A Fistful of Fandango

One amazing thing about London is the sheer amount of musical activity that takes place every other day. One only needs to glance at TimeOut, check out the usual pub where they do regular gigs or just randomly amble around at dusk and crash into any music venue.

Recently, A Fistful of Fandango was organised by the indie guys at Club Fandango, which regularly do indie gigs at several venues. Actually, I find the their website slightly overwhelming with so many artists and information. The gig in question was a part of a series, with the girl duet Robots in Disguise as the main band in that particular night.

Quite a few surprises there, the Black Affair singer plus supporting guys  were quite nice. Very spontaneous, did sound well rehearsed and serious. A pity it was so dark on the stage you could barely see them, one can only imagine they are actually looking for that image. They felt quite at ease if a bit too shy and the audience didn’t seem to understand. Perhaps seeing a little bit more of the performing artists would have helped. Anyway, sweet enough to be left wanting more of these dark sounds. Well, what else can be said of a guy who’s traveled more than 16,000 miles on top of a camel?

Slagsmalsklubben was nice as well, funny with good humored character. Check them out!

Robots in Disguise was somewhat of a disappointment. The female duet overflows with potential but they looked and did sound too ahead of themselves, nervous and thinking rather than playing. Seemingly worried about their customes rather than their performance. Actually, the supporting drummer seemed the only one who was enjoying himself and did put a a lot of effort into the gig. Learn from Black Affair girls! Though the lines to engage the public were quite good, rehearshed or not…

Happy simple birthday

Some people love birthdays, some dislike them, others simply ignore them. Regardless, they happen and will continue happening. We might as well enjoy them, yeah?

My birthday was quite recently and as is quite usual with people that were born during summer periods, I was away from home on holidays.

I happened to be spending a few days in Eivissa, one of my favourite places to hang out and relax. In my opinion,  and contrary to what many people thing, the island has many interesting sides that do not have much to do with its partying fame.

So, say it is your birthday and…

You enjoy a delicious curry that reminds you of eastern London in the Ancient People restaurant, away from the bustling town center. Sit at the bar while sipping a cold Cobra beer, then discuss with the owner the level of hotness of their spicy chicken Madras, “It’s like London, you know”. Amazing rice comes together with quite decent curry and large nan bread and the moments drag on until the mango lassi is there to help you end them in style.

You get some unexpected calls from loved ones far away. Those are always welcome.

You taste a great ‘paella mixta’ in one of my preferred eating venues ever, the great Ca Na Ribes, in a lovely street of the Santa Eulàlia town. While you wait for the main course, you have a nice healthy salad and you eat as much “all i oli” sauce on traditional balearic-style bread as you can. The restaurant is decorated in a way that recalls a sparse forest, with plenty of creeping plants and many overhanging greenery. The peaceful and uncompromising atmosphere are nice complements to excellent food.

Paella Ca Na Ribes

You unwrap some presents that you kept unopened in your luggage. The temptation to open them before their time is not easy to overcome but you prevail. You really get two gifts, one on the day you are given the present and one on the day you open it, at the same price!

You thrive in the calm company of old friends, of the kind that is never completely lost and every encounter is lavender fresh. Discussion stretches for hours, like the equally welcome silences, which are followed by politics, sports, technology, entertainment, gossip, food, girls, friends, music, servers, jokes, restaurants, travel, places, work, languages, anecdotes, computers, synonyms, poetry, lyrics, comedy, hobbies, adventure, the past, the present and the future. After that perhaps some quiet and finish it off with a jog, hopping around the convenient urban obstacles of Vila town.

You relax with the excellent service in the Nanking, a chinese food refuge where cold Catalan beer is mixed with simple oriental dishes. While eating spring rolls you idly watch the night time workers order stuff to go and wait patiently, thinking of the long shift ahead. The staff welcome clientele with a smile and local elder men eat alone while leafing the paper and re-reading the sports sections. The hubhub of the streets just below is well forgotten now.

You doze in the amazing Ses Salines beach, just past the salty flats, stopping near Sa Trinxa to bathe in the fiery sun and balm yourself in the cool chill out music that oozes out of the seaside bar. Local waitresses speak to you in fluid Catalan and seem to merge against the creamy sand, they belong there. Cold heinekens sweat condensation in the heat and reflect the black-clad staff girls’ thin frames while they hop from client to client, occasionally barking rapid-fire chatter amongst themselves. Time drags on and on.

You remember days past, recalling times more than ten years gone. Can’t believe college is finished and many projects are now complete. So many things have been said and done. Can’t believe who isn’t here with us anymore and pleasantly surprised at who is still with us. In the short hours my birthday is well over, the sun is up and I just take a photo. Why not? Simple tastes are better.

Eivissa sun

Who says birthdays are boring? ^_^

Eurovisió 2008, l’anticultura?

No em vaig poder resistir veure gairebé sencer el festival d’Eurovisió 2008. Després de ignorar-ho els últims 2 anys o així hi havia prou suquet aquest any com per no perdre’s-ho. Les raons eren moltes i molt variades:

El dia que es va fer la final anglesa a la BBC casualment estavem amb un company -el Chris-, al pub de la BBC. Haviem tingut ‘pollastres’ a la feina i haviem anat a treballar en dissabte. Vam resoldre els “problemes” laborals, vam anar a un dels meus restaurants indis preferits de tot London, l’Ajanta Tandoori i havent plegat vam anar a remullar-ho al mític BBC Club.

BBC Television Centre

Aquell dia es feia la final de la selecció de l’artista que representaria a UK a l’Studio One del Television Centre i el pub es va anar omplint d’artistes. Bon ambient! Entre tots vam veure com l’Andy Abraham era l’artista seleccionat, que passava de escombriaire a defensar l'”honor” de UK a Eurovisió. Entre tot una gran nit a l’anglesa, “pints” i “chips” inclosos.

Una altra raó va ser el Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, òbviament. Els corredors d’apostes anglesos li donaven un 25-1 o sigui que per cada lliura esterlina que hi poses, si el Chikilicuatre guanya te n’emportes 25! No em vaig poder estar d’ensenyar als d’aquí un dels punts més forts de la nostra cultura… Em va resultar impossible transmetre les vibracions de l’humor català, però bé, l’intenció és lo que compta, no?

I finalment, perles com la proposta del francès Sebastien Tellier, grandíssim i eclèctic directe, encara més gran clip i una mica de música de veritat per variar. També destacable l’oferta turca, a mans de Mor ve Ötesi.

Aquestes tardes a l’anglesa, els descobriments musicals entre tota la brossa i la companyia de bons amics és la gràcia de tot plegat, no? Encara que el comentarista de la BBC de tota la vida, el Terry Wogan, digui que vol plegar

The moons of Verthandi

Long I signed on the silver-sailed ships, the hundred-masted whose masts reached out to touch the st-st-stars, I, floating among their shining jibs with the Pleiades burning beyond the top-royal sp-sp-spar, but never have I seen ought like you! He-hethor am I, come to serve you, to scrape the mud from your cloak, whet the great sword, c-c-carry the basket with the eyes of your victims looking up at me, Master, eyes like the dead moons of Verthandi when the sun has gone out. When the sun has g-g-gone out! Where are they then, the bright players? How long will the torches burn? The f-f-freezing hands grope toward them, but the torch bowls are colder than any ice, colder than the moons of Verthandi, colder than the dead eyes! Where is the strength then that beats the lake to foam? Where is the empire, where the Armies of the Sun, long-lanced and golden-bannered? Where are the silken-haired women we loved only last night?“.

The Shadow of the TorturerGene Wolfe

There couldn’t be any other way to start this blog than quoting my favourite literary master Gene Wolfe, as read in the first volume of his masterpiece The Book of the New Sun.

Quoted are the words of Hethor, an unimpressive personage -possibly quite mad or at least very impressionable- met by the main character Severian during his travels. Hethor has just witnessed the performance of Severian and a cadre of unlikely chance actors led by one Dr. Talos. They have just finished a supposedly improvised theatrical performance of some depth and unknown significance. Is the newcomer just impressed by the fiction portrayed by that motley group of performers? Or does he somehow relate the fiction to truths too big, too terrifying to comprehend or accept as real?

Are these insane words from a fool or do they recollect epic voyages between the stars? Where is this mythical Verthandi place? Is it maybe one of the furies of fate? Has that person been driven mad by loss, by forsaking such an adventure for a more trifling existence? Have those eyes really seen the Pleiades framing the hulls of an armada of silver ships?

The master Gene Wolfe perhaps invites us to draw our own tentative conclusions. I contend that he entices us to challenge these passages, to be lost in thought for awhile, to explore them and imagine for a moment how the moons would look framed against that starscape named after Verthandi, a mythical being of fate.

Well, a blog is a perfect place to ramble about such things and many more. And I cannot think a better humble way to start that under the shadow of the master, so much like being under the shady safe haven of an ancient tree.