Saturday, November 18, 2017

Was able to get back the first issue of Playboy that I ever bought

I was in sixth grade when this issue of Playboy magazine came out. We all knew that Farrah Fawcett-Majors was going to be on the cover. She was the “It Girl” at that time with Charlie’s Angels all the rage on television, her marriage to the Six-Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors…

A classmate of mine brought that issue to school and we all wanted to have a look-see more than out text books. Later that year, a classmate of mine and myself went down to Dau to purchase copies of the magazine. At that time, all these PX goods and stuff would be sold outside Clark Air Base. As I recall, it set us back PhP40 pesos which was a princely sum back then but we were happy.

I think my mom discovered my porn stash and threw it out when I got to high school. Later on, while living in New York, I managed to find a copy of this – believe it or not – at the top floor of Midtown Comics! They had a complete set of Playboy, Hustler, and other stuff! But this was the only one I wanted. I didn't buy too many of porn to be honest. Just a few and usually with celebrities on the cover. This Farrah Fawcett-Majors cover issue and the Rena Mero/Torrie Wilson are my prized copies (the latter because I had it signed at Virgin Records in 2003).

Well, am just happy to have a lot of the stuff I had as a kid.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

At the Eraserheads Merch Launch at Saguijo November 15, 2017

Good friend Rayms Marasigan informed me of the Eraserheads merchandise launch from Team Manila at Saguijo and I just had to go.

I picked up two shirts which you'll see me below showing them off -- the Bogchi Hokbu shirt and the "badge" shirt. 

There were other stuff too such as caps, badges, tote bags, coin purses, and stickers! Sticker happy, man!

And of course... I got to watch Basement Lung and Pedicab! Otomatik!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

I was a fan of the Juan Dela Cruz Band as soon as I heard about their music featuring their power trio line-up of Joey "Pepe" Smith, Wally Gonzalez, and Mike Hanopol. The first JDC album I got was their last -- Kahit Anong Mangyari and that was because I was old enough to save my school allowance to buy one. Then I backtracked. 

I do have Himig Natin, Super Hits and Kahit Anong Mangyari with only Maskara missing in my collection. And there's Tatak Juan Dela Cruz the 2014 compilation. Some people don't like it because it is a re-issue. I am fine with it. It is still an official release unlike Super Hits. 

I got two copies of Tatak because it will go up in value when it is all sold out. 

I actually forgot to get Tatak JDC signed by the band (I had all the other signed including their solo albums). Soon though. While they are all still with us.

Japs Sergio’s Stereo Mood Swings is a cathartic look at depression.

Japs Sergio’s Stereo Mood Swings is a cathartic look at depression.
by rick olivares

You know how there are things you just have to do? Not in the bucket list sort of way, but more to get something off your chest? Daydream Cycle/Peso Movement and former Rivermaya bassist and guitarist, Jap Sergio, has released his third solo effort, Stereo Mood Swings, under the nom de guerre, Japsuki, and it is more than a mood swing. Sergio revisits a particularly a difficult and depressing time in his life and the result is an intensely personal album which is perhaps why he opts to have Stereo Mood available to those who appreciate the dream pop/shoegazer style he performs with Daydream Cycle rather than the masses.

“I wanted to revisit that feeling but not be depressed,” said Sergio to this writer. “(To look at it from) an outside point of view. It messed up my mind a bit and I will never do that again.”

Catharsis you can say; Sergio expresses it via Stereo Mood Swings and he performs every instrument and records on his trusty laptop. The album features 10 hauntingly bittersweet songs that ultimately offer hope. More often than not, we just have to go through these bouts and hope we come away not too scarred but stronger and better.

Thematically, Stereo Mood Swings reminds me of Tears for Fears’ fourth album, Elemental or English dream pop band, the Field Mice. Regarding Elemental, that album took a step back from the intricate and lush Sgt. Pepperesque production number on The Seeds of Love for a more introspective and atmospheric approach to songwriting. Though not one of the more popular albums in TFF’s catalogue, the tracklist is strong and contains some solid songs of anger, hope, and well, quiet introspection.

The opening track, “The Waking Hour” finds Sergio channeling his inner Robert Wratten (lead singer of the Field Mice) in a shimmering song that belies the questions about self-doubt.

“Out of the Shadows”, the second track will not be out of place on Elemental. And it’s a brooding piece.

“Waves & Vibrations” is about the ebb and flow of life, is shoegazey while the next two songs, “Suitcase of Mystery” and “Silver Haze” – the sixth track -- have this dreamy tinderbox nod to Siouxsie and the Banshees.

If the first four songs are like a taking chill pill, the fifth one, “Lady Luck”, adds much needed buoyancy – a mood swing – to the album.

Stereo Moods Swings is revisiting a difficult time but a necessary one because it’s exorcises those ghosts of bad days past and looks ahead to the future having learned the lessons of survival and heeding life’s cycle of tomorrow is another day.

The album is quite a performance by Sergio who to my knowledge first tread these textured sonic landscapes during Rivermaya’s Between the Stars and Waves and ventured further into with Daydream Cycle and the earlier Japsuki releases. However, I do wonder how it would have turned out if he had some female lead vocals on some songs. I sort of wondered if maybe a higher vocal range would have worked on some.

Nevertheless, we should be so thankful that this year, we’re getting a chockful of dream pop/shoegaze releases. Taken By Cars just released their magnificent, Plagues. Japsuki’s out and Sugar Hiccup will end the year with a triumphant bang with their fourth album (more than a decade after their last one).

Stereo Mood Swings has its moments. Like life, it rises, sometimes stalls in the ether, but ultimately, its poignant. Now smile.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Grave thoughts: A time of introspection and reflection written in a cemetery in Paris one autumn day.

The photo of Morrison's grave soon after his death that hexed me. 
Grave thoughts: A time of introspection and reflection written in a cemetery in Paris one autumn day.
by rick olivares

Two years ago, I fulfilled a lifelong dream to visit the grave of Jim Morrison, the late lead singer for the American rock band, the Doors, at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in a faraway suburb in Paris.

I was five years old when Morrison passed away in 1971 in the bathtub of his apartment in Paris. I didn’t get into the Doors until I was in my teens. Now what contributed to that eternal fascination was seeing a picture of his graffiti laden tomb at Pere Lachaise. It was bewitching. I was hexed.

Of course, I have since become a deeper fan of the band’s music and Morrison’s poetry; something I also wrote heavily when I was in high school and college.

When I got to his gravesite, there was a steel barrier that prevented anyone from coming close. And there was this big tomb right in front. In some ways, it was like providing some privacy to the most viewed grave in the centuries’ old cemetery. There were other famous or even infamous people interred at Pere Lachaise – French chanteuse Edith Piaf, classical pianist Frederic Chopin, Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, painter Gericault, essayist Marcel Proust, and medieval lovers Heloise and Abelard are but a few…. More on the latter in a bit.

To be so near Morrison’s grave yet so far – it was frustrating in some way. Where was the graffiti? The anarchy sign? The mementoes left behind? As I learned, the barrier was there to prevent the constant desecration of the grave. The man might have been somewhat of a hellion in life but maybe in death, he can have peace.  

I felt a varying wave of emotions when I came to his grave. It was initially and equally disbelief and awe. But that was quickly replaced by fascination as I watched different people “commune” – for lack of a better word – with the dead rock star.

One lady was crying while softly playing “Riders of the Storm”. From the way she looked, she wasn’t even born during Morrison’s lifetime? The surviving members of the Doors had called it quits long before she was brought into this world. How could she get so emotional?

So how did I get so worked up myself to to begin with?

The songs were rebellious. Everything dangerous and seductive and subversive about rock and roll that my parents warned me about. I found that ludicrous. Now all I wanted to do back when I was young was play football and be a musician (and at one point join the US Marines). My parents made sure none of that would happen so you can say that I wasn’t happy that I my life was railroaded and sent to a path that I never wanted; I had to conform to what they thought I should be and not what I wanted to be.

All that all came flooding back at the gravesite. I wanted to be a rock star. I had the requisite angst but I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t smoke and hardly drank. My idea of fun was playing basketball, reading a book, listening to music, hanging out with my friends, or jamming with my band. I have travelled extensively; much by myself. That has afforded me thousands of hours of introspection and I have been glad for that because I learned to face the world and its myriad challenges.

If you’re wondering if I turned out to be a bitter man, well, it’s far from that -- although I did think of committing suicide one late night while walking along the fields of Princeton during a time of extreme depression -- I am a happy man who took the path not usually taken (as you can glean, Frost’s poem, has always resonated well with me).  

Back to the grave… most just looked and spent a long time looking. I did too. Am not sure why after all there was nothing spectacular about the grave. There used to be a cement carving of his head but it was stolen a long time ago. Now, it wasn’t as if Morrison was going to rise from the dead. Most just stared. Some prayed. One shook his head.

And I thought… was Morrison’s life a waste? I don’t think so. He gave what he had and was supernova in the sky for those loved rock and roll. That’s all he had in his short 27 years on this planet.

As for me – I am here (it’s funny because I vainly or foolishly, if you will, believed in dying a rock star’s death) and I have so much more to give. I looked at my two sons who weren’t around during Morrison’s lifetime and said to myself that I have so much more to give in my life.

After what seemed like 20 minutes, maybe more, with the autumn sky giving way to black (the cemetery closes at 5pm), the words to “Soul Kitchen” came to my mind…

Well, the clock says it's time to close now
I guess I'd better go now
I'd really like to stay here all night
The cars crawl past all stuffed with eyes
Street lights share their hollow glow
Your brain seems bruised with numb surprise
Still one place to go
Still one place to go

Let me sleep all night in your soul kitchen
Warm my mind near your gentle stove
Turn me out and I'll wander baby
Stumblin' in the neon groves

Well, your fingers weave quick minarets
Speak in secret alphabets
I light another cigarette
Learn to forget, learn to forget
Learn to forget, learn to forget

Let me sleep all night in your soul kitchen
Warm my mind near your gentle stove
Turn me out and I'll wander baby
Stumblin' in the neon groves

Well the clock says it's time to close now
I know I have to go now
I really want to stay here
All night, all night, all night

Yep. Break on through the other side. We all made our way out of Pere Lachaise.