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October 2006

the road to peace

October 28, 2006

Look at this: not only has Tom Waits gone political, but he’s written a truly great protest song that you can download for free from his record label’s website at anti.com:

“Once Kissinger said ‘We have no friends,
America only has interests’.
Now our president wants to be seen as a hero
and he’s hungry for re-election,
But Bush is reluctant to risk his future
and the fear of his political failure,
So he plays chess at his desk
and poses for the press,
Ten thousand miles from the road to peace.”

(download mp3…)

I don’t think Tom Waits has ever written a lyric that didn’t carry at least a whiff of genius. There are six other tracks for download there, too. Bargain!

I’ve been going to see a lot of bands lately — I’m excited about live music to an extent that I probably haven’t been since I was about nineteen. Two days ago I saw (occasional Tom Waits collaborators) Sparklehorse at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. They played a great selection from their four albums, including their first album, vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot — one of my favourite records of all time. But hearing their other stuff played alongside it reminded me how much good stuff there is on their other records too, which has prompted a bit of a Sparklehorse revival for me the last few days.

Another reason to be cheerful: my old friend Rich’s truly excellent band Lana. They’re one of the best live bands I’ve seen in ages, and the fact that I’m linking to their myspace page despite my profound, visceral loathing of myspace should be taken as an indicator of just how much I think you should listen to them.

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paris

October 14, 2006

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Hello. This website is not dead — it’s only sleeping. As a travel journal and account of life on a tiny Okinawan island it’s really served its original function, and since I’m now back in the UK and don’t really want to be writing one of these ‘what-I-had-for-breakfast-today’ web logs I did consider putting a last full stop to it all, but actually it’s quite nice to have a little place on the web so that increasingly widely-scattered friends and acquaintances around the world can, if they want to, periodically get at least an approximate idea of where I am now and what I’m doing.

And besides, occasionally I do go somewhere and do something other than have breakfast. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I went to Paris: a city that is notable for many things, including — perhaps most famously — being the capital of France.

Getting off the bus (the bus from London is extremely reasonable (£35 return) and takes a mere eight hours or so including the ninety minute ferry journey, during which you can get off the bus and walk around, have a coffee and a sandwich and a look at the sea), getting off the bus I realised that it has probably been about 15 years since I was last in Paris, despite the fact that Paris is brilliant and getting there and back from London costs less than it used to cost to get from my little island to Naha on mainland Okinawa.

I went to visit Alex, who was briefly back from Hokkaido. While there we finally got to go to Dans Le Noir — a restaurant where you eat in total darkness, and where all the waiters and waitresses are blind. It was a very interesting experience — for me the complete darkness oscillated unpredictably between relaxing and oppressive, so it’s very hard to say overall how much I liked it, but the food was excellent and it was certainly an exercise in empathy as well: I’d never considered the practical difficulties of eating things you can’t see. How do you make sure a forkful of salad goes into your mouth neatly? How do you pour yourself a glass of wine? And how do you know when you’ve finished? I’m sure in all cases there are more elegant solutions than the ones I found (I was careful to wipe all traces of sauce off my face before returning to the light).

We also watched an almost entirely deranged 1970s Japanese B-movie with the superb title of Terrifying Girls High School: Lynch Law Classroom. The title pretty much sums it up: a sort-of Japanese Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (surely the greatest film title of all time…?)

Eiffel Tower, Paris

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