Christmas in Borneo
There are some christians in Balikpapan, Kalimantan (Borneo) but you wouldn't know that for the total lack of christmas cheer. Midnight christmas eve i found myself sticky with sweat, standing outside the wall of a hotel tower trying to get a bit of free wifi, but the local ladyboy prostitute wasn't giving me any peace, nor the taxi drivers, nor passing motorists, and the worst was the vicious mosquitos. I don't think they see foreigners that often. Odd considering considering the thousands of Chevron employees that occupy the entire hill overlooking the city. Maybe they don't leave their corporate compound, life must be better surrounded by fences and guard towers. Balikpapan is the anus of exit for a large web of resource extraction: hardwood forests, coal mines, and shallow off-shore petroleum rigs. I didn't have time to go upriver, didn't get to chill out with men in penis-sheaths, or have an encounter with an orangutang. Sadly I'm witness only to the ugly side of Borneo, where all the natural wealth is converted into currency and sold to the global market. This is where companies are busy obliterating the past and liquidating the future for the gain of a precious few in the present. Fotos: polluted beach w/ fisherman's shacks giving way to high-rises and Chevron's storage tanks of black gold. The gig on dec 25th was organized by an activist collective. Since they were flying me from Jogyakarta, Java, they asked me to transport about 15 kilos of printed material. Not sure if this is common to any other musician's job description: courier 600 copies of a green anarchist zine to Borneo. On the back of my Indonesian it says "Death Penalty for drug traffickers." Curious what the punishment is for foreigners trafficking insurrectionist literature. The gig was charming. Sorry I can't find a better word. They somehow got free use of an outside community center and mounted a dangdut sound system that had the custom-made look similar to funk carioca or jamacian sound systems. Graffitti artists tagged the place up, some local hiphop acts played, then everyone gathered around to intently watch me from a distance of about 10 centimeters. Eventually dancing broke out, even a brief mosh pit. After my set was finished there was a request for Autology, i put on the instrumental and the remains of the crowd yelled along. This was the first gig I've played that had a program intermission for the evening muslim prayer. Also the first audience with girls that somehow hybridized punk style with hijab. But it wasn't my first gig with electricity hot-pirated from a utility pole, and certainly it won't be the last.