Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Ciao from Italia!

(This article was previously published in moore:music)

Coffee stop en route through France

The more ardent moore:music followers amongst you will perhaps have noticed the dearth of articles on here of late.

This is because we’re off exploring Italy in The Boomobile, our home from home on wheels. Having followed the coast from the French-Italian border, seeing the amazing Cinque-Terre, Portofino, Santa Maregherita and Pisa, we have turned inwards today, about 20 k south of the port of Livorno, and come to rest in the Medieval Tuscan town of Volterra, a wonderful collection of churches and buildings within walled defences, and views across the Tuscan countryside to die for.  The trip has been a strangely reminiscent one thus far, as we ‘ve called at many places along the French and Italian coasts that I visited when I was touring my solo show on Ocean Village. I even got to fly from Genoa again, as I nipped to the UK to fulfill a BC Sweet gig commitment!

Have bikes, will travel…now, where’s the padlock key?

At one point, I was flying into Pisa every fortnight, via Munich, and across the Dolomites, to rendezvous with the ship, and often saw the leaning tower on our approach, but this was the first opportunity I’d had to get up close. It’s open to the public again now, but at 15 euros a go, I find the prices even steeper than the staircase, and went with the ‘Karl Pilkington’ philosophy: it’s better looking from the outside in, than the other way around.

Shock discovery: Jeff’s song is Italian!

We’ll probably hang here for a day or so, then explore a number of other Tuscan towns, with plenty of motifs to keep Miki busy painting here in The Boomobile. Stay tuned for more updates!

Danger: Artist at work!

Kev Moore

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April 21, 2011 Posted by | drawing, events, fun, painting, photography, travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Giving Thanks on Opening Day

My big day at the gallery opening is going well so far. Some friends have already been in to say hi. I just had a minute to put a few more pics up on my wall, this time of friends who have also become my valued collectors.

Can you see Miki and Kev?

Thank you for sharing your love of coffee art with me!

~Shelley

February 1, 2011 Posted by | Art, Cafe L'Arte, friends, Shelley's Creations | , , , , | 2 Comments

Agua Amarga – 4 – In pictures

No ramblings from me today – just a handful of shots taken over the three days in this lovely coastal village.

Kev Moore

June 17, 2010 Posted by | fun, life, nature, photography, travel, writing | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Agua Amarga – The sweet taste of bitter water – 3 –

The obligatory morning coffee - a Manchada - the safest bet in a Spanish cafe

We’d already decided what to do for our final full day’s excursion, having attacked both headlands. When we’d climbed the first one, we’d noticed a path that wound its way across the top of the hills way into the distance, so we planned to follow that for a few miles, perhaps then making for the main road and coming back on more forgiving tarmac.  But first, my regular trip to the Cafe while Miki sketched some more. You can check out some of her Agua Amarga sketches HERE.

The weather was still picture perfect, and I also got a bit more sunbathing in before our walk. We followed the path which we’d come down two days previously, and then headed out across the hills. Earlier on the beach, although it was sunny, I’d been ‘sandblasted’ a bit, so I knew it was going to be windy, but high up on the exposed hilltop, it was enough to take your breath away!  Quite exciting, but I think Miki was having trouble keeping her feet on the ground!

Miki against the wind.....

As we made our way along the rough hewn  pathways, we saw in the distance what seemed like an enclosed bay, and we managed to find a path that led us down into the valley and towards it. What we discovered was a beautiful unspoilt beach and the most fabulous rock formations. (We also discovered a couple scrambling to get their clothes on – apologies for spoiling your ‘from here to eternity’ moment, if you’re reading this!)

Tales of Topographic oceans, anyone?

Once again, I was reminded of the fabulous album cover art of Roger Dean, particularly his YES album covers.  It was quite breathtaking. We tried in vain to scale the rocks to come down onto yet another bay, separated from us by water, but we thought better of it! The couple having departed, we now had this idyll to ourselves, it was truly amazing.

Wild beauty

Reluctantly leaving this place behind, we headed further on, paralleling the coast, but behind the hills that met the sea, hoping to find a way back to another cove. But when we achieved a vantage point to see the coastline once again, it was clear it had curved away from us, and a sign on the path marked peligro -danger , made our minds up to circle round and head homewards.

Not far now.....Miki sets the pace.

On the way we discovered a strange building. Huge, incomplete, and not really that old, it was stuck out in the middle of nowhere. From its layout, we could only surmise that it was to have been a hotel, or perhaps a residential riding school.  We were in the middle of a National park, but unscrupulous developers in Spain think nothing of greasing the palms of some corrupt official (of which there are plenty) -usually with Russian mafia money – and blunder on building whatever the hell they like in a protected area.  There is a hotel on the coast between here and where we live that has been the subject of Greenpeace action for just this reason. Now, I’m not a flag waving hippy activist, but this brazen disregard for the law and spoiling of protected areas is unconscionable in my book.

Incomplete, abandoned, and a bloody eyesore.

Clearly, somewhere down the line, this project was simply abandoned. The investors prevented from fulfilling their scheme, but blighting the countryside nonetheless. We managed to find a different path across the hills to head back to the Boomobile, and, after the longest hike of the three days, chilled out for the evening with a Woody Allen movie.

"I thought you said it was around the next bend?...."

Agua Amarga had been a revelation, and had given me a new appreciation for our immediate environment. The coast line where we live is full of wonderful surprises, and we are incredibly lucky to live in this part of the world. needless to say, we’ll be going on a few more ‘local’ trips over the coming months! Tomorrow, I’ll conclude this series with a few more Agua Amarga views.

"It's nice 'ere, innit?"

Kev Moore

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Art, coffee, fun, life, photography, travel, writing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Agua Amarga -The sweet taste of bitter water – 2 –

Chilling out in our local cafe

The following day we decided to hike over the headland at the far end of the beach. but before that. it was time to chill in one of the outdoor cafes while Miki sketched and I read and listened to music.

The artist in action....

Situated in a lovely little square, it sort of became our ‘local’ for the few days we were in Agua Amarga.  We then headed back to the Boomobile where Miki worked on the sketches she’d just done outside, and as the afternoon wore on, we headed off to the headland. We could see some stone structures high on the ridge, particularly one of the many watchtowers that are dotted along this coast, plus other less identifiable ones. Little did we know, these were to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Only another few hundred feet to go......

Nearly there.......

Made it! -rewarded with a wonderful view!

We started our climb from the beach, and then cut across to a point where a clearly defined ‘wall’ seemed to stretch right up to the ridge.  We scaled this and looked down into the bay beyond. There, in front of us, was an incredible, huge series of structures occupying the entire valley. Solid stone walls, a hundred feet high, one after the other built from one slope to the other. great sunken wells disappearing into oblivion, obviously the source of the ‘bitter water’ the town was named for. It looked like some giant fortification that had been abandoned in haste.but we couldn’t work out what it actually was.

The beginnings of a mystery revealed to us...

Beside himself with excitement, Kev bounds off to investigate.....

We spent a great few hours climbing up, down, and around it, getting into some precarious positions!   Even managing to climb down to the sheer cliff in front of it. This deepened the mystery even further. Because it had this huge, un-scaleable wall, yet at the base, viewed from this side we saw a series of tunnels that were unhindered, running deep into the structure.  A long, precipitous staircase also ran high up the cliff to the watchtower on the headland.

Heading off to explore the tunnels.....

I'm King of the World!!!!

Smiling now - but with ominous staircase in background.....

"Tell me when I'm at the top...I'm not opening my eyes...."

As we looked out to sea, we saw a huge man-made stone structure in ruins, languishing in the shallows, the waves battering it mercilessly.  As we edged our way along the cliff, we found channels constructed out of stone blocks running for some meters then dropping sharply down the cliff-face to the ocean, and a stone building, dilapidated now, facing the ruins in the sea.  We climbed along as far as we could, but found further passage impossible, and prepared to make our way home via the stone steps up the side of the headland.   What was this mysterious collection of structures?  A little bit of research following our trip revealed all:

One of the more successful of the mining ventures in Almeria, mainly because it had better planning and better investment, resulted in the creation of railway line to the coast.  The line ran from mines in the mountains of the Sierra Alhamilla in the parish of Lucainena to the coast at Agua Amarga.The mines being some 30 km from the sea (the only practical long distance route in those days), either an aerial cable or a railway was needed to transport the iron ore. Given the terrain, a cable was easier but it was a long way and reliability could be a problem so a railway was chosen.

Giant hoppers for the ore  were built by taking advantage of the Calareno barranco which sloped down from the Nijar Palain to the sea. These were the huge walls we had seen.  Enormous deposits were built in its interior. They were conical and had a capacity of 45,000 tons. There were also auxiliary deposits built underground on the right-hand slopes.

In the upper part of the workings, some 80m above sea level, the main line finished. At the top, the line split. One branch continued on the level along the edge of the barranco. Its purpose was to fill the auxiliary underground hoppers via the small branches to the train’s left. It also connected with an inclined plane that went down to Agua Amarga. This plane brought coal for the ovens, wood for heating, machinery, foodstuff and other essential goods for the miners. It was all brought from ships moored near to the coast. At the bottom were fuel oil stores for the Lucainena generator.

The second branch continued down the barranco by means of a 231m inclined plane. It dropped 40m and operated in successive sets of six wagons, three loaded going down and three empty going up.

At the foot of the plane, lines branched out, some linked with the underground deposit, while others fed, via metal bridges, the main hoppers. Mineral was taken from the auxiliary hoppers to the main ones by wagons pushed by six or seven men, since there were no engines at the bottom of the inclined plane.

Under the main hoppers were access tunnels, in which were 600mm lines. I now realized the small trough in the tunnels that I saw when I explored them within was where the narrow gauge rail track sat. Wagons were filled with ore, then moved, again by hand, to the pier. The distance was 166m. Four arms went to the main hopper and one to the exterior.

The last part of the journey by land was across a great metal bridge. This was an inverted (rails on top) cantilever bridge that extended 70m over the sea and 14m above it. It was built by Miravalles who constructed cantilever bridges all over Spain. The bridge carried four lines, two out and two back. At the end were chutes, which discharged the ore directly into the hold of the ship. The ruins we had seen out in the water were the remains of the pier on which the bridge sat.

Along the top are the ruins of the harbour-master’s house, the telephone exchange and various offices – These ruins were the last we saw when we walked the cliffs.

So there you have it: we had stumbled upon a giant railway-fed iron ore depot on the coast. We were stunned at the amount of work involved in creating the mine, the line across the Nijar plain, and the giant hoppers and pier, etc, for a venture which began in 1896 , suffered the price crash of iron ore in the 20’s and finally ceased operations in 1942. amazing what you can find when you go climbing!

Back at the village limits exhausted and exhilirated - another great day out!

Kev Moore

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Art, coffee, drawing, fun, life, nature, photography, travel, writing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So long, America – we will return

The King and I

So, incredibly, the trip that some weeks ago seemed to stretch before us endlessly, has reached its end, as we depart Nashville, and fly back to Spain via the Windy city.

Our last few days here in Nashville, the city where our adventure began, has distilled the essence of our trip. A city that oozes music from every pore, and presents it live everywhere, anytime.  We have seen, in the past three days alone, around a dozen acts ranging from great to uniquely genius, and all for no cover charge and a couple of beers.

On the trip in general, we have been alternately bemused, bewildered and delighted. From the advertising terror gestapo that produce ads like movies convincing you that you MUST buy their alarm system, or become a real-life victim trapped in “The Shining”, to the genuine sunny smile of a Waffle house worker who welcomed us as strangers and said goodbye as friends. From the exorbitantly-priced parking in cities, to the guy who let it go when we misunderstood the pricing. From the crime scene in Austin to the unbridled joy in New Orleans where we officially became a part of the Who Dat Nation, this country has captivated and entertained us.

It can come as no surprise to those who know me that my next bona fide CD release will be an anthology of our experience here, told in original song, and influenced by the musicians and styles  and the sights and sounds we’ve encountered along the way.

America, we’ll miss ya.

Kev Moore

March 4, 2010 Posted by | fun, life, photography, travel, writing | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Travelling the Music Highway

A trip out to the lake, East of Nashville.

What else are you going to name the Interstate that connects Nashville and Memphis?  This area really is the birthplace of most modern music as we know it, it’s quite incredible.  This southern cauldron that cooked up a mess of the blues, a jambalaya of finger pickin’ finger lickin’ good time music a melting pot of balck and white influences as wide as the Mississippi, and just as enduring. It is truly an honour as a humble exponent of the art to wander these cities, these streets, where legends were born.

We left the Nashville skyline behind on Saturday morning taking the I-40 west – the music highway, as the sun came out, and we rocked out to FM radio, that jewel of American airwaves that puts the UK to shame. Are you listening, Radio One playlist poseurs??? With your obsession with low-grade rap and dance trash that you force feed the masses???  In half an hour on the road I heard The Who, Led Zep, AC/DC, Foghat, ZZ Top, McCartney,Hendrix. You don’t need an ipod or a CD player over here. Some people here still remember what real music is. I felt proud of our musical heritage and ashamed of my country all at the same time.

Just some of the items for sale here (musician not included)

Manfully trying to resist the advertised foodstops along the highway – Denny’s Dunkin Donuts, Taco Belle – we eventually pulled of at a typical southern truck stop, where we enjoyed a bottomless coffee and kind of burger with egg and cheese in what I can only describe as a kind of scone, as opposed to a bun. It was delicious!  The cafe was situated in the middle of some kind of giant two storey hanger full of what we Brits call ‘tat’. That is to say, dreamcatchers, plastic indian heads, rugs, chrome fenders for trucks, mugs with TEXAS on, even though we were in Tennessee- all sorts of thoroughly useless trash. It was fantastic!  The diner area had three mannequins dressed as cowboys (one with a skull for a head)  who kept us company during our meal. It was the kind of place where Kathy Bates might leap out, whack you over the head and keep you out back for a few years, periodically torturing you. Loved it!

Miki, making up a poker four, gets the 'dead man's hand'

Further on up the road, as someone once sang,  we called into the Memphis info centre, where we got clued up on what was to see in the “Birthplace of Rock’n’Roll”.  They also seemed to be selling an inordinate amount of merchandise featuring some guy called Elvis Presley. By this time, the rain was coming down, and at the time of writing, the following morning, it hasn’t reallt stopped, and I find myself subcoinsciously humming the Zeppelin classic “When the Levee breaks”.

As darkness fell, noises infiltrated our room, and the dark underbelly of the town was revealed to us. Miki was entirely uncomfortable here, angry shouting and discourse between “da homeys” at 3 a.m. is not condusive to a good night’s sleep. We’re hoping it might just be the weekend clientele, but may seek a change of lodgings if things don’t improve. There was no reason to think we were specifically in any danger, but it created an atmosphere of foreboding. After all, old MLK didn’t have too much luck when he obtained lodgings here in Memphis.

Our motel is situated in downtown Memphis, and I found myself reflecting on a song I wrote as a 14 year old boy who hadn’t ventured further than Wales , called “Does the new song sound OK”, which began with the line “Took a trip into downtown Memphis, on a tour of the USA”.  37 years later, fantasy had become reality.

Why not check out my Nashville music piece over on moore:music?

Kev Moore

January 17, 2010 Posted by | culture, Entertainment, fun, life, Music, photo, travel, writing | , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Delta ladies

Kev enjoys a "double choc fudge death by ice cream blizzard" at the Cool Springs Galleria mall. Miki can only look on in horror and document his recklessness.

Part three of our transatlantic oddysey

We shuffle a little further along in the queue. You know the kind of thing. It’s at times like these when I am reminded of waiting for a ride at Disneyland,  a great human snake turning this way and that, a covert method of making a thousand foot queue look about a hundred feet long. I also wish that I was the guy who invented the Tensabarrier – how much must he be worth now???   We were enfolded in a veritable forest of tensabarriers, herding us this way and that, waiting in vain to be ushered in front of one of the ‘delta ladies’ manning the half dozen desks at the back of the hall. It soon became evident that nobody was moving very much at all. Progress was beyond painfully slow, and we turned our attention to seeking out the ‘Falling down’ woman to see how she was getting on. It seemed she had achieved her goal, as she had a maniacal grin of triumph on her face. This proved to be short-lived however, when an airport cop swiftly appeared to keep her company.

The Dublin guy ahead of us, we gradually moved towards the front of the line, and began to realize that nearly everyone at the desks had some kind of a problem, no-one seemed to be having a straightforward exchange. Losing track of time, we were no longer sure that catching our next flight would be plain sailing, if you know what I mean.  The Dublin guy strode to the next free desk. We watched bemused, as the Delta lady berated him for taking up her time, admonishing him that “there are people who will miss their flights here!”  He was quickly dispatched to stand in another line.  We followed him to the counter and handed our flight interruption manifest to the same lady. I turned to him. “It appears I’ve been re-assigned to the f*ck off queue”, he said, morosely……

Offering my sympathies, I returned my attention to the desk. Delta lady was busy inputing our info into her computer. She was joined by a colleague. She looked at her screen. The barest flicker of puzzlement flashed across her face for an instant. She was a pro, she hid it well, but I’d seen it, and I knew it meant trouble. Sure enough:  “Okay, you have the reservation, but you need to go to Iberia and buy the tickets.”   The veneer was crumbling again. Summoning my calm I replied, “No, surely the people with whom we entered into the contract have a duty of care to deliver us to our final destination, we can’t possibly go running around JFK trying to find somewhere to buy tickets we’ve already paid for?? – we shouldn’t even be in New York for god’s sake!!” I winced at the sound of my own hysteria.  The two delta ladies continued to insist that we didn’t have a right to collect tickets, yet were holding onto two flight vouchers that the computer had helpfully spat out onto the desk. A third Delta lady, overhearing our exchange, came to confer with them, and bizarrely, after they scribbled something on one of the vouchers, we were told to head towards passport control and security.  Clearly wishing to give us every advantage after our ordeal, the first Delta lady helpfully gave us two Italian passports in addition to our own.  I wasn’t entirely sure of the etiquette in these situations, so felt compelled to politely decline and return them.  Nice to see security is airtight then.

No sooner as we arrived at security with our shiny new flight vouchers, Miki was whisked away from me, relieved of, well, practically everything. Her bag was examined with what I can only decxribe as some kind of wet wipes, her shoes were minutely examined, her case helpfully emptied haphazardly all over the floor. By comparison, I felt like a VIP sailing through. It transpired that the Delta lady had also helpfully singled Miki out for a random intensive security check. Risking a beating, I said “What do you expect? You’re French!”  After I regained consciousness, we continued on into the airport. 

Note to the authorities: Female, French, lapsed-Catholic artists are HIGHLY UNLIKELY to want to blow up your planes.

For the first time in around 24 straight hours, we found ourselves able to sit down and relax, knowing our flight time was over an hour away. However, mindful of the law of diminishing returns, I couldn’t help but check that we would indeed be given boarding passes in return for the vouchers.  I spent the remaining time before boarding watching the monitors and trying to unravel the mysteries of American football. I concluded that  it involved throwing a peculiarly-shaped ball as far as you can, and then running full-pelt straight into a similarly armour-plated opponent. On the plus side, a difficult-to-please Miki decided that she liked the coffee that JFK was serving up!

So the moment arrived, and soon we were wending our way through a labyrinth of covered walkways that were no barrier to the icy New York air.  The walkways allowed access to a number of flights, and we saw a sign with “Nashville” on pointing down a walkway to our left. Within minutes we were aboard on the first row of our Delta jet, and sometime later we enjoyed the fairytale lights of New York glittering, receding into the distance through the crystal clear night.

The final irony was that our pilot knocked 40 minutes off the flight time and we touched down in America’s country music capital some 26 hours after we got out of bed in Spain, only 5 minutes later than our original schedule promised!

All troubles forgotten, we were here in Nashville. Yee-haw!

Lonesome Kev Moore and Blind Lemon Miki

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment, life, New York City, travel, writing | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Fly me to the….(insert alternative destination here)

Chilled out in the Cajun Cafe,off Broadway, Nashville - reflecting on our epic journey.....

Part two of our odyssey across the unfriendly skies!

You join our two heroes as they high-tail it towards the first security barrier, clutching ‘Flight manifest interruption’ documents that tell us we are flying to JFK with Iberia as opposed to American Airlines  and also onwards to Nashville with Delta- though exactly when our flight lands in New York and when our connecting flight leaves for Nashville is still a mystery to us.  Details such as these, though, are of no importance as we prepare to remove shoes, belts, activate laptops  and insinuate ourselves once more into the Orwellian nightmare that these religious nutjobs have caused to be created as a result of their desire to be re-united in paradise with 27 virgins and take a fair number of us with them.  Winning the war on terror?  Losing the war on queuing morelike.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for vigilance and heightened security, but when is somebody going to grasp the PC nettle? Quite simply , middle-aged anglo-saxon white folks by and large are not going to be wrapping themselves in semtex and hurling themselves at cabin crew in the name of Allah. Followers of Islam are, for better or worse, a damn sight more likely to do so. Therefore, it is they that need to be screened/body searched/interrogated, which will significantly reduce the problems for the rest of us. Not happy? Then do your bit to put your religious movements in order and condemn the extremists, that’s what I say.

Anyway, rant over. (For now)   Escaping the clutches of the X-Ray Gestapo,  we discovered we had to negotiate 3 levels of the terminal and await the arrival of a monorail that would take us beneath the runways across to the other part of Terminal 4.  It was now around 13.30, and the flight had been shown as boarding at 13.00……

Having caught our breath on the train, we set off at a run again.  Judging by the signs, our gate was at the furthest reaches of the terminal, wouldn’t you know it. We raced past great swathes of queueing passengers in our quest to make the flight, daring to hope we had an outside chance. All of a sudden we came to an abrupt halt inches from the upraised palm of an imperious Spanish female security guard. ” Need…….(gasp)……get ……..(another gasp)……gate U70…”  I managed to say. She shook her head and pointed behind us.   The great, snaking line of humanity past which we had just sprinted was in fact the queue for the second line of security beyond which the Holy Grail of boarding  awaited…not for just our flight but at least 2 others heading Stateside.  As we trudged back to the end of the line, a number of thoughts coursed across my travel-addled brain…..does this chaos mean our original Dallas flight could have easily been caught?  Is the JFK flight really still here , or have we missed that as well?

Somewhere , in the darkest reaches of my brain, a cog slowly dropped into place and I achieved a calm, of sorts, and delivered myself mentally, at least, into the hands of whatever Gods ruled these matters. We would either board the flight to New York, or we wouldn’t -and there wasn’t a damn thing either of us could do that would affect the outcome.

It became apparent after around 20 minutes that the giant queue which we were a part of had begun morphing into gender specific lines, the better to position people in front of male and female security staff that were giving pat-downs prior to directing us to individual tables where one-on-one “let’s embarrass you by removing all your belongings from your carry-on” sessions were taking place.

Thus Miki and I were  separated and I escaped quite lightly, awaiting the arrival of  Miki and her re-arranged baggage by the departure gate, where an anxious looking Airline official confirmed that, miracle of miracles, our JFK flight was steadfastly refusing to leave the tarmac.  Eventually, with ticket, hand luggage, and flustered French partner in tow, we boarded the plane to take our seats, which were numbered plainly in black and white on our tickets – 30G and 30H………

Our seats were taken.  I pointed this out to an Iberia stewardess, who promptly disappeared.  The ladies occupying our seats seemed to take it in good spirit, though weren’t showing any signs of moving, and to further complicate matters, had boarding passes with the same seat numbers as us.  Eventually, a posse of Stewardesses (what is the collective noun? – a flight of Stewardesses?  …mmm…no – a trolley of stewardesses! That’s better!) arrived, headed up by a lady in an inordinately loud fuscia blouse, which led me to believe she was Iberia’s head honcho in the air. As soon as she started in on the ladies, asking them to move, some pipsqueak of a Spanish husband to one of them waded in with (I thought) the somewhat childish defence of “we were here first”. According to Miki, translating, he was quite belligerent.  I found it quite amusing, being as simply standing inside any plane heading for the States I considered a result in our favour. After what seemed like half an hour, and indeed probably was, we were reseated further up the plane. The little man no doubt mentally punching the air and celebrating his small victory. I considered briefly the idea of walking past him at regular intervals during the flight whispering “Remember the Spasnish armada” , but thought it might fall under the remit of psychological terrorism, and the last thing we needed was another diversion.

I have been spoiled over the years, particularly when performing in the Caribbean, with my transatlantic flights, particularly with regard to in-flight entertainment, so you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered the only thing I could look at on the seat in front of me was the bottom of my dinner tray, and the nearest TV monitor was so far away, they were giving out complimentary Hubble telescopes instead of headphones.  In fact, the remoteness of the telly and the quality of the headphones meant that I still have no idea what the film was, who was in it, or if it was in Spanish or English. I think it was live action, but I can’t be sure.

Somehow, many hours later, a chilly Eastern seaboard appeared magically beneath us, as we inscribed a graceful arc south into JFK. In short order, we were on the ground, and went from travelling at 400 miles per hour, to what seemed like 400 hours per mile, as we became just another couple of statistics in the tide of humanity trying to gain entry into the land of the ‘free’.

All around us were signs warning against some kind of viral flu, and urging people to use tissues and instantly deposit them in the trash. Our sense of alarm increased as the man behind us began sneezing violently without a tissue in sight. Having been entertained by threats of death by bacteria for two hours, it was finally our turn to be scrutinized and fingerprinted before being cast through the magic doorway. In fairness, the guy on the desk was polite, interested in what we did, a great advert for his country,and Miki and I left our publicity with him after he told us he was learning bass guitar!

By the time we had retrieved our luggage, which continued to surprise me by actually arriving at the same airport as ourselves, we had discovered which terminal our Delta flight to Nashville was leaving from, but crucially, not when. By sheer fluke, we spied a sign saying “baggage re-check” and after almost mugging an airport official before he could begin addressing the problems of a lengthy queue, we were told to throw the bags on this conveyor that disappeared into a hole in the wall and that “everything would be fine”. I thought we’d pushed our luck with the bags too far, and that we’d never see them again. The guy also had a rough idea when the Nashville  flight might be leaving, so, upon seeing my first Starbucks of the day, I set out to explore it. After Miki had beaten me up, I decided perhaps Starbucks could wait, and we set off to find yet another monorail to whisk us around JFK airport. The automatic announcement guy on the train sounded so happy to tell us “this train stops at Terminal 3!!!”, that it sounded like it was his birthday, first time with a girl and lottery win all rolled into one. The Americans have varying degrees of enthusiastic. This guy was off the scale. All the same, it works. Jet-lagged as we were, it had us laughing.

The Delta check-in area is interesting. It is a place to people watch. There are large people, and this being America, there are even larger people. All of them united in a common goal – the solving of their particular problem. One woman was just a degree or two off the level reached by Michael Douglas in the film Falling Down, right before he says “haven’t you heard the phrase, the customer is always right?”

We still had no actual tickets for a final flight, just a voucher detailing the re-routing. I noticed some computer terminals over to the right offering quick, automatic check in. Just punch in your ticket number! – the screen beamed at me, breezily. I looked at my voucher, and indeed, I had ticket numbers for our flight.  I entered the appropriate numbers. Three times. Three times the screen told me to join the manual queue, which was now twice as long as it was before I was seduced by it’s offer of Speedy boarding.Fighting the compulsion to punch in more than just my ticket number, we joined another queue of lost souls. Ahead of us, a guy who had travelled all the way from Dublin. He overheard Miki and I discussing the day, and said “If it makes you feel any better, this is my third time in this queue today.”   It didn’t.

Part Three tomorrow!!

Kev Moore

 

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Art, Entertainment, life, New York City, travel, writing | , , , , | 4 Comments

Happy New Year all!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

I know, we’re a week into it already! -but I wanted to say hi to all our contributors and readers and wish you all a fabulous 2010 from Miki and myself. We are about to embark on a wonderful trip to the States, taking in Nashville, Memphis, the Mississippi, New Orleans, Austin and Dallas for two whole months – a musician’s and artist’s dream!  It’s been lovely to venture through the doors again here and see the likes of Shelley and Michael keeping this place alive, and we thank you for it. Hopefully we’ll be making regular posts here in Cafe Crem as we explore this part of the world. Well, it’s 4.45 am here in Spain, and we head off to catch our flight at 7 -so it’s time for a coffee!

Kev Moore

January 9, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment, events, friends, life, Music, painting, travel, writing | , | 3 Comments