A shame-over is the excessive feeling of guilt and shame after being completely smashed in the nearby past. Like any disease, it does not differentiate between rich and poor, young and old, black and white and strikes males and females alike. Symptons usually occur for a mere day but can last longer. Weeks! Months even! The sufferer tends to avoid social contacts in order not to be reminded to the fact he made a complete ass out of himself and the irrational fear that said social contacts will talk about nothing else to the sufferer. In extreme cases patients have avoided their drinking hole of choice for an extended period of time. Truly an awful ailment!

I caught the shame-over last Tuesday. I had two buckets of shit poured over me due to some problems with the ladies (two ladies as a matter of fact) and my tolerance was seriously affected by pounding forty beers and a good deal of scotch and rum in no more than 4 hours. I don’t know if I made an ass out of myself. I don’t know whom I’ve talked to. I don’t know how I got back home.
I was feeling fine till I got a text message from a friend who jokingly asked me if I was alive. That’s when the shame-over kicked in. And later when someone told my brother I could barely stand straight on my feet. Flashbacks of falling down. Taking shots. Wine. Rounds of beers. Black-out. And this typical empty feeling that comes with the shame-over.

This evening I’m seeing my friends again at a party so I asked my doctor for some advice. He told me to man the fuck up and learn to live with the consequenses of my actions or at least drink less, which could never hurt. Being sick sucks.

Where I live it’s as easy as pie; if you live north of the big rivers you’re a Protestant and if you’re from the south you must be a Catholic. Even if you’re not religious at all there is no escape to this. It’s in the school you go to, your grandparents eating fish on Friday, shopping on Sunday, holidays…
My father, the northerner, told me back when I was a kid that protestant funerals are probably the most boring thing on earth since the invention of golf. Not that I ever thought a funeral was exactly a barrel of monkeys. I guess you can’t ever put the ‘fun’ in funeral, can you?
A while ago a northern guy I know was genuinely shocked when he went to a southern, thus catholic, funeral. They drank beer, gin and what not afterwards! You can blame the catholic church for a lot of things but their followers sure know how to party. Shit, they even know how to make a party out of ol’ papa death. And just so you know, these parties don’t involve little kids, the stoning of homosexuals or the spreading of STD’s.

I’m talking about carnaval. I’m sure my teacher taught me in elementary (catholic) school but it has something to do with lent. Or Easter, fuck if I know. It’s basically a five day holiday that involves very little Christ and very little sober thinking. Here’s what you do. You dress up and drink, drink, drink and drink some more. When you wake up, you continue drinking. And so forth.
The local marching bands play the songs of our people, everybody is equal and everyone is part of an ‘us’. The ‘us’ meaning the southerners. It’s a celebration of alcohol, identity and loose sexual ethics. Our dialect is for once celebrated, not frowned upon. Our traditions are for once envied, not ridiculed. Altough ‘the songs of our people’ are bordeline retarded tunes belched out by drunk hillbillies but hell, I like it.

My message however is not restricted for my town, region or country. You can travel abroad and come back a pretentious prick. You can study in a different city and come back with an accent that is not yours. You can live abroad and adopt your new country. You can do all these things but how hard you try, you can never ever escape where you come from. It’s not nationalism or chauvinism, just the way you are wether you like it or not.

Well, I like it and I’m fixin’ to get drunk for the sake of the motherland!

They were a dull couple. The girl was an everyday middle class girl whose highlight in life was probably a one week vacation with her friends where she probably got boned by a handful of foreign dick. She also got a nice tan, aiming to get some more pounding back home. A whore in the closet; daddy’s little slut. Without sluts there’d only be good women and prostitutes and you can’t use a good woman and you can’t love a prostitute.
The guy was an artsy snob of the worst kind: the self proclaimed intellectual. He’s either busy with some bullshit study or working a lousy job where he’ll never grow callis on his hands (or soul for that matter). The kind of person who’s full of shit like ‘earth without art is just eh’. Tell that to an armless Syrian war refugee, you shitbag or a man who’s down and out.

Long story short, I did not like these people. But wouldn’t it be nice to be like them?

It was a hot day in Kibbutz Geva. The children played football, the shop was open as usual and because it was Friday, dinner was served in the dining hall. We all accepted the fact that a missile attack from the Gaza strip or more likely, a Hezbollah katusha flying in from Lebanon were part of the possibilities but life was peaceful and the days went by like they always did. The last time the kibbutz was in some sort of danger was when Hezbollah militants fired two rockets in the mountains and the fishing pond but that was over four years ago. And so it was Friday.

During lunch however, not too long before I finished my shift at the factory, I read something disturbing in the Jerusalem Post. Or the Jerusalem Propaganda, as I liked to call it. At the border with Lebanon, not too far from where we were in the Galilee, snipers shot a few of ‘our’ men and there were artillery shootings killing several more men. Tensions rose and even the more respectable Ha’eretz didn’t dispute that.

I kept this in the back of my head but I can’t say it really bothered me all that much. Should war break loose I would either head south to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv where I had a friend untill everything was over or perhaps leave the country altogether. No worries. If my little time with the IDF, my reservist friends and history taught me one thing is that ‘we’ were going to win anyway.

Friday evening the non-profit bar was opened for kibbutzniks, and more importantly, us volunteers. Just five shekel a pint or shot. It was a converted barnhouse with tile flooring and stained walls but at least they had football and you could walk in barefoot and scruffy and still be a respectable hard worker.
I sat outside for a moment, talking with some friends when I saw about six jet fighters soaring northwards through the sky towards Lebanon. Right before the border they turned of their lights and shot flares. This must be it! It has begun! Me and my girlfriend couldn’t get it off of our minds, naturally and we were all pretty worried.

The next day not even the Jerusalem Propaganda mentioned any fighting. And that was my thirty minutes of a mistaken war.

When I walked into a London hostel to find a place to stay, in vain, I saw a big mural high up the wall reading ”A tourist doesn’t know where he’s been, a traveller doesn’t know where he’s going.” At first glance it seemed very deep and very true. Ah, yes, you have the the tourists with their cameras and pre-booked vacations and the rugged backpacking travellers living the life as it ought to be.

Deep and profound as it might seem, I think it’s a fairly arrogant thing to say.

First of all, the so-called traveller is just as much of a tourist as the other ‘tourist’. You might not be waving your Lonely Planet guide book and city map all over the place but fact is that the traveller is still not a permanent resident, usually doesn’t speak the lingo and is out there to see the country, just like any other tourist. I also have trouble believing the traveller gets a bigger satisfaction out of his travels than lets say, a Japanese tourist who is glued to his camera. Who are you to judge someone elses experiences.

”But travellers live out of a backpack. That way you feel that, like, you don’t need a lot of stuff. Materialism, man.” I call bullshit on that one. It’s your own choice what you bring along. Hell, I’ve been on ‘travels’ carrying a suit with me. If you want to carry two sets of clothing, be my guest.

Conclusion:  Not shaving (or bathing) for a week, living out of a backpack, wearing weird clothes you bought in India and staying in hostels doesn’t make you Jesus Christ. Everyone is a tourist just as much as everyone on the road is a traveller. If you differentiate it will only make you look like an arrogant prick.

I have spoken.

Christmas was sad in the house. Work was bad as ever, it was rainy, grim and lonely in the house. The days were dark and my hand were cold from working in a 2 degrees warehouse. I always got mad whenever Mariah Carey spewed out her Christmas classic and was equally angry whenever the lady on the radio told me to ‘rock around the Christmas tree’ over the lousy twenty year old radio which is the only entertainment at work . I never really got what was so fun about forcing oneself to be so cheery-jeery jolly for a whole month. I especially dislike the kind of people who say things like ‘Christmas spirit’ and ‘peace on earth. You need a man-made holiday to feel good? Fuck Christmas. Fuck it.

Two days before our Christmas dinner, what was supposed to be a nice break from my fairly boring life, She called it quits (by phone message!) and left me on take-away dinners and a three week drinking binge. That is a medical treatment I like to call ‘self-medication’. Doctor’s advice, if by doctor you mean ‘me’ and by advice you mean ‘crave beer’.

New Year’s was good though. I had a blast in Bruges with a bunch of friends and it involved lots of self-medicating. That was fun. At one point the cops walked into our hostel room only to find my friend and my brother drunkenly spooning in a bunk bed.

It’s 2014 now. Same job, same minimum wage, same shitty streets with shitty weather. Same shit, different name. All the best wishes.

Image

At the most two weeks before this picture was taken I celebrated my nineteenth birthday. It wasn’t very much, just a few friends and my parents drinking beers in the backyard. Probably some Bob Dylan songs and vodka shots. A few days after that, I was to embark upon my first big travel. I don’t really know why I choose to go to Israel, I just wanted to get away from my boring job and do something other people didn’t do so it seemed like a logical choice. Who in his right mind would volunteer in the Israeli Defense Force for three weeks? I wasn’t politically or religiously motivated and I am still not at all. The Sar-El program was exactly what I was looking for. And take another hard look, don’t I look good in uniform?

Before this picture was taken I worked a minimum wage job, the ladies seemed to avoid me at all cost and my world was as big as my hometown. When I was abroad though, I loaded artillery shells in tanks, cleaned and checked guns for any forgotten rounds in the chamber and was a pretty tough guy overall. I could also drink the most of my unit, hooked up with the hottest chick in Haifa and with a girl who later became my girlfriend. It is also noteworthy that I found the dirtiest, meanest, sleaziest bar ever in Jerusalem of all places. Legend also has it that I rode a three-headed hound dog to hell and back but I can not produce the evidence for that. Thus was the birth of Thirsty Larry, the pinacle of manliness.

Who ever told you selfies were for pussies?

It was summer time in San Francisco and me and my friend J.D. just said goodbye to a good friend who had to leave for Denver, Colorado on the Greyhound. We were about an hour short of hopping on a Sacramento bound Greyhound and were killing time in front of our hostel. It was in an alley way where just a day ago I left a few cigs and a burger for a homeless guy who was sleeping off his buzz in some class B Californian dirt. At least he had a sleeping bag. The hostel was good. I shotgunned beers for breakfast, watched football and did all the tourist stuff.

Anyway, me and J.D. were doing our thing in the alley, chilling with some other hostel folks when this German chick came up. We knew her a little bit, I think she went sightseeing with us. Doesn’t matter. She asks us for directions to the Greyhound station which were very, very easy but she made sure to write it on her hand. Sure thing, safe travels, German chick.

An hour and a half later J.D. and I were at the station ourselves.  It was a ten minute walk all in all so we took it easy, had a meal, read the papers and what not. We must’ve been there at least half an hour and I shit you not, German girl walked in! Needless to say J.D. and I burst out laughing. Shit, even if we were drunk we could’ve crawled those 4 blocks faster.

The girl and us started talking about this and that. Regular stuff. We already guessed she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box but sweet baby Jesus..! This is the story as she told it, I wish I could make this up.

First of all, the title of this story is a bit misleading because this story takes place in Australia. Sidney, Melbourne, doesn’t really matter. Anyway, our Tuetonic friend was travelling in Australia for (I think I remember) a year. She went on a job interview, good for her, but was carrying a backpack. Should she rent a locker, leave it at her hostel? Fuck no! Lets drop it in the bushes of a public park! She had her interview, went back to the park to retrieve her backpack and whaddaya guess? It was gone! She was shocked for some reason but what really surprised me; she started digging right where she left it! Strange shit happens so perhaps a homeless guy burried her backpack right where he found it, right?
She even had the guts to tell this to the local police department and she had really no idea why they were laughing at her. No shit.

Here’s to the bum who won the jackpot that day. A couple of more days of drugs, food, cheap wine and livin’ the good life. God bless his Prussian welldoer and God bless her poor soul.

She was pretty hot though.

What exactly is bravery? Accoring to Ernest Hemingway it’s his favorite ‘grace under pressure’ routine. Another might think it’s sacrificing oneself for a higher cause. Perhaps these are both good answers but to me it can also be doing dangerous, stupid shit for no good reason at all.

One of my buddies has a father who served with the NYPD in Brooklyn. Now I’m sure the man saw some stuff more valiant and I’m sure most of the stuff he saw or did were better for mankind but this is the story his son told me. Or better still, how I remember it.

Apparently the New York Police Department is called up whenever there’s a big fire in the city to assist the New York Fire Department in securing the location and keeping unwanted onlookers awawy from the scene. This particular day a fire was raging in a Brooklyn apartment building. You know the type; bricks, little balconies, fire escapes. Our protagonist was called to the scene.

Firemen were walking in and out of the building with their fire hoses, protective gear, equipment and all. Then our New York copper witnessed something bordering between tough and insane. A fireman walked up on one of the balconies of the burning building, laid down his axe and took a cigarette break. I don’t know if he lit his smoke (probably a Lucky Strike) on the actual fire but still. After that he ran back in and fought the fire like normal firemen do.

Brave? Maybe. Tough? Definitely.

Venice is a bad city to be in when you’re hungover. There is water all around you and and you can’t drink a drop of it unless you won’t to get sick and die, which is either a good or bad thing depending on the ferocity of your hangover. Not to mention all the happy people around you snapping pictures and having just a jolly good time.

At a little square I found in my quest for salvation was a small Catholic church with it’s doors unlocked, opened for devouted locals and cultured tourists. It was at this House of God that Satan had me in his grip and made me sin against the traditions of my fathers and the fathers before them.

I was feeling like hell, looked around, cupped my hands and… drank the Holy Water. It was obviously not an act of religion but if Jesus could rise the dead he could at least rise the nearly-dead, right?

Well let me tell you this, it didn’t work a bit.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.