End of the Tour

The tour is finished and I left Nanjing this morning at 8:50am and arrived in Chengdu just before lunch time.

Last night was a blast, but it’s actually really great to be back. We celebrated the last night of the tour together like we had meant to the whole time. Kim, Kimmy, myself, and new recruits Nina and Rob. We chilled at the Xinjiang barbeque place I went every night just down the street from our hotel. I said goodbye to the guy who fixed me the barbeque every night that I was in Nanjing; tried to get him to write his name in my journal so I could remember it, but he couldn’t write at all. Kim and Kimmy wrote a page or two each in my journal, in yearbook style. “It’s been a fun 3 months, etc”. Kim wrote his in Norwegian though, which makes it pretty special to me.

I actually had a number of epiphanies last night. It most likely had something to do with smoking bud for the first time in almost 2 months, but I reflected on the tour and made a few observations that I hadn’t been focusing on when I had my mind on other things. Coors says there’s another tour in November for 3 months and said that there’d be a position available for me if I want it. It allows me to set a good goal; I have to have my infrastructure up and running by November. If I don’t, maybe I’ll do the tour again.

I leave for Bangkok in 14 hours. Tingting is a asleep just a few feet away and I’m trying to type as softly as I can so I don’t wake her. I’m going to pack as lightly as I possibly can for Thailand and Bali. A weekends worth of clothes, my camera equipment, and hopefully a mini external hard drive that operates on a laptop hard drive that I can buy tomorrow before I depart. If not, I’m worried about running out of space for digital photos since I definitely don’t want to bring my computer with me. Too heavy, too expensive, too much hassle. I don’t picture northern Thailand being the type of place where you need a laptop. I don’t even really know what I’ll be doing there, but I picture it more to be swimming in rivers and hiking in jungles than on AIM or checking gmail.

I guess I haven’t written about tonight, which is what my original intent was before sitting down at the computer after arriving home.

I knew that I had only one night in Chengdu and I only had time to see a few friends, but I went to Scotty’s place and met Tenzins friend Jovian from San Francisco. Kimmy is also staying at Tenzins place for a few days. We walk down the street to meet up with Scotty who’s eating on the street with a table full of Xinjiang guys. They’re all speaking Xinjianghua and I cannot understand a word. It sounds like Arabic to me. We’re drinking beer, they’re getting sloppy off baijiu. Scotty and Jovian drink baijiu with them and get fairly wasted pretty quickly, but it was a pretty enjoyable cultural exchange of sorts.

Scotty is definitely the biggest pothead I’ve met in China (he has 12 year old dread locks), so of course he had a pocketfull of hash. He invited the Xinjiang guys back to his place where the living room is full with like 8 people, half of them looking like they’re from Kazikhstan. We smoke some hash and as if on cue, a guitar comes out of nowhere and these guys are jamming the fuck out, singing and everything in whatever language they’re speaking. Jovian pulls out an MPC-2000XL (hip hop production hardware), loads a bay of samples, and sits Scotty in front of it. It’s hard to describe what followed, but it was like a terrible car accident of a rhythm, but was hilarious because the situation and the atmosphere of what was happening was so extremely bizarre. They jammed out for an hour or so, passing the guitar around, all these guys could sing (almost more like a wail) and play guitar simulatenously. I thought they sounded like Gypsy Kings. Pretty fast rhythm on the guitar with a slower, almost raspy vocal style.

New country tomorrow!

Published on August 23, 2005

Nanjing; Last Stop

I’m still in Nanjing, but there are only 5 days left. They aren’t sure if we’re going to Beijing before finishing or not, but I’m out on the 23rd regardless. For the last 3 weeks I’ve been trying to figure out short term plans to make, because I have a flight from Bangkok to Bali on the 27th, but I have too many bags with me now to go directly. I have a plan now though; leave for home (Chengdu) on the 23rd, drop off my bags and relax for two days, and spend two days in Bangkok before leaving. When I get back to Bangkok in the second week of September, I’ll go to Chiang Mai in north Thailand and meet up with Tenzin and crew. That’s as far as I’ve planned, but I’m looking forward to everything, especially seeing my family.

Published on August 18, 2005

DJ DRACULA! RAWWR!

Last night wasn’t an outrageous blast, just really eventful. The DJ actually played kick ass music, and he passed off a few CD’s to me which I copied in my laptop. I didn’t get the really vulgar techno song which I wanted to get off him, though. I said thanks and told him my name, and when I asked what his was he just said “HEY MY NAME IS DRACULA” Okay dude! He looked a little vampirish also. Tall lanky guy dressed in black with a wicked overbite and a long black goth-like pony tail. Respect! Next there’s a fight in the club which I don’t actually witness. Suddenly everyone in the club is looking behind me, and when I turn around I see this guys face completely covered in blood. He was either slashed with a knife or hit with a bottle, but regardless, he was walking out all nonchalantly like nothing had happened. I can’t even make up an explanation for that. The elevator up to the club (it was on the 11th floor) had blood all over it also. Afterwards I realized that I missed my chance to scratch the needle across the record and then let the room bask in horrified silence as this guy covered in blood just walks through. Tonights club looks like something out of Austin Powers. It’s got stained glass windows, trippy couches, and cheesy/classy over the top chandeliors all over the place.

Published on August 17, 2005

Nanjing, Coors Tour Conclusion

Today I left Hangzhou and arrived in Nanjing, which means south capitol in Chinese. Beijing means north capitol and tokyo (dongjing in Chinese) means east capitol. Nanjing has actually been the capitol of China twice, first during the Ming dynasty and most recently at the beginning of the 20th century.

This is my second time today at the internet place down the street from my hotel since I don’t have to work today. Except when I came this time it was in the middle of the night and I had to travese another network of dark alleys through which I could hardly see. There was one guy picking through trash, and it wasn’t a casual affair; serious scavenger business. Respect

It’s hot as a motherfucker in this internet place and the girl next to me who’s now eating noodles has been bugging me for the last hour. She’s constantly adjusting her webcam and pointing it at me so her friends can see the caucasian that’s SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO HER OMG I’M SERIOUS LOOK FOR YOURSELF :( I wave and then flick them off and smile and then adjust the camera back towards here to which she reacts violently and immediately adjusts it back. Fuck it, I give up.

This afternoon I was here and I met a girl named Ivy who’s in school to learn english, although we spoke in Chinese the entire time. She understood everything I said, which was sweet. Often I have trouble with people not understanding my Chinese through my American accent, which I do my absolute best to mask. I asked her to watch the Korean movie Sex is Zero with Kim and I, but she had family business to attend to and said we should meet tomorrow. She told me that this city has a giant wall around it and apparently a large number of smaller great walls which she’d show me. Okay, cool.

I just got finished listening to Maiden Voyage by Miles Davis and now I’m tuned to Ry Cooders El Cuarto de Tula on the Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack which is outstanding. It really suits the unbearably-hot atmosphere of this place, and if I wasn’t surrounded by Chinese people I could almost imagine myself in Mexico.

My hotel is really pretty great. According to the elevator I’m on the 5th floor, but by my count I’m on the third. Maybe they’re hiding two floors somewhere that I can’t see. When we arrived Kim was goddamn ecstatic because the hotel brochure indicates that they have a game room with ping pong, billiards, and cards and chess, an exercise room, and two restaurants; one Chinese and one Western. When he asks where all of this is located they, without a trace of shame, tell him that they don’t actually have any of that shit. I almost had to pull him away from the concierge as he was completely stunned:

Concierge: We don’t have any of that stuff.
Kim: What do you mean? It’s right here in the brochure.
Concierge: Yeah, sorry.
Kim: What do you mean you don’t have it?
Concierge: We don’t have it.
Kim: WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T HAVE IT?
Concierge: …..
Kim: HOW CAN YOU.. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T HAVE IT?
Me: Okay Kim, lets go now.

Ten days and I’ll be in Thailand.

Published on August 16, 2005

Trendy Club

These have been the names of the last three clubs that I’ve played at. They all start with T. I will be watching closely for tonights club to make a quintuplet.

I really have a lot to write about them, but I’m short on time as I’m about to meet up with Danny who’s leaving for Shanghai today.

Trendy Club was unbelievable. In true trendy fashion, they absolutely flipped out when I didn’t play house music. I came into there with an agreement with myself that I would play music that they don’t hear in places like this. I wouldn’t stick to protocol, I would break all of the rules as flagrantly as possible. I played Gin & Juice first and ressurrected the dead dance floor and before Award Tour was finished the manager of the club was up in the booth yelling at me. Here’s approximately how it went:

him: WHAT ARE YOU DOING
me: HI. DJ’ING
him: THIS IS CHINA
me: THANKS
him: YOU MUST PLAY HOUSE HERE
me: I DON’T WANT TO PLAY HOUSE HERE. PEOPLE ARE DANCING NOW
him: NO, I PAY THOSE PEOPLE TO DANCE
me: WHY THE FUCK DO YOU DO THAT?
him: THIS IS CHINA THIS IS CHINA
me: OKAY I’LL PLAY HOUSE

I played Smack my Bitch Up next and then Kim ran on the dancefloor and started breaking. I hit stop on the song that was playing and dropped Rappers Delight to make the place more conducive to dancing, but the manager of the club literally pulled Kim mid-windmill off the dancefloor and forbid him from breaking. I got really agitated at this point and played Mary Jane by Rick James to cool off a bit. I knew their heads were about to explode at a club as musically xenophobic as this one, so I went through some other tracks quickly and then prepped the Gypsy Kings cover of Hotel California (the one played when Jesus is bowling in Big Lebowski). The guy came in the booth and cut me off¬†and I dropped the mighty Gypsy Kings which played for about 90 seconds until they started with some awful Chinese house music which instantly cleared the floor and reclaimed the clubs Trendy namesake. After Hotel California I was going to play the end sequence of Killing in the Name of by RATM with the “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” sequence which would have undoubtedly been the most rebellious single moment in my years of DJ’ing. Being in 10 clubs in 20 cities over 2 months makes me realize the ridiculous overabundance of clubs in China; 90f them are all the same and play the same music over and over; I’d much rather play what I want to play and be kicked off while playing AC/DC than have some chump businessmen dance with 16 year old prostitutes while I play Chinese lovesong techno remixes like some of them want me to. Oh, also. Even though my set was cut short, my Coors boss said that she had a friend in the club who owns another local club and wants me to DJ there, and she gave me his number to call him when I’m back from Thailand. Funny how things work out sometimes.

Touch Club last night was a lot of fun, though. The place was like a loft-style club, but really dope and much less stuffy, in terms of the crowd, the music, the atmosphere, and so on.

Today I’ll negotiate with Ronny, a DJ/promoter in Shanghai that has 4 gigs that he’s lined up in September. I’d consider him a friend, so if the dates work, I’ll do it.

The guy next to me in this internet cafe is singing pretty loudly while checking his email. Sweet.

Published on August 12, 2005

Shanghai, Pegasus

I don’t have much time, so I’ll be brief. Last night after playing, me and the Kims went to Pegasus, the biggest hip hop night in town. Oh, I’m in Shanghai now. Being in Pegasus reminds me of being home. The club is full of foreigners and Chinese people with their colorful interpretations of what hip hop really is (FIFTY CENT & LIL JOHN U HURD?) and the music was only mediocre, but it’s still a welcoming feeling of nostalgia. We stayed until 4am or so when we stumbled out on the street with some skater friends and walked around on the street for about 30 minutes in transit to a karaoke place at the end of the plaza. Why? I don’t know, we were drunk. Anyway, getting right to the point, me and Dana sang PARADISE CITY. YES THE GUNS & ROSES SONG. It was truly the diamond-in-the-rough of the mostly-Chinese pretty much all-terrible catalog of music. I didn’t make it home until almost 7am, just before McDonalds started serving breakfast. Fuck, it would have been my first McDonalds breakfast in the better part of a year. Today is Friday and I’m in the same club tonight that I am tomorrow. This is my only weekend in Shanghai on this trip, so I’m really hoping that the club is exceptional.

Published on August 5, 2005

Friday Night at KK, Xiamen

Friday nights are consistantly exceptional. Last Friday I was in the second largest venue of the tour so far, and last night I was at the KK club which I had heard about since arriving in Xiamen; and surprisingly the place actually lived up to the reputation. Clubs are almost always crowded to capacity here on weekends, but one thing I’ve really learned in the last few months is how much of a difference a really receptive crowd is.

We arrived at the club in the afternoon for sound check and to test their projectors for the VJ show and were out of there pretty quickly, but definitely noticed the organization of this particular venue. It actually operates like a club in America would – it’s apparently managed by people who have a genuine interest in the club, which was really pretty nice. They had a large billboard outside and photos of the three of us (myself and the Kims) all around the club, even in the bathroom over the urinals. When I left the club at 5:30am I took one of the smaller vinyl billboards that was positioned on the ground; one of the employees help me cut the zip ties that kept it in place. I think I’ll mail it to someone, but I don’t know who. I won’t skip ahead to that far yet, though.

The club was arranged into two floors, the top area being a concert-stage area with performers and the bottom floor being the club area with the DJ. They had a variety of shows on the top floor as they always do, which included one routine with a group¬†of a dozen girls¬†dressed as sexy marines doing synchronized Britney-esque dance moves. Kim and Kim did their “sex dance” (this is where they pretty much dry hump eachother for 5 minutes to upbeat Enya – Chinese people absolutely love this) and the place went nuts.

At 12:30 I started DJ’ing and didn’t finish until 2:30. I used Serato Scratch and played a lot of new tunes that I’ve recently bought from Beatport, which went down really well. I remember a group of girls with one guy who were going absolutely nuts the entire time, right up on the glass a few feet in front of me. Most of the rest of the crowd did their psuedo-dance wiggle/jump thing and held up their hands a lot which Chinese people also do. Oh, also. The group directly in front of me kept trying me to give them a glowing rave-toy ball-thing which was next to me in the booth. It was about a dozen glowing bracelets tied together with some plastic piece to make it into a ball. They kept wanting me to give them this, pointing at it, etc. About half way through I played Everybody, which is a track by BBB released a year or two ago on IHR and during the breakdown held the ball up in the air like I was going to throw it in the crowd. The place goes absolutely nuts, it’s like this glowing ball is the anti-virus to the disease which will kill everyone in the room in 30 seconds. I toss it out and a small handful of people fight over it momentarily before one person triumphantly holds it up in the air with a look on his face like he’s won a gold medal. What great fun.

After DJ’ing we had to go back to the hotel because Coors has a rule where we have to leave the club as a group and we’re forbidden from staying to hang out. I didn’t want to go to sleep because the club was still jumping and I was filled with free beer, so I went to the hotel, changed out of the Coors shirt, and went back to the club.

I spent half of the time dancing and the other half talking to people, and about half of that was talking to a girl who worked there named Jojo. We played the dice game for a while and she taught me how to play a new game which I haven’t played before – similar to connect four, except it’s played on a board with black and white pieces and the object is to line up five of your color in a row while preventing your oppononent¬†from doing the same. Simple, but fun. I actually hung around until 5:30 for some insane reason. I had a great time hanging out with Jojo though, what struck me most about her was that she seemed very genuine. We’ve been exchanging text messages on and off today and I’ve been able to learn a few new characters, including ?í¬µ and ?Ö¬?. The sweet thing about that second character is that it’s written in pinyin as “o”, but in conversation it’s just an acknowledgement, so it works the same way as “oh” in english.

I’ve been in Quanzhou for 7 hours and haven’t seen or done much here, but the most notable thing about this place so far is that tonights club is inside my hotel, on the fourth floor. It looks like one of the nicer hotels that I’d imagine to be in this city¬†and I’m surprised that Coors would be classy enough to put us up in a place like this. Champion form, Silver Bullet.

I have another Moleskine that’s nearly full. Another six months of this and I could probably combine all of my journals into a full size novel, although no one but myself would probably care to read my abstract, personal, and completely disjointed observations.

I’m learning to play xiangqi. That’s Chinese chess in the west, but here it’s elephant chess. It plays pretty similar to western chess but the pace is much faster. Also, elephants.

Currently listening to: Almost-silent-but-not-quite Counter Strike (they’re using headphones)

Published on July 30, 2005

Xiamen Coffee Shop Gig

I didn’t have to work last night because they arranged for the Kims to dance in a classy coffee shop. The place was great, but just not meant for something as loud as our show. The atmosphere was great, and the live band was truly fantastic. Generally speaking I think music in China is sub-standard; everyone just wants to hear the same five songs which are currently popular. Turn on the radio and flip through the channels and you’ll probably hear 4 different stations simultaneously broadcasting the same song. But when you least expect it, you’re blown away. It was a 4-member downtempo psuedo-jazz thing; perfect for the setting and ocassion.

I met a few people and spent a few hours there hanging out and enjoying the music after both of the Kims went back to our hotel. Somewhere shortly before 2am we’re all sitting there and someone darts in the door behind me, grabs something off the tables, and flies out. People get up and start to chase him as I turn around and figure out what’s going on; some kid had snatched a cell phone and sprinted down the street with it. I was late, but I got up and chased the people who were chasing him. He apparently got in a cab and got away, which is a real shame. If only I didn’t have my back turned to him. I’ll be more careful with leaving my cell phone on the table now.

Today we went to a badass waterpark, very similar to the one we went to in Guangzhou. The sun is shining and its hot but pleasant outside with a slight breeze. We spent 3 hours in the sun and came inside to eat and check our e-mail, so I expect we’ll shortly head back out there.

Kim spent all day yesterday working on grafitti. There’s a 6×12′ red, orange, and yellow mural of a hippo near a construction site across the street from our hotel.

There’s a big club here called KK Club. It’s supposed to be among the most popular in China; people told us to expect to see Chinese celebrities there. Not that I would know who any of them are.

Published on July 27, 2005