Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jun 25 2007

Down by the riverside

Jewel-like drop on a tiny leafIn order to make up for having an extra day off last week for Dragon Boat Festival, we only had a one-day weekend this week. After a rough night trying to break in a new mattress, I gave up on sleeping late and set out on a hike up the hill out back and back down to the community on the other side. On weekdays the sound of the cicadas is only broken by the sound of housework within the various apartments, but on Sunday more people were out and about, kids on bikes, repairmen, and one guy selling incense door-to-door. I took some pictures of leaves in ponds, squinting at the monitor in the sunlight, before heading back up the hill. As I descended, I wondered what it would be like if I somehow found myself back at the time of the amusement park’s heyday in the 70’s. My building wouldn’t be there, for one thing. My money would be no good, nor my current ID. The subway wouldn’t exist, but I might be able to take the train back to downtown Taipei. If Back to the Future were filmed today, Marty would go back to 1977. Imagine that.

Back home, a dip in our cool, little-used swimming pool awaited. After lunch I tried another nap on the new mattress, but it wasn’t having any of it. I’m hoping I’ll get used to it soon, as I miss my old mattress when I’m trying to get to sleep.

The Ramblers, minus Sandman who sadly had to work even on Sunday, were getting together for a practice session down by the waterfront in Bitan, starting in the late afternoon. On my way across the crowded bridge, washtub in hand and marveling at the number of swanboats in the river below, I ran into David Reid, who recently moved down here. He was just walking around taking pictures, and decided to come along to the practice.

David Chen was waiting on the steps by the river with his guitar. A few minutes later Slim and Thumper sidled up. The afternoon was as perfect as you could ask for, with a cool breeze and interesting, non-threatening clouds dotting the sky. My college roomie DJ showed up, fresh from the old movie exhibit in Xin Beitou, looking extremely tired. Maestro Chen began strumming his National, and we fell into music the way we usually do. Conor showed up in the middle of a song, and David inserted a verse about how Conor is always late. We were playing in a kind of circle, with David, Slim and Conor on the steps, and me and occasionally Thumper facing them. At one point I looked behind me to find that we’d attracted a small crowd of listeners. Our practice had turned into a concert.

We played a few crowd-pleasers, and then continued practicing, but the crowd remained. We even learned and played a couple of new songs that David taught us right then and there, and they still enjoyed it. Some even danced.

The evening deepened as the sun set behind the hills. Gradually we scaled down the music until the crowd was mostly gone. DJ and David Reid had to go, as did Thumper, so we sat on the riverbank chatting for a bit longer before going up to Rendezvous Pizza for dinner. On our way there, we passed a group of musicians playing at another restaurant, a guitar, some bongo drums and a wicked flute player who really got into the Nakashi-type songs they were ripping through.

We got a table looking out over the river and ordered pizza, pesto, risotto, beer and wine. The moon illuminated spider webs of clouds in the night sky, and the swanboat lights twinkled like stars in the river. We were in the middle of our food when the Nakashi band guys came over and set up at the table next to us. This time they had two flutists and really went to town on the music. David grabbed his guitar and asked if he could play along, and I got my pocket trumpet out and tried to follow along as well. It was difficult, especially considering that they were all about a quarter step south of us, tuning-wise, but I liked the challenge. All I had to do was pull out my tuning slide and figure out the key.

We played on. Conor had to leave, and then David followed. Slim, who was rather inebriated by the time, and I sat at the other band’s table and played or sang along as best as we could late into the night. We also chatted with them and the restaurant staff in a mixture of Taiwanese and Mandarin. I left Slim singing and rapping and chortling along with every English-language hit the guitar player could think of when I left at around midnight to pursue an ultimately fruitless quest for a good night’s sleep on my new bed.

posted by Poagao at 12:03 pm  


  1. It was great to see the Muddy Basin Ramblers playing, even if it was only practice.

    Comment by David on Formosa — June 26, 2007 @ 2:08 am

  2. “I wondered what it would be like if I somehow found myself back at the time of the amusement park’s heyday”

    We’d be walking around with really bad hairdos.

    Comment by The taipei Kid — July 3, 2007 @ 12:57 pm

  3. So, no difference, then.

    Comment by Poagao — July 3, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

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