Europe Journals – Part VI

Europe Journals
Tim Donlan

Part VI

Munich
9/29/04

Burned those lactic acids into my legs and walked a circumference
around Munchen in the rain. I decided to use my four-year-old
shitty digital camera. For some reason, whenever a camera is
unveiled I get narcissistic. Lots of shitty snapshots aimed at my
unshaven face.

The day consisted of attempted to exist speaking only German,
snapping low rez shots of the kirsches, rivers and store-lined
streets.


The coolest thing I spotted was the Englischer Garten, on a
surging side stream. A concrete block had been placed on the
river floor, creating an artificial wave. Wetsuit clad surfers
would jump into the surging wave on boards, zooming back and
forth across the channel. It would be expected in Hawaii in June
or July, but Munich in October, grin… It was definitely out of
place but interesting.

I went to the Paulaner Beer hall and got mega wasted. Drinking
one-liter beer steins (Moss) will do that to you. But it was fun
singing along to the Germanized 80s pop songs, performed by a
traditional Oompah band. Overall, there was lots of good cheer
all around. I stashed one of the badass glass mugs in my pack.
Tomorrow I’ll get another one to create a nice set.


9/30/04Woke up around 9, showered, got some free breakfast and headed
over to the two Munich art museums. In the building with the old
stuff, it was Peter Paul Rubens that blew me away. He reminded me
very much of Michelangelo – doing Christian themed masterpieces
20 and 30 feet high. But Rubens is darker and more violent. Each
of his pieces tells a story, each figure has a distinct
impression and purpose in the tale. His Fall of the Damned was
particularly awe inspiring, with the boiling clouds and pillars
of demons consuming souls, and a single pillar of light shining
from above, surrounding Michael the Archangel, cutting into the
darkness but not overwhelming it. There were also a good many
paintings of massive battles, and hunting expeditions against
lions and wild boars. There was one Rubens piece with a pack of
hunting dogs swarming a red-eyed hoary boar, half the hounds
gored and bleeding in the dirt. Boars must have been fearsome
creatures in the middle ages, considered slaying one was such a
heroic deed. On about half the Oktoberfest beer halls, there are
mock wild boars head mounted, massive scary busts high on the
wall.

After about four hours in the museums, I headed over to the
Englischer Gartens again, to walk beside the flowing brooks and
under arching birch limbs. Massive plots of grass stretch for
acres just beyond the foliage, beckoning to me to lay down
beneath a picturesque sky. After eina Mass in the Chinescher Beer
Garden, I do, dawning a smashed pair of sunglasses and staring up
at the white ball of the sun behind thin clouds.

This is a heroic scene I could imagine 20 feet tall in a
Museum, wowing me with its majesty. Sunrays angling down through
the dispersing mists, casting jigsaw patterns on the green
rolling fields and dashing off the wings of screeching gulls.


There is a better life here in Europe, with slow days and
genuine smiles, and parties that are full of good cheer, not
intoxicated desperation and rivalry.In the beer hall, I was thinking about persistent traditions, and
how cultural phenomenons must experience a type of evolution over
the decades and centuries. Foolish, archaic practices become
revealed and abandoned, but those movements and activities that
stand the test of time have passed my quality test. Hence
Oktoberfest.


I was also thinking how in the middle ages and hard times, a
unifying happy event was essential to synthesize solidarity and
meaning to life. In times froth with pain – alcohol, song and
dance was logical medicines, and good ones too.


Traveling is like being ethereal, a wispy curl of smoke
twisting over and through geography. Meeting faces but not
knowing them. Laughing and smiling with the best of them. Then
the next day, the next instant, a train whistle, the thump of the
tracks and another town, another city gone.

Beer Hall Songs:
Heeeyy! Heeeey Ahhh Baybee!!! Oh! Ah! I’m in Looooovee! Won’t you
be my girl!
Zigee Zagee Zigee Zagee Oi! Oi! Oi!


10/1/04I had planned for an overnight train ride back to Amsterdam, so
today I have nothing to do but drink.I sit around the lounge of the hostel, listen to German girls
laugh, and I wonder if they are laughing at me.

Last night I had a dream that the girl sleeping below me was
stumbling around confused, looking for her lover, and eventually
she ended up in my bed. The truth was that she had some other guy
stuffed with her in the bottom bed of the bunk and they pretty
thoroughly shook the bed. I think that commotion got incorporated
into my dream, so that any hint of a truthful account of the
night has been eliminated.

I drank three Moss’s at a cafe and then Oktoberfest, just trying
to waste time. It’s almost seven and my train leaves at 10:45. At
least my ganked Glass steins didn’t bust after being stuffed into
my pack.

I long for music, Stephanie, and a bed that’s mine, quiet and
alone. Three nights and its done.


Amsterdam Full Circle
10/4/04The last three days consisted of getting stoned and walking
around Amsterdam with dark thoughts. There is a weakness, a
frailty inside of every person, and even if it is not realized,
it can be imagined. I attempted to reconcile in my mind twisted
fantasies and horrific imagery, as though I as both Patrick
Bateman and one of his retched victims. Some of the seedy
environs only magnified these strange fantasies – girls behind
lit windows beckoning for me to do dirty things with them. It was
if these actual acts could be understood, accepted an enjoyed,
but there was a dark paradigm at which they hinted.

Debasement, sexual slavery, torture. In all of these, there is
a master and a slave, the enchained subverted retch. I could see
myself becoming such a vile, pitiful beast, like some sort of
Gollum. I was probably just homesick and stoned. And being horny,
thinking about ancient violent empires, dungeons and torture,
short painful lives, and sexual perversion, demons and the devil.

I think this fear was also magnified upon purchasing the most
intense dose of hallucinogenic mushrooms available at the smart
shop. Whereas I had gone into the Acid trip very confident, here
I was consumed with strange self-doubts. I felt weak and enslaved
to my biology and culture. Would this mental mindset catch hold
during the trip, and turn me into a raving mess? I decided to
take only half the 18-Euro dose, and if I was doing fine, take
the rest, otherwise toss them. I wasn’t going to compromise my
sanity, this close to going home.

It was a rainy afternoon with nothing to do, so I took the
shrooms around 4:30. Wasn’t feeling anything much by 5:30, so I
took the rest.

Though not as visually intense as acid, the shrooms made me
very disconnected from reality and my own body. It was if I was
controlling my hands by remote control. I sat around the hostel,
watched television, rolled joints.

Later on, I could feel a rhythmic surge coming from my chest
up into my head. It was if I was actually feeling signals travel
up from my stomach into my brain, fiery and intense, like sugary
carbonation in my bloodstream.

Eventually I fell asleep, stoned and tripped out, exhausted.


But as a whole its over, completed. What’s left to do in
Europe is wake up early, catch the tram, then the train, a few
last glances at Amsterdam Harbor, then the plane.Ushered into tight spaces, packed away like luggage. Then it’s in
the air without a hitch, the layer of clouds a kilometer below me
a plush comforter, in reality as solid as thin air.In time, after a day shooting through the air in a metal tube,
eventually, I’ll be home.


Epilogue
Philadelphia
The craziest thing was coming back. I got a full inspection by
the U.S. Department of Customs, wearing Homeland Security Badges.
I knew I was in for trouble when the first customs guy, who
stamps your passport, wrote SI in big letters – for second
inspection. It must have been because I stammered some during the
questioning. The next dude, putting on latex gloves, assured me
it was random, but I didn’t remember the first guy looking at a
computer. So I have to lay all my baggage on the table to be
completely searched, all the while making small chat with this
Philly pig.Eventually he got to the leather satchel I had been keeping my
weed in. I was almost certain I had ditched the ziplock weed
carry bags, and all that was left was a straw and some rolling
papers. Miraculously, this guy found a tiny grain of weed, and I
folded my arms in supreme annoyance.

I was pissed I had the misfortune of the grain being in my bag,
and doubly so that it actually mattered at all. The guy says
“zero tolerance” and I shuddered at the absurdity of it
all. Wouldn’t it just be perfect to get a record or fine or a
court date. But I was bolstering myself against those
possibilities with crossed arms and clenched teeth.

They also find the cover of the shrooms container, which I boldly
say is empty. When another mustached cop asks where they
mushrooms went, I tell him I ate them two days ago. After they
searched my shit they told me to stop aside, and two officers
walk me into a side room. I was worried they were going to stick
their gloved fingers up my butt or some other loathsome excessive
absurdity. Luckily I was spared the debasement, but I get the
standard pat down police check.

In the end, they really couldn’t do shit, though I got logged in
the computer. So I guess somewhere, there’s a record of me
bringing trace amounts of narcotics into the country. I’ll have
to make sure to never run for public office.

As I left, I wanted to tell the guy: “Ah, so now I see what
the Dept. of Homeland Security does! – War on Terrorism = War on
Drugs?”

But I figured it wouldn’t be that appropriate. I did get some
pamphlets as souvenirs though. Fuck em. Lovely to be home in the
U.S. of A.


In the weeks following, you have time to distill the emotions
and thoughts into concrete blocks. Atomic elements to manipulate,
weigh, and judge. What did I learn? What did I realize? How did
it make things clear?I was struggling much of the trip with notions of culture and
biology being undefeatable, and people being mere slaves to these
forces. Any beauty inherent in my destinations was arbitrary,
emergent from cultural necessity. Hormonal drives overcome any
sense of reason or principle.I struggled with these notions, wondering at my own ability, my
rational capacity. How could I rise above insignificance, from a
miserable slavery to these monoliths?

And I realized after the incident with Customs, that I have
overcome. I traveled to Europe and went on adventures. I wrote
about it and learned. I battled with inner demons and drove them
away. And I came back alive to tell the tale.

I remember one of the homeland security cops saying in a chiding
voice, “You know jobs nowadays do drug tests, gonna be tough
to get a job if this is on your record.”

I got a job offer the next day.

The grand empires of the past were manifest because humans were
debased and enslaved through culture and biology. But all was not
lost. Out of the mire of the dark ages was rebirth, a
renaissance, a reformation, an age of reason. Torture,
imprisonment, dishonor and corruption were not enough to stop the
great artists, thinkers, philosophers, innovators, and leaders.

When stagnation and rottenness seems indomitable, there will be
the highest victory, the greatest honor, for the human spirit
will shoot like a thin cool mist through the atmosphere.

Confidence, a smile, a trusty backpack – all we have, and all we
need, to see and understand the world.


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