A young Queen Elizabeth II with the Queen Mother.
If you had a pillow with Dave Letterman
ΤανÎ¯τ, φοινικικÎ® και καρχηδονιακÎ® θεÏτης. ΕνÎ¯οτε ταυτÎ¯ζεται με την ΑστÎ¬ρτη. Στον ναÏ της ΤανÎ¯τ αρχινÎ¬ το μυθιστÏρημα του ΓουσταÏου ΦλωμπÎρ
Ride That Mountain - Ski/Snowboard Tignes - Janvier 2012
Un petit montage de notre semaine à Tignes réalisé entièrement à l
THREE MEN IN A TUB
On Yorkshire Radio this week, Ken Bates has claimed that protests by Leeds fans at the start of the season made such a poor impression on a Saudi businessman that he withdrew his offer of £20m investment:
I had a Saudi businessman who is a Leeds fan and wanted to invest in…
No, not that one. No, not that one either. That one.
The festival was based in a field outside of a town called Kostrzyn in southwestern Poland. Pronounced “kos-chin,” most of the year it has a population of a few thousand poor farmers and old alcoholics on the dole. The weekend I visited, there were over 600,000 people there. The festival itself was seen simultaneously as a point of pride and source of shame for my Polish friends and family. They would happily point out that people were coming from all over Europe to go to a show in their country, but they would also note that several people were dying of alcohol poisoning and being maimed by trains on their way there on a daily basis. This contradictory pride and shame is pretty common and is evident almost every time a Pole or group of Poles does something noteworthy.
I arrived on a train that dated back to the communist era and was absolutely stuffed with drunk kids. A few people had already died from falling off trains or being run over by them, but at every stop the train would clear out and drunk Poles would run into the red brick rubble that makes up most of the train stations in the Polish countryside. The kids pissed wherever they could, regardless of gender or hygiene. It was basically a shit-show rolling along on 40-year-old train.
I eventually managed to doze off, but an hour outside of Kostrzyn, I was woken up by gasps and shouts when we passed by this:
Yes, Poland has the world’s largest statue of Jesus in the world. Again, you could see in the youth’s eyes, past the dull drunk glossiness, that simultaneous shame and pride in their nation. “We did it,” they thought, “it might be the worst thing ever, but fuck it, we did it.” It’s surprising the Polish language doesn’t have a word for this shame-pride. Maybe they experience it so often, they don’t even notice it. Like fish in water.
I arrived in the Kostrzyn station and people poured out onto the platform, onto the tracks and into the bushes to piss. I found my cousin and her fiancé (he proposed just a few days ago during a show by an Ukranian ska band) under an overhang.
The town itself was overrun with European party kids and no one was in the streets except for drunks and people selling beer, cigarettes and grilled meats. We bought beer, cigarettes and meat, and headed down the long road to the festival. Grown men were passed out along the road, roasting their flesh red after drinking themselves unconscious. Old men who lived in the town took out their hoses and offered to spray whoever wanted it. When a girl would walk up, their old faces lit up and the water flowed.
It was hot and we didn’t talk much, but eventually we had to comment on a couple who looked like they were attacked by wolves and were singing a few lines from a techno song that was popular in Poland at the time. They sang: “All day, all night… What the fuck!” in heavy Polish accents while begging people for cash with their top hats.
We saw a confrontation between a half-naked girl and several priests. As we passed, she screamed the dirtiest things I’ve ever heard in Polish right at the priests. I even had to ask my cousin what some of the words meant. One of the priests quietly said, “Jesus loves you” and they tried to back away.
The Hari Krishnas were also out in force. As I learned from my cousin, they actually have a large following in Poland. They’re seen as relatively benign and feed the crowds at discounted prices. “Cheap plastic bowls of rice for everyone!” is their motto, right after “Hari hari hari hari Krishna!” I don’t trust the singing and the dancing and the chanting, but the directionless Poles in the cult seem to enjoy it.
We walked further down the path and Spaniards poured beer into each other’s mouths from several feet away, while Germans carried their neat backpacks and sleeping bags and attempted to avoid eye contact. We got closer to the field and the closer we got, the smell of shit in the air grew stronger. We turned a corner and about a hundred portable toilets lined the walkway creating an unimaginable stink in the heat. Poles call them “toi-tois,” which I think is incredibly cute. Despite being emptied several times daily, they were filling up with shit and people were turning the surrounding forest into an open septic tank. As we arrived on the field, which was only dirt with sad little patches of grass, a giant cloud of dust passed by and all I could think was that I just arrived in a refugee camp in Africa. Well, except for the crane with a bungee jump platform and the massive stage at the other end of the field.
We got to our campsite made up of a tarp connected to two tents and a car. My cousin, her friend and her fiancé were exhausted and didn’t want to walk around too much. They had already been there for three days and were completely sunburnt. We sat around smoking cigarettes and drinking Fanta and beer until the sun started going down and everyone got hungry. The number of people at the festival was triple what they expected so getting food was like waiting in a bread line during the Depression except we had to pay for out plates of sausage and cabbage.
I was prepared to get drunk and I realized that not bringing a bottle of vodka was a huge mistake. The only available alcohol within a 20-minute walk was a beer called Carlsberg, which is about as exciting and alcoholic as a Bud Light mixed with a glass of water. The lines were again horrendous and we complained to pass the time. If having a negative outlook were an Olympic event, Poles would take all three medals every four years. Then they would throw up the black power fist on the podium just to get into a fight after the event.
After getting a 24-pack of Carlsberg, we got drunk in a small copse behind a DJ playing dubstep. Miraculously, no one had shit in this hidden grove and we drank deeply from the cans of watery beer.
Prodigy was scheduled to play and although I’m not a huge fan, I definitely thought it was worth seeing. And apparently everyone else in Eastern Europe felt it was worth seeing as well. We stumbled out from behind the chain-link fence and waded into the sea of people surrounding the stage. We drank more and waited around the edge of the crowd. Prodigy was over an hour late but no music was playing. I could hear the hum of the crowd, getting excited over nothing, screaming, the wave of excitement reaching the fringes and dissipating into nothing when it reached us. We tried to move to a better vantage point and the only way not to lose each other was to hold hands like a human train and trample anyone who tried to come between us. We got to our campsite with a few Carlsbergs and half a pack of cigarettes left.
We wound up sitting on the hood of my cousin’s car when Prodigy started playing. We watched 600,000 people try to dance while hoses pumped massive arcs of water into the air and across the crowd to keep them cool and to extinguish the multiple road flares that people lit off in the middle of the crowd. Every now and then the black guy in Prodigy would yell at the crowd to step back with what seemed to be actual concern for the well-being of the people being crushed near the stage. People waved massive flags of countries, towns and other groups that they felt needed to be represented by a bed sheet with spray paint on it.
Prodigy did a quick hour and were probably air lifted out of Poland as soon as their set was done. The party raged on for hours, but we just hung out under the tarp drinking beer and smoking until it was quiet enough to fall asleep. The next morning janitors with face masks were raking piles of garbage into larger piles of garbage while bald, white power Poles drank their third morning beer. I opened the last Carlsberg and decided that I had an appointment with a toi-toi.
Bláfjöll - The volcanoes closest to Reykjavík
These mountains are called Bláfjöll which means Blue Mountains. They are just outside Reykjavík and can be seen from most of the city. From there they often appear blue. When we are lucky they are full of snow and then we slip slide in our cars up this road to go skiing. The ski area is just behind the photographer.
The lava field and the small mountains on the left are quite young. Much of this was created in the several eruptions between 1211 and 1240. The most recent eruption was in 1389. It seems that volcanic activity in this area goes in cycles of 800-1000 years. That means that things might get interesting.
The Blafjöll area is very close to Reykjavík and eruptions could affect the city. My neighborhood is built on lava that flowed in the year 1000, so that could happen again. According to a volcanologist at the University of Iceland, the eruption would be very interesting, could cause some trouble but unlikely to do serious harm. The eruptions would be most powerful at their beginning, the ash perhaps disturbing air traffic close to Reykjavík for a couple of days. Lava would then start flowing downhill towards the city. The lava would be of a rather slow flowing type, so it would take a long time for it to reach the city limits and it is unlikely that it could cause damage to anything other than roads going to the city. The ski area might also be affected.