Then there were the unpredictable reactions of the audience to a piece that probed a very recent and deep wound. I remember a man in Novi Sad, who saw that we were having trouble getting our computer working before the show, who said, "I will make sure that this piece doesn't work," and grabbed the computer from Bob, held it above his head, and appeared to be trying to push his fingers through the computer screen, before smashing it on the ground. Bob managed to get the computer back from him before the man could finish what he started, but we soon found out that that would not be the end of trouble for our computer.
I think it was in Slovakia that we needed to get all of our gear into this tiny car on a narrow road with roadblocks. I had a rule that I always carried the laptop computer, so that I was responsible if anything happened to it. On this particular day, I broke that rule. The promoter...I don't know if he was drunk at the time, but my impression was that he was drunk most of the time that we saw him...I handed the computer to him, and he put it on top of a wall next to the car that was four or five feet high, and it fell off. That's why our computer didn't work in Novi Sad, the one that had the video card in it. That was the computer that I had taken with me all the way from the U.S., and then all the way on the train from Budapest, to get there, and we were dependent on it to do the performance.
I remember Bob trying to fix the computer with this little Leatherman tool. For all this highly technical piece, we were dependent on this clumsy screwdriver. We weren't able to make the computer work. It wasn't recognizing the video card. And so, when were trying to set up the day before our performance in Novi Sad, we kept restarting the computer, and restarting it again. When a computer is plugged into a sound system, and you restart, there's this huge Mac chime, so everyone knows that something is up.
The promoter, Arpad, who was completely skeptical about us and what we were doing, understandably...I mean, we were Americans, and the U.S. had just been involved in screwing up their city...he was there the whole time, and didn't take his eyes off us. He was right up on stage, next to the tables, watching everything that we did. We told him, "The computer is not working. We're not gong to be able to do the piece, 'These Hands,' because the video card is screwed up." And he kept saying, completely suspiciously, "Why do you not want to do the piece?" We kept saying, "We want to do the piece, but we can't." He just kept looking at us like we were convicts caught in the act of a crime, and trying to deny our own guilt.
After many attempts to convince him that we were not trying to pull a fast one on him, Arpad said, "What kind of a computer is this? We will get you set up with a computer," and I said, "I don't think you will, because it has a very special video card, and it's a very uncommon set-up that we are using. It's brand new technology." He said, "Don't worry, we'll do it."
So, fast forward, I find myself in this little car with Bob and Arpad, going through all these narrow streets, and we wind up at this big, square-block, unfriendly looking apartment building. As if to underscore the tension, Arpad points out a building directly across the street, which I believe was their city hall, which had a hole blown through the roof from the recent NATO bombing. So we go into this apartment, right next to this blown-up building, up some stairs, and find ourselves in this room that has maybe six or more computers set up, with young guys sitting at them. I was seated at a couch next to a coffee table, on which I noticed catalogs for computer hardware, and catalogs for guns. And I thought, "Where are we?" Some guy approached me, and said, "We will make this piece work."
They actually had a Mac laptop, just like the one we had. I sat down at the computer and started it up, and it was all in German. I said, "Well, I can't understand anything on this computer, because I don't speak German." The guy looks at me, and says, "Yes, I know. It was stolen from a German tourist." I thought to myself, "What kind of situation have we gotten ourselves into," and that's when we realized that we were in Novi Sad's hacker central. You wouldn't believe the stuff these people were doing in there with their computers, but I can't talk about it anyway, because they made us vow not to discuss their work. In the end, we didn't take the computer, because it didn't have the video card in it that we needed.