Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jun 12 2017

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It’s been a weird spring. Lots of rain after the Dragonboat festival, which is strange enough. The whole world seems to have gone awry. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe things are normal for everyone else.

Chenbl and I led a photowalk on Saturday along Dihua Street, a kind of warm-up to this fall’s event. The students have become a large, friendly group, though they still have some bad shooting habits I’ve been trying to wean them out of. Still, lots of improvement. We looked at some promising exhibition/workshop locations there. The photography scene here is still so underdeveloped, it’s difficult to get people to see the value in such activities; baby steps are still steps. The gentrification of the area is spreading apace, into the alleys and northward towards the less-developed sections. This is a much better sign than these old buildings being torn down. As is usually the case in Taiwan, a bunch of people had to do it first, prove it was profitable, before anyone else joined in.

After the photowalk we went to City Hall, where the Stage show was being held. The Ramblers were mostly assembled in our tent behind the stage, awaiting our Red man as usual. The sky had been darkening into a threatening grey-black all afternoon. Chenbl got a message on his phone that our friend Chi Bo-lin had died in a helicopter crash. We told another mutual friend, Shen Chao-liang, who said he’d also just heard. The Stage show is Chao-liang’s idea, along with his schoolmate. The skies got darker still as the half-naked women mounted the jeeps and swung around on metal poles as lightning flashed, tempting fate.

The rain began as we waited for the other bands to finish, pelting down in large drops and creating a small river running through the tent. The downpour made it through our dual-stage stage as we went through the soundcheck, spraying us and the instruments and the electrical wiring. The world was water. So we waited for it to stop.

It took its damn time. I sat back in the tent, my feet up on a chair as the water rushed underneath, halfway listening to everyone around me talking about things I didn’t care anything about. I was already tired from the hot sun of the morning.

Eventually the rain let up a little, and we went on the stage to salvage our gear and play. The audience was enthusiastic. The people who would dance to anything danced to us; a conga line infiltrated the crowd. I was in the middle of a solo when I saw stage crew running towards something to my left, but I couldn’t turn from the mic to see what it was. Was someone trying to rush the stage? Was Sandman doing something untowardly? But when I could turn, I saw smoke and fire as the crew pulled a heavy electrical cord from the wet ground.

Fortunately it was our last number. No encores. I heard that they were planning to light up all the stages at once at 7 p.m. but this turned out to be a lie. Chenbl and I waited in front of city hall until after 8 p.m. before deciding to leave the thumping, soggy scene. We found refuge from the humidity and our hunger at the ancient McDonalds near Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, wolfing down salty burgers and pseudo-chicken.

I wanted to rest on Sunday, but I had to get my hair cut. It’s past time. I could have just shaved my head, as I tend to do in the summer anyway, but instead we decided to splurge, going up to Shilin to pay for Auntie #2 to massage our heads for half an hour amid the various forbidden delicacies on display. Lunch was Vietnamese, served by the boy we’d seen grow up over years that seemed like minutes.

The skies were threatening rain again as we went back to Chenbl’s to pick up my instruments, so I took a nap on the sofa. The news of Chi Bo-lin’s untimely demise had taken over the news, on repeat, with all the grisly, awful details, including suspicions of shenanigans. He exposed huge corporations’ constant and continuous rape of the land, and he was making a sequel. But yeah, it was probably just an accident.

I wanted to take the subway over the the music hall where we were practicing, but Chenbl said a bus would be quicker. I hate buses. I hate that I have to wait and hail one down, haul my stuff on board and be jerked around with abrupt starts and stops. I hate people looking at me flailing around on the bars. I hate the smell of fresh piss on the floor.

But I did get there on time. Practice was enlivened by the presence of a traditional Chinese instrument player. He could recreate the Mario theme on his sheng. I was playing too softly, and had to break out that awful marching-band blare, which left me vented and somewhat empty; I just wanted to go home, but what would I do there? Sleep has been uneasy lately. The whole world is a water curtain cave.

posted by Poagao at 12:52 pm  

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