World Unspoken

World Unspoken

Wormwood’s final day of our 2016 tour might have been the 3rd or the 4th of August. It’s a matter of interpretation really. Wednesday was the last day we wandered through unknown parts with instruments on our backs, but we also spent Thursday together, hiking through a national park as two friends. If this thing we call “Wormwood” is defined as an improvisation duo, then Wednesday was the finale. There will be no further concerts abroad. But Wormwood is a name we gave our shared language. It’s something we do together when inspiration strikes. It’s a friendship and a rock band and a spiritual practice. It can’t be boiled down to any less than all those things.

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So we spent all day yesterday in Tyresta National Park without our instruments trying to prepare for the inevitable shock when we suddenly find ourselves back in separate lives. We had many pours of fine whiskey last night in Stockholm. It was a celebration of early nostalgia. The trip is already starting to feel like a wonderful memory, which I suppose tells us we are ready to go home.

This first video is a shout-out to Charlie McCarron. We found a half-pipe in Vaxholm, Sweden. We didn’t have skateboards, but…

This last video is a dedication to the wonderful Konar-Steenberg family. I know they can appreciate the value of a good castle

All things must come to an end, and so it goes with this wild adventure. There have been struggles and laughs – a plethora of both. We have found many truths. Some are hard to put in words. The best I can say for now is that we’ve learned what it means to wander. We’ve also learned what it means to be us. That is no small accomplishment.

World Unspoken? Yes. It’s a vast world, indeed. When you travel through a foreign country and you have nothing to share but music. Words are little more than dreams. When you cannot overhear conversation or ask the stranger on the bus for effective directions, you are relegated to a world of gesture, vocal tone, and body language. It is no man’s paradise, but neither is it hell. It is just another means of existence, a slow but earnest lifestyle. I recommend a visit, but no extended stay. ūüôā

In a few hours we will be on a plane back to the states. We’re leaving behind this vagabond lifestyle, but we’re bringing home a humble, new paradigm. We’ll have a documentary to share with y’all soon. Thanks for following us on this journey!

These little ducklings are ready to paddle their way home!

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Great Danes

Great Danes

Wherever did we find
This simple
Dishonesty
That says
We are islands?

Not in the
Blood that
Burns with
Longing for
Touch.

Not in the
Mind that
Pines for
Intermingled
Thought and word.

Not in the
Chest that
Aches for
Echoed pain
We witness.

Only in the
Ego, which
Begs for
Undivided
Attention
From hands
And heart
And mind
And never yields
To trust
To truth
To love.

BW 7/30/16

 

On our last full day in Copenhagen we wandered from spectacle to spectacle. We climbed the Roundtower of Charles IV. We saw Rosenberg Castle and played on its grounds. Then we went to the train station and secured passage to Stockholm NOT at the last possible second. (Look at us go! Strugglefest has taught us things!) We even walked through the intentional community known as Christiania. That is a plot of land in central Copenhagen claimed by squatters that became a commune separate from the EU in the ’70s. Wild!

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This video is dedicated to Jamie Davis! Rosenberg Castle is visible behind us.

 

Later we walked over to Alex and Michael’s apartment to drop in on them like they invited us to. We relaxed for a bit then walked through the parks beside their house. One part of the park was wild-looking (mostly) and the other half was perfectly manicured and topped with a bright yellow mansion. We learned that the yellow building was the King’s summer palace and the wild park was historically the hunting grounds. The park borders the Copenhagen Zoo. We got a glimpse of some rare Danish zebra and elephants. Then we played some music as the sun set on the palace yard. There were swans and children wandering about, funny-shaped trees, and a 15 foot fountain to complete the scene. Alex and Michael relaxed on my cello case to listen while Wormwood conversed for a bit. Afterwards Alex said, “That backdrop was almost a little too perfect.” ūüôā

Speaking of old friends, this video is dedicated to the lovely Simone Dietzler!

 

The group of us then returned to their apartment and Michael fixed up a splendid dinner, complete with red wine and Danish Cadbury-egg-type candies for dessert. The company was fantastic and we laughed well into the night. We don’t know Danish culture too well, but Ben and I were pretty sure the night was full of Hygge. We walked back to our hostel that night talking about how much we both miss hosting people at our own apartments. It’s something we’ve both always enjoyed, but lacking a base of operations for so many weeks really drives home the blessing that is company. We’re incredibly grateful to Alex and Michael for sharing their night with us and making us feel so welcome! Sk√•l, you two!

Now we are in Stockholm, enjoying the sights and doing a little island hopping to boot. We’ll update y’all soon with tales of Sweden, but we want to take this moment to share some dedication videos.

This one goes out to Katie Grier and Paul Goudreault! We found this outdoor amphitheater in a Stockholm park and decided to imagine an audience of our favorite people.


This video is for Andrea Galdames and her lovely family! Note that there is a tiny, white dog scuttling around our feet halfway through this set, but the camera was too high to see her. Adorable! Wish we could share the visual.


This last one is dedicated to Kate Connors, her husband, and her 22 children! ūüėČ The buildings across the water behind us belong to Stockholm’s city center. Beautiful, eh?

Wonderland

Wonderland

Some uphold
that mirrors
map the world
in honest light

While windows
in the eyes
reveal the visage
vision hides.

What then are
ghosts and
shapes that
resonate in glass

Refracting
partial truths,
turning windows
into masks?

Staring elsewhere
through a film
of self
reflection

Mirrors folly
of the simplest
nature, of
self direction.

To glance and
in an instant
see the world
outside and in,

Makes manifest
the err of
each and every
human sin.

Wisdom in this life
can be explained
discerning a dusty mirror
from a glossy window pane.

BW 7/22/16

Provided I had German language skills and I wasn’t such a country boy, Berlin is a city where I could live. The district we are staying in, courtesy of Ben’s generous friend Maya Markwald, is unassuming and diverse. There are delicious kebab places, hipster coffee houses, affordable organic markets, and vegan ice creameries around every corner. Having Maya to recommend the best versions of everything has proved invaluable. Ben and I are feeling a bit taxed by our wanderings, so having choice establishments picked out for us is a god send.

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Just the other night Wormwood got to play in K√∂rner Park just a few blocks from our stay. Maya invited her friends and acquaintances to meet for a concert, and a really wonderful crowd of locals turned up for a bit of evening relaxation. We were very flattered by the audience. We realized just as we sat down to play that this was technically Wormwood’s very first independent concert!

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In daily routine we’ve spent a few hours here and there wandering around the city. We’ve completely avoided the downtown center and the hub of monuments. We might make a short trip into that region soon, but we’ve learned enough about ourselves to know we won’t last long amidst crowds and manicured shopping streets. We spent one afternoon in a big park south of the city center called Hasenheide. Families and couples stopped to listen as we played beneath a tree. You can enjoy the handstand workout happening in the background of this video, which we’ve dedicated to Kristin Anderson.

 

Another of our excursions took us even further south. We’d been told that an abandoned airport was open to public use. We had no idea what to expect, but soon we were trudging along dirt paths in beautifully wild sections of land. There were homemade fire pits and haphazard couches strewn throughout the acreage and wonderful public art on ever brick edifice.

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Eventually we stumbled through a gate and out onto a giant strip of land that could only be explained by an airplane runway. Except, the grass was mostly prairie and there were groups of people as far as the eye could see, sitting, dancing, barbecuing, kicking a soccer ball – it was an unpolished public space, unprecedented in size. We walked all over and noticed public restrooms in good condition, bike/running paths on air-lift tarmac, and even a sprawling community garden complete with handmade, wooden seating and a canopied stage for concerts. Here was San Francisco in the heart of Germany! Here was repurposed paradise! Combine that with the rich history of the Tempelhofer Feld as public parade, military base, a U.S. relief drop point, and you have yourself a recycled, re-imagined, activist-empowering hippy wonderland.

 

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Here’s the funny part. Ben and I were dragging so hard that day we visited Tempelhofer that I felt like I was back in Montessori Teacher training. We could barely muster the enthusiasm to lift one leg in front of the other, let alone revel outwardly in the impressive nature of the park. That said, we did record a video, and I’ve dedicated it to my good friend Cristina Celis. See if you can spot the moments when my (and Ben’s) train of thought gets derailed and we lose the ability to speak words…oh boy. Needless to say, that day included a generous nap!
I want to say an extra word of thanks to Cristina for supporting my travels. She encouraged me to “get out of my country” from the moment we met, and I’m grateful for that. Abrazos, Cristina.

 

Argondia

Argondia

Vulnerability

It begins
by taking a step closer
to the cliff’s edge
to more fully view
the unfolding landscape.
It opens crossed arms
and closed fists
inviting friends, family,
sisters, brothers
partners, lovers,
enemies, and Others
to interlace
to share in the view.

-BD 7/18/16

Prague continued to provide us with unique artistic and human experiences. Friday night Baylen had picked out an event at the “Meet Factory,” an art space whose description reminded us very much of “Bedlam,” the art, theatre, music, dance, and social venue in the Twin Cities. The event was a techno which started at 10pm. So, in the spirit of not wanting to arrive too early, we took a tram to this old, repurposed meat factory ¬†in an industrial part of Prague and arrived at 11:30pm. Little did our simple midwestern spirits realize that to arrive at 11:30pm at a techno is to essentially be alone for at least another 2-3 hours! The two headlining acts took the stage respectively at 3:00 and 4:30am!!!! However, we had come all this way and determined that we were going to see it through. We managed to shake our tail feathers until a little after 5 before heading to our tram stop to get home.

Enter “Strugglefest 2012!” We hopped on the tram at around 5:30 and at one critical juncture when we expected it to turn right, it turned left. We decided to trust the tram would get us to the stop we wanted and that maybe our sense of direction was off…until a voice came over the speaker saying that we had arrived at the last stop! Hopping of the tram, a map informed us that we were about as far west as we could be and still say that we were in Prague. UFFDAH! Luckily, after about another 30-minute wait, we were able to hop on a tram going the other direction and end up back at our hostel in time for breakfast around 7:30am.

Saturday had an understandably slow start and a leisurely afternoon of writing, reading, playing solo Bach in a park, and Skyping with loved ones back home. Let this be my public declaration (Ben’s) that I am missing Amanda tremendously! She’s a light in my life and her absence is regularly felt. OK, I’ll limit my public gushing to just that!

In the evening, Baylen and I met up with our local friend from Thursday, Bethany, who wanted to show us around her favorite park and have a picnic. We enjoyed great conversation (Bethany currently teaches a positive psychology course amongst many other things. Check out her inspiring work here http://www.bethanybutzer.com/), good views, and an adventure into Argondia, the magical cavern!!

Argondia is maybe the strangest place I’ve never imagined possible. A Czech artist, Reon Argondian, lives in a building in this park that he has transformed into his imagined world of Argondia. He has transformed EVERYTHING on the inside and covered the walls with paintings illustrating his world. He rose to a certain level of fame when members of Led Zeppelin purchased some of his work. Here is a glimpse into this crazy world.

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Now, enjoy Wormwood’s interpretation of the music of Argondia. Katie Heilman, this one’s for you!

On the walk home, we crossed the bridge and saw a most wonderful sight. Around one hundred swans on the river asleep, drifting as the river would take them. We couldn’t get a picture, but I hope these words paint the scene for you.

Long after night falls
when breezes have turned to a chill
these long, graceful necks
curl around and tuck beneath
large, white wings.
Their solid bills so solitary
and singularly vocal under the sun
come together by hundreds
in the eddy of a river.
Not by choice
but because their drifting
like clouds in the wind
upon the obsidian waters
streaked with the moon’s silver
has taken them there
like some sort of driftwood
being reunited and reminded
that the pieces once were
the same tree.
Together in their sleeping
to be scattered again
upon sun’s rising
and eyes’ opening.

We’ve now arrived in Berlin and are enjoying the hospitality of an old friend, Maya Markwald!!

Czech Underground

Czech Underground

In what way do
humans resemble
candles,
burning down
to wax and
exchanging their
shape for
brief periods
of illumination?

In what way do
candles give
grief to darkness
and comfort
to shadow,
pulling back
the veil and
tucking it into
corners?

In what way do
all things shine
with tarnished
silver glare,
brandishing a
noble purpose
muddled by
the compromise
of entropy?

BW 7/15/16

 

It seems to me that Prague is an old city with a young spirit. The paving stones and mortar arches that greet us everywhere we wander show the re-furbished nature of the districts. We’ve explored most of the tourist attractions and some of the residential zones in walking distance. The city continues to live up to our expectations. ¬†We’ve switched to a different hostel in the Vinohrady district and are enjoying the quieter parts of the city. We got Vietnamese stir-fry for dinner yesterday and realized it was the first time we visited a restaurant that was mostly¬†locals. True residents of Prague, it seems, are nearly identical to Minneapolis folk. “They don’t eat sausage and goulash for every meal? Ridiculous? Of course, Minnesotans only¬†eat tater-tot hot dish!”

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With the recommendation of an online review and a hostel staff person, Wormwood ventured out to find an underground music club known as Vzorkovna. We even got two friendly strangers (Bethany and Amanda) we had met the day before and a couple of gentlemen from Turkey (√Ėmer and Mehmet) sharing our hostel to meet us at this hard-to-pronounce hipster den. We went bearing instruments in hopes of a jam session. We were not dissapointed.

Descending a ramshakle wooden staircase into a labyrinthian set of tunnels, we found ourselves in the grungiest, most incredible bar either of us have laid eyes upon. In place of posh chairs and couches, this establishment opted for upturned logs and plywood benches. The tables were adorned with red-wax candles that melted down right into the wood. The walls were festooned with artwork and tags and every anarchist mantra imaginable. To top it off there was a massive Irish wolf hound roaming around the place and lounging where he pleased! My mouth was literally agape with wonder.

Though it was a loud crowd, Wormwood set up on a small stage in one section of the club and played to the space. The bar’s owner introduced himself casually and told us to “do whatever we like.” We played for about a half hour and then set to sampling different common Czech liquors. One of the women that joined us for the evening was a Canadian now living in Prague. She recommended we try Becherovka, Slivovits, and Fernet. Our clear favorite was Becherovka (which has an herbal, cinnamon flavor) but Slovovits was also enjoyable. Fernet was a bit like cough syrup. Perhaps we should buy some the next time we’re coming down with a cold?

The footage of our playing is gritty at best. It was a dark bar and our microphone had trouble filtering the joyful noise of the crowd. This video gives you a glimpse, though, of the small space built for impromptu jam sessions.

We had a great time chatting with new friends early into the morning (when a shirtless Czech man cheerfully but insistently ushered us out the door.) Vzorkovna was a home-run for Prague in our books. Liquor, beer, and cider in various sized Mason jars at ridiculously reasonable prices made this dive a near-perfect hangout. This city has a lot to offer wannabe Bohemians like Ben and me. The presence of unpretentious modern culture is like a litmus test for the health of local humans – at least, that’s what Ben believes, and I agree with him because most of the time we are the same person.

Anticipation

Anticipation

Breathless is a state of mind,

not lungs.

The air that circumnavigates

the globe is ceaseless

in its circulation.

It will drift within and without

without your blessing

or your encouragement

or your wishes.

 

The ‘breathless’

that you feel is

lack of time to notice

what the world is

doing to you ;

what you do to it.

The interaction is

perpetual.

The feeling is

temporary.

-BW 2016

 

15 days and counting! We fly to Scotland in two weeks! I’m scrambling to wrap up loose ends and make ready for a two-month sabbatical from normal routines. We were talking the other day about how strange it will feel to spend so much time without a schedule. There will be planes and trains to catch – sure – but overall, the time is ours to waste and wander. ¬†That is very exciting and very unusual. I am very much looking forward to the ponderous hours of people watching.

As promised, here is an approximate itinerary.  All dates are estimations, and even locations are subject to whims, but this should give you an idea of our journey.

 

June 15th – June 21st \ Glasgow, Edinburgh, London

June 22nd – June 28th \ Paris, Nice

June 29th – July 7th \ Zagreb, Vienna, Salzburg

July 8th – July 15th \ Munich, Prague

July 16 – July 21st \ Leipzig, Berlin

July  22nd РJuly 29th \ Hamburg, Copenhagen

July 30 – August 5th \ Stockholm

 

If you want to tell us something about one of these cities, or you know someone that lives there, drop us an email!  wormwoodsound@gmail.com

A long time back we had¬†thought to travel with a cello in the plane seat beside us, but that proved too expensive and potentially disastrous if airlines decided not to let a wooden person on the plane. I have heard some good stories about how pleasant travelling with instruments can be – and then I’ve heard some horror stories. ¬†The long and short¬†is that we would probably need a travel agent to ensure my neo-viola da gamba makes it across the pond AND back. ¬†Instead, we will buy a student quality cello in Scotland then burn it for warmth before we crawl onto a plane in Stockholm and fly back to the US of A.

Cue meme:

one_does_not

Cheers!