Myslovitz USA

Artur Rojek did a number of articles for "XL", and this is one of them! It describes a trip to the States. Once again, it was translated by the lovely Justyna, who had quite an adventure putting Artur's words into English for us for this article.

"XL" Magazine, June 2002

"A for America"

When you read in the papers, that Myslovitz had was on a tour in the U.S.A., I’m sure many of you are impressed. You think we’re going there to conquer America?! You couldn’t be more mistaken. I don’t know what it looks like with the other bands (I can only presume), but we do the common chałtura (??? No idea how to call that in English. "Chałtura" is a gig, or a performance usually done for money only. Often in a way it strips an artist of his artistic dignity).

Till now we’ve played in New York – at least that’s the official version. In fact we play in a polish disco in New Jersey where, beside a few people, no one is interested in our performance. We play during a break, when most people go for a smoke or concentrate on chewing their food. Usually we play for about 40 minutes, because people are getting impatient. They want to dance... This year it was very similar to the previous ones, only we also went to "conquer" Chicago.

It is our fourth visit at the other side of the ocean. I love going back there, though – as you know – I’m in a deadly fear of planes. Well, plus I am an addition to a not so very ambitious disco party and when I cross the border of the U.S.A., I have to explain that I’ve come to make a video clip. I love it, because New York is such an amazing city. It is always worth coming here, if for no other reason than simply to hear the beating of heart of the world.

Departure. As usually during the start I bathe in cold sweat. When I rise from the ground into the air, I totally lose my self-confidence. It lasts for about 15 minutes. After that it’s pretty alright. I start to forget that I’m ten thousand meters above the ground. The flight takes less than two hours. In a moment we’ll land in London. From there we’ll fly further – to NY. I don’t understand why, according to the statistics, more people are afraid of landing. For me taking off is without any comparison more frightening. In London we only get to see the airport of course. Especially, since we’ve got only two hours to spare before the next flight. Oh, well. It is bigger than Okęcie (airport in Warsaw)...

To New York we travel by a jumbo jet. It looks really frightening, although everyone around says that it’s a safe giant. I think it has two floors. Ten people can sit in one row. All in all about four hundred people on the deck. Amazing – you can really feel safe on it. The plane literally smoothly floats in the air.

After seven hours we land. During the luggage-control, when the customs officer finds out that we are musicians, he thinks that we are members of some famous band which he doesn’t know. He invites us to his room and shows us films, which he made on the digital camera, of the bands which he controlled. We can’t believe it! Coldplay! Rolling Stones! He says that he also controlled Dylan and Peter Green. Then he offers us some juice, he praises plum vodka and, of course, he films us.

In the airport, waiting for us, there’s Leszek Świerszcz – the owner of the club in which we play and the organizer of the concert in New Jersey. He’s in the States since something like thirty years. During all those years in his club performed probably all possible Polish bands from Lady Pank (Polish rock band) to Kaliber 44 (hip-hop band... I think).

We sleep in Wayne in Kings Inn. Motel, same as in the previous year. It takes only 40 minutes with a bus to get from here to Manhattan. It is two o’clock in the morning but I feel that I could go there in this moment. But I have to go to sleep. I fall asleep immediately. I’m exhausted. Punctually at nine we’re 100% ready. We get on a bus number 193 and we look enthusiastically around the area as we go. To Manhattan we get through the Lincoln Tunnel. It is an amazing feeling! Suddenly in front of me, shoot up tall buildings, which look like living  monsters vomiting with fire. There’s more and more of them. You may get this feeling that in a moment the whole New York is going to sink in the earth , overcome by its own weight. I feel there even smaller than I am... We divide in groups. Everyone of us has a favorite place here. I go together with Przemek near the crossing of Ninth Alley and St. Mark in the East Side. Here you can find the best shops with records (Other Music), mix-shops with clothes and old junk. It is here, and nowhere else, where you can buy records by Carl Stone, Geoff Fariny and new Low on occasional price. And Jeff Buckley used to live here once.

In the evening we’ve had enough. Tomorrow is our second and at the same time last day in NY. I decide to go somewhere where I haven’t been before. I go to the Battery Park, almost by the bay, from where you can see Statue of Liberty. Before that I talked Wojtek Powaga into eating sushi. I love it. Wojtek is scared to death. It seems to him that the pieces of raw fish come back to life in his stomach...

In the evening we give the concert. Four years ago, when we landed here for the first time, there were loads of people in the club. I watched the car park from a window of a nearby house in which we lived. I was surprised that Myslovitz was so popular here. I entered the stage very proudly. Unfortunately, before I even got to the microphone most of the people left the dance floor and went to the other room, where they could smoke a cigarette in peace and rest before the next part of the disco. Hmm... It hasn’t changed much since. Oh well, that’s our fate I guess...

In Chicago we’re exactly at noon. Right from the airport we go to the studio of Polish radio. Everything is really well organized. We have a nice talk and then just for a moment we go to our hotel. On the same day we play the concert. Copernicus Centre looks like a church from the outside and inside it is very much alike a very stylish theatre. We have great difficulties with loudspeakers. Also during the concert. All in all, the atmosphere is pretty similar to the one in New Jersey. Only a few people really came to listen to the music, the rest wanted to drink and have a ball. One guy even tried to take the odsłuch (not sure what he means even in Polish... perhaps we could just skip the sentence...) from the stage. However some of the people are really having fun. We are relieved to finish...

After the concert we meet two guys from our town. They both live in Chicago since ten years. We arrange a meeting for the next day to go sightseeing. Chicago surprises me. It is peaceful and less crowded then New York. It’s location adds some more charm – it is placed by the turquoise Michigan Lake, from which, on this hot April day, fresh wind blows. We visit the Sea World in which for the first time in my life I see dolphins in reality. We spend some time by the lake. We talk, joke, remember the childhood in our town. Beautiful peaceful day. We end it in our hotel, drinking Japanese beer. It is a shame, that we’re leaving tomorrow... 

On Monday I wake up early in the morning. We have the airplane at 8pm, co we have still few hours left for shopping. Guess where we head for? Of course! The crossing of Clark and Belmont St. is something like East Side in New York. I’ve heard that’s where "High Fidelity" was filmed. We even pass by a shop named Hi Fidelity Records. We have little time, so we do the shopping in an express tempo. We spend two hours in a shop Urban Outfitters which, you have to visit some time. 

We get back two hours before the flight cause we still have to pack, say goodbye to friends and start heading for the airport. That’s all. Beautiful trip which unfortunately has to end. I have to admit that I would like to go back here once more. But don’t let yourself be misled, that it’s to conquer America.

Artur Rojek

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