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Fear and loathing in Germany: a World Cup diary


June 6, Amsterdam

Bruno the Bear is alive and well, according to the daily rags, and trampling the county side of Germany; he is the last of its kind because for some odd reason the Germans have not had a bear in their neck of the woods for hundreds of years. And, true to form, in order to keep order, a bounty has been set and hunters from all over the world are gathering, as well as us decrepit folks for the freak show they call WORLD CUP!

Name another event on this flaming bag of manure where a Jew, an Arab, a Mexican, a German, an American, an Italian, a Swede, a Costa Rican, a Korean, a Frenchman, an Englishman, and every other street freak in between can sit at a table over a pint and shoot the shit instead of each other. A genuine affection for not only the football but what is represents: humanity! A big, fat wet juicy screaming orgasm full of it. Fuck the Olympics. Fuck the Superbowl. 3 billion tuned into the last World Cup final. Case dismissed.

So, as I rinse my mouth of last night’s bitter remnants with the left over Johnny Walker because I couldn’t find any goddamn Jameson for cheap, I think, no, I feel, that I will be one of the lucky ones to actually see Bruno the Bear. Between the soul damning whorehouse visits, the street fights, the bars, the agonizing heart break of witnessing Team USA crash and burn in the tournament, I feel it is our destiny to meet, for we are one and the same, Bruno and I, the last of our kind: for I am a beast, the last of the great Brown Buffaloes, and Bruno is the last of the great brown bears. We will see…

June 7th-Amsterdam

Fighting horrendous sleep deprivation I manage to put on a bad drunk,  sloppily hit on every woman in the Flying Pig Hostel bar, and not care about any of it because I know I can get my fix fixed over in the red light district a five minute walk away and so therefore they can’t hold a fucking thing over my head and that feels so liberating, and I do so with a hot little Bulgarian number, 20 years old, then, manage to stagger home early, 4:30am, and wake up even earlier the next day with no side affects.

Amsterdam is great, my 5th run through, but let’s face it: this time around it’s serving as distraction before Deutschland. It’s like Vegas, really; 2-3 days and then you want to get the fuck out because you know yourself, and you damn well know you can easily die here from excess while going through thousands on booze and prostys.

June 8th, Amsterdam

High on hashish. Though my demons are the booze and the dames I bounced through the cafes, got ripped, then had the temerity to hit the Van Gogh Museum and discovered myself crying at every piece of the man’s work. Blubbering I was. Absolutely lost….

Ex-girlfriend, as if on cue, like she did for Korea/Japan World Cup ’02, starts to email me, discovering, I guess, that she can only stomach communication with me when I’m out of the country rather than when in the next town over. Ok, cool by me. In & out of each other’s lives for 15 years now. Christ, that’s longer than most fuckin’ marriages.

5am stumble into Red Light. Italian. 22 years old. Rock hard and pumping but no end result. She’s sweet about it, says, “Next time get it out of the way before you party.” Yeah, honey, heard that one a few times before.

June 9th, Amsterdam

Come to with a nasty-fuck-you-wish-you-were-beheaded-hangover. My body hits me with this type of unholy misery every so often as a reminder that I am not, despite my protests, a God, after all.

Tons of Americans pouring into town in Team USA jerseys. Spilling out of the Centraal Train Station in unison like our boys did 60 years ago as they came off those boats on the beaches of D-Day.

They’re smart. One day to get high, do the ol’ in-out, then, push on to Germany. That’s what I should’ve done. But I can’t quite do that. It’s the beast in me…

Talked to Joey via email. He’s still in Paris getting his shit together. We’ll meet in Cologne tomorrow afternoon. He said he has a bottle of Jameson ready for us to toast the upcoming madness.

Afternoon Red Light visit. Thai. 19 years old. Yes, I am a crude man!

Tonight must find public viewing area for the opening match: Germany v. Costa Rica. Or, a Dutch bar. Needless to say this city, nay, this entire fucking continent will be cheering on the Ticos.  (The Germans came out swinging though, thanks to their manager Klinsman, and wipe the Ticos all over the pitch 4-2. Fuckin’ brutal!)

Still need to work on my new book. Tomorrow…

Witnessed first brawl. One man, late-40s, taking on 4 others in their early-20s in a public square called the Leidensplien. Tables turned over, beers shattering on the ground, confused & slurred voices; broad daylight. The old dude connected on every single kid. They couldn’t quite comprehend the blithering madness of a true drunk unleashed. The old guy’s friends had to drag the old guy off before he killed those boys.

Which reminded me of a scene from last night. Terribly twisted on overpriced whiskey and cheap drugs I’m bopping out of the men’s room in the upstairs of a very loud bar when a huge fuckin’ Dutchman comes up to me. Think he wants to fight. I’m game. My right hand resting on an empty WC attendant’s chair.

“Hey, American! Come here! I want to tell you something!”

Oh Christ, here we go…

I grip the back of the chair, ready to swing, I am not a gentleman; I do not fight fair. I scream and bite and kick and flail about like a pent up buffalo. It’s not pretty. I say, “What’s up, man?”

He sticks his hand out for a shake, says, “Thank you for making my family free: my grandparents, my parents. Without you, I would not be here. Thank you!” Then, he hugs me, he’s in tears. Drunk, yes, but he knew exactly what he was doing.

I heard a lot of that too in Korea at the last cup and it’s a touching, passionate thing to hear and sad at the same time because we used to be such a great nation, doing actual good, doing the right thing for the right reasons. And now, and now…

June 10, Amsterdam Centraal Train Station

Morning Headline: Bruno in High Country Outside Munich.

Travel days are the worse. You sweat like an overheated buffalo, or bear, carrying all your shit on your back. No bellboys here. No 4-star service. It’s hotter than hell. You haven’t bothered to sleep for fear of oversleeping and missing the train.

Platform is crammed with football supporters in dreadfully loud boosters’ regalia, all headed to Germany on this stifling afternoon: Mexicans, Dutch, Irish, English, American, Brazilian. We wear our nation’s flags over our backs like Superman capes and have to jump tracks to the other side of the station when we’re told in typical clipped-European-fashion by a stray porter that our speed train to Cologne is leaving from an entirely different platform than the one clearly stated on the tote boards. And, it’s leaving in two minutes. With or without you. Is this dude high, or do we trust the Intel?

It takes a few seconds, then, thousands of voices cry out and we scamper off like drunks whose turn has come up to buy the next round, dragging roller luggage across shit-stained floors, crates of bottled beers, bags stuffed with cheesy souvenirs; sombreros and flags flap in the wind as we run and push each other out of the way through the tunnels, trampling the old and the weak and the very young. “Run you fuckin’ tourists! Run!” I can hear the porter laughing behind us, lighting up a spliff no doubt “Run!”

I throw first my large backpack, small daypack, Levi’s denim jacket, and cloth book bag into the wagon assigned for us second class folks and I follow suit just as the train jerks, then, lurches out of the station.

Bastards!

Cruising at 230 mph. happily find myself sitting with a cool German family back from holiday in New York. Mom, dad, & their hot, 25 year old daughter. We glance at each other coyly. I must engage.

Laughter. Teaching them words in English. They practicing the Spanish they picked up in the states. Then, more eye contact. She understands! Oh God I’m falling in love. What’s her name again? Katrina. I want to take her into the WC and make love on the sink.

Katrina! I can picture us making babies. Getting married. A whole new invigorating life for me in Europe. Fuck L.A.! I’m sick of it all! Time to shed skin! I want her innocence. Her passion. I want her to want me! Be my wife! Jesus-fucking-Christ! She’s the one! She’s the one! Finally! Oh-Christ finally!

2.5 hours later: Cologne. She lives here. Wait for her to say goodbye to parents as they push forward to Frankfurt. I’ll be in town two weeks, I’ll get her cell, ask her to dinner like a gentleman. She happily obliges. Cool! Call in a couple days.

Finding the “Station Hostel” is a bitch. Crap joint, but for 24 euros a night fuck it. And, Joey, true to his word, the original beast himself, the man who I joyfully allowed to lead me off the path a lifetime ago, is waiting in the room with a sack full of weed, a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey, and a lascivious smile.

Is that sulfur I smell?

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