Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What I hate about music festivals

Summers are a time for music festivals. With the growing popularity of electronic music, music festivals have been sprouting around like mushrooms after a rain. Pretty much every weekend from June to September there is a music festival somewhere driving distance from everywhere. And every time I am out, people ask me "So are you gonna go to Moon Gathering Of The Holistic Vibes Festival? And every time I say "Absolutely not!" Why? Cause I fucking loathe music festivals. Here are a few reasons why.

Camping 

Yes, I am a total urbanite. Just the other day I found myself standing in the middle of Boston Common thinking "Yep, that's pretty much the extent of "nature" that I truly enjoy - a park in the middle of the city". That said, I can see how other people may enjoy camping in the woods. I can see how falling asleep by the fire with sounds of forest creatures or maybe a little brook is a peaceful and pleasant experience.
                    Ahhh, much serene! Very peace! Such nature! Wow!                            

Rwandan refugee camp
This is NOT what festival camping is like though, is it? Pretty sure the outdoor living arrangements at festivals are called "camping" because they closely resemble refugee camps not "outdoor explorer" camps.
Some random music festival camp











Festival camps are loud, dirty, and crowded. Sounds of nature are replaced instead with sounds of "human nature". Best case scenario - the people in the tent next to yours are engaging in a little pre-bedtime drunken fornication. Worst case scenario - someone is saying a very loud good bye to what they ate earlier that day. Ugh... No thanks!

Lack of Hygiene

Look people there is a huge difference between things that are just gross and things that are a health hazard. I have been a vet tech for over 10 years now. I've seen shit that you wouldn't wanna hear about. Literally! So believe me when I say that there are very few things at this point in my life that really gross me out, but festivals are one of those things. Here is a little visual illustration:


                       +






is a scary combination to someone even mildly versed in western medicine. Hmmm, do I want a slice of Hep. A or E. Coli with my festival grub? I think I'll pass.

Spiritual People

Oh, spiritual people - the bane of my existence. It's finally become culturally frowned upon in our little liberal bubble we call Boston to push your religious views on other people at social gatherings, but for whatever reason this only applies to organized religion. Everyone rolls their eyes at the dude passing out Jesus-related literature, but somehow spiritual people don't get the same response. Here is the part I hate the most. "Oh, you are an atheist? I am not religious either. I am spiritual" Guess what? To an atheist "religious" and "spiritual" is the same thing. Just instead of a government-sanctioned faith you decided to mix your own version of cool-aid which is most likely a combination of non-scientific aspects of astrology with a bastardized version of some eastern religion accompanied by a dash Grateful Dead lyrics and wee-bit of paganism crafted in a state of chemically induced "consciousness".
From: https://www.facebook.com/InspirationalWooEnergy

From: https://www.facebook.com/InspirationalWooEnergy

Do I think it's bullshit? Maybe, but I wouldn't have a chance to think this if you didn't decide to suddenly dump this insight onto me uninvited. Somehow back in the city conversations about "existence" are reserved for cocaine-driven after parties, so you can at least enjoy a show at a club in piece, but not at festivals. At festivals for whatever reason it is acceptable to latch on to a complete stranger like a human tick and try to infect them "knowledge".

Friday, September 19, 2014

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

Violence against women... This has been the talk of the media lately. It's proven to be a pretty touchy subject, where some people's opinions have definitely driven this woman to consider physical violence against them. I managed to restrain myself though, and unfortunately no misogynists were harmed in the making of this blog post. I have, however, been thinking a lot about some of my favorite moments in pop culture where victimized women were able to get their revenge. For this purpose I am making this list of my personal favorites:

1) Alabama vs. Virgil (True Romance)
This scene is probably my all-time favorite in this list because the initial power between characters is so uneven. Alabama isn't some spy or soldier or super hero. She is just a girl standing between a gangster and a suitcase of cocaine. The odds are so much against her that it seems completely crazy that she would win, which makes her victory just that much sweeter to me.


True Romance - You've Got A Lot Of Heart, Kid (HD) from K7vn on Vimeo.

2) "How sexy am I now?" by Mallory Knox (Natural Born Killers)
OK, so don't get me wrong, I do know that Mallory is a psychopathic serial killer; however, there is something deeply satisfying about how this whole encounter turned out for the lusty redneck.



3) Buffy finally kills Caleb (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
Oh Buffy, perhaps my favorite female hero of all times... This particular scene is towards the series finale. In this scene she finally defeats Caleb - arguably the shows most unpleasant villain (who ironically enough is portrayed by Nathan Fillion - one of the most likable actors ever). Caleb is a misogynistic preacher with evil super-powers who gets off on torturing and killing women on the basis of their being dirty. Real winner here folks. Prior to this awesome moment, Caleb has managed to beat Buffy, kill her protegees, and tear out her best friend's eye. Let's just say his demise couldn't come soon enough.

4)  Beatrix vs. Elle (Kill Bill Vol II)
By the way, I hope you understand that this isn't a rant against men on my part. I am equally pissed at women beating women as well. So Kill Bill is a story of a woman getting her revenge. Obviously it's filled with all sorts of awesome ass-kicking moments, but my favorite line of all is "Bitch, you don't have a future!" which Beatrix says to Elle. It's just so freaking poetic in its brevity.


5) Lisbeth Salander vs The Rapist (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo the original one, not the remake)
I won't include the video because frankly it's pretty long and without seeing the preceding rape scene is almost too gruesome. Long story short though, after being raped by her social worker, the protagonist decides to take revenge. She ties up the dude, performs a bit of penetration with a dildo, and tattoos the words "I am a sadistic rapist" on the his chest. And if this description makes you cringe, trust me, by that point in time you hate the guy so much, you cheer Lisbeth on in every one of the steps.














So yeah... I think these are my top 5 favorite moments when women in pop culture ended up overcoming their abusers. Obviously there are many more female characters that I am a fan of such as
Aeon Flux 
River Tam


Veronica Mars
As a finishing act, I will post a little reminder of why every girl who grew up in the 90s favors the words "suck my dick!" so much. This video doesn't really fit into the "women taking revenge" type category since the aggressor here falls under the category of being benevolent underneath it all, but the video is still inspiring despite the overall "meh" of the actual movie.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Montreal Shenanigans

So I hate retelling stories multiple times to different people. Also, I never know who actually wants to hear about my travels and who is just too polite to tell me to shut up hence this blog post. Long story short, I went to Montreal this past weekend with 3 of my friends. Sarah, Paige, and Phil went with specific plans to go to Piknic Electronik and Arcade Fire, while I went mostly because I LOOOOOOOOVE Montreal and I rarely get to go. Let me start off by saying that in my opinion Montreal is by far the most fun place one can easily drive to from Boston. Don't get me wrong, I love going to NYC, but to be honest I'd pick Montreal over NYC any day. I'll try to explain why as I go.

We made a brief stop in Burlington, VT for lunch, beers, and a bit of oceanic scenery. 
Paige and Phil unknowingly posing for a Hallmark card
 Cute town, lots of good-looking dudes :) but after a quick meal and a hang it was allons y to Montreal.

I was lodging separately from the rest of the crew. I ended up getting a room right on St. Denis - prob one of the more lively streets in Latin Quarter. I met my awesome host Dominic (more about him later) and was off exploring St. Catherine Street. I set out with a distinct objective to NOT buy everything I see. The problem with Montreal you see is the abundance of really awesome clothing and shoe stores. I managed to dodge a bullet at the Tibetan and Nepalese clothing store. Items procured at that place have magical powers on hippies and psytrance kids. If I wear one of their patchwork jackets to a gathering of some sort, moments later I am usually followed by a flock of dreaded kids who have imprinted on that jacket like a bunch of baby ducks. Luckily I was able to resist getting any new hippie bait this time. I did some brief recon, snatched a pair of pants from Jacob that I did need and a dress from Le Chateau that def didn't need, and found a shoe store that I vowed to come back to next day because it was closed, but it looked like it had a bunch of cool stuff in it.
At this point the rest of my crew informed me that they wanted to chillax in their neighborhood, so I was left to my own devices. I stumbled upon an outdoor movie showing in Place Des Arts. 
It was pretty amazing. They were showing this movie in the middle of the city and all I kept thinking was "this would never fly in the US." Someone would complain that this content is too offensive for the general public, that their kid is now traumatized for life because Bruce Willis said "oral pleasure", etc etc. I mean seriously, you can't show this to people in the US without first making them sign some sort of a waiver. And here it was, all out in the open for everyone to see and no one was having convulsions over it. Amazing... This feeling of "this'll never fly/happen/be allowed back home" is probably the most common emotion one feels when in Montreal. 





I finished the evening at a little club called Le Bleury and caught a pretty amazing set by DJ Sprinkles. Unfortunately the place didn't have AC and when 200 people dance in a little room for a few hours, it can get a bit intense. I left around 1:30 or so and came home to find my street Rue St. Denis to be in full party mode. My apartment had a roof deck with a hammock and I passed out for a bit in it to the thumping beats of Jump Around from some downstairs bar. 

I started the next day with more exploring. Stumbled upon some cool graffiti 





























got weirdly artistic with some church and clouds...






































found a very Canadian building 






























and proof that conspiracy theories know no international boundaries.


























Perhaps my favorite piece of street art was this awesome maze they built in Gay Village.





































It's illuminated at night with different pics on different walls. 




I then revisited the shoe store I mentioned earlier. It's called Berti and it was worth every second of my time. I walked in and was immediately drawn to one shelf in particular that featured boots of some of the most original designs I've ever seen. The owner of the store an Italian gentleman named Philippo came and asked me quietly "Do you know what samples are?" My heart fluttered and I whispered "Yes". "Good, then you know I only have all of these in one size - 37 (US 7)" If you don't know what samples are, let me explain. A shoe designer will often times make models of shoes that for whatever reason don't go into mass production. They are used at shows and other industry related situations. They are always in women's size 7 and men's size 9 or 10, and they are one of a kind. The boots in this store in particular were from AS 98 - a company that made boots for Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Every one of then was like a piece of art. As I admired the boots, the owner focused his attention on me more and more finally ignoring all other customers. He complained to me how nobody likes interesting hand-made shoes anymore and how everyone wants Michael Kors with a "made in china" stamp for $700. I said I didn't want Michael Kors and that I'd take pirate boots over Michael Kors any day. At this point I am sitting on a bench all Cinderella-like and the dude is on his knees lacing up my boots completely ignoring everyone else in the store. "Excuse me Sir. I'd like to buy these shoes" exclaims some lady. "Well, so? Do you expect me to drop everything for you?" scoffed my Italian friend. This whole experience was turning into a farce. My Boston crew finally joins me as I am paying for my boots. It didn't take much persuasion on my part but the two ladies I was traveling with ended up buying boots as well. Philippo and I parted as friends, and I can't wait to come back. 
The Three Musketeers
Later that night we ventured out to a party called Piknic Electronik on an island one subway stop away from Rue St. Denis. Imagine a set up similar to Flux or DOTC but much much bigger. Again, my friends and I have mentioned more than once throughout the night "no way this would be allowed back home". I think this one of the things I like most about being in Montreal - the general laid-back atmosphere when it comes to partying. It's an amazingly refreshing and foreign feeling to us who are now constantly subjected to body and property searches when entering a concert. I guess, according to locals this mellow attitude is something that one sees in Quebec more so than in other Canadian provinces. Well, whatever it is, I love it! Despite the lack of security, Piknic had an amazingly well-behaved crowd. People were drinking and partying but somehow everything was done with some degree of healthy moderation. Everyone had fun, but no one was raging. This is DESPITE the fact that they were selling alcohol there by the buckets. Literally!
In the middle there is an already empty bucket of mystery booze punch.
I called it a "Bucket of Bad Decisions" although in retrospect I made none.

Also, hats off to Canadian dudes for not preying on women at these events. Everyone was friendly, but no one was being a creep. Add to this another weird phenomenon. When you look at the crowd at Piknic, I swear it's like they shook Montreal, and the 10% most attractive people ended up at this party. The music was excellent! We were particularly excited to hear a set from Jamie xx and we weren't disappointed. He started and finished his set with disco and played pretty much every genre in between.
My friends had tickets to Arcade Fire later that night on the same island, but I ended up going back to Montreal to hang out with my airbnb host Dominic and his friends. We had drinks on the rooftop and chatted. Dominic is a stage actor, so he and I talked about Russian theater a bunch. When the Boston crew was too wiped out to party more after Arcade Fire, Dominic invited me to tag along with him and his friends instead. We went to a club called Apollon in Gay Village and it was an absolute blast! The sound system was banging, they played good deep house all night. I think between Piknic and this club I danced for 7-8 hours that day.


In the morning, I had enough time to run out and buy a bunch of pastries to bring home to my family. If I manage to sell this awesome dress that I bought at Le Chateaux but definitely don't need, i'll be ecstatic. Hit me up if you want it :) (size 2-4).
Montreal Stats:
Music +++++
Art +++++
Shopping ++++
Fun +++++