On the morning of March 10 I awoke for my first full day in Finland. Being turned around in time my computer told me it was seven o’clock in the evening on the West Coast and here I was waiting for the breakfast room to open. I was also turned around in weather. In Portland it might as well have been Spring. Here it was the the middle of Winter. Walking into the very nice breakfast room with its three story ceiling decorated to resemble a castle in a silent movie I saw newspapers on the piano. No International Herald Tribune there. In fact nothing in the English language. I asked for the Trib at the front desk. Nope, it would take a walk to the train station to get one. If it were summer, or even spring, I would have done it. Here it was winter, it was dark, and there was snow and ice everywhere. The fact I had not changed any money and only had a few Euros in coins found in my suitcase from last fall sealed the deal. I piled bacon, black sausage, bread, cold cuts, tiny frankfurters, and cheese on a plate. A small pot to put coffee in would have made it perfect. Instead I took a single cup of coffee with me. It it had been better coffee I would have resented that. In the elevator I had to put the coffee on the floor in order to use my keycard to let the pushing of the of the floor button take to effect. In my room I got the NY Times on line and dug into my victuals. Outside my window a red and gold flag was being blown at a right angle to its pole. Occasionally it would reverse direction and blow the other way. If this were Wrigley Field it would be a day for long balls and a score in double digits.
I had tried to make my room as homey as possible with my suitcase empty and all clothes hung up or in a cupboard. I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the flat screen TV so I unplugged it. I somehow managed to get to three in the afternoon without stepping a foot outside. I finally girded my loins and went out to face the world. I walked to to the Klubi where the festival office was to get my badge and whatever. There I was directed to go to the guest office which was back past the Grand Hotel Tammer at a place called Plevna. I walked past the the Hotel and turned the wrong way. I was then perplexed that I didn’t cross a body of water before finding where I was supposed to arrive at. I cursed the tourist map. I then realized it was my mistake, not the map’s, and reversed course. Sure enough, I passed the hotel, crossed the river, and found Plevna and got my badge and bag of various things.One of those things was an explanation of Plevna. It was part an old cotton mill which had been established by Scotsman James Finlayson in 1820.
Wow, that made me think of the great actor James Finlayson who had famously played the home owner in the Christmas tree selling fight with Laurel and Hardy in the film Big Business (1929) and in many, many others.
Another of the things in the bag was an announcement that around the corner it was happy hour at the Fest Art center. I went there and had a glass of red wine while looking at Harun Farocki films. On the second floor of the center were photos and needle point art by Leena Saraste. The photos were from Beirut Lebanon in the 80’s showing scenes of both destruction and beauty. The needle point work included a thrirty foot long timeline history of photography. One stand alone piece was “The Medium Is the Message” in the medium of needle point. I loved it all.
I went back to the hotel. In the bag were cash vouchers that would pay for meals. I planned to leave at 6:00 and have dinner before my show The Effect of Dada and Surrealism at 8:00. I decided to research Dada and Surrealism to make sure there would be no screwed up facts in my talk. That work took me to 7:00. I went to the theater and had a sandwich and a beer before the show. I then introduced the show and I hope did a good job. After that the fun started.
The driver showed up at 8:20 to take me to the sauna party. There were others in the van. We all drove a way out of town to a lodge beside a lake. The party had started at 7:00. We arrived and joined the men who had got there on time. Among them was Mikko Sorrela who had taken the daunting task to find and buy the four flights that had got me to Tampere. Twenty of us chatted while the women had their sauna. We were provided with beer,wine and snacks. Eventually it was our turn. There was a small room to strip and get a robe. Then it was briefly outside, drop the robes, and step into the sauna. It was the only really old fashioned one in the area. It heated a really big pile of stones with both fire heat and smoke. That had taken several hours. Then the smoke was cleared from the room and people could enter. The rocks would stay hot all night and could be used for sauna in the morning. By the time I got in all of the seats in the upper level were taken. That meant standing in the lower area where it was less hot. I eventually got an upper seat. Then I left and jumped in the lake. Well, jump is not really correct, but I did wade in and immersed. Then it was back to the sauna and back into the lake a second time. I told the group that later they should all watch the youtube of the 1929 film production number Turn on the Heat. Then it was time to drink a beer. To make things perfect it started snowing. The group that had come in the bus left around 11:00. I stayed to the last and left closer to midnight with a group in the van.