Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Vacations, soccer and art - a day of short subjects

(Originally posted on MySpace on Sunday, April 20, 2008)

This week I'm going to talk about several things.

The first of those is the excitement I'm feeling over our new vacation plans.

Originally, we were planning to go to Italy for a week in the fall. A friend of mine who used to book Italian tours for Thin White Rope found me through MySpace. She was now financially well off and she and her family live in a large, beautiful villa about half an hour outside of Rome. She has invited us to stay with her and there is just no way we can pass up that invitation. The problem is that when using frequent flyer miles, which we have to do or we couldn't afford to fly, the US airlines have put so many restrictions on them these days that you really need to plan for a vacation to a popular place like Italy over a year in advance. We found there were no frequent flyer flights left open for any period this fall. It was quite a disappointment, but we're still planning on going. Now we'll just postpone it until next spring. So those of you who live there, look for us to visit a year from now in the spring of 2009. (Right now, I'm planning on the first week of March, which would put us there during Skip and my 29th anniversary.)

But we still wanted a vacation, so I started looking into cheap places we could visit. A year and a half ago, we went to South Africa. We knew that was cheap, but we didn't want to visit someplace we've already been to. As I started looking into it, we decided that Buenos Aries in Argentina would be the perfect place. In fact, it looks like the trip there will be even cheaper than the South African vacation. So, in October, we will be spending a week in Buenos Aries and I personally can't wait. Originally, we wanted to spend four days in Buenos Aries and the take the bus to Chile and visit Santiago. But the more I looked into it, Chile was a bit harder to deal with and much more expensive to visit as an American, so the whole trip will now be in one place. We'll get back to visiting Chile someday though.

I know nothing about Argentina and Buenos Aries, although I will be starting research soon. So if any of you out there have any tips or recommendations, please send them my way. (This just in! I realized that Uruguay was just across the bay and looked into it. We can take a day trip over there by ferry, so we will be visiting two countries after all!)

And on top of all this, we're trying to fit in a trip to Tennessee, so we can go to Dollywood, whose new wooden roller coaster looks awesome, as well as pay a visit to Graceland. Right now, I'm aiming for early December so we can take advantage of Dollywood's Christmas celebration, but we'll see.

I love to travel, so I'm so excited! But we'll finally be out of frequent flyer miles after these three trips, so we really have to make the best of them. It's going to be long time until we can travel again.


One thing I know I want to do while I'm in Buenos Aires is go see a soccer match. I hear its great fun and that those people take their football very seriously.

I love soccer.

You don't know how weird that is for me to say. I generally have no time for sports. I find baseball incredibly boring and American style football incredibly crude. I used to like basketball as a kid, but have no interest in it at all as an adult. In college, I really got into playing and enjoying handball. Then it was pretty much replaced in popularity by racquetball and that was too fast and furious for me to enjoy. No one wanted to play handball with me and my interest died.

But over a decade or so ago, I went to Europe with the Poster Children for a short tour. My friend, and booking agent for all my bands, Camille, met us in Amsterdam and took us down to his home town of Nijmegen, where we had a couple of days off before the tour started. He asked us if we wanted to go to a soccer game and we didn't see any reason not to, so off we went.

I had seen soccer on TV while in Europe a few times and rather enjoyed it. It was okay for a sport. Once, again in Nijmegen, Skip and I got caught in a crazy party/riot when the Dutch surprisingly beat Germany in a Europe Cup match that ended with a couple of overturned Mercedes Benzes and a whole lot of passed out, drunk Dutchmen. And then there was the Thin White Rope appearance at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark that was postponed for a few hours so the Danes could watch themselves win the title on giant TV screens throughout the festival area. They went crazy upon winning and the party that ensued was so crazy and fun, that it even infected the Rope guys, and they proceeded to play one of the best sets they ever played.

But I had never seen live soccer until Camille took us to this game in Nijmegen. Although I had watched the game, I didn't really understand it. Things like the offsides rules confused the hell out of me. But as the game proceeded, Camille took great pains to explain it all to me and before I knew it, I was hooked.

Now days, I always watching the World Cup matches and the Summer Olympics soccer matches, although I'm tempted to boycott them because of China this year. (I doubt I will though and I'll spend all summer feeling guilty about it.) And just recently, we started going to the Los Angeles Galaxy's home games when we can. That was brought on when soccer superstar, David Beckham, joined the team early last year. Beckham is one of the sport's great players and the chance to see him in action on these shores was too much to pass on. I love going to these games and always have a lot of fun watching the game, drinking margaritas and bellowing with the crowd. It's a community that I never thought I'd be part of.

So let me take the time right here to thank Camille for having the patience and taking the time to turn me on to this wonderful sport. You've brought me a whole world of pleasure that I had no idea was out there.

I know some of you don't agree (ummm…Andy), but that's your tough luck. You don't know the fun you're missing. (Actually, you probably do, but I'll say it anyways.)


I was going to talk politics here, but to tell the truth, I'm so bored with this election already that my head hurts. I sort of like Obama, with reservations. I continue to like him more with each passing week. I don't trust Clinton and will probably not vote for her even if she wins the party nomination. As this free-for-all continues, I'm getting less and less impressed with her. I think she will say and do anything to get that nomination. McCain has lost all the respect I once had for him. He has sold himself out and he will not be getting my vote either. As far as I'm concerned, if the people of this country vote him in, they deserve the four more years of failed Bush policies they'll get. For the first time, I may actually vote for Nader or the Green candidate.

But I'll talk more about this later this year when I feel more up to it.


Instead, I'll think I'll talk about Robert Carroll. For those of you who don't know who the man is, go here: It's in Italian and you may have to register, so I'll just explain that he is the artist that created the painting on the cover of Thin White Rope's album, "Sack Full Of Silver". He is quite the fine artist and has paintings hanging in some of the best museums in the world, including the Museum Of Modern Art in New York. After we scanned the specially created painting for the cover art, I was extremely surprised when he told me I could have it. It has a great place here on a wall in my house. I love it.

We met Robert when his daughter, Jessica, turned out to be one of the people who organized our tour of the Soviet Union. She is now a fine artist in her own right. The night we spent at Robert's house in Rome, eating, drinking and talking art and music, is one of my finest memories of the TWR touring days. We discovered grappa at his house, not realizing just how potent this fire water made from fermented grape vine castoffs was. John Von Feldt, our bassist at the time, got so drunk and was so miserable, that we had to tie him in his bed so he wouldn't throw himself out the window. It was pretty damned scary at the time, but pretty funny now when I think back on it. (It also was the springboard for starting talks to replace him in the band, a mistake on all of our parts.)

Robert is American, but has lived a good portion of his life in Italy. I can't say that I blame him. I would live there if I could. When he was younger, he hung with Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and their crews. Listening to his tales of those days really made me envious. He has had a great life.

When Robert told me I could have that painting, he made me promise to keep in touch, just in case he needed it for an exhibit or something. I did for a few years. At one point, he tried to talk me into leaving the music business and enter the art world as his manager. He was getting ready to open a number of exhibits here in the States, working with the National Park system, which I don't think ever actually happened. (There was some discussion of TWR creating the music for the exhibits, which turned into another sore point with John, when he tried to take control of the whole project.) I doubt I would have fared very well as his manager. As it was, the music business turned out to be too cut throat for me and I understand the art world is even more so. I think I would have been extremely unhappy, although I probably would have made much more money at it. After that, we lost contact. I've spent the better part of the last decade leaving messages on various art forums and museum sites, trying to find a way to contact him or Jessica.

This week, I finally did it. Actually, it was Skip who ran across the website I listed above. I sent an email earlier this week and heard back from him two days later. We're reconnected and I feel really happy about it. I'll keep you posted.

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