Sunday, December 20, 2009

Not with standing.

I put together a new mix. It's called:
Not with standing.

Listen to it:
part 1
part 2

Lots of jazz on this one, interspersed with some Brazilian obscurities, one beautiful African high-life track, as well as an instrumental track from Taj Mahal's collaboration with the Culture Musical Club of Zanzibar. And then you have maybe the thesis statement track From the Lonely Afternoons, which is Wayne Shorter teamed up with Milton Nascimento, an amazing Brazilian musician who solos with and uses his voice like a jazz instrument, which goes head to head with Wayne Shorter's saxophone. Enjoy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"the magic method of contracting space"

So I gave my 6th graders an assignment to make an informal book about their schedule everyday including stick figure drawings and all that. Each page was to have one sentence about the usual stuff: "I get up at seven-thirty everyday" or whatever.

So this girl Ui Ju who is the highest level English speaker in the entire school (including teachers), basically filled the book up like an essay. Which is cool, because in the odd spaces smashed between poor translations, her crazy awesome level of intelligence and growing understanding of the world, and her crushingly monotonous daily life here and how she deals with it, always produces some AMAZING sentences. She's the same girl that wrote me the letter where she asked me whether I liked sloths or tadpoles more from an earlier post.

Whenever I give a writing assignment she always writes literally pages more than anyone else in the class. It is her main and almost only method of communicating with me. She's still just a little too shy to talk to me around school in the many times during the day I'm not teaching, and she feels awkward or embarrassed to speak in class because she has an innate understanding of how it will make all the other students feel bad about how little English they know themselves and either jealous or angry at her for showing off. So it took me nearly a year to find out that she even had the English ability that she did and how intelligent she is, and how unique her outlook on the world seems to be for her age.

When I come home at night I sometimes see her jump-roping outside of the entrance to my apartment. It's always a bit of an odd scene because she never really says hello unless I do first, and her mother is always there, standing eerily still, in the shadows watching her daughter jump-rope silently. She lives on the first floor of the same building I live in and actually used to live in the very apartment I live in now, which adds another wrung to the ladder of bizareness about certain aspects of my life here that I haven't found any way to express in words. I found out from her book about her day that:

"I exercise at eight. I jumprope 2000 times a day. My record is 2012. I was surprised."

"I eat lunch at the cafeteria of my school.
I don't have any story to write about lunch."

"I eat dinner at six. I also watch TV when I have dinner. My mom and I always watch American TV shows, such as 'American next top model', 'The biggest loser'. At first, only I liked the TV shows, but now, my mom enjoys them, too."

"I go to school at eight forty. Few years ago, I used to go to school too late. I had to wake up earlier or walk faster. I decided to walk faster to be on time. As you know, my school is located on a hill. And that is because my legs are developed. Nowadays, I am said to be the 'virtuoso of the magic method of contracting space.'" [emphasis added]

"I go to bed at ten or ten thirty. I used to go to bed at eleven. But I realized that eleven is too late. I have decided to go to bed earlier so that I can be taller."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

a mean while

Been meaning to up some posts, but I have this photo class coming up, so I've been pretty busy. But I have a bunch of tidbits and music and image gems to post soon, so hopefully this weekend I'll get around to it. Until then.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Man, this is a small town

So I thought the thing with the other Dave that punched the dude in the face was long over, but apparently one of Lindsey's co-teachers told her that he received a call from his friend who told him that her boyfriend punched some other dude in the face while he was "very drunken" at a bar. Man...I think those lame cops must have spilled to someone.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

17 million won

I had a meeting about my photography camp I'll be teaching this month yesterday. I really like be involved with meetings in Korea when the education office supervisors are there. They're so detailed and precise with everything and with the gestures and modes of their speaking. And Koreans are always dressed to the nines for official meetings like that complete with shiny shoes and shimmering suit jackets. The supervisor would close her fist inward slowly as if she was gripping an imaginary sword in slow motion as she was explaining the details about the plan for my class. The three other teachers there were younger female teachers, so they were sitting there still bundled up in their jackets because the heat wasn't working well, one had a flu mask covering part of her mouth, and all three of them had this tense energy about them like they were ready to jump out of their seats so they could be the first to catch the drift of the supervisor's words in mid air as they wafted across the table. I was really impressed because for the location of the camp they were letting me use a brand new school up a little ways towards Taebaek mountain that had a computer room with 30 computers (one per student), which they were going to install editing programs on, with another classroom right across the hallway with large tables for the students to share while watching my slideshows and lessons and doing activities. The supervisor even had it broken down to how many students will be sitting at each table. And they're funding the camp with almost 17 million won. Wow. I was without words. I just can't get over that quite a few months ago I gave them just a few sheets of paper with a plan and an idea for teaching Language Through Photography, and now there's a 17 million won budget, 60 kids from all around Taebaek attending, and each student being picked up from and dropped off at their home by a private bus every day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

There's only one Dave in town...and that's me.

I never thought of my name as unique or uncommon before. But something happened two nights ago that burned the fact into my mind that I am definitely the only person by the name of Dave to live in Taebaek, with a population of around 50 thousand, and maybe even within a good size perimeter around Taebaek, as well.

Elvis told me last night that I had to go to the police station and apologize to the Korean man who I punched in the face over the weekend while I was a belligerent, drunken mess at a bar in town.

I had just finished a lesson for his son and daughter and a couple of kids in the neighborhood and I was literally in the process of putting on my shoes to leave when Elvis' wife handed me the phone. It was Elvis and he asked with a hint of urgency if I could stay there until he arrived. A little alarmed, I asked him why and he said the police called him and he began to explain while he was driving to no avail, and then told me he would explain it when he got there.

At first I was mostly convinced that he was going to tell me that Lindsey and I owed some money for a couple of speeding tickets we thought we'd gotten when we rented a car a couple of weekends ago. We weren't sure if we'd gotten speeding tickets, but we thought we engaged a couple of speed cameras when we passed under them (there's so many in Korea, and everyone has a GPS sensor for them on their navigation systems that starts screaming at you when you're getting close, so you can speed as much as you want in between them and know when they're coming up), so we were half expecting a ticket in the mail. Since speeding tickets were only 30 dollars or so here, I wasn't that worried.

But then when Elvis arrived he asked me if something had happened a couple of days ago. I said nothing that would concern the police, and he asked me if I was fighting in a bar and hit a Korean man in the face. I told him I was in Seoul, so that would have been a little bit impossible. Then he told me that the man who got punched in the face was at the police station and he said that someone named Dave hit him. Then he said I need to go to the police station and apologize to him. Then I was like wait a minute, slow down, I'm not going to the police station or apologizing to anyone because I didn't hit anyone. Then Elvis asks me if I know any other Daves, and of course I had to admit that I didn't know anyone else by the name of Dave that lived in Taebaek or around Taebaek (but why should that matter again!!??). And then Elvis said he didn't know who else it could have been, implying that because I was the only person by the name of Dave that he knew of, it was impossible that it could have been anyone else that did the drunken belligerent punching in the face of the Korean man.

So I told him again that I was in Seoul and that I can't apologize for something I didn't do, and would have been impossible for me to have done because I wasn't physically present in Taebaek, but that I do know for a fact that there are many people by the name of Dave that probably live elsewhere in the country or work for the American military, an NGO, or just happen to be travelling through. So he told me that if I didn't go to the police station they would file a report about me and it would become a bigger problem. So I told him I could get at least seven people in Seoul, not including motel owners that could be contacted if need be, to all confirm seeing me over the weekend. At that point the police called back and said they had a picture of the Dave that did the punching, and I should come to the police station so they could compare it to me.

I said I still wasn't willing to go to the police station unless I could be assured there was an English speaker there to translate in case I needed to explain myself. Maybe I'm paranoid by nature, but there were a already few tragic scenarios playing out in my mind: for one, there are a couple of crazy people in town that know my name (only being one of 21 foreigners, a lot of people do), and one particular drunk crazy old man that always hits me (aggressively but never hard) on the shoulder and then gets in my face and pulls his fist back like he's going to punch me. I always have to pretty much just stand there staring at him, because let's face it, even if the old man was trying to tear my nose off with his teeth, if a 6ft white guy beats a tiny crazy old man to the ground, it's ALWAYS going to be my fault. There's one other guy in town who I met when I first got here because his English was really amazing and he would talk and walk with me when I was out and about town. We exchanged numbers before I found out that he was a Jesus-loony stalker-type and monumental space invader while he's talking to you (leaning into me and almost literally pushing me off the sidewalk into the street without even realizing it). When I decided to stop answering his phone calls or talking to him because he would just make the conversation incredibly uncomfortable by talking about Christ continuously and not letting a word in edgewise, he actually showed up at my school unannounced while I was working and walked into the teacher's office naturally, as if he worked there. He leaned over my desk and actually started ruffling through my papers in front of me and leaned down so close to me I could feel his breath as he wanted to see what I was doing on the computer. Even when I almost shouted at him to get the hell out of my space and over-gestured with both arms towards the door, he kept asking when he could have my "permission" to meet with him. I told him never. In any case, I was thinking it could be completely plausible for one of those people to tell the police that it was me that assaulted them, either because they mistook another foreigner for me, or just because they were demented and couldn't quite distinguish reality from what goes on in their minds.

Another scenario, I was worried that the police might have some tiny, low resolution picture of the other Dave, taken at night from a distance, which they would confuse for me themselves. It ended up they did have a tiny picture, taken at night from a distance on a small LCD screen of a camera.

So, I was trying to explain to Elvis that there's no need for me to waste my time going over there unless he could go with me, or there was a guarantee for a translator, or even at all, because there's 7 or 8 people that could confirm seeing me in Seoul, at least three of which are Korean, and do they even have this guy's last name? Then the police called him back and said they were just coming there to Elvis' home, where we could meet in the dark playground just outside the apartment building, where they could compare their picture of Dave with me.

We waited 20 minutes, and they finally arrived, and Elvis finally started believing that it wasn't me, and his wife was almost irate, and the only thing I could make out her saying was that she was repeating over and over again that she thought this was making me feel so bad. Finally the police got there, we went out to meet them, and right as they got out of their car, I could see on their faces that they knew they'd mistaken me. They sauntered over to Elvis and showed him the bad picture on the digital camera LCD screen, and I popped over his shoulder so I could get a look (and I swear I could smell alcohol on their breath). It was a picture of some heavy set dude, dancing debaucheresly in the middle of the street with some big boned Korean woman, holding a red hoodie. He had really short hair and dark skin, and didn't even vaguely resemble me. They asked if I knew him, I said no, then they said his name might not even have been Dave at all but "Bin Dave" (?). So that was that. But I really wonder why when the police called the vice principal at my school and called the other administrator they didn't just ask what I looked like before wasting everyone's time along with the possibility of defacement and embarrassment? Bunch of wackos, really.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

the civlized man's commodity

new mix: the civilized man's commodity

get it:
part 1
part 2

The title is from a Korean commercial that I saw. Sometimes I feel like Korean advertising is so transparently fake that I can't call it bad, but mostly humorous and sometimes interesting.

I've been listening to a lot of ambient drum and bass music from the 90's while working on editing photographs. It really takes me back to that period of electronic music that reminds me simultaneously of 80's horror movies and breakthroughs in the fields of subatomic and astro physics. In terms of 80's horror movies, there's just this creativity and experimentation that's not afraid to be considered cheesy and just work through a complete idea without the benefit of a large production budget. In terms of physics, this type of music was simultaneous slowing down and speeding up the sounds and rhythms and portions of sampled drum loops and usually seemed to have an underlying floating in space vibe. The slowing and speeding up of various overlapped samples ends up spreading all the sounds out and opening up a lot of space in the track.

In 1997 there was an experiment conducted where they shot curiously interconnected but independent photons 7 miles apart and studied their movements. They found that even at a distance of 7 miles apart, when one photon began spinning in one direction, its sister photon, which was not connected in any observable physical sense, simultaneously began spinning in the opposite direction. I'll link to some information on this study later, but just not right now. But for some reason, ambient drum and bass makes me think of that inexplicable interconnected subatomic spin.

Burial has been my editing soundtrack lately as well, and his music is so beautiful, I can't get over it. Makes tedious hours at the computer float by.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Divola, John - As Far As I Could Get

Just stand the camera up on three legs, engage the self timer, and run. Man, this is so simple and awesome.

Get the flash player here:

There's so much more on his site.
Been loving the Zuma Series too. He just occupied this place, and then it changed as he changed with it, and then he changed it sometimes himself, and imprinted all these images of the moments between all those transitions.