Singapore is kind of a dream-state Fantasy Island. At least, the hyper-trendy-spendy Central area is. Every shop is playing Madonna’s Hung Up. At one point, I walked out of one shop playing Hung Up and into another playing Lucky Star. It was a Material Node. Singapore is named after the word for Lion in Sanskrit, but there aren’t any lions there. It’s super hot and Houston humid outside, so the residents have done the only logical thing, which is build a hamster trail of malls from place to place, and all through the subway, so you never have to be un-air-conditioned or without an espresso coffee drink. One of the disadvantages of living in such a wealthy, capitalist city is that you feel a little like a cog in the wheel of a money-making machine. One of the advantages is that there is a lot of public art and sculpture, and you are never without a coffee drink. Also, it is nice to be somewhere that at least feels more superficial than the U.S. This is one of the pieces I really like, it is a Frank Stella from the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, and to get it all in frame, I think I would have to lie down on the floor, which the employees would really not have liked. On another note, I never cared for Dave Chihuly until I saw some of his work in Singapore. I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me.
This is a “Tanuki”, the Japanese racoon-dog. He’s got huge balls and represents good luck, but you can probably feel your luck change just looking at him. He lives in the Japanese restaurant at the hotel where we were staying. Apparently, there is a children’s song about the size and length of his scrotum (tankuki kao’s balls shake/even when there is no wind blowing) and I wonder if it is related to the song we sang about do your balls hang low, do they wobble to and fro?
At long last, I have found my own tube of Darlie toothpaste. I saw a great movie this year called CSA: The Confederate States of America (at the behest of my personal friend Ron Bennington), and it is a study of what would happen if the South had won the Civil war. The Mockumentary style is interspersed with commercials for products, many of which were available in the United States until well into the thirties, and Darkie toothpaste was listed as still available in Asia as Darlie or Black Man Toothpaste. And here it is. Smiling Black Minstrel toothpaste, for your mintiest mouth.
Last night at the giant mall that is central Singapore, we went upstairs to a section called “The Groove Zone”, and I noticed that “The Groove Zone” is really “Asian Teenage Land.” I went B*apeshit. I went to a store called Newbie and a clothing store called Milk and store called Make-Up Store that is a make-up store that carries a brand called Make-Up Store. A nice shopgirl asked if I was here on a shopping trip, and for a moment I fantasized about having the kind of life where I jet off to Singapore to buy Japanese T-shirts and listen to the latest Madonna single in the mall.
Postscript: I never thought my responsibility in this world would be writing a blog as a repository for un-PC foreign products, but a friend has brought me back this item from Helsinki that just would not fly in the States. It is described to me as “salty licorice.” Eccch.
Sign in Boots drugstore in Bangkok: MEN-CONDOMS. You’ll be happy to hear that FCUK has a personal care line, so that you can now use FCUK hand cream or FCUK hair rinse.
Yesterday the office building I was in got a visit from Prince Andrew of England, who is in town for the celebration of the Thai King’s 60th anniversary, and that was odd because they closed down the lobby and I was kind of milling around on the mezzanine with hundreds of Thai people. I was thinking of Prince William, the naughty-boy prince, but this is Fergie’s ex-husband. No word on why he wanted to go to Empire Tower, possibly he just wanted a quick Starbucks.
The Thai people are setting off fireworks and wearing yellow t-shirts that read “Long Live The King” in Thai. The streets are teeming with people, every one of them in yellow. There are reports of price gouging because of high demand on the special shirts. Lance Armstrong would be jealous.
My favorite sign on the train is a little yellow sticker on the end seat saying “PLEASE OFFER THIS SEAT TO MONKS.”
One night in Bangkok will make a hard man humble, but I have seen many more hookers than chess games. Stephin Meritt of the Magnetic Fields is in the Bangkok Post today, it is a reprint of a story from the NYT where he is called a racist because all his favorite music is by white people- It’s a ridiculous argument, because if I omit Tori Amos and Tracy Chapman from my favorites list, it doesn’t mean I hate women- but it is funny to read about him in Thailand. Also, since I went to Stephin’s DJ night at Beauty Bar, I consider him a close personal friend, despite the fact that I was too shy to speak to him.
Y’all know Ronald, right? Ronald is giving you the traditional Thai greeting, pressing his hands together in the gesture that says “Sa-wa-dee-kah!” If his hands were at his forehead, Ronald would be saying that he feels that he is your inferior, but as it is, Ronald feels that he is your buddy.
Ronald is a creepy buddy-clown.
I’m writing from Bangalore, where your 6:45 AM (Pacific) is my 7:13 PM. It’s the extra half hour that fucks with your head. How can I be twelve and a half hours off from home? Here’s a beautiful and intricate Hindu temple we saw. The Hindu people have blue, multi-armed gods and are vegetarians, so they’re my favorite religion at present.
In India, you just see cows and water buffalo hanging out by the side of the road, and I saw a momma cow and a calf together, and that was awesome. Sometimes there are traffic jams because a heifer decides to lay down in the middle of the road, and people carefully drive around it rather than honk or try to disturb the animal. It is interesting to think about how “Sacred Cow” and “Holy Cow” come from somewhere, although my feeling that “Holy Cow” was on some level offensive meant that I spouted it like a Tourette’s victim whenever we were around the locals.
All fans of the Grown-Ups, Denton’s finest ska band featuring a dancing Stormtrooper, will appreciate the fact that every time I saw a Bajaj, (the name that Vespa used for the South Asia market) I was stuck with “Bajaj in the Garage” in my head for the next half-hour. My favorite ad was a billboard with a motorcycle reading “Bajaj: Feel Like A God!”
Another one of my favorite people, Eddie Izzard, says that in order to get good at stand-up, you just have to do it a thousand times. I finally put my mike where my mouth was last night at the Boiler Room. Here’s that file:
When I first walked in with my posse, I assumed that roughly every third person was there to do a five minute set, but it was clear by midnight that every single person in attendance wanted mike time. Straw fedoras and “wacky” t-shirts abounded. The night was such a sausage party that I sailed into the ladies’ room past three anxiously waiting gentlemen, which never happens. As new meat, I was bounced 21 times and finally went on at a quarter of midnight. That explains something about the recording- the reason why it seems like only six people are laughing is that there were only seven in attendance at this point. I was pleased that everything got some kind of laugh, and was winding up for my finish when a cute but very inebriated metrosexual (it turned out to be Bobby Hacker) got up and started taking his clothes off, which was okay, but then he started taking my clothes off and putting a flashlight down my shirt, to what end I am not sure. So I took off abruptly, in the midst of the Emcee yelling “You’re gonna get kicked out again, Bobby!” All in all, I am fairly happy with how it went – I got a good reception from the few remaining patrons and comedians, and I plan to go back most Mondays and practice some more.
This is a picture of my favorite person in the whole world, the FAMOUS MYSTERIOUS ACTOR.
For a brief, shining moment that many consider the “golden age” of Comcast Portland public access, his talk show was broadcast on Sunday nights. Now Famous appearances are few and far between, the show at Holocene last Wednesday was ominously plugged as “final”, and it has just whet my appetite for more. Say it isn’t so, Joe!
Guests were strictly single-named, and included human beatbox (and so much more) Fogatron, Shoehorn, who tap danced and played saxophone simultaneously and took hits off a glass bottle of Wild Irish Rose in between, and KUFO radio DJ Marconi. However, there is no writing about this show. Impromptu moon-boot sand dance with Pixie sticks and jumping on a desk to do a re-enactment of Famous’ favorite film, Sweet Sal, lays flat on the page. In person, however, it rocks like an avalanche. Or a hurricane. Or some kind of natural disaster that kills people.
It’s a group effort, and could not soar without the help of German-speaking emcee Cutter, handsome wingman John Schmitt, security chief Denny, Intern Kris, producer J.D. Fischer, and Joanie loves Chachi the Tiger. However, Famous is the star. He lives up to his name and more- this show is much funnier than anything on network television. So I guess this is just a bottled letter cast adrift on the stormy seas of the interweb- I need more !
POSTSCRIPT: Finally, someone has come to my aid on Youtube and posted a scant minute of Famous’ craft, a bit ingeniously entitled Candied Bird Dick.
I am back from a tour of textile mills in beautiful Greensboro, NC, and am really happy to have something to eat besides salad and potatoes. One night I did make my friend Jeff go to the local vegetarian place with me and it was lovely.
My spidey-sense started tingling on the way to dinner when we saw a vintage clothing store and people playing Hacky-Sack, because I could tell we were in “my” part of town, that is, near a college campus. We saw some fellas kicking back with drinks on the roof of their house, apparently because the porch couch was too stinky to sit on any longer.
The trip made me oddly nostalgic for my Texas origins, although in general I am glad to not live in the South, where “atheist” is commonly read as “Satanist.” Same thing with “Feminist” and “Lesbian.” However, my secret Texan skills came in handy when translating North Carolinian to Oregonian and back.
Cracks in the floor were filled with broken needles and stuff from knitting machines.
I met a nice young man from Belfast who is interning with a local yarn manufacturer, and who wore a green rubber bracelet to show his support for the search for a cure for Irishness. I hope they succeed. Please, Jesus?
Flying home, I sat next to a young man reading Bowhunter magazine.
Fare thee well, Greensboro! I’ll miss the Cheerwine and sweet tea!
Postscript: The very kind tour guide sent me a twelve-pack of Cheerwine to help with the pain! I laughed, I thought I’d die. I have never recieved a gift based on my blog before, and I am going to have to be more careful about what I ask for.
It is a fact, well documented by me, that if you ride a bicycle with any kind of regularity, May is the month in which you will eat a bug. It may not be the first or last time that year, but during the month of May, you will definitely find yourself with a bitter, dusty bug in your mouth. I decided that this year I would avoid my own curse, but they are very persistent. They flicker around you and buzz “you’ve got to breathe sometime.” This time, for the sake of variation, I got one in my eye, and I think it’s possible that it was worse.