Part 2: 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.


In last week's installment: Stranded in the Swiss countryside, perhaps on my way to a Cat Power show, I spotted what was either refuge or mirage and if the latter, a further indication of my deteriorating mental health.


Emerging in the distance was a big white tent, growing as I approached it. Cat Power was supposed to play later that evening, so I was surprised that there were maybe only ten cars parked nearby. When I reached the giant tent, I noticed a small cabin beside it. I went inside and found five or six large, pierced and tattooed gentleman.

"Hello," I said cautiously.

They turned to me but did not speak.

"I was hoping to see Cat Power tonight."

One of the men - the biggest and most intimidating of the lot - turned to me and struggled in his thick German accent to say:


He left the room and I took a seat in the corner. It was very dark and I was afraid. The sun shone in through the window directly above my head and focused its light on me. I removed myself from the solar spotlight, hoping not to call attention to myself.

Evidently, I was successful, as some of the Germans (German speaking Swiss, technically, I guess) started doing illegal things that I assume they would not have been doing had they been in the least bit concerned with my presence. I became eager to leave.

It seemed to me that it was very unlikely that this was the location of a festival. But instead, that I had been the subject of an amusing hoax, propagated by my editor, Max Maki and the country that you call Switzerland (I call it France, but that's my mistake). I thought that maybe I would be murdered by the Teutonic ruffians so that Max and Switzerland could have a good laugh. And just as I reconciled myself to this fate, an indie-rocker (just like you or me) walked into the room. He approached me.

"You are looking for tickets to the festival?" He was soft spoken.
"I'm sorry, we're sold out."

That hurt.

"I'm just kidding," he said dryly without breaking a smile.

Not funny.

I was wearing a Ui t-shirt and he commented that he liked that band and that he hoped that they would come and play the festival some time. Then he grew tired of me and explained that I could stay and wait there for the show to start in a few hours, or return to Dudingen and come back later - there would be no shortage of tickets. I did not relish the idea of walking all the way back to Dudingen proper, but as I was deeply frightened and had nowhere to stay for the night, I decided to make the walk and arrange for a hotel.

When I arrived back in Dudingen, haggard and sweaty, I went to what I believed to be the only hotel. No one was there and I heard the barking of wild dogs. I left and went to a restaurant.

True story: I ordered a salad (which I have since dubbed, "4 primary colours salad") and listened to a polka quartet comprised of three accordions and one stand-up bass. They all yodelled. They switched instruments and each played all with ease.

Full of something like vegetables and a thick-crusted bread, I returned to information to ask whether there was another hotel.

There was someone in front of me in line. A lovely woman, who I recognized as Cat Power. My heart stopped beating. Reborn, I decided not to speak with her. What of interest could I say? I stood behind her and listened silently while she tried to determine, with the help of Informant 2 (remember her from last week?), how she could best get to Berlin for the following day. Informant 2 went to check something in a filing cabinet in her corner and Cat Power's eyes searched the room finding mine (love). She saw that I was carrying a guitar and asked if I was playing at the festival.

"No, actually, I came to see you."
"Wow, really? That is so strange. That is really strange," she said, seemingly genuinely perplexed.

Unfortunately, I can not remember anything about the five minutes of conversation that ensued after that tid-bit and before the next, but I can assure you that it was something very near to God and The Good.


Me: Are you looking forward to tonight?
CP: No. I've had a very bad few days and I was forced to leave my boyfriend.
Me: Romantically or geographically? (that is seriously how I phrased the question. I was in a state, I assure you.
CP: Both. (I believe was her answer)

At which point a cab driver arrived and said that she was there to drive Cat Power to the show (doing something like interrupting what was about to be our first kiss).

CP: Would you like a ride to the festival?
Me: No thanks. I think I'll take a nap.
CP: What's your name.
Me: (Hello, my name is) Jordan.
CP: I'll put you on the guest list.
Me: Thanks, Cat Power. You are a friend.

That's ok. We can't all be heroes. I decided that instead of taking a fifteen minute car ride with Cat Power, I would go find a hotel, alone, and take a nap. So, that's what I did. I dreamt of lost opportunity (a lifetime of ecstatic domestic bliss with my wife, Cat Power) and the life of loneliness I would lead. Of science and entrepreneurship as well, but that was unrelated.

I then walked all the way back to the festival and upon my arrival, found that Cat Power, true to her word, had put me on the guest list and saved me something like sixty bones. Nice lady.

The show was a travesty, as I understand sometimes happens. Even though she is just as astoundingly brilliant a vocalist in person as she is on record, she wouldn't play her songs all the way through and kept stopping and complaining about her new guitar (an Epiphone Les Paul, for those of you who just need to know, no matter what the cost to my story).

There were, however, two good aspects of the show:

1. It was the first time I heard "I Don't Blame You" - such a simple and clear showcase for her voice and the best song on You Are Free. I will always associate this song with the sort of disorientation one experiences when traveling/touring alone for extended periods.

2. During her playing of "Satisfaction", I was nodding along with the music. She caught my eye and mocked me with mimicry. Felt good.

I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that I didn't try to find her after the show. Because I did. But couldn't. And ultimately I returned to my hotel room dejected and desperately trying to etch into my memory each aspect of my experience over the preceding several days, because there was no one there to discuss it with or to remind me about it later.

I still maintain that You Are Free is actually about me. It's hard to meet me, I think, and not write an album about me. Watch out!

Posted by Jordan at November 10, 2004 12:59 AM

Nice story. Love the "We Can't All Be Heroes" part. It reminds me of the time I was working for Amnesty International in France and I ended up with mainstream (poor) french singer and (gorgeous) former model Zazie offering a ride on her scooter and me politely declinign ...

Posted by Alex at November 10, 2004 4:26 AM

lovely story, & told so well.

i've got to say it again, jordan - i luv your prose.

Posted by mr g at November 10, 2004 5:47 AM

first-rate story. that was heart-breaking, it really was.


Posted by roz at November 10, 2004 6:47 AM

great story. great writing. we're all waiting for chan's recorded version.

Posted by thebeathunters at November 10, 2004 8:50 AM

good story. solar spotlight, though. the ifs of accepting that ride would have propelled me onward, I believe.

Posted by M. at November 10, 2004 7:16 PM

I can sympathize Jordan. Not quite at your level, though. Don't worry, though. It'll all work out...or you'll die childless and alone. Might I recommend Jon Brion's Punch Drunk Love soundtrack (assuming you're not already acquainted with it).

Posted by proffokker at November 11, 2004 12:36 AM

In fact, this reminds of the time I saw Walt Martin (of the Walkmen, my favorite indie group) on the street outside the concert hall. I didn't say a word. I just gaped at him with my arms outstretched like I was about to give him a bear hug, rotating to face him as he passed me. I think my eyes had an expression on them akin to messing oneself.

Posted by proffokker at November 11, 2004 12:42 AM

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

M. - Amended as you suggested. I have an editor, but with misses like that one, she's treading on very thin ice. I might have an opening.

Posted by Jordan at November 11, 2004 1:04 AM

Incredible. Where has she been my whole life? I think I might do anything if she told me to while singing...

Posted by Eric at November 11, 2004 3:05 AM

"No thanks, I think I will take a nap."

There are moments like that for everyone. It's good to realise we are totally irrational sometimes...

Posted by Matthew at November 11, 2004 6:52 AM

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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.

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