The first show was at a club in Milan called Tournè and I forgot to put away the power supply for my video projector which is a unique cable, too may things to remember. I check my passport and wallet maybe 3 times an hour plus try to confirm all my cables, instruments, accessories and bag of clothes. I’m so disappointed I forgot the projector cable, freaks me out such a basic mistake on the very first show.
Stefano had a hard time, people didn’t stop talking during his set in fact they spoke even louder in order to hear themselves over him. He started to give them shit at one point but telling off an audience is sort of like being on the Titanic and cursing the water as you descend. Fuck you fucking water!
Before I started my set he took me aside and apologized for the crowd, he thought I was going to receive the same treatment. He didn’t know I have a secret weapon – movies. Actually movies and experience. The audience laughed/cried exactly in the spots I hope all audiences do. It was like the best of shows anywhere. Made friends afterward with a young musical couple, I asked the woman what kind of music she makes,
“Eat ease dark soul” she said.
When I landed I spent the first 3 days at his apartment, often when I enter his room, which is also where I sleep on a cot donated by the Marquis de Sade, I would find him in front of the computer admiring his publicity shots. He’s a chain smoker as is his girlfriend as is his room-mate Massemillian. I have been coughing a lot since getting here impossible to relax or fall sleep. The place hurts my chest. The car is an old Renault, messy with permanent smoke stench. I’m grateful I brought along oil of oregano and a herbal respiratory concoction because they give me temporary relief or maybe it’s simply a placebo I’ve grown accustomed to. That night after playing Tourné we return to his room to go to sleep and his girlfriend joins us. She is very pleasant for a chain smoker and a talented photographer who wears lipstick to bed and surprisingly is capable of sleeping through Stefano’s smoker hacks and his unique loud air-sucking-through-plugged-nose sounds at regular intervals except a couple times he checks his promo shots again.
Before laying down he told me tomorrow we must leave by 2pm for Genova. By 1pm the next day he says we should leave instead by 4 and at 4 he says 5:30. I remind myself this guy is saving me at least fifteen hundred dollars for not renting a car plus we are splitting costs 50/50, I’m chill. Finally we leave and I experience his driving. Turns out he is in an action adventure movie and by default so am I. My trembling and sweaty forehead are dead giveaways. He assures me I should not worry all Italians drive like this. He talks a lot on the telephone while driving too. I caution him I have been in car accidents and known people who have died and it’s very important he be sensitive to driving safely. He is unimpressed but thrilled that I brought a gps because he doesn’t use maps and has no idea how to get to where we are going. It’s obvious he is a textbook case of inexperienced guy needing to act as though he has done it all, a nightmare of immaturity, a child-man. Maybe one day he’ll buy a Trump for President bumper sticker.
But the upside is considerable. He has a car and speaks better English than most. He translated some of my lyrics with which I subtitle my films, the results are great, the audiences understand my songs, serious or humorous. He mulls over the differences in how people express ideas in Italian vs. English and takes pride in trying to get it accurate. I am grateful for that and I try to be encouraging when he shares his future plan to move to England with his girlfriend and become a rock star. Stefano sings slow guitar and harmonica songs with heavily accented English. It’s still a week before he will explain to me that Eddie Vedder is the greatest artist of all time. He tells me about an Australian woman who complained about people who couldn’t sing in English very well. He was deeply offended. Best not to share my intuition regarding him singing English in England and the possibilities of molto indifferencio.