Thursday, March 31, 2005
The View From A Plane
A quick check of the bird's eye view camera, confirms that there is not much to see down below except clouds, I love these cameras, never seen them before - one in the front and one down below, when we landed in Tokyo they screened all the action on the bigger screens, whilst I was clutching the games controller trying to straighten the thing up... hard to port captain, for God's sake get that wing up man! Maybe it's a specifically Japanese fascination that hasn't caught on elsewhere yet...
I managed to snap a few shots earlier, out of the plane window with the trusty Holga, when we had something down below to look at, pretty amazing country desolate rolling hills with not a trace of human activity. Except of course for the secret Soviet era rocket bases, and Tunguska meteor craters, or crashed alien ships, whatever your conspiracy theory may be. I don't expect whoever's down there are going to worry very much about being caught on a twenty year old camera with a plastic lens from 35,000 feet up, and hell it was made in Russia anyway!
So further to the last Blog I was writing, Monday and Tuesday in Tokyo - weather was a bit crap on Monday, rained a fair bit so didn't really get around that much during the day. However went over to Shibuya to see LEMON JELLY in the evening at the Shibuya Ax, which was excellent. They had so many instruments on stage I was expecting that thay had transformed into a six-piece band, and the biggest mixing desk I have ever seen used in a live performance, it was MASSIVE, I wouldn't like to have been to person responsible for shipping that monster around the world, and making sure it all kept working.
Whoops bit of turbulence, nope seems to have stopped., where's that damn seat belt, how come I keep on having to let these straps out on JAL flights? Does that say something about fat middle-aged Englishmen?
Where was I? LEMON JELLY seem to have transformed themselves into some huge dancerockmonsterband, complete with the occasional metal guitar… but it works somehow. Older songs like "Travelling Man' and 'Staunton Lick' are completely beefed up, and to see 1,600 people all waving their arms along to 'All the ducks are swimming in the water, fa la la' was pretty funny. Although I'm still not 100% convinced by some of the samples they use on the new album - Chicago's 'If You Leave Me Now' and Bad Company's 'Feel Like Making Love', but maybe I'm just a grumpy old sod who knows those songs too well from the first time around - not enough post-modern irony for me. However on the whole it was great gig, with what must have been a sell-out crowd.
Funnily enough I had been to the same venue two years ago to see Patti Smith and had gotten lost then trying to find it as well, although I'm sure that then it had a different name.
On my final day, I went for a big walk all through Ueno Park and out through some neighbourhoods as far as Yanaka Cemetery, stopping of at some different shrines and temples. One of them, Janali (I think) was pretty amazing, filled with 84,000 little Jizos or idols, all about one foot high and piled up everywhere. Although it is apparently impossible to count them, because the Gods will always add or subtract a few, just for a little joke - personally I wouldn't know where to begin anyway.
A huge army of homeless people seem to have taken over Ueno Park, evrywhere are there little huts in among the trees, made out of old boxes and blue plastic tarps - but all incredibly neat and orderly, with clothes hanging outside, brushes and bicycles. Lots of them go off to work every morning and then come home to their shacks in the evening, they just can't afford anywhere to live in this city where the rents are so high. Very few of them seem to be drunk or drugged up, and there is absolutely no begging going on - which I thought was pretty amazing.
So that was Tokyo, all went pretty smoothly really, except for this morning, when I must have lost my Skyliner ticket on the train to the airport and was told in no uncertain terms that I had to pay another 1960 yen… something along the lines of 'You pay me!', subtle but there was no getting around the officious bastard. I very seldom lose tickets, but the only other time it's ever happened to me was on the Heathrow Express, which just happens to be the most expensive rail journey on the face of the planet. Go figure!
Well won't be long now, another five hours until Amsterdam, then another couple down to Barcelona, then a quick cab ride across town to Gracia and hopefully a nice shot of Crema Catalana in Musica Maria's before bedtime.
Konichi Wa Tokyo
So I have mainly been pounding the streets for days, carrying my trusty Canon FTb, Pentax Optio S30 and (a newcomer to this game, but very much in favour right now) the Holga, big and plastic and very unpredictable. Leaving only the Lomo to make it's way alone across the world in cardboard box, see you in Spain my old friend.
Friday March 25
- Asakusa, the local area has some incredible sights just a few minutes from my hotel. The huge Senso-Ji shrine and all it's attendant little shrines around it, a five storey pagoda and the huge temple market which runs for about half a mile, then spills off into a myriad of other laneways with other stores.
- Ebisu, took a trip across town to find Naomi's favourite Mister Friendly store, which unfortunately I totally failed to do. That's the thing with Tokyo, when you're actually looking for a particular shop or a bar most of the time it's impossible trying to work out how the addresses correspond. However I did manage to visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography which had an awesome exhibition of ten Spanish photographers called "Diez Miradas" (Ten Views) which is one of the best I've ever seen. Squeezed in a visit to the Yebisu Beer Museum as well - which was very cultural with a string quartet playing in front of the beer vats.
Saturday March 26
- Shinjuku has one of the best sights in Tokyo and it's all for free - the observation gallery of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices on the 45th floor of both 202m tall towers. On a clear day apparently you can even see Mount Fuji, not today though.
- Harajuku, Yoyogi_Koen park has a huge temple - Meiji Jingu which is built in 1920, bombed out in WW2 and reconstructed in 1958 although it still looks and feels much older. Perfect Holga material.
The cops unfortunately kicked out all the rock bands out of the park several years ago, although there were a few playing at the side of the street. It did really remind me of Bongo Park in Barcelona, maybe because of all the erm… bongo players. As for the gothic / punk / S&M Zoku Girls, I'm afraid they did nothing but get my back up - dressing up and existing just too have their photos taken with tourists and sightseers, flashing peace signs and holding babies for the cameras. No attitude no motive.
The streets around Harajuku are like one enormous Camden Market these days, I swear it was cooler even two years ago when I was here last.
- Ginza - worth a trip to the amazing Tokyo International Forum building, especially when it's getting dark. All the galleries and walkways and the incredible vaulted ceiling look like something from the film version of H.G.Wells' "The Shape of Things To Come", needless to say I was in here for hours. Illuminated cube pavements, an atrium everything colour coded, a photographer's dream. Along with all the obligatory night shots along the Ginza Strip.
Sunday March 26
- Nikko a two hour train ride out of Tokyo into the countryside and mountains to visit the World Heritage Park home of more temples, shrines, sacred bridges and huge trees. It was cold as well, properly cold with real snow on the ground - which felt great after the heat of Sydney. Hundreds of statues of Gods and Devils (don't ask me which was which), sleeping cats, imaginary elephants, thousands of dragons. This is all far to difficult to explain in words, it will have to wait for the webpage of photos. Never been so exhausted after all that climbing around in the mountain air, totally crashed before midnight.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Final Funky Session at Longrain
This Thursday (17th March) will be the final session of my DJ residency at Longrain in Surry Hills, before leaving Australia for pastures new, or pasto nuevo if you prefer en Espagnol. So if you're at a loose end, then please come along anytime from 6.30pm for some funky tunes, fine cocktails & exquisite culinary delights.
I'll be cooking up some Jazz, Latin, Soul, Afro, Funk & Reggae both retro and contemporary - and putting it on to simmer for about four hours. Admission is free.
85, Commonwealth St
Hope to see you there
Holiday Ousted by Ingrid
Well so much for my holiday in Far North Queensland, this week - just as i
decided to go visiting, so did Tropical Cyclone Ingrid, bringing with her
torrential rain and 180kph winds. On Friday I decided it may be best to stay
home, especially after the girl at the backpackers in Cairns, that I spoke
too told me that they were expecting flooding and that all the diving trips
out to the reef etc had been cancelled. Hmm, so I lost a few thousand
airmiles points by not going, but there didn't really seem to be a lot of
point. Anyway I still have a mountain of packing and eBay selling to be
getting on with on the next ten days anyway so i couldn't really spare the
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Absence of Blog
However now that the INTERNATIONAL LIVE MUSIC CONFERENCE site is complete, and the event itself is just about to take place then hopefully I'll be able to spare a bit more time for this. You can check it out at www.ilmc.com/ilmc17, it has a crazy kind of sword & sorcery look to it, in keeping with my brief.
Also in the midst of an Australian summer, who really wants to sit at home, writing a Blog, when they could be out, on the beach, enjoying the sun, not me that's for sure. Plus it's been the festival season with Big Day Out, Good Vibrations, Tropfest and a whole heap of other events, that has been keeping me away from the keyboard for quite some time.
Anyhow not long left to go now here in Sydney, just over two weeks and it's back to Barcelona, Spain with a week in Tokyo en route. Next week I'm supposed to be flying up to Queensland for five days in Cairns, Cape Tribulation and Cooktown, so absolutely typically the whole area is now being threatened by the worst tropical cyclone in over a hundred years. So if I do manage to make it up there in one piece there's the very real chance that, the whole area could be devastated, by massive winds and rainstorms. Australia eh? They don't mess around. Anyway if anybody is interested then here's my flight schedule:
- Sat 11th March: SYDNEY to CAIRNS
- Thu 17th March: CAIRNS to SYDNEY
- Thu 24th March: SYDNEY to TOKYO
- Wed 30th March: TOKYO to BARCELONA
Am in denial when it comes to the UK, so no plans to go there yet, although it will probably have to be late April or May.