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My Favourite NOFX Song

If someone asked me what my favourite NOFX song was, the top-of-my-head answer would probably be Linoleum.

NOFX in Melbourne, 2014

NOFX in Melbourne, 2014

Not that I think it has the best lyrics – Franco Un-American has better lyrics. And for tunes, I actually like Liza and Louise or The Brews more.

It probably has to do with the fact that it was the first song they played in their first gig in Indonesia seven years ago, in 2007.

I can’t remember how many attended that concert, but an online report says it was about 5.000.

In a city of around 20 million, it wasn’t that much. But it was more about the sheer excitement of seeing a major punk band that the audience have been listening since they were in their early teens.

Back then, there had not been many international punk bands holding concerts in Indonesia, and I still can’t imagine how exciting it would have been for major fans of NOFX.

As I did not manage to get there super early, I wasn’t anywhere close to the stage, so I think there were about 3.000 people between me and the band, plus barricaded area in front of the stage.

So in a typical scenario, that would ensure me being untouched by whatever slamming, pushing or other shenanigans going on in the mosh/circle pit.

But when the first tune played, and yeah, I am pretty sure it was Linoleum, I felt myself being pushed backwards and basically swallowed by waves of human bodies. I can only imagine what it was like near the stage, but if I could feel the impact from that distance, it must be pretty mad.

I recently had a chance to watch NOFX again, this time in a closed venue in Melbourne, with probably a third, if not less, of the number of audience in the Jakarta gig.

It was sweaty, and packed as well, but this time there was a much bigger chance for me to get closer to the stage, and that I did.

Also, I have learned from experience that as a woman, mosh pits in Melbourne are generally safer compared to Jakarta. there are more women in Melbourne’s mosh pits, to begin with, and so far no one tried to grope me. Maybe things are better now in Jakarta, I don’t really know.

But I certainly got a better view of the band playing this time, and was more able to express my appreciation for their set (by jumping around and getting shoved, body-slammed, and headbutted) better as well.

So that was good.

But of course nothing can replace that gig in Jakarta, when half of my excitement was actually fueled by the awe and excitement of my friends.

It was a shame that there were some ugly rumors and happenings surrounding that concert. It was badly organized, for a start, and the waiting time for the gate to open was too long. I heard that there were troubles with their gig in Bali as well. My guess is the event organizers were young, reckless, and did not bother to check in with the scene.

Ah well, that is in the past. See? I am having trouble remembering the bad stuff yet getting all nostalgic with the good ones.

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Courtney Love in Festival Hall, Melbourne – As Raw as it Gets

Courtney Love in Festival Hall, Melbourne – As Raw as it Gets

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I don’t think anyone can say they have seen ‘raw’ performances until they have seen that of Courtney Love.

Let’s spare you, kind reader, of how old I was when I started listening to Hole, but I can tell you that Live Through This have been quite a big part of my teenage years, first finding its way to my hands from quite an idiosyncratic friend of mine.

As with many songs and albums, my appreciation of Hole’s and Courtney Love’s have changed over the years. As far as my memory allows me, I am conscious that I now react differently both to their music and lyrics. I am pretty confident that ‘Northern Star’ moves me in a way I don’t think it could have back then, and while I still love ‘Jennifer’s Body’, I have a newfound appreciation for ‘Gutless”s riffs.

It probably has to do with the fact that I am now about as old as Love when she wrote those songs.

As amazing as it would have been had I watched Hole back in the 1990s, it was not to be. But I managed to catch Courtney Love when she came to Melbourne recently.

What was it that I mentioned about rawness? Right. Imagine this amazing presence appearing in front of you and then proceeded to captivate you both through her striking physique (she is larger than life literally as well) and just her… wholeness.

Watching Love perform, I do not just see self-confidence (which, of course, oozes out of her like juice from an over-ripe watermelon), I see sadness, goofiness, anger, sexiness, strength, and just this amazing femininity…it is almost like this woman does not want to, and does not know how to, keep her cool, and, as so many people have said before, it is possible indeed to love her or hate her to pieces.

courtney love

I loved it.

On to the technicalities, the sound was a bit stumbling at first, but improved quickly. As I did not read any detailed concert reviews before going, I found myself pleasantly surprised, especially with ‘Gold Dust Woman’. ‘Gutless’ was played, so was ‘Rockstar’ (Ha, yeah, I agree with Ms. Love. That is quite a funny choice), some new ones of course, such as ‘You Know My Name’.

One thing that can be improved is my position. I wish I had gotten there earlier, so as to get my ass front and centre of the stage and requested ‘Never Gonna Be the Same’ and maybe exchange a word or two with that gorgeous woman.

Great show, even if the venue was a bit impractical.

Somewhere/a new future/one of darkness and light will be born / There will be darkness and light/battle and hope / life and death / happiness and sadness / everything will happen again
I understand now why you seek my powers / It’s because you feel for it / The same way I feel about my friends and the people I love / We are all from lonely stars / and we seek to gather together as one
I will seek you out / I will embrace you all

(translation from http://missdream.org)

That’s not an extract from a Sufi or Buddhism book, but a quote from the final chapter of the Sailor Moon manga by Naoko Takeuchi.

Yes, yes, Sailor Moon’s tremendous popularity has probably led to many only knowing about miniskirts, fetishes and ridiculously long transformation of the sailors, but all that aside, it (especially the manga version) is still pretty awesome. Partly because of quotes like above.
I recently read that Takeuchi-sensei worked as a mika (priestess) in a temple when she attended university, where, if I remember correctly, she studied chemistry.

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I first came across her work in the translated form of ‘The Cherry Project’, and I fell in love with her drawing and narration style. The delicate lines, the painstaking details, the subtle words. There were also elements that I was instantly drawn to: the city skylines, the fashion, the pretty boys.

In Takeuchi-sensei’s manga, the world is romantic, glamorous and sexy. As a matter of fact, her works can be quite sexual, and even the appeal of Sailor Moon to children could not stop that. It can be controversial at times – remember the lesbian characters in Sailor Moon? –  but also somewhat naive, and, again, romantic. I get the feeling that she just loves the female body and loves to celebrate it, either by dressing them in nice clothes or just having them naked.

In the last authors’ note she said ‘when you are all grown up, read this again. You will get a different impression.’

Damn right. As with the manga I discussed before, ‘Haikara-san ga Tooru’, there are so many things in the story that you took for granted when you were a kid or a teenager. Although my opinion remains unchanged, sometimes the Sailor Moon storyline just repeats itself with different enemies (How many times have Tuxedo Kamen been kidnapped and brainwashed?).

Takeuchi-sensei is married now, and hopefully happy and healthy. But I read that some of her recent works (Love Witch and PQ Angels) didn’t quite work out for her 😦 Maybe it’s hard after you did something as successful as Sailor Moon? But she really shouldn’t worry about that! She is too awesome to worry!

Anyway, it’s her birthday today. Tanjoubi Omedetto, Takeuchi-sensei! Take care! Hope to see you someday!

Haikara-san ga Tooru, or, Happy Birthday Waki Yamato-sensei

When I was a snotty teen, I read the manga ‘Haikara-san ga Tooru’ (There Goes  Miss High Collar) by Waki Yamato-sensei. It tells  of the ‘high collar’, feminist, rambunctious female character Benio, whose adventures include being a journalist reporting to a misogynist boss, doing time behind bars, chasing after bandits, and, of course, falling in love, in the Taisho era that spans from 1912 to the 1920s.

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‘Haikara’ is still one of my favourite manga, particularly because of its bizarre humour. It often refers to the pop culture at that time (1970s)-thus it is only after watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show last year (it wasn’t that popular where I am from) that I get why that man in stockings keep appearing out of nowhere –  and some of the jokes are probably Japanese puns that until now I still don’t get anyway.

I  recently discovered that ‘Haikara’ won the 1st Kodansha Manga Award for Shoujo in 1977. like, THE first. Woah.

I also recently found out that Yamato-sensei’s influences also included Monty Phyton. A-ha!

All in all, ‘Haikara’ is hilarious. Partly because it just is, and partly because of the kooky Indonesian translation, which, in its own ways, also made lots of references to pop culture that are popular in Indonesia at that time. Interesting chemistry indeed. The Indonesian company that publishes ‘Haikara’ in the recent years have re-published the series, correcting the jumbled page mishap of the first effort. To my slight disappointment, however, the translation got a bit tamer this time.

Waki Yamato writes other great manga that are perhaps not as weird as ‘Haikara’ but still very enjoyable, such as Yokohama Monogatari (Yokohama Tale),  the touching Nemuranai Machi Kara (From the City that Never Sleeps), and, of course, one of her most famous works, Asakiyumemishi, the adaptation of the classic Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji).

Yamato-sensei’s works are often considered as ‘classic’ manga. Particularly in the artistic sense, perhaps. Those big, doe eyes with huge lashes, the facial characters that are more Western than Japanese, the long, long legs, and so on. In many of her works, the characters, particularly the female ones, are  open-minded, adventurous, willing to travel and accepting towards newcomers (Western people, oftentimes) but still very Japanese.

And, you know what, it’s her birthday today, so omedettou to her (anyone know where to write her fanmail? Do let me know!)

Now, if Benio was a journo in 2014, maybe this would be the style she sports (gee, it’s been a long time since I draw manga, and, if anything, my skills have not improved in it :D)
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And yep, I am serious about the fan mail. I have no idea whether she uses the internet at all actually, but I would like to wish her a happy birthday anyway and I hope she is happy and healthy. I can’t even write in Japanese to her because after all these years of on and off learning my Japanese is still not that good yet.  I would like to meet her one day ( I hope she’s nice) 🙂

Soundwave 2014

Paying 180 dollars and ended up seeing only two out of the dozens offered in Soundwave is not really my ideal festival scenario, but work blahblah meeting blahblah, roadwork blahblah no trains, and so on.

So I missed Dir en Grey, Mastodon and Glassjaw, but I did get to watch Stiff Little Fingers, whose singer’s voice remains unchanged over the last 40 years. It was funny seeing all the younger audience checking them out while waiting for the next band to play on the adjacent stage. That was cool.

Stiff Little Fingers

Stiff Little Fingers

And I  watched GreenDay too. And that was awesome too.

When they played at my hometown 20 years ago, I was too young to go. So it took me two decades and…what, five albums or more? until I finally got to hear the songs that helped me got into so much more afterwards…including into Stiff Little Fingers!

I got a bit lost during the first few songs, cause they were obviously from the newer albums, but the younger audience seem to know the words. Duh.

But that wasn’t any problem (The guys bullying me were, though), and I was heartened to see the younger fans singing along to them. I actually was pleasantly surprised to see that much people eager to see GreenDay and not only for their Dookie/Insomniac songs.

Because they’re a decent band. Let’s not get into all that punk rock sell-out PC things. As a rock band, or at least as musicians, they sing about subjects that are way more interesting for me than most of the other artists out there are blabbing about.

Sure, they sang silly songs as well, and they are not Crass or Subhumans, but at least they acknowledged that this world (or at least America) has problems, ranging from the idiocy of reality talent shows, war, suburbia’s time bombs, to inherited hypocrisy.

They are also pretty good showmen. Billie Joe getting all theatrical and Tre Cool getting off the drum to dance in a bra, the interaction with the audience members and all that.

I didn’t get to mosh (not allowed), and was too far from the stage than what I would have really liked. They didn’t play Westbound Sign and Macy’s Day Parade, which I really like. But man, that was FUN.

And thanks for the Bohemian Rhapsody impromptu singalong, you Melbourne Soundwave weirdos, You’ll know what I am on about. They even synced the lights and all, if you noticed.

PS. Has anyone heard the Billie Joe- Norah Jones Foreverly tribute album? Pretty decent actually!

BJ

NYE in Edinburgh Gardens

So I was quite excited to head down to the massive, apparently rising star that is Edinburgh Gardens for new year’s eve.

After all, it’s Melbourne, moreover, it’s Fitzroy North dang it, where the kooky, the greens, the hipsters and the art-smarts commune, right? There’s bound to be kookiness and artiness, right? some soul, old school hip hop playing, perhaps some guitars even, should be pretty chilled out yet festive, social yet smartass, weird yet accepting, right?

Na.

Drink, drugs, rave, trash, and I have a feeling that it would be pretty shit if one would come there without a group of friends.

Well, at least I am not in Afghanistan. Or Syria. Although I am quite intrigued by those researchers trapped in Antartica. Good or bad, only a few can tell that particular new year’s eve story.

Oh and at least we saw fireworks. My somewhat naive sentiment towards fireworks is that they are a tinge of populism in this selfish world. At least once a year, people in a city get to see something amazing for free.

Maybe I should have drunk some coffee.

New Year’s Resolution: get rid of ‘should haves’?
Drink more coffee? Ahh not.

Anyway,
Fresh Start! Be Hopeful! Be Kind! Don’t Lose Faith! 

Three Dollars

So this was on the telly a few nights ago, and now I want to watch it again.

Never mind the romance stuff, those I considered mere distractions. The homeless man (Robert Menzies) almost stole the show if the main character played by David Wenham had not been so lovable. Plus, cute dogs.

Good ‘strayan flick.