I live in Spain now. Have I mentioned that here? Yeah. Easter vacation in Europe is a big deal, and it seems like everyone who can travel, does. I can’t tell if there’s an official schedule – some people take like 2 weeks, some a couple of days. I had a 4-day weekend, and I wanted to go somewhere cheap and interesting. This is Chiajna monastery. It’s pretty spooky in person (when we were there, there was a really dramatic sky with lots of black crows circling), and is, I’m not kidding, located in the middle of a giant city dump. The structure, completed sometime around 1790, is a total ruin but is apparently going to be restored by the church. I wish I could have gotten a better look, but there were a lot of guard dogs chained up around the place, a lot of “NO PHOTOS!” signs, and some guys with additional dogs started to roll up on us as soon as we got there. Here’s some stuff from Wikipedia about Chiajna monastery : “Legend says that the church was bombarded by the Turks even before consecration. Reportedly, the Turks believed that the church was a military objective and tried to destroy it. Thus, all the documents within the church were burned, though the building itself remained standing.”
“Its great bell was cast into the Dâmbovița River waters and, according to locals, is heard pounding on full moon nights.”
“On the wall on the right from the entrance, in about the middle, a few feet high, detaching plaster formed in the appearance of a lady or angel, and some claim it resembles the Sphinx of Giza or Romanian Sphinx.”
Over the years, many disappearances have been reported in the monastery, especially of neighboring Roma people.” “There were two murders, one before and one after 1990.” It rained non-stop the first 2 days, which so perfectly suited my pre-conceived idea of the city that I actually really enjoyed it. When the sun came out, things seemed more surreal. Here, a Communist-era barber shop. Romanian pickelhaube helmet at the National Military Museum. Usually these helmets have an eagle or other some-such military-looking symbol, and this bull emblem gives the whole uniform a kind of pagan look that I’m partial to. Carturesti Carusel, a really beautiful bookstore in the old town that kind of reminds me of a huge, spare, modernist version of Livraria Lello, which I visited a few months ago.
I met a couple of really cool people in Bucharest, including Andy (in the photo, with the rat on his neck), who is part of a crew of guys who find old pinball machines and return them to working order. These ones here are in a place called Club Underworld, which was described to me as Bucharest’s premiere punk club; I sure didn’t see any punks there, but it’s a decent place, with good tunes playing about half the time. Andy’s band sounds like this.
Big Sunday flea market at Valea Cascadelor. You have to imagine the shouting, the smell of mici sausages grilling over an open fire, and the sound of Gypsy music playing through homemade speakers.
Ciolan (giant pork knuckle) and a 1-liter beer at Carul cu Bere. This huge, always-packed 1890s restaurant is at the top of every tourist-blog “things to do and places to eat in Bucharest” list, but locals were also emphatic that I should eat here.
A view of the grounds at the Muzeul Militar Naţional, where there are seemingly hundreds of tanks, big guns, armored train cars, radar trucks – I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much war junk gathered in one place.
The statue of the most famous Romanian at Curtea Veche ( the “old princely court”). I was a little surprised that there wasn’t more Dracula stuff around town, but it’s a big country and he’s from a couple hundred miles to the north.
Last day in town. Rock n’ roll, a breeze carrying the smell of sizzling meat, and shots of homemade 100-proof palinca.
* Why the capitalist gun is inferior
* .. and there’s a very, very young me, at 5:45 – Yearbook Chicago 1984
* That’s a wrap for Fred and Toody – also, memories of Loomis
* Soviet space dreams, and also, the ruins of NASA
* Bob 1 has been reunited with the original Whip It guitar
* Would you like to listen to a CRAZY STORY?
* On using, or attempting to use, rock music to sell cars
* “Catacombs had a horror theme replete with fake skeletons and mummified bodies in chains. Chains clanked, spider webs hung from the ceiling, the roof dripped, and unseen bodies shrieked and wailed.”
* I remember the fabled Rat Man
* This is why they called George Martin a genius
* A very, very famous recording studio, now a silent ruin
* Do not look at this unless you’re really into guitar pedals
* Stranger In A Strange Land : a 1987 documentary about Nick Cave in Berlin
* Here is a fun thing that people collect
* All about the guitars of the mighty Funkadelic
The Phono Museum. Beautiful.
* A New York City free jazz thing, you know?
* 1986 – possibly the best and most important year for heavy metal, as well as a lot of other music
Sir George Martin died. If you are a fan of 20th century music, you know who he was and what he did, and I don’t feel like I have much to add to that – except to say that while I enjoy the music of the Rolling Stones here and there, I’m a Beatles kid, always was, always will be. The man was a hero of mine from when I first started to understand what it takes to make a record.
Andrew Loomis died. He was the drummer for Dead Moon, who you may be familiar with if you occupy a certain part of the hipster spectrum (not a pejorative, just sayin’). I found Dead Moon incomprehensible, and then I moved to New Orleans in 2004. It was an environment completely unlike anything I’d experienced before, and I changed quite a bit while I lived there. The group started to make total sense to me, and I was lucky to see them play (it really feels like a long time ago because I was still shooting bad, blurry, no-flash pictures on film, like this one, from that night) to a rapturous crowd right before they went on hiatus. I met Loomis, and he was nice. If you enjoy music documentaries, I highly recommend Unknown Passage : The Dead Moon Story – all I can say is that the dictionary entry for “D.I.Y.” should have a picture of this band next to it.
So. Anyway. Here’s a photo I hadn’t seen before today. Members of Hawkwind, including Lemmy, with Patti Smith and Alice Cooper.