Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tour Post 6: The Merits of the European Pay Toilet System

Brian is standing groggily at the entrance to the convenience store somewhere on the Hungarian highway system.  He is holding one hand out in front of him.  It is full of coinage from the three different denominations from the three different countries we have been to in the past three days.  “Can you help me do the bathroom?”  I pull 100 Hungarian Forints out of Brian’s hand, drop it in the machine, see him through the turnstile, and tell him to go left.   We barely had time to sleep the night before.  Simple tasks require some teamwork this morning.

In Europe, you generally have to pay to use the restroom.  Lest you get your libertarian feathers in a bunch and huff and puff about this poo-poo tax, please consider how fucking clean these pay toilets are.  It is a pleasure to poop in one of these gleamingly sterile WCs.  And you get a voucher for a discount at the coffee machine for having put forth your hard-earned for the right to poop, pee, and preen in comfort.  So you get yourself a coffee and the cycle continues. 

Spinning down the Slovenian tarmac toward Punk Rock Holiday, I am fucking bowled over by the splendor of the countryside.  Trees of all stripes stretch from the roadside to the rolling hillside.  Farmhouses, barns and small burnt-orange-roofed churches dot the land.  Farmlands cut through the deep green forest and extend far up the same hills seemingly defying gravity. The occasional stream snakes across.  I can’t read a single goddamn word on the road signs announcing mileage to the following cities.  The rumors are true, Slovenia is fucking beautiful!

Last night we broke in, entered, and made off in Budapest like thieves in the night.  We weren’t in town for much more than 12 hours.  That’s a shame considering how awesome the city appears to be from the van window.  NBs made the most of the quick stop in their usual fashion.  Once the audio problems at the soundboard were ironed out, dinner consumed, Mate Colas slammed, merch layed out, doors opened, the two locals began their sets.    The crowd brought a mighty reaction to the show in their enthusiasm for the band.  A lot of kids knew the words, some just preferred spazzing out, others jumped all over Brian.  No stage meant essentially no leash.  PJ and Brian engaged the audience as directly as possible and received reciprocation in kind.  The venue was nestled in the basement of a larger theater, but actually felt very much like the basement of punk house.  Intimate and electric.

Gabor put on a terrific show with the best of DIY vibes – friendly and fun and a bit wild.  He and his partner Briggi took care of us, fed us, gave us their small apartment to crash out at for a few hours and the obligatory home brew for a nightcap or a top o’ the mornin’.  Gabor was sheepish about wanting to take photos of the guys piled on his couch and effusive about having the band in town, but truly the pleasure and gratitude was all yankee.  We travelled from New Jersey as far east as we could in Europe.  To have people want to hang out, hear loud music and even buy a t-shirt is far more than could and should be expected. So yeah the gratitude belongs to the foreigners in the room.

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