isn’t he just SO CUTE!?!?” getting all riled up and making him (oh, so foolishly) think he may wind up getting a handjob or something as a tip…Anyway. I’m off topic. We’re in this cab. It’s a weekend night and there are hammered Berliners spilling into the streets everywhere. As we start moving, I say, sort of casually, “hey you dumb dildos, get out of the fucking street.”
The cabbie looks over at me (I’m sitting shotgun) and says “what is dumb dildos?” I’m like “AAAAAAAAAAAH! Dumb dildos!? Oh, man. It’s like the best thing you can call someone you don’t like. Okay, so you know, like a penis, a dick?”
“Okay, a dildo is like a plastic dick. Like a dick made of plastic, for women or guys to play with alone, you dig?”
“Oh, yes! Yes! Dildos?”
“Riiiight. Dildos! So it’s pretty much the best thing you can call someone. If someone’s bumming you out, you call them a dumb dildo.”
Dan: “Yeah, like these fuckers up here. (out the window) ‘Hey you dumb dildos!’”
Cabbie (timidly, in cab, smiling): “You dumb dildos!”
Me and Dan: “Yeah! HAHAHAHAHA! Dumb fucking dildos!’
Cabbie (slightly louder) “you dumb dildos!”
Me: “Yeah. Tell those dumb fucking dildos. And, you can say that in almost any situation if someone’s not being cool.
Cabbie rolls down window and slows down at a crowd of people. He raises his fist out the window “YOU DUMB DILDOS!”
At this point me and Dan are crying from an overload of happiness. When he dropped us off we tipped him an exorbitant amount and he thanked us over and over again for hooking him up with an awesome new linguistic tool. As he drove off (and I swear this is true) “yoooou duuuumb dildoooos” floated out the window of the cab as he vanished into the night. Best bit of the entire tour. It was clearly a setup for the next morning.
Now, onto our prepared remarks:
We woke up at an ungodly hour and made our way deep into the bowels of the Berlin station to the very bottommost subterranean track where the train to Vienna, so long that it had a chart and subsequent coach markings on the platform, was due to arrive. The train would also be going through Prague, so we shared the platform with a bunch of bohemian dipshit kids with their backpacks and Lonely Planets, and a whole ton of beardo guys who looked like they could have been in Dexy’s Midnight Runners but who have probably spent time in the kind of prison where everyone just shares a bucket to shit in. We found our section and sat on the floor of the platform like the disgustingly tired vagabonds we had become. When the train finally came, it was long as shit and it seemed to have some really nice compartment cars. Since we were first class, we had high hopes that we’d have our own compartment. We boarded the train and headed back towards our seats, past the shitty compartments, into the car with the nice compartments (holy shit holy shit!) and….through that car into the second to last car on the whole fucking train that was hot and stagnant and full of middle eastern families with tons of kids and gigantic, heavy bags. People were screaming. It was hot. There was not enough air. These motherfuckers were just attempting to leave their big ass trunks in the middle of the aisles. It was 6am. It was a goddamned nightmare.
This train was to take ten hours, but at the end was the Arena, which is arguably the coolest venue in the world. The Arena is a compound and it’s got several rooms, most of them in their own freestanding buildings. They’ve got small bars, medium sized clubs, large clubs and even a big outdoor 10,000 cap stage zone. The food they prepare is top notch, the people that work there are smart and on their game and always awesome, and the small bar located right at the entrance to the compound is one of my favorite bars in the world. I was excited about the show, but even more excited to go to the little bar after the show. I’d actually been looking forward to it since before we left home. Add to this that my friend Judith was doing the show (enough of a friend that she’s been to my house and hung out with my kids) and the Vienna show was clocking in at my most anticipated show of the entire tour.
SO, we set off in our disgusting petri dish of an overstuffed car full of sniffling and yelling children and grandparents. We both slept a couple of hours and then decided to go see what the bar car had to offer. Well, the bar car had nice long tables, a cool menu, big windows and the most attentive, hard working waiter of all time. He was Asian looking with a long ponytail and spoke English, and I presume everything else, with no accent at all. He never stopped moving and was a dynamo of the service industry. We settled into a table and marveled that up here, in the bar car, this didn’t seem like shitty travel at all. It was like hanging out in a restaurant or bar with really nice scenery.
And the scenery was amazing. We were passing picturesque villages on verdant hills, sheer cliffs, waterfalls, rivers, sweeping vistas, all that shit. It was spectacular. We ordered some food (I can’t remember what it was, but I remember that they were out of the small snacks, so we both had to quickly juke our orders last minute) and some beers and settled in. We drank, we read books. We looked out the window. This was the best ride of the tour, hands down. We took pictures of shit that was out the window. We ordered two more beers. We read some more. Shit was groovy.
After about 3 hours, we decided to maybe head back to our seats and catch a little bit of shuteye. The notion was that the trip was ABOUT halfway finished and we’d sleep a bit, then get back to our zone in the dining car in time for some dinner and beers during the last couple hours of the trip. Shit was splendid. We bid the super waiter adieu and retired to our repose back in our seats.
First thing I noticed when I got back is that my large roller bag was just tossed into my seat instead of in the overhead rack where I’d placed it. I said “what the fuck is my bag doing here?” kind of to myself, and the guy (white, plump, collegiate, with about four buddies, probably German) sitting in the seat adjacent to mine pointed to his elbow and said “it fell on me.” I said “oh shit! Sorry!” then proceeded to put the bag up above some old man just down the aisle. Keep ‘em scared. That’s what I say.
Anyway, we settled into our seats and put in our headphones just as the train came to a stop in the middle of nowhere, Czech Republic. This isn’t all that weird of a phenomenon. Trains often stop momentarily, or even for stretches of ten or twenty minutes while shit down the line gets sorted. I relaxed and fell asleep.
Well, I woke up and the car was once again hot as shit. We were still not moving. I’d been sleeping for only like, eh…an hour, but still, what the fuck. We sat there a while, then we sat there some more. People were getting a little bit squirrely. I went for a tiny walk. The dining car was packed. People were pacing. Lord only knows what was going on past the dining car in the plebian (2nd class) section. I came back to the seats and told Dan that people were losing it. we marveled at how long we’d been sitting there. The car was briefly brought together in a unified bewilderment until a woman, ununiformed, tall, huge cans (sorry everyone, but it’s just something that I remember and I’m trying to be detail oriented here) and good looking came in (with a sniveling little conductor hiding behind her) and said “The reason we are delayed is because someone has jumped in front of the train. We will be delayed for one hour while the authorities come and scrape him off the lights and blah blah blah blah.”
Well, this changed things a bit. Dan decided that he was gonna roll up some weed in a bit of toilet paper and smoke it in the bathroom. I decided to restring my guitar. I got the guitar down and the collegiate dudes started saying “play a song for us, puh-lease!”, which I ignored. As I restrung my guitar the guy behind me just handed me a beer. I finished up, put my guitar away and drank beer with these dudes for a second. I then went and walked around. Well, the mood of the train had transformed. Motherfuckers had opened the doors and were sitting in the grass smoking cigarettes in the sun. The super waiter was no longer waiting tables as a line to the counter in the bar car stretched the length of another entire car. He was instead working the counter and running back and forth like an absolute madman, sweating balls, but keeping his cool all the while. I heard and saw a complete dipshit American backpacker dildo (you dumb dildos!) gesturing wildly with two bottles of pepsi at his friend and saying, in a panic “we need to get food! We’re gonna starve on this fucking train! Buy whatever you can! What don’t you understand? This! Is! An! Emergency!” He was in hoarding/survival mode. The whole thing was outrageously pathetic. I hope he had enough face lotion and floss to survive the delay.
I got back to the seats and Dan was there. We discussed the whole scene (this sucks, wow, we’re gonna be late…dude killed himself, eh? That’s dark etc.) and then settled into reading our books.
At some point, the train started moving again. We decided this would be a good time to check in with our buddy superwaiter. Well, the car had calmed down and a nice table was open so we sat down and ordered a couple more beers. At this point the train stopped again. It sat for another hour. We ordered a few more beers.
Now, I don’t want to belabor this section of the trip, nor am I too terribly interested in reliving it, so suffice it to say that for the next six hours we sat in the bar car becoming increasingly nervous about making the show in Vienna, and increasingly frustrated with the train’s insistence on stopping every twenty minutes or so, and stopping for half an hour at a time in every station.
We started calling the Arena. We told Judith our situation. She was concerned with how late we were becoming. There was a hard curfew at the Arena. We ordered more beer. We asked the amazing waiter (who was still working with no help, cooking and serving and still as polite and on it as anyone has ever been) for the food menu, only to be told that the refrigeration system had died along with the AC and that the snacks were gone and therefore, there was no more food for the duration of the trip. We settled on a couple more beers.
Finally, fourteen hours later, we pulled into the station in Vienna. We called Judith and said, “we’re here! We’ll be there in fifteen minutes! We just need to take a cab!” but the train stopped just west of the platform and stood for half an hour. We went crazy. Dan hopped up on a table and started doing a dance. I actually physically restrained a conductor and insisted he tell me what was going on. No one made any moves to stop me. The conductor was visibly afraid. The whole thing was straight out of the railway version of Lord Of the Flies.
Once we finally got off the train (after our show was technically already supposed to be over, by the way), we grabbed a cab. I told him we were going to the Arena. The guy insisted he knew what I meant and we started to speed down the highway. Dan, in the back, suddenly started to panic. He said “dude, did you just tell him the arena? I’m sure there’s more than one arena in Vienna.” This was a key point because at this juncture ANY delay would mean that the show was cancelled. I assured him I’d sussed it out with the cabbie just fine. After a few highway changes Dan got antsy and got on the GPS on his phone and said “goddamnit dude! We’re going the wrong fucking way!” I said “What?” flabbergasted and looked at the dude and said something like “dude! What the fuck!? I thought we had an understanding?!” To which the cabbie pointed up at the long, towering smokestack of the Arena as it appeared in front of us and said (and I’m paraphrasing) “You dumb dildos, I’m from here and I told you I knew where I was going.”
We apologized and thanked him profusely, tipping him something in the neighborhood of fifteen Euro and then walked into the club which was nice and full where the audience had been patiently waiting for two hours with no acts in the venue at all. I walked through the crowd right onto the stage and plugged in. Somehow, the set was great. I had plenty to talk about, at least. Dan played next and he was spectacular as usual. I caught up with Judith and drank a couple of whiskeys and generally thanked heavens to be in such a nice and accommodating place after such a shitty day.
After the show, we went to the sleeping quarters, which are located on site, and dropped off our shit. Then we ate the meals that had been lovingly prepared for us over six hours previously, as we were starving by this point. Finally, I ran across the courtyard to my favorite bar….but it was closed. The employees were all sitting outside. I’d missed it by minutes. As much of a dickpunch as this whole day had been, this, to me, was the low point. I walked back to the sleep zone and lay in a bed, but it was too hot to sleep. I tossed and turned all night without even a moment’s actual slumber. We’d called a cab to pick us up at 545am to take us to our Zurich train.
Turns out, for all my anticipation of being in Vienna at the Arena, we’d wind up spending more time on that goddamned train than we would in Vienna. Dick punch soup served with crushed nuts. Thanks a bunch, dead guy.