of the First International Scatenger Tour
I consider June 14th to be the first day of the Scatenger’s First International Tour. It was, after all exactly 2 months after Hyeyoung and I met again, and it was our last weekend in Seoul before leaving on Monday. While historians may argue that the real start of the trip was actually June 16th, these 2 days before we’re so filled with events and discoveries, that they set the tone for all the magical events that were to follow.
With future best friend Arum as our special guest, a number of amazing adventures took place. The flea market vendors were unusually cold. not a look, not a smile, nothing. Yet, little by little we won them over. By the end of the market, they were laughing along and cheering us. I felt like we had unfrozen some zombies. The highlight had to be when Arum bought Hyeyoung a Sponge Bob keychain figure. Somehow that led to Hyeyoung skating in a pretty good imitation of Louie Armstrong. We were all surprised how well. She amazed us with that sound. She sang with more freedom and piazza than normally. This inspired us to move SpongeBob around as we sang, and if you just used your imagination a little, you could feel that SongBob was actually singing and dancing along ( the soloist performing both functions). A new genre was thus born. SpongeBob scatting. It didn’t take long for it to spread around the flea market. The zombies who were completely ignoring us before we’re suddenly willing to scat with SongBob. We even found a few accomplished scatters in the crowd. Nothing like having a live mic to add excitement to the mix. It’s amazing what people will do when you stick that mic into their faces. Usually they would shake their head “no” and then when I would sing a simple phrase at them and then point the mic again, they would respond, surprising even themselves.
A little later, a young girl seemed mesmorized by the music, but not so much so that she couldn’t take one of those ice creams that is encased in plastic out of her mouth. It seemed to be permanently attached there. As I played she stared at me with that wicked appendage dangling. I walked in front of her and motioned over and over for her to move her fingers and mimic me on the saxophone. She couldn’t seem to understand and started to panic and was about to dart away until finally another audience member yelled out to her. She finally got it and moved her fingers back and forth on the plastic thing, laughing out of control. I wanted more. I wanted her to watch closely and move her fingers exactly like I did. Finally she did, and yes a new genre was created. Popsicle playing.
We were trying to find a way to keep Arum involved. There were a number of jobs to fill and we teased her that she was working her way up the ladder. She started out as photographer and graduated to microphone holder for when HY needed someone to hold a mic for her. From there she graduated to bubble master, someone to blow bubbles while we played particularly sentimental songs. She did so well at that that we decided to include her in out band in a completely new role. Bubble musician. Why should we limit a musicians role to someone who actually plays music. We had a much wider interpretation of the term, In fact a musician could be someone who participates in any way. In the usual “taking 4’s” each musician plays 4 measures of improvised music and the next person plays another 4. We let Arum play her 4 measures by blowing bubbles and challenged the audience to broaden their understanding to include that. I felt that she was able tomblow the bubbles in such a way as to express the feeling and mood of the music. Each bubble became a tone,meach dancing color a timbre, a harmony, a rhythm. It was a tremendous success (for me , but perhaps no one else). Another genre was born, not a bad days work, I’d say. We ended the gig at 5 pm as planned and left as heros, a number of new fans in our wake. The organic fair trade mango guy stepped up and gave us a delicious bag of dried mangos and we took the required pictures
After that, the three of us, went for Ethiopian food at the seedy Itaewon reggae bar, Club Zion. It was Arum’s first time. On the way there we wondered about the great wasteland of people riding on the subway. Why not have teachers there who could teach mini-lessons for a small tip. There could be a number of things you could teach like,ma card trick, juggling, or even some English practice. Subway school was born and whether it actually takes place or not, it was lot of fun to think about, Lu,kr all the other things we did that day.
Day 2 …….if life gives you lemons, make lemon aid ……June 15th, 2014
It was the day before our departure, and there were lots of things to do, but we couldn’t pass up the chance to play at City Hall, Deoksugung Palace Wall. When I arrived there however, there was a street artists fair going on. That used to phase me but I learned over time that I could get away with playing there, and that they even like me being there. They had actually taken my picture and put it on their pamphlet. I was in fact not a fault of the fair, but a feature.
I set up in my usual place, across the way from the sellers, and proceeded to play. That’s when I noticed it. They had put a standard size upright piano on the walkway, for anyone to play. Many Koreans see playing piano as a normal part of a balanced education and give their kids 3 years of piano lessons. However the piano lessons are like everything else that they teach the kids, taught by rote memory and dogmatically without creativity or feeling. The kids usually hate it but stick it out for 3 years then never play again. This at least gave them a chance to reminisce about those many wasted hours. Many a passer-by stopped to play something that still lived in their memory and fingers. Chopstick was heard more than a few times, as well as “Heart and Soul” For me it presented a dilemma, for in principle I supported freedom of expression and this certainly was, but on the other hand, it interfered with my playing music, because it wright across the way, and I could hear it when they played. the solution was simple. All I had to do was join them. As soon as I heard them pounding away, I stopped playing whatever I had been playing and started imitating or playing along with them. It was great. The person playing chopsticks, suddenly heard a saxophone playing along, and this freaked them out. They would look startled, spin around, spot me and then make a quick decision. Many darted away, too embarrassed to continue. Others relaxed into it, and then I walked over and started to play with them. Some were actually good players and we had more than a few nice collaborations.
At one point, some young children were banging on the keys. There were 3 of them banging at the same time. I focused on one at a time and tried to play something that fit with what they were doing. Amazingly, it worked, and for a few seconds, it sounded like avant-guard jazz. Needless to say the surprised parents were beaming. What a photo-op that was for them, and after all, that was what they truly wanted anyway.
One young girl of about 15 was already pretty accomplished and was used to playing with other people. I asked her what we could play. She suggested Pachebel’s Canon, which was an excellent suggestion. We started playing and some monster came over and started banging on the keys. Te parents, not wanting to inhibit little Kim’s creativity, we’re reluctant to intervene. Again the solution was simple. The kid just wanted to play. I took his handed and we pressed down on the low D key of the piano,mthe key of the piece. Amazingly, he started playing rhythmically, that very note, and it actually sounded good. The kid could keep time and was contributing to the music. I think we may have miracled that kids life then and there.
It all fell under the category of “making lemonade” as miracles kept birthing into reality through the universal womb of paying attention, being open minded, and creative enough to try anything new for a laugh or just for the experience of it all.
Around 4 pm, an amazing thing happened, the bottom post on my saxophone that held a key on, just fell off. An entire key mechanism, just fell to the ground as I was playing. Talk about a sign, talk about timing, the day before my trip, and my precious alto which I had been enjoying ever so much, just died. The universe was telling me to go.
Hye Young left early around 5 pm, but I just couldn’t let go, after all, it was a beautiful day and this wold be the last one for a long time in Seoul, because tomorrow, the show was going onto a much larger stage, with bigger lemons but the chance also for much more delicious lemonade.
Flying all day
10 hours in the air
Movies, being served meals, sleeping
Me…….10 minutes for immigration
HY. ……2 hours…….No job, stay risk
More lines for rental car. Beetle
Essentials Gps. Burrito
Worlds largest trees …muir
Cousin Bruce, Harriet, David good food, good sleep
Winery with lavender and tasting
More driving. Aunt carol, uncle Leon
delicious Japanese restaurant
Steamy hot tub with stars
Sacramento to sf
Frank, should I dress warm or cold
Ethiopian lunch buffet.
Neo and Debra
Jet lag and