Awoke just after breakfast. Managed to get a spot of orange juice and to resist the flight attendants insistence that I could use some tea. Into Heathrow a bit later than scheduled. Cleared customs without trouble and got some travelers checks cashed before heading to the Heathrow Express. Blew a bunch of my pounds on a round-trip ticket from the airport to Paddington Station. Must remember to use my credit card in the future. Caught the Tube over to King’s Cross and up to the St. Pancras Youth Hostel. Got checked in and jumped on a very expensive Internet station ($10/hour). Headed out in search of some veggie dinner. Managed to pick a restaurant in a business part of town, which of course was closed on a Saturday. It was overcast and everything seemed empty and dead. Not many people out and about.
Headed over to Magma. Picked up a couple of DVDs. Will probably come back for some more before I leave.
Wandered around looking for some inexpensive Indian food. The first place I sat down in would not let me order the side dish of Dal that I wanted, so I left. Found another place that had Dal as a main dish. Very high level of service, with a carafe for my bottled water and a server to top off my glass throughout my meal.
Off to the evening’s entertainment on foot. Had a bit of a hike to get out to the 291 Gallery on Hackney Road. Arrived just before the program started. Got asked if I was from the West Coast of Canada. Had about two hours of short films, animation and music videos. The folks running the equipment had a great deal of trouble navigating the various DVD menus and thus the program proceeded in fits and starts. There were some very good pieces from Simon Kennedy and Jeroen Offerman and a biting piece by Simon Robson about the “Plan for a New Century.”
Enjoyed a great set by the Light Surgeons. They had an A/V setup that included Grid, a DVD player, an analog Oscilloscope, an Edirol V4, a four channel mixer with some sort of outboard audio effects unit and a pair of 1200’s. Next up was a band called The Egg. Interesting intersection of rock n roll with samples from visual material played by a VJ in the band.
Zen TV, which consisted of Mike Sterling and Matt Black (of Coldcut) were the headliners. They did a set with two laptops running VJamm Pro, a Pioneer DVD turntable, a Vestax mixer and a Edirol V4. Even though they had some brand new visual material, it all seemed very dated. The new piece about cooking genetically modified foodstuffs had the same look as the “More Beats and Pieces” material from eight or nine years ago. The crowd was really enjoying them and there was a great deal of disappointment when they called it quits after their allotted time was up. An Acid House outfit called Digital Insanity took control for the last half-hour of the evening. At one point the output to the projectors died, though the performers were still pushing buttons thinking that everything was working fine. You could see the crowd loosing momentum while the screens were dark and the music seemed less full.
Walked back to the Youth Hostel. The city seemed a little more alive at 2:30 am. Loads of Kebab shops open and doing great business. Checked in with the Internet kiosk again and headed for bed. One of the other folks in the room was snoring heavily, so it took me a while to drift off to sleep.