Deciding to make it a relatively early evening last night, I get a call from my manager at 1am talking very quickly..."your shop.....flooding...water everywhere....ooohieeee....". Staff on their way to pick me up I step outside and see my street flooded with a good 18" of water, the rain pouring down, about which I had been oblivious in my slumber. We sail to Jungle, where water is indeed everywhere and staff is engaged in an old fashioned bucket brigade. A roof drain upstairs had clogged and allowed water to pour into our kitchen venting system, staight into the kitchen (not smart construction of the venting I'm afraid). Three hours later the rain and flooding has subsided, staff has bucketed and swept the water out and scrubbed the place clean and all appears normal, the only permanent casualty being our kitchen exhaust fan (which was need of improvement anyway). All through The Ordeal staff, while working their fingers to the bone, is laughing hysterically and seemingly have just a great time like it's an aquatic slumber party. Their ability to deal with it thus made it a lot easier for this boy, offering another reiminder of why we stay here. Open for breakfast this morning as usual.
Having never thought of the former King as a rocker, imagine my surprise, yea joy, to hear midway through his 1967 film Ombre sur Angkor (French subs only) a Cambodian Kinks soundalike band rocking out to All Day and All of the Night...it gets better...clearly a lyric sheet was not available even to his Royal Highness as the words to the song are, while incredibly English-like, strung together at times in somewhat random fashion. And the visuals are just as awe inspiring : a lone couple on the dance floor doing what seems to be a combination of the Jerk and Kung Fu Fighting. It's hard to describe how really wonderful this scene is...So what's the film about? Here's the Google translator at work:
The history told in this film is based on a dramatic episode of the history of Kampuchea in the Sixties.
It was about a fomented plot of the outside and in the Kampuchean area of Angkor-Siemreap-Kompong Thom by the CIA, two governments of the South-East Asia attached to the "tank" of 1' Impérialiste and the General "Dap" Chhuon Mchulpich, Gouverneur and Ordering Kampuchean forces armed with the area Angkor-Siemreap-Kompong Thom, all very dissatisfied with uncommitted "and anti-impérialiste policy the" of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Chef of the Khmer State, and especially of the rejection by this last, in 1953, of the assistances conditional and humiliating of the United States. The goal of this above mentioned plot was to make proclaim by the Mchulpich General the "Khmère Republic" and the secession da the Area Angkor-Siemreap- Kompong Thom, the known as area having to separate from the Kingdom of Kampuchea.
The film "Shade on Angkor" tells this episode since the beginning of the plot until its failure, failure due to fidelity with the Khmer Throne and Prince Sihanouk of the Royal army Khmère. (Between brackets, this army will end (at the instigation of the General Lon Nol) up betraying the Kingdom and its Head of State. But that will be a few years later: in Mars 1970).
So certain characters of film are in conformity with their historical models, except the physique of the Mchulpich General (physical notably improved in film compared to the original), other characters are fictitious, because the author of film wanted, on the one hand, to avoid useless diplomatic complications with certain powers having still diplomatic representatives with Phnom Penh (Capital of the Kingdom of Kampuchea) and, on the other hand, romancer somewhat a history which, in its sad truths, lacked cinematographic esthetics..., i.e. artistic.
Thus the character of innocent and very pretty Ambassadress of a fictitious country... was created for the diplomatic, artistic needs... and esthetics of film. This character is interpreted by S.A.R. the Princess Monique Sihanouk.
Although an American seems to purchased the rights to all of the available Sihanouk films, this one is the only one I've been able to find here in months of looking. If there are other gems out there like this Ray Davies tribute their worth tracking down and I'm just the bar owner to do it.
The band is coming to Phnom Penh in the next few weeks. News about dates, venues to follow. Got permission from the band to freely distribute the new album so the new CD will be free, yes free with purchase here at the Jungle.
I spent the morning today visiting the Street Vision project in Saigon, a project of the Ho Chi Minh City Welfare Foundation which teaches photography and offers job placement to street kids. They enroll 25-35 kids in two classes each year. The photographs by these kids are absolutely phenomenal. While I know that job placement is difficult at best for these kids I'm also sure they benefit greatly from the experience. The project has three staff, little money, and is in need of support. Having accumulated a ridiculous amount of old Nikon film cameras and accessories now gathering dust, it felt great to donate substantially all that stuff to the Street Vision project. Their web presence is poor but some photos are available for viewing at the In The Fray website. And you can support their efforts through direct donations or through contributions to CHEER for Viet Nam via PayPal
I picked up quite a few new DVD's to add to the Jungle collection while in L.A. New ones include:
No Direction Home (the HBO documentary about Bob Dylan directed by Martin Scorsese) Cross of Iron by Sam Peckinpah (a superior, well, less inferior transfer) Brown Bunny (Vincent Gallo) Dreams of Eroticism (Shaw Brothers) Lady Terminator (Indonesian bizzaro, more below on this one) Sin City, Motorcycle Diaries and Crash (replacing the less than stellar Cambodian bootlegs I've had) At Five in the Afternoon (set in post-Taliban Afghanistan, the first film to be made there after the war) Bang Rajan (the recent Oliver Stone sponsored re-release of an epic Thai film) Un Coeur En Hiver (Emmanuelle Béart actually learned how to play the violin for the part) Burden of Dreams and Fitzcarraldo (the former a fascinating documentary about Werner Herzog's making of the latter) Ben Hur (superior new transfer) Sweet Movie (Dusan Makavajev) Visitor Q (Takashi Mike) Head On (great reviews, by an emerging German-Turkish director) Beyond the Sea (I like Bobby Darin and Kevin Spacey) Missouri Breaks (with Brando and Nicholson) Ashes of Time (Wong Kar-Wai)
and some music DVD's by Randy Travis, Robert Earl Keen and The Flatlanders.
I'm excited to finally get a copy of Burden of Dreams. The story of the making of Fitzcarraldo, Herzog's Amazon based epic is, as it turns out, far more interesting than the movie itself, though the feature is certainly compelling. I'll screen both at the Jungle in the coming months.
A fun acquisition is Lady Terminator (sexually rapacious goddess, known as the "Queen of the South Sea", armed with an AK47 and an endless supply of bullets, takes to the streets on a revenge filled rampage). Reviews portray this as about as cheesy a film ever made. The reviews themselves are hysterical. Says one: "Lady Terminator" is the grand mal seizure of bad filmmaking"."Lady Terminator" is far outside the bounds of some arbitrary ratings system. I don't really know whether I ought to thank Mondo Macabro for this DVD or place a pox upon their house. You know we have to see this.
Brown Bunny and Sweet Movie are controversial ones. A comment on Brown Bunny on the IMDB site: Roger Ebert called the film "the worst in the history of Cannes" to which Vincent Gallo responded that Ebert was a "fat pig with the physique of a slave trader". Ebert paraphrased a remark of Winston Churchill and responded that "although I am fat, one day I will be thin, but Mr. Gallo will still have been the director of 'Brown Bunny'". Gallo then put a "hex" on Ebert's colon, to which Ebert responded that "even my colonoscopy was more entertaining than his film".In August 2004, after watching an edited-down, shorted version of the film, Ebert gave it a thumbs up on his show, stating its editing changed the film. About Sweet Movie the same Ebert said "The movie defies criticism even while it seems to demand it, and I keep on thinking about it even while I know I'm not getting anywhere." Jack Nicholson said, at some point, "...the most beautiful film on sexual politics I've ever seen." I'm afraid that with their explicit sexual content these two films won't make it to the Jungle Bar screen (at least while it's visible to the street). It's bad enough with the motodops lined up outside to watch George Strait at the Astrodome....
Great news for Thai visa runners and all of us who have reason for frequent PNH-BKK trips is the arrival of Air Asia. The Malaysia based budget airline begins service between Bangkok and Phnom Penh November 1. Current prices are CHEAP as expected: From Bangkok r/t ticket including Thai taxes is as low as 3298B or $81 (taxes 650B), Standard fare $110. It's a beautiful thing! (Images of importing Guinness cans dancing in my head....). Also announced is a Bangkok-Hanoi route beginning 17 October with an identical low-end fare of 3298B and a standard fare of 4098B ($100).
I was hoping a band I actually like might make it first here, but no, following in Lobo's Vietnam footsteps, it's M.L.T.R. coming to Cambodia. Shame I'm gonna miss it.
Below please find the Phnom Penh Post article announcing the MLTR show, along with a Mercury News Article from last year regarding strange case of Lobo...
Danish band poised to teach Phnom Penh to rock
By Markus Bernsen
The chart-topping band Michael Learns to Rock is heading to Cambodia for a televised concert on October 19 that organizers say will be watched by more than eight million people.
The concert will be shown on the Cambodian Television Network (CTN) at 8pm.
No tickets are on sale for the pop band's performance in the CTN studios, since sponsors Cellcard and ANZ Royal are giving away 700 tickets to winners of lotteries and SMS-based competitions.
Michael Learns to Rock's most famous single, "Take Me To Your Heart," was a hit in Cambodia, spawning a locally-produced Khmer language version.
"It's a huge event for Cambodia," said Glen Felgate, general manager of CTN. "With this concert we are trying to open the door for international acts touring Asia."
Apart from minor French acts and Jose Carreras - who may not qualify as a pop star - no big-name international bands have performed in Cambodia.
In preparing for the big night, CTN is dealing with music promotion giant Midas, and Felgate hopes to attract more of their clients in the future. Midas promotes international pop stars like Robbie Williams, the Black Eyed Peas and Sting.
Felgate can't see why Phnom Penh should be any different from other Asian big cities like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Ho Chi Minh City, where stars perform regularly.
"It takes a lot of money and a lot of logistical work to arrange a pop concert, but when they are in the neighborhood, there's no reason not to put on a concert in Cambodia," Felgate said.
Michael Learns to Rock made their debut in Denmark more than 10 years ago with the hit single "The Actor" but hit the big-time after moving to Asia, where they have had a series of Number One songs. The band has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide.
For budding vocalists, CTN is also throwing a competition to find the best singer of a Michael Learns to Rock song, and Felgate said the station has received hundreds of entries from fans hoping to win tickets for the ground-breaking show.
Syrupy '70's singer's star still shines
LOBO LIVING OFF SIMPLE LYRICS AS MUSICAL ICON TO VIETNAMESE
By Brad Kava
His 1971 hit ``Me and You and a Dog Named Boo'' is largely forgotten in the United States. If it's mentioned at all, it's more likely as an example of the worst pop songs recorded, not the best.
But in Vietnam -- and among many Bay Area Vietnamese -- the 60-year-old Florida artist known as Lobo is a megastar. He's as big or bigger in Vietnam than Elton John, the Bee Gees and the Carpenters, who are some of the other top English language favorites in the country of 80 million.
``Every Vietnamese performer, if they sing a song in English, they have to do one by Lobo,'' said Bay Area promoter do van tron, who has booked the singer -- born Kent LaVoie -- to perform tonight at a Vietnamese pop concert and cultural show at Parkside Hall in San Jose. ``Every day in cafes and clubs, you'll hear his songs.''
While never a big star in the United States, LaVoie -- who performed in San Jose seven years ago at a similar Vietnamese-themed concert -- is an example of how some artists have lengthened their careers by going to other parts of the world.
It's similar to what San Jose rock band Insolence is doing now. They recently played to 25,000 people in Japan, but only 300 here.
LaVoie's story, though, is one of staying power. Long after his sales dried up stateside, he developed and continues to have a huge following all over Asia with his syrupy, melodic love songs.
He said he gave the biggest concert ever in Ho Chi Minh City, playing for 5,000 people at an amphitheater, with just as many outside trying to get in.
What was it that makes Lobo so appealing? LaVoie said he thinks his music strikes a chord abroad because it is so simple, basic and written from his heart.
The songs ``reflect the truth of who I am,'' he said. And the people ``sense that in the melodies, even if they don't speak English.''
Kim Nguyen Phoung has been listening to Lobo since 1970, five years before she arrived in the United States and learned English.
``The music gave me chills,'' said the San Jose mortgage broker, in her 40s, who plans to go to tonight's concert. ``The ballads were lovely. Then when you understand the words, it's even better. He says a lot about the loving relationship between a man and a woman. I'm a sucker for romance.''
LaVoie admits ``Boo'' is constantly on ``worst-of'' lists. Laurie Roberts, program director for San Jose's classic rock station KUFX-FM (98.5), said the only time her station plays Lobo is during its annual Thanksgiving ``turkey'' show.
And ``Boo,'' which reached No. 5 in the United States, wasn't a big seller in Asia. What made him famous were three songs that made the charts in the United States but didn't reach No. 1.
``I'd Love You to Want Me'' was No. 1 everywhere in the world, except Japan and the United States, in 1972. It was No. 2 here, kept down by Johnny Nash's ``I Can See Clearly Now.''
``How Can I Tell Her'' has become a Vietnamese standard, after reaching No. 22 on the U.S. charts in 1973, as has ``Stoney,'' an album track that never charted here.
Three German film crews recently flew to LaVoie's island home near Fort Myers to tape a segment on ``I'd Love You to Want Me,'' which was considered the sixth-best song ever released in that country.
``Sixth-best as in forever and ever and ever,'' LaVoie said. ``That's really eerie to me. I don't think of it in those terms anymore.''
LaVoie, a father of four grown children, said he lives a simple but comfortable life, usually far away from the live music scene. He took on the name Lobo after writing his song about the dog Boo, because he didn't want to be pigeonholed as a novelty song writer. At the time, people assumed Lobo was a band.
He and guitar player Billy Aerts first went to Asia in 1977. The success has continued over the years, although LaVoie only occasionally tours abroad.
These days he only tours with Aerts, a Nashville musician who recently wrote Kenny Chesney's hit ``Everywhere We Go.'' Otherwise, he prefers working in the studio or playing golf.
``I'm really grateful for what's happened to me,'' LaVoie said. ``I happened to be in the right place at the right time. People call me all the time and tell me that my song was on a list of worst songs. It's so bad, it put my kids through college.''
GuyD2's health being improved, he has recast the Sweet Cucumber blog (about his time in Cambodia) in archive form and those who missed it are encouraged to wander about there. Reading it again and looking at Guy's photographs makes me think I spend way too much time in bars....oh yeah I have to (at least my own)...hmmmm...maybe I should have thought this through....
Heading back to Saigon Thursday and JungleLand Monday. If I can survive the next couple days trying to finish things up in L.A. it will feel great to be back.
Postscript: That will be Monday the 24th I'll be back.