We Just Change the Beat

Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
Trip End Sep 05, 2007

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Where I stayed
Ostella Olinda

Flag of Italy  ,
Saturday, June 16, 2007

(Milano, Friday, June 15, 2007)
-My people at c.s.o.a. COX 18 have brought me to Milano twice before, and this time I'm coming in to headline the Friday night show at their annual Free Festival. They've named the celebration "The Beat Goes On" with the title of my poem "We Just Change the Beat" appended in Italian: "abbiamo solo cambiato il ritmo," and they're staging it on the vast grounds of a former psychiatric institution operated by the Roman Catholic Church, abandoned by the Church some years ago and now converted into a sort of experimental arts center operated as the Museo Arte di Paolo Pini.

Mark Ritsema and I arrive at Milano Malpensa airport without Dr. Dorothy Goodman, who's trying to catch another plane out of Amsterdam after leaving her passport at the apartment and missing our scheduled flight-the one Mark and I just took to make the gig tonight. A frantic exchange of phone calls ensues as soon as we reach Milano: she has to buy a full-price round-trip ticket in order to reach Milano today. The flight for 5:00 pm doesn't materialize and there won't be another for several hours. The last call comes just minutes before Mark and I have to go on-stage and uses up the rest of my pre-paid telephone minutes just after I suggest that it's too late to make the gig and the people who were going to pick her up at the airport are now working at the festival and can't get away, and why doesn't she go back into Amsterdam and meet me in Roma on Sunday?

Now I'm out of telephone communication until (as it turns out) Monday in Roma, and that's the last I hear from Dr D until an e-mail is received a week later. It finds out then that she decided to disregard Italy altogether and fly back to the United States, and that's where she is for the duration. It was a beautiful and very deep and interesting thing we had between us for a year as two old people in love since we hooked up for real in New York City last June, but after today it will soon become clear that there's no way I can see any more of a future for the two of us together and I'll go on by myself again.

Okay, so much for the soap opera of my love life. With only the two of us here to fulfill the engagements I've booked for the three of us, Mark and I determine to make the most of it, and our performance at The Beat Goes On is as precise and fully realized-and as well received-as it's ever been. It's always exhilarating to please an audience that had no idea of what would happen when we started, and although the idea of a music & poetry performance is not a popular one, and certainly not what an entertainment audience is particularly looking for, we generally manage to win the people over, gain their applause and secure the opportunity to return to play for them again.

I love being in Italy with the old-time anarchists and resisters like the people at COX 18. The massive structure that holds the COX 18 collective was taken over more than 30 years ago, and the community with its culture of resistance that's grown out of the original bunch of punks who took over the building in the 1970s has an enviable coherence that extends through at least two generations of cultural and political activists who remain centered there.

Most of the COX 18 people seem to have day jobs of one sort or another, frequently centered in the graphic arts, communications and advertising industries, but they gather at COX 18 for nightly dinners from the communal kitchen, musical and cultural events, exhibitions and planning sessions for public activities like the Free Festival now underway at Paolo Pini.

They're the same kind of people we were in Detroit and Ann Arbor in the 1960s and '70s: activists who share radical ideas and have developed the means to carry them out. They run a City Lights bookshop, are adept in staging shows with professional sound and lighting, know how to print a poster and place an ad for an event, and keep an effective list of people to reach out to for whatever may be required at any given moment.

On hand at the festival are my friends Stefano and Giorgia from COX 18; my man Marco Lorenzin, who has organized my appearance there; my translator Guiseppe "Pippo" Pipitone, a noted author in his own right; the psychedelic artist, poet and historian Matteo Guarnaccia, who wrote the introduction for my Italian collection VA TUTTO BENE; and the great GianCarlo Mattia, whose mind-blowing Beat Hippie Autonomi Punk exhibit is on display on the grounds of Paolo Pini and who will introduce us on stage.

It's been raining all afternoon and evening in a steady drizzle, but by showtime the night is clear and everything is lovely. Tomorrow night will follow a beautiful day and the place will be packed for the special offering by an all-star group of venerable British musical weirdos comprising Daevid Allen (Gong), Hugh Hopper (Soft Machine), and Chris Cutler (Henry Cow), whose performance offers disparate thrills from beginning to end. On the grounds cartoons and musical short films are bring screened from clumps of kids and other viewers, sausages and other food is being cooked and served, and people are having a ball well into the wee hours.

Mark and I are staying in the spacious Ostella Olinda, the hotel conversion on the grounds that houses staff and guests. There's a restaurant across the promenade where we turn in our vouchers for meals, and on Saturday afternoon we sit down there with Marco and Pippo to record an interview that Pippo wants to use as part of the Italian version of THE DELTA SOUND. It came out so well that I added some music from the album and made in into an episode of my radio show:


John Sinclair Radio Show #138
Museo Arte di Paolo Pini, Milano
Saturday, June 23, 2007 at 6:00-7:00 pm [20-0718]

The COX 18 Free Festival in Milano is staged this year on the spacious grounds of a former Catholic psychiatric facility that's been converted into an experimental arts complex now known as Museo Arte di Paolo Pini. COX 18 Press is about to bring out an Italian translation of my blues work titled THE DELTA SOUND, with the CD produced by Andre Williams glued in the back, and they've named the festival after my poem "We Just Change the Beat"-or in Italian, abbiamo solo cambiato il ritmo. My translator, Guiseppe "Pippo" Pipitone, and Marco Lorenzin conducted an interview about the book on the grounds of the Paolo Pini on Saturday evening with my guitarist Mark Ritsema chiming in from time to time, I recorded it on my little digital machine and, when I got to Rome, edited it together with some cuts from THE DELTA SOUND to make this program. That's Jeff "Baby" Grand and Everette Eglin on lead & slide guitars, Bill Lynn on rhythm guitar, "Tricky Dick" Dixon or Mark Bingham on bass, Michael Voelker on drums, and the ladies from ELS on backing vocals with arrangements by my producer, the great Andre Williams.

Playlist #138
[01] John Sinclair & His Blues Scholars: We Just Change the Beat
[02] Long Conversation with John Sinclair & Guiseppe Pipitone re: FATTENING FROGS FOR SNAKES
[03] John Sinclair & His Blues Scholars: Cross Road Blues
[04] Long Conversation with John Sinclair & Guiseppe Pipitone re: FATTENING FROGS FOR SNAKES
[05] John Sinclair & His Blues Scholars: Pea Vine Blues

Hosted by John Sinclair for Radio Free Amsterdam
Recorded by John Sinclair at Museo Arte di Paolo Pini, Milano, June 16, 2007
Edited & assembled by John Sinclair at Forte Prenestino, Roma, June 28, 2007
Mastered & posted by Henk Botwinik
Executive Producer: John Sinclair
Special thanks to The Beat Goes On Festival, c.s.o.a. COX 18, Guiseppe "Pippo" Pipitone, Marco Lorenzin, Mark Ritsema, Antoniello "Rent" & Forte Prenestino
Sponsored by Hempshopper, Eat at Jo's, c.s.o.a. COX 18 & c.s.o.a. Forte Prenestino

2007 John Sinclair

Podcast by www.RadioFreeAmsterdam.com as #138 on July 16, 2007

-The Dolphins > Katsu
July 21-23, 2007
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