Monday, February 17, 2020


Fire Eaters
Photo: Van Stein

Our flight is called. 

Summoned by Nietzsche, Van Stein and I are about to embark on an astonishing week of motion and madness, through six countries, a different place to sleep each night. 

This isn’t living out of a suitcase—more like living out of a toilet kit.

August is the ideal month to visit London, even for just one night. 

It is calm and quiet. 

The Russians and Chinese, Arabs and Indians, the Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians—they’ve all gone home to visit relatives, or somewhere else.  Schools are out; workplaces slimmed down.

Van Stein forks off to Reek Pisserin’s new digs in the Surrey Downs; I sail without delay the opposite direction into central London, to Marylebone, my center of gravity; a perfect balmy day for covert cavorting with the spooky people.

We have chosen August for this trek, one, because it was almost upon us when Nietzsche’s subpoena arrived and, two, the laziest of summer months was Nietzsche’s peak period in Sils Maria, where, in August 1881, Zarathustra first spake to him.

And it conveniently coincides with a bash Reek Pisserin is throwing to celebrate a renewal on life–a stab at eternal recurrence, the concept Nietzsche invented or abhorred, depending on whose version one subscribes. 

(Some say Nietzsche perceived the moon’s lunar cycle as the ultimate symbol of eternal return; others write that the prospect of having to live one’s life over and over again in perpetuity throughout the universe horrified poor Fritz.)

I am met in Marylebone by Disordered, so named by JL (we’ll get to him) several months earlier in Monaco when, during a chance encounter, he swiftly and intuitively deduced that this individual enjoys more than one personality. 


JL has a penchant for choosing adjectives as nicknames, which, though disconcerting at first, is a charm. 

Disordered, a Nice-based artist and part-time spy, is in town for Reek’s party. When we’re together, we’re both eight years old.

Spontaneously, I invite Disordered to join we Luna-seekers on our imminent road trip to Nietzsche-land.  

It is our way—Van Stein and me—our Dynamic of Inclusion, opening the gateway to any and all who feel the magic, the madness, and want to throw their baggage into the trunk, add another dementia to the mix. 

As Rantanal Oldham once said, “Even the world’s biggest idiot knows something you don’t–there is something to be learned from everyone.” 

And this: I’ve always enjoyed mixing people like chemicals to see what combusts.

Disordered enlists without hesitation.

We make it from door to Dorking in an hour and check into the 750 year-old Burford Bridge Hotel, lodgings once favored by John Keats and Robert Louis Stephenson, their ghosts still lingering.

Van Stein joins Disordered and me for a pre-party Famous Grouse whiskey in the hotel bar, then on to  Reek’s new house. 

Goblets of champagne are thrust into our hands, a prelude to Pomerol.

Reek Pisserin and I know some of the same characters through our murky endeavors:  Schnudler from Luxembourg, EJ from Latvia–fare for furtive huddles in far corners of Reek's sprawling garden, providing intrigue, humor; stimulating me farther into this warm summer night.

“Any orbs yet?” I whisper to Van Stein as we manically cross paths.

“Only the ones on those Iranian lasses,” he whispers back.  “And I’m sure it cost them a few bucks.”

Painting: Fire Dancer
Van Stein

Disordered, meanwhile, changes personalities throughout the evening, morphing from one to another and back again with increasing frequency while fire-eaters, magicians and flamenco guitarists roam the grounds, an aroma of grilling monkfish and lamb kebabs.

Late in the evening, my white trousers take a hit:  a few drops of mis-poured Pomerol. 

“Sparkling water,” recommends Shani, one of the two Iranian lasses.  “Or salt.”  She gets up, finds some, assalts my trousers.

Pomerol wins.

I inspect the damage. 

“So what if I’ve got a Gorbachev wine stain?” I rationalize aloud.  “That’s the beauty of travelling in white trousers–you pick up souvenirs and mementoes throughout the trip:  chocolat mystere from Quai des Artistes, tomato ragu from a bowl of pasta at Autogrill, cappuccino from Café de la Costa–maybe not enough for the kind of midnight snack Nietzsche carried in his bushy moustache, but I can wear my travel scars with a Tom Waits swagger and through them recall events when too much motion fogs my brain.”