Friday, November 26, 2004

If you love Clarence... should come to the Baltimore Blues Competition tomorrow night. The info is as follows:

Nov 27, Saturday 8:30 p.m.-1 a.m.
American Legion Hall
1311 Seling Ave
Rosedale, MD 21237

We're going to be opening for WC Handy Award winner James Solberg (Luther Allison's bandmate).

This is an important gig because we lost to Melanie Mason last year at the DC Battle of the Bands. Clarence was disheartened about the whole competition thing and vowed never to enter any competition again. In fact, some people claimed we were robbed. However, Mae Brooks from the BBS saw Clarence play at the DC Blues Festival this year and encouraged him to enter the contest in Baltimore.

After the Blues Alley gig, Clarence pretty much gained a superstar status all across the DC metro area. For him to win this competition is more symbolic than pragmatic. I believe we have a chance to win.

Fellas, let's come tomorrow and celebrate the Clarence Turner Blues Band by cranking up some real traditional blues. Straight from the bluesman himself. Nap Turner says, "Don't forget the blues." He didn't say, "Don't forget rock blues." Let's all put this rock blues thing in the garbage and play some tasteful, nitty-gritty, from-the-heart 1-4-5's.

And the Blues Alley CD is coming soon...check out the cover!


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

An ode to Lady Byron, DC's unsung jazz hero

I should have posted this sooner, but it was hard for me to find this information. But here is the Washington Post obituary for Lady Baron, who died in the beginning of this month.

I had never formally met Lady Byron, but I did see her last when I was with Bill Heid at the organ segment of the East Coast Jazz Festival February this year in Rockville. I remembered Bill telling me that "I've known her for years. She's a very, very nice person." Lady Byron was playing organ with Richie Cole in the festival after Bill was featured on the organ with the Gary Jenkins quartet.

Lady Byron was married to the legendary organ player Brother Jack McDuff. In addition, she has played with all the greats from Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong to Ella Fitzgerald. She's a true giant of jazz and an unsung hero of the DC's jazz scene. Most of all, she will always be remembered as being a "very, very nice person."


It's imperative to give thanks

I wonder if anybody still reads this blog. As evidenced by the gradual decline of the number of comments and a general lack of interest, I wonder if I should close this down for a little awhile, and maybe gather some novel momentum. So if you read this blog, please leave a comment and say you do. If you don't, just write me and say, "I think you're a scumbag and you should shut the hell up." I'll evaluate the responses and make a sensible decision.

My sympathy goes out to James Wong, a Hong Kong composer and lyricist whom I have admired, who passed away last night. He wrote many masterpieces in the 80's and 90's that documented the history and change in Hong Kong. Mr. Wong's talents were unmatched because he wrote his songs from the heart. He was as poetic as he was real. We'll miss you, James.

There are a couple of things to look forward to in the upcoming winter season: Starbucks' peppermint mocha, the Charlie Brown Christmas DVD, Clay Aiken's Christmas CD (just to get your attention), playing some high profile gigs, going to LA for a non-white Christmas, sitting in with Ed at his open mic. Not bad, huh?

Music-wise, there's always George Winston's December on standby in the glove compartment. But the Vince Guaraldi mood is about to hit soon. What's more joyful than putting on "O Tanenbaum" and swing along with the tight rhythm section. I kind of see life as a swinging trio. the bass and drums are the heartbeat and the tinkling piano on top is our volitional everyday behavior. Whether it swings or not really depends on our panache, and whether we can finish certain tasks in an artful form. This girl says exploring galleries all day is her "true fucking love." Amen.

Trying to find a good quote from A Charlie Brown Christmas, how 'bout this one:
Charlie Brown: Rats. Nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there weren't a holiday season. I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?

Good grief!


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Chain restaurants suck!

I used to believe that everything's gonna be alright - terms papers will turn itself out in the last few hours before the deadline, the bank account will adjust itself, things will balance in the long run - that belief got me through high school college, and graduate school. Perhaps I was a little too optimistic.

I was walking in DC this morning to get my driver's records and I just saw people walking, staring, and walking. It seems like particles and molecules have their own time and place, but it seems like all the superfluous stuff out there just kind of stays. No one tells it to go away and you don't belong. It stays. Our way of thinking stays. Our teeny weeny bit of ostensibly meaningless existence stays. Garbage stays garbage. People don't change when you go back to your 10th year high school reunion. People don't change at train station ticket booths or post office windows. People on the metro don't exchange smiles. They just get bored in their own little world and get off the train. We live like zombies.

To make sense out of all this, people indulge themselves in materialism. Buying clothes, doing manicure, getting fake tans, going to chain restaurants. OK, pause right here, I HATE chain restaurants. Why spend $20-30 getting junk from Applebee's, TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesdays, Red Lobster when you can enjoy a slightly more expensive porterhouse from a nice steakhouse but is going to make your stomach a little happier? There's way too much to do in life than wasting it away in chain restaurants.

So Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. It's important to give thanks. For the most part, I'm grateful. I just like to bitch a lot. Please wish me well. Please wish me well.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A great legacy has been carried on

Jeff, my thoughts are with you, your family and friends. I'm so sorry about your loss. For those who know Jeff, please call him and/or his father. Mr. Conlin's e-mail address is rconli1 [at] There will be memorial service this Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and a reception at the Conlin's afterwards. For details, please go to Jeff's website and read his 11/16/04 entry. Mrs. Conlin's great legacy has been carried on by Jeff's great musical talents, intelligence and upbeat personality.

And speaking of music, Bill Heid, Big Joe Maher, Tommy Cecil and Paul Carr will be at the Henley Park this Saturday from 8 p.m. on. Duff's also having a party at his house featuring a great jazz quartet with Greg on bass. So I won't miss these two events. Maybe I'll see some of you there.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Sunny day sweepin' the clouds away

Elmo is too cool for school!


Monday, November 15, 2004

Allow me to ramble...

Increasingly I find myself away from the bustling bars of Adams Morgan and Georgetown. That's not to say I'm out of competition with frat boys and people who imitate characters from Casablanca - I'm very much still in demand and I've got more game than the whole Notre Dame football team, or better yet, a drunk-driving Michael Phelps. But seriously, why would I want to walk into a bar where frat boys are screaming slurring lyrics to Bon Jovi's notorious "You Give Love a Bad Name?" Or worse, a cover band covering the same tune but with less panache. Oh how about a drunken Irish bar where everybody cheered and sang with the one-eyed fiddle player and his smelly dog? And honestly, where did people learn these songs? They didn't teach me them in 5th grade.

I was kind of the same in college - While everyone went to homecoming games or frat parties or bars that play either Billy Joel's "Piano Man" or Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," (do good times ever seem so good?) I was tasting half-glasses of Pinot Noir from an Italian restaurant that had live jazz. I agree there's a certain time and place for drunken stupidity and obnoxiousness, but it comes down to the concept of "class." Maybe I'm indulged in self-righteousness or even self-worship, but what I do makes me happy, and I don't wake up the next morning with a hangover wondering why I am sleeping next to a trapezoid.

"Class" is what Americans lack these days. There's plenty of class in Paris, France and Vancouver, BC. Europeans and Japanese appreciate jazz more than Americans ever will. The ironic thing is, jazz is a superior art form created by Americans, and they are the ones who are discarding it. Instead, they nurture a mainstream culture that embraces the lip-synching Britney Spears, Ashlee Simpson, and undisputedly untalented John Mayer out of all people. Black people who invented jazz and blues have voluntarily switched to hip-hop. The cool hip-hop (i.e. Digable Planets, De La Soul, Tribe) is gone and what's left is just garbage. Not the band Garbage.

How many Americans can sit through a 3-hour long art house movie or sip Martini at a refined jazz club listening to the sublime McCoy Tyner chords or a Lee Morgan trumpet solo or a soulful ripping-your-heart-out Hammond B-3 solo by Dr. Lonnie Smith? Therefore, these days when I see young people at a jazz and blues club, in addition to giving my usual kudos, I buy them a drink because we need people like them to keep the "class" alive.

Think about it, it's all so simple. Yes, I am a snob and a self-righteous asshole, but I'd rather be called that than to soak myself in loud noise. I'll do anything in just to stay away from the whole Bon Jovi/Van Halen/Kiss/Metallica circuit. A peace of mind is all I ask.


Blame Canada

First off, my condolences go out to Jeff and his family. You've gone through a lot this year, man, and you've done good so far. Hang in there!

I've sent out my Blues Alley demo CD to a selected few; the response is unanimous. But the interesting thing is that people seem to listen to it at their most relaxed mode. One person uses it as a wake-up call. Another listens to it when she's taking a bubble bath. I wonder what's gonna be next: dinner table background music? Humping and bumping music in lieu of Barry White?

Ever since Bush won the election, many American have been threatening/or threatened to move to Canada. Well, according to CNN, it's happening. A Canadian website urges Canadians to "Open your heart, and your home. Marry an American. Legions of Canadians have already pledged to sacrifice their singlehood to save our southern neighbours from four more years of cowboy conservatism." Seems like good news to some in addition to the country's lenient marijuana and same sex marriage laws.

Now that Colin Powell and three other resigned, moving to Canada seems like a viable option.


Friday, November 12, 2004

I just found out....

...that I passed the New Jersey bar. Hip hop hoorrayyy!


Thursday, November 11, 2004

First off, I'd like to wish a very happy 80th birthday... my Grandpa. He's actually having a gigantic birthday party/celebration in Zhoushan, China right now. It's going to be perfect party since ALL of my maternal family is going to be there. My two uncles flew from LA to attend the ceremony and it's a long overdue family reunion. The imperfect thing is my brother and I can't be there. My heart goes out to him and wishes him a great birthday celebration.

Speaking of China, someone from my office asked me the other day, "Since my Dad went there for two weeks and I want to surprise him when he arrives home with a big 'welcome home' sign, can you write 'welcome home' in Hong Kong?" My officemate who shares a room with me was impatient and jumped in and said, "You mean writing it in Chinese?" I was almost tempted to say "I can write it in Ching Chong." Instead, being a nice guy that I am, "I wrote 'welcome home' in Chinese on a piece of paper for her. Then she asked me, "What did you just draw?" So I said, "I didn't draw anything, I wrote 'welcome home' in Chinese as you requested." At this point, my officemate was so pissed off she had to leave the room, leaving just me and the requestor.

The requestor went on and said, "What do each of these letters stand for?" I was being very patient and replied, "These aren't letters, they are characters. Each of them has a different meaning by itself but together they mean 'welcome home.'" "Oh, so you mean the left character does not mean 'welcome' and the right character does not mean 'home.'" "No."

The most adsurd part came later. The requestor then looked at one character and said, "What's this little stroke here? Is it a typo?" At that point, I wanted to laugh, but to be completely cordial I said, "It's part of the word."

Now I understand why we lost the election.

Sometimes when you have nothing to blog, it's great to summarize what happened in your daily life. Well, what can I say? Arafat died. It sucks in Fallujah right now. And I have a day off because lazy federal workers don't want to work on Veteran's Day. Like it's their business. I sent my car to the dealer for an annual checkup, went to a JB-infiltrated deli and got a blueberry bagel, and spent a rather relaxing afternoon home listening to Bill Evans and Kenny Barron and doing other stuff.

And found two great quotes:
1. i hate myself and my bed but there is something comforting about starting over again from a crumpled mess of me.
2. on monday, after having spent the weekend with lover, i lay a big pillow next to me on the bed cause i missed having him there to hold on to. but it didn't work out very well because it didn't hold me.

Need I say brilliant?


Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Went to a rather fascinating comedy-hypnosis show at the DC Improv last nite. I was quite impressed by Flip Orley, but his hyponsis was definitely stronger than his stand-up stuff. He even admits, "It's audience participation that makes my show. There's really no plan B." I was a little skeptical of hypnosis at first.

The first time I was exposed to hypnosis was from a high school chapel meeting, and I thought the people were acting. The I saw Woody Allen's The Curse of Jane Scorpion and believed a little bit more. Then Flip explained last night that hypnosis is is a focused state of mind with a limited number of distractions. He also stated 30-50% of people would be hypnotized on stage. A hypnotized person is fully aware and has control over his actions, and he'll remember what happened when he was hypnotized. He also guaranteed the hypnotized people will sleep better at night. Pretty cool.

And it was bound to be funny. Because the hypnotized people knew they were the target of ridicule and the source of the laughter. They knew they were making a fool out of themselves. But since they had the power to control their actions, it made it even funnier. You have to see it to believe it. Flip will be at the Improv until this Sunday, so get your tickets quick if you want to be amused.


Monday, November 08, 2004

Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?

It's a delight to see people writing again, whether it's e-mail or in a blog. I'm getting reafy for the season change too, for the most part. Driving on GW Parkway amidst fallen red leaves is nothing short of beautiful. The daylight saving hours make staying late at work an unrealistic option and start the night earlier. I enjoy driving in the night because the night and the music and the ambiance create a perfect balance.

Speaking of which, I've been fascinated by jazz and ragtime and Dixieland from the 40's. I put this Louis Armstrong/Earl Hines CD on repeat and it gives me a nice nostalgic feeling to it. Right now I'm craving an old Woody Allen movie (Hannah and Her Sisters) and a warm drink from Starbucks (eggnog latte) and some pseudo-intellectual conversations about cracking the Da Vinci Code or how there are a bevy of wannabe singer-songwriters who can neither sing nor write songs. A glass of Pinot Noir would also help heating my body up.

I think my mojo works better in the wintertime. Elegant clothing hides my gut and makes me look dapper. Somehow my manners and charms come more naturally, too. And ladies, I'm ready to rock and roll. It's all you.

I'm still hip!


Friday, November 05, 2004

Bick up yoself!

I really think it's fair to call Bush supporters dumb and I don't feel bad saying it. Statistics also are on my side. This report shows that how the blues states are smarter and red states are plain stupid.

Michael Moore made a few good points in his "17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists" article. Amongst them, these are pretty hilarious:

3. The only age group in which the majority voted for Kerry was young adults (Kerry: 54%, Bush: 44%), proving once again that your parents are always wrong and you should never listen to them.

9. Gays, thanks to the ballot measures passed on Tuesday, cannot get married in 11 new states. Thank God. Just think of all those wedding gifts we won't have to buy now.

11. The CEO of Coors was defeated for Senate in Colorado. Drink up!

12. Admit it: We like the Bush twins and we don't want them to go away.

Now, enough of the election. Moving on to newer and better things. The Blues Alley recording came out and it's dynamite. We're definitely gonna release it. The NMH reunion luncheon at Corcoran is also coming soon. I'll see how this guy could dispel the Da Vinci Code myth tonight.

Other than that, I'm still the coolest cat in town, and quoting Ali G, "Bick up yoself!"


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Post-election sentiments, Part III

"It just goes to show how incredibly dumb the Bush voters are. They are not treating this like an election, with many lives at stake with a full blown war being fought by our kids in Iraq...They are acting like it is some kind of sporting event, like their team won, and they are going to celebrate by doing beer bongs and hanging each other outside hotel windows by their big, stupid, un- evolved webbed feet. They see America like a giant tailgate party, and they are getting ready for the big game with Al-Qaeda." - Margaret Cho

"I still can't believe this election thing. 4 more years of the Anti-Christ."

"Fuck Ohio straight up the ass. And I'm from Ohio."

"...I discovered I'm not the only one who actually CRIED during Kerry's concession speech. Makes me feel a bit better. I do wish however that I wasn't watching it in the conference room with a bunch of STUPID GLOATING REPUBLICANS."

"Honestly, I'm not sure what needs to be done right now, or the direction we need to go, but I know that the key is to plan and think ahead be wary of the direction this country is going in and not become distracted by consipiracy theories or obsessed with what we perceive to be repression."

"i don't want a liberal utopia. i just want america to be something i can be proud of. and right now, i am not."

"It is jarring and oddly shattering and makes you rethink what it really means to be a part of this country. The answer: It doesn't mean much at all. Not really. Not anymore." - Mark Morford, San Francisco Gate


Disguised morality

W. vowed to reach out to the whole nation, uniting the differences. But really, the election gave the Republicans "the green light" to vigorously pursue their conservative agenda and kill more Iraqi insurgents abroad, or else Dick Cheney would not have called it a "broad, nationwide victory." Why would they reach out now when they have a clear majority (51%), and the Congress being predominantly Republican?

When world leaders gradually congratulated Bush on his re-election and polls indicating most in America are hopeful, it's easy to assume that we have gotten past the sombre moods we were in yesterday. But it's sickening to hear someone beam, "I've never been so happy in my life. I look at the map and it's all red. I'm singing hallelujah."

This monologue is some good wisdom and 48% of America believe this. It's really so simple, why didn't the other 51% get it?

I can't think of anything hopeful to say now. To conclude, I borrow Garden State's Zach Braff's statement, "Well what can I say, it's over."

P.S. Check out this heated thread to see how some people really think in this country.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

More post-election sentiments

This is Part II. The FBI's knocking on my door.

"kerry conceded. we are all wearing black. widows of america. all my classes ended early. in symbolists and decandents, the teacher exclaimed how unimportant and petty art history felt at this moment. so now we just mope."

"this isn't death. it's mass suicide."

"so i came home and cried. anger/disillusionment/fear/horror have interwoven into this mess of desolation and powerlessness. i've always been this ridiculous idealist until the end. as optimistic as i try to stay, i can't see the silver lining on this one."

"I've never been political, and I've never been able to follow what was happening in the world. But since Bush has been in office I have at least been able to recognize that he is a liar, a dumbass and evil."

"I am personally insulted by people who voted for Bush. The reason I like Kerry better was because he did not try and benefit people like him, rather listened to the whole US."

"everyone is sad about bush. i am too. but seriously, fuck kerry and fuck liberals."

"we're gonna do something and its gonna be big...the time is now."

"Right now I'm embarrassed to be an American."

Let's look forward to Edwards/Obama 2008.


A collection of post-election sentiments today

Besides George Soros, I'm not disclosing anybody's names who made the following comments because once the "Patriot Act" is enacted, we're all going to prison.

"Obviously, I am distressed at the outcome of the election." - George Soros

"Done. I'm moving to Canada."

"I'm not going to wallow. However, I will grieve for now. I will grieve for now."

"I'm not sure what comes next, but this isn't over yet. I think we're starting to see the crystallization of a long struggle. But first, there will be grieving and drinking."

"It sickens me to live in a country where this many people would vote for that asshole. This is not the America I grew up in. This is not the America I want to live in. I walked to work this morning feeling like I was in a different country."

"I do not think my faith in America will ever be able to recover."

"I'm going to marry a woman in front of the white house. I'm going to fuck shit up."

"Fuck shit up. sick sick sick my stomach."

"So a big fuck you goes out to you, George W. Bush. You will go down as the stupidest figure in history...And fuck you, "JFK." You have to be a real, REAL dumb fuck to lose against somebody as utterly stupid as Bush."

"We need a revolution."

"i'd like to crawl into a hole and hide for four years. or flee to the EU with my british passport."

"on behalf of the civilized world, i will now curl up into a ball and die."

"I can't take it anymore. If anyone I know is drafted into the war that Bush will get us into, I am taking them and my cats and moving to Canada. Or maybe Mexico. Fuck."

"If you are American, and you have voted for George W. Bush, then God have mercy on your soul. My opinion is formed, that the end of the world will be in GWB. If it's not global warming, its something else, like making enemies with people who would die, just to see you die."

"Goodbye America. I'm going to ex-patriate myself. They make movies in Toronto. They make movies in Europe. Fuck you. You get what you deserve."

"If you voted for George W. Bush and your son or daughter is serving in Iraq, I won’t feel sorry for you when “The Secretary of the Army regrets to inform you...”"

"So if you know where to find some hope... let me know."

"Today is the saddest day in American history, maybe even world history." - Me


Can you stand 4 more years of this crap?

Today is the saddest day in American history, maybe even world history. And where the hell does MSNBC and CNN have different election results? How can MSNBC in the name of God declare Bush has won Ohio when everybody else (including John Edwards) claims that the Ohio votes are being recounted. They'd better count those provisional ballots. And what happened to the 500,000 absentee ballots in Florida? Did they get flushed down to the toilet? And why didn't those lame Democrats challenge Florida?

Rudy Giuliani said last night that George Bush's national security measures prevented this country from being further attacked by Al Queda? Seriously, is being attacked the norm here? What about 9/11? Were we supposed to be attacked? Would this country have been attacked if Gore were the President back then?

Nathan from The Film Experience puts it best:

50-51% of Americans approve of torture, corporate greed, fraud, lies, preemptive wars on countries that don't attack us, alienating our former allies, letting people who attack us get away with it, attacks on the military records of war heroes, not accepting responsibility for actions taken, fear mongering, and unbearable tax burdens for their children.

My co-worker and I put a world map on the wall so we can pinpoint which country the Bush administration is going to invade next. The next four years will be hell for the American people, the Iraqi people, the world...It's the fall of the Roman Empire.

I'm not talking to any Republicans today.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Big day

Y'all know what I'm gonna say, so just do it. Remember, y'all are voting for world peace, not just trivial domestic issues. The world's fate is in your hands, so follow your heart! Don't beat around the "Bush," vote for John Kerry.

Meanwhile, if you can understand Cantonese, these clips from McDull: Prince de la bun will cheer you up (Clip 1, clip 2).

Also, I'm up for any election celebration/bash tonight. Feel free to invite me.


Monday, November 01, 2004

If you don't know where to vote...

...go to this website,, and find out where your polling location is.

I think they should rename the "electoral college" and call it "electoral university," making it sound more official.


Screw stem cell research, vote your conscience!

The weekend was a relevation, just like the movie Ray. Yesterday was the first time I witnessed yellow leaves following while it was 70 degrees out. The daylight saving hour saved me from being late at church. I got so much rest I actually look forward to this week. Except if Bush wins the election on Tuesday, I'm gonna, like the Ray Charles song suggests, "Drown in my own tears." Saw two great movies this weekend. One about a black music icon and one about seeing life through the lens of wine-tasting. Both served as an inspiration - inspired me to be a better person.

I was asked to explain a 1-4-5 structure to my student and I couldn't do it effectively. I breathe 1-4-5 every day and I can't live without it. It's a part of me. But I couldn't explain what precisely the structure was. Life is strange like that sometimes. Explaining 1-4-5 is like explaining breathing to a new-born baby. Do you use your mouth or nose to exhale? I don't know. I just do it. He can't help it. Isn't the 1-4-5 the most incredible invention in human history?

There are a couple of things to look forward to in this week. One is the dispelling of the Da Vinci Code myth. Another is a high school reunion event that I organisized (note spelling). I think I shall speak in codes from now on to avoid further speculations and misunderstandings.

And you Republicans out there, damn you! Forget abortion, stem cell reserach, gay marriage (actually, both candidates oppose that), because 100,000 civilians and 1,122 U.S. soldiers were killed, and 8,000 U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq!! What's more important? Stem cells that people throw out anyway or actual lives of people who have done nothing wrong?

And all for a stupid war? A war that shouldn't have existed in the first place? No WMD's, no BLT's. Just greedy, pathetic oil interest. So you peeps out there, if you can stand Iraqi people and American soldiers dying every day, hostages being beheaded, suicide bombs going off on cars in obscure places, more terrorist attacks on the U.S. soil, and gas prices going way up, vote for George W. Bush.


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