Thursday, January 04, 2007

European Son

Greetings from Paree! It's unseasonably mild here & the sun has come out for a little while. I will spend the day alone looking at art & trying not to get dehydrated.

I am in Europe following my girlfriend Magda around as she does her anthropological research. We spent a few days in London, one day in Oxford, the New Year's weekend in Ghent & Brussels (Belgium), a dull day in Basel (Switzerland) (well, it was dull for me - I think she got some good fossils there), & made it to Paris late last night.

The most surreal moment for me was doing laundry in Ghent, in an empty laundromat on New Year's Day, & hearing "Eye Of The Tiger" blasting out of the radio there. What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a place where the music being played on the radio is generally not in the language you speak? Are there psychological studies about that? In general, I find it comforting, but would prefer better music.

I don't like to plan too much for these kinds of trips - or really any trips at all - maybe I don't want to be too overbooked or overwhelemed or maybe I am incapable of making a decision on what to do - so I find things like enjoying simply watching the countryside go by on the two train trips we took the past couple of days to be time well spent. I sometimes envy the folks who go to weird parties or who sneak into famous landmarks but I know I am not one of them. So my experiences, though nice for me, are probably pretty banal & not worthy of a travelogue. This blog is about a radio show, anyway.

With all this travelling, you find simple pleasures - like getting a good night's sleep, staying hydrated (Europeans like their water with bubbles for some weird reason, & if you ask for "still water," you're looked at as though you enjoy drinking mud) & finding good food to eat - to be the most rewarding, although I am of course impressed with things like seeing Christchruch in Oxford or Westminster & Big Ben in London - I like to see the things I've spent years reading about in books. I will try to find my way around Paris today, but I have a penchant for getting lost in cities when I have no one to show me around. Look for me on cartons of imported French milk.

So I should say a public thank you to Mark in East London & Annelies in Ghent - they made our stay in those cities very comfortable & fun. I only regret we couldn't see Mark more - he knows his part of the city & he wanted to show Magda the Jack the Ripper trail. & I fear we overstayed our welcome with Annelies, who was as gracious a hostess as anyone could ever find. Her friends, too, were amazing. One of the weirdest things they tended to do is, if you were standing next to them while they were talking, even if they weren't addressing you, they'd speak in English. For no real reason except to be polite. I found that devastatingly sweet.

What's next? Two days in Paris, then the weekend in Barcelona, then back to Paris for a couple of days, then Cambridge for a day, then a long plane ride home. I'll be around (I hope) a week from Friday to do the show on its regular time.

Meanwhile, those of you who heard should report how Lisa did last week - I'm sure it was amazing, but I'd like to know just how amazing - & be sure to listen to Jay "Lounge Show" Robillard tomorrow doing Self Help Radio.

If I get beaten up by a mime or if I'm implicated in an American plot to insult the parents of the Mona Lisa, I'll let you know.