Category Archives: travel

JetLag RocknRoll: The Video Travel Guide Series

I’ve been so wrapped up in multiple projects that I forgot to update this blog with JetLag RocknRoll’s latest incarnation! Years ago I attempted to produce online travel guides with wanderlustful rocknroll aficionados in mind but writing each listing was incredibly time consuming and a bit too ambitious for just one person. Last year, C suggested we make it a video form instead and ask local bands about their favorite spots in the places they call home. Well, the first episode is now live! It spotlights the San Francisco East Bay and features Shannon & the Clams, Tina Lucchesi of the Trashwomen, and Jesse Townley of Blatz. You can watch the video above and get more details about the businesses, places, and bands covered here.

Other destinations in the works include San Francisco, Tokyo, and Chicago. Check back here or jetlagrnr.com for new episodes!

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First Time with The Boys

nipsOn Friday, May 16, first-wave U.K. punkmeisters The Boys will be headlining day two of HoZac Records‘ three-day Blackout festival in Chicago. Crazily, this will mark their fourth U.S. performance since the 1977 release of their glorious first single “I Don’t Care,” and I’m slightly devastated I won’t be there. Sure, I’ve seen them beforetwice, even, thanks to the Holidays in the Sun festivals (now the Rebellion Festivals)—but that was over a decade ago, both times in echoey, cavernous venues, quite unlike the intimate Empty Bottle in which they’ll be playing in the next 60 hours.

Had I continued to make my zine, perhaps I would possess better recollections than I do now. As it stands, I remember my first time with The Boys a bit more clearly than the second. It was in 2000 at the three-day Holidays in the Sun fest in Bergara, a Spanish Basque town numbering 11,000 or so citizens that, amazingly, had a dedicated rock venue called Sala Jam. (Coincidentally, it was festooned with posters promoting a show with NYC legends The Dictators, who are also playing this year’s Blackout.) I loved the historic quarter and the friendly locals, who got a kick out of a red-haired Asian girl chirping Basque phrases at them. They were pretty chill with all the punks and skinheads that mobbed their otherwise sleepy streets, too. Judging by the broken toilet tank covers after the first day, I’m sure little sleep was had by festgoers that weekend. The Boys’ performance itself was a singalong pogo party.

Perhaps my memories from that encounter are sharper since my senses were heightened after a would-be mugging incident in Bilbao a day earlier (luckily, the purple grip marks on my arm that I received while fending off my traveling companion’s attacker faded a week later). It helps that I have terrible photos (some taken with my tetraptych-producing Nickelodeon PhotoBlaster) and a fuzzy recording of a brief interview I nabbed with Matt Dangerfield and Honest John Plain. Among the hard-hitting topics tackled: their first time, and the accompanying soundtrack (if any).

Matt: “It was done in complete silence, I think. Well, not complete silence, but there was no music playing. For me it was a drunken fumble.”
Honest John: “Beatles, Stones, Bob Dylan.”
Matt: “What? You were listening to three albums when you were doing it for the first time?”
Honest John: “Well, I took a long time….No, I think my mum! My mother downstairs saying, ‘What are you doing up there, John? Whaddya want from the fish shop?’ I’m afraid that was it. I didn’t have music on at the time.”

It pains me that I won’t be seeing them again, so I hope you go and report back!

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The Boys, Bergara, Spanish Basque Country | September 2000

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The Boys, Bergara, Spanish Basque Country | September 2000

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Bergara bathroom wall (note giant spider and web) | September 2000

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Bergara, taken with Nickelodeon PhotoBlaster | September 2000

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Trundling through Hong Kong

Here are 52 sped-up seconds of one of my first tram rides through central Hong Kong, taken in 2012. It’s such a fun way to get a quick look at the city—can’t wait to do it again!

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Brown, Fuzzy & on the Go: Domokun in Italy

domo tackles the bocca della verita

Bocca della Verita, Rome | Canon Powershot A80

In March 2004, Domo-kun and I rendezvoused in the land of pasta, pizza, and piety, spending a good chunk of our two weeks in Rome, Perugia, and the Cinque Terre. (You can read about our first adventure together here.) I fully assumed (and was totally fine with the idea) that we’d do nothing but stuff our faces or be in shambling comas from said face-stuffing. What I didn’t expect was someone as seemingly savage as Domo to appreciate fine art and architecture, but he did.

In Rome, our feet soon ached from inspecting the intricate ceilings, stunning stained glass, and hand-hewn pews of each basilica we passed. He insisted that we stop at every Bernini fountain to marvel at the marble masterpieces, but he refused to wade in the Trevi Fountain à la Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, claiming that the water would make him frizzy. We did, however, visit the Bocca della Verita and re-enact the classic Audrey Hepburn/Gregory Peck scene in Roman Holiday (although his performance was admittedly half-hearted since he has no hands to begin with). Naturally, we checked many other popular attractions off our sightseeing list and even let a gypsy woman and her children by the Colosseum rifle through our bags. We veered from the tourist track and caught a glimpse of Rome’s small punk scene in a graffiti-covered squat, where Taxi and two other Italian bands covered relatively obscure acts like Johnny Moped and the Normals.

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Domo with nude in Piazza del Quirinale; Tiger Lily gives the Bocca della Verita a hand

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Colosseum, Rome

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Arco di Constantino and the Colosseum, Rome

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Incident at Arco di Constantino—the pigeon started it

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Roman forum

domo at the forum

Roman forum

teatro di marcello

Crumbling ruins everywhere: Teatro di Marcello, Rome

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Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II, Rome

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Trevi Fountain, Rome

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Piazza della Repubblica, Rome

castel sant'angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome

airing dirty laundry

Ghetto, Rome

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Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona, Rome

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Fascist neoclassicism: Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, EUR, Rome

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Graffiti in Tiburtina, Rome

roman squat

Roman squat

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Taxi performs in Roman squat

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Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II, Rome

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Roman forum

view from a train

Train to Umbria

Come for the Wine‘s Marcy Gordon and her Italian friend Fabio met up with us in the walled hill town of Perugia, the capital of the region of Umbria and known for its annual Umbria Jazz Festival, a chocolate fest, and several universities. Together we awkwardly engaged in la passeggiata (evening stroll), broke bread with Buddhist anarchists, and trudged along snow-lined Monte Subasio. Between heavy, leisurely meals, we took daytrips to Assisi and other cobblestoned, red-roofed Umbrian towns, making sure to get lost at least thrice between destinations.

perugia rooftops

Perugia rooftops

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Domo in the Piazza Navona, Rome; Assisi man startles Domo

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Snowy Monte Subasio

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Not-so-leaning tower of Pisa

Domo and I eventually made our way to the Cinque Terre, stopping off at Pisa for a quick photo jaunt. Somehow, we couldn’t capture the tower’s legendary lean before time came to scramble back to the train station, but once we arrived in Riomaggiore (the southernmost of Cinque Terre’s five coastal villages), our disappointment evaporated. The Cinque Terre is for the most part accessible only by a small train or on foot, which means it’s absurdly quiet and hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years. It was also markedly warmer and sunnier than the other parts of Italy we’d been to. We joined high-heeled Italian women and their children on the rugged trail that connects the five villages, absolutely enchanted that the flora and craggy coastline reminded us of the California coast. The expansive view of the stepped hills, tight cluster of colorful homes, and the Mediterranean Sea’s sparkling turquoise water, coupled with a series of brief but arduous ascents, was truly breathtaking.

We overnighted in charming, tranquil Vernazza, the second-northernmost village, and considered staying there forever—until we heard the Clash and Green Day reverberating through the night. I remembered that I wasn’t ready to retire from rock ‘n’ roll just yet; he realized that he still needed urban discord to fuel his daily rawr and fist-shake. And so with that we returned to our respective noisy, messy homes. Check back soon for more of our adventures together!

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Cinque Terre train

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Cinque Terre trail to Corniglia

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Waiting for the Cinque Terre train

classic shot of vernazza in the cinque terre

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

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Italian chick orgy, Gubbio

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Davey Havok’s Troubles with Women

afi at gilman 1994

AFI (924 Gilman Street; August 7, 1994) with Chaos U.K., M.D.C., Swingin’ Utters & Toxic Narcotic

It seems like just yesterday I was standing outside 924 Gilman Street with AFI/Blaqk Audio’s Davey Havok as he swooned over a blue-haired girl who had smiled at him, grabbing my arm to contain his excitement. Yet it also feels like several lifetimes ago. I suppose it’s hard to believe nowadays that he’d be nervous in the presence of beautiful women but, as he wrote here and here, they liked to give him grief and his apprehension was understandable.

Not long after that episode, we were in his tiny studio apartment, giggling about one of the many racy fan letters AFI received after MRR ran their first interview (issue 137). We didn’t foresee AFI’s endurance and its evergrowing legion of devoted fans. Heck, after our lives diverged sometime in the late ’90s, I had no idea they had outgrown small punk rock shows until I saw them perform again in 2003 during their Sing the Sorrows tour.

I had arrived in London with my new travel buddy Domo-Kun to conduct research for the novel I was working on at the time. It involved a walking tour that encompassed London’s historic punk and rock’n’roll venues, listening to John Peel’s show on the radio (what a thrill!), a bus tour of England’s mystical sights (Stonehenge, Glastonbury, King Arthur’s grave, Avebury), and a walk-through of the London Astoria. One day I thumbed through Time Out and learned that not only were Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and Nick Lowe playing separate sold-out shows the next evening, so was AFI.

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AFI crowd outside London Forum (June 6, 2003) | Fujifilm FinePix A101

On a whim, I headed over to the Forum the next afternoon in hopes of catching the guys once they were done with soundcheck. To my surprise, despite doors opening at 7pm, at 4:30pm there was already a long line of people waiting to get in. In addition, dozens of kids were hanging out by the side of the venue, which was apparently where the band’s dressing room overlooked.

Though I thought there was little chance the band would venture into this mob scene, I joined them and met fans from London, elsewhere in England, and even Europe. They were quite competitive with each other, detailing how long they’d been listening to the band, how many times they’d seen and met them, etc. Several times they’d rally together and chant one of the guy’s names, hoping for a response. Occasionally Dave, Jade, Adam, or Hunter would stick his head out the window and the kids would cheer. It was quite exciting, actually, and all that unbridled enthusiasm swept me back to my very first concert (Lollapalooza #1, with Siouxsie & the Banshees, NIN, Henry Rollins, Ice T, and Jane’s Addiction). At one point Dave affixed a small basket to a rope, filled it with vegan cookies, and then lowered it into the crowd, much to everyone’s delight.

Hunter, the new member of AFI at the time, came out and was immediately mobbed by autograph and photo seekers. I’d never met him before but managed to fight through the crowd and ask him to tell the others that I was in town. He obliged and eventually Dave hung out the window (cue an explosion of cheers) to look for me.

Their show turned out to be a bonafide concert, complete with an enormous stage, dazzling light show, and 2100 screaming, pulsing fans. I was awestruck, both by the audience’s fervor and the band’s performance. Their stage presence had always been energetic and spirited but it seemed to have multiplied tenfold since I last saw them a good five years prior. I recall getting goosebumps and a touch misty-eyed as I watched them work the stage and the crowd. The entire venue shook underfoot for the duration of the show. It’s times like this that I regret not being a better photojournalist, but c’est la vie.

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My Letter to the World #8; London Astoria (May 2003) | Fujifilm FinePix A101

Here’s another installment of Dave’s troubles with women, which appeared in My Letter to the World #8, published December 16, 1993 (click for a larger view). For more literary endeavors by Dave, you might want to check out his debut novel Pop Kids, which comes out today.

davey havok's troubles with women

“Troubles with Women” by Davey Havok, My Letter to the World #8

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