Now I Have To Find A Good Real Estate Agent In Addis Ababa

November 6, 2009

091103-new-ocean-02I grew up landlocked and wary of what lurked under the dark, scum-covered surfaces of the few lakes/glorified ponds we had. If I can’t see the bottom, I’m not wading in.

However, a stretch of beach, preferably unpopulated, is a glorious thing. I think that a beach house would suit Paloma and me (and the menagerie) quite well. Fortunately, opportunity has presented itself and I am staking a claim to a stretch of prime beach for us now.

The downside is that it is in Ethiopia.

There is a thirty-file mile crack, as wide as twenty feet, in the deserts of Ethiopia. Geophysicists believe it will one day be an ocean. And oceans mean beaches and a beach is the ideal place for a beach house.

I would have to think that it’s a buyer’s market for real estate in Ethiopia.

(is there any part of that poor country that isn’t impoverished, famine-stricken, and/or at war?)

So, take a guess as to where the future beachfront property will be, purchase some land, and wait for Mother Nature and the “highly active volcanic boundaries along the edges of tectonic ocean plates” to work their magic.

I shall name our beach house Amity as homage to Chief Brody, Hooper, and Quint.

Of course, this ocean is scheduled to arrive in “a million years or so,” so that might be a problem.

Toto – Africa
from Toto IV

Is there a more enduring hit from the ’80s than Toto’s Africa? It seems to have seeped into the collective consciousness of most of the planet, including that of a Slovenian a cappella group.

Juluka – Scatterlings of Africa
from Scatterlings

Juluka, a racially mixed South African band led by Johnny Clegg, was likely the first “world music” that I ever heard and, not surprisingly, it was courtesy of 97X playing Scatterlings of Africa.

Clegg and Juluka is a fascinating and inspiring story, certainly worthy of more than a few scant words here. The interracial make-up of the band and the politics of their songs put the members in jeopardy simply to perform in a South Africa divided by apartheid.

Here’s a nice piece on Clegg from the early ’90s.

Zap Mama – African Sunset
from 7

Zap Mama was formed in Belgium by Marie Daulne, who had been born in Zaire. Weeks after being born, her father was killed in that country’s civil unrest and her family fled into the forests, taking shelter with a tribe of pygmies, before heading to Europe.

Years later, she returned to Africa and studied pygmy vocal techniques which she incorporated into the music of Zap Mama.

Enya – Storms In Africa
from Watermark

Enya is like Bjork to me in that if news broke tomorrow that either one of them were actually aliens, I think I’d simply shrug and say, “Yeah, that makes sense.” There’s just something otherworldly about her.

I was surprised to realize that I have half a dozen of Enya’s albums. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to any of them all the way through and I couldn’t name more than a handful of her songs, but they’re like dreamy little interludes when they pop up on shuffle.

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The Chinese Strike Back

June 8, 2009

Well, it seems that I must have pissed someone off in China. It was widely reported of the great lengths to which that country went last week in order to see that the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre passed as quietly as possible.

So, in addition to the attempts to keep people in China from accessing information on that event via the internet, they have exacted revenge upon me for writing about it.

My access to the internet went down the morning that I made that post.

The result was several hours on the phone with my ISP – sometimes even with an actual human – and several days without a connection. Coffee isn’t the same without being able to surf the morning’s news online.

I read a lot of news and used to buy a newspaper daily (sometimes being skinned enough that it was a luxury), and, these days, reading the news online is far less shrill than the stuff you ingest from television.

Even the most stridently idiotic commentary online is reduced to the manic babbling of a small, sugar-buzzed child in my head. Eventually, the child tires and collapses in a heap.

On television, the rancorous ranting seems to never end and it’s visually obvious that most of those jabbering away are old enough to, theoretically, know better.

Anyhow, China, if you’re reading this, thanks for letting me back on the internet.

More likely, rather than being back in the good graces of China, I suspect I’ve made a return because I finally reached the least inept person at my ISP’s support center.

Enya – China Roses
from The Memory Of Trees

I like a little Enya now and then, although I could only name a few of her songs. Like Bjork, I easily believe that she is from another world. Unlike Bjork, I picture that world to be more like a Maxfield Parrish painting rather than a Dr. Seuss illustration.

Red Rockers – China
from Good As Gold

I know nothing about the band Red Rockers aside from the fact that their song China seemed to pop up on every other ‘80s compilation. It is an engaging song, clean, angular and wiry. There’s something about it that reminds me of the theme from Mystery Science Theater 3000.

In the late ‘90s, I spoke with a roommate whom I hadn’t heard from in five or six years. It turned out that she was dating one of the guys from Red Rockers.

Thin Lizzy – Chinatown
from Chinatown

I feel no hesitation in stating that if I never hear The Boys Are Back In Town again, it will be too soon. For me, it’s on that list we all have.

But Thin Lizzy deserves more acclaim than they’ve received (at least here in the States). In addition to an impressive string of stellar guitarists that passed through the band’s ranks, there’s the late, great Phil Lynott, a man who personifies the overused term “rock star” as much as anyone.

Romeo Void – Chinatown
from Benefactor

A bit art rock, a little new wave, and a dose of punk – San Francisco’s Romeo Void weren’t around long, but they did manage to produce the ‘80s classic Never Say Never and even notched a Top 40 hit on the Billboard charts with the moody A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing).