Young ladies / my Mercedes
I think I wrote elsewhere on this blog that it was a crime, nay, offensive, that the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t have space for the New York Dolls, perhaps the most important rock group, in sheer influence that the
As flew into
But more than that, they, and the explosion they symbolised were a life changing moment in rock’n’roll (which of course hip-hop is an integral part of, despite its belief to be something above it, its all part of the same beast) when Flash and crew released, on Bobby Robinson’s legendary Enjoy label, back in 1979, the tune that turned my head again 27 years later, Superappin’. Of course they took a large part of it some three years later and reworked it into the massive worldwide, genre defining record The Message but that tune still, to my mind stands in the shadow of its protgéner. For a start this is far more funky, complete with an unbelievable backing groove from Enjoy’s oddly named house band, Pumpkin and Friends. And it has an urgency, a rawness, that was gone three years later after it had been smoothed out by Sylvia Robinson.
Steinski did a fantastic Sugarhill mix a couple of years back, released as an album, which really twists and turns itself around the live funk elements evident in so much of the best early hip-hop. No studio bozos rhyming over Good Times here; and its peaks when it drops into Superappin’, which just propels the mix, gives it unbelievable momentum before dropping you exhausted into the next track. On the headphones anyway…..
How, in gods name can they have a (silly idea anyway) Hall of Fame without these guys? It should’ve been an instantaneous nomination once the 25 year point (since their first release) was reached.
The energy of Superappin seemed to be a perfect way to tumble through the smog into
I guess I sound like a
We go to
This city is personified by our hotel, or at least its surroundings. The Alila, exquisitely designed, but not expensive by Western, or even most other Asian standards, sits just north of Merdeka Square, the governmental nerve centre of the nation, surrounded by third world alley ways and sometimes, although not always, squalid food stalls in the street.
In the same way, turn off the wide green boulevards of the so called golden triangle that run through central Jakarta, complete with dozens of massive skyscrapers, and lush, watered gardens, and you can be anywhere in urban Indonesia in a matter of metres, with its chaos and noise.
I’m not sure how I feel about it, although I know that Jakarta, and indeed the country as a whole, needs this wealth to grow, assuming of course, and it’s a big assumption when the cops on the roundabouts on the boulevards are still, I’m reliably informed, pulling drivers over for alleged and often imaginary offences….to boost personal coffers… that there is some eventual filtering down of said wealth. One can but hope.
Ok, so with reservations aside, every time we go to the city we wander and explore more and more, and find more and more places that we want to return to. Which means we need to stay longer each time. There are the malls of course, and then there are more malls, and more and it makes
So what did we do? We got stuck in traffic of course, but, despite its odious reputation the traffic snarl (macet in local slang) which is never as bad as traffic I’ve encountered in Europe and in particular the roads around dirty old London; or for that matter in LA or NYC. But it’s shocking still and I have to smirk when Aucklanders talk of traffic issues in that city; or force back a howl of derision when I hear it from Wellingtonians. Or
We shopped but the frustration in JK is, as always, the lack of a decent guide to the city. There is not, as far I can work out, a decent printed or online reference as there is to most cities half its size. So you rely on pointers from others and instinct. But we walked and explored and shopped. Bulés get strange looks from the locals walking the back streets but so be it. Down in
There is at times, a bizarre logic in the city too, although not a profound logic. That the dozens of street stalls selling, not very discreetly, hard core porn, also sell Viagra, blatantly advertising the items (and whether they are pirated copies of not I do not know and have no intention of finding out) makes sense. Although it would make more sense not to have them all centred in the main boulevard of Glodok, one after another, perhaps a little more geographical disbursement may help expand (although such a word may not be the most appropriate when discussing Viagra) business, especially for the guy who sits in the 35th stall along the street, selling the same items as the first 34. Then again, this is
We ate. I like eating and
Other restaurants obviously were doing a similar trade as, the other moment of interest as we walked outside was an incredibly drunk Japanese salary-man being dragged screaming into his car. Throwing fists and kicking violently at all near, until they propelled him in, with some violence, to the back seat of the Kijang. I wondered how he would feel about his friends the next day when he saw the bruises they’d given him as their fists impacted with his head.
Gladly some other restaurant’s diners had the pleasure of his company.
We went to Dragonfly on Jl Gatot Subroto. More, sorry, “modern asian”, more upmarket but with another amazing feature wall. Two actually, one massive one, leading up to the industrial piping high above us, and made again with lighting; and another beside our table with huge waves of, I think mache or plaster above us. A wonderful, wonderful dining experience, helped by the over-priced cocktails that even I couldn’t help but partake in.
And I couldn’t help but wonder why, in
Sadly after an unbelievable meal we were forced out about 10.30 by the band who launched into the gruesome You’re Beautiful by England’s own Pat Boone revivalist, James Blunt, whose faux soul for the Idol generation, who have come to regard vocal squirming as talent, seems to be every where in Indonesia right. They followed that with something from the equally teeth gritting Coldplay, whose formless lightweight whingeing also seems follow us around. The expats on the prowl in the bar were loving it. We were thus unable to resist the urge to leave, which, considering the price of the cocktails, was a good thing.
The next day, somehow we had a reality check, as, craving a non modern Asian burger, we went into something called Chilli’s on Jl. Tharmin, and, since it was, as far as I could see, some American franchise joint of the type that fills the strip malls of that nation and makes middle America the shape so many of them are (I can’t talk), we had a big fat unhealthy grease burger and watched this enormous American couple (and I mean fucking huge) feed themselves plates of Nacho’s washed down by Coke, and their child, a large sprite. I felt like I was back in Vegas
Once again we had to leave, this time to the airport, where we found that a) because I’d misread the ticket after all those Dragonfly cocktails, and b) there was no traffic and it took 30 minutes to get to the airport instead of our allotted two hours, we were four hours early for our flight, which was then delayed for an hour. Is there much to do at
I read Robert Fisk, listened to the iPod again as I did on the way in, and we finally arrived back in