Monday, 20 April 2009

We Versus The Shark Tour Diary Part 19

Ninteenth Installment: The Hedgehog (20/04/09)

Touring anywhere, you're bound to encounter others bands' trajectories, past or future. It might be flyers promoting a friends' band that you are inadvertently criss-crossing paths with (on this tour: Brooklyn earth-punks USA is a Monster). Or it might be in the form of stickers or backstage scrawl. Entire histories, however crude, are etched into the walls of most of the world's choicest shitty dives.

We discovered a pretty excellent example of this at AZ Conni in Dresden. AZ Conni itself is extremely noteworthy: a government-supplemented punk club/leftist library/kindergarten, it was one of the most inspiring spaces we played on this tour. The summer camp-style bunks upstairs from the club sported an entire comic strip illustrated by none other than Al Burian. Al Burian is the definition of a punk lifer: through bands such as Milemarker, Challenger, and Canadian Rifle, or his own personalized zine Burn Collector, he has exemplified the willfully marginalized lifestyle. Burn Collector is full of a sort of glorified-loser vibe that skirts the edge of Henry Rollins-style self-flaggelation but the writing is always winningly cool.

Burian's comic strip, rendered pretty huge on the wall, depicts the author in his element: drunk. The basic storyline is as follows: he is drunk, he sees a hedgehog, the end. The hedgehog bears no positive or negative effect other than, wow, that's odd. A hedgehog. Nature!

So tonight, we are in Schlanders, Italy. Schlanders (which sounds better when punctuated by an exclamation point--Schlanders!) is part of the northern Italian countryside where most folks speak German in addition to Italian. This was one of the handful of shows that was a complete bust in terms of attendance, but it's Wiz (the drummer of Blakfish)'s birthday, so there's a small cake and novelty party hats and lots of beer. The club closes, the owner kicks everyone out, and we continue to drink in earnest.

After a while, I decide to take a shower, so I run to the van to grab my towel. The door locks behind me, because why wouldn't something like that happen? The light drizzle is gradually becoming full-on rain. Everyone is on the second floor. I start throwing a Coke can at the windows. No one has any idea that I am locked out. I start to feel sort of ridiculous: middle of the night in Italy, half drunk, throwing a Coke can at a window, trying to not get my towel wet.

And then, like a hairball coughed up by an angel: a hedgehog emerges from the brush.

I stare at it as it scurries across the street.

If that's not some low-rent Zen, I don't know what is.

Jeff Tobias, We Versus The Shark. Blog courtesy of Flagpole Magazine: Colorbearer of Athens, GA Star Power!

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