Thursday, November 30, 2006

Riding to Dazhi

September 22, 2006 - Not sure which park this is, but it's up near the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. It's near the Arts Park, but I don't think this is in it. The map suggests it's Xin Sheng Park (新生公園). I was riding along, taking my time going to Dazhi, when I saw this sculpture and wondered if it wasn't a bit . . . obscene. Probably just me being preoccupied.

中山北路 Zhongshan North Road. When I first got to Taipei, it looked like crossing rivers on bike would be a problem. It didn't look like any of the river crossings accommodated bikes or pedestrians. Eventually I found one crossing. Then I found another. Then I realized from observation that bikes can cross any bridge in Taipei in regular traffic in the motorscooter lane (sometimes even without)! However, this isn't one of those. This one, although with ongoing construction, had a sidewalk.

Finally, I said I wouldn't do it, but weighing a bunch of factors, I did:

It's just as cute as the first one, although maybe not as cute a shot. It has a bunch of nifty features that make it worth it. For instance, just as I was complaining about Bebe's performance in low light, this one has a B setting to hold the shutter open as long as I want. The bulbous viewfinder is removable, but it's actually really cool.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. The Village Green Preservation Society (The Kinks)
2. Pennies (Smashing Pumpkins)
3. Loner Getaway Car (764-HERO)
4. Slow Country (Gorillaz)
5. Breakfast in America (live) (Supertramp)
6. Stop (Joe Henry)
7. Pride and Joy (live) (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble)
8. Lavender Blue (Marillion)
9. It's Gonna Be Me (David Bowie)
10. Do That Stuff (Parliament-Funkadelic)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


September 15, 2006 - Trying to shoot Taipei 101 on a rainy day. Still not sure how to capture the enormity of the building with a fisheye.

Hyun Ae and the poor performance of the lomo fisheye in low light. I think we were there on a Friday afternoon to catch the latest Zhang Ziyi film, which was subtitled, fortunately for both of us. Even with her advanced Mandarin abilities, she admitted she wouldn't have been able to follow the film with them.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Symphony No. 2, III. Adagio (Rachmaninov)
2. Sleepwalkers (100 Watt Smile)
3. Getting Married Today ("Company" - Sondheim)
4. The Spring of Next Year ("Dear World")
5. Suite for Flute & Jazz Piano No. 2, VII. Intime (Bolling)
6. Shotgun (Jr. Walker & the All-Stars)
7. The Tide is Turning (After Live Aid) (Roger Waters)
8. 等無限時批 (陳昇)
9. Prière De "Bon Augure" (Monks of the Gyütö Monastery)
10. In That Quiet Earth (remixed) (Genesis)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

back to Taipei

August 29, 2006 - a more distinct feature of the Kaohsiung skyline. That's the building that should have an observation deck. It doesn't. In fact, I think they are having trouble filling the building. I forget what my uncle said about it. We don't speak a common language, and he's a little bit nuts. I forget if it was something about Kaohsiung folk being provincial yokels and not liking being way up high.

September 1, 2006 - Back in Taipei, a variation of the sad bikes. Sad motor scooter. It was lying like this for a few days. That red and yellow paper I think is a police notice. It was blocking the sidewalk, so I think it got officially moved, unlike the previous sad motor scooter, which is still there.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Centrifuge (Rainer Maria)
2. One Half Laughing (The Aislers Set)
3. Medetai Medetai (Island version) (Rinken Band)
4. Kooks (David Bowie)
5. Outta Me Onto You (Ani DiFranco)
6. Slow Water (Peter Gabriel - "Birdy")
7. Untitled (Interpol)
8. Amourissima (Feist)
9. Cossack Dance from Mazzepa (Tchaikovsky)
10. You See Me Crying (Aerosmith)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Southland II

August 27, 2006 - The lovely Hyun Ae at the Tainan train station, waiting to catch the train back to Kaohsiung before the rain started coming down.

August 29, 2006 - Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Folk in Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second largest city, are . . . well, I don't want to stereotype them by calling them provincial yokels, but they aren't that into panoramic views. When they build tall buildings, and there aren't that many, they don't make a point of reserving an upper floor for an observation deck.

This was the best my uncle could do, in a restaurant in the upper floors of a hotel where my uncle goes to sauna. Not bad. Kaohsiung is pretty non-descript, I can't even tell which direction this is, and I'm geeky about stuff like that. There is just nothing here worth mentioning!

I have to stop writing and publish this. The internet at my house is down and I'm at the public library and the guy sitting across from me is stinking to high hell.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Marriage Tree (Throwing Muses)
2. Ade (David Byrne - "The Catherine Wheel")
3. Styrofoam Boots/It's All Nice on Ice, Alright (Modest Mouse)
4. Xanadu (Electric Light Orchestra w/Olivia Newton-John)
5. Zooropa (U2)
6. Blow Away (for Bill) (Kate Bush)
7. Symphony No. 8, II. Allegreto Scherzando (Beethoven)
8. Anywhere I Lay My Head (Tom Waits)
9. Gimme Gimme ("Thoroughly Modern Millie")
10. Left-Hand Suzuki Method (Gorillaz)

Friday, November 24, 2006


August 26, 2006 - Oh yea, to get to the Confucian pagodas, you're supposed to enter through the dragon's mouth and exit from the tiger's. I don't know who those people are; just shooting other peoples' tourist shots.

August 27, 2006 - Our second day down south we went to Tainan, Taiwan's oldest city. It was a bit of a trying day, as it was hot and Takako was being moody and didn't want to do anything. I didn't think of pulling Bebe out until we were at the train station platform to go back to Kaohsiung (about a 45 minute train ride).

It's hard travelling with four people. I get more out of trips going alone, but I think being with other people also has advantages. I'm still trying to figure them out, though.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Shulaba-La-Bamba (Southern All-Stars)
2. I'm Down (The Beatles - Anthology)
3. Leaning on a Lampost ("Me and My Girl")
4. Back Room (Skip Holiday)
5. Song of Dream, Words of Bubble ("Haibane Renmei")
6. Beware of Darkness (George Harrison)
7. We Work the Black Seam (Sting)
8. Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, I. Allegro (J.S. Bach)
9. Joking (Indigo Girls)
10. Cruel to be Kind (Nick Lowe)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Confucian Temples

August 26, 2006 - Lotus Lake, in the northern section of Kaohsiung where I haven't been to that much. It was after Summer term ended, and several classmates headed down south with me since they could stay at my uncle's place. Fall term just ended, so I'm exactly three months behind on posting.

So yea, I was social with classmates, the few that I actually liked. Pierre went back to France after this trip, and we're keeping in touch through email. Takako fell off my radar during Fall term. Different classes, different schedules, no opportunities. Hyun Ae and I continued to hang out for about half of Fall term, and then it got weird, we went to lunch every day and it was feeling like it was too much a habit, so I stopped it. We've only been meeting up if someone makes an effort, and next term I'm switching schools.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. 1985 (Archers of Loaf)
2. The Hut on Hen's Legs (Baba Yaga)/The Great Gate of Kiev (Mussorgsky - "Pictures at an Exhibition")
3. Sea Girl (Versus)
4. A Kind of Magic (Queen)
5. Noah's Dove (10,000 Maniacs)
6. Sunday (Helium)
7. Class ("Chicago")
8. William's Cut (Kristin Hersh)
9. State of Confusion (live) (The Kinks)
10. Ulvi (Kudsi Erguner - "Passion Sources")

Monday, November 20, 2006

good riddance

September 18, 2006 - Mandarin Training Center, Shida University. My soon not-to-be school. I applied for the language program at neighboring Taida University earlier this month and got in, so I'm switching schools when next term starts at the beginning of December.

I can't say enough bad things about this school. The latest travesty is when my teacher announced that she was going on vacation for the last week and a half of this term (I won't say anything about her announcing it the week before she left). She's visiting her parents in San Francisco. I like her, so I didn't think anything of it at the time, but after a week of a lame substitute teacher (lame only because she's a substitute, she's probably a decent teacher in her own classes), I realized if a student takes off on vacation during a term, that's their loss. They paid for the tuition, it's their choice to take off. But for a teacher to take off and disrupt her students' education is lame得沒話說!! (lame beyond words). Unbelievable.

I just don't want to give this lame school any more money. I also signed up for and paid for a tutor this term, but she was so horrible that I stopped going after a month.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Real By Reel (XTC)
2. Rosetta Stone (Throwing Muses)
3. Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd)
4. Let Me Love You Baby (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble)
5. Rudie Can't Fail (The Clash)
6. Don't Bring Me Down (David Bowie)
7. Houses in Motion (live) (Talking Heads)
8. Scentless Apprentice (live) (Nirvana)
9. Cappricio Italien (Tchaikovsky)
10. Libation Doree (Monks of the Gyuto Monastery)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

street shooting

and not to put too fine a point on the perpetual gloom that is Taipei weather:

August 16, 2006 - Shida Road area. This is off Shida Road in the opposite direction from the night market street (Longguan Street), where probably the best and most authentic Korean restaurant is. The brick building is one of the buildings of Shida University.

August 22, 2006 - Where the previous shot is south of Shida University, this shot is north, walking to Yong Kang "snack" street. It's our alternative place to eat when we're tired of the Shida Road area. But there's so much in the Shida area that only one day at a time do we go to Yong Kang street.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. At Last (Etta James)
2. I'd Rather Be With You (Bootsy Collins)
3. Little Tonka's Dance (Travis Terry)
4. Reel (Throwing Muses)
5. Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict (Pink Floyd)
6. Fugue in G Minor "The Little" (J.S. Bach)
7. Drive Dead Slow (Sahara Hotnights)
8. Rain Dogs (Tom Waits)
9. Kayleigh (live) (Marillion)
10. Chinbotsusen no Monkey Girl (Dreams Come True)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sad Bikes

August 15, 2006 - Shida Road (師大路)

August 19, 2006 - This isn't an uncommon sight, especially around the college campuses I've seen in Taipei. My guess is that students buy their bikes used and they're not worth much. They're easily abandonable, they accumulate with others, they fall over. Ergo, sad bikes.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. The Reason the Night is Long (live) (Rainer Maria)
2. I Can See It In Your Eyes (Neville Brothers)
3. Stone (Cibo Matto)
4. Surprise! (+/-)
5. The Invisible Man (Queen)
6. Hello Again (The Cars)
7. Blu Powder (Steve Vai)
8. Jump (XTC)
9. Zimbabwe (Bob Marley & the Wailers)
10. Hanging on the Telephone (Blondie)

Monday, November 13, 2006

They'll Need a Crane

August 14, 2006 - Safety concerns are not that strict in Taiwan, and when they're constructing a building, sometimes they block the sidewalk so pedestrians have to walk out onto the street to get around. Sometimes you can just go right through the construction site even if they're working on the sidewalk, if they didn't block it off.

They've been working on this building ever since I got here. New buildings unceremoniously go up here - unlike in San Francisco where each new construction site made me wonder what was being built and for whom, what consideration went into design and aesthetics, and how it would improve or benefit the neighborhood. Here, a new building is just another brick in the wall.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Duke's End (Genesis)
2. Little Lighthouse (Dukes of Stratosphear)
3. Oom-Pah-Pah ("Oliver!")
4. Hello, Goodbye (The Beatles - Anthology)
5. The Wild Cat (Seam)
6. All Revved Up With No Place to Go (Meatloaf)
7. Do You Remember Walter? (The Kinks)
8. Teeth Like God's Shoeshine (Modest Mouse)
9. Texas Flood (live)(Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble)
10. Happy Christmas (War is Over) (John Lennon)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Leaving Kaohsiung

August 13, 2006 - I can get around Kaohsiung OK, but it was a quiet weekend and my uncle had nothing to do, so he was able to drive me to the bus station to go back to Taipei. Before I got in the car, I took this shot in front of his building with a red filter held in front of the lens. The desaturated version is here. I've loaded black and white film into Bebe before. Wasn't thrilled with the results, but I didn't really give it much of a chance. The red filter might help. It's interesting that using a red filter on color film, and then desaturating it to "black and white", gives a convincing black and white picture with similar contrast as using a red filter on black and white film.

Unfortunately, this is the only kind of application I'll be using with the red filter, as I later dropped my 28-200mm lens which takes the filter. The lens seems to be working alright, but the rim of the protective UV filter was damaged, fusing it to the lens and preventing any other filters to be added. :(

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Getting to the Point (Electric Light Orchestra)
2. Play Dead (Versus)
3. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow (live) (David Bowie)
4. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (live) (Pearl Jam)
5. Live Wire (AC/DC)
6. Who Is It? (live) (Talking Heads)
7. Grandad's Little Ditty (Primus)
8. Washing of the Water (Peter Gabriel)
9. In My Life (The Beatles)
10. Josephine (Tori Amos)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Kaohsiung II

August 12, 2006 - Street corner shop between where two of my uncles live. One uncle still lives in the house where their family grew up, where my grandparents started out in business. Several stones throws away (I've never tested how many, and I don't have a strong arm anyway) is where my grandfather built and moved into a 9 story building, where the other uncle lives now, and where I always stay when I go to Kaohsiung.

Morning market. It's like a night market, but it's in the morning. There are other qualitative difference, too, obviously. There is more fresh vegetable and dead chicken carcasses selling in the morning morket. I was thinking in Gary Larson style, to us, it's dinner; to a chicken, it's a horrifying massacre.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Tiny Vessels (Death Cab for Cutie)
2. It Takes Two (Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston)
3. Los Flamingos (Throwing Muses)
4. Alaura's Theme ("City of Angels")
5. Sick Again (Led Zeppelin)
6. Koi no Jack-Knife (Southern All-Stars)
7. M.P.E. (Public Enemy)
8. Flute Concerto in G Major (Vivaldi)
9. Love Will Come to You (Indigo Girls)
10. Waters of March (David Byrne & Marissa Monte)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kaohsiung - President Department Store

August 12, 2006 - Oh, I thought this was Kaishuan Road that my cousin lives on. I went down to Kaohsiung to check out a language school down there, to which I was thinking of transfering. After visiting the school, I was driving with my uncle and stuck Bebe out the window and shot. But this isn't Kaishuan Road (I really don't know the roads down there that well), I think it's Heping Road because wee in the distance is the new President Department Store. I'm a little confused about my geography down there right now.

This is what is left of the original President Department Store on Wufu Road:

The original President was just as grand as the current one, but back in the day, it was really grand. It was, like, the pride of Kaohsiung (Kaohsiung didn't have a lot to be proud of back then). Then between my visits (years) a fire gutted the building and, oh, look what I just found:

December 30, 1996 - Almost 10 years ago, the fascade of the original President after years of being gutted and abandoned. It looks like it was undergoing reconstruction, but it never happened. Or maybe they were preparing to take it down and reducing it to what is left now. The new President has a modernized "P" in the same place. Actually, the new "P" is also in the second lomo (can't really see it in the first shot, even enlarged). The original President was some 12-13 stories, had an amusement park on the roof, and, I think, two glass elevators under the "P". A super-tuff place to play for an 11 year old.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Super-Tuff (XTC)
2. Lower East Side (Delinquent Habits)
3. Lie in Our Graves (Dave Matthews Band)
4. People (King Crimson)
5. Live With Me (The Rolling Stones)
6. Children of Production (live) (Parliament)
7. That Means a Lot (The Beatles - Anthology)
8. Girl School (Rebecca)
9. May Queen (Liz Phair)
10. Dirty Pool (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


August 11, 2006 - 和平東路, Taipei, Taiwan. I swear this bashed in motor scooter has been sitting on the sidewalk outside my current school since I got here. It's been moved around, at some point it was lying on the ground. It has a license plate, so it shouldn't be hard to track down the owner. But apparently proper disposal is not a high priority. This is, in fact, Taiwan.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Tried to be True (Indigo Girls)
2. Too Many Tomorrows ("Sweet Charity")
3. A German Requiem, V. Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit (Brahms)
4. Behold! The Night Mare (Smashing Pumpkins)
5. Here Come the Horns (Delinquent Habits)
6. Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, III. Allegro (J.S. Bach)
7. Mardi Gras in New Orleans (Dirty Dozen Brass Band)
8. Clear and Great (Throwing Muses)
9. Not What You Want (Sleater-Kinney)
10. New Nails (Mission of Burma)

Monday, November 06, 2006

holy smokes

August 8, 2006 - Taiwanese are very superstitious people. I'm sure there's a kinder way of saying that, but I'm not trying to be kind here. I've had just about as much as I can take of Taiwanese burning shit in front of their stores, as if the global warming wasn't bad enough. Oh yea, I saw the Al Gore movie. Rode my bike to see it, too.

I'm just kidding. It was only really bad when my downstairs neighbor saw fit to burn "ghost money" in a cauldron in the hallway. I don't know what they're doing in these shots outside next door to my apartment, although there is evidence that ghost money was burned - an annoying inconvenience as you go down the street and feel the acrid sting of smoke in your eyes and hairy nostrils.

But if they want to erect an altar in front of their store and burn incense for good fortune, so be it. Something about it made me feel bold enough to walk right up and stick Bebe in their midst and shoot. Maybe something about obnoxious begets obnoxious.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Yer Blues (The Beatles)
2. You Wonder How These Things Begin ("The Fantasticks")
3. The Sun Has Got His Hat On ("Me and My Girl")
4. Nobody Home (Pink Floyd)
5. Let's Spend the Night Together (David Bowie)
6. What a Piece of Work is Man ("Hair")
7. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace) (George Harrison)
8. Soma (live) (Smashing Pumpkins)
9. Karma Police (Radiohead)
10. It's Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It) (The Rolling Stones)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Taipei Geography Lesson

August 7, 2006

On a footbridge crossing Zhongxiao West Road (忠孝西路) in the Taipei Main Station area. The tallest building on the right is the Cosmos Hotel, which is where I was going to meet my uncle for dinner. Taipei Main Station is off to the right behind where the buildings end. This is looking west close to sunset. Zhongxiao Road is a pretty important road. All major north-south roads north of Zhongxiao are designated "north", and south of Zhongxiao are "south".

Now, if we turn around...

...we look east. The road crossing Zhongxiao Road right there, going left-right in this frame is Zhongshan Road (中山路) (don't get me started about how hard these names are to remember because the words and sounds are so similar). So the left hand side is Zhongshan North Road (中山北路), and on the right is Zhongshan South Road (中山南路). Now, Zhongshan Road divides major east-west roads, and designates them "East" or "West". So while I'm standing above Zhongxiao West Road (忠孝西路), on the other side of that road is Zhongxiao East Road (忠孝東路).

You'd think that this important intersection would be somewhere central, dividing Taipei into somewhat even quarters, but that's not the case. It's skewed to the northwest, so that the majority of major roads in Taipei proper are designated "East" or "South". So for example, while Nanjing East Road is quite long, you can't go far on Nanjing West Road without falling into the proverbial (and literal) river.

The logical reason for this is that the intersection was designated early on as the crossroads, and then Taipei naturally grew to the east and south. I'm still awaiting some sort of confirmation of this, because it's difficult to assume logic in this city. This design can easily just be out of bonehead administration for some unintuitive political reason.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. The Air (Modest Mouse)
2. Talby (Pinback)
3. Another Day (live) (Sting)
4. It's Too Late (Carole King)
5. Twenty Four Hours (Joy Division)
6. Start (Peter Gabriel)
7. Love Child (The Supremes)
8. Man With An Open Heart (King Crimson)
9. Li Hai (Wu Bai & China Blue)
10. Donna ("Hair")

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Butcher of the KMT Memorial Hall

August 7, 2006 - Chiang Kai-Shek memorial. Flatter myself not, this is a pretty damn good shot for a camera I hold in front of me and shoot without particularly aiming at anything. Bebe has a viewfinder which is pretty damn useless, although I've never actually tried it.

This is from Zhongshan Road, on the way to the Taipei Main Station area where my uncle's company has a Taipei office. When he comes up here, they usually have a company dinner and he often invites me along.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Sunset Hill (Marillion)
2. Me & Sarah Jane (live) (Genesis)
3. Crashing the Afterglow (Versus)
4. Chamber Symphony in C Minor, I. Largo (Shostakovich)
5. Vivace (Remix) (Nokko)
6. Just Like Anyone (Aimee Mann)
7. Yeah! Nen Matsu (Bakufu Slump)
8. A Gentleman's Excuse Me (Fish)
9. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! (The Beatles)
10. Rock On (Smashing Pumpkins)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Default shot

August 7, 2006 - My lomo fisheye default shot of the Daan Park footbridge, from the northeast corner of Heping East Road and Xinsheng South Road. I love how the fisheye can get all four spans of the footbridge, albeit uneven in this shot.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. Cherry (Spitz)
2. Whatall Is Nice (Ani DiFranco)
3. Ruby My Dear (Thelonius Monk)
4. David Watts (The Kinks)
5. Do the Evolution (live) (Pearl Jam)
6. Glory of the 80s (Tori Amos)
7. Welcome (The Who)
8. Mr. Soul (Neil Young - unplugged)
9. Dancing in the Streets (Martha Reeves & the Vandellas)
10. Andy Warhol (David Bowie)