Saturday, July 17, 2004

Relax, you just arrived!

Flying from Hong Kong to San Francisco may seem an eternity, around 12 hours sitting in a confined and crowded area but one thing is amazing, believe it or not, you arrive before leaving!
Even so, while you are racing against time, you risk to get bored by the view, no matter how blue the sky may look:
All of the sudden, a slight move outside excites you, something has changed the view, there is some action out there:

And yes, finally you can see land and the local clocks indicate one hour before you left, 11 hours ago!
There is a lot of action outside now, and the so steady wings are now moving like crazy, no more reasons to be bored and soon you’ll be out here for the grands vacances! 
Of course I forgot the fact that I was arriving in the USA and I should have counted to spent the next 3 or 4 hours in a more boredom of controls that the flight itself, facts of life, welcome to the secured zone of this great nation!
After 4 hours of observing behaviors in the American customs that made me think that they were freshly transferred from Guatanamo or Irak, I was finally cleared and released to go.
God was I ready to release tensions, party and have some fun!
Here we go California:
Let’s go for a nice meal in a nice restaurant, was my plans until I saw the warning posted in this upper class restaurant:

What? They are telling me that they sell food that may cause cancer?
Oh don’t worry – clarified the waiter – it is just a general public advise, imposed by the Californian law in order to protect the restaurant in case some wako customer sues us for that reason. Any way everybody body knows that most of the food now contains some kind of chemicals that might be harmful to health….
Oh my god, talking about defending yourself against the American legal system… scary! 
Ok the, lets put that meal on hold and lets go for a drink, I really need to relax and get into the holiday mood. As we sit at the counter of this bar, my attention was diverted to this sign, posted right on my face:
Oh no, this is really too much, I just want relax and have a drink now, seriously, can we have some fun here?!
I better have a smoke and try to relax, I really just landed…
Oh no this is a bar and guess what:

Oh well, at least I gave to admit that this is a good decision!
Matter as well go out and relax and have that smoke, I am sorry but this is too much and I really need it!
I get out of the bar and finally was going to lit up when I looked closer to the wall next to me:
Oh my God, is the big brother after me!
Give me a break
Luckily all this stress only happened at the beginning; afterwards I found my own means to avoid it.
Welcome to California, it is much more than this!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Reinvent Yourself… as I’ve had enough

The first part of this statement was Madonna’s message of her concert, the second part is what I perceived she is thinking but omitted to us.

Two nights before the concert in Madison Square - NYC, 18/06/04, Madonna gave an interview to 20-20. The interview from me was the beginning of my turn-off as she greatly disappointed me for three reasons:
· She did not stand for what she has done in the past, basically saying that all was a marketing product. She said that she not always believed on the messages she was passing to the public… oh well too bad, cause she lost a bit of her credibility;
· She wanted to show a mature and grown up image but she failed to do so as her answers were vague and lacking of meaningful contents;
· She over emphasized her new believes and almost used the interview for their promotion, being to religious and not as fun and daring as I used to expect from Madonna.
One thing I still liked on her, was the fearless and politically incorrectness when she was asked about the Iraq war. She openly said that Saddam and Bush were basically the same type of people and seeked the same objectives: power and money over lives. When the reporter told her that the interview was being broadcasted alive and that she saw people having a lot of trouble for saying less than what Madonna has just said, Madonna just answered something like “oh well”. It was Ok, but I was expecting a bit more dare from her.

It was with shadowed image that I went on to watch Madonna alive in Madison Square NYC.

First the struggle to get the tickets was insane as in the official website they were sold out in the very first few days. My friends in NYC said that they are bought by agents who then re-sell them with some additional cost. Anyway we got them and here we went.
Upon arrival at Madison Square, the security was tight but in the middle of the confusion, I end up passing through without being searched… duuhhh and this is NYC.

The arena was packed and the atmosphere was great, they were a lot of Madonna’s look alike and the show start well before the concert. The organization was excellent and there was plenty of booze to warm up before the concert.

Almost 1 hour after it was scheduled, the show began.
It promised since the very beginning to be a great concert and it was if I have not seen her on the Girlie Show.
The stage was composed with 1 gigantic screen in the middle, with two other medium sized screens on each side. Madonna took advantage of video and these screens who end up playing a major role in the concert. In my opinion she used and even abused a bit too much of video projected in these screens. A lot of songs were started as video performances and special light effects, then she would add on the dancers on stage and after a long time she would then show up and join the dancers. I know that she needed to do this to rest and change cloths without interrupting the concert but in the girlie show she did better as she had a big and excellent group of dancers, who not only danced well but had great bodies (common we have to admit that this was one of the highs of Madonna’s concerts). This time the videos and special effects took over from the dancers, leaving them almost all the time with the secondary role.

Madonna was political but not for too long, I still had the impression that she could have been even more. The American Dream song was for me one of the highs momentums of the concert, it illustrated with videos of war and special effects, the dancers were dressed up as different national customs and I really enjoyed the afghan women with the burke covering her face and micro wearing a micro skirt, showing her long sexy legs. The song ends with a picture of Saddam together with Bush being covered by blood.

As she tried to do during her 20-20 interview, she wanted to show some maturity, she invoked John Lennon and sang “Imagine”. It was a nice moment where she was claiming no religions and then soon after she appears on stage with a t-shirt saying “Kabalists do it better” – oh well, I guess she was reinventing herself from Italians do it better, except the “it” here was completely different.

Another new thing in this concert was that Madonna sang a few songs, playing electric guitar as if it was a rock and roll concert in the 70’s. She was sitting down during the ballads accompanied by guitar. It was another trick to disguise the fatigue, but it was well done and I do not blame her for doing it!

Naturally Madonna this time mentioned her husband, was not sexually provocative and all that because she is a mother and moved on. Too bad but that’s life.

I also found that she didn’t interact with the public like she used to do. Back in the girlie show, she provoked and teased the public, this time she just said a few times :You guys are great, you are the best”… that didn’t convince me but it was New York and that’s the way it is too, being what I call commercially nice!

At the end, for my surprise (has to do with the post I published before I went on holiday) she sang Holiday. I almost felt that she was doing it for me, as if she was noticing my slight disappointment at the end and through this one for me to remember that I had a holiday to go for!

And then she filled the big screens with the message “Reinvent Yourself” and left… she never came back for an encore and that was the last sad surprise.

The best was that the holidays were just about to start and New York was outside waiting!

For all the above reasons, from 1 to 10, I give this concert a 7!

I do hope she will be in Lisbon, Portugal deserves it and yes, inspite of all my criticism it was worth!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Returning to the Storm…

I hate endings and I hate it even more when it’s the end of a wonderful thing.
I knew it would happen, it happens all the time after the end….
I just came back... “back to life, back to reality” ... the holidays were very, very exciting, intense and diverse, as if I have traveled the whole world. I guess in a way, I did brush through it with a bit of help of Madonna in her so not reinvented concert and a lot of help of the Portuguese Soccer Team and the Portuguese’s reactions worldwide.
It was great to go back and revisit family and friends and is always interesting to meet new people.
If the entire holidays were a blast, the last four days were divine, thanks a lot my friend!
I have loads to post… when the syndrome post holiday goes away.

Meanwhile, just not to help the mood, I just got this welcome warning:
According to weather forecast issued by Central Weather Bureau (CWB), Typhoon KOMPASU will sweep Taiwan tonight, and the typhoon's fringe will be expected to begin lashing east part of Taiwan at first.

Oh well, I could always see it as Mother Nature’s welcome back to Taiwan!

I will be back… after the storm