DISPATCHES SEPTEMBER 2010

11-02-10

09-05-10 Beijing China: 0617 hrs. I got here yesterday. One flight from Los Angeles up to San Francisco and then to here. Long flight but it wasn’t all that bad. It was a very full flight.


I figured I should get into the time change as best I could and went right to the gym and worked out and then went out to get some food.


The streets were full of people last night. The weather was balmy and mild The quality of air is awful. The level of haze in the air, when you land, it’s like flying through smoke. You can smell it when you breathe it in, I thought I could actually feel the density of the air while inhaling.


In a few hours, I will be flying to Pyongyang, North Korea. I don’t know if I mentioned that here before or not. I know I talked about it on the radio show last night. I will hopefully get in and get out with no hassle, and be back here in about a week. I will write you from here and let you know how it all goes.


So, last week, I got back from the tour and went into withdrawals pretty quickly. I had such a great time at the shows and seeing everybody that it was hard it down and get onto the next thing. That’s the hardest part of the tour for me, stopping.


The days I was back were pretty busy. Engineer X and I put together shows for the upcoming weeks, they are good ones but they took awhile to get into the computer. I was a panelist on the Miles Davis 40th anniversary of Bitches Brew at the Grammy Museum a few nights ago. The Davis family is always very cool to me. I have been invited to the last few Miles events and it’s always cool. Miles’ son Aaron is always there and as always, has a few Miles stories you never heard before. Miles’ first wife, Frances was there. Articulate, funny, so great. She told the story about how she took Miles to see a show that featured Flamenco music and that was his inspiration for Sketches Of Spain. One of the people on the panel was Bennie Maupin, he played clarinet on Bitches Brew. I have met him before, cool guy and had great stories about the sessions. Another KCRW type, Jeremy Sole, was there as well. A worth it evening.


I got a couple of free nights to hang out on my own and listen to music but the jet lag was such that by the time the work was done, I could listen to one record and then fall asleep. I tried to listen to some music as soon as I got up around dawn but it wasn’t the same. I am still feeling a little ripped off about that. Oh well, maybe in October.


So, North Korea. Should be interesting. I will be given the propaganda tour but it will be the only way I can get in there and it should be quite and experience. Heidi “The Demon” May worked very hard on the logistics for the upcoming weeks of travel. I think it was happy that I got out the door and that all this is no longer its problem. I have probably said this to you before, I tried to get to North Korea two years ago, so I could have been to all three of the “Axis Of Evil” countries while Bush was in office but I only got to Iran and Iraq. I tried.


The Demon and I were given our site lessons and we can now put stuff on the site ourselves. So, if you look, we made two photo files and they seem to work ok. I will be updating the photos as this trip goes on, now that I know how I do this. I will be adding some cool stuff to the site over the next few weeks as I get more acquainted with it all.


Thanks for the cool letters from last week’s show. I wrote up a thing for my LA Weekly column and sent that in last night. I guess they will post it later in the week, as dated as it will be. I will do next week’s radio notes for the site next week when I get back here.


Ok, I have to make a separate pack just for North Korea and should get that started. No laptop, i-Pod, etc. Thanks for reading this. Henry

 


09-12-10 Beijing China: 1941 hrs. Back from a strange time in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. You know how some periods of time seem longer than the actual time? It was five days but it felt like a much longer time. I was doing ten to eleven hour days of non-stop touring of some of the most boring sites one could imagine. Here’s the state art department. Let’s look at the painters working on art for the state. Here’s the man painting a forest, isn’t that great? Let’s go to another monument of Kim Il Sung, that will be great. That’s basically how it was. Thankfully, the guides were very friendly. I would say go if you can, it’s like no place you have ever been to before. The trip to the DMZ was amazing. To watch the US soldiers have a stare down with the North Korean soldiers was intense and worth the entire trip.


The part that was hardest to deal with was the lack of things to do once the day of sightseeing was done. It’s not like you’re going out for a walk after dinner, it’s just not allowed. I don’t know what trouble they thought I could get into but that’s the rules. I think the country will be opening up to American tourism in the coming years, so it won’t be all that big a deal to go there. I was told that about one hundred Americans go annually and about four thousand Europeans. The places was overrun with white people. Busloads of them. Norwegians, Australians, Americans, British, Dutch, Russian.


There were so many opportunities for humor that were just not going to happen. When we were leaving the mausoleum that holds the body of Kim Il Sung, I wanted to tell my guides, “You’re not going to believe this, the Great Leader winked at me!” More than once, I made myself laugh from something I came up with and the guide would ask me what I was laughing at and I would have to make something up.


The DPRK doesn’t have religion, they have Kim Il Sung. They don’t have churches, they have monuments to Kim Il Sung. I get the impression that the son, Kim Jung Il, has not the fraction of devotion that dad has. I guess it’s like being Frank Sinatra Jr. You kind of look like your dad, you kind of have the same gig but no one really takes you all that seriously and that fact sucks. The paintings of Kim Jung Il were great, trying to make him a broad shouldered, solidly built man with a big fist. Sometimes the painter would leave in the lifter shoes, I guess to keep it real.


I would like to go back again and check out the northern part of the country. Perhaps this time next year. Everyone I met there was completely friendly and I encountered no aggression whatsoever. The parts of the country I was allowed to see were beautiful, green and full of corn, rice and soy.


The last night I was there, I watched some BBC World News and saw my pal Stephen Sackur do the news for an hour. He reported that Terry Jones, the pastor who wanted to burn the Koran on 09-11-10 had backed off of the event. That’s good but I think the damage has already been done. While I am glad that he chose not to do something so stupid, I think he’s a coward for not sticking up for his convictions. It’s not as if he had a change of heart, he simply couldn’t handle the heat and chickened out. He has endangered American Forces and Americans traveling all over the world. I am in the latter category and I don’t appreciate the fact that I might have to deal with ramifications of his actions at some point.


Today, I walked for quite a distance on the Great Wall Of China. It was hot as hell out today and the section I was at had a lot of tourists. I was dealing with them pretty well until I overheard one young American girl say to her friend, “The thing that sucks about this is . . . “ I didn’t stick around to hear the end of the sentence. I asked Caroline, my very smart Chinese guide if there was a trip I could take on parts of the wall where there no people and she said there two and three day trips on more remote parts of the wall where there was no one. Sign me up. We went from there to the Summer Palace. It was very beautiful but packed with people and not all that fun for me.

I will be getting up at an obscene hour of the morning to head to Ulan Bator Mongolia for a few days. Looking forward to it. Why Mongolia? Oh, come on. This is going to be great.


Thanks for checking out the radio show yesterday. Doing an 09-11 show made me think very hard on what I wanted to put across and I hope I did the right thing. It was well intentioned in any case.

I hope you’re digging the site upgrades. I will be adding photos from the road. Check the ones from DPRK that are up now if you want to. More to come. Thanks for reading this. Henry

 

 


09-19-10 Lhasa Tibet: 1616 hrs. I am taking a break from the sun, which while not being all that hot, seems to be more intense somehow, like I am closer to it. The sky here is so clear, there seems to nothing filter it, so it hits pretty hard. I was told to be careful about being too active the first day I was here, due to the altitude. I arrived a couple of days ago and really have not felt anything besides the ringing headache that I was told I was going to get somewhere in the very early hours after arrival. That one woke me up. It felt like I had been clubbed over the head. Past that, I am feeling ok. The quality of air here is so clean, I have to think it’s good for you.


Since I last checked in with you, I went from China to Ulan Bator, Mongolia for a few days and then came here via Beijing. Mongolia, what little I saw of it, was amazing. UB, as it’s called, is a city that is busy, noisy and full of young people. I was staying near the universities, the streets were packed with the youth. Everyone had their cell phones and cool clothes. I stayed out on the streets as much as I could. I went to a couple of museums.  Both were interesting because the history of Mongolia has an interesting chapter that involves the Soviet Union, Stalin and the oppression and killing of thousands of people. Both China and the Soviet Union did a real number on that country. I definitely want to learn more about Chinggis Khaan and his conquests but as well, want to learn more about what Mongolia went though in the 20th century. Apparently, 1937 was the height of the oppression. There’s a lot to learn by a visit to the Museum of Political Persecution.


I found Mongolia to be much more interesting than I did China. Not that China doesn’t have a fascinating history, of which I know very little but Mongolia, well, some say that the Great Wall was built to keep China safe from the Mongols. A beautiful looking people, too. I hope I get back there someday.


I have been here for a couple of days. I did a little sightseeing today. The oldest temple in Tibet is only a few blocks away, so I went up there and walked through it for quite awhile. I am not a religious person in the least but I must say, all the statues I saw today, so amazing. Buddhism, from what I have seen of it in the many countries I have been to that practice it, seems to be a looser and less fear-filled religion. You can take all of what I know about religion and lose it in a thimble. People here are serious about it here. I have seen women that are at least a couple of hundred years old, walking towards that temple, spinning their prayer wheels, they look like they have lived their entire lives outside and have walked most of their lives. Then there’s the folks who have the metal plates on their hands, who get on their knees, slide their palms flat on the ground until they are flat on the ground, go back to a kneeling position, stand up and then start again. Apparently, the more times one does this, the better it’s going to go for them in life. There are some people who do it all day. Well, ok!


After a few hours of the sun, I get out of it for awhile and then hit the streets again until the mosquitoes come out. I was told that if I get to the temple around 0400 hrs., I might be able to see some bodies delivered to the temple to be blessed before they are taken up to be put on rocks, chopped into pieces for the vultures to eat. Try that in Indiana.


There’s a very conspicuous Chinese soldier presence on the streets here. I was told that taking any photos of them is asking for trouble. They seem to be everywhere. I guess they want to remind everyone here who is in charge.


And then, there’s Christine O’Donnell. That one is going to get better and better as it goes.


Thanks for checking out the radio show last night, if you got a chance to. If you didn’t, you might find it to your liking, an all Hendrix broadcast. You can check it on archive at KCRW.com. If I can get back online, I will send this as well as post the LA Weekly column from last week. Thanks for checking out the revamped site, it’s been great to be able to have this amount of control over it.


I got a letter from an old pal of mine yesterday. He said that one of the old crew killed himself Thursday or Friday. Earlier in the year, I was talking to him on a street in the old neighborhood in DC. I always liked that guy. I tried to walk it off yesterday. I walked all over the place for hours thinking about him. We were definitely the better for having him in the world. A day later, it still distracts me. I hope that none of you do anything like that because that’s how some people will feel about you. I sure wish I could have had the chance to talk him out of what he did.


Next week, I will be in a place I have never been before. For me, that’s what it’s all about. Stay out, go long. Thanks for reading this. Henry

 

 

09-26-10 Paro Bhutan: 1801 hrs. I am sitting in a hotel room with a remarkable absence of light. I have been in Bhutan for a few days now. It’s very beautiful and wide open. It is a Buddhist country. There are monasteries all over the place.


Since I last wrote here, I left Lhasa Tibet and went to Kathmandu, Nepal for a two day layover to wait for the flight here. While there, I walked into their elections. I was there in the streets with hundreds of people for hours. I noticed that no one had a real camera there besides me. I got some interesting pictures and met some very excited people. The cultural differences between Tibet and it the Chinese big brother scenario and the streets of Kathmandu are as different as you can imagine. The last time I was in Nepal, it was cold out. This time it was warm and the streets were fragrant with garbage that at times was extremely intense.


I got on a plane out of Kathmandu and came here three days ago. Like I said, it’s very nice but it’s very calm and there’s only so many monasteries I can take before I have had my fill. The mucho monastery overload was momentarliy stopped when I asked if there was a cremetorium around and if we could catch an inceration. We went to the place and hours later, watched four bodies burn. Interesting sound when the bodies start to burn. They sizzle loudly.

 

I am looking forward to jamming out of here tomorrow and heading to Vietnam. I will be there for most of next week, in Hanoi. I checking out sites and getting all the Vietnam War information I can. That particular conflict is considered in a different way than some Americans may think of it. The last time I was in Vietnam, I was only in the south, so I am looking forward to getting to the north and seeing what I can find out. I will be back in America next Sunday and will write you all from the confines of my office. I will be off the road for a whole seventeen hours or so and then, back to the airport for New York to moderate that panel at Carnegie Hall. I hope NYC still has some pizza left because I will be after some, maybe all of it.


On Friday, 10-08-10, I will be speaking at the University of Milwaukee. I think details are on our site. Anything that our site doesn’t address, please contact the university for more information. All I know is that I will be there and hitting stage whenever stage time is. This will be the last show of the year, sadly. I wish I could be back in North America, doing shows all the way through to late November.


While we’re somewhat on the topic, let’s talk about 2011 a little. This coming February, I will be turning twenty-seven. Hold on, no, fifty. There’s no way I can let that slide without doing some shows. At least fifty. So far, it looks like there will be a week of shows pre-birthday in NYC at a small venue, yet to be determined. Then, hopefully, a small show on 2-13-11 in Washington DC and then a week of shows in LA. From there, I don’t know. I am looking to do some small venues here and there in America and Canada to start and then perhaps some more shows outside of America, if I can get them. This is what I want. What I want and what I will get could be two very different things. I sent Shepard Fairey some poster ideas and if all goes according to plan, there will be a cool and limited poster for these shows done by the man.


As much as I would like to be on the road and onstage all the time, without new stories, I am worthless, so shows in 2011 will be few as I will be out in the world, getting something to tell you about for next time. I am already gearing up for what I hope will be a massive, unendurable and no-end-in-sight tour for 2012. By then, I should have some new ideas to wrassle to the ground onstage. That there is no tour bus to get on and a long list of dates waiting for me for October and November is gutting me.


In two weeks, when I do that last show in Milwaukee, it will be basically fifty-one weeks since I left for Saudi Arabia and all this other places before going from Mali to Ireland to start the tour this year. I am feeling a little burnt around the edges, so perhaps it’s time to take a moment to catch my breath. That sounds really lame to me but it might be a good idea. I will be gone again in November anyway. I will detail that one when the itinerary gets more nailed down.


The Demon, the one who runs my life and keeps me mildly to severely terrified a great deal of the time wrote me yesterday and told me that Spoken Word Guy 2 has gone off to the plant. We will be making a small run of this 2CD set and then it will be a download thang. It (The Demon) will let me know when SWG2 will be available. I am guessing end of the year.

Before I forget, Paro, Bhutan has marijuana plants growing all over the place. Everyone seems to be handling that fact rather well, dude!


I hope you liked last night’s all Blue Note Jazz show. I thought it was a good idea. I will hopefully get this posted on the site if the rumor of internet access in the lobby of this hotel turns out to be a fact. Next week’s radio show will be a great mix of songs and I will be doing all the intros and outros from the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam. Get ready for the sound of a whole lotta motorbikes and mayhem. Until next week, as always, thanks for reading this. Henry

 

Search

Archive

2017

July June May March

2015

July June May April February

2013

September March

2012

December November October September August July June May April March February January

2011

December November October September August July March February January

2010

December November