The Boy in the Bubble

The hand that...

Back in the days when I first heard Paul Simon's groundbreaking Graceland album we didn't all have blogs and Twitter, etc. So back then I couldn't explode all over the Internet with hyperbole on how awesome and electrifying the sound of his music energized by some of South Africa's greatest musicians along with his stellar pop song writing.

These are the days of lasers in the jungle,
Lasers in the jungle somewhere,
Staccato signals of constant information,
A loose affiliation of millionaires

I just listened to this for the first time in more years than I care to think about. It doesn't matter-this music is timeless and vital. yes, vital-full of life. The sparks of God that exist in people and want to jump out with every opportunity they have in song, painting, music sculpture,writing,etc. Elements of the divine here on earth for us to construct/deconstruct and every one time in a million get it just right. Graceland was just that kind of work. Paul's pop genius, great timing, sophistication and openness and prescience to use musical forms that were good but under-exposed to the Billboard scene. The doors for 'world music" were thrown open by him and some people with an ear to hear started to connect the dots between earlier popular forms and their African or other "world" roots and connections.

So much brilliance in a song, the bass lines of Bakithi Kumalo exploding in my ears like sonic rubber trees bending and pulsing under the current and power of Simon's lyrics. Even some punk energy and terror hinted at:

There was a bright light,
A shattering of shop windows
The bomb in the baby carriage
Was wired to the radio,

Anyway, had I a blog in the day of Graceland's debut I would have done my ephiphanizing then. Color this making up for technological deficiencies back in the day. Let's have a listen to "The Boy in the Bubble" and for good measure "Graceland" the title track. There's so many different images that come to mind for me with both these songs, it's  almost too intoxicating and volatile. Good art affects me like that.

Best Look!

Best look!

This shot was probably my favorite of the series at Sun Moon Lake that day. Liked how it looked in my viewfinder on the camera. I love how it seems like a doorway into a whole other world or realm. My wife Anne happened to walk into view just as I was pressing shutter. This is such an iconic spot for Taiwan: big Chinese palatial temple in traditional-style Chinese architecture next to a big lake. I never get bored of going to that place. Just oen of those special places that seem to have their own energy and resonate with a special glow.

In honor of that glow let's link to some St. Elmo's Fire by Brian Eno.

Wanna Buy My CD?

Wanna buy my CD?

Initially this photo and title had nothing to do with Michael Jackson. Coincidentally am posting on the same day that Michael Jackson's death at age 50 was announced. Michael Jackson's life and mine are fairly well intertwined due to our ages being about the same an the overwhelming influence of popular culture disseminated by the media during my lifetime. I'm not here to praise of bury Caesar or Michael in this case. I am glad that I heard him and his brothers early on in my life as the Jackson 5. Their music as much of the music from Motown records filled me with great joy and hope before the Vietnam War and Nixon were able to tarnish it and cause me to think about all kinds of deep, important questions well before I was ready to.

I know there is a lot of controversy about Michael's life and his sexual habits, plastic surgery,etc. There is so much media information on the minutiae of his life many have firm opinions about him. I do too. I think the main one I have other than him being incredibly musically talented  and a great dancer and performer is this: he had no childhood. The poor guy was working relentlessly as a minor and was a cash cow for his manager which in this case, happened to be his father. It's easy to second guess people especially here on the Internet where a person like me with a blog can be a pundit. I still feel for the guy because it is quite obvious he had no time for a childhood when he was a child. How much did he enjoy the fruits of his labors? It appears to me not a whole lot. I'm not writing this as an indictment of Michael or his family, I just feel it offers a good back story to reflect on.

Should we desire and work hard to accumulate?-maybe. If that is what is important to you. I guess more importantly we should all take into consideration that everything has a cost, and sometimes the price is maybe just too high. My sympathies and respect to the Jacksons and all their fans. I'll always treasure the memories of being a 3rd grade milk monitor(1 of 2 students who left the classroom, walked down to the cafteria, drank extra ice cold milk, screwed around:in this case dancing to the Jackson 5-I Want You Back, before shlepping a crate of milk back upstairs to the classroom for distribution among the classmates).

Ahh, the original impetus for the post-well the Thao guy in traditional dress seems to have a pretty nice life. He gets dressed in brightly colored Thao tribal clothing, sings, dances and hawks his CD's next to the beutiful Sun Moon Lake. I doubt he'll ever get rich like this but his life seems pretty chill and nice. Looks like the young lady had an opinion she was voicing. Treatment is HDR.

Back in Black

K*lake #1 son

I absolutely hate really posed cutesie portrait shots, especially when by some scenic landmark. This is my son on the ferry pier at Sun Moon Lakein the ItaThao village. He wasn't expecting me doing the "snap move". I did and am happy with the shot and kind of dreamy HDR treatment I did. Kevin(my son) loves Back in Black (play loud as you read this post)as do I. It is one of the tightest and most iconic hard rock songs ever. ACDC is not one of my favorite bands per se, but they are the only thing that works  when the mood is right. I am also partial to the All Blacks team regalia. The All Blacks are the national Rugby team of New Zealand(making them kind of neighbors to ACDC if it weren't for all that water...).

Interestingly, the Thao and other indiginous Taiwan peoples are cousins to the Maori of New Zealand, some of whom play for the All Blacks. Tiny world...

The Court of the Crimson King

The court of the crimson king

Photo side of things-more from Sun Moon Lake WenWu Temple shoot. Nice to shoot from on high downward for a change. Happened to have these 2 people come into view to set up shot.

Music Side-King Crimson-In the Court of the Crimson King. These guys were one of my first major musical likes and influences and this album is fairly cinematic. Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame was handling the bass and vocal duties for this work. The title song is also one of the greatest mellotron songs of all time. Mellotron was the forerunner of the synthesizer-a keyboard which triggered samples of strings, winds and vocals. Kind of the signature of much early progressive rock such as Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, etc.

Things are Looking Up!

Things are looking up!

This is a shot of the central courtyard at Sun Moon Lake's WenWu Temple. My son Kevin pointed out that WenWu Temple(文武廟) literally means Culture/War Temple. Culture is represented by Confucius who is the epitome of scholars and officials, the litterati: hence culture. The war part is represented by GuanGong the redfaced general popular in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Here is a detailed description from the official site:

The architecture of the temple has the palace style of northern China.  It is of a large and imposing structure, with three separate halls. On the second floor of the front hall is a shrine devoted to the First Ancestor Kaiji and the God of Literature; the central hall is devoted to Guan Gong, the God of War, and the warrior-god Yue Fei; the rear hall is dedicated to Confucius. This is the only Confucius Temple in Taiwan that keeps its central door open. Temple officials say that they do this because the temple is on the bank of Sun Moon Lake and has many tourists, so they keep the door open for the convenience of the visitors. The bronze statue of a seated Confucius makes this also the only Confucius temple in Taiwan that contains an image of the sage. In addition to Confucius, there are also statues of his disciples, Mencius and Zihsih. These three images originally came from Mainland China. They were taken to Japan to escape the Boxer Rebellion near the end of the Cing Dynasty; later on, they were reproduced and brought to Wenwu Temple.

My image was processed with a technique called HDR or high dynamic range. It makes the details "pop" or stand out more. I was very happy with the shot and end result and hope you are too. If you can make it to Taiwan please make sure to include Sun Moon Lake and the WenWu Temple to your travel plans.

Staircase to Tomorrow

The staircase that leads to tomorrowSun Moon Lake is one of my favorite spots in Taiwan. It's in the foothills of Taiwan's Central Mountain range so there is already a nice mountain drive to get there. It is also Taiwan's largest lake. The scenery is great and it is being enhanced (ruined) by progress (greed) daily. This site is promoted heavily to Southern Chinese tourists and there were plenty of them about chattering in Cantonese. I still enjoy the place and best to go on non-holiday or week day. In fact, I never noticed this staircase before. It is next to the scenic overlook of the lake and docks below, from the front of the WenWu Temple-the largest one at the lake. It was precisely because of some of the aforementioned tourists congregating over there with cameras in hand that I took notice. All the medalliions/trinkets on the railing are a prayer memorial that you purchase in the temple opposite. The temple is quite large and features classic Chinese styling and I'll feature shots from there in upcoming posts.

Google Map Flyover link here.

Update-Staircase Poem

It might have been night
With the world asleep
And in that crazy silence
It might have been I
Waiting on the staircase
For your footfall

The anklets or bangles
May have given you away
And would I have
Gladly taken

But it was past noon
When you wandered
Down my stairs
And I had to go

Many a verse have I written since
Many a long night have I spent
In reflection
But those were contemplations
Of afternoon
And perhaps
Now I still sit
And wait for your footfalls
On another staircase
But the banister
That separates us
Calls for evening

And I wonder
If there will be
Another night
Another staircase
But the same footfall
I ought to have heard
An eon ago
But didn't

Pratip Sen Gupta

Speed of life

Music-David Bowie-Low:Speed of Life
KTV cleanup Talking Heads sang, "This is no party, this is no disco...". Well while KTV is not really a disco it is a synthetic party place. It offers your own room for your karaoke partying madness. These guys are getting ready to close-up and go home. Some how the party is never as much fun for the people that have to clean up. No one wants to be pushing the broom behind the elephants...

Red buses best Wasn't looking for a streetcar named Desire when I found these buses. Wasn't looking for them either, so we'll count it as them finding me. Would like to ride them some day, maybe sipping a Taiwan Iced Coffee with Taiwan rum inside...or maybe just a bubble tea. Red energy on a blue/yellow day. Color this full.

On 3-hit it! Let's Dance! Let's exercise...One of the things I love about Taiwan and China is how people utilize public spaces as their extended living room. People think nothing of dancing,taichi,exercising, etc. in large groups in public. Bravo! I <3 it!

It's watching... The new Transformer movie is out(snore) like the toys way better than the movies. Memories of son driving me crazy with transforming his transformers. One fo the coolest Japanese toys ever(no mean feat from a land of cool toys). Surrounded by machines-do you ever get the feeling they're watching us?

Best Fish Tacos

Wall-e Just having so much fun with Div/Share player.  I found out about it from Bold as Love blog hosted by Rob Fields. Rob's a guy that's passionate about music and particularly black rock and punk. Here is another song sample from the new Freeland, my favorite of the cd actually: Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada. The title and the music don't mesh at all for me. I could care less because the music is absolutlely transcendent. It sounds like the soundtrack for Alien vs. Predator vs. Transformers vs.. It has that triumphant epic feel to it. See what you think.

Rock On

rockPicked up a copy of Adam Freeland: COPE yesterday. It was recommended by Ooah, one of the members of the Glitch Mob. The record really rocks and the original stuff is great and edgy in a lind of NIN meets the Cars, Devo and the Glitch Mob kind of way. The one song that stuck out and I've included here is the cover of David Essex's :Rock On. Check it out and see what you think: