Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 02 2005

Saturday was brilliant. After doing some therapy f…

Saturday was brilliant. After doing some therapy for my knee at Chang-kung Hospital, I walked down Dunhua North Road to a coffee shop to have some lunch and do storyboarding. I love Dunhua because it’s full of trees, just like Ren-ai Road. The reason for this is supposedly that Chiang Kai-shek wanted to impress foreign dignitaries, who would arrive at Songshan Airport, drive down Dunhua and make a right onto Ren-ai to the Presidential Office. Those were basically their first impressions, so CKS wanted it to be of broad, tree-lined avenues.

Later that afternoon, after stopping over at Dean’s to talk about the film, I was on my way to the huge Mitsukoshi Industri0military Complex when I heard what sounded like a crowd roaring in the distance. As I walked, I realized it was the sound of tires squealing. Hyundai was holding some kind of promotion in the department store parking lot, with little four-door hatchbacks, just like the kind my friend Daniel recently bought, trying to get around a series of orange cones as fast as they could. The air was filled with the sound of hot rubber as the little underpowered cars were thrown around rather mercilessly. A big red timer showed times under a tent.

I asked a guy what was going on, and it turned out anyone could take a car out and do just about whatever you liked with it, within the confines of the parking lot. Some people drove cautiously around a bit, but you know the boy racers in the crowd were going to wring everything they could from the vehicles, which were decorated with racing checkers. Fake acceleration sounds were being broadcast over speakers, as the little Hyundai engines were obviously incapable of such sounds.

They were about to close up, so I asked if I could have a go. After a few minutes’ wait, I found myself behind the wheel of one of the little cars. It was an automatic, and it took me a second to find the parking brake to add to the spinning action. The car was really underpowered, and the steering required too many turns lock-to-lock. Initial oversteer would quickly become serious understeer, and I’m surprised nobody had run through the flimsy barrier separating the “track” from the rest of the parking lot. I wondered how many little tires they’d gone through that night.

Still, it was fun to try and make the car do doughnuts (mixed results at best). The slalom was fun. I tried to pull a Rockford and didn’t quite make it. I really don’t like front-wheel-drive. The rear end would hop violently with the parking brake on. I think if I’d had more time with the car I could have learned more about how it drove under violent maneuvers.

That night was friend Jez’s last performance in Taiwan before he leaves for the Big City. Which Big City he’s departing for I don’t know, but I’m fairly sure it’s New York or London or someplace like that. The gig was at Peshawar, and after some Japanese fare celebrating Gordon (another friend)’s birthday with Sandman, Jojo and Ray, we piled into Gordon’s huge Saab 9000 and wafted up Roosevelt.

Peshawar was packed, even more packed than usual, which is pretty damn packed. Jez and Friends put on a great show, as usual. Sandman brought his ‘bitty sax, sang along with Will, and Zoe fiddled up a storm. I also got to talk more with the stand-up bass player. The bass was incredible. I am attracted to it ’cause I’d like to learn it, but all of those strings frighten me. Also, it’s huge, expensive and unwieldy. And I can get nearly the same effect on the tub for much less in the way of transportation and chiropractor’s bills.

Sunday was amazing, weather-wise. Rumors have been spreading of rain lasting for weeks or even months on its way, so I dusted off Gendoyun and rode up into the mountains. I blew past some (obviously useless) security gates and cruised around the mountaintops looking at the huge gated communities that are spread out on the hillsides there. From a distance they look fantastic, though I wouldn’t know how to find my house when every other one looks almost exactly like it. Up close, however, they revealed themselves to be typical Taiwanese construction, i.e. solid, thick concrete, with small, heavy windows filled with boxes and other detrius. It’s amazing; someone paid top dollar, more than they would for an equivalent one downtown (I checked) for a house out in the middle of nowhere, supposedly for the environment, and they buy a Benz so they can spend all their time downtown shopping for crap they can use to fill up their windows and block the views.

Ranting aside, I really enjoyed getting back out on mountain roads on my motorcycle on a nice day. I stopped to rest at the Donghua Temple, where pidgeons strutted around the doorstep and old people sipped tea under old yellow lanterns. I chatted with one guy who was apparently supposed to be working on something. Periodically a woman would come over and nag him about it. “It’s only going to take five minutes. Relax!” he told her.

It was pretty hot; I would have found a swimming hole somewhere, but I had to meet Harry later to get some DVDs back from him. Later that night we met up with some other friends in the Xinyi District for dinner. Afterwards, when we emerged from the funhouse decor of Taipei 101’s parkade, we found ourselves in the middle of a heavy downpour. The rain had started.

posted by Poagao at 4:35 am  

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