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Check out this band!

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2010 in Seoul Days

 

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Seoul Shanty Town

Trying to recommit myself to this blog lest it become abandoned. It’s already been a long time coming.

These makeshift houses are located directly behind the school at which I work, located in Gangnam-gu, Seoul. Gangnam is home to both the greatest number of rich and poor people in Korea which is no surprise as the latter supposedly make a living leeching off of the former.

Note: click pictures for full-view. WordPress’ layout is annoying, as the composition display varies greatly from the viewing display.

 

I still don’t understand why they would need three satellite dishes. Are they stealing internet or cable?

These pictures were taken in March of 2009 but the place looks almost exactly the same. Doubtless a few pieces of rotten timber have been replaced but it’s pretty safe to say that not much will change within the next decade as this is located in an advantageous area that is both hilly and close to a stream/designated park area, thus seemingly unsuitable for further development.

It has been said that some students in the school actually live here and while I wouldn’t doubt it given the proximity of the two, which is literally feet away (these were taken from a window within the school), I have not been able to pick out any particular student as coming from there. Now that I think of it, one kid does regularly stink of propane, which may be a direct indication. Most of the residents of the area seem to be elderly or late middle aged and they are the only ones that I’ve ever seen outside of the residences, though that’s naturally within school hours. Recently, I’ve noticed middle and high school aged boys have started smoking in the woods behind the school acting secretive and cool, doubtless a right of passage.


 
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Posted by on September 15, 2010 in Seoul Days

 

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Rooftop

I’m moving next weekend to a fancy apartment complex in Gangnam-gu. I’ll miss the convenience of my present abode, which is in five minute walking distance of three subway lines, as well as the view from the nineteenth floor.

Sometimes, either early in the morning or late at night, I venture to the rooftop three stories up and wail on my saxophone. The reverberations off of adjacent buildings and the general spread of sound are quite spectacular, and I occasionally wonder how well it carries, and who is privy to the racket.

The evenly spaced concrete slabs provide interesting acoustics.

Their tops are adorned with clusters of vents

Namsan is clearly visible even on this foggy day.

It’s even possible to spy on activities taking place at the Yongsan base.

I won’t have such opportunities at my new place. Not even sure I’ll be able to play sax in the apartment, which was another perk of this officetel. Just hope the positives, mainly increased space and better area for business, balance out the negatives.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2008 in Seoul Days, What I'm Up To

 

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Hard Rock Rejects

After several lengthy delays, the Hard Rock Cafe finally opened in Itaewon sometime last month. Saturday night Dog Soup had an audition of sorts for a slot on their stage. A representative came from the club to hear us at another gig down the road.

We failed miserably!

This from the bassist of the Soup:

The reason: we’re not “pop” enough: “too much rock”. Our auditor suggested we get two female singers who are, and I quote here, “thin, blonde ,and attractive”. She also suggested we sing more Madonna and Britney. Then, she’d look at us again.

She obviously wants the usual top 40 pop garbage. Guess their disregarding what the name implies. It’s supposed to be a “rock club,” but she said that she wants it to be more “customer friendly pop” and that we we’re too “rock” and she doesn’t think our sound fits the “family restaurant atmosphere” she wants to promote.

The band “Faded” was the first band to play there a few weekends ago and she’s not inviting them back.

Too loud and too “rock”.

What they really want is a Filipino style cover band. One that will learn any song they want in the style they want, i.e. exactly like on the record. But they need to have white faces! Yay racism! Ideally the band would be a bikini team with instruments, but any of these Las Vegas Show bands would suffice.

etc…

So, if we become a different band, abandon our repertoire and funk stylings we’ll earn a gig at the Soft Pop Cafe. No love for the Soup, which is just as well. I’ve compromised styles too much already and don’t care to whore myself out further for the sake of a Hard Rock gig, especially with this band.

The politics of the music business make me glad I have a day job, but, at the same time, I would like nothing more than to play music for a living. Therein lies the dilemma. Alas, I’ve got another three months left in my contract to figure something out.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2008 in Seoul Days, What I'm Up To

 

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Sinchon Dentist

I went to the dentist this week for my first ever dental scaling, which I was surprised to find was quite different from a cleaning. The mint-flavored polish and manual scraping I’d grown accustomed to have been replaced by an ultrasonic drill and a tube gushing ‘bad water’ into my mouth. I chose Beautiful Smile Dentist based on a recommendation from a coworker and it worked out well. I had been tempted to go across the street to Shinchon Ye Dentist, if only to be on the inside staring out of their giant tooth window.

Check it out:

sinchon-ye-dentist.jpg

It’s in the same building just upstairs from CNN Headquarters. The PC stands for Political Correctness. Wait a minute… that’s not CNN Headquarters… just a PC Bang that ripped off their name/logo. My bad.

 

The receptionist spoke English pretty well and the dentist, who was young, and, judging from the post-visit discussion with my coworker, just an assistant, was very kind and tried her best to communicate effectively, even going so far as to look a couple of terms up online during the procedure. When I sat in the dental chair I couldn’t help but notice the TV screen about a foot and a half away staring me down. I thought, wow I get to watch TV while I’m getting my teeth scaled, but that was not to be the case because just after it was turned on a vinyl mat was placed over my face which only had a hole for my mouth and nose. So the TV must have been for her then, which is an idea that sent a surge of fear through my body worse than car TVs do, but everything turned out fine so either she was really good at dividing her attention or it was just for background noise. Turns out I had a little bit of 켈쿠루스/calculus on the back side of my front bottom row of teeth. I had never heard of calculus before, so I said “You mean tartar?” and she said “치석” which indeed does mean tartar. But I managed to sound like an idiot stating that calculus is a branch of mathematics. She showed me the tiny specs of tartar and said “bad not just scaling” but that otherwise everything was fine and I didn’t have any cavities. 나이스!!

 

The treatment cost 60,000 won ($63.24 on today’s market). Much like the states preventative care is not covered by my insurance. However, if I stop brushing completely and develop Periodontitis then I’m covered. What a twisted system.

I highly recommend 아름다운 미소 치과/Beautiful Smile Dentist for a relatively painless dental treatment that’s convenient if you’re living or working in the Shinchon area. It’s located across the street from the main gate of Yonsei University on the 약국/Pharmacy corner a block from the underpass. Here’s a helpful picture:

beatiful-smile-dentist.jpg

It’s on the second floor. You can kind of see the TV and part of the chair  off to the left  of the white sign in the window.

 

 

 

If you go based on this post, tell them Nick sent you (maybe they’ll hook me up in the future).

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2008 in Seoul Days

 

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Nagwon Arcade

I realized today that my blog is the number one authority for information relating to Nagwon Arcade, according to Google at least. Thus I feel I should provide some useful information.

Nagwon is a giant music mall located in Central Seoul and containing over 200 stores that sell instruments and recording gear of all varieties. Many stores also do repairs. You have the opportunity to bargain on the price of whatever you’re after. If the vendors won’t budge then just start to walk away and they’ll likely have a quick change of heart.

The easiest way to get there is to take the subway to Jongno-3-ga. No matter what line you take you need to walk to the purple line (line 5) and make your way out of exit 4 or 5; they’re right next to each other. You should take the one with stairs, not the escalator. At the top of the stairs you’ll be on a street corner and an alley will be visible slightly off to your right. There’s a small sign pointing in the right direction that reads “Nagwon Arcade”, however there is no sign on the building. Once in the alley you will see a couple flights of stairs on your left side. Take them to the top and you’re in like Flynn.

Their hours are somewhat of a mystery to me, but I’m pretty sure it closes at 6 or 6:30 on weekdays, stays open a bit later (maybe eight) on Fridays and Saturdays, and is closed on Sundays and national holidays.

Edit (9.23.2012)

Still not sure on the exact hours, but I believe it closes at 6:30 M-R and is open a bit later on Saturday… Most of the stores are closed on Sunday. I was going to shoot a video showing directions to the place before I jump ship, but there’s a YouTube video available already that should suffice, though it’s got that annoying style of voice-over that older tourists are supposed to love.

As of my last visit a few months back, there’s no English sign to mark the place. All you get is that rectangular blue sign above the underpass reading “낙원악기상가.”

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2008 in Seoul Days

 

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목이 아파요 –> Trip to the K-Doc

I started developing a terrible cold and sore throat last Thursday. By Friday, I could barely breathe or move and didn’t feel up to braving the below zero weather for a trek to the doctor’s office. Symptoms continued to worsen, especially after I played to gigs on Saturday night and didn’t rest much Sunday either. So after teaching my presentation class on Monday and eating some porridge with my coworkers (one just returning after a three month leave), I finally went to the doctor to get checked.

Last year when I worked in Godeok, there was this great doctor who had a small office, spoke fluent English and was very detailed about the source of my sickness and what each prescription drug would do. The office in Sinchon was quite different. There were a dozen other people waiting for care and none of the secretaries or doctors spoke a lick of English. I was able to tell them “목이 아파요”/My throat hurts, but that was about it. The secretary was a bit confused about my name. You see I had to wait 4 weeks for my University ID and they still spelled my name wrong! My family name reads 안토니오/Antonio, though my first name is spelled correct. She wrote this all out but just as quickly drew a line through it and wrote 닉 in blue marker and large lettering across the top. Somehow I got to go ahead of all the people waiting and was seen by the doctor about 2 minutes after entering the office.

He wasn’t one for small talk. So once I got my line out, he sprayed some antiseptic up my nose and down my throat, had me say AHHH a few times, scraped the back of the left side of my throat with some white stuff and jotted a prescription. All this in about the time it would take to read the previous sentence out loud slowly. Next I paid my fee, which came to 3,000 won ($3.15 on today’s market. I love my medical insurance!), and got a shot in the hip from one of the secretaries/nurses(?!?). Took my prescription to the pharmacy down on the first floor and was given a variety of pills and a bottle of green 가글/Korean transliteration of Gargle, though they’ve mistaken the act for the object. This came to 3,300 won.

It’s strange to be taking all these pills and not know what they are, but they basically one reduces swelling, one inhibits pain, one is a decongestant, and I’m guessing the last is ibuprofen. I tried to gargle the 가글 once, but all it did was numb my entire mouth for an hour with a lingering taste of cough syrup. I’m feeling better today, but the right side of my throat was in pain when I awoke (remember he only scraped the left side). I need to brush up on some medical terms before my next visit, or at least have someone right me a good note detailing my ailments. ^^

 
 

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