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28 October 2012

TiL Presents a Very Mello Halloween Mix

Samantha Anne Carrillo
DJ Mello created this killer Halloween mix, Songs That Go Bop in The Night, specially for Things in Light readers. Aren't you boils and ghouls lucky? She mined her impressive collection of creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky vinyl to unearth 22 tracks from a bevy of genres—ranging from cinematic found sound to The Ideals' R&B ode to gorillas to Cal Tjader's Latin jazz interpretation of oft-covered Mike Sharpe instrumental "Spooky" to obscure '60s girl group The Magics' eerie tune "Zombie Walk" and beyond!—to create an All Hallows' Eve mix that will raise goosebumps. See the full track list below.

1) Ray Noble & His New Mayfair Dance Orchestra - The Haunted House
2) Vic Crume - The Haunted House (poem)
3) Johnny Brown & The Joy Boy - Suspense
4) Cal Tjader - Spooky
5) Spells
6) Al Caiola - Experiments in Terror
7) The Brain Eaters
8) Nu Trends - Spooksville
9) The Mighty El Dukes - Frankenstein's Den
10) The Magics - Zombie Walk
11) Lord Dent & His Invaders - Wolf Call
12) The Ideals - Mo' Gorilla
13) The Frogmen - Underwater
14) Frankie Stine & His Ghouls - Mummy's Little Boy
15) The Ventures - Out of Limits
16) Monsters Crash the Pajama Party
17) Thee Cormans - Werewolves in Heels
18) Rex Gavin - Strange Happenings
19) The Phantom 5 - Graveyard
20) Theodore Roethke - The Bat
21) Jack Dangers - Bats In My Belfry
22) Outer Space

21 October 2012

Things in Light Podcast #26: Shutter Mix

Samantha Anne Carrillo

Things in Light is pleased to present our twenty-sixth podcast, Shutter Mix, featuring recordings by TAHNZzz, Discotays, Whiteshell Girl and Turquoise Boy, Mama Coma, Rosie Hutchinson, Veery, Ryan Dennison, and Black Range. See the full track listing below.

1. TAHNZzz - Her Strange Dwellings
2. Discotays - Riots and Stuff
3. Whiteshell Girl and Turquoise Boy - IX
4. Mama Coma - Canto
5. Rosie Hutchinson - Sgrey
6. Veery - Caroline
7. Ryan Dennison - Crow Hop
8. Black Range - Blood Goods

18 October 2012

The New Chinatown Restaurant and Polynesian Lounge Versus David the Android

Rudolfo Carrillo

By Rudolfo Carrillo

It sure as hell was never up there with the stars, in a Lee Ho Fook sorta way, but in case you wanna know, the joint that housed the once-legendary New Chinatown Restaurant and Polynesian Lounge, and was later briefly reincarnated as Mr. K's before spending an infinity of several months in the regalia of the half-priced sushi roll place called Fujiyama, has been razed, so that only hunks of concrete and twisted corten i-beams that have been released forever from their structural duties remain.

I am pretty sure they dug up the parking lot, the two anemic cottonwood trees astride it, as well. I hope someone remembered to take the koi from the pond in front, before the ginormous backhoes took things over.

I know that sounds kinda grim, but I gotta tell you, I was just waiting for all the stuff I just told you about to come prancing outta the potential and into the actual. There had been a fire in the roof above the lounge a few months back, you see, and I figured that pretty much sealed things up. Like maybe the ghost of Freddie Kekaulike Baker had to fly away from there one night because of boredom and too many teevee monitors loaded with football and loneliness. He could've got caught in the rafters with his angelic rocket thrusters still pouring out cool jazz standards and fiery ionic exhaust. You never know.

In the last decade of the twentieth century and continuing for a few years post-millennially, Baker and his idiosyncratic combo burned it up on the weekends in the Polynesian Lounge. The band played in the southeast corner of the bar. A crafty facsimile of a Hawaiian war canoe hung from the ceiling, nearby. All the tables had blue hurricane lamps and were ceremoniously lit at sunset and before Freddie's set, by an authentically costumed crew of paid alcoholic beverage presenters. I remember the place was usually packed at least one night of the week, but when I asked Freddie to play something by Steely Dan, he trickled out some quiet and out-of-key version of Rikki Don't Lose That Number, then pointed to me in the audience and laughed heartily afterwards.

And if you wanna talk about decent Chinese, then wasn't the New Chinatown just the perfect location to have that discussion? In its heyday, it had three dining rooms in addition to the Polynesian Lounge. One was decorated in the fashion of old Imperial China and formal, too. Then, another room had a giant and hand-painted wooden dragon climbing and twisting around on the ceiling. Last of all, there was the modern, no-nonsense area, where mostly folks ate their lunch and left small tips. Did I tell you they had a mechanical panda bear out front by the pond, and it was always smiling, waving, and thereby inviting new guests through the door. The fish were pretty suave, too, especially when there was someone to care for them. Lots of shiny quarters in that little lake.

The thing was, and in defiance of all the wonders mentioned above, the New Chinatown Restaurant and Polynesian Lounge were always in a sketchy part of town. It used to be worse and I oughtn't mention the time my girlfriend's parents took me there for dinner one night in nineteen-hundred-and-eighty-nine and were going on and on about how wonderful it all was when we ran across a fresh turd in the parking lot. Everyone went in and ate like kings and queens anyhow, but things were different for all of us, somehow, after that.

The city did a damn good job of cleaning up the urban mess on Central between Washington and San Mateo, but I think it is still as forlorn as it ever was. Endemic poverty mixed in with a dose of economic stagnation and chronic joblessness are helluva depressing things to look at whilst zooming through mi vecino. If this were a political site, I might be inclined to inch you all towards a solution or discuss what sort of creative class-generated business would emerge to thrive on that small lot of land in the middle of Albuquerque.

But it ain't. These posts I write are just mostly my memories and visions and whatnot. So. as I stood there this evening, looking over the chainlink fence running around the crushed remains of the New Chinatown Restaurant and Polynesian Lounge, I thought of something David the Android said in the movie Prometheus. He said, "Sometimes, to create, one must first destroy".

Damn robot was probably right, but I'll still miss their sweet and sour chicken.

07 October 2012

Two Octobers

Rudolfo Carrillo

By Rudolfo Carrillo

I reckon I ought to warn the reader about how this post follows no particular order, how this update from the back side of a ridge that still faces the sun in winter - but is now covered in unique three-bedroom homes, lush gardens that could not grow here naturally but ironically, and so perversely prosper, growing green and prosperous on well water that has more than likely been poisoned by the fluid by-products of war-inspired technology - will just kinda shift from year to year. 

Right now, it is getting on toward evening on the seventh day of October in the year known to some as two-thousand-and-twelve, but I might be apt to jump about temporally using random and unadorned methodologies. For instance, the last time we met like this, I told you about the time I flew into Mustang.

During the first week of October nineteen-hundred-and-ninety-six, I trekked up to Muktinath. I stayed for a few days, mostly to get used to the height of the place, which was something like 12,170 feet. I was thinking on whether I should go on up further into the mountains. Muktinath was the last town on the trail before the portion of formidable earthly geography known as the Thorung La Pass.

Ten miles on and located at the most unkind elevation of seventeen-thousand-and-eighty feet was a place where the earth touched the sky roughly, I imagined. I looked to the east as I rushed back down the trail. As I dragged my ass into town at sunset - pulling an old Tibetan pony behind me that was no good for riding due to my ample girth, but was just fine and dandy for carting camping equipment just the same - I wiped a grip of mud from my Ray-Ban Wayfarers and said the hell with it.

I settled into an inn with electricity and a flush toilet down the road a-ways from the trail, a suburb of sorts called Ranipauwa. It is mostly a collection of inns, restaurants, and horse stalls developed to make a commerce of all the pilgrims, hikers, ghosts, and new age savants that traipse through the collection of temples, monasteries, and holy shrines that comprise Muktinath. 

The kid that ran the office downstairs had Bon Jovi posters tacked up onto every available free wall surface and went on and on about the hair band from New Jersey and Michael Jackson; what was it really like in the United States anyway, he half-whispered, as he passed me a room key.

In case you are interested, as I have sorta hinted at up above, the town called Muktinath, in the province of Mustang, has deep signifcance to Buddhists and Hindus. There is an ancient temple to Vishnu there, with a golden statue inside and a fountain in the courtyard that pours out very cold water forever from 108 intricately fashioned bronze bullheads.

Padmasambhava, is supposed to have walked through Muktinath on his way to Tibet; wherever he trod, the humans that live there now say, poplar trees sprang from the ground. There is a beautiful poplar orchard at the edge of that temple and it was wagging in a fierce breeze on the day I came to town.

Three days later, I headed back down the mountain. By the seventh evening in October, I arrived in Larjung, a small village on the edge of the river where a few Tibetan refugees scratched out a living by growing buckwheat and marijuana. I rented a room for the night at a shabby guest house. Excepting years of dust and complex spiderwebs, my quarters were dark but comfortable. As I drifted off, I listened to the local monks playing football on the water's edge.

I dreamt of my mother that night. She was wearing an elaborate silver crown and a white dressing gown as she descended the far western escalator at Coronado Center, a shopping mall in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was smiling and radiant and wanted to reassure me that things were just fine back at home.

Of course, that wasn't the case. She was actually in a hospital bed at Lovelace Medical Center, dying. It took me another week to trek down to where the road to Kathmandu slithered out of the mountainside. During that week, I saw some of the most sublime and wondrous and beautiful things a man might ever hope to see, but the bus ride back was long and shitty and hideously hairpin; I kept having to lean my head out the window to vomit.

I left Nepal behind a few days after my mother died in Albuquerque. I had ten American dollars and five-fifty in Singapore currency for the twenty-one hour plane ride back. At Changi Airport, I had a twelve-hour layover so I spent the sawbuck at the bar, drinking cheap whiskey. I passed out at my table and dreamed about my mother again. She was young and full of life and wanted to lecture me about what I needed to do to get my life together after she died.

The next morning I awoke to find the bartender rifling through my jacket, telling me I probably better get out of there soon and back to the transit lounge because someone might call the police; I had long hair, after all.

I spent the five-fifty on a burger and coke at McDonald's and almost missed my connection because I was watching the Crocodile Hunter, a new nature show that had just debuted on Australian teevee. It was being piped into the terminal in Singapore at various and sundry locations for the benefit and amusement of the multitudes of English-speaking passengers headed back home to warmth and convenience.

But, back in Burque, it was cold and windy. Winter was setting down its plan, much like it seemed to be doing last night. Mostly folks were glad to see me come back, but sad and angry that I had missed my mother's funeral. I drifted around very mournful for a couple of weeks, then took a job teaching English at Ernie Pyle Middle School. Anywho, I'd usually cry on the way to work from the Heights; Albuquerque was so beautiful, my mother was dead, and the Himalayas were very far away.

I remember a few people that I worked with down at that school, like the burnt-out science teacher who always wore chunky Navajo bolo ties and constantly picked at his goatee beard while complaining about how dangerous kids are these days.  But mostly that part is foggy since I was still seeing mountains and temples and blood sacrifices to Shiva whenever I closed my eyes.

A little less than sixteen years later, I closed my eyes again as I sat in the back yard and soaked up sunlight while my dogs barked and danced around the vestiges of an Indian summer wherein the weather is damned warm during the day but cool and languid by night. Some sort of vintage aeroplane flew over the house at about four in the afternoon and its engines sounded mysterious to me.

Later on, at Ghetto Smith's, my wife and I passed Don Schrader in the produce department and he said howdy. He was wearing more clothes than I was used to seeing these past few months, it being autumn and all. I gave a respectful hello back and Samantha said hi and waved.

After all that, we waited at Cervante's Restaurant half an hour for our take-away enchiladas, but that was okay with me because you expect that kinda action during the first week of October when the Balloon Fiesta is upon us and the town, and that restaurant is also filled with tourists and pilgrims, ghosts and all sorta seekers of higher places. Just what you would expect in a place with mountains.

01 October 2012

Sixteen Years from Albuquerque

Rudolfo Carrillo

By Rudolfo Carrillo

I had to get up very early for the flight from Kathmandu to Jomsom. That was just fine. There was a dog barking nearby all night before I left. The mutt was making a ruckus somewhere down by the alley that connected Baluwatar to the main road into Thamel. Its lonesome howling made for a fitful sleep whose own flight into the breaking dawn I gratefully obliged with a cup of instant coffee laced with powdered milk.

The week before, I gathered all sorts of camping gear together; a sleeping bag, flashlights, a first aid kit, and a shovel. I used Nepali Rupees to buy the gear in Tridevi Marg, a gaudy tourist district on the other end of the alley of mournful barking.

Palm trees lined the main avenue into town, which was adjacent to that rough road. They were usually filled with huge fruit bats. The bats had faces that looked just like little brown foxes.

The money I told you about earlier had pictures of the King of Nepal or his father printed on the bills. They both looked just like Peter Sellers.

In the early morning light, I hauled the whole lot of ramshackle equipment down to the auto-rickshaw that was waiting for me, buzzing and vibrating in neutral. The operator peered through his sunglasses, smoking a thin cigarette while I descended from the third floor of my luxurious accommodation.

At the airport, which was also named for the King that looked like a character from I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, I bought a Coca-Cola and wondered out loud about the fancy helicopters that were busy whisking away some of the other tourists and pilgrims and curious adventurers.

It turned out those whirlygigs were army surplus, mostly reliable, but relatively slow and loud. Some of them were still outfitted for military travel. They had tiny, steel, form-fitting buckets for seats. There were ragged rubber straps to hold on to, while in flight. Apparently, these factors made for a rough experience, for a flight into a place were one would be better occupied considering nature in its most majestic complexity and not retching or wishing for other forms of gastronomic relief amidst the din of two fifteen-hundred horsepower General Electric CT58-140 turbo shaft power plants.

It happened that missing out on the helicopter ride worked out just fine. The plane I took to get to the Mustang Province was a modern turboprop whose pilot zipped us up through the increasingly, forebodingly deep Kali Gandaki Valley with a sort of magical confidence that, in reality, just meant he relished his avionic duty. The pilot knew the mountains' twists and turns as if those grandiose topographies belonged to his favorite lover.

At nine-thousand feet, the lush Himalayan flora, first tropical, then alpine, gave way to a wide valley surrounded by vast arid reaches. Up here was a spot by the river, almost a plateau, with an airstrip and helipad. The whole affair looked damned sketchy because it was on such a small plot of land whose boundaries dropped off precipitously into a rugged abyss. The mountains seemed to crowd in on all sides and everything looked waxen from the air, but we lit on the packed earth tarmac as if dropped gently out of heaven by the hand of Hanuman himself.

We came to a stop and the aeroplane started unloading. I shook the pilot’s hand and winked at him as I exited into the autumn wind.

Jomsom was cold and blustery that day. About a dozen townfolk came out to meet the arriving flight. Some of them were kids who wanted a look at the flying machine itself, to marvel at its bravery and perfection. Others were adults looking for work as porters and guides. Most of the passengers, excepting me, engaged the latter and began glorious discussions about their plans to conquer the Himalayas or to find the truth at the edge of the Tibetan plateau.

I just kept on walking. During the flight out, I had decided I was going to take a trek without porters or guides. The trip inside and back out would be between fifty and seventy miles, depending on the routes I chose along the way. Somehow, I would end up near a place called Birethanti in two weeks. There was a paved road there where bus supposedly stopped by every couple of days, pausing momentarily on its crawl through the mountains and valleys, back to Kathmandu.

One of the porters ran after me as I approached town. He came off as friendly and guessed out loud and in good English that I was American, British or Israeli. He decided I couldn't be Canadian or German because of my long dark hair. I told him thanks and said I would be okay without him. That's when he stopped in his tracks and yelled back to his comrades, "Indiana Jones!” They all pointed at me and laughed. One of them rolled on the ground, then got up, danced around the others and lit a joint.

By then, I had crossed into the village of Jomsom, a dusty rock and adobe town replete with buckwheat, lentil and marijuana fields, apple orchards and plenty of huge furry yaks. Besides the sky machines, the only other motorized vehicles I saw for the next fourteen days were the small, Chinese-made utility tractors the farmers used to drag around bags of grain, their kinfolk and to till their smallish portions of land.

I ended up at a building in the middle of the main road. It was called the Moonlight Lodge. I could have stayed in a place down by the river that advertised itself as the location where Jimi Hendrix had once taken refuge from fame and celebrity. But I chose Moonlight instead, urged myself towards its threshold because they had a placard out front that said the kitchen served the best Mexican food in Mustang.

The tortillas were coarse and grainy. They were filled with lentils and it was all covered in greasy yellow yak cheese, which sorta tasted like Swiss, but with a heavy, rustic tang. There was no chile anywhere within 1000 miles of the Moonlight Lodge.

For toilets, they had rooms with singular and dark holes in the ground. The beds were made from wooden planks, so the sleeping bags came in very handy. I stayed up that night and plotted my journey using an old oilskin map and a US Army surplus compass.

Outside, a band was playing disjointed, droning tunes while the Milky Way hovered brightly overhead, forming an arc that began somewhere in the Annapurna range and ended just over the horizon, in the direction of Albuquerque.

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