Mikrotravel? Superkulture!

Written by Herra Honkonen on Sunday, February 26th, 2006

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I woke up at relatively early in the morning to the lovely squaking sound of Mr. Vuorensola grinding his heels against the tent matress he was sleeping on. I heard later that he had passed out in the other room and deposited by Mr. Haapanen and our hosts to the floor. Not an easy feat since Mr. Vuorensola is over 190 cm tall and weights well over 100 kiloes. Tired of the squaking, I fished the pillow from under his feet and threw it at his head, and a bit later digged out his sleeping bag and put it over him as a cover. I got a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep after that.

At noon we got up and our hosts fixed us a breakfast. Mr. Vuorensola was a bit green around the gills, but hey, three bottles of vodka is not so bad for that big a man. I had been stupid enough to carry half of my stuff to the apartment, not realising that I would have to carry it around when we went for another walk around Moscow. My right shoulder was starting to have opinions about lugging so much stuff, in the form of a throbbing infected pain, but luckily other people picked up some of the bags.

This time Red Square was open, but unfortunately Lenin’s mausoleum wasn’t. When we walked past it, the guards asked our Russian guides who we were and asked for their papers, so at least we were suspected of being terrorists. Kreml was a very interesting place to visit. We were told to keep our mouth shut and not look or sound like foreigners. The reason was that from the old Soviet era some Russian people have the idea that all foreigners have a shitload of money and they’ll try to rip people off. It started right at the baggage check in, but our hosts argued with the officials until we got the same price as the Russian people (and some very sour looks). Kreml was an impressive place to visit. Because we were cheap bastards and our schedule was pretty tight, we saw most of the buildings from the outside and only peeked into the churches from the doorway (getting more sour looks). The weather was again very Russian. People from the warmer countries keep going on about dry heat versus humid heat, but the same holds for cold. There was a wind that was bitingly cool and humid. It was the kind of cold that invites itself into your clothes and stays there, seeping slowly into the bones. Taking pictures got difficult after awhile because it was nigh impossible to get your fingers to warm up.

After Kreml we got back to Dom to drop off our luggage and went shopping. Mr. Vuorensola finally got a replacement for his bag which had been disintegrating throughout the trip. We went to the grocery store with very hungry eyes, which resulted in buying two bags of sausage, bread, meat pastries, candy, energy drinks with 9% alcohol, pickled cucumbers, vodka and a whole chocolate cake to share with our hosts. Food and vodka returned the warmth to our bones.

It was the night of our gig and our web-broadcast. I went to tinker with the computer and of course there was a problem right from the start. The web camera which had worked very well at home and in the previous day suddenly vanished from the computer. It couldn’t find it no matter what I did, until it suddenly reappeared, causing the webcam program to reset all the settings. I had to modify the code on the webpage on the fly, while at the same time trying to figure out if the stream was working. The woman who was running the mixer board was very helpful, but communication was difficult because we had perhaps 25 common words in any language. The stream volume was too high for the laptop and there might have been some impedance problems because the input was the laptop microphone plug. I spent a great deal of the evening standing next to the computer, adjusting the levels from the table and the computer according to comments I got in irc from Finland and the other guys listening to the stream in the loft of the Dom. The webcam was working properly, but it is a shame that you can’t really zoom the picture. In the cam feed Dom looked like a small clubhouse, when in reality it was a rather big place with a lot of people. In the end everything worked out pretty well. There was a small problem with the stream, since the music in between the bands and the announcements weren’t going through the mixer, so it was dead air and sounded like the stream had been cut off in the other end. The actual stream was good enough to hear the lyrics properly, so we chalked it up as a success.

Then it was the time for our gig. I had to leave the streaming computer unattended, but against all odds it didn’t crash, catch on fire or explode. The gig started really well, although the mood of the audience was impossible to determine at first. We toned the stage show into noise instead of a rock gig, which seemed to be the right call. It seems that in Russia the noise and industrial scene is more about art than anger. People use a lot of background videoes and the audience sits in chairs to watch the show like a theatre or something. It’s a nice contrast to the Baltic people, who seem to be all about anger and a sort of punk attitude, in both music and partying. There were some technical problems with our equipment again, but Ripa was on fire with his guitar and we managed to patch up the stuff that didn’t work. Playing theremin was enjoyable, since the sound tech was again good and I got out the lowest tones of theremin which made the room vibrate. During our gig we apparently managed to break some of the PA. At least the covers of a couple of the loudspeakers flew into the room, which was just fucking cool. After the gig people came rushed to us to tell how good the gig was, ask for autographs and so on. So, either they really liked it or it was a very good bluff. Either way, it worked for me.

Photoes from the gig, by Darkiya.

My weird-o-meter doesn’t go off very easily, but later in the night I had one of the TOP-3 weirdest conversations I’ve ever had. It was the guy who had made the video I wrote about in the earlier entries. He was this guy dressed in leather, with a long beard and a cap that looked like an American civil war time soldier’s hat. He didn’t speak much English and as earlier established, my Russian is in the Finnish grandfather “stoi, rukiver” -level. He started the conversation by saying that Finland should be in the same empire as Russia, and then specified that Russia should be a part of Finland. In short – he turned out to be an archeologist, some sort of neo-nazi and a member of a old sect of Orthodox Christianity which attracts a lot of underground people, such as bikers. He kept going on about vikings being the lost tribe of Israel, Japanese and half of the other languages in the world having words from Viking languages in them and so on. It was a mixture of bona fide archeology and – what I think the term is in the business – crackpot theories. My mental warnings started going off after the guy started saying how certain nations should unite against the common enemy, such as muslims. In the end of the conversation he started going on about Aryan nations and how he has contacts with them if I’m interested. To make it abundantly clear, I am not and will not be, and neither will Älymystö as a band.

The evening was cut short when our taxi left for the train station. Misters Vuorensola and Haapanen went to buy us some stuff for the trip, but instead of food and water they came back with beer, cigarettes and one bar of chocolate. When we got to the train, Mr. Vuorensola needed to piss really badly, but in Russia the train toilets are locked while the train is near a city. This was of course free fun for the rest of us. We spent a couple of hours drinking the beers and chatting in the darkened sleeper car, admiring a girl across the isle who was so stunning that at least two of us paused in mid-sentence when she rose up to lift stuff to the shelves near the ceiling.

Mr. Vuorensola fell asleep sitting up and we made some room for him to sleep. When Mr. Paalanen decided to go to bed, Mr. Haapanen and I spent some time chatting with our host Gosha, who was very hyped up. This time around there was no trouble whatsoever with falling asleep.

One Response to “Mikrotravel? Superkulture!”

  1. Mikrotravel? Superkulture.

    sanoja jotka aikaansaivat erään projektin nimenvaihdoksen :)

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