Friday, November 6, 2009

"Come on along with the Black Rider": Magnolia Electric Co Fall Tour Diary Chapter 6: Prague Departure = Vienna Arrival


Jim and Vivian were out of bread, so Jim and I ran to the non-stop to buy some. I decided to stock up on food for my train trip to Vienna. Cheese, bread, some sort of salami, garlic chips. Candy bars to send home. Big bottle of water. See ya later, Non-Stop. It was a pleasure to meet you.

We had eggs and toast. Jim took me to the Old Town Square to exchange my remaining crowns for Euros so I could get from the train station in Vienna to the hotel in Vienna. I saw the Franz Kafka hostel again. We went to a vintage store called Laly that was full of good stuff, including a graphic sweater of a golfer and his female admirers. They didn’t take credit cards so I couldn’t complete the transaction. We then met Vivian under the Astronomical Clock. We watched it do its thing. As a final reminder of what the Czechs hold dear, a skeleton rings the bell of the clock while the apostles and various other things do their weird dance at the top of the hour. I was told by an American that the builder of the clock had his eyes gouged out so that he couldn’t create such a magical instrument of time-keeping for any other city. It has multiple dials – some that show star signs, others that resemble what, I imagine, the guy who wrote the Golden Compass used as inspiration for his magical instruments. And for good reason; that thing is awesome.

Back on a tram, but not before a big, huge, snappy street sausage. Then on to Ufleka, a tourist trap beer hall that had delicious beer and a ton of German, Japanese, French, and Italian tourists in it. Two four-times-more-expensive-than-anywhere-else-but-still-cheap beers and it was back to the apartment to grab my stuff. I “black armed” it on the tram to their apartment – ie, I did not renew my tram pass, I just went for it and hoped no one checked. I got away with it. Thanks, Prague!

Par for the course, I started to panic that I had forgotten something on my way out of the apartment. I spent a ridiculous amount of time taking stuff out of my bag, losing my train ticket, and, ultimately, forgetting my phone, before we got it all together and headed to the station again. I wanted to take the 4:30 train to Vienna, partially because I was worried something like my panic attack would make me late and, if it did, I could still get the 5:30 train to Vienna. We made it to the platform to see the 4:30 leave. It was almost a relief, as I had a full suitcase, a computer bag, a canvas bag full of my guitar effects and cords, and a guitar; I probably needed to be one of the first ones on to accommodate all of my crap. Plus, it gave me one more hour with my friends. We talked, we reminisced, and then the Johannes Brahms arrived and they helped me on. Vivian, with her tenacious take-no-shit attitude found a cabin for me and I got all of my stuff in before anyone realized all of that stuff belonged to me. We all hugged, twice, and I waved to them from the train window. It was a good trip and I will miss my friends.

My cabin was a six-seater and, at the beginning of the trip, four of us were in it. I, with my iPod and excitement about inter-country travel by train, the Czech woman across from me, with her laptop and iPod and Tupperware full of yogurts and sweets, the German woman to my left who was really short and quiet, and the German man to the front and left of me with his red socks, his Fortune magazine, and his way-too-short long pants. It was a smooth ride until we got to somewhere two or three stops down the line and the place filled up with a ton of college kids with obnoxious backpacks. Two filled up the rest of the cabin and they were boyfriend/girlfriend. She read her Cosmo-style magazine while he, seated next to me, watched some action film that featured a lot of nudity and a guy that looked like Vin Diesel but wasn’t. She touched his leg a lot; he touched her leg back. After an hour and, finally, arrival in Brno, they and the rest of the obnoxious backpack carriers, left the train. It resumed its quiet.

Two hours later and we arrived in Vienna, the end of the line. It was 10:00 p.m. and, despite my panicked information gathering about how to get to the hotel where the band was, I still didn’t understand, and confusedly walked around the train station not asking questions. As soon as I did, it was made clear, and I worriedly stood by the tram outside, hoping there would be room for me and my entourage of shit. There was, but the damn tram ticket dispenser refused, over and over, my one-Euro piece. It liked my two Euro piece and my 50 Euro Cent piece, so finally I got a ticket, and sat, and waited. Then I arrived at Westbanhof, directly across from Hotel Furstenhof, the place I have stayed every time I’ve stayed in Vienna.

Jan, our tour manager and driver, and Sal were seated in the lobby, enjoying mini-bar beers and talking. They gave me a warm welcome and directed me to my room which I was to share with Mikey. Mikey opened the door, and I felt such tremendous relief that this tour will feature hotels, showers, and free breakfasts. I dropped my stuff and went back downstairs, armed with the internet password. Pete showed up in the lobby while I was gone, and Pete, Sal, Jan, and I nerded out with our iPhones and iPod touches, talking apps, talking convenience. I regaled them with stories of the Bone Church, of cheap food, and of the wonders of a four-day weekend in Prague. They had just gotten off of a plane from the States earlier, so all they told me about was, well, how tired they were.

After two hours of phone calls and light internetting I retired to my (thank Jesus!) hotel room with a sleeping Mikey. I, after days of drinking and talking, fell asleep immediately.


  1. Hi Jason,
    Don't know if you remember me, but I was the guy at the Buffalo show this summer with the unicorn t-shirt. And friend of Cooper the pedal guy from Chicago. Anyway, I see your blog is talking of MEC tour in Europe and stuff, though I cant find any dates up anywhere. Anyway, I was wondering cause I'm gonna be over there next week. I'm touring with a band, but I have about 2 weeks to kill before the tour starts. would be totally bitchin' to see you guys play. ok, hope all's well in Vienna.
    Brian Blatt
    Rochester, NY

  2. Cream Creamhorn, Jim and I are crying self-involved tears to have exited the running storyline of your European trip. I did rub it in that I left the stage with a tenacious, take-no-shit attitude while my hubster bowed out buying bread. I will still look forward and read the upcoming posts. Jim will count.

  3. Hey Brian -- what you're reading is history, and not the present... (check out the dates at the beginning of the posts)... I wrote everything on tour but am posting it slowly. However, Molina and Johnson will be over there and the dates are at
    And how could I forget that shirt? I hope the trip is awesome!

  4. Jim and Vivian --

    Your story lives on in the hearts and minds of us all. And yes, Vivian, you emerged a hero, but so did Jim -- we were hungry! Thanks again for making the trip so much fun.

  5. Oooh. i'm a dumdum. well, shoot. that's a bummer. was hope to see y'all. I'll try and catch them!
    also, i been listnin to your daytrotter session nonstop. that zevon cover rulz!!!