We had a day off in Vienna before playing Nickelsdorf (during the free time in Salzburg I stumbled across a gallery exhibition of prints by Emil Schumacher while I was taking some photos; a nice hit of adrenaline.). After leaving Salzburg by train, for some unknown reason we got into a discussion about what Cat Stevens had changed his name to. Normally this bit of trivia wouldn’t be worth mentioning, but when we arrived in Vienna and the four of us went to lunch at a Turkish restaurant near the Blue Tomato, a lunatic American sat down next to us:
-“Hey! Where are you guys from?”
-(Tim) “Well, we live in Chicago.”
-“Neat! I’m from San Francisco, California.”
In the entirety of my life, no one from the United States has ever felt it necessary to tell me where San Francisco is located.
-“Wow! Four guys with beards! That’s weird! Why do you guys all have beards?”
-(Tim) “I guess because we’re in a band.”
-“Hey that’s cool. Who was that other musician with a beard? He changed his name when he became a Muslim.”
-(Tim) “Cat Stevens?”
-“Yeah, that’s him! Why are you in this part of town? Vienna’s a famous city, why aren’t you downtown?”
Fred and I kept looking at each other or down at our food in order not to make any eye contact with the guy and encourage him to keep babbling.
-“Say, if you’re in a band, are you playing here?”
-(Tim) “No, we’re on tour and we’re in Vienna on our day off.”
A waiter came up to our American friend, I assume to ask him to please order something to eat or to stop harassing the paying customers, and the guy speaks to the waiter IN TURKISH. When he finishes the discussion the waiter walked off and it was back to the questions:
“Oh cool, on tour. Where do you play next?”
-(Tim) “Nickelsdorf, then Krakow.”
-“Krakow?! Hey that’s where this guy Hitler- have you heard of him? He went and took people out of their homes, perfectly good people, and put them in ovens. Boy, if there’s a hell he’s sure in it! Hey, it’s like that guy from Iraq, that guy Saddam Hussein- have you heard of that guy? Boy, was he an asshole. Did you hear what happened to him? They hung him and his head popped right off. Weird!”
The American’s cellphone went off, he answered it, spoke in perfect Spanish, then immediately got up and walked out.
-(Fred) “That guy was definitely CIA.”
I went to some museums with Nate during the day before heading to Nickelsdorf- great Beckmann paintings and prints, Schiele drawings, and a large Fluxus retrospective. After we played our concert that night I got two amazing compliments from Hans Falb. When we finished the show he walked up to me and said, “Ken, I really liked the music, but now I don’t now what records to play to follow you- that’s never happened before.” A little later when we were talking he told me, “You ordering proscar know, you always come with good guys. Of course they’re great musicians but, they’re good guys too. You surround yourself with good people.” I couldn’t agree with him more.
A while later in the evening (they don’t really seem to end when you’re in Nickelsdorf), Paul Lovens was chatting with Tim and I at the bar. He said he liked the music, “especially that part where Fred seemed lost (he wasn’t). Though, you know, he looks a lot like Cat Stevens these days.”
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