August 2006


This is the best story of the day, hands down.

I was writing to J. in reply to something really funny that she had sent to me previously, something that Seem City number 1 said during his speech the other day which has been rehashed into a famous Black Eyed Peas song, when the following emailed was returned to me: (click on the picture for a clearer view of the pornographic content)

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It is, as they refuse to admit it, fucking hilarious…

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So this is the busiest time of the year at work. Every semester, like clockwork, they all start freaking out, just because they have to. No more classes, so you’ve gotta find a way to keep churning all the work, any possible way. Considering that I’m leaving in three weeks, let’s just say that they are giving me an extra-particular hard time…

Luckily for us, Changi Village is not too far from here. I think it has become my favourite spot in the island over time, and for good reasons.

1 it’s far away from town, and it’s not ‘happening’. At all.

2 it’s reputedly ‘seedy’. Not that I actively seek the dirt and the grime in southeast Asia like a good old orientalist westerner, but the surgically clean side of Seem City leaves me cold, and skeptical. When you see what the fines are when you litter or behave just a little bit like you would in your own house, I am enclined to believe that the people in Changi Village are a little more human…

3 it’s one of the ‘hot’ spots of Seem City. I am not interested in the sex industry per se, but then again, it’s good to be reminded that people still have needs, even in Seem City. Even trannies, which is what Changi Village is apparently famous for.

4 Charlie’s corner. Tucked in a corner of the Changi village hawker centre, there is this pub with an impressive beer list. I don’t know where else they serve Maredsous legere, moyenne and forte in the island…the best antidote to civil service ennui.

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It felt really good to just get away for a few hours, at the end of the day, and let Luca get his feet wet and sandy.

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After all, this is what he will get in Sicily, very very soon.

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The music from the telescreen stopped and a voice took over. Winston raised his head to listen. No bulletin from the front, however. It was merely a brief announcement from the Ministry of Plenty. In the preceding quarter, it appeared, the Tenth Three-year-plan’s quota for bootlaces had been overfulfilled by ninety-eight per cent…

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He had been appointed to a sub-committee of a sub-committee which had sprouted from one of the innumerable committees dealing with minor difficulties that arose in the compilation of the Eleventh edition of the Newspeak Dictionary. They were engaged in producing something called an interim report, but what it was that they were reporting on he had never deiniftely found out. It was something to do with the question of whether commas should be placed inside brackets, or outside…

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The trumpet-call had let loose an enormous volume of noise. Already an excited voice was gabbling from the telescreen, but even as it started it was almost drowned by a roar of cheering from outside…Under the table Winston’s feet made convulsive movements. He had not stirred from his seat, but in his mind he was running, swiftly running, he was with the crowds outside, cheering himself deaf…

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He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

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From 1984, George Orwell.

Luca had a few birthday parties last week, and he was very happy, of course. You can imagine all the attention he received, along with an excessive showering of toys and ang baos (ok no one is supposed to tell him, but mum and dad are not too unhappy about the ang baos either…)

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We had a lot of cake too, here at J’s parents’:

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…and here downstairs, with most of J’s family and relatives gathered for a barbeque, heroically prepared by yours truly, with much help and guidance from his father in law, and long-distance good vibes from nonno Daniele.

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Luca’s little sailor outfit: with a face like that, how hard is it to charm everybody?

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Tonton Jerome
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Uncle Linus (or is it Pius? damnit, the twins really look alike…)

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‘you talkin’ to me?’ notice the red white and green ribbons on the side of the handlebar.

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auntie Angie

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the great-grandmother (one of 4 that this lucky boy has)

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These teeth are made for chewing

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Buon compleanno Luca 🙂

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So after nearly three years spent in Seem City, I finally attended my first non-classical concert. This coming from someone who used to spend his meagre stipend in London to watch bands on a weekly basis, you can understand how getting my ears roughed up a bit came as a relief, at long last.

Not that we’ve had no choice: Nana Mouskouri and Kenny G came a few months back, Clayderman is a regular, Coldplay played their earnest ‘we need to save the earth’ stadium-friendly tunes for the socialist-minded sum of 180 bucks (seem city money, but still), and about 2000 15 year-old-schoolgirls convened when Franz Ferdinand stopped over.

But Mogwai now, that’s another matter. They played at the Esplanade theatre, which is one of the Classical venues of choice: good acoustics, comfortable seating, no mosh pit. Not that you need one with Mogwai, mind you… but it was interesting to see how the usual uppity crowd of well-to-do educated Seem citians had morphed into the national convention of indie kids. I suspect it was all their children anyway… seriously, how many dark thick-rimmed glasses can you have in an ‘alt rock’ concert? But nevermind the sociological rant.

At least the usual Mogwai crowd is well behaved to the point of not talking within the tracks, and since Mogwai played their set almost straight, the crowd didn’t say much. That reminded me of the black sessions on France Inter some 8 or 9 years ago, when they were still a relatively unknown Scottish outfit. The same earshattering drive, the same ethereal melodies, and somehow what works is the combination of both. It is actually a harrowing experience live, which is why I don’t think you can talk so much.

My problem with Mogwai is that I can’t remember the title of the songs, but the highlight of the gig was the last 20 minutes of the first set, when they segued the opening of happy songs for happy people into Mogwai fear Satan from the young team album, and then, just when you had sunk in the trancelike motive of that track, they played Glasgow megasnake (correct title? See, I don’t remember and I can’t be bothered to check amazon whether I’m right). Awesome. J. wished she had taken up the offer for free earplugs at the entrance though…

Whatever it is, listening to a band like that always gives me directions for my own music, and at the same time thoroughly frustrates me a bit too. Same old same old. But it’s getting there, slowly…