Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wibble Iggle

The painter indicated the way to the canteen.  The deal was a cake and a coffee, white tile surroundings, and he also brought a composer. This was the painter’s happiest moment, a one euro coffee and cake in the Hema (Dutch five and dime) at 16:00. I’d rushed to be there. “You made it!” The painter beamed with pleasure.

Okay so the painter lives in a studio filed with boxes of paintings.  A set of four large cardboard boxes grouped together with a sheet over them is placed smack in the middle of his one room low rent abode. It’s clever because by putting everything in the middle, we can all move around the parameters of the space.  The painter needs a canteen to hold court.

We chatted the usual artist nonsense, this and that, and then parted ways after mild refreshment. An agreement had been made, a completely profitless contract, thus we decamped, the painter to paint, the composer to work on his cello and piano piece, and me to practice the national anthem of the United States of America and the Netherlands.  “You’ll send me the poem?” The composer asked for confirmation after we all had dutifully inspected the reduced prices, the yellow stickers at 17:00, in the grocery department. “I already hear the rhythm,” he hummed and snapped his fingers, “we’ll dedicate The Canteen Song to The Painter.”

“You are not being observant,” the violinist hissed at me.  “He said he only ate sweet potato chips in outer space.” I had been inspecting the sweet potato packages on the display table in the garden tent for gluten, and hadn’t noticed the extremely tall person standing next to the table and anyway he spoke to the higher altitudes, not me down below. “What oh what is his name?” my friend tapped her finger, “not Wibble Iggle,” (the Dutch do have funny names and this one is actually Wubbo Ockels) “no, no…something else.”

“The more famous Dutch astronaut?” A colleague reiterated a part of my question, having ruled out Wubbo Ockels. “Apparently he makes a mint by endorsing products.”

It was pouring outside the tent, we finished our set of national anthems and slogged over the swampy grass out of the Ambassador’s residence and made our way back to the van. Time for my next gig: The Bee’sTour of with Vinita Book Launch. It’s taken three years to get this book out.  “They (the stores) want the guide book too.” What? “I told you that it was still a product we can sell.” We are now updating the guide book for a new printer.

I sent my Canteen Poem to the composer.  “Very nice,” the Brit returned to me. In other words he hated it.

Everybody Spend Two Euro in Your Own Borough
 
“Use the other door,”
The note instructed
8 am struck the staff
White flutter
Dark cafe front
Down in the alley
“It’s humid.”
 
Refrain:
 
Where do you go
To get away
Get lost in a it’s-crumbsy-cake-crowd cloud
And start your day?
The Everybody Canteen
Everybody say Yeah!
Say Two Euro
In your own Borough!
 
The café staff instead
Turned down the alley
Trouping cheeks towards the canteen
As Marxist primates to a tree,
Away from jammed doors
And pee stained drain pipes,
They ordered the two euro breakfast –
 
Lo! So mighty armed,
A corporation above all other
Earthly issues, the breakfast,
A wheaty waving first floor fortification
Tea tray pretty Elysian euro white tiled field
Battles the Soggy Future below with orange juice,
A bun, a Viennoise; a coffee, a handicapped neighbor.
 
Refrain:
 
Where do you go
To get away
Get lost in a it’s-crumbsy-cake-crowd cloud
And start your day?
The Everybody Canteen
Everybody say Yeah!
Say Two Euro
In your own Borough!





“Do you know that place next to the Rembrandt House?” Joseph Segaran inquired at the A Sample of Gouda book launch. “They sell alternative publications.” I just mentioned to him that I had found an old mimeographed (I had to explain what a mimeograph was to the young folk) edition which had been stapled together and sold as a chapbook in the early 70’s.  “I always mean to buy something and be supportive, but I can never bring myself to like any of the crap.”


“Have you got any feedback about the book?”  I asked Vinita. 


“People say it looks much better than the first one.”


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