Sunday, June 29, 2008


The first weekend of summer here in LA last weekend was one for the record books, temperatures climbing way up into triple digits in the valleys and not much better downtown. I usually avoid such temperature extremes, but you get used to it after a few days and weekends aren’t so bad anyway what with less traffic and turmoil. The Seun Kuti show Friday night at Cal Plaza was even a bit warm though quite tolerable, considering the immense talent of dad Fela’s ‘Egypt 80’ band and son Seun himself. Saturday would be a challenge, though. Pasadena sounds cool whether it actually is or not, so my wife Tang and I said “damn the torpedoes” and charged with little trepidation out into the noonday LA sun. The choice of Pasadena was fairly easy since I’m a huge fan of Dengue Fever and also wanted to check out the Mexican groups there. Otherwise I might’ve seriously considered the ‘Bayou Fest’ in Long Beach, featuring the likes of zydeco stars Terrence Simien, Savoy Doucet and Geno Delafose, with plenty of Cajun, creole, jazz, and blues also for their diverse populace. Those bayous run deep after all, way up into north Louisiana, too. Downtown there was a major Latino reggae/ska fest called LA Sound Systems going on also, featuring groups from seven countries, including Maldita Vecindad and Anti-Doping (I expect names like that from Thailand, not South America). I’m no huge ska fan and never heard of ‘Reggae en Espanol’ (not to be confused with Reggaeton), and that festival was fifty bucks a head, so you know…

The others were free, including a ‘solstice’ 60’s festival in Santa Monica featuring Cubensis and other nostalgia groups. The first-year Pasadena fest was the only one with a ‘world’ stage, though, logical since it is affiliated with the multi-national ‘fete de la musique’ and partially sponsored by France through its local Alliance Francaise. It wasn’t exactly another Festivale Internacionale in Lafayette, Louisiana, but still a good start. For those who don’t know France is a major supporter of world music, part of its on-going efforts to promote Francophony and French-speaking countries around the world, most of them in the West African world music heartland. Unfortunately the world stage got the short end of the stick, located far from the others, and without proper shade, no small consideration on a triple-digit day. I hope that’s improved for next year. World music has enough problems without suffering promotional slights.

But the show must go on of course, so we all persevered in the heat. I got there in time for the acclaimed Tijuana group Nortec Collective, but found the experience, though not the music, disappointing. There’s something to be said for a group going Euro-style with a guy on stage tweaking the knobs of his laptop computer, but two of them, hunched over like a couple of video-game geeks? This is uninspiring. I go to a festival, or concert, to hear live music, not ‘sampling.’ A video display doesn’t help much in the bright daylight either of course, so this show would’ve been much better in the dark and indoors, where DJ’s have long established their turf with similar displays. Fortunately there was a continuous live accordion accompaniment with occasional horns, so that helped keep things lively enough for the mostly Anglo crowd. Make a laptop shaped like a guitar for on-stage use, though, and then you might have something.

Dengue Fever came on next, looking like assorted apostles, fishermen and farmers following Cambodian lead singer Ch’hom Nimol to the altar of entertainment, there to make sweet and savory offerings to lesser gods as they play out their fantasies in real life until it becomes legend. For the uninitiated the story goes that these guys discovered 60’s Cambodian pop while on a backpack tour there in the 90’s and subsequently delayed while recovering from… guess what? Dengue Fever. I myself listened to and watched old ‘Cambodian Bandstand’ videotapes for hours while in Sihanoukville; they’re killer. From there the Holtzmann brothers perused the Cambodian clubs of Long Beach looking for a lead singer, until they finally found Ch’hom Nimol. The rest is history, a slow climb to stardom, though poor Nimol’s flower looked ready to wither in last Saturday’s heat. Nevertheless it was a typically brilliant set, complete with encore. These guys write their own songs now, in Khmer and English, and are ready to break big on the world stage.

AfroBeat Down followed with some danceable rhythms, but by then I was hot and hungry and ready to get back to the main action on the other side of town. There the Raveonettes were finishing up their rave-on set to audience applause, so we grabbed a pizza to await the Kinky show. Kinky, like Nortec, is a Mexican group, this time from Monterrey. Like Nortec they play their own unique brand of fusion techno/ranchero, but unlike Nortec, it’s all live, and they had a large appreciative crowd. Considering there were six stages scattered around town, it was impossible to see everything, and world music is a large umbrella (more about that later), but Bobby Rodriguez’ large band closing the show at the jazz stage was probably the highlight for me. For one thing acts like this are hard to find these days. These guys, many advanced in age, were right out of the fifties and the heyday of Cuban-inspired Latin jazz. I almost expected a wacky redhead to wander out from the wings at any moment. For another thing, these guys are good, a sound as crisp and full as the rapidly cooling evening air. You can go to Hollywood Bowl and hear similar yet more famous more expensive music, but I don’t think you would hear much better. Arturo Sandoval’s got nothing on these guys.

This weekend may be a little less festive, but there’s no shortage of music. Gilberto Gil, Brazil’s Minister of Culture and veteran musical journeyman dating back to the Bossa Nova days, is headlining the Hollywood with quirky Indie-Folksters Devendra Banhart as part of KCRW’s ‘World Festival.’ They didn’t call it ‘World Music Festival’ so I won’t waste any space questioning their motives right here right now, but I’ll probably check out Kusun Ensemble and Quetzal at the Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena on Friday and Saturday nights respectively. Like most of the best things in life, it’s free.

Wanna' buy a MP3 download for a buck, buddy? (See you in MySpace)

Okay my dear friends and readers, here's the deal: as you can see the old blog is being converted to my new world music/film blog, so please stay tuned if you're interested in such things. Meanwhile, I'll try to continue a personal blog over at MySpace, which could be interesting since it has enough members now to rank as about the fourth most populous country in the world, depending on whether they can continue to grow faster than Indonesia can reproduce. MySpace is more than a social network, you know. It is simply THE best place to listen to any kind of music in the world, and it's improved so you don't have to click on individual songs so much. Check it out. And don't rule out the possibility of networking either. I know there's a generational divide on this, most of us old flatulaters preferring to actually sit down and look each other in the face, not on the screen, but this can be more than a fashion statement, you know. Aside from 235 million members and upstart counterparts at YouTube and FaceBook, etc., the fact that so many people (OK, mostly kids) see this as a way of life, it derives an unparalleled potential from that very fact. Be my friend over there! I'm tired of Tom! Wanna' see some dirty pictures? That's

See you there! (hey, somebody download a MP3 song from here and tell me if it works!)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

BLOGICIDAL TENDENCIES- Putting the Family Blog to Sleep?

Well, things are not going smoothly for the new world music/film blog. You’d think you get what you pay for, but actually the paid service through TypePad is causing more problems than this blog by Blogger, which is free. WordPress is also free, but allows no advertising, though they do envision it at some point in the future. At my age the future is now. The problem here at Blogger is that third party services confuse the new and old blogs. That’s why you see all these extra ‘widgets’ (click buttons) in the upper right that are supposed to be on the new blog. It’s starting to look like Chinatown around here. The idea is for the new blog to be more professional with ads and sales and services and… (drumroll here please) MASS READERSHIP. I’m not greedy you know but… I could use a job, and selling Thai girls by Google Ad isn't working out. I thought about just killing this blog to remove the confusion but then you guys my friends and faithful readers might lose track… so, what I might do is just convert this blog to a world/music film one and start a personal non-commercial blog elsewhere, or not at all. This blog’s name might even change but the URL stay the same. Please send me an e-mail if you’re confused as this blog gets chaotic, but it should work out within a few days. My personal life’s pretty boring these days anyway, pretty much just Tang, Tang, and Tang, my mother wife and child a full-time job mentally if not physically. Some people think I shouldn’t be talking about her here since she can’t read it, but believe me you don’t know the half of it. Anyway, pardon our dust as we work out technical details and make executive decisions. STAY TUNED! (And I’ll post the new blog here just for a teaser, heh heh… on second thought, maybe go ahead and subscribe to the new blog address above just in case; can’t hurt)

Friday, June 27, 2008


If you drilled a hole through the center of the Earth, starting at Thailand, where do you think you’d come out (yes, I actually do stuff like this)? Wrong. Guess again. Wrong again. Okay, so pull out the globe if that’ll help. No, you don’t have to actually drill the hole, but you could pull a string around the widest point then mark the half-way spot and do it again. It’s probably easiest to just check the co-ordinates and do some simple math starting with base sixty Sumerian multiples that have been handed down as the number of degrees in a circle. Disregard the fact that the world is not a perfect ball, actually somewhat pear-shaped, and pretend that the center could actually be defined as a certain exact point. If you’re lucky you’ll come out somewhere in Peru. If you’re unlucky you’ll come out somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, depending on your specific starting point. Thailand’s a big country. So is Peru. If you started around Chanthaburi, you’d come out in Lima. You might be disappointed. It ain’t pretty, most of it, outside the Plaza Mayor and Plaza De Armas. Neither is Bangkok in my humble nature-loving opinion. Try to find a park there! For much of it though you probably wouldn’t notice much difference. You’d see the same brownish swarthy skin all over punctuated by a lucky few much lighter. You’d see the same noisy streets. In small towns you’d see the same crowded pungent markets. Until you listen to the language being spoken and the food being eaten, they could be almost interchangeable. In terms of cultural evolution the language is the main thing. But what a difference when you go outside the cities! The rice fields of Thailand are gone and potatoes reign supreme in Peru, all two hundred varieties of them. The pine trees and mangrove of Thai coasts are gone and the desert rules eternal in Peru, some places that haven’t seen rain in a hundred years. The lowlands of Thailand are gone, the Mekong Basin only a few hundred feet high a thousand miles from the sea, and the Andes shoot straight up from the Pacific Coast, only to fall off again and forever into the endless green expanse of the Amazon Basin.

Still the natives of both places are not so dissimilar, perhaps because of their common origins, whether via a land route or sea, though long separated in both time and space. They’re two of the most enigmatic cultures in the world, however lovable, though they know little or nothing of each other. But they’re all here in LA, and for the most part have little to do with each other, people largely staying within their own group for social intercourse, Asian women and Anglo men being the most likely exception to that rule. It’s a pity, that the various cultures of the world connect what little they do, only via the predominant English-speaking one, by insinuation if not actual assimilation. In the process indigenous cultures get lost and the dominant one maybe becomes more diverse racially but not culturally, people lost in the shuffle in a nation ‘of laws, not men.’ I’d like to change all that, and music seems the place to start, being the universal language in my opinion (equations don’t express emotion). LA’s wealth is that of its immigrants’ diverse ethnic origins, and I’d like to devote some of this time and space to bringing them a little closer, at least to us if not each other. That’s always been my goal as traveler and trader, so it must be part of my make-up psychologically (where’s my mascara)? So if evolution loves a mass extinction, then so does this blog. It has to reach the end of its current trajectory before it can become something else. And so it shall I hope. Given its current scatter-shot catch-all forum for whatever I happen to fancy expounding on at any given moment, this is good. Though part of this catch-all title was to gain rank in the Blogosphere by using keywords and meta-tags where and when such things matter, much of it was simply my own lack of focus and assumption that it would be a de facto combination travel/ex-pat blog which seemed feasible and which has defined my life for the last few years, hyper travel (while dabbling and indulging in world music) with a base in Thailand. Both travelers and ex-pats are fairly avid bloggers and readers and forum participants, perhaps intrinsic to their circumstances for lack of other outlets in which to merge their urge to ‘stay connected.’

But things change, and so must this blog. I’ve learned some things by affiliating with Technorati, Feedburner, and Google, etc. the last half year. If you google the words ‘Thailand’ and ‘Timbuktu’ simultaneously, we’ll still come up #1. We might still twenty years from now. These are messages in bottles that don’t always wash up. That’s OK. And it takes some time to write over a hundred pages in a few months for something that’s a labor mostly of love. But above all it’s always been a personal blog, and so it shall remain. The new off-shoot will not be. It’ll be a world music blog, based in and around LA, for now at least, and hopefully bound for glory, or at least greater professionalism, links to Amazon and all that jazz. Hey, you gotta’ have dreams. As I’ve already mentioned such acts as Seun Kuti, Tcheka, Son de Madera, and Ricardo Lemvo are scheduled for Grand Performance at Cal Plaza this summer, and that’s not the half of it, much of it for free. In the last three days I’ve seen no less than Seun Kuti, Dengue Fever, and Mexico’s Kinky, and missed no less than zydeco’s Terence Simien and Gene Delafose. There were Pasadena’s ‘Make Music’ Festival, Long Beach’s Bayou Fest, Olvera Street’s Latino reggae/ska festival, Santa Monica’s solstice hippie-fest, and even a Mariachi blow-out at Hollywood Bowl, ALL IN ONE WEEKEND. I chose Pasadena, partly for Tang to see the ‘real America’ of white people and picket fences and of course the music, including everybody’s favorite Cambodian band that I missed last week because the blue line to Long Beach is undergoing repairs. What I’d really like to do is penetrate the seamy Latin underbelly of music here and hear the stuff coming through from Latin America that maybe never even makes it to MySpace. Much of that is late late night at the Hollywood Park Casino, way off the bus line, but there’s El Floridita not far away and maybe I’ll check out GuateLinda in Hollywood soon. Hopefully it’s still got some Latino stuff, though it’s now trendy with its Thursday night ‘Club called Rhonda’ for the emo-, metro, poly-sexual crowd (cracker anyone?).

So the new blog’s up and running, ‘synesthesia’ at , so check it out. Meanwhile I’m busily tacking on widgets and trying to make it look and maybe even sound good. That’d be nice, since it’s about world music and film. There are plenty of both here in the entertainment capital of the world. The music aspect will focus on world music in general, but particularly what’s playing in LA and from a west-coast perspective, i.e. closer to Latin America and Asia. Most world music is more likely to be East Coast/Europe/Africa-oriented. I’ll be more ‘occidented.’ World film is huge, also, and hugely overlooked, so I’ll try to toss some reviews in as I come across them. ‘Opening weekend’ is hardly an operative concept for foreign films anyway. It’s interesting to be back stateside US after a decade and see what happened to all the cutting-edge musical acts I was listening to in the 90’s, before I got world religion. Grunge is dead, of course, along with its chief protagonists, but Himmelman and Michael Penn are now scoring movies (and rewards), and Lanois and T-Bone are the hottest producers around. Sam Phillips is doing some gigs now while T-Bone is touring with Alison and Robert Plant, same as Penn and Aimee. On an even more Hollywoodish note, Juliette Lewis has a band now, likewise Billy Bob Thornton; too bad Juliette’s band isn’t composed of Brad’s exes. There’s some powerful connections there with Jennifer now Jon Mayer’s main squeeze and Gwyneth the Cold Play girl. So Sheryl Crow and Sarah Jessica battle it out on the billboards for ‘big hair mama’ of the month, with locks that would make the cowardly lion blush and the rest of us just flush. Aren’t you glad world music’s nothing like all this paparazzi pap that dominates the Hollywood scene? And who’s Marie Digby anyway? But I still like Death Cab for Cutie. Stay tuned. And don’t try drilling that hole through the earth just anywhere. It’s mostly water. You could get lost out there.

p.s. While this blog was sitting in the can the last day or two I just got notice that I have another poem being published, coming out in December at See? I told you I was a writer. Not surprisingly it’s less of an inner-circle poetry e-zine than most, and considering they carry translations of heavyweights like Apollinaire I could almost get giddy (git getty?) imagining the possibilities, like me some modern-day Rambo e-mailing in his poems to Verlaine from SE Asia… (There, I’m better now.) So that’s cool and now I can refer to my publication credits in plural, but the funny thing is that the poem being published is based on the same little thought experiment of the first paragraph above. Now that’s spooky; or is it sympathetic magic? You decide. And don’t forget my new world music and film blog. Check it out if you got time. That’s and since I’m feeling a surge of self-confidence, remember for you hard-core m-f’s who like really pretentious stuff. SUBSCRIBE!

p.p.s. Well, all these new widgets up above certainly make it easy to subscribe to the other blog, but I didn't intend it that way, so it's problematic with third-party services all confused. So I guess I could commit blogicide on this one, or go back to the original 'new blog' I first started at . Any opinions?

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Okay, so it’s not exactly fear and loathing in Las Vegas, but you get what you pay for, hopefully. Or at least that’s what I thought when I decided to pursue a summer sublease in the general environs of Hollywood and Thai Town, ‘Hollywood adjacent’ in renters’ jargon. Hotels here won’t let you stay longer than 28 days for reasons unstated, and even those weekly rates go up precipitously come June (not to mention the stigma of being ‘transient’). A micro-wave oven and a mini-fridge does not a kitchen make, either, almost but not quite. Furnished apartments are almost unheard of, witness box springs on the sidewalk the first of every month, and likely not cheap. Ditto for less-than-one-year leases, almost unheard of. Buying a house in LA is not for the faint of heart either, a cool half million just to get started, and don’t forget the security system. They say prices are down 30% from last year, but fail to mention that those prices are still 70% over 2000. Do the math. So a ‘summer sublet’ seemed like an inspired idea for anyone who knows how to log on. The print press ain’t got jack. It’s time to look to good ol’ Craig’s List, right? Even Internet bozos should be able to handle a simple sublet, right? That’s a so-called ‘no-brainer,’ isn’t it? It seems others have the same idea, so the competition is fierce, even though there are probably two hundred new listings a day for ‘greater LA’ (don’t laugh), and those list for a week, so some thousand listings at any given time. Those aren’t all around Hollywood of course and many are well over a thousand a month. They can get weird, too, renting out the master bedroom while major tenant sleeps on the living room couch, and so on. Such is the dream factory. Rooms for rent in a shared house are ubiquitous, which is good if you got no credit, but we didn’t want that. Still I responded to half a dozen before I even got a call-back; small units may not want couples.

Finally I got a response and things seemed amenable to both parties, an inexpensive sublet through the busy summer months right off the red line metro train in Hollywood. I might have known something was flakey when she wanted to meet first to make sure we were ‘cool enough’ to hang out with her neighbors, but I didn’t. Fortunately we passed or my self-esteem would have reached unfathomable lows. So we signed a little pro-forma lease, I giving her a lump-sum deposit and monthly rent including utilities, and she’ll handle the actual bills. That sounds simple enough, right? What could be easier? There’s only one problem, one at a time, that is. She mentioned nothing of this arrangement to the landlord or apartment manager. Now I haven’t rented a crib in the US for some twenty years, since before the days when you had to pay to apply for such, but even I kinda’ knew that subletting wasn’t OK unless you OK’d it first. But even then you might slide through like somebody’s big brother AS LONG AS YOU PAY THE F*&^%$# RENT ON TIME! Well of course anybody would go that extra mile for their guest sub-lessee wouldn’t they? Naah…

First I knew there was something wrong was the evening of the third day of this month when the apartment manager stopped me as I returned in the evening and asked who the Hell I was. I explained to no good effect. Then the apartment owner (yes, OWNER, he of some two thousand rooms) wakes me up the next day at 6am to tell me I’m out of line and out of time, get on the lease or get out. Well, this will blow over quickly as soon as the rent gets paid, right? No way. He wakes me up the next day, too, threatening to change the locks before another day passes. After a little flurry of stop-payments on my part and late fees on the original lessee’s part, I finally ended the little mini-crisis by taking over the lease myself, agreeing that we could do the same thing in reverse again in August per our original agreement. Fortunately the apartment’s original renter was actually still in the area, at Mommy Dearest’s house in the valley, her only problem one of cash flow, or we’d’ve really been screwed. But anyway, problem’s over, right? For that to happen the check would have had to ACTUALLY CLEAR, THOUGH, WOULDN’T IT?! Unfortunately my replacement check to her HAD cleared (after an earlier stop payment), so my only collateral was her furniture which I’m currently using. At that point I was certain she had cleverly and sneakily manufactured the whole scenario as a way to rid herself of apartment and furnishings at maximum benefit to herself. I was actually surprised when she coughed up a money order (with penalty) to clear the little rent crisis and I realized she wasn’t a sneak, just a flake. But at least all’s well with the place now, right? All WAS well until I got the ‘final notice’ in the mail yesterday to pay LADWP ASAP or face shut-off of power and water, this bill going back three months. Fortunately in a flash of insight I had insisted on opening the bills myself and paying them or I’d’ve never known till the lights went out. It’s just another day in Paradise.

So the temps here hit three digits Fahrenheit for the fifth day running in this heat wave from Hell. It’s enough to make you miss Celsius. Forty just doesn’t sound so bad. Still life goes on and I’m still a transient, a nomad, and an ex-pat in Thai Town, looking for a job, looking for a reason for the season, albeit with my name on an apartment lease and a marriage license, still far from God, still close to Mexico. But I can’t go. I have to baby sit my wife, she of little English lingo and my name on her visa, which just passed the initial three months entry. I sent in the ‘green card’ papers, now a thousand bucks a pop, but at lest a three-in-one pop, with concurrent applications for right-to-work and ‘advance parole’ to leave the country with proper permission. The work permit will be nice since she’s been working without it for two months. Maybe the ‘advance parole’ will be multiple entry so we can go to TJ some Sunday and fill up the tank with gas. Just kidding, as I don’t have a car, not here at least. No, I’m still stuck until I can drop her off in Thailand for a spell and recuperate with a trip to Ethiopia. It’s not fair here. If we have a fight I still have to baby sit her. I can’t just stomp off saying, “see you later,” then resume the conversation in bed, older but wiser. I have to be responsible even when I’m pissed off. That, my friends, is simply not fair. At least she’s on her best behavior her, right? Yeah, right. And when we are getting along swimmingly, if I tell her I love her, she’ll ask me for a diamond ring, the silly Thai girl. I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. At least she’s paying her half of the bills, the same gal who once had illusions of being housewife-for-life. And I waste time worrying about what to do with this silly blog, while NPR tells the good news about a slackening in the ‘rate of increase’ of oil prices. Thank God for small miracles.

Friday, June 06, 2008


America can be brutal, a little bit of Gitmo in all of us and waiting around every corner. This morning was a good example. It’s never fun being awoken at 6am by bangings on the door and bargings on in by what sound like Israeli storm troopers. It’s small consolation that it’s only (?!) the landlord, doing his job without proxy nor finesse. Such are the trials of renting, or rather sub-leasing, an apartment, borrowing a piece of the rock rather than buying it. That’s the problem with cheap hotels also, not the funkiness itself which can be lovable, but the funky attitudes of your neighbors, who can be self-centered and petty, no matter how politically correct. You can hardly blame the landlord being pissed at irregularities in his complexes, though the methods may be a bit heavy-handed. For all he knows I may be cooking up meth in the bathtub, our modern alternative to gin. There’s more than one way to beat Depression. Myself I feel like the junkie whose life revolves around that one all-consuming fix, whether good or bad, in this case my wife, something of a soup Nazi herself on bad days. If she has a bad day, then so do I; she’ll make sure of that. She’s perennially concerned that my minimalistic lifestyle vis a vis possessions, or lack thereof, is basically a smokescreen for the fact that I’m a loser and she’ll end up penniless and faceless. She may be right. Financial statements mean nothing to her. Actually I feel like my main accomplishment in life is that I’ve been at least marginally successful without becoming the victim of it all, possessed by my possessions. How do you explain that to a Buddhist? It should be easy. It’s not. Shacking up in Hollywood I feel literally like a kid with his first apartment. At my age that’s cool….

Right now might be a good time to thank you, my faithful readers, who heeded my call to subscribe, for what I promised would be a thrill-a-minute through the wacky ways of Thailand and assorted arcane geographic locations. How did I know that the visa papers for my wife would show up at the door in Thailand all of a sudden calling her to interview? A few short months later, here we are, far from Thailand and even farther from the open road and open skies of travel. Actually if you consider LA the 77th province of Thailand, then I guess we aren’t so far away after all, for what that’s worth, on the surface probably not much. By reputation that’s all there is, surface. LA loses itself, or finds itself, in chockablock development, strip mall after car lot after weenie palace after homeless hovel, 1056 shades of nothingness all somehow blending itself into something quintessentially American and marketing itself to the world as ‘the dream.’ Go figure. So here I’m stuck in superficial LA, the epitome of everything I’ve ever held useless, all the while wishing it cared about me more than I cared about it. It’s a love/hate relationship you see, the fact that I’ve never been very successful here defining the logic by which I fail to see its benefit, that and the fact that it can be one goddawful lonely place. That’s what Tang’s here for. She thinks I’m here for her. After all Thailand gives superficiality a good name, or at least a better one. They love it here and in Las Vegas, the more mindless the better. So as we dig our heels in here, sketchy at best are my goals for this blog because there’s no mo’ Thailand in the immediate future nor more travel either. My God! I’m stuck! So far from God, so close to Mexico! I’ll find other writing projects. That’s why I started this blog anyway; I was doing so much travel and had no other current writing projects. So what do I do here now? If you wanted to hear ruminations on individual pasts and collective futures, you’d be reading the other blog. You’re not.

It’s funny, not this blog or the other one either, but the fact that this blog has more subscribers, mostly friends, but hardly any comment. My friends are like that. The other ‘time travel blog’ has more comment, especially whenever I talk about Guatemala. They’re different from Thailand’s fans. I don’t want a forum anyway, so illiterate is the general populace, and I wouldn’t have the heart to tell people to learn how to spell before sending in comments. So what do I do now, talk about Obama? If life is partially defined by those moments of epiphany when you realize ‘I’m not alone,’ then Barack’s ascension has yielded one. I was always skeptical of his halo effect, unsure whether it was naturally settling upon him every time he spoke or whether he was consciously invoking it, or whether like lightning on its way to the ground, a spark leaps up to greet it, a mutuality confirmable only in slow motion. I still don’t know, but others have also noticed. In the ‘Onion,’ an LA-based humor rag, it’s current headline reads, “Obama Practices Looking off into Future Pose,” going into detail about his 54-degree chin tilt, his 1.43cm eye aperture and his head rotated 37 degrees to the left. “When you look to the future, you look to the left.” It’s hilarious. Considering that my previous moments of epiphany with artistic media included the songs “Positively Fourth Street” by Bob Dylan and “Waiting ‘Round to Die” by Townes Van Zandt, I guess I’m mellowing out in my old age, though many people miss the close connection between horror and humor.

So where does that leave us? Still looking for a theme for this blog I guess. Ads for single Thai girls still pop up, so I guess that’s a cosmological constant. Frankly I’m not sure why they’re such a hot commodity, given the generally pathetic level of their English and their suitors’ Thai language skills. Here’s a hint-- actually that’s a help, not a hindrance. They’re out of their minds. Fortunately they’re into their bodies. But others are getting into the game fast. Colombia’s got some girls on the market guaranteed to melt your hardened heart or money back. Just take your pick: doctor, lawyer, or architect; brunette, brunette or brunette; Cali, Bogota’ or a smaller city called Manizales that seems to have little else to distinguish itself. We’re not talking about funky TJ border-town behemoths cheaper-by-the-kilo, either, but some forty-five kilo cuties that could charm the pants off a diplomat. So where does this blog stand in the rankings now? Well, we’re averaging fifteen to twenty subscribers according to Feedburner (I don’t know why it should fluctuate, but it does) and somewhere in the lower 600,000’s in the Technorati ‘authority’ rankings (hey, we started in the lower nine millions), so that says something. If you Google the words ‘Thailand’ and ‘Timbuktu’ together, then I’ll still come up number one, for what that’s worth. Perhaps more importantly, these blogs do get picked up by other websites for use, kind of like a poor man’s syndicated column. You shop XYZ’s website for underwear and below there’s the first few lines of my blog selected by one of their, uh, selectors. If you like then you click and voila!, you’re back here with the guy in his over-the-pub compartment out by Heathrow with planes flying over and pretending it’s his own private 9-11 mini-moment. It might as well be LA.

So I’ll still do this blog when the inspiration strikes, though its goals are now murky. I’ll do the other already-written blog every day regardless. Sound sketchy? Lit’s a wide-open ballgame now, the publishing business following the lead of the recording industry, or lack thereof, MySpace-type sites for writers springing up like mushrooms in cow shit. When I can not only publish my own stuff, but get it listed and sold on Amazon made-to-order, why wait a year for a return to my query letter from some agent who’s overworked and underpaid already? There’s food for thought. Publishing companies themselves haven’t read new work in years. But in the meantime I think I’ll do a blog on world music. Though I’m not really qualified (who is?), I can certainly review the many shows scheduled for California Plaza here in LA this summer- including Seun Kuti, Tcheka, Son de Madera, and Ricardo Lemvo, one big world music festival scattered throughout the summer, and all for free. The opening show, ‘Miles from India,’ featuring the music of Miles Davis played by a combination of Jazz and Indian musicians, was incredible. Stay tuned. There’s more.

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