Wednesday, December 31

looking back then looking out

Almost at the same time my shampoo finished, this year has too. My days in China are also fast disappearing. Shampoo, the year that's been and my exchange have all led me to reflect a bit.

Extracting myself and taking a wavering step back, I am still uncertain. Immediately, rather than work or school life, I see hurt. Something I have felt throughout the year and have been very slow to come to terms with it. But, after several deep breaths, I can spot something beyond this. The challenges caused by this hurt and the experiences certain changes have led to made me grow as a person in ways I haven't before. They opened doors within my world that I did not know existed - many I am still learning to walk through. My year gave me more (beautiful, forever undeserved) friends to be cared for by and who inspired new curiosities within me. My year brought me closer to the world, although I'm still quite scared of it. It also took me to China - an experience so equally challenging and fascinating that I now somehow have to find a way back here. 

My year also slowly taught me the wonder and terror of being - being both alone and more aware of the crucial idea of "presence." Presence reminds me that the future does not exist and, rather simply, focuses on fully attending each day. 

Crawling back into the entanglement, I end this year with some pain, some confusion but also as a changed person. I end it in awe of the kindness of close family and new and old friends. I also end it with a thankfulness - for all the moments where my curiosity was satisfied and for the incredible, incredible luck and generosity that I have continually encountered. Really, why me?

For next year, I wish for the continued freedom to unravel my curiosities.

Now, wherever you are at, here's to a happy New Year!


Monday, December 22

grischa rueschendorf captures louis kahn

Photo of the book from here.
In the small, busy interior of Club 71 in Hong Kong my friend Oriana introduced me to the German photographer Grischa Rueschendorf who had just happened to finish a book on Louis Kahn's parliament building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. From his bag, Grischa pulled a draft of the book, which was filled with beautiful photos of this rarely photographed or seen architectural masterpiece, also know as "one of the wonders of modern architecture." Updates from my parents' splendid travels around Iran and Turkey (which most recently show a visit to Kahn's Indian Institute of Management) reminded me of this encounter. The book - a treasure for any follower of Louis Kahn - can be purchased here.


Friday, December 19

red & yellow

Here are a few photos from the Nanshi Food Mall/Market/Complex in Tianjin. While unlikely to be the place where you can find the best in town of any Tianjin specialty (we were repeatedly told that by our taxi driver as we left the market...), it is a good place to sample many types of food, particularly mahua (a type of twisted donut). Although I'm still not sure about my visit to Tianjin, if you're there, the food could be a highlight...


Wednesday, December 10

dear eloise 亲爱的艾洛伊丝

Dear Eloise's vinyl label is Genjing Records and CD label is Maybe Mars

Dear Eloise are a shoegaze Beijing band, featuring husband and wife, 杨海崧 and 孙霞. I recently stumbled across them online and now I am on a fervent hunt to see if they're still making music in Beijing (...apparently they do not perform live, so that's that). At first I was indulging in the trivial fact that my name is part of their name but after a bit of listening and research, I really do like this band's style. Maybe they're writing to me? Beauty for Strangers (and some mysterious merchandise) will hopefully be waiting for me somewhere on Great Barrier Island when I return home. 


Tuesday, December 2

escape from 798 & the hutong laboratory

In the narrow alleyway between a public bathroom and courtyard residence a person on an electric bicycle beeped at me to move out of his way. Further along, I passed a small store filled with empty water containers and a dairy omitting blaring Chinese opera music from a hidden radio. It was dark. Apart from the intermittent orange light of street lamps, the only other light I had was from my phone. Lost somewhere in a downtown Beijing, I felt an unsettling mixture of frustrated and charmed as I searched for Zajia Lab...

My experience writing about a Beijing art project space and bar called Zajia was surprisingly important in helping me feel closer to this dynamic capital. The piece is up on White Fungus now (pending some grammar fixes)!


Monday, November 24

hello dystopia

My experience of Tianjin was the feeling one might get if she was invited to a grand wedding, turned up the day after thinking she had come on the right day, then left to walk around for two days wondering where everybody went and what actually happened.


Thursday, November 20

interview: nik thompson (44th sunset)

It has been four years since Perth band 44th Sunset first came together. After releasing their EP Boa Constrictor Hat in 2012, which featured the poppy and cleverly bitter "Caesar," the band are now working on a new album, as well as planning an Australian wide tour in 2015. Behind the scenes, 44th have shifted from a major label contract to littleBIGMAN records - a process that involved existential musings and reformation. Following the recent release of "The Hills," here's a bite size Q & A between 44th's Nik Thompson (vocals, guitar) and I.

What is the story behind your name "44th Sunset"? 

"The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry teaches us that forty-four sunsets in a row can pretty much fix any emotional stress you can have. And I seriously love that book - I have a tattoo from it and everything.

After ending your contract with a major label, what did it take to unwind from your "convoluted state of being”?

First a large transitional period of just re-evaluating the band. The project needed to feel distinctly evolved. Then we had to re-assess how we got things done.

How is this change currently affecting the sound of your upcoming album?

There won’t be as much female vocals in the track now that we’re an all-male group again. The change hasn’t dramatically changed the sound, otherwise. The main difference is that the record is actually really happening.

Lyrically, where do you draw your ideas from?

Mostly the lyrics reference my insecurities in an obscure way, it feels good when you yell them out.

After being a band for four years and with an Australian-wide tour planned for next year, what experiences do you draw on for momentum to keep going?

Memories of other tours drive on the future ones. I/We like touring quite a lot.

A lot of people comment about the engaging experience of watching you live, what do you think happens within you and the band to make it so?

We really like to perform and feel comfortable releasing on stage.  Also, I always take off my shoes - that’s a big deal.

Does the Perth music scene have any characteristics that set it apart from other cities in Australia?

The Perth music scene is surprisingly large for Perth’s population. I guess the main characteristic is often just bands playing to the other bands.

What three things do you recommend for someone to do if he or she is into alternative music and visiting Perth?

Browse Noise Pollution Records. Come to one of our shows. Go to a Love Junkies show.