Saturday, December 01, 2007

i've heard it al before / yes I've heard it all before

At their 'final' show in 1978 Lydon addressed the crowd with a sneer of, "Ever got the feeling you've been cheated?" Just under 30 years later,
in a room smelling mainly of trump, my heart sighed the same sentiment.

The NME gets all moody (and gets it right) about the Sex Pistols. And it's pretty much the same way I felt when I saw them in 1996 on the first reunion tour. It's all bit sad.

Why bother..which is the way I feel about just about almost every reunion tour or show I've seen....why...well we all know why, its the dosh....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We got to plead the fifth, we can investigate / don't need to wait, get the record straight

Things are all abuzz here in Bali. For many restaurateurs and bar owners these are increasingly happy times. There, is of course, the current tourist boom, there are tourists by the thousands everywhere, in record numbers, and have been for most of the year. And, unlike the swathes of Bintang swilling and T-shirt wearing, hair platted, pirate DVD buying (ok there is still that) ocker masses who plagued parts of central Kuta in those pre-bomb days these are a different demographic….lets be snobby about this…a little more sophisticated. So, the better restaurants and hotels are roaring whereas the low end is still staggering a little, and probably always will from here on in as they fail to recognise that the market has changed forever.

But try and get a restaurant seat in half the places in Jalan Laksmana…..

Yes, the formerly glum business men and women of Seminyak, Sanur, Ubud and the like are smiling. But what is really raising smiles is the expectation of 10,000 delegates to the UN sponsored Climate Change conference here in December. I say 10,000 delegates but what I really mean is 10,000 untethered expense accounts. The idea that 10,000 hungry souls on the state sponsored gravy train will be marauding around great Expatria looking to spend all of our money on wine, food and anything else they can hide from the accountants (which I’m sure many are quite good at doing) is almost too much for some to deal with.

I went to a restaurant in Jalan Seminyak, one that I’ve been to so much that I’ve got to know all the staff fairly well, who greet us one by one (seriously impressing the seated tourists who must thing I’m actually someone of importance here), and am the proud owner of a plastic VIP card, last night and noted that not only was this place seriously overstaffed but aside from two, we knew none of them.

Nervously, thinking that all my well trained (no capsicum in the lamb curry please) staff had been culled in a massive cleanout and it was back to square one, I asked one I knew what exactly was going on. Climate Change conference we were told…and a massive influx of new staff being urgently trained.

So, all well and good there, assuming of course that I can actually get in over the next few weeks. It is a worry. I need my Chilli Pakoras…

And that‘s not my only point of apprehension. There are cops everywhere, in brand new, teched up vehicles. That can only be a good thing. The early 90s Toyotas, full of rust with bald tyres, collapsed suspension and broken headlights were about due for replacement (although one wonders if they’ll be back in late Dec when the flash SUVs head back to Jabotek). The cops I understand, all those VIPs etc, but I get the feeling that this place is going to grind to even more of a standstill as the convoys (SBY usually has about 30 cars, bikes, SUVs, army vehicles etc most of which I assume serve no real purpose beyond the fact the he needs to feel important..George Bush doesn't have that many) trek up and down the island for two weeks, expense accounts at the ready.  Those convoys, full of Mercs and armoured cars, must be good for the environment, no? In these wired days, could much of this be done without 10,000 airline tickets and all those cars?

Be ready for some delays they say….oh shit…

New Zealanders love to tell you they have traffic problems (the only problem I could see were those stupid one light, one car traffic signals on on-ramps to usually rather empty motorways, causing back ups) but try Kuta or Denpasar on a normal Saturday afternoon or evening…and that’s before we are told to expect delays…

All that aside the other thing I’m having trouble getting my head around is the rubbish everywhere.


Surely someone though that since this is an environmental conference it may have been an excuse to clean up the trash that litters the rivers and roadsides.

But on visual evidence, I guess not….

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Searching for the truth among the lying/ And answered when you've learned the art of dying

You can almost hear an audible cry of relief in this part of the world at the expulsion from Canberra of John Howard and Alexander Downer. Behind the required diplomatic smiles they were little liked anywhere in South East Asia, and here in Indonesia, Howard's long championing and support for Suharto, who he once hailed for his "great contribution" is not forgotten, nor Downer's arrogant, quite racist, paternalism (and if you really want vileness, witness the reliably loathsome Greg Sheridan in The Australian, hailing the greatness of the man who was named by the UN as the most corrupt dictator of the 20th Century, with the blood of at least a million Indonesians and Timorese on his hands).

So, with Howard gone, Kyoto will get signed, one of the region's wealthiest nations will back into the region instead as being, and being perceived as, little more than a shallow apologist for little liked US foreign policy in recent years. Even Singapore, the most US aligned country in ASEAN, was quite obviously increasing uncomfortable with Howard's Australia.

And Howard's legacy will be as the first sitting Australian PM in 80 years to lose his own seat. Good riddance....


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music / with that r'n'b flavour to get it across

I arrived back in Bali last week rather laden down with luggage. I’d managed to exceed my weight limit quite substantially both in check-in and carry-on. The woman at the Malaysian Airlines counter at Auckland Airport looked at my excessively heavy bag, paused and then smilingly said, it’s not a very full flight, you’ll be fine.

The next hurdle was the journey through the immigration area and past those ladies in their red frocks and funny hats who insist on weighing your carry-on, and writing down offenders’ names on a sheet. I guess you go into a database and may end up as a serial over-7kg offender, and ones name passed on to the Department of Homeland Security, or its Wellington equivalent.

From experience, there are reliable ways to slip excess (we are always way above that dreaded 7kg…our bag along is almost 5kg..toss in a copy of The NZ Herald and a toothbrush and you are stuffed) weight past these people but even applying those sneaky fixes, I was worried that my main carry on was going to be a problem.

Fortunately as I tried to merge into a much larger group of Japanese tourists somebody caused a kerfuffle elsewhere (one too many tubes of toothpaste or some other affront to the War on Terror) and I was able to use the distraction to rush past.

Of course once past the carry-on Nazis, carry -on is not a problem…nobody else in the world beyond Auckland gives a toss and you won’t find your carry-on weighed again.

Yep, as said, we always push the weight boundaries and Brigid has been seen extracting large steel cooking pots and printers from a bag at check-in to keep them happy.

This time, however, it wasn’t computers (although I had two laptops…in my carry-on) or kitchen hardware, or glassware that offended, but simple round plastic laser-read audio discs…CDs.

I’m happy enough with my digital bits and pieces but weaning myself from the physical format is hard. If I’d had the space there would have been several thousand bits of black plastic in there as well.

I’d had to put my CDs (a wall of them no less, but you get that I guess) into storage as we moved out of our NZ studio space and felt driven, nay obsessed, to go through them one by one. I ended up with some 200 I felt I could no longer live without, and looked longingly at these. I knew my 20kgs wouldn’t stretch quite this far. So I edited again, and then I edited again…into must-take, must-take if-there-is-any-room and, finally into next-time.

And so it was I ended up with a large red suitcase with six shirts, a few socks, a book or three, and a mass of compact discs.

fb1 I staggered across three borders with this and had nightmares about burst bags. I also looked at the Indonesian customs forms. Whilst the kids are absolutely on to it here, the generation before and those that write many of these bits of paper and the regulations that they attempt to enforce, seem to be in a no-mans land circa 1988. So, the form asks whether I have any records…no I don’t. And any laser discs? Good god…now that’s a format living somewhere in DCC and 8 track hell. So, no I don’t…and I hope that the technology that peruses all bags arriving in Bali hasn’t led to a big white chalk X on my bag. The guys at customs, hands out waiting, love those.

But no, no chalk, and as with Auckland, someone called out, distracting the guy, as I rushed past the green desk and I tossed my form at him. They always seem bemused that I don’t smoke..what male doesn’t smoke, or at least try and smuggle cigarettes. It’s a point of much bemusement here in Bali….

Hence I managed to get almost 100 bits of my musical past to Sanur.

It’s funny how you crave these things when you don’t have access to them. There are things here I probably will only play once or twice, but at leaset can now if I do want to. Not that its enough, but I do have my Nuggets box, and my Joy Division box (which I’ll likely not play but at least I can look at it), and my various impenetrable live Miles Davis albums from the early seventies, which I can listen to forever but no-one else gets..they’re not friend friendly; and my much loved Dr. Alimantado album; a Carl Craig set that I listened to over and over for at least a year; an LKJ anthology; Joey Jay’s fab old school Trojan selection; Coltrane’s Crescent; the Andy Weatherall Fabric mix; a killer double Fatback and god knows how many more.vl

I was like a kid in a lolly shop..touching, looking, shuffling..all that…

And playing too of course. I played the Miles things several times until Isabella opined that I had shocking taste in music, and had likely lost touch. I sat and thought about the generation gap for a moment or two and they decided, firstly, to scoff at her, and then, thinking better of it, let it go and delved into the rather good Ricardo Villalobos Fabric 36 mix which in its minimal, stuttering and almost, dare I say it, world music-ish way, is maybe my album of the year..this week anyway. Not, of course that I’ve heard them all, but in my year. And then there is the Nomumbah album, Love Moves, which a current daytime repeat, and is very much that lovely thing that we used to call deep house in those slightly messy Calibre 98 days, the sort of thing labels like the once great Guidance used to toss out with such ease. Warm, a little bit slight, moody and quite cosy.

Maybe that’s my album of the year right now, since it’s on as I type.

It’s all about the now anyway.