Monday, 7 May 2018

Zappas Vibrations

Although I speak with so much love for my studio space, it does come with its challenging sides; mainly, the noise. You can have it all cosy and about to do some vocals tracks and then the walls start shaking from the metal band upstairs, or the techno party a few doors down. You can turn the volume of your music up, but you can’t blot out the vibrations. I always struggle when there are two different songs playing, but here there are like 5 or 6 from all different directions.
I use the term ‘band’ very lightly to describe the upstairs inhabitants. It is more like drunken kids hitting musical instruments at the loudest possible volume. It is not even as if they rehearse a set of songs, they just go for 6 hours on one chord or riff with an epileptic drummer pounding away in a different world. Most bands come and rehearse their set for two hours and that is very tolerable. But these boys sometimes go from 12 at night till 6 in the morning rarely stopping or finishing a song and I am right below them!
The techno parties can be endured, but the worst thing about them is the break down. Your body tenses up with the endless and aggressive speed bass drum, then as soon as it stops, your body eases up for a few moments and breathes, only to tense up again when the bass drum kicks back in. There are a lot of junky wasters and gypsies who live there with their dogs. And it’s the dogs I feel a little sorry for. They have such sensitive hearing and must struggle with the constant barrage of beats and vibrations.
Over the winter there were 3 guys camping in the trees next to the factory. They must have been so fucking cold! I would see them do the rounds on the bins looking for bottles. Then later, two of them would come carrying a crate of Sterni like it was the arc of the covenant. I would always leave my bottles in a bag on top of the bin with a bit of tobacco and smoke in there. One day as I was arriving at the studio there was a room clearance and a skip outside filled with all the stuff from the room. It didn’t take long for one of them to climb in and load up his cart, and then he went back to get the other two.
It was like Christmas for them, they were rummaging around finding all kinds of useful things for their camp. They shouted in joy when they found a box of cutlery. “Gabels!!” And each one would find something else and declare their discovery. They got lots of wood for the fire and they almost emptied that skip. A few months later, just after that really cold patch with snow I was smoking out the window and saw them leaving. They were all on separate paths away from eachother, slowly pulling their trolley with their tents looking a little crestfallen. They must have been through quite an experience there.
There is a biker gang who live below to the right and outside of their room is like a junk yard of bike parts and tools. They are always drilling and grinding metal and though they have the look like they are using the heavy drugs they are quite harmless and their speed techno rarely intrudes too much. Two doors down from me is a speed freak whose bass drum rarely ceases. Whenever I see him he has that colourless, lifeless, dirty, wasted look about him. He is always having parties there and it intrudes on my peace a little. I hear them leaving and sniffing and then vomiting in the toilets; dirty bastards.
There is a bar in the opposite building which is where I go when I need to escape the metal. They have the beer of the week which is 1 euro and bratwursts and pizzas and a nice collection of people to chat to. If only they had a real dartboard!

April Sunshine

I’ll start this one the usual way...
What a month it has been! It started on my Birthday when I received the best gift possible from the Universe: 3 solid weeks of endless, abundant, beautiful sunshine. It never stopped! Every day was 22 degrees give or take a degree or two. After the long dark winter, it was like a deserved holiday.
I would busk and gig to get enough geld and just meander around the city that was coming to life in the sun. I would walk and if a light turned green – I would cross. I would go wherever my feet wanted to take me. I would find an U-bahn and jump off when I felt it. Sitting in the parks and streets with beautiful people having random conversations about all sorts, seeing music on the streets and in the bars, practising my palm reading; I was shining and smiling like the sun. It was bliss.
There are signs and omens everywhere telling you what your instinct already knows. You just have to tune in to them and go with it; trust that gut instinct and put your life in the hands of a greater power. It is like having faith in the random button on your playlist. Sometimes the songs that come on are so perfectly timed and just what you wanted to hear. Press the random button on yourself and see where it takes you! Drift with the flow and the motion.
Anyway, I found these great art books at my local book shop and they have pull out pictures of the artists’ work. I have FILLED the studio walls with the great works of Picasso, Goya, Spitzweg, Impressionism and Surrealism. The studio is taking shape so nicely now, and I am so proud and happy to have my little creative space here in Berlin. Here, I can be a full-time busy artist. Every day I am listening to music, busking, writing, drawing, playing piano, playing guitar, mooching the second hand shops, finding music in the streets and bars and bettering and learning about myself as a person.
It was quite hard to busk in the U-bahns where there is no night or day, just a dusty wind and yellow light. Everyone would pass in their summer clothes carrying crates of beer and I would make a little hatful and get out and join them. I also neglected the studio work, as the last place I wanted to be on a sunny day is the studio with headphones on and curtains closed.
I know I said I would release and finish the album by the 5th of May; which is an importantly symmetrical date to me, but, naaaah. I am going to take another month or another year if I need to. I have the songs, and it is a nice capture of where I am, but I will take some more time and not rush it out for the sake of finishing it. But it will be done within Spring, maybe, as will the documentary. But for now I am just enjoying going with the rhythm of the city and enjoying myself after the Winter.
It’s not that I haven’t worked in the studio. Lots! But mostly playing piano and singing my heart and guts out. I practise vocalising for about an hour each day and it starts to feel like a drug. You get a bit high from the oxygen exhaling in the notes and the piano. I have got a good 40 minute set of songs I am playing nicely on the piano with good dynamics, might even take it busking one day soon. But I just haven’t done much recording work.
But I am back in a good busking rhythm now after that little holiday and saving some geld and getting back to being productive again. But, I almost miss Winter in a way. When it is dark at 5pm and FREEZING outside, it makes it so cosy to be indoors writing and singing and stuff with your red mood lighting. When it is sunny out, I am like a dog staring out the window, itching to get out. And also, In Winter the Ubahns are more inviting than being outside. The other day was a lovely rainy day, so I just stayed in the studio writing.
I am becoming more and more detached from the digi world. I think the internet has a great way of connecting us, but so does the universe and the rhythm of life. I keep a toe in the digi world, but mostly live in real time with real conversations. It takes so much energy to send a text and emails. I also deleted my old facebook and sometimes I see people here who used to be on my facey and they give me that look “Did you delete me, you bastard?”.
I have never owned a smartphone and probably never will. What a suction of your senses them things are. I have enough vices, I don’t need that distraction. Sometimes I watch some vids on the tube and never feel satisfied or feel like I retain the information, but when I read I am transported to another place and my head is filled with wonderful words and stories. I have always loved to read, but being here in Berlin, like in many other aspects, it has excelled massively and I am devouring books like never before. I love the classic novels mostly. Dickens, Golding, D.H Lawrence, H.G Wells, Orwell. I rarely read any modern books.
I read a few Murakami books. The first one I read was The Wind Up Bird Chronicles. Which, I enjoyed; even though there was no resolve in the ending. I just thought “Ok, it’s just a mysterious story with no answer.” Then I read Dance, Dance, Dance and threw it away about three quarters through after he is grooming a 12 year old girl he is in love with. Every other sentence was what he was listening to and what he was drinking. I found it quite pathetic and irksome and tedious; he lost me after that one. I prefer the old stuff, in music, in clothes, in books, in art. I think I am a bit trapped in the past, but I don’t care. I live in my own little bubble.
I love to wear a suit and be a gentleman. Drink a decade old whiskey and smoke a fat cigar. I just love to be in this exhilarating city and feel a part of it. I am so happy because I am so free. Wealth can destroy a soul, just as poverty can. I never let money rule my decisions and I just let it pass through me. I will just keep on keeping on, feeling truly alive and riding this wondrous and mysterious ride we call life.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Frank Zappa Strasse

It has been nine months since I got the keys to my very own creative space here in Berlin. It was a bare room with just a drum kit and a smell of neglect when I got it. The moment I got the keys I went in there and sung praises at the very top of my voice promising to make it into a cosy beautiful place and sowing such good vibes of positivity and appreciation. I would kiss each wall and say “soon you will be filled with colour and inspiration”. That first night I slept there I just used my guitar case as a pillow and lay there feeling so thankful that after 5 years of travelling and living out a bag and suitcase I finally had a little space of my own.
Bit by bit I would get things for the place. A little coffee table and some lamps and some rugs and then came one of the funniest experiences in getting a couch for the place. On the Free Your Stuff group this lovely lady was giving away all her furniture and I seen that the sofa bed she had posted could be the perfect addition for the studio. I asked my buddy Greg if he could help me move it and we showed up at the place to pick it up. It looked quite light on the photos and then when I tried to lift it I realised it was going to be a bit trickier than first expected.
It must have weighed over 120 kilos, it had a solid wood and steel frame and was a huge task for even two people to lift it. By the time we had made it out the apartment and onto the street we were already dripping with sweat and tired. Greg lived not so far away, so the bag of lamps and rugs we had also picked up I told him to drop at his and pick up the trolley of mine I had left there. As we were struggling lifting and rolling it across the cobbled pavements and kerbs two Turkish guys from a removal shop nearby came and gave us a God-send of a gift which was two flat pieces of wood with strong wheels to float it on.
Whilst Greg went to get the trolley I headed for the Ubahn with the thing on the two wood carriers. It wasn’t an easy job as they kept coming loose from the soft underbelly of the couch and manoeuvring the kerbs was a complete nightmare. I managed to make it about two hundred metres before Greg got back with the trolley. The U-bahn station was close and the trolley was not so much better as we had to lift it vertical and balance it slightly tilted. We took the train and it was two stations to the S-bahn, where, sadly, the elevator was out of use. We carried the thing up and made it to the platform going about 6 stations to Landsberger Allee.
This is where we would need to take a tram about 6 kilometres but by this time it was 5pm and peak time on public transport. I waited as inconspicuously as I could with this huge couch on a trolley and every tram that went past the driver pointed at me and waved his hand and head to say “You are not getting on with that” We couldn’t even if we tried as it was already full to the brim with people. There was only one option – to walk the 6 km to the studio. Greg had a smartphone so could navigate the way and I pushed and pulled and lifted and struggled and there were times when I thought it would end up in a ditch somewhere and I would give up, but I persisted proudly and kept believing. I had only eaten an egg the whole day and was shaking through fatigue and hunger.

Somehow we had made it 4.8km and we reached a tram stop that was far less busy and was worth the risk of getting on with the couch. We succeeded and caught a nice ride to the final furlong. Just as we got about 2 hundred metres away from the studio the wheels of the trolley buckled and bent and then fell off. We had to use the wood wheels for the last part and as we got to the Getranke Hoffman I beseeched Greg to go and buy 2 Kindls, which he did and then we carried it to the studio where, as expected, the lift was out of service. Up the four flights of stairs I nearly collapsed and gave in, those final few steps took everything out of me, but I did it!
Exhausted and empty I screamed in victorious joy and set the couch down, which was by now coming apart at its hinges, we drunk a beer and rested. It had taken us 6 hours and I still had a desk and a chair to pick up from two different sides of town. I managed to pick up the chair and then the desk I got the next day, but by now the studio was starting to come to life. I put a lot of my pictures up on the wall and then procured a kettle and some other bits.
I had found these old PC speakers at a flea market and rigged them up and they sounded quite nice, but I was dreaming of a stereo amplifier with some nice speakers. Then, one night when I got to the studio what did I see lying in the hall but a Stereo Amplifier! I hooked it up and it sounded great. The next thing I needed was like a unit with drawers and shelves and stuff. One night I was leaving I went down the stairs and found one in the hall! It fitted like a glove and so I started to build my book collection to fill the shelves and also picking up more bits and pieces from flea markets and the free your stuff group.

I share the room with a very lovely guy called Daniel who is a great drummer and he has been so kind and understanding with me filling the whole place and just leaving me be. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to share it with and I am so thankful to have my little place where I can go and record and practise and listen to music and to my own thoughts and to write and draw and do whatever I feel. It has excelled my development as an artist in so many ways and is another reason why I love Berlin so much. It has brought out the best in me, I have given it my best and I am so happy and thankful to be here. I was going to write more about the life at Zappa Strasse but I think this constitutes a nice chapter in itself.

Where To Start?

It has been a year and three days since I got back from the desert and started to rebuild myself in Berlin. Looking back it has been a beautiful year. I have truly fucking lived. Gone from my highs to my lows and savoured every single day and season. I suppose a year in reflection would start something like this....
When I got back - I was a mess. I had no self confidence and was missing my busking and travelling partner. I was drinking so much and really trying to crack my voice – singing old Louis Armstrong songs at midnight in the U-bahns with some Kotti hash and a few pilseners for a few coins was my routine. I preferred it when there was no one there. When the U-bahns are quiet it is bliss. And then, when people approach from the departing trains you feel more conscious that you are playing for people. What I really needed was a place to practise and sing my heart out and that was to come, but before that were a few months of doubt, decadence, desperation and then deliverance.
My friend Linda always hosts these wonderful Spring parties on her beautiful terrace in Prenzlauer Berg (A very hip and lovely part of town where Mauer Park is). I think it was about May that I showed up slightly late as I had a slight diversion to Kottbusser Tor and when I arrived as usual was greeted and met by a beautiful and eclectic bunch of Berliners. I told stories and ate burgers roasted ravishingly under a Spring-time sky.
I met a guy called Philip who plays the cajon and we ended up having a great jam with a guitarist that night. He tuned in to all the songs and really lifted them with passion. The guitarist who joined us was adding a great touch also, though slightly unable to keep up with the changes it was a great sound, and after playing for a few months on my own in the U-bahns, it felt so wonderful to jam with people again. Phil and I kept in touch and I said he should come and join me busking at the markets.
His job is not only to play Cajon, but also to book and arrange gigs at Markets! We did a lovely busk at the market and not only was he great at playing the orange box, he had a great drive and momentum that I really appreciated. He would urge us to go further inside and play at certain spots, which we did and did great with. He believed in me and us and it was a great lift to my spirits. With his Market connections he arranged us a handful of well paid gigs at the road show he organizes. I felt if we could get a good guitarist, we could make a great show. I was only about to meet the best guitarist in the world.
I posted an ad on Craigslist (as you do) saying I am forming an old Folkswingblues band am looking for a versatile guitarist who can join us for these approaching gigs. Louis Fernandez got in touch and we met for a beer at Boxhagenerplatz. Sometimes you feel you meet people that you have known your whole life but have never met before. We had a great chat and I told him to come and join us busking this Friday night. A fight broke out behind us by a couple of junkies so we watched the show and then parted ways.
So the three of us busked that Friday for the first time and Louis astounded both of us. I didn’t even tell him the chords and changes and he just tuned in straight away and added such sublime sophisticated solos and not only that but all these chord phrasings that just lifted and complimented so much the energy we had between us. I think we made about 6 euroes each, but all three of us went away feeling like we had had a great jam.
We busked and gigged all that summer and I had pockets full o geld like you wouldn’t believe. We had a great chemistry between us and Louis was playing such dirty solos that we really stood out and sounded fucking great together. I was cracking my voice so well and really expressing myself purely and happily. It was a great time. After a few months of playing together and bonding so well, Louis had to go back to Canada for a few months and though I was a bit sad and missing my busking brother it was the start of truly finding myself.
I felt I needed a band to play shows and busk the markets, I was dependant on other people to carry me through and just let me do what I do. I was on the verge of going to Amsterdam just to stay in the gardenhouse and have some space on my own to write songs. On the day I decided to go, something wonderful happened. I found a studio/rehearsal room in the East where I could make it my own and sing all day and night. It was a few days before Louis left and so for the next few months I would lock myself away, singing, writing and practising all day and night.
No automatic alt text available.The effort I was putting in was showing. I would go busking and get a crowd around me, come back with pockets full of geld and really feel great about how I was singing. I was starting to hand make every CD with a different drawing and was using my time so productively. I had found something in myself that in the Spring I was looking for, a confidence and belief in what I was doing. It was now approaching September and Louis would be back soon.
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He got back and we hit the busking hard. Mostly the U-bahns, but sadly the Cajon was just too loud for the U-bahns and we lost Phil. But it was his belief in us and drive that really built and brought us all together and gave me such a lift in my spirits that I will always be grateful for. Louis and I became a solid duo making great hatfuls and selling lots of CD’s and getting crowds and fans. He came down to record some guitars on a few tracks I had recorded and completely changed them. His layers of guitar are like classical compositions; so intricate, so brilliant and so classy.
Winter came and things got colder. But God bless him, Louis would still show up for the busking with a great attitude. Nose dripping with snot as he solo’s his socks off. It was a pleasure to get through the cold season with him. We got so tight with the chemistry between us and he would put such a smile on my face when he would never cease to amaze me with his solos and chord phrasings.
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I went home for Christmas and had a lovely time catching up my dear Mother, Brother and Sisters and nieces and nephews and everyone. I ate a lot of gravy coated cuisine and drunk lots of ale and Yorkshire tea and Scotch Whiskey. It was a nice time and then I got back to Berlin. I busked on my own mostly for the first few weeks making some nice geld and then I go and burn my foot and am bed ridden for nearly a month!
I recovered and have since been getting ready for this beautiful approaching Spring. My dear mate Jon has joined us on bass and we have a great trio together. I am a bit in debt with the rent for the studio and owe a bit of money out, but am not worrying. We are reaching the light at the end of the tunnel and the good season approaches. (Even though it fucking SNOWED today) There were lots more lovely things that happened last year, but this will do as a part one. The new year begins in Spring!!!!

Good to see you, Sun.

I was on the train on the way home from a lovely; though slightly cold busk from the Eisenachy.  I had a pocketful of geld and had made some nice connections with people who sat and listened for most of my set.  I looked up at the mini TVs which show the weather for the next few days and burst out laughing when it said it was going to be 15 degrees on Sunday!  I laughed and smiled to myself all the way home.
The next day on Saturday I woke up at 06.30 with the smile still on my face and such an excitement to feel the first warm day of the year. I was so ready for it.  I perused the second hand shops that day and found me a lovely suit for 15 euroes and almost felt like burning my winter coat as a show of readiness for the spring. I did a little busk in the evening and looking suave and feeling good; I went to see a great band at artliners.
It wasn’t just that the gig was great, and that I met some lovely people; it was the fact I didn’t wear my coat and went on the S-Bahn drinking a beer and the ritual of the summer was starting to re-emerge.  It was a slightly wet night, but still quite warm.  I was so happy!  Just being outside and your body not tensing up and shivering was such a blessing.
The next day on Sunday I woke up and looked out the window to see beautiful blue skies and fluffy white clouds.  I jumped out of bed, made me a coffee whilst singing and smiling and knowing there was only one place where I would be going today – Mauer Park.  First I would have a little mooch around the Flea Market in Steglitz looking for a pair of shoes.  Most of the stalls have lots of cheap second-hand shoes, but there were none that suited, so I ate a little toast and with a hot sun on my face, I drunk my first beer at around half eleven and headed North East.
It was bliss.  I went to my usual spaty and got me a Staropramen and slowly wondered around the park hoping to find some nice music.  There were the usual Mauer ensembles but nothing took my fancy so I had a little look through the markets.  Most of the ground was muddy and waterlogged so I took a sharp turn and headed back to the park.  A big grey cloud had just appeared and suddenly the sparkle that brightens everything and makes things shine had disappeared and things looked grey and muddy.
Sirens burst into my ears as two police cars rushed through the park and so I followed them to see what the show was.  It was an arrest of a black dealer who – I don’t know if he was trying to get in the car or out, but there was a struggle and one policeman got his truncheon out, put it around his neck and hand-cuffed him.  It was a slightly dark moment that ruined the magic and memory of Mauer park but not long after that the sun re-emerged and I took a seat on these rectangular stones.
Here I met a lovely lady called Simone and we talked for over an hour about the need for this first sunny day after the winter and the highs and lows of Berlin.  It was a very nice moment and then her friends joined and we drank a beer and then parted ways.  I meandered on mixing with many different people, sharing a joint, listening to the music chatting away.  After 8 hours of being outside and soaking up a lot of vitamin D, I went to my favourite Doner place and treated myself to a large one.  
It was just so wonderful to feel the sun and remember what it is like in the spring and summer here.  The winter is a hard challenge as a street musician, to go out and busk when the wind and rain is blowing the trees sideways takes a lot of guts.  But, I did it.  I got through the winter and now I can appreciate the light and sunshine at the end of the dark tunnel of winter in this beautiful city. Prost!

Day By Day

I had my first busk on Saturday.  Armed with the two new songs, I set out for an hour or so.  I still can’t put a shoe on the foot, so was hobbling along with one slipper on.  There was someone at my usual spot so I went to the quiet side of Eisenacher and just had a little warm up.  I only played the 2 new songs, just to practise them and imprint them.  It is OK learning them at home, but playing them while busking requires a little lubricational practise.  After half an hour I went to my usual spot and had a lovely busk.
I found that I couldn’t play my usual set.  Because of the detox, the voice had lost its gravel and I was singing a little cleaner than usual, but it fitted the new songs perfectly.  So after an hour and a nice pocketful o’ geld I went home.  That’s when the pain truly set it, the scab had all come off in the slipper and sock and so I had to spend the next day with my foot up just letting it reform, but it was worth it.  I had not one coin to my name, and not having any geld can sometimes make you feel a little down.
On this my 6th year of being a busker and drifter I feel I have settled down a little to the lifestyle.  At the start it was so exciting, going from moment to moment, couch to couch, day to day. But now, even though my life is still exciting and more adventurous than most, I have adapted very well to it.  I make a good living, have many places where I can stay, many friends and acquaintances and a good life as a musician.  Perhaps that is why I stopped writing on my old blog, because I feel I have reached the next level.
I have the freedom to do whatever I want, go wherever I wish at the drop of a hat.  But I’m not leaving Berlin for a while yet.  It would be so silly to throw away all the good work and progress I am making here.  This city has really brought out the best in me, and I have given it my best. Last night I also ate my first Doner in 2 weeks, and it didn’t taste or feel that good to be honest.  I have gotten used to good home cooked food again.  I have also gotten used to how clear my thoughts have become from not drinking. So I think, after this recovery, you will see a slightly different Winston Freeman.
I do have good self discipline with a lot of areas in my life, but the drinking and smoking has always been incessant.  So maybe now it’s time to slow it down.  But a night out busking with a few beers and smoking is a great combo, and it’s the best night out for me.  You come home on a high and a little drunk, with a pocket full o’ geld, instead of no geld. It’s just a better high to have a drink and make music and money and enjoy yourself as opposed to just drinking and spending money and listening to music, which I also enjoy very much, and usually have a good balance.  
I am so ready for Spring. I can almost taste that first sunny day and to see and be with everyone sitting outdoors drinking a beer and playing Frisbee.  Going on big bike rides and soaking up that vitamin D.  Heading out for some adventure and seeing what the day might bring, going to Mauer Park each Sunday in the hope to see Alice Phoebe Lou.

Get On With It!!

Although it has been an immobile 2 weeks now, it has been a productive one.  Lots of white paper filled with ink, a few new songs learnt and some new ideas formulated.  A good detox from the beer and although I was sad I couldn’t venture out into the sunshine at first, I was just happy to see it after a dark winter, and even though I was bedridden – it made me feel a lot better.  I have re-found my excitement for writing on the computer again, I have bonded with the family I was becoming quite distant with, I have eaten great food and watched some great films and read a few books.  It’s been like a little holiday, but now I am itching to get back to the busking.
Two of the new songs I have learned are “Ol Man River” Which I have been listening to at least twenty times a day; I just really love that song.  And the other is “Hang me” by Dave Van Ronk, but played so perfectly by Oscar Isaac in what I think is one of my favourite films ever – “Inside LLewen Davies”. It really hits home that film, and you feel the struggle and hard ships of bleeding for your art.  A series of bad decisions and bad luck can put you in a loop of repeating the same mistakes until you keep spiralling downwards.
But I just want to say a massive thanks to my body for growing me a whole new layer of skin on my foot and to the beautiful family I stay with for looking after me so well. For someone who never gets ill or injured (touch wood) – It has been a real knock down from my perch.  But enough about my bloody foot; I hate to say how ill I am and feel weak.  Perhaps because whenever I got ill or injured as a kid I never got any sympathy from my mum, so I never felt the desire to be ill to get attention like some kids grow up to need.
I have never relied on any one in this world but myself.  My upbringing taught me to do things myself.  If you want something – go out and get it.  I never relied on people to support me. Of course, I have been helped and supported by other people in the past, but I have never taken that for granted.  I have always had a strong drive to just do things myself and as my mother says…”Get on with it!”

The Sky Has Cracked

What makes the inability to walk and venture out even more agonizing is the fact that the concrete sky has cracked and we have had such beautiful blue skies and a trickle of warmth in the sun! I feel like a dog, sadly staring out the window.  My only venture out is to the balcony to smoke and I grimace at the thought of not being able to meander through the second-hand shops and drink a coffee and do some busking.
But it is amazing to see how your body heals itself bit by bit, day by day.  I have watched the skin reform on the foot and the scab flake off; the swelling go down and the movement of toes returning.  Sometimes I neglect my body – I am too lost in my thoughts and indulgences to give it proper attention.  But an accident and recovery like this makes you realise how much your body looks after you.
When one is used to always being in motion and living at a very fast and exhilarating pace, being bed-ridden will slow you down somewhat and make you reflect on things.  I am trying to think of what the lessons are to this injury and the good sides, of which there are many.
I should concentrate more on any task I am performing.
I should not feel so proud and think that I don’t need any help.
I should look after my body a bit more.
I know what bad physical pain feels like for only the second time in my life. (I broke my leg twenty years ago.)
I shouldn’t drink so much.
I can draw people and portraits fucking good.
We are all one slip away from our day or life taking a massive turn for the worse – or better.
There are a lot more lessons as well, but they will surface the more I digest and recover from this experience.  I am planning a venture out today, though.  If I go the studio and pick up the guitar I could try a busk tomorrow. Yesterday I made it to the Spaty to buy some tobacco, which was do-able, but still hurt a bit.  But today is the last day on my train ticket so I at least want to get the last journey out of it.
After years of bunking the train here and always getting away with a fine I feel so happy to buy a ticket. It costs 60 a month and for the amount of time I spend on the trains - it is a worthy investment.  Otherwise, the journeys become fearful with paranoia trying to guess if there is a ticket inspector in plain clothes just got on, and then your stomach fluttering when the doors close and you hear them dreaded words “Farhkarten Bitte”.  I couldn’t read or focus on a book in peace, so the 60 a month is worth it for the peace of mind and ability to concentrate on what I’m reading.
My usual victuals in Berlin are – A coffee or three in the morning, followed by some Yorkshire tea - A sandwhich of cheese and bread at the stroke of afternoonish – more tea and maybe a coffee - a doner kebab or plate between a mixture of pilseners for the evenings injestion.  I found this amazing Lebanese place by Box Hagenerplatz.  It’s called Ali Baba and for 5.50 you get a huge plate full of salad, hummous, fried and roasted and seasoned schwarma and lots of other goodness.  It is the best meal in Berlin and I was eating it 5 or six times a week.
One Sunday I was going there and then discovered that they have a lovely Flea Market at Boxhangener every Sunday.  I was mooching about and saw this lovely set of old DDR speakers. I asked him how much and he tells me forty.  I wince and say “Ahhh, I only have 15 euroes on me” He goes “Ok give me 30”.  I say “I only have 15 on me”  “Ok, give me 20” I say.  “I only have 15 on me”.  “Ok give me 15”.  So after a lovely Lebanese plate I return to the studio carrying a lovely old set of speakers.  I hooked them up and they sounded delightfully DDR.
I have taken such pride and love in getting everything for the studio. Everything I have as either been found, foraged or given and bought with love.  After a good week of busking with Louis I would return with pockets full of geld and feel excited to go the markets and shops to buy lots of stuff for the place.  But the strangest thing is – when I have really needed or wanted certain things for the place, I step outside and someone has left it in the hallway.  This happened for a big display unit and a SONY amp and also a big speaker, which made a perfect decoration and nearly completed the place.  It is still a work in progress but whenever I find something, it just seems to fit in place like a perfect puzzle.  I have a great feng shui in there and a REAL coziness.
My Beauutiful studio
The best thing is – I can do whatever I want to do.  Whether it is drawing, playing piano, singing, recording or writing – I just do whatever I am in the mood for.  Not feel like I should be doing something in particular, just doing what I feel.  That is a nice feeling.   A lot of the time I just sit and truly listen to music.  Absorb it and feel it and hear it an environment where I am not bothering anyone to turn it up to eleven.  It is just as important to listen as well as to play.
My playlists have mostly been consisting of – Tom Waits, Beck, Devandra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Fleet Foxes, Bowie, Odetta, Nina Simone, Dylan, Conor Oberst, Mark Lanegan, Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, Paul Simon, Ray Lamontagne, Sigor Ros, The Lumineers and many more in between.
I am playing the piano a lot, and am building a full set of songs that I can play and sing nicely on it.  I am really enjoying the morning coffee and smoke and then just spending hours pounding the piano.  I express myself quite freely on the keys, and enjoy playing with dynamics and melancholy to craziness and darkness.  I did the hard work of teaching myself when I was twenty, so now I am just enjoying it and expanding on that hard work I did all them years ago.
Ok, well its time for a cuppa ana smoke now.  I am enjoying the speed at which I can express my inner monologue on here, the notebook, though neat and beautiful is a little slower in its capturing the flow of your thoughts. 

It's a funny old world....

So after I returned to Berlin from a beautiful and rest-filled respite back home, a sudden depression hit me.  The initial high wore off and I felt incredibly alone.  Remembering the mindset I have to have here of being an island, a mysterious island, I touch no-one and no-one touches me type mindset. Perhaps it was the visit back home that evoked all these old feelings and memories I have.  Since I have been in Berlin I have shed my old identity and life and become a strong, but isolated person.  
 I understand I am too much for people sometimes.  The way I talk and express myself people find peculiar perhaps.  Which, I accept.  And as I feel more and more isolated from my social creatures I build a wall around me. I tell myself that I don’t care an iota if no-one understands me or likes me, I am true to myself and am who I want to be.  This takes a lot of energy and emotional willpower and maybe it was a little dose of the post-Christmas blues that stung me at the same time, but the first four days of being back here were hard.
 I sweated them out though. Just sat in the studio with the thousand yard stare and thought about my life and journey and stuff.  I went busking the day after I got back at the quiet side of Eisenacher and then the BVG stopped me and gave me a warning and expulsion and took my details.  This was another chunk out of my castle, and so I used the studio rent for December that hadn’t been picked up yet and bought myself a monthly train ticket and a busking permit for a few days.
 The weather was still hard. That concrete cloud above had yet to crack and it was grey days every day.  But I hit the busking and started to pick myself up.  It’s amazing how good a nice busk will make you feel, and equally amazing how bad a bad busk will make you feel.  But I soldiered on filling my bag with coins and paper and nice exchanges along the way.  This continued for two weeks and I was in a nice momentum.  Drinking a lot, but pushing myself.  Sometimes when you don’t really feel like singing in-front of hundreds of passing people it takes a little push.  A kindl can be the perfect push.
 So after a good week of making nearly 300 euroes, paying back the rent, pickin up a smoke I was in a great mindset; feeling good and strong.  I went to see my mate Dusty and didn’t get back the studio until like 5 or 6 am.  I got the place all nice with the bed made and lights and put the kettle on to fill my hot water bottle – which always shares my bed through each winter.  The kettle boils and I start to fill up the bottle when it drops over my foot!
 A sudden shock of pain splinters from my foot to my brain and I scream as I remove my sock.  The skin on top of the foot and toes and just dissolved like paper and all that is there is this bloody burnt flesh where the top of my foot should be.  I hop to the sink in the toilets and cock my leg to run it under water, feeling a pain I have never felt before I scream in agony.  I lay there on my bed almost crying and feeling this bad burn radiate and glow with pure pain.  I try to sleep but it isn’t easy and so I get up, manage to put a slipper on and make the ten minute walk to the supermarket.  I buy some water and candles and limp back to the studio and have to rest.
 I make the hour and a half journey home to the house of the family where I stay in Schoneberg and grind my teeth through the pain.  I couldn’t put a shoe on, so just wearing this thin slipper I see the filth on the streets and undergrounds that I try to avoid.  Spit, vomit, beer, doners.  I get to the house and tear the sock off, and with it comes the layer of skin that was reforming on the top.  I felt like Rambo when he takes that bullet out as I removed that sock.  The next day Anja went to the chemist and got me all bandages, cream, painkillers and all the necessities for getting better.  Not only this, but with their love and company and beautiful home cooked food have helped nurse me back to health again.
 I have been bed ridden for 13 days now and it has been a stark knock down from the momentum I was in at the start of the year.  It has humbled me and slowed me.  My ego has took a hit and looking back; I feel my mentality can be quite monstrous when  building a wall around myself and feeling like I don’t need anyone.  We are all a simple slip of the hand accident away from being completely bed ridden and useless.  I love to be in motion, even if it’s just riding the trains somewhere, and being completely unable to walk has been a lesson and journey in itself.
After 2 weeks
 I have used the time well though.  I always love to draw, but have only ever drew my patterns and mazes which have a nice and unique style.  But since being bed-ridden I have practised to draw people and portraits.  I have done about a hundred so far and with each one I am getting better.  The noses, eyes and ears are all forming the more I’m drawing.  Whatever you want to be good at, just practise and practise and if you love it enough you will progress.  That’s what I feel with my drawings anyway.  I am quite amazed at myself to the level I have got to in these days of injury.
 I have also had a good de-tox.  No beer. Already my thoughts are clearer, my inner-monologue articulates itself concisely and clearly and I feel good mentally, but physically walking is still a slow and painful experience.  But at least being able to walk on my heal  is a lot better than the hopping and crawling I was doing for the first 10 days.  I have also watched a lot of films and tube.  Lots of Coen Brothers films; I found this channel on youtube “The Best Film Archive”  Which has some great films from the 30s and 40s.  The past is a different country…They do things differently there.
 But anyway I’m just taking it easy and slow, and looking forward to getting back busking and band practising.  In a few days I should be able to put my shoe on again

I'm Back!

After trying a few other blogging platforms and being extremely disappointed - especially with Tumblr!  What an atrocious platform that is.  Utterly irritating.  I feel it best to continue my old blog and see it through.  It still gets so many hits and many buskers I meet here always say "Ahh, I read your blog".  So I suppose it silly to give up on it altogether.  But, at least I tried a few different sites.  But honestly, that Tumblr was awful.  Wordpress was OK, but I think I will just stick with The Dead Sea Captain.

I will post the blogs I wrote on tumblr and stuff on here just to keep a chronology.

Zappas Vibrations

Although I speak with so much love for my studio space, it does come with its challenging sides; mainly, the noise. You can have it all cos...