The Baarons’ abiding fascination with the sub-atomic world is well known, as is his caustic sense of humor, which places heavy emphasis on disorienting the victim. But until we crossed into Switzerland these two things had seldom had the opportunity to operate at peak level simultaneously.
So the prospect of a visit to the Super Hadron Collider on the French-Swiss border caused us to leave Colmar early and speed through the black-metal landscape listening to Steven Hawkings books-on-tape and devising strategies for annoying any physicists we might run into at the site.
This is what I mean by “black-metal landscape”. You get it, right?
I suggested pretending to be graduate students from Bond University and horrify them with our ignorance, but The Baaron shook his head gravely. He was obviously formulating his own plan.
After a few minutes of concentration a wolfish smile spread across his face and he started tapping the steering wheel meaningfully.
“Let’s just run a flat-out bogan trip on them.” He said.
“Perfect.” I replied. “They’ll be totally unprepared for an angle like that. Can you imagine the pedigree of ultra-nerd they usually deal with? When we start talking like sheep-shearers from Dubbo their brains will completely freeze up.”
The Baaron nodded and let out an evil chuckle. “That’s right, total culture shock. Everything that comes out of our mouths will make them feel like someone is dropping live cockroaches down their shirts. But they’ll still have to answer our questions.”
Having reached the facility at around 10am we drove at once to the slick, well-funded visitors centre and paid something like 65euros each for a short guided-tour. Our evil plan came into sharp focus when our guide turned out to be a scholarly, middle-aged man called Rene Seidlemier, who was also a part-time research assistant to the colliders’ Special Engineering staff.
High-end Science People are generally unsettled by having to answer questions from laymen of any kind. Poor Rene got us, laying this trip on him.
I decided to start in on him right away.
“G’day Rene, how’s it fuckin’ hangin’ mate?” I drawled, in the thickest accent I could muster.
He was obviously shocked by this weird mangling of the English language, but he recovered quickly and seemed to understand the question in context.
“Very well, thank you, very well.” He said with a nervous little laugh. “Shall we begin? This way.”
Applied-science brain-monsters hanging out at the LHC. Mr Seidelmier is the one up the back, next to the guy with the hat on. Can you feel the hatred?
He bowed slightly and we followed him to a near-by building, into a cluttered room full of lab-coat types in civilian dress who were tinkering with large pieces of tech. Just as he opened his mouth to start his well-rehearsed spiel The Baaron cut him off.
“So, Rene. Must be fuckin’ grousse smashin’ fuckin’ electrons and quarks and shit all day, eh?”
“Yeeeah,” I slurred “Have youse cunts cracked the fuckin’ riddle of the universe yet or what?”
Rene cringed slightly and for the briefest moment I could almost hear the fine little cogs of his Swiss brain grinding against each-other.
If we hadn’t been playing our roles with total commitment he would have immediately assumed that we were blatantly mocking him. But, as it was, he was forced to confront the idea that for the next 45 minutes he was actually going to have to baby-sit two drooling retards from the “outback” who, for some incomprehensible reason, had decided that a guided tour at the Super Hadron Collider would be “fuckin’ awesome”.
The funny thing is, it is fucking awesome.
The tour itself was fascinating, and it was a struggle to stay in character in the face of raw, world shattering science, especially after the joke lost it’s zang about half way through. But every so often The Baaron would pipe up with a highly informed, technical question for which Rene was visibly gratefull, but which also deepened his confusion almost to the point of madness. By the time we left I was sure that he would take the rest of the day off and drink heavily.
It was a fine mornings entertainment, and provided much fuel for conversation on the short, picturesque drive to Lucern. But I have wasted many words relating this sad tale of juvenile science-hazing, so now I’ll have to wrap up the tale-o-the-gig in short order.
Quoth The Baaron, nevermore. I have a keen eye for omens, so this sight did not hearten me.
The ravens were circling when we arrived at Schuur, a venue that looked like a cross between a Swiss chalet and an executive cowshed. It had everything, from state of the art sound to a mixing console housed in a spaceship to a large, fibreglass igloo in the beer-garden which apparently served as a (tee hee) chill-out room.
The star-trek mixing booth.
The, uh, igloo.
Once again we were supporting 65 Days Of Static, which was initially awkward because of the violent confrontation we’d had with them in Holland only a week or so earlier, but fences were quickly mended over dinner and spirits were high by the time we all got down to business. Only BVC seemed downbeat, and under interogation revealed that he was starting to feel a little homesick. So I palmed him half a gram of flour, told him it was ketamine and pretty soon he was reeling around like a wino and giggling in placebo heaven.
Cuddles having his supper and missing his mummy.
Another point of discomfort was the appearance of the cruel and devious Andy Inglis (pronounced Ingles) who had flown into Lucern that morning to join us for the Swiss leg of the tour. He appeared suddenly during soundcheck like a neatly dressed spectre of hate and spent most of the night standing at our merch table, terrifying potential customers and firing off angry emails from his iphone.
By this stage of the tour both The Baaron and I were starting to feel our onions, from a performative standpoint. So between that fact and the big, meaty stage-sound and the curious thrill of playing in the country which gave us all the “Swiss bank account” and the Von Trapp family, I had an absolute ball on stage. The crowd was polite and attentive, which are not necessarily the qualities we look for, but it beats the puss out of hostile and dismissive.
Here´s what it all looked like from Andys´perch in front of the subs at stage right.
65 D.O.S did their crescendo laden thing and made more than a few of the polite, attentive Swiss gig-goers completely hysterical. I almost shattered the truce between our two camps by leaping up and bolting across the stage after forgetting the access code to the backstage door, but that too was smoothed over, with the band at least (their tour manager never did forgive me, as will be seen in later posts).
Happy Birthday to URSI! She doesn´t like cake, but she runs a tight ship nevertheless.
All in all, a fine day on the road. Giant big-ups to Schuurs’ foxy and mischievous venue-manager, Ursi, who surrendered her living room to us so we could both sleep in comfort and save some francs, and to the 65 boys for not really giving a shit about my sudden appearance in the middle of their show, which relies heavily on atmosphere and is not assisted by old drunks streaking across the stage at random.
The road winds ever on.