you know what you get when you mix joop and blogging? well, you're looking at it...

Monday, November 13, 2006

man i am bad

I guess its about time I updated this thing...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

jet trippin

Here's the link that I mentioned in the last post for the jazz cafe....

I'm off to Oaxaca in the morning! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! ;p

Friday, October 27, 2006

Ends and Beginnings

I think I might have to give in to just writing about events after they happened awhile ago. Work has been intense these last couple of weeks, and in the interim I have changed gears and started on a new project, this time in bloody London! ;p

The last couple of weeks in Zurich were a lot of fun though, aside from being slightly sick on my last week there. Sara and Oli had their housewarming in Basel which was really fantastic. It was two Fridays ago, and we got hammered proper. They lived on the top floor of their building (I think something like seven or eight flights of stairs) which was quite a workout, but once you reached the top, they also had roof access, which we utilized to its fullest. The drinking barrage lasted until 7 or so in the morning with a broken chair being tossed from the roof – at which point the neighbors downstairs complained and the guys went down to pick up the pieces…

The following Wednesday I went to a live jazz jam session in a small jazz café close to where I was staying. Sushi and her friend (Andrea?) took me to this small crowded place off a side street that would prove relatively difficult to find unless you knew where you were going. Apparently a bunch of cats from the local music school at the University get together once a week and jam out different tunes and styles. The sound was really good for such a small establishment, and they were also webcasting the show, although I have yet to find out what the URL is…

The last week of work in Zurich left me with little time to think much less go out and do things. I did get to try one of the local foods which was absolutely delicious there – traditional cheese and potatoes. Basically they take a large block of indigenous cheese – ‘raclette’ and use a torch to melt the top layer. It is then scraped off onto the plate, whereupon you would take a small potato and cover it with the cheese to eat. Small side portions of pickled vegetables also accompanied the meal. It was delightfully delicious!

On the last weekend I went out to eat with my friend Carine at a place called Bodega Espanola. There we had a bottle of wine and some traditional Spanish tortilla along with tapas. There isn’t quite anything in the world like real tortilla. It is absolutely amazing! After this we went to her boyfriend’s friend’s place, (Tanja) where I ended up staying up until the morning partying with them, and ended up going to a day club. Tanja explained to me that it’s possible to stay up from Friday night until Sunday evening in Zurich, all the while going from club to club. It was pretty crazy to go into this club at nine in the morning, order a beer and roll a joop – all the while watching a dozen other people chatting and dancing away to some durrrty beats. Talk about after-after hours! Crazy indeed. Luckily I didn’t eat anything that would have kept me up too long so I didn’t last past 12 that day. However the recovery process did take the rest of the weekend.

So I packed everything up on Sunday and left for London, where I am now. The ‘First 24’ here was a much crappier experience than my first in Zurich. The hotel where I was staying decided to charge my entire stay onto my card before realizing what I had told them from the beginning, and that was to charge the company card. Less to say, I arrive in London Sunday evening without a penny to my name. Ffin’ great! I think to myself as I try to figure out a way to get to my new flat. Luckily my check card worked when I attempted to purchase a single ticket to get where I was going.

The weather was miserable – cold and wet, and it took me a little while to find my apartment. (I demanded a flat for this project, as I was not about to spend another 6 weeks in a hotel!) It’s incredibly nice to have an apartment now though. Unlimited internet access that I don’t have to fight over or pay extra for, a kitchen I can COOK in and a decent living space! I have to do my own laundry, but it is a miniscule price to pay for the freedom of having my own space…

The following day I roughed it through the city with by backpack full of computers and headed out for the office. Since I couldn’t get a ticket, had no phone, and no means of contacting them (the batteries on my laptops were dead) I set out for my office. I didn’t even have an address for it, but I knew it was in Trafalgar Square, right in the heart of the city. By subway it takes about 10 minutes to get to from where I was, but by foot, with a backpack, and little sense of direction, it ended up being several hours…

I followed the Thames river bank all the way up to the Square, whereupon I found a hotel with a concierge that looked up my company information for me. Luckily it was not too difficult to find after this. Finally, after reaching my company, I was able to get a phone and have some cash floated to me so I could eat and get around. Talk about a pain in the ass. No more giving out my credit info to hotels when the company should be taking care of it!!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Snippits and Tidbits to bring me up to date

Originally uploaded by dr_kiuchi.
I know it is somewhat self-defeating of the purpose of a blog to not blog in real time, so I’m going to play the catch up game. Basically this post is like pressing the fast forward button on the past to bring the blog up to speed.

The following day after my last post, I google up “Amp Fiddler” and “Zurich” to figure out where he’s going to be playing, how much it’s going to make me poor to see the show, etc. I pull up a German-only site, (thank goodness for babelfish) and spend a good chunk of my down time at work deciphering what the difference is in the price of the tickets. I come across an interesting part of the page though, something about free tickets and registering. So I put in my information, just to see what happens. Nothing. Ok, whatever. So I mull around doing work until my coworker that speaks German comes in later on in the day so I can have him more properly translate the difference in these ticket prices. (One was for 25 bucks and the other 35 bucks, but the tickets were both labeled as GA?)

Later that day when my coworker arrives, I receive some odd email in German. It reads:

Konzert::: Stehplätze-Gewinner::: AMP FIDDLER
Guten Tag Kenji

Herzliche Gratulation!

Du hast 2 Stehplätze für das "AMP FIDDLER" Konzert am Donnerstag, 21.
September 2006 im Kaufleuten gewonnen, die Türöffnung ist um 19 Uhr.

Holy Shit! I actually WON tickets!! Shaweeeeeeet! So I decide not to buy them in the end, and it turned out to be a good idea not to jump the gun and wait on the translation….The concert was to be the following Tuesday.

I ended up celebrating with some Sarah and Sushi on Saturday, when we went to go check out a live funk show. (check the pix) It was really sweet. We walked down the Sihl to a place shrouded in darkness and twisting stairs until we reached our destination, which was this hideout that was dug just above the side wall of the river basin. It had a cave-like atmosphere, and a small indoor setup with a bar and very small stage to fit 5 or 6 people on. But somehow they managed to do it. We caught the tail end of the first act, but the second act was this Italian funk group that rocked the house. (I have some video that hopefully I will post up on YouTube or something soon: in the mean time check the pix…)

Then on Tuesday I meet up with my friend Sara, and we go out to check the Amp Fiddler concert. We were some of the first to arrive, so we got to kick it for a bit and have some drinks before the show started. The thing is about concerts here in Zurich, most of them are inside theatre halls. Something akin to the Bass concert Hall in Austin. There was a mezzanine level (which turned out to be the more expensive ticket) with seats, and the lower, ground level in front of the stage. I picked up a spot just to the left of the stage, right up in front.

Amp started off the concert with just himself solo on keys with “If I Don’t”, and about halfway through, the rest of the band joined the stage, and shit hit the fan!! From that point on the concert was probably one of the best shows I had the luck to enjoy in a REAL long time. (and for those who know me, I check out a lot of shows…) It was funny, he did a lot of shameless self-promotion for the new album throughout the show, but he was there to get the word out I guess…For the encore he had the crowd clapping and singing a melody of ‘peace and happiness’, and kept the crowd going even after the band stopped. At this point he made his way into the crowd, everyone still singing along, and disappeared into the front of the venue, and the band left the stage. As I was walking out, I saw him at the front signing CD’s for people with a huge smile on his face. All in all it was a real great show. The production actually matched the quality of the musicians, and Amp rocked the house. I highly recommend to anyone that gets the chance to check out his show, and buy his new album!!

So here’s where it gets stupid:

The next Friday I take off to Munich to check out Oktoberfest. (something that I had promised to myself that I needed to do) It was a 4 hour train ride, and tons of people getting plastered on the way. I ended up sleeping and taking pictures of the gorgeous green scenery out of the window until the very end of the train ride. I get up and meet some other random Oktoberfest-goers, and share some beers and laughs with them.

When I get off of the train, however, I realize that I don’t have my camera with me. FUCK!!! I think, and I try to scramble back onto the train to check for it, but the train officers would not let me, as the train was already going back. At this point I let off an extremely long string of curse words that I will leave you to imagine. Less to say I was not a happy camper. So I join these two guys I met on the train to go ‘drown my sadness’ and drown it I did.

In Oktoberfest, if you don’t arrive from the beginning of the day, it is almost impossible to get into a tent to drink. By ‘tent’ I mean bierhalle that is bigger than the Austin Music Hall. Once again, the backdoor is a great place to get in.  The security was tighter than (insert virgin comment here). But after enough pleading and waiting, they allowed the 3 of us in. I was lucky enough to spot an empty table amongst the crowd of ten-thousand people or so, and we sat down to finally eat and get our drink on. I think I finished 7 liters by the end of it all. Really. In Germany, they serve them by the liter mug. Friggin awesome. However, oddly enough, they had a band playing lots of cheesy American classic rock covers that everyone knew the words to. In between this, they would sing a ‘cheers’ song in German (no, not everybody know’s your name) but a song that everyone cheered their glasses to. Less to say after about 10 of these songs you’re feeling pretty darn good.

I basically ended up drinking till the cows came home that night, and when they did I rode ‘em. The next morning I manage to stumble back into the train station, where I am supposed to leave to meet a coworker to help him move. However, my phone is out of minutes, and I decide to use a payphone to call him. Stupid me, I ended up leaving my phone by the payphone when I go to grab a bite to eat, and 10 minutes later when I realize it, it’s gone. BAM! 2 for 2! I think it’s a record. Fuck it. Material shit. Oh well.

This is the reason I did not have my camera at the Alex Attias show, nor retain the pictures from the night of Amp Fiddler. From that point on, no camera, and no pictures: which for me, is really painful. Especially with my love of photography. But in the end, material crap can be replaced, and I am currently waiting on my new & improved baby, direct from Japan. I can’t wait. Keep your eyes open for future postings, because when it arrives I’m going to be like the rest of the Japanese tourists visiting here, and shutterbugging the fuck out. ;p

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Out of order past: the beginning of the beginning


So it was several weeks ago when I arrived and it took me about a week to make my first friends. I met Sara (second from the left) by bumping into her during lunch time near Rennweg, which is a place in the very heart of the shopping district of Zurich. She had originally approached me for her work, which was a fundraising job for disparate people in South America. Of course my German is horrible, and apparently her English was not so good, and oddly enough we ended up conversing in Spanish. Believe it or not, I made out alright and not just as a bumbling idiot. In the end we ended up trading numbers and made an appointment to joop later.

When I got off of work, I was running late, and my phone battery had died. Just my luck. However, I managed to remember exactly where she was working and what time she was getting off, thus I managed to scramble to my destination just in time. There I met two of her other friends, Sarah (second from the right) and Oliver. (first on the right) Luckily for me they spoke English quite well. We ended up going to this small pub that is next to the Sihl River. It was crowded and full of people enjoying the weather and their beers, so much so that we could not find a regular seat.

The patio area was elevated above the river on one side, with the adjoining pub next to it. We ended up maneuvering our way downhill next to the river, balancing our beers in an act that would have impressed the people from Cirque de Soleil. There we camped out next to the Sihl as I made an attempt to decipher the Swiss-German conversations, trying to pick up little nuances that would give me details into what they were talking about. I probably looked really confused like a monkey in space, but they were polite enough to explain, in English, what was going on.

The scenery was real green, but the river was a little low. The off thing was that someone at some point had gone out and spray-painted the rocks in the middle of the river that jutted up like pink and green droplets of candy. Odd, indeed. We were later joined by a couple of other friends' of Sara, Julia (center) and Sushi. (Yes, Sushi. on the right) I had to keep myself from looking too surprised, but I think I failed miserably. All of them were still in students at the university, and incredibly friendly and outgoing.

When it started getting a little to dark to see, and because of the amount of beer intake, a little to difficult to traverse the gravel hill that led down to the river, we decided to call it an evening. On our way out I noticed a sign for an Amp Fiddler concert here in Zurich. Oddly enough I had recently listened to his live set on Gilles Peterson's Worldwide, and it was totally dope. "Sweet" I think to myself, I'm totally going....!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Future past part I : I'll never forget this one...

So for the last couple of weeks I have been exchanging emails with Alex Attias, who is a fairly well known producer / dj who apparently lives and works our of Lausanne here in Switzerland. I was unaware of this until a couple of weeks ago, when we began talking. Rewinding a little bit, I discovered shortly before this that he, along with a couple of other artists that I respect were going to be putting on a show in Lausanne, which is only a couple of hours away from Zurich.

Mind you, I would never get the opportunity to see these cats in the states, much less at the same time in the same place (as they are usually not playing together). As you can imagine I was quite eager to jump on the opportunity of getting to see them....Anyway it turns out that the show is free, but you have to 'register' online in order to get a ticket to get into the show? When I go online to check the availability, the show is, of course, sold out. I relate this to Alex, and he tells me he'll see what he can do to get an extra ticket, as they usually give some to the artists. The day before the show I email him again to see if he has had any luck or not. No response. I think I checked my email 10 times between then and noon the day of the show. (Last Saturday). Stubbornly enough, several days before I had decided to go there regardless of whether or not I could get in....a habit I have from past experiences....I book a hotel, jump on the train, and I'm off to Lausanne...

Upon my arrival and check in, I check my email one more time just in case, in the hopes that I have something in my inbox. No such luck. Oh I'm off to the concert! After several stops that seem to take me into the middle of nowhere, I finally arrive at my stop. I do a little people watching, and keep my ears open for any signs of where my ultimate destination might be. Within a few moments and a couple of lucky turns, I find the tents! Now here's where it gets a bit interesting....I walk up to the tent entrance, keeping an eye out for the ticketing system that they have in place. It appeared that they were just using wristbands, with the exception of the officials, who were wearing badges. Thus I decide to inquire at the ‘Artist Check-In’, as to whether they know if Alex has checked in or not. Fortunately for me, my French is horrible, and they saw me for who I was: a foreigner.

Now I suppose that there aren’t too many of us (foreigners) visiting Lausanne much less making inquiries at the Artist booth for a concert that is not so well known outside of Lausanne, much less Switzerland.... So I have someone speaking fairly decent English to me amongst the buzz of several cross-conversations taking place with other assistants and people. She asks me who I’m with and in the confusion I spurt out Alex’s name, and mention something about the show this evening, trying to see if he had left a wristband or something of this nature. In the midst of the raucous, I manage to get myself confused with an actual artist, and they just tell me to wait, and they’ll take care of me. Oh boy, what have I done now….?

The lady ends up sending me with another person who speaks even less English, and he takes me to a car, and ends up driving me to this factory 5 minutes away where the actual concert is taking place. (Apparently I showed up in the wrong place at the right time!) We zip through three security checkpoints, and park the car, whereupon I follow him through another two. Now somewhere along the way he gets me confused with someone from Gotan Project, who was also playing that evening, so I decide to play dumb in the meantime. I figured now that I was in this deep, it could only get better, or I blow my cover and get kicked out. Thus I take the obvious choice that lie before me, and decide to play along.

I get passed off to another person who is handling the artists within the venue, and she ends up giving me a VIP wristband with backstage access! All during this time, the people who I originally came to see were doing their sound check. She explains to me that they were ‘still preparing my room’ and that she would be able to show me where it is when Alex and the others finished their sound check.

So I watch the sound check from backstage, and do a quick meet and greet when they are finished. Less to say, Alex was quite surprised to see me. “How did you get in??” he asked. I simply replied “I explained my situation to them, and they let me in…” “That’s great.” he replied. I ended up staying backstage through Gotan’s sound check as to not make myself look too out of place. I did get the chance to speak with their tour manager though, and he was very nice. He gave me information about the band and tidbits on their newly released album. In the interim I helped myself to free hors d’ oeuvres and bubbly.

Shortly thereafter, Alex and his ‘Mustang Project’ group; which consisted of Vocals: Bembe Segue, Vanessa Freeman and Redz, Chico on the Percussion, Mark de Clive Lowe on the Rhodes / MPC, and Alex on Ableton, took the stage. They threw down on 5 or 6 tracks during the short (35 minute) set, and it was truly a blast, from behind and in front of the stage. I really could have shot myself for not having a camera. Luckily, I was prepared with joop.

Afterwards I joined them in their room for the ‘relax time’. And relax we did. Alex was busy running around taking care of things, but the rest of us kicked it, exchanging stories and laughs. However, when I went to grab my joop, it wasn’t there. I figured it was better to lose it rather than the other things that I have lost in the past, but it was a real bummer not to be able to share. I went to check out Gotan for a bit afterwards, and they were really great as well. The MC was really dope actually, and he appears on their new album as well. At one point they mixed some MJ into their set, and of course the crowd went wild. At this time I also searched for my joop in the area that I had been earlier, but to no avail. It wasn’t until the very end of the night, after saying goodbye to everyone, that I’m walking out and the crowds have cleared, and I had given up, that I see it staring at me from underneath a side-curtain. Swipe! I snatch it up kicking myself in the butt at the same time. Pretty fortunate odds, nonetheless.

All in all it was a pretty unparalleled experience since I have arrived here. Unfortunately the next day it was raining really hard so I did not get to travel to other places, and instead went back to my hotel in Zurich where I had my first lazy Sunday since I have arrived. Good times.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

crazy building

crazy building
Originally uploaded by dr_kiuchi.
Here is a neat feat of Swiss archiecture that I passed on the the day that I first arrived...