Archive for November, 2009

Fuck ‘em

I can be so… helpless, at times. At moments like this I have the intense impression that somewhere in the past, I lost an essential chunk of myself and moved on without even realizing. I spent many a sleepless night -including tonight- in wonder about what caused it and what might be the answer. For some reason, it fails to dawn to me. Of all the personal issues I pried apart and traced to their roots, this one is still a fucking mystery to me.

What is the worst thing that can happen when you try to approach a girl? It seems that many think that she could only say “no”. If you are one of them, picture me this:
Trying to get someone’s phone number, something I never ever once before in my entire dogfood life, I not only failed, but managed to make myself the laughing stock of an entire table in a bar with my clumsy attempts. Friends of mine, and what was worse, hers.

I get these decisive moments once in a while, I call them ‘fuckit‘ moments. It’s when I figuratively, briskly turn around and walk away. If it’s in a discussion with someone, I will actually bark out “Fuck this” and drop the matter. I would advise you to give it a rest, should you ever get me to that point.
Right then and there, I had one of them. Something just… pops and I’m done. Fuck it. Fuck you. FUCK. YOU.
I don’t want to care, anymore. Her definition changed from an object of desire to the face of yet another failure, and I am so done with it. There’s millions of them: every attractive face that I pass on the street is another personal failure. Every single time I go through that same thought pattern carved inside my skull: “It’s a shame I can’t work up the nerve to ever talk to you.”

And it is. It’s a gut-wrenching, dead crying shame. Time and time again. Opportunities missed, bridges burnt. I am beginning to intensely hate these frozen seconds. I’ve got a whole bag of them, dragging them from the ankles. Everything of beauty becomes a source of pain. It eats me up if I let it, and tonight I did.

Don’t think I haven’t tried to work around it. I’ve tried pretty much everything within my power. When my friend asked about it the other day, I nodded towards the Schelde, a river running through our city.

It’s like wanting to jump over the river. You know it’s better on the other side and there is nowhere you would rather be. But you don’t jump. Because you believe you won’t make it. Even if you’re told that it’s possible, you don’t know how to work up the strength. You’ve never tried to jump, so technically there’s no way you could know if you can. You are just so convinced that the water is too wide, that you don’t even bother. And what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll dry if you get wet. But still you won’t jump simply because the very idea seems irrational.”

It’s as simple as that. A hard no. A wall.
If they were to cross and come stand on my side, the problem would pretty much be solved. Make the first step and we can go from there. It’s that easy.

No one on this planet wants to see this changed as much as I do. There is no “just do it”, or other mental trick.
So where does this push me? After tonight, I don’t know anymore. This paralyzing pain is getting so terribly old. The strain that I feel when I try to push myself, gets worse every time. I don’t want to try anymore. These sorry attempts to read someone I don’t know without projecting my own wishful thinking onto them make me lose my mind- literally.

Why why why is it so hard…? Why doesn’t it work? It’s as if I’m missing gears where a machine should function. An emptiness inside my brain. A hole I can’t reach the bottom of. I don’t want to give up, but I’m going mad if I don’t. I’m sorry. I could cry me a river, but I won’t.

 

 

Twenty-five today. One more step into adulthood. The very idea makes me nauseous. Pushing thirty, forty, sixty, ninety, dead. I don’t want to die- I’m too young.

Meh. Another thing I don’t want to think too much about. Party and get it over with, at least I have the feeling my twenty-fourth seems ages ago. Progress of age bothers me because no one can stop it. Additionally, birthdays always appear to be laced with irony.

I got out of bed in the afternoon. On my birthday.
It rained all day. On my birthday.
I had to go out and arrange some agreement to pay off my debts. On my birthday.
Of all people I invited to come have a drink, three showed up. On my birthday.
I had to leave early because I had to work the next morning. Technically, no longer on my birthday.

It’s funny how much pressure it brings. A day like any other on which you are obliged to have a good time. A mediocre birthday is simply unacceptable.
For your information, I spent the day in good company and had a wonderful evening with a bunch of great people; I won an epic game of chess and got to talk with my ex after 364 days of radio silence. Things were brought up, (largely) talked out and for once I didn’t have to sleep alone. It was everything I could ask for on any November 17th. I even got a present or two to remember the occasion.

I think people focus on their birthday so much because they forget to genuinely experience the rest of the year. It appears that they want to catch up on lost time by drinking themselves a new liver, or celebrate their awesomeness with grotesque celebration.
I would claim humility in how I experience my date of birth if that didn’t negate itself. To me, it’s just the change of just a number. A number I don’t even like all that much to begin with.
Luckily I don’t look my age. In fact, I was asked to show my ID inside an Amsterdam “coffee shop” because I was thought to be underage. Take that, universe. I should shave more often.


Single File

Remember, remember
The fifth of November,
The day of the gunpowder treason and plot.
I see no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

It’s hard to tell whether I’m at work or any other place just by the clothes I’m wearing, these days. More often than usual I arrive at the job and have to decide that I’m really not dressed for the occasion. I’ll be wearing everyday clothing and things get torn up a little now and then, if they’re not sturdy enough.

I used to have this morning (or whenever) ritual of putting on work clothes and strapping all kinds of equipment to my forehead. I had actually grown kind of attached to this quality time with my gear.
Nowadays, I roll out of my couch, turn off my alarm, and wander out the door. I get ready in 10 minutes flat.

The difference between then and now is that I now actually have a life. I’m practically always dressed in more than just boxer shorts now, in contrast to the old days.
The reason? I can’t think of any other than the fact that I quit MUDs. I always saw any reason to leave the house as a good one, but until I stopped playing, I never actively looked for things to go and do. As a matter of fact, playing very much felt like I was doing something. I even had a strong sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, even though I knew very well that I accomplished nothing at all.

I would like to point out that the positive effects of my old addiction shouldn’t be underestimated, either. Other than the constant education in English grammar, spelling and sentence structure, even. In the period that I played, I respectively dropped out of school, joined the army, left the army, moved three times, and ended a long-term relationship. I went through a few extremely rough patches and always giving me something to occupy my thoughts with, MUDs helped numb the pain when necessary.
On top of that, they always gave me a way to vent. The sky was the limit and it was possible to materialize and map my own imagination, with the constant input of others with similar ideas.
Quitting, and I can say this without shame, was one of the hardest things I ever did.

So one year later now, I’m always on the look-out for my own entertainment. And although not to the point of satisfaction, I’m getting better at it. The last two weeks have been submerged in chaos, constantly feeding me things to see and people to do. With only material possessions (as opposed to things to actually care for) I live life and make the best of it.

This of course, would be my ex’ queue to let herself be heard of again by leaving me a postcard in the mail. The message on it is personal, but suffice to say she still has the nerve to call us soul mates. Not that I disagree, though. I know things will never be the same again, that I lost something that could have been the most precious thing in my life, now degraded and desecrated to become nothing more than a memory and a forever lasting ache. Since then I’ve found the strength to move on and leave countless questions unanswered. In the end, it’s better that way. So yeah, soulmates.
The card was from Cuba, where she apparently spent some time, and had a Cuban stamp, but no markings. This means that it wasn’t delivered by postal services, but was instead dropped in my mail while I wasn’t home. This leaves me to wonder what would have happened if she did see the light burning. More pointless question marks that I told myself not to bother with. One more process I’ll have to repeat.
At first I thought it had to do with my birthday, but I know better now. The 5th of November was the day we got back together the first time we had broken up.

The world today feels… grainy. It may be the seasons changing but everything seems to have grown kind of grayish in color, and only delivers a bland, temporary sort of entertainment.
But at least I’m pretty happy, one day at a time. I can even manage some optimism about the future.

 

 

Is it spring yet? It sure feels that way. I’m starting to scare myself with how I’m chasing skirt, lately. I’ve had it bad before but I’ve come to the point where I seriously hope the female crowd around me can’t read my thoughts, lest they would universally avoid me altogether. Luckily my lacking social skills keep me from spilling the beans to the wrong person.
It seems like I’m staring through beer goggles, I don’t think I consciously spotted a single ugly girl (of course you’re all beautiful, ladies) in the last twelve years, as far as I can recall.
This isn’t what I fucking asked for! I’m this close to venting this in the wrong direction.

Additionally, I tend to fall in love easily, it seems. There’s that one girl I have a serious crush on, and I tend to run into now and again. Last time I had the privilege of hearing all about her almost-boyfriend who suddenly stopped calling. See this picture?

It’s my bubble.

That’s hardly fucking fair, is it, you asshat. What do I look like, Tupperware? You can’t just call dibs and wander off doing whatever the fuck it is you do, letting her wait like a kid letting out her canary for a spin around the house. Do you have any idea what it does with my odds if every single girl is just going into stasis like this? Thanks a fucking lot, cockwaffle.
What am I supposed to do, scream out ‘Shotgun!’ with every cute thing I see? Hardly subtle, is it.

Luckily, as I got to hear recently, I’m “not so scary” once you get to know me. Holy shit.
Can I, please? May I? Can I look like a Social Distortion fan and listen to Bloc Party, simultaneously? Can I look like I want to without being judged a punk, under the presumption that I’ll call you a capitalist whore for even addressing me?

I do voluntary work with a group of elderly people on a regular basis. I help out on a dance festival without earning a cent. I’ve been called “indispensable” in both cases. I open my door to strangers. Yes, I can spare some change. Jesus fuck, I’m the ideal son-in-law! On top of that, I’m adaptable, never stay angry for long, and pretty easy to live with (although I’ve been told otherwise).
HEL-LO!? Is it so fucking hard to see through an outside layer that doesn’t even go skin-deep? Are all women really that shallow?

Yes, I am overreacting. But, try and see things my way for a moment. I literally look what I feel like. This isn’t some attempt to look mean, as my colleague suggested, or trying to be something I’m not. It’s just what I like, how I feel like I don’t have to pretend.
I don’t want to have to spend a full day with you just to be liked, because of this. It’s rarely that I get the benefit of the doubt. I wouldn’t harm a soul, but at first sight everyone seems to assume otherwise. And the only reason I can think of, is a mohawk.

Go easy on that kid. He may just have more up his sleeve than your prejudice. He may just have feelings, too, and in fact, he may have a huge crush on you. It seems obvious to some, a total fucking mystery to others.

So I have time against me, as well as conventional social processes, for that matter. In this case, it really stings to see her go some other way without the slightest chance- if there was one to begin with.
Time to move on. This method of distant lusting isn’t working, but it’s all I have. Oddly enough, the worst way for things to go with me is the “usual” way. I tend to shine through when things are the least common. If this has an upside, it’s that girls, ironically, are perfectly safe with me, even at my worst. So far, anyway.


Arctic Monkeys – Europe tour 2009 / 2010

The intention is to keep this one short. I doubt any magazine would give me two whole pages for a single review.

As the spearhead of what Britpop has evolved into, the Arctic Monkeys, once an “indie” (whatever that may imply) little rock band, are currently touring this planet after conquering its heart. Last night, it was Antwerp’s turn, in a sold out Lotto Arena.

Through some strange warp in reality they managed to book the Eagles of Death Metal as their support act, which was both genius and a bad mistake. Genius because I saw a small army leave the venue before the Monkeys even showed their faces, and thus helped with a higher demand in tickets and their prices; and a bad mistake because the Eagles happen to be twice their age and about 1.5 times their awesomeness.

The main act opened with the warming sound of a transistor radio and a red curtain opening to reveal a wall of smoke. The first song, whatever it may have been called, was far from inspiring and it didn’t exactly improve from there. The Monkeys failed to impress despite a nice, crisp set and artsy video screens. The crowd sang but hardly danced anywhere away from the center, although that may have been the result of the awful sound quality so typical for this god-forsaken, brand new venue.

Festival material. Next!


Muse – World tour 2009 / 2010

Prologue:

“Alright, so first thing on the list: Lights. We need blinders to illuminate the crowd. Usually we use simple, strong lights for that. Fuck that. Let’s use LED’s. Small disks with huge LED’s will do the trick. Next up: Spotlights. MAC2000 Moving Heads? Do they have LED’s? No MACs, then. I want those bigger ones. They have LED’s inside. Then! Video… Could we make three huge columns to project upon? Not realistically doable you say? … Oh fuck it, let’s make them LED walls.”

-“We don’t nearly have enough lights.”

-“Let them eat… lasers.”

I can’t tell you much about building the set for the latest tour of Muse, because I wasn’t there. I was outside on forklift duty, numb from the cold and rain, unloading one truck after the other. Despite my location, I didn’t see any sun at all because we started at six AM (which meant I had to get up around four) and finished around two in the morning again. Why yes, I am a little tired right now, thanks for asking.
Here’s the good news, though: apparently I’m a pretty okay forklift operator. I got compliments from several sources, one of which was a Dutch colleague telling me,

“God Damn! If you fuck like you fork, I’m going to introduce you to my wife so she will finally leave me alone.”

That’s the Dutch, for you. I took it as a compliment.

I am sure fans will agree when I say Muse approach perfection in many, if not all, aspects of music making. Regardless if you like them or not, their quality is undeniable and their live performance has won several prizes. Their sound varies widely from electronic to progressive rock, despite them only being with 3 members.

But enough wikipedia.

The quality put into the creative process translates itself into anything Muse related. This is not the first time I do their gig and just as last time, I noticed that everything about the performance was just that tiny bit better. From speakers over lights to their microphone stands, the whole production was elevated to an impressive level. This projection of awesomeness was continued in the audience. I always find it a true pleasure to see fans dance and have fun even before the concert has started.

Which is why the support act is such an unforgivable mistake.
This get-together of new wave mouthbreathers called The Horrors or whatever, served as little more than a nuisance. On top of that, the actual main act started 20 minutes late and it’s easy to see the excitement in the crowd die down. Whenever the background music went quiet, which is mind you after every song, the crowd gave a round of applause in hopes of the show finally starting. They don’t know what to look for, you see- nothing will happen until the front of house technicians stop fucking around and actually prepare, or light signals are given from the stage area.

But when it finally started, the kick-off was breathtaking. It is so much more impressive than the band simply walking on stage, when the curtain drops and the music explodes after a slow building of tension and remarkable visual effects. The line-up was strong and well thought out, keeping the fans on a constant high. Not only was the round stage loaded with high end technology, they knew how to use it, too.

On top of their usual deliverance of quality, it seems that someone had decided to scoop some quantity on top of it. The LED videowall set was immense and raised the impression that you were looking up at an enormous and heavy structure with the artists dead in the middle of it. The use of the lights and lasers (although the latter were often way over the top) was effective and impressive, and the audience’s response managed to impose time and time again.

It is so painfully ironic then, that the weakest link… was the band itself. Hard-core fans wouldn’t have seen it and it took me a few songs in to even notice, but the energy in the trio itself was far from satisfactory. In fact, it was rubbish.
The singer Matthew James Bellamy didn’t take time to share more than a few incomprehensible words with the people. He simply moved from one strategically placed microphone to the next, and did his little thing there before moving on. Granted, it was an impressive little thing, but if you expect the local fans there to go home satisfied, you better give them some personal attention.
Bassist Christopher Wolstenholme walked the stage like my father does when in “tourist mode” in the south of France: an aimless kind of stroll without a care in the world and a pair of whining kids in his wake. Minus the children. Did his thing, fucked his groupies, went to bed. Another day at the office.
Dominic Howard, whom you would only see from the back when his drum riser rotated towards the unlucky few in the VIP seats behind stage, was the only one actually talking to the place once in a little while- if he wasn’t cut off by Matthew ordering him to can it (off the mic, of course). And when he did, it sounded something like “Show me those cell phones, let’s light up this lovely venue.” I’d be genuinely surprised if he even knew what country he was in, let alone which venue. He didn’t sound a single bit interested, either, making the fuckmillion little stars in the inky darkness of the Sportpaleis a far more interesting given than his voice.

My colleagues disagreed and found it a spectacular show, and the admirers present might locate and lynch me for saying this, but I was disappointed. The gig was carried by the technicians, which rapes the point of a live act.
If this was supposed to be a visual interpretation of Muse and their music, I would be thoroughly impressed. The one thing that they could have left out was those kids playing onstage.

Getting home was a challenge, by the way. It’s been a while since I feared for my life but when my driver falls asleep in front of a red light twice and rams the curb before you even made it out of Antwerp, I think twice about dozing off as I usually do. But, I made it alive and hopefully, so did he. The only thing that died that night, was Muse’s credibility. Rest in peace.