Sky as a Kite

Main menu

Update number two about this band from this bar...(Fuck apple)

No comments
I wanted to write about Fremdschämen and even made myself read my old diary for this post, but this update was too long to be put in the comments of the old post.

According to the Chinese Digital Times the band has been completely removed from the Chinese internet, with the following censorship instructions:

Carry out a comprehensive cleanup of all content related to the band “Slap” (delete encyclopedia entries, search terms, videos, lyrics, and promotional content; delete topics and hashtags, shut down Baidu Tieba “topic bars,” and remove all related merchandise) and their songs (including “Red Child’s Eighteen Wins,” “The Eighteen Dark Arts of Master Bao,” “The Eighteen Generations of Uncle Pan,” “The Eighteen Hexagrams of Boss Bei,” “The Eighteen Prohibitions of Director Ma,” “The Eighteen Verses of Director Lang,” etc.) Content that exposes and criticizes [the band or their songs] will be allowed to remain online. (August 14, 2023)

In the past three days I had also noticed the number of monthly listeners on spotify rising from 560 to over 1000. As much as I would love to believe that my posts would have had anything to do with that, my guess is that it is fans of the band "scaling the wall" (翻墙), meaning using a vpn to use sites restricted in China. As for myself, I fortunately found and saved the lyrics and chords of my favourite song before the great purge, because I want to learn how to play it.

Apple happily complied with the clean up notice and removed 耳光乐队 (Slap) from the Chinese language apple music service, because fuuuuck apple. They are still there when you switch to the US side. Guess this is the kind of things apple does to stay on the right side of the great firewall.

Funnily enough, one of the scandals mentioned in the song 红孩儿十八赢 (red son's 18 wins), is the "imprisonment" of workers in one of the Foxconn factories (apple's main supplier).

现实版万里归途 富士康大军
-The real version of the long journey home, the Foxconn army

The workers were locked in with infected workers, still made to work, without access to food and in the end staged a break out. link. If the name sounds familiar, this is the same company, which was famous for workers committing suicide, because of the horrible working conditions in 2010. Apple has been aware of workers abuses in it's supply chain for more than 10 years, but is more interested in keeping it's record profit. Fuck apple.

Let me tell you about this random Chinese band from this random bar in Beijing and why you should listen to it (and share it everywhere)

So. I have all my music (over 160 hours) on a playlist on random, which means that every now and then songs I do not even remember I had get played. Which happened the other day with 相忘于江湖 by 耳光乐队. It is a very low quality live version I downloaded from youtube long time ago. To explain how I got to know this band we have to go back to to my year in Beijing in 2007, when I was much younger and somehow simultaneously much cooler (accidentally) and much more embarrassing than I am now.

It all starts with my friend Jimmy, the only competent teacher in the TEFL course. He happened to stay in the same hostel as me during the course, and we pretty much immediately became friends. Thanks to him, we did not go out to any of the tourist bars in 后海 or 三里屯, but ended up in a small bar with live music from the very active alternative/folk/jazz scene in Beijing. It is still my favourite bar I have ever been to, mainly because somehow the local musicians hanging out in the bar (and the owner) adopted us. When there was no live music we would sit around and play guitar (Jimmy was trying to teach me a Chinese song, I still haven't mastered). One time I ended up in a private party in the staff break room? owners kitchen? some random room next to the bar drinking beer and eating sunflower seeds with the staff/musicians/friends of the owner. The owner was a member of 耳光乐队 at that time (not anymore, it seems, but he plays the saxophone on their first album) and I vaguely remember seeing them rehearsing there. I know that all sounds like a very cool thing and I sound like a very cool person, but I have my diary from that time and read some of it today to find some names and I can tell you, I had a case of Fremdschämen (that will be my next German word to write about) towards my younger self.

This all came back to me, when the song randomly appeared on my playlist. 15 years later and post COVID I wondered what had happened to that bar and that band. For all I knew the band had been a small local band with only a few clips from live shows available on the internet. Folk/Jazz fusion is after all not the most mainstream music here or in China. So I did some high level internet stalking and found out several things:
  • The bar still exists and seems to be doing well. Now I feel very sad I did not try to find it last time I was in Beijing and have one more reason to return to China one day.
  • The band is a hundred times cooler than I could have imagined. They are part of the Chinese counter culture music scene. The lyrics are absurdist social commentary and on top with the very experimental folk/fusion they are doing, which blends aspects of classical Chinese folk music with every other music style, this band is way more interesting to listen to, than I could know from the two songs I had found on youtube
  • Their latest song (a filmed live version) went viral on Chinese social media and then was promptly censored two months ago. Here is a video and explanation of the song.

I searched for any way to get their music in an ok quality, but in the end I only found them on Apple music and Spotify, which I do not use. I finally gave up and signed up on Spotify, found a way to download the songs, but kept on playing them on repeat on Spotify as I really would love to be able to actually have them get paid, especially as I remember the free beers in that bar. I also feel that they are probably not in a good position, considering their social credit score must be extremely low at the moment. So here is my appeal: Go to Spotify or Apple music and add them to your playlist. Recommend them to your friends. If anything, they are the perfect show off, hipster band to know.

When global warming meets childhood memories

No comments
Last summer I finally made it back to Germany after being stuck in Iceland thanks to Covid. The first two weeks me and my family went to Belgium, staying in the same summer house we used to stay in when we were kids. We had perfect summer weather, the waffles were as good as I remembered and the whole trip was very laid back and relaxing. My father and his wife stayed for one more week, this time with the wife side of the family and I stayed in my fathers place. The first day I just walked around in the fields, went to coffee and cake at my sisters, and relaxed in the sun a lot. Summer holiday seemed to be turning out amazing...

The day after I decided to take care of all my banking business. In Iceland everything is possible to do online, but in Germany they like to make you go to the bank in person. Usually that is not so much of an issue, the bank has a branch just across the street, but the internet told me it was still closed, due to covid. So I had to go to a different branch. But not any branch! As I found out German bureaucracy is especially potent in the banking industry, the branch of Aachen, the town 20 minutes away by bus was another department, only a branch of my particular area would do. So I had to make my way to the small provincial town of Stolberg, where I went to high school. After another 20 minute bus ride I arrived. The town had only gotten sadder in the past 20 years. I found out that banks in Germany take a one and half hour lunch break, which I arrived half an hour into. I walked around for an hour, saw a lot of empty store fronts, some 1€ stores, tanning saloons and finally a bakery to spent the rest of the hour drinking coffee, reliving high school memories and congratulating me for having escaped this town. When the bank finally opened I took care of all my banking business looking forward to escaping the town and not coming back. When I finally came home it had started raining, so I retreated inside with my book.

The rain kept on going. Our part of Germany is quite famous for rain, so I did not think much of it. Late at night suddenly the electricity went out. It was pitch dark, the street lights outside had gone out as well. There was a strange noise coming from the living room. I turned on the light from my phone (30% charge, no network) and looked around for a weapon. All I could find was the rod of the vacuum cleaner. I held it in one hand, phone in the other and stormed in the living room. My fathers roomba had lost the connection with it's charging station due to the black out and was moving around the living room, searching for it. I caught it and switched it off.
Neighbours had come out on the street and turned on their cars, which confused me. The next day it dawned on me that they were listening to the radio in their cars and charging their phones. Meanwhile I went looking for candles and matches. In an attempt to make his flat into something of an escape room, my father did not keep these objects together, but in completely different rooms of the flat. I finally found them, put them next to my bed and then decided there was really nothing else to do but sleep. My guess was that a tree had fallen over in the rain and had taken out an electric line. I fully expected it to be back in the morning. I was very wrong.

The next day the electricity wasn't back. My Icelandic phone was useless, as routing somehow required something now disconnected. Not being able to reach me over phone, my sister came over in person. She had been in contact with both my father and brother and was tasked with checking on basements (both my fathers and brothers basement were relying on pumps to keep groundwater out. Pumps which needed electricity to work). By their demeanor she suspected something more than a temporary loss of electricity was going on. Her phone was quickly running out of battery, too. We went to my brothers and checked on the basement. The only water came from the rapidly defrosting freezer, which we got rid of quickly. We decided to go back to her house and make some coffee on her camping cooker. On the way we listened to the radio in the car. It was worse than we could have ever imagined.

My village is on a hill. I never before appreciated that fact. For this reason we were spared from the flood that was destroying villages and towns around us. Little brooks had become rivers. Houses were flooded up to the second floor. Warnings had been given too late, but even in places were there had been warning, the usual preparations (sandbags in front of windows) did very little against a flood more than twice as severe as ever before. As the morning progressed the sun came out and birds were singing. It was a perfectly lovely summer day. The sirens from the emergency services driving to towns around us were a constant reminder that the sunny idyll was only an illusion. My sister drove to pick up her youngest son from summer camp, the damn she drove over was deemed unstable a few hours later, the villages under the reservoir evacuated. We used to go and watch fireworks at this reservoir. Stolberg was one of the worst affected. On the way from the bus station to my high school I had always crossed the bridge over the little brook far below. Now it had flooded the centre of town I had loathed to spent an hour in a day ago.

My emotional Nadir happened a few days later. The electricity was still gone and we had to use bottled water instead of tap water. Oil fired central heating is common in our area and the boilers in the basements had been flooded, causing oil to leak into the groundwater. Our days were quiet, but felt a bit post-apocalyptic. Evenings were spent playing board games in candlelight (my sister said it was the first time since forever that she had sat down with her kids and played a game, usually they would vanish into their rooms and in front of their computers) and coffee cooked on my sisters camping cooker was a luxury. We had developed a system of charging our phones in the car, while listening to news. My phone was still not connecting, though. I was looking forward to going to Aachen to meet my friend. Aachen had electricity. Aachen had wifi. I could finally tell everyone I was ok. Before I left for the town (my father had checked which roads were possible to travel again) his wife reminded me to take masks with me. I suddenly felt endlessly exhausted. There was still a pandemic going on. I wonder if there is something like a catastrophe burn out.

The poster sais "Finally summer!". It is from the CDU (German Democratic Party) who had been in power for the last 16 years and had distinguished itself by non-action when it came to climate change, missing the opportunity to switch to renewable energy as opposed to fossil fuels (mainly due to lobbying from the coal industry).


No comments
This weekend I got to vote in Iceland for the first time! We dirty foreigners are only allowed to vote in local elections. The law was just change to reduce the waiting time from 5 to 3 years of residency. I have lived on and off in Iceland for 20 years now, but due to my wanderlust I never reached the 5 consecutive years I needed. But that is over now.
Icelandic voting is different from German voting in that you do not have a first and second (direct and proportional) vote, but you vote for a list of people from a party (proportional). The cool thing is that you can edit the list you vote for, change the seats of candidates (put someone on a lower seat to the first for example) and cross people out. I have been long enough in Iceland to have personal grudges and friendships with people on the list, so I had a lot of fun doing that.
There were also local elections in Germany, but I missed the deadline to apply for voting by post. I managed to do that in the last parliament elections in Germany. I had a lot of fun reading all the names of the fringe parties (there is a HipHop party) and wonder about the envelope sizes (the ballot needs to be folded strangely to fit in the inner envelope, causing me to read and reread the instructions).

Pictures of the German ballot, obviously I couldn't take pictures in the voting booth

A very inside joke

No comments
Today is Good Friday, and in Germany and Iceland it means that by law one is not allowed to dance, gamble or make jokes. I'm nothing but not a rebel, so here is my very inside joke for today:

The office of Efling union is restructuring. To safe costs all employees are fired and replaced by Andri Sigurðsson and his never to be finished web site.

Pages: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] ...