Observations of the European Invasion by TooFastJim


   Tuesday 14 October 11:00pm ET - It was the dark and stormy night before our scheduled departure out of Boston's Logan Airport, raining hard with heavy wind forecast to continue into the morning. Decide to make the 2-hour drive to Middle Earth tonight in order to crash at Froto's and potentially avoid a dangerous and lengthy morning commute. Later that night.... Decide NOT to drive to Froto's after 3 unsuccessful attempts at cramming additional Nebulas swag into my luggage.

   Wednesday 15 October - As it turns out, the rain had passed, but the wind picked up quite a bit, which is always good when you're about to board a plane. I arrive at Froto's at 11am, with Rudy arriving shortly thereafter (Dan was to meet us at the airport).
   After checking our luggage for weight compliance using the crude "stand on the scale and subtract the weight of your girth" method, two Lincoln Town cars arrived to shuttle us to the airport. During the relatively short walk from the car to the ticket counter, I realized what a huge pain in the ass carrying 4 awkward pieces of luggage was going to be.
   Over one shoulder, I had a 65 lb (30 kg) duffle bag stuffed full of brand new The Nebulas Aktion shirts, a bunch of 7"s and some clothes for myself. I also had a 25"x25"x5" ATA Calzone cymbal case in one hand, a snare drum in the other, and some sort of "personal item" carry on bag hanging somewhere else.
   After meeting up with Dan, getting some sammiches and draught beer, we exchanged some money at the currency kiosk for something like US $1.31 per Euro. Then I snuck back to the bar and chugged a double Bombay & tonic before boarding the plane (hey, this is my vacation time, plus it was a Wednesday)
   After a short, two hour flight, we arrive in Chicago for a 90 minute layover in the old shitty part of O'Hare airport. Caught a couple innings of Game 6 of the ALCS between the Yankees and the Red Sox. Fortunately, two of the guitars, which were brought on-board the aircraft as "carry on" items in their Ibanez "Rock & Roll Fuh-ever" gig bags, fit in the overhead compartment, which eliminated the need to dismantle them at the last minute in the airport (or on the plane with no tools). Dan had taken the neck off of his borrowed guitar in advance and securely packed the parts it in his conventional-sized carry on to avoid the anxiety all together.

   Thursday 16 October - At some point during the 8 hour nonstop flight - maybe over Iceland - Wednesday turned into Thursday. We arrive in Brussels at 8 or 9am with no sleep for me, despite the concerted effort of many $5 glasses of wine and/or beer on the trip. We breeze through customs with no problem - told the official passport stamper that we were going to do some "recording."
   We get our bags fairly quickly, at which time I discovered that, before leaving the US, John Ashcroft's minions at the TSA had "inspected" the contents of my cymbal case to ensure that my hi-hats posed no threat to national security...maybe they saw the Turkish "Avedis Zildjian" logo with their X-Ray machine and got nervous...who knows.
   Gert, the booking agent from Surfing Airlines met us in baggage claim and led us to his Citroen "Jumper", the official The Nebulas European Aktion Van.
   A 40 minute drive to the north and east brought us past Antwerp to the hamlet of Lichtaart and our rented abode, Het d'Akkerhuisje, a cozy brick 2-bedroom (with 5 beds) house with kitchen, living room with wood stove, bathroom and outside, a neerhof (petting zoo) with goats (geits) and chickens (kiekens). The landlords, Paul and Marleen, lived on the property in an adjacent house and proved to be most helpful during our stay. For Paul, anything we needed was "no problem," and "it's possible" (and quite often, both) including access to high-speed internet, albeit with a backwards-ass (to us) European keyboard layout where the "a" and "m" keys are in some weird place, the "k" and "h" keys are in places that you have no choice but to type them, and some other important key was where the colon/semicolon key is on an American keyboard. Anyhoo, Gert left us for the afternoon & said he would be back at 3:30 to pick us up for the first show in Kortrijk...like any of us have a freakin' idea what time it is.
   After a nap, Gert picks us up with Ludo. This guy was invaluable as an assistant, roadie, drum tech, drinking buddy, merch guy, translator - no tour should be without a Ludo - enough cannot be said. After less than two hours - what would be the longest gig drive of the tour - we arrive in Kortrijk, an historic city about 15-20 minutes from the French border and site of the famous "Battle of the Golden Spurs," where in 1302 (July 11th to be precise), a poorly-armed band of Flemish weavers led by Pieter de Coninck (of beer fame) defeated an army of French Knights headed by Robert of Artois (also of beer fame). Basically, they covered up a swamp with some bushes, the Frenchies got stuck in the mud , and the Flemish took all their golden spurs. And this brings us to The Pits...a tiny club about the size of Toad in Cambridge, MA except with a bigger stage.
   Now we finally get to examine and field test the equipment provided for us - as well as test the road-worthiness of the gear we brought from home. For me, I had a mid-1970s Sonor kit that has travelled many a mile via Surfing Airlines, replete with the myriad band stickers on the bass drum head to prove it. This kit was a 70's rock and roll kit all the way with heavy, thick-ply birch shells (by contrast, many of the traditional 60's drums are of the thinner ply maple shell variety, although many of today's manufacturers are now offering the thin, resonant shells on their kits). The hardware had definitely seen better days, but was functional for the moment. No rubber sleeves for the cymbal stands - fortunately I brought some along for just this purpose. The toms had their bottom heads cut out, so the sound was very thick and thuddy - the 22" bass drum was overpowering - even more evident in this tiny room during sound check. To achieve some semblance of The Nebulas' drum sound, I brought along the 5x14 metal Slingerland snare used on many of our recordings as well as my cymbals (now safely protected their stands with rubber hose parts). Now with me being even louder than usual, the next question was did the other guys' amps have enough nut to keep up? The answer was yes.
   Rudy had been graced with a black face Showman head and a modified Fender-looking 1x15 cabinet - that along with his black face (I think he brought his reissue) reverb tank and straight-from-the-factory-custom-ordered white pearl Mosrite Ventures model guitar with vibramute bridge that never left his posession gave him his sound, and gave me the typical hearing loss consistent with a The Nebulas show here in the states.
   Froto Baggins had a 4x12 cabinet powered by a Fender Silverface Bassman 100 amp mounted in a 2x12 Twin-looking chassis that, when sitting on top of the cabinet, towered over him and his white Mustang bass and produced a very loud boomy sound, which, along with my kick drum, needed alot of space to be fully appreciated.
   Dan was playing an American Reissue Jaguar (on loan from cap and mod g uru Dick Messick) through a blackface Fender Bassman & homebuilt 2x12 cabinet. And, like the California tour, Dan's blond reissue reverb tank once again suffered severe air sickness aka no booch. Gert, the tour manager, came through with a soldering iron and, after a little smoke and some cursing, the problem was fixed...for now.
   During set-up, the bar owner was playing some cool vinyl, including The Men from SPECTRE. We did a quick sound check of Frankie Stein's "Bodies Under The Bridge" and headed upstairs for some "7-beer meat stew." At most of the clubs we played, an excellent dinner was provided for us on site, quite unlike any clubs here in the US (except for Maxwells in Hoboken, NJ who does feed the bands).
   At this time, we met photographer Phillipe Carly, who had emailed Dan prior to our arrival about taking some pictures. He had driven from Brussels to see our first show and take some pics for his website. After dinner, Dan, Rudy and Froto got dressed for the show in long sleeve black shirts and blue ties - I didn't want to deal with it, so I had dressed before leaving the house and kept my jacket on. I go downstairs and find about 2 or 3 people in the bar (not encouraging) - I also find out that the "main entrance" of the club opens into "the" bathroom from which people make their way into the actual bar area. Weird set up. A few minutes later when we go down to play, we found that the crowd had significantly increased to 20+. which filled the room out quite a bit. Rudy had left the nice laminated set lists he prepared for the tour back at the house, so we wrote out a 40 minute set, which we wound of burning through in 30 minutes. The crowd was very enthusiastic and had grown to fill the room by the halfway point of our performance. We added a few more songs on the fly, played an encore, and immediately began to tear down the gear. Encouraging to have a great show the first night and see a line at the merch table when you finish (some folks even requesting autographs). It's also nice to come back to the stage to find that Ludo had already broken down most of the drum kit and that load out was imminent.
   We hustle the gear back into the van and climb in (4 on the back bench seat, 2 in the front) and head for home, stopping briefly at a highway rest stop which, Gert later informs us, is a notorious drop-off point for drug traffickers as well.
   Pictures from this show, courtesy of Phillipe Carly, can be found here

   Friday 17 October - We sleep late until the early afternoon, go the local Spar market for supplies, and watch some National Geographic's Scientific Frontiers starring Alan Alda on TV. Gert picks us up at 5pm, and after a 10 minute search for Dan's passport, which he eventually finds in his pants, we head to 013 in Tilburg, Holland via smaller roads - there is no direct highway - and its a relatively short drive - 45 minutes or so.
   013 is a professional, government-subsidized entertainment complex with 2 stages, several floors and a maze of stairways and corridors - this is supposedly designed so that big-name rock acts (like Coolio and Motorhead) can get anywhere in the building without having to cross paths with the public. I was happy just being able to find the stage, the dressing room and the can.
   Each perfomance venue in 013 has its own sound guy and production manager and dressing room - we again had a great meal with chicken and/or meatballs, in addtion to a fridge stocked with beer, soda and water, and most impressive of all - a couple of bags full of sammiches with our name written on them. Good eatin.
   Ludo and Gert head to the club to watch the merch table, as we get dressed (debut of white shirts w/black ties outfit) and wait for the "20 minute warning" from our stage manager before heading up ourselves. When we finally get to the "Batcave" or Fuel Club (about the size of Providence's Met Cafe or Club Fred in Fresno), Ludo informs us that one guy named Cor, dressed in a Star Trek - The Next Generation outfit, has purchased one of everything from the Nebulas merch table - thanks Cor! I also meet Wannes aka Rock Verb who is from Holland, and also Eddy "Surfin's Back Again" - an online mailorder outfit specializing in surf music.
   Then Rudy starts drinking Duvel, and so do I.
   The room is by now very crowed and we begin to play - have a great 45 minute set with two encores to a great response from the audience. A quick load out up the elevator and we're gone. A very good night by all standards.


   Saturday 18 October - The first of our 2-show days. I wake up at 11 or 12 and visit the geits in the neerhof - then hang out in the house all day - maybe went to the market again -maybe not - I can't remember, but I know we watched Alan Alda on "Scientific Frontiers" again - and maybe some MTV Europe - I think it was the Brittany Spears vs Christina Aguilara weekend or something. Gert and Ludo pick us up at 17:30 - and we head toward Maldegam in the central north eastern part of Belgium, not before getting stuck in a huge traffic jam at the Kennedy tunnel, which goes under the historic Schelde River near Antwerp. The tunnel is named after JFK - the former American president who opened the tunnel in the early 60s when he was in office, not after his brother Teddy for driving a car into the river. Traffic is a stand still for about and hour, then we drive real fast to JH d'Redekiel where another hot meal and stocked fridge awaits.
   These youth clubs are an interesting sort - first of all, they all have bars, most have foosball - some even have indoor volleyball courts (this one did). There was a nice big stage & this was our first multi-band show with Reefrider, Hawiian Astroboys and one other band on the bill. Hawaiian Astroboys drummer, Pedro, agreed to let me use his kit, so we saved the trouble of loading in our kit for the first of our two shows that night, which was a big help. The Astroboys went on first playing a great set of originals and covers - notable songs included Satan's Pilgrims' "Surf Lyre," and Slacktone's "Tidal Wave"
   We went on next (dressed in short sleeve black shirts with white ties) & the bass drum that hadn't moved during Pedro's pounding, started creeping away, so for a song and a half, no bass drum for me, until Pedro and Ludo came on stage and fixed it. Dan's reverb tank again decided to not work midway during the set - he borrowed Reefrider's reverb assembly which was housed in a Showman head chassis and apparently not properly grounded, as both Dan and Fabian got shocked.
   The crowd was okay - not packed, not crazy, but enthusiastic and we did manage to sell a good amount of merch (and sign some autographs) before rushing out the door to our next show at the Kalashnikov in Ternouzen, Holland. Unfortunately, we didn't get to stay for Reefrider, or the other bands, but we would be playing with Reefrider later on in the tour. We get to Kalashnikov some time around 11 - the club is already crowded and people already drunk - 1 guy (not me) fell off the stool and passed out on the floor. We set up & played our 45 minute set (Including the first ever performance of our "new song" + encores to a great response, and people protesting our departure - always leave them wanting more I guess, so we did and home we went.

   Sunday 19 October - I woke up first - again we hang around the house til our scheduled pick up at 14:30 for the short drive to Antwerp and the federal prison, located in the city center. The prison is a very old buidling and apparently, if someone successfully escapes without hurting, killing or threatening anyone, they are automatically pardoned for their crimes. Good to know.
   Another interesting fact is that most of the prison population is not from Belgium - a large percentage come from Eastern Europe.
   We load in though a corridor decorated with various posters of American prison riot and escape films - apparently the warden is a big fan of such movies. After a short elevator ride, we arrive at the theatre - a 65 seat venue with nice stage, and professional sound and light system with disco ball. There is also a Pearl drum kit provided, so drum luggage is once again minimized. Inmate Jean Pierre also does sound and mics everything up. We run through sound check of our newest song - New Song #1, and then retreat to the dressing room to put on our bowling shirts and talk with Reefrider, who would again be playing after us (and, who again we wouldn't be able to see as we would be jetting off to another show).
   The dressing room is wallpapered with the stickers and setlists of bands that had played there before - Big Ray, The Balboas, Magnetic IV, The Seat Sniffers among many others.
   Herwig, the entertainment corrdinator at the prison, gives us our instructions, telling us that the prisoners cannot get out of their seats, and requests that we not ask them to get up and dance, but otherwise to behave as we do on the "outside."
   Out of the 500 inmates in the prison, only 65 lucky essay contest winners are permitted to see the bands, and these lucky 65 are soon marched into the area - ugly women first in the back, then the men. Herwig announces us and we run out and play our 45 minute set to some modest applause, some boos - and one guy flipping Froto off. We finish and immediately start loading out - we hear the first one or two songs of Reefrider, including Penetration (probably not a song we would choose to play in prison, but we don't play it anyway).
   The 2nd of two huge metal doors shuts behind us and The Nebulas are free - safely inside the "Jumper" - fast on our way to Zoutleeuw for the next show.
   With the assistance of the Dutch-speaking female voice GPS unit, we arrive in the old village of Zoutleeuw - not too far from the French-speaking southern half of Belgium aka Wallonia. Here is the town's website - thin cobblestone streets and very old and tall (by old standards) buildings adorn the center of town.
   The venue is another youth center - this one smaller than The Pits and with no stage - we set up against one wall & there was about 6 meters (15-20 ft) between us and the bar for the crowd to gather, which they did when we eventually played. For now, it was set up and head down the street to a small restaurant arranged by the club to feed us. Dan's reverb once again crapped out, so he brought that along to dinner, borrowing a screwdriver from the waitress in order to dissect the tank at the table.
   We have some sort of hamburger and frites (fries) with 6 varieties of dipping sauce - the worst of which was ketchup. We're back at the club by 21:30 and Dan heads to the back, soldering iron in hand again. For some unexplained reason, Rudy has some power/volume issues and has to do the show with no fx pedals. I discover a stripped wingnut on the snare stand which makes its legs get in the way of my feet - a minor annoyance made irrelevant with Stella Artois.
   Cowabunga/Surf Guitar 101 members Jerry and Roland showed up as we launched into a fun, fast set filled mostly with new songs from our forthcoming CD and a few old favorites. For the encore, we played "Cecilia Anne" at Jerry's request. Immediately after the show, we loaded out and headed home with a stop for TP - another great show in front of a receptive crowd.

   Monday 20 October - This was our only day off. Froto and I didn't want to waste it away by watching Alan Alda on TV, so we woke up at 8:30 in hopes of finding a way to a train station and eventually to Amsterdam. Paul, the landlord, says "it's no problem" and "it's possible" for him to drive us to nearby Herentals, which he does and helps us get our train tickets - round trip to Amsterdam via Antwerp for 35E, leaving at 10:15 - after a short train ride to Antwerp and a 30 minute wait there, we were bound for Amsterdam. We arrived at about 2pm - changed some money and walked around the city for awhile, then had lunch, coffee and "cake" & went to the Rembrandt Museum. Following Froto's directions (he had been there before), we walked through the red light district again for the 3rd time, with many fat, nasty hookers looking out from there roadside display windows and "live sex show" theatre owners trying to coax you into their shows by saying "come on in...its disGUSting." We didn't, but it probably was, and we headed back to the train station to catch the 6:23 back to Antwerp. When we arrive in Antwerp, we find out that we had just missed a train to Herentals by a minute or two so we have to wait for the next one, which shows up within the hour. Arriving back in Herentals, we find the train station closed and virtually deserted The payphone outside didn't work...kept spitting out our Euro coins, so we have no way to contact Paul for a ride. Eventually I go across the street to the only business that was still open @ 10p - a frite store. I have the owners call Paul and he comes and picks us up. I also bought frites in the meantime. Paul arrives shortly and drives us back to the compound. Dan and Rudy had gone to Oostende on the North Sea coast with Phillipe the photographer - also stopping in the medieval city of Brugges, where Phillipe proudly photographed a dog evacuating its ass next to a sign prohibiting dogs from evacuating their asses there.

   Tuesday 21 October - Back to work. Wake up at 12 or 1 - eventually head to town to pick up more de Koninck and/or Jupiler beer, as well as bread and sammich meat. We go to the Kieken Club (Chicken Club) for late lunch, but they were out of chicken so we had sammiches. Gert picks us up at 17:45 for the one hour drive to Sittard, Holland which is 10 minutes from the German border. Arrive at Ernesto's - restaurant/bar with a South American/Mexican theme - we get fed tacos & enchiladas with Grolsch beer. Our table is soon cleared and moved away and replaced with a stage...a very small stage.
   We set up Los Straitjackets style with me in the front, the amps in the back and the rest of the band squeezed between - tightest quarters we've ever played in - Rudy's headstock was over my cymbal and Froto's footstompin' dictated the tempo of the songs.
   There was also a DJ there spinning surf and garage music - started playing the Hypnotic IV 7" at 45rpm instead of 33 (until I pointed it out to him), so we wound up playing two 35 minute sets wearing our Star Trek uniforms. The room was packed & everyone was psyched - two encores and we were again fast on our way home, getting there about 1am, staying up til 3 playing Battleship and Tetris.

   Wednesday 22 October - The van arrives at 6:45 and we embark on the short, 40 minute drive to St. Niklaas, just past Antwerp & arrive at The Grand Cafe Hemelrijk. We load into the medium sized club rght on to the stage through some glass doors. The bar has de Koninck on tap. After discovering that the bass drum spur is broken & requires a quick duct tape quick fix, we head next door to a restaurant for pasta dinner with Palm beer.
   We don our white shirt/black tie outfit and begin our 45 minute set beginning›with Nebula One. Jerry had come to see us again and he brought some friends - took requests for Cecilia Anne and Spanito Bandito. Playing in front of the glass doors made this a very loud set - possibly the loudest on the tour. We finish our 45 minutes, and away we go - home by midnight.

   Thursday 23 October - "War of the Surf Guitars II" - we were billing tonight as being our 50th show, but after recounting the shows and adding a radio performance that wasn't listed on our site, we realized that tonight would actually be our 51st performance together as The Nebulas. We make the drive to Gent in about 90 minutes or so & have trouble finding the club in the midst of this happening street - looks like a college party town with cool bars and people walking all over the place.
   Unfortunately, the Frontline didn't look as it does on their website.
   Apparently the club had recently moved - also apparent was the fact that I don't think they've finished building it yet. We walk through the dankiest of dank alleys through a door into a big bathroom - kind of like at the Pits, except these stalls had no doors (and no toilet paper). - plus there was a 4ft long metal piss trough about waist high (chest high for Froto) - with a clogged drain. The club itself smelled of sawdust, and as I said, looked as if it was still under construction.
   The bar worked however, as did the power and the stage lights so we were on. There were 2 bands scheduled ahead of us - Roland's Lunar Tikis and The Hawaiian Astroboys - and then another band, the Hellfish Commandos showed up and said they were told they could play, so that was allowed. We went next door for dinner to a Subway-like restaurant that served "bicky burgers" and beer - and of course frites. Phillipe the photographer made it out and joined us for food.
   After the Hellfish Commandos, The Lunar Tikis took the stage, opening with "Bombora" (by the Atlantics) - the Tikis are a trio led by Roland & his red Mosrite.
   The Hawaiian Astroboys were up next and played another excellent set similar to the one they played a few nights earlier. After three surf bands and many Duvels, it was finally our turn - to celebrate our "50th" show, we decided to break out the uncomfortable skull masks, which we put on in the alley that by now really smelled of feces. We came back in and played a custom-tailored evil set to match the masks - quite Bomboras-ish too, at least in regard to the length - it was a quick and fast set (10 or 12 songs) before we took the masks off and did a 3-song encore.
   The place was packed with enthusiastic people once again and we met some fellow musicians - Jenz & Bart the bass player and drummer for both Fifty Foot Combo and The Andrews Surfers as well as a couple of folks from the newer band, Speedball Jr. The extra band at the beginning had made this a late night, so we packed up and headed home - away from the crowded streets of Gent, by now swarmed with drunk young people stumbling about - sorry we had to go, but hey, we had Battleship, Tetris and Alan Alda waiting for us in Lichtaart. Phillipe Carly's pictures of this show can also be found on his site, here - when the page comes up, simply click on "next Nebulas page" and it should bring you to the Gent show.

   Friday 24 October - 2 shows left in the tour. During the day we watched TV - in particularly, the Belgian equivalent of the Discovery channel's live operating room shows. This episode involved a girl who wanted to please her boyfriend of 6 months by getting a bigger booty.
   This was accomplished by literally sucking the cellulose out of her back (her self-desribed "fat box") and then rapidly injecting the tissue into her ass. I guess it worked - everyone was happy - especially the doctor who was drawing funny things on her buttox with a Sharpie before the surgery.
   Anyhoo, the Citroen Jumper soon lumbers through the gate of our compound, and with the help of Dutch-speaking GPS, we were once again on a long journey east - our last trip through the Kennedy tunnel - to the small town of Oostrozebeke to play at JH t'Ipperste - another youth center.
   Our gig was on the second floor, but the modern building had an elevator.
   ...and a bar.
   We were playing with the Hawaiian Astroboys again, and again I was allowed to use their drum kit, which made everything easier (again).
   We had a nice meal of pasta and beer in an alcove adjacent to the stage & then dressed in our short sleeve black shirts and blue ties. The crowd had grown while the Astroboys were playing, so they were good and ready for us. We played a good set,› although I screwed up Church Key.
   Took some pictures with the Hawaiian Astroboys & said goodbye - they were alot of fun to play with and we hope to do some shows with them again when we go back next year. In the meantime, you can check them out here

   Saturday 25 October - Last show tonight. During the day, we run around trying to clean up the house, which by now resembles the neerhof outside. Gert had to miss the show as he was going to a wedding party or something, so Ludo shows up wtih Ruben - a DJ from Holland who occasionally drives for Surfing Airlines (except in Switzerland, where he still owes the government money for a speeding ticket)
   We hang out for a little while, then head to Ludo's local bar, Biscaya, to have a few beers before heading to the show. Turnhout is only about 10 or 15 minutes away - the closest show of the whole tour. It is another youth center, JH Wollewei - it's an old church with a school attached - now a youth center. Nice big room, and several levels similar to 013 but on a smaller scale.
   We load in and set up on the back of the stage. Reefrider was to play before us and they would set up in front of us. In the down time, we waited in the "dressing room" which was the church part of the old church, totally bare except for a few ratty recliners on the floor.
   That, and a case of warm Tuborg beer and some juice, did us fine until dinner was ready. Dinner was one of the better ones on the trip, although they were all good, but this one had caviar.
   I passed on the fish eggs, but made up for it with the wine and the beer and the pasta and the wine and the Belgian Waffles and the wine.
   Reefrider went on about 22:00 and we all went down to check them out & take some pictures - these guys have a trad-inspired intensity (but not too trad) that really rocks & the crowd loved them. I had an ample supply of drink tickets to burn through before our set, so I grabbed as many Tuborgs as I could while snapping photos of the band as they steamed through some classics like "Penetration" as well as some original compositions like "Dance with the Devil," "Beyond the Reef" and "Cumshot." They ended with an encore of Miserlou (I believe the only time I heard the song the whole tour). More info on Reefrider here
   Next it was our turn and for the last show we reprised our role as the original Star Trek crew - those outfits always suck to wear the second time on a tour. Wannes, Jerry, Cor and Phillipe all made it out to the last show, as did some members of the Killer Bananaz (I believe a band from Holland).
   We had a pretty good show - Rudy kicked over and broke the floor lamp that illuminated the drum riser while were moving stuff›off stage. Had a couple more Tuborgs while merch was being sold - then we loaded out in the pouring rain, took some pictures with Reefrider,›and eventually headed home to make final preperations for departure. Phillipe's pictures of this show can be found on the third Nebulas page here - just click on "next Nebulas page" until you see the sweaty Star Trek guys with matching guitars.

   Sunday 26 October - D-Day means Departure Day.
   As in the US, the clocks were turned back one hour overnight, so we got an extra hour of sleep - Gert pi cked us up at 7:15am›for our final ride in the Jumper to the airport in Brussels. I sell Gert my bass drum pedal at a good price (for him) because I don't feel like f*cking around with trying to squeeze into my bag that was already packed - and again I had four cumbersome pieces of luggage, although they weren't as heavy without most of the tshirts.
   After arriving at the airport at 8:15 or 8:30, we get in a long line for the ticket counter - I leave Dan with our bags and buy some fine Belgian chocolate.
   After getting our boarding passes, we walk by the modest security line and get some breakfast.
   Upon returning from our meal, we notice that the security line had gotten much bigger, and with it, some silent doubts as to whether or not we would actually get through it in time to make our flight. We eventually got through - some Nigerian lady with a suitcase overflowing with cellular phones seemed to attract the attention of a few uniformed marshals. After a somewhat unnecessary jog through the airport, we were safely on board the plane with the guitars at 10:20am. Plane takes off at 10:45 or 11am for a 9 hour nonstop (and for me, booze-filled) flight to Chicago -fuckers probably flew right over our houses in southern New England, the bastards - actually we flew over Canada and Lake Michigan, but it still sucks to fly beyond where you live.
   We arrive in Chicago at Terminal 5 (the international arrivals terminal) at 1pm local time (by now, we think its 8pm) and head down the mile-long cattle chute to immigration.
   "Have you come in contact with any livestock?" - "Do geits count, and what exactly do you mean by contact? I mean...no sir, I have not."
   We then go to baggage claim to get our bags, so the inspectors can "dust" them for explosive residue - I'm surprised the Star Trek uniforms didn't incite some sort of panic.
   After re-checking our baggage, we hop on board the airport tram to Terminal 3, for a one hour wait to take a two hour flight back to Logan. Drank a bunch of Heineken (piss water by Dutch and Belgian standards I'm told) and some Glen Livet (stewardess, I mean flight attendant, had to get that from first class, but it was listed in this month's edition of Skyways magazine as being available to the commoners as well, so I said make it so)
   Arrive at Logan in rainy, windy conditions, pretty much how we had left it, at around 7pm local time (we feel like its 1am), get our bags fairly quick and look around for our town cars, which are nowhere to be found. Froto makes a quick couple of calls and finds out they are one level up - at the same place they dropped us off.
   We hustle our gear up one level and pile into the cars for the ride to Billerica, ie, Middle Earth, and Froto's lair. By 8pm, I'm in my own car, which isn't exactly thrilled about running smoothly after not having been started for 12 days, but all is well once I get on the highway.
   I'm home by 10pm, in bed by midnight, and at my desk at work by 8:03am the next morning- I still think its 2 in the afternoon, and I begin to wonder why I'm not watching Alan Alda on TV in English with Dutch subtitles.


       -TooFastJim