Cheer Chen 陳綺貞

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Cheer Chen on a scooter / poster

Semaine du 30 septembre 2008 / Week of September 30th, 2008

Cette chronique hebdomadaire sur la musique indépendante chinoise est diffusée à Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM), les mardis entre 22h30 et 23h30. L’émission complète est disponible sur ce fichier MP3, à partir du lendemain de l’émission.

This weekly segment on independent Chinese music is broadcasted every Tuesday between 10:30PM and 11:30PM on Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM). The full-length show is available at this MP3 file, starting from the day following the show.

***

1. Let’s go to Paris (Live in Kenting – Spring Wave)
2. Small steps dance
3. Child

It was my birthday last weekend, so this is a little treat for myself!

Cheer Chen is a singer from Taiwan, and she is the queen of this brand of folk rock. I made a trip to Kenting to listen to her (as well as other bands), and biked in the dark countryside just to get to the venue, at the Maobitou park, closeby (10-15km) the main town of Kenting. In fact, the whole experience afterwards was quite memorable: going down a slope in the dark towards the sea, then encountering some village straight out of one of those slow Japanese movies (because Taiwan, at many respects, resembles Japan a lot) with old folks hanging out or playing some local game at the roadside outdoor bar or seafood restaurant…

The Spring Wave festival, a more commercial festival (sponsored by big labels and featuring Taiwanese music stars like Mayday), was nothing like Spring Scream and not my cup of tea. I recorded the first song tonight from Cheer Chen’s performance at some point past 10pm. It was a song called Let’s go together to Paris, that doesn’t feature on any of her albums, and which only release is sung by a Taiwanese artiste.

This poster here above was a reproduction bought in a shop called Mackie Study in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. There is another shop nearby that had a large advertisement panel. Comparatively speaking, Cheer Chen is relatively unknown, and a singer that indie kids tend to like.

(And, thanks Ly for saving the segment!)

Freckle 雀斑

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雀斑 - 我不懂搖滾樂

Semaine du 23 septembre 2008 / Week of September 23rd, 2008

Cette chronique hebdomadaire sur la musique indépendante chinoise est diffusée à Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM), les mardis entre 22h30 et 23h30. L’émission complète est disponible sur ce fichier MP3, à partir du lendemain de l’émission.

This weekly segment on independent Chinese music is broadcasted every Tuesday between 10:30PM and 11:30PM on Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM). The full-length show is available at this MP3 file, starting from the day following the show.

***

1. 太陽餅 (live) “Sun cake” (live at Kafka Cafe, Taipei)
2. 小美人魚 “Beautiful little mermaid”
3. 阿呆 “Ah-dull”

We’re once again going for cute Taiwanese band who like to think that they’re Japanese! In fact, it’s not surprising that the Taiwanese take so much from the Japanese, since they were a colony of the former for almost half of the past century… Taiwan looks a lot like Japan.

This band is also recently deceased, since the end of August, while remaining a one-woman band. They’re the Freckle 雀斑, from Taipei, a band that I like, but which I should better consume in small doses. The female lead-singer’s voice is high-pitch on purpose and can destroy your sense of listening if too much of it is taken at once.

I guess that they were a big thing for the year since releasing their only full-album, which you see here above. The first song that I am offering comes in fact from a live album that I bought on Indievox, while the second comes from 像星星一樣 Like a Star, a compilation made by a Kaohsiung rock festival.

Ah, les élections !

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May Chiu

Non, à ce que je sache, May Chiu ne se présente pas à nouveau aux élections… Mais vous pouvez lire l’entrevue que j’avais réalisé avec elle plus tôt cette année.

Pour ce qui est des élections, c’est dommage car on entend jamais parler des candidats d’origine chinoise, ou même asiatique qui ont une vraie chance. Parmi les Canadiens d’origine chinoise, je connais Raymond Chan (LIB) à Richmond, en C-B, et Olivia Chow (NPD) au centre-ville de Toronto, et Michael Chong (CON), dans la région de Toronto. Rien du tout au Québec. [Ah, j’oubliais que Meili Faille (BLQ) dans Vaudreuil-Soulanges est à moitié d’origine taiwanaise, d’où son prénom à consonance chinoise. Fait d’armes: a battu Marc Garneau en 2006.]

En 2004, on avait alors balancé des faces asiatiques contre les chefs respectifs des Libéraux et du Bloc, avec Chiu contre Paul Martin dans Lasalle-Émard, et Soeung Tang (Chinois du Cambodge?) contre Gilles Duceppe dans Laurier-Ste-Marie.

Sans recherche exhaustive, mais juste en filtrant les nouvelles, il n’y aura pas de faces asiatiques au Québec, même pas dans une circonscription où elles n’ont pas la chance de se faire élire. C’est dommage, mais je dirai même plus que c’est certainement des deux bords : on ne leur donne pas la chance, et il n’y a pas vraiment personne pour saisir la chance.

En tout cas, c’est aussi pour dire que des entrevues réalisées il y a déjà quatre mois devront en attendre un autre, car les élections me garderont certainement occupé comme ça se peut pas d’ici là!

Hot and Cold

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Photo published in the McGill Daily.

Semaine du 16 septembre 2008 / Week of September 16th, 2008

Cette chronique hebdomadaire sur la musique indépendante chinoise est diffusée à Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM), les mardis entre 22h30 et 23h30. L’émission complète est disponible sur ce fichier MP3, à partir du lendemain de l’émission.

This weekly segment on independent Chinese music is broadcasted every Tuesday between 10:30PM and 11:30PM on Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM). The full-length show is available at this MP3 file, starting from the day following the show.

***

1. Rabies + Dance to this Motherfucker (zipped)

This week’s band is in fact not really Chinese, but its band members live in China during the off season. Brothers Joshua and Simon Frank form the Hot & Cold, a sometimes-Montreal, sometimes-Beijing, sometimes-Shanghai “experimental” rock band.

Le parc Belmont et la mort du parc d’attractions ailleurs dans le monde

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Adieu parc Belmont!
(Archives de Radio-Canada, diffusion originale: 1963-09-06)

Le site des Archives de Radio-Canada recèle de nombreux petits trésors, dont ce clip vidéo sans narration de sept minutes, datant de 1963 et qui traite du parc Belmont. Le célèbre parc d’attractions était situé à Cartierville au nord-ouest de Montréal et ferma définitivement ses portes en 1983, après 60 années d’existence.

Les problèmes du parc Belmont débutent dès la création de La Ronde, lors de l’exposition universelle de 1967. Malgré une année record, en 1972, de 750 000 entrées, le nombre de visiteurs diminue progressivement. Même l’arrivée de nouveaux manèges ne suffit plus à maintenir l’achalandage. En 1979, l’accident du manège « paratrooper » blesse deux enfants et ruine l’image de l’institution. Elle vieillit mal. L’été avant sa fermeture, le parc Belmont n’obtient que 316 000 entrées.

Avec les plaintes d’un voisinage résidentiel, une descente de police, qui nuit à sa réputation, et une hausse des taxes, le parc Belmont est condamné à fermer ses portes le 13 octobre 1983.

Je n’ai aucune mémoire du parc Belmont, étant né que quelques années avant sa fermeture finale. Des lieux comme le Belmont exercent une certaine fascination chez moi, peut-être parce qu’ils témoignent d’une époque révolue, celle de l’amusement par des moyens technologiques qui ont peut-être fait leur temps, comme la maison hantée et les montagnes russes, maintenant remplacées par un bon jeu vidéo à la Half-Life, ou le dernier Indiana Jones.

Old Amusement Park / Kaiping 开平 / Changsha Park 长沙公园

Ailleurs dans le monde, on peut aussi à l’occasion rencontrer des parcs d’amusements abandonnés sur son chemin. Cette photo fût prise au début du mois de mai, et provient du parc Changsha (长沙公园) dans la ville de Kaiping, province du Guangdong, dans le sud de la Chine. Le Changsha est un parc boisé de la taille de notre Carré St-Louis, en plein centre-ville (deux blocs à l’est du terminal de bus inter-cité), et qui a maintenant l’air de servir de parc public.

Parmi les manèges abandonnés (ça m’étonnerait qu’on les époussète juste à chaque année l’été venu) – un carrousel, des navettes rotatives, et une arène d’autos tamponneuses, sans autos tamponneuses – se trouvait aussi un centre d’activités municipal dont on se servait encore, vu les jeunes qui en sortaient, alors que nous passions dans le parc.

群展香港观记-王禾璧

Lors d’un voyage précédent en Asie, au printemps 2005, cette fois-ci à Hong Kong, j’avais été à une exposition photographique intitulée « Hong Kong Four-Cast » au Musée de l’Université de Hong Kong et dont un recueil fût publié à la suite.

Les pièces les plus marquantes pour moi furent celles du défunt Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park, ou Lai Yuen (荔園) pour les intimes. La photographe hongkongaise Wong Wo-bik avait alors pris des clichés du parc d’attractions et zoo à la veille de sa destruction en 1997, alors qu’il était déjà abandonné depuis quelques mois.

Lai Yuen était encore au début des années 80 le château des illusions et de l’épouvante où des milliers d’enfants et d’adultes se pressaient. Wong Wo Bik a ainsi recueilli ces vestiges et a par juxtaposition ou autres procédés recréé ces images : Des lieux éphémères plein d’imagerie populaire qui ont compté dans la vie des Hongkongais et ont disparu sans laisser aucune trace. C’est un passé recréé pourrait-on arguer, mais tout passé est recréé par la mémoire humaine qui le transforme continuellement en fonction du présent.

(Suite au site de l’Alliance Française de Hong Kong)

Situé alors dans le Nouveau Kowloon, autrefois loin des principaux centres urbains de Hong Kong, le Lai Yuen était un des endroits favoris des excursions de fin de semaine des Hongkongais. Les développements résidentiels se succédèrent, jusqu’à ce que le Lai Yuen lui-même se fasse gober par un projet d’habitation.

Cet article fût publié le 17 juin 2008 dans Spacing Montréal.

Brown Note Collective

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Folktales From Many Lands

Semaine du 9 septembre 2008 / Week of September 9th, 2008

Cette chronique hebdomadaire sur la musique indépendante chinoise est diffusée à Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM), les mardis entre 22h30 et 23h30. L’émission complète est disponible sur ce fichier MP3, à partir du lendemain de l’émission.

This weekly segment on independent Chinese music is broadcasted every Tuesday between 10:30PM and 11:30PM on Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM). The full-length show is available at this MP3 file, starting from the day following the show.

***

1. Mini-compilation for Folktales From Many Lands

I met some members of the Brown Note Collective while I was touring Hong Kong on this activity called Folktales From Many Lands, an initiative by a one-time Montrealer Canadian-born Chinese and colleague artists to make people re-discover their town. The BNC was the band accompanying us on the whole tour, dressed in flashy green lime.

Listen to the first track, and you will never see dessert tofu the same way.

INDIEVOX: DRM-free MP3 music from Taiwan

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As I was looking for songs to download from Kaohsiung band Orange Doll 橘娃娃 (some v. obscure band – but I fell in love at Spring Scream 2008), I found the most remarkable website for Chinese indie since Neocha.

This website is INDIEVOX, based in Taiwan. Unlike Neocha, Indievox is also (and foremost) an online music store, on top of being a community-based website à la MySpace (also just more well-designed). According to the infos that I am able to parse, the site was founded by Pochang WU 吳柏蒼 (see his Indievox page), a lead singer and guitarist for a band called echo 回聲樂團, and a one-time NYU computer science student.

Its most interesting feature is certainly that it offers MP3s free of DRM, which you can buy with domestic methods of payment (a Chunghwa phone, the 7-Eleven payment system), but also through internationally recognized means like Paypal. I live in Canada, and had no trouble “adding money” to my account.

I got the lowest increment, which seems to be 5 USD, or 157.6 NT, or 5.25 CAD. Most songs will cost 15 NT, which is 50 cents. Considering that Taiwan has a similar cost of living to Canada, this is definitely a steal. I saw full-length MP3 releases of albums published by big labels, like this Cafe Kafka Unplugged Volume 2, for the expected price of 300 NT (about 10 CAD).

According to these posts, Indievox seems to have been launched in March 2008. Just browsing the site, I managed to find many big names of Taiwanese indie like Nylas and Freckle 雀斑, Bearbabes 熊寶貝. I found one Hong Kong artist, aniDa, and there is also a whole range of Western pop to choose from.

To the IT professional in me, even the choice of technology is commendable, with the Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP combination, and generous use of URL rewriting.

Kenneth Cheung, activiste et homme d’affaires montréalais, disparaît à l’âge de 71 ans

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Centre Chinatown, 1984

Cette photo est probablement tout ce que je savais de Kenneth Cheung, décédé le 1er septembre 2008 des suites d’une attaque cardiaque à l’Hôpital Royal-Victoria à Montréal. Promoteur immobilier, il a été candidat à la mairie de Montréal en 1986, pour attirer l’attention sur le manque de représentation des minorités visibles dans les instances politiques (ce qui est encore totalement vrai aujourd’hui chez les personnes d’origine chinoise, ou asiatique en général).

Voici un extrait de la lettre de Victor Wong du CCNC qui m’a informé de la nouvelle:

It is with sadness that I inform you of Kenneth Cheung’s passing. Kenneth skillfully managed to advance numerous social causes for three decades. I’ve known of Kenneth since the late 80’s when he was helping Chinese students who were stranded here after June 4, 1989. He was very passionate in his advocacy on numerous community and human rights issues. In November 2003, Kenneth was elected as CCNC National Chairperson and his appointment triggered the regional realignment at CCNC. Kenneth was very firm about the principles of redress even though he and his family were not affected by the Head Tax and Exclusion Act. In 2004, Kenneth walked out on our meeting with Hon. Raymond Chan when the Minister insisted that we agree to the Government’s preconditions of “no apology, no individual financial redress.” It was this resolve that steeled many of us to mobilize the head tax families and the Chinese Canadian community to fight back against the 2005 Government-imposed ACE program.

Un obituaire paraîtra dans le Montreal Gazette de demain. Les funérailles de M. Cheung auront lieu ce samedi à la maison funéraire Aaron, au 1031 St-Denis (angle De La Gauchetière).

Regarde les Chinois : Paul Zimmerman 司馬文

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Paul Zimmerman
Photo by Robert Olsen

Dans ce prochain Regarde les Chinois, j’ai fait la rencontre en mai dernier de Paul Zimmerman, un Hongkongais d’origine néérlandaise depuis 1984. M. Zimmerman fait partie de l’organisation à but non lucratif Designing Hong Kong qui fût à l’avant-garde d’un débat sur l’espace ouvert public qui fit rage depuis le printemps dernier. Directeur-général de Jebsen Travel, il se présente comme candidat du Parti Civique pour le siège de représentant au tourisme du conseil législatif de Hong Kong lors des élections du 7 septembre. Dans l’entrevue, M. Zimmerman a beaucoup parlé de politique en développement urbain à Hong Kong, un sujet qui le passionne depuis son implication avec divers groupes, et de l’univers particulier de la Région administrative spéciale.

In this next Regarde les Chinois, I met (in May 2008) with Paul Zimmerman, a Hongkonger who came from the Netherlands in 1984. Mr. Zimmerman is part of Designing Hong Kong, which was at the avant-garde of the debate on open space that raced through Hong Kong since last spring. Executive director of Jebsen Travel, he is running as the Civic Party candidate in the tourism functional constituency of Hong Kong’s LegCo (legislative council) on the September 7th election. In this interview, we talked a lot about the politics of urban development, a topic that he is passionate about since his involvement with various groups, and the unique universe of the Special Administrative Region.

Continue reading “Regarde les Chinois : Paul Zimmerman 司馬文”

The Marshmallow Kisses : a-la-pa-ti / I Always Love The One Who Doesn’t Love Me / I Wonder Why My Favorite Boy Leaves Me in the Rain

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The Marshmallow Kisses - I wonder why my favourite boy leaves me an EP

Semaine du 2 septembre 2008 / Week of 2nd September, 2008

Cette chronique hebdomadaire sur la musique indépendante chinoise est diffusée à Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM), les mardis entre 22h30 et 23h30. L’émission complète est disponible sur ce fichier MP3, à partir du lendemain de l’émission.

This weekly segment on independent Chinese music is broadcasted every Tuesday between 10:30PM and 11:30PM on Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM). The full-length show is available at this MP3 file, starting from the day following the show.

***

1. a-la-pa-ti
2. I Always Love The One Who Doesn’t Love Me
3. I Wonder Why My Favorite Boy Leaves Me in the Rain

Aujourd’hui, je m’en vais faire un tour du côté de Hong Kong, avec le band indiepop ultra-cute The Marshmallow Kisses.

Song titles such as “I Always Love The One Who Doesn’t Love Me”, and “I Wonder Why My Favorite Boy Leaves Me in the Rain” (Edit 2009-01-30: we note that this is a cover of a song by AMK) say a lot on The Marshmallow Kisses’ style of music: extremely cute lyrics, matching the equally cute melody (with French words inserted here and there). In an issue of HK-based free English culture publication BC Magazine, the Kisses (Edine and Peter, a non-couple, they say) tell us that Shibuya-kei is one of their common inspiration. I guess that it was _the_ 2005-06 indie album to get in Hong Kong, as three of my friends (two of which live(d) in Montreal) bought a copy, despite what I suppose to be an independent release and limited print. Small world?

While it’s hard to believe, with the theme of their songs always being about innocent love, the two band members, Edine and Peter, are not in fact a couple in life. Well, hey, why not eh?

The first song was a-la-pa-ti, which was released in Harbour Records’ We Wish You An Indie X’mas web album released during the Xmas 2007 period. It contains approximate French. Then, the second song (gloomier than usual, we say) comes from In The Name Of AMK, a sampler released by Harbour, and the last song is the band’s first EP.

葛岸 / Ge’an / Got’ngon : my ancestral village in Guangdong province

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Photo of Ge'an by jpsam on Flickr

Such a post, I am torn between doing it in English (larger audience) or French, because I am venturing the guess that many descendants of the village I will be talking about have immigrated to France, Canada, or another French-speaking country. This is because this village, Ge’an in Putonghua or Got’ngon in Cantonese dialect (葛岸 in Chinese characters), is where my paternal grandfather was born, before he left China for Antananarivo (Tananarive), Madagascar, where my father grew up before immigrating to Montreal, Canada. Like it’s frequently the case with immigration patterns, many of my grandfather’s fellow villagers settled in Madagascar and then moved on to somewhere else (just like how the Taishan wikipedia page claims that 75% of all Overseas Chinese in North America came from that small locality of now 1 million).

In 2005, I visited the village accompanied by one of my dad’s cousins living in Hong Kong. My first impression was that I would probably be willing to fork out a few thousand dollars to renovate the house, if I could make it into some sort of out-of-town chalet, if I were to live in Hong Kong one day (with as many “ifs”, you aren’t getting nowhere). The village is surrounded by fields, but outside the village proper, passes a highway. A few kilometres out, it was the city, and the Pearl River Delta Region, one of China’s most dynamic economic zone (because of Hong Kong, and money/influence from Overseas Chinese). We had late lunch in a restaurant in nearby town Lecong (樂從/乐从)

Cedric in 隔岸 (Ge'an / Got'ngon) in 2005

After the visit, I did not think of looking for the village again. Last spring, when I visited China, and Hong Kong, I ventured with the possibility of just dropping by. I did not, and went to Kaiping instead, on my three-day visit to Guangdong, and then the Shenzhen/Dongguan area.

Why I did not? Probably because it was just too much hassle asking relatives to show you around, and how to get there. This is certainly until I found out that Google Maps released detailed maps in China, sometime in July 2008, when Google teamed up with Chinese firm MapABC.com. It was the first time that users of Google Maps could see more than cities with no streets (with no names).

Ge'an temple by jpsam on Flickr

When my father went to China for the first time ever last year, he also snapped a picture in Ge’an of a public announcement board with the village name’s Chinese characters. With a little character-engineering with Zhongwen.com (don’t know any site for breaking down Chinese characters yet), I managed to find the pinyin for Ge’an (which I knew just approximately as “Cot’ngon”), and figured out how to input the characters on my computer. At that time, a year ago, I found a website at geanren.org (URL means basically “People of Ge’an”) that may not always be up, but which is a lousy-looking Java-backed site run by a dude whose last name is the same as mine…

Before then, we were always generally told that we came from Shunde (Seondak in Cantonese), a city of roughly 1.1 million, according to 2002 census data.

Incidentally, my maternal grandfather, who immigrated to Vietnam, came from a csomewhere in the city of Foshan, which is today the same administrative mega-city that gobbled up Shunde, a county-level city until 2002, and now a “district” of Foshan.

Thanks to Google Maps, I may now show the rest of (English-speaking) world where I come from and perhaps go back to with my own means.


View Larger Map

Specifically, Ge’an is a small village, in the district/city of Shunde, which is part of the prefecture-level city of Foshan.

From what I gathered in 2005, as my father’s cousin chattered with the relative leaving nearby, the idea of building a nice big house in the village is nothing new, as other “villagers” now actually live in villas that they built within the village.

New villas by the pond, by jpsam on Flickr

Except the 2005 photo of myself, the photos on this post were taken by my father.