Friday, August 29, 2008 this really necessary?

Instead of getting up and actually doing something like cleaning or laundry this Saturday morning, I'm procrastinating by reading. I saw this story title on MediaBistro's PRNewser blog: LPGA: Speak English or Get Out
Since the LPGA is pretty much dominated by South Korean talent, I had a feeling what this might say. Sure enough, it does.

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) seems to have gotten itself into a little PR mess.

Reports Newsday:

The LPGA, worried about losing interest among fans and sponsors, said it will suspend players who can't pass an English oral exam after two years on tour.

This appears aimed directly at South Koreans, who represent 45 of the 121 international players on the tour and who - British Women's Open champion Ji-Yai Shin and U.S. Women's Open champion Inbee Park, to name two - are dominating.

The issue also seems to be with the way the news was made public, not via press conference or public announcement, but rather through a leaked story on Golfweek magazine's website. However, Newsday's Mark Hermann reminds us that despite this news, "...the organization is generally open- minded and forward thinking." Nonetheless, with the sport losing sponsors and needing to drum up business, this is an unnecessary ruffle in the proverbial feathers. What would you have done?

I think I'd want my best players focusing on maintaining their fitness and improving their game rather than stressing out about an LPGA inspired version of the TOEIC exam. Of course, all players should make themselves available for press interviews, but the LPGA hasn't heard of translators? I just think that if it were a bunch of European women dominating the tour, they'd just think it was charming they didn't speak English well and cough up the money for translators to be in the press rooms during the tour.

Since they're Asian, the gauntlet comes down. Sure, maybe it's fair to expect some improvement in their English skill after being on the tour for awhile. However, to make it a formal rule where players will get kicked out seems, to me, to be both short-sighted and tinged with a bit of ethnic bigotry. Or, is the LPGA fan so prone to linguistic bigotry that Korean players not speaking English actually does impact the LPGA's profit margin?...I wonder.

Also, let's admit it, even though Koreans think they're "nice and kind", the perception they can leave with foreigners is they're anything but. So some of this might simply be borne out of hostility that comes up due to culture clashes.

It just seems a bit heavy handed. Even LPGA player, Lorena Ochoa agrees (see below).

More buzz: Ochoa criticizes 'drastic' LPGA English rule News: Ochoa: LPGA English-only rule 'a little drastic' LPGA's English-only policy draws criticism


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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Trace Magazine - Black Girls Rule

I just found out about this magazine today.

Unlike Vogue Italy, Trace Magazine has had a "black girls rule" issue once a year for the last few years now. I'm not sure of exactly how long, but once I verify how many, I'll update this post. Trace is a NYC-based magazine and it looks fierce. I'm going to have to take some time to look at some other issues.

TRACE is a TRANSCULTURAL Styles and Ideas magazine, a new expression in culture documenting the impact of the interconnected worlds of music, fashion, film, art, politics on today's multiethnic youth.

Here is the link to this year's issue in Adobe Acrobat format and the guest editor was Spike Lee. Again, niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

And they've got a feature on Michelle Obama. Again, niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

So, for every single person who posted a negative comment on my post about the Vogue Italy issue, put your money where your mouth is and subscribe to Trace. They've been featuring "us" for awhile now.

Also, here is Trace Magazine's MySpace page.

Read this document on Scribd: trace_83


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Arirang TV - Korea Now, Episode 385

I was contacted by Mike last week to be part of an Arirang TV feature for their Korea Now TV show, Episode 385. (Thanks Mike.)

The topic will be Expat Blogger(s).

I was in a podcast discussion taped by Arirang with Mike aka the Metropolitician/Feetmanseoul/BombEnglish; Rob from Roboseyo; and Jennifer who has her own blog (not sure if I can reveal it), is on BombEnglish/FeetManSeoul and who is the scribe behind the new FatManSeoul food site. I heard through the grapevine that Joe McPherson, ZenKimchi, will be in the feature too.

As it goes, these sorts of features are usually pretty short and with so many K-bloggers featured we'll see how I'll fit in all of this.

Here is the info:

If you're in Korea and have cable, it's easy to view. It will air at 8pm tonight and Korea Now also airs at 6am, 10am and 11pm. So I'm thinking Episode 385 will air twice tonight and twice tomorrow morning.

If you miss it, live abroad and don't have it on your cable channel list, you can view it online: Arirang Korea Now episode list.


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Monday, August 25, 2008

The Democratic National Convention, Blogs and Musicians

I'm sure you can tell by the links on my sidebar who I support in this year's presidential election. And that means I'm crazy excited about the Democratic National Convention happening in Denver, Colorado.

When I had a chance to interview the guys from Death Cab for Cutie, I found out that Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla, one half of Death Cab, will be performing a couple of shows at the convention.

If you're in the area here is the info on a show on Wednesday, August 27th.

Ben & Chris to Perform at Rally to Fix Health Care Now!

Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie will be giving a special acoustic performance at SEIU, HCAN, NEA and Progressive Allies Rally at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, August 27th. The event will be emceed by Chuck D. Other guests: Jim Hightower, Tom Hagerman and Nick Urata of Devotchka.

When: Wednesday, August 27th at 3:00 pm

Where: Sunken Gardens Park, Corner of W 8th Avenue and Speer Boulevard, Denver, CO

If you're not in the area here is a link to Chris Walla's daily blogs from the convention. It looks like there isn't one centralized link but daily links, so I'll just update them as they pop up. There is a centralized link now: Death Cab at the DNC.

Day 1: Death Cab at the DNC: Chris Walla on “Badass” Patrick Leahy

Day 2: Death Cab at the DNC: Resisting the Urge to Punch Bill O’Reilly

Day 3: Death Cab at the DNC: Hillary’s Speech and the Real Trick She Pulled Today

Day 4: Death Cab at the DNC: John McCain Scares Chris Walla to Death

His blog got feisty on Day 4!

I knew I had a crush on this guy for a good reason Photobucket

Oh, update time. I found video from where they're interviewing Chris Walla and Ben Gibbard at the convention. Check it out. (Although CNN has a video embed function, it keeps coming up as a malfunction. So until they fix it, a link will have to do.)

Chris Walla at the DNC:


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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Book Sales vs. Campaign Donations

Considering the content, it's only right to link to this book, which you can buy at ;-)

The MediaBistro blogs crack me up sometimes.

Check out this bit of snarkiness from the GalleyCat blog:

Any Fool Can Buy a Book, And Many Do

...Anyway, somebody felt a pressing need for a veil of secrecy to inform us that Politico blogger Ben Smith looked into the sales figures for Obama Nation, and according to Nielsen Bookscan, it shifted at least 40,000 copies last week—"vastly outstripp[ing] other recent political titles, notably books critical of John McCain." Smith cites two recent books by David Brock and Matt Welch, neither of which achieved one-tenth of Jerome Corsi's popularity at the cash register.

Of course, if conservatives weren't spending so much money on heavily-marketed books like Obama Nation and David Freddoso's The Case Against Barack Obama, they might have had a little more to give to their actual presidential candidate—but, as it happens, Obama raised nearly twice as much as McCain in July, $52 million to $27 million. It's almost enough to make you wonder about their ability to set financial priorities.


Obama's campaign got almost double the donations that McCain's did, so who cares about 40,000 copies of a biased book? What is funny is that someone went out of their way to anonymously tip them off that sales of anti-Obama books beat anti-McCain books.

Well, um, okay...but at this point, maybe those buying books ought to throw their money behind their candidate and not waste time "anonymously" tipping media blogs.


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Cultural Dimwittedness

This happens with too much frequency in Seoul, but this time it happened in a place of business after I went there to indulge myself.

Today I finally got my new fillings put in today. Ouch!!! As a treat, I figured I'd go to treat myself to a high calorie meal. There is a place called the Smokey Saloon in the Itaewon district of Seoul that has great burgers. It's not even close to a saloon, but just a small and dark restaurant with a few seats and a great selection of gourmet style burgers. I actually don't eat burgers that much, but this place has a great one with avocado or guacamole. I can't recall which, I just recall it was great.

I get there and I notice it has the same facade as a place that just opened down the hill from where I live. Then I realize that new place is a new location of this restaurant. Okay, cool...great burgers are even closer now. I say something to the waiter in English. He looks at me, grumbles, pushes the menu my way and walks away. As he's walking away I can see him talking to the cook who is a Filipina. I ask her point blank "did he just walk away from me?" She explained that he didn't speak English and, I guess, that was supposed to be an excuse for acting like a jerk. I explained that even if he doesn't speak English it was extremely rude to stomp off like that and that I would respond in kind by walking out. This happens with a fair amount of frequency, but usually the person isn't rude. Even when they're not rude I find it presumptuous and irritating, but they're probably right in their assumption most of the time and I have to admit that much.

What's funny is this. I speak enough Korean to place a food order in Korean. I can even order over the phone for Korean delivery. I put that level of language skill at survival level as you've got to figure out what to say when you want to eat. However, this guy, being a dimwit simply assumed I couldn't speak his language at all and chose to be rude. Now I could have made a big deal about it, switched languages, made a scene and called him out on it but, I just didn't care too. I figured walking out and never going back would be the best option. What makes it funny is, like I said, this is in Itaewon. Itaewon is the foreign district of Seoul. Most people can speak at least a little English and, if they don't, they're, at least, nice about it.

So be careful if you go to the Smokey Saloon location in Itaewon early on a Tuesday evening. You might end up getting snubbed because the help simply assumes you don't speak Korean.

Now it's dinnertime. Instead I went to Ho Lee Chow where they're always nice to me and which is my favorite Chinese restaurant in Seoul.


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Monday, August 18, 2008

Information Burnout?

Am I the only one?

From time to time I suffer from information overload or information burnout out it seems. I'll go gung-ho for weeks and months at a time keeping myself informed of current events. I evenly spread my interests to conventional news sources but also blogs and other media. Then after awhile I just can't pay attention anymore. I even avoided my own iGoogle page which is something I put together. It has my email and, most important, links and RSS feeds to pages that I want to read when they update. These pages range from news sources, blogs and even online forums.


For example, while studying for my master's, I was plugged into CNN and other news sources almost constantly. Except for the time right after Hurricane Katrina because that, frankly, just made me suicidal. I'd watched so much coverage and talked about it so intensely on online forums that I realized the news was seriously getting me really depressed, so I intentionally tuned out for a couple of weeks to get my equilibrium back.

I still can't bring myself to tune into CNN's broadcasts. It's so bad that I think I'm going to call my cable company and pay the extra they'll charge me to add BBC News, which I love anyway, just to balance out the CNN International burnout.

I notice this because it hits in waves. I'm coming down off of another wave right now and I was actually able to open and read a few blogs from the MediaBistro site and I considered for a brief second reading the Huffington Post (I didn't though.)

Maybe it's because after being inspired by the pain of having to visit the dentist many times this month and my hours of research on tooth decay and dental hygiene, I'm pretty much an armchair expert. As me anything about interdental cleaning methods...go ahead!

Maybe regaining equilibrium is what it's all about. Most news coverage is just overwhelmingly negative. I've noticed it's rare you get positive news stories. After so much negative information on international politics or culture and society, you just need to step back and let it be.

It seems, for now, that my information burnout is fading away.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Death Cab For Cutie @ the ETP Festival, Friday, August 15th

Death Cab For Cutie photographed by Ryan Russell in 2008 in Seattle, Washington, USA

I discovered Death Cab For Cutie around the same time I started blogging a couple of years ago.

In fact, one of my first posts is their "I'll Follow You Into the Dark" video with a link to their "Soul Meets Body" video. I never thought I'd be getting ready to see them perform in Seoul, but they will be at Seo Taeji's 2008 ETP Festival this Friday at Jamshil Sports Complex in Seoul.

So, almost exactly two years later (give 3 or so days), I got to ask the band a question tonight. And to keep the enthusiasm going, let me post the video of their new single "I Will Possess Your Heart".

As someone who loves travel, I just adore this video. You'll see what I mean.

Due to its length (almost 9 minutes), I see it as a very retro song too 'cause it reminds me of those rock n' roll albums with the long tracks. They don't do that anymore. Well, that's not true. These guys do!

Update 1 - August 15, 2008 @5:30pm:

I had a chance to sit down and talk to Jason McGerr, the drummer, and Nick Harmer, the bassist, from Death Cab For Cutie before their set today. All of them were really nice guys. As usual, when the interview comes out, I'll post it here. I'll also be writing a piece for Look To The Stars on them, so I'll link that too. I'm embarrassed to say I've got a little crush on Chris Walla and was absolutely tongue tied for the brief amount of time I was near him or said something to him. And those who know me, know I'm a chatter box, so me being tongue tied for even a second is embarrassing yet wonderfully humanizing.

Update: here is the interview!
[Regina Walton's Expat Interviews] An exclusive with Death Cab for Cutie

Let's just change the topic. It was pouring rain during their set but I wandered out into the fray in spite of that. Here is video I shot of "I Will Possess Your Heart" live. Forgive my bad cinematography I was holding an umbrella in one hand and my camera in the other. It's the best I could manage and, yeah, my best with video is pretty crappy. However, try to enjoy it in spite of the limitations I had to deal with.

Update 3 - August 19, 2008 @ 10:47pm

I'm still adding to this post 'cause I can ;-)

I found a really good Death Cab interview by NME where Ben, the lead singer, and Nick, the bassist, go through their latest album track by track.

Update 4 - September 2, 2008 @ 10:20am

Here is the link to the MySpace Australia performance in Sydney. There are six songs.

I'm posting it here because it takes such a frustratingly LONG time to find the darn link AND the link is so complex that I want to help people find it quickly:
MySpaceTV Presents Death Cab for Cutie - Live from Sydney, Australia

Their MySpace page.
Rock Sound: Death Cab For Cutie: Top Five (their bassist Nick Harmer's top five videos of all time).
Paste Magazine: Death Cab For Cutie - The Hardest Working Band in Show Biz
Another Performance Recorded by Professionals ;): Death Cab performing "I Will Possess Your Heart" on Letterman


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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

[Regina Walton's Expat Interviews] Korea's trend-setting hip-hop culture

What I didn't realize when starting my interviews was the lag time between speaking with someone and getting it to print. I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeff Chang in early June at the R-16 b-boy dance competition. However, it's just making it to print today and it's almost two months later.

This interview is only around 600 words, so it's pretty short and leaves out some other things I asked Jeff about.

If I can figure it out, I'll post the rest of the interview as a podcast and I'll just update this post when I do it. Basically, what that means is I have no idea how to edit and upload at podcast. I've got to ask my pod casting friends, like ZenKimchi (who now does the weekly Seoul Podcast) or FeetManSeoul/Metropolitician how to do it.

In the meantime, check out the interview.

[Regina Walton's Expat Interviews] Korea's trend-setting hip-hop culture

Jeff Chang is a journalist and book writer whose writing focuses on hip-hop culture. He has written for many well-regarded publications, from the New York Times to Vibe magazine. He is the author of two books on hip-hop culture. His first was "Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation." His second book, "Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop," is an anthology of essays and interviews. It focuses on the reach of hip-hop culture beyond its obvious elements of rapping or MCing; DJing; urban art and graffiti; and b-boying or break dancing. The book looks at how hip-hop culture has influenced other art forms like theater and film, fashion, photography, poetry, literature and painting.

I had a chance to sit down and talk to Chang during the recent R-16 B-boy Championship in Suwon on May 31 and June 1 at the Suwon Olympic Sports Complex.

For expatriates in Korea who are interested in hip-hop and b-boy culture, Korea is a new center of innovation. That's very exciting. When asked why he was attending the R-16 competition, Chang replied at length. "R-16 is recognized, I think, as one of the top b-boy events in the world, and, I think, for good reason. The Korean b-boys have really been able to put themselves on the map in a huge way. They've completely changed the game as far as b-boying goes. They breathe all kinds of new life into the art form that I think folks have been looking for a long time.

"And, so, I think the excitement around R-16 in the world has to do with the fact that it just seems that this (Korea), right now, is the place to be if you want to know what's at the cutting edge of hip-hop and what's at the cutting edge of the dance forms. I think, for instance, in the United States over the last two years, there have been all these dance competitions that have been going on. There is this huge craze for dance and, at the same time, that's created a hunger for the real thing. And I think this is the epitome of the real thing."

With such kudos for the Korean b-boy teams from someone so established and well-versed in hip-hop culture, the question is what exactly sets the Korean teams apart from the other fiercely competitive b-boy teams worldwide? What is it that makes Korean b-boy teams worth paying attention to?

For Chang, what it comes down to is both mastery of basic elements and innovation.

"I think it's a combination of the fact that these are crews that are fiercely and intensely competitive. They have completely mastered the forms and they're also completely transforming the forms. I was starting this afternoon to compile a list of all these different types of moves that Korean b-boys have innovated over the last five years, and it's mind-boggling. There are so many. And not just that; it's the whole form.

"It's the whole choreography. It's the way that they present the shows. It's the way that they use the stage. It's the way they engage the audience. It's all that and that hardcore b-boy attitude of 'I'm the best' and then proving it. It (hip-hop) allows folks to stake out their own identity and to then make that identity available to folks all around the world. What the Korean b-boys are doing in that sense is they're making Korea visible and accessible to millions and millions of kids all around the world.

"It's always been a grass-roots movement that's been about allowing people to express themselves in the deepest kind of way."

Read more about Jeff Chang and his writing at and

The R-16 website
My link to Jeff's article on Korean b-boys and R-16

Here is a Adobe version of the article:
Read this document on Scribd: KH08132008

What's also exciting about this one was Jeff has been a journalist and author writing on this stuff for years, which means just by speaking with him, I had a chance to learn. Also, Jeff knows Miles Marshall Lewis who is another respected journalist and writer. Miles found me via my blog maybe a year or so ago. Miles is black expat living in Paris right now, so it's great to be in touch. It was really fun to interview someone he knows and respects.


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Friday, August 8, 2008

Alicia Keys in Seoul: she came, she saw, she conquered

Pic courtesy of Sony-BMG Korea.

This is another where I just want to put up a full post with details, but I'm exhausted. I'm still sick. I spent the last three weeks moonlighting at a English program for kids. Being an insulin dependent diabetic and, therefore, having a weaker immune system than most, I usually always end up with something when I work with little kids.

It's already an issue that hot running water and regular hand washing are things I've rarely seen in Korea. I don't know how many times I've seen women just sashay out of a public restroom after not even running water over their hands. Come on, even if it wasn't a major transaction in the stall just the fact that you're touching stuff behind other people means you WASH your damn hands. If adults aren't doing it, well, it's near impossible to break little kids of it for the short time you deal with them. Usually, it's just a cold and sometimes I get lucky and walk away with no illness at all. However, this time I got hit hard with a lung infection. I'm at the tail end of my antibiotics, I'm filling up tissue with wonderfully icky stuff, and I'm napping and sleeping a lot. My recovery will be just in time for major dental work! Yeah!!! (For those slow on the uptake, that's sarcasm). I think I might top it off with a mild case of some skin rash 'cause the kids warmed up to me and then started climbing on me (literally...) For me, it's a been a treacherous three weeks of sickness and dentist visits.

However, like seeing Jason Mraz last weekend, there was no way I was going to miss seeing Alicia Keys in concert here in Seoul.

One big reason I was so intent to go was the last time she was here I was working for Korea University's Seochang Campus in Jochiwon, and I had to commute to Seoul to see her. Instead of following my gut and taking the train 90 minutes north to Seoul, I decided to drive. It was just my luck that day that my car decided to breathe its last breath on the expressway and I missed the show. When I heard she was coming back to promote her new album, As I Am, it was a given that this time I'd make it no matter what.

I've gotten my hands on some video and I've yet to look at the pics and video I shot. So, like Mraz, I'll be back to update this in a few days.

In the meantime, enjoy the video courtesy of Sony-BMG Korea.

Keys in great in concert. And if you like her music, she's a must see.


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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My 치과 Adventures Continue*

As you know, I went to the dentist last week because I was in pain. My old fillings were taken out and temporary fillings were put in. This is to give my mouth time to heal and then the dentist can determine if it's root canal time for one of my molars or if fillings will do the job.

So far so good on fillings doing the job. I went in yesterday for a quick follow-up. All is good in my still tender mouth. However, today I screwed up.

I got home in the early evening and had dinner. After dinner I simply couldn't resist the urge to take a "nap". I have a bad habit of doing that these days but it probably has something to do with my thyroid disorder - my cat naps tend to turn into full REM sleep sessions. I woke up about 5 or 6 hours later and realized [...gasp...] I'd not brushed, flossed and rinsed my teeth!!!

I get right on it. I start flossing and, sure enough, that loose temporary filling I was worried about slipped right out. Now I'm in a mild panic because I know I'll live, but since I'll be busy all day tomorrow I'll have a big hole in that right second molar. That can't be good considering the nerves in it felt like they were starting to throb a bit.

So I start looking for medical centers that have emergency dentists on staff. The first place that crosses my mind is Yonsei. Yonsei Severence Hospital system ALWAYS saves me (see here for my scratched cornea adventure in 2006). However, first I futz around a bit looking at my options on the Internet, sent a text message to Seoul's 24 hour medical referral service, called Seoul National University's alleged 24 hour dental clinic (no answer) and called an ER of a local hospital. All that time wasting and, of course, I ended up going to Yonsei eventually because they ALWAYS save me and they ALWAYS have people on duty who have it together.

I call them, I use my pidgin Korean to start but the woman spoke English, so yeah! I tell her what's wrong - temporary filling slipped out, a little pain but nothing ridiculous, and no blood. I'll live but it will be over 18 hours before I can get to a dentist to get it fixed.

So my question was this: I'm up but do they have a dentist that's also up? Of course they do. It's Yonsei.

I hop in the shower real quick (believe me, if you are in this hot and humid weather you understand why), get dressed and get a cab to the Yonsei's dental hospital. I walk in. Two dentists are on duty. One waves me in and tells me to sit down. I explain why I'm there. She takes a look and then replaces the lost temporary filling with a new temporary one. It takes less than 5 minutes. I ask her where should I go now because I'm assuming I've got to fill out a paper or two and pay someone something. She says "you can go home now."

That's it; that's all.

And, again, I say the likelihood of that happening with that level of ease and in the States is pretty low.

Okay, time to go back to sleep.

Yonsei's Dental Hospital's website: (you can find the number on their website)


* 추과, chee gwa, means "dentist" or "dental" in Korean


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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Jason Mraz @ MelOn-AX in Seoul

Happy fans. Happy singer ;)

I just got in from seeing Jason Mraz in concert.

I was all gung-ho and ready to give you a concert review, BUT then I had a bowl of soup and a warm drink. I'm sick and I think it's walking pneumonia or some other nasty twist because it's definitely not a cold although initially that's what the symptoms felt like.

However, that didn't stop me from going. First, I love his new CD: We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. (The title cracks me up too). Second, I missed him a couple of years ago when he played at the Incheon Pentaport Festival because I was stuck working outside of Seoul for a couple of weeks. Plus, having a real case of influenza didn't stop me from going to Paris for a month awhile back, so a bad cough, sore throat, scratchy voice and runny nose wasn't going to stop me from going across town to see this guy play.

What did almost stop me from going was having the person who issued my ticket yesterday tell me to get there by 8pm. No, last night's performance was at 8:30pm. Tonight's performance was at 7pm. Thank goodness I was bored and decided to look up the venue. There is saw the info and since it was around 6:20 that left me very little time to get there. One incompetent taxi driver and one competent taxi driver later, I made it. I was a few minutes late but I made it for the bulk of the show.

However, now I'm tired and voiceless. So I'll put off my review until a later time.

Update 1 - August 23, 2008 @ 11:14am:

I never got the set list that I requested from those promoting this concert, so no review. However, I'll say it was a great show and leave it at that.


Jason's MySpace
Jason's webpage
Jason's YouTube page


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