Thursday, June 08, 2006

Italy Andiamo!

Day 1


First impressions:
Very hilly. Lots of red roofs. Thought Italian movies were That Colour because the film stock was different, but turns out that Italy is actually that colour! (Is it the light? Is it the colours? Is it my PERCEPTION of the colours?) Wish I knew some Italian.
"Espresso fantastico per favorre!" There.
Diona and I of course went straight to bed last night after the last show of the U.K. tour and did not almost light our hotel room on fire during the hour we were there and arrived feeling totally refreshed! Budget flights make you hate people because they all look retarded and sick and then you hate yourself because you are too.
Our tour host, Keith, came to get us at the airport in a boxy euro van and Sexy Jenn Barker, Who Doesn't Like to Be Called Sexy Jenn and Would Prefer to be Recognized For Her Accomplishments in the Industry Thank You Very Much, popped up from the back seat and announced "I have to go puke!" and walked into the airport. Guess she had a quiet night-in too. She is my Alleged Manager but first she has to catch me.


The band is Me, Diona, Keith (bass) and David MacAnulty (drums). Had a little practice with the men while the ladies slept in the van. The place is a music school. A woman with Julie Andrews diction was singing 'Killing Me Softly' in an isolation booth across from someone practicing their Eddie Vedder/Nickelback grunge growl. Diona got stung by a 'vespa' while we were playing 'volano'. Our opening acts were students from the school. One group did 'Baby Can I Hold You Tonight?' by Tracey Chapman - choir style, in all earnesty and eight part harmony with hand gestures. The funny thing is I know that song because my old roommate Sue used to fuck to that record and she was a busy woman. Suffice it to say I know all the songs by heart.
We played and the people were nice, but it was kind of surreal because I was pretty tired and stinky from my Quiet Night-In, and the 'toilet' was this porcelain affair you have to squat over which wasn't terribly, uh, 'inspirational' if you catch my drift. We have promised ourselves to only drink non-flammable wine from now on.

Day 2

Ultimo Cafe

Keith and Andrea, our handlers, taught us the word 'Smoogy'. A smoogy is the older weird guy at the bar that hogs all your time conversation wise. I guess the Canadian version would be 'loomer'. Anyone that drains rather than infuses The Energy. The rub is if you can't see the smoogy, you are the smoogy!
I'm trying to get everyone saying 'Fumares! Andiamo!'('Smokes! Let's go!') like The Trailer Park Boys. The people are really nice and it really is all about food. They are foodists!
I have decided that everyone wants the thing that's the hardest to get. You can see it in Italy. They have the old buildings, the fine leather, the history, the food, the wine but they seem interested in North American stuff. Who would choose a new Harley piece of shit over a Duccatti? And they love Bruce Springsteen. But want is perpetual. I don't think it ever goes away. Unless you get what you want, I guess. Then you gotta pick something new.
We are staying at Keith's girlfriend's (Lovely Serena) house in Barlassina which is a suburb of Milan. It's beautiful except for the barking one-eyed dalmation next door. It's not the dog's fault, he's being ignored by his owners who exiled him when they had children.
I sure wish I could speak Italian. I kind of feel like a lazy caveman. Without words I am nothing.
Having some 'issues' with the crazy toilets. Stopped at The Autogrill, which is a gas station but like if the Tim Horton's was a four star restaurant with a deli and specialty store attached - Badminton rackets, salami, cheeses, chocolate, everything. But here's the thing: the toilets at The Autogrill are seatless and constantly flushing. Hard times for a 'sitter' like me. Fairly frustrating. My mind was playing coach. "Come on guys, if we all work together, I think we can do it!" but the body said "No! No! No!"
Then it all just became a total Fellini film. Trapped bird in the glass ceiling underscoring cinematic quality of incident. Wildly flushing toilets. Don't know how to order anything. Can't find the exit. Panback to trapped bird. Could hear it and see it trying to find it's way out all through lunch which was kind of stressful, and it's all loud and busy and all the cool Italians are drinking espresso at the standing counter. Back to the bird who's still trying to get out and chirping. The orchestra swells. Back to me running up the stairs. I' m trying to flea and, since I am unable to read any of the signs, I bolt out the side door and set off the alarm. Pan back to The Cool Italians all looking at me, looking so cool because they fucking are, like I was a retard which I fucking am.
Final shot: The parking lot. Where a foreign woman wearing clothes much too young for her age bursts into tears. I'm not suggesting this would happen to everyone as I'm pretty sure it was a four star triple wham my exhaustion/hangover/PMS related incident but there is some culture shock afoot.

Cafe Ultimo

Nice venue. Before the show they made us dinner which was amazing. Pasta, wine. This is The Europe I've heard about! Listened to Neville on the stereo for a taste of home to go with all the other tasting. Canadians in Europe are like raccoons. You let one in and they'll tell all their friends. "Look! That's him! That's the nice man with the gigs!"
Learned how to say 'Mi Dispiachi, sono Canadese'. ('I'm sorry. I'm Canadian'.) which I thought was pretty perfect to sum up our country and our people, but they don't do that Humble Hank humour thing here that we do because why would they? So they were all just blinking, going like, "Why are you sorry?" instead of laughing.
We have a guitarist. Marco- aka Il Pithone- The Python! He is awesome. We don't know how to speak to each other but it's musically perfect so we don't have to, which is my favorite thing. I love it when people know what I want without me having to tell them. (Oops! Guess I just told you...) He has that awesome country telecaster tone and he's tasteful and not too loud and a total friend of the lady singer. Did the encore outside to the people in the alley smoking and drinking grappa shots with the dogs and motorcycles. My people. Keith and David and Diona and The Python are the best band ever. We were introduced as Carolyn Mark and The Northern Vaginas. Nobody knows. No sign of George Clooney.

Day 3


Got to the town a little early so went further down the autostratte to see the sea. The Ligurian Sea I believe. Beautiful. People sunning themselves. Straight men wearing what would be considered totally gay suits back home. Had a perfect moment. You know that thing how people look like their pets? Saw a guy with long curly black mullet sitting with big poodle!
Get the picture? Yes we see.
Went into a toilet near the beach. Seat? Yes. Toilet paper? Si. Only this time the angle of the bowl was different so I created a piss fountain into my skirt which was awesome. So lean forward because you never know, I guess is the lesson learnt. Had wine and delicious snacks by the water and then off to the show. Oh yeah, rockstar, remember the show? Good thing you drank all that wine.

Cafe Pegaso

Um, we don't live here because....?
There was a moment at sound check. Diona was playing something beautiful on her violin while the waiter and the sound man (Fabio and Matteo), who are so hot they are gay AND married, hugged and fed each other olives. Am I dead? I just saw heaven.
The food is like they say and everything looks perfect in those spaghetti western kodachrome colours and the cobblestone streets and the old ladies in black, like someone went into the holodeck and said "Computer! Small village square in Italy!" This is the first time that something has been JUST LIKE THEY SAY in my entire life! It's kind of shaking the foundations and I keep waiting for the punchline but there doesn't seem to be one!
My Inner Skeptic is naturally quite livid: If ITALY can be like they say then maybe EVERYTHING could be- true love, popular American films, a career in music etc... This would mean I'd have to reconfigure my whole belief system and would severely compromise relations with The Comedy God whom I must serve. I could tell you I'm a skeptic but you probably wouldn't believe me. I don't get why everyone isn't fat or drunk here. Oh. Maybe it's that thing: If you can't see the fat drunk person, you're it. Fuck.

Day 4


This is how it happens. I just figured it out. This is how you would come to be one of THOSE PEOPLE. You know the people that end up at the gas station in Hope sighing that the coffee is just so much better in Italy! Well. Fuck it is. It's like the bar has been raised so much in the realm of food and beauty I'll never be able to settle again for riding the goddamn 401 for six hours in hopes of a cold shoulder, no dinner and 300 bucks. Man the autogrill kicks the ass of a Tim Horton's. Delicious sandwiches, espresso, better food than RESTAURANTS in Canada. It's gonna hurt to go back to England. The word for Canadian is Canadese which if you're hungover enough sounds like "Kind of dazed, eh?" Totally.

Dear G,
Ciao from Italy. It fucking rules here. It's kind of raised the bar existence-wise.
Funny to get emails from Geoff Berner about HOPING that that fucking Irish bar in Regina writes him back so we can play there in late September for 150 bucks. Just seems kind of hard to get it up when you compare it to the treatment and beauty here. Ah well. Modern problems. (By the way if you ever see me at parties in Canada saying anything of the sort, promise me you'll shoot me!)
Yesterday, we woke up in a small town and me and Diona and Jenn Barker walked by this extremely hot guy fixing his motorcycle and he said 'This is my house. I make spaghetti in one hour. If you want spaghetti you come to my house in an hour.'
We were all like, "Um, does 'spaghetti' mean the same thing here as it does back home?"
Every second guy is named Andrea.
I think Italians are superhuman. They should all be fat and drunk when you consider how much rich food and wine and grappa and sugar is going on at all times but they're hot. (Yesterday, Diona and I said, 'Keith! Keith! We just went almost a whole hour IN ITALY without eating anything! Quickly, some salty meat and delicious cheese!!!') Saw a guy on a motorcycle zipping up his leatherjacket going 90 km/h on the autostratte. No helmet and no hands on the bike! I would have hurt myself trying just one of those things let alone simultaneously but it's like Italians are protected from the elements simply by being Italian.
To atone for not exactly speaking Italian we have all developed ESL, 'vaguely European' accents.
David MacAnulty upon leaving last night's venue: 'Apparently the large man who looked like he was in the mafia is a famous chef!'
Oh yeah, on the tour poster for my shows it says 'Reginetta di Canadese Rock'n'Roll'Canadian Little Queen of Rock and Roll'!!!! I saw a preview for one of the shows in a magazine and right beside my name it said 'eccentrica' which I think I get the gist of. They think I'm fucking crazy! Ah well. Maybe they're right!
Best line though came from one of the promoters talking up tonight's place. He said very passionately, 'My only hope for you is that it is THE SOUP OF ONIONS!' Sigh. Ah well, better get dressed. We have an 'acoustica aperitivo' show at the top of a 'funiculare'. Yeah. I don't know what it means either yet but they keep giving me those 'you should be very grateful and excited' faces so fuck yeah! Bring it on!
ciao ciao,
xo cm

Dear J,
Buon Giorno! Or buono serra rather as it's a few minutes past noon here at Keith Rose's girlfriend's place. Diona left this morning back to Canada to play Ashcroft or something. Played a touristy marble place yesterday to nobody really except got to watch these two immaculate Italian ladies eat lunch. The one on the right, the red haired one, produced a silver hors d'oevre eating tool from her leather purse when the food came! Worth it for that.
Oh the beauty. Oh the history. Went to a church yesterday from the 'ornate-teenth century'! Raised a few eyebrows with my bare shoulders apparently. Scandalosa! The tomatoes. Oh! The Pomadoros! Holy Fuck. A guy could get fat here.
Love you miss you.
xoox cm

Day 6

La Locomotiva

They've got these Field Hookers here. Ladies of the night standing in roadside turnouts in the middle of fields in the middle of the day. It's the craziest thing to see. Apparently lots of them thought they were coming to Milan to be models. We have all started to speak like phrase books. Even to each other. I'd hate us. Keith was joking around about Tony Prito, "the olive skinned boy of Italian descent" from The Hardy Boys books and Jenn remembered that one of the Wakefield Twins in the Sweet Valley High books drove a Fiat.
Played in a communist train station. Asked Andrea for some Italian phrases to use on stage and I think he got me to say "My cunt is too full to sing!" ('Mio sticcio est troppo grosso per cantarre'). Met a lady 'smoogy'. ('Smoogetta'?)
The parents of the kid that runs the communist train station own a fancy restaurant and we were taken there for 'cena'. I guess Keith had told them I was a vegetarian so the waitress puts down a giant plate of food and says,"This is the first first, then there will be a second first and after the second first there will be, well, a second. Do you think you'll want cheese and fruit after that?" Jesus Christ they're trying to kill me. When we were leaving the restaurant Sexy Jenn, who has a hard time with languages and hadn't been saying much, said the word 'fellatio' and all these churchbells started ringing and I'm like "That's Italian! You're speaking Italian!".
Not one but TWO meddling sound men. "Step away from the board. Thank you." I can take bad sound or medium bad sound but constantly changing sound? No way. Keith is amazing. Always up for anything. An inspiration. The wife of The Python is beautiful.

Dear J,
It's Tuesday or Martedi as they say here. It's like they got a different word for EVERYTHING! Andiamo! Azit!
Tonight London. Sigh. After Italy, it's gonna kind of bite. This is the problem. When you've experienced perfection, it's hard to go back. Better not to have seen it at all or is that what it costs? Gotta stop drinking that philosophy espresso first thing.
Milano yesterday. Beeesy, Feeelthy, deisel exhaust, expensive but oh the Duomo (cathedral)! It only took 400 years to build, Hell they're still building it. But sadly nothing holds a girl's attention like the shopping across the piazza. People are shallow idiots and I'm one of them. Played on a radio station that plays songs that almost sound like the real thing. It's an odd thing to find yourself contributing too. Our Italian guitarist is called The Python! He rules.
Anyway, gotta go pack,
xooxox cm

Most comical translation moment: Andrea was telling me that I was the first band to ever be recorded live for the radio at the venue so I said, "Oh so I'm the guinea pig?" and he agreed heartily saying "Yes! Yes! You are the beegeeningpeeg!"

Dear J,
Leaving Italy today. Sigh. Gonna be a harsh toke getting back to grotty old London, but hey! At least I speak kind of the same language and I won't feel like such a lazy retard! God, without words I am nothing. It's like you just become a caveman with no nuances.
'Me need natural water please' is about the extent of my conversational Italian. Oooga Booga!
Been smoking Chesterfields. Never again. Harsh little bastards. The Cansmokes ran out so I've adopted a 'round the world' approach with varied results. Almost lost my marbles on stage yesterday but reigned it in with some severe threats to myself. I thought about The Others and it took my mind off my mind. Next level please.
Arriverderci Baby,
xo cm

Best Tour Ever! Keith and Andrea thought of everything. They booked it and did the driving and got us paid and everyone knew we were coming and nothing bad happened and Serena was such a gracious hostess and the band (The Northern Vaginas-Diona, David, Keith and The Python) was perfect and turned on a dime and there was Sexy Jenn to shop with. This has never happened to me before and I didn't think it ever would.
'Chicco, mi hai salvato et ti ringrazio!'


At 1:46 PM, Anonymous gavin said...

Italy rocks ass. Did you get to Verona where they have the shrunken head of Saint Katherine? You can go into the chapel room behind her and look through the back of her head out of her eye sockets at the pilgrims!

At 2:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was one of the guys listening to your concert in Brescia.
I really appreciated the show.
How can I buy you cd on the internet?
Thanks, Luca

At 2:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Python's a new friend. He sings your praises. Glad the tour was such a blast. Lovely to read about it all here. Kudos and continued success.

Carolyna Lovleess
Swamp FOlk Records

Did you look through Saint Katherine's eyes?


Post a Comment

<< Home