?

Log in

No account? Create an account
In Båtsfjord on the Barents Sea - click opera — LiveJournal
February 2010
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
 
 
 
 
 
 
Page 1 of 2
[1] [2]
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 06:11 am
In Båtsfjord on the Barents Sea

You're not quite sure who you were and where you lived before. All you know is where you live now: Finnmark, on the coast of the Barents Sea. Here, in the sub-polar Arctic, renegade bits of Norway, Sweden and Finland join up with lost particles of Russia. Båtsfjord, your town, is 70 degrees north and has an 80 degree temperature range -- it can go from minus 50 in winter to plus 30 centigrade in the summer.



At this time of year there's no sun at all in Båtsfjord -- "polar nights", they call them. You work in the crab processing plant -- the money's pretty good -- wearing hygienic protective clothing. Everybody in this town wears brightly-coloured functional clothes; most of the jobs in Båtsfjord are something to do with fishing and fish processing. The equipment is also painted in primaries and fluorescents; orange, pink, yellow, bright green. It almost makes up for the lack of light, the general greyness, blackness and whiteness of everything here. Another thing that compensates, of course, is the aurora borealis. Sometimes the sky seems to wear fluorescent safety gear too.

The commodity that makes this lurid, sparse, functional town possible is crabs. Not just any crabs, but the world's largest, the Kamchatka Crab. They aren't native to the Barents Sea; Joseph Stalin introduced them from the Pacific in 1930 to help feed the hundreds of thousands of people he was sending to Siberia at the time.

Originally basic protein for prisoners and exiles, the Kamchatka Crab is now a premium-priced luxury product. That's capitalism for you, I guess; take prolefeed and package it as aristogourmet. The crab is also a bit of an environmental hazard. These pinky-white extraterrestrial arachnid things, up to six feet in span, hobble along the bottom of the ocean devouring every living thing in their path. They're spreading west at the rate of 20 kilometres a day, clawing their way around the coast of Norway towards the North Sea.

All this sounds fairly intentional, but the creatures don't even have a central brain. Like cockroaches they have bits of low intelligence distributed across their nervous system -- at the tops of their legs, for instance. They're unloaded from the Russian and Norwegian fishing vessels alive, and killed in the processing plant by being chopped in two, right down the hard shell of the back. The nervous system just fizzles and stops. That's where your job starts. You assess the various parts for meat quality, grade them. Then other employees wash them, pack them and box them up. 70% of what we process here goes to Japan.



You don't know what you did before, or where -- your memory is as bare as the rocky Martian hills behind the little red metal house where you live. But this is what you do now, here. When work is finished you might go to the bar with your workmates (when the masks come off, suddenly they have faces) or climb the icy, gritty permafrosted path that leads away from the flat industrial quayside. You'll watch the late flight descending into Båtsfjord Airport as you fumble for your key with big orange-gloved hands. You'll remove your moonboots, take off your thermal suit, click on the television, take a shower, crack open a beer, and head to the kitchen freezer to select a pack of fish for dinner. As you slide the pale frozen block out of its packet you watch the lights of a square-windowed Russian ship sliding into position under pink cranes. And you wonder, as usual, who you were and what you did before.

37CommentReply

cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 07:31 am (UTC)

Then you wake up and it was all a dream.


ReplyThread
electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 10:33 am (UTC)

Poor crabs.


ReplyThread

(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand

arpad
arpad
Impervious horrors of a leeward shore
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 10:34 am (UTC)

Interesting. Thanks.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 10:35 am (UTC)
The Omega 3 Man - or - Former Commie Crabs Take Manhattan

A scientist proves a connection between seafood consumption and the Inglehart Values Map, offering hopes of a gentler rational-values world. But, before his formula can be patented, mutant Kamchatka crabs destroy the Guggenheim Museum and commandeer Central Park.

Chris Rock to play the scientist, with Charles Napier as an aging Alaskan crab hunter (Captain Ahab-esque, monomaniacal vendetta with Kamchatka "red nippers"), who riles scuba-clad marine activist Olga Kurylenko.


ReplyThread
illyich
illyich
illyich
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC)
Re: The Omega 3 Man - or - Former Commie Crabs Take Manhattan

I would pay good money to see (sea?) this movie.


ReplyThread Parent
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 10:44 am (UTC)

When I worked at a fish counter we would sell the legs of these monsters. You cut up the legs and just eat the flesh, which there is a lot of. Most people would curiously ask what it was. Same thing with the seaweed Spirulina... Though I am unsure if it really was that type of spirulina.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 10:50 am (UTC)
crabby business

I´m an Icelander and not unfamiliar with the fishing industry and still I´d have to say those Finnmark folks are pretty hardcore. This is Spitzbergen style mayhem...with crabs.

Jesus, minus 50? Are we talking Celcius? Respect.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 11:00 am (UTC)
Re: bus stop

did you do that on an artist break?
soft shell crabs are yummy
plus oysters give a fine narcotic kick...
should i go and see bert jansch on wednesday or not its a fool moon


ReplyThread Parent


(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 11:46 am (UTC)

I like it! It probably won't get a lot of comments, but you should do more like this. Just put some criticism of america in it if you want a lot of feedback.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 12:03 pm (UTC)

I'm quite interested at the moment in getting the comments as low as possible while still keeping the entries as interesting-to-me as possible. The set of all things interesting to me and hardly anyone else is a member of itself, ie interesting to me and hardly anyone else.

And sure, something about how badly people dress in the new season of The Wire would reel 'em in. (Never seen it in my life, actually.) But why reel comments in with crabby stuff about TV when I could be fishing for Kamchatkas on the Barents Sea?


ReplyThread Parent Expand


bongo_kong
bongo_kong
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 11:51 am (UTC)

I hope you're right about their limited intelligence cos those crabs are bloody enormous.






ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC)

Their brain is the size of a pea and doesn't do much more than control their eye stalks. But the thing they have is distributed contextual brains sort of meshed with their nervous system and located all over their body. It's a bit like Wikipedia.

So... be afraid.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 12:58 pm (UTC)

Although this entry was inspired by this radio programme -- and the photos you can find on Google Earth when you look at places like Båtsfjord from above -- I have actually been to Finnmark.

It was 1993, and I was in Finland filming the "Man of Letters" film. I rented a Volvo in Finnish Lappland and drove north through Norway, worrying herds of reindeer, feeding enormous mosquitoes with my blood and videoing myself. Some of the footage ended up on the "Man of Letters" DVD.


ReplyThread
microworlds
microworlds
Sparkachu Maelworth
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 06:55 pm (UTC)

Speaking of "Man of Letters", I think there was a clip of it on Youtube with you and Jarvis Cocker? I saw it a long time ago and it's not there anymore. Do you know what happened or is it just one of those Youtube ~mysteries~?

(I also find it funny that my parody montage videos of you with Adam Ant and Howard Devoto are on the first page of results when I search "Momus". Haha!)


ReplyThread Parent Expand


loveishappiness
loveishappiness
O.H.
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC)

beklager, jeg snakker ikke norsk


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
film idea

I think Aki Kaurismaki would like elements from you story. Or, perhaps he's made that film already? perke


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)

They're spreading west at the rate of 20 kilometres a day

If that were really the case, they'd be off the English coast in a couple of months' time...


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC)
A horror horde of crawl and crush giants.

That scenario sounds a little like the 1954 Warners' sci-fi flick 'Them'.
Those kamchatkan anthropodal beasts of the deep are coming for us!
Beat your ploughshares into avocado salad.
Thomas S.


ReplyThread Parent

obliterati
obliterati
Night of the Living Dave
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)

Santa's workshop revealed!


ReplyThread
idealforcolors
idealforcolors
skyface
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)

I like the idea of working there for a season. More than I'd like actually working there, for sure.


ReplyThread
n3koch4n
n3koch4n
n3koch4n
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)

i was thinking the same thing


ReplyThread Parent
vinylboy20
vinylboy20
Rupert Pupkin
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)

Great entry. Very interesting.


ReplyThread
count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Sun, Jan. 20th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)

The feet in the last photo belong to Tin Tin.


ReplyThread Parent Expand