Part 1: On The Kingdom of Darknesse
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Not to be outdone by my archrival, Sean Michaels, I have prepared my own true story of European travel. But mine is much longer than his (and far greater in quality) and therefore requires a telling in two parts.


I was really hoping that Cat Power would release an album during my tenure as author of Said the Gramophone, but as that now seems unlikely (I've heard nothing about it), I've found another excuse to tell this story:

Not last summer, or the summer before, but the summer before that (my antepenultimate summer, if I were to die today), I took a trip through some Mediterranean countries. I went to Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and Morocco. I came (via Geneva), I saw (Macy Gray at a bar in Madrid, among other interesting things), I conquered (all of the Mediterranean countries simultaneously (I'm a military genius)), I ate, I danced, I drank and fell asleep in public. I met my friend Vanessa in Geneva and my editor Max Maki in Spain. The latter of whom I traveled with for a while. Then I met up with my sister in Florence where she was studying for the summer. Everything was going just as I had planned. But as my plans ran out, so, too did my money and my Eurail pass. As I left my sister and Florence, I had two days to kill before my flight out of Milan, and no money or friends to kill it with.

I got an email from Max about a Cat Power show at a music festival in Switzerland. Now, I'm no different from anyone else (and you can take that to the bank), which means that I love the music of and the lady that is Cat Power. I had never seen her perform, so I decided I would make it a pilgrimage, give my last few days in Europe a purpose.

There was, however, a major snag:

I knew the name of the festival and the address for its (entirely unhelpful) website, but had no idea where specifically within Switzerland the action was to take place.

So, being a logician by trade, I ventured to the nearest thing to the middle of Switzerland that I could think of, its capital, Bern. At the train station's information booth, I asked if anyone knew anything about the festival. They did not.

From a Bern internet cafe, I watched Ronaldo and Rinaldo and other men with similar names destroy the German soccer team in the finals of the 2002 World Cup. I emerged from the cafe and ran through the streets waving a Brazilian flag and chanting "Brazilia" along with the rest of the hordes (there were actually hordes chanting "Brazilia" in the streets of Bern), and when I came to my senses, returned to the cafe to double check the festival website. On this particular perusal I noticed the number of a ticket hot line, which I called, yielding the suggestion that the festival might be near Fribourg.

Fribourg sounded good to me, so I hopped on the next Fribourg bound locomotive. When I arrived, I again asked at information whether they knew anything about the festival. Never heard of it.

Hope began to fade. A pervasive melancholy took hold and as I was overcome by a sense of loss and purposelessness I decided to board the next train, wherever it headed. Such is the way of the traveler. Such is the insousiance of me, The Traveling Man.

Dudingen was my destination; disconsolation, my mood.

When I arrived in the tiny (TINY) Swiss/German bordertown of Dudingen, I made one more pathetic grasp for glory at information.

Me: Do you know anything about the festival?
Informant 1: Sorry, no, never heard of it.
Informant 2 (hidden low and in the corner): Oh, yes, sure. The music
festival. It's just down the street.

It took only 45 minutes of walking in Informant 2's suggested direction for me to determine for sure that she was lying. I mean, it was nice. Huge fields of tall flowers and cows rolling around like it didn't even matter, real cowbells clanging at their necks. In the distance I saw what I can say with certainty and without hyperbole was (and is to this day) the tallest peak I have ever seen. Though, at this point I realized that I would die within a week in the Swiss countryside at the foot of what I can only imagine is the summit of the entire Swiss Alps, I decided to keep walking. Because why not.

Then something strange happened. The mountain started singing to me. It was a good song, and one that I recognized. The mountain was covering "I'm Waiting For The Man," off of The Velvet Underground and Nico. So, I realized I wasn't so much walking deeper into the Swiss countryside as I was walking deeper into the darker recesses of the pathological human psyche. Or, wait... What was that in the distance?

Moby Grape - "Naked, If I Want To"

Sunny, but completely off-kilter. Pay special attention to the "Fourth of July" harmony. A great musical moment.


Cat Power - "Naked, If I Want To"

Sounds like Cat Power: languid and pared down.

Posted by Jordan at November 5, 2004 11:21 PM

Düdingen is a funny place, and that festival is a strangely well-kept secret. They have some of the biggest names in the business, but nobody ever talks about it. Getting to the club/restaurant near the field where the festival is indeed feels like someone is playing a joke on you. (Sure, it's right over there at the end of this road...)

I was on tour with someone and we did a radio interview in Fribourg. Even though we both speak very good German, we had to have a translator in the studio to translate between Swiss German and 'High' German!

Posted by kurt_vile at November 6, 2004 2:21 PM

"I was really hoping that Cat Power would release an album during my tenure as author of Said the Gramophone, but as that now seems unlikely (I've heard nothing about it)"

Cat Power
Speaking For Trees: A Film By Mark Borthwick
OLE-628 DVD + CD
Released: 2004-10-26
DVD + CD DVD: A nearly two-hour film of Cat Power performing solo outdoors in the countryside amidst the ambient sounds of nature. Filmed in a single grainy long shot, in the tradition of Warhol and Wiseman. Plus 3 short nature films set to Cat Power's music. CD: One gorgeous unreleased 18-minute song saga, "Willie Deadwilder", from the 'You Are Free' sessions. BOTH: in an elaborate fold-out package with 64-page book. Created, packaged and directed by experimental filmmaker and visual artist Mark Borthwick.

Posted by Bryan at November 6, 2004 7:33 PM

Upstaging your host in his own house? Tsk tsk.

Posted by Tuwa at November 6, 2004 11:36 PM

Good one, Jordan! Can't wait for part 2.

Posted by Sean's Mum at November 7, 2004 12:04 AM

Wow. That film sounds... awful. Potentially awful, anyway.

Posted by rodii at November 7, 2004 12:50 PM

what a great story! yes, mountains do sing, in analogue ...


rene daumal


Posted by rb at November 7, 2004 8:15 PM

i thought that if sean were still with us, he might have noted that okkervil river has a new ep out called "sleep & wake-up songs". it is great.

Posted by george at November 8, 2004 11:16 AM

*taps foot impatiently*

Posted by rodii at November 9, 2004 7:04 PM

Post a comment

(Please be patient, it can be slow.)
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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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