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Cheb, Czechoslavakia. I know much suffering existed in Cheb because, in 2002, I played a show there, and refused a young boy’s offer to sell me cocaine or his bodyÂhe did not specify which. But this is not my story.
One day, by mysterious means not recorded in history books, Josef K obtained a cache of hardcore punk rock records. Though his vinyl collection was the product of a decadent Western culture and strictly verboten behind the Iron Curtain, Josef cultivated a passion for hardcore punk rock bands like Born Against, the Nation of Ulysses, and the Gorilla Biscuits. Though he could never see these capitalist poppets perform unless they played an illegal, underground show in the Communist East, Josef K loved hardcore punk rock will all his heart, and all his soul, and all his might. Then, in 1989, a miracle unfolded: capitalist revolution came to what soon became the Czech Republic and, like 1,000 hungry locusts devouring 1,000 virgin fields of grain, hardcore punk rock bands flooded Josef K’s home country.
Though Josef K was not a musician, he longed to participate in “Czech’s” burgeoning hardcore punk rock scene. Josef K needed the scene and, as it turned out, the scene needed Josef. After relocating to a fashionably Bohemian Prague address, Josef K continued collecting records and began booking bands. But hardcore punk rock needed more than another Czech booking agent. Instead, idiot American bands seeking to spread capitalism throughout Eastern Europe needed someone who was not an idiot to drive them around and show them European ways. And so, Josef was called to drivership.
To become a driver of bands, Josef K secured a driver’s license. And Josef quickly learned English. And Josef drove fast. And Josef drove well—-not superbly, but passably. And, if the van needed to be parked in a sketchy neighborhood in Rome or Barcelona, Josef slept in it. And Josef rarely stopped to eat. And Josef rarely, if ever, urinated.
So, you may ask—-where’s Josef K today?
Well, Josef K is still driving! Of course, he is a bit burnt out. Sometimes, his tongue his sharp. And, sometimes, he grumbles. But Josef is not afraid to share his opinions:
On the popular English pop quartet “The Beatles,” who I count as a musical influence: “Bullshit.” On X-Men 3, of which I am a fan: “Bullshit.” On Annie Proulx’s Accordion Crimes, which I am now reading: “What is that bullshit?” On promoters in Zaragosta who are enthusiastic about Leftist causes and the success of the Cuban experiment: “Marxism is bullshit, and the alleged success of Cuba is paid for in blood.”
So, if you see Josef in his native Czech environs or at a rest stop in Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Turkey, Sweden, Finland, Norway, anywhere in the United Kingdom, please be kind. Remember: Josef K has survived Communism, capitalism and, by his own accounting, nine months on the road every year from 2000 to the present. That’s 72 thankless months—-6 years—-shepherding irresponsible American musicians who can’t pay rent on time or complete 30-day outpatient programs through the crumbling Old World, and Josef only has a bushy emo beard to show for it!