Guitars prefer MOTUs.

I wander Prague for two hours in search of a cowbell to replace the one I left in Bielefeld. I find one that is as bigger than my head for about 1500 Czech crowns, or 60 euros, or $80. The cowbell is enshrined in a glass case in the music store. I decide not to buy the cowbell and buy some new, thinner guitar picks instead. Then, I eat a pizza and finish Shimon Peres’s book about David Ben-Gurion. Ben-Gurion dies in the end.

We drive from Prague to Hradec Kralove. (“HUH-RAH-DECK CRA-LO-VAH,” I think.) The venue is called “Zelenej Zakal,” or “The Green Dragon,” or “The Green Tiger,” or maybe just “The Green Sub-Basement That Holds 35 People.” We play a great show in a tiny space, make about 5,000 Czech crows, or 200 euros, and sell about 2,000 Czech crowns, or 100 euros, of merchandise. After the show, the owner of the club delivers a dangerous number of vodka shots to Singer C., who starts a singalong with the entire bar. I retreat to a back room to read an expatriate’s overlong memoir of a life in Poland.

After the show, we bid goodbye to Driver D. Driver D. does not want to go to Poland, where we are headed tomorrow, and will be replaced by Boss J. for a few days. Then, we sleep at Promoter M.’s flat, where Promoter M. has set-up an admirable home studio.


Promoter J. is running ProTools 9 on what looks like a late-model Mac G5 desktop. (Language barrier prevents spirited discussion of specs.) Since, in America, I run ProTools 7 on a 2005 iMac, my studio is like a rowboat compared this Czech’s Starship Enterprise. However, we deploy the same audio monitors—-KRK “Rocket” 8s—-though I believe that the promoter’s KRK’s are of a more recent vintage, since my KRK’s are not “rockets.” The promoter also has two video screens, allowing for “split-screen” mixing – mix window on the left, edit window on the right. Since I enjoy only a single video monitor, I seethe with envy.

I interrogate Promoter M. about ProTools 9. Is it really better than ProTools 8, which I have purchased, but am afraid to install, as installation of said upgrade may limit my use of certain compression and reverb plug-ins of which I have grown fond? The promoter will only admit that he is “still searching his way” in ProTools 9. (Language barrier prevents spirited discussion of plug-ins.) However, he points out that ProTools 9 must be better than previous versions because it doesn’t require purchase of the much-loathed Digi002 or Digi003 audio interfaces, whose pre-amps sound like Jurassic mud. He says that he would like to buy a MOTU 24 I/O instead, and ProTools 9 will enable him to do so.

I scoff at this observation. Of course, everyone would prefer a MOTU 24 I/O to a Digi 002—-just as anyone would prefer a Thai massage to 40 lashes! Doesn’t he know that I hate my Digi as much as the next fellow, and have little patience with my Behringer ADA8000 audio extension? Can’t he see that everytime I plug a mic into my Behringer, I am as humiliated as Newland Archer in Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence,” who, though he has married delicate May Welland, realizes that all of fin de siecle New York society knows he loves the disgraced Countess Olenska? Of course I would rather have access to a MOTU, the Fitzwilliam Darcy of audio interfaces! Who wouldn’t? If I am stuck with my Digi, the George Wickham of audio interfaces, can I be blamed? Maybe I just don’t have $1,500—-37,500 Czech crowns—-to spend on Darcy, goddammit!