5 Star Hotel

I’ve shifted apartments here at the bicyclemark ranch. I now have a garden view, no more tourists looking in my window as I eat breakfast or play horn without pants on. Although I will miss the canal view, I’m quite content with the plum tree and the cat who interact with each other at my new windows.

Since I’ve just moved in (down the hall.. so it took me 4 hours to move to my new place) I figure why not celebrate by spending the night at a 5 star hotel in the heart of Amsterdam. Free of course, cause I know all the right people… I’m so looking forward to it.

While I go rough it in the lap of luxury, I’ve been watching Iraqi’s vote in make-shift booths with m16’s all around them. I keep forgetting who’s protecting who from who. Nothings says democracy like tanks in the streets and guns in your face. And man do my ears ring everytime they call it a historical day. Historical my ass… I remember when Saddam used to hold elections and you could only vote for him. This isn’t the same, but it isn’t that far off either. In both cases people will be treated as if they are threats to the government, arrested occasionally, and possibly tortured — since that’s an ok method to get your information.

The only news item I found nice was the story of Iraqi ex-pats who voted here in the netherlands. The images and stories were really… heartwarming and funny (dances and feasts surrounding the polling stations).

Today’s Sounds: Ani Difranco – The new one

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Gift from Angola

I was riding home from bowling the other night, as usual my mind racing with all sorts of brilliant and unbrilliant thoughts. Over time, in Amsterdam, one develops this talent to just ride fast as hell, ignore red lights, and weave around traffic and kamikaze pedestrians. Sometimes a person or a car or some random thing catches your attention as you ride, and for those brief moments, you try to soak up the situation before you’ve ridden off.

On that night there were two dark skinned figures trying to cross in front of me. They hesitated, which told me they were from out of town. At that same moment, one of the men looked directly into my eyes. That happens sometimes,you’re riding and someone looks directly into your eyes for a split second. For me, it’s usually a beautiful girl riding in the opposite direction. But in this case the eyes staring at mine were those of a friend. They triggered a rush of mental images; memories. At first it was NYC 1999 and I had stayed late at the knitting factory, hanging in the green room discussing politics with the band. Then I was swept back to 2002, sitting in a tiny restaurant in Lisbon – “Agua do Bengo.”

The owner of this restaurant was the man behind those eyes, at least that’s what I felt in that eternal moment. I swore that I was seeing my friend Waldemar Bastos, beloved Angolan singer who had been exiled to Lisbon during the long civil war in his home country.

I kept riding, looking back the entire time. But I couldn’t see him anymore.. I stopped in hopes that he would be running in my direction, shouting my name. But no dice. I slowly rode in the direction of home, now completely buried in memories of our conversations, the nights where I’d come to the restaurant to help his wife serve dinner, and then after closing they’d cook a special meal for me while Waldemar pulled out the guitar and starting testing new songs on me. One night we sat there til the sun came up, singing together. He even handed me the guitar as said, “go ahead bm, I know you’re musician.” But I know better… I returned his custom acoustic right back to him with a smile.

Here’s where it gets better: This morning I went to do xmas shopping-browsing at a CD shop, and there in the featured artist section – Waldemar Bastos and his new release Renascence, on a DUTCH LABEL! He had told me last year, during our annual phonecall, that he had signed with a Dutch label. Shit with Warner Brothers and David Burn’s Luaka Bop project had gone bad, but now he was back…. in the NETHERLANDS! I just checked the show listings… tomorrow night at the Tropentheatre.. I’m going to see my friend. I sent him a text message with this story. I look forward to the euphoria when he sees me tomorrow, no one will understand the history behind the enormous hug we will share.

(….to be continued.. and in the meantime, go stare at the stars)

Today’s Sounds: Waldemar Bastos – Renascence

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Sunday Pod People

If I can swing it, from now on, Sunday’s will be dedicated to Podcasting. No it has nothing to do with alien probes, or genetic mutations, it is –according to me– the next frontier of blog universe: frequently updated websites with audio posts (MP3’s) consisting of commentary, music, interviews, etc. Adam Curry can explain it better, and sure enough, he just moved from the Netherlands.

I used to think, “Podcasting? I don’t have one of those newfangled Ipod’s!”(yet) But sure enough, you don’t need that little white gremlin plugged into your ears and strapped to your arms. Even if they are kind of sexy. (?!) All you need is a microphone, computer, and a voicebox… even that might be optional. A good start to the world of podcasting is ipodder.org which Curry himself helps run. Don’t worry about not being tech savvy, you’re reading a blog, you’re already tech save- just go with it.

So my two picks of this weekend are The Nation Magazine’s Audioblog, which this week features Howard Zinn, one of my most favorite thinkers of all time. He talks about his new book “Voices of a People’s History” and how the world’s focus should now be on building a sweeping movement against the war. He also gets into how ridiculous the idea is that you can use war to diminish terrorism. He has long been saying, as have I,

"..we should look closely at the grievances

of so many millions of people, especially in the middle east,
and examine whether or not those grievances are legitimate,
and why they drive this small fraction of this population
to commit such acts."

Look at the cause, and see what isn’t being done to solve those problems..

My other pick is loft 405, broadcasting from a loft in Brooklyn, with good tunes and fun commentary.

So there you have it -podcasting, you’ll be ready when it comes up during dinner conversation. Then you can prove that you’re down with tech trends and show everyone you’re a nerd hip.

Today’s Sounds: Radio Nation Audioblog with Howard Zinn, with Jimmy Eat World – Clarity in the background

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And I feel fine

What will the end of the world look like? I mean.. the initial day, if you look at the sky, what color and things will you see?

What I love about this city is that there is always at least one day in the week where I wake up, look outside, see giant baseballs of hale, black angry clouds, and a junky flying away on a broom, and I think: Yeah… could be today. And then I go grab a bowl of Fruit and Fiber and a banana. Cause shit, I want to start off end of the world day with a healthy breakfast.

As I was cooking my specialty last night, in honor of Jamie’s last night, we were talking about forms of government. The Netherlands is a type of constitutional monarchy, like the UK, and so the Royals handle most of the symbolic handshakes and ribbon cutting. Plus they keep the tabloids in business. On the other hand, I’m a fan of the republic system, as in Portugal, where the president is mostly symbolic and runs around like he’s everyone’s dad. Thus leaving the PM to be the national asshole; yelling in Parliament (toiletpaper… toiletpaper in our time!) and on executive decisions. We both agreed that the US system, despite being a type if republic, is a drag. The pres has to make all the photo ops and empty speeches, while presumably also handling the bill signing and vetoing, etc. In the end, spending more time on one or the other, how can he/she be good at either one? They can’t. It would nicer, at the very least, if the VP handled the executive tasks, while the pres ran around kissing babies and foreign leaders. Considering the current duo in the white house, this might -unfortunately- already be the case.

Anyhoo… there goes Jamie, off to NYC via Munich, and I didn’t even get a photo of us together. Oooh photos, have I mentioned how much I love Flickr? Mostly thanks to Jill/txt I’m spending alot of time fiddling with FLickr, and I recommend it to all of you. (how bout that photobox in my left tab, nice eh?)

Today’s Sounds: Howard Stern on WJFK (DC)

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