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Published… WTF?? June 7, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Language, Other Arts.
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Thanks to Sacramento writer buddy Josh Fernandez, the haikus I wrote in Okinawa got published in a poetry journal!

WTF is a free quarterly zine produced by Rattlesnake Press and the Poetry Unplugged poets from Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento. It features “X-rated” works from local writers and artists.

I hoped mine would be printed in English and Japanese, to give them some kind of context. They only printed translations (I swear, I know how to count syllables), but it’s still an honor to get published.

You can pick up a copy at The Book Collector or order it online here.

Life As an Observer May 26, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Other Arts.
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While in Okinawa, I got in the habit of always carrying a camera, an audio recorder and a notebook. Even a 10-minute trip to the convenience store usually warranted something worth documenting. I became hyper-aware of unfamiliar surroundings and sensations, wanting to share everything “strange” with people back home.

So, I have hundreds of photos of plants, architecture, artwork and geography. I have dozens of recordings of the monorail, the beach, the bugs, the birds and the music. I have pages of notes of history lessons and song analyses.

But, as much as all those have taught me about Okinawa, it taught me that there are things worth documenting anywhere in the world — including, most importantly, at home. We get so used to our everyday surroundings that we forget they might not be “everyday” to someone else.

So pay attention! Look up and around you when you’re walking instead of down at the ground! Take those earbuds out of your ears! Take your time eating! Slow down and enjoy everything!

This will sound dumb, but it really bothered me that I couldn’t record smells in Okinawa — sweet-smelling dusk air, salt that smelled more like the ocean than the ocean smells like the ocean, peculiarly good-smelling bathrooms. But we have equally fascinating scents at home: railroad tracks, the Rainbo Bread factory by my house, the kettle corn vendor at the Davis Farmers’ Market.

As a full-time observer, I learned so much about the island, but I learned more about how to enjoy day-to-day life. I hope you can take some of that away too.

“Manhole”?! Oh. May 2, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Other Arts, Photos.
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When my mom first returned to Okinawa five years ago, she took photos of a bunch of manhole covers. They have really unique designs, often denoting a particular neighborhood or district. I thought I better continue the project:

Tonaki Island

Sashiki

Uruma

Nakagusuku

And my mom’s finished product

Okinawa Party People April 30, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Other Arts, Photos.
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There is some sort of election happening in Okinawa right now. Jojo has the impression that most Okinawans dislike politicians of any party, so we did our part to clear the streets of propaganda posters.

I swear, that PQO video should be debuting any minute!

Oki City’s Haunted Graffiti April 23, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Other Arts, Photos.
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The graffiti at the Kogen Hotel deserves a post all its own. Enjoy!


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Support World Music on the Radio! April 22, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Music, Other Arts.
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There’s a little place back home with a big place in my heart. It’s been the hardest thing to be without. Sure, I miss eating cheese and sleeping on a mattress, but what I miss the most is KDVS.

As a timid UC Davis freshman, the campus radio station offered me a like-minded community and a home-away-from-dorm. As a rock/pop DJ, its extensive library encouraged me to dig deeper.

My musical discoveries at KDVS led me to studying ethnomusicology, wanting to learn about music as culture all over the world. I probably wouldn’t be in Okinawa if it weren’t for KDVS, even though ending my radio show was the most difficult part of leaving.

So, I would like to ask you to support KDVS’ annual fundraiser this week. We’re trying to raise $60,000 by Sunday to cover two-thirds of the yearly operating budget that UC Davis doesn’t pay for. The station provides a 24/7 signal of awesome freeform programming, and to keep that coming we need your help.

It’s a tax-deductible donation, and we’ll also send you thank-you packages of your choice — packs of three, four, five CDs, records, gift certificates, books, T-shirts, a dance party, a date, anything. Here are some premium packages I recommend, for a $25 donation as a student/low-income or $40 general.

International:
Women of Africa / Soweto Gospel Choir
Youssour N’Dour / Seun Kuti
Global Drum Project

Hip-hop and electronic:
NASA / Julio Child / Lyrics Born
Felix Da Housecat / Unagi

Crossing those boundaries:
Chillis / Lushlife / KDVS Hip-hop Mixtape
Chillis / Exile / Daedelus

This T-shirt that I designed last year:
Mobile DJ Unit shirt

And — this is unsanctioned and we’re not really supposed to do this, but — if you tell me you pledged at least $10 to KDVS, I’ll send you a copy of the compilation I’m going to make with all our recordings from Okinawa, with professional recordings mixed in. It will be dope.

So please pledge! We all have to pitch in to keep international and underground music and voices on the air. Thank you!

To All Rude Boys & Girls April 20, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Music, Other Arts.
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Happy 420 from oki yo!

There’s a lot of Jamaican and Rastafarian imagery here, for some reason. The best is the ubiquitous weed-leaf car air freshener, often seen in cars with little kids in the backseat or little old ladies in the driver’s seat.

It’s so strange, because the drug itself is not ubiquitous at all. People here stay away, because apparently the punishment for smoking — not even selling — marijuana is three years in prison.

Here’s a rad song by an Okinawan reggae group:

U-dou & Platy
from the album Big Up
(sorry, can’t read the kanji to know the title)
© Victor / JVC, Japan, 2006

Ryukyu Reppin’ April 16, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in History, Other Arts.
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Now taking orders for T-shirts with this design, which I found on some city sign.

The circular design is a mitsudomoe, which is seen often in Japanese and Korean culture. It’s a Shinto symbol representing the relationship of man, earth and sky, and it was also adapted as the Ryukyu Kingdom‘s flag. Now you see it associated with Okinawan music, printed on taiko drums and costumes.

The bird? All I know is he kinda looks like Sam the Eagle from The Muppets.

No kidding, I really am taking orders. I’ll screenprint them by hand when I get home. I gotta start making some $$$!

I ♥ Street Art April 14, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Other Arts.
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This guy shows up a lot.

Iteru Fasho! April 11, 2010

Posted by Jojo in Other Arts, Photos.
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Above is a picture of all three of my quickly improvised haiku. The teacher wrote them on the whiteboard for group interpretation.

From left to right:

JOJO BRANDEL

1

IT’S CALIFORNIA’S

PRISON SYSTEM THAT’S WICKED.

“PUT ‘EM ALL IN BARS!”

2

AKI-SAMI-YO

MO CHOTTO AWAMORI, YO

ITERU FASHO!

3

CHI TO MITAI.

TONARI NO TOTORO,

TANOSHI DESHO

Not my greatest work ever, but it was pretty fun to see a professional critique a mash up of American slang and Okinawan Hogen. It turns out I can’t count syllables very well!