Lonely Planet

Words fail me right now.
Anyone who has ever read my weblog will understand that I have a special gift in life, namely blurring the boundaries between what is unlikely and what is possible while traveling by air. This time, with a direct ticket from New York JFK to Paris CDG it’s only natural that I should end up in Toronto, right?
The concert I did a few days ago was obviously just an excuse for me to travel and therefore gather interesting and self deprecating little vignettes for me to entertain y’all with. You see, right now as I start to write this I’m sitting on the floor of a crowded airport terminal, in a small pool of my own tears. I’ve just been told I can’t fly home with the ticket that I have as it is invalid for travel and, as it is the one provided for me by the people who arranged my concert in Brooklyn, there’s not much I can do about it as I can’t raise them on my cell phone. Did I mention that my cellphone battery just ran out. Or, that they could let me on the plane if I gave them $2500. Or that I don’t have $2500. Or that the wi-fi in the terminal is temporarily down. Or that I am traveling alone with all my equipment and luggage which is less than manageable for one person. Or that I just paid $3 for a luggage cart with a wonky wheel that wants to go around in circles all the time. It goes on…

What to do? I’ve already returned my rental car so I’m a bit stuck at the airport. Umm, OK JFK… Airport hotel, I ask a shuttle driver to take me to the least expensive airport hotel. Fuck, $300.. I’m being held to ransom here, as well they know it. Ah well, at least I can get online. I’ll have a shower, get some food from the restaurant and get online to sort out a ticket.

me…. Excuse me, where’s the restaurant?

receptionist…. We don’t have a restaurant sir.

me…. Sorry, I think I misheard you, I’m retarded, it sounded like you said this $300 hotel doesn’t have a restaurant.

receptionist…. That’s correct sir, however we have a complimentary breakfast consisting of pissy american coffee and donuts with icing so thick you could wax your legs with it.

I ask, already knowing the answer, if there was a bar with little snacks in it but I was answered with a look which said ‘don’t be pathetic sir‘…

I got online, contacted the person responsible about my travel and secured a ticket to Paris via Toronto the next day. From La Guardia. Cab fare $40. I went to sleep and, well, I have to say it is probably the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on and my sleep was deep and refreshing, something I wouldn’t have thought possible given my loathing of spending so much money on something I couldn’t get years of use out of.

Now, recently traveling to South America with my wife I was reminded of how much easier life is for a young attractive woman than a middle aged man with too much luggage. She has such a lovely smile and manner that I feel sure she could smuggle a bomb onto a plane and have the security people carry it on board for her. All it would take is one little flutter of those eyelids or a few words in her charming foreign accent. She is forever getting free upgrades or not having to pay excess baggage charges all because she has a nice smile or so it seems. So with this in mind I thought I’d try it out myself at La Guardia, I mean it’s worth a try right, so I smiled my nicest smile at the security people, who led me off to a small room as I obviously appeared to be high. I was relieved of my toothpaste by an officious TSA officer. This, sort of, pissed me off and I spent the first part of my flight scheming revenge by thinking of witty acronyms for the letters emblazoned on her shirt, you know Totally Stupid Asshole and Toothpaste Security Agent, and the like but I soon tired of that and spent the rest of the flight wondering how to bring down an airliner with a tube of Crest Whitening should I be able to sneak one on next time.

I met a very cool rabbi on the plane, who said lots of prayers out loud as we took off. He explained to me that he prayed for safety, and I have to say, he’s rather good, as we landed without incident some time later. He asked me about living in France and I said my usual joke about it being nice but it would be better with less French people and he answered with the same for Israel. More room for the Palistineans then? I asked, just fucking witcha rabbi….He was cool though and I enjoyed talking to him. He was a kind of high tech rabbi as well as he had loads of consumer electronics, ipods, laptops, cell phones and stuff. And a big assed hat and curls. I’ll have to see if he’s on my space.

Last week my travel to the US had been mostly without incident, unless you call not being able to get on several flights and having to wait in the airport, without incident. I do nowadays. The low point of my eventual flight to New York was being seated exactly one row behind business class, having that curtain pulled over in front of my face to stop me seeing all those people up there getting champagne, food that looks like real food, blow jobs from the flight attendants and all of the other things you can have if you spend $12000 on a ticket. However I felt happy with my seat as I got to witness two old men trying to have a fistfight over the honour of one of their wives, whom the other had been, allegedly, kicking under her seat. It was like a John Wayne movie with things like ‘you will apologize to my wife right now, feller or I’ll bloody your nose’ and ‘the hell I will’. It was really funny and attracted the attention of all the flight attendants, well the ones not busy blowing the business class passengers, whose training had evidentially not prepared them for septuagenarian fisticuffs. If truth be told the wife was so disagreeably ugly that I wanted to kick her myself…

But to get back to my story, I had to wait a while in the airport in Toronto and got a introduction to Canadian culture while viewing TV in the lounge. The program was called Swimsuit Poker, or something of the sort, and featured girls with big breasts, in swimsuits, playing poker. This explains a lot to me about Canada.
I’m sure I gave Air Canada a bit of a bashing in a previous journal and it was probably for good reason. They have really, really uncomfortable planes, a strange thing for a national carrier. There are no-frills budget airlines in Europe with more comfort and facilities. Should there ever be another holocaust I’m sure Air Canada would get the contract for the transportation.

And now, well I’m back in Paris at the airport. Amazingly, my luggage arrived this time, albeit last on the carousel, which, naturally, made me miss my train back to Rennes by about 3 minutes. I have to wait 3 hours until the next one. I’ve a bit of battery left on my laptop so I’ll compose these words for you while it’s still fresh and before the tears dry up.
It’s now 36 hours since I left for the airport in NYC.

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20 Responses to “Lonely Planet”

  1. Robin, you should really become a writer. You really capture it well.

  2. The best rockstar blog ever – cos it’s so unrockstar – bridget in ohio wearing petal pusher pants

  3. edmur alencar Says:

    Someone should give you a private Jet.Perhaps a Cocteau Twins millionaire fan?
    you had better be prepared to play ‘from the flagstones’ more often,though.

  4. Yikes! my wife is a traveling musician as well and your story sounded all too familiar! not fun

    but how was the show!? that’s how I’d redirect my wife

    better luck!

    Stormy

  5. Mathieu Says:

    I finally got them… Exactly what I was looking for… Perfect complement to your previous works Thank you and Mr. Budd so much +++

    Mathieu

  6. At last im feeling a bit better about my recent trip to Jordan – i guess in a way we ultimately find ourselves in our own heads – just projected into new scenery! At least you weren’t trying to do all that in Arabic – This was very entertaining – it made my morning – all good

  7. Oh Robin – that was the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. I get the self-deprecating humor, but you kind sir, have mastered the art of reducing me to a pile of laughing tears. I’m glad that you were able to bring out some fun from what was obviously an ordeal on top of ordeal…

  8. When I fell for Cocteau Twins in 1984 at university, I did not know that someday in my middle age I’d be at my Mac at work, entertained by the travel travails of that band’s guitarist, Robin. It feels like an old friend.

  9. GOD ROBIN,

    Little did you know, but you were secretly being filmed on this trip and the footage is going to appear in Borat II. Surprise!…I myself am currently in the Miami airport, on my way back to Boston for a couple of days. I arrived at 7:20 am, after having getting ZERO sleep on my redeye from Lima. Clearly we have the same “special gift.” Please amuse me and allow you recount the highlights of my trip thus far: -Having been in the US for an hour now, I’ve already collected ample reminders of why the US is so AWESOME: for one, I got to watch an already morbidly obese woman devour a Chicago style pizza the size of a newborn baby in the period between 8 am to 8:15 am.

    -Thirty minute ride in cab to airport in Lima is, as usual, terrifying beyond belief with my driver leaning over the passenger seat to lock the doors and roll up the window as we enter yet another, amongst an infinite set of new, scary neighborhoods. After saving us from the possibility of a carjacking, he proceeds to drive on the wrong as well as the right side of the street at unpredictable intervals for the remainder of the ride. But VICTORY. I’ve saved $2.50 by hailing a cab off the street instead of ordering one by phone.

    -A street juggler appears at an intersection in an especially terrifying neighborhood, performing for tips. I go over the various ways in which juggling pins can be used as weapons to force open a taxi window and beat the hapless passenger. Afterwards I realize that I’d spent five minutes obsessed with the idea that I was going to die in the hands of a Lima street clown

    -Plane, per usual, is late departing Lima forcing me to miss my connecting flight in Miami. I’ve got five delicious hours to pore over important news in the US, which right now centers around Paris Hilton’s traumatic stay in jail, where she wasn’t allowed makeup.

    -Desperate for something to read, I paid $15 for what turned out to be the most offensive piece of shit book ever, written by a young Chinese
    author, Wei Hui called “Shanghai Baby.” This piece of work includes brilliant metaphysical insights into, you know, humanity. To wit: “At the airport Flying Apple and I kissed a hasty good-bye that left my lips wet. Many gay or bisexual men have a special fuzzy sort of tenderness that one finds in small animals, but I’m always aware of the AIDS risk.”

    -Find somewhere to store my new $15 dollar whip, I mean, *book* so that I can flagellate myself with it in on the way back to Lima.

    -Find out that I am as unintelligible in Miami as I sometimes am in Peru after ordering a lemonade ice tea (in English) and getting a ice tea that tastes like a blueberry muffin.

    -Watch a really scientifical story(?) on the ubiquitous TVs displaying CNN in the waiting lounges about, like, how hot the car gets when you
    sit in it during the summer after 5, 10, 15, AND 20 minutes. Conclusion: it’s hotter after 20 minutes…
    Oh, you’ll hear from me after I return to Lima. I mean, that is, if I haven’t died after choking on all the puke that’s accumulated in my mouth. Kiss kiss and one for Flo, too (after I’ve rinsed my mouth from the puke, of course.) Tien-Ann

  10. What a ride!!…. why the hell did they charge that much? was the bed sheets made of gold silk??.. I just hate when they charge for the sake of stupid luxury…
    Big hugs!

  11. vanderlei Says:

    I really liked what you said about business class passengers getting blown by the flight attendants, because I have already thought it myself. Once I heard a flight attendant saying that at the some point during the flight she had to do a “social” (which she meant talking to some passengers), well I envisioned her doing something else. I saw her on her knees going down on some passenger, that would be fun to watch.

  12. witty travel stories, sarcastic humour, beard, middle age – has anyone else noticed that Robin has been replaced by Bill Bryson…?

  13. Mais enfin Robin… what did you expect? A ‘restaurant’ in a 300 US dollar hotel in New York City? You’ll need to cough up a roundtrip business ticket (and you know the price) if you want a restaurant in your hotel. btw, what was your room number?

  14. Any “w/vocals” albums in the works? What ever came of the John Foxx stuff?

  15. Spandexxx Says:

    Saw your performances in South America, they’re lovely.
    Put it on record, hire Liz, make something extremely meaningful,
    for Christ’s sake. Get your ass to work and stop fighting your destiny. It can only become eternal, geez!
    There’s nobody else in the universe that can do this but you guys.
    GRRRRRR

  16. Lucy Belle Says:

    LOL 😀 you don’t have much luck, do you? Especially when in America, it seems

  17. I forgot all about you for almost two months, when all of a sudden my wife sends me an email saying there is some new music you did with Harold Budd. With that dangerous bit of knowledge in hand, I mosey on over to your little blog and have one hell of a giggle! Your travel experiences slay me.

    I can’t say that I envy you in the least, but I am pretty sure you and I have become special favorites of a certain TSA agent. That bitch!

    Alas, stay strong, and remember, there’s a rabbi somewhere that’s praying for many safe takeoffs and landings!

    Craig

  18. made me want to start calling and emailing Airlines and complaining how unfair it is that I don’t GET to suck at MY job. so why is it so routinely ok for THEM?

  19. Isabel Sabina Says:

    Sigh.. I told you, our coffee is piss. Sorry to read about your troubles, but this story does make me laugh. Oh the glamorous life of rock stars.. 😉

  20. oh god, Robin!!!! please reunite with the cocteau twins i know legions of us fans wants to see you guys back in action …im wondering all this time…now that it has been a decade..do you guys still imagine what new soundscape the three of you could have created?

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