Smoking idiocy

smoking kidsThere’s something horribly wrong in Bulgarian’s rebellious spirit. For example it is not a bad thing to be against all stupid decisions of your government. I just believe that people should be really careful when they choose their causes and the things they fight for to the end.

Bulgarians are actually really bad at choosing and fighting. The latest big cause of our society is to lift the smoking ban that’s part of our lives since June. Although I’m a smoker I absolutely support the ban but since there are two positions in every dispute, I’ll try to present the other one, too.

The pro-smoking people, all of them smokers, said the ban prevents the business from making money. Restaurant owners said that their earnings are 50% down compared to last year. There are countless stories of bartenders, waiters and owners who waved fingers at our government and said that the ban is killing their business. There are also many smokers who said that smoking ban is discriminating people and it’s questioning their freedom of choice to smoke or not. Back in May there were protests of smokers against the ban which I consider as one of the most ridiculous and stupid protests ever happened on Earth.

Those things are the “wrong” part of our society’s spirit. During a period in which people are struggling to find job and are in their poorest state since the dark end of the 90’s, some idiots with cigarettes go out to fight for their right to… kill themselves, while killing the surrounding people. Instead I would prefer massive riots for changes in our education, healthcare or justice system which are really important but nobody cares.

The pro-smokers proposed a new rule – you can’t smoke where food is served and is OK everywhere else after 10PM. Here comes the second wrong part in the freedom idiocy of Bulgaria. Right now in Sofia you can have a cigarette in almost every bar, restaurant or club after midnight or 1-2 AM, depending on the place. So practically the thing is to legalize this manner. A manner that goes with every ban, rule or advice that Bulgarians don’t like. Actually you can hear people in Bulgaria complaining that nobody is going according to the law around here, while speeding on the highway or smoking in the bar.

While my fellow countrymen practice their freedom cretinism I, the smoker, am fully supporting the ban. Surprisingly, I guess, the main reason is I don’t like to smell like cigarettes when I go back home after party. Also, I feel more comfortable in a room/bar/pub/restaurant with clean, fresh air. And last, but not least, I smoke less cigarettes this way, while, in a way, taking care of my friends’ health. This makes me feel better and I really hope the ban will survive this attack.

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The picture is from Frieke Janssens’ amazing series Smoking Kids. You can check it at http://frieke.com

We’re all kids

Inspiration is something really awkward in my live. I’m always looking for it but I’m only finding it when I’m not looking. I guess that goes for everybody out there, so I won’t moan about it. Still, how comes we’re only inspired when we’re paying attention to specific, uninspiring things?

For example I’ve got some really nice ideas about stuff I’ve been wondering recently, while having a 12 hours bus travel. The thing is that travel was the most boring thing since my last 14 hours bus travel. The whole time I was listening to music while the driver was playing the ridiculously dumb Rush Hour movie. I tried to read a book, to write a thing, to listen more carefully to the music on my iPod but at the end I was always bored to death. And at the exact moment I gave up, ideas were flooding my mind out of nowhere.

I guess the reason is hidden in the fact that humans are children. You know how kids always tend to do the exactly opposite of what you want them to do? And this overwhelming moment when you leave them alone and they magically do what you wanted. The same goes with inspiration and doing things altogether. I’m always bored to death when I need to write my weekly article for the magazine I work for. In the mean time  I’m full of ideas exactly ten minutes after I send the e-mail with the text.

I guess this happens with people’s minds when comes to ideas, too. You just need to drift off, be calm and start daydreaming to be able to produce anything good. It’s not like the other way is impossible, just the results are much worse.

So be children and let yourself daydreaming and playing around. It always helps.

UKF presented awesomeness

I never mentioned it here before, but aside from my love for indie rock, I’m really into dubstep. This affection is growing for the last year or something and when I found out about the UKF party at my favourite club in Sofia – Mixtape 5, I was really hyped.

UKF BulgariaI need to mention the host of the party True Badness who are really amazing guys for bringing UKF here. If you’re unaware of it – UKF started as two YouTube channels dedicated to dubstep and drum&bass but later became bigger and now serves as some kind of promoter for this music. They hold a lot of parties around Europe and present many of the best DJs playing bass music.

But let’s get back to Sofia and our UKF party which happened last night. For me all started just before midnight when I, my roommate Martin and two Austrian couchsurfers we hosted for the weekend, went to the club. During our first beers the dubstep hall wasn’t crowded and the beats weren’t something special. However, soon enough the Bulgarian DJ Knife kicked in with some heavy beats that made the crowd move a little more.

DJ Knife. Photo: BG : Mikser

The actual party started with Diamondz – another local DJ. He took over and played really sick tunes for the already huge throng. These were the first moments when everybody was jumping and dancing. Diamondz’s set was very good with well calculated ups and downs that gave us time to rest between the harder parts, during which people were going amok.

During a cigarette break I saw that Cookie Monsta – the headliner of the party, won’t come because his flight was delayed by WizzAir. Regardless of the fact I’m not a big fan of him I was disappointed. May be it was because that was yet another cancelled artist who was supposed to play in Bulgaria. Of course we managed to have good time and happily the promoters promised another party with Cookie Monsta.

The British duo Genetix brought dirtier sound and few moments which were more dancy than jumpy. At the end of their set they throwed a skateboard into the crowd and I fought for it. Sadly, I lost it in rock, paper, scissors game when only me and one other guy were left with the board in hands. Nevertheless, I fought bravely and now I have nasty bruises on my hands.

Photo: BG : Mikser

The last DJ I heard was Gemini. His set started good but soon after that it got boring for my taste. The part I heard had some things from Skrillex’s tracks mixed with some strange beats to jump on. And I’m not really into pointless jumping at parties. That’s why I offered the guys to go home and we did.

Although I didn’t went to the drum&bass hall I had amazing time. I think that was easily the best party I’ve been to. I really hope to see Cookie Monsta soon on another party good as this one. Until then I’ll be stuck on UKF’s channels even more than before.

I’ve been surfed

Last few weeks were really crazy for me, but I don’t mind because everything happening is really amazing and interesting. One of the amazing things done this month is my first CouchSurfing experience as a host. I was looking forward to this moment for a long time and it was even better than expected.

I hosted two really nice girls from Berlin. D. who studied in Turkey in the past half year and her roommate and friend H. who went to pick her up. They decided to have a long trip through Eastern Europe on their way back to Berlin and the reason they cited was “We just don’t know this part of Europe, which is so sad and stupid”.

Their arrival wasn’t packed with good luck because this Sunday was the rainiest day in Sofia since May. All day long it rained with some pauses. Actually it wasn’t raining while we had local meals at Divaka and during our coffee break. But it rained on our way from the station to my flat, while we tried to have a walk after our lunch and we almost drowned on our way to zbl and Ru’s home. There we played some cards, drank few beers and talked about almost everything from music and card games to politics and psychology.

The second day was sunny and really nice for walks. We had plan to visit the Museum of Socialistic Art but when we arrived the guard told me it wasn’t working in Mondays. Something they forgot to mention on the website which says working time 10 to 17:30. Aside from that the girls were really surprised when we stopped in front of a random building and I told them it was the museum. Actually there’s only one big label saying Ministry of Culture written in Bulgarian. If you go there make sure you’re with someone local.

After this failure we went to buy bus tickets from the station and to the Women’s market. That’s one of the dirtiest and most colourful areas in Sofia. Friends of mine asked me why I want to take foreigners to this ugly place. My answer was and will always be – that’s one of the most amazing areas in my city. The biggest reason is that’s the oldest area of Sofia with some of the most beautiful old buildings. I’m really sad because most of those buildings are ruining and are actually dangerous. My second reason are the people you can see at this market.

The biggest part are the gypsies. There are all versions of them – poor, traders, thieves, old, young, dirty, clean. The second biggest group are older people who are going there because of the prices. They are really interesting to see too, although kinda sad. The smallest part of the people are these strange people who would fit better in a shopping mall.

H. and D. told me that Women’s Market was their favourite place we visited, and that’s my first proof that Women’s market is a must-visit for every tourist in Sofia. From the market we walked for awhile to the National Palace of Culture where we met Ru and had some pizza. Then we went to the National Theatre’s Garden to drink beers with another friends of mine. There we stumbled upon one really amazing show mixing theatre, dance and swirling fire. It ended with amazing fireworks after which we had another bunch of nice conversations. Before we went home we passed by Soviet’s Army Monument for another beer and little more time for chatting.

H. and D. told me they had really good time and invited me in Berlin. I think they were honest, because I had amazing time, too. This CS experience was just another proof for me that people are meant to communicate with each other regardless their nationality, colour, language or cultural differences. I really hope that was just the beginning of one amazing trip for these girls. Meanwhile I’m preparing for my next surfers who are coming next monday.

My sister

There are very few people in my life who have really huge impact on my decisions and thinking. My sister is definitely one of them. She left Bulgaria two years ago and went to Denmark after week of hitchhiking.

When she left she didn’t knew any language but had a small English dictionary. She left her relatively good job at big company for unknown life in unknown place. And made it!

Now she’s still living in Copenhagen and is working really hard to achieve her goals and big dreams. For two years she managed to learn some speakable English without any lessons and started Danish lessons. I have to mention she consider herself bad with languages.

Every time we meet we have really long talks about life the universe and everything, which I love and hate simultaneously. She’s party animal and we have really good time drinking and partying together. Unfortunately we can meet just once or twice  a year.

Today is my sister’s 24th birthday. Due the distance between us I can’t give her proper gift, so I decided to share with the world how cool she is. Dear world, please meet Sandy – the coolest sis on Earth!

The coolest sis on Earth

Happy Birthday :).

Farewell to summer

On the road
It sounds ridiculous to say summer’s almost gone while outside is 37C, but it’s a fact. This Friday night I went out with friends and there were much more people outside than last week. Friends are calling to meet and share stories from our vacations. My editor is setting me deadlines and the supplementary examination at the university started already. It gets dark well before 9 pm and the wish to put on these favourite jeans, which would bring you heatstroke if you put them on right now, is getting stronger and stronger.

Regardless of our wishes, summer’s out. Even its last epic heatwaves and ‘beach’ weather won’t change that. I’m actually glad it’s coming to an end because it was really long and hot with so much emotions, places and experiences that I just want to stay home drinking tea and reading while is raining outside.

While I’m waiting there are few interesting things to do. Firstly I have to pass my exams. That’s not as hard as I want it to sound but still is a challenge. Second, I’ve got my tech rubric in one of my favourite magazines, so I must meet deadlines and write assigned articles. And last, but not least, I have to prepare all things for Warrior’s Dance Festival in September and my dream-coming-true concert of Muse in November. The big problem here is not that I feel badly obligated to go to these concerts, just my financials are running out and I’m yet to figure all the travel plans, as both are outside of Bulgaria.

I realise I’m waiting for the fall because all nice things that will come along with the falling leaves. The bad part of it is the winter that follows after all leaves are down. Since all leaves are on their places yet, I can just say farewell to summer and wave for goodbye.

Open season – Loud Festival 2012

Every year around April I start thinking about the coming summer. Many questions bother me and most of them are about music festivals and all the stupid things you have to think of while preparing for them. This festival season was different than these in the recent years because it started in early June with my hometown’s Loud Festival – probably the next big metal festival in Bulgaria.

Loud Festival Poster

The line-up

One of the things that are common for Bulgaria’s scene is the high average age of the artists we see on festivals. Usually it’s ok to have Slayer and W.A.S.P. for the headliners’ slots, as in the case with Loud Festival, but when the youngest band on the festival are Soulfly (formed in 1997) things are getting kinda old-school. But don’t worry we’ve seen worse.

Aside from the age the line-up of the first day was really strange because of the mix of symphonic/gothic metal bands Tristania and Lacuna Coil followed by Behemoth with their blackened death metal and Symphony X in the progressive side. Add the shock rock of W.A.S.P. for headliner and you’ll have, as we love to say in Bulgaria, a meal with grapes.

Day two had more consistent artists with five extreme bands in the face of Asphyx, Meshuggah, Soulfly, Annihilator and Slayer. As I’m a bit of thrash fan I was really exited for the second day while went on day one because of my friends. I think now is the confession moment – I would never pay for such a lousy and old line-up, although I had fun. God bless media passes!

The organisation

Loud Festival

I’m absolutely certain the only things done well on Loud Festival was the access control, the wristband exchange on the entrance and the fun zones. No lines, no waiting and mostly polite security people on the entrance which is something significant around. While not having fun on the only stage of the festival people were able to do karaoke on specially designated stage, jump with bungee or just do some shopping on the souvenir and merchandise stands.

However anything else was horrible – expensive food and drinks, extremely huge lines for beer and food, shitty sound and little sea of mud in front of the stage. Considering the fact these are the guys who made the 2010 and 2011 editions of Kavarna Rock Festival and some of the best metal concerts in Sofia in the past few years i was disappointed.

The bands

Fans During Meshuggah

Fans during Meshuggah. Photo by Georgi Kojuharov@dnevnik.bg

Day one started with the Norse symphony crap Tristania, who may sound good if they change the singer and have better sound. Lacuna Coil made the show, but it was damaged by even worse sound. However, I really liked the singer Cristina Scabbia and her Lady Gaga jokes, also Andrea Ferro’s energy, but I doubt I’ll ever play song of theirs. The personal highlight of the evening were Behemoth, who got on stage with their usual make up and all the satanic feel and look. While looking like some retarded teenagers they sound really awesome live, even better than on record. May be I had to leave after their set, but I decided to try and listen Symphony X – big mistake. Those guys had so many solos and boring things in their so called show that they’ll make at least a dozen of dragons kill themselves before the end. W.A.S.P., who I watched few years ago, were really sad view. The energy I remember from Blackie Lawless was gone and the show was amazingly stupid. Few tracks before the encore me and couple of friends were going home, for which I don’t regret.

Fans in the mud during Soulfly

Although I skipped the performance of Asphyx, day two was far better. For me it started with the Swedish titans Meshuggah. On the records they sound really unpolished, but live they are smashing metal machine. Add the crazy looks of singer Jens Kidman and some pouring rain during really hot summer day and you’ll get the perfect metal afternoon combination. Because of the pouring rain just in front of the stage there was not-so-little sea of mud which became moshpit arena during Soulfly’s performance. That was my second Soulfly concert and it was just like the first – really raw energy, extremely good Max Cavalera and engulfing moshpits. Canadian thrash legends Annihilator had the difficult task to enjoy the crowd between two legends Soulfly and Slayer and I can say they did their job pretty well. With a setlist full of hits, classics and some of the best songs from the new album they made even the most sceptic people shaking their heads. However, the night actually started in the moment when Tom Araya went on stage. Bulgarians love Slayer and the crowd showed that love with really good moshpits in the mud and too much singing for a thrash concert. In one moment everybody started singing “Happy Birthday” for Dave Lombardo, who happened to have birthday on that day. On the other hand the band played all the favourite songs – Raining Blood, South of Heaven, Die by the Sword, World Painted Blood, etc., of course without too much politenesses or encore.

Wrap up

Considering that was the first edition, Loud Festival was good. But when gets on mind it wasn’t the first festival organized by those people, I’m not so excited. The line up was horrible and I hope next year they’ll have some younger bands. The good part is that in Bulgaria you can have fun on almost every concert because the crowd is always awesome. That was the case with Loud Festival 2012, too. Last but not least, thanks to my friends I had more than just fun, so I’ll just pick the right company again when I go to Loud Festival 2013.

A new beginning*

Press Start to Continue by Mike McNary

Press Start to Continue by Mike McNary

During the winter months people wait for the spring to come and restart their lives. And when that happens, people are happy, everything, even the nature, is fresh and breezy and there is so much motivation to start new projects and conquer new peaks. However, ideas about new things come and go through the year, not only in the spring or in Wednesday, but when it comes to the execution of the ideas things are getting kinda difficult.

At least for me that’s the case. I decided to start a new blog in English just to be able to practice my writing. Few weeks later I made the blog. Couple of days later I filled the about me page and made everything ready to show to people. But it took me couple of weeks just to try and write anything and the result was 3 lines of bullshit. That’s not exactly motivating.

So I decided to just write few lines about this experience and share it with the world. I hope this is the way out of the desperate lack of motivation moment in which I am.

PS: Would you like to read some stories from summer festivals around Europe? Because I plan a post for every festival I visited this summer.

*Kinda odd, but on my 18th birthday Barack Obama gave a speech named “A new beginning”. Or just another one of the things you learn while randomly read through Wikipedia.