- Essays: On The Road (And A Little Off)


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Panama Rouge Et Le Doc Begin the Third Invasion of France

Paris, August 18th 2005 - -

Okay be forewarned; I'm typing this on a
hellish French keyboard...occqsionqlly
there qre gonna be mistakes like the q
back there, but to go bqck and hunt the
buggers down is gonna eat into valuable
time, so just do your best and so will I.

After I woke up at The Doc's girlfriend
Christien's house, we headed out to this
little town called Staphorst and the local
bar called the Japperij, where Doc qnd I
began to doour yearly thing of learning how
to play together. We were joined in this
effort by some notable Dutchguy musicians:
Dick Zoeteweyg, Cees van Hardeveld, and
Xander Riessen, journeymen all, and so the
evening passed well and quickly.

I took a walk through Staphorst before the
gig, no big task, as that consists of
walking a couple of blocks down the only
street and back. Sweet little town up here
in the Protestant north, one house had a
little pony colt in the yard, and the place
next door to the bar had six or seven baby
cows munching on the grass. Houses are old
but incredibly well-maintained...

Dawn comes quickly in the Nederlands and
the next day found our heroes, accompanied
by a friend of The Doc's and now mine named
Taeke Heslinga, the first authentic
Frieslander I'd ever met, hitting the road,
busting our asses to get to our first gig,
the Tomahawk, south of Nevers, which is
south of Paris.
The thing that I like, or one of them,
about these August Frence tours, is that I
see the same people I saw last year, so
that friendships are built. When, after
eight hours on the road at blistering
speed, we got to the Tomahawk, which is
nothing so much as a biker bar, our friend
the proprietor, Serge was directing his
labor forc, his daughters, to prepare for
the evening's do. It was good to see Serge
and his girls/women again: they are always
laughing about something. This time it was
probably about us.
We ended up spending two nights in Serge's
teepees qnd plqying two nights in his bar.

Every year in the town of Chateau Chinon
(Chinese Chateau) there is a festival
dedicared mostly to preserving the local
customs, which seem to mostly run to doing
folk dances in wooden shoes and showing
their mules and asses. Doc and I generally
restrict ourselves to the latter.

I have described Chateau Chinon before, so
I'll be brief. It's a little town on a
hill in an area called Morvan, a little
town that was home to George Sand, a writer
who you of letters will be failiar with,
I'm sure. Most notably George Sand was a
nom de plume for a woman, a countess
actually, who had a torrid affair with
Chopin that was renewed every time Freddy
came to town. In America we would have
been scandalized, but in Chateau Chinon
they nqmed the primary school after her.

Doc and I had two official appearances this
year at the festival, and we were waiting
to follow an incredibly good duo who were
appearing on the same bill.
"I dunno, Doc, these guys are pretty good.
Think we're gonna be able to avoid falling
on our faces up there?" I ask.
"Well," says The Doc, "we can open with
that old French favorite, "Les Allemagnes
Sont Stupide."
"Always a crowd=pleaser," I agree.

But instead we opened with "Rock n Roll
Across the USA," a tune I wrote years ago
with the man who will become the next
governor of the Great State of Texas, Kinky
Friedman. One thing you gotta say about
the good ole USA: we got rock, and the
rest of the world forgives us for a lot of
bullshit because of that.

We played in a local bar after the official
Chateau Chinon fest, and hung up our spurs
for the night.

Next day, the Doctor, overcome with a
distinct longing for the charms of
Christien and we having a couple of days
until the next show, dropped me off in
Paris, where I went to meet the legendary
entertainment impressario Karel Beer.

NEXT: Panama Stumbles Over Jim Morrison's
Tombstone and Wonders Anew What All the
Fuss Was About

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