Wednesday, February 29, 2012

She’s a good girl ... loves Jesus and America, too... Part IV - And she is very concerned

It took me a long time to make the decision to write this post. I have seen many great bloggers struggling with political posts and their effect and I was definitely not sure if I would really want to go down that road.
But this morning (Tuesday) I woke up to German breakfast television - the serious one that contains mostly of real news instead of easy entertainment - telling me that the likelihood of Rick Santorum becoming the presidential candidate of the GOP increased again. At that moment I was all "alea iacta est" (if you do not know what that means you should consider going back to college ... oh wait, college is not good for you, right? *SARCASM*) - it has to be done. I would never forgive myself if I would have not at least raised my voice before Super Tuesday. Also some additional emotional triggers were pulled today to motivate me and I am in the right mood now. 

You could say now: "Wait, you are German! Our politics is non of your business. Clean up your own place. Didn't you just have this "nice" presidential scandal and isn't your European Union in some really bad trouble?"
True and maybe I will write about that one day, too. But this is my blog and I will write this post about US politics, because - picking up the recurring title theme of this post (and Tom Petty quote) I am a good girl which does not equal a silent or "nice" girl and I really love America and poor Jesus has NOTHING to do with what Mr. Santorum says although he keeps claiming the opposite. 

So what is going on here? To say it in lovely Pittsburghese:
"Santorum makes me STABBY!"  
He really makes me watch again and again the video of Brent Johnson breaking Rick di Pietro's jaw with one punch because I have to put my aggression SOMEWHERE and nothing works better than a good hockey fight - GO BEEJ:

And why Mr. Santorum, who embarrassingly enough started his political career in Pennsylvania, does make me stabby?
Because of all the amazingly stupid and insulting (especially for women, black and gay people --- which  means A LOT of people btw), undemocratic, asocial (I'm aware he would take this as a compliment but it was not meant like one) statements that bomb us back to stone age (no offense dear Neanderthals - this is just a proverb and should not degrade the social structures of your communities).

Want some examples?  No problem:

Each of those is worth its own essay but I pick only one for tonight:

Rick Santorum about his daughter Bella who was born with a genetic abnormality and needs special treatment:

“I look at how society with socialized medicine treats children like Bella, and children like Bella don’t survive,” Santorum told The Des Moines Register Monday, the first leg of a three-day swing through Iowa. “Children like Bella are not given the treatment that other children are given.”
Santorum said the new health care law, championed by President Barack Obama, will mean disabled people are denied care more often, and repealing it is the best way to address mounting national debt.
He said that disabled children are denied care today.
“It’s not like this isn’t happening now,” he said. “But it will happen more under a much more budgetarily-driven health care system.”

I am almost speechless. This is the boldest bending of all what the Obama health care reform is about I could think of. It is not even worth to discuss this specific example - it's too ridiculous, but the health care topic itself I would like to spend some words on.  

I am living in Germany and Germany is no socialist country (if you thought so - back to the bad-for-you-college, please), we have a conservative leadership at the moment and we are like my dear friend Diana lately put
 elegantly into words  "the economical powerhouse of Europe".  And we have a health care system that goes far beyond what Obama wants to do following the concept of solidarity - of shared risk and costs - and that has a lot do with math and not much with Marx and Engels. 

I will make this more vivid for you with an example:

My parents were hard working people who made the money we needed for a living by their hands and minds work. They worked as long as they could, which wasn't too long:

- My father was diagnosed with a brain tumor age 44. He fought it for two years and died age 46.
- My mother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (lymphoma) age 42. She fought it for almost 16 years - five of them under more or less permanent chemo therapy - and died age 58.

Both of them were sick for years and had to go from extended sick leave (when the health insurance here pays you the bigger part of your last real salary to cover your cost of living) to early retirement. Both of them received state of the art cancer treatment and during all stadiums of their illness they had continuous health insurance coverage like it is usual in Germany. They did not have to go back to work to keep the insurance - weak and sick and tired and exhausted from endless treatments like I have to watch it happening to beloved friends of mine in the US. They got not denied when they needed new, expansive medication because we were not rich. We did not slip into poverty just because we were pretty unlucky with two incurable cases of cancer in our small family. My sister and I had not to give up our education because there would be either money for treatments or school.

And now tell me what's wrong with it? Tell me into my face. I will tell you what's wrong with it: NOTHING!

Cancer (as an example) is not the sickness of the weak or the lazy or the careless. Cancer can happen to all of us ... to YOU and YOU and yes YOU - Santorum voter - as well. No lifestyle, no believe or religion, no money is protecting you from getting sick, very sick. And ALL OF YOU - rich or poor, 
white or not white, man or woman, straight or gay -  deserve a fair chance to survive.
And I don't know what is so terribly hard to understand here, but your president does not want to limit your personal freedom or rob your money or let sick kids like Santorum's Bella die (God forbid!). He tries to SAVE YOUR  LIFES! 

You may wonder why I put the cover of Vonnegut's "Man Without A Country" up here again - a book I admire and wrote about before. Well, this expresses my (very undemocratic, I admit) urge to force some sense into people, to wake them up, to make their brains work. I wish I could make them read and understand (the much bigger problem) this book. 

For those dear readers, who are disappointed by Obama. Yes, I am, too, at least about some things (Guantanamo, health care) although my expectations were not as high as the ones of lots of Americans. I do not believe in modern messiahs in general and I had listened to his very serious first speech after  the election carefully.
But before you make horribly wrong decisions in pure defiance, please read what John Steinbeck wrote in
"America and Americans". He describes clearly the special challenge of the US presidency that lies in a system where the president often enough has to deal with oppositional majorities in both - Senate and Congress - and the power of lobbyists and how it is dangerously wrong to consider him the most powerful person in the country. It won't solve the problem or erase the disappointment, but help to put things into perspective

Okay, rant done. Next posting will be more happy and nice to read again. I promise.

PS: Warning - The comments (if there will be any) will be moderated. I will not discuss the content, I will not get myself into fights and if your comment annoys me too much, I will delete it. You don't like that? Your problem, my blog.

PPS: If you do not get the running gag about the "college is bad for you" thing read here and add as No 11 to the most outrageous campaign statements. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Golden Kanine - Munich, 20 February 2012

Golden Kanine in Munich
Life is constant change and I am changing with it, but there are also some things that are carved in stone - just like this:

I desperately hate CARNIVAL!

Carnival like all other events that require "fun mode" just because it is a special date on the calendar are creepy and make me feel uncomfortable. I prefer to be in a good and silly mood just when I AM in a good and silly mood. I also do not like to dress up in a costume and if I have to I prefer the Gothic Halloween style.

Thank god I am not alone. Actually I work with a bunch of guys, who just like me do not care about carnival at all, but dig a nice rock show. So on Monday (Rosenmontag) we stopped working at a slightly less silly late time than usual, went for dinner together and then to the show of the Swedish rock/folk/indie band Golden Kanine at the 59:1 Club in Munich

When I came to
Munich I went to the Atomic Cafe a couple of times but that made me mostly feel homesick missing my long lost "Rolling Stone" and so I ended up with never really going to Rock Clubs in Munich. I went to a couple of shows over the years in smaller and bigger venues, but none of them was really appealing to me.
59:1 now is right in the Munich city center just a few steps away from Sendlinger Tor, which means only ten minutes by subway from my home - NICE. It is compared with our formerly holy halls at the "Rolling Stone" small (it would be just the 2/3 of the café part ... for my fellow insiders who danced through a million noisy nights with me about two decades ago *ouch*),  but I liked it. It has least has the unavoidable black and white classic posters of The Ramones and The Red Hot Chili Peppers posters on the wall. That is nothing like the huge portrait gallery of Rock 'n' Roll heroes we were once used to, but it's a good start. 

The crowd
that night was small but enthusiastic and - young. BOY ... did I feel old, but looking at these kiddo hipsters I was kind of fine with it. Who would seriously like to go back to this weird stadium of existence? I don't - really. 

Old and overworked as I am I have to admit that I am really exhausted tonight and I hope you forgive me, when I simply link to the website of Golden Kanine for more information about the band's history and background. At that website I also found some words that really nicely describe the music and I shamelessly steal them for you:

"(...) they had fallen in love with the idea of a more dynamic sound with more versatile instrumentation than just the classic rock setting of guitars, bass and drums. The idea incorporated the thought of a wall of snares, mandolins, trombones, banjos, guitars, fuzz bass guitar, pianos, the eventual pump organ and trying to combine the sonic noise of indie rock, the delicate and intimate feel of lo-fi and the more danceable parts of folk music."

The concert did not blow me totally away like the one of Friska Viljor, who just hit a very soft spot in my heart in a perfect moment, but it was a really GOOD show. The boys know how to play, both singers have good and strong voices, the set up of instruments is interesting and the level of energy put on stage is infectious. A Golden Kanine show is actually lots of fun. I can totally see, why lots of people, who had heard them as support act for Mando Diao before, came back now to see the boys again and support them. 

If you want to go out for a fun night with a nice show in a small club played by a bunch of really nice Swedish guys you should check out the tour schedule of Golden Kanine here

A couple of pictures from the show:

And a video to watch and listen:

Monday, February 13, 2012

My book in January 2012

Wolfgang Büscher  -  Hartland - Zu Fuß durch Amerika


My friend, future travel partner (44 days and counting til take off) and blog photographer Gabrijela obviously knows me quite well. She gave me my birthday gift with the words "I think you could like this and I am quite sure it's at least interesting for you."  When I unwrapped the present, I found "Hartland" by Wolfgang Büscher .... a book, which had a high ranking TOP 5 place on my inner book buying list. Perfect choice!

Wolfang Büscher is a German travel writer mostly famous for his books "Berlin - Moskau" und "Deutschlandreise". For "Hartland" he was packing is backpack again to WALK from Canada to Mexico crossing the USA not on the usual "go west" route but from North to South straight through the middle, the "heart (land)" of the States. Traveling this route alone would be already an interesting adventure, but doing it walking is ... special.  

If you expect now a tracking guide full of equipment info and detailed data about the route you are wrong. First of all - Wolfgang Büscher walks A LOT in all kind of weather and on all kind of roads (and yes there are significant differences in the roads), but he does not do it religiously. He also drives a couple of miles when he has the possibility to transfer a car from one city to another and he takes the chance when somebody stops and offers a ride. Actually the parts of his trip he sits next to total strangers for a while are essential for the book, because Büscher is not only out there to see and feel the country. He is out to meet the people

Traveling alone, mostly walking the endless, empty mid west is a very introspective thing to do and although the book offers beautiful and intense descriptions of
the land in the transition from winter to spring from North to South, it is more the thoughts and reflections of the author that carry the book. 
Bücher inserts along his path long paragraphs about the first settlers who founded Heartland  - a small town that a few shattered dreams later became Hartland and is now an abandoned ghost town -, the history of the Native American tribes and how they lost their battles and most of their land or the early conquerors' search for gold, who found no metal but the golden emptiness of the Great Plains. The switch between Büscher's own travel and  his narrated historical parts is giving the book a dream like atmosphere floating in time that could not be more different from the up-to-date fact collection of a travel guidebook. 

Very important of course are the people
Wolfgang Büscher meets along his way in diners, bars, motels or often when they stop next to him offering the lonely wanderer at the roadside a ride for a few miles. These people are as diverse as mankind can be - from the priest to the farmer ... we got it all. 

The trip ends in Mexico like planned, in a world that could not be more different from the country Büscher entered after a nerve wrecking control procedure at the Canadian-American border a few weeks before. And it leaves the reader (and I think also the author) with a slight feeling of inner emptiness that follows the emptiness of the land. But isn't that a normal feeling when we finish a trip, close a circle, reach a goal? 

Some parts attracted me most for - as usual - very diverse reasons (attention - spoilers):

  • Wolfgang Büscher passes the South Dakota Badlands, which are in my memory forever entangled with the memory of watching the Terence Malick movie "Badlands" with Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek for the first time. I cannot really name a particular reason why (yes ... fantastic acting and amazing cinematography, but I was maybe 15 when I watched it first time and did not exactly pay attention to things like that) but it really, really impressed me. 
  • The priest, who tells Büscher, that he decided to become a priest after an intense experience in Medjugorje in the Hercegovina. What a surprise ... or maybe not. Medjugorje is like that and you will meet there people from all over the world (I was there, too).
  • The scene when Wolfgang Büscher loses his backpack with everything he owns except the cash in his pocket (enough to stay on the road) and his passport. That part is really crazy. Even by only reading it I felt the panic floating in. I mean - the backpack with EVERYTHING? And Büscher is panicking as well, but after giving up searching for his stuff makes the decision to keep walking now really down to a hitchhiking hobo with nothing than a few bucks in  the pocket. I think this is the most impressive part from a literary point of view, because he describes the situation in very clear and calm words - and makes that way in contrast his emotional breakdown very tangible. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rich Robinson - Munich, 31 January 2012

You know this awkward feeling when you arrive at a venue, where a really great musician will play that night, and in front of the venue is - nobody?

Yeah - I hate that as well. When I went down the stairs to the
Ampere Club I was alone - partly because none of my local friends was really interested, partly because the only people I really want to be with me at a Black Crowes or like in this case Black Crowes related show are my sister and some longtime friends who live (very) far away. So I was okay with being alone that cold evening, but I was absolutely not okay with that deserted space in front of the club, entrance and inside of the club.
I mean Munich - seriously??? I love living here, but Munich is not exactly a Blues town and sometimes I simply hate that. Some hipster teenagers can sell out big clubs easily and Rich Robinson has to play in front of less than 100 people? You kidding me? But I am afraid Munich was very serious about it because at least half of the people who finally made it in there, were not even local but came over from Austria or other parts of Bavaria. I was embarrassed to have Rich playing in this environment and in front of a not only small, but in some parts really weird crowd (yes, I am pointing at you - the very drunk couple that danced but for real gave a shit about the music). I cannot blame him at all that he left right after finishing the show - I did not feel like staying either.

To make the night even more fun I stumbled after entering the club into the
next awkward moment. When I wanted to check my coat, I realized that I was equipped with two cellphones (don't ask ...), a Panasonic digital camera, a Kindle eBook reader, a bottle of nose spray and my keys. No purse, no money, no train ticket, no credit card - nothing. YIKES! I think I was so lost in the memory of countless Black Crowes concerts that I did not focus when I was packing my bag. Shit. For a second I considered just going home, but people leaving before the show does not exactly make it nicer for the musician. I also really wanted to hear Rich play and so I was staying, but boy - did I feel uncomfortable even without a cold bottle of beer to play around in my hands standing in that almost empty club. Sometimes ... a night is just not working out.

But now let's talk some music.

The Irish musician Dave O'Grady is touring with Rich and opening for him - not a pleasant job that Tuesday night, but Dave really made the best out of it and brought some much needed warmth and sound to the place.

He played his pretty straight forward, bluesy singer-songwriter tunes and I liked his clear, strong voice. I personally started relaxing a little bit and slowly got in the mood for live music.
Dave even managed to get a bit in contact and interaction with the farouche crowd. Good job!

I would have LOVED to buy his CD he was selling for 5 EUR only - an amount I easily pay to support a good musician and I would have liked to hear more of his music, but well ... like I told you already I did not even have a buck for a beer.
Sorry Dave :(

During the recent hiatus of The Black Crowes Rich Robinson released a very fine record called "Through A Crooked Sun", which I strongly recommend to everybody who loves blues rock, excellent guitar music and the style of songwriting that carried the Crowes for over 20 years.

I love the record and I was - despite feeling so uncomfortable at the venue - really looking forward to hear and see
Rich play guitar. 
And it's amazing - after all these years it needs just a few notes to draw me in again. I just love this kind of music and while other people (with a smaller attention span ;) hate extended jam sessions expanding a simple song to 10 minutes musical adventure I absolutely love to be carried away by the music.

Of course a first class musician like Rich is not touring with a couple of random musician, but with an excellent band, I really enjoyed listening to. My personal favorite was keyboarder Steve Molitz, who seems to be a really nice guy and played some great tunes. 
The few seriously enthusiastic people in the audience cheered as much as they could and Rich and his band played a very solid two-hour-set. Just like Rich said: "We are here, so why not play a couple of more songs."

The sheet of paper here is the setlist of the show. If you want to see it in detail, please just click on the image for an enlarged version. 

My two most favorite tunes of the night were
"Falling Again" and "Standing On The Surface Of The Sun"

All right dear readers, IF you like this kind of music and
Rich Robinson plays a show near your home - go and enjoy this musical delicacy! 

More shows in Europe and in the US to come. Check out for details.