May 5th, 2006


Grizzles And More GRRR! (3)

I didn't hold my nose and vote Labour after all, but went for a split Green/Socialist protest vote.
Wotan, touch wood, hasn't done anything frightening far. The insurance isn't paying for his thyroid meds any more, and the dosage has just been doubled. *Sigh*.
My knees and feet, not to mention the remains of my bollard-collision bruises, are still so oucha I can't walk properly. I never took painkillers in my life, save for toothache, or as flu medication, and these days, I'm knocking them back like Michael Jackson, which is a bit scary. I wish they worked better, too.
My poor sister is going through holy hell on Long Island. My mother is out of it half the time, but evidently she can be as malicious as ever when she's feeling perkier. Her finances are in complete disorder, no sign of papers that might actually be useful, just drawers full of gas bills from 1953, and stuff like that. I'm drowning in guilt, but at this juncture, I don't see how I could be much help.Eventually, though, I'm going to have to scrape up the money, somehow, to go over there for a while, if just to help clear the House of Horror. Oy!
Ah well, back to the pleasanter pastures of Pancevo. I did a lot of getting lost, and missing things, although I'm fairly familiar with central Pancevo, by now. I suppose my concentration is poorer than usual at present.
The local museum, which is in need of restoration, but is pretty interesting, was hosting a bizarre waxworks exhibit in its ground floor gallery. The first thing I saw was 'Hagrid' from a Harry Potter tableau. Other gapers were obscuring the child leads, so I assumed he was supposed to be Rasputin, and thought 'I didn't know he was that big.' There were astoundingly weird attempts at Gerard Depardieu, Pavarotti, leaning forward as if about to take off, and most frighteningly, Marilyn Monroe. I took some snaps with my throwaway camera, but they never come out well.
The GRRR! programme had a lot of really unusual stuff this year, like a display of beehive panels, which used to be painted with curious scenes, etc. so the bees would know which hive was theirs. (I don't know if there's any scientific basis for this, but they were worth seeing.) Also on show were some modern graphic artists' takes on this style.
There was the usual informative opening night panel chat compered by Sasa(Zograf), followed by a splendid selection of some of the best Fleischer BETTY BOOP cartoons, the ones featuring musical greats of the day in live action antics. I've seen them many times, but they're always an inspiration. Real genius, and so much more bizarre and edgy than even the earliest Disneys. I mean, being chased through the jungle by a giant gurning Louis Armstrong head; what were they on?
There was a sweet concert by Rita Braga, who has a pretty, childlike voice and provided winsome covers of early 20th-century pop songs, complete with ukelele. She went down really well, and I expect she'll go far. She'd brought along some interesting family 'comics' for the exhibit, and one of her own, kinda musical sci-fi, and I'd like to see more.
The biggest complaint I have about the fesival is, of course, the very vague timing, and very long breaks between events. If the weather's not so good, I find myself wandering with nothing to do for aeons. Of course, other visitors appreciate the extra drinking time; Ya can't please everyone.
What made it a bit tedious this time, was the fact that nearly all the shops and cafes of Pancevo were shut for this marathon May Day holiday, (Power to the People!) and chilling and sketching in the park were often disturbed by rain.
I managed to get into the Catholic Church this time, but it's not terribly interesting, just yer bog-standard sort of thing.
Oh this is going on forever. I'll have to see if I can find out how to do a cut thingie...

Still More Serbia Stuff...

I managed to miss the return visit of the theremin player Dorit Chrysler, who was such a hit last year. She was in a new club, located 'behind Maxi's'. There's nothing behind the Maxi's I know, but some very scary, dark alleyways. Nobody understood my attempts to pronounce the name of the club, it was quite cold and windy, and I was already knackered.(The concert was at 10:30,'Serbia time', and I'd already had to kill two hours working through a giant pizza I didn't really want in Borneo,practically falling unconscious into it, like 'Garfield', to avoid going back to the hotel, where I knew I'd just go into a coma.)
In the end,after I'd wandered into some other weird creepy wrong place, I just gave up in despair and got a taxi back to the Tamis. I'd been behind the wrong branch of Maxi's...ZZZZZ!
One of the events I'd been quite looking forward to, a slide show by 'Triceps',on '100 Years of Comics in Hungary', a completely unknown area to me, had to be cancelled. I think the guy had visa problems.
Giannis Koukoulas gave an illustrated talk on the influence of the fine arts on comic creators; very entertaining and well researched.
The Saturday night event was a broadcast by Sasa with some of the visitors, on Radio Pancevo, which I'd been on in previous years, and I vaguely knew where it was, but I was too scared of getting lost again in the dark (Squeee-) and quite frankly, could barely move my wretched carcass, so I listened to it in the Tamis. Sounded like a hilarious time was had by all. There was also a gig at Studio 21, but I was having vividly bizarre Serbian dreams by then.
Monday was the annual excursion of weirdo artists to some place of interest to same. I wore myself out climbing on the bus, but more exertion was to come. (you wouldn't believe I was a three-times- a-week gym drone...)
We were taken via roadkill-lined Voyvodina trails, to Deliblatska Pescara, a picnic ground full of local yokels celebrating the return of Summer (I guess) by lashing each other across the face with bunches of silky grass, for starters. The area is evidently the only desert in Europe, which was reclaimed by planting it over with hemp. There was a sleazy funfair, and a long,dusty, rocky climb. Thank Christ I'd bought my stick along 'just in case'.Case! I was petrified I'd lose sight of the young(er) slim and healthy, frisking away ahead, and this was a place you'd be doomed if you got lost in. The heavy smoke of countless barbies was getting my asthma going, and Uhhhhhh!!! Sasa and Gordana kindly kept an eye on me as I hobbled up the rear. Oh the shame, etc.
At the top was a big dacha-thing where 'Mr Spiral' the poet/cartoonist/rocker was bidding farewell to his five-year stint in the shoe shop by holding a feast and exhibit of some of the artwork that he'd displayed in the shop.
Chuck Sperry sold a bunch of his amazing posters at 3000d each. Not that much, for the quality of the things, but way too much for me. There was beaucoup de quaffing. I had a couple of beers, but I can't really deal with much alcohol any more;I just nod off, and what with all the painkillers, etc. I deemed it prudent not to overindulge. I have to say, though, what beer I've had over there, is excellent stuff.
The meal was rough and ready, consisting of a gigantic bottomless cauldron, like something from the Red Branch Saga, full of Serbian Bean soup. God! It's GOOD. There had to be meat in it, but I've long since resigned myself to becoming a temporary carnivore over there. Even if you order something meatless, it's always got 'bits' in it, and is cooked in animal fat. The second course was actual gigantic oozing slabs of ex-sentient being . I gave it a miss. By that time, I'd had enough bean soup to blow myself back home, anyway.
Going down the fucking mountain was if anything, more painful than going up, and the place was getting really ever so strange in the dusk; lots of drumming, fornicating and fighting in the foliage, cars 'sharing' the pathway, and extremely drunk countryfolk cavorting rather menacingly.. It was like a cross between a Breughel painting, and LORD OF THE FLIES for adults. Holy Shit...
At last, I clambered laboriously onto the high-rise bus and plotzed in the front, where the seats are just a bit roomier. Then, I had to get out again to be in the bloody group picture (Which is quite good, I wish I could figure out how to transfer Sasa's CD onto Flickr.I'm so sad.) This also involved crossing an irrigation ditch, which was only about 20 inches wide and high, but too bleedin' imuch for me. I made it the first time, but fell in on the way back...
Hm, I think I've delighted you way far enough, but some of the exhibits included A Selection of 60's Italian Comic Book Covers, luridly camp gems,Disney-Inspired Folk Art in Serbia,Disney in Central and Eastern Europe Before the Cold War a tribute to a favourite character, 'Dikan' a sort of Balkan muscleman Asterix, Comics in Serbia 1972-75 and the fascinating Home Made Magazines in Serbia
Tuesday was winding down (for me) and yet another drama, as Rita Braga's flight home was cancelled, and poor old Sasa had to try and sort it all out, in spite of various obstacles; the holiday, dead phone batteries, on and on. She got out alive, anyway.
Sasa then managed to go for a little walk with me, along a stretch of the river I hadn't been to, and pointed out the still half-submerged restaurant on the little island where GRRR!-sters feasted last year.He also showed me the colossally imposing, very old silo, where he'd like to base the festival. Apparently it's nice inside, with four huge floors. Any number of exhibits and events could go on.He hasn't been able to get the funding. Once again, this is so pathetic, as a bash like that would bring in plenty of visitors and their Euros. *Sigh*
I saw the Protestant church, where a member of Blood Sweat and Tears had his hippie wedding. Must try to get inside, if I get a chance to return.
Sasa was off to Athens the next day. (How does he manage?) and I went back to the 'Studio Flat' for a luxurious final Pancevo night in a proper bed, watching SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS in Serbian, and drinking that rather tasty new Fanta in the blue bottle.]
That's all!