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Date Posted: 04:05:01 04/17/03 Thu
Subject: Report from Germany
I just returned from Germany after 35 years of not being there. I went there to see my beautiful daughter, Angelika - and her mother, Anita, Sherrie and I rented a fancy and fast E series Mercedes that allowed me to travel on the autobahn at 180 plus kilometers an hour.
With the exception of one, all of our friends were alive and well. It was an emotional trip for more reasons than one.
Gelnhausen was a lot prettier than I remembered it to be. I found the Maxim Bar where we used to play. It was some kind of closed up disco. I stayed in a small hotel there. Anita and Angelika lived on a very small street, Rothergasse, just below the overmarket. The food was as good as I remembered it to be.
Going to Wurzburg, I met Walther (one of our managers). We talked about art, minimalism, literature and politics. About the monks he was somewhat sad that we hadn't been more successful, then insisting that we were the first in our field of music. "It's best to leave it," he said.
In Cologne, Wolfgang Gluzczewski (our tour manager) and Anni immediately resumed our conversation, as if we had just seen each other. I got lost going to his house and phoned from a gas station asking him which direction I should take from where I was. He said, "Why do you Americans always insist on knowing the direction to anything? You must follow the streets, not ask about east and west." When I finally pulled up in front of his house (following a taxi, who led me there) he was outside waiting, complaining that I had held up lunch. We talked about touring groups. He insisted the monks could do many dates in Europe. Then he arranged for a room for me in Dusseldorf, next to the train station that made me think he still thought I was touring with the monks.
In Dusseldorf, I went to Charles Wilps' beauriful home and with his wonderful woman, Ingrid, had a fun visit. We talked about art, Afri-Cola, space and angel sperm. "It's everywhere," he said. I always knew him as the Andy Warhol of Germany. He informed me that he was an "undercover artonaut." We visited his studio, ate a wonderful meal, cooked by Ingrid, his woman, his manager, his everything, just like my Sherrie is. In fact we compared how she managed his life, just as Sherrie does mine. My daughter was there as well as Ingrid's two beautiful young women. I also did a photo shoot there for the Dusseldorf Newspaper - Charles and I toasting each other with bottles of Afri-Cola. Charles is a smart, mischivous and funny man. He said that - in the art world - "It's more important to be the first - not the best." He said, "You and the other monks were the first and you'll be alive long after most of the others will have been long dead." It was a pretty heady statement for a provincial person like me. I told him I loved him. We both agreed we should visit more often.
Then I went to Hamburg, where I stayed at the Charles Hotel, at the beginning of the Reeperbahn. Much of the old variety is gone. Instead of the many types of sin palaces, there is a most predominant one - the American-style strip club. I went to the Grosse Freiheit (a street around the corner from the Top Ten where we played) took a photo in the same place the monks did. Some of the original signs were there. I also saw the old Top Ten Club, closed for the evening, then went to a bar where the monks posed for a photo with the Hamburg photographer, Zimt. It was as it always was, just a bit more grimey. We ended the night in a late night place where people danced to house music played on two turn tables. The loops and repetitive rhythms were intriguing and I watched the disc jockey work.
Dietmar Post and Lucia (the documentary film makers) were there to see me. We had intended to see another manager, Karl Remy - "You are the hardest band in die welt! - Some people say he is alive. Some say he is dead. I don't know - couldn't find him.
From there we went to Berlin - the capitol of Germany. It's full of young people and the art scene there is as it once was in Hamburg - lots of young artists flocking there for the new ambiance. There's lots of energy and new ideas there. It's also the home of our old recording company.
Here's a report about something that I observed in my visit with Dietmar and the lovely Lucia (gonna have a baby in June)
The documentary is definitely on - but there are some problems with music rights that two pirate companies (that's what I call them) are demanding absurd ransom payments for, claiming they own the rights, which is definitely not true. In fact these companies, along with Repertoire Records owe the monks for years of illegally selling monk music and not paying royalties. They don't have a contract with us, nor have they done anything to prove that they do. It's being discussed that they also owe us for punitive damages for controlling public access to our work and siphoning off the monetary gains we and other artists are entitled to.
Over the years, they have been collecting our money from Gema, with false claims. It's very laughable that some of the corporations married to these people wonder why music lovers would rather burn CDs than buy. My only advice is that if this continues then everyone who loves music should burn 'em - not buy 'em. These parasites are not supporting the artist. They're imposing a burden on everyone of us. That's one of the reasons you only hear the worst music on the airwaves - only one of the reasons.
Organized crime is alive and well in the music business. Artists should take these carpetbaggers out of the loop by making and selling their own work. But then, of course, the grifters will continue to impose themselves into the artists' environment, just as they do now. It is about billions of dollars that, by the very nature of artists, gets overlooked and stolen The interesting question is who are the real pirates?
Perhaps a truthful documentary should be made about this very subject.
Okay - that's my report. There's much more that became a 30 page journal, but there you have it - the bare bones of my trip to Germany. On the side, I had an emotional visit with my daughter, the Zellmann family, who became the family for all the monks when we were in Germany. I also had the thrill of seeing Hong Kong Charlie (that's what the GIs called him) who sold me my first hand tailored suit, made in Hong Kong.
It was fun, sad, distressing, wonderful and confusing.
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