On my way to and from Paris I get to see Brussels for some minutes. I considered this just enough. On sunny days I quite liked the view on a city spread out over a not all too pretentious hillside. The Palace of Justice rose above a disordered pattern of mainly pre-war houses; its golden cupola contrasted with the worn out colors of the roofs.
The view had a pastoral feel about it, reminded me of summerly villages in southern Limburg that lay sleeping besides time and only woke up on Sunday mornings when the church bells rang. But it also made me think of Brussels as a kind of Vatican City long after the pope had gone for ever.
The Belgian capital is a phantom in the media landscape. Centred in a continuously unifying Europe, at the administrative heart of business class, economy class and easyjet class countries, it also has to live through an ongoing battle that threatens to put an end to the existence of the country. Modern day zombies like vandenBoeynants and Dutroux continue to add a macabre aspect. Right wing nationalists commemorate them in their prayers.
One day I got out of the train and disappeared in the streets. I encountered a town speaking to itself; it had a provincial flair. I was delighted by the older houses with the lifesize advertisements painted on it years ago and its beautiful balance of neglect and care. I encountered dirt, architectural idiocy and stubborn bigcityness. The gold of consumerist palaces, the painted smiles of bonbon ladies and the side street bars where Spanish immigrants watched the Barcelona matches on TV. It felt like strolling around on a gigantic attic where stuff of generations got stored, piled up and forgotten. No wonder that the streets were littered.
The phantom Belgium however wants to live up to the utopian 21st century ideal of happy people in a prosperous Europe. Police men with spy glasses will spot every one who will throw a bit of chewing gum or a cigarette on the streets: a clean mind starts with a clean neighbourhood. You don’t have to stumble out of a café after a few beers too many to understand how close these spy glassed agents come to the comic strip reality of Tin-Tin. You might need a bit more imagination to follow my comparison to those laptopians who for hours and days spyglass through their recordings in order to make them sound as clean as possible.
Tales for Tapes volume 7 will be held in Brussels on january 14. French immigrants and visitors from Paris and me from Berlin will perform and use the magnetic tape as the main sound source. Anton Mobin and I premiere our collaboration for the first time as “She was Beautiful”
For line up and details study the flyer.