A few months back Jean Marais known more commonly as MoShang the Sound Jeweler mentioned to me that he had a new musical project going with guitarist Chris Baily. That got me very excited because I knew and liked Chris' work. Jean had already used one of my images for another EP he did called the Stone Bell. We arranged a schedule and did photo session at various locations around town. The entire CD uses my images except for the front cover on top right. Jean did an excellent job on the graphic layout making it look like a greasy fast food wrapper. Incidentally suncakes are a popular pastry here in Taichung. There are many shops around town that feature them.
It was really a fun shoot because of the good rapport and sharing of creative ideas between Jean, Chris and myself. So you can imagine I was quite pleasantly surprised when Jean told me about a week or more ago on Twitter that they'd be doing a show here in Taichung. That's is where I got Chris to sign this copy for me(above left).
Jean obliged on autograph as well (above right). They did a great set and had some nice musical conversations which was very refreshing. They are both accomplished players but very generous about sharing the musical space with each other,unlike other soloists that like to hog the spotlight and drown out their counter-parts. It was nice to to see them in a smoke-free space as well. Hard to believe they too exist now in Taiwan with progressive non-smoking regulations for public spaces. There is post here about the show with links on purchasing Suncake Lounge Vol.1 too.
Way back in the early days of my Taiwan experience (1987) I was living in Taipei. The city was going through major tumult due to economic boom and related real estate development activities. Building more tall buildings and tearing up roads in the already crowded city to build the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit). I was not a happy camper there for this and other reasons: very hot and muggy in the summer,very cold and damp in the winter, hustle,bustle, unfriendly big city faces, etc. I was getting quite burned out on my Taiwan experience (which really was only Taipei experience until that point) and some friends suggested I look at other places around Taiwan. A classmate of mine from the U of A was also living in Taipei. She showed me a bunch of handicrafts she got in a town called Lukang . Some cool stuff. I was sold. I quickly arranged transportation and set out to the middle of Formosa.
Lukang is many things, one of them is the "Town of Temples." No doubt due to it's being a former commercial center with rich patrons having the money to build temples. There are still many workshops in Lukang for temple furniture and other articles. Truly a dying breed.
Many of the temples here are decorated with handmade/hand-painted waxed-paper lanterns. There are still 2 shops in town that do these lanterns and hand-painted hand fans.
The Long Shan Temple is the grand old lady of Lukang temples in my opinion. It is not as busy as the Matsu Temple in the heart of Lukang's historic district but it is very classic and the temple grounds are quite expansive for crowded Taiwan.
Lukang still has many off the old Qing Dynasty period houses and streets. There are a series of winding alleys that were constructed this way to keep the strong sea winds from blowing through unimpeded wreaking havoc on the merchants goods or the housewives' laundry, etc.
Peach Blossoms at the Dalin Temple:Bai Juyi
In the plains past April, peach blossoms have all but gone;
In the hills at the temple, ‘tis the time for the peach to blow.
Ever plaintful: spring once spent, was nowhere to be found;
Never did know: to the hills it’d turned, and reluctant to go.
Translated by Andrew W.F. Wong
Today's musical selection is by Dave Holland. Dave is a master bass player, teacher and decent bloke all in one. I had the privilege of meeting and working with Dave back in my days of booking performances at Environ. This piece Conference of the Birds is beautiful and serene. While not influenced by China per se I think the feel and flow compliment sitting in the courtyard at Long Shan Temple very well.
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Thanks to many of you for views and comments on the 1st part of this CKS Memorial Honor Guard series. Several of my Taiwan photographer friends also voiced surprise that the Honor Guard was back in commission. Here you can see them lining up after doing an elaborate series of hoisting and spinning their rifle,s and clicking their boots-all choreographed of course. Not one dropped rifle in the house.
The full contingent with the troop being relieved and his replacement (see the 3 white Navy uniforms) all in formation.
Further on they move towards the Hall entrance behind me (facing west) all the time keeping tight formation and serious demeanor.
Making their final turn on this procession with statue of Chiang Kai Shek -Generalissimo and President (CKS) in the background. Soon they will rest until the next hour.
I hope you enjoyed this and the 1st post. Please keep the survivors of Typhoon Morakot in your prayers and thoughts. Here is some information for helping if you're interested at the bottom of this post. The people of Taiwan are very strong and resilient but can use the love and help right now.
The music for today is from one of my favorite bands ever. My hometown band if you take the position I'm a New Yorker or those guys from that weird borough next to mine (me: Brooklyn, them Queens) The Ramones. This is one of my favorite tunes of theirs: Commando. You'll see why I often refer to these guys as musical Mad Magazine-enjoy. Please subscribe to this blog for free at the top right if you enjoy our content.
Recently my family and I made a day trip up to Taipei, Taiwan's hustling and bustling capital city. I hadn't been here in quite a few years. Since my son knew Taipei less well than I, he was allowed to suggest places to see after we took care of the business side of the trip. Towards the end of the day we arrived at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial. It is a beautiful site due to it's majestic scale and classical Chinese architecture. I was under the impression that the CKS Honor Guard pageantry had been eliminated under the previous DPP led government. I had no idea that it was re-instated. What a pleasant surprise that was for us and these shots(presented in 2 parts) are what we got that day. This shot shows the guard comprised of 2 Army and 1 Navy troops beginning the procession so that 1 Navy Honor Guard will be relieved. They have to stand like a statue for an hour at a time. The activity begins on the south side of the Memorial hall.
Moving forward the guard pass in front of the statue of CKS-The Generalissimo. You can see on Navy guard still on his pedestal awaiting his time.
The Navy guardsman on the North side of the hall begins his movements until he eventually joins the full detail before the statue of CKS.
Beginning the goose-step movements towards center hall will there will be much click clacking of heels and spinning and clacking of rifles before the ritual concludes. Part 2 will be published later this week. Please check back.
Today's music is by a band that I heard about right after moving to Taiwan some 20 odd years ago. There was much buzz going on about them and especially their guitarist-Vernon Reid. The band's name is Living Colour and I'm happy to say they still work together and just released a new work called The Chair in the Doorway. The song is Cult of Personality.
It was the day after the Worldwide Photo Walk (winners and worthy mentions here and here) and I asked my son Kevin what he felt like doing. Kevin's response was to ride the train somewhere. After discussing we decided upon Hsinchu. It's about 50 minutes north of us by train. Hsinchu is a town primarily of Hakka Chinese. It is the town where Taiwan's computer industry took root. The old fellow above was sleeping rather nicely at the bustling train station when we arrived.
The Japanese occupied Taiwan from the beginning of the 20th century until 1949. Hence, most Taiwanese cities follow the Japanese city model. The train station is the hub and the downtown grows out an away from the train station. Hsinchu is exactly that kind of model. We stopped for lunch at some old food stand featuring some of Hsinchu's famous rice vermicelli and thicker bantiao (rice noodles) and it was quite satisfying. Got to this shot at just the right moment as the little boy and his father entered this backlit space.
The Eslite Book store chain has really elevated the book store as art and community game here in Taiwan. All of the stores are beautifully designed and laid out. They are always packed with people hanging out and reading and drinking expensive coffee drinks.
Kevin is one of my favorite subjects (doh-he's my son) and he often models for me. I still prefer candid shots over posed ones and got this in the same busy area near we had lunch. He's rocking those sun glasses...
In honor of Kevin's "star-like effect" today's musical offering will be Roxy Music. Roxy was another band that didn't sell nearly as big as their influence on other bands would indicate. They came onto the music scene in the glitter days but had great musical chops featuring Brian Eno (on keyboards and tapes), Phil Manzanera (guitar) and Brian Ferry (crooning). Here's there classic-Do The Strand. It's campy but swings and rocks.
PS: Thanks back to Ron Dubin for the link love at the Weekly Buzz.
She rises early to make breakfast for her customers. In her case a traditional Taiwanese rice ball. Her daughter assists here while on school break. The mantou/baozi man steaming his goods all day long. His living and his part in keeping people fed and energized for the tasks of their day. How many meals has she served from her busy corner location? Surely McDonalds has nothing to worry about in terms of scale, but these vendors tend to offer better nutritional value than the chains. Some food stand locations achieve almost legendary status from their loyal customers. This crossing guard takes a break at his busy station. He'll spring into action at any moment so this brief respite is quite welcome in his work day. Well-fed or carrying their breakfasts, streets crossed, hurry up the stairs to catch the train for their trip to school. All of them: Lather, rinse, repeat each day, and you? One of my favorite pop songs from my youth is Desmond Dekker's proto-reggae "Israelites" with appropriate lyrics for the above essay. In addition how can you not love a song that name checks Bonnie and Clyde?
Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir, So that every mouth can be fed. Poor me, the Israelite. Aah. My wife and my kids, they are packed up and leave me. Darling, she said, I was yours to be seen. Poor me, the Israelite. Aah. Shirt them a-tear up, trousers are gone. I don't want to end up like Bonnie and Clyde. Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.
I did this photo session a couple of weeks back way before Typhoon Morakot was in the news and worse in Taiwan dumping over a years worth of rain (about 7') in 2 days on parts of Taiwan. One of the worst outcomes was many 78 (49 re-opened but 29 still out) bridges got damaged or destroyed by the power of sudden raging rivers and streams. If you'd like to help victims of this devastating natural disaster I will place links at the bottom of this post. They are the people on the other side of the bridge which is now "no more" but can be again.
Sometimes the parts are greater than the sum of the whole. I am very thankful for everything I have and my heart goes out to those who have lost greatly and suddenly. People can be awesome in times of tragedy lending a helping hand. This appears it will be one of "those times" typed hopefully.
What life must have been like before bridges... I remember a friend of mine telling me about traveling between 2 points we visited together in southern China used to take between 8 and 10 hours to make. The bridge drive we took took only 40 minutes. Bridge=vital connection. People reaching destinations promptly and smoothly.
When I was a child I recall the completion of one of the modern architectural wonders-the Verranzano Narrows Bridge being completed between Brooklyn and Staten Island in NYC. I walked round trip over an even greater bridge marvel many times-the Brooklyn Bridge. The same bridge sold many times over by sarcastic jokers wanting to sell it to you if they weren't preoccupied selling you swamp land in Florida.
Hopefully this post will enlighten you about the situation on hand in Southern Taiwan . Places that have people with pressing needs.
Hope is what keeps us going...
Typhoon Morakot relief contribution links
Red Cross Tzu Chi Foundation World Vision Taiwan Ministry of Interior Various links here at Daily Bubble Tea If you know of any others please let me know and I'll gladly add them.
The song (People) was a big hit when I was a kid. It was over the top and smarmy (I'm being redundant since it was a pop song) but we can't escape the main thrust of the song: in our life it's all about people, like it or not. I think this guy is "loving it" not in the commercial McDonald's way that's been drummed into our heads. I think he's living his life at his pace and in his way. Truthfully I don't think he's ever been to the McDonald's across the way or missed anything for not having been there.
Some of us are just designed to stand out in crowds.
It's all too much...The glare, the guy with the camera or?? At least there is a red area that can serve as the red carpet for her exit.
Caught in the act of... I always love it in Taiwan when I see older people engaged in tasks. They love keeping busy whether it's for extra money for themselves or their grand kids red envelopes at Chinese New Year. traditional Taiwanese lifestyle always screamed: Action!
The musical offering for today is by Steve Hillage, a talented guitarist and producer who I came to know of via his participation in the French/English band: Gong. He also has some great solo work including the cover of George Harrison's It's All Too Much. Enjoy!
The sky facing north east. Taiwan's typhoons (Morakot included) almost all come in from the south east and generally hit the east coast, southern and northern Taiwan pretty hard. The reason that Taichung and central Taiwan are spared to some extent is due to the height and proximity to the Central Mountain Range which blocks the brunt of the winds and some of the rains. Occasional some typhoons will spin over to the western side of Taiwan and come up the Taiwan Strait-when that happens Taichung gets its share of weather terror.
Stirred but not shaken? Blurred shot-was camera sensing imminent typhoon and doing digital calisthenics?
Both of these plants were moved from rear balcony (where sky photo was taken) to front balcony which is enclosed. We had some leakage due to heavy rains with occasional wind gusts exploiting earthquake produced cracks. Wow we have a very active geologic place we live in.
While we're on the subject-Earth, Wind and Fire have produced so much great upbeat music-here is Shining Star one of their best. Enjoy.