Friday, October 6, 2017

"Get Tough!" by Captain Fairbairn

I love my job: Contributing by  rescuing people from drowning is probably one of the most  meaningful (for me personally) rewarding occupations I can think of.

Anyway, being the C/O on a SAR/ERRV vessel on a "one month out-one month home" rotation pretty much prevents me from participating in any meaningful martial arts training.

Which is a pity because I very much enjoyed my 6 weeks self defense training I received when I had a short, but glorious, career as prison warden.

(Don`t ask me why I chose that "Career path" best friend still refers to it as "Lars` monumental brain fart")

(Self defense training I actually was able to put to a good use when they put me on the department for "negative strong groups" (Nordic biker gangs) and was surrounded by people with a triceps like a football. I am not saying that I single handedly beat up a group of heavy bikers....I`m saying that I came out of more than one conflict situation with nothing more than broken ribs, concussions and 2 pairs of broken glasses.)

Anyhow, I think I am missing out/cutting corners by not training or maintaining self defense skills and so I turned to ... you guessed it: Self help literature! 

"Yeah right, you can not learn martial arts from a book!" you say.

I know, I know...sounds a lot like those adds from the 80`ies pulp fiction and comic books:

"Learn the secrets Kung Fu in 12 steps! Defeat your enemies! No training! No sweat!"

(Right next to the adds for X-ray glasses and Sea Monkeys)

So yes, I probably agree with you if you think that "learning self defense from a book" sound like a nerdy kid`s revenge dreams of getting back to that mean schoolyard bully....

I stumbled over this book "GET TOUGH!" which is written by Captain Fairbairn, the inventor of the "Fairbairne Method" which was developed during Fairbairne`s time as a street copper in the 1920`ies Shanghai and later taught to the Commandos/partisans of 2WW.

"Get Tough" is in its essence a very basic close-combat book with easy accessible/understandable information....and partly designed for self study.

This is what we usually associate with "martial arts from a book": Mail order scams.
So, I will motivate some people from my network at home and maybe I am lucky enough to talk some guys from my crew into this grand experiment.

Fairbairn was so successful with his training methods...

...that he became a comic book hero.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"Achtung Baby" by U2 (1991)

Before you go on: I really, REALLY like this record.

 It did what was intended and hit the Zeitgeist of the early nineties dead on: Everyone felt that "The End Of History" (Francis Fukuyama) was upon us and George Bush Sr. held speeches about the "New World Order"

Anyhow, for personal reasons I was not able to listen to "Achtung Baby" for 3-4 years after purchase without suffering from heart burn, mainly because other people ruined it for me.

Namely the segment of society believing that Bono was some kind of Messiah and that U2`s songs had some kind of deeper meaning only open to them.

Same obnoxious type as Dan Brown readers really....

(Can also be that I am a pretentious dick, you never know)

 Anyway, Bono is still just a mere human being and the history did not end with the fall of the Soviet Union.

Back to the record, yes....a great record! The last really good one U2 ever made. What made me like it, and turned most U2 fans off, was the influence of electronic dance music especially The Edge had a weak spot for.

Or to express it in the bands words: "Achtung Baby" sounded like 4 Irish guys chopping down the Joshua Tree ( A reference to "Joshua Tree" : another great U2 album) .
Wim Wenders used some of the songs from "Achtung Baby" in his master piece Until The End Of The World and the music was a perfect match for the film.

Favorite songs from that record: 

"The Fly"
"Even Better Than the Real Thing"
Zoo Station"
"Mysterious Ways"
"Whos Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses"
"Until The End Of The World"  


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Roper 26 - El Drac de Gaudi

Travis was a small man, nearly as wide in the shoulders as tall, clad in green cavalry riding breeches and a tight fitting uniform jacket. All in green.

My sense of falling into a gravity well of surrealism was just increased by the mansion and the large terrace we sat on.

Hadschis polite inquiries weather "Monsieur" or "Mademoiselle" wanted something and the five gorgeous female musicians,  sitting in slit evening dresses playing songs of the Spanish Civil war on string instruments, were not helping. Not really

L. played along and was puffing on a torpedo sized cigar as he swirled 200 year old cognac in a snifter the size of a fish tank.

M. sad with her legs folded under her with her, head resting on her elbow as she looked dreamily on the Stutz Bearcat parking just a stone throw away behind her.  The thing looked as it slept and dreamed of a lost Art Deco future...

" that"

"I`m sorry?"

"I don`t know if I should congratulate you on your operational genius or slap you in your face for your stupidity...prancing around in the city like that!"

"They`ll go with the slapping Travis, always the slapping....they`re morally depraved Danes. They totally get a kick out of it!"

M. lazily turned around in her luxurious chair and rearranged her long legs, smiled at Travis and helped herself from the bottle of chilled wine.

He was unimpressed.

"Luv``re the last one who should yap about being stupid! I have been following your trail since your breakout at Grosny! "

Grosny? I meant to ask, but shrugged it off...I probably would not understand anyway.

Travis turned to the quintet.

"Girls, something  cheery please. Yer da` is not in the mood for sadness!"

"Yes father!" the musicians replied and started to play "Les Cuatro Generales"

"Your daughters?" I asked,trying to find a correlation between the Colonels stocky figure and the ensemble of godesses.

"Yes, you can thank them for convincing me that you are beneficial for the cause. They have been taking quite a shine on you boys!"

L. had his Lenny-Wants-Nice-Mouse face expression on and starred dreaming at the girls. A cellist with her long legs showing from each side of her instrument winked at him and put some extra "ummpff" into her play.

L. turned atomic red and tried to dive down in to his snifter full of alcohol costing more than my rent.

"Well comrades. ANARCHY of cause

Saturday, September 30, 2017

"Black Tie, White Noise" by David Bowie (1993)

This is the second CD in my life and pretty much the soundtrack of my personal 1993.... and it  is more or less a tribute to his (Bowies) wife Imam, which he married shortly before the release of the record.

I know that the term "soundtrack of my life" is pretty much overused these days, but I swear: I drove everyone crazy by constantly playing this CD!

Slowly shedding the thin residual of grunge I was covered with between 91-92, I slowly went back to listen to music I liked instead of music I thought I ought to listen to.

At this time the only Bowie songs I really liked was "Lets Dance" and "China Girl", those two tracks ran on MTV Europe in an endless loop together with other great music (Yes, kids MTV actually played MUSIC once!).

1993 was my personal "lost year" between dropping out of high school (and hitchhiking through Europe and Morocco) and joining the Navy...which later led me to the Merchant Marine Navy. Even though I swore never to step in to my fathers footsteps.

Anyhow, "Black Tie, White Noise" fitted perfectly in to that phase of my life. Especially the songs:

 "Jump They Say" ( a tribute to Bowie`s stepbrother, who had mental health issues and committed suicide)

"Miracle Goodnight" with the very fitting refrain: "I wish I was a sailor, thousand miles from here. I wish I had a future...anywhere!" . And lo and behold! I became a for my future: In a tender age of 43 I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up!

"Nite flights" which I forever will associate with my travels through Europe, hitchhiking together with the nocturnal highway people.

I recently played this CD for the first time in...many (!) years and had to switch it off as I was overwhelmed by the tsunami of sticky sweet molasses that came out of my speakers.

Well, another time maybe!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Also Caucasian Mafia Brats Dream Of Electric Buddies

This had to be the weirdest break in in history...

A discreet car, with a Security Companies logo barely visible on the windshield, drove up to us as we walked up the long driveway of a giant cube looking like it existed of nothing else than glass and golden light.

A muscular non nonsense looking guy in expensive looking looking sailing clothes stepped out and eyed M.

"June creates...."

She smiled and said ".....widespread morning fog"

The guy smiled "Thank you for verification, the staff has left the house as advised. The spa and recreational area has bee lrepared and dinner for three is ready."

He stepped in his car drove off in eerie silence.

Must have been one of them hybrids.

L. train of thought were on a more mundane level.

"Did he say SAUNA?"

M. who was at least as tired looking as I felt radiated a 500W smile in his direction. 

"YES! And tonight my Scandinavian gods we shall feast like kings!"

That slavic bullshit got old real fast.

I took one gun filled bag and shouldered it

"Based on who`s standards? Russian?"

We stopped at the houses front door, just a giant glas panel really, and waited for...what?

I looked at M. Who stood and starred at the little speaker grill with the small camera lens above it at the doors left side.

"Ehrm, you wanna open?"

She glanced at him briefly

L. glanced at me and rolled his eyes.

HEY! That's not nice!" A female voice boomed out of the speaker grill.

M. relaxed visbly "Don't mind them, they're just being dicks"

She turned to L., thumb pointing towards the huge glass door.

L. did not notice her but kept starring at the grill, dead pale.

"I can see your reflection in the door you know...."

"Well, you always liked dicks..soo...."

"Shut up and open the fucking door!"




"Say you are sorry and I open"

"Fuck yourself !"

"I can't. hands!"




The door  buzzed open and with an increasing sense of losing a grip on reality I entered the foyer, which had the size of my appartement, with L. In tow.

The girlish voice boomed out of the speakers of a BO sound system in the adjacent living room.

"Hey guys, long time no see!  You enjoyed the pocket money I left you on the street? easy!"

A nightmare version of a anime girl giggle boomed out of every speaker in the house.

M. dropped her all her stuff, bar the sawed of Obrez rifle, and smiled.

"So you met her before?"

"Kind of".....

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"Graceland" by Paul Simon (1986)

"Graceland" is my very first CD, given to me by my first girlfriend on my birthday.

She used to mock me that there is no point in giving it to me, because I did not have a CD player at this time (1992).

Well, CD players come and go but the CD (which I ended up carrying around the world....several times) stayed the same.

I am not a big Paul Simon fan in general but this CD I liked! The song "You can call me Al" in particular. It speaks about mid-life crisis, losing your course and looking for something to build your life on. 

You would never guess that due to the cheery melody and hilarious music video with Chevy Chase. But that is exactly the point:

"Graceland" is inspired by upbeat South African township music (in which the most horrible are dealt with...with cheery, happy music as krass contrast) and serves as great background/medium for Simons rather sad lyrics.

The music induces "wanderlust" in me. I want to put on my boots, dust of my trusty knapsack , stretch my thumb out and get OUT there when listening to it....and did so several times.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"Security" by Peter Gabriel

I asked my parents for a stereo on my 12th birthday. I didn't really listened to any music at that time, but everyone else I knew wanted one so I thought that was what was expected of me.

Relieved that I showed budding signs of normality my parents actually gave me one: A used record player with cassette deck...whoa! 

But I had a new problem now: I did not know what music to like!

Sure, there were a few songs in the radio I liked (I never managed to develop enough enthusiasm to actually buy a Depeche Mode record!) but in general I thought mid-eighties music pretty much sucked.

Later, much later, when I met the right people (the people that mattered) I learnt that I was wrong and that there was awesome music out there. But how was I supposed to know?

My mum was a member in a book club and she gave me her membership card so I could buy some cheap records with my paper route money (as 12 year olds go, I was loaded with cash...2 paper routes, one taking me on a 9 km bike ride with 800 newspapers).

I still had no idea what to choose and picked records by the cover.

This way I ended up with a Halloween and a lesser known Bon Jovi record...both huge disappointments. I think I threw them out.

So I used my stereo  to record the few songs from the radio I actually liked (apparently I had a soft spot for 60ies rock) and used the record rack under the stereo for books.

Then I found some records at home, they belonged to my sisters ex boyfriend and i were on their way to the trash. None of the groups rang a bell but the covers looked interesting.

I took them and put them aside to listen to them later. I liked to stay up all night to read and listen to the radio...and still do to this day.

I put on one of the records...the one with that face that looked like a blue version of "the Swamp Thing" ....and had my tiny mind rocked, shattered and altered forever.

Lying at night, in the dark, and listening took me to a dark place, I was not supposed to be here, I was not supposed to KNOW (yet) and it was frightening.....and AWESOME.

It was "the Rhythm of the Heat" and the first track of "Security" by Peter Gabriel. A song that described Carl Jungs anxieties during a Voodoo-esque ritual in Sudan....of course I did not know that at this time, but I can relate to Jungs anxiety, self doubt and insight to incomprehensible universal knowledge he felt. Because that was how I felt listening to this mad music!

The rest of the tracks are equally emotion heavy and speak of anxiety, heroic but futile struggle, terrible wisdom and death. Gabriels manages to incorporate drum groups from Africa in his music which reaches a crescendo in "The family and the fishing net" where a modern wedding is described as a Voodoo ceremony.
The other songs blended very well with the theme of a book I read then: "Enders Game". (Especially the song "San Jacinto"!)

I lost that record...or it has been reclaimed...short after. But found another vinyl copy in a used book store in 1999. Later, much later, I finally got the record on CD.
Dig it!