Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Global Dispositioning System # 2 (the navigation system strikes back)

The Balkan country of Slovenia can boast two contributions to contemporary music: industrial band / movement Laibach and Tekton Motor Corporation, whose gimmick consists of sampling Formula 1 racing engines into their beats. Slovenia used to be a part of Yugoslavia and it's the only republic that managed to secede from the federation without any serious bloodshed. There has never been given an explanation as to why Slovenia managed to escape civil war, but Bart Dujardin -manager of the Je M'en Fish indie collective- has finally provided an answer: the Serb troops simply couldn't find their way into the country.

Normally preferring to organise events from behind the safety of the desk/computer, I decided in April 2006 to hurl myself into the half-adventure, half-holiday event of touring with 2 bands, mainly as a photographer. The last concert was in Italy, but we first did some gigs in Germany and Slovenia and Italy as well. This story is centered on Slovenia and our mission was to boldly tour where no man has toured before. Well, actually, one of the bands already played 3 concerts there in 2005 and they told me the country was like nothing we'd seen before. Anyway, at some point we were somewhere at the fringes of Germany* and we asked people if we'd already crossed the border, they would mysteriously smile and say that "we would notice once we entered Slovenia".

Lesson 1: When looking up travel information on Slovenia, we couldn't count on websites like ; they didn't even bother listing the country. But since it's relatively small, we printed out some maps from the internet and hoped for the GPS system to do its job. The latter turned out to be a mistake. Once we were in Slovenia and we moved inland, away from any border (first Germany* and later Italy), the GPS acted as if we were driving on Mars. The phrase "Recalculate...route..." haunts our deepest memories to this day. The funniest moment came when we were driving on a patch of straight highway and the GPS confindently stated that we had to "drive 4 kilometres, then turn 180 degrees". This sounded spectacular enough for a change. Unfortunately, after about 3 kilometres, it 'recalculated' again (and subsequently decided we had to be completely somewhere else altogether, of course). The countryside was vast, green and above all, not inhabited, so no luck on that part as we couldn't ask for directions.

Well, this is a South-African road sign because we couldn't find one from Slovenia, but you get the idea...

Lesson 2: Be sure not to rely too much on Slovenian signalisation. Just as an example of what to expect: somewhere along our drive through the countryside, there were some heavy road works being done. The result was a traffic jam which stretched for about 7 or 8 kilometres (and there's not a lot of alternative roads to be had in Slovenia). In Belgium, there would be crisp-clear road signs stating the usual information (Drive 30/h, buckle up, etc). But not in Slovenia. When we stumbled on this traffic jam the first road sign showed us a smiley. Not a smiling smiley, you see, but one that was in a clear state of depression (it either showed a bottle of antidepressiva or a gun to its head, I can't quite remember). Road signs like this popped up every 500 metres, an on each the mood of our poor smiley gradually lightened, until at the last few kilometres the smiley was happily jumping around on the sign, finanlly looking like as if it was high as the sky on the last one.

Lesson 3: Expect the unexpected. What is deemed a club here in Belgium is obviously not the same thing in Slovenia. In 'Metelkova City', there was not one part of a building that was not filled to the brim with artwork of all kinds, outside or inside of the buildings. Playing a live show there was literally an eye-opener alright.

'Metelkova City' Is it a club? It is art? Or is it just strange?

* Blunderpop note: the country must have been Austria as Germany doesn't have a border with Slovenia, well not since the end of World War II at least.

More Je M'En Fish here.


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