If there are typos, it is because it is sunny outside the Cafe in Basel I’m posting from. And the IPAD screen is not perfect. Will sort out from Strasbourg.
We stay low in Baden, leave the youth hostel and wander around the grand, sometimes faded, hotels and baths. Last night we have heard that the business is failing, the hotels not doing so well. We wander in and out of places, they are reminiscent of some lost dream of European something. The only parallel I can give is that it feels like an episode in that French novel, Le Grand Meuaulnes. Something lost and present simultaneously. Hidden, fine dining rooms. Flower-strewn atriums. The baths. The “Inhalatorium”. Like a mid 90s nightclub designed by Damien Hirst. Steep paths and modern elevators. It is hard to say if this is a failing industry, or if baths always feel like this. Whatever Tom’s state of arousal when witnessing the Bath-Antics; and however C19th Zurich men treated Baden as Protestant Release Mechanism; it feels new age enema-healthy. A man tells Norbert that there’s been big new investments. Things are moving.
We move on.
For the other novel I could mention would be the magic mountain, Thomas Mann’s consumption hotel classic. My pan-European smoking experiences of the pervious night have rendered me Mann-esque. At an apothke close to the barnhof, hey, I buy Nicorette. And water at the station while we wait for Roli on the 11.20 from Zurich. He’s the third musketeer for today.
You know that those smoking gums are owned by the cigarette companies, don’t you, Norbert says. They like to make money at every stage of the consumption process.
Roli arrives at 11.20, just as the time-table said. At a book-launch in Basel a few days later I’ll hear that, amazingly, not all Swiss trains run on time. But the failure rate is ridiculously low.
It’s a short walk today, 12 kilometres or so to Brugg. Bridge. Tom called it Brucke. We set off and detour after about eight seconds when Roli sees a poster for an art show in Baden. PipiLotti Rist at the Museum Langmatt. Off we go.
Classically the museum holds a fantastic collection of impressionist art; the usual suspects and unusually, less well known, so. The rooms are preserved from a fin de siecle time and are suitably grand. Pipilotti has installed herself into these rooms with lights, videos, sounds. More than installed, she has immersed new technology with the old, it is like a small version of the Frick in New York being populated with arty YouTube. A woman suddenly screams across a dining table; bookcases become living things, lamps sing, a woman swims across a river that is cascading across a wall-full of Impressionist Gems.
The curator said it took four weeks of intensive build. And months and months of conceptualising as PipiLotti decided what pieces to make, and where they would fit in the domestic arrangements of the Museum Langmatt. It’s fantastic; brings a smile to us all and a touch of aesthetic rigour as well. Good work Pipilotti.
The sun is out when we leave.
We stick to the Limmat-side, until other rivers arrive and conspire to confuse us. We use male logic; it fails, of course. We see Keifer-style burnt landscapes, discuss turnips, bird hides. Roli’s art pieces, when he’s not teaching graphic design, emphasise the physical change if our environment. He talks about a oiece in Holland which used light and form to show us air “moving”.
At Thurgli most of the restaurants are closed, we sandwich and soft-drink with old guys and their dogs. Down the road Roli has pointed out a shop specialising in hair-straightener for black hair. There are Beyonce wigs too. Semiotically this is spectacularly unlikely. But there it is. There is not a black person anywhere to be seen.
There is also a palimpsest of new music posters (all these things are photographed and captured on my Facebook page, btw). First for 70s Prog Rockers, Barclay James Harvest. Playing soon.
We try to remember their Hit.
Did they have a hit?
Then, 40 Years After, Ten Years After. Alvin Lee, right?
We muse on these new digital tablets, as I email. Why glass? When will they be material, cloth? Why can’t we write onto them? Isn’t there a built in hand-writing function? Handwriting to text? Ten years ago when I was paid to think about things like this, by Mcirosoft, for a short while, the handwriting part was a given. Part of the holistic whole. Right now we’re not there. And I’ll write about my IPAD life in a few days. It does change the way you see the world. Saved my Bacon on the rocky road to Rhinefelden.
Rivers take us all over the place, soon they will go federal and become the Rhine. But not yet. Norbert’s having a bit of Day Two Syndrome, and we’re content to follow the cycle routes to Brugg. The boys will take the train back from there, and be in Zurich within 30 minutes. I book into the Youth hostel, again excellent, and old this time. Then I find a corner in the HAvanna cafe, close to the river and the southernmost tower. I finish writing up a day towards Zurich just as a House-remix of One Nation Under A Groove announces that this is Saturday night and while the kids of Brugg should be out, I should be asleep. It is an early start, I have 25K to walk. And a Roman remian and a monastery first.
Except it will be 50K tomorrow. But I not smoking, a slave to my new walking injury. Nicorette Jaw.