Drinking beer in the morning in the kitchen cooking with a wife-beater and Tom Waits, finally found something the cat will eat that’s not decapitated, some calf’s liver in a yogurt sauce from a plastic packet mom adds olive oil to because it’s good for the cat’s gums, but hardens when she leaves the remains uneaten, draws the same flies that scatter when I lift the bag of potatoes to fry in butter and oil for breakfast, the whole town silent from the first night of the wine fest, broken glass between the cobble stones, “rain starting in nine minutes” it says on mom’s tablet, and like the trains, they’re usually right.
We’re making jokes with Benny about the German language and it should be no surprise, words like live, love and liver all sound so much alike — cracking dumb, drunk jokes about putting the church in the kitchen’s cherry, I must puke in the cake in the kitchen mit die Flamkuchen. Throw the cow over the fence some hay.
It’s no surprise we wind up with the five Americans from Minneapolis playing Boogie Woogie on a side stage in the centre of town, just up the road from my mom’s — they’re beating on an old piano, a stand-up bass, saxophone, drum kit, hats and hair flying everywhere, the singer pronounces it “Danke Shane,” is drinking something clear, definitely not water.
We watched our friend Uwe’s band play the market stage, the bigger billing, but after an hour we slipped out and gathered to watch Cadillac Kolstad, a band from the same town in Minnesota where Dylan came up, the bass player played with Prince — and I feel bad for leaving Uwe’s show early but rationalise it because they’re phoning it in, no other way to put it, 80s bar band covers, and I can’t understand how the Germans are so firmly fixed in American music from this era, what is it about this time they identify with, that far-off, plastic happy feeling you get listening to Phil Collins, “She’s…an ee—asy…lover.”
Uwe’s mom is rumoured a gay troll figure though by the guy who comes by late night, complains how she’s acting as a wedge between him and his husband, can’t understand why, how this fixation she has for Englebert Humperdinck seems to carry over into young, gay culture in some obsessive fashion no one can explain or understand, how our first time here in Germany her now dead husband Alan showed me the proper way to make a gravy from the turkey using the organs and the blood that’s gathered in the bag, smokes over the stove while he’s stirring, sometimes ashes in the pan.
Eberhard’s taking my mom and John’s friend Colin to a gig tonight that’s a couple hours away, and Colin can’t get places by himself anymore because he’s got COPD, health problems and no money, needs to keep playing to support himself but needs assisted oxygen now, won’t play for friends for free, says he only plays if he gets paid. And if that were true with me and what I write, well, I’d be writing product abstracts for Amazon and hating myself.
But I got up this morning like I said I would so Dawn and I could meet around the map of the UK and fill in the gaps in our itinerary, but didn’t get far turning the yellow Post-its green, colour coded to denote confirmed bookings for our three month stay there this winter — instead, it was me and three German men erecting the metal barricade from the Stadt outside mom’s house, to keep the young people out, the same ones I almost got in a fight with late night, ushering them away from mom’s barn, pissing.
Mom’s neighbour Bernd insisted on tying the metal wire with his pliers because I’m sure I wasn’t fixing it right; he came by and checked my connections like a project manager might check the logic in your schedule, the task relationships, standing back afterwards nodding, mumbling to one another in German.
My head hurts but I’m skipping a nap to shower and get ready to see the Boogie Woogie band again, tonight: we’ve worked out who’s got keys as we’re all splitting up and hoping we can remember not to lock one another out, later.