Archive for May, 2010

Lady Gaga: Monster Ball

I don’t need to introduce the hype that is Lady Gaga to you, you know it all much, much better than I do. You remember vividly what you thought when her first single came out, and the strong opinion you formed upon being confronted with her public image. Getting your nose shoved into her (supposed) whereabouts has lead you to the point of today, where you either love her to death or hate her with deep passion.

I take pride in doing neither; I respect Lady Gaga as I do all artists but the Backstreet Boys, and while keeping in mind that her image is carefully constructed by professionals hired by money-making multinationals, try to be open to it and the lessons it might bring about myself, others and music/pop industry in general.

With this mindset I went to see her live act recently: Open and gaze set to infinity. Whatever she would bring, I was counting on something I hadn’t seen before.
Stating the obvious: Lady Gaga and her franchise are built around a new sexual revolution, where horniness is a given, and gender is… well, optional. Men in high heels and make-up, women in rubber catsuits and All-Stars: the extreme is reeled into normality and anything goes from there.

As explained to her male black girlfriend Posh during the show, Monster Ball is an event where you can be yourself, freely, brazenly, unabashedly. “Just follow the glitter road.”
The first hint towards that idea was when I was with a few colleagues outside, smoking in the crew area while the support act, called Semi Precious Weapons by the way, climbed out of the limousine and gave us a friendly “hello” while passing us by into the wrong backstage entrance (as they metaphorically would). I tried to make my response a friendly one as I tend to, but I was terribly distracted by something. It took me a moment to pinpoint what was, in my eyes, wrong with the picture: It wasn’t the unusual hair or uncomfortably tight clothing; it were the high heels worn underneath. Not one member of this band was female.

I was very close to taking that back when I saw them onstage in their show outfit. I could have sworn that the lead singer, shaking that ass and doing splits with disturbing little effort was, in fact, a woman, right up until the point where “she” changed clothing onstage. Yikes. I had to take a moment to double-check my sexual orientation.
All in all, I have to say, the support act was quite phenomenal by most standards. They spent a little too much time whoring the crowd by barking “Gaga” in every possible pronunciation at the crowd if you ask me, but I’m willing to pass on that.
The first song of the evening was titled “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” or at least I assume it was. It made me pause and think that, in this review, it would be very hard for me to do so. When a transvestite in heels is doing jumps over subwoofers that even I would pause to reconsider, I don’t really feel I can tell them much that they haven’t already heard. They seem to have experienced a sense of liberation around the time when I was born, and from what I can tell, live their live as one big orgy with occasional breaks for eating and performing.

And then Lady Gaga herself kicked off. The first sight of her that must have triggered a few dozen orgasms among the crowd was a silhouette of her, striking several “luxurious” poses, and from that first moment, she lost my attention. What I was hoping to be an intellectual challenge and a sexual journey into the inner unknown (What do you mean- high expectations?) turned out to be a continuous string of American clichés and synchronized dance moves. Blah.

No, I was not satisfied. Not with her appeal, not with her charisma, and least of all with the endless weeping about being yourself and the shameless selling of her stage persona as something genuine. Unless of course she was very serious about having found her true love in the audience, in which case she will be so very disappointed when (not if) she will be spat out by the music scene as “last week”. Which I hope she will, we don’t need another Madonna.

What did manage to impress, ironically, were the distant references to actual class. Among the band’s instruments were a violin and a harp, and Gaga (what’s her fucking name anyway?) actually put down a charming performance on a piano set on fire (Unoriginal but effective). Even the high-heeled squat on her stool that she did and the one song where she, balanced over the instrument, tapped one single note repeatedly with that same heel, struck me as creative and showing a hint of real potential. It’s a shame that the business is so riddled with piano-playing little girls, because I think her talent shone through in these moments more than the rest of the show put together.

The set was surprisingly stylish, as well. I expected bombastic, penile overcompensation but saw no such thing, aside from the armored Cadillac that broke down onstage. The band, of which only the drummer looked heterosexual, was divided over several platforms held together in towers of scaffolding (One of these fell over during load-in, by the way). Props included a big-ass scorpion fish (how awesome is that) and enough designer clothes to feed Africa. Neon lights advertising,

Death Cases
Whiplash
Ceremonies
Children

and such, were all over, giving the whole a futuristic feel.

Because that is what Lady Gaga is supposed to represent? The future? The next step where fashion, sex and personal liberation collide in a new world where AIDS is cured and everyone can afford designer sunglasses? It’s such a shame then, that the performance was nothing more than the sum of its elements: airtight choreography, unconvincing emotion and a lot of hot air.

I think we can list this one with the regretful cases where the support act was more entertaining than the main. I got paid to be there and I’m still disappointed.

Here’s something you don’t know: Men in fuck-me pumps are nauseating.
Time to get real.


The Art of Knowing

What do you reckon babies dream of? It’s a bit of a cliché question in some circles, but obviously not in mine. So if it’s your first time: Before they are able to form coherent memories, understand reality and recognize shapes as objects… What do they dream of? What would their little brains come up with to help them, in the long run, comprehend the world?

Dreams themselves are already a twisted concept. You could rephrase “I’m going to bed- see you tomorrow” as “I’m going into a comatous-like state, hallucinating vividly behind rapidly shifting eyes for hours on end. –See you tomorrow.” It’s become such a common thing that we’ve forgotten just how absurd the idea is.

I’ve been told dreaming is your brain’s way of interpreting input and coping with impressions throughout the day. While the process of understanding usually goes observation – computation – memorization, the process is reversed and memories are “re-chewed” to new images. Not subjects themselves but the impression they left is brought up, and sort of… reconsidered. It’s even more odd when that whole process reverses on itself end the dream is remembered. Come to think of it, we wouldn’t even be aware of the existence of dreams if we didn’t occasionally remember them. All we would know is that “brain activity” takes place and the fantastic things we saw, simply forgotten upon waking.

The fact that we can’t remember our first years after birth has a couple of reasons. First of all, memorization doesn’t work quite as it does when we grow up, and though we might remember certain impressions, we wouldn’t remember them as images or even emotions beyond the primal ones. Secondly, as you might know, it is much harder to correctly recall something if we only saw it for the first time and hardly had time to study it. Its definition is unclear and it is stored as incoherent fragments. As a baby, nothing makes much sense to you, and memories couldn’t be categorized and stored properly.

Experiencing something completely new can be terribly overwhelming. Things might not make much sense at first, because usually you see them out of context. Dance moves must be broken down into basic gestures, technology must be explained.
Now, try to imagine everything is new. Things are floating around you, indescribable shapes and colors. Harsh lights, people making awkward sounds. Things happening without any apparent cause or reason; seemingly completely random. The most basic of rules of reality are a true novelty and could just as well have been something very different. You can’t recognize danger, or even food (beyond mommy’s boob) because it looks as weird as everything else.

So what kind of assumptions would a baby make? How does its logic work? Quickly enough, it will learn of things like consequence, which implies that certain gestures end in pain and boobs = awesome. What would seem obvious, and what contradictive?

Did you know a chicken thinks humans were put on the earth to feed it? The only time humans approach a chicken is to throw food around as if they produce it on the spot. Until the bitter end, this bird thinks we are its servants.
Of course, a chicken couldn’t possibly comprehend such complicated thoughts in its marble-sized brain, but it shows nicely how a view on reality depends on the given information, and more importantly, lack thereof.

It would be perfectly reasonable for a newborn to think mommy makes the sun go up. Only at a later stage, for example, does it learn that objects that are out of sight, aren’t literally gone. If it seems perfectly normal for something to vanish instantly, what are the limits? What a freakishly weird world would it seem, where literally everything is to be expected. No wonder it takes over 80 years for us to grow up, and believe all sorts of ridiculous nonsense along the way.
You think you know? Think again.

 

 

Gargoyles. Find a better name. Latin?

The idea is to create a people. Not too many, but large (figuratively) individuals. Friendship should be tight, but no such idiocy as “bloodlines” or heritage. They live on buildings, which are constructed by the human race which they belong to. Their kind can’t be old, with separate evolution or any of that shit- ALTHOUGH natural selection will be much harsher with the danger of falling.

Beautiful people. Tall. Statuesque. Dark, dark dark. Black clothing. Gothic style, preferably lots of ribbons or loose sleeves, whatever, for added jumping and movement effect. Rarely smile, if ever. They contemplate, since it’s what gargoyles do. They watch. Have names for solid ground, like “netherworld” or whatever, but less retarded. For the people down there. For the lookers, who tend to spot them once in a while.

Maybe one child: Symbol of hope and continuation. Bound to die, since a single mistake leads to death. Since numbers are few, so are couples. I don’t want to waste “the couple” stereotype here, so that means: Single mother. Maybe father figure, somewhere. Reason? Lesbian. Father dead. Divorced. Raped! Immediate reason for hiding.

Main character: Let’s not name him James for this once? Jack? No points for originality. I like James.
Proud man, but not too competitive. Contemplates his own kind as much as the regular people. Leader of the pack? Nah.
Preferably long hair; lots of wind effect = sexy. Not necessarily the darkest of the bunch, in fact might seem more genuine by wearing earthen colors. Brown, stone grey, khaki. The challenge will be to give insight into his thinking, because he represents his kind.

A couple: Love in the sky! Not very intimate, but all the more affectionate. In a world where open space is abundant, closeness is an intense thing. Close hugs, for protection and balance more than intimacy. Share more in a look than any human could in a kiss. Weary of their surroundings even in their embrace; because looking is just what they do. Let’s pretend there’s actual danger up there, besides falling. Silhouettes, baby!

I have to find more stereotypes. And non-stereotypes.

Wire Walking! When living on buildings, your biggest enemy is the street. It’s wide, it’s got people, and it’s hard to fall on. When the roofs are your home, you are basically trapped on the building block you are at- streets can’t be crossed without walking, UNLESS you use the cables that hold up the tram wires. Can’t be easy, but at least they are heavy and secured halfway (by the wires) so they’re fairly stable. Only to be done at night, by trained individuals in black. Clothes should distort their shape- if anyone sees movement, they shouldn’t be able to identify it as human.

Secrecy is key, in order to bypass the law. Theft is necessary and relatively easy, because the roof is never seen as a possible escape route by authorities.
If there are windows in a room, privacy is reduced to zero when the gargoyles are around. They see you eat, sleep, fuck, masturbate. And they think it’s fascinating.
Why? Perhaps because they don’t do these things. Can they love? I’d lose my couple if they didn’t- maybe some can’t.

Why do Gargoyles look down? What would a demon care about us ants? Is it simply in its nature, or..?
Why do I look down when I’m up? What do I care about these ants? Is it in my nature?
I am the same as the masses, but I feel different; as if I look different than what I am. Perhaps the Gargoyles look different… Big ears, weird eyes… Or perhaps just plain fucking ugly. Might be hard when putting it in pictures. Ugly in nature?

Individualism. The feeling of being lifted above the masses. A gargoyle is a humble creature, he would feel privileged to be up there; grateful. Same counts for my Gargoyles. Must find a better name.

Wikipedia:

In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved stone grotesque with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building. Preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls is important because running water erodes the mortar between the stone blocks.

The term originates from the French gargouille, originally "throat" or "gullet"; cf. Latin gurgulio, gula, gargula ("gullet" or "throat") and similar words derived from the root gar, "to swallow", which represented the gurgling sound of water (e.g., Spanish garganta, "throat"; Spanish gárgola,"gargoyle"). It is also connected to the French verb gargariser, which means "to gargle." The Italian word for gargoyle is grónda sporgente, an architecturally precise phrase which means "protuding gutter." The German word for gargoyle is Wasserspeier, which means "water spitter." The Dutch word for gargoyle is waterspuwer, which means "water spitter" or "water vomiter." A building that has gargoyles on it is "gargoyled."

Gargoyled. I like that.

 

gargoyleKind of like this. With a human.


Lift Off

Times are a’changin’ and everybody’s feelin’ it.
The worlds that make up my life are shifting, from my job to critical choices made by close friends. It’s fascinating to watch, but at the same time inspiring. I think it’s time for some change. In fact, I think I’m overdue- not that I mind.

It’s ironic in a sense, since drastic change is pretty much what my whole little life is built on. From downtown squats to the army and from the dungeons of SIDMAR to the skies of Werchter; hell even my social life is laced with controversy. And here I am, thinking it’s time for a little change.

What I have in mind most of all, are career choices that urgently need to be made. Urgently, in the sense that I’m slowly beginning to push on thirty and I have no plan with my life. If you think you don’t know what your future might turn out as, imagine a case where you never even bothered to worry about it- until today.

I have a number of ideas playing in my head. They are rough sketches and I may proceed with them, I may not. At this point however, I really would like to, but bear in mind, I’ve never studied for any of this. This is what I would like to do if I could have it my way, but the odds of things falling into place as I would like them, is scarce at best.

Boo hoo.
Sucking it up:

  1. The Crew Chief option. This is actually what has been playing in my mind for around three years now, and what I’ve been promising my employer to do. “Get a driver’s license, and the door to crew chief-ness is open.” And I said that I would, just… Not right now. Too many things to do first, places to see, people to do. I didn’t want to get tied down too much, still don’t.
  2. My own way. I am in the process of enlisting for a course that’s supposed to be a pretty big deal. Out of around two hundred interested, only twenty get selected to do the course. The plan is to be one of them, or, another such group. The idea is to learn “Stage technics”, which boils down to the basics like live sound, light, studio recording, electricity and all that. I pretty much learned all I can from my current job and it’s starting to become less of a challenge, so I feel ready to grow further. What could be an option later on is to get my own sound/light equipment, and start a small business on my own doing parties and such.
    Good thing about this idea is that it can grow progressively; I can start with the absolute basics and when more is required, I can rent it or, if funds allow, buy and expand. There’s no reason why I would get into serious financial trouble as long as I keep my expenses modest- small amounts of equipment at a time.
  3. Photography. Yes, I am still serious about it. More accurately, event photography. I’m beginning to think more and more, that I have what it takes to become good enough to ask decent amounts of money for my work. No time soon, mind you, but soon enough. For a couple days’ work, I can collect enough to take the next step in this plan, which is a new body/lens/flash/tripod/whatever and grow further as a photographer. Again, this process doesn’t take insane funds and given enough patience, I can get by without big-ass loans. Once I have the basics, I may even be able to keep some cash.

The more insightful among you might notice that all three could be combined, relatively easily even. Photography won’t take up more than a few days per month (I expect), so I can mainly focus on getting my driver’s license and build from there. Getting that degree and starting as crew chief won’t be compatible, but don’t necessarily need to be.

So the whole tree leads back to that single cocksucker of an issue: A driver’s license. Not looking forward to that, I must say. I failed my theoretical exam once already and though I told myself to try again right away, I postponed it a couple days. I was twenty-two then. I’ll get to it.

I was explaining all this to my father the other day. Him and I never got along very well; I blame him of being a worse father than I am a son, and that’s saying a damn lot. Needless to say (but still said), my surprise when he voiced his support was great. Not that he ever broke my ideas down, but he never really seemed to care.
Surprised as I was, my jaw dropped completely when he offered to support me financially. My father is much like me in that sense: Broke. He doesn’t have the money any more than I do, but still wants to cough it up under one condition: that I am going to spend it on the lens I had been so excitedly talking about. €800, on the table in front of me. Just to get me going. I literally didn’t know what to say.

So, I thanked him. Repeatedly. Opportunist that I am, I accepted the money and will spend it as promised: on the Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens, a jewel of a piece and the logical next step after my “nifty fifty” 50mm f/1.8. A lot of things like external flash and tripod will have to follow after that, but I kept that silent in the awkward kind of gratitude that follows such a gift.

While it never really held me back before, the unexpected support of my family is a welcome one. It gives a confidence boost that shouldn’t be underestimated.

 

 

With what I assume to be an unusual lifestyle like mine, going from one temporary situation to the next, it is frighteningly easy to lose yourself in hello’s and goodbyes. Couchsurfers, colleagues, acquaintances, volunteers. So many people that I once connected with, and got to know well in some cases, I will never see again. Because they are on the other side of the world, literally or figuratively.
I’ve always had a kind of puppy complex that tears my heart out every single time I have to say goodbye. That is, in part, because I put much effort into adjusting to them. A vague term, I know; and maybe just another one for saying that I easily grow to love people near me.

I miss the theater group. There, I said it. I miss being part of the project, I miss being greeted with a genuine smile every day. I miss the interest I had in all of them.
Nicely on cue, “normal” work is picking up (I’m writing this between three shifts rather than sleeping) and I’m surrounded by familiar faces again. Which is fine, don’t get me wrong. It may be a little tough to get into the routine again but I’m eagerly awaiting a busy summer.

In short: I’m hitting that “black hole” after an intense experience, that the actors frequently spoke of but I never really worried about. I didn’t think it would be this bad. Seriously, if I had it like this every time I see people come and go, I’d be far less motivated to get around them to begin with.
So! What’s the perfect cure for nothingness? Somethingness!

Norway: My home away from home. On the seventh, four of us macho troupe are going macho hiking in the macho cold and mountains for ten-ish days. Fuck yeah.
They’re the same people I walked across Scotland with exactly one year ago, it’s something we’re planning on doing on a yearly basis. This time, I hope to be better capable of keeping up physically, so finger crossed on that one.

I wish I could casually say that we’ll be able to waltz in and out and get a couple nice snapshots on the way. Truth is however, that I’m not as confident. We did a bit of calculating and we’re counting on 12-14 kilo of equipment each, which is roughly the same weight that made me limp for a full month last time around. And that was considered hilly terrain, as opposed to mountainous which we are facing now. We’ve brought back the pace a little, but I’m still in doubt whether we’ll make it- or to put it better: whether I will make it.

I haven’t put much effort into packing yet, but I should get to it. Toothbrush, socks, the usual. Oh and shorts for the night because it’s minus six fucking degrees there as we speak. Boo hoo we’re all going to die.

So yah. Fingers crossed and knees well oiled. Wish me luck!

 

 

What kind of freak of a Belgian doesn’t drink alcohol, anyway? We have beer for tap water and all I drink is orange juice, which by the way is coming out my fucking ears.

I can count the number of people that I know who don’t drink alcohol, on one hand; and that is after two friends of mine quit recently. Kudos to them; noticing that society’s liquid equivalent for fun at a party is a bad influence in your life takes a sharp mind and healthy self-awareness. Because what is sure as hell won’t include, is understanding of others. And, I have to admit, I too had the initial reaction of, “Really? Why?”

I’m a big fan of the word “Why,” and even more of the combination “Why not.” I think I’ll look up if there’s a facebook fan page on both of these.
But when it comes to the decision of not drinking alcohol, the dumbshit question of “Why not?” is probably even more misplaced than when pregnancy is involved. Drinking yourself into a stupor is dead normal, but not doing so requires a valid and very interesting reason behind it. Not that every “drinker” does it to get drunk, but you wouldn’t ask him why, regardless.
When I am offered a beer, which is roughly seven times per twenty minutes, I respectfully refuse. No, thanks. I don’t mention that I don’t drink, because the surprised face and awkward question that I can say along by now will be inevitable. Still, I have yet to come up with a method to keep others from pointing at me saying “He doesn’t drink alcohol.”

So why, then?
I don’t really have a reason not to drink alcohol, to be honest. I just don’t have a reason to drink alcohol, either, and since it tastes quite disgusting to me, I actually need one to pour that piss down my throat. Back when I was a kid, I was told I would “need to learn to drink to enjoy it.” That might be a valid reasoning for others, but not for me- I don’t need to like a damn thing, thank you. So, I never learned, and beer still tastes like a detergent-and-sand mixture with gas in it. Have I mentioned that I don’t drink anything carbonated, either? It hurts my throat.

I’m sorry, alright? I seriously don’t give a crap about single, double and triple distilled beers, red white or pink wine, cocktails, combo’s… It just doesn’t excite me. And while I could use some social lubricant from time to time, it just doesn’t seem worth it.