03-26-2003
Ilirska Bistrica, Slovenia, MKNZ
 
Woke in Zagreb, and thank goodness someone came up with the idea to drive through the night. We would have been up at 7:00 in Vinkovci, and wouldn't have slept anyway w/Ago sawing away; and we would have drove forever and forever, instead of having a full night's sleep and three hours to go to Ilirska Bistrica. And not only that, we were in Zagreb, which is an appealing town, especially when you go to the music store and Andy decides he wants to buy the Marshall stack that's there for cheap; so Vickie and I sit outside, watching the college kids walk by, aghast at how hot the girls in Zagreb are. I don't understand what does it, but we'd seen the same thing the day before, walking through town: a café in the plaza with many tables, and somehow entirely populated by those women you only see strolling around the West Village in their summer dresses. It was unexpected.

You know, I missed a number of stories from the previous trip to Zagreb, so I'll catch up. We sat in a different plaza (Agostino, from Sicily, did not want to be in the sun) and the Croatians told us stories of fucked up coastal towns - one in particular, where the police had intended to build a new station of some kind in a rough part of town, and changed their minds when the local gangsters wrote them a letter requesting that they not build the station, that it would be a bad idea. The police agreed, and stayed out. I think it was this same town where the big heroin dealer is also the town's only egg dealer, a man who once chased a rival egg-seller out of town at gunpoint, eventually running his car off the road and shooting the rival in the ass as he ran away on foot. The story (only once removed, they say) is that the dealer blew the smoke from his pistol Western-style, saying to those present: "no one fucks with the King of Eggs."

So Andy bought a Marshall, we reloaded the van and drove back towards Slovenia. Slovenia is fucking beautiful, let me find a photograph....

Do you see what I mean? Beautiful. Really, it reminded me - much of Slovenia that we drove through (we didn't see it all, there are mountains and there's the Adriatic and many more places, lots of options) reminded me of the Idaho panhandle, the rich hilly parts, crawling with cows and gardens and so many chickens. And I love chickens! And hills, and when we got to Ilirska Bistrica we met the tall, hairy, jubilant promoter (Leon? Laren? Lairn?), the kind of man you'd hope to have sit down beside you in an Idaho panhandle biker bar. He told us of all the fun you can have around Slovenia: it's cheap, you can hike everywhere, people are friendly, the food is great. We saw pictures of Piran, on the coast:

Why am I showing you pictures of places we didn't go? We didn't go to Piran, though I'd like to go and I think everyone else should go, too; but we went to Ilirska Bistrica, to this strange little "former" squat called MKNZ. Our host told us the story of the place: a youth club during socialism, as the government changed, he and his pals - kids who had gone to the youth club - gradually started to use the building for their own youthful purposes: practice space, punk rock shows. It's a different world, I'm telling you, when the history of the punk rock club you're playing in extends into different governments and even different countries. Most everything looks and feels the same, but it is different.

More goulash tonight. Three nights of goulash! I was happy with it all, though looking forward to something different - maybe some Italian food. But the food was hearty and excellent; the local wine, poured from a two-liter plastic jug, was good; and maybe I should have smoked some of that massive joint the guy offered just before we played, just so I could have rounded out my European experience. No joint, though; and I never ate any gelato, either. I must go back soon.

Not a big crowd tonight, but a nice crowd. The stage was good, the equipment was good, except for Andy's new amp which kept dying mid-song - we'd spend the next two days trying all sorts of tricks to fix the thing, eventually ending up in a basement by a field somewhere along the Adriatic coast in Italy, where a man has a shop with tubes and wires and oscilloscopes. Tonight, though, it was at least a little bit of trouble. And though I talked at great length to a swell girl, and though I decided to experiment with rutting-bull-style physical aggression to get what I want, I ended up sleeping in yet another little room with Andy, at the top of a six-floor walkup, where every sound in the stairwell carried like a gunshot on the ocean. We got to bed late, and didn't sleep long enough; but in the morning, before we left for Fano and the longest drive of the trip, the sun was beautiful, the dogs were barking, and the chickens! Maybe the dogs were barking at the chickens. The sun was out this whole trip, every day! Beautiful.


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