Getting outa Kraków, but I assure you…coming back as soon as I can

Relatively early morning on the town square

Been a bit of a whirlwind, but was it ever worth it. After a few hours in Poland‘s capital Warsaw on Friday, arrived later the same day in Kraków and hit the ground running. 

What a gorgeous city and what wonderful people. Goodness me, I’m definitely taking the earliest opportunity to get back to the city of JP2 (the Polish pope), as well as Copernicus, and an endless list of Polish intellectuals and theatre people and students and Catholics and and and…

Our guide called Poland the North Korea of Catholicism, which as a Catholic I think he could get away with saying. 

There were Pierogi and a day at Auschwitz, which I’ll have to write about once that experience has been digested, and more Pierogi

You could saunter over to my Instagram feed for more photos (here’s a link to one I like quite a lot: link to that photo I just mentioned)

Otherwise, you’ll be left with just a few odds and ends of my impressions. Here goes…

No matter how much I fly, I still love the feeling of wheels safely touching down on the earth again. Before Louis C.K. reminded us of being a bit more grateful for the miracle of modern flight, I’d long been marveling at the whole thing. 

Many times when I’m staring out the window of a big jet plane, I’m reminded of being a very small child in the exact same position. Gazing out over the clouds that all those years ago reminded me of fluffy pillows, I could never have fathomed how much I’d be in the air as an adult. 

The other thing that I’m left pondering after this weekend has to do with communication: when I go somewhere new, I quickly learn how to say ‘thank you‘ and ‘I’m sorry‘. Once I get those things down, I can somehow get across almost everything else with an elaborate pantomime. 

Thank you Poland in general and Kraków in particular. That guy waving his arms around and mouthing ‘Dziękuję‘? He’s coming back as soon as he can. 

This kitty’s komin’ to Kraków

One of those places I’ve always wanted to see? Not far from the Czech border in what I’ve heard is a gorgeous part of southern Poland, I’ve downloaded digital books about Kraków and am googling where’s the best place to exchange money. 

Get to spend several days remembering what a pain in the tuches it was to deal with currency exchange before the Euro. Don’t even know what money they use there, so for the time being I’ll e calling them ‘Polish dollars‘. 

What can you expect in the coming days from hereabouts and my social media feeds? Lotsa photos of Polish food and bad puns. There might even be some questionable jokes about that little historical reality that happened down the road at Auschwitz. You can hardly wait, can you?

First Susanne became obsessed and then I decided to offer a new blogging course

Ken at Axioma

You have your people. I’m sure you look around your circle of friends and say to yourself, ‘I love what they’re doing…wish I could help them out more.‘ Well, as much as you love your people, and I’m sure you do, my people just keep creating new things and I want to do what I can to let everybody know about them.

One of my people – one of the better ones, I might add – is Susanne, and she’s recently become obsessed with blogging and social media. I looked on with both amusement and pride last year, as her first blogposts started showing up on my newsfeed.

Here’s her most recent post, and I’m sure you’ll see why I find her writing so endearing: Desperado (by Susanne Plassman) Leave it to her to take a topic like suicide and make it inspiring.

I reached out to her and said, ‘Hey, I know something about the whole blogging lark, so drop me a line if you need any guidance.

Almost immediately, she responded with, ‘Yes, let’s talk! Am besten Gestern*!‘ That’s how she is, by the way. A theatre chick with all the positive associations in tow.

Susanne and I are conspiring to do some projects together and I’m sure I’ll be talking about them here and on social media, but in the meantime…her predicaments while getting started in blogging made me think, ‘There must be so many other locals who need some tips and pointers on this whole social media thing.

Right?

So, I talked to the language school Axioma, which is centrally located in the Maxvorstadt district of Munich, and we’ve decided to offer a course in social media. Here’s a link to the Social Media / Blogging von Anfang an course. Click on it, and see how much of your high school or college German you can remember.

*rough translation of ‘am besten Gestern‘: I need this yesterday!

 

 

 

 

The western sky alight and melodies rattle round in my head

Stumbling outside, this wondrousness greeted me

Playing with a new band, as well as  ramping up new projects with Old Braunfels, as Jarrod has made his way back to Munich after months of being a digital nomad. Welcome back home, you old goat. 

But what was I saying?

These new Germans I’m palling around with love playing covers of stuff you’d hear on a classic rock station, and until now they’re humoring my eclectic taste in songs. 

Now we’re doing a bit of Americana, some outlaw country, as well as some originals, and I’m enjoying warming up my rusty chops. 
Last weekend, we had one of those rehearsals that go on for hours, and when I got a message from the outside world that I shouldn’t miss the sunset that was happening at that very moment, we stumbled into the fresh air. To be greeted to the above photo. 

It’s certainly been edited, but I assure you the real life reds, yellows and blues were even more lush than the photo conveys. Some days it’s the smallest things that remind you what a gift this whole thing is. 

Take a deep breath, reconnect to source and get back to it. These melodies rattling round in my head aren’t going to write themselves. 

Beamers & the real power in Bavaria

Church and State in Bavaria’s Hauptstadt

Please turn on the Beamer, so we can start the meeting in time,’ my colleague says. 

Huh? The Beamer?

Are they giving me a company car? 

Wow, I like the direction this is going. 

Nope. Not a chance. Instead, this is another example of them having funny English-sounding nicknames for things that those of us with an Anglo mother tongue would never have thought of. Another false friend

In this case, it’s what the Germans call an overhead projector. A Beamer

I’m not kidding. 

It ‘beams‘ they assure me. Like ‘beam me up Scotty‘, but for real. It beams their presentations and visuals up on the screen. Hence Beamer

What makes it a false friend, though?

Well, we already use Beamer for something else. Not sure about the Brits or the rest of the Commonwealth, but us Yanks? 

We use it as a nickname for a BMW. That’s right. If you’re tooling round in an auto made by the  Bayerische Motoren Werke, that’s a Beamer, baby!
Now I’m looking back at the above photo with the church at Mariahilfplatz. Beam me up, indeed. 

Tindergarden is the Ode to a Nightingale – choose your own Word of the Year

tender is the night in the Upper Palatinate


Word of the year: How about Tindergarden?

Or if that doesn’t grab your fancy, what about Hopfen-Smoothie? That’s a euphemism for beer, as Hopfen is the German word for one of beer’s essential ingredients. 

No? I’ve got at least one more. Here’s Posttruth for you. 

We’re already deep into the holiday season, and soon enough we’ll be subjected to Word of the Year nonsense before we stumble into the new year. 

I’m still chuckling at Tindergarden, which is a comical play on the word Kindergarden. Your garden of acquaintances you met on the dating platform tinder? There’s a word for that now. 

Lucky us. 

Tender is the Night

And when I think of that soft & gentle dating app, I’m immediately making jokes playing on the word ‘tender‘. Jackson Browne singing in my ear, and I’m a preteen again. Completely unaware of tenderness. The very thought was lost on me. 

Then my thoughts meander to the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel of the same name. Should reread that damned thing at some point. But then I remember that the title Fitzgerald used was actually ganked from a Keats poem. 

And who wouldn’t agree that we could all use just a bit more decent poetry in our lives. Here’s Ode to a Nightingale:
Ode to a Nightingale

By John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains 

         My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, 

Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains 

         One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: 

‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, 

         But being too happy in thine happiness,— 

                That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees 

                        In some melodious plot 

         Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, 

                Singest of summer in full-throated ease. 
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been 

         Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth, 

Tasting of Flora and the country green, 

         Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth! 

O for a beaker full of the warm South, 

         Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, 

                With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, 

                        And purple-stained mouth; 

         That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, 

                And with thee fade away into the forest dim: 
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget 

         What thou among the leaves hast never known, 

The weariness, the fever, and the fret 

         Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; 

Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, 

         Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; 

                Where but to think is to be full of sorrow 

                        And leaden-eyed despairs,

         Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, 

                Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow. 
Away! away! for I will fly to thee, 

         Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, 

But on the viewless wings of Poesy, 

         Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: 

Already with thee! tender is the night, 

         And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne, 

                Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays; 

                        But here there is no light, 

         Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown 

                Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways. 
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, 

         Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, 

But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet 

         Wherewith the seasonable month endows 

The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; 

         White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; 

                Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves; 

                        And mid-May’s eldest child, 

         The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine, 

                The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. 
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time 

         I have been half in love with easeful Death, 

Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme, 

         To take into the air my quiet breath; 

                Now more than ever seems it rich to die, 

         To cease upon the midnight with no pain, 

                While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad 

                        In such an ecstasy! 

         Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain— 

                   To thy high requiem become a sod. 
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! 

         No hungry generations tread thee down; 

The voice I hear this passing night was heard 

         In ancient days by emperor and clown: 

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path 

         Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, 

                She stood in tears amid the alien corn; 

                        The same that oft-times hath 

         Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam 

                Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. 
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell 

         To toll me back from thee to my sole self! 

Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well 

         As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.

Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades 

         Past the near meadows, over the still stream, 

                Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep 

                        In the next valley-glades: 

         Was it a vision, or a waking dream? 

                Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep? 

 

Old Braunfels…getting the band back together edition

  

In the coming months, I’ll be pimping this blog and sending my astounding levels of traffic toward a couple of the projects I’m working on these days.

Some of these projects are new, but most are the latest instalments of continuing collaborations. One of the nearest and dear to me is the one I’ve been working on pretty regularly with ol’ snaggletoothed Jarrod Shepherd.

It should be mentioned if you click on the SoundCloud graphic down below, you can hear a bunch of our repertoire. On some of the songs, you’ll also hear Javi ‘Hansfry’. He’s a Spanish Per Anhalter, which is the German word for hitchhiker.

Oh, and if you actually make it out one night to hear Old Braunfels, there’ll likely be some other musicians sitting in. We’ve been playing with a brand new guitarist this year, and there was even a percussionist sitting in on one of our shows in the waning days of summer.

We’ve got some shows in the coming months and even more in the New Year. Come out and hear some country-fried Americana. Tell ’em Bernie Sanders sent you – you might get a discount at the door.