Archive for June, 2008

Too Old For This Crap

As expected, I have been doing little else than working the last month. The food in my fridge has gone bad (partly because I had mistakenly unplugged it) and if I had a dog, it wouldn’t recognize me anymore. The newly hired crew chiefs too, are already beginning to experience the usual problems that come with the job- a constant sleepiness and a relationship ready to crack.

Of course, I’m not going into how much I love my job again, but it does come at a cost. With my 3 years I am one of the very few longest working employees in the company, and this has a specific reason.
Unloading trucks, lifting trusses, hanging up lights, all this will break you after a few jobs if you don’t have, for instance, a proper lifting technique. Ask 4 newcomers to load a truck and there is no chance they will come out unharmed. We all had to learn of course, but if for example, you don’t get that each is supposed to grab a corner and ONLY that corner, you will either (figuratively) break the back of the person opposite of you, or your own. If a newcomer isn’t properly explained these things, or he is too daft to realize, he will be injured within his first month and too scared to try that again.

Just like the next guy, I need to learn this stuff. Often it might seem only logical, but still feels quite unnatural until you’ve gotten the hang of it. I think I pretty much got it all covered now though, from scaff climbing to forklift driving. There’s a lot to learn, but nowadays there’s little that needs to be explained to me.

Despite this, it’s only a matter of time before I get injured. Out of sheer stupidity, of myself or those around me. Also, I have the dumb habit of ignoring certain safety rules, such as not taking a ride on a passing forklift. I haven’t broken anything my whole life and obviously I’m still alive, but eventually this is coming around on me.

My shoulder has started giving me trouble. I dislocated it once during jiu jitsu class back in school, and since then it’s become an increasingly urgent problem. It didn’t give me any trouble for years but lately, it’s started hurting for no obvious reason. It gave a good snap as I was passing a ledger during the building of the stage of Rock Werchter, and has caused pain ever since. I took a week off to let it rest and asked for forklift jobs as much as possible, but it has far from passed. I don’t know what the exact issue is, I just know that it’s annoying the fuck out of me. I need to be careful with this, I am aware that it is prone to popping out again.

My right ankle is back. I sprained it very badly once when jumping off of a fence when I was a kid, and rather than follow the doctor’s orders I had begun walking on the cast after less than a week. Repeat this 2 more times throughout the years, and you can guess that my ankle has little to no ligaments left. I always wear boots now, as opposed to sneakers, as they steady my feet much better. Nevertheless, I again twisted it a few days ago, during preparations for the recent Bon Jovi show in Brussel. I’ve begun wearing a (sexy!) supporting bandage to avoid too much stress on it. But, in a few hours I’m going squashing. I’m not willing to let any pain get in my way.

My left foot has something it’s had since I was born. It’s hard to explain: the joint at the base of my big toe seems to be slightly misgrown. It’s no problem in itself, other than a dull pain when I walk a lot (as in, around the site) or put too much stress on it (for example, kicking rubber mats in place). Once it’s started, it takes quite a while for it to go back to normal. In that time, I can’t hold my foot up for longer than an hour without the pain becoming unbearable (no sleeping on a couch for me) or even tapping anything with the nose of my shoe.

Each of these has the potential to put me out of commission for any amount of time. All it needs is one more dumb move, or a miscalculation of the lessened strength in each of these joints, an I’ll be out of comission for any length of time.

I know, I know, I should be careful. I should get this looked at, get that treated, stop putting stress on it or else…!
But please understand, I honestly, seriously don’t want to bother with it. I just want to live on and keep in denial for as long as possible. I have bills to pay, and like any man I crave the illusion of being untouchable. To be healthy, without the inability to take care of business when needed.

I always said I would do just job until I no longer could, but never before has that point been this close. If I’ll have to switch to an easier job after that, so be it. But if I start having my shoulder looked at, Ill be told not to put stress on it for at least 6 months and voila, sitting job here I come. I don’t want that, I want to live as I am, without the worry of soon not being able to do so. If I can close my eyes for it, I will. If I can curse and ignore the pain, I will. As so far, I still can.

Home at last

April 11

If you can read this, I managed to successfully move everything I own twice, and hook my new place up with internet. As for now, there is at least another two weeks before any of this. I got my little pc installed at my girlfriend’s, keeping me entertained enough not to go out of my mind with boredom. It’s got no internet however, and editing pictures in picasa and Battle for Middle Earth II only keep me interested for so long. Good thing there has been a lot of work lately.

It’s an odd feeling, not to belong anywhere. You don’t nescessarily own the place you stay at, but usually there is at least one room you can call your own. Your bedroom at your parents’, a studio you pay rent for, whatever. However I walk around and am bombarded with this eerie feeling of not belonging there. I can see the world pass around me, but I don’t feel any connection with where ever I am, not even where I’m staying. It’s not my home, because I don’t have any. It’s difficult to explain, it’s a Margritte-esque feeling of being totally misplaced. Of being torn out of context. I have this urge to go home, but I can’t. I’m homesick of a place that doesn’t exist.

Not that it isn’t nice to be staying at my girlfriend’s. Her roommate is off to Mexico at the moment, but she’ll be home tonight. There’s a good possibility she will die of a heart attack when she sees my shit clogging the place. It’s a tiny house, and there’s only so many places you can cram my furniture, including 2 beds, before they get in your way.
My girlfriend should have been flying off to the Phillipines (Chico, anyone? Mtv?) tomorrow and I would be stuck with this roommate for the coming 2 weeks and some. Should have been, because she’s not. She forgot she needed a travelling pass to get there, and between 2 months of preparation no one seemed to find it nescessary to mention this. Whoops. No trip. That is, she is looking to book a later flight, which will cost a fucking fortune, to try and still go. Plans have a funny way of changing, don’t they.


She’s a nice girl, this roomate. Cute ‘n all. Lots of under-water jealousy in this building, lately.
However, don’t go into a discussion with her, which is exactly my tendency. Not long ago, we were talking about a 30-something teacher of hers, who left his wife and children for his relationship with an 18 year-old. Her point was, that this man is a pig, and no exception to the rule. Men have hormones, and won’t care about real values or the feelings of others in their pursuit of ass, the younger the better.
My opinion was that you can’t possibly judge this situation just from the gist that we got, and there might be underlying reasons we aren’t seeing. I can’t imagine someone leaving his family, his own children, for some adventure with a girl. Not without other lingering things driving him off. And yeah, she’s barely of legal age (16 over here) but Maynard knows I was this close to getting into a relationship with someone old enough to be my mother and anyone judging us just by age alone, would have me to deal with. It just happens like this, sometimes, and if they’re both happy, why hey, great for them. It’s a little twisted somehow, but that’s no sin.
Anyway! It kept going back and forth, and we got nowhere. All I heard was how it wasn’t just an opinion of hers, it was the situation which she saw clearly and I didn’t want to, probably because I was a guy myself and felt personally spoken to by her remarks.

Now imagine living together for 3 weeks with these clashing personalities. So far we get along alright but then we haven"t spent more than a few hours in the same room. The way I think this will end, is me stabbing her out of self defense or something. She’s got less patience, but I’m more aggressive. Tough cookies, girl.


But what am I moving into!?

Back during the industrial revolution, cheaply-paid workers were offered tiny homes to live in with their families. Instead of an appartment by the side of the road which did not exist back then, they made another little street with those little houses on either side. Whole families lived together in buildings no bigger than a few rooms.
Nowadays, most of those houses are old and beaten down, drafty and with outright dangerous electrical distribution. I found (I’m lying- my girlfriend did) me one of these. It’s not so bad really, in relatively good shape.
Gent is famous for its expensive places. That is, I believe, for no other reason than it being a beautiful city. It’s clean, it’s got next to no immigrant issues (which does not mean it has no immigrants), and there are citadels, castles and churches all over, not to mention the old center. Compare this to Antwerp or Brussels and there you have it.

Appartments in or near the center are €500 or more. A month. Studio’s, at least €350. Both come with additional costs, in theory for the maintenance of the building but in practice another way to suck you dry, and they go up to €100. Plus electricity, gas and water (EGW): around another €100 tops. Do the math: I was in for a long search, coming from €150 a month, EGW included.
My blessing of a girlfriend, wonderfully naive, spent some time searching where I never would: right by the edge of town center. I was hoping for something in the outskirts of the city, but she happened to stumble into one of those earlier mentioned houses: €240. Since it’s no appartment, there are no additional "maintenance" costs. Just a few blocks away from the busiest street in town, it remained perfectly hidden for weeks until I called and signed. 3 floors, 3 rooms. Comes with a free couch, left there by the last inhabitant. I wanted to tell the landlord several times how rediculously cheaply the place was, but I was clever enough to keep my big mouth shut.

From 150 to 240 plus EGW, it’s still at least double the cost. And my income ain’t doubling, either. I’m going to have to watch my money, very carefully. But so far, I haven’t had the need to dig into my savings, put aside for the summer or, if paycheck permits, a quad bike in a few years.


April 17

Life without girlfriend bites. I knew it already, and I’m feeling it pretty damn well right now. It’s like, a week later, and I’ve been quite miserable about 99% of the time. Sick, too, I can’t remember when I’ve been sick this long. It hurts to even breathe, let alone swallow, eat or speak. Infection in the throat, or something, and it has been spreading to my ears. Fuckin’, ouch. And now, the first day that I’m feeling better, some capoeira teacher decided to take my head and plant his knee in my face. Hey, I missed playing, so sue me. Seventh day in a row, at home with a pounding head. I can think of more pleasant things to do.

Additionally, I lost my bank card, so I’m broke. Broke broke. I’ve been living on the €20 that I could borrow from a colleague all week. In short: staying inside, editing pictures on my pc, mixing techno music, playing Lord of the Rings 2. Sometimes wishing I could just sleep until she comes back, a familiar feeling that I have had the privilege to miss for a few years.

The girl who now lives at my to-be home her cell phone broke, she can’t be reached. I went over today but she wasn’t home. You know what? Fuck this, I’m losing my patience. It’s not amusing, living this marginal life. The boredom. The loneliness. Hearing my roommate getting laid at night. Going to bed 2 in the afternoon because there’s just NOTHING better to do. I want to go home, be at ease, but at the moment, I have neither.

I can feel myself getting depressed, and it only frustrates me more. Without someone around reminding you of who you are, it’s easy to start believing you’re a nobody. Why I have this tendency, I don’t know. I can guess but again, I have more pleasant things to think of. But why I’m such an antisocial bastard, is beyond me. I just don’t want to bother anyone with problems that can’t be fixed.

I think I’ll arrange my mp3’s. Yeah.


April 24

The new place (now officially named "The Refuge") has no internet. I believe that’s where the bad news ends.

First of all, I feel better. Still stooped under uncertainty and financial worries, but I’m now convinced that I’ll get through those, as well. I wish I was more emotionally stable but maybe I finally learned that lesson (not bloody likely). And then, it was a pretty extreme situation to begin with. BUT!
Facing forward.

So, I moved, girlfriend’s back, and I am -figuratively- piecing my shit back together. In more way than one, as every single thing that I own has passed the revue once more before being tossed into this house. It’s a delight to see my familiar stuff form a home around me as I work. Not easy though, the stairs here are actually retired death traps and the hole is too small for my tiny couch to get through. That’s bad news and good news, because it’s also too small for the previous owner to get her couch out. Ha. Got myself a free couch.
I managed to drag a bed, a rack and a desk upstairs on my own, which is, in retrospect, physically very improbable. These stairs (read: ladders) are damn near verticle.

Since it’s such an old building and cheaply made, the walls are a little humid and under a thick cover, plaster is starting to crumble. Nothing to terribly worry about, but it means I have to pay close attention where I put nails in if I don’t want half a wall coming down.

It’s raining outside now, and somehow it gives a wonderful feeling. Because I’m not in it. I’m home, not-so-warmly-but-at-least-dryly inside. I’m once again beginning to believe that, whatever they throw at me, I’ll handle it. Amazing what it does to you. You think you know, but you have no idea what it is to be without home.

In the words of Maxi Jazz, "It’s difficult to be the sky without my earth." There’s just no arguing with Maxi Jazz. He’s difficult that way.

Of course, it is custom that people living in a cité, which is what these miniature streets are called, are all good friends and take care of the area together. The problem with that, is that I’m an antisocial fuck. They all enjoy sitting outside and yak about everything and nothing, while I’m dragging furniture. I don’t know them, and I’m not inclined to take a seat with them to yak along. It’s just not me. Maybe I’ll get to know them eventualy, it’s kind of impossible not to. Not that I mind, I do enjoy some company, but I’m terrible at making new friends. Perhaps that is why I’m such a weepy little puss when it comes to the ones that I do have.

We’ll see what time brings. I’m hoping for obscene wealth and dito sexual adventures but I am easily satisfied.


May 10

"Shelter turns to home" -Tool
Slowly turning the place into my own. It’s far from done, in fact I think that’ll be a few months still, but it’s liveable and I’m starting to find my own personality in it again; a fantastic thing for me and quite scary to others. My work (yes, still same job) has proven to be a welcome resource for all sorts of things. There’s the usual tape and stuff left behind in catering, but just today I closed a doorway here with cloth used to "skirt" a stage, and I’m planning on decorating the wall with red carpet, which I can draw and stencil on. I might even throw a larger project on there, who knows. On top of this, I still have a Coca-Cola flag the size of a wall and a car bumper from that stage at the racing track we built. Though I’m not sure I’m actually going to put that up, it really is a piece of junk.

In a way, still not having internet is a good thing. It allows me to vent some creativity, which I otherwise put into my keyboard, on other things. I made some decoration using old flyers from my RoadKill party, collecting them by opposing corners. I was just thinking, if I connect them for example, by both right corners, their own weight would pull them into a fractal sort of J-shape. I might try that.

I still haven’t said more than a distant "hello" to my neighbors. I can hear them talking outside right now but I really can’t see myself going out and joining them. I’m just not wired that way. If you think it’s easy being an antisocial fuck, you’re sorely mistaken.
I’m content though. Things are looking up. I had forgotten the tax folks still owed me money so I got a lucky fincancial break, as well. Just in time, too. I started this month with €50 in red, I was already making up emergency plans to keep alive until the end of the month. Work is much better now too, so for now my income is secured. For now.

Things are good. I’m good. Last month startled me quite a bit, things were surprisingly tough. Or maybe I just don’t handle stress as easily as I used to. Granted, things were very different back then. There’s essential differences between the challenges I faced back then, and what I was up to this time. For one thing, I had a bed to rest in after a long day.

Break out the cheap cigars

"I would like to mention that is has been a delight working with Maarten. He has a clear feeling for music and on top of finally having someone behind the buttons worth looking at, he watched the show with interest, following on his pages. He smiled when you got it right, and he frowned when you got it wrong. You can’t imagine how many technicians just push a button on their cue and skip to the next one. I loved how he called the performance "The Show" just now, it proves how he interprets his work."

This quote, without buts, excepts or any of those, comes from one of the biggest directors of Dutch speaking Belgium, Hugo Iforgethisname. He directed a play, praised among both the media and the public, where I happened to volunteer as sound technician.

Last week, a month or two after the plays, the whole cast and crew got together to talk things over. It was announced that several records were broken, and aside from a few details eveyone agreed it was a wonderful experience. We all sat and told our side of the story. The director was last, and this was one of the first things he said. There were around 25 people present, and I am the only one he mentioned by name, even. I was pretty dumbstruck, especially if you take into account that I’m not even really a part of the group. I’m sort of an interim, filling in for someone who left a while back. Zero education, let alone experience. I witnessed the show grow from an outside perspective, I was never there during the highs and lows that happened mostly backstage.

I didn’t really know what to say, but thank you. We, the technical crew, had been thanked once or twice before, which I always greatly appreciate because we are easily and often forgotten. And then Hugo just turned all attention on me. I can’t imagine what my face must have looked like.


Paid-for work on the other hand, is dying away from death. Just when I need it, there’s just no work available. Either that, or the Gent crew is without driver, yet fucking again. One of the big-shots from Gent (with a car) with close bonds with StageCo and other major companies has left, so the rest of us is now stuck with scraps, or lately, nothing at all. I’m going to have to find other ways to get some income, or I’m seriously fucked. Perhaps I should check on those interim ofices, but seriously, no more industry for me. The only other experienced colleague in town is now working for Cataro: Industrial cleaning. Thanks but no thanks.

It does pay loads, though, and loads is what I need. I don’t know. Maybe I should just get that damn driver’s licence already, they did offer me a company car at one point.

Bleh, Maarten is adapting. Imagine that, the corporate little whore.

More than meets the eye

Celine Dion: possibly the single most un-influencial artist in the business. No one cares about this woman. Not the musicians, not the management, not even her biggest fans since they are too retarded for anything above secundary emotion.

Since she has so little meaning to us, her reputation is something of a white canvas that allows itself to be painted by any experiences this morning, when we built her set. And some experiences they were.

This has got to be the most unprofessional shit I’ve ever had to deal with in my life. All morning, I did nothing. I was told, as one of the "loader" crew, whatever the fuck that would mean, to sit tight with the trucks. We unloaded a couple of them with a small horde of a crew and for the rest of the day, played with our balls. And then got finger pointed because we weren’t working. I am the fucking, first in a truck and last one out. It’s not my damn fault they give me the order to do nothing, and no, when I see 6 people pass by on 2 medium-sized cases, I don’t jump up and help. Sue me.

One of the figuratively two things I had in my hands, was a transformer. It’s something to do with the power source of the whole (out of proportion) gig, look it up and if you want pretty pictures, google "The Power Shop". Imagine a small wardrobe sized fucker of several hundred kilo’s, bolted inside a steel cage of about another 150 kilo. It took a small army to get it off the truck, after which I turned around to take the next case of the day, letting the crew outside the truck deal with it.

Around an hour later my crew chief came to me with a couple questions. Apparently, only two of us had tried to get this transformer out, and it had fallen out of the truck and was now badly damaged. I rolled my eyes and told him my part of the story. They took it back up; and yes, the transformer was damaged. Something had punched a big dent in the corner, strangely without damaging the cage.


I got up today at 4am. Worked until 12, ate, went home, passed out on my couch.
Got a phonecall waking me up: my crew chief again, to work out what on earth had happened to that transformer. Once again I told him my side of the story. By now I had heard enough of this whole production and their fingerpointing, nagging bitching and masturbating over small shit no one can do a fuck about anymore.
Half an hour later, my cell phone again. My employer, apparently they had called him to sort things out, even though he wasn’t even there when it happened. The story they sold him was this -And get this-

Going inside the venue is a rather steep slope of 20 meters or more. It’s broad and has walls on either side, but just by the bottom there’s the crew and artist catering, so you have to be real careful with heavy cases around there. The real story, without the, haha, little misunderstanding putting the blame on me, was that they took it down there with only two of them, and it had crashed into one of the concrete stairs down there, which are by the way located halfway inside the venue.

So what they were saying was, this massive chunk of metal, with two obviously very unexperienced local roadies attached, went practically freely down the ramp, which would mean it had deadly speed by the time it was down, crashing into the stairs without hurting anyone. Alright. These stairs have no protrusions, so that would mean that the shock wout have gone through the (undamaged) steel cage and cause the transformer to be damaged. And No One Would Have Fucking Noticed? This would have caused a bang going through the entire building, but no one caught it because they happened to be looking the other way. Video controls were being set up just nearby, but they must have missed it, you know, too busily tapping controls to notice concrete exploding 10 meters from him, which by the way, it didn’t.

My guess? Put the thumbscrews on the forklift driver, because he planted his fork through the cage.
And let me fucking sleep.