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Dispatches from E.D. Sedgwick’s winter tour through Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland.
Things to do in the final days of 2012 fall European tour:
Play a show booked by a Bosnian-German guy who DJs German Christmas songs at 2 a.m. at overpowering volumes. Eat his mother’s incredible cooking while looking for a place to sleep in his small apartment, where someone is already sleeping in the bathtub. Sleep in the bar below the apartment.
Play a show in a punk squat with a broken foosball table. Be defeated at foosball, then eat vegan knodel with red cabbage.
Get driven to airport through snowy night by exhausted driver. Fear for life.
Exchange awkward goodbyes with touring party while keeping one eye on the “Departures” board. (“Yeah, I don’t know when I’ll see you again… well… gotta go check in now…”)
Wonder why Berlin’s Tegel Airport looks like the Atlantic City bus station.
Pay Air France excess baggage fee, then face false accusation that excess baggage fees were not paid. (Infuriated Frenchman: “Sir, you did not pay your baggage fee!” Innocent musician: “But I have the receipt right here…” Infuriated Frenchman: “Well, then.”)
Endure condescension re: size of carry-on luggage from bald, bearded Dutch flight attendant during flight from Berlin to Amsterdam. (“Is this your bag?” “Yes.” “Don’t you think this bag is too big to carry-on?” “You’re the flight attendant—-you tell me.”)
Resolve to shave beard, purchase toupee.
Walk from one side of Amsterdam’s Schiopol Airport to the other for connecting flight. Estimated distance: two miles.
Spend last euro coins on McDonalds French fries.
Take nine-hour flight from Amsterdam to Dulles International Airport. Avoid watching Ted starring Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane.
Embrace Homeland Security officer at Dulles immigration checkpoint.
Take a 30-minute shower. Take another.
Launder clothes. Bleach clothes. Launder clothes again.
Avoid transferring lice and bedbugs to 2-year-old daughter.
Trim nails, beard, and balding scalp.
Consult with doctor in re: athlete’s foot remedies.
Sue Priceline.com for $4,924.88 (the cost of nonexistent Thanksgiving Day flights, rental car to get to and from Dulles, lost revenue from cancelled Berlin show) in D.C. Superior Court’s small-claims division. Wonder about becoming the kind of person who files small-claims suits.
Start ineffectual, unnoticed, lifelong boycott of Air France. (Ineffectual, unnoticed, lifelong boycotts of Dos Gringos and the Marx Café for, respectively, names offensive to Latinos and Communists, are ongoing.)
Exchange 30,000 Czech crowns for $1,300 at American Express office. Affect grim countenance when AmEx clerk remarks that she has “never seen this money before.”
Subtract $1,300 from $4,300 to determine how much money was lost on trip. Leave crucial items—-cost of records, cost of T-shirts—-out of calculation to make it seem that I lost less than I actually did.
Describe trip as “interesting” to those who inquire. Do not elaborate.
Via email, assure promoters of German and Czech shows that sarcastic Washington City Paper Arts Desk blog posts about the sometimes depressing shows they booked, while accurate, shouldn’t be taken personally. Wonder how they could possibly not take them personally.
Advertise on Craigslist for replacement backup singer. Prefer African-American female with a gospel background willing to sleep on floors, perform for nothing and, when required, sing the words “fuck,” “shit,” and “cunt.” Wonder why inbox is empty.
Consider quitting music forever. Pros: more time with spouse, more time with child, more time with dog, fewer gross breaches of human dignity, fewer floors to sleep on, fewer terrible bands to see, fewer freakish soundmen to tolerate, better food, thousands of dollars in savings, fewer heated discussions with promoters, label execs, managers, and bandmates. Cons: ?
Resolve never to return to Europe.
Prepare to go again.