Arriving at 7.20 AM in Germany not knowing yet that we had lost Tom Verlaine. We’d left Jeanne’s hospitality and all our New York friends behind till the next time and taken an Uber to Newark airport. Jeanne had mentioned that she’d read that only 6% of Uber drivers get tipped (because it’s not a cash payment). I asked our driver what percentage Uber takes from the fare. Shockingly he told me 35%. So they lose a lot to the company and don’t get many tips, good to know, tip them when you get home. The plane was a new Lufthansa-acquired Dreamliner, one always hopes that they’ve given the new models a good run, the 737 saga was freaky. All was well on the flight, we arrived in Frankfurt and we sailed through passport control with my new Portuguese residency card. They told me I could stay in the Schengen area as long as I wanted with this card, so consequently, I received no German entry stamp in my British passport and was treated as an EU citizen. It feels like a privilege after all those Brits that have lost the right to live in Europe as they had been doing untroubled for years. Olivia’s dad picked us up at the airport and we were soon driving to Olivia’s 1000-year-old village in the Rhineland, quite a contrast to the last few days in New York.
We arrived at Olivia’s childhood village and Olivia’s mum had prepared a mega breakfast for us with endless choices of cereals, oat milk, avocado, cheese, bread, croissant, veggie ham, camembert, toast, tea, juice. We ate and chatted for a while and then decided at 11.30 AM that we should hit the sack, goodnight. We didn’t get up till 7 PM and now comes the fight with jet lag. We came down and Olivia cooked some food, we chatted again with Gerd and Siv until they went to bed and we were wide awake, left with the news of Tom Verlaine’s death to mourn. I wrote all about my experiences and reminisces with Tom and that took up the rest of the night.
We have to carry on optimistic even when our heroes leave us because mortality sits further forward in your mind when you reach your sixties and you need to think of the end of your life as an opportunity to consolidate all your thoughts, take advantage of all your experiences and present them back to the world in some useful form. What one man considers useful of course might not be another’s version. Oscar Wilde famously said “All art is quite useless” but he was being witty and pedantic. Bringing music to people is rather useful I think but perhaps not as much as being a nurse.
We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.
From tomorrow I’ll be starting with sessions again as the 24/7 of the US is done. We will be here in Germany till Friday, 3rd February. So please be in touch if you want to sesh on, but be quick for a time, I’m expecting to be quite busy with seshes over the coming weeks before our UK tour starts.
Music today has been Tom Verlaine’s second solo album Dreamtime (1981). More classic angular and unique guitar.
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