So, okay, what's happened so far? I got here a week ago, Wednesday the 13th. A guy picked me up and drove me in to Munich, the Hotel Adria, a small room on a quiet street near the center of town, Liebigstrasse. I think Liebig is the chemist who (according to Pynchon) invented "imipolex," beloved substance of my moldies and my lamented boppers. I lay down to nap, then heard Audrey's voice in the street. I went down and found her checking in, we were glad to see each other, we kissed. After resting awhile we went into town and had dinner at the Oper Spatenhaus, a Bavarian place across from the Opera, rather fancy and high-priced for something resembling a beer-hall. I had sliced pig with a huge potato dumpling.
Every morning we had breakfast in the hotel, quite a lot of food, usually. Thursday the 14th, we walked over to the Isar river near us, then went down the Isar to the Deutsches Museum --- a huge science museum. It made me so nostalgic for the kids, especially Tom. We found the Tesla coil-based Jacob's Ladder behind glass, button-activated. Tom and I loved that exhibit so much that eventually we built ourselves a Jacob's Ladder in Lynchburg. The writing on the museum wall very Jugendstil/Nazi-looking: DEUTSCHES MUSEUM. I had to go to a meeting with our hosts then, so we split up, Audrey staying in the shopping district.
The meeting was with a woman called Elizabeth Schweeger, driector of the Marstall where the event was to take place. She was perpetually chain-smoking cigarettes, lighting each one with such an air of "I'm cool, I smoke, I'm intellectual." It was odd for me to see this, coming from California where smoking is viewed merely as compulsive and shameful.
At the meeting, they had pretzels split in half with butter for snacks. Pretzels everywhere in Bavaria, by the way, the call them Brez'n for short. Soft doughy things, made fresh every morning, and kind of stale by day's end. You found them in your bread-basket at meals, on Maypoles with signs showing Bavarian customs, and of course for sale in beer gardens.
Back to the meeting, there were also Konrad Becker who put the Serious Chiller Lounge concept together, the woman Simone Nickl who'd been corresponding with me, plus some more of the guests, who turned out to be pretty much bogus bullshitters. One had some political idea about refugees, another was into Whorfian language theories applied to video, one guy would talk about an info CD on Nikolai Tesla, the sinister Konrad Becker and his way hip webmaster friend Chico Webber had a biosensor game that flew you down a toroidal tunnel of circles with tumbling polyhedra (I'd like to hack this one), yet another had a VR that accumulated the polygons that the users put in by their naive gestures. This last person was an attractive German woman named Ulrike, dressed in black leather.
I cornered Simone and asked for my money, she said "Later," and when I went back onto the street the banks were closed and I realized I didn't even have the coin for a beer! I got angry, went back into the offices and made a scene until finally Simone gave me 100 DM, threw the bill at me, acting very pissed off.
I took the money straight to the Hofbrauhaus (!) fabled Muenchen cathedral of beer where I'd been 30 years ago (thirty years!) with my brother Caldwell, and where I'd been again 15 years ago with Audrey. I went out in the patio --- the beer garden. The idea with a beer garden is that they put it over the cellar where they keep the beer kegs. To keep the kegs cool, they plant chestnut trees over the cellar, and under the trees is the place for the beer garden. Two such lovely words together: "beer" and "garden." Chestnut trees, you realize soon, are the right tree because they among all trees provide the most shade. I had some Muenchen weiss-wurst a salad a pretzel and two beers. Only two? At the Hofbrauhaus, all beers are one liter! The Muenchen weisswurst is made fresh every day, of veal, you can't really get it anywhere else. The white hot dogs you get in the US are not the same at all, as these use pork fat and powdered milk to simulate the veal. The pretzel came with a tiny ice-cream-cone-thingie filled with the sticky honeyed mustard they use. It was nice there, in the sun and shade, everyone getting happily tanked. I felt pretty dazed when I got up.
I made my way to the town center where there's a huge, fractally detailed gray Rathaus and multo churches. I sat down in the square and watched the Rathaus clock for awhile, waiting for the figures to run about, but they never did. Then I had one more beer, "only" a half liter this time, and now felt very out of it, the beer amplified by the jetlag.
Nearby was a great church which I looked at, the Frauenkirche, all new inside, with about twenty side-chapels set in, each one a little masterpiece of art history, containing paintings, sculptures and a huge tall stained glass window. To make it modern, most of the upper reaches of each stained glass window was blank. Also the walls were white; the place was clean. My favorite side chapel had a big painting of St. George killing the dragon, then a sculpture of a knight and a sculpture of St. George stepping on the slashed dragon, rolling on its back like Arfie. The really surreal bit was that right over these two statues there was suspended a Virgin Mary, held up by twenty bent sixfoot links of iron leading clear up to --- heaven? --- well, nearly, or in any case up to the vaulted white cathedral ceiling with little polychrome heads squeezed in at each fork and groin, one of the heads the image of a pipeless "Bob" Dobbs. In the same booth as St. George was additionally a St. Christopher with a big gnarly branchy staff that was in fact a big gnarly branch, painted black. All the while someone was playing wild, crazed, modern music on the giant cathedral organ. On the way out, a Japanese girl made an unfriendly face at me --- like catching my eye, giving a patient why-are-staring smile, then snapping the smile closed with an I-hate-you leave-me-alone abruptness. I hadn't wanted her to smile at me in the first place! Her mindgame annoyed me so much that I gave the finger to the back of her head. Impulsively doing this, I realized that I was drunk and out of control of my actions and that the sooner I got off the street the better.
Went back to the room and slept awhile, Audrey showed up, and we went to a place near the hotel for supper, the Liebighof Gaststaette, it had been raining but was now dry. We got a table outside, me under a dripping maple sapling, I shook it to get the water off, and water went on a man at the next table, he said "Danke," annoyed, but didn't pursue it. The specialty of the month at this restaurant was pfiffirlinge, which we and the French call chanterelles, the trumpet-shaped orangey-yellow kind of 'shroom. We used to find them in Maine sometimes. I had some of them in a brown sauce on a piece of steak, outstanding. This was in fact to be the last time I'd manage to get a brown sauce in Munich, as cream sauces are really the Bayerischen thing.
That evening at ten was the first of the three Serious Chiller Lounge meetings. The space was cool, a huge cubical room in the Marstall, which means "Royal stables". They had some fast videos on little screens, and a big screen showing what some VR experiencers were seeing. The talks were tedious and completely uninteresting. I got very angry when Simone Nickl still didn't have my money --- kind of losing it. My anger role-model here was Bob Wilson's behavior in Lisbon when we were there this winter, a terrible model. Later I got tired of being angry and shook Simone's hand before A and I went back to the hotel, about midnight.
The next day I had what felt like the worst hangover of my entire life. I didn't drink *that* much. It was the combo with jetlag; should remember to never drink on the first day of jetlag. Each minute, each second, was a desert of pain to soldier through. Audrey and I walked downtown and looked at some stores and churches; I showed her the Frauenkirche nook with St. George and the dangling virgin. It was raining off and on. At one point we were sitting under her collapsible red umbrella in the Old Botanical Garden near Karlstor (Karl's Gate), and we kissed, there in the soft rain, flowers all around, a lovely romantic moment. We had a terrific lunch at the Augustinerhaus. A lovely liverball soup. One big big liver ball in a clear broth bedecked with chives. Chives in German are Schnittlauch, from cut + leek (Lauch). For that matter, garlic is Knoblauch = knob + leek. These names crack me up. A symposium paper: "Directions Of Teutonic Cuisine: Lauch or Schnittlauch?"
There are beer hall restaurants for each of the various kinds of beer: Hofbrau, Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, and Lowenbrau. The Lowenbrau greedheads have licensed their logo to Miller in the US, so I feel like their beer here is, by reverse contamination, not very good. Each of the brands makes various kinds: export, pils, weissbier, dunkles weissbier. Weissbier is made with wheat instead of barley, I believe, and is foamier and feels lighter to drink. It has kind of moldy taste, but the dark version of the weissbier tastes more normal. The Hofbrau weissbier is called Munchner Kindl, such a cute name, with a picture of little girl in a riding-hood. I should mention that Munchen (really Muenchen) is a diminutive of Monch, or monk. The city started from a monastery. And Kindl is the diminutive of child. One whole night I dreamed of crowded beerhalls and the Munchner Kindl.
After lunch on Friday, A and I went to the Haus Der Kunst (House Of Art), a Nazi-built structure with an architecture that is kind of classical, though more severe. Jugendstil (also known as Art Nouveau) with all the frills removed. There were two shows inside. One was a combo of Klee, Calder, Miro, Arp, and Kandinsky. I'd never thought of those artists as being so similar, but many of the works seemed almost the same. The paramount theme in their works is the glob. Klee, Miro, and Kandinsky draw or paint the globs, kind of boomerang shapes, or splatter shapes, usually black, although sometimes colored. Calder makes the same shape out of metal and hangs them in mobiles --- you might call them 2.5 dimensional since although flat, they can move in 3D. Arp sometimes cuts them out of thick wood and stacks them up, the globs, maybe these could be called 2.25 dimensional. Arp sometimes goes all the way to 3 dimensionality and sculpts big wobbly globs of stone. The thought which came to me was that it would be cool to make 4 dimensional globs. A 4D shape all of whose 3D cross-sections were reasonably Arpian 3D globs, just as Arp's 3D globs are such that all of their 2D cross-sections would be usable Miro-Kandinsky-Calder-Klee 2D globs.
The other show in the Haus Der Kunst was the collection of a Swiss gallery owner. They had some really good Bacons. I'd never realized how nicely Bacon handles paint. There is so much that you don't see in a reproduction.
After the museum, Audrey went back to the room to rest, and I went for a walk in the big Munich park called the English Garden. My feet hurt, so I took of my shoes and socks. Walking through a nudist sunbathing meadow, I took off my shirt as well. Beyond the nudists were students and hippies with guitars, others with tape decks, dancing, a girl dancing in the uncrowded meadow. Across the meadow and above the trees rose the towers of the churches of Munich. The sun was out now, with gray and white scattered clouds. A beautiful happy scene. After the meadow I came to the Chinese Tower, perhaps the most famous beer-garden in Munich. It was my turn to speak at Serious Chiller Lounge tonight, so I drank alcohol-free beer. It was wonderful to see the calm Munchners in the beer garden, with their liters of beer and huge five-mark pretzels. Some guys were eating Schweine-Haxe (Pig-Shin), served on a plate with the skin on, the bone in, and a sharp knife plunged into the meat.
That evening (still Friday), we went over to cousin Conrad von Riemann's apartment and ate at an Italian restaurant with him. I had tuna pizza. Cousin Conrad turns out to be a writer as well, he writes two or three books a year for money, things like the text for an art book on the German Blue Rider school artist Macke, or for a travel book about Bavaria. His wife Xina is an artist who makes white paper-mache & wire sculptures, also lots of pottery, which she sells. They have a new baby named Marianne, my niece, with one fourth the same genes! I love the baby at first sight, she is cuddly, lively, active, with a big round downy head and two teeth. I held her as much as they would let me. My German books have flap-copy that always says my "real" name is Conrad von Riemann Bunger, and sometimes people think cousin Conrad writes my books, which is okay with him, even though he won't read them, beginning to tell me at length why it is quite impossible for him to read science-fiction. I break off this rap saying, "I don't think this is a profitable line of conversation." His English is very good, and he's bright and witty.
At ten in the evening it's time for more Serious Chiller Lounge, this time Nick Williams is to lead off with talk about Tesla, followed by me reading a story and doing a demo. Williams assures me he has only twenty minutes of stuff, and then proceeds to use up an hour and a half reading from an English manuscript covering the very familiar facts of Nikolai Tesla's life, with frequent breaks while the translator reads German versions of the same text. There's a very small audience tonight, and many of them leave during Williams's shamelessly horrible presentation. Finally at 11:30 it's my turn. I spend fifteen minutes reading the German translation of my story "The 57th Franz Kafka," having fun with the German, and getting the audience into it and laughing and exclaiming. Before starting, we'd gotten my laptop plugged into a legendary Light Valve projector, so that the image of my ARTFICIAL LIFE LAB program Boppers is on the screen overhead. The Light Valve, now out of production, uses a carbon arc-light to project through three screens created by spraying colored whale-oil! An incredible device which I'm happy to get to use, after having heard about it from William Gosper back in 1987. It doesn't do blue, as it happens (just red and green), but the antfarm images of the Boppers program are pretty good. I talk about this in German for another fifteen or twenty minutes, and people ask some questions. Elisabeth Schweeger doesn't quite get it, and seems to think I am being cruel or unfair to the low-scoring genomes that get selected out. Then it's time to rush onto the next presentation, by Derek Kerkhoeve, head of the Marshall McLuhan Center in Toronto, who says some interesting things, though again in English with slow German translation, a chunk at a time.
The setup at Serious Chiller Lounge is that everyone sits in black lounge chairs arranged in concentric circles, like the rings of an onion, with the speakers and organizers in chairs at the innermost circle, and black coffee table at the center with microphones lying on it. Computer projection screens here and there, and a bar on one side of the room. Everyone but everyone smoking cigarettes. Bright floodlights pointing down at the central circle. So sitting there, for instance, tense to perform and listening to Williams drone about Tesla, it's very hot and my shirt gets soaked with sweat, and the air is so thick and smoky and terrible. It was torture worse than riding on an airplane. They finally paid me right before the Friday show, but sitting there sweating and bored out of my mind it didn't seem like they'd paid me nearly enough.
A few journalists came up to me after I got offstage Friday, and I set up some appointments for Monday morning and afternoon, though one guy had to see me Saturday morning.
I learned that most of my books are in fact out of print in Germany. I'd had the idea that since they'd all been translated they were all in print. Germany and Japan have done the most translations, but I think more are actually in print in Japan. I did not in fact get very much egoboo in Munich. I don't think I signed a single (not one!) book for a fan. Disappointing. Sitting at one of the interminable Serious Chiller Lounge sessions and like looking around for a fan, I recognized myself to be acting just like Pop in the Town Center Plaza, anxiously looking for someone to give me adulation.
The last night at the Marstall was a round-table discussion, and this time I did get a little egoboo, with the others referring to my work, so it wasn't too bad. Also had some interesting casual conversations afterwards, kids asking me how to program 4D Virtual Reality, and a French impresario telling me about a "pornological" play he wants to put on which is a combination of ascetic philosophic discussion and hardcore presentation of a live sex act with big screen projection of "la boite" (the woman's genitals?).
Sunday we went out and hit some more sights. In the morning we took streetcars out to the Nymphenberg Castle, which took fucking forever to get there it seemed like and by then it was hot and humid, with the castle grounds inhumanly, dauntingly vast. We looked around just a bit, had a Munchner Kindl beer, then found the castle beergarden and had lunch, me a Schweine-Haxe, Audrey a pfifferling salad. When we got back into town, we hit the Glyptotek, a sculpture museum with lots of portrait heads of Romans. One head which got my attention was this lovely guy Antinous, who was the lover of Caesar Hadrian, drowned in the Nile, and was posthumously declared a god by the bereaved Caesar. He had the perfect pretty boy "Roman God" face, made me think of that 80s album called ROMAN GODS. They had a nice big faun with a big broken dick and intack ballsack that I photographed Audrey with.
Down the street was what we recognized (after Haus Der Kunst) as another Nazi building, now the School of Music --- stark, classical, and with holes up on the top where they must have torn off the big eagle and swasitka symbols.
Further along we came to the best museum of all, the Neue Pinakothek, which included part of the collection of the Alte Pinakotek, which was closed for renovation. A great medieval triptych of a butt-faced woman, a crazy street-person with a saber, and a stoned guy with a dragon falling out of his cup. Brueghel's "Schlaraffenland," with the newcomer eating his way there through a cloud of rice pudding; the soldier, the writer, and the peasant lying fatlegged on the ground under the pie-tree, the Schwein with a knife tucked into his skin, the egg with the spoon, the goose with its neck on the plate, the undone codpieces of the fat, loafing men. Also a small Brueghel, "Head of a Peasant Woman," the woman so alert yet dumb, so eager and credulous, so young yet old, so darling. And then a room of Jugendstil artists, a cool thing called "Die Suende" by Franz von Stuck, an Edvard Munch kind of thing showing a dark, half-nude woman beckoning you, with a big pubic-hair-like curl of hair flowing down her belly. Then some terrific Van Goghs, a field made of lines and whirls, such genius. Then they closed the museum and threw us out. We had some Weissbier at a nice Jugendstil bar just across the street and walked, limping a bit by now, home to the hotel. Dinner was pfifferlinge at the Liebighof again, only this time I slipped up and ordered something with *oh no* cream sauce again.
After dinner we watched the World Cup final between Brazil and Italy on our small color TV. It was fun to be aware enough of the even to be able to share the experience. Actually the Germans were so bitter about having been eliminated that they didn't seem all that interested in the match.
Monday morning an interviewer did some video of me on the steps of a church near our hotel, St. Anna. I was wearing black shoes and socks with my green shorts and a black shirt. I figured the shoes looked so ugly they were like something a rapper would wear, and I started doing hand-signs and rap-singing something like:
Now listen here I'm the real MC
Talking to you from Germany
Got some soup with a great big ball
Liver's the thing inside the beer hall
I got a white sausage that's hot and long
The Frauleins come runnin' to hear my song...
Not for very long did I really sing it to the camera, but in my mind that song kept going all morning with happy images of myself stomping back and forth on the church steps with my ungainly black shoes and socks, planting those truckin' feet down flat and releasing flurries of hand-signs.
After the video guy, there was a radio interview for Bayerische Rundfunk. The interviewer was like a beatnik DJ, with a skinny head he rocked back and forth, and skinny glasses and pursed lips --- he lacked only a goatee. Whoah, the battery's dying and this three-hour train-ride is coming to an end.
Now we're in Heidelberg, checked into the famous Hotel zum Ritter (Hotel of the Knight) in the square by the big Heiliggeist-Kirche (Holy Ghost Church) just up the hill from the Alte Brucke (Old Bridge) and down the hill from the Schloss (castle). It's raining. Audrey and I were walking around, and then I came back to the room; my legs hurt and I am always hot/cold and sweating. I can't seem to adjust to the climate here. California has spoiled me. And my legs, they hurt so much from these days of walking, even though I started out, I thought, in good physical shape from jogging. I'm a physical wreck.
Being in Heidelberg makes me terribly nostalgic. Fifteen years ago I was a young man here, full of ideas, writing INFINITY AND THE MIND, WHITE LIGHT, and SOFTWARE, not to mention most of the stories in THE 57TH FRANZ KAFKA. And the children were so sweet and young, tiny nursery-school Ida, first-grade Tom, dynamic ten-year-old Sorrel. Audrey was learning German and struggling against being a trapped housewife, perhaps it wasn't such a good time for her. But for me --- well, it seems like paradise, at least in retrospect. I thought I had so much time to finish my thinking. The ideas I developed were, in many respects, my complete and finished thoughts, e.g. on robot consciousness via evolution, but at the time I thought I was still just roughing out a start. I didn't realize it was a high-water mark, and that I would never again think so deeply about the philosophy of mathematics. The Liar Paradox, the Berry Paradox, I solved them all to my own satisfaction; I got them to stop itching at me. And I created a kind of para-solution to the Continuum Problem in the form of WHITE LIGHT.
Walking around town, I see familiar things everywhere. The store where I bought the leather pants I wore in the Dead Pigs. The corner where Audrey and I and the kids nearly got crushed during the Wine Festival. The great castle floating above the town like a dream. The bar where Alwin Bitter goes in THE SEX SPHERE after the Babses invade. The corner where I bought a book providing a Marxist analysis of Uncle Scrooge Comics. A cafe where I sat with Mom. A corner where I gave a Turk a $100 bill from Pop for a bar of hashish...which turned out to be fake. Oh God, the sorrow of the many years.
I feel dizzy and bewildered outside, looking at all the familiar sights again. The gold-haloed statue of the Virgin in a square below the castle, the striped towers of the bridge, the crumbly red facade of our hotel.
Back to the narrative. In the radio interview he asked me fairly good questions. As I keep answering questions in interviews and at things like the Serious Chiller Lounge or Japan, it occurs to me that maybe I do have enough new ideas for another nonfiction book. Just to explain some things that seem fairly obvious to me, such as how to use evolution to produce robots. Of course I've written about this before. But nobody seems to get it yet anyway.
Anyhow, after the interviews Monday morning, I went and looked at some Nineteenth Century German paintings, particularly paintings by Arnold Boecklein. What a bad painter! Kind of sword and sorcery, some of them, the best called Triton and Neriad, a hairy guy sitting on a rock in the sea blowing in a conch shell with his back to you, and lying flat on her back on the rock behind him a sexy plump woman with a smile, toying with a huge sea-serpent. A great Jugendstil pattern on the serpent's back. The serpent has hair on its face and is nestling its head against her belly.
Audrey and I met at the hotel at 1, tried getting a salad at an ice-cream-store down the street, it was a pretty bad salad, Audrey was disappointed, I wished I hadn't had to take the responsibility for this failed lunch. I had some more interviews coming up that afternoon, so we didn't have all that much time. We split up and I walked to the Muller'shcen Schwimmbad (Swimming pool), an indoor pool near us that one of the interviewers had told me was Jugendstil. I bought a bathing suit and went on in there, it was pretty cool. Real heavy Jugendstil architecture: square columns, lots of bas-relief of like dragonflies on the ceiling, the water for the pool pouring out of a big face's mouth.
Back at the hotel there was an interview with some jerk who kept complaining to me that I wasn't William Gibson, who had been rumored to be coming instead of or as well as me. He hadn't actually read any of my books. He was worried he was wasting his time. "How famous are you in America?" "I am more famous every day."
After him there was a cute couple, a very Munich-looking girl chewing a pretzel, tall and thin and giggly, with her a dark romantic thin German dude. They had read some of my books, so this was fun. People always are asking about how it is that I write fiction and do math and computers. Could I work that into my next nonfiction book? USING YOUR HEAD.
Meanwhile Audrey was at the State Opera standing in line for tickets to Tannhauser; turned out they didn't have any that were less than $150 each, so we bailed on that. I met her there and we had dinner at the Spatenhof again, first a plate of two kinds of radishes, then liverball soup for Audrey followed by calves liver. I had three little filets of meat with *whoah* cream sauce.
These heavy meals, liberally irrigated with fine pilsener, seem to lead to uneasy sleep, also there's a lot of noise from the street, even a quiet street, over the course of a night. Lots of dreams about crowds in Munchen.
Tuesday morning I did one more interview, this with some literary types, trying to explain about my SF being transreal and in some sense about the present not the future. Then we went to see the Franz von Stuck Villa, home of the Jugendstil artist I'd been impressed by at the Neue Pinakotek. His Villa was an awesome place, all decorated out the yang inside, walls painted black or covered with gold mosaic, but the Stuck paintings there were his weakest, the ones he couldn't get a museum to take. The most ludicrous was "Die Wippe" (See-Saw) showing two women straddling either end of a log wedged in the fork of a tree. The lower woman is white and calm, the higher woman is in red and writhing as if in sexual passion over that big Stuck of log between her legs.
We got a street-car over to the Lehnbach Haus, a museum of German art with some good Jugendstil, particularly a phenomenally great sculpture called "Teufel" (Devil) by Thomas Theodore Heine. Some better works by Stuck. Audrey commented, "It's hard to believe these guys were active at the same time as the Impressionists. It's like the Jugendstil artists never went outside. Just stayed in dark rooms jacking off."
The Lehnbach had a huge collection of Kandinsky, who'd in fact been a pupil of Stuck. Kandinsky, I hadn't realized, was for years a realistic painter, then kind of expressionist realistic, then smeary colorist, then a painter of 2D globs. Audrey really liked his pictures. The museum also had some contemporary stuff, my fave a room-installation called "Zeig Deine Wunden" ("Show Your Wounds") by the fabled German artist Beuys who just died a couple of years ago. He was a very political, leftwing guy. The installation was all pairs of things. Mainly two roll-wheel gurney/stretchers in a corner, and under them two lead boxes filled with rendered fat, with thermometers sticking out. Two two-tined pitchforks sitting on little lead squares. The pitchforks had been turned a bit, so that one tine acted as a center and the other as the scribing element of a compass, drawing parts of two circles. There were two things like hoes, two Italian newspapers with the headline "The Struggle Continues," two blank white table tops on the wall, and two black canvases on the wall. The idea was of two revolutionary martyrs; the fact of there being two of them made a feeling of resurrection, of not being alone.
Back outside we tried to walk to the Augustinerhaus again, but took a wrong turn and ended up having Munchner weisswurst on a street table under an umbrella with it starting to rain. The waitress forgot our salads and Audrey got mad, then I got mad at her for being mad and we angrily walked back to the hotel separate, only to grudgingly meet each other there for naps. The great potato-salad fight.
In the evening we were still a little tired of each other, so I took the subway alone up to Schwabing, a kind of arty/student part of Munich, sat down in a cafe watching the busy street, and before long, to my joy, Audrey walked by and sat down with me, us glad to be together again, having a glass of wine. The table full of people next to us ordered a Riesen-Eis (Giant Sundae), a mountain of ice-cream and fruit with two blazing sparklers in it. They were all fat.
We walked around for awhile, enjoying the evening sky, then took the subway back to our neighborhood. Audrey had liverball soup again, I had something called Tafel-Spitz (Table-Perfection) I'd heard of, it was a big favorite side dish for Emperor Franz Josef or something, and all the bourgeois families in the German and Austro-Hungarian countries before WWII made a point of having it and feeling "in". It turns out to be pot-roast, that's all, with *aaaugh* a cream sauce.
The next day was Tuesday the 19th and we got the train to Heidelberg, which I started to write about yesterday. Turns out I got over my nostalgia blues, or at least they stopped striking me as sorrowful. Audrey and I had a glass of wine at an ancient local student place (like 300 years old) called the SCHNOOKELOCH. They like that ending -loch (-hole) for bars. What would the Lochloch be? A place for whores and/or Texans... Well, a glass of wine and I cheered right up. We caught the bus out to Schlierbach, only two stops down, it's where we lived during our two years in Heidelberg. We went by Ida's nursery school, the kids' elementary school, the little market we shopped at, and the imposing big house that we rented in our first year. It was so lovely there in front of that house, in the rain, Audrey and me still together, we kissed. And then we had dinner at the Wolfsbrunnen (Wolf Fountain), where we'd loved to go, when we could afford it, back in the fifteen-years-ago past. We had blue trout, delicious, unchanged, every detail of the restaurant unchanged, how nice it is to know a place where things don't change.
After dinner we walked by the University Visiting Scholars' Housing that we lived in the second year. Two little boys were playing in the driveway, talking to us in German about crushing snails, one of them had an American accent and pointed to where he lived, just where we'd lived. After that we made it back to the hotel, caught a boring but good-for-you concert in the church across the street, and went to bed with a complex, fractal hubbub of human voices outside.
Today is Thursday, July 21, 1994, and I'm catching up to realtime. This morning we got up, breakfasted, and I walked up the castle while Audrey went off on her own explorations --- she didn't want to get sweaty from the climb. It was nice at the castle, I went all around it, thinking of how I depicted it in my stories and in THE SEX SPHERE --- along these lines, Audrey enjoyed seeing the yard of our house in Schlierbach still being just like the image of it that she made an oil-painting of. The big broken Gesprungter Turm (Blown-Up Tower) is still there at the castle. What a surprise it must have been when the French blew that thing up --- its walls are about thirty feet thick! I guess the castle dudes had done something to piss the French off!
I went down into the cellar of the castle where the have the famous Grosser Fass (Big Barrel) for wine. I got myself a 0.2 liter glass of really nice white grape-tasting Muller-Thurgau, and walked up on top of the barrel along the wooden stairs and floorings. The famous denizen of this wine cellar was called Perkeo, an Italian court jester, who when asked if he would like another drink would always say "Perche No?" (Why not?), hence his name. Coming down the stairs with the flush of the wine in me, I passed right by a wooden statue of Perkeo holding up a wooden wineglass, and showily toasted my glass against his, drawing a giggle from a tour group of fifty Japanese below, staring up to get their explanation.
Then I sat in the sun the courtyard, walked back downtown, and happened on the University of Heidelberg library. I looked up Th. Th. Heine, and in fact found a book of him with fairy-tales he'd written and illustrated in 1946. One of the stories had a drawing of the same 1900 "Devil" we'd admired in the Lehnbach Haus in Munchen! It's fun how well libraries work.
So, okay, then had lunch in a cafe by our hotel, joined by Audrey, and we got the cab to the station and got on this train that we are right now riding to Worms, sitting across from Audrey in a second class car.
"Say hi for the journal, Audrey." "What do you mean say hi. Put it away. Look out the window. Join the living."