This seventh article started out as a simple, lighthearted review of the Rammstein collar. And then my comment on Marxism happened alongside it, and Download did also.
Welp. Nothing is ever simple in this world, I tell ya. And the Marxism is important; the next article is going to be about the Stasi. It's very important to at least have that context.
Enjoy Kimby's account of having Till smile at her, having Flake smile at her, getting Rammstein autographs with Edgirl, nearly fainting in the crowd and continuously having transport problems. Oh yes, and wearing a bitch collar for seventeen hours for all of that.
When Karl Marx finished the Communist Manifesto in 1848 and called for the workers to arise, I don't think he ever imagined that
a) they actually would, multiple times, and
b) it would all go horribly, horribly wrong.
People often don't understand that communism and socialism are not inherently evil, and that the latter isn't even anti-capitalist. Too many people have misinterpreted Marx and often to a fatal degree; not even the co-writer of the Communist Manifesto, Friedrich Engels, probably understood him fully. When even your co-author misunderstands you, there's a serious problem. It's really vital to understand what was intended by Marxism (and admittedly was never successfully pulled off) if you want to understand a great deal of 20th century history in context.
Teach Me, Ms. Kimby!
Karl Marx's works are somewhat of a deconstruction of previously-established political/economic theories and count as revolutionary even nearly 200 years on from his time; to him, philosophy had to mean 'changing something about the world'. Philosophy had to be practical. If his full intentions had been understood, really, the 20th century would perhaps have not been quite the agonized mess it ended up being. Trouble is, Marx probably started off with too much optimism in regard to human nature. He's not the only one who has had the general view that humans, left alone in their natural state, will get along - see John Locke's 'state of nature' or Rousseau's 'general will' for example - but Marx, unlike these two liberals, took this even further and decided that this natural desire to co-operate was sufficient. Liberalism does support government presence, if quite limited; Marxism does not, as it sees the state as inherently oppressive, and the Manifesto proposed a revolution of the proles that would overthrow the capitalist state.
Combine this idea of a revolution, with the then-untested axiom that people will get along perfectly fine without state interference, and you have decades' worth of tears and regret.
'I remember a youth meeting - in the autumn of forty-five, it might have been - where anti-fascist youth leaders explained excitedly to us that in the next thirty to forty years, money would be abolished; that each can live according to his ability and according to his needs… the dialectic would have sat on an empty chair and quietly smiled at his utopian dreams.'
The above is a translated quotation from Werner Lindemann's book, in the October section. (If you want to look it up.) The vital part there is 'each according to his ability and according to his needs', the simplest summation of what communism is meant to be. This is about as close as Marx ever gets in defining 'justice' in the philosophical sense. Marx tends to dismiss the idea of rights and liberty as a product of the bourgeoisie, because they presuppose that we need protection from other human beings; and that's not what he thinks human nature is like. The instant you insist that you have life/liberty/property (classical liberal viewpoint) that needs protecting, you've become alienated from others and away from your species-being, so you need to throw all those concepts out and start again.
I know that may sound like anything from overtly optimistic re: people to absolutely horrifying. He meant it to be optimistic; people are inherently co-operative, so in the absence of capitalism they'll figure out how to live in harmony. Whether this is blatantly true/false, or whether we have the potential or haven't managed to progress to that level - it's completely up for speculation. Bearing all that in mind, let's talk about this leather necklace.
Show Us The Bitch Collar, Ms. Kimby!
Before you see the real-life thing, a few details from the Rammshop.
Description: Necklace made of imbued black cowhide with an individually adjustable clasp. Circular laser etching "Oh non, je ne regrette rien" and riveted RAMMSTEIN-emblem on the left hand side.
Price: 69.90EUR; community member price 62.90EUR.
Pretty damn steep, don't you think so? I think so. I thought the etching was also rather whimsical and absurd upon first seeing it, and yet somehow the ghost of conspicuous consumption gripped me during the past two weeks, and… well…
… it happened in the end. Dear God. Marx would throw a fit.
The box looks like this.
Opened up, sans collar, the box looks like this.
I see no 'Echtes Leder' cert like the wallet did, despite them both being leather. Maybe I'm too picky. It really is a very beautiful collar - here, have a look at its length.
I wonder how these items are produced in the Rammshop. Highly likely not handmade; that was one of the things Marx critiqued about capitalism, that labour of all sorts were simplified and expanded by making the workers into gears within a machine. Everyone had to do menial, repetitive tasks over and over, day by day; sure it meant that no one was struggling to make an item from start to finish, they literally only had to do their part, but it got boring and the worker could never get attached to their work. Clearly, this was what capitalism had rendered us all into, either one of the bourgeoisie eager to exploit or the proletariat suffering under their control and yet not necessarily knowing it.
I'm getting way too deep over a collar. I do notice that the Rammstein pin is actually on the other side of the collar compared to how it is in the image in the website; yeah, if the pin is put there as it is in the photo, it gets covered over when you actually put it on. Let's fix that.
I did attempt to put that pin through the last hole because I didn't fancy making holes all over the leather; turns out it's too loose if you do that. It also looks awkward and weirdly-spaced if it's too far apart from the lettering. Derp. It looks a bit closely-spaced in that photo due to angle but reassured that in real life it looks much better. So that's the whole length photographed and sorted; it's time to see what it looks like when worn.
There is just one problem though. There is a leather necklace and no one to model it that I could take pictures of in close detail. I have no family at all in this country (who would be happy to wear this thing or not), very few friends, even fewer are women, and practically none live anywhere near me.
Which means: time for yours truly to make a brief appearance.
Oh, how alienated I am from the world of the bourgeoisie real-life friends and family!
I only have one expression and that is it. That expression that can't make its mind up as to whether it wants to stay blank or attempt a smile. It's a fact that pointlessfactsbelowrammpics is incapable of smiling without looking like a serial killer or an awkward child. There is no in-between. You shall have to excuse me.
I'm not exactly skinny, but rest assured that this is not something that most women will have a problem physically wearing. The shop specifies that the neck size is '32-38 cm'; there are four holes and for me the third one from the end is the most comfortable. Here's what that looks like, fastened, without the obligatory neck.
Da. Isn't that a real beauty. And here it is, with the obligatory neck.
Far less wonderful because I've got a plump face, but you get the picture. These were taken about a week before Download. So we've established that it's wonderful and pretty and all - but really, after paying 72 euros for this, you have to wonder. It is worth it? Does it even hold? That's not a quality I can communicate across in pictures alone.
So what do we do? We take it out in action, of course. That action being the actual festival. Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains!
Likewise, I have nothing to lose but my… bitch collar.
Let's talk about Download. Format will change to list instead of continuous prose, that's easier.
Travel Arrangements, Long Queues, Till/Flake's Smiles and Near Death
4:34AM: Kimby wakes up in her bed, Sunday morning. It is the 16th of June. One day Download tickets are in hand.
Original plan was to wake up this early, and hop on a rented car (Sarascara driving seeing as I can't drive an inch) all the way to Donington and back. Things didn't work out that way - kind of for the best, I should think, considering the exhaustion afterwards and the fact that Brits drive on the left side of the road. Much safer and easier. Plan is to get to Derby by noon, check in hotel, get to Donington Park by at least 1-2PM and go from there. After the festival we'll head back to the hotel and crash.
Sarascara is awoken soon afterwards, and we quickly get ready. I dress in this shirt that Sarascara (with help of Withinmeloveresides1) made for me for my birthday (18th June, early present). Remember this. It is important for later.
This is combined with plain black shorts, black tights, black canvas shoes, black jacket, money belt, and the bitch collar. With two camelbaks filled with water, some essential supplies, cash, identification, camera, phone etc we set off to attempt to get the bus, all the way to the coach station. I live in a large boring town in southwestern England, what do you know.
We are out of the door by 5:50AM.
5:53AM: Buses not be running on Sundays this early; they're starting from 9AM or so. Our coach to Derby (switch at Birmingham) is at 7:15AM. Ain't no one got time for this bullshit. I pull out my phone and call a taxi, which comes in less than two minutes' time (incredibly fast for our town standards), and by 6:05AM we are at main town… about twenty minutes earlier than we originally expected. Taxi fare comes to five pounds something total. Not awful.
7:15AM: National Express coach to Birmingham comes, tickets are checked, we get in. Neither me nor Sarascara have heavy luggage on us. Bus drivers love us, I swear. We set off on time, I put on my shitty MP3 that dates from 2007, is 4GB, and overheats when it's charged via my computer, and attempt to catch up on sleep.
11AM: Arrive at Birmingham. Sarascara buys a Starbucks hot chocolate. We sit there and chat for a minute, waiting for our bus to Derby to arrive. (It's actually heading to Bradford, but Derby is the first stop.)
Looks like the bus is there but the driver takes his sweet time getting there and all the people loaded! We set off ten minutes late. Not awful, but there's a taxi meant to be waiting for us at Derby coach station; and these taxi drivers do not wait around for long. Again, missing a taxi isn't going to put a major dent in our plans; but it's just rude to keep people waiting, especially when we probably will be sharing a taxi with other people heading in the same direction. Fingers crossed.
12:11PM: Son of a bitch! We miss the taxi by seconds.
Luckily there is another one right behind it, which we flag up; "Jurys Inn," we say, and the fare comes to 3.40 pounds. Not at all awful, but then I realize that we could have walked there, which would have cost the grand total of absolutely nothing; and it would have only taken us ten minutes total.
But neither of us have been to Derby before, and we have no map in hand. For an ex-archaeologist I also have a really shitty sense of direction (partially why I saw no hope for myself as an archaeologist) and we got places to go, I don't fancy ourselves lost in Derby. We attempt to check in.
"All the rooms are being cleaned right now, your confirmation is here and it's all paid for, yes, but there's no room available for you to put your luggage in… leave it at reception and we'll take care of it…"
Bugger. I'm used to hotels/hostels that begin check-in at eleven and rooms are usually clean by this point. Around one o'clock we simply bail for Download, having reorganized ourselves properly, conferred and having decided that neither of us need to leave stuff behind. Reception is 24/7 anyway so we can go back anytime to claim rooms. That's why we travelled with only camelbaks after all.
1:06PM: Call a taxi, arrives in seven minutes. Quoted fee to Donington Park: 20 pounds. Aw yiss.
1:47PM: HOLY SHIT THAT WAS NOT A TWENTY POUNDS RIDE
IT WAS WORTH AT LEAST FORTY JFC HOW DO THESE GUYS MAKE MONEY okay now it's time to go in. Finally!
Security lady picks out my bottle of shampoo, mouthwash, and antibacterial soap (newish lip piercing, here) and sniffs each bottle to see if I'm not sneaking in alcohol or the like. Why would I drink shampoo, lady? All my stuff is given back and we move ahead, through the crowd, down to the main arena.
2:15PM: We get in line for the Rammstein signing. The queue is hideously big. Oh my!
Chances of us getting signatures is probably 50% or so. That is not 300 people up there in front of us; Saturday's signing managed to get 200-300 people done, we're well within that limit. We should be all right, but at the same time, getting our hopes up too much isn't the British way. With a healthy dose of pessimism we eat pizza pockets (well worth the seven fifty) and then wait.
… Cue nothing much happening until around 5:50pm. We could have ventured off or entered the main pit or looked around the shops and given up on the R+ signing but ain't no one got time for that.
Insert timeskip here.
5:50PM: Few things of minor importance happen during those 3 hours or so.
- Five Finger Death Punch/Parkway Drive/Stone Sour play during this wait period.
- Guy in front of us has amazing moves. He is also ridiculously drunk. No surprises there.
- Why is our line not moving forwards? I suppose because everyone has sat down.
- I actually really like Stone Sour.
- Me and Sarascara chat with some girls behind us during the wait. Camelbak is very handy. A bit twisty though, for me, because the hose is a bit too long.
- Is this even the right line?
- Woman behind us has a black piece of rolled-up card; it is addressed to Richard and consists of the chorus from Pussy, only genderflipped. We unanimously approve.
- Guys behind us have taken to shouting 'SNAIL' to everyone who's cutting through the (admittedly-huge) queue to reach the other side, complete with pointing at the ground. Reactions are mixed from bemusement to slaps to loud laughter. They decide to try this on Till. I tell him that German for 'snail' is 'Schneke' and wish them luck.
I have no idea if they actually did it. If you recognize this then please give me updates as to how it went.
But these things matter less, you see, because the queue has jumped forwards - and the hour for the signing has begun! And yes, we are going to make it. We're in the second lot to be pushed through the barriers. Onward!
Ooh. Me heart's aflutter.
6:05PM: Still no progress. Antsy. Remind myself that there is an hour to go before signing ends and yeaahhhhh we're probably going to make it.
Still very nervous.
6:12PM: Magic happens.
We are let in and we see them, all six of them, sitting in a row. "No cameras," the security guards shout. "no pictures past a certain point, please."
I put my camera away. I'd love pictures of them but I also get gnarly about fans getting all in their faces when they're trying to do other things, and I don't want to be part of that. I am clutching my signing material; the booklet from Videos 1995-2012. I kind of wanted to bring Messer but a) it doesn't fit in camelbak and b) it's kind of silly getting everyone in Rammstein to sign something that Till alone wrote. Rammstein are a collective. Better not be an asshole and keep my Till-girlness slightly down for the time being. My turn comes to go. The men are sat like this:
Paul - Olli - Schneider - Richard - Flake - Till
Till first, then. Let us revisit our shirt briefly.
Yeah. That one. The quotation of this shirt is actually from one of my most favourite Messer poems, 'Mein Gutes Schiff'. I figured that if the signing happened, and if Till was there, and if he read my shirt - well, um… I didn't know what he would do. But I want to find out, Sarascara wants to know also, and plus it's a really damn comfortable and pretty shirt. No other like it in this world. My mouth is very dry as I go up to Till and offer a smile, along with a 'guten Abend'.
Top left is his sig. On what planet does that read anything like 'Till Lindemann', I don't know, but it's his signature. I've since heard that it looks like a penis and I can't really debate that. Probably is. If anyone needs a penis for a signature, Till does. Still holding out for the 'incomprehensible handwriting' theory though, but I digress.
Till returns the booklet, I thank him quietly; I am just taking a step forward and moving onto Flake when his gaze follows me and he suddenly begins to read my shirt intently. Then - oh my God - whilst Flake is very neatly signing his name, Till nudges him, gestures at my shirt, and they make brief, whispered conversation about it. Sarascara smiles. I stand still, blushing. I'm expecting anything now from weird looks to Till tableflipping.
Neither happens. Instead, they both turn to me, and Flake grins up at me with these soft milky-blue eyes of his. Till too is smiling gently, though his eyes are hidden behind his shades, and then with the lowest, softest voice he says to me:
I just about die of happy on the inside. Externally I blush, downcast my gaze, and move on because it's not polite to keep people behind me waiting; but my heart is jumping and rushing at a hundred miles per hour because Till and Flake smiled at me and liked my shirt and there was a connection there beyond just Rammstein. Messer is not focused at all on R+ related material; it's a collection of Till's poetry and of some very personal ones. Mein Gutes Schiff is a poem that resonates strongly within me also, for its prosody and its subject matter - I'm an (admittedly-amateurish) translator of Messer with all of them translated to quite a degree on my blog(s), and…
Till saw something more in me than just 'random awkward fangirl'. I could die happily right now. But I must move on.
Richard: intensely in conversation with Schneider. I thank him and pass him by.
Schneider: intensely in conversation with Richard. I thank him and pass him by.
Olli: being shy and silent and cute. I thank him and pass him by.
Paul: He smiles brightly when he signs my booklet. My 'guten Abend' is unnoticed, but when I receive the book back from him I tell him 'vielen Dank' and he grins and says 'vielen Dank' to me back. I'm very, very happy, and so is Sarascara. We leave the tent, laughing and giddy, elated beyond measure.
"Happy birthday," she says. We hug, squee over the fact that Till and Flake smiled at me/the shirt was much appreciated, then make our way down to the arena.
… Cue nothing much happening until like 8:30PM. Bring on the timeskip!
8:30PM: Few events.
- We work our way further into the pit.
- 30 Seconds to Mars is on. People flash their breasts. Scream. Jump. Quite fun.
- Lady in front of me with a flag (cannot remember whether it was Scottish or something different) is crying out of sheer emotion. I give her a hug.
- I actually really like this band. Jared Leto is cool.
- People are shockingly quite tame in the mosh pit up until this point. This is the first time me or Sarascara entered the main arena. This is also my first festival, and despite surviving first row with Rammstein in 2012, Newcastle (not known for being the most politest place) I have no fucking idea what's about to come.
30 Seconds to Mars leaves, and then the trouble starts. People begin to push and shove despite nothing being on yet; I don't even care for getting to the front or anything, I literally just want to keep my footing, but shitty luck just happens to be that I'm around a lot of tall people, the ground is littered with stuff, and everyone is being bent and shoved around. I'm so squashed and am so naive about what to expect that eventually when my arms, shoulders and foot are crushed I scream and begin to cry, having a fucking panic attack in the middle of the crowd.
Jesus. I'm such a wimp. I suppose my Rammstein instincts went overboard and I ignored all the things I should have kept in mind:
a) I have social anxiety,
b) I am afraid of huge crowds,
and c) I did not know what I was getting into. The human mind can literally not comprehend a crowd of more than 100-300 people, and it can comprehend even less clearly-defined individuals amongst them. We're biologically not equipped to be able to adequately imagine what that is like until it has been experienced. A thousand, ten thousand, at that level you assume it all feels the same. And my experience with the Newcastle crowd were so positive that I just assumed it would be okay.
I'm a fucking philosophy student and I should know better than to rely on inductive conclusions based off the one result, but back then I didn't because Rammstein. Don't be too hard on me. I know I should have left, I just didn't because pride and I was so close and I didn't know it was going to get so much worse.
Anyway. The crowd around me is actually an excellent crowd. Immediately a shout goes up to 'leave [me] alone' and stop pushing, and people ask me all over the place whether I'm all right. Two guys to the left of me hold the pushers back, Sarascara supports me from behind. They tell me that they'll protect me and that it's all right, I can have enough breathing room, would I like a bit of water?
I cried once because I was scared of being crushed.
After that I cried because everyone was so nice to me and that's kind of a foreign feeling.
God freaking damnit.
9:00PM: Crowd isn't any less unruly, but this makes me smile a bit.
There's cool water coming around. Of course people are dicks and toss water over the crowd too, but that's pretty standard. What's notable is a photo of our first female Prime Minister being passed around; I don't know where it started but a "Margaret Thatcher," he shouts.
Crowd hollers back. "Margaret Thatcher."
"The lady's not for turning, eh."
And several more very profane (and I daresay not undeserved) nicknames. I turn to Sarascara and mention that we don't like Thatcher and she says that she knows. It's a bit of a laugh. I needed that after what happened.
9:15PM: First bursts of the Ich Tu Dir Weh opening fireworks come up. Pushing and shoving begins almost immediately. Motherfucker. Let's try to hold this one out.
9:20PM: Feel sick. Till's finger-flamethrowers are going strong. Pushed around. Every moment feels like an eternity. This is my first festival and I know that they're headliners so the crowd is going to get rough but fucking hell. I'm terribly squished at this point in time, and the strong dude in front of me isn't offering the most reassuring support… and I can't hold onto him for ever, neither can I rely on anyone else. I remember that I shoved back extremely hard once and may have snarled at them but I don't know. Having a fucking freak out at this point in time.
9:23PM: It's Keine Lust. It's Rammstein. They're all so wonderful and beautiful and look fabulous tonight.
And I'm not enjoying it in the slightest.
I think that realization was what really got me panicked. I was desperately trying to hang on for them, because Jesus fuck I had waited for so long, it was my second time seeing them and I knew I was a festival rookie. I was never expecting it to have it easy because this is a festival and I am not dealing with closed-venue level of crowds here. Still running off the high that I'd gotten from the signing earlier - but people are treading on me, the ground is worn smooth and slippery, I'm being bent at 45 degree angles every minute, I'm legitimately fearing death by crushing, and there are so many people in this crowd that do not care about me nor Sarascara nor really anybody else who's under pressure. I know that's what moshing is about but Jesus Christ. This is way, way too much. I'm a tiny woman. I'm like five feet three. As of Download I was nineteen. I already can't really see Rammstein as it is and even with the two guys holding on and taking care of me, the strong guy in front, and Sarascara supporting me from the back, I am alone like an island in the crowd of thousands and thousands and suddenly I am afraid because I don't want to get killed or have Rammstein totally ruined for me due to injuries/theft/death/Margaret Thatcher/etc. I fucking love this band, this band is half my life. I'm planning to expand to German translation later on in life because of them, altering my already clusterfucked and self-identified national identity.
But I am realizing that they are not worth being killed for, and I am so fucking scared.
I am tired. So tired. I'm dehydrated, I can't breathe, I'm sweating all over and the guy next to me looks at me sympathetically and whispers: It's just going to get worse from here, sweetheart.
Oh God. I'm beginning to cry.
9:25-28/30PM?: I don't remember.
No. Really. I actually don't remember, except in vague disconnected flashes. Sarascara had to fill in for me. Much kudos to her because it was her who initiated the lift and got me out of the crowd. Apparently at some point someone behind me? Next to me? They were lifted and crowdsurfed over the barrier, and they said that I was next. I may have mumbled something about please letting me stay in the crowd. Sehnsucht must have been on at this time, as for the time period I'm making a really shitty guess based on how long each song is. The next moments are a rush but I'm being lifted over; apparently my eyes were rolling back in my head at that point so there was no choice but for me to leave the crowd then. I collapse forwards (Sarascara said) and then the crowd does the rest of the work.
Yeah. Well. I'm a wimp. I'm tiny and it was my first festival and it'd been a surreal clusterfuck of a weekend.
I may have grabbed onto a few hands. Either way I get rolled onto my back by the time I reach the barrier, cool air hits my face, and the security guards lift me back down to earth and my legs shake. I think I'm in front of Richard and I feel mortified because 29th February 2012 I was right in front of him during the Newcastle concert and I was cool and dignified. Now? Dignified my ass. I think people are staring and the guards are rushing me along the front and I don't know if I'm crying but I actually think I stopped around this time. The final guard looked a bit like Olli and I remember that much as he held my hand and brought me down to the grass and then I may have walked a few more steps forwards before Sarascara caught up with me.
She says something. I see her mouth moving. I don't hear a damn thing. I'm tired and I can't focus. She's looking really worried. But eventually I blink and sensation comes back to me and I lower my head and take a long drink. I take a breath. I give her a smile.
"Let's just watch from here," I mumble, and she gives me a huge hug, and I'm safe again. We move off to the side where we have a great view of the screen.
10:50PM: It's finally over. However this is just as much a Rammstein review as it's Download; a brief breakdown of the stuff that happened during the rest of the setlist.
- First time seeing Wiener Blut live. That song is fucking creepy. I never realized quite how much until I saw it live and it gave me chills and I actually temporarily stopped singing along because I felt so disturbed. Just goes to show how powerful it all is.
- "JEEEEEEETZT hab ich dich!" (Quite possibly the best rendition of that line by Richard I ever heard.)
- This one is mostly Sarascara's anecdote. Some joker pretend-makes a Nazi salute during Links 234. Idiots. She puts them in their place because she's awesome and they aren't fucking Nazis. It's halfway through 2013, eighty years since they first got into power, and the jokes and misconceptions still haven't ended.
- There is a nearly naked guy in a maid dress in front of us. We hug once and high five once. He has moves.
- This is Sarascara's first time seeing Buck Dich uncensored, because Europe. Till has real trouble getting the dildo going but he smacks it a few times and then it's all dandy. She is delighted. Fuck censorship, yeah?
- Jesus Christ Flake is so goddamn sexy on an actual piano. Fanfic material hits me and I smile knowingly, most definitely cheered up by this stage.
When it eventually ends we leave the arena, just like that, and join the crowd of thousands leaving. We stop once at a stall to buy some socks but that's about it, and luckily it hasn't rained once during our entire visit; we emerge relatively unscathed and dry-shoed. Later on I will count bruises and find about 10 light ones near shoulders and arms and five bigger and sorer ones on legs, thighs etc, but I quite frankly expected to get off much less lightly than that. I'm not bleeding or maimed; getting out with all my cash, camera, phone, jacket etc intact with only fifteen bruises is immensely tame for someone who nearly fainted. >_<
That's it, really. Taxi back to Jurys Inn, finally get a goddamn hotel room, and then we fall asleep until like 9:30AM the following morning. The festival is over. It was a good ride. And yes, the collar held. It was on me for over 17 hours by the time we got back; and nothing had broken, fallen off, chipped away, rusted or such.
That, my friends, is one good collar.
Next time I shall inform you about the Stasi, going back to a history lesson. Until then, peace, and I heartily recommend this item. Five stars, personally.
Bonus points if you purchase the red one for ten Euros more, in the name of Marx! DDD