Friday, July 07, 2006

The Waiting Game (Montreux, Switzerland)

Has it been a week already? The days are starting to blur. No, more like "shatter." Days past lie behind me, little pieces of colorful broken glass... The sun doesn't set before 9:30pm and the first concerts start around then, too. That means long days. We've learned to get up late... Lots of waiting for the sun to set enough to shoot scenics... Lots of waiting for artist interviews... Nearly an hour in the hallway of the Montreux Palace (where the A List stars stay) in front of Ahmet Ertegun's suite. That must have been Saturday because we were stuck there because he couldn't pull himself away from the England vs Portugal World Cup game... Same day as the France vs Brazil game. Oh yes, Marcelo D2, the Brazilian rapper and his posse, were in the dressing room lobby, all watching that game while Black Eyed Peas were on stage. Poor Brazil, but I'm glad the French won... We waited an hour for Massive Attack, too, while they watched Italy beat Germany. The game went way overtime and the interview got cancelled, but we managed to get Deftones and Al Jarreau that day, so it was a good day. I think. It's been so long since I've really had to work, I don't know anymore. And all this on-camera reporting... hmmm...

Waiting is part of the Montreux experience, it seems. We wait forever for any kind of service in many restaurants. At the festival, you have to change your Swiss Francs into "jazz," special currency to use inside the venues and the stalls around the lake. You can buy "jazz" but you can't sell it back. Clever, huh. Plus the prices are high. 5 jazz (5 CHF, about Y500 or a little less than US$5) will buy you a beer. or a Perrier. or 6 sugared churros. or a Swiss hotdog. A plastic plate of curry can be 13.

"It's a scam," complains Big Dog. Of course, it is. That's the way these things operate. But he refuses to change any more money so we've been going to the shops and restaurants away from the venues. Impressed by the fact that we could get beers at the Petit Palais Terrace across the street from the Montreux Palace for the same 5CHF as the venue, we thought we would be there all the time. Until the second time we went and we waited forever for any service, got the wrong beer, and then I had to ask for my change and receipt afterwards! Another outdoor lakeside restaurant also left us waiting forever, only to have the waiter come back sheepishly and tell us he forgot what our orders were. He kept coming back to confirm. ("Was that 2 espressos and 2 cappucinos?" "Never mind. Just bring the bill.") And a Thai restaurant that brought Big Dog NON-ALCOHOLIC BEER! Oh, the sacrilege! And when we pointed it out, the waitress asks us "What do I do with this one?" Why don't you pour it back into the bottle and foist it on the next unsuspecting customer?

"They're probably not used to dealing with this many customers," I comment, though none of the places are packed like Tokyo restaurants can be, with customers waiting for tables to empty. No, these are only half filled -- with customers waiting to get fed.

Big Dog is always hungry now.
I am missing my vegetables.

Saw half a dozen shows already... Van Morrison (great singer, but a too-short-set.) BB King on a boat that went around Lake Leman (confusingly also called Lake Geneva) filled with friends and family. He was chatty and it was like being in his living room. Saw him the next day in the big auditorium. Giant finale with George Duke, Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, Leela James, Barbara Hendricks, David Sanborn, John McLaughlin and others joining in. ...a little bit of Talvin Singh with Murcof and Erik Truffaz. We saw Talvin during his soundcheck. He is so cool. ...Massive Attack, Deftones, Raul Midon, Tracy Chapman... you can see how it all starts to blur...


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