Atchafalaya Swamp

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Clash of The Axes

Bought the Star today, as usual, for my morning dose of entertainment.

It's hard not to be entertained these days when you have the 'Three Tuns" - Eusoff, Dzaiddin and Fairuz --all vying to better what Larry, Curly and Moe had to offer.

And then there's the other suspects like Lingam Park and 'Starry-Starry-Nite' Tan. The latter claimed there's no point in suing anybody for defamation. He sued against the late M.G.G. Pillai (may God rests his soul) and was awarded ten million ringgits but got not a single sen from the
kain pelekat wielding Columbia-trained journalist. Padan muka. Had to fork out RM 1.5 million to Messrs. Lingam Park & Co in legal fees some more. Padan lagi muka. Damn right, Vince, BAAAAD business decision. Should have left the late Sang Kancil alone.

But what really piqued my interest lay a few pages ahead.

Entertainment aside, and about Tun D "hating" his former boss Tun E --ho hum--what's new? -- there is a more serious and pressing concern that ails the state of the "real entertainment" industry, in particular live acts this coming March 15. Is this
before or after BN's landslide win and Khairy's first foray into the Parliament of Whores? Who cares?

The real issue here for music fanatics is WHO to see on March 15.

Toto performs on March 15 night, and today The Star reported that Pineapple Concerts, helmed by Razman Tan Sri Ahmad Razali, has another mega-concert on that date. The 12-hour music-fest is dubbed "Sunburst KL International Music Festival". Read the report here:

My, this is gonna pose a problem. This, in my opinion is a bigger cause for headache since UMNO's Team A / Team B faction.

R & B's phenomena John Legend, British acid jazz proponents Incognito, hard rock's Incubus and George Clinton's Funkadelic are all set to appear on four specially constructed stages at the Polo Pavillion, Bukit Kiara Equestrian Resort.

Local acts to include Search, Pop Shuvit, Estranged, One Buck Short and Joe Flizzow amongst others. All fine acts for sure but I'm not going to lose sleep over these.

From across the pond the organizers are bringing in Tompi and --this is why there's going to be a clash-- GiGi!

Damn! *Dewa Budjana is gonna be pissed too. Or maybe he thinks he can finish his set early and then hop over to Cyberjaya to catch Steve Lukather!?

So which is it, you lucky BN sods (assuming of course, BN has won by a landslide and this concert is to "thank" the rakyat?) --Dewa or Steve?

*For those who are a bit ignorant when it comes to Asia's guitar 'Gods', Dewa Budjana is probably the best in what Asia has to offer. In 2005, Peter Erskine (2007 Grammy Winner) the jazz drummer for Weather Report, Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach, Rickie Lee Jones etc. produced Dewa Budjana's "Home" a solo jazz album with top L.A. session players like Dave Carpenter to excellent critical reviews. GiGi is his cari makan band.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sweet Child O' The 60's


I know there's so many things out there that everyone takes for granted (like KJ's ascension to premiership before turning forty is one and Ling Gump's ASSertion that yeah, that guy looks and sounds like me BUT -- is the other) because they're not in some gawd-infested swamp . . .

It's about a concert by one of the greatest bands ever to grace the planet. And it's happening right here in Cyberjaya, Bolehsaja and in two other cities in Indonesia this coming March.

Here's your chance to catch 'em, folks.

Unfortunately I have to give this a pass but hoping against hope to catch 'em in Surabaya if I can ciluk from the rig that is, but I doubt that --just as as much as I doubt Ling Gump was just tagging along. And the good Tun just happened to bump into him at the airport?

For us Sweet Child O' The Sixties I'm sure there are takers out there. I know Doc TA, Shah Cakapje and a host of other "Sixties Children" will appreciate the chance.

Go to the promoter's website here:

Leland Sklar apparently is replacing Mike Porcaro because the latter has gone on MC or something. David Paich
is away in China preparing the theme song for Beijing '08. David is the vocals and songwriter behind Rosanna, Africa etc and has also won an Emmy in '74 for his work on the Ironside theme.

Here's something I lifted off the net about Lee Sklar:

". . . His very recognizable bass playing style, along with his beard, have been heard on hits by Phil Collins, Billy Cobham, Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Hall & Oates, Jackson Browne, Tommy Bolin, David Bowie, Ray Charles, BB King, The Doors, Peter Frampton, Aaron Neville, Lyle Lovett, to name just a few."

And then there's Greg Phillinganes on keyboards. Greg's fingerwork can be heard on anything from Stevie Wonder (who discovered him more than three decades back) to Eric Clapton, Christina Aguilera, BabyFace, George Benson, Michael Jackson (played on all the songs on Thriller --even Billy Jean), Bee Gees, Carpenters, Dionne Warwick, Paul Simon, Earl Klugh, Chaka Khan, Anita Baker.....Gawd the list is too long! To me, his greatest feat is playing on all of Stevie Wonder's
Songs In The Key of Life (1976) especially that lurrrvely Isn't She Lovely? Hal-la-maaak...

Curious, their website listed only three cities in their South East Asian
stops; bypassing Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore even. Now we know those countries got no taste laa...

The rest of their multi-city dates are in Japan and Australia.

Anybody been to Perdana Lakeview East? Is it an open-air venue? And what about the acoustics? Lucky not Stadium Negara, berdegung...

12 - Mar - 2008 Wednesday Surabaya Shangri-la Indonesia
14 - Mar - 2008 Friday Bandung Sabuga Convention Hall Indonesia
15 - Mar - 2008 Saturday Kuala Lumpor Perdana Lakeview East, Cyberjaya

So how? Ada nak gii ker?

If you post a comment and for you Toto fans out there tell me your favorite song. Tough, but mine's "Rosanna" I think. My hair (what's left anyway) stands on end everytime
Jeff Porcaro's shuffle beat kicks in at the tune's intro...

N.B. In line with Ling Gump's and other recent sea-change ethical code of conduct in Bolehsaja's blogosphere, the images above were
of course lifted sans permission. Whaddya expect?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Arok of Java: A Mat Salo Book Review

Arok of Java: A Book Review

Ananta Pramoedya Toer (Translated by Max Lane)

ISBN: 978-981-05-8045-2

I ADMIT OF MY IGNORANCE. Before coming to Indonesia I had only barely heard of Ananta Pramoedya Toer. He has since left us but his legacy lives on in his many books.

It was not only my loss but hundreds of millions Indonesians too since his works were banned during Suharto’s era, thus consigning his works to obscurity. Ananta had apparently written many more but most of his material were reportedly confiscated and burned.

His famed Buru Tetralogy (This Earth of Mankind, Child of All Nations, Footsteps and House of Glass –all available in Penguin Books) and Arok of Java (originally titled Arok and Dedes) was “written” during his incarceration on Buru Island between 1965 and 1980. Suharto had stationeries banned for his special prisoner and Ananta was forced to “write” the book in his head, telling and refining the story to fellow inmates. It was only after his release that he was finally able to pen his voluminous tome. His masterpieces impressed the Nobel committee enough to consider him a nominee.

To keep things in perspective, Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind) was the first of Buru Tetralogy, and should be read first. Max Lane, the translator for the book was again responsible for Arok of Java, which was only recently completed and published for the first time.

Lane’s earlier translation of Bumi brought instant fame to Ananta. Lane was then a diplomat, an Australian attaché in Jakarta of the early Eighties. Due to the recognition of Ananta’s works, Lane had inadvertently invited the wrath of the Indonesian government. Lane was expelled from Indonesia becoming a persona non-grata right until Suharto's fall. Bumi was subsequently forced off the shelves, becoming one of the great tragedies of modern literature.

Set in the 13th century Arok of Java is a novel of “early Indonesia” where Hindu Gods and Goddesses reigned. This was before Islam descended on the archipelago and told of our hero Arok of the Sudra caste, who through scholarship became a Ksatria and finally a Brahmin. Many have likened Arok to Robin Hood but it is only a superficial connection. In that era, descendants of great King Erlangga sat in Kediri and the outlying areas were controlled by appointed ‘Governors’ who had to pay tribute to the King.

The Governor of Tumapel, a vile villainous character was installed and brought back slavery that was earlier abolished by Erlangga. The Governor was of the Sudra caste who worshipped Lord Vishnu. The Brahmins, who are worshippers of Lord Siva, had lost all their influence and were confined to their temples. The subtext was the past two centuries, the Brahmins had become outcasts and no longer relevant. The precocious Arok who mastered Sanskrit at an early age grew to become a warrior; a scholar-bandit and rebel –his destiny to bring the Brahmins back to glory.

Arok had then started a campaign of resistance. He robbed the tribute coaches en route to Kediri amassing the wealth to free the peoples of slavery and suppression. The Governor was perplexed as to the hit and run losses; bringing displeasure to the King. The King was angry at the formers inability to bring order; especially when the Kingdom’s treasury was compromised.

The final straw was when the Governor, a lowly-Sudra himself who by chicanery and deceit became all-powerful, kidnapped the beautiful Dedes, a Brahmani, to make her his consort. His obsession with Dedes was his final undoing and provided the stage for Arok’s entrance.

A blurb from the book’s jacket reads: “As the rebellion spreads, it is Arok himself whom the rulers employ to suppress it . . . Thus emerges one of the epic political conspiracies of Javanese history.”

Arok is an epic saga much in the great traditions of Ramayana and Mahabharata. My only problem was in the book’s editing. There were some errors in spelling that distracted the reader. By contrast, The Buru Tetralogy, published by Penguin, was exquisitely edited. This is but a minor speck in this vast canvas of Anata’s beautiful narration.

A must read; but only after your appetite had been appropriately whetted by the brilliant This Earth of Mankind.

384 pages, excluding Introductions, Acknowledgments and Glossaries.

First published in 2007.

Edited by: Tan Chee Leng

Illustrations by: Mohamad Yusof

Horizon Books
. www.horizonbooks.com.sg

The Game of Tag

Captain Jafflam
had tagged me and my response is long overdue. This one is about three personal episodes and lessons learned from 2007. Here they are in no order of importance:

  1. Try to be a good sport when it comes to tagging. Resolution: Try to be a good sport by obliging.
  2. Was a dumb-ass asshole for the period ending 31 December, 2007 and the years prior. Resolution: Try to be a lesser asshole and be forgiving of my failings, of which I have tons.
  3. Wasn't a central character in Mat Salo's movie called Being There. Resolution: Hope to be around more often. Or at least make the effort.
  4. Ha, got plenty I tell ya. The last one is to emulate all my favorite bloggers out there. You only have to look at my Blogroll to see who. I'll start by doing an Elviza. Look out for a book review in my next post folks!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Bad things come in threes . . .

A pall has descended over Yani.

Yani is the rig I work on and is owned by Ariffin Pinogoro, who appears as # 9 on the latest Forbes list of “40 Richest Indonesians” with a net worth close to 1 Billion gawd-almighty US dollars. This time around, even Liem Soei Liong of the Salim Group had to contend with 10th place.

The offshore rigs are named after his sons and daughters. Yani’s other “siblings” include Raissa, Raissis, Maera, Raniworo and with the latest one, a super-premium jack-up called Soehannah –sons and daughters of a true blue US dollar billionaire.

Anyway this isn’t the point of the story. My previous post told of an accident that happened on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. At that point the denizens of Yani were still optimistic of the New Year’s rig party. Apparently, a down payment of a million rupiahs was already handed to the ‘electone singing group’. I was mistaken. There were to be four women, not just one; an organ player with the other three singing / dancing and were originally scheduled to be smuggled in on New Years Eve.

Sorry to disappoint you but there was no new New Year’s Party. In fact, I slept through twelve midnight while revelers in Malaysia were gathered watching taxpayers money dissipate via fireworks. The party was canceled on the morning of the December 31st, and this time everybody was in unanimous agreement.

At 3.OO a.m. on that fateful morning (I was asleep and oblivious to the violence that unfolded) an altercation broke out with a roustabout and his leader, whom we call “headman” (mandor in boleh-speak). The roustabout did the unthinkable: he pulled a knife and chased the poor headman before being restrained by fellow roustabouts. The Major (rig liason officer) had to be called in and within fifteen minutes the marine police had come aboard brandishing side-arms and machine guns.

Pak D---, the perp, was the quiet sort. Even after two years being on the Yani we hardly exchanged words. But he was always glad to accept my occasional gifts of Sampoerna Mild kretek cigarettes though. But I never thought him as someone dangerous. Another myth broken; goes to show Mat Salo’s not such a good judge of character after all. . .

Anyway that violent interlude was the final nail in the coffin and put paid to our New Year’s bash for good. Bosses from town had to descend by slow-boat (choppers weren’t running on the 31st) to do their damage control. With the police and management folks swarming around you can forget about the party. They’re pissed-off already since this has spoiled their New Year’s holiday…

But again this isn’t the point of the story. The point is our colleague Agus Untung was called to the lord, at 3.00 a.m. this morning in the bosom of his family. He was on his days off. He was 38 years old, married with two children, and with no known ailments. He doesn’t even drink coffee or smoke.

Tomorrow, Saturday the 5th, would have been his crew change day when we were supposed to trade banter again.

But it was not to be, Pak Agus yah?

So now you know why there’s a pall hanging over Yani like a leaden cloud…

Agus Untung 1969 - 2008

© Matsalo Images 2007 - Photo taken in September 2007.

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