Oh, Japanese Signs. You Provide Endless Smiles.

October 24, 2009

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Americans Overheard At Dinner (Ko Chang, Thailand)

October 23, 2009

“I don’t know. The Bush thing gets so overplayed.”

“Makes me wish I learned a little Thai before I came. Now I’m here
and everyone speaks English so….” (laughs).

“You just need to chill and realize that they don’t have customer
satisfaction surveys here.”

To the owner: “Your people are like. So cool. I am in awe.”

“My signal keeps going out too. We’re roughing it!”

“I can’t even imagine what Cambodia is like.”

“So I know that we’re near where the Vietnam war was. But was it like,
really close?”.

“That’s hilarious.” (One girl says this 26 times instead of actually laughing).

“It is so, like, I don’t know. They’re actually chopping the
vegetables. How cool is that? It reminds me of Koreatown. Or
something.”

“I just want to take a year of my life and go to like, everywhere.”

“We really have to hit the 7-11 later. I need smokes and Oreos.”

“Like. I don’t know. Like. I just like. Like. I don’t know. Like. Just
like…” (She never gets the sentence off the ground).

“So do you guys have pop songs too?”

“I can totally see eating this for thirty dollars in LA.”

“I wonder how much condoms are here.”

“Isn’t it cute how they say ‘make a party’ instead of ‘have a party?’

“If I had a choice I would totally eat with chopsticks every night”.

“This is such, like, an authentic experience. Just look at these
plastic plates.”

“It’s not like I have a whole new perspective on life. It’s just like,
that I have some perspective.”

“That’s sooooo spicy. Can I have more water?” (I am convinced the
staff double-dosed the chilis and are snickering under their pleasant
smiles).


Have A Coke and A Frown

October 23, 2009

Did anyone else see Coke's new travel-the-world contest?  Here's my take.  The main point:

"We’ve got a planet currently held together by duct tape – is now the time to spend a year running around it like Smurfette, giving kisses to whoever will have them? Or is it the year to expose world poverty, build houses for the homeless, and get together with the world’s thinkers? How exactly are you going to make a person with no water smile? Oh right, you’ll hand them a Coke."

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My blog about the creepy Museo De La Policia Federal (Police Museum) in Buenos Aires

October 21, 2009

Buenos Aires' Strangest Museum

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In Case You Thought Tapas Was Something Else

October 21, 2009

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As Filthy As A Gay Man On A Saturday Night

October 20, 2009

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John is sitting across from me, sobbing. Broken. He has had his wallet and money stolen. He has spent the previous three hours sleeping on the street, only to wake when someone stole his last possession from his pocket, a pack of Marlboro Lights.

This all is my fault because last night I took him to Amerika, a place where you can have the best night of your life. Or the worst.

Buenos Aires’ Amerika is an astonishing club, full of sweat and sin. Over three thousand people pack into the space on weekend nights, taking full advantage of an open bar that comes included in the ticket price.

Bartenders drip with perspiration as they dump 40-ouncers of Budweiser into crunchable plastic cups, pop endless bottles of champagne and pour shots directly into the mouths of alcohol-happy Portenos. The perimeter of the dance floor is surrounded by a drainage duct, in which busboys dump half-empty drinks and hose vomit.

All the while a crowd loses its collective mind.

The idea was simple. My new friend and I would have a crazy night out. I had met John in Spanish class. He was twenty six and came to Argentina from Istanbul, having just split up with his long-time girlfriend and recently telling his family that he was gay. “My mother cried. She said that I am just depressed and I could not possibly like dick.”

The problem is that rump-roasting is not taboo in Turkey. It is not uncommon for straight men to have sex with transvestites or gay men – the definitive rule being that if you’re on top, you’re straight, no matter what you’re dipping into. In a culture where straight men are banging gay men for pleasure, I can see why it would be confusing to figure out just where your preferences lay.

We took a taxi to Palermo, then waited in line with a straight couple who had gotten a babysitter and taken the night off from the misery of a screaming infant. I asked them if they knew that the bar was mostly gay. The wife replied, “Yes but it’s ok. We like it because we can forget that we are parents and sometimes we forget to be dirty and sexy. So we come here. Nobody is more, how you say, filthy than the gays.”

Fifty pesos later, John and I entered the main hall. A man dressed like Charlie Chaplin was swinging overhead on a trapeze, as a remixed classic Madonna track blared from the perfect sound system. Thousands of bodies grinded and cheered as the beat took a less pop direction, moving into a chicka-chicka beat and away from The 80’s.

A drag queen who could have be mistaken for Iggy Pop howled and swung his hair wildly. Arms reached over shoulders for drinks at the bar. Girls with lit cigarettes flailed their arms all over, like medusas with a nicotine habit. People were dancing anywhere that there was room – on top of podiums, on the stage and on couches.

We played our part, consuming dangerous house vodka and gossiping about the people in the crowd. Iggy Pop came over and danced for us, his cheap red heels accentuated by varicose veins and emaciated legs. “Whoooooooooooooooo”, he would say after every tenth beat of the music. “Whoooooooooooooooooooo”.

The smoky dance floor eventually pushed us upstairs, to an area called the “Love Tunnel.” In most circles it’s simply referred to as a Dark Room, an area of a club where people congregate to slam bodies. I squoze into the curtained-off area about the size of a basketball court, the air still thick with thumping beats. It was 4:30am, which seemed to be the peak time for a significant portion of the crowd to be getting some action.

John and I split up. I was immediately cruised by an attractive Argentine, who hit on me in with the typical tact of most men in Buenos Aires clubs – he put my hand on his crotch. Clearly this “line” had worked before, probably because he was packing a piece so large that it should not have been inserted in anything smaller than the eye of a hurricane. I took a pass.

I wandered by one couch where a straight couple was quietly doing The Nasty. I was surprised when the man waved at me, then put his hand back on the woman’s waist as he regained his stride – it was the couple from line.

Eventually I found John and told him that I was probably going to leave. He wasn’t going anywhere. “I will stay and take a taxi home myself.” His shirt was ripped open, his hair was sweaty and he had the crazy look of a cat in front of a bowl of guppies. I told him to be careful and text me when he got home.

No text arrived and I assumed that he had pulled. By noon I became worried and called his phone, which was shut off. I signed onto Facebook and saw that his profile had been dormant for 18 hours. Ten minutes later, an instant message popped up from John. “I am so fucked.”

He recounted his evening. He had been fleeced of his wallet and cell phone in the Love Tunnel, not realizing it before it was too late. He asked the club to call the police – they simply kicked him out. He slept on the street next to the club where, at 8am, a bouncer tossed his empty wallet into his lap.

An employee took pity on him and gave him 20 pesos to get home, at which point John realized that his keys had also been stolen. A locksmith was called and two hours later, he was broke.

I bought him dinner tonight and he looked like a man who had run two marathons. Shaking and sad, he offered a smile and offered up the truth that we both knew, despite how horrible it all seemed at the moment.

“We’ll be laughing about this night, one day.”


I’m Digging This Mix That Dahveed Posted

October 19, 2009

Atlas Sound micromix…10 Tracks. Really varied.
http://matadornights.com/musicmonday-micromix-by-atlas-sound/

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My Tale Of Woe From London’s Heathrow (It Rhymed)

October 19, 2009

I just posted a piece today about my trip through immigration at Heathrow, which ended up with me in their jail and a flight back to the USA.  

 

Locked Down At Heathrow

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With Ants Like These Who Needs Enemies (Laos)

October 17, 2009

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Are You Getting It? Really Getting It?

October 16, 2009

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Traveling alone only begins to wear on me when The Thing happens. It is always brought upon by not having spoken to people in days, often in areas where I just simply can’t grasp the language (particularly countries where syllables like “yeoowowowowoweee” contribute greatly to an adverb). The Thing is simply this: One song gets in my head, loops and repeats for days.

You’re thinking, “That’s happened to me!” I’m thinking you’re very fucking wrong. You’re probably imagining “Beautiful” by James Blunt invading your mind for a few hours while cleaning, or whistling “Lady Marmalade” in the shower, eventually uttering “Geez, I wish that would stop.” The frequency with which you replay this song is 1/100th of how often I will hear it and 1/1,000,000th of the duration it will stay stuck in the front of my mind. It is not always just the ‘hook’ of a song that hangs upon me, either. It can be one line from a verse, a drum fill or even a throwaway grunt. There are moments, around day five, when I feel that there no cure possible, much like when any human enters hour two of the hiccups. Except there is BOO- ing it out of me.

Currently, The Thing is in high gear. The song in question is “Armageddon It”, the fifth single from Def Leppard’s multi platinum album Hysteria. The album purged seven singles and sold twenty million copies over the years 1987-1988. Two of the album’s tunes (“Armageddon It” and “Rocket”) were gigantic pieces of poo, only becoming hits based on the sheer momentum of the Leppard juggernaut and the audacity of singer Joe Eliott’s power-mullet. There is no reason why this song should have been filed into my memory banks – it is only mildly significant given the amount of trash that I have since consumed. Yet my brain has chosen to remember every lyric. This is the same brain that cannot hold onto the Spanish translation of “I think I am dying. I need a doctor.”

The song revolves around one main hook, in the form of a poignant question: “Are You Getting It?” Many, many times that question is answered, “Yes, Armageddon It”. Upon first listen, you could have no idea how doomsday figured into this whole catastrophe of a hit, because this reply is sounded out phonetically like “I’m-a-getting-it”. Then, around listen #2 one realizes that one is privy to some kind of sinister wordplay, a dialect that the band assuredly deemed “fucking brilliant” during the writing process.

“Armageddon It” is insipid, vulgar and trite. For this reason, I also believe it to be a shining example of America’s tone in 1987. It would never have occurred to a majority of the record-buying public that lyrics like these (“Pull it. Pull it. Trigger the gun.”) were any less important than books being delivered by Updike. This was the year during which the decade went off the rails, just before the populace entered rehab or began Pilates class (yoga’s older aunt). The country was deeply imbued in a collective conscious where anything went, where anything could be bought and where any problem could be dimmed by nineteen rails of blow.

Injecting Def Leppard into this particular decade was masterful work on the part of Whoever Is Up There. The band sensed no irony in their fame and their career is chock full of debaucherous stories. This bravado would have fallen flat in any year after 1992 but Def Leppard hit the sweet spot, dropping affable hits on a public that also accepted bands w ith names like Ratt, Cinderella and Poison. They’ve sold a jaw-dropping 65 million albums. To put that into perspective, the top three albums of 2008 sold a com bined seven million copies. These ka-ching sales were bolstered by lines like “You know you got it. So don’t rock it. You know you got it.” It really makes you wonder about the human race, and where it was headed before thermal replaced spandex.

When The Thing is in full gear, I will sometimes role play that I am the singer. Especially in this song, when Elliot suggests that the guitarist tear into an unusually horrific solo. I mouth along “C’mon Steve, get it”, just before he mauls the fretboard with ill-advised wizardry. Unfortunately, Steve is no longer Armageddon It because he died in 1991, after downing painkillers and allegedly consuming a triple vodka, a quadruple vodka and a double brandy within thirty minutes. He will serve as an example of those who never came back from the dark side of the 80’s, adjusting poorly to a life that didn’t involve excess.

It is very easy to point out the absurdity of “Armageddon It” now but in the interest of full disclosure, I owned the single on both twelve inch and cassingle (an equally absurd format, with fidelity that sounded like the vocals were being played through the other side of a mattress). By the time Hysteria was released, I had seen Def Leppard eight times over the course of two albums. I had served detention for carving their logo into my school desk, spooged myself when I learned the first chords to “Photograph” and did not have hair dissimilar to bassist Rick Savage (note: his real last name). It is not that I am judging anyone for writing this song, nor for pumping fists along with its melodies. It’s more that we were all that stupid for feeling emotion when we sang along.

“Armageddon It” became a Top 20 hit in the UK and reached #3 on the USA pop charts in 1988. Right now it is #1 with a bullet in my head, stuck in The Thing for at least a while longer. I’m just praying that Billy Squier isn’t waiting around the corner.