Friday, February 24, 2006

Report from Bologna ( two ) - " Extra! Extra! "

When I lived in Amsterdam in the early nineties I derived some special joy spotting young Italian tourists. They were easy to recognize, because they walked in groups of eight - at least - along the streets of the old centre. All of them were too warmly dressed for the season, and all of them were caught in some marijuana vision.

It might be easy to loose yourself in a crowd, but you're never alone in a company. To Italians it is very important to find some ears for their small talk: chiacchiere, as they call them. These talks have a wonderful quality, that is almost grammatical. They make for the blank space in between two paragraphs of heavy duty.

Bologna has many doors. This time I enter one that is designed for two horses and a carriage. Behind those doors the secret life of a courtyard evolves itself, mostly held in the firm grip of a sound coming from some window. Flights of stairs lead to apartments, where five or six students live together, unaware of the memory that will grow upon them, once they've left the city.

The kitchen is the meeting point. From there the excursion to a party in the periphery started, hopping from one bus on an other, and walking endlessly through well lit streets in no-where land as part of a group of ten, all happily chiacchering.From this kitchen a telephone call to ex-mercato 24's Ricky found me a place to perform, only three days later. Also from this kitchen we parted to another kitchen in Bologna, where I heard about an idea to make 'sonic photographs'. After a three hours ride way up to the north of Italy we ended in Pati's kitchen.

I returned to bologna two days later to share a beer with Francesco and to be offered a bicycle by Fleur: ex-mercato might be a bit far for me and my rucksack.
The next morning I was gently left asleep by someone who sneaked in to make some coffee, because also coffee has a grammatical quality. It starts a new chapter.

In Bologna you walk under a baldachin ; the vaults rest on pillars. Those pillars add an eye-angle rhythm to the walkabouts. The never ending baldachin gives the impression to be on your way to a secret meeting. Cars look outdated; they are just too big in the narrow streets. They hobble along like tourists who are absorbed by their city map.

The students come here, because everybody comes. the coming and going of all those everybody's has created a wild-life of bars with a great variety of entertainment, be it political, cultural, gastronomical or autonomous: it's perfect for having chiacchere, but also perfect to find new friends and new loves, all within walkable and sometimes cyclable range.

ex mercato 24


Friday, February 17, 2006

The House of Hannover (two) - scribblings and unheard music

For years and years kids were sent to Feinkost Lampe by their mothers. Hannover was struck by war. It took the city years to recover, the same years that Ferdinand Lampe took the shopping list and filled the paper bag with carrots and potatoes.

Now the city of Hannover stands proud in the post-industrial age. All the windows shine like a jewel. Only on black and white photographs forgotten angles of younger years get restored to life. The 21st century started way before one realised that it could come.

Shops like Feinkost Lampe are now mostly run by Turkish families. Most of the products are labelled in their language. The shops conserve the smell of a memory.

Fortunately those Turks are immune to any retro-fashion. The grocery shop looks exactly like a grocery shop. Every day a strip of the sidewalk changes into a wall of fruits and vegetables.

It's almost two months now that I played in Hannover on a cold but not so cold evening when fine rain was caught in the orange light of the street lanterns, and behind one of the windows of those broad shouldered German houses Doris was reading a modern fairytale to her husband.

side a)
Florentine mornings - the Orange city - roofs - one moment to wake up, another moment to go back to sleep again - her shoulder - warm happiness and two cappuccino's with a brioche - holding hands in the milk bar - epilogue

side b)
the pointillist's vision - life at this side of the window - it's always there when I dream - a 14 hours train ride to LeHavre -standing on the quay on a rainy day with a hole in my shoe - back in Paris it smells different - the girl in the courtyard - opium - broken keys - only a few hours to pack and forget

The morning after my concert I go up to have breakfast with Claudia and Arne - it's a short walk over stairs that are wide enough to carry a Steinway piano up to the roof. All is wood, all is painted, here's somebody's coat, there's somebody's vacuum cleaner. Sleep is a lazy lover leaning on my shoulder.
Their apartment is warm - behind high windows it's a sunny day in December - the wooden floor reflects sunlight - Hallo cat! Good morning - Gute morgen.

Since those days I carry a list with some scribblings

- warm, cosy venue with good sound,
- regular public of all ages, generous and attentive
- Arne is a good cook
- local beer
- travel expenses paid for
- a hat full of coins
- one day I would like to return