Music mæstros

It’s that time of year, in the life of slightly bored 30-somethings with a bit too much free time on their hands, that we drink wine and say: “Gosh darn it, but wouldn’t it be awfully nice to get together and do something? Like, I don’t know, music?” And lo! They made a mark in their calendar, and once the date came closer and the convictions grew flaky, a battlecry summoned the frail dilettantes — “Wine! At least there will be wine, surely!”

The jokes about drinking too much wore thin by the end of day two, but despite some wear and tear on livers and brains we somehow kept the process up for the whole weekend — much thanks to Petter and Sara, who had some sort of “idea” of what this might end up being — and by the end of it all we had two songs, a bandcamp site, portraits, and importantly a name: VECKA7.

The songs are made for driving, but could also serve other purposes, possibly. Sara, Erika and Jeanette on song and various instruments, Petter & Sara on guitars and bass, and I’m the reason there are drums and some plinky noises in the background. Go listen and download:

Gay driving.

Almost ten years and a score ago, my family made landfall in Sweden and settled down in Hudiksvall. While dad worked at a concrete factory my mom was busy gestating what would become Tomasz. We stayed in Hudiksvall for two years and a week ago I briefly revisited the place.

Anna and Jan arranged for Markus Anteskog to show his work Virtual Waters with Skup Palet, and the cheapest way of getting the 1m×1m×1m works to Gothenburg was to rent a lorry and drive 1600 kilometers, returning with both art and artist properly secured.

With a merry “Right ho,” me and Petter set out in a giant Renault early Monday morning. Not five minutes had passed before I was frantically ringing the rental establishment for instructions on how to operate the non-cooperative sound system. They weren’t able to offer any help in the matter, so we turned to the Internet. Using a combination cellphones, wireless broadband and laptops, I soon had a question up on Metafilter and after a couple stops I had wrangled the player into submission. The car rattled too much for my spoken word podcasts to be audible, but Petters supply of rock music tided us over.

After an uneventful journey we met with Markus in Hudiksvall, lifted the God-awfully heavy boxes onto the lorry, and left looking for our hotel. Anna, in a gesture of motherly affection, had found a place north of Hudiksvall which judging from the pictures looked like a manor. Its webpage boasted of a fitness center, sauna and beautiful surroundings. We were to have luxuriant Italian toiletries and designer towels.

Imagine my shock upon discovering that the internets are not always faithful to the truth! The house was big-ish, but a glorified bed-and-breakfast rather than a grand guesthouse; A hard toffee was the only concession to luxury afforded us. The wifi was excellent, but I would gladly have settled for a slower connection in exchange for something more extravagante than Italian soap (no shampoo) and a backed–up shower drain. The towels might have been designed, but as one who has occasionally employed dirty shirts in lieu of traditional devices of absorption, my taste can hardly be called discriminating.

Anna, who had felt that she needed to compensate for the previously mentioned “motherly affection,” had unbeknownst to us called ahead and asked the proprietors to spare no efforts in making our stay as romantic as possible, since I and Petter had been eyeing each other for months and this would be the first time we’d be able to express the gay. Apparently, homosexuality hasn’t been invented in Bergsjö (population 1 243) which would explain the resulting tiptoeing. Also, the mirth expressed at the request of an additional duvet to the king-sized bed was better understood in light of Annas preplanning.

We had dinner at the one pizzeria which was licensed to sell beer, and trudged home. We’d been shown neither sauna nor fitness centre, and soon we fell asleep, with nary a fondle or caress. Breakfast was a toast–and–yoghurt affair, and pretty soon we were off in the truck again. The stereo had regressed to it’s previous state of being a broken piece of crap, and no amount of poking would convince it to work. I tried to entertain with the speaker of my cellphone, but Jay-Z just doesn’t carry the necessary oomph at such meagre volumes. We picked up Markus in Hudiksvall and off we went.

The highlight of the trip was having lunch at Dragon Gate, some twenty kilometres outside of Gävle. It’s an eight story Chinese pagoda with a surrounding wall, where you can eat lunch, get a massage or watch the largest collection of replica terracotta soldiers outside of China. We had spotted the place on our way up, and it was immensely gratifying to stop for a stir-fry, which we enjoyed in a dragon-shaped boat. Petter has already vowed to arrange any future wedding there, and I will most certainly recommend it to anyone going in that direction. The place is other-worldly; A mix of post-apocalyptic Chinese fortification combined with the concept of clave in Diamond Age.

With bellies full of tofu and rice, we continued the uneventful journey home. Long after dusk, with a lingering taste or french fries and coffee we’d picked up, and with lower backs bruised by unforgiving seats, we arrived in Gothenburg. Our precious content was delivered — art and artist in one piece, the latter only slightly worse for the wear — and we went our separate ways, sleeping the sleep of the well deserving. The show opened just the other day, and will be open until 28th March. Check out Skup Palet for more details on hours and so forth.

Licenses: Responsibility and prerogatives.

Earlier today I got a PADI open water diver licence and hugs from my instructors. I can now rent scuba equipment and make an ass out of myself as far down as 18 meters. The diving course has been a blast so far, and with only one dive left I’m thinking about how I could apply myself to use these new skills I’ve aquired. If life was an RPG this would be the point where I tame a seahorse and find treasures, but I guess I’ll have to settle with something more pedestrian.

I usually don’t do things because they’re “fun,” so it’s an odd feeling spending a whole day wrestling wetsuits for no better reason than that you’ll get fifty minutes playtime with a school of jellyfish. But jellyfish are awesome and even the bewildered fish were adorable. How often are you hovering above your lawn thinking about the texture of grass? Without drugs? Having fun is proving to be entertaining; I’ll try harder to find some more.

The fact that I haven’t become fanatic about this might be a something good; Perhaps one can enjoy diving recreationally instead of smothering a baby hobby with nerd obsession?

Even though I’ve had my drivers licence for eight months, I still tell people that I’ve just gotten it. It’s true enough relative to my age, and it certainly feels like just the other day that I fooled the instructor long enough for him to approve me as a driver. By now I have more hours behind me and feel more confident on the road, but there’s still a sensation of newness that makes me volounteer to drive drunk friends around town.

The first time anything drive related is something to remember; First tank filling, changing a broken bulb, switching tires, running a red light, overtaking another car. I cherish these experiences because they are attributes of modern man that I’ve had no part of except as a spectator; It’s what YLNT are discussing in their Man School episode (well, they’re “poking fun at” more than “discussing”) and each such thing that I do is yet another childish testicle dropping.

The reason I bring this up is because I got a parking ticket earlier today. I had borrowed Petters car to drive myself to the diving school, and misread the roadsigns. A parking attendent was up at 3 am just to ticket me. Yesterday I would never have thought that I’d actually get a parking ticket, and thought that parking attendents were doing a good job in providing incentive for alternative means of transportation. At seven in the morning I was less appreciative and swore over the peglegged fucktard who was robbing me.

Barely audible over my swearing was the squishy sound of another testicle settling into its’ adult position.

You say “stop!” and I say “go!”

In between bouts of coughing and spitting gobs of semi-living tissue, I actually get some driving done.
Today I almost caused two accidents, both in roundabouts. The second one found me pressing the accelerator and the instructor standing on the brake.

I might have misjudged the speed and distance of a crappy Golf that was speeding, with dry mouth, heart pounding and slight tremors as a result. But with everything taken into account, I’d rather fuck up in a car with a double set of pedals than one without; hopefully I learned some sort of lesson.

My diaphragm and abdominal muscles are so fatigued by now that I can’t cough properly. I hem, which is wholly unbecoming someone as goddamn manly as myself.

I was reading up on tuberculosis, and found the expression “Spes phthisica” which denotes a condition believed peculiar to consumptives in which physical wasting led to euphoric flowering of the passionate and creative aspects of the soul. The quote (and a very good essay on the subject) comes curtesy of Centers for Disease Control.

On the street, in a car, I honk honk honk.

My mom has begged me to get a drivers license for years, trying all arguments. “You’ll get a better job” she’d say. “It’s a grown up thing to do” she’d say. “Think of all the bitches and respect your pimp ride would get!” she’d say.

Finally, with the assistance and company of my brother, I’ve found myself at a two weeks intensive driver ed in Eskiltuna, a small city south-west of Stockholm. We were driving from day one, jaded instructors at our side ready to push their own set of pedals should we lose control.

It’s not as scary as I imagined. Apart from not having a proper reason to get a drivers license, I’ve had this constant fear of killing someone – even if it wouldn’t have been my own fault. The thought has struck me that I should become a train driver – work in that field long enough and you’ll run over someone by no fault of your own – and I wouldn’t have to worry, having gotten it done. Not the self-affirming thinking I’ve heard so much about.

Me and my brother have had ten classes the past week, and on thursday I was out on the autobahn. I didn’t know you were allowed up there as a student. This is partly because I’ve been handed buckets of advise from people which have turned out to be guano inaccurate. Andy: it is perfectly legal to cross your hands when turning.

There’ve been two students sleeping at the place other than me and Tomasz. Both are ten years our juniors and see drivers license as something obvious. I guess they had mopeds at fifteen and a car is a natural progression?

My brother was told that the gear should be handled gently, “like a 30 kilo woman.” How do you answer such advice? “Oh, like stearing someones ejaculating cock away from your clothes, you mean?” Nobody wants to be the politically correct bore, so maybe being annoying in another direction would be good? Make people uncomfortable? I don’t know.

There’s a pretty river flowing through the city, and the old buildings are nice, but it’s a small place and it shows. Boring, but perfect for what we are there for. There are few distractions and little to do except study and drive around, and apart from watching the news in the evening we’re in bed early.

My instructor is patient and pedagogical. He’s been doing this since 1994 and has five whip-lash injuries to prove it. From time to time I hear his sardonical voice, with this weird local accent, “theeeeeere you missed an aJOIning streeeet.”

I’ve stalled more than a few times, and in a “learning by doing wrong” moment I had to wait for someone to show up behind me at a sensor-activated light; I had forgotten the clutch, and thereby missed the window of opportunity for passing the light. Since I wasn’t allowed to reverse on this road, I waited for five minutes before someone showed up behind and activated the green light again, and Pelle used the time to check for incoming messages about his wife pregnancy and was repeating “use the clutch, use the gas, we’re never getting out of here” over and over. It was fun.

Since neither me nor my brother have much previous experience of driving, we’ve taken an extended course and are going back come monday. Gonna do the skid-test on thursday, and see how many more hours the instructors think we need before we’d pass an official test.

Until then I’m in Stockholm, trying to get more well. I thought I had licked the cough, but it’s gotten worse and is now accompanied by two infected ear canals. Classy timing body, real classy. Went to the quack this afternoon and got some prescription antibiotics and cough-syrop. The syrop might have side-effects that will impair driving, so let’s just hope that I’ll be healthy and bloody good before I go back again.

Wroom, wroom!

I’m in Eskilstuna for two weeks at an intensive drivers ed course. Not twenty minutes after me and my brother arrived this morning I was already out and about, making the streets slightly less safe. Fun times.

I’ll try to be a good boy and blog about this, but since they have no internet (in this day and age!) Im leeching off of a neighbour who seems to occasionally wrap his wifi in tin foil just to annoy me and drop the signal to -30-go-away.