I was up in my attic this weekend looking for baseball cards to show my son. I came across a big box of my old notebooks. I did keep journals while Buffalo Tom was in full swing, but I was not a diarist. Most of the stuff is meandering impressionistic, melancholy (if not despondent) rumination that is generally so unanchored that it is a bit of a challenge to figure out where we even happened to be at the time, unless I wrote down headings like “July 1991 Copenhagen –> JFK.” I didn’t have many entries that were straightforward “Today we played a show in ___.” But this one was more like that.
May something, 1991
BELFAST Europa Hotel
“The most bombed hotel in Europe,” said our waiter at breakfast. The IRA has bombed this hotel thirteen times in the past nine years. The televisions in the guest rooms turn themselves on and tell you to leave when there is a threat. The band, TAD, had a bomb here during their stay two weeks ago and had to evacuate. TAD are also booked by Paperclip. Why are we staying here? I don’t know.
The pub, or shell of the pub across the street, was the target of a bomb.
I walked around a corner onto a roped-off street guarded by authorities wielding machine guns. An office building with blown out windows; armored vehicles; glass all over the street; a few bystanders, most people walking on. I took photos and generally by-stood until a cop approached me. I thought he’d confiscate my film but he merely asked me some questions, holding his hands on something inside his bulletproof vest.
“Waiting for something, or….?” he asked.
“Um, no. I’m just noticing, having a look at this scene,” I said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Are you from around here? Where are you….?”
“No, I’m from America.”
“Oh, are you a tourist? Just visiting?”
“No, I’m in a band.”
“Oh, what’s the name?” He shifted on his feet.
“Buffalo Tom. We’re supporting the Wedding Present, an English band.”
“Oh, right.” He seemed to half recognize the Weddoes. I proceeded to volunteer information.
“We’re staying at the Europa Hotel. Played in town last night. Tonight, in Jordanstown.”
“Oh? How’d it go?”
“Very well, thanks.”
He pivoted to walk away, smiling.
“Is this fairly routine?” I asked, noticing his nonchalance.
“‘Fairly routine?’ No, no, no. I wouldn’t say that.”
We passed a similar scene last night. Bob almost drove our van through a roped off “threat” scene. No blast.
Probably a day after this entry, I was taking a shower in the hotel when I heard an extremely loud squawky voice and a bunch of noise coming from my room. It gave me quite a start. I scrambled out of the shower and into the room, wrapping my towel around me. The television was bellowing out the alarm about a bomb threat. I quickly pulled my clothes on over my still-wet body and opened the door. No one else was so much as opening a door, never mind running out into the hall. I went downstairs. No one taking notice of anything in the lobby. With my hair dripping, I asked the desk clerks what was going on. Was there or was there not a bomb threat?
“Oh, you didn’t see the notice about the drill?”
Here are some photos I took at the time: