A Mighty Weekend

:

It began with sushi.

There’s a terrific new sushi restaurant near my place. It’s a Japanese chain and very cheap – most everything is only 1,500 won. The place is large and brightly lit, with four separate conveyor belts that carry all types of fishy goodness. Each table has its own touch screen, on which you order anything that you don’t already see cruising by. The order is sent back to the kitchen, where the food or drink is then placed on a bullet train, which shoots it to your table on a track above the belt. It’s all wacky Jappy and completely awesome. I want to go every day.

It began with sushi.

There’s a terrific new sushi restaurant near my place. It’s a Japanese chain and very cheap – most everything is only 1,500 won. The place is large and brightly lit, with four separate conveyor belts that carry all types of fishy goodness. Each table has its own touch screen, on which you order anything that you don’t already see cruising by. The order is sent back to the kitchen, where the food or drink is then placed on a bullet train, which shoots it to your table on a track above the belt. It’s all wacky Jappy and completely awesome. I want to go every day.

Jem and I ate our fill and then headed to Conor Murphy’s place, to meet up before our show. He had some people over and they had already polished off several bottles of wine; his buddy Nick had moved on from the vino and was drinking soju straight from the bottle. Ah, youth. He was already teetering and we had yet to even set foot in the club. Anthony and Violet from Poko Lambro were there as well, and we shot the shit, mainly talking about guitars. Anthony’s in the market for a U.S. made Fender Telecaster. If anyone here in the Special K has a line on one, let me know.

After dusting off the last of the wine we made our way to METAL CITY, a new bar/music club open in Seomyeon. It’s a snazzy venue with good sound and an extremely generous owner. Conor and I were playing solo sets, and he went up first, staggering from the wine. Conor’s from Northern Ireland and sings like a means it, pure and angsty Gaelic soul. He’s got a good collection of original tunes, with a couple that’ll really knock your socks off. The crazy thing is that he’s just a pup – 23 or so. Watch out for this kid 10 years from now.

The owner kept chucking Jager shots our way and after his first set Conor was fucked. I followed him with some solo stuff, and later invited Ryan, the drummer from my band The Headaches, to join me on a few tunes just guitar and drums – White Stripes style. Conor and Nick proceeded to sloppily hop about and then wrestle with each other to the rockin’ beat of the songs, slamming into chairs and getting really messy.

After my set I sat with Jem and some of my friends. Conor and Nick were still drunkenly fucking with each other. At one point Nick grabbed Conor’s necklace (Conor’s a bit of a dandy) and ripped it from his neck. Conor responded with a LIGHTENING QUICK HEAD BUTT, smashing and bloodying Nick’s nose. Nick objected to Conor’s “Liverpool kiss,” and attempted a few sloppy swings, but we held him back and within ten minutes they were once again arm in arm, buying each other even more drinks.

Ah, the example we set. The best and the brightest of a generation. Just like my song.

* * *

On Saturday Jem and I woke up, ate kimbab, dwaenjang jjigae and ramyeon, and took the train to the Asia Mart in Sasang, to buy last minute supplies for the upcoming EPIC THAI FEED. Upon arriving, we were deflated to discover that all of the limes had been sold out. The Pakistani owner of the place had assured us the week before that, from then on, he would always have limes. He had grossly underestimated the demand however, and they had been snagged up. His Korean wife informed us that the next shipment (from Vietnam) would not arrive for another week. We were screwed, since the next day we were to cook mass amounts of Thai food, with fresh lime being one of the key ingredients. We managed to pick up a bottle of Thai lime juice, however, which ended up working in a pinch. But the lack of limes in Korea is a head scratcher. They are nowhere to be found. Koreans eat no limes.

That evening we joined John Bosckay for his birthday dinner, where we ate lots and lots of grilled meat. K, always hip to the best Korean barbecue joints, led us into a new place in Kyungsung that lived up to the hype. We feased on “galmaegi sal” and washed it down with beer, baeksaeju, and a bit of soju. After congratulating John on his last year of his 30’s (we’re the same age), Jem and I went to the Radio Cafe and caught about 30 minutes of “Wordz Only,” which is K’s new spoken word open mike, a kind of child of the old “Poetry Plus.” When I walked in, some brooding dark hair kid was reading earnest, senstive pieces that sound as if they were penned by a depressed 14-year old bulemic goth girl. I was cringing but they were slightly entertaining in their sheer badness. K got up and knocked a couple out of the park, and we were oh so lucky to witness Sam actually taking the mike. He read a hilarious drunken email he had once written to his girlfriend Rosh. It was funny and really offensive and I’m insisting that he reprise the act at this Friday’s Ha-Ha Hole comedy open mike.

The last part of the night found Jem and me in Gimhae, where I was joined by my rock and roll band, The Headaches. We had a gig at the Tandoori Bar, which is the only expat watering hole in that unfortunate Busan orbital town. The turnout was decent, though, and we rocked and some of them danced and several people bought me drinks after [info] sent out a “buy Tharp a drink” directive on facebook to all his people out there, since he had spent two years doing the hagwon grind there. All in all a good time, despite the fact that all of the band’s guarantee went for paying taxi fare.

* * *

It ended with Thai food.

Jem and I woke up at about noon on Sunday, made a quick run to Costco for shrimp, chicken, and pork, came home, and cooked. And cooked. And cooked and cooked and cooked. I hosted a dinner party that had somehow grown from six guests to about sixteen. By seven that night my smallish apartment was packed with friends who chatted, drank, and took in the exotic Thai aromas swirling through the air: chili, lime, lemongrass, onion, garlic…. the wonder of it all. I prepared two red curries (chicken and shrimp). Jem took care of the following: tom yam kung (sour shrimp/squid soup), pad thai, pork laap, and another coconut-milk chicken soup that finished the medley. People dug in and ate heartily. Scott’s new girl, Mandy, made strawberry and chocolate crepes. Wine turned to beer which turned to gin and vodka. As the evening wore on the crowd thinned, until a handful of us sat around and listened to Anthony and Kurt (who had both worked professional back home) trade gig-from-hell war stories. Anthony’s tale of playing with “Blade,” the bass player for “Seal,” definitely took the cake. Buy him a beer and ask about it sometime. It’s one of the best I’ve come across yet.

* * *

I’ve had some epic weekends in Korea, but the last one just may win for pure activity. The only downside is that with all the running around, prep, and cooking, that I actually got very little rest, and just want to hibernate this week. It’s been a serious struggle just to keep my eyes open for the last two days, but aside from timie for the odd nap, I just got too much stuff going on.



Leave a Comment