Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sadly John Gill is dead and has stopped playing.

John Gill, 57 years old, died on April 15, 2011 in Perth, Western Australia.

John Gill was a Ragtime Festival favourite and was planning to kick off another US tour beginning this June in Sedalia.

The talents of the acclaimed stride and ragtime pianist took him around the world but he was probably best known for his energetic performances for more than 17 years in and around his hometown of Perth.

London-born Gill was the first and only Australian to become an accredited Bosendorfer Concert Artist and the first to be invited to play at the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival. He toured Australia, South-East Asia and throughout the US. Before following his parents to Australia in 1983, he played in leading hotels and clubs in Europe and became Britain's top ragtime pianist.
Fellow Perth musician and friend Garry Lee said Gill was the consummate artist.

"He played with, obviously, incredible technique and virtuosity but he was also able to engage the audience," he said. "Very few pianists in the world can play like John and as far as Australia is concerned, I don't think there'd be any."

A tribute will be planned during the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival on June 1 in the evening.


John and I hung out on and around and shared various inner city Perth pitches over the years I drifted through and then lived in Perth. I considered him a friend.
He was a fixture, a truly gifted rag time pianist who lent a jaunty, upbeat and joyful melodic stratum to the public of Perth via hauling his piano out from it's storage in an underground carpark several times a week and banging on it.

What he did was important. Perth is poorer in spirit with his passing and that's part of the sadness.

Willow tree
another moody song.
What the hell, have the lot. It's soft and comforting and cushions death

Brief respite from Pandaville, "The Brain."

Friday, April 29, 2011

The wait is over...Pandas!

The barrage of Panda, it's unrelenting!

more #2

I'm going to see how much Panda you can take.

So I have yet to master editing. I have learnt to shoot short clips for the most part so that makes things easier.

I have a set of stuff shot on our day off when we visited the Pandas.
This cam work is interesting, I can keep it raw and just learn how to stitch it together and focus more on being a smartass on camera. If that's pleasing to people.

Or I can focus on post production commentary. But I'm thinking the realtime stuff has more appeal even though it's simply spur of the moment gibberish.

I need to find my voice because I intend to focus on creating this sort of material at festivals and events over the next wee while and need to know what works best to gain the larger audience. And by that I simply mean the more than 20 people who visit this blog on a semi-regular basis.

I'm thinking perhaps to put the unedited stuff out here and then once or twice a year selling polished compilations with some extra commentary and bits and bobs to help fuel the enterprise.

So for example I could say "Hey I want to go to Glastonbury" and a number of people would prebuy the edited footage I created there when I got back, while others could just watch whatever like now, I upload in the raw. This is just the tip of the iceburg of the China stuff.

So enjoy as I put up say three a day for the next days and give me feedback about my idea and whether you think it could fly.....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

On the sanctity of the single tear.

This is going the rounds this video, it is of the utmost importance you play it on fullscreen.

Perhaps it's the piano, an instrument seemingly designed to have the power to milk tear ducts however I know there's more to it.

Sometimes I'm overcome by things, sometimes my emotional world is overfilled and I leak out of my own cup. Sunsets for example remind me daily of lost love. I'm resigned to them now, I've toned those fuckers down to wistful sorrow and the pride in the callus I have grown that protects me.
It's transparent though, I can still see through to the wound but most of the infection has gone.
My pride is transparent also. It's only foundation my continued existence.

I used to watch sunsets and aim for a single tear. I thought that was a worthy passtime. Just a single tear that ran down my face as the thermo-nuclear orb ceased baking us for the day and slid into the sea.

What would happen would be that the first tear would be sliding down my face and the stoic poetry of the moment would be just right when a second would appear and define me as a weeper.
It was beyond my control, I felt like a bedwetter.
So I stopped doing it, I just glance at the sunsets now.

This video though, I watched and an upswell surged, it was magnificent and I was gifted with the consciousness to resonate within the incy-bincy teeny-weeny bipedal mammalian frame I inhabit.

It was being like a deer in the headlights of some vehicle larger than the imagination called universal indifference and in those moments where that singular tear slid down accepting it all.

and it's not even 8am and look what I've achieved!

A measure of peace.

And a single tear.

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

there's a story that goes with this

I will write the story later.
Right now I'm trying to migrate from acer to probook and external hard-drive and network methods are not working out.

but I came across this photo and yes it is a good story and I'll do it after I've got this done so I can give the acer to wes, family.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Breaking the Rules. Backstage

OK First the setup.
Mitch (Jonathan) Freddes (above/center) is a classic oldschool ex Ringling Clown traditionalist. He uses a prop in his show that's over a hundred years old. He worked for Ringling for decades, then ran off and went away to live on a reservation for close to ten years, no-one knew where he'd gone. When he was done with that he came back to Ringling and was invited to check out the new generation which he did before pronouncing in front of them all that they were full of crap. He then rejoined their slightly less happy family awhile.

He's a gem. I search the world for true individuals and Mitch is true. He's cantankerous for the greater good. He's generous of spirit and playful and has that rare form of hardfought dignity few clowns evoke.

Mitch has rules and I tried to get him to lay them out, like commandments. He didn't. I'm figuring showing clowns backstage is one of his cardinals. One of the first tier of sins. I'm known in Clown circles and beyond as a maverick and in conventional terms I guess it's part of my spiritual journey to be forgiven as often as I can. Giving mortal men and woman the opportunity to extend me grace. It's not an easy job pissing people off, let me tell you it can be lonely being as selflessly annoying as I can be but it helps people grow so I believe it's worth it.

Alan Balanger is an ex Ringling clown much younger than Mitch but with certain qualities that make him a very good clown but interestingly those qualities make him ill qualified for lesser things.
An example is Alan runs almost exclusively on body or muscle memory. He learns things and then disappears entirely into them while engaged. I'm not being facetious or sarcastic here. Alan has done many other things and successfully but nothing as successful as simply being totally in the moment in his own kinda clown bulldozer style.

Mitch offered to teach Alan this Classic big-top Boxing skit and to perform it with him. Alan, during these rehearsals is almost incandescent with joy, something new to commit to memory and to perform with Mitch is somewhat of an honor. It was funny watching this because the structure was new to Alan but the joy of it was immediate and immense and he found concentration hard to maintain but as you see here he prevailed.

I love the moment at the end where I say , "It's a beautiful thang" and Mitch adjusts his hat wearing his boxing gloves and Bob says "exquisite" while Alan claps his gloves together like a joyful Seal.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hearts a mess, it's bearable.

Intense Stilt Crowd Surfing Snippit

This is Steve Rollo and myself on our first day at the busy end of the park on a raised walkway. We ran into one or two Chinese people who like us were taking a stroll.

Panda Babble

deep in the Pandahouse

A Stiltcam teaser

letter to a friend

I'm back home, home is a monitored sort of drug free rehab-lite facility in Hawaii with it's own semidisfunctional farm attached.
I went rehab/china/rehab
I had some pretty extensive therapy since xmas last year when I came in after living in a cave suicidally depressed and starving. I'm 5 months clean and sober and doing OK. It was good to go do a gig and break the cycle of the pattern I had where I was sober at home with the wife and kids, (although stoned a lot) and then drank heavily while touring. This last gig was a new experience and not as hard as others I had failed my sobriety at before. I'm at a point where impulses are secondary to a general celebration of my sobriety, I love not having hangovers and not feeling like a puppet to impulses I can't control. I think my writings better too.

The marriage is over and that took a couple of years of intense grieving to accept. I still have great relationships with the kids though.

Too much info? Well that's my style I guess. 
I have a book recommendation for you. 

Emma Donoghue: Room

I'll not say more, just get it and read. It's profound.

Interesting you are working at what amounts to a real estate promotion gig. I've found that most of the Chinese gigs are packaged 'look at the lifestyle we offer-invest here' kind of things. I suppose a lot of the gigs we do internationally are like this in more subtle ways but I miss that idealism of simply being part of communities celebrating themselves.

The first gig in China was like that. All the others have been attached to some new development touting some projected quality of life if and when people moved into the already standing condos or those still to be built on the wasteland surrounding the opulant settings we worked in that had literally been put up in the months before we arrived. The last gig in the first 2 days we had to get off the bus a couple of hundred yards from the stage because they were still building the road to it but after those two days we could drive right up and the roadbuilding continued past us. Also there were thousands and thousands of freshly transplanted cherry trees all over the place [it was a blossom festival] all with intraveinous bags attached and wooden tripods holding them up until their roots unfurled. The funny thing was they didn't blossom in time for the festival. It's a surreal life we have isn't it?

I had my stiltcam going on stage and while roving and with part of the fee have bought a probook so I can play the film and edit it to put it online. My notebook cannot process the richness of the files so in a couple of days i get to relive what I recorded.
I had several hundred chinese schoolkids sing me happy birthday in both chinese and english, that will be good footage.

Dado was there too, he was a good grounding element although I have to admit I wound him up from time to time, played with his control issues. I know the Chinese , especially those we were in front of who are over 1000 kms from multicultural shanghai only perceived the surface of things and so I cheerfully danced to upbeat but deeply shocking lyrics on a kind of rotational basis. Dado was the only person to notice and it made him so uncomfortable that he shut my sound off while I was onstage at one point. I wasn't upset, again it's all about the surface to the rows of elderly chinese sitting offstage so I simply tottered sidestage and told dado, It's not about you being comfortable Dado.

I had it coming, That day it was nine inch nails, 'closer' where the chorus goes, "I want to fuck you like an animal"

heh heh, I think I filmed that.

Dado was a big hit, got lots of laughs and i think succeeded in further showing himself the pancultural strength of his material. My character was as always generally aloof and observational, [I mean hello! I have a HD camera on my flying helmet] I did interact however I didn't do 'bits' I just improvised round whatever. I took part in a circle of woman doing some ethnic dance stuff, that was awesome and I'll certainly treasure that footage when i finally get to watch it. Dado filmed lots also. Some of his and my stuff was shot concurrently and I have his footage also, the dancing with the women and the birthday singing and so that will make for good editing,

He had a romantic project for his wife's birthday where he recorded groups of Chinese and individuals all saying 'I love you' to camera. I grabbed all that footage and will post that on a daily feel good piecemeal random love-diet basis shortly too.

With power comes responsibility. My first impression after grabbing all the 'I love you' footage was how sentimentally powerful it was. You could potentially conquer people with it. I had to squelch the impulse to subject my ex wife to a wistful wave of incoming artfully contrived affection. 

ok that's enough from me. It's 4-23am, I got up at 1 because it's day three back and the jetlag is still doing it's thing. I just sleep when I feel like it and when I wake is just OK with me.

hope alls well

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

poor poor men.

Chinese woman are by and large small, they tend to be petite little reproductive bipeds who tend to keep their youthful figures and complexions  until on one dark post menopausal night in their mid seventies they morph into elderly woman.

As such great lumbering western menfolk, at least half of those I spent time with in China, turn into various forms of vocal twitching gonads.
Those of my variety performance ilk tend to grasp their mediocrity with a certain overwrought flair, projecting a confidence quite undershadowed by their limited worth as reproductive vehicles.
Not prepared to accept that mugging or twisting balloons or acting childishly for set professional periods are not in fact the elements attractive alpha males use to attract while being unwittingly seduced by equally alpha and far more devious females with longer set plans seems beyond the grasp of my brethren.

Now I'm not putting on airs, well my writing style is a bit florid but sexually I'm simply confused and distrustful and reluctantly frustrated. I like to think at least honestly so.
But some of my cohorts are just shockingly out of control. Imagine having to let fellow men know how many times that day you have ejaculated down some fellow mammals birth canal? Or how besotted you are with a woman who speaks perhaps two words of your language as if overdosing on cosmetic wistfulness obscures the fact that you are the human version of a red setter humping the sofa.

Now it's a given I'm uncharitable but I'm amazed these types of behaviours can be conceived as anything but heinously blatant miswiring  akin to a toy car designed to hit obstacles and redirect itself that instead keeps grinding away at the table-leg until its battery expires or a blue wisp of smoke leaks from it and it expires.
Yet these perambulating tragedies, these singular reproductive vehicles dedicated to nothing more than a specific form of friction marry and breed without pause or respite from their ongoing deceitful  compulsion, some blatantly and some, the less married and more openly lonely wrapped in a lightweight foppish mills and boonish fantasy world who nevertheless see women as precious ceramic objects.

My experience is that women have a hidden titanium core or shielding whereas men are just licorice allsorts with laughably rugged packaging.

Sigh...And now I never have to speak of this again.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Trip incountry

I was due to meet up with my 'team' at Shanghai airport and fly onto Chengdu. There are 8 performers in this ensemble and after 5 hours in Honolulu followed by 10 hours to Seoul Korea followed by a couple more to Shanghai I was ready at last for the social payoff.

My 'team' consisted of a lone Chinese guy holding my name on a card. I recognised him from an event four years previously where at a party organised by our benefactors I had come across him in the onset of alcohol poisoning,having noted over 10 minutes he had gone from manic to collapsed id taken him somewhere to vomit and actually jammed my fingers down his barely conscious throat to start him off then left him heaving in the cubicle, my alcoholic mother tereasa impression over and my hand washed thoroughly

So as is usual at any Chinese gig a great deal of openness to improvisational change is manditory.
Instead of flying onto our destination we went outside and caught a bus which for the next few hours wove into and throughout Shanghai, a city of 20 million or so.

Then we got off on a street corner and walked through what appeared to be a downtrodden but energetic university area. Noodlehouses and cheap accomodation and students wandering around doing that brittle fashion thing.

Then my assistant realised my hotel was further away than he thought so we caught a taxi and I was checked into the Greentree Inn. There is no tree, it is not green. No matter.

I boiled some tap water, popped in a teabag and its nighttime again, Ive just traveled halfway round the world and tomorrow at three pm I'm being picked up to catch a train for 3 or 4 hours to where it is I'm working.

Time to sleep I think. I think its sunday night and I haven't slept really since waking up back in Hawaii fri morning.

As I say it's all morph. I asked my assistant, the guy paid to pick me up and put me on a train who I'd once stuck my arm down the throat of,
“so is this train more than three hours”

He looked at me seriously and said “yes”

So given the train left at 5pm and more than three hours was after 8 I asked.

“What time to I get there?”

He said “about 9”

brilliant I thought. Around 4 hours and then meet up with people and settle in, my journey complete.
So four beds to a cabin, I got there early and thought I'd got it to myself but this is China and there is never an empty seat anywhere ever on a train. It says so in the train magazine I read in the carriage before I am flooded with fellow passengers. I've been travelling now into my third day. I throw my stuff on the front bunk and wedge myself around it for a nap.
The inhabitants have all changed, more morphing. Now it's young students whereas before it was a dad and his two grownup sons.
I think I may have missed my stop so look confused. [years of training as a pantomime and human being] the young blokes just look at me sadly and with the sort of sympathy you'd extend to a mad cat-lady aunty who was staying for Christmas and smelt of kitty litter and sneezed a lot.

They motioned that where I was going was the end of the line. They did this by drawing a line and pointing at my ticket and then pointing at the end of the line.
I was confused but hid it perfectly by pretending to sleep. I did this for a further ten hours and at 9AM the next morning I came to Chengdu. The slightly over 3 hour trip was 14 hours.

Very morphy.

Well that was interesting......

It may take a little time to compile and publish my latest adventure however the fact that I'm penning this in the 6 hour stopover in Korea in the first internet moments out behind the Chinese firewall where no Twitter, no youtube and no exists, [without, you-know, prior sneaky secret tunneling preparations] is a pretty good indicator of the pace I intend to set.

And I've got heaps. I took stiltcam daily, that will take some editing and I have to purchase a computer larger than my notebook to do that but that will only take as long as it takes me to deposit some money and arrange the delivery.
Thanks to Dado I can share the 'I Love You' Project, where groups and single chinese are asked to look into the camera and say 'I ruve you' At one a day I've got a couple of weeks worth of that. Got a couple of hundred Chinese school kids involved in that as well as being sung happy birthday to by them all as well in both English and Chinese.

I have lots of images, I will do a super saturated 'the day we met the pandas' piece as well as my usual deconstructive character assassination pieces on all and sundry with names changed to cosmetically protect some bipeds similar to myself.

I did some more editing while away and will continue that now, [of my book] so I can catch up to my editor who is up to 'm' while I struggle with 'h' 'i' 'j'.

there will also be news of my heirloom tomatoes which I've been told have indeed been watered in my absence and have yet to ripen. [150 plants] I'm so proud they haven't ripened for anyone else. I admire their loyalty.

That's it for now. I may sleep all day tomorrow, or not. Right now I think I'll go get another coffee.