Archive for February, 2012

A Free Kick, Surfing Update and a Sabbatical

February 18, 2012

Sometimes one has to cast diplomacy aside and exorcise the demons. And I will no doubt get flamed but who cares, and this brings me to the website Seeing Red in China and the gormless piece titled I Love China

As my wife, whom I love very much, reminds me from time to time, I assume too often that the readers of the blog actually know me. I hope this post helps you better understand where I am coming from as you read about the China that I know.

We then get the weblord’s whole (and insigificant) academic cv and history of self-sacrifice bringing ESL to the downtrodden in the Sino-back blocks. This, like many other entries, reads like the memoirs of a 19th US missionary in China grappling with strange customs, dysfunctional institutions, etc. Also, something of a renaissance man: book editor, sino sociologist, HR advocate etc, all enveloped within a liberal dose of good old Yankee self-promotion. And lets not even mention the mostly adulatory Greek chorus occupying the comments section. Now that I have this unpleasant task out of the way….


In the last Surf Report we trekked into very isolated south-east Tasmania, braved white pointers – a particularly vicious Noah – and surfed Shipstern Bluff.

Major league predator -the White Pointer cruises the Southern Oceans

Dr Phil Chapman surfer and medical emergency dude: Shipstern Bluff in background

Nice interview with Chapman in Zigzag.

But here is the news.

Kelly Nordstrom: 14 year old Tasmanian high school student.

The Tasmanian Mercury reports that 14 year old Kelly Nordstrom successfully surfed this humungous break. Could you imagine a power tiger mum in Shanghai or Beijing having a son like this? Nah. Myopic human calculators who have problems tying their shoe laces.

And while testing the limits, we should visit Pedra Blanca also located in south-east Tasmania and home to some interesting bird life. Not to be mistaken for Pedra Blanca off Brazil and another off Singapore.

Read about the wildlife HERE thanks to Simon Mustoe, and experience some mf… big waves with this 60 minute video The Storm Riders HERE. Link lazy. This is your mission.

Thanks to Storm Riders for this image of Pedra Branca

I was going to enter into the inane debate as to whether surfing should be included in the Olympics (alongside kiddie porn events such as gymnastics and synchronised swimming), but decided to continue with this visual essay.

The Telegraph hosts the 2012 Nikon Surf Photo of the Year.
Of the twenty entries, I went with this one in the above gallery of 20 images.

Photog: Ray Collins. The Sweet Spot

And a similar gallery – Australian Open of Surfing Women’s open event at Manly beachHERE. While Hawaiian Alana Blanchard in this set will give you heart palpitations, the rest of the entrants at this event will also sort out your yellow fever issues.

Rising female surfing stars (l-r), Dimity Stoyle, Ellie-Jean Coffey, Laura Enever, Sally Fitzgibbons, Tyler Wright, Nikki Van Dijk and Phillippa Anderson. Picture: Mark Evans

This is my 47th post on the new site, and since I am heading for a blog sabbatical for a few weeks, lets close with La Gondalrina by Jerry Fielding from Peckinpah’s Old Testament ode The Wild Bunch

Link didn’t take, but a cut and youtube paste is recommended.

Note: Being a publicity hound like most bloggers, another 24 posts can be found on my superceded site Garage Land:


A total of 71 entries since March 2011.

See you soon and take care.

Shipstern Bluff and Digital Technologies

February 13, 2012

Prologue. I was going to do a follow-up on the Bo-Wang power dance, but decided it was a pure waste of keyboard energy, since every Sino-expert and a few besides have waded into the speculation-reading of the tea leaves. Your guess as to what took place behind the Chinese curtain is as good as mine, and at least it does not assume any secret knowledge by an another academically tenured China expert, to wit Joseph Fewsmith.

You’re really talking, I think, about development models, where China goes from here,” says Joseph Fewsmith, an expert on Chinese elite politics at Boston University. “This takes on much broader ideological dimensions than anything we have seen in 20 years.” WSJ

As if domestic uber politics in China was/is so easily explained away with such a comprehensive all-knowing text bite.

And a holiday in the Caribbean for the reader who takes me to task for an absolute factual howler.

Now to the main course and a further supplement to my Surfing File, which is certainly the sport of kings after the horsies. After all, surfing was introduced to tubbyland in 1915 by the legendary Hawaiian waterman (which is the correct term) Duke Kahanamoku. Okay, lets not quibble. A Duke is a sort of King in training.

Now, lets look for some pre- and post-modern contrasts ushered in by the digital age. In a pre-post-modernist history, board riders adopted the Captain Goodvides approach to professionalism and built their courage on the big waves with a mix of chicks, booze and drugs.

Captain Goodvibes: sexist, disgusting and excessive

At a more professional level, we have this b/w photograph by Alby Falzon capturing Gregg Noll descending into the biggest wave ever at Makaha, North Shore on Dec 4, 1969, and the excellent supporting read is found HERE.

Greg Noll: the surfer who broke through the fear at Makaha

Only thing is there were multiple cameras at Makaha in 1969. Tracks cofounder and surf filmmaker, Alby Falzon had several. Falzon hawk-eyed the action all day from an apartment overlooking the point. He watched the swell build, the first guys paddle out and the last guys get washed in. When he wasn’t looking directly at the ocean, he was squinting through his 500mm lens or making adjustments to his 16mm film rig. Falzon shot rolls of film that day including, he maintains, a three shot sequence of Noll’s famous wave.

Water-proofed film and digital cameras amped up the possibilities of getting right into the wave action, as evidenced by these truly magnificent images: HERE.

And being a pirate, here is a sample.

Mark Healey, Backdoor Pipeline, Hawaii. April issue, 2009. Photo: Pat Stacy

To date, the State of Tasmania has been noted for possibly the most vicious penal system run by the British Foreign Office in the heyday of Empire. Try reading For the Term of his Natural Life by Marcus Clark. Within the pantheon of national humour, it is also noted for its mullet haircuts, plaid shirts and isolated, inbred Deliverance-type communities.

Thanks to DW TV, or at least the very non-teutonic, drop-dead- gorgeous anchor person, channel surfing abruptly halted, and Shipsterm Bluff came into view. Just so we are on the same page, here is the location.

Shipstern Bluff: South East Tasmania cold as hell and in the middle of nowhere

As most surf broadcasting sites delight in telling us, Shipstern Bluff is rarely crowded and beware of rips, rocks, isolation and sharks. Not surprising, given its location in an equally forgotten past appendage of Empire. Nonetheless, this is the spot for you if you have organised your affairs (ie prepared a will and kissed your loved ones). Google images HERE.

Returning to the technology thread, it occurred to this scribbler that we have now crossed over into a post-modernist phase in surfing history. Take Jeff Rowley big wave surfer from Victoria. Big wave stuff is truly a team and corporate sponsorship effort these days. You need the board dude who knows no fear, a highly experienced wave rider team for tow-ins and rescues, plus your own dedicated videographer, in Rowley’s case his gf Minnie Voung. And the final ingredient, some basic keyboard skills and your own website.

I fail to understand people who focus on the dystopian aspects of the digital world at the expense of outcomes such as this which give autonomy and control over their surfing lifestyle. To be sure, this autonomy is strewn with sponsorship deals, but hey, the clothing, logos etc are also pretty cool.

Maggots in the Chongqing Wood Pile

February 8, 2012

Okay. Promises are meant to be broken.

Opened my Bo Xilai file months ago, mostly HERE, and you need some of the the links for the full import. In particular, the John Garnaut link.

Well, HERE is an interesting development for the Dark Princeling.

This will be a truly delicious tale of power politics Sino-style. Bet the farm and your wife’s jewellery on it.

And I strongly suspect Bo Jnr will end up in the female position and without the benefit of an enviromentally friendly lubricant.

Whatever, anyone who drives a Jaguar and marries an all-singing all-dancing PLA hussy deserves a little invasive rough handling.

John Garnaut, who is better informed than most reporters, updates HERE: China power play: anti-corruption officials vanish.

Sort of Update.

There are almost 700 entries on the Bo-Wang affair as of now, and the great manjority are total retreads. The Bo-Wang Chongqing crime crackdown – the bullet or the Big House – was selective as noted by this REPORT by John Garnaut of the SMH last year. A news search of Garnaut’s other highly detailed reports on the Chongqing manure pile throws up lots of detail on Bo’s hitherto networks to the top in Beijing.

That aside, the only interesting, and possibly close-to-the-truth speculation (now there is an oxymoron) as what what actually took place is blogged by Inside-Out China.

Think of the bright side. We will no longer have to put up with Bo’s shiteating grin. More like a grinace as he is politically raped in a serial manner. Irrespective of the political culture, there is always a degree of pleasure to be obtained when a showboat get his comeuppance.

KT at the Cross Roads: Compact with the Devil

February 7, 2012

I’m approaching another personal crossroads in life, and am in the process of abandoning edgy inner-urban life for a bucolic rural existence, and quite possibly rural idiocy (pace Marx).

So lets put this change on the scales of life and examine some of the pluses and minuses involved.

Rural life involves truly crap internet, questionable BBC access and the unavailability of SBS television, which is tubbylands truly multicultural broadcaster. Consequently, I will no longer be bombarded with blog entries on the Hong Kong locust plague and home videos of Mainlanders soiling their streets with excrement. Nor will I have to read truly dated op pieces on Troy Parfitt’s vanity publication account of his unpleasant travel experiences in Sino-land.

The same goes for the Dikkoter piece on the GLF which is getting down to how many angels can stand on the head of a pin. Unlike most of the commenters, I’ve actually read the book plus footnotes in two sittings, and have also corresponded with the author.

I was particularly struck by the fact that no one has yet referenced any of Dikotter’s other publications (ie his excellent monograph The Age of Openness in particular), or Jasper Becker’s Hungry Ghosts: Mao’s Secret Famine (John Murray 1996). And it seems that the free-ranging chatterati are blissfully unaware of Annie Applebaum’s authoritative Gulag: A History (2003). Why bother with links!

After a couple of sessions with my analyst, I feel confident that I will be able to break with BBC’s vox pop journalism, but am not sure if I will be able to cope with non-access to their Five Alive Football reportage. Here I should note that sometime ago, I adopted Arsenal as my team to support. This was not done on the basis of Robin Van Persie’s goal scoring prowess however. Arsenal was chosen simply because Arsene Wenger came across as an incredibly talented individual (read his Wiki CV) in contrast to functional illiterates like Fergusan, Rednapp and Dalglish. Note to ESPN: Provide sub-titles when you interview these challenges to the English language.

Now to the three elements required for a life of rural idiocy.

A shack with a verandah for those evenings after a hard day in the field.

A Dobro which means 'goodness' in Slovak

Balkan countries are basically sewers, but this Wiki entry on the history of this blues, bluegrass instrument gives them a free pass.

Finally, a good conversational companion.

Blue Heeler cattle dog indigenous to tubbyland: smarter than most of the chatterati.

With this context in place, time for some suitably rustic music, and where better to start than with Blind Willie McTell (and no Dylan references pls). Unlike Robert Johnson’s small discography, this truly great musician captured the old and the new, 19th century ragtime and 12 bar blues, and with a perfectly dazzling guitar technique.

Duane Allman also covered the above, but I go with Allman’s collaboration with Johnny Jenkins, taken from a double LP covering all his studio work.

I don’t want you enjoying too much of a good thing, so let’s conclude with some JJ Cale, prolific song writer and master of pre-digital recording techniques at Bradleys Barn with Audie Ashworth pushing the buttons.

On that note, time to say good night to the hound and turn in for another day in the cotton fields.

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

Afro-American Music

February 3, 2012

If you were expecting more Garage Sounds, forget it as we are heading into serious listening today. I suppose I should provide some context. Having been called out by the resident troll keyboard psychopath Cookie Monster as a Black Dude intent on the deflowering Sino-sisters #81 over at Peking Duck, it is a timely moment for a retrospective on some of my great moments in Black Music. Apologies for the youtube limitation, since I no longer have a vinyl collection for fact checking, etc.

We all have seminal moments which changed out musical directions and interests. One of mine took place in 1972 when I was walking home thru an inner city suburb of terrace houses in Sydney in the wee hours. The city was at peace, the garbage was out awaiting collection and the street cats had settled in for the night.

Passed a door and was stopped mid-step by a cacophony of very intense sound. Being in another cultural epoch, I knocked on the door and made inquiries. Mine host, far from being taken back, ushered me into the lounge room, offered me a cup of tea, a weapons grade spliff and cranked up the stereo. This was the track by John Coltrane – from In Transition recorded live at the Village Vanguard in 1965. The John Coltrane Quartet was unquestionably the most powerful jazz unit to ever grace a stage. Afro-American Wagner powered by Trane’s tenor sax and Jimmy Garrisons polyrhythmic drumming.

Most jazz, or should I say the best jazz pianists, treat the piano as a percussion instrument. Wood, springs, hammers and a soundboard, and this is not surprising given the role of drums, marimbas and the mbira in traditional African music, and after the period of colonisation when some European instruments were appropriated.

Mbira or thumb piano

More images of this DIY instrument from google HERE.

One has a great choice of pianists, some of whom are even white, such as Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Lenny Tristano, Keith Jarrett, Randy Weston, Dollar Brand and the truly brilliant Thelonious Monk to name but a few.

In the absence of Jitney Silent Tongues – Live at Montreux, here is a similar piece by Cecil Taylor recorded in Italy 1968. Demanding listening true, and it exemplifies my point about the percussive qualities of the piano. Taylor, whom I was fortunate to see in the 90’s is well represented on the net, if he becomes your pianist of choice.

Choosing something by Miles is a hard gig as his playing went thru so many reinventions. While In a Silent Way was probably my period of choice, due in part to Tony Williams awesome drumming, lets look for something from his later Jungle Funk period.

And if your Chinese neighbours are really pissing you off, try Mile’s Tribute to Jack Johnson. Micheal Henderson’s bass playing will bring the chanderliers down on their ill-mannered heads.

To be finished later this ave, and with a change of direction.