28 June 2006

my name is confusion

did some playing around on microsoft's new demographical predictor that lets you plug in either a query or url and it tells you your gender and age bracket. i figured i'd try a few searches that i'd done recently, or that i figured were fairly indicative of my interests, to get a good sampling. here's what i picked:

queries:

tracy emmins (british artist, the subject of whitehouse's "why you never became a dancer")
ghanaian cuisine
survival research laboratories
novy svet

web sites:

www.moma.org
www.tesco.org
www.fark.com

and the verdict is... as an marketing aggregate, i am a male, most likely between 18 and 24. only two searches out of seven were able to peg me as female (and only one, moma.org, with a substantial degree of certainty) and only two out of seven got my age bracket (25-34) correct. only one search (fark.com) managed to nail both gender and age.

yours in gender and generational confusion...

27 June 2006

eat the cup, part 9


feijoada. it's a wonderful sounding word, really. and, as long as you don't mind doing three years' damage to your arteries in one sitting, it's a wonderful meal. made with black beans, 800 pounds of meat and very little else, it's apparently considered the national dish of brazil. every cook has his or her own recipe.

obviously, team brazil won again today, advancing on their seemingly inexorable run towards the cup final. unfortunately, events for brazilians in germany may be considerably happier than those for brazilians at home.

given the well-documented problems the nation faces, it's amazing that they manage to keep their sense of humour.

(ok, this is totally cheating. it's a repeat cuisine again and this time i didn't have to, because there was a winner today who i've not featured. however, if you know anything about my life, you will appreciate that i will not be cooking any french food, drinking any french wine, or even saying the word "france" out loud in my home. if not, think about it, and you'll probably figure it out.)

26 June 2006

eat the cup, part 8


well, i don't really have an option but to pull a repeat today. i've already cooked food from both italy and the ukraine and, as things progress, i'm going to run into this problem more and more.

at first, i was going to go ukrainian, because i felt like i owed them one. while i was in kensington on the weekend, one of the guys there was quizzing me on my predictions for the upcoming games and i had picked switzerland of the ukraine. my logic was that switzerland hadn't allowed a goal yet and no one could beat them if they couldn't score. in point of fact, this is wrong, because goals scored in a shoot out do not count, so you can lose a game without allowing the opposing team a goal. so, sorry about that, ukraine.

on the other hand, i couldn't face the idea of a really heavy meal today, so i went with the easier choice and made a meal of sumer vegetables with balsmic and basil. (this was my attempt at approximating the mind-blowing grilled vegetables at seven numbers.) one of the many things i like about italian cuisine is that it is so flexible. in the middle of winter, i could just as easily find a dish that was as temperature-appropriate.

indeed, there seem to be very few things that italy doesn't excel at, at least in the realm of the senses- art, cinema, various types of music, food, wine... they have a certain dramatic flare. (a few people i know would say that their soccer team uses that dramatic flare just a little too often. when these guys take a hit, you'd think they were acting a hambone macbeth.)

ah well. as orson welles once said: “in italy for thirty years under the borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced michelangelo, leonardo da vinci and the renaissance. in switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? the cuckoo clock.” and, as it turns out, the world cup seems to be in agreement.

24 June 2006

eat the cup, part 7


germans tend to get a nasty rep. they aren’t exactly known for being friendly, happy-go-lucky people and here they are with the entire world running wild through their national living room, like a batch of preschoolers with over-indulgent parents. granted, germany has done a couple of things that might have justiified their reputation. one could be even be forgiven for if the first thing that came to mind when looking at the picture above was not “soccer match”. but have a little sympathy for these guys. it sucks being the one hosting the big bash.

the worst part about having everyone party at your place is that you generally get stuck being the responsible one. no matter what other people say or do, you’re expected to behave, especially if you have a bit of a bad rep, because somehow, it’s going to reflect worse on you than it does on anybody else.

when it comes to world cup, there are some difficulties in being a gracious host. for starters, you can’t always depend on everyone to set a good example. second, where soccer is concerned, the world takes off its collective poltically correct gloves. this is sometimes unnerving, but not always. england’s daily mail once referred to a defeat at the hands of the germans as being acceptable because “[they] may beat us at our national sport today, but that would be only fair. we beat them twice at theirs”. the americans, who are raised to believe that there are some lines you don’t cross, were apparently completely baffled going into the olympic trials against mexico to hear chants of “osama, osama”. although i don’t recommend indulging that often, there is something liberating about giving your inner censor the boot for the day (or at least the couple of hours you’re at the game) and seeing just how outrageously you can shoot your mouth off. it can even be funny. (you’re still snickering at the “national sport” thing.)

it’s just really difficult to be forced into the position of being the adult in the room.

so in honour of the cup’s generally gracious hosts and in honour of the fact that their team has shown themselves to be above the fray in all respects... we’re eating german cuisine tonight. i have to say, i generally avoid german food because its central ingredients- sausages, cabbage, brussel sprouts, ground meat- sound like a list of causes of massive disgestive malfunction. that said, when it’s hot on the weekend, you don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking and a healthy helping of sausage (many available, find a good local butcher), sauerkraut and a nice beer to wash it down is a great way to cap off the day.

germany, you’ve managed to keep the lid on and your team has a spotless record. help yourself to a hearty plateful, because you now move on to playing argentina. you won handily, but they have already had the most lopsided result of the tournament and, from today, probably the best match so far. build your strength, because you're going to need it.

23 June 2006

gimme no lovin'

ugh. the last thing i need is after a long week is some sort of amateur night rock concert going on in my proverbial back yard. if i knew exactly where this racket were coming from, i might rethink my position on gun control.

so far, they have stumbled through bad-enough-for-karaoke-night versions of "all my love", "gimme some lovin'", several beatles covers and, most disturbingly, "walking on sunshine" (the deluxe, ten and a half minute version) where the lead singer literally sounds like he's in pain during the chorus. i'm almost tempted to go find out where this is happening so that i can watch the reaction if i go and request that they play swans' "raping a slave".

all i want is to have a relaxed evening. i don't want to cause trouble. i'd like to catch up on some of the colbert report segments that i missed. i'd like to think about my menu options for the next few days.

i might even get my lazy brain around doing some writing, if i got hit with the inspiration.

what i do not want is to have some bunch of yahoos junking up my eardrums from three lots over.

22 June 2006

eat the cup, part 6


sometimes, i guess it is all in a name.

the country name "ghana" is a reference to the african empire of the same name (ironically, not located in present-day ghana). the people of that country were known as the wagadu, and their term "ghana" means "warrior king". a nice description for their football team today, as it turns out.

i probably know less about ghana than about any other nation currently playing at the world cup. as i like to consider myself a reasonably well informed individual, this bothers me to no end. for instance, i did not know that ghana was the first african colony to gain independence. nor did i realise that their food was so comforting and yummy. tonight, i am enjoying a wonderful, hearty, peanut stew (i actually ended up find a few recipes and mixing elements from all of them. what's the fun in experimenting with food if you can't, well, experiment?)

and although i was able to surmise that soccer was a big deal in the home country, i was completely surprised at the number of ghana supporters there are around toronto. (i should add that this is easy to spot because in toronto, a city where a car is almost a requirement for basic life, everyone displays their colours on their automobiles. flags in windows, flags on hoods, windsocks, your friends waving large flags out the window, your kids dangling out the window with banners...) although portugal, italy and brazil basically have a lock on the flag sweepstakes, there isn't a day that goes past where i don't see at least four or five ghanaian flags.

a few days ago, i saw a cab driver with the small flags in the window, the big one on the hood, the wind sock and, for good measure, the team jersey (on him, not on the car). somewhere in toronto is the happiest cab driver in the world.

that's the good news.

the bad news is that because italy also won their game, ghana's second round match will be the one that nobody wants. a great accomplishment, guys, but ladle yourself up some home cooking, because you're going to need all your strength.

19 June 2006

eat the cup, part 5


in an era of spoiled, overpaid athletic stars, one can lose sight of the toughness that is required to play a sport. don’t believe me? the temperatures in central canada this week are similar to those in germany. go out and try to run the area of a soccer field for ninety minutes and see how you feel. (assuming you don’t die in the effort, in which case you will feel nothing.)

to that end, it’s hardly surprising that the ukraine claimed a major victory today. because ukrainians are tough, tough people.

their team started off the tournament with what was the single most lopsided score (until argentina eclipsed it) to date, getting crushed by the spanish armada. that’s a harsh way to start things.

then again, one could say that protesting for two and a half weeks in the freezing cold under constant threat from the police is a pretty harsh way to start a government, but the ukrainian people seemed up to the task.

so in honour of their victory over saudi arabia (which erased the substantial goal deficit inflicted on them by the first game), tonight’s meal is inspired by the cuisine of the ukraine.

i struggled with this a bit (wouldn’t it just be easier to cook spanish food again...), for two main reasons:

1. originating as it does from a cold climate, much ukrainian cuisine (like other eastern european cuisines, of which it is essentially a variant) is more suited to the winter than the summer.

2. i have to admit, i don’t like a lot of eastern european food. i’m not overly fond of either sausages or cooked cabbage, both of which are featured rather heavily.

on the other hand, i am tremendously fond of beets, which means i can safely enjoy a great helping of borscht.

what i should say is that i’m tremendously fond of eating beets. cooking them is another matter entirely. they are dense, fibrous buggers that take a shocking amount of time to cook (to say nothing of cooling and skinning) and that tend to make a righteous mess. cooking them means basically resigning yourself to the fact that your home is going to be steamy, going to be mysteriously flecked with splatters of magenta that cling better than 90% of commercial dyes and going to reek of beet smell for the foreseeable future.

the reward is that you get something that is hearty and comforting. the perfect dish for when you need to steel yourself. the kind of thing that helps reinforce your inner toughness.

18 June 2006

eat the cup, part 4


this is just silly.

i mean, i went out to dinner last night and went to caju specifically for the purpose of enjoying a mocqueca. tonight, i am staying at home to prepare the evening’s dinner (and the morrow’s lunch) and i am preparing... mocqueca.

this has to be a sign of something wrong. isn’t it weird to keep craving this? what is it about this particular fish stew that makes me happy to eat it for days on end?

simply put, mocqueca’s flavour, much like the brazilian soccer team, may be impossible to beat. the lush mixture of seafood (most commonly shrimp), tomatoes, coconut milk and spices combines the heartiness of the old world with the exotic flavour of the new. it could only come from brazil.

after all, brazil almost defines multiculturalism and diversity. before being conquered by the portuguese, brazil’s indian populations, unlike the incans or mayans, were disparate, diverse, ununified. today, the population continues to be one of the most heterogenous in the world, with roots in portugal, africa, asia, and other areas of europe (after slavery was outlawed there in the late nineteenth century, large numbers of immigrants, particularly italians, came over to work on the coffee plantations).

mocqueca finds its origins in bahia province, itself a cultural mix, being both a centre of catholicism and of candomble, the brazilian variant of voudoun.

nonetheless, one can identify elements of a unified national culture, based largely on its citizens’ reputation for warmth, great parties and dominating the world in soccer.

it’s a good thing that i like their food so much, because the way they’re playing, i have a feeling that i’m going to have a lot of opportunities to enjoy it in the coming weeks.

(you may note that i have eschewed my habitual placement of the national flag of the country whose cuisine i’m appropriating for the evening with a photograph. that photograph was taken on college street in toronto this afternoon, an hour and a half after the brazilian win.)

16 June 2006

eat the cup, part 3


sometimes, winning is not just about, well, winning.

today's world cup results saw holland defeat the ivory coast and argentina defeat serbia and montenegro by a margin that looks more like an american football result. both of those teams, however, were favoured to win their matches and move on. angola, on the other hand, was not. by all accounts, their mexican opponents were expected to roll past them and right on to the next round.

by those standards, angola's holding mexico to a scoreless tie may be a bigger win than any. chief among the words being tossed around to describe this achievement are "brave" and "shocking". i was certainly shocked. i was getting set to pick up ingredients for enchiladas without even checking the score, so certain i was that i knew the outcome.

but having been presented with two relatively easy options thus far, i was up for a bit of a challenge. so tonight, i have cobbled together some very hasty research and prepared a dinner based on the cuisine of angola. (it seems that angolan home cookin' has already made an appearance at the cup proceedings.)

like many african cuisines, angola shows the influence of their former colonial occupiers (in this case, portugal). aside from taking a stab at making funge, a staple in the national diet, i struggled with a main dish that was a) anything close to authentic and b) not merely a derivative of a portuguese dish. i settled on a hybrid of fish made with a sauce normally used in a dish called chicken cafreal (this dish is now more popular in the formerly portuguese-ruled province of goa, but the term "cafreal betrays its origins. the dish was apparently brought to goa by africans in the service of the portuguese army, known by the english/ dutch blanket term "kaffir"). i mixed the two up because i simply didn't have the time to marinate chicken and the few sources that were available indicated that fish was more of a staple in the diet. (there is, of course, a bitter irony to preparing this: i doubtless ate better tonight than most people in angola itself.)

a tie in a soccer game may not mean much in a country that has faced and continues to face daunting problems, but there is something to be said for being able to stare down the odds and hold your ground. congratulations.

sing while you may


legendary pink dots w/ pony da look at lee's palace

i will always have a deep fondness for the legendary pink dots. it's not just the fact that they are one of the only bands that can push the envelope of emotion while (almost) never falling into the smarmy abyss that makes them so adorable. i love them for that, but i also love them because they were the first band i ever made a concerted effort to see. i made the trek with several friends all the way from halifax to see them in montreal years ago. as such, they are also implicated in my decision to move to montreal, since once i was up there, i found the city difficult to let go. so what's not to love?

i was starting to have my doubts about them for a while in the late nineties, when the rough edge that had generally prevented them from becoming too precious seemed to get blunted. all the same, they've always been reliably enjoyable in a live context.

i showed up last night in the midst of opening act pony da look. i didn't know what to expect because i hadn't even heard their name before i arrived (technically, i didn't hear it, or read it, until this afternoon). perhaps i'm getting a little intransigent, but i wasn't that hyped to see an opening band who i'd never heard of. for good reason, it turns out. the band sounds like nothing so much as a group of people trying to be a lot weirder than they actually are. this kind of sound was done with more panache (and more sincerity) by lemon kittens, lene lovich and nina hagen decades ago.

getting there earlier did give me a chance to survey the crowd a little, always an adventure at a show, i find. the first time i saw the dots in montreal, i was astounded at the sheer number of waxed and polished gothic beautiful people there were there. (the dots have always had a disproportionately large following in montreal, especially among goths, it seems.) this show had a much different vibe. the crowd looked a lot more like someone had done a sunset round-up on the boardwalk at venice beach- more than a little freakish and leaning towards the rangy side of bohemian. i couldn't help reflecting, as i stood in a haze of patchouli and nag champa (i'm not even making that up) that this was a much more appropriate audience, closer to the imafe of the band themselves.

the band took the stage shortly after eleven, in fine form (despite edward ka-spel's being laid low by the flu). one consistent aspect of each of their shows is that they have a captivating stage presence. both ka-spel and saxophonist niels van hoorn interact with the audience throughout, something which sent this particular crowd into fits. although the sheer mass of their back catalogue prevents them from ever being able to play all the songs i'd like to hear (i'd probably still be standing in lee's palace now), last night did give me several highlights- poppy day, belladonna, green gang and a particularly stunning version of hellsville are the ones that stand out for me. the sheer mass of their back catalogue also means that there are a number of songs that i have trouble placing, although i know i've heard them many times before.

mostly, i was happy to see that the band steered away from the prog-rock nastiness that was making me unsure about them for a while and were back in fine psychedelic, mind-expanding form. if they come by these parts again, i'll be in line for a fifth show.

14 June 2006

eat the cup, part 2


what's so cool about spain? if you didn't actually go up and ask them, you might never find out. known in the soccer world as the perennial under-achievers of europe, spaniards seem to lack the marketing flair of their more dramatic cousins, france and italy. occasionally, though, you get to see glimpses of the sleeping iberian giant.
 
fact is, there are a lot of cool things about spain. how can you not love the country that brings us the food uber-trend of the moment, tapas. bar snacks for people who don't want chicken fingers, these ingenious little plates have us all wondering why no one ever told us about them before. spain produces more olive oil than italy and more wine than either italy or france, but you'd never know it, because they seem very happy to keep these things for themselves. (i guess they're worried about running out of wine to go with the tapas...)
 
and then there's paella, which is tonight's meal. granted, paella is becoming better known. (getting a plug on an episode of seinfeld doesn't hurt.) paella is risotto's sexier cousin. made in any number of regional styles, the base is always rice prepared in a saffron infusion, mixed with local produce and meats. but let's face it, it's the saffron that makes it special.
 
saffron, the world's most expensive spice, is not particularly common in other european cuisines. you're much more likely to find it in north african or middle eastern cookery, which shouldn't be entirely surprising. after all, spain's history and culture is deeply marked by its proximity and interaction with the empires of north africa, one more thing that makes them unique.
 
spain made history for a brief, shining moment by managing to establish a functioning anarchist enclave during the civil war. this is a remarkable feat, sadly overlooked by historians who prefer to see the twentieth century as a dialectic between capitalism and communism only.

perhaps it was decades of repression under one of the only fascist governments in europe to survive the second world war that makes spain less bold, less overtly proud of their achievements, than its neighbours. evidently in sport and in politics, though, this big country can do big things.

13 June 2006

step by painful step

although i haven't necessarily been following the campaign in detail, i couldn't resist the urge to check in on the nova scotia election results this evening, in the hopes that the ndp was going to find a way to come out on top.

they didn't, although they won more seats than ever. i'm tremendously proud that the seats that were so naturally new democratic, but that the party never seemed to be able to win, are now coming to them with remarkable majorities. i'm going to assume that the fact that this opening of the electoral floodgates coincides almost to the minute with my departure from nova scotia (in my time there, we were ecstatic when we won our third seat... a triumph!) is just a nasty little coincidence. (if they win the next provincial election in quebec, however, i'll be forced to reconsider that opinion.)

not surprisingly, halifax, a natural new democratic city (loaded disproportionately with universities, government and artists), seems to have formed a little left wing island (check out the percentage results in the different districts), separate from the rest of the mainland. eventually, there's going to be a movement for the city to seceded from the rest of the province, because with each passing election, it becomes obvious that these two parts just are not getting along.

well, still no lefty government in the maritimes, but they did come just that little bit closer...

12 June 2006

eat the cup, part 1


ok, so you've read my mumblings on the world cup and its attendant fever below. (if you haven't, go ahead, it's a little further down, i'll wait. done? yet? ok, let's resume.) in order to make this quadrennial event a little more interesting for me, i need to link it to something that excites me. i've chosen food.

i'm someone who loves to cook, but lately i've been lacking inspiration. so for the next several weeks, i'm going to base the meals that i cook for myself on that day's world cup results. now, i'm only one person, so i really only have to cook something up for myself every couple of days, but on those days, it's going to be world cup winner related.

to start off, i have let myself do something completely, pathetically easy. cacciatore (italy 2, ghana 0). i'm really cheating on this one, because, not only is italian cuisine the easiest of today's winning cuisine (my other choices would have been czech and australian), but cacciatore isn't even a 100% proper italian dish. it was popularised by italians who emigrated to america.

but here's my excuse (aside from the fact that it makes great comfort food and can be prepared with relatively few ingredients): while the dish may reflect a winning team, it also references another team who played today: the americans.

let's face it, it's really difficult to cheer for the americans in any sporting event. they outspend everyone and therefore outperform. they aren't terribly gracious about winning and, worst of all, they aren't interested in participating if they can't win. most of the time.

international soccer is about the only sport that they just haven't been able to master. part of it is that they just don't have the lion's share of the money (since they can't deliver much of an audience domestically, which is because they don't win, which is... you see where i'm going with this). so, in a truly weird twist of fate, the americans really came into this tournament with something to prove. and what happened? they got their asses handed to them by the czechs (cze 3, usa 0). so for once, they get to be the team who put in a valiant effort and came up short.

it's sort of like the american melting pot idea. they can try to assimilate people (as they did the italians), but they just come up short. what's the result? there's a lot of the old country seeping into the new.

delicious, i'd say.

11 June 2006

tell me something i don't know...

You scored as agnosticism. You are an agnostic. Though it is generally taken that agnostics neither believe nor disbelieve in God, it is possible to be a theist or atheist in addition to an agnostic. Agnostics don't believe it is possible to prove the existence of God (nor lack thereof).

Agnosticism is a philosophy that God's existence cannot be proven. Some say it is possible to be agnostic and follow a religion; however, one cannot be a devout believer if he or she does not truly believe.

agnosticism

79%
Satanism

63%
Buddhism

58%
Islam

58%
Judaism

50%
Hinduism

46%
Paganism

46%
atheism

42%
Christianity

25%

Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
created with QuizFarm.com

here they come...

being from north america, the world of “football” (soccer to me) was always sort of closed. i knew that it was a big deal just about everywhere else, but i was never exposed to it. my first exposure wasn’t especially pleasant, either. i was in england in the summer of 1990 and got to see some charming liverpudlian gentlemen in a pub enjoying the game under the influence of about 750 pints. so to me, soccer was a sort of frightening thing that morphed men into monsters a la ionesco’s rhinoceros.

my next meeting with “the beautiful game” came in 1998, during world cup. at this point, i was living in montreal at that point and, as it turns out, living in a cosmopolitan city changes your perspective on these things a little. instead of being invisible, soccer was everywhere, parading loudly with honking car horns past the window of my plateau-area apartment without regard to my desire for quiet.

during that world cup. i got interested. primarily, i was just irritated, because i wanted all those people with their car horns to shut the f**k up and leave me alone. so i got interested as a method of self-defence. i decided i was going to back croatia, because they were the only team who didn’t seem to have a cadre of honkers backing them. if croatia won, it meant that i would be left alone.

croatia came third, which made me fairly happy on the day of the “consolation match" (sweet silence everywhere). france, popular in quebec for obvious reasons, beat out brazil to win the cup. i have two memories from the afternoon of the final that will stay with me until i am very old. first, walking down st. laurent in the afternoon and finding it startlingly abandoned. it was empty, save for huge crowds of eerily silent people bursting forth from overcrowded pubs heads inclined to catch a glimpse of the television sets inside. i could have been naked and no one would have noticed.

second, at the end of the day, well into the night in fact, i saw the last stragglers from after-parties milling about as i walked up to meet my boyfriend at the mont-royal record store where he was working. there was one fan, wrapped in the brazilian flag, still howling out the soccer chants that had evidently lost their potentcy. i have never seen anyone as sad as that man at that moment.

i didn’t follow much since then, although as a lifelong champion of the underdog, i was quietly thrilled to see greece come out of nowhere to win the 2004 euro cup. now, when i remember the summer of ‘98, i realise that seeing the continuous parade of cultural pride following victories was not only annoying (although there were a few mornings when it was), but exciting. there was more going on than simple sports fandom, which is precisely why soccer is as popular as it is. (if you don’t believe me, go read this article.)

yesterday, i was at a pub on yonge street with a couple of friends when a parade of cars, british flags flying and horns blaring, flowed past on their way to downtown and i felt a little wave of nostalgia.

10 June 2006

love letter

who will step forward to take the piss out of press-hungry drama hound anne coulter? punk-rock renaissance-man superhero henry rollins, that's who.

09 June 2006

anger management

my first experience with ministry came (i hate admitting this) about twenty years ago when i first saw the video for "over the shoulder" on much music (back when they didn't have that many videos available, so they played whatever they could get their hands on). it was a sort of captivating, defining moment, the tacit creepiness in it giving me a little thrill and forever changing my impression of grocery stores.

since then, while they've never been among my favourite bands in the world, i've always been aware of ministry's presence, particularly during that part of the early nineties when al jourgensen seemed to be the defining influence on everyone. i haven't made a habit of following them, but they're always around and, despite the fact that i haven't loved most of what they've done in recent years, i've always had a quiet desire to see what they were like live. (really, i've always had a desire to see what they were like live in their heyday, but my time machine isn't functioning yet.)
 
isn't it nice when fate hands you these opportunities?
 
one of the coolest things about the current tour is that it's not merely a ministry tour, but a combination ministry/ revolting cocks gig (with a band i will admit to knowing nothing about called pit bull day care opening). our little posse arrived at the show after the first band, just in time to grab drinks and bounce into the crowd for the opening drum hits of "beers, steers and queers". i had forgotten how enjoyably sleazy the rev co stuff is and, despite being firmly rooted in a particular time, it doesn't lose its appeal. their set featured most of the band's hits, exactly as i would have paced them. luc van acker joined them on stage for a brilliant version of "attack ships on fire" (and stayed there, sometimes in a gorilla mask or a giant penis suit, for the balance of the show). although i got thoroughly sick of hearing the band's cover of rod stewart's "do ya think i'm sexy?" when it came out, i got a kick out of hearing it again after a break of several years (and an even bigger kick out of seeing jourgensen, who is pushing fifty, get mobbed by girls young enough to be his offspring). highlights of the set were an excellent cover of bauhaus' "dark entries" and "stainless steel providers", one of my old-time favourites. the set was pretty much exactly what i was hoping for- energetic, enjoyable, a good time.
 
after a quick break, ministry came out with a complete shift of atmosphere. as rollicking and light-hearted as rev co are, ministry are aggressive, angry, edgy. this surprised me a little, because one normally thinks of bands losing their edge as they age. apparently, not everyone, because if anything the piss and vinegar that seems to sustain them is growing more potent with time. the change in ambiance was evident in the crowd as well as in the band. almost immediately, things started to get a little out of hand. my friend genny and i got sucked into the mosh pit with the opening chords like it was a black hole- a little disconcerting when you're not expecting it.
 
i actually ended up going back into the pit fairly quickly, of my own volition. i'm given to understand that there are certain things you're supposed to give up as you get older and that thrashing around in a mosh pit is probably one of them. however, i'm not about to go gently into that good night and if i want to jump into a writhing mass of half naked bodies, that's exactly what i'm going to do. fortunately, things were pretty tolerable. although the crowd seemed literally to be boiling with people at times, no one seemed to actually be trying to cause harm and, if you got in trouble, you could count on someone pulling you to safety. i'd forgotten not only how exhilirating this experience could be, but the sense of cameraderie that it can build with a bunch of strangers. (i would also like to point out that, far from feeling like grandma, i was probably about average age in the crowd.)
 
the set built up very nicely, with the "big guns" clustered predictably near the end. (strangely, no "burning inside", but i'll forgive them that.) jourgensen has a great stage presence, despite the fact that he says almost nothing (peter murphy impressed me much the same way when i saw bauhaus at the same venue) and the crowd was definitely feeding off the rising intensity level. the political outrage that informs much of their music was constantly present in the form of a background video collage, as well as the expected sound clips and generally helped build the seething atmosphere of the set.
 
in all honesty, i can't point to a lot of low points in this. they didn't play "apathy", but i had no reason to expect that they would. they did play most of their "hits" and played them exceptionally well and LOUD. i can't overstate that last point. i really thought i'd blown an eardrum in the car on the way home. i still can't hear s**t from the ringing in my ears and its going on twenty-four hours later. they also didn't skimp on the length of the show- they took the stage at about ten and played until almost one. any longer and i think i would have collapsed (probably a death sentence).  
 
the worst bits had nothing to do with the band and more to do with the injuries i'm now nursing. long-term hearing damage aside, i also managed to land with my entire body weight on my right kneecap, something that was so painful for a few seconds that i literally thought i was going to vomit (might have added to the atmosphere). i also took a pretty considerable blow to the stomach at one point, something i could still feel this morning. that said, i had forgotten that there is a certain pleasurable sensation to battle scars.
 
normally, when i think of music that has had a profound impact on me, i think of bands whose music is less straightforward, more comlicated than ministry. seeing them last night, i was reminded that there have been a lot of times when straightforward and uncomplicated was exactly what i needed. and the fact is, every now and again, you want to experience this sort of rush of juvenile adrenaline and give yourself over to something completely visceral rather than cerebral. because releasing pent up energy is good for you. because being buoyed by the energy of a crowd is exhilirating. and mostly, because it's fun.
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