Posts Tagged ‘personal’

Tomatito

Last night, I was fortunate to buy the last available ticket for a Tomatito show. When the show started, he came out alone, and brought me to the point of tears with his musical finesse. After the first song, his musical companions joined him – 2 singers, another guitarist, a percussionist, and a dancer. These guys really knew how to put on a fantastic presentation, and they managed to do it without uttering one word (save lyrics) to the audience. It was certainly awesome to see one of my (many) guitar heroes performing live.

Here is a video clip of the encore, which was interrupted by an usher telling me I couldn’t film. Oops.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=s9sKMyX7ZJ8

Posted: March 12th, 2008
Categories: blog, music, travel
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Indian Wedding

Due to a delayed flight, day one of my trip found me stranded at the Newark airport, with no alternative but to find a hotel.

Ahh, sleep is priceless after days of erratic rest.

This morning, I woke to the deep bass of a giant heartbeat. I thought I was in a giant womb. The heartbeats gradually morphed into a beat, and then I heard an announcer say “How are we doing tonight? Are we going to have a party?!” Mind you, this was morning, not night, or so I thought. I rushed to the window and saw an Indian wedding party taking place in the cold parking lot.  Enjoy the videos of this surreal spectacle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmPKn6wNUp8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oatPUI-BPBA

Posted: March 2nd, 2008
Categories: blog, travel
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The Bible Banger

This morning I woke to the unmistakable sound of a midwestern American voice. At first, I was excited to hear the sound, and eager to talk to it’s owner, until I discovered that he was preaching, and getting downright biblical on some Malaysian guy staying at the hostel. All of this happened outside my window, so I couldn’t ignore it, and the American’s voice was too loud for me to go back to sleep. Why does it always have to be a Bible-thumping American who sticks out like a sore thumb, who feels it’s important to convert the world to his world view? Ugh.

Posted: November 11th, 2007
Categories: blog
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Comments: 1 Comment.

Tokyo

Tokyo is an endless, sprawling megalopolis, a bustling sea of humanity, neon eternity.

Upon my arrival, I was blown away by the sheer volume of people in the station, and when I made my way via subway to Shinjuku to find a hotel, I was even more blown away. Shinjuku station’s daily traffic is one of the highest in the world, and one has to almost fight one’s way through it. Better yet, simply go with the flow. This place makes NYC seem like a farming community.

Posted: November 8th, 2007
Categories: blog, travel
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Geisha

Maiko in Respectful ReverenceI was wandering aimlessly around Gion today, when I nearly blundered into a Geisha. It happened when I was crossing a busy street (Shijo-dori), and she sort of appeared out of nowhere. She could have been a Maiko, or apprentice Geisha, but I really don’t know how to tell them apart. As the next hour unfolded, I managed to spot a few more scurrying around, and even snapped up a blurry pic of one being escorted to Pontocho by her matron. This place is so surreal. It’s almost like living in a story. Almost, but not quite. The illusion got ruined when I walked a few more blocks and found myself in the red light district, surrounded by Japanese business men in their starched suits. Eyed warily by seedy sentinels posted outside various establishments, I quickly made my way back to the hostel.

Posted: November 6th, 2007
Categories: blog, culture, travel
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Kyoto

My birthday came an went like passing clouds. It was an eventful day, complete with travels to a new city, new accommodations, and the feeling of independence associated with cutting out on one’s own.

After I did some sightseeing, I checked out Kyoto Station for some meal options. I found a place which allowed me to feed money into a slot and choose my meal by pushing a button. Then, a hostess came and seated me, and I looked around as I waited for my food. Most of the patrons were locals, but there a couple of foreigners inside. I watched carefully how the natives handled their chopsticks with their right hands and their spoons with their left as they deftly attacked the bowls of soup. When my food arrived, I managed to mimic them effectively, down to making the slurphing sounds characteristic of the eating style. However, I cant figure out how to do it without splashing my clothes with soup.

After I ate, I met Meri (a Japanese native, who is an acquaintance through my musician friend Jan Sebon), and we took the bus to the Kyoto Art Institute Student Festival, which was quite the event. There were beautiful student art works, cool bands playing, and great food. I had a blast. At 7 pm, I went to see Meri perform in an African dance performance, performed entirely by Japanese women. OK. I have seen, heard, and performed African dance and music. This was something else. I was blown away. From the first few beats of the dun-dun drums, I knew I was in for a good show. Imagine a group of attractive, young Japanese women playing African drums, while others danced skillfully to the music. Wow. There was one djembe player who could have given some of the drummer I know a run for their money, and she’s only been playing for two years! I told Meri they should seriously consider touring.

Posted: November 2nd, 2007
Categories: blog, travel
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The Endless Bus Ride

Today, we went to Nijō Castle in Kyoto, as part of the tail end of our sightseeing after the Tai-kai. The castle features a nightingale floor, which is an ancient security measure. The simple act of walking across the floor produces a series of squeaks and chirps which, when combined, resemble the sound of birds.

Bus ride hell. We must have been on the bus the whole day. Sightseeing is essentially worthless if you have to eat lunch in 10 minutes, and rush around in the place you are visiting. Japanese travel itineraries are somewhat unrealistic. I’m glad I extended my trip by an additional two weeks.

After we returned to Osaka, I enjoyed some “Western” style food for the first time in a week. I never thought I would enjoy a plain salad as much as I did.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and marks the passing of a phase of my trip. I will join 3 others as we cut out on our own in Kyoto, and after they leave on November 5th, I will be on my own in Japan until November 13th, when I return home. This culture is far removed from any I have experienced to date, and the language barrier makes it especially challenging. I’ve learned a couple of important phrases to aid me in my travels, but I am a far cry from being able to communicate effectively.

Posted: October 31st, 2007
Categories: blog, travel
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Karaoke Nightmare

Holy moly.

All in one night.

I went to a karaoke bar in this hotel (which, I might add, is a resort, on an isolated peninsula in the middle of nowhere) and we had no idea that there was a $12 surcharge per person. So our fricking bill ended up being $114 for 5 people, and only 2 of us sang. Fortunately, we got 3 video clips of us singing, which makes up for the feeling of being robbed.

This place is a trip.

Don performing Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”

http://youtube.com/watch?v=3Ay7rW3a9PQ

Don doing Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ol5_BFDex70

Me doing Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild”

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Hb3HecpJfCE

Drunken Japanese Karaoke Session

http://youtube.com/watch?v=WzIqNWIS16I

Drunken Brawl

http://youtube.com/watch?v=94MDibO0EjI

Posted: October 27th, 2007
Categories: blog, travel
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Comments: 2 Comments.

Japan

…is intense. I have seen wary eyes peer at me and my compatriots as we walk around Osaka. Perhaps they are daunted by our collective size. Not only are we physically bigger, but everything else is smaller scale! I had no idea I was such a big person, at least until I checked into a Japanese hotel room.

Noodle dish at an Osaka restaurantA bunch of us went to get a bite. Wow. That was an embarrasing adventure in lack of communication. We somehow managed to order meals by pointing to items in the window. The food was decent. Dana, a member of our group, is a vegan, and he had some trouble getting something to eat. When he thought he ordered tofu, he got pork. Oops.

I’m going to bed now. I am wiped out.

See more pictures of the trip.

Posted: October 25th, 2007
Categories: blog, travel
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The Flight to Japan…

…was long. 11 hours from San Francisco to Osaka, Japan. The chicken was terrible, the beef not so bad. The best way to sleep is to cover one’s head with the thin blanket they give you. I managed a few winks. Better than nothing, I guess.

Below is a pic of Osaka Kansai Airport. Pretty cool looking. It was nice to breathe some fresh air after being crammed in a tin can for a several hours.

Osaka Kansai Airport

Posted: October 25th, 2007
Categories: blog, travel
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