This is for my little brother (as he is just about the only person who knows this thing exists). When Al and I were kids, we, like most little kids, would fire up the old tape recorder and make radio shows. One particular show that stands out in my mind was one in which Al (about 6 or 7 years old at the time) offered up an extremely stirring rendition of “Born to be Wild”. I think the kid who lived across the street (and, coincidently, still lives across the street) probably talked Al into singing. That’s right, I am pleading not guilty on this one — mostly because I think I knew even at 8 years old how lame Steppenwolf was and I think the kid across the street probably still listens to Steppenwolf. As you all know, Al has evolved into quite the rock star. However, at six years old he still had some vocal quirks to work out — namely, an incredibly high voice and an endearing speech impediment. Luckily for Al, puberty took care of the first one and several years of elementary school speech therapy took care of the second. That being the case, I had pretty much assumed Al’s version of “Born to be Wild” was lost to the ages. But, as it turns out, even at such a tender age Al must have had some fans in Japan. I present to you now Petty Booka’s cover of my little brother’s cover of “Born to be Wild”. The Japanese ukulele duo of SXSW fame may have gone with a more country-western sound for the backing track but the vocals are all Al. The similarities are truly uncanny. If the tape of that old radio show surfaces again one day, God willing, you are in for a treat. But until then, enjoy something pretty darn close.
ladies and gentlmen, my brother. i hate to admit it, but this does sound exactly like me, circa 1992. my musical upbringing was a weird one. the aforementioned tape stands out even amongst the run-of-the-mill weirdness which includes a music video for rancid’s ‘ruby soho’ i made in the 5th grade and the frequency with which i played snow’s debut casette 12 inches of snow (the title of which i didnt understand until i was like 16).
you know, being in a foreign country far away from my parents and friends all, i was finding it really difficult to get into the christmas mood. apparently in a cost cutting effort, seoul has really scaled back the decorations around the city, and i also had to work until late on christmas eve. as a result i wasnt feelig so christmasey until i got in the cab on the way home. a korean pop version of little drummer boy was on the radio and the world was instantly transmitted into christmastime with the classic and reminiscent chorus of ‘lum-pum-pum, lum-pum-pum, lum-pum-pum’. merry christmas.
aside from the time my friend rufus and i saw bishop magic don juan in the parks mall in arlington, texas, i have never really felt the particular need to have a cameraphone. to me, it just seems as though attaching a shitty camera to a decent phone just means that the would-be-slim phone becomes unnecessarily large, while still making you tote around a regular camera if you want to get a picture of anything but colored blurs surrounded by slightly more in focus blurs. now at this point, im sure the iphone using slice of my readership (pretty much just you, dan) will go to bat for the pictures you can take with it. ok. i have no real experience with it and, as such, cant really speak to ‘how awesome this new app is where it totally makes your iphone pictures look like they were taken with one of those gunpowder flashes from the civil war’. that being said, two weeks ago i had my second pang of regret for not having a decent cameraphone.
my roommate cooks and i were walking around a part of seoul called apgujeong - a quiet little neighborhood of restaurants and schools - looking for the academy where im going to take korean classes. we clearly had no idea where we were going, as all directions in korea, regardless of where the hell you are, include the line ‘take a left at the 2nd 7-11 and go to where the one crooked street hits the other crooked street’. needless to say, we were lost as hell and thank god, because we stumbled upon the greatest thing ive seen in a long time.
in front of a candy store called ‘chocolate castle’, there was a life-size cutout of barack obama. wait, let me be more specific. it was a life-size cutout of santa claus with barack obama’s face pasted over the jolly old elf’s, holding a bag of candy, with the words ‘chocolate castle’ emblazoned across the fluffy white bottom lining of his red coat. of course i immediately went for my camera, which i didnt have. the only real option left was the phone on my shitty 30 dollar korean cellphone. the picture, whos resolution can barely function as a background on my mighty 1-inch screen, is really all i have of the incredible sight. i tried to take a picture of my cellphone with my camera and post it, but it turned out kinda like when michael keaton cloned his clone in multiplicity* - a shitty copy of a lackluster original.
*sidebar: why the hell have i even seen that goddamn movie?! fuck you tbs!!
blood type is kind of a big deal in korea. fortune tellers (a very ubiquitous sight on the sidewalks) can read them like a zodiac sign, certain blood types corresponding to certain character types. from what ive gathered, type a is kind of outgoing and assertive, type b is a little more shy and reserved, and type o is more or less batshit crazy. this can all change depending on your birthday and the meaning/number of characters in your name, but thats more or less the gist of it. this puts me at a disadvantage for 2 reasons: my name doesnt have any chinese characters and i dont know my blood type. to resolve this i sent my folks an email and both responded separately. i will now give you their individual responses verbatim.
mom: About your blood type - I don’t know it and it’s not on any of my home records. your pediatrician no longer has your chart, so you need to go the hospital website and download a “release of information” form stating that the hospital can give that to me. go to www.arlingtonmemorial.org and there is an orange box on the left. go to request medical records and in the first paragraph is a “authorization of release of patient info form. download it, fill it out and fax it to hospital. the “date of service” will be your birthday, then “info accessed” then “other’ , put blood type. She said it’s a 50/50 chance they have that info because it’s not really required of a doctor to record it. So, good luck!
dad: if youd gone into the navy like pop wanted your blood type would be on your dogtags.