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Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Gods". "Morning Stars" Album. By Duczewska and Schnapps

Once, gods separated men and women
Into halves destined
To search for each other
Ever after, but not forever

Chorus

Yet I am whole
You are whole
Two spheres
Blue and green

On a billiard table larger than life
Hit and roll, hit and roll,
Love, hate, torture, elevate
But who is holding the pole?

Chorus

Du hast, du hast mich
That song kinda continues
But not for me, I am owned
Again. Nein? Fuck you. Fine.

Monday, October 27, 2014

No Pray. "Morning Stars" Album. By Duczewska and Schnapps

You are no icon
I will not pray
You are no furniture
I don't need you to stay
You are prey
I am huntress

My arrows are dipped in my honey
Tomorrow will be sunny
So I will pick up the phone
I will storm into your zone
Will turn you upside down

Down
Down
Down
Down on you will I go
Enslave you
I crave you
I'll rave you

And you will escape
Or not
Because love like mine
Should not be allowed

It's too fine
Too inhuman
Too divine
Too bright
SO FiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiGHT!!!

Shine. "Morning Stars" Album. By Duczewska and Schnapps.

Shine, shine, star mine
Blind me, blind them all
Yet do not let me fall
Into the abyss
Let me fall into your bliss

Chorus

Are you so cold-hearted?
Ich warte.
I am a witch
I am an angel
I am a bitch
Want either of us?
Which?


Like a deer with neck
Pierced with arrow
You are in my bone marrow
My blood, my flood, my fire
I scream with ire

Chorus

Are you so cold-hearted?
Ich nicht warte!
I am a witch
I am an angel
I am a bitch
Do you want either of us?
Which?

For the distance is murder
Your silence is castigo
Vaya conmigo
I am brighter than you
And I love you, I do.

Chorus.

You were so cold-hearted
Ich kann warten
I am one wolf bitch
I am one fallen angel
I am one white witch
Do you want either of us?
Which?

(c) 2014. Lyrics by Duczewska.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

You Move - You Learn

You move – you learn

July 2008

Epigraph

“I do yoga and pilates, do you think I’m satisfied?”
Madonna, Hollywood

The fattening of the human race becomes a global problem, just like the hunger (no cynicism intended). Although the ghosts of anorexia still haunt the young population, and although Fashion TV now promotes the curvy body as the new etalon of beauty, the reality tells us another thing, namely, that excessive body fat is ugly and therefore needs to be removed. Anathema to Mickey D and other fast food systems!

Veggies and fitness are the new credo, although only rich people can afford organic food. But food is food, and no matter how much money is made on diet books, no one can deny the obvious truth: the beautiful body dream only becomes reality when the owner of the body starts doing (ta-dam! What did you expect?) sports.

Yes, sports. Or fitness – whatever. Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a paragon of skinniness myself, so this summer I took a subscription to a premium fitness center in my city. My anthropological observations that brought me a great deal of fun and reflection are a topic for another column, I guess, so I’ll just stick to the sports, namely, to yoga.

Now, as a good friend of mine once said, yoga makes sense only when practiced 24/7/365, and it is really funny to watch these Occidental people remove their comfy yoga pants, switch on their cell phones and come back to their normal bustling active no-Oriental-bullshit-and-steaks-for-late-dinners life. I was a novice at the club back then, and I don’t really trust yoga after having an unfortunate experience (it happened a long time ago and it’s not interesting, really), so I came to the yoga class after the pilates just to see what it was like. You see, I was busy with my tiny little career, and I didn’t get to see a yoga class before. So I came, eyes shining with excitement and anticipation…

The first thing I saw (I was half an hour late) was that everyone was wearing slippers whereas I was wearing Puma sneakers. I clumsily got them off, put my protein drink on the windowsill, got myself a rug or whatever are those rubbery things called, and sat down. As I quickly found out, the class didn’t even start. They were discussing some Tibetan stuff and how much did it cost (spiritual as hell, may I say). I dared to interrupt the sensei by asking whether I could stay as I was late and therefore impolite. The sensei looked superciliously at my disgustingly Western attire (yellow shorts and a blue Lacoste T-shirt), and said calmly: ‘You weren’t expelled when you came, so why do you ask?’ I said I could actually leave if I was not welcome, but the sensei ignored me and continued talking to the group (who seemed to know each other way too well). Anyway, I didn’t get to get bored when the actual Yoga started.

We started with meditation, of course, asses on our heels, and listened to some Om Shanti Shanti music that made me drowsy, not to mention that my feet and legs ached like hell. And it lasted. And lasted. And lasted. I thought I’d die right there in that striking-tortoise-or-whatever poise, when the sensei told us the meditation was over and changed the soundtrack. I was grateful for both. Then they started tying their bodies into some incredible knots and looked more like tackle than human beings. I noticed a huge guy with a body suitable for a career in the domain of bouncing, who did some incredible things. Well, I was amazed, it’s true. But do it myself? Puh-lease.

Now, I’m actually diligent, so I did the things I could possibly do. I stretched. I put my right leg behind my left ear. I pushed and pulled, meanwhile trying to understand what good it could do to my system. But I mainly watched them imitate crazy snakes in their rut period, and say some strange things like: “Is this the raven? No, it’s the eagle”, and crap like that. I tried hard not to laugh; however, that presentation of our capabilities did awe me, but to the same extent as the Cirque du Soleil awes me. Boo fucking hoo.

Finally, this gymnastics from the Hindu hell was over, and there we go again: meditation. We all lied on our backs (the soundtrack didn’t change, mind you) and the sensei started ordering us to open our chakras, one by one, and to learn how to sleep in an ocean of light and warmth. I tried hard not to open my chakras, as the actual opening of the Kundalini is really painful (believe me, I tried it, but it was long ago and ended not too well), and I started a mental argument with the sensei and all those simple people who believed they could reach Nirvana in a heartbeat.

The East vs. West argument is an old story, and I don’t think I can really add a grain of truth and wisdom to it, being a thoroughly Western (and Christian) person myself, but I must say that globalization is a phenomenon way too young to help these two cultures blend harmoniously. We can read things, and reach things, and learn things, and eat things from other cultures, but are we really ready to absorb an alien culture when we know so little about our own? We can do aikido and smoke, we can do yoga and worry about our future, we can don geisha kimonos and not know a single word in Japanese, we can mix the unmixable and feel happy about it, but what is the net worth of an assimilated cultural element? And what role does it play in personal development?

Well, the class ended in another discussion in a tight circle (the circle of trust, like the one Robert de Niro had in Meet The Parents) where I, as a rotten Westerner and a novice, had no access to. Whoa, as if I needed it. I thanked the sensei and left, and I felt a raging desire to play Rammstein on my MP4 player, but I suppressed it – after such a spiritual “feast” Rammstein would be nothing less than a sacrilege. I went out of the “classroom”, and the hall welcomed me with a Jennifer Lopez song. I’m not a big fan of her, more precisely, I’m no fan at all, but when I heard her voice, it was Hallelujah all over the world! I moved to the beat, and then went to the cardio center, where I’ve hit the treadmill to a Propellerheads song.

I really wanted to ask the chief yogi whether he had a cell phone, but I thought it would be “du trop”, too much. The expression of my face – mocking disbelief – probably was as unwelcome as my blue Puma sneakers, but sorry, I’m totally entitled to mocking disbelief, as well as to a critical approach to something treated as worthy of veneration. Not for me, thank you very much.

Alex Fletcher in “Music and Lyrics” aka Hugh Grant says something really deep like “This Buddhism-in-a-thong philosophy just hides the desire to sell units and get seats filled, that’s why it is called the music business”. Well, in our happy and well-adjusted Occident yoga is a business idea, too, I guess. It’s great, actually – the philosophy, the body potential, the amazing possibilities for personal development – and I think it’s really unfair to refer to as “bullshit” to something that actually awes you, but is bullshit to you anyway. We’re not gonna reach Nirvana THAT easily, guys, so “Relax”, as Frankie said when going to Hollywood

Epilogue


Remember Sex and the City, the sixth season? The Let There Be Light episode, specifically. “Smith, in a "Fuck Yoga" t-shirt (which makes me think of Gustave), bounds over Samantha, who is reclining in bed”. This is a quote from Alex Richmond’s recap on www.televisionwithoutpity.com , and I must say I’ve read her recaps before actually watching the show, and it was really long ago, but this grayish XXL-sized grungy T-shirt kept flashing before my inner eye (or my third eye?) as I’ve watched those funny people willingly mutilate their bodies. Oh, this is a start for a very interesting argument, but you see, I’m an aspiring blogger, and no one wants to hatemail me. Maybe you will.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lounge, Oh Lounge!

October 2008

Lounge, Oh Lounge!

Lyrical digression

Do you know you’re beautiful? Yes, you are… yes, you are…
Mandalay, “Beautiful”

On that very fine, if a bit cloudy September day we all went to the Organ Hall, to listen to Carmina Burana (a cantata by Carl Orff), where a friend of mine had to perform the baritone part. Of course, in the era of Britney Spears nobody cares about classics anymore – we prefer smoky clubs where we can shake it a bit, or, maybe, the fates of couch potatoes are more appealing to us, especially when there are many interesting things available on HDTV.

Anyway, I’ve hit the downtown much earlier than all other people in our little group, as a) I hate being late, and b) I love roaming the city when no one is watching. I ate lunch at a trendy bar, said hello to the bar manager, then went to wait for my friends at another trendy bar, bearing the loud and clear title of a lounge club.

Now, lounge is a rather ripened and mature tendency dating back to the 1950s and 1960s, when the so-called “supermarket music” came out for the first time. It is also a fashionable word to use in glossy magazines, a lucrative industry, and an entire subculture involving laidback clothing, loosened-up lifestyle (of course, if one is a rentier or a heir, it’s easy for them to do absolutely nothing and to refer to themselves to as loungers), and Jose Padilla compilations in their iPods and sound systems. It’s more or less of a label, like, say, rockers, Hells Angels, or Secretaries of State (just kidding). Anyway. Back to the lounge club.

The atmosphere was nice, if trivial: absolutely uncomfortable white leatherette couches, low rectangular glass-top tables that made you stoop in a most uncanny way reminding of Quasimodo, huffy arrogant waitresses (I wondered why, maybe because they thought they had miraculous careers), red-black-white interior and a rather decent DJ stand. I won’t tell you what I ate and what I drank, I was (as I always am) interested in people in the first place. It’s interesting to live in a small city (may this oxymoron be forgiven to me in such context), and watch everybody shake hands with everybody, and seem to know each other way too well.

I saw a young couple enter the room and shake hands with the bartender and with the deejay, then sitting down and ordering some tea, then I got up as gracefully as I could on my high heels and totally black and tight outfit, and went to the DJ to ask whether they could play “Death by Chocolate” by De Phazz for me. They turned out to be as haughty and watch-me-enjoying-my-miraculous-young-and-carefree-lounge-DJ-career, and said that they have only ugly De Phazz songs. Now I, as a devoted fan of the German magikians (reference to Robert Asprin, y’all), said firmly, albeit kindly, that De Phazz had no ugly songs, and promised to get them “Death by Chocolate” on a CD-R, as this is an old album and therefore a rarité. Anything for making connections, but I didn’t keep my promise till now. Maybe that was because Carmina Burana erased it from my memory.

Lyrical digression

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, what is to me this quintessence of dust!

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

The human race is famous for inventing arts and crafts out of nothing – we probably took and assimilated it from the Japanese culture on a global level, and we all know that the Japanese are famous for their, say, art of untying the shoelaces – “shoelace-do” and art of beating the cheating husbands with the frying-pan – “frying-pan-jitsu”. Anyway, jokes apart, we made a fine art out of small talk, rest and relaxation: that is why we have lounge clubs, lounge areas in airports, and lounge music.

Well, airports are another story – I can’t imagine anyone having a real good time at Charles de Gaulle, but still, we all need places to emphasize our smartness and the fact that we are actually so cool that we never hurry. The art of relaxing also is, as the good old Prince of Denmark said, a mirror held to the nature, and lounge venues do have lots of mirrors, to reflect, so to say, the wonderful realms of far niente.

Yes, I understand, I perfectly understand that successful people need places to show off their success, but why, please, tell me why all the plasma screens in all those cafés and clubs are stuck for good with Fashion TV? What is so relaxing and comforting in watching stalking coat-racks and clothes you know you’ll never afford, successful as you are? Well, I’m sure some of us can really afford them, and this discussion of existential uselessness projected to the fashion industry has no point or meaning whatsoever. And ladies! How can you truly relax and find your inner goddess, or your inner poise, or your inner whatever, in a place where all you can see on a TV screen is some perfect body and perfect, if over-made-up, face? Will you really have a good time? The hell! You’ll order diet cheesecake instead of something healthy like a big fat brownie (just kidding, I wanted to suggest hot chocolate), you’ll ask for aspartame instead of sugar, and you’ll go home or to your next glossy-glittery party loaded with stress and insecurity. Do you need this? Whoa, stupid question. And my advice to the bar owners is to change it to Animal Planet or Discovery. Perfection in wildlife is something we can bear while sipping our mocha-frappucinos.

And now from the sublime to the ridiculous… or is it vice-versus? I left that extremely cool place (after eating some very decent sushi), and went – how ironic – to Mickey D’s, as I had to wait some more, and I got tired of the stale atmosphere specific, as I noticed, to expensive eateries. I actually welcomed the change, as it was warm, and noisy, and full of vivacious young people with their shiny eyes, loud talking, crazy outfits, and milkshakes in black-nailed hands. I bought an orange juice – you don’t mess with the stomach ulcer, you know – and I lost myself in thought and observation of that very lively set.

Now, the fast-food issue is one big controversial mess, except for those poor African countries where, I believe, no one would turn down a big juicy hamburger filled with those wonderful chemical compositions that have virtually obliterated our spoilt Western papillae. A friend of mine says he’d step over the threshold of the Mickey D only when the U.S. army gets out of Iraq. No comments here, I believe this particular geopolitical-slash-culinary problem is between them. I mean my friend, the U.S., and Iraq. But I, for one, have no other choice but to like the heritage of Ronald McDonald, because a) I’m a latent masochist, and nothing cheers me up more than an hour spent on the bathroom floor hanging for dear life to the loo after having a big mac, and b) they give jobs to young people.

So, that evening I just sat there, enjoyed my Minute Maid orange juice (full of chemicals as well, I believe), and watched all the squirming, the buzzing, the giggling – the big SpringChickVille ant hill. Who cares about lounge cafés with reasonably $20-priced cappuccinos and people so prim and proper that you instantly have the feeling that you entered UptightSnobBurg? I’d rather sit under the big fluorescent M, the beacon of globalization, sip on some of the Chemical Brothers (usually known as Coke, Fanta, and Sprite), or chemicalized orange juice (which, for sure, hasn’t been anywhere near a real orange), and watch those girls, one in bright yellow, the other in black, like a true emo girl, discussing boyfriend trouble and laughing their cropped capri pants off.

God, I miss those days when boyfriend trouble was associated with laughter, not with seven vodka martinis on an empty stomach, a bleak mood, and really bad language (well, I know Russian, and you haven’t been sworn at if you haven’t been sworn at in Russian). Lord is my witness, I don’t want to go back to my teens – it’s a horrible time for an intricate personality, but I’d rather laugh in Mickey D than cover the market in “fucks” and “shits” at the Penthouse Café. Alas. Those days are gone, and anyway, I’m not dating anyone now, so there is no issue, in fact.

Just as when I was ready to leave, full of nostalgia – well, it was mixed with a good dose of self-mocking, truth be said, they played this Arash video – Chori Chori. For those who don’t remember or don’t watch crap on music television, let me remind: the video plot is all about shooting, bombs, and aggressive people with obvious Middle Eastern appearance. I snorted into the remains of my orange-cum-polyvinylchloride juice. I realized globalization was quite an ironic thing. Talk about Happy Hezbollah Meal.

And then there it was: the Carmina Burana. And there are no words. This is a true masterpiece, pure enjoyment for the ears, the mind, the soul, and the social life – I met really nice people after the concert, when we went backstage to congratulate our friend the baritone. I even peeked in the men’s dressing room, but that was a genuinely accidental peek. Feel free to call me a liar. My only justification is that I was high on a healthy dose of Carl Orff, and it was a real trip. By the way, the concert was conducted by a woman – this is very rare in the classic music world, and she was astonishing. Her conducting moves looked like a dance. May I just say: long live Ms. Ilona Stepan! And that’s what I call lounge, really.


Still, there is a je ne sais quoi in lounge music, especially when you are in love, and listening to dulcet tones, romantic melodic themes with a soft beat is relevant. I’m not an expert, really. Last time when I was in love I listened to hard rock. As for the casual fashion, it’s not a prerogative of the lounge style. So, what is lounge, then? There is no deep philosophy here. It is pretty much summed up by Timon and Pumbaa: hakuna matata!

Even if your alarm clock is set for 8:00 AM, even if you work your ass off to be able to afford going to expensive lounge clubs, you can still be a lounger. The main thing is to have a flexible mood, and generally to be able to be in a good mood. I’ve never seen a pining lounger in my entire life, and I saw a lot of them. So, the good mood is the key, the Café del Mar is the soundtrack, the Sisley jacket and Dsquared chinos is the wrapping – what else? The mood?

Yes. The mood. The goal is to relax like there’s no tomorrow, to relax with all your might, to put all your efforts in the relaxing. Looks like a job to you? Add a box of Ferrero chocolate liqueurs and do your best to oversleep the next day. And welcome to the ranks of slackers! Because that’s all there is, baby.