Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jan 14 2008

A full schedule

101 circusThursday was the going-away party for Forumosa’s Stray Dog, aka Sean, so I decided to take the opportunity to check out the new Alleycat’s on Songren Road. It was quite a walk from the City Hall MRT Station, but I took some interesting shots over the wall of some construction nearby with Taipei 101 in the background. Thankfully nobody saw me sticking my camera over the metal enclosure.

The Songren Alleycat’s is nice. It was officially the Forumosa.com Happy Happy Dance Dance Hour, but I wasn’t really in the mood for socializing and spent most of my dinner eating alone and reading. Afterwards, I thought I’d make my way, aided by GPS, through the alleys to Liuzhangli Station instead of walking back the way I came. Guided by the Google Maps app on my phone, I found my way through the maze very easily, and got some more interesting shots in the process.

I’d gotten a call from Thumper late Wednesday night. He was in Da-an Park with a group of guys who were playing country music. “They need a washtub bass player to fill in for theirs on Friday,” he told me. He said he was going to play with them there at Bliss as well, and Slim was going to come, so I thought I’d go and check it out. After dinner on Friday in Gongguan at a hot-pocket stand and picking up a new backpack, I went back to Bitan to retrieve my tub and stick, and took the MRT to Da-an Station, where I got another call from Thumper, this time informing that their bass player had decided to show up anyway. But I was practically there, so I figured I’d go anyway.

The band consisted of three guys, all enthusiastic young foreigners, one on guitar, another on banjo, and one playing his bass, which was a metal soup pot with a steel wire attached to a plank. It wasn’t as deep or resonant as my plastic tub, and the action of the stick was a lot more sensitive to the slightest movement. I tried to play it a little and managed to get some notes out of it, but I prefer my tub.

The band said that it was their third public performance. They were nervous before taking the stage. As for the show…well, let me put it this way: the highlight of the evening, music-wise, was when we all stopped playing at the same time at the end of one song. I know it sounds strange for a member of a band highly lacking in the polish department to call another band “unpolished”, but there you have it: They need work. During the show the band members were supposed to tell jokes in between songs. The banjo player decided to make me the subject of his, which was a story that included me wishing to a talking frog for a beautiful princess. I didn’t know which part of that combination was less likely, but before I could think of something clever to say another guy yelled out, “Maybe he’d wish for a prince instead!”

“Nah, he’s a guy, he’d wish for a princess; come on, let me tell the joke!” the banjo player complained, and went on with the joke.

Afterwards, I was ready to go home and go to bed, for it had been a long, tiring day, but Thumper and Slim were going to hang out at a local park for a bit, so I nabbed some fried rice from a convenience store and joined them. As always, it turned out to be a lot of fun, and we stayed up until the wee hours and the not-so-wee hours talking. The sky was getting light when a group of old ladies swept across the park, picking through our trash for recyclables. The city was coming to life around us, and suddenly the park wasn’t the private enclave it had been during the night, so we bade Thumper farewell and grabbed a taxi back south.

Saturday was election day for the legislature. Our voting post was located in the old Bitan KTV Club. The voting went smoothly. As usual, nobody had a problem or even raised an eyebrow when I showed up with my voting notice, though I got scolded for taking pictures from the street. I skipped the referendums because I don’t agree with using them for election campaigning instead of on real, meaningful issues. Afterwards, it turned out that about 75% of voters agreed with me.

The DPP was completely routed, of course. Chen Shui-bian, as predicted, stepped down from the party chairmanship to let Frank Hsieh emerge from his cocoon and start campaigning with as little stigma from the election loss as possible. If there’s one thing the DPP knows, it’s how to run an election campaign, I’ll give them that. I see the results more as a vote against the DPP than for the KMT, and I hope the latter doesn’t let it go to their heads or take it to mean that everything they stand for is hunky dorey with everyone. I’m still waiting for the usual bizarre turn of events that precedes every election here. I’m thinking it will happen in March, but I could be wrong.

After voting, I went to Darrell’s for some looping with Graham, who was back in town on vacation before returning to Singapore. Dow Jones is moving him to Tokyo in late February, and a long chain of foreigners sitting in the various musical chairs related to the job are all moving around correspondingly; it seems I know quite a few of them.

b/w bitan and skySunday morning I had just awakened to the sound of jackhammers pounding away at the Bitan riverfront steps when I got a call from Harry, who was on his way to the Dimu temple in Wantan with his religious friends. I dressed and walked across the bridge and down the “niaoley” (the piss-covered alley) between the buildings to the ferry dock. On the way over I chatted with the ferryman, who told me some unsettling news. According to him, some legal knot has been resolved, and they’re planning to develop the lovely rural fields of Wantan with ugly high-rises. He told me they were even planning to build a 12-meter-wide bridge from Bitan over to Wantan. I had thought that there was no development on Wantan because it was a water preservation site, but it seems that even that’s not enough to stand in the way of developers with their eyes on the money they could make from such developments. It would be a great loss, as I love to walk through that area.

At the Dimu temple, Harry and his group, some of whom were dressed all in Temple Yellow sweat suits, did their thing while I sat by quietly, listening to the things going on around me. I like going there to just sit. It’s not really meditation, as I’m not disciplined enough for that. It’s just sitting and being quiet. Spacing out.

colorviewThat afternoon Slim and I took a cab up to Conor’s lofty Muzha mountaintop pad for some MBR practice, including some dangerously racy songs about Jesus. Conor’s pad has the usual foreigner-pad style from the rugs hanging on the walls to the various instruments from a plethora of cultures. Outside, rainclouds hung over a great view of the city; the weather had become typical winter fare, cold and wet with just enough rain to make you miserable without actually raining hard enough to make an umbrella worth the trouble.

posted by Poagao at 11:44 am  


  1. what a fantastic, interesting weekend. I really wish you’d call me when it’s turning out like that.

    Comment by prince roy — January 15, 2008 @ 9:05 am

  2. Aren’t you in Shanghai or something? Unless they’ve opened up three links and nobody told me, I think it’s not that easy to get back here for a weekend.

    Comment by Poagao — January 15, 2008 @ 9:14 am

  3. yeah, but you have a lot of fun weekends like this even when I’m in Taiwan. What, you can’t pick up a phone?

    Comment by prince roy — January 16, 2008 @ 10:51 am

  4. That’s because I never know if the particular dodgy situation I find myself in would be suitable for your royal presence.

    Actually, most of it just sounds like fun and is not actually as fun when it happens. The whole point of this blog is to make people think I lead a more interesting life than I really do, don’t ya know.

    Comment by Poagao — January 16, 2008 @ 11:10 am

  5. well, if the Life of Poagao is really that much of a fraud, maybe I’ll just stay in Shanghai. Seriously, they extended me here a week. And wouldn’t you know, it’s raining this weekend.

    Comment by prince roy — January 18, 2008 @ 11:39 pm

  6. What kind of digital editing did you do to that bottom picture?

    Comment by Mark — January 19, 2008 @ 4:18 am

  7. I increased the contrast a bit; the different colors top and bottom are a result of the streetlamps being a different color temperature from that of the buildings in the top portion, so if one section is correct, the other will be off.

    Comment by Poagao — January 19, 2008 @ 4:32 am

  8. PR, another week? When are you coming back?

    And hey, you’ve lived the fraud before, remember? Don’t tell me we’ve never you read the blogs I’ve written about when we hung out and thought to yourself: man, was it really that interesting?

    Comment by Poagao — January 19, 2008 @ 4:34 am

  9. I’ll be back next weekend. The weather here has been miserable: just two days without rain since I arrived on Jan 5.

    Hey, those ‘adventures’ just show you what my life is really all about. They were a highlight. I guess you don’t remember when I was seriously considering changing the name of my blog to ‘Weekends with Poagao’.

    Comment by prince roy — January 20, 2008 @ 3:13 am

  10. Ok; we’re playing at Sappho next Saturday night if you’re back in town.

    Comment by Poagao — January 20, 2008 @ 3:22 am

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