My family immigrated to the United States when I was three years old and the trip took twelve days. My latest trip to Austria took much less time but felt every bit as taxing on the nerves. It started out beautifully. I was able to secure an aisle seat in the exit row and settled down to what I thought would be a nice nap for the twelve hour flight into London's Heathrow airport. Ah, lucky me, my neighbor was a nervous twit who had never flown across water. Every noise, every vibration was cause for a new panic attack. I found myself constantly having to remove my headphones to respond to her inane questions. So, deprived of a good night's sleep, I made it my duty to torment the girl. Every time I noticed her start to relax, I grabbed the adjoining armrest and said something like,"Did you hear that?" or, "Did you feel something strange...what was that?" Turnabout is fair play after all. And the loss of my nap cost her at least five years in terms of roasted nerve endings.
The kicker was the speedy lay-over at Heathrow. I had never passed through security and from one terminal to the next with such speed...only to be advised at the next gate that my Vienna flight had been cancelled! I was quickly and cheerfully assigned a seat on the very next flight, but when I asked which gate I should go to, the well-mannered British Airways representative let me know that the gate would be announced one hour before boarding. And so I made it a point to stay awake, and also within sight of the departure monitor. I could have taken the nap I missed on the first flight because I stared at that monitor for a full seven hours before the departure information was posted. I did have a chance to inspect the fine products available in EVERY GODDAMNED SHOP in terminal four...at least five times! I realized that I was being looked at askance, for those unfamiliar with the term, it is the way in which one is viewed when a misdemeanor is thought to be imminent.
I finally landed in Vienna at midnight, local time. As I was meant to land at 17:20 (I know, it looks imposing, but it's just the European way of making 5:20 look important) I was certain that there would be no-one to meet me. Ah, but all travail is rewarded when one is patient. In the time I was delayed at London, Mike Pobisch, Solidtube's guitarist and songwriter had, upon being informed of the flight cancellation, left the terminal, done a gig in the center of the city, and returned to collect my tired ass. It turns out that Mike has a great command of English, but I'm certain that I was responsible for helping him add a few choice expletives to his arsenal.
So...twenty-four hours en-route and finally in Vienna. What to do, what to do? Drop off Luggage? Get a much-needed shower? Eat? Sleep? HAH!! In Mike I have found a kindred spirit. We are not men to trifle with such things as food, rest or hygiene. From the airport we went immediately to the Casablanca club located in an area of Vienna known as the Bermuda Triangle and the site of many Solidtube gigs. The place is about the size of three of my shoes and it was fortunate that I was wearing only two, otherwise some of the guests would have been forced out the front door.
As it was, I had the time of my life. Mike was a great host and kept one of my hands filled with a large "bierkrug" while the other was occupied shaking hands. We closed the place and I finally hit the manger as the sun was rising.
What I thought would be a restful first day in Vienna was really a continuation of apparently unfinished celebrations. I met with Mike and Mandana in the early afternoon to begin discussions about the way we will be proceeding with the recordings. In the early evening we stopped in at Replugged, the site of the Vienna Calling show to look the place over and speak with the sound crew. Mike then dropped me off at the Postsporthalle so I could meet my son Pete and his wife Sheryl who had just resumed playing with the Flying Foxes basketball team after having her first child. We had a great family reunion and Mike picked me up at 11;00 PM...I mean 23:00. Did we go home? Hah!
Mike had some friends in the car and minutes later I found myself at a club full of carousers. One thing obviously led to another and before the night was over it was round two at the Casablanca. By this time I had no clue what time it was or what day it was for that matter. And I didn't care. All I knew was that the clocks here start over after they go past 24:00 and wherever we were, we were back in single digits...and I was having a great time.
Next post I will have visited Wild One Music studio and will also have had the first full band rehearsal. If Mike and Mandana are any indication, I'm sure the rehearsals will be everything I could hope for musically and a ton of fun as well. But for now, forgive me...the sandman is calling, and this time he won't be denied.