This has been one of the oddest weekends I’ve had in quite a while. Since I’m trying to get more into the habit of blogging here, I thought I’d write about it while it’s still on my mind.
This was the weekend of the Wacken Open Air festival in Wacken, Germany. In case you don’t know, this is the biggest heavy metal festival on planet Earth–it’s like a metal Woodstock, always in the same place, the tiny hamlet of Wacken which is in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, about an hour from Hamburg. I started going to Wacken in 2000 and with the exception of 2010 and this year I’ve been to the festival every year since then. This is only my second “Wacken in exile.”
I wasn’t going this year, but my friends from Norway were going. Also, this year (fortunately) portions of the festival performances were streamed live on the German news site NDR.de. Now that I have my nifty new laptop with the HDMI connection that hooks in quite nicely to my TV, I figured I’d spend the weekend watching Wacken, having some beers and keeping up with my friends via their text messages, sent from the campgrounds, beer gardens and stages of the Wacken festival.
That did happen, but I found the weekend somewhat more grueling than expected. The weather at Wacken was horrible–torrential rains which caused epic mud conditions. It was like that in 2005, when I was there, but I didn’t appreciate until my friends got back to Hamburg on Sunday just how awful the weather was. The performances (what I could see of them) were terrific, but if I had to pick a year to skip Wacken, I’m glad it was this year.
The weather at home wasn’t exactly terrific either. Yesterday was the hottest day of the year in my city, and as the air conditioning wasn’t working in my house until tonight, it was a full-time job trying to keep ahead of the heat. All our windows have been shuttered, sealing the place into relative darkness where there’s no difference between day and night. With my spouse working for much of the weekend it was a uniquely odd and almost timeless experience–not unlike the “time bubbles” that appear in my (unfinished) book The Valley of Forever, or the encapsulated universes in the Giamotti books.
My reading habits this weekend were equally strange. I started out with Herman Wouk (I reread The Winds of War almost every summer), but then switched to Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, and this morning–unable to sleep because of the heat–I wound up going back to my all-time favorite author, Jorge Luis Borges.
I managed to get a little bit of writing done this weekend. In case you’re wondering, I’m working on the follow-up to Zombies of Byzantium, which is tentatively titled Zombies of the Whiskey Rebellion.
It turned out to be a rough weekend both for my friends and others. I was sad to learn this morning that a young man died at Wacken Open Air this year due to a tragic accident. My friends reached their hotel in Hamburg, but they’re exhausted, hung-over, encrusted with mud and utterly sick of the bad weather. On this same weekend, Lollapalooza in Chicago was canceled in mid-show due to thunderstorms, and I also heard of thundery weather killing one person and injuring many others at a NASCAR race.
Wacken Open Air is over now, my air conditioner is (sort of) working, and the temperature is expected to fall a bit overnight. Things are returning to normal. Still, this has been one of the oddest weekends of 2012 for me, bittersweet to be sure. I’ll probably keep the volume of Borges on my bedside table for the time being.
I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write about this, but here it is in any event. Best wishes for the coming week.