Alcohol and darts – this is my life and it’s ending one minute at a time.
Alcohol and darts – this is my life and it’s ending one minute at a time.
Back to Portugal again, but this time the heady delights of Porto instead of last year’s Algarve. Arriving in the middle of a heatwave, I sweat my tits off for the remainder of the trip; as milk was a bad choice for Ron Burgundy, so here was my predilection for trousers and sweatshirts. No matter, the situation was somewhat rectified (t-shirt donned) after a decidedly traumatising wait in a sauna of a taxi rank. It’s a lovely city replete with multi-layered sandwiches and aesthetically pleasing denizens eating the sandwiches. For the record, I didn’t eat any sandwiches. I did, however, source cheap mushroom pâté from a convenience store. Winning.
The Patrick Bateman Palace.
Phil Collins accompanied this cheeky vape in the apartment. “No smoking,” said the agent. I’d like to think I’m half-rebellious, but not full-anarchist. The place was plush, an impressively air-conditioned getaway from the sadistic Teletubbies sun.
This is the de facto Portuguese national beer. In the local supermarket 24 bottles will set you back six euros. For some perspective on the matter, a warm, dirty pint in an Edinburgh boozer/hovel will cost you £4. Super, indeed.
I thought this bloke was gonna chuck himself off the bridge, i.e., kill himself. I took a snap for longevity. Fortunately, he was a member of the local money-making youth, many of whom dive into the river for tourists’ shrapnel. I didn’t give him anything (because I’m stingy).
There was a moment of sadness on this jaunt. I could have taken a simple point-and-shoot snap of an inviting building, but instead chose to shove my ersatz Liam Gallagher sunglasses in the frame in an attempt to arty-farty it up, to just be that shamelessly banal.
And fuck Ryanair. Shockingly awful once again. No further comment.
An (alleged) airport a snail-crawling 25 miles from Mount Everest, with no radar system and entirely comprising a single 500-metre runway built into a cliff, I read that Sir Edmund Hillary himself oversaw its construction and that locals were ploughed with liquor (no one will reveal what kind) and asked to perform a ‘foot-stomping dance’ to flatten the soil and make it suitable for landing. I can picture the whole endeavour as a garish episode lifted from a peak Werner Herzog movie, with a Klaus Kinski Svengali lording over the ‘indigenous’, the martinet a grizzly Bavarian launching battered shoes and Jägermeister at them. This shockingly isn’t an apocryphal story, and the airport, a.k.a. ‘It’s a Trap’, was only paved in 2001.
It’s an appropriate precursor to an attempted scaling of Everest. The danger aspect would overwhelm this fat bastard and inject hubris into proceedings – “If I survive this landing the worst is over and I can surely surmount the beastly mountain.”
The list of accidents on the Wikipedia entry is a most disconcerting read, and I wouldn’t recommend watching one of the many bumpy landings should an upcoming flight be on the cards. Fuck knows how a plastered Denzel would have coped. As a passenger, I’d be stammering out of my mind on crystal meth birthed from Walter White’s RV just to endure the experience.
I’ve seldom viewed from a bus window such uniformity, and this of all places on a Chambers Street scaffold at 8:00 a.m. I immediately arrived at ‘Lunch Atop a Skyscraper‘ with its searing symmetry between the subjects. They seem rather contemplative in this Edinburgh snap; sometimes you’ve just got to take a breather and a look around.
Guzzling ethanol and listening to deadmau5 in my chav trainers. And that’s Frankfurt.
The Truman Show (1998) didn’t capture the zeitgeist; it largely predicted it. Much like how Scarface (1983) birthed glorified Gangsta rap – present hip hop artists unaware that Montana was a satire laughing at the emergence of the culture – it was the Jim Carrey ‘serious role’ vehicle which presaged the Big-Brother-by-choice bantz we now have. The eponymous ‘reality’ TV show, a zillion other ‘hidden camera’ programmes populated by tarted-up bimbos (yes, including The Apprentice), the omniscience of social media, the shameless supervision from the NSA and GCHQ. It’s as if Truman is a summation of 20 years of snooping, willfully and not, but before it happened.
I can’t even count the number of times someone has said to me they feel like they’re living a real-life Truman Show, such has been the ridiculousness of their day. Well, if directed actors and MacGuffins aren’t out there to construct the drama, you can bet you’re being watched, often by choice – think of all the selfies at crime scenes, the Snapchatting of break-ins, check-ins at weddings/funerals.
The Truman Show nailed the lot – the shallowness, the vanity, the essential neediness of modern society to not only feign happiness in its absence but inject meaning everywhere, to create a drama when none is needed.
And that Philip Glass score lifted from Powaqqatsi (1998) is quite the cracker:
The great junction of Leith Walk/Elm Row/London Road in all its splendour.
Such rotten images would ideally be on the front cover of Edinburgh Festival Fringe pamphlets. If you’re going to market a city at least be honest and leave the propaganda at the door. This is the reality of summer in Auld Reekie, and to paraphrase Rocky Balboa – it ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. Someone took a shit in that roundabout a few years ago; it didn’t make the evening news. Sad.
If you mute a movie and it looks infinitely worse then it’s a bad film. I can’t recall who said this but it’s a reasonable proposition. Such is Human Traffic (1999), a truly garish and ugly remnant from the late nineties, a poor man’s Trainspotting (1996) that on a 2018 viewing comes across as a student film cobbled together over a weekend. Like any nostalgic longing, it’s best just consigning these matter to the past where they belong.
In 1999 I thought this was the shit; now it’s just shit, a pilotless, plotless, theme-less advertisement for ecstacy, executed with the craft and subtlety of a sledgehammer and featuring some of the most irritating and insipid ‘characters’ in a British movie ever. I’ll never handle a floppy disk again, and I’ll never watch Human Traffic (1999) again.
Good tunes, though.
I thought an 11-hour, 6,000-mile flight from London to Tokyo was hell on earth, a suspended furnace of ghastly smells and even worse movies. On such claustrophobic ventures I do enjoy unearthing the laptop for a disaster-themed bonanza – Flight (2012) with the inimitable Denzel, Air Force One (1997), and an Air Crash Investigation bumper pack. If you’re going to reek worse than durian in a hobo’s socks, you’re going to be subjected to terrifying plane crash fun.
A wee peek into the Cold War glory days of grim and we find an 11-hour trip today the relative Shangri-La of a plane journey. For obvious reasons, the communist paradise of the Gulag restricted its airspace, with only Soviet planes allowed to fly above the Soviet Union. The solution was for Western airlines to traverse the Arctic, stop at Anchorage, and then proceed to Tokyo. This sub-zero town in Alaska was for a semi-epoch the transport hub for travel to Asia. With the fall of the Soviet Union it is now once again a backwater, the perfect milieu for the very bleak Christopher Nolan movie Insomnia (2002).
Today, Russia wields enormous power through its control over the Siberian flight corridor, and the country chooses which airlines have access (with great cost to the airline). Post World Cup this summer, one of the greatest fears of commercial airlines is that escalating tensions (some might say warfare, this proxy or cyber) between Russia and the West will usher in another airspace ban, with passengers once more forced to city-hop en route to their desired destination. The nineties and noughties – 9/11 aside – just might turn out to be the Golden Age of flying.
We don’t want shit like this happening again: