Archive for March, 2006

Shut up and nod already.

Okay, get this.

Last year I took a scaff course, so I could broaden my qualifications, and get more work. When finished, we all had to sign a paper with safety regulations, stating clearly that everyone must wear their safety harness for any height more than 2 meters, and this harness was to be supplied by our employer, in this case RoadRunner.

It took me 4 times of being sent up in the trusses without Any Fucking form of safety before I figured, it would take someone to fall to his death before the bastards at the office would be unable to sleep at night and finally supply safety equipment. The only guarantee I could get that this poor bastard wasn’t going to be me, was to buy my own harness.

I wasn’t exactly on a high budget, so I had to go with a simple belt . Those will stop you, but if you hooked up too low you’ll still fall a certain depth and the jerk of the safety line can break your back. So I had to buy an energy-absorber with it, which cost twice as much as the belt itself. Price tag: €100.

 

One year later, insurance companies revised their regulations and announced frequent inspections. On itself that’s just fantastic, because no one had to die before the fucks at the office decided to maybe take responsibility and supply safety gear.

For me personally, that sucks dick. Because now, I was told, my climbing belt isn’t good enough, it has to be a full harness. "But that’s okay, we can supply you one.   ….For 100 euros." That’s right, the greedy bastards actually charge us for that. I could say no, but then I’d lose the job I love so much. I could argue, but without union or regulations, I don’t have a leg to stand on. So what’s left for me to do? Shut up and nod already.

I did get one lucky break. The €100 is the sum of the harness and the energy absorber, both €50. Since I have my own energy absorber already, so this is "only" going to cost me €50.

 

I can really go without this shit. I’m on an absolute minimum of income, and in the very near future I’ll have Big fricken’ bills to pay.

Maybe if I put my belt up on EBay, I might get something for it. Anyone want a climbing belt?


Change of plans.

I didn’t expect to be adding to this category again this soon. It’s been what, not even 3 months, and already the next ticket has been paid for, not by me this time. My friend can’t -or won’t- come along this time, either, which "sucks big, hairy, donkey balls". I’m sure he has a damn Good reason because he just knows I’ll be telling him about it for the rest of his life. He’ll get phone calls around 2 in the morning, from me saying "Hi, it’s me. This one time I was this mountain, and yada."

So my ‘too good to be true’ feeling turned out to be grounded, at least partially. I should start to pay more attention to when I get those, who knows the lil’ old lady at the pita restaurant was right and I can predict the future. Fuck that’d be cool.

So, what does it come down to? Me, taking off on a plane the 9th (unless plans change…), staying there for a week, and coming back the 16th. Somehow involved are a boat and Denmark, but how exactly, I don’t know.

 

My girlfriend hasn’t been too enthusiastic about it, mostly because I’ve been behaving like a big fucking inconsiderate asshole, but also because I promised her she could come next time and now it has turned out otherwise. It’s not that it’s Impossible, I just… don’t want it. My rotten little conscience already has to bear (not a real bear) the fact that someone else is going to pay for my trip, I couldn’t just go and ask ‘hey can I bring someone’. Even if she’d say yes, I just… couldn’t.

I am going to Norway, because a girl whom I’ve been staying with for a week spontaneously offered to pay for a plane ticket. Theoretically my girlfriend could come, even pay for her own ticket, but I don’t want her to. Yeah, if I were her, I’d be pretty fucking annoyed about it, too. But I’m not, and all I did was not see it coming a mile away. I can be a regular fucking sociopath now and then.

A sociopath who’s still going to Norway!


Oh, the mammories.

A colleague of ours put his pictures of the ‘U2 – How to dismantle an atomic bomb’ production up on the internet. They can be found Here.

I put a few of them up on the Photo section here, too.

Do Not Go there if you don’t want to know what kind of people your life depends on when you’re attending a concert. It’s not pretty.


finer things in life

I’m surprised to see how many people don’t accept the evolution theory as explanation for humans walking the earth. I was taught that theory in school and even though I double-checked myself to see if the theory even makes any sense, I never stopped accepting it as being true. Now it seems that the evolution theory is one amongst many, and almost a religion on its own.

Does that mean I’m no longer an atheist? I’m a bit lost here.

Every theory about how humans came to be sounds utterly ridiculous. So "The theory that humans are descended from monkeys is utterly ridiculous" holds no point. 99% of the people bringing that up have alternatives that sound much more idiotic.

I read (a shortened version of) Darwin’s work on the finches of the Galapagos islands, and this stuff makes sense. It’s understandable, believable, and can be and has been double-checked. As far as I know that hasn’t occurred with any other creationist/thursdayist theory.

Agreed, the assumption that we come from apes sounds very far-fetched. But skeletons have been found, guiding us each step of the way. Locations match, as do earlier theories and DNA research. And the principles are Proven. If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, why go so far to still try and prove it’s something else? Kind of reminds me of my sister covering her ears and yelling ‘BLAH BLAH’ when you tried to explain anything to her that she didn’t want to hear. It’s incredibly annoying and it lasted up until I punched her (hey I was 12)

Creationists I have talked to go two ways from here. Either they say God put those fossils in the ground to test our faith (I’m with Bill Hicks on that one, enough said), or that "scientists" set these "finds" up to put a cover over our eyes.

Governments lie to us daily. They use scare tactics to keep us productive and start crusades for little more than cheap resources. But how the hell, would they benefit from saying we’re naked monkeys. I tried hard, but I failed to come up with an answer to that one. If you ask the same question about conventional religions, however, the answer is clear.

This is not the case anymore these days, but for let’s say 1700 years, if we start from the beginning of the christian calendar, the masses have been illiterate and uneducated. Life was harsh and religion was something to fall back on. The clergy profited from this, having them dance (and give money) like puppets. The clergy’s word was the word of God, and anything saying otherwise was repressed. Galileo for example had to contradict his earlier findings by saying our solar system revolved around the earth instead of the sun to save his own life.

This bullshit is still being spoonfed from generation to generation, trying to oppress recent revelations that say ‘maybe that’s not the way it went?’. Ironically, they bring up the argument of calling science "opiate of the masses", if not in those exact words.

I won’t say creationists look "really unevolved", because I disagree with that statement. Too often these are educated, intelligent people, who for some reason, don’t bother to fucking Inform themselves and just keep repeating the bible is God’s word and only they are right. Yet few of them have actually read the entire bible, let alone the alternatives. Until they do, and until they bring me credible, provable arguments, they’ll remain those same ‘BLAH BLAH’ ignorant little girls to me.

 

My lips are cracked and my hands are so dry it hurts to tie my shoes. Either I’m sick and I’m not aware of it, I haven’t been drinking enough, or spring hormones are acting up.

Yes, boys and girls, spring is Finally here! No more fucking snow, no more "fucking shit my balls are freezing off"! Days are getting longer, and we actually *gasp* got some sun this week. Seriously.

The nice folks at the RoadRunner office organized another scaff course, around the same time as last year. Back then we spent half the time on top of our own lil’ tower, enjoying the breeze and the view, but this year no one wanted to even get up there to break the thing down again because it was so goddamn freezing cold. And of course, the aluminum itself wasn’t exactly comfy warm, either. A female colleague of ours with a macho complex bigger than most of the men’s almost fell because she had lost the feeling in her hands. You kind of need that to climb.

 

Tickets for Rock Werchter should be arriving soon! Last time I let my girlfriend handle the payment things got a little too close for comfort, so this time I told her ‘no more anal until you get those tickets!’ She’s been spending 4 days at the post office waiting for them.

Okay, here’s a Good thing about Belgium: festival season. No other place on earth has festivals the quality of ours, at least not this many. Rock werchter is by far the best (and most expensive) of them, but there’s also Pukkelpop festival, Graspop metal meeting (guns ‘n roses, baby), Pukemarock, Melkrock, TW classic, the list goes on! Music everywhere! Hundreds of thousands of people, meeting at these places, saying ‘let’s all enjoy some music together’. It makes my eyes tear with emotion. Live Aid was a hoax, this is what music is about. It changed the world so so many years ago.


Call me Al

Everybody needs a rolemodel, virtual or real. This can be a god, someone imaginative, or someone real. I am no exception to this, I too have people I idolize. Everybody needs something to believe in eh.

Actually, I have two of them. The first I mentioned before, Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of Tool and A Perfect Circle and overall fucking genius. The second, more recently "discovered", was a good friend of his. Yes, was, because he’s dead now. Smoking killed him, although he claims it were non-smokers who tracked him down.

Bill Hicks was a stand-up comedian, one of the best. Many people of my generation never heard of him, but very few never actually heard his voice. His speeches have made it into popular modern music like Pitchshifter’s ‘We Want Your Soul’ and Tool’s ‘Third Eye’. I think that’s mostly because his speeches, like him, had some actual gut. Early in his career he was beaten into a bloody pulp by fundamentalist Christians who didn’t like his act too much.

But still, unlike many of his kind who don’t want to offend, his act had balls. The media loved this, of course, and often ripped quotes like "Hitler had the right idea, he was just an under-achiever!" right out of context. In his early days he was on drugs quite heavily and you could clearly see that in his act, but even when he quit it was still a common theme in his act. Unlike 99% of people who think they can judge the use of drugs, he saw things from both sides. Aside from that, he was atheist, democrat, and a fucking cynic. If he were alive today I’d call him "dad".

 

Bill hicks – Revelations:

Women priests

Christian fundamentalism and creationism

Marketing

Bush Sr. and the war on terror

The assassination of JFK

Drug use and the "just a ride" speech, a must see

 

Bill Hicks – early days, still on drugs (not for the squeamish)

"I have feelings, too"

"Freebird!"

 

I almost forgot how I love walking through the city, it’s been a while since last time. I think I’ll have to revise my opinion about Ghent. I’ve been seeing plenty more of Belgium for my work, and I must say, Ghent really isn’t all that bad. Especially compared to Brussels or Antwerp.

Ghent is a pretty small city, although it’s bigger than you might expect. Everybody knows the general hangouts, and they’re nice, of course, but the city has plenty of around-the-corner places that hardly anyone knows about.

It’s not the city itself that interests me most, though. It’s the people, walking around, tending their everyday business. Everyone goes to the same job every day, yet every day is completely different than the last. You can’t help wondering what changed, and what stayed the same.

Years ago, while I was ranting about the stupidity of some people to a friend, he said, "I believe that no one is so stupid that you can’t learn from them." After a bit of thinking I had to agree. We all believe our lives are so interesting, yet we don’t bother to try and learn about, and from, others’.

 

Some car manufacturer found a great new concept for their latest stunt: Pussy.

I’m not even kidding. The text on the publicity poster says "Not just available in your dreams" and it has a photo of a car driving in a surrealistic landscape where rocks are little fat men and trees are… bushes.

I’m entirely against censorship, but this really isn’t necessary for anything. The concept of sex and it’s relation to love was killed and consumed (consummated) in the 60’s, and still, former-hippie commercial managers still haven’t gotten over it, it seems. They had to put a woman’s primary sex organs on wide-screen displays so a car would sell.

The concept of sex has been abused and raped so many times, it has become nothing but a hollow shell. There’s nothing new, nothing refreshing about it, anymore. It has all been broadly discussed, tested and demonstrated, and now it is used to promote cars. It has become little more than a tool, used to turn heads just like Hitler is used whenever a splash of "evil" is needed, like in music clips or Scary Movie 6.3.

It’s so sad, really. Something previously enjoyed by giggling couples in the hay loft or young people in their brand new apartment, is now omnipresent wherever you look, thrown at your head with the excuse "oh don’t be such a prude". There is nothing I can tell the 14 year old kids on my block that they haven’t already heard and seen (not that I would, of course). It’s sacrilege, I tell you!

 

 

My girlfriend’s parents went to Barcelona for a day or 4 and I’ve sort of been staying with her all that time. Now, I love her, but that family of hers is extremely hard to live with. Her aunt, who was there, is quite alright although our love-hate relationship of constant mutual teasing can turn for the worse when she has to ask why I don’t fix my appearance again.

A bunch of friends came over and we watched The Little Mermaid (much to my horror). If anyone wants to organize a movie marathon or big-screen game night, I’m available for installment. I have a screen, expensive-ass projector (okay I get that from my father’s work) and I work for peanuts. All you need is a sound system, I got all the cables (except, of course, the once I fricken’ Need).

I love doing that kind of stuff. It’s close to my line of work, only on small scale. And I’m my own stage manager!  Knowledge, problem solving, logic thinking, I could do it all day. Too bad I’m broke as can be and those who are so kind to help me out, are too dense to get what I need, bringing me the wrong stuff. Not that I don’t appreciate the help.

One of the boyfriends-of-my-girlfriend’s-friends joining the gang is they guy I did the map reading with on our trip to the ardennes. If there was anyone I’d need, to cross the desert with, he’s my man. He’s not especially talented at anything as far as I know (although he gets things done), but we simply agree on just about everything. Not that we’ve gone very deep with any discussions we’ve had, but when it came to working together, we were on the same wavelength. It’s great to have someone like that to work with, he has all my respect. If I were into guys, his girlfriend would be in trouble.

 

I just realized, the Easter holiday is in 2 weeks. Holy Shit time flies when you’re having fun. Our Norwegian lady hasn’t changed her mind about flying us over, so the second trip to Scandinavia is getting closer and more probable. I’m excited about it, but also… reluctant. Maybe I’m afraid to expect as much as last time, or maybe it’s because I’m not in control this time, I’m not sure. It could be something else, too.

Either way, I’m not going to stay home, not a chance. It’s not even an issue.


Comprende Espagnol?

Work is finally picking up. Not always the kind I prefer but hey, I’m not very picky. I just crave the sweet, sweet pain of blisters, cuts and bruises.

With that, I’m meeting old colleagues again. Most of the people we work with are newcomers that only stick around for a production or two, and we never see again. But to be working with those familiar faces again, at bigger productions, is just great. Every time I think how glad I am to be part of that group. Everyone should love his job as much as I do.

 

No one knows who Juanes is, but still he managed to fill Forest National to the roof and give them a very nice show. Pop music with a hint of spanish fury and some percussion. Quite nice.

The artist was spanish, and that usually means that both the crew and fans are, too. Luckily the crew was not this time (the spanish can rarely speak english and if they can, they still don’t), but the crowd was full of what my friend calls, "spanish chica’s". Me, I’m not allowed to say that since I have a girlfriend who occasionally reads this shit. Most of them were young little girls, but oh how we underestimated what they were capable of.

The show was over, the artists were backstage in their dressing rooms, and it was our turn to take the stage again. We were notified too late so we had to hurry to the stage, but I happened (cough) to be around, so I was the first to be on stage with the permanents.

Normally a quick briefing is given before we get on stage, but I wasn’t with the group so I didn’t know about it. No big deal, I just walked up to a permanent and asked where help was needed. The crowd was calmly on its way out, and the security, who had done a good job as always, were chatting as they waited to have the ‘okay’ to go home.

One of the girls in the crowd, however, wasn’t planning on leaving. Not caring about anyone’s job on the line, she just sprinted past security and hopped on stage. From there she ran further back, towards the stairs leading to the dressing rooms. Too bad she had to pass by me to get there.

I would probably have let her go wherever the heck she wanted if I would have given it any thought, but my first reflex was more along the lines of "oh Hell No." I droppped the snare drum I was packing up and ran after her. As she reached the stairs, she saw that there were two permanents blocking the way further down, so she was getting ready to make a two meter jump off the stage when I finally grabbed her. Babbling hysterically in spanish, she just plumped down and wrapped arms and legs around a pipe supporting the stair banisters.

The guys, who just got their briefing, all laughed and pointed as I fruitlessly tried to drag her back downstage, yelling "where’s the security when you need them??" Eventually one of them showed up, and not a minute too soon because she was getting quite aggressive. The way he handled it, really impressed me. If I were him, I would have snatched her off the stage and dragged her back to the crowd, to toss her back in there. He, however, told her "okay, let’s go pay them a visit". She immediately calmed down, they both went to see the artists for a minute or two, huggles, kisses, autographs, everybody was happy.

Nobody likes a scene. If he would have dragged her back to the front of the stage, she would have most likely made one, possibly even stirring commotion amongst the rest of the crowd. The way he handled it was surprisingly professional, these guys have apparently received some kind of training for this.


Where oh where to look.

In my struggle (that still isn’t over) for a decent job I liked, I’ve had many jobs for about a month or less. Some were kinda nice, some were annoying, and some just scared the shit out of me. Industrial cleaning, technical maintenance, assembly line, I’ve done it all. If you’re without diploma in this bureaucratic society, you might as well bend over and make some money the hard way.

Some of these jobs I descibed in the past as nothing less than prostitution, an opinion I still hold today. They were a full assault on all your senses and will destroy you in two years or less. If you’re lucky you’ve made it to crew chief by then. Sure, you get "protection when needed". But hey you don’t need ear plugs when you’re working where the machines have been turned off, do you. Even though someone is hammering on metal plates half a meter above you.

The ironic thing is, most of these jobs, I didn’t quit because the work was hard, but because the office fucked us over. We’re the ones without diploma, so we’re considered stupid. For these morons that’s like a red flag on a bull, for some reason they feel obliged to push us around. Even the "pros", who have been cleaning the volvo trucks factory for many years and have become quite adept at it, look down on you because you suck at mopping floors.

Many students I know don’t seem to realize just how much your job becomes your life. 3 weeks off a year really isn’t that much. Every goddamn week, every goddamn morning, *beep beep* get up and go to work, so you can make enough money to give to the greedy bastards before they take more than that.

In a way, I envy those people. Somewhere they find the energy to get up early in the morning, and go do their horrible job. Day in, day out, every week. Two days rest, repeat from step one.

Personally, the thought of a 9-to-5 job just horrifies me. I just got back from 3 weeks in Norway and already I’m looking to take off again. This is what I live for: See and experience things, travel the world! I don’t have time to wait till next year?? By then I might very well be dead!

Okay I admit, if you’re going to take, you have to give. Hippies living off unemployment money and sitting on their lazy asses all day are not the type I agree with. But repeating the same ritual every week, waiting for the day your retire… I just couldn’t do that if I tried.

 

It’s a new month and I should have gotten my payment from RoadRunner by now. Too bad I can’t check because I forgot my wallet at my last job. In Brussels. So as of now, I’m even broke-er than I was before! wee! Free at last!

Yeah okay that kind of sucks. I don’t even have enough to pay for the ride to my next job, oh the irony. I’m not getting it back before the 22nd, that is 4 days after the rock werchter presales start. 4 days is too long, that’s smack in the middle of the rush that lasts up until 4-day tickets are sold out. So I’m forced to leave the purchase to my girlfriend. Again. Last time she had a friend take care of it, someone who, to say the least, hasn’t proven herself to be very liable, or even stable for that matter. She had to force her friend into getting a move on, threatening to unleash me and my yearly hulk complex onto her ass. You don’t want to find yourself between me and a rock festival.

4-day tickets are sold out in little more than a week, mind you. And this is a festival of serious proportions. I had to miss it last year, and this year Tool are coming. Nothing earthly can stop me this time.

 

A good friend of mine is moving, leaving her place empty. I had mentioned before I was looking for a place, and she was so friendly to remember. So in may, I’m packing my stuff, and moving out of here. That is, if I manage to scrape enough money together. It’s always such a damn issue. I have a good month and a half to save. In other words, time to get myself in debt some more.

I was very close to renting places before, with or without friends, but I always Just missed out or managed to lose the deal because I ran off to scandinavia. I don’t want to be too optimistic but I’m thinking this might actually work out. Imagine that! I would just, sit there all day in utter shock, not able to comprehend that I have my own spot to call home.

 

My friend from Norway has offered to pay for a trip there around easter. I can’t say that’s happened to me before. But no matter how I hate accepting money from people, I would hate to sit at home knowing I could have gone even more.

This leaves me at the receiving end, which as always been an uncomfortably vulnerable spot for me (eat your heart out linkin park). She could ask for a "favor" in return some day, or -oops- refuse to pay for the trip back, not that I would mind that much.

Should I accept? Should I refuse? I don’t know. I’ve never given a situation like this much thought because frankly, I didn’t expect it to occur. So hell, fuck it, I want to go and she offered her help.


Free speech for the dumb

"Get married. Get a decent job, a career. Make lots of money. Get a driver’s licence, and a car. Believe in God the allmighty." Choose life.

Do I look dumb? Clueless, perhaps? I must have a sign on my back saying ‘Educate Me’, cause I’ve been flooded with "concerned" people who think I lost my way because I chose not to follow them. Maybe, Just Maybe, I have other goals in life? Maybe I don’t care about repeating the same ritual every week, working like a horse for 5 days and consume like a pig in the weekends. I’m not wired that way. So if anyone feels like telling me how I should live my life, please be so kind to bloody Piss Off.

 

Entirely unrelated to that, I am, after a year of unconcerned living, finally broke again. The 40-something euro’s in my wallet are the last I have, I’m even in debt to the bank. Nothing worth mentioning, but in the red, nonetheless.

I almost forgot how it feels. Which is not good, of course, but it sort of has a ‘clean slate’-feeling to it. The down part though, is that I was planning on some investments in the near future. Rock Werchter presales are getting close, and I’ve been ogling that leatherman Wave (drool) in the display cases for some time now. I lost my good ol’ tool in the woods last week, so I’m leatherman-less at the moment. For a roadie, and I’ve said this plenty of times, that’s a lot like like being castrated.

So I guess I won’t be going anywhere at the moment! Unless you count the 2-day trip to Paris (that I still need to pay for) with some friends in march. It’s supposed to be a really-low-budget trip, so I’m hoping for the best. Concerning the leatherman, that’ll just be a matter of how long I’ll be able to restrain myself… And I’m afraid that won’t be long.

 

I don’t know who’s in charge of the local public transportation company here ("de lijn"), but he must be a frustrated, bitter man. One that beats hookers every night. Cause basically, he’s being ignored at work, all day long. It’s actually the drivers who call the shots. "No raise? Fine. We’re going on strike. No shorter working hours? Someone get the union on the phone to set a date." Last week, there have been problems with automated ticket distributers, they would sometimes not work and sometimes spew out more than you asked for. The media has been descirbing them as gamble machines.

But of course, angry customers complain to the drivers, who, in turn, don’t like all this. So, time for another strike. This time, they do go to work (and get paid), only they work for free. You don’t have to pay when you get on the bus. Okay for me, but this is costing fortunes, obviously. Even more than a conventional strike.

These are obviously people who hate their jobs. Any excuse works for them to make it more interesting by picking a fight. Some of them have been known to take it out of the customers, too. Frustrated old men and women who seem to have long forgotten that their job is to Drive. It’s not all that complicated, is it?

It’s really a depressing sight. People going to work with a long face, basically just waiting for their retirement. Somebody, hug these guys and tell them to get another job. There’s hundreds, thousands of people in line, anxious to take over. And everyone is happy.

 

The way I see it, dilemma’s are always a choice between what you want, and what "should" be done. Almost always, anyway. And very often, a fight between the heart and the mind. We’ve all been there: your heart says "go for it", but really you know better.

In general I choose to follow my mind, because it’s the one that thinks things through. Many people go on about "follow your heart" but I don’t believe in it. Trust me, on many occasions there’s nothing I’d like to do more, which brings us back to the dilemma thing. What do I want for myself, and what is best for everyone in the long run. Even people with a supposedly objective view on the matter can very well guide you in the wrong direction. And what is "right"?

The only way to make your way through these questions is having your priorities set in advance, I think. What is most important to you, and what will you have to pass on. But still, the most simple of choices can be extremely painful to make.