Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Apr 30 2006

I wanted to take advantage of the bizarre absence …

I wanted to take advantage of the bizarre absence of rain on Saturday to take a ride on my new crazy bike, but it would have to wait as the Muddy Basin Ramblers were putting on an appearance up on Yangmingshan at a party held by some employees of the American Institute in Taiwan. It was sort of a going-away party for one of their people who was being reposted.

Sandman and I hopped on the MRT and met the others, except for Thumper, who would be joining us later, at Jiantan Station. We piled into two cabs and proceeded up Yangde Avenue and up the mountain, and after several wrong turns we ended up at the police-guarded complex, a group of white US-suburban-style one-story houses, complete with large green lawns, picture windows without bars, driveways, and actual white picket fences. It was like a little piece of American 70’s-era suburbia in the middle of Taiwan. To say it felt odd was quite an understatement.

We unloaded and began to set up under a tent in the driveway of one of the houses. People, residents and guests that looked mostly American, were milling about, munching on snacks and talking. The crowd ranged from older people to children and scowling teenagers who, though they turned up their noses at our music, seemed interested in playing with the washtub bass. Mosquitoes the size of…well, very large mosquitoes attacked us. A group of men stood around a huge barbeque grill that looked as if it had been constructed from a rooftop water tank.

We decided to use one mic and to not mic the bass, as it seemed pretty loud as it was. When David said we should eat before playing, I made a beeline for the grill, but no hamburgers were forthcoming; all they had at that moment was chicken, and Sandman consumed a huge burned hunk of it. I had some good pasta salad and delicious tomatoes, though.

Since nobody was gathered around the “stage” tent, we walked over next to the grill where all the people were and started playing to get their attention. Then we went back and played two sets. I was feeling very tired, especially after eating, for some reason. My trumpet playing was pretty substandard, I have to admit, especially at first. At least the bass and baritone weren’t so bad. Afterwards I found that there are some very interesting people working at AIT. My friend and fellow Chinese student from my Tunghai days, Prince Roy, is scheduled to join their ranks this summer.

Before I knew it it was dark, and most of the guests were leaving, but David and Zoe started jamming again, and we all joined in. Due to the lateness of the hour, we were shown in one of the houses, which was beautiful inside with parquet floors and big windows looking out on the back lawn. I walked back and forth in the living room, which had wall-to-wall carpeting, feeling the floorboards creak under my socked feet. I haven’t experienced that sensation for many years, as all the buildings here are concrete, with tile floors.

One of the guys there, and older man with a mustache and glasses, used to play the euphonium years ago, so I let him play mine. He was pretty good, and you could tell it was something of a revelation for him. I hope he gets one of his own and keeps it up.

In between songs, I peeked into the huge kitchen, with two full-size refrigerators and a real oven/range. It even had an island in the middle. Amazing.

The jamming we did at that guy’s living room was a lot of fun. I was feeling better after some wine, and hopefully redeemed myself after my musical misadventures earlier that evening. However, by the time we wrapped up the MRT had stopped running, so Sandman, Zoe and I got into a cab, re-entered Taiwan, and began the long trek back to Xindian.

By the time I woke up this morning it was already afternoon. Fortunately it wasn’t too wet outside, so I took advantage of the weather to take a ride on my new crazy bike. I rode up the riverside as usual. The ride is a bit harsher than my old bike, due to a lack of shocks, but not too bad. Getting started on an uphill slope is pretty difficult, I found, and the steering takes some getting used to. I rode up around to the Dahan River until I hit construction, and then turned back. On my way back it began to rain heavily, so I took refuge underneath a bridge along with several other cyclists until it stopped. I got a few stares and comments on the bike along the way.

The crazy bike isn’t slow. I need to adjust the seat a bit and move the handlebars up a little to keep my knees from hitting them during turns, but it’s quite comfortable. My prostate sent me a little thank-you note at the end of the ride, though I may hear from my knees tomorrow.

posted by Poagao at 3:19 pm  

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