Sunday, January 30, 2005

A Genuine Bad-Ass...

(Originally posted 16 Jan 05; mp3 link added 30 Jan.)

I've been listening to Webb Pierce all afternoon. Holy fucking God, what a voice... The sound of an ion engine cruising through the most breathlessly fervid of Tav Falco's hairdresser wet dreams, the weeping of atoms crushed under a trillion trillion cubic metres of (rye-infused) harmony... "Noise," in comparison, remains an ever-feeble compromise, an obsessive washing, re-washing, re-washing, of hands. An unfair allusion? Absolutely. Then again, there's nothing more extreme than unambiguity. Old heartbreakers like Pierce slice through all material states, destroy artifice, nay, the very edifice of simulation, and render screeching sawtooth waves inert. I shan't labor the obvious pun, but yes, he did as his surname suggests. He possessed a monstrous gift.

.

Listen to "There Stands the Glass," really give it its due. You'll come around...

Go here to have yr mind blown by a different sort of shrapnel.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Bleary Still, But Stirring...

Finally got eight hours of sleep last night (thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Diazepam!), but an exorcism will likely be required to expunge the vestiges of desynchronosis (jet lag for you commoners) from my cerebral cortex. Uhh, I'm cross-cutting medical metaphors, but as I'm jumbled anyhow, I trust you'll grant me forgiveness. As dreadfully cold as it was (at least for me) in northeastern Russia, it is conversely, perversely warm here in southeastern Georgia. Temps today in the high 70s... Is it too much to ask for a wee fucking bit o' continuity? (Of course, no one put a BAE Land Systems M777 155mm Ultralight Field Howitzer to my misshapen skull and forced me to travel...) Oh, damned reason!

Spoke with Grier last night; he sez Black Cat will be sold out for the Noise Against Fascism anti-inaugural... Sweetness. Kim Gordon and Chris Habib will be screening short films as well.

That's all for this hour. More, as promised, in a few.

Best,

TS

Monday, January 10, 2005

At Home, Dawdling, at Last...

Made it back in just under twenty-two hours. Neck and shoulders fused into solid mass of bone. Hacking cough harnessed as open-mouthed, toothed shovel; 77 souls rescued from Indonesian rubble.

On the evening of the 7th, Elvira and I went to a party at Alex Alexeev's (snow-engulfed) дача; several of the revellers spoke English, but as my Russian had improved a bit over the twelve days of my visit we engaged in spirited Russish instead. Lots of vodka.

Our driver picked us up, took us back to Uschakova, and Elya and I said our farewells. To buoy our spirits we drank cognac... Kissed a few dozen more times, made mental (and digital) pictures of the wallpaper, the bedsheets, the chocolates hanging from the New Year's Eve tree, Elvira's mouth and eyes... Then received the dreaded mobile phone signal. Loaded the bags into the trunk of the green Volga, and made for Moscovsky Prospekt. Big sigh.

245 kilometres through an intense, blinding snowstorm. My driver kicked ass.

We were stopped by the Russian highway patrol (DPS) only twice during the four-hour taxi jouney from Yaroslavl to Moscow. Total bribes paid: five rubles ($2). Why were we stopped? Everyone is stopped. Corruption is blatant in America, of course, but in Russia it's stripped of artifice.

The whores at the Oblast border were huddled into scrums; white-lace stems, black-streaked rabbit fur. One driver directed his high-beams on to seven prostitutes who stood, admiringly, side-by-side in the bitter cold. Their pimp waited beside them in a white Lada, windows rolled up tight. It was fairly mild for early January, maybe -2 Celsius at most. Still, a lousy night to be a hooker.

Drowsily convalesced at the Aeroflot terminal; forgot to sell my rubles. (I've got several hundred more than necessary for life in South Georgia.) Flight was late getting off the tarmac; the food on Aeroflot is surprisingly excellent. No in-flight entertainment whatsoever, but superb eats. A horrid Dutch family with two very obnoxious toddlers chortled as their kids crashed into armrests, ankles, service carts. I coughed in their direction whenever possible.

Ran through Amsterdam Airport to meet my connecting flight (to Cincinnati!); sat with a lovely Dutch gal who attends UTEP on a track scholarship. Made up for the boorish twits who sat one row before me on the previous slog. Nine hours in the air; ignored Catwoman and Shark Tale, but seriously vibed on the Delta Sky ad for Thai resort destinations. A young woman speaks into a cell phone from Phucket; her beau answers from Toronto... Seen many tsunami vids? The one with the three kids on the beach is very hard to watch.

Flew again with Natasha (the UTEP runner) to Atlanta; by the time we landed at Hartsfield-Jackson I'd been in transit for 18 hours, and I smelled like a fucking daisy. Bid farewell to the track madchen, and slouched downstairs to the shuttle. My suitcase took forever at baggage claim, I was tired as Hell on the southbound drive on I-75, and... Here I am.

School starts in the morning, and there's a TLASILA gig a week away. Life is good.

Best,

Tom

Friday, January 07, 2005

Everything Reversed, Always

My fiancé and I often refer to "Российский стиль," a particularly grating, though not entirely unamusing element of Russian life that seems to have supplanted want and paranoia in the decade-plus wake of the collapse of the Soviet system. Here, in Yaroslavl, it is just after noon. Elvira sleeps beside me, having been made weary from an early morning telephonic travail which evoked, in gray, faded Social Realist detail, the unfettered absurdity inherent in Russian Style. To explain would be pointless, but since pointlessness is infused into the very character of the Russian service industry, perhaps I should nonetheless give it a go...

My flight departs from Moscow's Sheremetyevo-2 airport at (or near) 08:45 tomorrow morning. As noted above, I am currently residing in Yaroslavl, a thousand-year-old provincial "Golden Ring" capital about 240 kilometres northeast of Moscow.

(I've had an amazing holiday, but university gears up on the 10th, TLASILA are performing at the anti-inauguration in DC on the 20th, and I need to bid Elvira and Russia до свидания - at least until next time.)

January 7th - today - is the day on which the Russian Orthodox church celebrates the birth of Christ, and those inclined to observe this very different, altogether solemn Christmas also observe the long-standing tradition of employee absenteeism. (December 31st more resembles our Christmas gift-exchanging orgy, although many Russians have adopted the 25th as their own. It gets confusing...)

Last night, before going to dinner, Elvira and I took a taxi to the вокзал (er, train station, sorry) to buy a ticket for a late evening train which would depart Yaroslavl tonight and deposit me on the streets of Moscow with hours to spare before the departure of my Areoflot flight to the banal ol' USA. We took a queue number from the dispenser (ours was 715, the then-current customer 690), and killed time by sucking down Miller Genuine Drafts (quite exotic for Russia, marketed as a boutique brew) and picking apart bags of pistachios. At 704, the station manager, an officious woman with wide hips and a deep, impenetrable scowl, commanded all in queue to regroup into three new lines. The overhead displays were shuttered, and our number was at once bereft of meaning.

Российский стиль.

Order disintegrated, and heads crowded into the counter spaces, obscuring the faces of the remaining ticket agents. In front of Elvira, a group of four women made simultaneous inquiries. Their smiles both belied and amplified the news: there would be trains, tomorrow, yes, but no tickets. Not yet.

Perhaps a hundred souls were bundled into their best traveling clothes at the вокзал, stamping their feet impulsively as word spread through the station. One man nervously rocked a perambulator; others threw roubles into a video gambling game.

We were urged to return to the station at 08:00, and make a second round of inquiries. Thinking better of this, Elvira made a (sleepy) series of calls... Still no tickets. Call back at 20:00... (I do have one reliable, absolutely tenable option: I can hire a taxi from Elya's flat in Yaroslavl and be driven - no questions asked - to Sheretmetyevo-2.)

Российский стиль.

Elvira has just awakened, and she looks over my shoulder as I write this blog entry. She kisses my neck, rubs my shoulders, and suddenly Russian style doesn't seem so ridiculous. Things happen here, but not in any sane, rational manner. At least not in the manner to which we have long grown accustomed.

It has been a delightful twelve days.

More on the new Shave album, the conclusion of the September 2004 tour reminiscence, thoughts on OHNE 2004, and other, (semi-)related topics, next time.

Thanks to all of you, and С новым годом!!

Yours,

Tom