Random Play by Graham Reid


Tune in, turn off and drink up

So how did it go again, that blur which has just ended? Six weeks travelling; seven or eight countries;18 different beds; planes and trains and automobiles; interesting people, great music, petroglyphs and pop art, good food and never once a Pret a Manger . . .

And so after such rich experiences in foreign parts what thought-provoking observations can I make?

First just this: airport bars are like casinos, they are stateless and unchanging places of transit for their temporary inhabitants.

Unlike casinos of course, airports have constant reminders of the outside world; the times of arrivals and departures to and from exotic places such as Burkmenistan and Shen-feng Fuji.

Airport bars also bow down before that greatest of all gods: sport.

Bars themed around the exploits of long or largely forgotten sportspeople — most of whom mean nothing to those for whom the bar is just another foreign place between here and there — or have screens constantly tuned to a sports channel seem a curiously global phenomena.

Flat screen televisions show sports matches endlessly, games necessarily reduced to Lilliputian dimensions and stripped of the roar of the crowd. And so these interchangeable clashes of anonymous rivals are played out to people who have little or less interest in them . . . and often to the mundane soundtrack of threadbare pop hits by Eric Clapton, Phi Collins and the Doobie Brothers.

For me these airport sports bars have a melancholy quality.

The epic 90 minute struggle during which these great gods of the game clashed are rarely able to be watched in their entirety so any possible drama — a reversal of fortune, a lucky break, the match-winning deed in the final minute — are seldom enjoyed by people who would rather be somewhere else.
And who, soon enough, will be.

So, why sports bars in airports?
I have no idea, and after studying quite a few I am none the wiser.

Travel can do that to you, huh? It broadens the mind and make you no wiser.

Footnote: Yes, I have returned from fascinating travels and will be making more interesting observations than this I hope . . . But before then Elsewhere is up and running again (although I did post about 30 articles remotely while I was away, you might want to check the backpages).

Anyway, this week I have posted new music (and clips) by artists as varied as The Kronos Quartet and Son Volt, Dimmer and a dub album of Police songs (the Police without Sting? Result!).

There are also some re-issues considered at Music From Elsewhere, a new
Essential Elsewhere album which is rowdy nugget from the past, book reviews and interviews, something cool by way a DVD/CD set at Cultural Elsewhere, and much more for your enjoyment.
Feel free to comment, Twitter or whatever . . .

Nice to be back.
The 19th bed is still the best.

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