Thursday, August 24, 2006

Some quick trip pics and descriptions

So, here's more pics from the trip. Just some quick things and thoughts...

This is me outside my old flat in Keskustus, Helsinki. close to Bear Park and the "Kallio" area. Daniel pulled us over in this area and asked if I remembered where we were. If you look just left of me and up you can see a balcany. My 2nd visit to Finland, I would sit out there and drink coffee and eat toast while watching the tram go by and people in the park. Good times!

This is shortly after crossing the Russian border and going past Vyborg. If you heard about the forest fires in Russia, well.... I saw them! You could smell them sometimes in Finland, but you could really smell (and see them) along the highway. We pulled over and snapped a pic and if you are able to enlarge it up and look far to where the cars are, you can see the smoke.

Here's a quick pic to describe the direction Russia is turning. NEW! NEW! NEW! This shot comes of one of many new malls around the St. Petersburg area. You could eat off the floors of this one! Went to the Timberland store and the prices were out of my league. So, if you picture stalls and stuff you've seen in old Soviet-era movies, well... take a look. My fav thing oddly enough (in this mall) was a new Russian franchise called Tepemok which have filled Pancakes and a weird Russian beverage that taste like flat beer. You can see what I'm talking about at their francise website at

That's it for photos! I'll dig out some more shortly, but picked those for some strange reason.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Ahhh, jetlag... It makes you feel bloody dopey all the time. Or that you're coming off sniffing poppers or glue. Not that I'd know.

I've had requests to share more photos from the trip, so I'll throw some on when I can over the next little bit. This first one here is from a Russian flea market on a Sunday afternoon. While shopping deep within it's grasp, there from the far side I could hear off-key "singing". What I found was a stage with Karaoke, complete with some crazy girl and some boozers dancing. It was 3:30 in the afternoon....

But now for the VIDEOCLIPE of the week by Estonian hip-hop group, TOE TAG. It's not my fav Eesti hip-hop group, but this song isn't too bad. It could be in the nomination of the worst Estonian video of all time, and if they ever came to Canada, I'm sure that I could fit them on a makeover show. Just close your eyes however and enjoy the track, "Legendaarne"

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

STRANGE DAYS - Tampere, Toronto and beyond (Last of Week 3)

(Photos: Finnish Hunka Junk 4 Poster / Throng of press photos)

Thursday was a rough day. After interviews and living off a combination of kahvi ja ice cream, and of course Ciideri, getting to Tampere was taking a little longer than anticipated.

Tampere is a nice city with a youthfull vibe to it. Pekka came to greet me at the railway station which was when I got to go their koti and enjoy some awesome salati ja ribs from Stockmann (who knew they made such good ribs?). After finally meeting up with Hannele and other friends, we did a quick jaunt up to "Tampere Tower" and looked at the view of the many lakes that surround the Tampere area. Afterwards, I got to visit with my friend Jussi for a pint and also met some very drunk guy who ran another cafe. Heading towards home, I was zonked and looked forward to crashing for a big day the next day.. Much bigger than I could have expected.

Hannele and Pekka were awake making coffee and bread and reading papers. They then showed me articles appearing in NYT (in one of the widest circulated papers in Finland) and "Aamulehti Valo" (the 2nd most read paper, or publication in the 2nd most read). The photos looked great and Hannele said she liked the "Valo" piece as it was "more serious". I knew another one came out that day in Hameen Sanomat, which later on in the day at the railway station, indeed I did get to read the full page article which happily gossiped about my taste in music, directing videos, and Finn-Celeb gossip. Three papers in one day, not bad!

But indeed, I had to do an introduction at Kino Niagara of "Hunka Junk 4". After a quick nap in the evening, I met up with the posse of friends that had come from Helsinki to some cool cafe that looked like some pioneer amish house behind the railway station. Luckily then Mikko had taken me to the theatre.

Quickly, the people were great (including one guy that after I said that I was happy some people were "tipsy", he grabbed a small Vodka and passed it in front of his friends while I gave a speech). Great fun. Afterwards, people picked up the DVD and told me about which article they read in the paper and also discussed some shining examples of Finn music (cough!). Afterwards Pekka, Kirsi ja mina drove on a dark Finnish highway, stopping at some roadstop overlooking the highway while eating over-priced veggie cheese sandwiches.

As my trip dwindled down, I realized it went by so fast. But as briefly as I got to see friends, any time with them was good. Even doing something such as buying "paprika" at ALEPA, or hitting up a paska Flea Market, it was all good. As hard as it is to leave, I think my friends and the excellent people of Finland draw me back time and time again. Kiitos.

But back at work, suffering jet-lag! Just doing dull things. I'm still not into the work mood yet and going through detox. But them are the breaks! Tomorrow I'll post my new VIDEOCLIPE of the week and more pictures of my travels in the Baltics. Till then, cheers!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

VIDEOCLIPE OF THE WEEK - Отпетые мошенники - DAY 17 - FINLAND

There was a wee bit of rest this morning when I got to drink 2 pots of coffee and watch momentarily some Estonian music videos on my portable dvd player, but then there was work to do. Preparing some DVD's for my screening in Tampere, Finland on Friday... this was work that had to be done before going. Milana came home from school, and I ran to the shower. I had an interview with a reporter later on that evening, so I couldn't be seen looking like some tourist who came off the bus of stink. But no worries as I shaved with Turkish shaving gel from Russia, then I flew out the door to get the bus from Porvoo to Helsinki.

Before that I grabbed some cider with my friend Mikko who programs films for the TV Network here called Nelonen. We went to an older cinema which is now owned by the city of Helsinki, which also has a very cool rooftop patio that overlooks keskusta Helsinki, and a view of the Opera and Train station. My mobile goes off and I have to run for the other interview.

The journalist was really cool as we grabbed some Finn-made ice cream. Then, it was off to Anttila where she snapped photos for her article of me looking at CD's. At first, it needed to be cleared with the Anttila people, but after it did she clicked away with me hovering over bins of Finn delete bin discs. Meanwhile, my freind Pentti waited and some other people just stared while trying to do their shopping. Interesting!

Tomorrow it's off to Tampere. Hannele called me today and I look forward to seeing her and my other friends there as well. In regards to the articles and media interest of me here she said something funny... "Now I have to share you with the rest of Finland". Hannele baby, I'll always be for you! ,)

But finally here's a new video by one of my fav Russian bands, Отпетые мошенники. I picked up their discs the first time in Russia, and their album from last year still doesn't disappoint. Think a Russian version of Raptori, mixed with the Beastie Boys, and lots of fun. I love the kid with the mohawk bustin some moves in the boxing ring. Отпетые мошенники, you still rock in my books. And I think I got Igor liking their slow jams! So here's a video by Отпетые мошенники!!!!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"The cheaper the car, the louder the music" (My Week in Russia)

Photo: Somewhere in Russia, en route to our resort

The Finnish radio in Lapeenranta was covering the forest fires outside of St. Petersburg, and going into the country, I saw them. This was one of the first things that bestowed my eyes after clearing Russian customs (and dealing with a lady who gave me customs forms to fill out, of course, in Russian).

Russia has changed TONS since my last visit in 2000. As I've told friends here in Finland, there are 3 words to describe Russia at the moment. NEW - BUILD - REBUILD. Going into St Petersburg, you see tons of NEW things and en route see billboards for WONDER ISLAND (English translation), a Russian Disneyland of sorts. First off, there's more than just Ladas and you see tons of NEW cars entering the border. Then you see MALLS. New malls of course, loaded with things you can buy. I can now say I've looked at Timberland boots in a Timberlands store in Russia, along with shopping at OKAY, kind of a Russian hybrid supermarket (think Super K-mart) where I could buy CD's, a roast chicken for dinner, and look at shoes or suitcases.

My week was UBER busy. After a day of flea markets and looking at CDs, we went to a great resort (new as well) called Ravola. My days were spent on Russian beaches, playing ping pong, and drinking more cider (which wasn't even a Euro!) Ahhh, the life. Did I mention it had all you can eat Russian food?

Going back to the city, I got to do some more flea markets and on Saturday hung out on Nevsky Prospekt. With Igor, Katja and their friend Andrei from Moscow, we drank some weird boozey drink with mint, then walked around downtown before going to a place we went last trip, a Mexican eatery which was not too bad.

I almost bought a new 16mm movie camera, which now I kick my ass I didn't. 500 rubles (around $20 USD). But the time FLEW by.

As we approached the border for Finland, we stopped for a quick moment by a Russian truck stop so I could sneak in and see what CD's they had. We hung out here many a times on my last visit and it was a nice send off to the new Mother Russia.

Back in Finland today, it was down to more promotional business. I did an interview with a reporter from a magazine called NWT, which comes in Friday's Helsingin Sanomat, the most read newspaper in Finland. They also snapped photos of me at Lahiradio, where I spun some strange worldboom on Pekka's show, shortly before returning back to Porvoo.

Tomorrow, I have another interview, and maybe then I'll add a new music video if I'm able to get to the computer, but for now, it has been a LONG day. How am I going to bring back 60 plus new CD's, not to mention DVDs????????

Any ideas???

Oh yeah, what's the title mean? Outside Igor's flat in St. Petersburg, guys would boom their shitty music out of their Ladas. Igor then turned to me and said, "The cheaper the car, the louder the music". Some things ARE universal!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Elagu Eesti! (Day 4,5,6) = 1 Day, 2 Countries...

Photos: Helsinki Kamppi, Saturday @ 3:30 am / Sign in Tallinn, Estonia / Pekka having a strange conversation with a Finn outside a patio in Tallinn.

Daniel and Milana left for Turku on Friday while I met up with Pekka, Kirsi ja lapset in the cool area where he lives in Helsinki We sat outside and had a great dinner with his kids. It's funny that I can understand Finn children a little easier than others, but I have picked up tons since being here. His oldest daughter kept doing this goofy "Italian impression" while we were eating Indian food. Pretty funny! I had to call it an early night as I had to go back to Porvoo, then go back to Helsinki the next morning for Tallinn.

I've mastered the bus system quite nicely as I got back to the bus terminal in time to meet up with Pekka for the speed boat to Estonia. Man, that country has changed since I was last there 6 years ago. They are errecting skyscrapers, and when not in the old town, it looks like your average big city. Emma showed me how to get to Kaubamaja, where I picked up some new Eesti hip-hop cds. Every hip hop CD I heard, I bought! Then it was off for some more drinks. The photo of Pekka was one I snapped of this blotto Finn wearing some obscure hockey jersey. Dude was loaded, and kept saying "It's magic" as often as I use the word "like". Then it was off to DEPECHE MODE bar. Any guesses to what they were playing. My batteries died on my camera, but I broke my curse with cameras and Estonia by RUNNING to the local supermarket for some Duracell. In the evening, we ate at this nice restaurant which name I can't translate into English... But I happily enjoyed Georgian chicken and Armenian Chicken Soup, while drinking wine from Georgia as well. Virpi, her Dad and brother sailed to Estonia for the day and we all shared fun stories at the table (in joke.... blah...blah..blah).

More cideri on the way back to Finland. They ran out and I had to go to drinking "long drink gin". Tiina ended up chatting with some boozer old geezers making the mack on her shortly after I stripped off my top for a digital pic (not included). Clearing customs, you would almost call this a day, but we met up for some more pints, and I got on the 4 AM bus back to Porvoo. Ohhhh, some boozers on there! And tons of people yammering on the phone. Does this country ever sleep?

Today has been nice and quiet. After some kahvi ja watching some Estonian music Video DVD, I grabbed some Hesburger and some stuff from German market LITL for dinner. Perkele, I missed ANKKAROCK, but only heard from someone mid day asking if I was going. No worries, as I did a North American BBQ for Daniel and Milana, plus convinced Virpi and her bro to stay (Virpi grabbed some pics of me for her article for one of Finland's bigger paper, AMULETTI (My spelling!). They were fun, including me holding film reels and looking like hip hop white trash in a sauna. As the sun set, we called it a day.

And speaking of that time for bed. Off to Russia tomorrow. Say a prayer as we cross Russian customs! Kippis.... sinä!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Gettin Silli wit it (Day 3,4)

Ohhhh, yesterday I had problems sleeping (and last night). On Wednesday after getting back from Helsinki by myself taking public transit back to Porvoo, I chilled out here in the afternoon. That evening however after sauna and Milana making an awesome meatball dinner, we got into the Argentinian wine. Bottles upon bottles till Daniel and I actually saw the sun come up (it starts to come up at 3am, but we saw it up pretty much completely by the time we got to bed). His remedy the next day for me was to have some more cider. My remedy was to come back into town to grab HESBURGER, my junk food of choice in Suomi. While there, the phone rings and I was asked to do an interview when I get back from Russia for NYT, a magazine publication which is featured in HELSINGIN SANOMAT, the most read newspaper in Finland. Later on Pekka says that he had been contacted as well and asked questions about me being on his radio show (which will be broadcast on the 20th). It's all cool, but for the first time in a long, long time, I'm relaxing. Lots. Emma said something in Helsinki that had stuck with me. She said this was the most relaxed she had seen me ever. Plus, in Toronto I am so overloaded with projects I look like, well, never fully relaxed. Its pretty much true.

Last night we dined outside on Daniel and Milana's balcony eating SILLI. I think it's short for Sillampa, which is herring, potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and a dill sauce. It's actually pretty good!

Tomorrow, I'm spending the day in Tallinn, Estonia. Pekka is going, plus Emma, Ville, and Tiina. It should be a fun day as we take over the Linja Line fast boat, which feels like a wide boat with plane seats that goes very fast. You can hear the booze bottles rattling in the duty free. Maybe its a hidden message to me saying 'drink me'!

Funny side note. Daniel and I are drinking cider and coffee (I'm doing coffee) on a shipped parked in the port of Porvoo. He's trying to encourange me to drink more booze again. I say that nobody in Finland wants me to sleep as they have kept me up to exotic hours day and night. He turns to me and says with his Turku accent, "Dion, did you come to Finland to sleep?"

Kiitos Danu!

(Photo: My secret location. Come over and we'll have some cider!)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

DAY 2 & VIDEOCLIPE OF THE WEEK - Vigon 'Harlem Shuffle'

I didn't get to post yesterday only because I was tied up with so many things. After having a good sleep of a night of drinking long drink (see previous post), sauna and playing pool with Daniel and Milana, in the afternoon I was off to Helsinki. Right now I've been staying at Daniel's place in Porvoo, which is just outside Helsinki. I met up with Virpi and Emma, friends I met in Canada who worked for the Finnish paper, Vapaa Sana. Then it was off to visit 'Otto' (the bank machine) to get money to shop at my fav store in Suomi, ANTTILA! Picked up some CDs by AIKA KONE and EGOTRIPPI, which made my friends groan and one go 'Luckily you are taking some of this bad music out of Finland'´. Not true! :))))

We had an awesome dinner at this restaurant in Kallio. Our waiter was right out of Aki Kärismaki flick. Pekka finally came, a pal of mine I met on my 2nd trip to Finland. Then my small posse hit another bar where I got into the Finnish cider. I got drunk enough I had to crash the night in Helsinki, and come back this morning. I was pretty proud as well to find my way from Emma's flat to the bus terminal and back to Porvoo without any help whatsoever! Also while drinking the night before, we crashed a grilli (snack bar) where I was able to say 'French Fries' in Finnish perfectly. There's a weird way to say Finnish R's compared to English and it's actually pretty tricky. But for awhile I could say it and like a little kid, kept saying 'French Fries' over and over again.

Onto my vid pic for the week. Here's an old French Scopitone for France's original R&B king, VIGON. Scopitones were one of the earliest (or early jukeboxes) from France and this performance from the mid 60's of Vigon is great doing the classic 'Harlem Shuffle' (the best version yet). Who knew a Moroccan/French performer could kick so much bootay?

The single for this song (with picture sleeve) sells for close to $40 USD on Ebay, but well well worth it.