Sunday, April 27, 2008


I have some sort of disorder that makes me agree to do things that are actually impossible. I do it all the time, without even blinking. One of my jobs right now, is translating Romanian texts about communism and rivers into Swedish. They're going in a book. Even though I don't actually know how to translate, it never for second crossed my mind to say no. So now I'm looking up architectural terms and...hydro-technical...stuff. It's madness.

I also agreed to teach my students origami, on Wednesdays, these next 5 weeks. I'm making a little booklet of designs from which the kids can choose from, and I have to be able to fold all of them. Because I'm their teacher. The problem is that I suck at origami. Apparently I forgot about that small but important detail, yet again. I don't know what my fucking problem is, it's not the first time it's happened either. Anyways, everyone knows how high schoolers are nuts for TAI fighters and badgers so I decided to learn how to fold those. And I came pretty damn close to loosing my mind for ever. It was so so hard. And the TAI fighter can't even stand up and keeps falling over. So now the little folder will consist of: crane, box, star (maybe) and badger, for the really really advanced students. But I'm hoping no one will pick that one because I finished it in a blind rage and I don't remember anything. The instructions mean nothing to me.

Chet Baker- Chetty's Lullaby

I love love how it totally still sounds like American...Dohlche nohtte....veeveersohtey...cheyroh... Americans trying to sing in other languages than American is my new favorite, very specific, genre. Back in the day, American artists used to sometimes translate their songs to as many languages as possible to win the love and admiration of different little countries. But somewhere along the line they stopped doing this, and now things are just tough all over.

Django Reinhardt- Smoke Rings

I've been listening a lot to Django recently. He's great. This song reminds me of my grandparents. Sunny apartment. Everything moving really slow. It also allows me to reminisce about the time when I used to smoke cigarettes. Those were the days.

Chairmen of the Board- Give me just a little more time

This is my anthem right now. Mostly he chorus, not the super lame verse. "Life's too short to make a mistake, let's think of each other and hesitate, young and impatient we may be, there's no need to act foolishly". Very responsible lyrics indeed. I do need more time though, always.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Long Song(s) vol. 1

The long songs. Songs that seem to go on forever. They move into your brain, and they've brought all this luggage. They start spreading their stuff all over the place. Eat all your food. But they got you presents so that's cool. After a while they get sort of annoying, but then, oh they go do something awesome and by the time they actually leave you know you're totally going to miss them. You tell them they can come back anytime man, anytime. And it was my pleasure. No mine. They're the songs that think they're so great you wont want them to end. And some of them actually are.

Like Sonic Youth's Hits Of Sunshine (For Allen Ginsberg). This is still my favorite long song. When I was 16 I got a mix-tape with this and was amazed at how I could listen to it the whole subway-ride to high school. If someone tried to talk to you while listening to this you'd just shake your head and sort of gesture something that meant" Oh I can't talk, I'm listening to Sonic Youth. I'm inside a bubble of coolness."

Then there's Hurricane by Bob Dylan, which isn't quite as long, but man, there's just so much information. Every time it comes on it's like running into Bob on the street and he's super angry and tells you every single detail about how Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was framed for triple murrr-der. And why shouldn't he, it's definitely important stuff. But I always smile when all those crazy bongos and violins and harmonicas push the song into yet another verse.

Nighthawk Postcards (From Easy Street)
by Tom Waits is sort of like that except it's so lazy and loungy you don't really pay attention. Tom doesn't mind. It's even OK if you fall asleep, he's just muttering to himself anyways. I sometimes played this at a crappy coffee shop where I used to work, so I could pretend it was a crappy diner instead. But then someone would turn on Come Away with Me, by Norah Jones, and totally ruin everything.

That's all I got for now. Maybe naming this post "vol. 1" was a little optimistic, but hopefully my blogmates (is that what we call it? I think it was something else that I can't remember right now) will add some of their favorite long songs too.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring Scream

So I'm gonna start this off by quoting DJ:

"Okay, hello hello. I have been reading and teaching English in Tokyo now for ~4 months."

Well said and I really like the "hello, hello" part. I feel the same, except, I'm not in Tokyo, I'm in Taipei. And it's been ~seven months of general radness, culminating in the raddest weekend so far, 2008's Spring Scream, where I got really really drunk.

So here is my week 1/2 late, very incomplete and belligerently drunk coverage of the fest, condensed to some of the highlights I can remember.

First off, here's some background. Spring Scream was started 8 years ago by two expat Americans and has grown to become one of the biggest music fests in Taiwan, and the driving force for a general migration of rockers and ravers to the bottom of Taiwan every March, and even has it's own Wikipedia article now (WOW!) It's held annually in and around Kenting in the far south of Taiwan. This year they had it in Ulambi, which is the southernmost tip of the island and from where you can see the lush green coast jut out in three directions. Also, seriously every English teacher in the country comes down, and they all wear flip-flops and some of them drink rum out of coconut shells. Just like home. The event is held in literally one of the most beautiful venues possible, with 7 stages stretched out over two sloping valleys looking out into the endless-fucking Pacific and up Taiwan's mountainous coastline.

I had no idea before moving here because I'm an ignorant asshole, but Taiwan has this really fucking good music scene going on with all these indigenous and expat westerner post-rock, electro dance-pop, hardcore and shoegazer noise bands that I've just been generally losing my shit over. But the best of anything I've seen by far is Taipei's White Eyes, with their sleazy, scuzzy, ragged garage rock. It's a 'fuck yes' every time. Guitarist Telecat lays down riff atop grimy distorted riff, but keeps the chaos in check with a crisp razor sharp clarity, like Jimmy Page via Jack White on a really lucid acid trip. Singer Gao Xiao Gao!! shakes across the stage while her voice flies from the deep melodic to a high pitch freakout. And at 2 of the 3 shows I've seen of theirs, ends the set by stripping down to her bra and screaming at the crowd.

No No No - White Eyes

Narcissistic Personality Disorder - White Eyes

Here are some tracks from their brand spankin' new EP, Get My Body if You Want It. Check out their micepace for a bunch of tracks and videos. Here's a link to an earlier post I did about them with some more you tube action. In their Spring Scream vid, you can see Kuech, a dear friend of this blog, pumping his fists and 'woo-hooing' (he's the one in the white T with the shaggy beard - and looks like what you'd imagine an expatriated midwestern kid to look like at a Taiwanese dance-punk show).

Around 9pm Saturday
I was running around the valley from stage to stage with Kuech and others trying to find which stage White Eyes was playing at. And at around 10:30 I snapped these pictures, half blacked out, from the middle of their mosh pit.

After White Eyes, we stumble-ran to the DJ pit where the U.K.'s DJ Shorty was spinning an all Ween set, complete with homemade Boognish masks, and I think my soul left my body and achieved transcendence somewhere around 11:30.

I'm the blur in the front.

At 4 pm that same day
, I was wearing flip-flops and drinking rum out of a coconut shell as I watched our good friend Werner, aka Listen To Spoon, build up a live multi-instrument layered post-rock set, while wearing a pink tie.

At around 3am Friday night I was drinking a vodka grapefruit out of a red plastic cup, watching experimental short films projected onto the side of a white shed. But an hour and a half before that I was watching my last live show of Friday night, The Juicy Bows. Fuck yes I was. This dirty new wave surf rock band from Tokyo held the stage so confidently while chopping out wave after wave of riffed-up feedback and freak-out synth, smirking out at the crowd from behind Mexican wrestling masks. Fuck yes Japan! These are the only links I can find for them. They include one really long awesome song. Dig it.

The Juicy Bows, bio

The Juicy Bows, song

Sunday I went go carting and ate an egg sandwich with DJ Shorty.

Where I wasn't Saturday around 9pm
was watching another really good Taipei band, Go Chic!, because I was somewhere else feeling confused. Although there has been many a synth-rock dance-pop group before, this 5-girl outfit's brand of hard core screamy electro-pop is extremely fresh and so murderously hip you could get a drug problem from it. There first cd's due out this summer, but there's a bunch of very hot shit on their micepace.

Here's there 'biology':

Biology: this is go chic (caution!! we're electro-hyphy-chiks hybridized punk-blues-rock psycho-fatherfuckeeeeeers, jump yr feeeets uppppp!!! or we'r gonna ATTACK u!)

There were also bands with bunny masks, or lab coats, or tennis shorts with matching wrist/head bands who also all pretty much kicked ass but I can't remember their names. So, I guess that's it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

World Music Post (Volume Whatever!?)


One thing I love about World Music is not only the diversity of the music itself and the constantly expanding root system that is continually influencing the different facets of itself like a 3-D sphere of complicated electrical circuitry, but the fact that it sometimes (assuming you can understand it) has a sobering story to tell, often folkloric and survival based.

I recently bought a CD entitled "Umalali" The Garifuna Women's project. It is the singing/storytelling of the Garifuna people, descendants of Nigerian slaves, who were in fact survivors of a sunken slave ship that made it to shore and mixed with coastal Caribbean natives from Central American countries known as Caribs and Arawaks. Most migrated into Belize where they comprise about 7% of the population and live in Garifuna villages along the southern coastline and speak Garifuna or Garihagu. The Garifuna is among the UN's list of endangered human cultures and the oral tradition is precariously preserved, namely by the women, while the men are occupied at sea. The women sing of their hardships of surviving hurricanes and many other personal tragedies with spirit and guile. You can buy this album here

Umalali, The Garifuna Women's Project - Merua

I didn't choose this song for the storytelling, I chose it because it was mixed by Norman Cook (A.K.A. Fatboy Slim) who invited the Garifuna collective to mix their authentic music to his beats. When the Garifuna ladies heard the track Fatboy had laid down they instinctively started singing a traditional work song they had learned growing up in Honduras, making a great track unintentionally combining these two bits of music.

Umalali, The Garifuna Women's Project - Anaha Ya (Here I Am)

This song is about a woman on the island of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras, who is hearing rumors that she is selling her daughter into prostitution.

Here I am on this island
All I can do is look around. I am so dissappointed

It is all over the newspapers on the street's
Rumors that I am selling my daughter

Come to me, my child, I have appointed you
Come to me. You will be the one to console me