p a r t 1
an ongoing travelogue
from life on the road
during the motorpsycho
end of summer tour 2000, italy
photos: betty, mery and phillipe
text: leslie aka lighthouse girl
<--Click some of the pics for larger versions
This tour was actually a play in three acts, with Germany, Holland and Belgium the first, Italy the
second and Austria and Germany the conclusion. So without further ado, this is an abbreviated
account of Act II, Italia - La Dolce Motor Tour Vita! The title of the play is Betty's inspired
description of the event.
Whew, I really thought I was going to die at several moments, such as when we were slowly ascending the Alps on a narrow 2 lane road in a torrential downpour behind a line of huge teetering trucks in total primeval darkness. it was terrifying. the rains just would not let up, it was like Austrian monsoon season. and we discovered that Heidi only had a map of germany! nothing in the way of europe. while frustrating at the time, now I can laugh about this part of the trip, such as the incident in the dead of night in a tiny Austrian petrol station, we had to buy a toll sticker for the car, and we also needed something to drink, so we go in, there is a wizened old man at the counter, I head for the drinks case, where I discover that everything is totally warm ... the cola, the juice, the yoghurt, all warm. nasty. well, we still had to buy the pass and Betty prompts Heidi, seeing as how we are in a german-speaking country, 'ask him if we can pay in Deutsch marks' (we had no Austrian money). Heidi timidly walks up and says, IN ENGLISH, 'Can vee pay wivv Deutsch marks?' ha ha! but the little man answered in perfect English, 'certainly!'
The ride was really a nightmare, I cannot convey the exhaustion, fear and anxiety. the weather was so bad, the roads so perilous, the constant rush of trucks, really awful. around 3 am Betty was ready to either puke or drop, she couldn't decide, so we pulled into a nasty rest area and had a nap, which ended up lasting til 6 am. then we still had at least 5 hours to go, we were filthy, delirious, the car stunk so bad, the traffic was only worsening. I could not enjoy the scenery, i just wanted to die quietly, not under the wheels of a kamikaze semi with Polish license plates. just outside Bologna we stopped at a truck stop to call Sebbi, who had planned on driving the 18+ hour trip non-stop come hell or high water. I needed to clean my lenses, which by now felt like chunks of glass in my eyes. in the wc I stared at my face in the mirror, I looked like a crazed zombie, and I had already hallucinated some during the journey, I'm serious, I saw shadowy figures alongside the road and several times actually in the road, I thought it was an animal or person, waaah, mad. I had to pee, but decided my poor eyes took precedence. as soon as I had the cap off the cleanser what happens but a stampede of about 70 old Italian grannies, all short and fat and screaming! the tour bus has arrived ... and they went on a wc frenzy, all shoving and yammering, jesus!
Luckily, having suddenly taken on giantess proportions, a complete freak towering among them, I was
able to elbow my way to one door, and as soon as I was done I just raced out of there. it was
surreal. Betty reported that the rest of the gang was sleeping at Casa Sebbi, having arrived
around 6 am, and we were almost there. the day was dawning, it was already 27 degrees, we stopped at
a lovely little cafe in the city for directions and ciabatta with rucola and mozarella di buffalo!
and then ... home! his flat just plain ruled. it is on the top floor of a typical old red stone
house with a courtyard, there was a huge balcony, lovely bathtub, 2 bedrooms, living room, big
kitchen, it was perfect for our homebase. we stumbled in at about 11:30, the rest were just waking
so it was a changing of the guard. I crashed out immediately, oblivious to noise or heat. phew.
Once everyone was up we all set out to explore the neighbourhood, it was great, just outside the city centre, nice little shops, lots of trees. we hit the madcap supermarket for food, Betty and I decided we would cook pasta and make a huge salad for everyone. having survived the hell journey we had bonded, and it became clear very early that I had a new sister. she has been into the motors for many years, seen them loads of times and best of all has a wicked sense of humour. after dropping off the shopping I went with Mery, Betty, Niels, Claire and Sebbi to his pals Jimmy and Matt's place for tea. they are a couple of characters, holed up in their basement studio making all sorts of strange and funny music. they invited us to a party 30 minutes outside Bologna, some little festival sponsored by the local communist party, ha ha!
Back at the ranch it was Feed Time, we made tons of pasta and salad, everyone gorged. ahhh real food after what felt like sooo long. later we did drive out to the festival, we got there around midnight and it was dead, there was an Italian hard rock band with a female vocalist, sort of lacuna coil / gathering stuff but with an 80s thrash edge, very odd! around 2 we ended up in downtown bologna, Sebbi gave us the grand tour by night, which was the best ... no cars, no tourists, no madness. it is really a beautiful city, with a definite youthful and international feel to it. we walked around until after 3 and went home to do what would become the ritual ... 'get some weed and chill out to' godspeed or other soothing soundscapes, drink chamomile tea and eat some kind of cake / biscuit / choccy / gelato before retiring.
The next day everyone slept until noon or so, had baths, then I joined Mery, Niels, Betty and Heidi for gelato, yaaaaaaa! this place, the North Pole gelateria, was incredible. everything so amazingly tasty and gorgeous, waaaaah! while we were sitting outside at a table enjoying our treats, Betty started cracking up, we were next to a couple moms with their little kids and obviously the one mom was exasperated with her kid who was dawdling and making a mess, she snapped at the kid and Betty lauged harder, she said, 'ha ha, you know what the woman just said? "Lick ... and MOVE!" ' well, needless to say, this became one of the catch phrases on the road!
Back home the flat was quickly filling up with tons of Sebbi's friends from both Bologna and his former hometown of Trieste. his pal Ricardo made dinner for everyone, first we were all like, 'o we ate so much gelato, no, no thanks' but as soon as the aromas started wafting from the kitchen we were lined up in the kitchen with our plates! and so, off to the first Italian gig ...
I must say I was worried, I had heard that Italian audiences go mad with shouting, jumping, slamming, diving, I was not looking forward to that scenario. Plus, on the way to the countryside communist fest we passed a huge fairgrounds and Betty pointed out, 'That is where they will play' and I thought, whaaat? between the bumper cars and coin toss?! Turns out these 'Festa dell' whatevers are very common all summerlong throughout Italy, and sure enough, the motors were playing a mere stone's throw from the bumper cars and food court! it was so odd, there were families all over the place, kids in korn shirts, people just out to have a rockin' good time at the State Fair yeeeee haw on a Tuesday night. I noticed a girl who I was sure I knew, and we exchanged tentative smiles, she came up and yeaaah, it was Federica from Roma, I met her this spring during the fateful Köln night. She was with some friends, all active in 'g35' - the motorpsycho mailing list, and I finally met Theo, another great psychonaut. I saw Elisa again, she was everywhere, yeah! The group of familiar faces was growing so big and dynamic, every show was a reunion in itself.
The gig started with a heavy and ominous All is Loneliness and I was pleasantly surprised to see no blatant violent outbursts; I stayed on the left near the front, Federica and I danced together the whole time, getting goosebumps during Feel, even more so during Tai Fun, going mental during Superstooge, bouncing along to Go To California, throwing ourselves into Plan #1, swaying to Blueberry Daydream and we both totally lost our minds when the final encore turned out to be The Golden Core. whewwww. afterward it was a trial trying to come back down to earth, I found myself in a very emotional state and Claire and I just sat holding each other. later we all went for piadini, which is roasted veggies or meat folded in toasted flat bread yummm. then Betty left to find the boys and eventually we were out back in an asphalt lot saying hi to Gebh, Bent and Cecilie. Pidah and Ken came round and we just sat around drinking Sprite and having some laughs. while we were describing our adventures so far to Gebh, Betty inadvertently came up with the best title possible: she said, referring to the group of Italians, Dutch, German, French and American, 'It's like that film, what was it called? "Plan #1 From Outer Space"?' Yeah! We had a title! Gebh said we really ought to be filming, they could splice in motor vids amidst all our antics. back home around 4, chill out, eat sweets, drink tea and goodnight ... the next night would be Brescia ...
Mery and I were the first up at the early hour of ohh, around 13, so we went out to get me some ear plugs (in Bologna I realised I had left them in a different pair of trousers and Mery had but one extra, so my unprotected right ear was totally numb at the show's end, yikes) and some postcards and ... gelato! the North Pole was chiuso so we went to a different one, also lovely, I had peach, strawberry and banana, yummmmm. plus an olive foccaccia. Italian food is divine! at home everyone got organised and off we went to Brescia, which was an even stranger scene than Bologna. We drove several hours and ended up in an industrial park, all sorts of concrete bunker type buildings, warehouses, factories, and suddenly just a mess of campers, tents, here we are, time for a Festa. And the weather was foul! It was so cold and drizzling rain, boo. We paid a mere 5,000 entry fee (about 5 DM, $2.50, a little more than a quid etc!) we were hungry, so after surveying the site (a random scattering of tents offering food, drink, tie dyes, propaganda for gay rights, legalising pot and the everpresent communist party and visiting the filthy wc we went to get some food, but it was not as nice as in Bologna, just cold grilled veggies and some rolls. but hey, what do you want. in that weather? try a steaming bowl of minestrone, or a double shot of grappa, anything to warm up!
The stage was a small shaky affair fenced off from a rocky patch of ground, yes, rocky. I prayed there would be no slamming, I was not looking forward to a mouthful of gravel. And soon all my fears about the Italian audiences would come true ... they were a loud-talkin', slam-dancin' lot, it was impossible to stand and enjoy the music for longer than 2 minutes, the kiddies were just tireless in jumping and pushing, so annoying. and all the talking, truly shouting conversations all over everywhere. Claire tried to shush some folks but they just gave her a blank look and kept shrieking. we tried to push the slamming idiots away but they were too powerful a tide. The set itself was full of gems like Heartbreaker / Hi Time / Black II Comm as the encore medley, and also the new sweet Sha-la-la, but for example Never Let You Out prompted such a slamming frenzy it was really unbelievable. there was just no way to either stand and groove on it or move just a little, you had to constantly be on alert for the next wave to piledrive into you. grrr! so all this and the shite weather definitely put Brescia at the bottom of my list. the drive home was subdued, and once home we came back to life with the requisite materials. we were happy to welcome Phillipe back from Paris with a massive ridiculously rich tiramisu-tinged cake, all sponge, pudding, creme, cocoa, whooooo.
And Perugia ... what would that be like? we all slept til the usual hours of 13-14 but had to get moving since the gig was at least 3 hours southwest. I rode with Claire and Phillipe, and that drive was amazing, the rolling Tuscan hills, the farmlands, mountains, rivers, it was really gorgeous. we could have brought the tents along and you would not have heard me complaining. we got to Perugia pretty early, the city a small labyrinth of steep winding streets. the Festa was taking place down at the base of the mountain next to the football stadium. Whoa, it was so small. Really! just a few tents, the stage, a tall slide and some swings! I have never seen such a comical tableau, I decided that I wanted to spend the show in the swings until the encore and then scale the stairs of the slide, hopefully it would be Black to Comm and after a feverish 'Come on! Come on!' I could go zooming down. The site was practically deserted, except for the motors and crew and a few festival employees. Gebh and Cecilie explained that they had been there all day stuck on the bus as huge storms pummeled the area, the whole festival had nearly blown away, the winds were gale force and the rain just would not let up. They had even faced possible cancellation, although they hoped in that case then to play an acoustic set inside one of the food tents. As soon as I heard that I was already doing a rain dance! imagine how beautiful ... an acoustic set ...
But the clouds drifted away and weak rays of watery lemon sunshine even broke through, though faded quickly in the fast approaching twilight. we were hoping for pizza for dinner instead of taking our chances with possibly dodgy Festa food, so Betty and I went to the bar stand to ask if there was a good restaurant in the neigbourhood. The bar was pretty funny, you could go and buy an entire bottiglia of wine, all kinds of cocktails, but the interesting thing is that, given the rigorous daily driving schedules, we never drank more than one beer, and that was usually with dinner. during and after the gig it was just aqua or cola. and the water was so cheap, usually around 2,000 for a liter, great. if only other countries could do the same, especially at festivals. a woman with a hot pink pantsuit and bright turquoise eye makeup directed us to a pizzeria and soon we were off walking across the vast stadium parking lot.
We found the pizzeria easily enough, it looked fine, the bartender winked at us, but soon it was so funny, Betty had to cop attitude with the waiter, who was rude, he was distracted and refused to look anyone in the eye while taking the orders, plus when he did look our way you could tell he thought we were scum! hey buddy, I will have you know I have yet to exhaust my supply of clean underwear and socks! go on, smell the magic! but the pizzas were nice, especially the rucola-basil- pomodori, yaaaah. Mery and I were drinking beer and giggling as we watched how the same grouchy waiter turned on the charm for two fashion victim 20something chicks. Betty was less amused. although I didn't really have room for dessert, I reaaaallly had to try the tiramisu, which I learned means 'pick me up'. and it did, phew, sugar rush. Betty had profiteroles drenched in chocolate sauce, waah! sated, we waddled back to the festival.
Back at the fest there were many more people milling around, again, the same deal: a group of diehard motorphans and then a bunch of people who thought, 'hey man, free festival'. and yes, korn shirts were spotted...
Check out Part 2 ...