Thursday, March 30, 2006

3.29.06 Germany: Munich

The 5 1/2 hour drive from Kaiserslautern to Munich flew by due to Johannes's good company (not to mention that we saw three-count em-THREE rainbows!). We are finally getting to know each other in person after many months of planning this tour via email, and thnakfully a warm and easy friendship has already developed.

(Johannes leaving Kaiserslautern!)

Johannes is the tour's lecturer, manager, driver and translator. I discovered upon arrival that I am supposed to be the tour's navigator. Uh-oh. (I can hear you laughing, Joshie!) I can't even find my way out of a parking garage! Fortunately, we are in uber- efficient high tech Deutschland and so our car has a GPS tracking system that speaks directions as we drive. Phew!

Yes, they know how to tour in style over here. Whereas in the US bands will tour in a stinky, beat up van which they often sleep in after eating at Jack in the Box, we are tooling all over Europe in a tricked-out Mercedes Benz (!) and given a hot vegetarian meal and housing at every venue. I could get used to this!!

Anyway, back to my friend Johannes. So a lot of us were wondering if this German guy who went all the way to Israel and wrote this zine about the Israeli scene and invited a Nice Jewish Girl from the US to tour was a Jew himself. Turns out that he is actually the Protestant son of a priest whose family has religious origins way back with the French Hugenots. (I am always envious of my foreign friends who actually have some idea what their family was up to 500 years ago). He ended up in Israel almost by accident, as he was sent there to volunteer by the German government in lieu of military service. After fulfilling this requirement, he went back to Israel to study mathematics for a year and now he speaks better Hebrew than I do and is well-versed in Jewish tradition. Who would have guessed?

So--onto the moment you've all been waiting for--news of the first screening! The venue was a really cool "alternative" complex called Feierwerk consisting of performance spaces, a gallery, a bar, etc. Turns out that Useless ID actually played there when they last toured Europe. We were greeted by the super nice guys who worked there, along with an amazing spread of food, and news that the rooms upstairs were too dirty so they had already booked us a hotel room. I thought, "Wow. This is what they mean when they say the arts are more appreciated in Europe."

We brought our own equipment on tour so Johannes was setting up the projector and DVD player when he realized that he left the remote, which enables the German subtitles, back home in Kaiserslautern. Ha ha. We make a good pair! So after a little adventure in electronics shopping we were ready to go.

There was an art opening with a DJ playing in the bar adjoining our screening room, so the "crowd" for the movie was only about 15 people, and we knew two of them. It was actually great because it gave J a chance to practice his lecture in front of a smaller group and for us to get our whole system together. Plus it was nice that on the very first night we each had a friend in the crowd--Holger, who was also volunteering in Israel with J (although Holger CYCLED to Israel from Germany via Greece and Turkey!) and my friend Taki who hosted me on my first trip to Oktoberfest 5 years ago.

Everyone stayed for the Q & A but they were pretty shy about questions. Fortunately, J & I went up together and we kind of played off each other and managed to be pretty entertaining I hope. I guess it worked out because out of 15 people, I sold 6 DVDs and Johannes sold 30 € worth of zines! I was really curious about what the questions and comment would be like here but it turned out that the highlight of my evening came from an American who happened to be visiting a friend in the area. He was from Fayetetvill, Arkansas--a region of the US where my film would probably not dare to tread, and he was totally blown away. He said that he had really never heard anything like this before and had no idea that there was any kind of youth culture in Israel. Pretty amazing how I had to come all the way to Germany to really reach my intended audience--the average American citizen.

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