Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Amusing Myself With Duran Duran

No one in his right mind, as far as I know, would want to be depressed all the time, not even those who are clinically diagnosed with major depression. Sulking and feeling sorry for oneself at all times can be one major drag. I was only a little worried that I was wallowing too much in depression until I read all my posts of late (here and in Trash Radio Manila) and realised that my worries about sounding too morose and bleak do have some bases after all. So I thought I should exert extra effort to regain the usual smiley, sarcastic, self-deprecating mood that I have always had prior to Je's demise.

I sorely miss being happy, really.

So last weekend, one sunny Sunday afternoon, in an effort to humour myself, I sat beside our turntable and the crates that held our modest collection of records. I dug deeper into the less played portions of the crates, did not find much to make me smile, until, in one crate, I found a copy of Duran Duran's Seven And The Ragged Tiger LP.

What?! Duran Duran?

I was never a fan of Duran Duran, and I picked up this album during one of my trips only because it cost a whistle. It was the 80s, and Duran Duran, the hottest boy band of that era, was raking in cash via their lust-fueled songs and highly suggestive videos enjoying heavy rotation on MTV. I actually hated Duran because I thought they were just using their good looks as an excuse to write and play stupid songs. In fact, here in Manila, local radio created a corny "rivalry" of sorts among the fans: Durannies and Spandau Ballet fans were oftentimes pitted against one another in the process. I even declared once that I'd rather be a Spandau Ballet fan that become a Duran devotee. That is how I used to hate them.

But I was young, and when you're an opinionated youngster living in the 80s, it was either you loved or loathed Duran Duran. No grey area there. Which was why I was not able to get past the boys' good looks. It took me a couple of years to find out that, hey, not only is John Taylor good-looking, he actually plays decent funky bass lines. That the androgynous Nick Rhodes does know his synths pretty well. That Simon le Bon, oh never mind his icky voice, can actually give an electric show onstage. I admit that I have been a bit unfair.

I recall my friends getting crazy over Duran Duran and how they chided me for not liking the boys. Little did they know that "Hungry Like A Wolf" (which is NOT in Seven And The Ragged Tiger by the way) is one of my favorite songs from the band that I hated so much: it was my guilty pleasure (of which I had a few). I do not hate Duran Duran anymore. Is this a sign of age or of a slackening taste in music? I am not too sure, but I am certainly amused, smiling to myself as I was listening to "The Reflex" which was playing on the turntable. If you are a jaded middle-aged woman living in the new millennium and who has just lost a partner to myocardial infarction, amusement does count a lot at this point.

(I still do not like Duran Duran though, and I still think they wrote silly songs. That is why I am not putting any Duran song on my player. But, who knows, I might change my mind.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Post-Mortem Lesson 4: What is Your Friend

I have a mouthful to say about death and friendship. This seems to be a universal phenomenon: when you die, you become a family member to many, and a friend to all. One of the tasks of those who are left behind is to know if they are dealing with a genuine sympathizer or with someone who is simply taking advantage of their grief for self-glorification.

Instances need not be enumerated as they are unique to that particular departed person and situation. It is enough to say that some people can be really exploitative, not knowing their place at all. I have seen so many people fall to this dangerous trap, and I feel so sorry for them. Two years ago it was my turn to be exposed to the same situation and the same people. My decisions regarding the disposition of the dead were questioned and had put me in a not-so-good light. Again, two years later, I find myself in the same scenario.

In moments like these, there are only a few things to remember. Always respect the wishes of the dead. Let not the comments of people affect your decision as long as you know you are right. Know the people who have been truly friends with the dead through thick and thin and recognize their presence and efforts. And in times of indecision, think real hard, search within your mind, heart and soul for answers. Somewhere, they will be there.

For me, this is one of my most challenging post-mortem lessons. That is, in life, as in death, you must know the true friends of your beloved departed.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Trippy Sham Shui Po

This is another one of my rehashed posts during my stay in Hong Kong some two years ago.

Sham Shui Po is one of my favorite spots in Hong Kong, and Je's as well. It is a very unpretentious shopping place, kind of reminds me of Raon in Quiapo and Tutuban. Being a bit notorious for looking quite decrepit and for having pickpockets, it took me some time before I finally decided to go to this place. I was impressed with what I saw that I wrote about it in my Multiply account. About a month later, Je came over to Hong Kong and asked to be brought to Sham Shui Po.

It is worth visiting, and like we all know, some precious things can actually be found in trash.

from my Multiply Account
posted on June 17, 2007

Sham Shui Po is not for the faint-hearted tourist. The place is quite similar to Tutuban – wholesale clothes shops, beads shops and the like – except that in Sham Shui Po, the whole stretch of a street named Apliu is one big flea market. Everything is just there. Phones, antiques (one can actually find a defective but genuine Omega pocketwatch amidst the junk), hardware, shoes, bags, audio stuff, remotes. It’s up to the buyer to tell whether the items are genuine or paste. But like the saying goes, there’s always treasure in trash.

Parallel to Apliu St. is Cheung Sha Wan St., where the clothes shops are. (I didn’t find most of the designs to my liking though.) Further north is a haven for geeks, the Golden Computer Centre. Should one go hungry, he can go the opposite way and find a streetful of fruits, noodles, meat, vegetables, and chicken and duck feet. Walk further and one will see a good number of well-stocked beads shops, more than enough to satisfy the ladies’ DIY cravings.

I did not see too many tourists during the few times that I was there. I read somewhere that there are quite a number of pickpockets in the area. Then again, I’ve been in places far worse. By far, the tenet that has worked best for me when shopping is never get too excited to spend hard-earned money like a fiend. Watch it though when you’re in Sham, you might just be overcome by excitement.