Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Mar 19 2018


I needed to choose one of two things to do on Sunday morning. I usually like to go down to Taipei New Park and practice taichi/tuishou with the fellas; it’s good to move around, get some exercise, sun, and chat about recent news. But I also needed to practice violin, as I’ve fallen behind after not picking it up a single time during the winter break. Originally I’d thought I could do both, and after breakfast I took out the violin and began practicing with the full intent of just doing some brushing up and then heading out to the park.

Before I knew it, it was well after noon and I was still playing. I’m slowly getting the hang of changing positions; it makes more sense to me than it did when my teacher first introduced the idea, and feels more natural. Though my neighbors no doubt disagree, I actually found practicing enjoyable. But taichi was out, so I had a tasty lunch at the Pancho Cafe downstairs and then crossed the bridge to hang with my friend Casey, who’s got his hands on an interesting apartment on the other side of the river. It’s in the back of a building on a slope, for one thing, and it’s full of junk nobody else wants. Casey hauled out a bunch of moldy old cameras for me to look at…they’re probably hopeless, but I took a couple off his hands to take to the shop so they can have a look. Casey’s also into taichi, so we pushed hands for a while and I didn’t feel as guilty about missing the park.

The day had started out sunny, but it was cloudy as I made my way back across the crowded bridge to put the cameras away before heading out again. I hate crossing the bridge in the evenings these days, as Bitan is doing its inane fountain festival thing, which is basically a few water spouts on the paddle-boat docks going off while huge speakers boom out “Time to Say Good-bye” and the theme to Pirates of the Caribbean every half hour. This somewhat-less-than-spectacular display manages to attract roughly half of Taipei to see it, and the bridge strains and bucks under their weight. To make matter worse, I forgot my phone and had to make the arduous trip twice, cursing as I did so.

The reason I was heading out to the city instead of spending a comfy evening scanning old negatives and listening to podcasts at the Water Curtain Cave was that David Chen had invited me to see the last show of the Gypsy Jazz Festival at the Eslite Spectrum theater. I took the subway to the City Hall station and got a bite of pork rice before heading up to the bookstore to read more about the background of Koudelka’s Exiles before heading to the theater to meet David and Vincent, who organized the whole thing.

The concert was amazing. It was a simple setup, with Tcha Limberger on violin and vocals, Antoine Boyer and Denis Chang on guitar, and Kumiko Imakyurei on double bass, and the resulting music was ethereal, like a dream. They played many Django Reinhardt tunes, including a version of the little-performed Pour Que Ma Vie Demeure that is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. I looked it up later but couldn’t find a version that came close to the one they played. Tcha’s violin sang and wept with him, and Antoine, who is amazingly accomplished for his age, played as if he was possessed. Virtually every song was mesmerizing, and at the end they had all of their workshop students come up and play a phrase during an extra-long version of the Tchavolo Swing. Some were better than others, but all of them were good. Vincent has done a great job organizing this thing, and I look forward to seeing where it goes in the future.

So it was a good day. I’d needed a good day.




posted by Poagao at 10:58 am  

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