itslateagain

culture, music, and identity politics musings from a 20-something Australian-Asian living in Washington D.C.

Austin City Limits 2015 (weekend 2), a reflection and review October 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — itslateagain @ 5:29 am
Alt-J rocking out at ACL 2015
Eight and a half years ago, I flew to California to attend Coachella with my friend Sushmita. I was 23. It was my first major music festival. I still held aspirations of being a journalist…god forbid, even a music critic. I wanted to say semi-profound things about culture. In effect, I was kind of like a walking Pitchfork album review.
 
This past week, I went to Austin City Limits, a similar three day festival, as a 31 year-old with several festivals under my belt and those writer dreams long put to rest. I went from being one of the excited young kids jumping into each other up by the stage to one of the oldies sitting two miles back, listening to the country singer in deck chairs, making small talk about ‘kids and their rap music’.
 
The festival was good, if not groundbreaking. Florence was majestic, Drake was self-absorbed, Dave Grohl kicked his non-broken leg a few times. There was tons of great music, including getting introduced to lots of talented rising musicians. But I’m not in a hurry to go again.
 
Why not? How about less tolerance for captive price inflation? My friend and I railed—along with everyone else—against the long list of controlled items: no outside food or non-water liquids, 2 factory sealed bottles of water, and a requirement that you spend at least $100 at their over-priced concession stands…per day (the last one’s not true, but it’s semi-implied). Also, 10 hours in the heat is exhausting. Also, crazy dust allergies.
 
The line-up was solid, and almost all the acts I saw delivered fine sets. My favorite was Sturgill Simpson, an incredibly talented, authentic, no-nonsense country rocker who just epitomizes everything I love about the country tradition. Dwight Yoakam, who is way more famous, did the same, but with a sweeter, almost Chris Isaak-like voice. Alt-J’s set contained all the delicate layers of melody, rhythm and quirkiness one would hope, and Disclosure’s minimalist house-R&B had me grooving out with the kids on the first evening.
 
There were a number of discoveries. Con Brio is the most James Brown-like performer (think D’Angelo as a break dancer) I’ve ever seen, and though he doesn’t quite have the tunes, he certainly has the moves and charisma to bring that kind of manic, crowd-pumping MJ-dance excitement back to the mainstream. San Fermin’s deep baritone/female dual vocals and choppy song structures stood out amongst the more traditionalist majority of indie rock tunes, and Charlotte OC won over converts with her intensity and power. She seems to come from this wonderful crew of British female singers writing dark songs for epic voices, such as Florence, Adele and Hannah Reid. Of the Scandinavian Americana bands (it’s a thing!), I enjoyed Iceland’s Kaleo and their energetic embrace of blues rock.
 
Marcus King, a 19 year-old who has been playing guitar for four years, is the next Stevie Ray Vaughan, at least according to the dude next to me who yelled it in my ear. Judging by his gorgeous solos and impressively mature voice, I wouldn’t disagree. If you closed your eyes, he was Stevie. When you opened them, he was a chubby teen with pimples. The contrast was trippy.
Marcus King, 19-year-old blues guitar prodigy
 
What drew me to Coachella was the rare opportunity to see Rage Against the Machine, the band that turned me into an angry teen leftist. They’re an exceptionally political band, but by comparison, ACL was spotlessly non-controversial. There was the de facto recycling, but no big social causes. Just a bunch of mostly middle-class young people wearing their special festival outfits and strategizing gig choices, lining up for Uber and Samsung schwag. I liked the section for kids (Austin Kiddie Limits!), and it was great to see the number of young families and folks outside the age range of 18-35. But I guess part of me wanted to see some statement-making more profound than Drake saying: “I know this is such a Drake thing to say, but…’how are my ladies doing tonight?’” We live in tumultuous times. Gay marriage, Black Lives Matter, the attack on Planned Parenthood…I know this isn’t Woodstock, but it would’ve been cool to see Kendrick Lamar, Big Freedia, or someone talking about important issues beyond, you know, romantic love. But as my friend suggested, maybe that’s because our generation is less certain we know the answers to big issues?
 
In anti-Vice fashion, I’m not going to hate on festival fashion. My regular life is surrounded by biz-casual. The biz-casual of festival fashion is way more fun than corporate biz-casual. ACL fashion, circa-2015, felt like an extension of Coachella, tracing back to Woodstock, and—if you count the two kids rocking Native headdress—white colonialism (I don’t think they were actually Native American, not sure if that makes it better). There were lots of man-buns, side shaves, colorful left pockets, flowers-in-hair, gold stencil tattoos, booty shorts, 90s crop tops, and at least 30% of the ladies were wearing those wide-brimmed hats. I rocked a “This is what an Australian feminist looks like” shirt one day and a White Men Can’t Jump shirt the next, and got an appropriate amount of props from fellow attendees.
 
One sweet Aussie thing: I saw a bunch of Aussies, but most of them weren’t white. I saw a group including featuring one bloke rocking a bush cork hat and his friend wrapped in the flag, and started a conversation. Four mates, traveling America, doing ACL. One guy’s going to SF to try and launch his app. I met an Indian-Australian med student who’s been living in the US almost as long as I have, sitting on an Aussie flag towel. I shouted “Aussie Aussie Aussie” a few times towards her and was utterly ignored, so went over and sat with her anyway. Also, I went to primary school with local blues hero Gary Clark Jr’s girlfriend, supermodel Nicole Trunfio, and got the brief idea of trying to use that random connection to go backstage. I didn’t act on it, but part of me imagines she might just have let a guy who was in her brother’s class at podunk, bush country Leschenault Catholic Primary School hang out with the cool people.
Good friends, good times
 

Interracial dating in China, or: Why are all these young Chinese girls dating older White men? March 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — itslateagain @ 4:08 am

I was at Mao, apparently the current “it” bar in Shanghai’s rapid turnover nightlife scene, with Judy and four girls living in the city. All were Chinese, one was from the Netherlands, one from Taiwan, and the other two were Shanghainese. All of them had (or normally have) foreign boyfriends: in this case, Dutch, Dutch and Italian.

For anyone whose been in China for a while, this shouldn’t strike you as surprising at all.

“Chinese guys don’t like it when a girl knows more about something than they do,” Liza told me, when I asked why she only dates foreigners.

“I don’t care if they don’t know about Western culture, but they don’t even know about their own culture…all they care about is money, a car, a house.”

When I asked whether such things–a house, a car, significant income–were a major factor in who she chose to date, she acknowledged that they were. But still, culture matters.

Watching couples dancing and making out at Mao, I had to realise that this much derided relationship–White man, Chinese girl–has its own legacy, it’s own place in China’s modern history; as gingerly as many would admit to it. Shanghai may have been known as the “Pearl of the Orient,” but it was just as commonly known as the “Whore of the Orient” too.

Such relationship norms aren’t exclusive to China. In former European colonies throughout Asia, Africa and South America, intermarriage occurred between European men and occupied colony women. You see the same in non-European mercantilist/trader scenarios, such as the Baba-Nonya mixed descendants of Chinese merchants and their Malay wives in Malaysia. Given the mix of power distribution and traditional gender roles, it makes sense for women from poorer, less powerful host societies to have relations with single (wealthier, powerful) men living away from home.

Meanwhile, why don’t we see the opposite as often? I believe that a mix of both current business staffing and traditional roles lies at the core of the answer.

At present, I think it’s safe to assume that the majority of expats–classically defined as those being sent to China by their employer and making former national salary–are men. There are simply more foreign men than women in China, and thus less women for Chinese men to date. And what of those expat women who are indeed working in China?

Well, I would also imagine that they would have to be highly educated, skilled people who are of some standing within their companies, if not society. In other words, they’re quite a catch, for both foreigners and Chinese. It’s quite safe to say they absolutely wouldn’t fit many traditional Chinese notions of what a woman should do: focus on the family, provide a supporting role to her husband’s career, as opposed to potentially eclipsing it, not travel and work in other countries by oneself. And though many Chinese men don’t require their wives to fall into such old-fashioned gender boxes, many still do.

On top of the smaller foreign woman pool to begin with, the character and lifestyle found within such a community and its conflict with traditional Chinese (and other) beliefs on female gender roles is the issue of male gender roles. Chinese men, bless our hearts, largely do not adhere to the classic, “manly man” stereotype: tall, rugged, athletic, a streak of Holden Caulfield or Steve McQueen rebellion, the primal intensity of Brando’s Stanley Kowalski. Most Chinese guys don’t possess such qualities, and their cards–loyal, responsible, good at making/saving money–don’t really get them as far with many foreign women in China.

Dating, far from the romance of escapist plot denouements and the heady swooning of early love, is, like any other piece of society, a reflection of power, social roles and desires, well beyond matters purely of the heart. It is this way everywhere, but is particularly clearly displayed here in today’s open China.

 

How to play “Naive” by the Kooks February 14, 2008

Filed under: Music,tablature,Uncategorized — itslateagain @ 5:49 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Kooks

“Naive” is one of those songs that grabs you on the first listen. Allegedly composed by the Kooks lead singer, Luke Pritchard, whilst still in his mid-teens, it’s fantastically catchy, melodic and distinctly faithful to the great British band tradition. It can be found on their debut album, “Inside In/Inside Out.”
A number of tabs and covers are available online for this song, but I found that none of the versions were quite perfect. This is culled from two of the best sources I came across: a tab located at Tabondant by Tom Corley and a video tutorial by Andy Boylett. There are minor differences between the two versions, but I think that of the two, Mr. Bleyott’s is more accurate.

Introduction:

Chords/bass notes: A flat minor, E major, B flat (bass only), B major, F sharp (C inversion)
A flat | E maj | B flat | B maj | F # (C inversion)
–x——-0———x——-7——6
–x——-9———x——-7——-7
–6p4—-9———6p4—-8——6
–6——-9h11p9–6——-9——8
–x——-7———x——–9——9
2s4——x——-4s6——-7——6

NB: In playing the introduction, you’ll find the same pull-off for the A flat and B flat minor sections, which I think is best fingered with the little finger on the 6th and the first finger on the 4th fret.

In the introduction, Mr. Boylett finishes the progression with an F sharp in inverted C. I think he’s right, and it’s played with a first finger barre on the 6th fret, providing that solid, filling step down the bass note from the B major on 7th.

Verse: Here, I like Mr. Boylett’s use of the diminshed chord, rather than the D sharp chord that Mr. Corley finishes on.

Chord progression: A flat minor, E, F#, B, B flat diminished

B flat diminished (as employed by Mr. Boylett): Though I’m not exactly sure if this is correct, it certainly doesn’t sound bad.

E X
B X
G 9
D 8
A 7
E 6

Chorus: “I know, she knows…” – The key to remember with the chorus is that you should stay on the first chord for two bars, then for one bar for each of the next two chords. The third progression alters slightly, going back to A flat minor instead of F sharp major.

The first chord sounds best as an E maj sus 2 with a B root on the E string.

Chord progression: B/E maj sus 2 (779977), B maj (799877), F# inversion (play progression two times)
Third time: B/E maj sus 2 (779977), A flat minor, F # inversion
Fourth time: as in first two progressions*

Instrumental bridge: this is taken unaltered from Mr. Corley’s tab, which Mr. Boylett’s version is quite identical too, with the addition of some minor licks at the end:

BRIDGE SECTION (strum)
e|———————————————————||
B|———————————————————||
G|–4—/6—/8—/9—-/16——-4—/6—/8—/9—-/11–||
D|–6—/8—/9—/11—/16——-6—/8—/9—/11—/11–||
A|———————————————————||
E|———————————————————||

Outro: taken directly from Mr. Corley’s version, which sounds good to me…

OUTRO (strum)
E D#m7 G#m B
e|-7—–6—–4—–7—————–||
B|-9—–7—–4—–7—————–||
G|-9—–6—–4—–8—————–||
D|-9—–8—–6—–9—————–||
A|-7—–6—–6—–9—————–||
E|-x—–x—–4—–7—————–||
‘just don’t let me down…(hold on to this kite), just don’t let me down’

End on G#m.

*”s” – slide
“p” – pull-off

Lyrics:

I’m not saying its your fault
Although you could have done more
Oh you’re so naive yet so
How could this been done
By such a smiling sweetheart.
Ohh and your sweet and pretty face
In such an ugly world
Something so beautiful.
Ohh that every time I look inside

Chorus: I know, she knows that i’m not fond of asking
True or false, it may be… Well, she’s still out to get me.
And I know, she knows that i’m not fond of asking
True or false, it may be… She’s still out to get me!

I may say it was your fault
Because i know you could have done more
Oh you’re so naive yet so
How could this be done
By such a smiling sweetheart.
Ohh and your sweet and pretty face
In such an ugly world
Something so beautiful.
That every time I look inside

I know, she knows that i’m not fond of asking
True or false, it may be… Well, she’s still out to get me.
And I know, she knows that i’m not fond of asking
True or false, it may be… She’s still out to get me!

So how could this be done
By such a smiling sweetheart
You’re so naive yet so
You’re such an ugly thing
For someone so beautiful
That every time you’re on his side

I know, she knows that i’m not fond of asking
True or false, it may be… Well, she’s still out to get me.
And I know, she knows that i’m not fond of asking
True or false, it may be… She’s still out to get me!

Just don’t let me down
Just don’t let me down
Hold on to your kite
Just don’t let me down
Just don’t let me down
Hold on to your kite
Just don’t let me down
Just don’t let me down
Hold on to this kite
Just don’t let me down

**Mr. Boylett plays in a London cover band named Monkey See, who seem like a good live act to hire if you live in that area: www.monkeysee.co.uk

Thanks to Mr. Corley and Mr. Boylett for their original work.

 

“Crossing the Line” North Korea Documentary Film Festival November 4, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — itslateagain @ 5:54 pm

Review of “Crossing the Line”

The Bookworm bookstore, Chengdu, China
October 29, 2007

“Crossing the Line,” screened as part of the Bookworm’s North Korea documentary film series, a finalist at the 2006 Sundance festival, provides a thoughtful, stylish portrait of the last remaining American defector still residing in North Korea. James Dresnok, a colorful man who deserted the U.S. Army in 1962 and has never left North Korea since, provides an engaging character study, at equal turns ominous and humorous, set against the backdrop of the sole, final Communist hold-out nation of this post-Cold War era, one whose narrow depiction in Western media makes this documentary’s refreshingly average depiction so revelatory.

Dresnok, an orphaned child with a heavy chip on his shoulder, chose to defect more through a combination of anti-authority foolishness and hopelessness at his own situation, rather than any overt political leanings. He slowly learned to live in North Korean society, along with three other American defectors, and the four became movie celebrities in the country’s homogenous society after playing the roles of Western villains and espionage heroes on North Korea’s silver screen. Dresnok’s personal life is quite interesting: his first wife in Korea (an unidentified European) bore him two Caucasian sons , thoroughly North Korean-cultured sons (one of whom is training to be a diplomat), and his current wife is the offspring of a Togolese diplomat and a Korean woman.

The story reaches a steam when Dresnok and the only remaining American defector, Charles Jenkins, with whom it is evident Dresnok does not get along, reach political loggerheads. Jenkins, whose wife was kidnapped off of a Japanese island by North Koreans in a bizarre spy-training mission, made worldwide headline news in the mid-nineties when he provided a dramatic DPRK-bashing testimony after agreeing to extradition, some 40 years after defection. He ended up serving a mere 30 days in American prison, and is now a farmer in Japan. Dresnok, who claims that Jenkins’ claims were almost all falsified, provides a critical, alternate Western voice that presents North Korea as a much more reasonable, kind state, at least by his own experiences. To the credit of the filmmakers, “Crossing the Line” offers an illuminating, personal tone that manages to remain as impartial as a documentary of this nature could hope to be.

Cinematographer Nick Bennett employs a clean, always interesting eye that he trains on everything from Pyongyang’s deserted, Socialist-grey highways to candid conversations between Dresnok and his fellow aged Korean fishing buddies and trips to Pyongyang’s only bowling alley. Peter Haddon’s editing effectively balances live interview scenes with a wealth of fascinating archival footage, providing a meaningful historical anchor point for Dresnok’s story against the rise of a truly distinct, sheltered society. Anti-American propaganda imagery, intimate Korean war scenes and, most fascinating of all, rare footage of North Korean master director Kim Jong-Il’s 1970s 20-part epic, “Nameless Heroes” present a visual accompaniment which keeps “Crossing the Line” riveting, despite the ebbs and flows of the defector’s tale.

Following the screening, film researcher Simon Cockerell, who also runs Koryo Tours, a North Korean tour service, answered questions. Having been to North Korea 59 times, he provided an informed, well-balanced take on the country and its citizens’ attitudes, covering everything from the availability of Sprite, though not Coke (Oh, the wonders of brand diversification!) to the citizen’s sentiments towards their government (its much more favorable than Westerners would fathom).

“The most important thing in their eyes is that the (North Korean) government has successfully maintained the country’s independence in the face of adversarial pressure from Western adversarial powers,” Simon explained. “They honestly believe that South Korea has simply sold out to the dollar.”

The most important aspect of both “Crossing the Line” and the subsequent discussion, I would posit, is not so much the political side-taking and prophesizing it inevitably leads to as it is the opening up of marginalized, grassroots voices that provide a freshly firsthand viewpoint. Western journalists have gone to town on Kim Jong-Il and North Korea as a whole for decades, continually writing it off, alternating between tones of utter ridicule and spite to false pathos and resignation. I’m certainly not claiming that such depictions are entirely false, but active debate in foreign policy should always be informed by as numerous, involved and varied sources as possible, something that is all too scarce in the way we debate how the West deals with North Korea, amongst other countries considered to be “foreign threats.”

“Those poor, starving North Koreans and their crazy leader,” would sum up the perspective Western media tidily hands us, as we debate nuclear reactor deals through tales of mass famine and disconcerting, militant public parade.

“Crossing the Line”, along with its unique, 6 foot 8, 350 pound subject matter, is important in that it shows North Koreans diving into an Olympic pool, celebrating birthdays, smiling, even joking. These are very small, unextraordinary things. But they are powerful, necessary images, forcing we Western viewers to take a more open look at this country’s people, and to question the rhetoric our governments (theirs and our own) feed us regarding weapons and war.

http://www.crossingthelinefilm.com/

 

Media Populism, Lou Dobbs and hatemongering September 8, 2007

Filed under: Race,Society — itslateagain @ 5:18 am

The last mention of China I glimpsed before departing the United States was unintelligible. This is just as well, because I’m sure it would have made for a decidedly bitter parting note. It was a ‘news’ story on Lou Dobbs’ nightly transmission of hateful populism, part of an ongoing segment entitled “Red Storm Rising,” which charts the apparent threats of China’s rising economic influence upon the American middle class. The television was muted and, without text to replace Lou and his team of vigilant reporters’ voices, I was unable to catch the quality reporting on display, balanced and ideologically neutral as it surely was.

I sincerely hope you caught the sarcasm in that last statement. Fox News, our current era’s globally-acknowledged founder and continuing leader of broadcast media populism brought tongue-in-cheek irony and the steadfastly literal uneasily close together with its slogan: “fair and balanced.” For this charming institution, whose role in the video game-stylized lead-up to the Iraq invasion and consequent events cannot be underestimated, we have a septuagenerian Australian to thank named Rupert Murdoch. His company, News Corporation, possesses holdings which include British rags such as the Sun, the majority of Australian media, and most recently, the Wall Street Journal. Lou Dobbs, then, is only the little chubby kid on the block compared to Godfather Rupert, one major difference being that Dobbs’ station, CNN, in supporting his evolution from favored CEO pitstop to self-righteous middle America blowhard quickly blurred what little distinction in journalistic integrity it might have once claimed over Fox.

Dobbs’ weekdaily program spends much of its hour discussing “The War on America’s Middle Class.” I can’t claim to have watched with particular frequency, but enough to be slightly unnerved by the tone in which he demanded an Asian interviewee use “plain, Anglo-Saxon” language and the thinly veiled disgust with which he refers to Central American illegal immigrants. I can practically hear the hateful slurs being thrown around living rooms across America, a giant churlish chorus of the disgruntled and distrusting, egging ol’ Lou on. The swarm are surely no less forgiving in regards to the “Red Storm Rising”, particularly given the recent explosion of xenophobia-propelled, if not unwarranted, health fears regarding products manufactured in China.

I find this particularly disturbing because I spent much of my life on the wrong side of populist sentiment. It was a rare week in which I wasn’t on the receiving end of a “Go home boat boy” from a passing car–having been mistaken as Vietnamese–or “Chink” or “Gook” slur dropped as I walked around the shops. Certain events will remain crystal clear. My father’s rare, unbridled furious riposte towards the man in a motel elevator who asked about eating dog meat; the seemingly tireless slanted eye/flat nose face-warping fellow elementary graders paraded before me. Far more consequential, however, was the persistent feeling of being wearily observed and judged. Mine was an Anglo-Australian town of such singular cultural hegemony, multicultural rhetoric as myth, that if anything, I’ve over-compensated for my yellowness. I couldn’t just be familiar with cricket, I had to know more of its history than anyone else. I couldn’t just celebrate this year’s Australia Day in Washington in private, so I co-organized the city’s expat gathering and convinced the pub owner to make meat pies.

This identity is forged, perhaps more than anything, out of the ignorance and mistrust of others. There are innumerable things about Australia which make me proud to tell others of my nationality; cultural tolerance just doesn’t happen to be one of them. I didn’t choose my hometown; rather, my parents leapt at moving there, over the far more publicly sanctioned anti-Sino climate in Malaysia. Which is why I felt something internal click when an acquaintance joked: “Wait…Mark’s Asian?” It’s also why I offer no platitudes when my students ask me why I don’t speak Chinese. I’m yet to meet an African-American whose family speaks Wolof or Yoruba at home. Clearly, my situation was dramatically less severe, but the same no-leeway mandate of “assimilate or suffer” ruled the roost.

So assimilate I did, to the point where one day during high school I partook in the same anti-Aboriginal humor my classmates learned from their fathers, something I had never done before. It was only when I was chastized by my best friend from early childhood, whose parents are South African, that I felt the circle closing:

“Hey. That’s not funny.”

I looked at him, his skin as brown as that of the people I’d just slandered at the cheap cost of earning some acceptance points, and knew exactly what he meant.

It’s why I find the lightly coated populism, and yes–racism–that Dobbs’ program issues forth so despicable. Perhaps he got tired of his corporate suit buddies and wanted to try on a more blue-collar hat. Or, perhaps it’s all one giant power-tripping guise, an elaborate response to tiring of the people who manufacture his goods or cook his restaurant meals. Who knows, he might actually care about the economic future of middle-class Americans, to which I say “very well” and hold no qualms. But international trade is an inherently political issue, and very often the ethnic or nationalist (or as in this case, both), “Us versus Them” card is simply too lucrative to turn down. CNN certainly didn’t. News Corp built its empire off of it. It bears little repeating, but last century ably displayed its utility for any aspiring Fascist movement. However, as the saying goes: you can’t have your El Salvadoran-cooked double cheeseburger and eat it too. Nor can you continue to buy the dirt cheap Chinese goods that fill your home and bite the hardworking hands that assembled them.

In my brief existence, I have personally heard enough slurs to fill a thousand bathroom stall walls: Australians slighting Irish, Chinese slighting Malays, Jews slighting Arabs, everybody slighting Jews, Indians slighting Bengalis, African-Americans slighting Africans, Africans slighting African-Americans, lesbians slighting gay men (but that’s another story), ad infinitum. St. Augustine once wrote that the world is a book and that those who don’t travel “read but only a page.” Well, I’m not sure what book he was reading but most of mine wouldn’t make for pleasant reading. I’ve been blessed to live with and visit a number of dissimilar people, fully aware that it’s an opportunity the vast majority of the world does not have (and that some, alas, have no interest in). Each country I visit, each culture I begin to understand, only reinforces my belief that people are, in essence, all the same.

This has meant for me that people are compassionate towards others, devoted to their children, and often friendly and generous, perhaps in varying degrees but never to the point of untruth. It also means that people are easily swayed by media and hearsay, largely ignorant of other people, and pointedly ethnocentric. Such aspects of our character manifest in qualities of hate, distrust and fear, all traits that politicians have utilized for millennia towards mostly destructive, ultimately worthless causes. We Western republicans entrust so much faith in democracy largely only because of the degree to which we distrust and fear despotic rule. As we commonly say: it is the least bad of our governing systems. But if anything, we have too much faith in pluralism as an end in itself, leaping blindly into its savior arms without considering preconditions to its success, such as an educated populace, an influential middle class, the rule of law or minority safeguards.

The purest vision of freedom I’ve seen played out in reality is the same one the United States has so neatly co-opted (like, as Neruda acknowledged, it’s own name). The American Dream, so to speak, is the globalized 21st Century Dream. It’s the reason that desperate young folks from countries like Guatemala or Honduras die each day in the hope that they can work washing dishes in a Georgetown restaurant; it’s the reason all of my friend Lang’s Chinese classmates have taken the GRE (over 90% of whom score an 800 on the math section, he mentioned). Without doubt, it’s the only reason I’m writing these words. When the government of New Zealand gave my parents an opportunity to attend university, even if it was motivated by economics, it epitomized a marvelous idea: that my parents would be judged and rewarded duly based on the merit of their work. Populism in democracy, more often than not, relies not on the merit of the idea and its logic, but by how many people happen to believe it. Good journalism serves its citizens by informing and enlightening their beliefs and public judgments, not by playing to the most base and vicious of human tendencies for popular or commercial favor.

I hope more Americans consider this as they go about purchasing their General Washington’s chicken (proudly China-free) at the local take-out. Smart Americans know that there’s more to the most populous country in the world than some Communist totalitarian state and over a billion poor, oppressed masses churning out their Nikes and contaminated toys. The stability and health of our tenuous Sino-American relations will depend on it. The Chinese seem capable of distinguishing between political regimes and their citizens, a skill which the Lou Dobbs’ of our media seem incapable of.

 

Tab of “Sacred Heart” by Cass McCombs August 20, 2007

Filed under: Guitar Chords,Music — itslateagain @ 6:27 pm

Morrossey with coiffeCass
I have been debating whether “Sacred Heart” by Cass McCombs is nothing but a lovely, derivative ode to Morrissey, or whether it’s good enough to stand on it’s own. Regardless, it’s a gorgeous tune, with a wonderfully kooky altar boy music video that fits Cass’ lyrics marvellously. Video below.

Thanks to Carlos at ‘finally insane’ for the original tab.

“Sacred Heart”
– Cass McCombs, from the album PREfection (2005)

*CAPO 7th fret

8 bar intro – Gmaj7 (7 1/2 bars) A7

Melody/Verse – D | D – D/C# | Bm | Bm – A | G | G – A7 | (repeat)
(3rd time) – D | D – D/C# | Bm | Bm – A | G | G | G | G | G |

CHORUS – F#m | F#m – A | C | Bm | Bm – D | (repeat)
(3rd time) – F#m | F#m | Gmaj7 | Gmaj7 | Gmaj7 | G – A | (back to verse)

Ending – stay on Gmaj7 after B section

I haven’t seen a live version of this song, but I believe that the lead guitar melody can be serviceably mimicked playing solo through hammering on the D major chord ( x 2 3 5 ) at the appropriate juncture.

Unusual chords: I’m not entirely sure what to call these chords, nor am I interested enough in technical theory to find out. I play them as such:

G7 – 3 2 O O 3 X

A7 – 5 4 O 2 5 O (play in G chord shape, with ring finger on 6th string and little finger on 2nd, creating a nice E drone)

Lyrics:

Sacred Heart, surveyed from the summit,
a pantheon, distant as ever,
echoing up the mountainside,
escaped sound, like a kiss upon the forehead
Alas! Jimmy
And all the members of the covenant
Noble scholars,
without you I’d have drowned in gutterwater
Alas!
You, of course, have my infinite gratitude
You, My Most Sacred Heart
Yet I piss and moan for the wanker* (x 2)
Dearly Departed,
we are gathered here today in reverence
Dearly Departed,
we all will return to the soil
Alas!
Alas!
For all my Alas!-es
I cannot mend this massive slashing
Futile beacon!
Cinderella’s in the doghouse
The doghouse
The doghouse
No, love doesn’t always boomerang

[*not sure about this, but that’s what I hear!]

And, for good measure, an example of the clear Smiths’ influence:


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Silverchair at the 9:30 club: July 24, 2007 July 29, 2007

Filed under: Australians,Concert reviews,Music — itslateagain @ 12:09 am

Silverchair
This past Tuesday, one of Australia’s greatest bands, Silverchair, played a sold-out 9:30 club on the first leg of their American tour. They are promoting Young Modern, their fifth studio release and first album since 2002’s Diorama, which won the band six ARIA Awards (the Australian Grammies).

They opened with a trio of new songs from Young Modern, an album which continues lead singer Daniel Johns’ continuing foray into pop, this time building upon the ornate, occasionally over-blown pomp of Diorama towards classic rock and even the campy and carnival. As if to illustrate the point, Johns took to the stage in pirate form, wearing a bandanna and eye patch (apparently to nurse a bruised eye), later re-appearing in a bowler hat. As natural as this musical evolution might be, it is an unfortunate and hopefully short-lived misstep. Though Johns is a gifted, imaginative musician, it seems he is still in the process of settling into his own niche within the current field.

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