Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Water, Over Land: Vietnam

Night lights in Hoi An, textile capitol of Vietnam

Z and I had no idea we were going to spend a lot of time in and on the water while in Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam. While not normally a water person--actually, I have a healthy distrust of waves and rivers--I quickly adapted and enjoyed our time there. Here are a few images from late November and early December.

Canal travel outside Hue

Slim fishing boats

Cà phê sữa nóng

Can you believe this only cost $10?!!!

Floating village, Halong Bay

Inside Sung Sot ("surprise") Cave, Bon Hon Island

Norweigan and SF friends, Halong Bay

Way less than psyched...

Ancient Cham ruins

Tau hu xao xa o (lemongrass tofu with chilis)--I'd go back for this alone!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Same same but different

After two months in Asia (India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam) and one more to go I've decided to hold off on any 'Drink Deep' updates until the New Year. The logistics of traveling cheap, fast, and light while trying to write meaningfully about all that I'm seeing is a bit much at the moment and I'd rather wait and do justice to these experiences with a bit more head-space back home.

On a side-note, there's been lots of favorable feedback to the piece I wrote on 90s hardcore punk. When I'm back at a scanner I'll post up the remainder of some images from my archive to round out the ideas I started there. Likewise, the Book of Bird benefit is progressing nicely with nearly 30 signatures gathered and the groundwork for an auction taking shape as I write. What started as a simple fundraiser has really taken on a life of its own and is becoming something quite remarkable.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Still Love H.E.R.

"Not untill you've listen to Rakim on a rocky mountain top
have you heard hip hop
extract the urban element which created it
and let a open wide country side illustrate it"

Saul Williams

Public Enemy and the track that still gives me goosebumps

Common Sense, at the height of his powers

A Tribe Called Quest from the Low End Theory, an album I've worn out, twice

NaS: half man, half amazing

Monday, November 2, 2009

สวัสดี (greetings) from Thailand

After five weeks in India Z and I have made our way into Southeast Asia. We're currently in Luang Prabang, Laos after having spent three weeks in Thailand. Our bellies are full with amazing curry and habit-forming coffee! I only wish I'd had the wherewithal to make this journey earlier.

Locals biking outside Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai

Just some of the giant vegan meal we created at Mai Kaydee's cooking school, Chiang Mai

Mr. Yim, vegetarian streetfood maestro, Bangkok

Z, riding out a storm with some tom kha soup

Mountains of curry, Chiang Mai

Bathing an elephant at Elephant Nature Park outside Chiang Mai

Lighting a floating paper lantern along the river in Chiang Mai

Wall art at Wat Pra Singh, Chiang Mai

Very proud pedal-tuk driver, Chiang Mai

Slender Buddha hands, Sukhothai

In rice we survive! (Near Chiang Khong, Thailand)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Land of Little Rain

Stok Kangri, the highest peak in the Ladakh Range, framed by prayer flags

When I was 15, Galen Rowell came to town to give a slideshow on his most recent book, My Tibet, which he co-authored with the Dalai Lama. From that night onward I was transfixed with that distant land's mountains, artwork, and political situation. It's problematic to visit Tibet as travel is heavily curtailed by the Chinese government and places a traveler in the situation of supporting a repressive regime with no regard for Tibet's cultural, historical, and spiritual autonomy. My visit to Ladakh, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and Dharamsala, in Himachal Paradesh, however, has given me a beautiful glimpse into Tibetan Buddhism and the experience of refugees living in exile.

Below are a selection of images from the past few weeks. More images and thoughts can be found at my wife and I's travel blog, Other-Climes. Enjoy.

Mani stones found along a trail in the Snow Leopard Conservation Park

Some of the landscape between Kashmir and Ladakh

An ancient Buddhist sculpture near Leh

A monk preparing candles for a puja below a fresco that illustrates the principle of samsara

A gruesome, if anatomically correct, image from the Thiksey Gompa south of Leh

A Maitreya, 'Future Buddha', at Thiksey

Where animism and humor meet

Another beautiful Buddha statue at Thiksey

Dancers at the annual Leh Festival

Wall painting of Rinchen Zangpo, the Buddhist scholar responsible for countless gompas throughout Ladakh

At the confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers

A copper smith in the tiny village of Chiling

Adorable baby goat...my new best friend?

Someday, I hope to visit a free Tibet. Many organizations work tirelessly to bring about awareness of China's illegal occupation of Tibet and its deplorable human rights record. Here are just a few:

I hear a shadow...

Writing on a sticky keyboard in a 40 rupee per hour internet cafe in Northern India is just one of the many ways that life has changed for me in the last ten years. In '99 I'd left the Bay Area and returned to the Eastern Sierra where I lived out of my car, climbed as much as my tendons would take, and began the path toward becoming a teacher. I largely left behind the hardcore punk community that I'd known for the previous ten years and with it, the ins and outs of a scene that is at once intensely earnest and woefully unstable. It was a necessary move and one that, in the end, marked a major turning point in my life.

Last month, both Rorschach and C.R. played reunion shows in New York, and while I'm thousands of miles removed from that time in my life, I could not help but reflect on the impact both of those bands made on me.

When Protestant came out it made Rorscach the baddest band in the land, excluding no one. It was the Raw Power or Damaged for my generation. The vocals were at the very edge of unintelligible, moving into the realm of noise, but unlike legions of others that would ape that style their lyrics had substance and intelligence. Rorschach's anger--and I think pain--seemed genuine and that came through in their sound. As Sam McPheeter's has written, they took the banal genre of New Jersey grind and created something beautiful. When they played with Honeywell and Not For the Lack of Trying it marked one of the best nights of punk in Southern California.

For a whole year I woke up each morning and put on side two, as a way to deal with a decaying relationship and the uncertainty of my academic studies. When it came time to write my senior thesis I chose to delve deeply into the reproduction of images of violence in a piece that became "A Traffic in Suffering." I was able to speak at length with Charles Maggio about the genesis of the Remain Sedate, "Lightning Strikes Twice," and the use of Jan Saudek's troubling images. It was with his help and patience that the project was able to take shape and I was able to graduate with honors in Anthropology from UCSC.

C.R. was a band I came to love and follow entirely through an interview in Rumpshaker. That interview was one of the best pieces of writing I'd come across in years and though I never got to see them live I've maintained a pen-pal correspondence with Bricks Avalon for over a decade now. His energy, lust for life, and commitment to easing the suffering of others is a true inspiration.

I hope that the energy that energy that was invested in these bands can be channeled in directions beyond the basements and bedrooms that make up the world of hardcore punk and into real change in people's lives.

"If I had the power..."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A View from Dal Lake

My wife and I hadn't intended on traveling to Kashmir on this trip but some alarming news headlines made it seem like a safer alternative than Ladakh proving that irony is alive and well in 2009.

Though Kashmiri salesmen are some of the pushiest I've ever encountered and the 4 a.m. Ramadan prayers that are broadcast via loudspeaker were a bit much, Dal Lake in Srinagar is one of the most peaceful places I can imagine.

Just as the sun goes down the daily call to prayer began, rising and falling in a gentle rhythm all over the lake

Some of the people on Dal Lake paddle 'shikaras'--water taxis--while others sell saffron and woven goods

In the late of the day men fish amid the lotus flowers

These houseboats are in various states of disrepair but are charming nonetheless

This boy was one of many wonderful, funny, and smart people we met during our time in Srinagar

The houseboats of Srinagar feature prominently in Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories which is highly recommended. Unfortunately, Dal Lake is horribly polluted and efforts to install modern sewage lines to the houseboats and remove trash have been slow in coming. To read more about the clean-up efforts, go here. To read more about some full value, drop the clutch climbing that the late Johnny Copp and Micah Dash did in Kashmir, read "Line of Control" (pdf download.)