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“We laughed over that and Gertrude Stein punched me in the mouth.”

One of my favourite poems from a listen to sense can be had here. It’s Gertrude Stein doing her, ’ If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso’ bit. If I told him would he like it? Would I like it if I told him? .. and so on. Very melodical.

It would be true to say that in some small ways I have changed during the course of this year, and one of those is to do with public toilets. I used to be rather easily distracted from the business at hand and sometimes I would end up not being able to go at all.

However lavatories here are such noisy, busy places that one must simple adapt or perish (from bladder explosion or urea poisoning or some such). There will literally be these old women mopping around your feet while ur taking a slash. Those old women remind me of the little maintenance dudes from Cloud City in Empire Strikes BackUgnaughts.

I missed a photo opportunity the other week coming out of a subway station, on the escalator, there were these three cleaning women, all dressed similar, and looking similar. They were cleaning the ‘inner wall’ part of the escalator, the silverish metal part below waist height, if you are of a relatively normal height.
At about ten step intervals, each of the three got on the escalator, and applied a cleaning cloth to the siding with both hands while assuming a slightly bent down, athletic pose – one foot on one step the next on one higher. I was standing about 5 steps ahead of them and got this beautiful multiples & perspective view looking back at them. Reminded me a little of the original Tour de France Kraftwerk cover – with the four cyclists.
I even had the camera, but am too slow and too timid to start snapping and strangers.

Someone could start machine-gunning behind me these days, and I could keep peeing. It’s general knowledge that the private is very public here.

After I’d been to my places of business I went back down into the subway and again saw the three cleaning women on an ascending escalator, still ten steps apart and facing forward, but now they were holding and eating souvlakis, laughing and smiling. Which kind of ruined the mental flavour of what they were about for me. Oh how I wish that were true.

YS @ 9:40 pm, November 27, 2005

dj emphysema

Went to the Hongdae club day (night) with my friend last night. Was a lot of fun. Haven’t been out dancing in some time, same with staying out all night. The crowds were pretty groovy. Plenty of whiteys too. Bumped into a couple of sleazy, esteemed collegues. There was some sort of official photographer in each joint which would’ve registered on my paranoia-bone, if I was that kind of person. I know someone in the biz, so the tickets were for free—bonus.
One place was playing straightout techno which was funny to hear—there’s that one original strand of sound that comes under that big label that hasn’t changed at all—very 1997.

I lost my wallet on the way home. Spent most of the morning receiving help from others at getting all the nastiness sorted out. Thankyou, others; it’s a humbling experience. Especially after having sustained spaz-attacks this week at my workplace over how my February plans have to be rearranged.
I was actually optimistic that I might get the wallet back, since I was pretty sure where it fell out of my pocket (at the east seoul bus station) and if a wallet with 120,000 dollars in it is going to be handed in – in any country, it’s this one. Alas, it wasn’t.

I guess the wallet caught wind that after 17 years of being in my service it was going to get turfed at christmas, and in despair did away with itself. Which is funny because I only ever emailed that – not said it aloud and the wallet was in the cupboard at the time.

YS @ 9:47 pm, November 26, 2005

looking for mr. potato

  • I tooled on over to Osan today. Someone once remarked that the downtown of every city in this country looks the same, and I tend to agree. But two things that were different here are—American muscle; brash and visceral. That is, there’s an airforce base. And these dudes ->

    And yes, they were both dudes. They get around a bit too—I saw them a few weeks back when returning from the zen center. They generally make a bit of a hullaballo and be unusual in a good way.

    I went to Osan because I’d been told there is a musical instrument store there called Mr. Potato. After having lunch I decided to not go to the store because I would surely end up buying a guitar, and while they are cheaper here, I’m really supposed to be saving.

  • The proliferation of musical instruments here is extremely low. Especially when it comes to brass. I understand that these things aren’t cheap, but there’s heaps of people that play the piano.
  • The band from the highschool played for a fanksgibbing thing last week.
  • I always get excited when I see girls with guitars and they had this whole standing-dead-still and strumming-in-unison thing down pat. Kind of very Nirvana In Bloom video clip. They’re called the Good News Band too, more delicious irony. Needs more effects pedals.
  • Here’s my favourite song at the moment. Aretha Franklin’s one step ahead [2.3Mb].
  • Although I’m really into 80s stuff presently too. Can’t help it – everywhere I go I hear 80s. If you go back and have a listen to ‘The Reflex’ by Duran Duran, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that within the commercial sphere there is no other track that even comes close to being as distressingly discordant. It’ll make you car-sick. It’s all over the place. Is that what happens when you have much too much coke?
  • I’m a bit bummed out that these online music stores like the apple thing and napster are only available in america. If you’re in the US, go to the napster site, do their 7 day trial and go beserky-malerky d/loading trax.
YS @ 7:00 pm, November 22, 2005

zosima

mars volta

I’ve always been down for doing something different so yesterday when a dear friend gave me the opportunity to take in a catholic church service, I readily took it.

The exteriors of churches here are fairly indistinctive compared to architecture of the west, but inside it was quite nice. We pulled up a pew seven or eight off the front. I found myself sitting directly in front of a 2 and a half foot high plaster cast statue of Jesus which was alcoved in the front wall. Well maybe not directly in front then only 30cms off, just enough to get a hint of shadow and profile. Just above the alcove was a three-digit, red diode-style display used to signal the parishioners the hymn numbers. He was standing there, holding a red drapey bit of material around his robes, with a heart in the other hand at chest height. The insta-moulded bone structure and paint colours of the beard and face were brought to life by the medium-to-low lighting, the statue’s impish size and its distance from me.

I stood there for a while, oblivious to whatever the priest was talking about, because I couldn’t understand it, and not so much staring ahead, but holding an unflickering gaze where the outlines of objects slowly become frayed and dim. The digital readout came to life, blipping its message three times then holding it constant for another three seconds before displaying the next three-charactered word.

HEY MAN
WAT UP?

It took me some time to process this. Mostly because I wasn’t sure what really was up. It’s all so confusing these days. And to this moment, today, still don’t really know if I replied speaking aloud or if I just thought I was talking. My friend says I didn’t say anything.

Jesus I don’t know. In a lot of ways – uh, I mean there’s a lot of areas in my life that I don’t feel like are moving fast enough—y’know I’m really impatient – or I don’t know – am I impatient? or is just that I know what I want now? But on the whole life feels like it’s hammering by like a helicopter gunship—and that I’m not really getting anything done at all.

OH YA
I CAN
DIG IT

To tell you the truth, I come here and I look around me and it’s weird ‘cause I kind of feel this twinge of something that’s almost like envy… yeah envy Can you believe that?
I mean, I have my own beliefs – and they work, and I even have my own people that share these – but it’s not enough. I want yours too. I want to belong. I wish I wasn’t left cold by the whole thing. I mean – I know you’re speaking to me, but that doesn’t mean you’re real, right?

UH HUH

Plus there’s all the stuff. So much .. great .. stuff. I’ve been looking at the stuff for a long time. My belief system is very minimal on stuff, and while logically I know that it’s not needed – no, more than that – in my heart I know that stuff is irrelevant, all the same I am facinated by it as only someone from the outside looking in could be.
‘What do you mean?’ I sense you are about to ask. No don’t ask it – I will tell.

It’s hard to know where to start, but you know – the pope. Particularly the little old one. He was ace. Tapestries. El greco. Michaelangelo. Byzantine gaudy golden stuff. The confessional box. The whole process of confession and the words, ‘forgive me father for I have sinned..’ are the opening line of so many comedy routines that it stands by its self as a whole nother category. Nuns, Vicars – Irish and otherwise. Sandal-wearing Fransiscans. Rosary beads. The Inquisition. The conquest of south and central America. Barbed-wire, blood and bruises. Mel Gibson. Queen Mary o’ Scots. Dark, wooden three-dimensional reminders of pain all over the place and not to mention Guilt.
And I’m not even an expert.

Gimme a sign man. Or as Ziggy Stardust once sang, ‘Gimme ya hands!’

YS @ 6:38 pm, November 21, 2005

start as you mean to go on

Well how about this: Sex Matters to Women Who Say It Doesn’t: Study, from the digital chosun ilbo. There are several interesting points in there, but I think this one is worth quoting;

When asked if prostitutes are needed to satisfy men’s sexual needs, 20.4 percent of women and 61 percent of men agreed.

Sixty percent seems pretty high, don’t you think?
You know, if I was a Korean woman thinking about getting married to a Korean man, I think I would ask him if he would go to prostitutes.

* * *

I got Skype working the other night. I had to get a microphone to plug into the laptop – the appearance of which is quite comical. It’s like ‘calling all cars, calling all cars: this is major tom to ground control…’
It’s like 16 bucks for 10 hours back to hoju, which is way better than the phone cards here.

Something I first saw mentioned at stodge inc. is escape pod – and that is a science fiction audio-magazine website.
Each week they read an SF short story and bail it up as a podcast or just as a regular download if you are not among the podded.
I’ve listened to a few so far and it’s really good. It’s nice to hear a story once in a while instead of reading it—and great for those weekly intercity bus trips.

YS @ 8:38 pm, November 16, 2005

take me to your leader

It felt like it had been a long night and although the sun was distant it shone golden in reflections across the high-rises.
After this many hours I still didn’t know how I felt about her now.
I purposefully hadn’t touched her. From experience I knew that even touch a single finger to a hand and my thoughts would flow out of it, mix with hers, eddy and backwash into me again. I wouldn’t know what I was thinking.

I was getting ready to leave. Had dressed and met her in the hallway.
I saw now that her hair was much shorter and she was wearing glasses. Silver retangular frames, not at all what you’d expect. As I looked slowly down from there I thought to myself that all she needed was to be wearing a grey v-neck school jumper and she would be a boy. She was and she was. A ten year old boy. I now realised things were okay and I put my hands on her shoulders, held her at arms length and looked at her.

Indeed, I could now see clearly.

YS @ 8:37 pm,

He’s a lot of fun, he weighs half a ton, he’ll be your number one

Yesterday I went down to Chungju to check out the ho. It’s about what you’d expect of a large hand-made ho. It soon became clear that this kind of day outing is what young people are not much into—it was all old people and families. It was all koreans too – me n’ a hundred koreans on a little boat. I think when I’ve been to other remote places like Ulchin and I’ve seen nothing but locals I hadn’t become conscious of it, but yesterday I did for some reason.
I did take fotos but none are brilliant. No one there at the boat tour joint spoke english either which is odd for a tourist destination. I bought a ticket but didn’t realise I needed to get one for the return journey. They threw me off when we got to the other end—50kms from Chungju – where I had to get back to get a bus.

Okay, well I did see a couple of Pakis and a Russian hooker at the bus terminal in the last 15mins before I went home, but towns like that remind me of the phrase ‘rarified environment’ like deep sea divers who live and work kms below the water for months at a time.

But I found coconuts at a supermarket, so it’s not all bad.

Doing an interesting vox pop with the year 8s at the moment. It’s about the future – and the Q. is ‘if you had a robot at home, what would you get it to do?’ and there a couple of little drawings of little metal mickey jobs doing stuff like vacuuming and cooking. So naturally a lot of the answers are cooking and cleaning. But we’ve got plenty of time so I’m urging them to be imaginative.

One set of answers I liked was, dance, watch tv + radio and make chocolate i.e. make the robot dance for me, it would have a tv and radio in it a la teletubbies … and I can only guess what part of the robot the chocolate would come out of.

  1. fumigate for bed bugs
  2. turn the light off when I go to sleep … (aww)
  3. clean my tooth (sic)

There’s also been less funny or fun things like fashion co-ordinator (uh huh, afterall robots have a long history of being great at that) following through to ‘make me exercise so I lose wait’ (I s’pose if it jabbed you with a sharp stick…) and out of three classes in nine, two responses so far of ‘plastic surgery’.

If any of them don’t write an answer at all I make them get up and dance like a robot in front of the rest of the class.

YS @ 8:32 pm, November 14, 2005

HOW TO MAKE POLITE CHIT-CHAT WITH OLD PEOPLE

Do you ever get to the end of a day and wish like hell that you’d pushed yourself through some gruelling ordeal of physical exercise? That you were raw and driven by an enormous adrenal gland that just won’t quit. Sweating. Breathing heavy with hair wet from sweat getting in your eyes, your eyes stinging, temples pounding, chest pounding, the arteries in your neck working at full capacity. Running up a hill, scratches raked across a cheek from the boney bare fingers of near-winter trees. A wide-eyed look of terror from a lone passer-by when they see you; the freak that you are. You get to the top and you don’t stop. Chin-ups on a bar overhead, collapsing to hands and knees and bellowing into the valley before you, like an animal.

Both chasing and being chased.
Always alone but never able to get somewhere remote enough to actually be alone.

Woken by your own night-terror scream as you hopelessly attempt to shrink away from the fangs of fifty snakes.

YS @ 12:34 am, November 13, 2005

polska

“Hey buddy, are there any more aboretums around here?”

One day this week when I went to work I found that all the other teachers had been replaced by robots. And I don’t mean in any predictably subtle way either—fully fledged kling-klang robots. I surmised that the originals had lost their jobs and since I didn’t want to lose my job I pretended to be a robot. It’s no picnic, so to speak. My neck is sore for all the jerky movements and my throat is even more raw than normal.

The students seem to know but aren’t letting on that the do. I have a sneaking suspicion that they are somehow behind all this. But then how could they not know(?) what with the sounds of hydraulics and gears wirring everytime a teacher enters the room.
But some things are consistent—the PSH robot, my supervisor still hums incessantly.

I am so very looking forward to getting back to australia for hols, so much so that it’s sure to be a huge let down. Oh well.
I think I’m going to move to Poland.

_________________

I was looking at the greatest moments of the internet and now remark at the conspicous absence of Zombo.com.

YS @ 10:36 pm, November 10, 2005

The Saturday Boy / Hey Saturday Sun

There was something of a request for more autumnal images. So here.

Went and hung out at a friend’s pad in ditchy-dong in seoul and watched ‘serial daters’ on the MTV channel. It was just what I needed. There is a walmart near there. Most people despise walmart, but you don’t know what it’s like not being able to get something as simple as a jar of fucking salsa. They had chicken breast fillets there too, I’d been looking everywhere for them.

The other night I dreamt I met the Beastie Boys – or maybe not met – but was at a gig that was really small, like in a classroom and I was in the front row going, “oh so that’s what Mike D looks like. They look different to what I thought”. I got Check Your Head yesterday. And The Brothers Karmazov, because Dostoyevsky is a great writer. Y’know I read crime and punishment when I was fifteen… I think I actually had better concentration then, crazy as it sounds.

I don’t know what my buddy Zellar is going through at the moment, but could really dig this:

There are other things besides monkeying around with words that are necessary, require commitment and discipline and all the cooperative powers of the heart and mind, and that are worth doing precisely because they involve risks whose rewards are a form of salvation and intimate, connected immortality, a lasting connection with living memory.

I hope it’s the same thing I’m dealing with.
8/11/05 – POST-EDIT: Whoops – I meant that to say, “I hope it’s NOT the same thing I’m dealing with.” Whoops.

YS @ 9:15 pm, November 6, 2005

What do you call a man with no arms and no legs hanging on the wall?

Art.

YS @ 6:05 pm, November 4, 2005
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