Jethro Tull 
Monday, 27 .June, 2005, 17:45 - English Entries, Music

-- "Really don't mind, if you sit this one out"

It must have been sometime 1987 or 1988 when two of my best friends of that time and I sat in one of the guys little room and he put on a record, asking me if I knew the band. I didn't, had never heared one of their songs. But listen, he said, don't they sound familiar? The sound reminded me of something, but not sure of what - he said he was disappointed about me, he really had thought I would have a better feeling for music. He was that way at that time, we were still all filled up with testosterone and willing to show our superiority even if it meant to put one of our friends a little down for that purpose.

Entry Drug

They sound like Dire Straits he said. Hm, yes, there is somewhere a slight similarity, you are right, but now tell me who in heavens name they are. He gave me the album cover of the vinyl that was on the record player. "Stand up" by somebody called Jethro Tull. Aha, so so. I had to admit I liked the sound that he identified as Dire Straits like. Maybe it were the first few tones of "Jeffrey went the Leicester Square" that I heared for the first time, they started it all - I cannot remember that much anymore.

I grew up somewhere between Munich and the Alpes, a region where Rock'n'Roll was something that they played on only one of the public radion stations, called Bayern 3. There were only public radio stations that time. My taste of music was influenced by the people of Bayern 3 and I am still greatful that during the 80s there were some late Rockers that they played. This is not an excuse for me, but maybe for my friend who was ignorant - as all of us - when comparing Tull with Dire Straits. If anything sounded similar at all then it was Dire Straits re-inventing the Tull sound and not the other way round. But Bayern 3 did not teach us such things.

Exactly there we go

Shortly after this I ordered "Crest of a Knave". I am not sure anymore if I bought "Rock Island" before that, but Crest of a Knave really did it. At that time I mainly listened to Rock and Heavy Metal. Ok, they did not play Manowar (who shouts "buuuuu"?) on Bayern 3, but there were always some influences in cars of friends who had already drivers licenses - not to forget the disco places were the sons and daugthers of the local farmers used to hang out during weekends. The Crest of the Knave did not already turn everything upside down, at that time I thought it just as a good album.

Get the grip

Something took grip of me and few days later I was seen in Munichs "World of Music", spending too much money on a collection called "20 Years of Jethro Tull" - five records. I did not even have a CD player that time. Imagine! First thing I did was visiting my friend, who at that day stayed at his girl friends home in a small cow town. This must have been 89, as I had a drivers license already. At that time I thought of his girl friend as very beautiful but completly ignorant to anything that made sense in the world. I assume they just had done it when I arrived, because he and I sat in front of her stereo and were listening to one of the records while she was bored in another corner of her room, naging about what she referred to simply as "music". My brain got the ultimate injection of mind blowing sound and I saw from his eyes that the same was happening to my friend. It must have been the beginning of "Cold Winds to Valhalla" and "The Minstrel in the Gallery" that changed at least my life for the upcoming years.

The compilation that changed it all

The compilation starts with "A Song for Jeffrey" in some special radio edition - you hear the blues-rock train rolling, you sit right on top of it. Even when the flute turns softer you hear the rhythm of the train from the drums in the background, it cannot stop until "Love Story" comes up, which bascially is the same train, but a different compartment, there is now a real drum mixed into it, that is hit by hands and makes you feel like running through the corridors - until you reach the "Fat Man", followed by the blues instrumental version of Bachs "Bouree" and the "Stormy Monday Blues". Ah, sorry for getting too excited about all this, but what I want to say is, that this compilation is so perfectly built up - it was and still is a drug.

Timothy Leary was maybe right, I did not care about him anymore, I got all the colors from music now. I turned on, tuned in, dropped totally out - became part of the machine, was in the shuffeling madness, felt happy as the all-time loser.


The next step towards enlightment was "Thick as a Brick". Before music was for listening and dancing (mostly hadbanging that time, called "moschen" in the Southern parts of Bavaria, which sounds as straight as the action itself), with Thick as a Brick it became religious. Hey, I knew The Doors that time already, I loved them and knew their lyrics inside-out and upside-down - they influenced my life for sure and set free a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. But they never did something like Thick as a Brick, which was both lyrics and music wise a riddle to me. My English was not very well developed that time and of course it was impossible to understand what that whole thing meant - I only took pieces out of the lyrics and dreamed around then.

One of the pieces I took was "The Sandcastle" from the two lines
"The sandcastle virtues are all swept away
In the tidal destruction of the moral melee"
No idea what a tidal distruction or moral melee meant - who cares at all, it banged around in my head to the music coming from Ian Andersons flute. The Sandcastle became the name of a so-called "mailbox", an online computer system, that I built up on one of my first personal computers. These mailboxes were in a way the predecessors of the public internet - we used telephone lines to exchanges e-mail like messages and people could dial into the system with their VT100 terminal emulations on PCs and read and write messages. The peek of technology and my contribution to it was named after a sandcastle from Thick as a Brick.

Not just background music

I worked in a bank in Rosenheim at some point, stood behind the cashiers desk and had to count money and do more similar important stuff. At the end of the day I had to check whether the money and the accounted bills showed the same sum. They never did and my depressed feeling kept growing thanks to that. During most lunch breaks and right after work I went to the record store and invested my money in The Who, early Genesis and Jethro Tull recordings. A guy behind the counter and I had long talks about drum solos on "Benefit" and "Living in the Past". That helped to overcome the guilt feeling I had for the deficits I gained for my employer.

Keep away depression

The more I think about it, the more all the music and events seem to have taken place completly in parallel, as if the time 1988 till around 1994 was just a weekend in Bavaria. JT was some sort of glue, that held it all thight together. "The Chateau d'Isaster Tapes", "Aqualung", "Witch Promise" and the monumental "A Passion Play" were more than just the background music to what happend then. They gave the right signs at the right time - or maybe wrong signs at right times, who knows afterwards? If their signs were wrong, it was all right.

A Monument

Jethro Tull songs accompanied me through my first real tragic love, that finally turned out good. It was "Budapest" I listened to again and again and then again and once more. And it was "Under Wraps - part II" that was the air under my feet on all the mountain peaks and valleys my soul had to go through during these months of siege without hope. During the darker days there was also Peter Gabriel telling me that the world was not the best place for human beings, but the driving force were still the light songs from the wood and there was always a heavy horse that pulled me forward.

Under Siege

One day I packed my soon-to-be brother-in-law, whom I had infected with the sound of the band, into my ugly green car and we drove to Dresden, where THEY gave a concert. It was the first time I saw them live. An open air in a park and Andreas and I were most likely the youngest ones, although I was not so fresh anymore. That was just two or three years after the wall had come down but the area was filled with people in rock'n'roll outfit. Either they had all come similar long ways as we or they had kept their clothes hidden during 40 years of communism.

Oh God

Before I had already seen some video recordings of the early times of Ian Anderson and his band. The show I saw in Dresden was rather calm and well-organized compared to these little films. I was not disappointed, they played all the songs, even "My God" in an ultra long version. Several times after that I saw them live, they are good in that, but in real life they were never able to make me as dizzy as when I listend to them at home. Seems I needed to be with them in private to let them in.

Never misses the effect

Having said that it sounds as if they would not accomplish good live works. That is not true and listening to their live recordings, for example on "Bursting Out" and "A Little Light Music" but also on the collections, is exciting. It is quite a while ago that I have seen them and I would like to watch them on stage again.

Live experience

I did not abandon them, but I went on. There are times, like these days, when I have time and just put them on again. It never misses the effect. Again I sit here, asking myself how I could ever listen to something else than the Broadsword and the Beast, Cross-Eyed Mary and To Cry You a Song.

-- "Well that's that, I'm going."
-- all pictures of this entry are linked from the online version of the St. Cleves Chronicle

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Interview with Woody Allen 
Wednesday, 22 .June, 2005, 17:44 - English Entries, Movies

The online version of German magazine "Spiegel" has an interview with Woody Allen - you can find it here.

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Read: Schmerznovelle bei Helmut Krausser 
Wednesday, 22 .June, 2005, 17:44 - English Entries, Literature

Kraussers "Schmerznovelle" (tranlates somehow to "pain novella") has not been translated into English yet. The only book of him that made it into English is "The Great Bagarozy", of which I only saw the film version. I have the movie in good memory.

A friend of mine recommended Krausser to me. Schmerznovelle was the first book I read that was written by him.

It is a completely exceptional book. It is short, dense, intelligent, thrilling and most of all it left me totally confused. Confused first about the story itself, that got twisted all the time, even in the very last chapter. I did not understand the last chapter - leave it like this for the moment.

The real confusion did not grow from the turns of story, but from the destruction of reality that Krausser slowly waves into the short chapters. From a point on there are only phenomens left, but it is impossible to make definitive statements about them. You see the story going forward, you understand what is happening, but neither the main character nor the reader can interpret it anymore. There are several interpretations given - but which one is true? Is there any true interpreation at all?

So the only person that is really trustable is the main character, who tells the story. He tells the story by looking at it mostly in a straight time-line, but throws some reports and letters into the middle, that made me think I would know how the book goes on. Nothing I knew. And then in the very end, our narrator is put in front of an unclear background. Two sentences are enough to let us understand that there was more to him then we saw during the novel. His story was not told completely, he stayed silent about certain parts, he tried to appear different to us then he really is. But still, it might be that these two sentences do not mean much. We don't know. We cannot know, the book ends here.

"Reality is just the nearest myth" ("Realität ist nur die nächstliegende Fiktion") Krausser writes and then he takes away every base for anything that is near - he forces you to chose your personal reality myth and by chosing one you will always doubt it. It did not come along obviously, you selected it. You can never be sure of. But if you cannot be sure of this piece of reality, which one can you be sure of at all? Did he really only remove the knife from the corpse, as he assumes, as he cannot remember it anymore, or did he maybe even put the knife into the body when it was still living? What will he choose?

The book holds some exreme sexual scenes, that one might object to or enjoy, there is most likely no other way to feel about them. It is definitly not one of these "listen to me, I talk about sex and perversion" books. To get stimulation from what is written there you have to have a ...special approach to sexual intercourse. Which does not mean that it would not be stimulating, just saying that most likely not for everybody.

The language is at every moment perfect. There is not a word too much, you never have the feeling that the author talks too much. The chapters are short and Krausser has a unique way to put "bigger spaces" between paragrahs. Ususally these spaces indicate a shifting of scenes or a time gap, some books indicate them with three stars ("***") or something like that. Not at all here. There is just a gap and then the story goes on. These gaps are put in the middle of dialogues and at least for me they put my attention up, it had the effect of ringing a bell.

Metaphors in this book are never lame or wrongly placed, although there are quite a number of them. There are some paragraphs were we just have to follow the narrators views on life and its meaning - they are as thrilling as the story that goes on around them.

If they don't translate it, this book is one of the few reasons that I know why somebody should learn German.

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To those who ask how my vacation is 
Tuesday, 21 .June, 2005, 17:42 - English Entries, Thoughts

When I ate the Pizza Quattro downstairs in one of the four Pizza places around my home, there was a seagull sitting on a car and looking as if it owned it. Most likely the seagull did, just the guy who parked the vehicle there did not know. That happend while the sun was shining, the Pizza hot and the beer good. Amazing how many things are going on in parallel - pedestrians found the time to walk by, grass was growing on the other side of the road.

Is it a bird? Is it a ...

Soon we will have two holidays in a row, i.e. all shops will be closed. I wonder what would be worst to run out of during that time. There is always the filling station around the corner, I know, but maybe all oil resources get used up until Friday and the filling stations have to close down. I am sure they can still survive by selling milk, bread and other food for prices higher than chemical stocks, but let's don't make the thought too complicated and just assume I would run out of chocolate, coffee or yoghurt. I am meditating about this question, that at the moment - with two holidays coming closer, as said - seems of existencial importance.

In order to proof to me that I am not completely paralized by fear, I went down to the supermarket and bought all three goods in heavy overdozes, just to ensure that I will face the problem only mentally but not physically. Although the White Stripes say: "The problems at hand are lighter than at heart" I would not like to try.

Now the coffee is brewing, just one more cup of coffee. I opend all windows and a bee or something like that flew in. It stopped in the air. Waited. Flew a straight line down to the left. Waited again. Flew a straight line up left. Waited. Always when waiting it was moving its little wings very fast and tried to look like an electron, of which you can either know the position or its speed, but never both at the same time - blurry and impressive. It flew some more straight lines before it left - in a straight line. What I really regret is, that I do not remember the geometrical pattern it drew into the air, with the heavy green leaves of the birch (koivu) trees as a background. Maybe it was message. Something like "Don't let your coffee brew too long, else it will taste bitter" or the coordinates of the planetary system, from which the insect origined.

It is deep in the afternoon, the sun will be out another six or seven hours. My brain leans lazy on the top of my spine and the music sounds beautifully destructive. And the grass is still growing, listen to it!

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Lake Espoo and Espoonlahti - or: the Elk Trip 
Monday, 20 .June, 2005, 17:41 - English Entries, Helsinki, Finland, Cycling

I did some smallar cycling trips during the last days, but today I wanted to see more of Espoo, so I started West. You can see the trip from the map below.

The Elk trip

It took me quite long to go through Läppävaara, Kilo and Kauniainen. The map that I use is very good for that region, but there are too many streets and so I had to stop every few minutes and find out which way to go. Still it was beautiful to go there, especially as long parts of the journey went through wood and green.

Close to Bemböle is a big street crossing - it must be a festival for highways. There is also a Kahvila (Cafe) close to the crossing, but somehow it manages that to give you a quiet atmosphere, even when sitting outside, eating a sandwich and drinking a beer, as I did.

After that break I went around Lake Espoo, which I did not see too much of. The road went through the woods and gave me the joy of hills nearly all the way - which was really fun. Besides trees there are also golf courses in that area. Most likely they breed them there and lots of people with "handicaps" too. That is not an insult! A handicap means something different in Golf-language, but don't ask me what. I know some golfers, they are good people and I always wonder how they could end up with that sport.

Lake Espoo

There is a little beach at Oittaa and they also have a Kahvila there, which I can very much recommend. I took half a liter of water, coffee and a chees cake and did not believe the lady when she said "Kolme E-uro" (that's three Euro). It was really true. Ok, the chees cake was not too big, but it was good. Besides that the beach is small and there are only normal people and children - nobody tries to show off. I sat on a wooden terrass in the sun and planned the next moves.

Down to Espoon Keskus where I lost my way, as the merciless map shows. But only for a few minutes, then back on track to the Southern part of Espoo. Shortly after Espoon Keskus is a large park area that is worth seeing. Most of it is wood, there are some lakes and meadows with violet flowers, of which I do not know the name (did not even make a picture ... stupid me).

Smaller Lakes on the way

I followed the indications to Espoonlahti, which I should not have done. They lead me to the town center of Espoonlahti and not to the sea. Also this is obvious from the map, as I drove one part twice from West to East (see lower left corner). But I finally made it to the shore. The whole are there reminded me of Tegernsee, a place close to my home town. A lot of not-so-poor people seem to live there, which one can see from the houses and the ships. If you go there, you will understand them - it is again beautiful.

Somehow I feel like I have to apologize for only seeing and talking about beautiful things. Please wait until Winter, then you will read other content here.

In Tapiola

The way back was easy after some food ("Mega Dog" - the Fin-Esso version of a hot dog, don't forget to stress the first syllable of Mega - it is not Meeeega it is _Me_ga) and ice tea it was just like rolling home.

Before I took the bike out of the cellar I was not aware how green Helsinki and Espoo are, although I lived in Espoo for a while and was aware that it is more a collection of settlements with forests and meadows inbetween than a real city. As there are so many recreation areas there are never too many people at one place. It is quite easy to find a smaller lake where you can sit alone for a while. After that while it seems strange that only several hundred meters away are the two biggest cities of Finland.

Now look a the outline of the trip. It looks like an elk or a reindeer. That was not my intention, but somehow my subconcious must have take part in that.

Anybody interested in cycling there together?

One more thing on the mega dog. The guy who gave it to me asked "do you want also the spicy sauce" and usually I say no, but this time I tried it. Daring. The he asked if I want the normal or the spicy sausage and I went for the spicy one as well. Very Daring. The effect was zero. The Finish version of Spicy not only leaves your stomach lining intact (German: Magenschleimhaut), it also does not jump on your tongue. It is the silent (spicy) way of this country.

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