Archive for travel
The framed seascape welcomed the fog
From the shower behind the curved bar
Three dories roped aft to stern
The house beyond harder to see
The mirror hides nothing once
The steam slips away
I stare at the boats instead
The wind and seagulls in my head
The ocean song is blood based music
Inland and mid-sea
The crash of waves within my heart
Feel the swell while land locked
My spirit in the undertow
Not fighting the tide, not at all
Waiting for the breakfast room to open
Gate slides wide and the people come out of the woodwork
European buffet brings all types around
Business men and Vacation groups
Sleepless roadies, liars
Families of the modern Muslim age
With women in different degrees of traditional garb
Hijab, leggings, long sleeve shirt
Subtle patterned scarves
Dark top to bottom Jilbab
Sometimes simple jeans
Designer sunglasses on their covered heads
The men less traditional, almost slovenly
Shorts, untucked shirts, baseball caps
Could be road crew without the family in tow
The children, vacation casual
Polo shirts and Bermudas
Then throw in an Italian fashion plate business women
And she looks like a porno star
Parading her snug ensemble and gold frames
Confident with what the lord gave her
The cream jacketed staff hovers, practicing the few English phrases that they’ve been served
Cued by the fat, the blatant appearance
Managers circling, steering, glad to have busboys to correct
Back to the wall, all the little dances are visible
The initial seat fine until a wife finds fault
With ventilation or sunshine
Businessmen who give the better seat to their luggage
Daughters following mothers like toilet paper on a shoe
Old couples filling remaining days, making up for wasted ones now that the clock ticks louder
To hide behind a bush
Ziplock full of Splenda & green sauce
The endless ferry of espresso
Eyes casing the room
Strange pleasure draped over
The tired bruised body
And the destructive default mind.
I’m so used to just updating to Twitter I forgot to let PIBC readers know about a few sets of photos that got posted…
This one is from Göteborg and Björkö, Sweden…
This one is from Antwerp, Belguim…
And this one is a few odds and sods from other places in Europe and the UK.
I also have appeared on a couple of Newsgang Live podcasts while I’ve been over here…
Well, a post is in the works believe it or not… hope to have it posted in the next day or so.
Living in the United States is a blessing and a curse to me. We have a remarkable quality of life, virtually unlimited material access, good infrastructure, and a reasonably safe environment in which to live, play and work. There are many things that are easy to be critical of in the states. As things shift and change, our comfort zone can diminish.
We travel to foreign countries and spend our dollars at the beach. Often we stay in western-style resorts with gates and security guards because the disparity between the experience we expect and the poverty of the actual local residents makes us uncomfortable or scared. Some places we can wander into town in the daylight to shop or at night for clubs and dinner. We rarely go anywhere that is downright dangerous unless it’s a war zone, a place to make huge amounts of money or both.
We watch what the media serve us. We read about the differences in the abstract. We “bless their hearts” and think of it as backwards and wrong. We figure they want what we have and are willing to take it any way they can. We are the goal they are striving for.
Like they say, it ain’t necessarily so.
Currently I’m working in Venezuela. It is a country known for its rich natural resources and diverse climates. It unfortunately is also known for its lack of sanitation and poverty. According to Wikipedia the poverty line for the population is around 37%. This was once the richest country in South America, only 30 years ago. Its supply of oil had the companies crawling all over the Lake Maracaibo region and it shows. I finally had some time off in Caracas after our shows in Valencia and Maracaibo and was able to see the richer parts of the city. As we had travelled the road from the seaside airport up the mountains to the city proper, the sense of poverty was real and seemingly endless.
Many newcomers from the countryside have arrived, but unfortunately the city has grown haphazardly. No demographic planning has ever been carried out, thus there are entire districts and neighborhoods of Caracas lacking water and electrical systems, not to mention other services like schools, hospitals, police, fire departments, etc. Therefore, some suburbs and districts of the city are like lawless territories, in which insecurity is felt at all times. Caracas, like many other Latin American cities, represents the best example of “non-planned supportable development”, where a modern, progressive city coexists with lawlessness and poverty.
So that sets the stage for a conflict between haves and have-nots everytime. There is also the extra added element of the current Chavez administration’s dislike for the US government and the fact that it is illegal to exchange US Dollars here. Of course, there is aways a work-a-round which involves someone else making money. We are told by our security not to leave the hotel and if you do, go in numbers and don’t be all gringo as that tends to bring more negative attention. Sound like fun?
But don’t be fooled, there is plenty of Western corporate presence here and a market for it to be sold. The Venezuelan government may be nationalizing certain elements of the country (oil, media, etc.) but you see Splenda everywhere.
So, it’s another one of those places filled with duality. You’re never really sure who’s on which side. Someone’s paid off supervisor walks away and the underlings try to create a fine that didn’t exist 2 seconds before. A cold sandwich can take two hours and require security. The amount of spoiled beauty really began to drive me nuts the other day, a remarkable place mistreated and fighting for its own survival. Like many places I travel I wish I could get outside of the sprawl. I was supposed to take a side trip to the Los Roques Archipelago, a series of 50 cays which have been protected for 25 years. Unfortunately, my reservation was turned back (small plane) and my friends went without me. I got to go to the pharmacy at the mall though!
So, a few more days here and more chances to gather thoughts and images.
If you are reading this, I thank you. It’s quite easy to show an interest in a blogger or podcaster and even easier to drop them if they become infrequent or out of practice. I am glad that I have learned to use RSS readers because they sniff out if there is anything new from those who say what they say when they do as opposed to the 15 post a day pro/semi-pro guys who have perhaps a single nugget of pure sunshine a week.
We have completed our mission to Spain and despite the uneven entries to the buildings and bull rings, the damaged gear and unpredictable local participation in the production, we have survived. A few of our number have left the fold as their assignments were complete and the rest of us flew to South America. More about that further down the page.
Ok, I’m gonna try to recall the past few weeks in an entertaining and semi-factual way. I posted about some off time stuff, a trip to the Alhambra, a few hours to the Guggenheim but some of you are sick enough to want to know about bullrings and how the blood/sand/sawdust effects electronics. You all need help.
I had the opportunity to go to a few cities I’d never been to before besides the beautiful Northern Spanish city of Bilbao. I wish I could go into more detail about a few of them but this is the reality of how we travel sometimes. We arrive in a city late in the morning because the predicted distance was incorrect. We get off the bus and wander into a bull ring to find that very little has been done yet. As the trucks dance into position and the stagehands scatter like roaches under a kitchen light, we try catering for coffee. Though they have been there for hours, there is still no black heaven or mud or java or roadie fuel or whatever you want to call it. A feeling of disappointment surges up and is washed aside by the fact that most of these places have small cafes near the service entrance, usually manned by grumpy older guys in white shirts who see your faces or your shoes and immediately start watering down the coffee. It’s the “Americano Effect”, meaning that if you are from the USA, you like your coffee weak. I am on a one man crusade to change this viscous stereotype.
Smaller than the big boys in Madrid and Valencia, they present certain production challenges as did the local equipment providers. They are dusty and stupid when it’s dry and a total drag in the rain. You’re working in sand and rock rather than concrete. Some of these places are still charming and have nice detail but others are starting to look like whorish soccer pitches…
In all we did 12 shows in Spain which is a tremendous amount of ham and cheese. The tour could look for a Lipitor sponsorship. The people were outstanding, the views breathtaking and the diversity of culture was welcome. I love Spain even if it isn’t the easiest place to do a show.
I spent our last day there scouring the music stores of Madrid for spare tubes and wah- wah pedals in preparation for our next leg which has even less support services. Without the help of Ximena and Santi, I would have never got the job done; thank you both for helping the gringo roadie cover his butt.
As a reward for the hard work we got a 9 hour flight to Caracas, Venezuela in coach and a 6 hour bus ride to our first destination which was advertised as a 2.5 hour ride. The trip from the airport up the canyon to Caracas and then to Valencia was full of traffic and rain. In 1999 when the show was last here a series of storms led to mudslides that took over 25,000 lives and made 100,000 homeless. Driving in from the airport which is at sea level to the city itself which is up a narrow and deep 4 lane highway, you can see how the elements could easily have their way with man and his structures. Building homes one right on top of another along the steep hillsides there is no doubt of the chance for disaster.
They appeared to be working on a more modern bridge overpass to replace the current path…
One we began to enter this city of around 4.7 million, the skies opened and it began to pour. We were told that the drive to Valencia was about two and a half hours; it took about six. Between the rain, the traffic, having to pick up some of our US crew who had flown ahead at a roadside gas station and the driver just pulling over to eat because he said he hadn’t had anything all day, we arrived in Valencia in the dark, exhausted from our 17 hour travel day.
At least the first building was epically dreadful. A small round dome basketball arena that reeked of petro-chemicals, the process of building our artists show with mostly local Venezuelan and Brazilian equipment took nearly the three days that we had until showtime. For us backline guys, it’s not so bad because we bring all our own gear but for sound, lights and video, it was dismal. The building was full of humidity and fumes and it appears that it takes usually three times longer to do things here than it does even it the lamest of places.
Everybody on our team did all we could to provide a safe, reliable and consistant set up. That’s what we do in whatever place we are. When you get to a place where the focus is not on these details, it can be like pulling teeth. If you’re self contained, you can get into a space and then tell the locals to get out of the way. This situation is hard because so much of the show is dependant on their gear and participation.
I actually had a longer more ornate post written that went poof into the aether. For now I’m gonna wrap it up as the night gets late and tomorrow’s challenge now lurks less than ten hours away. I’m sure we’ll have more fun stories for you in a day or so.