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Dann Says: Parade Time!

Hi Beijing. How are you? I’m back just in time for the military bonanza anti-fascist street party. Phew! And I thought I was going to miss it! I’m one lucky bunny, I’ll definitely write the folks at home about the jets soaring through the APEC blue skies. Aside from all that military fun there is also some music to be witnessed. Some. Let’s take a look.

Wednesday, today, Jiang Hu again with ZiHua Xiang band and Candy Ray band, a lot of musical influences brewing together with these two outfits form 9p.m.

Thursday, slim on the ground due to the days festivities butDDC is managing to pull off a performance/discussion thingy with violinist Shawn Patrick Moore. I guess that’s ‘cultured’ and ‘safe’ enough to still go down while the jets are flying and the troops are goose stepping. 8p.m start.

Friday, alright, things are picking up again. Cool. First of all shred gods Dragon Force will be nerding out hard at Yugong Yishan. I’m into some pretty geeky metal (see Warhammer 40,000 themed albums by Bolt Thrower) but even this is a bit too D&D for me. But I’m sure for a ton of kids who spend a lot of time in World of Warcraft this will be as good as finally sleeping next to a member of the opposite sex. Thanks Pain Killer mag. 9p.m start. Meanwhile something less shreddy, with The Hormones and Quickshot at School from 9p.m. The Hormones are another fresh faced band out of Chengdu that’s piqued some capital interest. Dope. And La Bas will be holding an anniversary featuring folks, blues and other stuff featuring Day Taylor, Randy Able and some other dudes in absurd outfits from 9p.m or something.

Saturday, another chance to catch those sexy young ‘uns from Chengdu with The Hormones and The Twenties at Temple from 9pm. La Bas’s anniversary will continue assorted faces from the expat folk and blues scene. The event description goes so far as to promise “English folk to American blues, also an Irish band and Persian and Turkish music”. Norwegian Death Jazz? No? Then you can freeze to death for all I care. Meanwhile Guntzepaula and Trash , two Taiwanese bands will be at DDC. I love this Baidu translate bio I found on City Weekend site:“trash, it's a reflection meaning to those abandoned un-finish arts as most of people for throwing away.” I love un-finish art. 9p.m start. And you can dig Sand Band at Jianghu Bar, songs and groans influenced by Tom Waits. Hey, that actually sounds pretty good! 9p.m start.

Sunday, Moreno Donadel Jazz Trio and Big Jam at East Shore Live Jazz Cafe. That’s right, a huge pot of jam, right in the middle of the stage. Go on, dip your finger it. Have a taste. Lick it. LICK IT.

Next Monday, nothing. You should be busy sharing your photos of the military parade on social networking sites anyway. Or something like that. Tuesday you can get down to the polymathic creative genius of Peter Piek (German painter, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, author , performance artist, open-heart surgeon, God incarnate) at DDC from 8p.m. And finally Wednesday you can catch The Black Hipster at Salud. I really think that’s not an-OK thing to name a band, especially when you’re described as “a group of laowais who know how to play some mighty fine Chicago and Delta blues-inspired music”...and then call yourselves The Black Hipster. It’s pretty obvious that’s just a name to get people’s attention but then a few times I caught some flak for having a band named CAT AIDS, but that’s only because people misunderstood the name: it’s aids to help with Computer Aided Translation, like a comfy chair and a cup of coffee. We just write it all in caps because it’s a design thing. See? There’s nothing offensive about that. Hating on CAT AIDS for our name is like going up to a Buddhist and calling him a Nazi because he’s wearing a Swastika. The Black Hipster on the other hand, well, unless that’s a really long acronym that’s just crass. Shame on you. Shame on you all. 9p.m start.

The metal machine rumbled along the remains of the licorice road, ghostly outlines of a morse code lines running down the centre. The decayed rubber wrapped around the machine’s wheels made a heavy thumping sound as it beat along the cracked and broken blacktop, swerving this way and that as the pig swung the steering wheel to avoid the rusting carcasses of other machines that littered the way. Sometimes entire sections of road disappeared, causing the pig to skim along the strips around the edges that still remained. The pig had his goggles on, his attention was entirely focused on the road rapidly sucking towards and then disappearing behind them in a cloud of dust. His podgy hands never left the wheel.

The cat sat beside him staring out of the cracked glass of the window set into the door beside her. A featureless landscape and grey sky rolled by. If she had been on the pig’s side she would have had a view of the grey rock faces of the mountains, which were only slightly less monotonous to gaze upon. Between them was a panel of dials and lights, most of which were broken and shook violently as they rumbled along. Only one section seemed to have life, a small box on which a row of numbers along a line glowed alongside two large knobs. It provided their journey with a constant soundtrack of crackling noise, occasionally interspersed with snatches of some kind of music with primitive rhythms blasting along while a voice warbled “Get your kicks on Route 66...”

They drove for many hours, finally stopping after a long stretch of the machine making coughing and spluttering noises. The pig pulled up next to a collection of decaying machines, muttering curses under his breath. He rummaged around in the detritus that filled back of their wagon and eventually produced a section of plastic pipe. The cat watched as he plodded off and methodically went to the dead metal beasts one by one, knocking on their sides with one of his ham fists. After a time he stopped at one and then fed the pipe inside of the carcass and quite unexpectedly put the other end in his mouth and started sucking. The cat wondering if the machine was powered by water but if it was the pig didn’t seem to like the taste as he soon spat it out and let the liquid pour out into a bucket he simultaneously kicked over. Soon they were rumbling along the broken black top again.

The sun wasn’t visible through the asphalt grey clouds overhead but as the sky and the featureless expanse grew darker the cat knew the sun was setting. It was then that the view out of her cracked and broken window changed completely. The desolate wastelands disappeared in the blink of an eye, replaced with green grass peppered with yellow daisies. The blackened sky was transformed into a cheerful shade of blue, gently blending into a mist on the horizon, shrouding rollin hills and mountains. Forests creeped up the slopes of the nearer hills and filled the valley directly below. The cat’s jaw dropped. She opened and closed her eyes but the lush landscape remained. Down below she could see a single white house with a black roof, a thread of white smoke drifting languidly from its chimney. She turned and peered out of the front window and saw a pristine road flanked by green grass peppered with more yellow daisies stretching far ahead.

When she looked to the pig she found him still focused on the road ahead. There was no indication of surprise on his behalf at this lush and idyllic landscape that suddenly confronted them. She found her gaze drawn back to the valley below and watched it slowly roll past. Her heart cried out to run down that slope, through the grass, down to the house to warm herself by the fire producing the innocent wisps floating up into the blue sky. She went to open the door but before she could one of the pig’s hammy fists shot out and grabbed her arm firmly. She shot him a glance that could kill, her ears shooting back, her fangs out on full display, a blood curdling hiss spat in his direction. The pig’s eyes did not leave the road. Past him she glimpsed the dull rock faces of the mountains once again, now quickly becoming cloaked in darkness. She once again looked out of her window and saw no blue skies, hills, green grass or little houses, only dull desolation once again.

“The wastes play tricks.” The pig said.

The cat said nothing, letting her eyes fall to the broken dials.

“Sometimes it takes you to another place, places we can’t usually go, to lure you out there. And once you’re out there in the fantasy it leaves, but you’re still there. We don’t want that, do we dearest?”

The cat closed her eyes and dropped her head. As they rumbled on they passed a huge sign board by the road side, as tall as a building and twice as wide. On it was an amazingly detailed painting of monstrous figure, like some kind of giant bat with a skull where there should have been a face. While the head had a humanoid shapes there was no jaw, the bone instead extending into tendril like protrusion that hung over its black mass. Next to large white script beamed out a message that could be seen from half a mile away, even in the twilight:


The cat and pig rumbled onwards into the darkening night.