Thursday, July 27, 2006

More on Death Metal and the DPP

Freddy: "I'm not deep green, I'm pro-independence!"

The lead singer of Taiwan's best loved black metal band and concert empresario Freddy is in the political columns again. Actually, let me just translate this, from Formosa TV:

On the petition brought out by scholars to recall President Chen, one
English name was included - Freddy. Local media has indicated that this is the
Chen supporting lead singer of the band Chthonic, but on July 26
Freddy personally came out to clarify the situation, saying that the name
on the Internet petition was not his, that he doesn't want to get caught up
in political battles, and that he supports Chen as president until his
term runs out in 2008.

The web petition set up by the scholars was intended to use
"democracy" to "fulfill Taiwanese identity," and Freddy's name appeared there on
July 16. Media immediately reacted by thinking the Chthonic lead singer had
turned against Chen before Freddy came out and personally clarified that the
name was not his.

Freddy emphasized that he was a die-hard supporter of Taiwanese
independence who had voted for Chen in the last two presidential elections. His
recent call to "reform justice," he said, was meant to indicate that both the
blue and green camps have made mistakes, but he continues to support Chen as
head of the government.

Freddy said he is now busy promoting his band Chthonic's 10th anniversary
CD release and also with this weekend's Formoz Festival, so how would he have
time to get mixed up in the blue-green political battle?

Another article someone sent me had Freddy talking more about politics, saying, among other things, that there is a difference between the "greens" and supporters of Taiwanese independence, that difference being that "greens" belong to political parties while he doesn't.

Blogging at Fujirock

The 10th Fujirock Festival is underway as of a couple of hours ago now, and I will again be blogging about it for, a festival adjunct. Note I don`t link to the site....This year the e-team has set up a blog for show reports, news, and other hopefully qualified observations culled from the rather less penetrable Fujirock Express site, where content will also go if you want to wade through 70 percent Japanese and pulldown menus that hide most of the articles. Feel free to compare for yourself.

Of minor interest, Fujirock Express becomes a daily newspaper this year (Japanese only) distributed (free? still don`t know) throughout the Naeba Valley. Just another trick they`ve learned from Glastonbury.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hmmm. Should I bother to read this?

There's a new book on Taiwan out by Joshua Samuel Brown, you know, of 'Off the Rails' column in the China Post fame. The title, Vignettes of Taiwan, does not make me want to rush out and get a copy... though it did get a decent review from the Shanghai free monthly, City Weekend, where Brown is now a contributor. But for some reason I doubt this will be as good as John Ross' Formosan Odyssey, which is probably a bit underrated and managed to tell us a few things about the island we didn't already know.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Chinese Rockers Play Taiwan for the First Time Ever

And Cui Jian gets axed from the lineup

Could Formosa TV have screwed up a concert any more royally? Cui Jian (崔建), the king daddy founding godfather ultimate dudeman of Chinese rock 'n roll, had applied three straight years to play the Hohaiyan Music Festival in Taiwan, and this year for the first time by some fluke or brain spasm or act of God finally got approval from Beijing authorities and was ready to come. This was to be a historic first, a landmark in cross-strait music, the first ever Chinese rock bands to play Taiwan.

So what happens? FTV axes Cui from the lineup because instead they want Black Panther and Tang Dynasty, two legendary China bands to be sure, but they are not Cui Jian. If the essence of Chinese rock 'n roll can be distilled to a single man, that man is Cui.

Two Japanese bands, Dragon Ash and 雅 (sorry, no English name at present), were also cut from the bill at the last minute, and some people were pretty pissed off by this.

At least this is what I heard from a longtime Beijing rock scene insider with solid connections to all of Taiwan's music festivals and Japan...

...who told me all this drinking beer outside the Beijing Club D-22, after the 8th band birthday concert for girl punk rockers Hang On The Box, who played for all of 25 minutes. (Great stuff tho.)

Cui Jian, said my can-of-Yanjing-beer-drinking source, wanted to come, but not to FTV's candy-assed pop parade. He wanted to come to the other Hohaiyan put on by Taiwan Colors Music (TCM), a real-deal indie label that founded Hohaiyan 6 years ago and only lost the fest this year through the supposedly "fair" practice of open bidding, which in this case was actually just money politicking. Ronnie Brownlow reported this much in the Taipei Times, but in the end had trouble ironing out the tangle on how the concert was split in two. The bottom line is that TCM got screwed out of the concert it created because the yokel bureaucrats at Taipei County Government controlled all the money and thought they knew better, so in the end TCM decided to do its own concert on the same beach but a week later. Then a typhoon came on FTV's weekend, so they delayed, which of course bumped TCM right off into oblivion. Record label head and visionary behind the whole thing, Zhang 43, announced that the TCM Hohaiyan is now delayed to next year.

"Of course a TV station can run a music festival better than a record company" is how I interpolate the idiot thoughts of the Taipei County Culture Bureau, who through Zhang 43 have stumbled on to a way to make a more popular and international version of the Changhua Flower Festival - "Heck, as long as there area sausage vendors, the people will come!"

(Now whether this has anything to do with the DPP losing Taipei County in last year's election to the KMT I'm not sure, though that was predicted by many. Still, FTV is not far removed from being a DPP propaganda arm....)

The Good News: Tang Dynasty (唐朝) and Black Panther (黑豹) play tonight (Friday), which will be historic. These are the first real rock scene bands from China ever to get permission to play Taiwan, something no one thought could happen after the last Taiwan concert by a Chinese group. That of course was by Pangu in Feb. 2004 - they went into exile immediately after the concert.

So everybody go, and tell me about it. Dagnabit. Wish I were there.

Tang Dynasty - Chinese Led Zepplin

Black Panther - when rock was for dudes!

More headlines:
崔健宝岛行告吹 民版海洋音乐祭遭台风搅局停办
(Cui Jian's Jewel Island Trip Cancelled: Hohaiyan Music Festival People's Edition Called Off)
【海洋音乐祭】官版恐因台风遭延期 民版伤脑筋
(Hohaiyan Music Festival: Official Version Delayed By Typhoon; People's Version Scratches It's Head)
海洋音乐祭大和解 角头义助唐朝黑豹工作人员赴台
(Hohaiyan Music Festival Compromise: TCM Helps Crews for Tang Dynasty and Black Panther Get Visas)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Odd Job Lives!

And he's a lackey of evil foreigners with mustaches

The carnage. Source: Xinhuanet

This story of a two blond, mustachioed foreigners sending their Chinese friend (or interpreter or bodyguard, depending on who you believe) as a samurai punisher on eight young males taunting them in a Beijing restaurant a few days ago and in a flury leaving seven of them on the ground with non-fatal stab woundsand has been more than good enough to wake me from my blogging slumber, especially as there seems to be at least enough truth to it that it was reported in the local press. First here it is in Chinese on Xinhuanet, and then here's a good write-up on the blog the Shanghaiist(English), which also gives an idea of how in only a couple of days this has already become something of an urban myth with all kinds of bizarre permutations. I first heard that it happened in Chengdu and involved diplomats and their hitman - take this with a grain of salt. But what I really wonder was where was this guy in the Pig and Whistle in Hsinchu?

...okay, now I finally feel like I'm back in China.... and to make a quick follow-up on the last post, Gmail works fine here, so does Google, for the moment...