Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Broken Social Scene

Last night I went to see the band Broken Social Scene. I hadn’t heard any of their music before I saw the advertisement that they were coming to town. I listened to their music online and generally liked what I heard. Since Andrea is not in town and since I haven’t been to many concerts here in Singapore I decided to buy a ticket. I downloaded and listened to Forced to Love and Meet Me in the Basement just so I would at least be familiar with two of their sings when I went to the concert.

Broken Social Scene is a talented group of musicians who are all part of other bands or they do their own solo thing. They are referred to as a musical collective. During the concert of the eight members of the band the only person onstage who played only one instrument was the drummer. Their live sound is really good. Being as big a band as they are you would think the music would get a little muddy but the sound was tight and clear. Since there are so many instruments the music is layered really deep and there is much to listen to. I liked it a lot but I will probably not listen to much of the studio stuff because it is just not the same.

Run on …

Sunday, July 18, 2010

MacRitchie in the rain

Yesterday morning it rained - like crazy. My plan was to run the 11 kilometer trail around Lake MacRitchie. Jakeb and I have run there a couple of times in the rain and frankly it is fun. So I was not going to let a little rain (or a lot as the case was) stop me from running one of mine and Jakeb's favorite places in Singapore.

I should have known it was not going to be a typical run when the traffic was stopped on Farrer because the cars could not get off on the flooded Bukit Timah exit. It was still dark outside when I got to the park and people were standing under the cover of car park waiting for the rain to stop so they could run the trail. I got out of my car and put my key in my shorts and started running immediately, excited to get to run in the rain. I got a couple of strange looks.

As I ran past the pavilion where the food and bathroom are there were more people standing under cover watching it rain. I ran by - more strange looks.

As I entered the trailhead and started the first short climb I was running in a river of water that was looking for the lake. It was ankle deep and there was nowhere to run where water was not.

The trail continued this way - river for a while then sloshy mud for a while. I felt like a little kid and I had the trail completely to myself. A refreshing change since MacRitche is normally crowded on a Saturday morning.

On the backside of the lake the water got kind of deep. It is the lowest part of the trail and there is a 2' high wooden bridge without handrails built over the swampy jungle. Water was running over the bridge. The walkway to the bridge was mid-calf deep and when I took the steps up onto the bridge it was over my ankles. The problem was that it was muddy water and since there are no handrails I could not tell were the sides were. Not wanting to fall off of the edge, when I got the chance I bailed off onto a nearby golf course (there were no golfers either).

I finished out the run with more of the same - rivers of runoff and mud while the rain came down. I was soaked, my shoes were soaked and full of mud and sand. It was awesome.

This morning I ran MacRitchie again. It was not raining and the trails were as crowded as I have ever seen them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Running in Beijing

Andrea, Anna and I went to Bejing, China for vacation and to meet our daughter Tori there. Tori has been studying Mandarin in a study abroad program with her professor and other students from University of North Texas.

We did all the touristy things you are supposed to do in China like see The Great Wall and The Forbidden City, but I also got to run.

The first morning we were there I did not run. But the second morning we were there I ran from the Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel, located in a Hutong, to Tiananmen Square.

Beijing is a polluted place. When I ran I tasted my sweat and it tasted to me like pollution. Maybe it was in my mind but I felt especially dirty there.

My first glimpse of Tiananmen Square was at the halfway point of my run on the second day in Beijing. It is a huge square that thousands of people visit every day. Even at 6 am in the morning the sidewalk in front of the Forbidden City where Chairman Mao's portriat hangs there is a crowd of people taking pictures and waiting for their chance to go in.

As I approached the square the first time I was struck that it looked exactly as I expected. I was also struck by how a leader could be so full of himself to hang such a huge a self-portrait on the Forbidden City. Maybe he didn't have it hung it there but it still seems like a show of a leader's self-indulgence.

I ran to Tiananmen Square at the entrance of the Forbidden City three times and I always made sure I told Mao what a jerk I thought he was. I think he probably knows now. It is amazing to me that a man who did the things he did to kill so many and destroy such cultural heritage could be so loved by the people of China even today. This is confirmed by the fact that so many would stand in line to see his body lying in state thirty years after his death. I stood in line too with thousands of my Chinese friends - more out of morbid fascination as anything else- to see Mao's glowing face.

On two other mornings I ran to the Jingshan Hill Park north of The Forbidden City. There is a hill there built from the dirt removed from the ground to built the 30 meter deep moat around the Forbidden City. From there you can look over the plot of ground where Emperors walked hundreds of years ago. What was impressive to me was how many, mostly old, Chinese people were exercising in the morning in the park. It was a definite cultural experience.

This morning back in Singapore I ran a seven miler through the Botanic Gardens and there were as many, mostly old, people exercising there. It was just easier to breath the air and my sweat tasted normal again.