Ozomatli play Bangkok

Ozomatli in Bangkok
Ulises Bella (L) and Jiro Yamaguchi (R).

The Los Angeles-based Latin funk/hip hop outfit Ozomatli ((More info on Ozomatli can be found on Wikipedia and on is one of my favorite bands. But I’d never seen them live.

So I was surprised to learn, at the last minute, that Ozomatli were playing a free show here in Bangkok last night — a Sunday evening, no less.

Ozomatli, it turns out, are U.S. State Department cultural ambassadors, and the US embassy in Thailand put on the event to showcase American diversity and multiculturalism. (The band has also played in Myanmar and Vietnam on this trip.)

The show took place outside Bangkok’s glittering CentralWorld shopping mall — an incongruous setting — amid a light rain. Thai band Buddha Bless ((Warning: link to MySpace page.)) opened. There were just a few hundred people in attendance, so my pals and I were able to watch the show from the front row. Ozomatli were full of enthusiasm, humor, and positivity.

Embedded below is a 30-second mobile phone video I shot. (Click here to see it on YouTube, if you’re reading this via RSS.)

And here’re some cell phone pics:

Ozomatli in Bangkok
Justin “El Niño” Porée

Ozomatli in Bangkok
Asdru Sierra (L) and Wil-Dog Abers (R).

Ozomatli in Bangkok
US Ambassador Eric John joins in.

Well done, Ozomatli. Come back to Bangkok soon.


World-Wide “Stand by Me”

If this video (embedded above) doesn’t make you smile, nothing will.


The new World Hum — and the top 40 travel songs of all time

One of my favorite Web sites ((Back in 2001, the site ran an essay of mine called Soup to Nuts, about a funny experience I had here in Bangkok, long before I moved to Thailand.)), World Hum — tag line: travel dispatches from a shrinking planet — has just launched a re-designed site. World Hum’s Jim Benning, Mike Yessis, and Valerie Conners discuss the re-vamping in this video.

New features include videos, bigger photos, and a column by Tom Swick ((A few years back, Swick wrote a good story about Cuenca, Ecuador — where I lived for a year — for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.)) There’s also a piece by Anthony Bourdain called “Subcontinental Homesick Blues,” about “why music can make a travel moment.”

The site also contains a new feature: “World Hum’s Top 40 Travel Songs of All Time.” The songs were voted on by World Hum contributors, and each song has a corresponding YouTube video. (You can see the entire list on one page here.)

I contributed a list of my top ten songs ((For the record, my top ten songs were:
1. “Born to Run,” by Bruce Springsteen
2. “This Must Be the Place,” by Talking Heads
3. “Range Life,” by Pavement
4. “Long May You Run,” by Neil Young
5. “Just Like Honey,” by Jesus and Mary Chain
6. “American Girl,” by Tom Petty
7. “Love Shack,” by the B-52s
8. “Passenger Side,” by Wilco
9. “Float On,” by Modest Mouse
10. “Good to Be on the Road Back Home,” by Cornershop.)) and then, once the voting was complete, I wrote a few sentences about Neil Young’s 1976 tune, “Long May You Run.” That song is at number 16 on the list. You can find what I wrote here (scroll down a bit).


My Short Item in The Magazine

Bangkok Post's The Magazine

The current issue of The Magazine (pictured above), a bi-monthly glossy published by the Bangkok Post, contains a very brief item I wrote about Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. (You’ve heard me mention Wilco before, no doubt.) In each issue, various folks are asked to weigh in on their favorite album, book, or movie. The item isn’t online, sadly, but interested Bangkokians can find my thoughts on page eight.


Wilco’s New Album

So have you been listening to Wilco’s new album, Sky Blue Sky? Well, why not? Get on it.

I think it’s a remarkably coherent — if staid — effort. Just like everything the band produces, the album grows on you. Slowly.

I agree with Rob Sheffield, who says this in his Rolling Stone review:

Sky Blue Sky (great title — Allman Brothers via Laurie Anderson) is understated, erratic, often beautiful, disarmingly simple music; it really sounds like six guys playing in a room, and no doubt that’s how they wanted it.

My favorite track so far is “Hate it Here” (number eight).

What’s a Backronym?

I recently stumbled across this remarkably complex Wikipedia entry for “backronym”:

A backronym or bacronym is a portmanteau of backward and acronym[1] coined in 1983.[2][3] It usually refers to a phrase that is constructed backwards from the phrase’s abbreviation, the abbreviation being an initialism or acronym. Sometimes backronym refers to the initialism or acronym itself,[4] but usually in those cases, it is a “replacement” backronym, the abbreviation already having an associated phrase. When the backronym phrase becomes more popular than the original, the word becomes an anacronym.[5]

Got that?

Related: “I Must Take Issue With The Wikipedia Entry For ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.”


Pete Doherty: Off the Rails in Phuket

Pete Doherty [Not My Image]

I’ve got another post over at Gridskipper. The subject: rocker Pete Doherty’s recent shenanigans down in Phuket.


My Story on Billy Cobham’s Thailand Debut

I’ve got a story in today’s International Herald Tribune/Thai Day (Thai Day is a Siam-specific IHT section) — it’s a review of drumming legend Billy Cobham‘s first-ever concert in Thailand. The story’s not (yet?) online, sadly. If you’re reading this from the Kingdom, pick up a copy of the paper; for those of you outside Thailand, well, you’re outta luck. But here’s my lede:

When the drummer for the opening act launched into his manic solo Tuesday night at the Thailand Cultural Center, he may well have felt intimidated by his proximity to greatness. That’s because not far away – lounging backstage, perhaps, or seated serenely in the wings — drumming legend Billy Cobham was in the house. When Cobham later took the stage and struck up his band for what would be his inaugural Thailand performance, he displayed not only his staggering percussive genius but also his subtle aptitude for marshaling disparate sounds from around the globe.

Jacko Steps Out in Black Women’s Robes

Let your freak flags fly, is what I say. When in Bahrain, as the saying goes. Perhaps his burka was at the cleaner?


Some Links

Some stuff of note:

— I’ve posted three new items over at Gridskipper of late.

— Here’s a license plate my brother Colin and I saw here in DC the weekend before X-mas. I wanna know who’s in charge of VA vanity plate obscenity screening. Someone is sleeping on the job. (Weird side note: a bumper sticker on this car featured the word “abortion” with a line through it and said “Slavery: it was legal, too.” Um, okay.)


— Culture Bully’s 10 Favorite Mash-ups of 2005 looks promising. (Especially the Flaming Lips/Snoop Dog joint.)

— This came out before X-mas, but it’s still interesting. Andres Oppenheimer asks: “Will Bolivia’s Morales follow good or bad role model?”:

Bolivia, which has an estimated 55 percent indigenous population, will enter a new era of majority rule following last weekend’s landslide election of Evo Morales, a leftist coca growers’ leader of Aymara descent. The big question is whether indigenous-ruled Bolivia will follow the steps of South Africa or Zimbabwe.