Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Magic Squares

Austria and Germany were made of magic squares. This one, part of the new Kaiser-Wilhelm Church, built to heal the old one halved in a 1943 bombing, was a slow-motion traffic light for us. 2 days later it marked the first stop on a treasure hunt for Finni's Father's long dead punk/metal loving cousin Franco: the green neoned ice-cream shop La Fontana steps below.

I was 16 going on 17, where the 54 winter hours I've spent watching the Sound of Music coalesced into a beautiful summer morning, waking up in the alps. "Soon a duet will become a trio!" Our first Austrian friend.

Our first day in Berlin began between the squares of the Holocaust Memorial - popped up like heaviness from nowhere - after a night reconnecting with Oberlin composer friend Jeremy Bernstein, who gorgeously ordered Thai in German. My stylish plastic nose bandage is courtesy of an Italian door post who I shared some words with the week before. The incident left me in the hospital with beautiful emotions rising like fog from my legs, and the desire to orchestrate my songs for the next album staring me down. I really felt like the body is nothing, and we are all connected. Later that night, I ate a fig from a winery tree and was so grateful nothing was broken.

Berlin is 1/2 a city from the past, 1/2 from the future, and 1/2 Williamsburg Brooklyn. I know that's 3 1/2s, but it's right for this almost imaginary city.

The Debutante Hour showed up breathless at the Down by the River Festival to the bright music of Crazy for Jane, who I was slowly recognizing from the hallways of my Chicago high school. Jeremy's sweetheart raved about a square for fashion finds, so after bathing in Debutante harmonies, we got on the U-Bahn and hopped through mini-rainfalls to find it. Long tired L-shaped trainrides back to Jeremy's, about-facing to trudge to a delectable white-leather lined nouveau German restaurant. It was in the same square!! Only a 10-minute walk!

An imperative spark our final morning to search for Franco. The neatly typed out address we had forgotten about in the 2-day Berlin whirlwind led us to the other side of the city, back to the glistening mosaic, and the soda-fountain below where Franco worked when he was last heard from in yearly postcards. The Italian owner emerged reluctantly from the hidden gelato depths to kindly tell us that Franco was alive and had a child, and worked at this pizza place - go there. The womanly voice on our Italian car navigator swung us through a grand tour of Berlin monuments and we pulled up. A jovial pizza maker told us "no, Franco works at the sister pizza parlor - go there." Back in the car like a movie, and I laughed "it'd be so funny if the restaurant was our magic square!" And at the last curve of the navigator, there we were. On the corner of the square at a pizza joint we had passed so many times without knowing. Rushed inside, and covered with tattoos there was Franco, ball of dough in hand.

Off to Wetzlar, where we met up with the Debutantes for saffron-lit paella before our sets at Cafe Vinyl, wettened by bacon-tasting beer and eyes still emotional from the morning. Fell asleep in a sunflower covered room in a house from 1650. Every room was different.

2 days of driving and a night of less-than-perfect-camping wiener-schnitzel brought us back to Padova, where the drum brushes were left behind at the Debutante's last minute No-Shoes recording session. They had to use little BluBrooms for our BluRadio show!

Finni as a zen zombie in The Debutante Hour Zombie video. I co-star as his pristine zombie wife.

My project with brilliant Italian Pianist/Singer Debora Petrina, NAKeD (NientAltroKeDonne, Nothing Else but Women) in Senigallia's Notte Bianca (White Night). The city was open all night, and we got to play a Yamaha grand at 2 am. Here's our kickass drummer, Cristina Atzori, who we picked up in Bologna on the way. Acclaimed contemporary dancer Nicoletta Cabassi of Parma graced the stage.

Wearing Debora's dress, I played my new song Lucertole, comparing lizard-embossed Italian floor tiles to a magic-square hand puzzle and facing an inner untrustworthiness, as she dropped marbles on the strings. A beautiful week. The bandage comes off Thursday.


  1. what amazing photos amy!!! wowowowowow!

  2. what an incredible storyteller you are! I look forward to every post you write...