Monday, August 23, 2010

Croweology - 20 years and counting

You remember my post about Nick Hornby’s “Juliet.Naked” and how it felt like Hornby stole my diaries and did not even really hide it? I have a new proof for my thesis:

Go and google “Crowology + review” and you get all about Nick Hornby’s book. Now google “Croweology + review” and you get all opinions about The Black Crowes 20th anniversary acoustic album. Fascinating, isn’t ;)?

But I guess, I told you enough about the book so I can focus now on the record:

I am 3*cough* years old now and the weddings bells did not ring yet for me and most likely won’t do in the near future. So it needs no higher math to calculate that I cannot really count on having big silver wedding party one day (not impossible though … hope dies last ;)). But just in case and for the PARTY, of course, I will have definitely a big bottle of Champaign in the fridge, which will be opened on November 17 2017 (25th anniversary of our first show) to celebrate one of the longest relationships in my life – the one with my favorite band … The Black Crowes.

Like in all long term relationships there have been very close and intense and lovely times, the one or the other bigger crisis, times when we just went different directions – and came back together. The actual status I would call “relaxed and enjoyable” – the perfect mood to celebrate The Black Crowes 20th anniversary of releasing their first and famous record “Shake Your Moneymaker”, which was the kick off to their huge career in the Rock ’n ’Roll universe.

And here we are with “Croweology” – the double album with acoustic versions of some all time favorite songs (which is not exactly the same like “Greatest Hits”) from their two decades of band history.

I won’t review every single song here, but just point out some highlights:

The record kicks off with a nice, but not exactly surprising version of “Jealous Again”, which is great but pretty close to the acoustic b-side version they released a long time ago. Never the less it is perfect to start the journey. It is followed by a really groovy version of “Share The Ride”, which is my cell phone ring tone now and makes my smile every time I hear the first beats. More highlights on the first CD are a wonderful and long version of “Nonfiction” and the Siamese twins “Ballad In Urgency” and “Wiser Time” (thanks for not departing these two). And of course there is “Soul Singing” from "Lions". This song is for sure no big hit, but it reminds me like no other of the hour I spent in a hotel suite in Berlin interviewing Rich Robinson, when he explained me how he wrote this song and demonstrated the difference between composing on guitar and on piano by singing some lines of this song for me. Thanks again Rich – that is one of my favorite lifetime memories!

My personal highlights on the 2nd CD are a brand new and very cool version of “My Morning Song” and 9 minutes 35 seconds of “Thorn In My Pride”. I guess most people who love the Crowes will agree with me, when I say that this song cannot last long enough (I just say “Thorn’s Progress / Thorn In My Pride” live – SWEET!).

But my biggest surprise and joy is that extraordinary beautiful version of “Girl From A Pawnshop”. If there is any specialist for string instruments out there to help me, it’s very welcome, but what is that? A Mandolin banjo? That is at least my guess after doing some research, because I had to find out what sounds in my ears perfectly like a Dalmatian Mandolina! And then we have the violin, which made me immediately look for Gibonni’s Marko Ramljak (who is from Šibenik btw) in the credits. Of course it was not him, but the style is very similar. So that version of this wonderful ballade makes the two very different (thought so) parts of my musical soul clash together where I never expected it, but it is just awesome. I TOTALLY LOVE IT!

On a sad note:
The half acoustic / half electric Croweology Tour has no European leg so the power of music will blast for now only out of the stereo speakers:

If music got to free your mind
Just let it go cause you never know, you never know
If your rhythm ever falls out of time
You can bring it to me and I will make it alright
And if your soul is let go
Oh you never know, no you never know
And if your heart is beating free
For the very first time it'll be alright

My Morning Sony, Music & Lyrics by Chris and Rich Robinson

PS: If you, my dear reader, are US based – lucky you! Check out tour dates here:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

She’s a good girl ... loves Jesus and America, too... Part II – San Francisco

Often people think that I am boring.

When I go on vacation and they ask if it’s Croatia again and I say “Yes, of course” they roll their eyes and ask if I do not want to explore the world and see new places.

The answer is: Of course I want to see new places and travel somewhere else. I love it and do it as often as I can. But when I like it somewhere I do not mind visiting a place more often. I actually love it when I know where to go, when places and people get familiar, when I stop feeling like a tourist – at least a bit.

And some – only a very few – places become very special to me like close friends. I leave a piece of my heart there and it stays until I can come back again (and again …).

One of these places is definitely San Francisco.

Last week the city was in the news here in Germany a lot, because something horrible happened: A German teacher, who was travelling the US with her husband to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and just having a great time, got shot and died.
And she did not take the wrong exit and got trapped in a bad part of the city; she did not carelessly walk along the wrongs roads in the middle of the night. She was only returning to her hotel around 9pm just around the corner from Union Square – right in the center of the city, close to Macy’s and the other fancy shops. Every single tourist who ever visited San Francisco including me was at least once where this lady got killed by an 18-year-old “baby gangster”. Reports tell that it was a gang shooting related to night clubs in this district. It was a ricochet – the bullet hit her accidently … as if that would make any difference.

In the first place I am very sad and feel with the family of the lady, but my second emotion is anger. Because of this stupid kid and the rest of the ruthless gangsters the people out there must think that San Francisco is a horrible place, where you get killed easily at the most popular sightseeing locations.

I am seriously upset about it because San Francisco is a gorgeous place with great people and does not deserve a bad reputation like this. I personally cannot do much about it, but what I can do is setting a counterpoint and using exactly this sad moment and post here some pictures of my most favorite places in San Francisco and show you how beautiful it is:

The Cable Car is the classic way to travel through the center of the city climbing up and down the hills. Standing at the sides is BIG FUN, but please hold tight, don't lean back too much and be careful. And one rule: if there is a cable car line where you walk, your legs will hurt very soon if you keep walking. Cable car lines are usually going where the hills are BAD.

Union Square is the heart of the city center - and usually absolutly not dangerous to walk around. Here you find all the famous shops as well as lots of restaurants and hotels. And here you really have the feeling to be in a big metropole city although San Francisco (only the city not the Greater Bay Area) is smaller than Munich for example.

This would be a typical San Francisco postcard motive - IF the sun would shine :(. These beautiful Victorian houses are one of the few, which survived the 1906 earthquake and are called Painted Ladies. You'll find them at Alamo Square.

The absolut "Must do" when you are in San Francisco is of course crossing the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Take your time - the views from both ends of the bridge are beautiful. The shot you see below is taken from a very nice sightseeing spot on the way back from Sausalito to San Francisco. It is one of the rare places where you get the chance to have the bridge and the skyline in one picture.

Once you crossed the Golden Gate you should definitely visit the cute town of Sausalito and even more important the fantastic Redwood Forrest. I can strongly recommend to do get up early for this little adventure. We were the first ones there and to catch the morning light and enjoy the silence and the incredible energy of the Redwood trees was totally awesome.

One of most popular mistaks done by international tourists is to think that all California is warm and sunny all the time. I can tell you that there is a reason that thick and warm hoodies are the most popular souveniers of San Francisco tourists. Nothern California and especially San Francisco is often foggy, not seldom rainy and too often damn cold. BUT of course there are beautiful and sunny days like you can see below. In the bright sunshine you can see here a tiny bit of the huge Oakland Bay Bridge.

This picture was done during a coffe break around lunch time on a very warm and sunny spring day and shows one of my favorite places in the city:The Ferry Building. On Saturday's you can enjoy the Farmer's Market in front of the building and all the great food offered in the beautiful stores inside the place. It is also a perfect start for a walk down the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf.

Of course this small collection is not complete. There are no pics of the Transamerica Pyramid, none of the City Hall, none of Fisherman's Wharf, none of Nob and Russian Hill, none of St. Peter and Paul, none of Grace Cathedral, none of so many other great places. But hey ... I need some material for another edition of my San Francisco postings in the future of this blog :)
So let me say good bye for today with a little bit of the downtown skyline and the Claes Oldenburg (one of my favorite artists!) sculpture at a perfect day ....

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Jim, Luke & Emma!!!

Okay my dear friends - let’s raise the glasses today to celebrate the 50th birthday of some childhood heroes:

Jim Button, Luke the Engine Driver and Emma the Locomotive!

In Germany everybody knows who I am talking about, but I do not know how popular the stories about these guys were in the US. So let me explain a little bit:

You know for sure the famous German children’s book author Michael Ende. His books “The Neverending Story” and “Momo” were and are very popular around the world.
At the very beginning of his career back in 1960 he invented today’s birthday boy Jim Button and wrote down his adventures in “Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver” and “Jim Button and the Wild 13”.
I won’t tell you the stories now – that would take too much time, but you can check the storylines and characters out here at
Wikipedia .
Like it should be so typical for Michael Ende through his entire career he developed for Jim a colorful fantasy world, which populated with a whole bunch of amazing characters and packed with critical and ironical references to our real world and society. Ende’s stories does not only invite to a trip into fantasy and imagination, but also give us, the grownups, who hopefully read the stories to the next generation of kids, something to think about.

The second part of this posting I would love to dedicate to the people who brought Jim Button to life on screen:

The Augsburger Puppenkiste (Augsburg Puppet Crat)

This is a theater company which is since the 1950ies specialized on converting children stories into marionette plays. One of their most famous features from the 6oies and 70ies are the stories of Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver.

What they do is amanzing and so simple – a small stage, marionette puppets and cute papier-mâché sceneries make a whole little world.

One of my sister's and mine favourites has always been the ocean Jim, Luke and Emma have to cross to make it to China. It is made from nothing but plastic foil, which they put just up and down a bit faking waves and let the light reflect a little bit on the top. That very easy effect makes a real good ocean.
In fact every time we are in Rogoznica and watching the Adriatic in the moonlight one of us says “Look – the sea looks like Augusburg Puppet Crat Ocean today!” – and it DOES.

And there is one more thing which makes me really happy: Kids still love it!

To my big surprise in a time when three dimensional for a zillion $ animated super movies are quite standard such a simple thing like a few puppets and a plastic foil ocean can still attract kids.

Doing some small research for this article I found out that the original puppet theater is all around the year working with on new productions and classic plays. And it is SOLD OUT months ahead.

So there is hope for the land of fantasy and that is really good news!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sloping Dalmatia

Like most of you may have seen in the small explanation on the blog site I borrowed the word "sloping" from the aviation vocabulary, where it is a quite technical term describing a plane flying a curve (simply said).

My interpretation is more philosophical, but nevertheless I am fascinated from the perspectives and views you have out of an airplane and funny enough for a person, who cannot even walk bridges, I am not afraid of the height when I am flying and do not suffer any dizziness - NICE :)!

So when I travelled down to Dalmatia on July 17 I had to change flights in Zagreb and could make some really beautiful shots out of the plane on my connecting flight from Zagreb to Split.


Sloping Lika

Sloping Kornati

Sloping Marina Frapa / Rogoznica - Home Sweet Home

Sloping Sky & Sea (actually BOTH is on this picture - sloping in perfection ... drifting without horizon)

Sloping Trogirska Rivijera (and landing just a few seconds later)