We arrive in Novy Jicin (NO-VEE NEE-SIN)—-a small city in the far east of the Czech Republic that looks like Annapolis, but without cadets or water—-at dusk. The venue is called “Galerka.” We are served delicious vegan soup by a handsome young man with the left side of his head shaved, like Jason Newsted in “Enter Sandman”-era Metallica. We ask for more soup, but are turned down—-some must be left for the opening band, Schwarzprior. Schwarzprior, which includes a keyboardist/laptopist with a shaved head, handlebar moustache, and a huge Western belt buckle and cowboy boots in gothic Western style a la Ministry’s Al Jourgensen, plays techno while projecting animations of Darth Vader fighting Batman.
After the show, we get paid 200 euros and sell about 100 euros worth of merchandise. Some people think our T-shirts are free and don’t pay for them. Language barriers contribute to this misunderstanding, as does my controversial T-shirt policy: Because our shirts are a random variety of designs and colors, I prefer to dump them on the floor of the venue, no matter how filthy, and let any interested customers sort out sizes for themselves. I resolve to revise this policy in the future.
The promoter puts us up in a hotel maligned by Boss J. as “Communist-style.” However, the Hotel Praha is one of the nicest places we have slept on tour. Though the hotel’s meandering hallways and brutalist furniture does give the impression that the building used to be a ministry where people came to unsuccessfully petition for drivers licenses or extra potato rations, the beds are comfy and the showers are warm. And, mercifully, there are no TVs in the rooms.
After dropping off our bags, Bassist K. and I leave the hotel around midnight in search of a casino that offers both live roulette and Texas hold ‘em. Though, according to Boss J., Novy Jicin is home to only 32,000 people, we find three 24-hour casinos in our hour-long sojourn. One casino says it has Texas hold ’em, but does not; two others have only video roulette, which Bassist K. contemplates playing, but decides not to after realizing that she cannot understand the Czech instructions. The three casinos do seem friendly, intimate places to hang out—-smoky and beery, like The Raven in Mt. Pleasant circa 1991.
After not gambling, Bassist K. and I decide to go back to the hotel and quickly get lost. One cobblestone street looks like another; the city’s picturesque homes and unmarked streets begin to look alike; the Carpathian Mountains disappear into the night; the bus station, which sits next to a supermarket at the bottom of Novy Jicin’s gentle slope, seems a useful landmark until we begin to wonder whether those lights in the distance are actually the bus station. If vampires hunted on these streets (Don’t they? Those mountains are the Carpathians!), we would be prime targets.
Unfortunately, we find our hotel before getting lost stops becoming inconvenient and starts becoming an adventure. I watch an episode of The Walking Dead and fall asleep.