JUNE 21, 2001 E.V. (SUMMER SOLTICE)
Fragments of a European diary,
While I originally planned on attending this festival in Germany, I became side-tracked by a cryptic e-mail I received days earlier by a personage who identified himself by the code-name "Yellowfruit." Yellowfruit enquired if I had planned on visiting Amsterdam during my trip to Europe and, if so, he should like to meet with me in order to discuss the occult subject matter authored by Frater Ijynx which was recently posted on Tool's Dissectional site. Since Yellowfruit was the only person to date to contact me about this piece entitled "THE TRUE COMPOSITION OF DEATH, OR, OF THE TRUE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE" which deals with certain esoteric aspects of the P.U.P. Lodge, I decided to meet with him on my second day overseas.
Apparently Yellowfruit liked playing games, and suggested that since I was good at solving puzzles, I should have little difficulty in finding him in Amsterdam. I was given a time for our meeting, but not the location, - only that it was somewhere in the heart of the Red-Light District. Coincidently, the next day I received a call from the band members who were in Amsterdam, drinking Dom while celebrating Lateralus' number one slot on the Billboard charts. During the conversation, Danny mentioned that earlier in the evening they had gone to an adult club called "The Banana Bar" in the Red Light. In this club, women performed tricks with bananas - the kind of thing Clinton would probably enjoy - with those patrons drunk enough on the all-you-can-drink Heineken later partaking of the sweet yellow fruit. With this revelation, I instantly knew where to meet my friend; in fact, I thought the whole think might just be a joke perpetrated by Danny (or Maynard) to get me into this den of wickedness. After being assured that it wasn't, I began to wonder just what Yellowfruit really wanted to talk about. First of all, his choice of code-names was not all that original. I remembered back in the 1980s when a caller into the Billy Goodman radio show (KVEG in Las Vegas) used the same handle. This particular "Yellowfruit" was a whistle-blower on the strange going-ons at AREA 51, which included, so the caller claimed, the reverse engineering and testing of alien spacecraft by certain factions of the US government. So, although "my" Yellowfruit stated that he wanted to discuss the Dissectional piece, I couldn't help but wonder if this was really more about UFOS. In the previous newsletters, I had written about Danny's and my own experiences in "Dreamland."
The idea of this meeting being about ETs was further reinforced by another strange piece of UFO lore that I recalled from days past. This was the connection between interstellar travelers and the seemingly mysterious origins of the banana. According to writers like Erich von Daniken, as well as other proponents of the ancient astronaut theory, the banana is not indigenous to our planet earth, but was introduced here by an alien species. In his book, "The Gold of the Gods", von Daniken asks us to consider how the sweet tasting banana came to be. He points out that the banana bush or tree "simply does not exist." Instead of multiplying by seeds, the banana reproduces itself by SUCKERS from a perennial herb - the fruit, itself, being sterile and unable to produce a plant from the tiny seeds inside. Therefore, how did it make its way to so many tropical regions, he asks in typical von Daniken fashion? He then goes on to describe the Indian legend of the Kandali (banana bush), which the beings known as Manu bequeathed to the earth from their home planet among the stars.
According to the more conventional way of thinking, the sweet yellow banana we are all now quite familiar with is indeed a mutant strain that somehow sprang from plantains first introduced by the Romans from Africa around 63 B.C. It was first discovered in 1836 by a Jamaican who noticed that one of his trees had produced yellow fruit rather than the normal green and red varieties (never mind that there were strange lights seen in the area). This he soon began to cultivate and imported (Erich) to other tropical locales.
From Paris, my traveling companions and I take a rented mini-van to the Netherlands, an amazing feat considering what we did to our last French rental (See La Tour Magdala for details). Once in Amsterdam, it was a simple matter to find DE BANANENBAR (The Banana Bar), one of the oldest erotic clubs in the center of the Red Light District. At the appointed time, I paid my 75 guilders and stepped inside the joint where four woman were enjoying their bananas as patrons encouraged them on (although they didn't seem to need any encouraging) - the whole lot probably unaware that those bananas they were toying with had been brought here from another star system many light-years away, and not for the intended purpose I was witness to - but, then again, hell, one never knows about these things - maybe it was. As I reluctantly drank my second draft Heineken from a sticky, banana-besmeared glass poured by one of those ladies so intent on getting back to her business at hand (pun intended, but the problem was that I didn't see any condoms on them there nanners), Yellowfruit" finally showed up, recognizing me from a photo on the web-site. Immediately, I realized I was in for more games. There was a reference made to the Latin phrase abbreviated as V.I.T.R.I.O.L. and mention made of a strange sentence in Crowley's LIBER LI, "THE LOST CONTINENT" in which it is said that "the pavements were rough and broken almost everywhere (in Atlantis) for a reason which I am not permitted to disclose." This is a reference to the ZRO that the Atlanteans mined, which the authors of RED FLAME # 6, "THE FOOLISH ISSUE" poked fun at (methinks thou protest too much) in their parody of Crowley's 1947 diaries. By the way, don't look for any answers to this cryptic statement in Disney's new flick.
Eventually my friend came to the point. There were, he believed, certain symbols that would be of great interest to the P.U.P. on the walls in a coffee shop called DE ROKERIJ.
Before checking this out, I thought I might take a gander at the rest of the Red Light District. And gander I did - at the rows of neon-splashed glass with its merchandise openly on display. I'm sure I'm not the first nor will I be the last to exclaim, "What the f*** is that woman doing in that window"! I'm also sure I'm not the first nor shall I be the last to almost walk into the canal while looking at the other semi-clad women in the windows on the opposite side of the street. Again, I reiterate, what the f*** are these women doing here - scores (literally hundreds) of beautiful Nordic blondes and other exotic flavors which can be had for 100 guilders (about $45.00 US). After seeing this, I shall never look at Las Vegas the same, nor consider it to be the center of civilization on earth. Dumbfounded, I began to wander around the Red Light, looking for the freakin' CUCUMBER BAR... checking out my reflection in all that glass with its gorgeous prostitutes inches away, and knowing damn well, that I was going to miss Tool's next show in Nurnburg (and maybe the entire tour). And to think of those poor lost souls, the Pennsylvania Dutch-Amish stuttering and stammering in the light-bulb shop! I'd think about tossing the black hat and getting a suitcase, my friend. (NOTE: I remember a grade-school field trip to Amish country - those masturbators of the cornfields - who shunned technology and creaked along in their horse and buggy in front of our new-fangled bus. Well, didn't it ever occur to them that the buggy with its wheels IS a technology? Sorry for that uncalled for outburst, but I'm jonesin' for another night in Amsterdam.)
HOURS LATER (many hours) - COFFEESHOP DE ROKERIJ
Just off the Leidseplein, De Rokerij is one of some 400 licensed coffee shops in Amsterdam - licensed, that is, to sell cannabis and hash to its appreciative patrons. Before leaving the city, we visited a dozen or so of these shops, but always returned to De Rokerij for a nightcap of sorts. Perhaps this was because they had Heineken on tap, and not just coffee and juices. Also, there was the thing with the Remy Martin. When I ordered a round, the cute Dutch girl first swirled hot water in the brandy snifter in the order to kill the fumes - the proper way to serve cognac. As I sipped my Remy among the piquant fumes of hash mingled with eastern incense, I took stock of the surroundings - Moroccan and Indian décor, but no sign of the symbols I was told to look for. While seated at the bar, my friends walked over to the booth in the back corner where an assortment of buds and hash could be purchased. Also there were the needed accessories, pipes and clean bongs for the patrons' use. They opted for the "Silvermist", a Sativa that promised to be most enjoyable. (NOTE: During the next couple of days they tried to locate some of the rarer varieties - rare even in what has been called a "stoner's Disney World."
It was by the booth in the back of De Rokerij that I discovered the occult symbols. Most of these were variations of the seals and sigils from texts like "The Greater Key of Solomon", "The Goetia", and "The Grimoire of Armadel", but in one location, a spot that almost escaped detection; I found what my friend had sent me to view. When more people successfully navigate Dissectional and view my piece on the subject, I will write about the significance of this seal, but for now, I would rather remain silent. By the way, De Rokerij recently won a Cannabis Cup for the best décor.
MON, JUNE 4 - HOL, PINKPOP FESTIVAL
On the way back to the hotel (with that Limp Bizkit song still in my head), I was tempted to grill him on what he knew about strange aerial phenomena, in particular those mysterious black triangles (stealthy dirigibles constructed of areofoam?) that were first witnessed in Belgium, not far from where we now were. Scientists meeting in Maastricht. Black triangles over Belgium. Coincidence?
Maynard greets the cheering crowd with a Napoleon Bonaparte impression and a toast of French champagne. During this show, I get my first chance to hear the band perform "Disposition" and "Reflection." Both were wonderfully done, but it was Reflection that impressed me the most as it was accompanied by stunning visuals which I hope more people in America will get a chance to see. My hat's off to Camella who runs the projections in a manner that makes every show unique, visually speaking. Also, they do "Parabol" with Maynard's hypnotic vocals entrancing certain female members of the audience - this instead of them taking off their tops - I'm not sure if this is the right approach... only to have their reverie shattered by "Parabola." The effect of the two together was much more intense than the shorted set with "Parabola" by itself as was the case at Pinkpop.
From Paris, we try to figure out how to get to Dublin, Ireland. We have been told many different ways, with several modes of transportation, but all seem confusing to us from Southern California. We are to take a bullet train to the coast and another train under the channel to England. From some station or such in England we find a ride to London. There, we are to rent a car and drive across the English countryside to the coast where we put the car on a ferry that takes us to Ireland. From the harbor in Ireland, we are to drive our rental car to Dublin. Goddamn, I even think there was a bicycle and a hay-wain involved in this somewhere. Instead: from the airport in Paris we catch a short flight to Dublin for a $120.00 (duh, and we'd been trying to figure this out for weeks). Having beaten the band to Dublin by nearly a half of a day (and they left the following night while we were asleep in our hotel room in Paris), we were already firmly ensconced at the bar at the Berkeley Court when the bus pulled in around ten at night.
Thus began a series of rounds of the black stuff or stout, ending with an epic game of Yahtzee in Justin's hotel room. As we ordered more rounds of Guinness from room service, the action lasted until the sun came up. It was time to call it quits when Danny dialed room service and asked if he could buy six pints of Guinness and charge them to another room - instead of asking if he could charge them to HIS room. One thing about this night later struck me as being funny. We had befriended a young fan of the band in Dublin through the website and arranged to meet him in the hotel. His name was Kevin and he wound up hanging with us for most of night. When we later went up to Justin's room, instead of occult rituals or whatever he imagined the band members were into, he found himself playing Yahtzee. Of course, we warned him not to reveal this to anyone - under the penalty of death.
The next day we take a grand tour of the city of Dublin. We see Oscar Wilde's house, that major influence on Crowley's early poetry. We see the Guinness factory, that major influence on Wilde's poetry. I miss seeing the "Book of Kells" by 10 minutes. Oh well, it's only the world's most beautifully executed illuminated manuscript. Think I'll go back and have some more black stuff before the show starts.
This time I watch the show from the area where Camella runs the projections. "Reflection" is even more intense, with Adam drawing cheers as he repeats a droning guitar riff while the other band members leave the stage for the intermission. During the intermission, the Schism video is played for the enthusiastic crowd. In the second set, I notice that Danny does more with his tabla samples in the intro to "Parabol" then he did at the last show. Backstage afterwards, Adam presents us with a potent decoction of potato whiskey, the Irish equivalent of "moonshine." After a final Guinness chaser, we seek shelter on the tour bus. This was to be our "room" for the night and transport to Scotland. Inside the bus, the band members have a late dinner of Indian Vindaloo; Danny and Justin seated up front with Jimi Hendrix blasting on the speakers as Adam and Maynard hang out in the back, watching "Full Metal Jacket." As the Hendrix tracks fade out, I can hear Sergeant Hartman screaming obscenities at "Pyle." As the next Hendrix track begins, I still hear the drill instructor loud and clear. Too clear. This turns out to be Maynard doing a perfect impression of the Sergeant. He had come to get a jelly doughnut to eat during that famous scene. After most band members retire for the night, I stay up, scanning the desolate countryside of Northern Ireland for strange lights, hoping to see a crop-formation in the making - my vigil interrupted from time to time by Justin who wants to know, in all seriousness, if I'm still on saucer watch. Nothing to report on this night I tell him. I guess foot and mouth has even scared away the aliens. Hours later the bus is driven onto a ferry that takes us to Scotland.
When we arrive at the hotel in Scotland, members of Godsmack and Limp Bizkit (so I'm told) are also trying to check in, causing the guy at the reception desk to damn near have a nervous breakdown. Tool checks in without any problems and then dash off in a van to do a photo shoot with Scarlet Page (Jimmy's daughter) at Rosslyn Chapel. During their absence, we try to decide what to drink. The obvious choice is whiskey, so we sample a few as we wait for our room. Somewhere between the drop of the creature....
... we are treated to yet another performance by the band. This time I watch the show from amongst the crowd.
I pay particular attention to Justin's bass playing as he utilizes effects pedals that would make Jimi Hendrix proud. After the show, there is a grand party in the hotel bar. Me, my friend Mike and Justin are the last to leave, but not before giving yet another Hendrix CD a good work out.
As the band boards the bus for Manchester, we take a train to Edinburgh. From the train station, we find a cab to take us to Rosslyn Chapel, some eight miles south of the city. Having for many years studied the esoterica associated with it, Rosslyn was high on my list of priorities.
For me, the most interesting thing in the church was the tomb marker (or burial stone) lying against the north wall. This contained the depiction of a grail chalice and floriated cross - both Templars symbols. There was also a Latin inscription "ET RELIQUA", meaning "and the remains" or "and relics", a link, perhaps, to the very name of the chapel, Rosslyn or "Rosy Stream" (of a particular bloodline?)
From Edinburgh we take a train to London, having decided to skip the Manchester show. This will allow me to have a full day's lead on Danny for book hunting in Charring Cross. (NOTE: as it turned out, Dan and several crew members suffered from food poisoning, with Dan playing the Manchester show in great pain.)
I had warned him not to try the haggis in Scotland (a blood sausage boiled in a sheep's stomach), but he didn't listen to me. The next day, I hire a local detective, Simon Iff Jr. to find out where members of a certain band were at the time of his food poisoning.
After checking into a hotel, we set about the task of finding a good Indian restaurant. Right next to the hotel was "The Bombay Brasserie" which had the best curry I have ever perspired. Over the next couple of days we were to sample many curries, but none as good as our first choice. No longer hungry, it's now time to search for books. As luck would have it, we spot a flyer advertising an antiquarian book fair in London. After several cab rides and my first foray into the London underground, I finally reach the building where said fair is happening... ten minutes after it has closed. That Danny Carey is a lucky bastard.
With Danny feeling like his old self, the next morning we hit Charring Cross. As he peruses the shelves of used books, I wander downstairs into a room where they keep the good stuff - a room filled with dust and musty cardboard where you just might find yourself eye to eye with a brown recluse. Having searched for twenty minutes without any hits, I inform Danny about this room. Within minutes he pulls out the only Crowley 1st in the place, a battered copy of "Hail Mary" that silverfish had feasted on for decades, but a rare Crowley 1st edition nonetheless. Horrified that I missed this, I settle for a 70s reprint that I didn't have, knowing that this was not the fix this bibliomaniac needed. Later that afternoon, I return to the place, trying to convince myself that there is still buried treasure to be found amongst its numerous yellowed volumes. But it's not to be - I missed my chance.
Next we head to the British Museum to have a look at The Rosetta Stone. For those who don't know, this is a stone of black granite with inscriptions in three languages that enabled Champollion to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs. As we check it out, I understand that Adam has gone in search of the Bog-man in another building. Afterwards, I take another cab to the London Embankment to have a look at Cleopatra's Needle, the Egyptian obelisk acquired by the British from its home in Alexandria. This was the site where Crowley presented copies of his "Equinox of the Gods" to representatives of various "races" of the world in the dawn of December 23, 1937.
Burnt out from a hectic day of book hunting and museums, my brother and I have a nightcap in the hotel bar. When we finish, the barkeep informs us that they are closing, but if we required another drink there was a secret "honesty bar" on one of the floors above us. Deciding that we could stand one more drink, we take the elevator up to check out this mysterious place of "honesty." Inside, we are pleasantly surprised. No mini-bar, this turns out to be a spacious room with elegant décor including couches, tables and a fireplace. At this time of night the place is quiet. There are only a couple of women having a glass of wine in the corner.
The room's centerpiece is the bar - a large, fully stocked bar - only without a bartender. Instead there is a sheet of paper upon which patrons are to write down what they have taken. What the f***! Despite our initial glee at such a whimsical place, our plan is still to have a single drink and then crash out. As we eye the vast selection of liquor in this fairyland, from the corner of my eye I see a door start to open. This happens in slow motion. My first thought was that one of the hotel's employees is checking on our "honesty." But then the face resolves itself in the dim light. It's Justin and two lady friends who enter the secret bar shouting in unison, "YEAHHHH!!!" After four "wicked" bottles of champagne and two "wicked" bottles of wine, we retreat to our bright, sunlit room.
For a change of pace, we decide to watch this show from the very last row of seats in the building. As the band gets ready to take the stage, someone walks up and sits down next to me. This turns out to be Lateralus producer David Bottrill who I haven't seen since the recording sessions. Seconds before the band goes on, he receives a phone call informing him that the band has reserved a seat for him closer to the stage. Another great show ends with a powerful version of "Lateralus", quickly becoming one of our favorites in the set. Afterwards there is party backstage thrown by the record company. We go back for a couple of beers at which time we decide to catch a cab for Heathrow to fly home. Before we leave, we run into Adam who asks us if we would mind taking something back to the states for him. This is a plaster statuette replica of one of the figures in Rosslyn chapel that he purchased in the gift shop. We will be glad to take it back to L.A. for him, we reply. Today this statuette remains in my living room, covered with bubble-wrap inside the gift shop bag. Every night since I've been back, before going to bed, I wonder just what it is that we smuggled out of the country for him.
So there you have it: sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll.
Photos by Duncan Blake.
Before signing off, I would like to thank the guys for letting us hang out with them in Europe. I would also like to thank Pete, Rick and Sam. And of course Camella, Sabine, Robin and Ariadne for helping out strangers in a strange land. Last, but not least, thanks to Vickey and Kipling for holding down the fort in our absence.