Friday, October 21, 2005
A few days ago I took a Fletcher friend that nowadays works at Science Po in Paris to the station. Gare de Midi in Bruxelles, home of Thalis the gate to the hidden pleasures and pains of European travelling. I go there at least twice a week. Still it is the first time ever I thought about the station in itself as a destination. I discovered a small subculture of youth using its vast, almost clean and almost safe environment as a stage. They were dancing in the Thalis hall at the back of the station. They had so much fun and the groups dynamic was incredible. They needed no public and they had none. At least no permanent one. A constant flow of people, some barely noticing, some curious, streamed by.
I always loved trains and stations. There is a special feeling travelling the old fashion way. Compared to the sterile airport environment trains and train stations have a different feeling. They are also less isolationist then the highways with hundreds of people together and no contact. I associate this feeling with the time it takes to get to places when using the train. There is less rush even if you off and on see the usual people running desperately along the treks to catch their train. You do not have to be early (technically you do for the Eurostar going outside the Shengen zone to the UK ) and thus you ra rarely in a rush, it is in the city center and in most occasions the destination is also close to downtown. It is more urbane and classy and maybe even more democratic then the plane.
But all this is a diversion form my post's original idea. I add just a few random, grainy and flu pictures of the station and the people that inhabit it. I like the contrast between the travellers and the revellers. The walkers and the dancers. The purposeful and the relaxed. Go to the station and take no train.
As with all generations, mine has got beyond the point it's fun to watch. We got mainstream, important, obvious and matter of fact. We are all starch and little flavour. We have ties and suits and cars and families but we lost a bit the crazy sparkle. I obviously exaggerate but my point is that we are past that point were we had so much fun naturally and simply doing things we like. Watching these youngsters doing their thing in Gare de Midi I was taken over by both a feeling of nostalgia and envy. Of course we still have fun. I love seeing my friends and I bet most of my generation still does that regularly. What we have stopped having is that joint passion for something irrelevant but highly enjoyable that bounds people so strongly that the group is immediately identifiable. We may fight common causes, we share responsibilities, jobs etc. but we do not identify. We do all that super important stuff grownups do. We have so little time to enjoy the things we do together. We get our kicks with professional or personal success but there is so little left of that gang or tribe communal happiness we once had. I find it particularly difficult to understand what exactly is that we lost in the process of adapting to a full adult life as personally I shared few moments with any tribe. At best I was part of the fringe of various joint interest groups without ever being totally absorbed or committed. The important was to be there and share. Today is far more superficial. The dating game, the social scene and all the other pre set behaviours keep us moving in the social environment clustering based on taste, shared interests or circumstances but having comparatively little group solidarity and identity. Our train is going faster and faster we stopped taking the time of enjoying the stops. The stations are passages for us, places we go to get somewerelse and we could not see in them anything different. They cannot be meeting points, battle grounds, or acting stages they are JUST stations. Boring, dull and utterly functional regardless if the train is on time. Much the same I feel that we have become functional, even those of us that are truly disfunctional, we have a role and a place and we cannot but take the train and follow the directions on the ticket. Every once in a while we should take the wrong train and end up in a station that we just enjoy.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Just before the summer holyday I took in late August I went for a Morcheeba concert at the Ancienne Belgique. It was a feast despite some little misunderstandings. But that is for later. These guys make incredible music that is efectively addictive. And so is the girl performing. She is truly hypnotic. In their own publisher's words they were the pioneers of downtempo, the architects of trip-hop. Or even better as they put it in an interview: dub-soul-trip-rock-meditation-trance-pop band!
Surprise! There is a new singer for the band. I did not know that and nobody advertised that before the concert. Not cool. Correction! Somebody pointed it out to me that they actually had a whole feature on the topic on the FNAC web site were I bought the tickets. So I guess I should have noticed. Yeah, like I ever read those things ... does anybody? Obviously!
New singer: Jody Sternberg. Certainly she is no Skye Edwards but what the heck, she is good. Really good in fact. She managed to keep people interested and she fits the "wierd while ok" profile of the band, and she has a special voice which I belive is the trademark of the Morcheeba girls. Do I miss Skye? I bet you! As I said, the new girl's name is Jody Sternberg and she replaces Daisy Martey who, if you may remember, in her turn repleced the original, one and only, Morcheeba singer Skye Edwards. She did ok, Daisy is better Skye was perfect. Actually in all honesty she did pretty well. I guess these are not easy shoes to fill and as I just said Jody - she has some history with the band - has a good voice as well. The thing is that Morcheeba is sound more then song and the idea for a tour is to have a front girl that can stand the crowd and make the best of the band's glorious music. The rest is chilout. You may like their trippy songs for various reasons but the truth of the matter is that we al like the soultry, sexy, female voice oozing tropical atmosphere in a very urbane dress that makes their music special. The mix is a killer.
Hell if I know if all the smoke comes from the stage effects or the pot beeing smoked by everybody here. Belive it or not even a teribly pregnant girl, and one looking rather gorgeouss - sorry no picture, was smoking dope like there is no tomorrow. I did not dare say a thing but I could not stop thinking that this is not at all cool. The fact of the matter is that probbaly TCP is not worth then cigarets as second hand smoke and frankly it also stinks less on your stuff when you are done with partying. Still, I do not see anything remotely cool in an unborn baby getting any of this stuff. It was her adult choice but it made me angry.
There are several reasons to do just that. They have given her a chance. She did a good job and they seamed pleased and suportive. Note that it is certainly not easy to please this public. Mostly people in their mid to late thirties, cynical, pretentious, snobs we are a self suficient and self indulgent crowd that gives few chances to others. It ended being a good show, so everybody should be pleased and go home now.
This is the end of any show. See you next time. What is in store? Well in the comming weekend we have Doctor Gabs playing the keys at the Bozar and then the Audi jazz festival comes to town. On the 30th I belive Cesaria Evora will perform in Brussels. So plenty of places to litsen to good music and take lots of pictures of people.
Somebody had the right idea of changing delapidated buildings into canvases. Thus a public space was designated to promote the city's cartoon capital identity. It cought on and several people have since decorated their houses, garages, doors etc with famous cartoon figures.