crowded worldcrowded world
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c r o w d e d w o r l d
crowded world

rob sullivan: oct 2003oct 2003

late oct 2003late oct 2003

nov 2003nov 2003


may-jun 2006may-jun 2006

june 2006here!

by night!

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Iceland Attractions

Hitch Hiking in Iceland
Hitch Hiking in Iceland Reykjavik by Night -- Bars and Clubs
Reykjavik By Night Reykjavik Harbor - one of the
entertainment hubs of Iceland!
Reykjavik Harbor Reykjavik Houses Part 1
Reykjavik Houses #1 Iceland rock scene - Reykjavik Record
Reykjavik Record Stores Reykjavik Restaurant Guide
Reykjavik Restaurant Guide Solfar - The Viking style Sun Craft
piece pf public art on the shores of Reykjavik
Solfar Sun Craft -- Reykjavik Beauty of South Iceland
Thorsmork & Skogar Ueno -- Homeless Heart of Tokyo

Rest of Europe

Christiana Free Town, Copenhagen,
Copenhagen Denmark Kyoto, the most beautiful city in Japan
Kyoto Matsumoto Castle, one of the
highlights of central Japan
Yokohama City -- The City By The Bay

Best of the World

Australia Guide
Australia Denmark
Egypt in the 1990s
Egypt Iceland, North Atlantic
Mumbai City Guide
Korea Malaysia Travel Guide

Girl Hunting

Russian Girls in Japan -- Even Better than the
Japanese Girls!
Russian Girls in Japan

the end of the mission | mission accomplished | reykjavik iceland | june 26 2006 | uncloned world WELL, it is the end of my week in Iceland, and though the holiday has been short, it has (to reverse a metaphor!)left me with plenty of fruitful memories, which will only flower over time. This is one amazing little country, and it always leaves me begging for more -- it might be a cliche, but the truth is there is never a dull moment here. And though it is time for me to leave and head back via England to Japan, I am sure I will be back again soon -- once my Freelance Future Movement really kicks off. Whether it kicks off via medical trials or Angelfire, only time will tell. I think it is going to happen sequentially. In the meantime, I am writing travel stories from my time in Iceland and England to put on the Internet (on that Angelfire site). I also plan to indulge in a spot of name dropping -- I can mention the Kimono guitarist I met in Reykjavik (it turns out his band is more famous than I first thought), and while I was in London, I found this gay Chinese guy (Gok Wan) who I once met (I stayed at his house in 2001 when I was visiting my lesbian cousin) is now talk of the town in the UK -- he has got his own TV show called "How To Look Good Naked". Open the newspapers in London at the moment and you will read stories about what a kooky guy he is, with his winning fashion sense and asymmetrical hairstyle -- but little do the punters know that Gok is a cheat and a psycho and a jerk, as my cousin found out. So, it is up to me to broadcast the unsavoury truth about Gok. I will dump it all on the Internet soon.

But, let's not be negative shall we, because the assholes of the earth always turn out to be the most interesting folks. I will let Gok have his moment of fame. In any case, I have more pressing matters on my chest. For example, it is time to leave Iceland, and that leaves me with an empty feeling. It is time to bid farewell to Iceland. I will be back soon, in spirit or otherwise! And in the meantime, plenty of adventures await me, back in Japan!

Iceland the Blue Sky

travel stories | cultural clash in the arctic | reykjavik iceland | june 26 2006 | uncloned world HERE is a cultural clash which could only happen somewhere like Iceland:

I was at Kofi Tomosar one Monday night (in downtown Reykjavik), it was about 9pm, cold and windy outside (the sky was a kind of whitish grey mess which passes for a summer night in Iceland.) For some reason the staff kept opening the door to let the cold wind in, and if someone closed the door, one of the staff would immediately open the door again. On the other side of the room, there was an Eskimo woman, an African man, and a Muslim man sitting at a table. (I first thought the Eskimo lady was a Filipino because of the animated way she was speaking, but then I heard her say that she came from Greenland.)

The Eskimo lady says to the Muslim: "Aren't you going to drink something?"

The Muslim didn't reply, just smiled self-assuredly.

The African man, perhaps more worldly than the typical Eskimo, chipped in: "He can't drink alcohol because he is a Muslim."

"I don't give a fuck about your religion," the Eskimo woman said. "Drink!"

Kofi Tomasar Cafe in Reykjavik, IcelandKofi Tomasar Cafe in Reykjavik, Iceland
Kofi Tomasar in Reykjavik, Iceland

miscellaneous stories | things i heard & saw | reykjavik iceland | june 24 2006 | uncloned world Here is an example of my typical experience in Reykjavik:

I walk into a bar or cafe. Sit down. Sometimes later, some guy sits beside me.
HIM: Hey man, where are you from?
ME: I am from ~. (The truth be told, I no longer have a home.)
HIM: Oh yeah. So what do you think of Iceland?
ME: It is not so bad at all. What do you for a living? HIM: Me? I am the guitarist/bass player/triangle player with ~.
ME: No shit! I have heard your music before, I have downloaded your tracks from the Internet. I really like your song "Japanese Policeman in Scandinavia". That's one mighty song.
HIM: I didn't know we had that much of a following. If you are in town next week, you should come to our concert at the ~.

Reykjavik Skyscraper Scene in late afternoon sunshine, summer
Reykjavik Skyscraper Scene in late afternoon sunshine, the start
of summer 2003Reykjavik Skyscraper Scene in Sudden Summer Sun

strange coincidence | White Magic on Midsummer's Night | reykjavik iceland | june 24 2006 | uncloned world

I went for a walk on the afternoon of June 24 2006 down past
Reykjavik Harbor, and was amazed by the sun, the sea, the flowers, and
this church surrounded by dwarf Christmas treesI went for a walk on the afternoon of June 24 2006 down past
Reykjavik Harbor, and was amazed by the sun, the sea, the flowers, and
this church surrounded by dwarf Christmas trees

midnight sun | doing the runtur | reykjavik iceland | june 23 2006 | uncloned world WHEN I woke up about lunchtime on this somewhat overcast, windy day, my first thought was: "Wow! what a night. I can't believe I nearly got in on a cocaine deal! I can't believe I made it back to that guy's house, with two beautiful Icelandic girls for company! I can't believe those girls escorted me home! This is what I always wanted to experience in Iceland -- and I have already experienced it! And it is only my third day in Reykjavik."

I was recovering from what could only be considered a highly successful debut in Iceland, and as I drank the hair of the dog in the common room watching the World Cup, the only thing that mattered was getting back into the runtur madness again -- and thank god it was Friday! This time I wanted to try a new approach -- instead of flying solo like I did the night before, tonight I was going to take advantage of a service offered at the Reykjavik City Youth Hostel to find fellow revellers to go out with. The idea is that on Friday and Saturday nights at about 11pm, people interested in experiencing the nightlife of Reykjavik together assemble in the lobby, and then head downtown. It saves lobbing oneselves into bars alone (although I did this often in Iceland and enjoyed it. Nonetheless, it is always good to have companions with you.) So, that is what I did -- at exactly 11pm I assembled myself in the lobby of the Reykjavik City Youth Hostel, to find my wingmen and assorted crew. Eventually a small group gathered, comprising two Australian girls (including one from my old haunt of Wollongong, NSW -- and she was cute as well, I enjoyed hanging out with her), and some Brits and Canadians. Or were they Scots and Canadians -- I can't remember. Anyway, they were to prove mostly irrelevant to the conduct of the night -- I spent most of my time with the Australians, from my homeland of Australia. And it was so good to hear an Australian accent after so long in the wilds, especially in such an alien land as Iceland. We first went to Barinn (The Bar), which I had visited last night. After a few drinks we headed down the street to The Sirkus, which I had also visited last night.

According to Wikipedia: "Sirkus is an Icelandic TV channel that airs shows like Smallville, X-Files and Friends (reruns). Sirkus is owned by 365 ljósvakamiðlar, a company which is a part of 365, the biggest media corporation in Iceland." Their own website is on

But that is not the Sirkus I am talking about here, and which I visited tonight -- I am talking about the bar. Young Icelandic writer Hugleikur Dagsson claims this is "the only bar in Reykjavik", which is a bold claim considering the number of drunk pissheads wandering the streets of the city on Thursday and Friday and Saturday nights. But he has a point, in a way -- Sirkus is the only cool bar. In that it is an underground bar. From the puffin birds adorning the entrance, to the kids playing cards at the bar, to the minor rock stars upstairs -- Sirkus is the place to be in Reykjavik on the weekends. And it was the place that I found myself, with my two Aussie chickfriends. And the place was packed with people, and the place was really happening...

So I drank with the Australian girls for a while, and everything was cool and dandy. It felt so good to be back in Iceland, after a three-year hiatus. But soon the urge for change came over us, crept upon us --we had to try something new. And where do you go if you want to go to take a rest from the bars and clubs when you are doing the runtur, and get some sustenance?: try Bæjarins Beztu down near the water. This is one of my favorite places to refill when doing the runtur on weekends. The last time I was here, I joined the queue with two Australian girls I had been hanging out with -- one of them only five-foot-tall but kind of cute, and I had the feeling she liked me. It was about 3am; the sky was white (this being late June). Gulls wheeled raucously overhead. A wind blew. Abruptly, while I was standing there, the guy serving the hotdogs announced that there were only five left (and there twice that many people in the line!) They had sold out! Out of desperation or merely a desire to flirt with foreigners, this stunning blonde Icelandic girl grabbed me from behind and said: "Are you going to fight for me? Are you going to fight to get me a hot dog before they are all gone?" And as she wrapped herself around me she added something like: "We Icelanders are so crazy, aren't we?" I have to concur with that. And if you want to see crazy Icelanders at their craziest, visit the lines on weekend nights at Bæjarins Beztu... either under a swirling aurora or milky Midnight Sun, you can't go wrong.

And if you have ever imagined what the Midnight Sun looks like in a city under its domain, in the heart of summer, as the gulls wheel overhead, then here is your cue -- here are some pictures of how it looks, taken in the old city of Reykjavik, in the middle of summer (June) 2006:

A typical building in Reykjavik, Iceland, in the middle of the
night in summerA
view down a street in the Icelandic capital at about 11pm, June
2006Doing the Runtur in Iceland

barinn | introduction to the icelandic nightlife | reykjavik iceland | june 22 2006 | uncloned world A LOT has been said about the nightlife in Reykjavik -- that it is completely uninhibited and wild, to the point of depravity. Naturally I wanted to check it out during my trip to Iceland. I was disappointed that I didn't get the chance to go out the last time I was here in 2003, so I was determined to make up for it this time, by going out as often as possible. Every night would have been good... but I was warned after arriving that the action only happened on Friday and Saturday nights. The other nights were meant to be dead, with the streets deserted in the Midnight Sun, everyone at home, and bars closing at 1am. This news was a little disappointing to me, but what can you do -- such is life in a small town.

On this particular Thursday I went on a tour to see this glacier in the south, and after arriving back in Reykjavik, I decided I couldn't bear going back to my hotel, because the people there depressed me so much. So I went for a walk around town, looking for something which might be happening. Some of the streets were indeed deserted, but that is nothing special in Reykjavik -- but I did eventually find one place which seemed lively, and that was a bar called Barinn. (I think it means "The Bar" in Icelandic -- which is something of a presumptious statement to make, since many locals regard the nearby Sirkus as "the only bar in Reykjavik." Nonetheless, Barinn is a good place to hang out, and I had a lot of happy times there...) When I went inside I found the place packed with Generation Y'ers, squads of cute girls who came in and out, up and down the stairs, slamming doors, DJs who looked like they were fresh out of high school playing electro, and outside the evening twilight just went on and on, all night long. I sat down and amused myself by drinking and pretending to read Icelandic gossip magazines (plenty of stories about a certain Bubbi or Bubba, the current king of the Icelandic pop scene and a former punk). Before too long I was feeling drunk and the little bottle of Japanese Royal Jelly I had consumed earlier in the day came online, and then suddenly the music and the general busy vibe of the place began conspiring to lift me up, up into a higher state of awareness. There is something about the trippy wallpaper in Barinn, combined with the windows full of Midnight Sun, which can have a strange effect on the mind of a man. I got drunk and gradually lost my inhibitions. At one point I got approached by this old gay guy who tried the usual gay pickup routine (Barinn used to be a gay bar at one point in time):

HIM: Are you gay?
ME: No, I am not gay. My cousin is a lesbian though, and I think my old girlfriend might be one as well.
HIM: I am not interested in your cousin, and I am not interested in your old girlfriend. I asked about you. Are you gay?
ME: No. But my cousin is a lesbian.
HIM: Why do you talk about your cousin? I'm not interested in her. To be perfectly honest with you, I don't like lesbians. I want to know about you: are you gay?
ME: No.
HIM: You like girls?
ME: Yes.
HIM: You like any of the girls in here?
ME: Actually, the girls over there (point) are pretty cute.
HIM: Ohhhh... those girls? They're friends of mine. Let me introduce you to them...

Iceland -- what a country, even the gays will try to set you up with gorgeous women! Anyway, by this point I was so drunk that my memory seemed to get a little hazy -- I believe I moved on to another bar which seemed happening, just down the street. (This place was called The Sirkus.) This was the point where the night started developing a legendary nature (it is going to be legendary in my mind, at least.) I started talking to an Icelandic guy (or maybe he started talking to me) and he asked me why I was in Iceland. I blurted out some drunk talk shit like: "I just lurrrrve this fucking country!" Another guy appeared, and suddenly my friend said: "Hey man, do you want to buy some cocaine? We're about to go in for a deal... do you want to join us?" And I blurted out some drunken shit talk like: "Cocaine? I've never tried it before, but I can't think of a better way to celebrate being in this beautiful land, than by getting completely high. So let's do it!"

In the end the cocaine deal didn't come through, for reasons I couldn't completely fathom (due to my poor Icelandic language skills.) So, what happened instead? Even though my mind became progressively disabled and my memory porous as a piece of Icelandic volcanic rock, I was stunned to realize that all my Reykjavik dreams were coming true. I was finally achieving that what I had long wanted to achieve: the acquisition of cool Icelandic friends! I was invited into my first home in Iceland. Kind of stylish and Scandinavian in a minimalist way, nice view of the sunny midnight streets, red soap in the bathroom. Why didn't I take a photo inside the house? I guess it is good to keep some things an enigma, especially an enigma to yourself! Two girls promised to take care of me and escorted me home (we went by taxi!) I saw the sunrise (one of the many early morning sunrises -- the most definitive sunrise at least!) out of the cab window at 3o'clock in the morning. Cocaine didn't come through -- I wonder how much that would have costed! Alien scenes on the þorsmörk tour!

Some Icelandic characters courtesy of the free Internet computer at one of the city banks:


Inside Barinn, looking down towards SirkusBarinn from the outsideInside Barinn, looking down towards Sirkus

iceland music scene | 12 tonar record shop | reykjavik iceland | june 21 2006 | uncloned world I HAD the great pleasure to wake up this morning in the beautiful city of Reykjavík, Iceland. I was so glad to be back and so amazed by the morning's sunshine shimmering through the blinds that I was up out of bed, at 6.30am, to take photos of the houses surrounding the Reykjavík City Youth Hostel. Talk about jetlag -- and the effects of the Midnight Sun! -- I just didn't know what time it was, although I got to hear some alarms going off in people's bedrooms, and the sight of the occasional bleary-eyed Icelander taking their garbage out in their pyjamas, should have alerted me to how early it really was. After walking around for a bit I went back to bed, and woke up at like 10am -- and was surprised to see it was still sunny outside. In fact, it seemed to be getting sunnier and sunnier, which was cool, because I was worried it was going to rain for the whole of this, my second Icelandic holiday. But the gods were behind me again (I have always such good luck in Iceland!), the gods were on my side again! The weather held! As a consequence, I had the day in front of me -- and I thought to myself, what should I do today? The answer was obvious: head downtown, and start checking out the Icelandic music scene. On the flight to Reykjavik last night I had read about a place called 12 Tónar, a record store and record label located at Skólavördustíg 15, near the great church, and I wanted to investigate it in person. On the way there I skirted the edge of the harbor, which is supposed to be home to a mean market on weekends, and quickly buzzed past the Pravda nightclub, before eating my first hotdog of the day in the nearby square. It was warm in the sun, and the sky was blue and idyllic. I ate my hotdog feeling happier and happier, and then I walked up the hill to 12 Tónar, on the way to the church. To be honest I am pretty sure I walked right past the place on my first visit to Iceland in August 2003, on the way to the aforementioned church, but I didn't know what it was or how cool it was, so I kept on walking -- I think I thought it was just a second-hand CD shop or something. How wrong was I! 12 Tónar is actually one of the pearls of the Reykjavik music scene, and it definitely outshines the more established Bad Taste Records Shop in the center of town. Not that there is anything wrong with Bad Taste mind you, but 12 Tónar is better. Even though it might be small, it does have a pretty good range. And if you are looking for rare and obscure Icelandic music which you can't buy online, you might as well make the pilgrimage to Reykjavik, and visit 12 Tónar. I had a good chat with some of the staff as the sun filtered in through the windows, drank some coffee, and after a long time sampling the wares, eventually purchased two CD's: Sex Division's Lengi lifi lýðveldið, and My Summer as a Salvation Soldier, by Anarchists Make Hopeless Romantics. There was a wierd Japanese magazine on the counter. They have concerts at 12 Tónar all the time.

On their website 12 Tónar proclaims:

"12 Tónar is a distributor for Icelandic music and an importer and distributor for many foreign record labels. Music lovers will quickly discover that we offer a wide variety of music styles and of course we carry all the best music from Iceland. And if you drop by, make sure not to miss our selection of extremely hard to get Icelandic home made recordings. If you're an independent artist and have a CD, don't be afraid to drop by with it - we'll gladly put it up in our shelfs.
"We take great pride in the fact that 12 Tónar is also a fast growing independent record label. Our position as a record label is unique as we regularly meet with so many musicians in our shop. We are therefore in constant contact with emerging talent and the label is taking off very rapidly. We believe that our catalogue will include the most interesting artists Iceland has to offer, for now and for future references.
"Fridays are very special days in 12 Tónar because there is always live music in the store every other Friday so the curious traveler can experience the hottest sounds in town live. The concerts start at five o'clock and we usually offer our guests something special to drink during concerts, something nice to end the day or start the night with."

If you can't make it to Iceland and you like Icelandic music, you can listen to some of 12 Tónar's artists online here. Some of the artists to be heard include Eivør Pálsdóttir (from the Faroe Islands), Slowblow who seem to be one of the biggest homegrown groups in Iceland, in the underground scene at least, Ulpa, the aforementioned My Summer as a Salvation Soldier, Hudson Wayne, Singapore Sling, and so on, and on. Go to this site and you can learn about one of the most innovative music scenes in the world -- and one of the smallest!

12 Tones of Cool Music at 12 Tonar in ReykjavikEnjoy
a coffee and a good chat with knowledgable staff at 12 Tonar in
Reykjavik, Iceland12
Tones of Cool Music at 12 Tonar in Reykjavik

into the heart of the midnight sun | back in iceland | london & reykjavik | june 20 2006 | uncloned world WELL I am back in Iceland and it is so cool... it is even better than I remembered it. I was a little worried when I was on my way here that I had made a mistake trying to repeat the good times in the past (you know what it is like when you have a legendary night in a certain club, and then you go back there again, and things aren't so good the second time around.) That has happened to me before, but in regards to Iceland, the country seems to improve the more I get to know it. Anyway, here is what has happened thus far:

I got the flight from London to Reykjavik, and I must say, that was one of the best flights of my life. It was worth it coming here, just to have experienced that flight. It was like 10pm but as we headed north, the sun got brighter and brighter. By 11pm, the plane was being bathed in dazzling sunshine. Down below, the clouds were moving in strange riverlike patterns... there were rivers of clouds flowing one way, rivers of cloud flowing another. It is the kind of cloud dynamics you would imagine seeing on another planet (like Jupiter or Saturn), but I have never seen anything like it on Earth. Suddenly, as we approached Iceland, I saw another wonder I have never seen from a plane before... rainbows. Not the kind of rainbows you usually see, but these were rainbows being viewed from ABOVE. They went on for miles and miles, twisting and turning in a modulating way, like the movements of a snake... or an Aurora Borealis. I have never seen that before, just as I have never seen the Midnight Sun before as well. But the best is yet to come. I was about to behold a view which must rank as the most beautiful thing I have ever seen from a plane before.

The plane I was in suddenly dived down through the clouds like a sword, and once we punched through the blanket, there stretched out a landscape which was almost alien, like the kind of landscape you would find on one of the moons of Saturn. Imagine a burning orange sea, waves of surf rolling in to pound a black black shore. Though everything was being bathed in the warm hues of sunset, you could feel the cold undercurrents burning through... the cold hand of death beneath the fire. We punched through another layer of cloud, and I found myself flying just above the vast expanse of a black lava plain, cut up with fissures and pierced with volcanic vents. An alien view to be sure... but I felt a strange sense of homecoming all the same. It is good to be back, after all this time. And things just keep getting better and better! It is going to be a good holiday!!

Earlier in the day, I had walked around London a bit, got the train over to Westminster and cut through Soho to take in Oxford St, which was hot and crowded. I passed the department store Top Man where my old Elephant and Castle buddy Man Like Jez used to work back in the Jungle hardcore dayz of 1994. Even more amazingly, I found that one of the symbolz of the 1990s Jungle movement -- the MASH shoes and clothing store -- was still open and still playing loud Jungle and Drum&Bass. That was cool. I thought to myself: "Why did I have to leave it so long to come back here, when a piece of my heart has always been in London?" Back in the old days, it was hard to be an International Vagabond or global traveller without having significant amounts of cash -- but it is getting easier every day. If my new job in Japan (clinical trials volunteer) pans out, I could have both the time and money to travel the world indefinitely. I could visit London at least once a year -- and keep up with trends here, go to clubs here, make friends here. And I would of course find the time to shop at MASH at least once a visit or more!

MASH UP THA PLACE! Let me restate it all again, in case you missed it first time around (think of this as a rewind): Around midday today I was walking along Oxford Street which was just busy busy busy, and I the weather was almost Mediterranean (I hope I spelt that right!) While there were still plenty of clouds around, the sun would occasionally streak through in vivid blazes of northern gold, enrapturing my soul, and lifting me up into a higher state of being. Threading myself through the crowds, I stumbled upon a place I used to visit way back in 1994 when I discovered Drum*n*Bass, and it was called Mash. Heading downstairs and now positively perked up on the Royal Jelly I had consumed earlier in the day, breakbeat on the soundsystem and cool street clothes on the racks, I thought to myself: Why can't I come to London all the time, at least once a year, so I can keep up with the scene here? It is a big world I know but travel is keeping cheaper all the time, so there is no need to stay stuck in Japan for 11 months of a year. I can find a way to earn enough money to live, and travel the world -- and the answer is medical testing! I am hoping that in the year of 2007, I commence the Second Stage of my International Vagabondist lifestyle... and I am sure I will be able to make a return visit to London in that year. (I can catch up with Kel again when I am here!)

Jungle hardcore street style on Oxford StMASH up
the Place!

big brother | hitting the streets of london | london | june 19 2006 | uncloned world I WOKE to a moist and somewhat dark morning in London, at my shabby hotel on Earls Court, London. The place is called The Court Hotel or something like that (on Earls Court Rd near the station) and the owners are dodgy as frack -- their favorite trick is to pretend they f!cked up a booking to con you into letting them slot another body (or two) into your room. From what I have heard since then, this seems to be a common problem in London hotels, especially the ones run by Indians and ppls of Arabian descent. I resisted their advances last night to allow a Russian guy stay in the spare bed in my room -- the geezer had booked into the room next door with his friend, but sometime in the day they had started fighting, and now they wanted to spend the night apart without shelling out for another hotel room. So they were basically hoping that I would be kind enough to share my room with one of them, even though I didn't know them from a can of paint, and I had spent a considerable amount of money (80 pounds) for my room. I just thought: it's not my fault, if you go travelling with a buddy or partner you ought to make sure it is a partner you get on with... and if you do have problems on the road, for fuck's sake deal with them yourselves, rather than expect other people to do it for you. Or bite the f00king bullet, and pay for another room at another hotel! I was to find on this June trip to Iceland and England, that so many people in the world fail to take responsibility for their own shit -- and again and again they were to ask me to step in and sort stuff out for them. What kind of spoilt weakwilled individual has Man become! Anyway, I resisted letting the Russian in, but at the very end of the holiday, when I returned to The Court, the management asked me if I would allow an African guy to sleep on the floor next to my bed, because the hotel had been overbooked, and this guy was like a regular customer and all. And this time around I relented, on condition that I got a discount (I was running out of money at this stage of the trip!) In any case there are cheaper and better hotels in the Earls Court area where management don't try to cram extra people into your supposedly private room -- Shellbourne Hotel at Lexham Gardens is both good and cheap, for example.

I should add here that I used to live in London, for a couple of months back in 1994, and today I wanted to revisit some of the sites which I had frequented back then, and reminisce. Earls Court was actually the first place I stayed when I moved to London in 1994, and I worked for a while handing out flyers at Earls Court Station. My plan for today was to walk across town, maybe stop off in a pub or two to drink a beer, and eventually reach the other place that I hung out in when I lived in London -- Elephant and Castle, down in the slums in the south. And after that, I wanted to scoot up to the much leafier and more middle class area of West Hampstead, to see my cousin Kellie. Now I have to admit, Elephant and Castle is a scary place, and not a nice place to live at all (especially compared to West Hampstead). Nonetheless, Elephant and Castle is special to me because this is the place where I discovered Drum&Bass music, and it is also where I discovered the beauty and potentiality of mindaltering drugs. I wouldn't be the same person I am now, if I hadn't lived in Elephant and Castle, back in those dark and desperate days of early 1994. So I knew I had to go to Elephant and Castle today, and imagined what my life could have been like, had I stayed here in London beyond 1994, instead of scuttling back to Australia as I did in April of that year. But to get to Elephant and Castle on foot would take hours, and I didn't want to shell out money for the train. But what a beautiful city London is to walk across! and how so many attractions and famous monuments and auspicious places are there on the way, to punctuate one's walk! So I set off east, towards the city, taking plenty of photos on the way, and remembering and remarking on my previous experiences in the locality!

And these are some of the many attractions and famous monuments and capitalist centers and sundry streetscapes that I came upon, photographed, and passed, as I made way crosstown, down to the home of the Drum&Bass:

A fixture of British life, the Off License, at Earls Court near
the Exhibition CenterOne of
the many delightful little sidestreets and mews which can be found in
the West End of London
The famous Harrods department store at KnightsbridgeThe not so famous, but equally upmarket Harvey Nicholls
department store at Knightsbridge
Outside Buckingham Palace
Outside Buckingham Palace

++++South London Style++++

All those West End department stores and royal palaces are kind of neat, but there is something depressing about them too -- something cold and ruthless, the projection of sheer power (the power of the British Empire.) Anyway, those were the touristy places -- and nothing is more depressing when you are travelling, than to turn up at some site packed with gormless, clueless tourists. I want to see where the common folk live, because that's where the heart is. A funny thing that happened, is that when I croseed the River Thames, and found the route which led to Lambeth North and Elephant and Castle... and that is the streetscape began to look cooler, more experimental in its modernity, I guess more British Modern is the right way to say it. Because you can't be too experimental in the West End as it is too stuck up and conservative, but in the poorer areas (the South, the East End) you can push the boundaries a little because even if the locals give a care, their care is not valued or appreciated or heeded. That is fine by me, because South London is the place to go for creativity. (Peckham is also rumoured to have a creative edge.) They say Drum&Bass was invented in South London in the early 1990s. Here are what some of those people say, and they are gushing in their enthusiasm for South London, believe me:

John Heathcote says in his history of South London music: "South London has always been at the cutting edge of the capital's underground and cosmopolitan culture.
"It's tradition of villainy was well established by medieval times, when Southwark and the South Bank were under the authority of the Bishop of Southwark, and crossing to the Southside was a favourite escape route from the City Constabulary. The tavern culture grew up around the docks, from Woolwich, to Greenwich and Deptford; from where the ships of the British Empire sailed out to plunder the world. Merchant ships arrived from around the globe giving their crews the chance to take in the local hospitality. The combination of exotic cosmopolitan and bohemian was probably well established by the time that Christopher Marlowe was murdered in a Deptford pub in the 17th Century.
"After the war, South London's boundaries were extended into what had previously been countryside; as a means of housing all those from the East End and Docklands whose homes had been flattened by Nazi bombs. In the southside inner city many of the old back to backs were replaced with housing estates of blocks up to twenty stories high, connected by paths and walkways. Of course, instead of being replaced eventually by proper housing as promised originally, they were used to house the long term unemployed, 'problem' tenants, and immigrant families.
"Most South London Councils imposed covert racist housing policies; separating black, poor white, and middle-class white into different areas with all the predictable consequences for policing and local economies. The need for workers to aid reconstruction caused the Government to encourage people from those countries which had previously been regarded as colonies of the Empire, such as the West Indies, and the Indian sub continent to take up their rights to British citizenship, and move here with their families. However, one of the legacies of Empire is that the natives of the "home country" have to be indoctrinated with some sort of feeling of superiority to foreigners, to justify the conquest of fellow human beings and the consequent destruction of their culture. This meant that when the first families arrived in London, they soon realised that they had to overcome the resentment and prejudice of their fellow citizens, despite the fact that many of the new arrivals had fought to protect this country in the recent World War.
"This resulted in the Riots in Notting Hill in the 1950's, the area in North London, which like Brixton in South London, became the main concentration of the black communities until the 60's. The children of these immigrants were almost automatically condemned to the estates, along with their poor white counterparts. Ironically, it was this policy which undermined the efforts of the racist parties of the 70's. There is a unity in poverty which can defeat ignorance and defy hatred; which does not justify poverty, but gives it's victims a potential strength which is incomprehensible to those who have always lived amongst the comfortable.
"One of the main focuses of the anarchistic punk "movement" of the 70's was through the Anti-Nazi League, which along with Ken Livingstone's Greater London Council (GLC), promoted many of the urban festivals and gigs. This gave bands who had previously only played to an "underground" audience the chance to play to thousands. South London's pub culture also gave rise to at least two mega-pub bands; Dire Straits, and Squeeze, (in the same way that the early Seventies produced Robert Palmer and Elkie Brooks from South London blues band Vinegar Joe, and the Sixties had produced Manfred Mann and The Rolling Stones).
"Because of the availability at the time of cheap housing on the council estates and endless rows of squatted houses from whence the owners had long since fled to the suburbs, to escape the dereliction; areas such as New Cross and Deptford contained an intriguing mixture of culture and character. People attracted by the bright lights, who hadn't quite made it, or hadn't yet made it, or never would make it over the river to the pot of gold; and either didn't care, or cared too much to ever get there in one piece; all ended up in the squats, the shortlife, and on the estates.
"In 1976 the movement which became known as punk started to emerge from the Teflon claustrophobia of 70's British culture, and was taken from the art schools and clubs of the West End and transformed into an urban anarchy which drew in both hippy survivors, squatters and disillusioned youth from the sink estates suburban tedium. Despite its short lifespan - PUNK defined an attitude and world view which still informs the underground."
In the 1976 the seminal punk rock fanzine Sniffin' Glue set the tone for the inner city Punk ethic, championing both the rough vitality of punk and the political danceability of reggae and dub. The cutting edge was exemplified by radical punk groups such as Alternative TV; along with the suburban art school punk of bands such as Siouxie and the Banshees from Bromley and X-Ray Spex from Brixton. South London has always been the poor sister of the northern side; it was traditionally a separate area of control. When punk arrived, many of these people suddenly found a focus for their artistic activity in different areas.
"Record labels, such as Miles Copeland and Mark Perry's Deptford Fun City/Step Forward featured a mixture of bands such as The Police (old hacks), Squeeze (souped up R&B pop) and Alternative TV (punk). The ideals of Sniffin' Glue provided the template for the populist deconstruction of Bullshit, and do it yourself Art. (Heres one chord, here's another, and there's a third. Now go out and form a band.) Alongside all this was the Sound System Dub Culture featured in Franco Rossi's film Babylon. Sound Systems such as Jah Shaka, Sir Coxsone, and Saxon Sound were all based around the Brixton/ Peckham area; and would often be found in the Moonshot Club or The Crypt, Deptford, pounding out the beat and the bassline well into the early hours of Sunday morning. Many of the youth who had checked the sound systems, but also grown up surrounded by the adrenaline rush, and attitude of punk went on to make the first ragga and jungle, which later mutated into what's known now as drum'n bass."

cloud surfing & day stretching | chasing paul virilio's hyperspeed | tokyo & seoul & london | june 18 2006 | uncloned world A LOT of people detest transcontinental air travel, and I used to be with them... but I have changed my thinking recently. Sure check-in's suck, the security is (to my mind) needlessly paranoid, turbulence can freak the hell out of me. But recently I have found there is a freedom from stress and release from the cares of the world in riding a plane. Just like Naomi Campbell, I find air travel is one of the best ways to chill out and get a good grip on my life. There is something definitely dreamlike about drifting across the world as if you are detached from it -- detached but attached. Nothing compares to the thrill of touching down in some exotic city you used to dream about as a kid (Bangkok, Mumbai), so far away in history and culture, but now at most a 12-hour flight from home. And 12 hours is nothing! I know it is bad for the environment and all, but LOL... jetsetting is such a rush! The hypnotic swoosh of the air outside soothes my cares, and I feel uprooted... lost in Virilio's Hyperspeed. As Virilio wrote: "The airport today has become the new city... people are no longer citizens, they are passengers in transit. They're in circum-navigation. When we know that every day there are over one hundred thousand people in the air, we can consider it a foreshadowing of future society: no longer a society of sedentarization, but one of passage; no longer a nomad society, in the sense of the great nomadic drifts, but one concentrated in the vector of transportation."

Today was to be a case of breakfast in Tokyo (well, I drank a bottle of green tea at least, on the dank and humid early morning streets), lunch in South Korea, and dinner in London. Korea was sunny and the sky and land just as yellow-tinged as I remembered it on my previous jaunts there, while London was hot and anarchic. It was World Cup time after all, and the height of High Summer. At the end of the day I touched base with my cousin K., who I am hoping to see tomorrow. As the day went on, I found myself forgetting more and more about my failed relationship with C., and K. drove the final nail in the coffin (as I talked to her on a public payphone near Battersea Power Station) by insisting that I can do better! K. said that I deserved honesty in my relationships, and honesty was something I never received from C. Perhaps she is incapable of true honesty... but anyway, that is her problem, not mine. As this holiday continues, I hope that I can get over the bust-up with C., and start looking forward to a more exciting future. Because that future is there and it is very exciting and it is close, but the drama with C. has distracted me so much, I can't give it the attention it deserves.

On the issue of time and extending the future... day stretching. I always love messing with perception and time, and today I found a new way to get a new take on a familiar reality, and it is thus: take a jet plane west around the world for about 12 hours, then get off. You will find the clock has not advanced very far in all that time you were in the air. What you ended up with a 36-hour day. When you go to bed that night you think: Man, I did a lot of stuff today... I had meals in three countries, I watched a couple of movies, and that was despite spending four hours standing in lines in various airports. It is a strange and perhaps unhealthy feeling (think jetlag), but it is kind of neat. The flipside of this is that when you eventually do go home, Father Time will strip your day back to a miserly 12-hours, but I guess there is always a price to pay when you try to defy the natural laws. Anyway, if you do find yourself flying west to another continent or something, you will enjoy the beauty of long-assed, stretched out days of the kind you might experience on a planet with a slower period of rotation, way out in space somewhere. Flying long distances can also show you the different "lights" which rule the skies in different parts of the world. I have mentioned the yellow light of South Korea and it is tangible -- click here for a glimpse -- while London and nothern Europe are lit by deep blue beautiful skies in the summer (it is worth going to this region in the summer just to see the sky!) Australia meanwhile bakes beneath a sky which almost glows with radioactivity, particularly in the summer -- and perhaps the Hole in the Ozone Layer is to blame for this!

This weblog is intended to document the media job opportunities in Japan. To be more specific,it will tell you where to find media jobs in Tokyo,because that's the place I live and hang out within. What do I mean by "media jobs",exactly? Well,to begin with,there are the obvious stereotypical media jobs,such as writing for newspapers and presenting on TV and the like. I recently started working as a restaurant reviewer for a Tokyo magazine and I will give you some information about that in due course. But more importantly,I want to use this weblog to capture and relate my experiences in the acting and modelling fields. If you know where to find it,there is so much going on here.
So here is where you find it!
If you are also interested in the Icelandic music scene, this site is also for you! It might seem a big leap from working and acting in Japan to chilling in an Icelandic bar, but it is a leap I frequently make. It is all recorded above and below and throughout, if you care to read on!


Posts of Note

» Summer Love Blooms (In the Heart of Winter)
» How I Became a Porn Actor in Japan
» As a Result of Spending 2 Weeks Behind Bars in Japan!
» Moving House in Japan
» Manifestation & Magic on the Streets of Tokyo
» Media Jobs in Iceland & England
» Media Jobs in Japan
» Traditional Japanese New Year in Shikoku
» Earthquake Migraines
» Maniac High -- Part One
» World Expo 2005
» Summer Stay on the Banks of Lake Suwa
» Doing Kyoto for Under US$40
» Donating Blood in Japan
» Lesbian Japan -- Part One
» Chiba and Saitama -- Tokyo's Dormitory Suburbs
» Akiko in Aoyama
» Russian Girls in Japan
» Hobbits of Indonesia
» Coredo Department Store, Nihombashi
» Dreams, Flights of the Imagination
» Into the Year of the Goat
» Polar Pop
» Chatrooms and BBSs and Masturbation
» Niu Gini On My Mind
» Travel Resources in Tokyo
» Japanese TV Stars
» Singapore Airport
» Israelis In Asia
» DropOut
» Love & Being a TV Star In Japan
» Love In Japan
» A New Hope
» Akiko's Ambush

Iceland Music Resources

Bad Taste Records

Bad Taste Records

Rokk Islensk Tonlist

Rokk Islensk Tonlist

Jon MP3

Jon Mp3

Hugi Islensk Tonlist

Hugi Islensk Tonlist


Ulpa Home Page

Icelandic Breakbeat

・スE・スE・スE・スIcelandic Breakbeat

Greenland Music Resources

Polar Pop

Nuuk Posse -- Inuit Hip-Hop