[october 01, 2004 - take the long way around the sea...]finished reading that brilliant article by sylvia söderlind that discusses cohen's 2nd novel in derridiean and deleuzian terms. sigh. sigh. sigh. was at the office for ten hours. corrected exam essays and then updated the web page of the network project. it gives me belly ache. because all of a sudden bernd, thomas and leyla are all for applying to have one of the conferences in harvard. wait, you have no idea what i'm talking about, don't you. well: we're applying for money from a research foundation, and the kind of grant we would get is for something they call a "network" which is basically an interdisciplinary connection of various people in various places. so bernd and i thought that it might be a good idea to organize a network that researches the notion of "materialities" in literature and culture and philosophy. we have thirteen participants: eight from german universities, five from foreign ones. and one person is in a phd program in harvard. during the course of the project the foundation will finance two conferences, including travel costs for all members of the network. and suddenly the idea came up to do one of the conferences in harvard. but frankly i don't see that they will pay flight and accommodation for twelve european scholars to do a conference at harvard when there is not really any reason to have the conference there. i don't know. i just fear that we will have a lot of work putting the application for the network together and then the research foundation will say 'no' because of harvard. which would really be a let down. i have promised myself: no more work in vain. and no more double work!
anyway, x. is at a japanese restaurant with princess superstar tonight and we will not see each other :o( today i found this weird advertisement for a perfume by dolce and gabbanna - or however you spell them. obviously for most people i know the signifier combination D&G stands for deleuze and guattari, so i was all the more surprised that the perfume is called "intensities", which is a key term in their philosophy. and what's more!: the model in the ad has a creepy likeness with thomas! okay, he is much younger and the nose is different, but the eyes and the mouth looks amazingly like how thomas might have looked like twenty years ago! very weird! however, listening to the advide of people who are more reasonable than i am i have decided to censor the image.
i don't know. i was sort of depressed today. all this doesn't really make sense. i haven't prepared a single session of the seminar yet. and the semester will start in ten days. i'm spending too much time at the office and i get not enough work done. i don't know where time goes. and i don't know where my energy goes. it's like there's a black hole somewhere that just sucks up my life. i think this is also why all this harvard quarrel upsets me so much. ii don't feel like i get any energy back. isn't it that there should be an exchange of energies: you give it and then you receive something back. like with the band. i put energy into it, and it whirled it around, it lifted it on a new level and then it returned and recharged me. but right now i feel like all the things i do do not return any energy. not the endless hollow earth project which is just dragging along without any result, or my dissertation which refuses to grow, or the teaching. i want results! i want to hold something in my hands, stretch it over my head and shout: "LOOK!" maybe this will happen when the pocahontas article is published. i don't want that the network project becomes another black energy hole...
well, there was a little silver lining, and it made me smile. bob - the organizer of the american studies conference - sent a mail to bernd and me which read: "hey guys, read the text, somewhere in the middle the student says some important facts about you... you should love what she says.... luv, bob" and it had an attachment which was a sort of a report that a student had written about the conference and in the middle it said:
The best day was definitely Tuesday – the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, plus the topic was my favourite – the heroism of failing. Bernd H.´s connection of Great Gatsby and Kurt Cobain was a clever one, illuminating many points –I´ll never forget his schism theory of Cobain´s texts, and his psychoanalytical reading of the novel. Gatsby, I thought until August 31, died in a swimming pool. It never came to my mind that there´a any connection between his death and the Nevermind album´s cover. However, it´s Gatsby on the cover!anyway, thomas send the ninth version of his zizek article which i will have to convert into an html document as soon as possible. thank god achim offered to help me with that. on sunday it is one year that my life has taken an unlikely and wonderful turn. to be honest, i would never have thought that it would last so long :o)
Philip Hoffman´s paper on Leonard Cohen´s Beautiful Losers had an effect on me I´d say is the best any lecture can have – I went straight to the library and borrowed the book. Plus the fact that Cohen foretold the chaos theory of 1990´s made him no loser at all and revitalized my faith in what literature can do. We are all escaped skis, following gravity, not imposing any sense of order…
[october 7, 2004 -it's my birthday. :o) .i.t.'.s...m.y...b.i.r.t.h.d.a.y.! got a lot of cool presents: philip glass' satyagraha on dvd!!! :o))))) tomorrow's the little party. it's 22:22 now, it was abusy day. just two words: "web cam!". special birthday bonus of the day: elfriede jelinek will get the nobel prize for literature!!!!! very, very cool!
[october 10. 2004 - i walk like a building...]it's a sunny sunday afternoon. x. has just left. we've spent all day yesterday being lazy, eating, watching tv and sleeping, basically because she's got a bad cold. the went fine and was okay. guess who showed up: thomas! he had just arrived from l.a.that day. he brought me the catherine tekakwitha medla he had ordered for me in the states. paule wrote a sad mail. i'm going to answer he now and then i'll drive over to see x. and we'll catch some of the cologne indian summer evening sun, that's why i'll say goodby for now. tomorrow the semster will start.
[october 11, 2004 - the sanest days are mad...]got a new set of answers to the feedback form :o) bad news: derrida is dead :o( it's monday night 21:12. thomas whirled through the offices today like a hurricane. spent most of the day calculating travel costs for the network project and trying to cope with the whirls in time and space that thomas was creating every time he turned around and to which i'm just not used to anymore. we'll see: i'm on his office hours list tomorrow (under a pseudonym) and i'll try to talk to him about what i've written so far. prepared a little bit for the seminar on wednesday (for which i have sixteen registrations by now) but i think i will just play it by ear. never had guessed that i could be this relaxed in the face of an approaching seminar. i very well remember my very first course when i had planned every single sentence that i wanted to say in advanced. i entered the room with twelve sheets of paper. of course after ten minutes my entire concept went down the drain because you just cannot anticipate and predict how and what people will answer to your questions and thus which way the session will take. i only hope that there won't be anybody who has a (near) native speaker competence. this always scares me. maybe the week in olomouc in which i was forced to speak english only has helped a little to make me use the language more fluently and more naturally.
the weather is great. sunny and crisp october days line up flooded with light that is filtered through amber. yesterday afternoon x., princess superstar, katharina and i went walking along the rhine and we past those poster which advertised cruises down the river on a boat with coffee and entertainment. they had two pictures of what they considered to be 'entertainment' (see images) and i was almost tempted to buy a ticket for x. and me. by the way, check out the forthcoming edition of electronicbookreview.com for thomas' article on zizek. i still haven't managed to read it [:o(] but i think it has some great 'all you ever wanted to know about deleuze but were afraid to ask' passages in it. penelope huston is singing "sweetheart they're going to talk about us" and it makes me realize that my sweetheart is not here: x. has got to work until one at night. today. and tomorrow. and the following day. she's working at a big commercial tv station, monitoring the news all around the world and sorting and editing material. which is hard sometimes, because she's got to view all the uncensored footage. the other week she had to tape and edit again one of the beheadings in iraq - she told me about it how sickening it was because they did not kill the guy by cutting off his head with one stroke, but they had a knife and slowly sawed his throat, with the hostage screaming and fighting. it makes you think about the fine line between human and ... and what? maybe this cruelty is human as well. how to cope with such an act of violence. how can you make sense of it. what about a life? what about the material bodily repulsion to destroy a life this way? is it just wishful thinking? and what are the points for and against showing the entire, uncensored images in the news. the bottom line is that we are protected from a lot of unbearably cruel images. and maybe they are only unbearable because we are protected from them. and maybe it's good that they are unbearable.
anyway, let's move on to something more pleasant. next week-end my parents and my sister & her boyfriend will visit. which is nice on the one hand, but on the other i could really, really need the time to work. i haven't done anything this week-end. x. and i were just hanging around lazily, eating sweets and chips that were left over from the party. which was okay for x. because she still had a cold and was coughing and sneezing and needed to stay in bed and relax, but i actually could have sit as well at the desk and work. at least read a little. but i joined her out of solidarity. once upon a time i had thought that one day the panic would drive me into working 14 hours a day, reading and writing until deep into the night, being the last one to leave university at ten at night and the first one to come to work at seven in the morning. including saturdays and sundays. but this doesn't happen. because my ability to pay attention and to concentrate is severely underdeveloped. maybe if i'm designing a cover. maybe if i'm recording a song. maybe if i'm preparing a gig or performance. but not if i'm supposed to be W.R.I.T.I.N.G...F.O.R...M.Y...F.U.C.K.I.N.G...L.I.F.E.!!!!!!!!!!!! i see it coming: i will end like one of the guys on the photos above... sigh. paula wrote a short and sad mail. she will have electroshock treatment this week. she's scared, although she wrote that "the technology is so much more advanced" and she said that she would be "put to sleep with anesthetic, be given a muscle relaxant, and then the charge will be given. they monitor your heart, etc. then shortly thereafter, i'll wake up and not remember a thing. that's a hallmark of ECT: that your memory is profoundly affected". she sent a short piece of prose in her last mail which i really loved:
hundreds of birds rose up. the blue frozen lake, the white and grey smudges of snow on the surface and the black cracking ice. the sun so pale and desultory i had to stitch your shadow to the ground. the birds take flight, then curve away.i think it's remarkable how the description is painting a clear cut, realistic picture of the landscape which is then broken up suddenly by the surrealist image of "stitching the shadow to the ground" and then returns back to the naturalistic description immediately.
[october 12, 2004 -it's 22:22 and very, very cold outside. since i'm planning to go to bed rather early tonight i haven't switched on the heating so it's pretty cool in my apartment. an hour ago the phone rang. it was my sister. she asked me: "do you have any news about mom?" and i said "no!? what do you mean? what news?" and she replied "oh, so you don't know anything yet. she's in the hospital..." apparently my mother has been sick for a couple of days. she has a pace-maker because her heart is too weak and irregular to keep her alive, but during the last days something seemed to be wrong: she had trouble breathing and couldn't really get up. so this morning she went to the doctor and asked to be sent to a special heart clinic in bad oeynhausen - where she is now. and my parents haven't even informed me!!! it was only because my sister called that i learned about it! unfortunately the doctors can't say anything yet. there are still a couple of examinations to be made, and hopefully on thursday my mother will learn more. and it was just weird how my father acted. when i called him he said "yeah, we don't know yet whether we will come to visit you in cologne this week-end as we had planned to..." hello!?! she is seriously ill and they are only concerned about whether or not they will make it to cologne this week-end. i mean she is fucking ill! if the pace maker will not work properly or if her heart will worsen even more she will die in a minute. she is only kept alive by the bloody thing!! and instead of thinking about how they can change their lives to reduce stress and have more quality time they just keep on in the same old treadmill of a fucked up relationship, puritan work ethics and "oh no! i have gained half a pound last week! i need to do more sports!". holy shit!
[october 13, 2004 - it's not what you thought when you first began it...]another ten hours at university. had the first session of my seminar on literary theory today. there are more people than i expected, about 21. i know that the course will thin out after a couple of session, but still it's quite a number of people considering the time (the course is from five to seven in the evening) and the topic (theory is a much hated topic, only outdone by poetry). there are a lot of students whom i know from former seminars, which is nice because it seems to indicate that i've done the right things in the past courses.
i had a hard time preparing the introductory session (although i had a lot of ideas) because thomas kept running around on the corridor with achim and they were rearranging chairs and shelves and planning how to 'beautify' the corridor. thomas is a kind of radical minimalist when it comes to interior decoration. he opened all the closets and kept exclaiming: "see! they're empty!" when they were actually stuffed with stuff. okay, mostly it was just useless trash like old typewriter equipment or volumes of the "shakespeare yearbook" which noone really needs anymore. so he has set his mind on getting rid of all the closets including their content and having a clean corridor with more - as he emphatically said -: "s.p.a.c.e.!" we also found a great 50s desk lamp which looks a little like the starship enterprise and which we confiscated immediately to save it from ending in the trash as well. it's standing on my desk in the office now, pouring golden light all over the books and photocopies of literary theory.
princess superstar has the hell of a job: two years ago thomas came storming into the office with two large bags full of videocassettes that he had taped: "here! for the video collection!" of course they were all without a title or the smallest clue of what was on them. so the princess has started to watch them, see if we can use them and catalogue them. and from time to time there are just very absurd. one has a 1980s tennis match with boris becker on it. one a dutch weather report. one a documentary about a swiss mountain. and from time to time there are videos with film clips that thomas had made with a couple of friends in the states. and yesterday she found a video that thomas had made for his parents when he was at brown university. he is running all over the campus, presenting buildings and people to the camera. he must have been about 24 or 25. it was weird watching it.
drinking a "mint & honey" tea although there's plenty of beer and wine on the balcony that is left over from the party. don't feel like alcohol. i've turned on the heating and aimee man is singing. the tea is steaming. my neck is aching. x. will come to my place after work tonight at one a.m.. the brick wall across the yard looks like it had been grown. it looks like something organic. i can't see it because it's pitch dark out side and the curtains are drawn. i'm tired. i haven't worked on the dissertation for a week now. not good! my fingernails are too long. i don't really play the guitar anymore. started to sing along to 'wise up' and was stunned by the sound of my own voice. hearing myself singing was so unfamiliar but the feeling in my belly and my diaphragm was like the swift touch of a warm wind that carried a familiar smell. i don't care about being corny. it's not going to stop. it's not going to stop. it's not going to stop. what soothing sound, the clicking of the keyboard when you're repeating lines from lyrics automatically and without thinking.
x. just mailed. she will have to work until 4 a.m. tonight so she won't come over tonight :o(
[october 16, 2004 - and let things get out of hand is exactly what i've got planned...]it's a cold and gray saturday afternoon. spent the first half of the day with x. in town, searching for a pajama for her baby brother who has turned eleven last week. on october 7, actually :o) after that she took the train to visit her brother and mother, and she will stay till tomorrow night. i didn't join her because this first week of the semester has been very very tiresome and there are still a couple of things that i need to do this week-end, like preparing the seminar and read "the glass menagerie" which will be the exam topic this semester and blaine and i are supposed to come up with the essay questions for it. sigh.
talked to my mother on the phone. she's feeling better, but she has to stay in the clinic until monday. the say that her pace-maker was not adjusted properly and now that they have fixed the problem the doctors hope that she will get better soon. still i think she should read this as a serious warning sign and finally start changing her life. i never thought that it would happen so fast, but i think the time has come in which parent and child roles get reversed. suddenly i think that my parents act like little kids and i feel the strong urge to be angry with them and to tell them to grow up and act reasonably...
x. doesn't like my new lamp. and thomas doesn't like the photos of x. and catherine tekakwitha that i've put on my desk. at least he doesn't like the frames they are in. bernd has invited us all to his 40s birthday next month. the application for the network project is growing. too slowly though.
by the way: if you really want to have a laugh check out this: http://colloquium.upol.cz/coll04/04-poetry.htm
[october 17, 2004 - the last of all puzzles, the harvest of your heart]it's sunday afternoon. slept too long, had a coffee, took pen and pencil and the article about structuralism that i've chosen for discussion in the seminar next week and before starting to work through it my look fell upon "atom's dust" - and i thought that i hadn't listened to it for a long time. so i put it into the stereo and right now paula's voice is surrounding my head. you know what - i think the whole package is pretty good! the poetry [not necessarily including each of my poems ;o)], the music editing, the design of the booklet. i had totally forgotten all the work that had gotten into it. and i decided that i would make mp3s of the songs and create a web-page with the readings and the texts. i know that this will mean wasting precious dissertation time, but i really feel that i want to put the things online. for me, but even more for paula.
[october 19, 2004 - let me speak! let me spit out my bitterness! born of grief and nights without sleep and festering flesh!!! do you have eyes?!? can you see like mankind sees?? oh you tireless watcher! what have i done to you? that you make everything i dread and everything i fear come true!!!????]the term "fucking lazy asshole" is still too mild for some of the professors of the english seminar of cologne university. it's a disgrace and it really, really makes me angry. the contempt with which they treat students and also the naturalness with which they just don't show up at the university!!! there is one particular lazy asshole who starts his courses EACH semester one week late. and ends them a week earlier. and in the middle he just skips a couple of classes. and then he has 10 minute slots on his office hours and the guts to... oh well, i can't really go on about it but it just seems as if most of the people lose all contact to reality, courtesy, politeness and ethics as soon as they become professors
bad day today! i was angry a lot. about my parents who act like little children and about my father who acts like a selfish egomaniac dictator. and about two years of work that seems to have been in vain. sigh. right now it looks as if 90 percent of the hollow earth cd - on which i have worked for four years now - will probably never see the light of day because of copyright problems. and not a single "i'm sorry!" from thomas.
the webcams have arrived and we've put one in every office. we can do viodeo-conferences now. still working on having the camera connected to the online journal ;o) maybe one day you will see princess superstar work at the office here. live via internet! made a website for atoms-dust which will be online soon! tomorrow's achim's birthday. today we put together a calling to find two new student workers for the office. achim and princess superstar will leave by the end of january, so we need somebody new. the students will have to hand in applications, and we will have to look through them and then decide for two. i'm really wonder whether this will be more work or more fun...
anyway, i'm bitter and frustrated tonight and it's just good that x. is not here - she would feel pretty neglected. still have to prepare tomorrow's session of "the wonderful world of literary theory" and it's 21:00 already and i'm tired, arrived at the office this morning at half past eight and left at seven and now the only think i want to do is unwind and relax and forget all the fucking shit and have a clear and peaceful mind. but i think i'll rather read saussure now and prepare myself mentally that no one will say anything tomorrow evening in the seminar.
[october 21, 2004 - somebody can walk into this room and say: "your life is on fire!"]bad luck day today! slept badly and had nightmares. one of those frightening and terrorful kind of nightmares which are very realistic: without monsters or mad killers or people who are after you and you cannot move although you're trying to run frantically. quite the contrary: a very normal setting, but with some kind of traumatic kernel that centers around the loss of love. x. was involved as well. it was one of those dreams that i knew from early 2002.
ripped my pants today in the office when we were cleaning the place: i got stuck at a metal thing that was fastened to the wall and now i've got a big hole in my new jeans :o(((((( the seminar yesterday night went well, though. i was pretty excited and nervous at first - as usual - but all went well.
atoms dust is online now :o))))
i couldn't really sleep the day before yesterday as well. i was the first at the office but thomas came storming in shortly after and said that he didn't really sleep well. and then princess superstar came and complained that she couldn't really sleep and then achim came and said that he had gotten up at seven because he couldn't sleep that night. there you go. i've no idea what this proves, but there you go! btw: it was achim's birthday yesterday.
yesterday was also another thomas-torture-day. not that we tortured him, it was the other way around naturally. he has his "american screen" lecture on wednesdays, so he came in yesterday morning at nine and wanted me to edit a couple of movie clips that he wanted to show during his talk. we had told him about a thousand times that he PLEASE might make up his mind two or three days in advance about which filmclips he wanted to show so that we had enough time for the editing and the handling of the technical equipment. but obviously that's just too much asked. so i recorded the clips and burned them onto a cd until 11:14. at 11:15 the lecture started and we managed it just in time and only with a lot of sweating and swearing to have the clips, set up the beamer and dvd player and instruct poor achim which clip would have to be played when.
other news from the university: mr. laurence rickels - famous american german scholar and author of the "vampire lectures" - is visiting scholar in cologne and is giving a course on the image of the devil: the devil lectures. there are BIG posters hanging around as if announcing a pop concert and they say: "THE DEVIL LECTURES - WITH THERAPIST/THEORIST LAURENCE RICKELS" thomas, the princess and bernd went there - and they came back bewildered. because mr. rickels prefers to give his lectures while holding his little dog (a terrier of some sorts) on a leash. in the classroom. and then he introduced himself with the word: "i'm working on the forefront of occultism and technology" but was unable to work the dvd player. his lecture was an hour long. 45 minutes of it were filmclips.
i'm pretty tired now. my eyes ache and my bones hurt as well. feels as if i hadn't slept for days. missing x. whose not here.
[october 24, 2004 - ]another reader filled out the feedback form :o) got another form half an hour later with just an answer in the "comments"-section which says:
this is the MONKEY STATIONtook this as a kind of digital flyer, so i thought i might share this with you. it's funny: i once met mr. nieswandt at a kondference in bielefeld that my then-boss mr. schumacher had organized. nice fellow!
DJs Nieswandt/Kim, 5. nov.
Gewölbe/ Westbhf., Hans-Böckler-Platz 2, Köln
[october 26, 2004 - so just ... give up]a rather quiet day at work: achim is on holidays the entire week, nina is not there as well because she's writing her exam paper and princess superstar left cologne sunday night because her sister has gotten ill and she wanted to get her to a hospital. so i was alone with thomas - which was okay, because i could somehow - and god knows how - convince him that it's much easier to put together the filmclips that he needs to show in his lecture a day in advance instead of an hour before the lecture starts. yesterday he has bought a present for his daughter who is still in los angeles: it's the video game donkey kong. with "bongo contoler"!
i don't really manage to do much for the dissertation. this really let's the good old mood-o-meter drop down a couple of points. tomorrow in the seminar the topic will be marxist literary criticism. a field which is pretty new to me. well, we'll see how it will turn out. next week we'll be reading althusser on ideology then.
i see the camera tenderly approaching, in a graceful and infinitely
calm dolly move, closing in on our faces in technicolor and with aimee
man's "wise up" bleeding into the original sound-atmosphere: closing in
on x. as she is sitting on her sofa under a blanket, knees pressed to her
chin, holding on to a beer bottle and staring into the tv set while she
is thinking about what to present to her professor in his office hours
tomorrow morning. her lips synching
it's not going to stop
it's not going to stop
it's not going to stop
till you wise up
closing in on princess superstar as she's sitting in a neon lit corridor of a hospital in her hometown, through the open door we see a bed standing in the middle of a dark room in which her sister is sleeping. her lips synching
it's not going to stop
it's not going to stop
it's not going to stop
till you wise up
closing in on cedric through the twirling eddies of his cigarette smoke as he's sitting at his desk with the lamp in front of him shining brightly onto a pile of hollow earth articles which he is correcting. his lips synching
it's not going to stop
it's not going to stop
it's not going to stop
till you wise up
circling around thomas as he's standing in the middle of his dark and empty living room because his family is still in los angeles. his lips synching
it's not going to stop
it's not going to stop
it's not going to stop
till you wise up
closing in on my back and then slowly looking over my shoulder as i'm sitting here hammering onto the keyboard rhythmically, and the camera touches my cheek, follows the look of my eyes and finally comes to rest on what i' writing in close up:
it's not going to stop
it's not going to stop
it's not going to stop
till you wise up
we're leading epic lives...!
so just ... give up!
[october 31, 2004 - at such a hidden place...]sunday, last day of october. it's gotten colder and more autumn like the past days. the leaves have turned brown quickly and the wind picked them from the branches like the apparition of faces in a crowd. the day - a sunday - started with the telephone waking me up at 9:40. it was thomas. Why are you still asleep!?" he wanted to know. actually he only needed the phone number of nina which he didn't have at home, so he called me. since i was up then, i made a coffee for me and a tea for x. who had come over last night after she had been clubbing with a couple of friends. when she slowly woke up by the smell of the coffee or the noise of the keyboard that i made checking my mail, she looked tired and not very well. she's worring too much about her exams. in fact she's worrying so much that it totally paralyzes her. last week she wrote down a three page rough outline of what she's planning to write about - and it is very good. but she's afraid to start it. which i can understand very much! i wish i could assist or help her in any way. but she's s scared that she won't manage to write the fucking paper that she won't start in the first place. of course this means that with each day that passes without a page written her fears and worries grow. and by not working on the paper she is proving the pint that frightens her. viscous circle and self-fulfilling prophecy.
[insert sound of how i open my second beer]this week at the university was marked by structural - that is spatial - rearrangements: thomas decided to get rid of some furniture that was blocking the corridor of the institution. next week the walls will be painted. let's get a fresh look for the english seminar! not much else to report. usually spent the entire day at the office. the seminar went okay. quite a number of people didn't copy the text they were supposed to prepare. so the discussion turned into a lecture again. i slowly start doubting my talent as teacher. i don't seem to be able to motivate or stimulate people's minds. finished the birthday present for thomas. i'm really curious what he will say ;o) on one of his private videos that he gave us to archive them for the film collection there were some 45 minutes of private material from the 80s. he and two friends had taped a couple of - rather abstract - scenes for a film project. it was hilarious and obviously this was not meant for anybody to see. however, we digitalized it so that he could have a lasting memory. and of course to humiliate him :o))) since the entire project looked totally 80s (with white socks and black jeans) we thought that it might look cool to add some 80s music to the scenes. and since thomas is a huge kate bush fan i took the 45 minutes material an edited it down to a 5 minutes video of "running up that hill" - and you know what: it looks pretty cool!
second beer is empty. wish i had more. tomorrow is a holiday. princess superstar and i are planning to meet at the university to work: she on a video film of her brother's wedding that she needs to edit and me on preparing the seminar: althusser on ideology. sigh. later this week - on friday night to be precise - prof. f. and thomas have invited us for dinner because we have helped organizing the deleuze-conference. "we" that is achim, nina, the princess and me. prof. f. will cook himself! i'm missing x. she's home and i am home but we're not together. i'm missing how she smells and how she feels like and what her laughter sounds like. i'm even missing the smell of the cigarettes that sneaks into my apartment when she's smoking on the balcony.
did i mention that bernd asked me whether i wanted to contribute to a volume on 'intermediality' that he's editing :o) the book will even feature an article by espen aarseth, hypertext guru! :o) i gave bernd the scrip of my heidelberg talk and let's see, maybe there'll be another chance to publish something. by the way: the pocahontas volume that cedric is publishing will be out soon :o)
suzanne has updated her road diary recently. here's apretty long but interesting entry about the isle of wright festival (including comments about david bowie and the penises of fans):
Subject: Isle of Wight - Part 3
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2004 09:00:56 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Undertow Message Board" <undertow@SuzanneVega.com>
Undertow: The Suzanne Vega Message Board: Road Diary: Isle of Wight - Part 3
Posted by Suzanne Vega (Suzanne) on Monday, October 18, 2004 - 11:34 am:
Isle of Wight 3
I suppose I should have stuck around and watched the Charlatans, who I heard were really good. We heard a little bit of the band after me, the Delays. We thought it was a woman singing. Then we realized it was a guy.
If I had stuck around and eaten in the catering tent, I would have seen David Bowie and Gerry and hung with them, which would have been fun. I forgot we even had catering, and instead I made the bad call to walk into town, remembering with some queasiness the concession stands the day before. Someone said I could get MacDonalds for Ruby in town, so off we went.
I didn’t see him this time, but I had met Bowie once before. It was a couple of years ago, right after Gerry started playing with him. Gerry Leonard was my guitarist from 2000 -2002. I met him through Rupert Hine and he played all the guitar parts on Songs In Red and Gray. He really proved himself when I broke my arm just a few days before 9/11/01, and we decided we would continue with the tour in spite of the fact that the world was falling apart. He played all his guitar parts and mine, and I really relied on him during this time.
Sometime in 2002 he was hired by Bowie, so he recommended Billy Masters to take his place. Bowie was playing Jones Beach, so we went to see the show. To be honest I was not a fan at that time. I was going more to see Gerry. I had dim memories of the Bowie freaks in high school with dyed red hair dressed in Spandex singing “Spiders >From Mars” and I could not relate. I was into Bob Dylan. Glynn was amused. “What do you mean you are NOT a FAN?” he said. “How can you NOT like DAVID BOWIE?” “Whatever!” I said, prepared to go and shout “Gerry!” through the whole performance.
However, Bowie walked onto the stage at Jones Beach in the pouring rain, and smiled. That’s all he had to do. My mouth fell open and I was charmed. Before I knew it I was up screaming and dancing and singing in spite of being soaked to the bone, with Glynn laughing at me. There was a big sign saying “Bowie” in lights behind him, and his persona was one part vaudeville entertainer and one part pure rock star. He never got to finish the show because the lightning was crackling around him and rain was pouring onto the stage, but he sang “Heroes” and we all sang with him.
I loved everything about it, the music, the way he dressed, the spectacle, the fact that we all knew so many songs. He joked about being from New York. He smiled at us like he wished he could continue with the show, but he couldn’t, he had to go, and he loomed heroically from the stage with the rain and lightning snapping around him like he was a force of nature.
After a huge hassle with security (“I am playing here in 2 weeks! No, really I am! I’m opening for Jethro Tull! See, here’s my name on this poster and everything!”) we finally got backstage with some help from Gerry, and Pam, his beautiful ethereal girlfriend (now his wife). We stood there stunned, trying to adjust to the backstage gloom and saying hello to all these people I knew, the drummer Sterling Campbell who is a friend of Anton Sanko’s, Mark Plati who helped me with the Vigil project.
Suddenly Gerry came toward me and said “David would like to meet you.” I looked up and here was David Bowie. He had changed into a creamy linen suit from his wet stage clothes. He looked at me, smiled and said, extending his hand to me,
“Suzanne Vega! Finally we meet after all these years!”
The words reverberated in my head for a few seconds afterwards. You mean, he not only knew my name, but had been thinking about me for years somehow? How could that be? Unfortunately I said the first thing that sprang into my mind.
“You’ve seen the poster in John Gidding’s bathroom?” I wondered out loud.
I knew that Giddings was Bowie’s agent, and my name was on one of the posters in the bathroom of the Solo office. Fortunately I pulled myself together and told him what a magnificent show it was, how much we enjoyed it, how great Gerry was.
“When he’s not yours, he’s mine!” I said, feeling bold. Ruby was nearby, reading The Hobbit, and Bowie gently drew her out of herself, speaking to her about books, and how wonderful they are, they’ll really take you places.
After a minute he excused himself. “If you’ll excuse me, I must go see my wife, as we have guests” and he sailed off to the beautiful Iman, who was in a dressing room somewhere. He could not have been more gracious.
But here we are now, in June of 2004, back at the Isle of Wight, walking into the ghostly town while everyone else is back at the catering tent. We stopped into one restaurant and they told us they couldn’t serve us, they had run out of food. We walked down the mainstreet and up a back street looking for chicken nuggets for Ruby. Finally we saw the MacDonalds and bought 20 chicken nuggets so she would have food on the long trip tomorrow.
We stopped into the pub next door where the sour faced matron shouted at us because of the MacDonald’s food.
Glynn said “Do you actually have food? Other restaurants have run out.”
She snapped, “They’re the lucky ones then!” I guess the locals have to get used to the idea of hordes descending upon them for this festival.
We ate there, and got back in time to see some of the football game broadcast into the big field. England lost, and this cast a gloomy shadow on the crowd. I peeked through the fence to see what the crowd was doing. Security ran forward. “Miss Vega, I wouldn’t do that if I were you!” You’ll see why in a minute.
They tested the PA system by playing the band Crowded House, which was produced by my ex-husband Mitchell Froom. I was behind the barricades at this point, talking to Missy of the Mooncusser film crew, having a nostalgic moment, listening to my ex-husband’s production, when suddenly the sound of gushing liquid made a racket over my voice.
I turned around to see an arc of pee, cheerfully flying through the air where I had stood seconds before. This was joined by another and then another, so all nostalgia was dispelled, while Missy and I shrieked with laughter and ran back to the bus. Honestly, gentlemen, if you must poke your penis through a fence, consider who may be on the other side!!
As we walked to the Nokia VIP lounge to see Bowie’s performance, Jackie the babysitter and I discussed who was more famous, David Bowie or the Who. I said I thought Bowie was more famous at this point in time, as he has continued to make albums that are contemporary. Not that the Who haven’t, but Bowie is more known for it.
She said, “At least I’ve heard of the Who!”
“You have never heard of David Bowie?” I asked her.
“No!” she said, and I told her she probably knew some of the music but never knew who it was.
Jackie is a 21 year old elfin black girl from North Carolina with a merry intelligence. She has a great combination of social wit and banter and serious introspection in her personality. She has been on tour with us as Ruby’s babysitter for several years now.
Bowie’s onstage film begins with a cartoon of Gerry playing, and so the show began.
“Gerry!” I shouted.
He began the set with “Rebel Rebel” and Jackie’s eyes lit up.
“That was great!” she said. “He’s so cool! What a great energy!!” We talked about he old he was -- mid fifties?
“I don’t care how old he is! I’d date him!” she shouted. It was great to see her so excited.
I said, “You see these 35,000 people? They feel the same way.” I told Ruby and Jackie they had to go to bed after half an hour. When “Under Pressure” began, Jackie came running back breathlessly.
“I know this one!!” she said.
“Of course you do,” I said.
He was in great form. He was more coquettish than I had seen him previously, more feminine in his gestures for part of the show. At one point he swung his hips from side to side with his feet wide apart, grinning at the audience like a naughty schoolgirl. Older women in the crowd were shouting “I’d have him now!” according to Dougie.
When I tried the gesture later in front of the hotel room mirror, I realized a woman would have had some undulation in it but he was all perfectly straight legs and hips. He was both masculine and feminine, aristocratic and working class, human and alien, introspective and wild extrovert; he worked the whole range of what it’s possible to be onstage. Tough and vulnerable, funny and serious and tragic.
At one point he said “Because of all the cows in the neighboring fields, you must NOT sing with me on this one as it will disturb them...” then burst into “All The Young Dudes” which of course we all shouted along with. “All the young DU-U-U-DES, carry the N-E-W-W-WS..., etc.”
“I told you NOT to sing!” he mock scolded us afterwards as thought we were children and he was our babysitting uncle. “And it was going so well, too! Oh well, goodnight”, he said, pretending to leave, while we giggled. I loved him for this very human bit of teasing. I like him so much more now than when he was Ziggy Stardust and all that. A very seductive evening.
The sound was great, deeper and richer than the Who’s sound (I knew because I was right near Glynn who kept up a running commentary comparing the two nights.) Afterwards we ran into Pete Keppler, Bowie’s sound guy who seemed depressed for some reason. Later I learned that the band had felt it was an off night. But from the audiences perspective, we were thrilled.
The only thing that was really odd was the video display which had been so tight for the Who. Watching the Who’s video display was like watching TV, you could see everything, details, expressions, articles of clothing, different angles. Bowie’s was one midpoint angle which never changed and they seemed to be having technical difficulties. It was frustrating because he is beautiful to look at, and yet we couldn’t really see him.
Within a week or two we would learn that Bowie had canceled the rest of his tour, supposedly due to a pinched nerve, but what turned out to be heart surgery, similar to what happened to Glynn experienced last year. Right now there was no hint of that happening, he was effervescent and dynamic as ever. The papers agreed as with the Who.
Right before the end of the show, fireworks started going off, which seemed only fitting, as it had been a glorious weekend. We watched the fireworks and I felt happy for Giddings the promoter - his favorite bands had come to his own festival, and it felt like a huge birthday party, or something. I stood on the Nokia balcony and watched the throngs of people leaving and all the garbage strewn everywhere in the pale spotlights. A few guys saw me there and ran over to talk to me, wanted to know where I was playing on tour, and said that I rocked. I felt like Evita triumphantly addressing the populace.
Later in the bar the festivities continued. Chris of Mooncusser Films was happy because he had run into D.A. Pennebaker in town, who was doing a documentary on The Who. They agreed to swap footage, and Chris felt a torch had been passed, since D.A. Pennebaker had done the last documentary on me back in 1990.
We drank and caroused until it was time to leave for the ferry and then grueling trip onward to Gibraltar. On the bus some of the guys slept for a few hours, but I stayed up talking to the Mooncusser crew all night, thus not getting any sleep until after daylight at the grungy motel at the airport.
The bus left with Jackie and Ruby to go to Amsterdam where we would meet up with them in a few days. They were well stocked with chicken nuggets since Phil had also bought 20 of them in town thus making 40 for the journey, including the ones I had bought in town. I kissed the girls goodbye with a pang in my heart. I watched them go off into the morning.