You have to love a country where your butt gets its own sink

And the hotel management seem to have finally sorted out the wireless internet in this part of the building.

Barcelona is just so wonderful. I can’t wait to bring my wife back. I hope to have time to walk to the ocean today. I am sure it’s spectacular. There are palm trees everywhere. I hope to go to the Ramblas tomorrow and buy some dates.

The coffee here is just extraordinary, which is the only reason I am still able to type this after last night’s short nap before this morning’s flight.

Yesterday, W.I.Z. invited me out to see a movie on my last night in London before I left for B’lona and he went out on tour with his lovely and talented girlfriend. He was being kind of cagey about what film it was, but he can be like that. I grabbed the #87 bus from Clapham Commons (where we’ve been staying) and rode it to the Vauxhall Bridge, which is a little place where Londoners like to hang out in their cars and honk their horns at each other.

I finally got let out at Trafalgar Square, whereupon I promptly got lost in Soho whilst looking for the Groucho Club.

I did finally find it with the help of a very sweet homeless guy who noticed I was lost and said “Look, this ain’t the place to be squintin’ at street signs, bruvvah.” I am sure he was right, and he got a quid for his troubles.

So, W.I.Z. is sort of in a state when I drag in, kind of pacing and looking at the space on his arm where he often thinks about putting a watch. He and I run out the door and towards the theatre district south of Shaftesbury Avenue. We have to try and go around this massive throng of people who are bunched around some sort of ridiculous red carpet celebrity thing, with spiraling searchlights and a big fence and tabloid photographers and all that. “God, what a spectacle!” I shout to W.I.Z. as we’re breezing around the outside of this teeming throng. He gives me this sort of nod, a patient smile, then we turn a corner and SUDDENLY…. we’re headed down this fucking red carpet. He hands two tickets to a very nice policewoman, and suddenly we’re on the inside of the throng, and the fence and the spinning searchlights, and above our heads is this giant marquee that says “50th Anniversary London Film Festival: Babel, with Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal. LONDON PREMIER!”

W.I.Z. knows how insanely fond I am of the work of Guillermo Arriaga, the screenwriter who wrote Babel, but also 21 Grams. I love his fatalism, his meditations on the relationships between parents and children, his lack of fear about writing about loss and sadness… and here we were at the premier of his latest film.

The film was introduced by the Director, who is also one of my favorites, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Gael, who is a friend of W.I.Z.’s. They were humble and funny, and told funny stories about each other, and talked about the work some. It was astonishing to watch their creation unfold after they left the stage. Babel is a spectacularly sad film, and it is told with Arriaga and Iñárritu’s unflinching lack of sentimentality. See it, see it, see it. BUT adjust your medications accordingly.

Afterwards, we adjourned back to the Groucho Club, where I met a big chunk of the production team with whom W.I.Z. has been doing some work. They are all very successful, stylish as hell, at the tops of their respective fields, and were yet unfailingly kind and indulgent of an American redneck drummer with what I call “fork issues.” (“And what do I use this one for?” “Why did that guy just take my knife away?”)

I forced myself to quit the table and catch the N87 bus back to Clapham Junction at 2am. We had to get up at 6:00am to catch our flight to Barcelona. I think I got two and a half hours of sleep.

As I was coming up the hill to Kim’s house, there was a drunken guy with a thick Scots accent and a $500 suit mumbling to himself, smoking and pissing on the wall of the pub across from Kim’s. I thought, “What an asshole! Someone needs to give that guy a talking to, perhaps knock him down and teach him a little lesson about staggering around drunk and pissing in neighborhoods where people live.”

Of course, I had more important things to do that to rough up some piss drunk Pict, so I bounced up the steps, lifted the mat, retrieved the key and then heard this drunk slurring “Oi!… yah shouldn’a oughtta… leave out….ssshhhh…. key… I could have ROBBED yoooo….oooo…..”

I turned around as I was closing the door and said “Funny thing, that. I could have robbed you, too.”

There was a long silence, and then he said “Aye…. I can’t argue with that…”

quick info blast from Barcelona

I am in the fine city of Barcelona.  We have searched in vain for free wifi and I am in a pay as you go internet cafe using their machine.  Had supper in the old Arabic section of B´clona- had koufte and rice, and it was excellent.  Really excellent. 

They make my wife´s favorite espresso drink here- they call it a cortado, and it´s about one euro, depending on where you find it. 

There are little brassieries everywhere selling charred meat with bread, green beans and espresso drinks.  My kind of meal.  The hotel shares the odd distinction of being kind of dumpy AND expensive, but it´s been since I left Athens since I slept in an actual bed, so it´s gonna be alright.

I have been told by one local that I speak Spanish with a strong Mexican accent.  I take this as a compliment.  It may not be meant as such, but I am proud of it.

Our show is tomorrow at a huge late 19th Century building that has been converted into a night club.  It´s called the Apolo. 

 That´s all I have time for right now.  The tock is clicking on this thing.

so THAT’S why they call it an “achilles” tendon….

I think that the damn thing is torn/sprained/strained. All of the rest of my leg muscles are normalized, for the most part. Walking still really aggravates my left achilles tendon.

I can get around, though. Not gonna spend my time off in London sitting on the couch.

I got my first southern food craving about three minutes ago. Suddenly had a ferocious need for turnip greens…

Yesterday, Daniel figured out how to beat jet lag, mostly by accident. He slept for 24 hours. At hour 18, I was tempted to see if he could fog a mirror. He was just really worn out. The Low Lows US tour was apparently pretty hard on him. Now we’re sitting in the kitchen of Kim’s house listening to Etta James and plotting our travels of the evening. This must be a lot like the life of the famous London dole kids of the ’70s and early ’80s, eating cheaply, obsessing about music and living for the sun to go down so that we can get into London proper and see What’s Going On. If we had a couple of Vespas, we’d be living the dream.

Parker is Parker

I love Parker’s lyrics. The song “Disappearer” is one of the most harrowingly dark and confessional songs I have ever played on. Yet I don’t think Parker takes his own self-pity seriously enough to be annoying about it. Last night, we were done with the gig and it was well after three a.m. but we were still riding high and in fine form. We went to the ASDA (which is the big warehouse grocery that’s open 24 hours here) and bought chocolate, coffee and sandwich fixings for me, diet Coke and whiskey for them, and crackers for Daniel, I think…

We were walking down one of those narrow UK streets, cars packed as densely as one can pack 3/4 ton packets of metal and glass, and Parker was walking down the middle of the street throwing £1 coins straight out in front of him, as hard as he could, then stopping and shushing us to see if they made a sound when they landed far off in the darkness. For some reason, they don’t. Not even a thud. I don’t know how this even came up, and why Parker had to test this theory, but there it is.

This experiment ended up costing Parker about $10, I think. Somehow, this wasn’t the issue. Of course, Parker had the heart of a lion at this point, what with several drinks past him and a really, really great show just behind us… Parker just had to know if £1 coins could be induced to go *clink*! somewhere off in the distance.

England isn’t living up to its reputation

So far, the food has been fantastic, the people have been incredibly friendly, it’s been easy to get around (buses and trains have made taxis an unnecessary extravagance), and oddly, it hasn’t been cold at all. I don’t get it. I must have visited some other England the last time I was here.

Tonight I met up with The Mighty W.I.Z. and we went to see the Tom Stoppard play “Rock and Roll” at the Duke of York Theatre. I sat next to Jeremy Irons. He seems nice. No palsy or smell or anything, anyway.

I enjoyed the play just fine. It was very long, though it was pretty riveting. The house was at capacity, which was pretty extraordinary for a play that ran nearly three and a half hours.

If this is a typical night off with the Low Lows, I could tour with these guys more. It beats doing laundry in Cincinnati, which I have done with my only night off on the road before.

Wandered around SoHo and ate at Kettners, had coffee at the famous Bar Italia, an espresso bar which has been open in SoHo since 1929. It was one of the only all-night places in London in the 1950s, and therefore was sort of a famous hangout for freaks, beats and other creatures of the night.

I spent too much money tonight, but I had a wonderful time. I decided to go cheap and rode a big double decker bus back to Kim’s house. £1.50 for the bus beats a cab or the train, and it dropped me off about three minutes walk from where I wanted to be.

This is OK. I could do this a lot. If my wife and dogs were here, I don’t know if I would ever leave.