|August 14, 2012 | Found Images
Skateboard sticker, late 80s; I just really like the way it looks.
Skateboard sticker, late 80s; I just really like the way it looks.
County Antrim, Northern Ireland. You know those crazy rocks on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s Houses Of The Holy? That’s this. I got to spend an afternoon here.
* ” Before a note was even played, by merely walking onstage, The Damned made The Dead Boys seem small, provincial, tame, and harmless. “ The night punk was officially born in the USA.
* Up to 4 percent of the sand of the beaches of Normandy is made up of shrapnel, remnants of the D-Day operations of World War II. War sand.
* Do you really know what live is?
* “ Perfect background music for your funeral home. “ Songs in the key of death.
* Artists in their studios.
* Well now, this explains everything ( I am descended from Germans on both sides of my family ).
Tagansky nuclear command bunker, Moscow : Oliver prepares to initiate the launch sequence which will begin WWIII. Considering that he’s a half-Trinidadian drummer from Los Angeles, the Russian army hat they put on him looks strangely appropriate.
I feel funny, waltzing in at the end of a long, grueling tour when it’s time for sightseeing and fancy hotels and partying, but I’ve toured as hard as anyone ( I’ve slept in vans in Summer, likewise in unheated squats in Winter, been searched by soldiers with assault rifles and dogs at border crossings [ often ], driven hundreds of miles to play to two people, you name it ), and I tell myself that this is a little reward.
Moscow itinerary :
* Hotel bar ( meet charming and perky tour guide )
* Kremlin, Cathedral Of The Archangel ( gigantic bells, Tsars are buried there, awesome )
* Subway tour
* Taras Bulba Korchma Ukrainian restaurant ( Boysenberry Kompot = crack in a glass )
* Tagansky bunker
* Red Square ( GUM Department Store )
* Cruise on Moscow River ( seen : among other things, the famous ugliest statue in Russia )
* Hotel bar ( fade )
A thing which people I know who travel a lot have been talking about : in other countries, if you’re an adult, they trust that you will act like an adult, and that if you do something dumb, you will accept responsibility instead of suing them. When we all crack beers in the van, the driver turns around and says, ” Is new carpet. Be careful, please. ” — and in the bunker, where there’s rebar sticking out of raw concrete and puddles and unlit corners, the tour guide says, ” Is dangerous. Be careful, please. ”
Moscow subway stations : CW from top left, Komsomolskaya, Novoslobodskaya, Mayakovskaya, Belorusskaya.
The entrance to the Bunker is in what looks like a nondescript Moscow apartment building : we climb down 18 flights of stairs and pass through immense blast doors. We walk through endless tunnels and every so often come to large vaulted rooms lined with massive interlocking steel plates. We’ve heard that there’s a nightclub down here and at one point see through some open doors what looks like a disco ( there is a definite smoking-drinking-partyparty vibe ), but our bunker guide, a young guy dressed like a soldier, seems unwilling to tell us about this. His tour spiel English is mangled to the point that we can barely understand him, and we decide that he has learned his lines phonetically.
In the command center, amidst piles of vintage gas masks, there is a multimedia presentation. Screens show images of 1950s schoolchildren, missile silos, fields of grain, Soviet fighter planes. The guide calls for two volunteers to man the missile launch console, and, in tandem, they press various large buttons. Andrey translates the voiceover for us, which is about the cold war arms buildup, nuclear capabilities, and Russia’s heroic confrontation with a dangerous, imperialist USA. The operators insert and turn keys, and the screen goes white : obliteration. Our guide’s version of the story : ” And, uh, nuclear war is declared. Etcetera. “, which gets a big laugh from the crowd.
We exit through a room filled with old military equipment and communications gear, and you can put on a Soviet army uniform and be photographed playing with this cool junk. There are even a couple of AK-47s, and when we examine their bolts and fire selectors, we realize that these are, in fact, fully functional automatic weapons.
Paul, Gogol’s tour manager.
There’s this very specific sound that a few ( rad ) Telecaster players in the late 70s / early 80s managed to get – kind of ( if you’re not a guitar player, leave the room now, okay? ) gainy-but-not-actually, not twangy, sort of scooped-but-if-you-listen-to-the-mids-not-really. I don’t know what it is that would make a CBS-era stock Tele sound this way, but I’ve always been partial. Backing off the tone knob? Obsessive multitracking? Radical EQ? Perfect shitty distortion box to vintage amp tube brown-ness ratio? I have a feeling it’s some kind of less-is-more equation I’m not grasping.
The Alley Cats : Too Much Junk
Bauhaus : Telegram Sam
” The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is given to the less talented as a consolation prize. “ –Robert Hughes
“ The only important elements in any society are the artistic and the criminal, because they alone, by questioning the society’s values, can force it to change.” –Samuel R. Delany
” Andy Warhol is the only genius I’ve ever known with an IQ of 60. “ –Gore Vidal
The Electrical Guitar Co. DS Acrylic – the first modern guitar I’ve seen in quite a while that’s made me go whoah.
Don’t listen to this, unless you’re okay with it playing on endless repeat inside your head for the next couple of days. Don’t go watch the video, either.
Jan Terri : Losing You ( from VHS tape )
Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow : Gogol Bordello and crew are a truly multinational force, holding passports from eight different countries.
Places Visited :
* Moscow, Russian Federation
* Anapa, Russian Federation ( shore of the Black Sea, Krasnodar region, sandwiched between Georgia and The Ukraine )
* Belfast, Republic Of Northern Ireland
End of trip : GB Intercontinental Airport, Houston : waiting for the third flight of the day, which will get me back to New Orleans, finally. I was looking at misty green Irish countryside and cows this morning, and I am experiencing culture shock after being away for only eight days. On deplaning in the USA after even a short trip, I tend to think of my fellow countrymen as You People, as in, ” what the fuck is with you people? “ — I know it sounds pretentious and ultra-snooty, but, you know what? Europeans would never wear flip-flops on an airplane, and men there tend to dress like men, not little kids in pajamas. If airports get any more casual, we’ll all be flying in diapers.
I haven’t heard any news for days, and I see on the boarding area TVs that there has been another mass shooting, this one perpetrated by a white-power fucktard ( I reserve the term skinhead for people who polish their boots fastidiously and have very good Jamaican music record collections, which they dance to while drinking lager : skinheads : a subculture of which I am rather fond ). They’re talking about the dumb bands the fucktard used to play in, and I assume that these bands are awful, because white-power bands always are. Not interesting-awful, like, say, The Shaggs, or fun–catchy-awful, like, for example, Jan Terri, but boring-awful, which is an inevitability when the band members have so little going for them that they’re proud of being white. ( BTW, All Skrewed Up doesn’t count : they weren’t Nazis yet. )
Arrival : Moscow : the day has been almost flawless, as a travel day can be when you’re heading away from the USA. It’s when you’re heading towards it that there are multiple delays and you have to go through security three times in a row and they take away the tiny screwdriver you use to tighten the tiny screws in your sunglasses. Andrey, the band’s young Russian fixer, meets me at the airport, and we take a cab to the hotel – which is quite swank ( Moscow is, famously, one of the most expensive cities in the world, and I worry about this, but I’m getting a group rate, which isn’t too bad – we are, on the other hand, in the hotel bar every moment we aren’t sleeping or showering, and I make up the difference in $15 beers ) and has mural-size photographs of life in the old Soviet Union on every surface. The table in my room is decorated with marching soldiers.
Later : I head back to the airport with Andrey to meet the band and crew, and we take the subway, which I am excited about. Have you heard about Russian subway stations? No? Check it out. We enter the newly re-Stalinized Kurskaya station and take steeply angled escalators deep underground; Andrey tells me about his life. He’s from Perm ( the city where these airplanes are made, it tuns out ), and his day gig is translating helicopter technical manuals into English, although he is increasingly engaged in tour managing, festival promoting, and playing with his band, Pyatiy Korpus ( Пятый Корпус : The Fifth Corps ). This song’s called Svoboda, Comrady! ( Свобода, Комрады : It’s Freedom, Comrades! ).
The Fifth Corps : It’s Freedom, Comrades!
Kurskaya station entrance, a second before Andrey warned me to not let any cops see me with a camera.
Domodedovo Airport, Moscow : Gogol Bordello have been on tour for 6 weeks, hopping around Europe by air during much of that time, and they’re tired, and everybody’s frazzled because the airline has lost all the in-ear monitors and Eugene’s guitars. In spite of all this, they appear to still like each other — in fact, I’d go as far as to say that they’re the most pleasant, friendly band I’ve ever met.
Next: in and around Moscow, travel to Anapa, Kubana Festival gig in Anapa.
Wrestler Super Astro and his El Gladiador torta. It weighs about two and a half pounds and is free if you can finish it in fifteen minutes.