Halloween Ghetto 7" (HLW, 1982)
I've only been to Belgium once. My girlfriend, Susan, and I spent a day wandering around Brussels, looking at the places she remembered from her year as an exchange student during the 1980s. Her memories of the place were much brighter than what we experienced.
Stepping out of the train station, we walk into a bleak neighborhood with torn up streets and boarded up buildings. The faces are sallow and sad, the voices angry. We hit a couple shops on our way to the town center. The people aare pushy and rude, the children loud. Though it is a Saturday, most of the businesses we pass are closed.
We make our way toward Susan's old school. The doors are padlocked and the window broken. She says that there was a shopping area a few blocks away, maybe we should check it out. What we stumble on could have been constructed in Soviet Union under Khruschev and plopped down in Belgium. Looking at the map, I figure out that there is a record store a couple blocks away. We split, agreeing to meet up at what looks like a decent pub/cafe in an hour.
I find the store and it is not only the brightest place I visited all day, but the friendliest. That is to say my "Bon jour" was met with a grunt rather than a scowl. I find a few records, including this one for one euro, and wander to meet my lady.
We go into the cafe and I hit the bathroom. I open the door and is almost knocked cold by the stench. The toilet seat has no cover. The sink doesn't work. I do my business and join Susan at a table. I look at the menu, all the food items are crossed out. They are out of food. Still the place is full of families, brutish looking men and beaten down women, surrounded by very loud children. I look at a table across the room. Sitting at it is a woman whose whole face is covered with band aids. I look at Susan and suggest that we split.
We still have 4 more hours to kill before the train we are booked on leaves for Paris. Hungry, we find a waffle stand and have the shittiest waffles I've ever had. We decide to go to the train station and see if we can get the hell out of Brussels early. Tired of walking, we find a Metro stop and catch one to the train station. As we travel, Susan points out the station called Kunst-Wet and tells me how much she used to laugh at the station-name as a kid. I cup my hands to my mouth and pretend to be a train conductor "Next stop: Wet Cunt. Wet Cunt. Boarding at Wet Cunt." The Belgians are not amused.
At the train station we are told that it will cost us 100 euros if we want a seat on an early train to Paris. We decide to stick it out and stroll around the station. After 20 minutes, both of us are thinking, "Three more hours? Three more hours?" I speak up, "It's only $75 each." She adds, "And you're supposed to spend money on vacation." The next train leaves in ten minutes so we sprint to the ticket counter and exchange our tickets. Then we haul ass to the train, the last people on board. It pulls out of the station before we sit down.
I've tried to find out information on the band Halloween, but have had no luck. The only person who has a real name is the singer and unless he is now a software developer who doesn't answer emails, I am not sure where he is. I haven't even tried to track down Free Porta (which I believe is a sex act), Pat Shark, or the fabulously named Luc Bollock. The a-side, B. Town Beauty, is a good uptempo punk song, but it is the bleak flipside, a Joy Division-inspired anthem about exterminating your elders, that reminds me of my day trip to Belgium. (This is a repost. It originally was posted 26 October 2005. Happy Halloween!)
Anyway, we still dont have babes cruising around with their faces covered with bandaids over here.
Smiller - Ol Soriano has been on the wagon for the last year. Maybe that was why Brussels seemed so ugly. I didnt have my beer goggles on!
We want the b-side please !!
Accidently when cleaning up my parents' home, I met a copy of the single B Town Beauty from Halloween.
I have always been an occasional text writer and poet. Back in the 80's I wrote a lot of what I now consider as broken English stuff. Ever since I write most of the time in Dutch mostly poems.
Out of curiosity, I wondered if this single was to be found on the net. Big was my surprise to find your comment on it almost immediately on your website.
To make the story short, at the time I was some kind of punk rocker, and much of my stuff at that time was used by the Ostend New Nave band Halloween. On November 19th, 1981 I wrote the songtext B Town Beauty. It tells in simple words the story of a date. B is the abbreviation of Bruges, where everything in the song took place and where I was a student at the time. My pseudonym then was Ian Mart (martian ... Mart Ian ... Ian Mart). My real name is Rik Vanhoucke. Nowadays I live in Wervik, West-Flanders, Belgium.
As Halloween is concerned, Luc Bollock (I don't know his real last name, his first name being for sure Luc) was the former bassist of the Ostend Punk band Revenge 88, band that is becoming popular again for the moment. He was the keeper of a New Wave pub at different places around and in the Langestraat at Ostend. I don't know what happened to the members of the band.
For further information, don't hesistate to contact me.
All the best !
Rik Vanhoucke (Ian Mart).
From: WG Sebald - the rings of saturn, Vintage 2002
Or did you by some strange chance fall through a rift in time and space into some other Brussels in an alternate universe?