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Nine Inch Nails in Las Vegas – Final show of the tour!

Dec 14, 2008

Nine Inch Nails was playing the final show of their Lights In The Sky tour in Las Vegas Saturday night.  Thursday I decided to go, Friday I booked my flight, and Saturday morning I left Vancouver.  Since turning 21 seven years ago, I have made the trip to Sin City every year except for last year, with the last time being 2006 for the Pearl Jam show.  So I was returning and this time I booked a room at the new Planet Hollywood Hotel, which was also the venue for the show.  But what may seem like a last minute decision was really a few months in the making.

When the band announced this final leg of the tour, ending in Vegas really stood out to me and I put the date in the back on my mind.  After seeing the show and this tour in Victoria last week, my interest in the Vegas show peaked again.  Then Trent Reznor announced that this would be the final show for the band on this large of a scale, and that the band was dismantling with some members leaving.  I had to get it all in while I could, especially with the spectacle of visuals that this tour has displayed.  And with drummer Josh Freese playing his final show with the band, maybe there was hope of Perfect Drug being played as his last song.

Well, Perfect Drug was not played again and may never ever be played live and this was not the epic show that I had expected, but it was definitely worth the effort.

Like my Pearl Jam touring ways, through the bands website, I was able find a good spare ticket and someone to share a hotel room with.  This made the trip much more affordable and enjoyable at the same time.  The show was a little shorter than the one in Victoria, but they seemed to have more energy during the performance.   However, with this being the only seated show on the tour, the energy of the audience was lacking and most people were standing still for the majority of the show.  The venue was small, holding just under 8000 capacity, but the acoustics of the sound was amazing to go along with the best visual display I have ever seen at a concert.

An added bonus for the show was that there were close to 20 video cameras in the crowd, filming for a fan made dvd of the show.  This was in response to a failed attempted by the band’s management to film a planned 3 dimensional dvd for the tour.  Trent heard about this organized fan project, and allowed cameras of all types into the shows.   I tried to participate, but was more interested in enjoying the show. The parts of the show that I did capture on video is shown down below.

The highlight of the night had to have been Reptile, which the band just about lost it on, Closer with The Only Time Breakdown, and The Great Destroyer.

If this was the final time I get to see NIN, it was a great way to go out!

Here is the set list.

999,999
1,000,000
Letting You
Discipline
March Of The Pigs
Head Down
The Frail
Closer [The Only Time Breakdown]
Gave Up
Corona Radiata
The Warning
The Great Destroyer
Ghosts 21
Ghosts 28
Ghosts 19
Piggy [Ghosts]
The Greater Good
Pinion
Wish
Terrible Lie
Survivalism
The Big Come Down
Ghosts 31
Only
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole

Echoplex
Reptile
The Good Soldier
Hurt
In This Twilight

Nine Inch Nails Show in Victoria

Dec 5, 2008

The Nine Inch Nails show in Victoria was simply amazing.  Having not seen them yet so far on this tour, nothing would have prevented me from making the trip to the island, not even a person jumping off the ferry and causing it to return to Tsawwassen temporally.

With the band so consistently good live, it is hard to place this show amongst the others in the past, but it might just have topped my 10 previous Nine Inch Nails shows.  The visuals and production was just incredible, and easily the best I’ve seen.  The set also had a great flow to it going heavy, soft, heavy, soft, heavy, including a cool instrumental set of songs from Ghosts.  For over 2 and half hours they performed nearly 30 songs with little to no rest in between.  And other than the usual 2 or 3 idiots, the crowd was great and very energetic.  We started out well back, but having lived through general admission crowds in Spain and Italy, this was child’s play, and we ended up about a meter from the stage by the encore.  Trent was soft spoken as usual, preferring to just play music rather than talk, but he did mention that it was probably the first time they’ve played Victoria.

We caught the tail end of the opening act, and I will say that it was probably the worst opening act I have ever seen.  It was so embarrassingly bad, that the crowd was actually having fun with some of it.   So take note, do not ever see The Bug.  Trent must have been on vacation when they hired her.

Other than that, I put this show right up there with Pearl Jam at Bonnaroo as my show of the year.  And I’m already looking for cheap flights to Vegas for the final show of the tour….

Heres’s the setlist:

999,999
1,000,000
Letting You
Discipline
March of the Pigs
Head Down
The Frail
The Wretched
Closer
Gave Up
The Warning
Vessel
Ghosts 21
Ghosts 28
Ghosts 19
Ghosts Piggy
The Greater Good
Wish
Terrible Lie
Survivalism
The Big Comedown
Ghosts 31
Only
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole

Echoplex
The Good Soldier
God Given
Hurt
In This Twilight

Spring Training in December

Dec 1, 2008

Having just returned home from one holiday, I’m ready to go on another. The next one being January in paradise, which some call Hawaii. There are many reasons for such a trip to such a place, but one important reason for me is to do some hardcore surfing, something that I haven’t been able to do much of in the past few years. I just hope I remember how.

Now, Hawaii has some of the biggest and most dangerous waves around, and where we will be residing, Kona Island, there will be a possibility to encounter such waves. However, thanks to a certain rock band, which will remain anonymous, I am no longer in the peak condition that I once was to be able to tackle these waves. But I do have a month at home, with no work, and lots of spare time. So I will be putting myself through a training camp that will allow me to be prepared for anything that is thrown at me from this powerful force of nature known as the ocean.

This will be the daily routine, 5 days a week, for the next 5 weeks.
30mins of running
45mins of kalesthetics and core training
45mins of boxing training
30mins of swimming laps
30mins of boxing sparring
1 hour of yoga

And once we’re in Hawaii, I’ll probably try to whip Stefan into shape.

Cuban Review

Nov 16, 2008

Well, a week in Cuba and quite an interesting place it was indeed.  It was kind of what I expected in a way, and not what I expected in many ways.  I’m glad I was able to experience and see different parts of the country rather than remain at a resort for the whole time.  First off, I want to thank and congratulate my old high school amiga, Shelley, for a wonderful wedding and party to go with it.  We had a ball of a time.  Best wishes to you and Juan Carlos.  It was also great to see old high school friends again.  We all have changed but somehow we are still the same.

A funny moment from the wedding, with many mojitos and cuba libres already consumed throughout the day…  El DJ was pumping out the Cuban music all night and everyone was dancing away, but I just had to request something more my style, so I asked if he had anything harder.  “I don’t know” he replied, “but I think I have Nirvana.”  Perfect.  I wandered back to the dance floor, Cuban cigar in mouth, and awaited for the salsa number to conclude.  Then the guitar riffs of Smells Like Teen Spirit kicks in, and a roar burst out from the Canadians.  The Cubans slowly back away, leaving only the Canadians jumping mindlessly in a perfectly form circle.  We proceeded to rock the fuck out with the Cubans staring at us with little to no idea of what the fuck was going on. There confusion remained as we began to moonwalk all over the dance floor to Thriller.  Our display lasted but 2 or 3 songs and then it was back to Cuban music, but we had left our mark and I hope we are welcomed back:)  It was a fun wedding, that’s for sure.

Some observations on the country in general.  It was a little sad to see how life is in Cuba.  There seems to be certain ways of doing things and systems in place that must be followed.  For example, there are only certain taxis that you can take to get to certain places.  Renting a car was a bit of a challenge as well.  We stayed with local Cubans, who ran official tourist houses that were given to them by the govenment.  But they are only allowed to let 2 people stay per room, no exceptions what so ever.  People generally do not leave the city they live in, so they are clueless on other parts of the country.  And they are not allowed to travel outside of the country. 

With jobs, every penny that is made is recorded and given directly to the government, which in turn supplies the people with a limited and equal amount of food, shelter, and a job.  They are then paid an average of $20 a month for luxury spending.  Restaurants often run out of food, generally leaving only chicken on the menu.  My stomach was not feeling right, as there was no telling how good or old the chicken was, although it was tasty. 

It appears that the only way to really survive is to make money illegally, because what the govenment supplies alone does not seem to be enough.  The people do not seem to be happy, with many nights spent on the streets drinking rum because that is all there is to do.  Havana is also one of the dirtiest cities I’ve seen, and that includes Naples, Italy, but you can see what a beauty it used to be once upon a time.  People have just stop caring and haven’t taken care of it because to them there is no point.  It is especially hard to see that the people of Havana have a clear view of the ocean, but know that they are trapped on this island.

They treat tourist well, however.  Not only does the country rely heavily on tourist dollars, the local people enjoy the colourful lives with which the tourists bring with them.  This is through different stories told to them that they are not accustomed to, and perhaps they bring hope to their lives.  It is not encouraged by the government though, as locals can be arrested just for talking to the tourist.  Rest assure that no one will ever cause problems, other than maybe try to milk more money out of the tourist as they should.  But as mentioned before, they do not have a lot and need the little extra money just to survive.

Overall, our time in Cuba was well spent and I was glad to see and learn about this socialist society.  I had some great travel mates with me as usual, Carlos, Venassa, and of course Newfie Joe.  Our time was great but because everything we wanted to do was so difficult to accomplish, our time in the country seemed to last an eternity.  Even trying to leave was a challenge, as Venassa and I were sweating bullets driving to the Havana airport from the west.  With Carlos and Newfie Joe past out in the back, our fuel tank ran empty with the light coming on at just over 50 kms to Havana, let alone the airport.  Furthermore, Venassa had just under 2 hours left till her flight.  But in true Touring Van fashion, everything worked out.  We got to the airport as our tank finished 75kms later, and Venassa had just under an hour to spare.  Bring on the next adventure!

Villahermosa

Nov 23, 2008

In Spanish, Villa means village and hermosa means beautiful.

Jason and Carlos drives back towards Mexico City from the very south east of Quintana Roo.  After a long day of driving, they enter the city of Villahermosa and decide to spend the night.  Strolling down the main road, they spot a hotel, The Auto Hotel.  They pull into the drive way, which leads to a heart of hotel.  Jason and Carlos look at each other, as something seems odd.  Every room has its own garage door that is closed.  They are immediately greated by a woman, who works there. 

“Are there any normal hotels around here?” Carlos asks. 
“This one is a normal hotel.”  The woman responds with a smile.
“Ok thank you.” And Carlos drives off.
“What was that about?” Jason asks Carlos.
“Umm, we don’t want to stay there.”
“Why not?”
“It’s one of those hotels where people just go and fuck.”
“Oh!”

Next hotel on the street, Hotel Babylon.
They are greeted again with a woman at the driveway, and once again the odd looking garage doors for each room.

“Do you have any double beds?”
“Nope just king size, but it’s perfect for 2!”
They drive off.

Next hotel, Villa Verde, again with the garage doors and a woman greeting them.
“Do people sleep at this place?”
“You want to sleep here? Ya, some people do.”
“How much is it?”
“How many hours are you staying?”
They drive off.

Then they spot a Best Western, perfect, a normal hotel.
“How much for a night?”
“1200 pesos!”
“What? That’s what we paid at the 5 star all inclusive in Cuba!”
They drive off.

“There has to be a normal hotel here. Ok over there, how about that one?”

The Motel Costa Del Sol. Sounds normal. They drive around, no one around. Then they spot a woman leaving a room.Over an hour of searching, they finally find a normal hotel with a double room, Dakis Hotel, 380 pesos for the night. It smelt like a bathroom, but Jason and Carlos was ok with that.

Quintana Rooooooooo, Mexico

Nov 20, 2008

Jason and Carlos returned to Mexico to visit the state of Quintana Roo for a week.

Day 1 Accomplishments
-Arrived at Cancun airport
-Bussed 30mins south to Playa Del Carmen
-Found restaurant for food and drinks that would sit well in stomach
-Drank more XX
-Stayed with friend in town

Day 2 Accomplishments
-Caught up on 3 weeks of emails
-Walked on Playa Del Carmen Beach
-Decided to drive 1 hour south to Tulum
-Found perfect place to stay right on beach
-Jumped into ocean
-Sat on beach
-Jumped back into ocean
-Sat on beach with a six pack

Day 3 Accomplishments
-Carlos got a haircut
-Swam at Grand Cynote
-Swam in the ocean
-Sat on beach with a six pack

Day 4 Accomplishments
-Visited Tulum pyramids
-Drove 1 hour south down the penisula towards Punta Allen
-Road became very rough, 4×4 needed, turned around and drove 2 hours north to Coba
-Stayed in Coba for 5 mins then drove 1 hour north to Valladollic
-Walked around square in Valladollic 10 times
-Got hotel room and a six pack

Day 5 Accomplishments
-Decided to head back to the ocean
-Drove 5 hours south to Bacalar
-Got hotel room with balcony
-Watched the lake and stars with a six pack

Day 6 Accomplishments
-Swam in Cynote Azur
-Drove north 30 mins, then down the Costa Maya and one hour to Majahua
-Got excited when they saw many people on the beach
-Checked into only hotel on the beach then jumped into ocean
-Turned out that people were from 2 cruise ships and they returned to the boat at sunset
-Jason and Carlos are the only 2 people left in town
-A plastic bag flies by
-Returned to hotel with 2 six packs

Cuban Hospitality

Nov 14, 2008

After a few days in Cuba, you realize a few things about Cubans:  they have very little, they are given very little, they are very nonviolent, and they love tourists.  Why do they love tourists?  Because they generally give them what they want.  What do they want?  Money, clothing, and sex, and not necessarily in that order.

Enter day 6 of the Cuban experience…..

Jason, Carlos, Newfie Joe, and Venassa rents a car and drive towards the far west of Cuba to stay in a town called Pinar Del Rio, home of the Cuban Cigars.  After a day in the city, they are already the talk of the town.  They decide to get some tourist information on cigar factories from the one and only hotel in town and are immediately intercepted by a man on a bike.  He introduces himself as Felix and offers his services of taking them to the factory.  No money wanted, just for communications.  They thank Felix but opt to do it on their own.  Felix seems like a good man, so Venassa grabs a pair of jeans from her bag of clothes to giveaway, and hands it to him.  Felix is greatful.  And it begins.  The brand new white rental car sticks out like a white man at a rap concert.

They finish the cigar tour and head back into town for dinner.  After turning down a few offers from people taking them to the same place, which they were ripped off at just the night prior, they find a reasonable legit restaurant.  During the waiting for food, Newfie Joe and Carlos are outside for a smoke.  Felix finds them and somehow knows that they are planning to attend a salsa party this night.  He asks if they like salsa.  “Not really but Venassa does” is the answer.  Felix inquires the status of Venassa and weather any of the guys is her boyfriend or trying to be her boyfriend.  No is the answer for this question, which pops up numerous of times.  Then another guy comes from nowhere and starts a rumour about a rock bar in town.  They return with the information, and the others are intrigued by this rock bar in Cuba.  They ask the waitress, and she doesn’t know of any rock bars in town.  When they leave the restaurant, Felix is still outside, now with a guy and 2 girls dressed in punk rock outfits.  Newfie Joe inquires about this rock bar.  “It’s not far from here” they reply.  Felix suggests the guys can go to the rock bar with his punk rock friends and Venassa can go salsa with him.  Jason, Carlos and Newfie Joe give each other a look, then one of the ‘punk rock’ friends asks if they like Linkin Park.  They reply with a no and that they would be checking out the salsa.

They head back to the casa they are staying at.  It is with an old man that looks like Frank Castanza from Seinfeld, so that is what they call him.  All except Carlos, who seems to think they are calling him Frankenstein.  When they finish getting dressed and ready for the salsa party, Felix is outside of Castanza’s house waiting.  Venassa has a chat with him outside, with Frankenstein watching over.  Carlos inquires about Felix and Castanza suggests that they should stick with him for the night.

They arrive at the cabaret and are told that Carlos can’t enter because of his tank top.  But Felix finds a shirt from somewhere and hands it to him and they are good to go.  They are guided to a table in the front.  Beside them is a table with one girl sitting down by herself.  The salsa show begins and it is a spectacle.  During the show, 2 more girls sits down at the table beside them, one of which looks oddly like one of the punk rock girls in a different outfit.  The show ends and the girls immediately leave the table and starts dancing.  One of them grabs Jason and they begin to salsa.  Felix asks Venassa to salsa and Carlos and Newfie Joe are laughing at Jason’s dancing abilities.  Jason finds out that the girl is 17 and sits down after the song finishes and informs the others.

One of the other girls asks Carlos to dance and he kindly rejects.  She leaves and is not seen again for the rest of the night.  Meanwhile, Felix keeps ordering bottles of Cuba’s finest rum for the boys to drink, while he salsas with Venassa.  They happily oblige and drink away, as they watch the 2 salsa and the chicas put on a dancing show in front of them.  The clock hits midnight and the cabaret kicks everybody out.  Felix suggests a place around the corner to continue partying.  7 pack into the car, the 4 amigos, Felix, and the 2 chicas.  They drive no more than 2 minutes and arrive at the other place and are immediately greeted by the police.  Everyone splits and Jason and Carlos are left to deal with the cops.  A 30 peso fine is given for having too many people in the car.  Felix feels bad and hands over 7 pesos to help with the cost.  The money is returned with no hard feelings.  More familiar faces are in this other place, as the amigos surprising see most of the people whom they have met thoughout the first day in town, who all seem to be good friends with each other.  The 2 chias continue to woo the boys but to no avail.  When the place closes at 2 am, Felix suggests yet another place in town that they could go.

They drive to the center of town and are told to pull over.  “This is it” Felix explains.  The place was just the main street of the town and people are there waiting already.  A friend of Felix then asks Jason to drive him to his place to get some music to bring back.  He guides him around the town but some how has a bad memory of where he lives.  After an hour of confusion and a few non working discs later, they return to the center with a cd the works.  When they return, pretty much everyone they had met in the city during their short stay, is partying along, the chicas are still working hard.  Music begins to pump and then they are greeted by the local police again.  Everyone’s name and identification are taken down except for the tourists.  Half of the people leave.

Felix suggests they go back to Castanza’s place, which is utterly rejected.  Then one of his friends finally blatantly asks Jason what has been obvious all night.  He asks if his boy can spend the night at Frankensteins place.  Jason thanks him for the fun night and gathers the amigos, as it is time to go home.  Leaving is not as easy as thought though, as the white car has gained a reputation during its stay and is mobbed by the crowd.  Venassa throws half of her clothing to giveaway towards the group and the car is finally able to drive away.  The amigos arrive back to Castanza’s place at an early 5am, with Venassa’s flight set to leave at 1pm from Havana, a mere 2 hour drive away.  But it is all worth it, the night is entertaining.

When was the last time someone tried this hard to sleep with you?  Venassa thought.  Felix even had the whole town trying to help him.  You gotta give him credit for the effort.  But it was all under control and no one ever felt threaten at any point of the night.  It was just Cuban hospitality!

Cuban Surprise!

Nov 12, 2008

After a great wedding in Varadero, Cuba.  Jason walks back to the resort to drop off some stuff at the hotel room.  Hanging on the door handle is a note.  The message reads…

Dear Guest,
We are sending this message to you to let you know that the guest relation off Brisas del Caribe Hotel, sent a message for you, to inform you that Newfie Joe is staying at Brisas del Caribe Hotel, his room´s number is 341. You should call him, he will be waiting for your calling.

The trip just became more hardcore….

Yucatan Roadtrip

Nov 7, 2008

Yucatan Roadtrip

Roadtripping con mi hermano mexicano.
This is an excerpt from the trip so far…

Day 2 – Jason and Carlos are driving towards Cancun

After a full day of driving, Jason and Carlos finally reach the Yucatan and decide to check out northern beach town Progreso.

17:00 – Enters Progreso and parks infront of 2 hotels, both empty. They like the city and decide to spend the night.

Hotel 1

Hotel 2

17:10 – Enters hotel 1 and asks for the price. 350 pesos is the answer for a double.

17:15 – Walks by hotel 2 and asks for the price. 250 pesos for a room with fan, 350 with a/c. Decides to go for beer and think about it.

17:30 – Realizes that everything is shut down along the beach and walks back to the bar at hotel 2 for a beer.

18:30 – Decides they want a balcony room, asks hotel 2 for the price. 500 pesos for room with balcony and ocean view. Decides it´s too much.

18:45 – Walks across the street back to hotel 1 and asks for price for balcony room. 400 pesos is the answer.

19:00 – Decides it is ok and are ready to pay, then realizes they have no more cash. Asks if they take visa. No is the answer.

19:15 – Finds cash machine, and tries bank card eventhough Carlos insists that his card is not working properly. Card works and cash is withdrawn.

19:30 – Stops for a coffee.

20:00 – Back to hotel 1, but there is a new person present. Price for balcony room is now 500 Pesos.

20:15 – Decides it´s too much and walks back across the street to hotel 2.

20:20 – There is a new person in hotel 2 as well. He doesn´t understand us. Request the room in the corner with a nice balcony. He does not understand us and asks if we want room with fan or a/c. Brings us to another room, with an ok balcony. We said it is ok and ask for the price. 400 pesos is the price. We say ok and we get a room with a balcony.

20:45 – Drink beer on the balcony watching the waves from the ocean.

23:59 – Jason promises not drink any more alcohol during the rest of the trip if Carlos doesn´t smoke or drink coffee for the rest of the trip. Both agree.

Next morning – Jason wakes up and can´t find Carlos. Goes out and sits on the balcony. Carlos returns with a coffee and cigarette in hand and sees Jason with a beer. The trip continues….

Bring on the Latino Heat

Nov 2, 2008

Flying down to Mexico City tonight, flying back at the end of the month.  The in between is mine.  A little sun, a little surf, a little Cuban adventure.  This will give me an opportunity to practice my newly learnt spanish.  I’m glad Carlos and Venassa will be there to teach it to me….

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