Living in China. Open Mic Night

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Last night, March 3, was open mic night at La Casa. We went for dinner and music. Here are a few pics.

The first is a view of the inner courtyard at CoCo Park, a large shopping mall across the street from La Casa.

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Next is the potato, prosciutto, and rosemary pizza I had for dinner. Excellent.

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The guitarist in the center is Kevin, my editor at Shenzhen Daily. He writes all his own words and music, most are very clever.

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The rest are random pictures from the night. We didn’t leave until after 01:00. It was a fun night.

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The Curse of Left-handedness

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I just got back from my first, and probably last, Chinese flute lesson. Why? Because I am left-handed and it makes it difficult for the instructor and me to coordinate things like finger placement. Everything has be done like we are looking in a mirror. Oh yes, another problem might be that I have neither musical talent, nor an ear for music.

Over the years I have tried learning the guitar twice. Both times ended with me giving up quickly. Like the flute, I took a single violin lesson before giving up several years ago. I discovered that even trying to learn chords from instruction booklets was far too difficult for a lazy left-handed person.

I’ve noticed that Presidents Obama, Bush 43, and Clinton are all left-handed. Maybe I should give up music and attempt a run at politics.

Shocker!! Guess Who This Is.

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I was shocked when I saw this picture. It’s of a once sexy rocker who I jerked off to many times in my youth. She turned into a high school lunch room lady.

Here are a couple of  “before” pics.

Chinese Drum Band

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While walking in the park yesterday I heard a loud noise. At first I thought it was blasting from the nearby subway construction. It turned out to be some sort of military drum and cymbal band practicing.

There were 5 rows of 10 drummers in front and three rows of ten cymbals behind them. There was a band leader who led the playing by using a small flag on a rod like a conductor before an orchestra. So there was a total of 81 band members. At the conductor’s direction the drums were played on their tops, sides and fronts.

Between numbers a second leader barked out orders for the band to come to attention, dress right, at ease, etc. I assume it was some sort of military or police unit. Most had on uniforms.

About half way through the practice some big shots in black suits came by and looked at what was going on. The group travelled with a photographer who took pictures of the men in black watching the drummers. When the big shots arrived everyone came to attention, saluted, and generally improved their performance and appearance. I never found out who the big shots were.

I had never heard that style of music before and don’t have the vocabulary to describe it properly. Sea told me its name, but of course I forget it immediately. I will say it was quite loud and very impressive. We sat and listened for about 45 minutes.

Rules for Musicians

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I am not a musician, and I have absolutely no musical talent. However, that will not stop me from giving some opinions and observations.

1. Most musicians do their best work in their younger years. If you are just starting out give it your best. If you are lucky enough to make a living with your music, you will be doing your best work.

Example: Bob Dylan. Was brilliant 40 years ago. Hasn’t done anything worthwhile since.

Exceptions: Lou Reed and Neil Young. Doing great work today.

2. If you have a genre of music you like, stick with it. Don’t try to change with the times. If you are lucky the type of music you play will remain popular, at least with enough fans to make it worthwhile.

Examples: Rolling Stones and Tom Petty.

3. Never break up a successful band or group. 99% of the time the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. How many times have you heard of a band breaking up at the height of their popularity, and the members disappear completely? The answer is usually.  And how often does a band re-form after a break-up with disastrous results? The answer is almost always.

Examples of disasterous reunions: Guns ‘n Roses, Television

Exceptions: Gwen Stefani, Beyonce.

4. Words are unimportant in music. The voice is just another instrument. You are not going to change anyone’s life with the words you write unless the person is very stupid. Concentrate on the music.

5. Don’t be afraid to borrow or steal as long as you don’t infringe on copyright laws. Some of the best musical ideas were borrowed, then improved.

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