La Storia (Cats on Fire, Italy, December ’13), part two

Milan tram

I want to briefly return to Naples, because I feel I didn’t quite do the evening justice in part one of this story. Also, one reviewer of our show in Milan thought we had said something about our equipment being stolen in Naples, which we didn’t, because it wasn’t. I’d like to stress that although Naples is often shabby – with façades crumbling off the façades – the promoters and the venue owners were doing something ultra-modern. They had re-appropriated an old building in a simply stunning way, and the atmosphere was magical.

The left-leaning, stylish middle class in Milan didn’t seem to think they had much in common with the southerners of Naples, one assumption being that people came from Naples to Milan to steal rear-view mirrors and sell them for 4 euros. How can you trust a paesano that steals your rear-view mirror? How can you trust him with anything?

“Cut your hair”, the stylish, self-proclaimed Stalinist behind the bar said to Janne. I liked the bar, and the man and the woman behind the bar. They clearly knew what they were doing. But I don’t think they knew that we were staying in a studio on Via Gluck when they played “Il Ragazzo della Via Gluck” by Adriano Celentano on YouTube after the bar had closed. Adriano, a lone man with a sort of a deranged swagger, was walking in a field, voice-syncing the song. I knew the Swedish version of the song (“Lyckliga gatan”), so I had an idea what the original, Italian lyrics might be like. And I had drunk a Negroni cocktail. But when the bar people described them to me, and I realized we were living on the same street that Adriano Celentano was singing about, I reached a sentimental climax. He sang about the raising of high rises on his old street, and in a wider sense about the destructive and dehumanizing aspects of modernity and urbanization. And it wasn’t any old street, it was Via Gluck, temporarily our street. Was everything possible, again? Or was it the false promise of 1/3 gin, 1/3 campari and 1/3 vermouth, again?

La Storia (Cats on Fire, Italy, December ’13), part one

Via Gluck

There’s something about the light, yes, the winter light in Rome is in a different spectrum. Structures reflect light in shades and hues radically different from the ones just seen at home, and the experience of a different colour universe is a promise, an earthly one. There are other lives to be lived, other feelings to be felt, before the requies aeterna. The colours of the inner landscape changes with the light outside.

We sit at a restaurant, we are home made, we are not much more than a hole in the wall, we are family. We are near the Colosseum, now being repaired by a shoe company looking for ad space and good PR. The public sector couldn’t afford it. Could we suggest a name change as well? That could fill holes in walls and budgets.

What is normal wear-and-tear in the eternal city?

To name a new city “New city” has seemed like a great idea to many. None of them lived to see their city get really old. Naples is old and worn. Some had said dangerous, too. “Did you get robbed?” was the question of the day. But we weren’t robbed. Playing in Naples was the opposite of getting robbed. Lanificio 25, a venue overseen by the ghosts of abandoned cotton production and catholic worship, was kindly given to  us this evening and we did our absolute best.

To organize, as far as I understand it, is what living creatures do to accomplish things they couldn’t accomplish each on their own. Organizing society-wide projects in modern societies seems to require a combination of 1) force and 2) trust, between people who share an abstract notion of common ancestry, or perhaps only a common set of ideas, but who otherwise have very little to do with each other. Now, Italy, as any modern state, has obviously had its fair share of both. After all, the railroad tracks had been laid out, from Naples to Trieste, and the train was a-rollin’. But otherwise, I don’t know. Would it be fair to say that the heart wasn’t really in it? The train ride from Naples to Trieste was eight hours long. We, starting to get a bit peckish after two hours or so, asked where the restaurant car was. There ain’t one, we were told. All right, so were’s the trolley, or the bucket with the small bags crisps? A shrug of the shoulders. Maybe the guy had overslept.

I don’t think it was the hunger, or even the thirst (there wasn’t even water!), as much the shrug, meaning “that’s just the way it doesn’t work” that made me furious. A few stops later, I saw a vending machine on the platform, but was told I couldn’t get out, since there wasn’t enough time. “Maybe there’s a machine in Arezzo”. When the train stopped in Arezzo, I ran along the platform, but no luck. And so it continued, up and down the platforms and in again, just in time, but with no food. Once I got a bottle of water, but when the sandwich was on its way out, the doors to the train started closing and I was forced to abort the mission. In Bologna, we made a concerted effort and got back in just in time, with some water and some whiter-shade-of-pale sandwiches. I survived the rest of the ride to Padua on rage alone.

2nd November in Rågsved

Photo: Arild Vågen

Photo: Arild Vågen

Hello. Ville and I are playing as a duo at the Queerplats Stockholm event on the 2nd of November. The event is to be held at Studio 124 in Rågsved. The Portland band Lovers will also play.

Queerplats is a group of people whose long-term goal is creating a permanent 24h “safe space” for queer people in the Stockholm area.

The best way to get there is to take the Green line to Rågsved and head to the right after the exit and right again onto Rågsvedsvägen. Go straight through the roundabout and then turn left on Garphyttegränd. The address is Garphyttegränd 2.

Cats on Fire Tour d’Italia 2013

garibaldi3Ciao a tutti! We will tour in Italy in December. These are the affected cities and venues:

04/12 ROMA, Unplugged In Monti – Blackmarket
05/12 NAPOLI, Lanificio
06/12 PADOVA, La Mela di Newton
07/12 MILANO, Pop Days – Ligera
08/12 CARPI, Mattatoio

We are extremely happy to get on the road again. And, what’s even better, we could get on any old road, because, as you know, all roads lead to…

Cats on Fire have some history in Italy. Our first ever concert outside the Nordic countries was in fact in Modena, Italy. That went a bit wrong, for everybody involved. All of us arrived in Modena having paid extra fees at the airport, a routine which I consider naming the Old RyanAir Tango. Then we found out that the festival venue had been closed down by the police. The organizers manage to move the festival to a different venue, but what they didn’t manage was regulating the alcohol consumption among the Scandi artists that were supposed to play. They just put the liquor bottles on a table, out in the open! Surely they must know you can’t just do it like that. We were definitely not among the worst participants in the bacchanalia that included vomiting, falling behind toilets, ambulance personnel. Scandinavian people are easy to deal with, as long as you hide the bottles, for Christ’s sake. The organizers just shook their heads and said they thought the behaviour was strange and disrespectful. Yes, but you brought it on yourselves.

Me and the Graaf Sisters

graaf_35397When I was 16 or 17, my parents took me and my twin sister on what was supposed to be the last family vacation, since children of that age and younger could still travel with their parents at a reduced price. The destination were the two Greek islands of Santorini and Naxos. This was a time when I had begun to realize certain things about myself and my family, and I suppose I wasn’t in the most secure mindset, but I still wasn’t prepared for the sudden onset of severe anxiety when stepping into the bus that would take us from Santorini proper down to the beach from where the ferries to Naxos departed. The road, a dusty old serpent, was only loosely attached to the steep volcanic wall, and I instantly felt it would be my last bus ride. [read more]