Memoirs

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WalkAboutStories...


WalkAbout2003; five day's in Salvador, ...; Jan.23.03

...got here on a swift, nicely overcrowded flight..........went directly to Salvador,
bahia...........
to get started on my second leg of the project.............but of course, had to
assimilate first by slowing the hell down.......getting used to the sun.....and the
endless partying...........you really don't know when the fete begins or
ends...............well, i donīt waste too much time to figure that one
out...............
got a lot of footage & audio on incredible percussion's....(that's the main reason
on why iīm here.....for the incredible mixture of African & Brazilian
music).....these guy's at this place `cortejo afro` did let it out like nothing else
iīve seen before................twenty to thirty percussionists, all kind of sizes,
letting loose, and one or two men and women singing over it...............very
basic, primal............just what the doctor prescribed................so in that
sense, things are going well.............got myself a nice apartment, with two other
locoīs................working on getting locals to jam with & interview
them.....about life in music here in bahia...........but i am beeing met with some
hesitation/suspicion............people here are basicly
friendly.........but since i can't hide my gringo-ness................it is
difficult (for now) to get honest reactions...........people want money..........or
at least thatīs what it always comes down to.........but i am patient and make
friends easy............one of my roommates works as a social worker with children
living in the streets/beach,
etc...............will include some of her take on that work into my
project................well, that's it for now..............let me order another
beer, and some shrimp on the beach, catch a wave to shake up my burnt brain to get
some more ideas............
Thomas


Salvador, Jan.25.03

servas brueder
ich bin so froh das ich endlich dieses project
mache................nachdem ich die letzte 'mass mail' gesendet
hatte...........bin ich nochmals abends in die stadt
hinein.............cought another great show, von diesen sogennanten -olodum-
percussionists.........das sind die localen afro, kind of religioesen
drummers............meistens so zu zwanzig, die mit
rhythmischen taenzen dazu daher kommen, usw............nach der show, die ich auch
filmte, hab ich einen typen, der mir besonders aufgefallen ist, angesprochen
(xuxa)............da er aber nur portugisisch sprach, musste ich mit haenden und
fuessen und klanggeraeuschen und mit den paar brocken spanisch und portugisisch, wie
es so halt geht........mich verstaendlich machen..............ich wollte wissen ob
er daran interessiert waere, mir ein interview zu geben, ueber life in music hier in
bahia.............und dann auch eine jam machen..............ganz so verstanden hat
er mich nicht..... so kam es darauf hin, das er einen freund hatte der mit einer
deutschen zusammen ein local in der naehe hatte.............so ging es dort
hin.....und sein freund sprach sehr gut deutsch---------(ich komme naehmlich mit
deutsch viel mehr weiter als mit englisch, interessanter weise)------------so , in
dem typen seinem lokal konnte ich dann genau vermitteln was ich im sinne
habe...............so, das ergebnis ist: ich halte das interview mit ihm naechste
woche+werde eine super jam habe mit ihm und fuenf other percussionists in dem
local........fuenf
afro/brasillian drummers und ich spiel die guitar.............das
universum ist mit mir............noch dazu traf ich einen fernseh producer aus der
schweiz, der sich dazu bereit erklaerte mit meiner kamera das ereigniss zu
filmen........und natuerlich nehme ich alles
auf...............so mein ziel hier in salvador hab ich
erreicht............
hab euch lieb,
Thomas


Thomas Simon meets OLODUM, Salvador, Brasil; jan.29.03

Thomasī rock alternative approach is going to be mixed with the local percussion
style of olodum....wittness a jam that you will not forget (if you're in
town)...this event is part of the īwalk aboutīdocumentary Venue/Event Info:
9 pm @ die bar
Rua Santa Isabel 9A (Pelourinho)
Salvador, Bahia, Brasil

........and the story goes on............been gathering my subjects one by one, got
some excellent artists (painters) as well....who are into sharing their work and
thoughts for my project............i've got time, you know........got to hang w/ the
people...lots.....then you will
receive........bahians are masters in the art of tranquility.......... T



WalkAbout2003, the end of part two; Feb.12.03

itīs time to wrap it up here in salvador...........pack my things and head down to
rio de janeiro for a week of samba, pre carneval and some more interviews.........
i was looking at some of the footage of the past weeks, and iīm totally amazed of
some of the stuff i cought, just on the fly, not even realizing what i was
filming.............peoples facial expressions.......children reaction to whatīs
going on, music...........catching street
personalities, hustlers, street art, sounds, music from banging on a piece of wood,
to full blown slick concerts.......dancing, from awesome profi dancers, to people on
crutches......capoeira (the local form of martial arts, developed by former
slaves...)....and so on and on..........it was all about just being there, somewhere
w/ a running camera and tape machine.........being open to anything, moving w/the
flow......identifying the action and not letting it out of sight...........i learned
how to just become a fixture on the street/square/alley/hole in the wall or whatever
it ended up being, so people forgot about me and just lived/did as they
do.......because, if iīm just walking around, i am the show for
them....and it has to be the other way around..........so when i found a location i
sat down, exercised patience, and just had the camera on the floor/stairs, by my
boot and was shooting away while drinking a beer or something.......but nobody got
hurt, not that i know of............ the interview process was a bit more difficult
than anticipated, not really because of language problems, because bahianīs don't
believe in the clock.........you set up a time, and it actually ment -a definite
maybe- it took a few false starts to adjust to that...........but i got what i
needed..............
.....enough of me..........hope all you guy's are doing great, and mostly what you
are wanting to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
back to me:
iīll be back in new york city by the end of February.........
preparing the first cut of the documentary, which i'll show march 3rd at the
'cutting room' in manhattan.......besides showing footage i will perform a live
soundtrack w/the dead heroes to the picture......some special guests will
appear.........so you can see for yourself what the hell iīm actually
doing...........
........and then, the walk about will continue..............
Thomas



WalkAbout2003PartThree:Nepal&India; April.5.03

hey you people of one world.......after a few weeks longer then
expected.............i'm going to be up in the air
again......tomorrow......heading out to find the sound/song that'll bring
peace.....(at least to myself)......................the time in new york city, since
i got back from brazil, was filled with experimenting with the footage and sounds
grooves, i recorded down there..........the people who did see my show at the
cutting room, know what i'm talking about, at least somewhat............so, i locked
myself into the studio (no one saw me for weeks) and worked on different approaches
of the material and mapped out the way i want to go about the final
product.........but as always, everything is subject to change.........then, after
taking care of some unfinished business, i'm on the road/cloud/wave
again...........it took me a while to research an area that will bring me as much
concentration of sound and rhythm as i experienced in salvador............and
finally i made a decission (can you believe that?!)......first, i thougth i'd be
going to africa, but after a long back and forth and many debates within myself (i
had to confer w/all five of my personalities), i decided to jump ahead in my plans
and get on with a totally different approach of
rhythm/sound......
so part three looks like this: ......i am flying into kathmandu, nepal, where i have
some friends (actually friends of friends of friends of friends....well, i met them
two years ago in new york.....one's a
percussion player, go figure....).....but the main work for me will be across the
border in varanasi, india.........(my friends just e-mailed me...they're actually in
varanasi right now...and standing by with their tabla guru as we
speak......)......varanasi is located on the ganges river in central northern india
(a days trip south from nepal----at least that what it looks like on the
map....)........quite a holy hindu
town.......and has been a center for learning for thousands of
years......(mark twain was there).......well, let me go and see.....the worst that
can happen is: i learn something................
anyway, you guy's wouldn't believe how much trouble it was to get a decent airfare
(if there were any flights at all)............lot's of airlines are folding......air
nepal, for instance, lost most of their planes to creditors.............this war
thing really fucked with my
schedule........and i'm personally piss off about it (not just for that
reason).........and now, the latest, there is this virus...........jesus, what the
f..., .......it seems the world is turning the wrong
way..........but i checked with the WHO and so far everything's alright for me,
since i'm not going to stop anywhere too close to the affected areas..........so
please, wish me luck, and i hope i will make a
differents, as much as the people i met so far along the way/years, made a
difference in my life (and i mean all of you, even if i fucking hate you -
...)............these are quite screwed up times right now but as such it is even
more important to me to continue with my quest.................i can't believe how
some of the US media goes about their reporting of the war.........one would mistake
this thing for a damn football
game..................letztendlich, to finish up my senseless rantings, i will leave
you with this thought (i saw scribbeld on a union square pavement): 'you can bomb
the world into pieces, but you can't bomb the world into peace'.
..........(.....although i'm against the war, i feel for the troops and sure hope
they're coming home save, soon...)
Thomas



WalkAbout2003Kathmandu; April.13.03

the first week's been quite an experience......................
this town is totally chaotic...........no street names, no house numbers made the
orientation a bit difficult.................but by now i've got my navigation system
in place.......(even without a global positioning device)............the difference
this time around is, that i have friends here who specifily hooked me up with the
kind of musicians i was looking for...(i ordered, they delivered).....so i did not
have to go out and find them (like i did in salvador)............had a session w/a
sitar player (dhrubesh).........got it going alright........but my gear started to
screw up........the dat machine almost ate the tape, and so
on...........also my travel amp didn't survive the flight's............but i was
able to borrow one until i got mine fixed.........so, i had to trouble shoot for a
bit................but what is life w/o fuck
up's....................... got another jam scheduled with an excellent tabla player
(atul)........just him and me...that'll go down
tomorrow..........some of the tracks i'm recording here, i want to also do with the
full rock band......and then edit the two or three, or however many versions
together, to make up the final
version......................let's see how that works out......
to kill some time in between sessions and get a head rush, i jumped on a small
plane.........and went to mt. everest... flew alongside the
himalayas.............was definitely a spectacle..................
then next on the list is: after taping a few classical shows here in town, i will
head down to india.........on thursday....to varanasi, to hook up w/ my friends,
anna and lio.....
lio is studying tabla with one of india's most respected players 'ishwar lal
mishra', who played w/ ravi shankar for a while.........and it'll be also just in
time for the local music festival at a temple called 'sancat mochan'....... so a
full program awaits me....................
peace, Thomas


leaving nepal, April.17.03

hey you, debbie.....
had an unreal tapeing last night......two friends were playing very classical indian
style stuff at this hindu temple, at an inside courtyard, on top of a
hill.....complete with cows hangin' around.....and millions of monkeys..........as
soon as they started playing...a storm moved
up........heavy rain and winds......the power went out....which ment no
P.A.........here i am .......in one hand my camera.....in the othe the dat machine
with the mic............shit, i don't want it to get wet.......so i dive onto the
stage, which was covered up...........those guy's just kept playing
acoustically..........it was pitch-black........then, someone brought up a big oil lamp
(torch)....and put it on stage.......casting huge shadows.............i tell
ya......this was more than i hoped for..........got great visuals...........played
around with the shadow images.....and the real players.....rain and
lightning...........got it all down.............the sound came out great,
too............in the fore ground you have sitar sound....tabla rhythms.....in the
background there's rain falling........chairs and stuff being thrown around by the
wind.........thunder............fuckin' great............... tonight i jump on the
bus to india......
let's see what they got for me down on the ganges river........
hugs, Thomas


WalkAbout2003VaranasiIndia; April.22.03

as i got ready to leave kathmandu, i found my schedule getting thrown off by
politics again........the so called ' maoist' staged riots around the country,
protesting hiking fuel prices and other goverment
policies............those guy's have the power to shut down the whole
country..........when they announce a strike..........all shops, gas stations....any
business at all, stays closed...............most of the demonstrations were staged
at campuses around the capital...........so there are a bunch of students batteling
the police...........in the heart of town, an area called 'thamel'', you don't feel
much of it,
though.....since it's mostly tourists hangin'around............but when i took cabs
to and from sessions/tapeings.........i saw large amount of military police in riot
gear hanging around or on the
move.........sometimes came across some burning things.....and people rushing
around.......there were reported killings of students by the cops...... ..all that
did not hinder me from doing my stuff.....(what am i gonna do, i'm here to do my
thing).....except, trying to make travel arrangements............so, on those 'shut
down' day's there are no buses running as well.........which ment, i could wait for
a not 'off'' day to board a bus...but was told that the end of the month (april) is
going to be totally 'fucked'......in clear english......i wouldn't be able to come
back into the country (by bus).....to catch my flights back to new york.........
turns out the bus thing wasn't for me anyway.....since there're only local ones
running to the border........which are small in size and crowded like chicken
pens/stalls (?).........so i just hopped on a plane
again.............all this back and forth cost me three extra
day's.....(which i was a bit bummed out about).........but apparently, no matter
what, the planes are flying...w/"government protection"........ got to varanasi
alright...and was imediately hit with a heat wave....... (40 C/95 to
100F)........well, checked into a place right over looking the ganges
river.....strangely, this town is built only on the left side of the river...the
other side is flatland...swampy....not developed...not even farmland........ the
locals say, since varanasi is the holy city....it was built on the side of 'sheva'
...so this side is "heaven"...the other side is" hell"........and, according to
some, there are strange things going on (on the 'hell'
side)..............cannibalism, necrophilia,
etc.............just down my alley.......... otherwise, this town is sooooooooo
slow, like nothing else i've seen before....anyway, i hooked up w/my friends.....and
got into the groove of living in this kind of scenario.....getting around by
rickshaw.......hoping not to get hit by trucks, cars or herds of bulls......(who,
at times, decide to have a quarrel between one another in the middle of the
street......making me jump once or twice already..) .....but, i'm not here to
party........i'm here to work.........
on that note........the festival, i specifically came here to see, started
yesterday.........it is located on the grounds of an hindu temple called "sankat
mochan".......famous artists from all over india are performing here...........and
usually one has to pay a lot to see them........but here it's all free......... i
was not allowed to film in the temple...so, i got only audio the first night (which
was yesterday)......but i found out who's running the thing.....and will make
contact today before the show to get a press spot..... ....but lucky as i
am......turns out two of last nights performers are staying at my hotel.......so
nabbed the opportunity and got an interview and had a great jam right there on the
hotel room floor...
mor played sitar and manoj played an instrument named 'sarod' ...(also a string
instrument, kind of a cross between sitar and guitar--but w/ only four strings,
fretless)..........they showed me different raga's (indian
scales--tonleitern)....can you believe, there is a raga for every time of the
day..........morning.....noon.....evening....night, etc......and you cannot play
them at the wrong time....they are very strict about
that........ so those guy's, mor, manoy and another brother are playing as a group
together w/their father......and are pretty famous all over india............they
were, to my taste, the best act of last
night........the youngest bro and the father are playing tabla....two set's of
tabla............and they were kickin' out grooves 'chuck d' or 'sean john' would
simply drool about.........but it's all very classical indian music......in a
temple...... with people sitting and
listening...not moving a bit....... anyway,..............
bis zum naechsten mal....
Thomas


WalkAbout2003Benares,TheHolyCity; Apr.30.03

the power went off again as i was just about to leave the store.....nawal hooked me
up with a great medium grade sitar......his store is just a play ground for
me.....lots of instruments.......all kinds of fabrics,
jewelry, etc.............i spend all afternoon there today.............i realized
it got late, just when i stepped out onto the street......no lights,
obviously..............momentarily i'm navigating only by feel and sound that is all
around me..............the narrow streets of the old city are jam packed with people
and other mammals...........the smells, or more to say, the stench is a bit
overwhelming..............sporadically candle lights appear in store
windows..........then, next minute, one electricity generator after another starts
up, making some light spill out onto the streets.......and, of course, adding to the
stench................it's not that late, like 8 pm-ish, but i'm kind of out of it
from running around all day in the heat...........want to get back to the
room...take a shower and just chill..............as i make my way through the crowd,
i guess, it's rush hour, varanasi style, i review in my head if i got everything i
wanted to get/do today..........cause, i've got only three more days here in
india...then i'll be on my way back to nepal to catch my flights to New York, may
2nd...........i think i did good, i tell myself........meaning in the broader sense
of the whole outing.............i got all the material i needed and plus........the
five day festival at sankat mochan temple, was a crash course in classical indian
music, i did not expect.....and it was also a crash course in sustaining/surviving
in a 'packed with people sardine-can style
surroundings' and filming and recording as much as possible without passing
out............but it was all worth it.............so, today i bought myself a
sitar.....i'm not even gonna pretend to try to play the sitar the indian classical
way.......i'm just gonna tune the thing the way i need.....and play it....my own
un-orthodox way............sounds great ..............
well, back to the streets, where i left off.................the narrow lane opens up
into the road leading to the main ghat (burning place-for the dead)..........ok, i'm
walking the right way..........looking for a rickshaw.............since it's rush
hour, it's not that easy to get one.........here, there's one......i bargain him
down to an exceptional price.....and on it goes.........things are cheap
here.......so it's not about the money, that i bargain....but, i don't want to just
pay more cause i'm a damn foreigner............i pay the local price,
period..........
so i'm on my way......holding on to my things and the seat......got the sitar in a
hard shell case....my bag with the camera...........traffic's crazy....and so are the
pot holes......just passed an accident.....two rickshaws and a motor bike jammed
together.....not a nice
picture.............since there no street lights (the electricity went out,
remember)....visibility is pretty shaky.....only some cars or motor bikes have their
lights on....................a jeep comes honking down the road...with a dead body
on the roof........they put them (the bodies) on a stretcher......wrapped in
sheets......and with orange flower bands all around..............they are on the way
to the next 'ghat'..........as i turn to keep watching the passing scene....i notice
about fifteen people jammed into the back of the jeep (relatives?)......how do they
do
this?.............well, anyway.......what do i have to do still, i ask
myself........i've got one more interview w/ my friend lio's
guru...........they ( the local musicians) call their teachers
that............a lot of foreign students are here, studying any
instrument imaginable..............and you are being judged on who your 'guru'
is..........and as soon as one (a guru) appears you cannot miss it...since everybody
around will bow down to touch his feet, then touch their own foreheads.......as a
sign of 'worship'..........i maybe writing this in a jokeing manner.....but it's
definitely no joke to
them..............but, as always, there are a lot of egos
involved.........(damn musicians..........everybody wants to be a rock star, even
the guru)............
this girl asked me who my 'guru' was, and i said, i teach myself.......she looked at
me as if i totally lost it.............maybe she's
right.............but, i feel great......................
back to lio's guru (ishwar lal mishra).....he is an awesome tabla
player......got to see him perform twice at sankat mochan............and he is very
down to earth.........that'll be the last interview here in town.................got
a lot of sounds/rhythms i can loop and overdub back in my studio.......also the jam
with mor and manoy, i wrote you guy's about the last time, just stands by
itself............there is half an hour of magic...................so i got a lot to
work with,
again................sound and footage.................it's time to wrap this letter
up and get ready to sleep.......
tomorrow, i will hire a boat at five in the morning and float down river
ganges.....to catch the morning sunrise and film the goings on that occur at that
hour...........
i get back to the hotel, turn on the fan.....yeah, the light is
on......get ready to step into the shower........and the power goes off
again.........anybody got a candle?........ peace to you people.......... Thomas

p.s. i will be back in NYC by next week.....staying, working, playing, hustling
until the fall....then the WalkAbout will
continue..............and it will never end..............




official invite:WalkAboutScreening, NYC, Dec.2nd, 7PM

please join me to celebrate w/me, the completion of one years work.... endorphin
films presents:
THOMAS SIMON W A L K A B O U T, part one
conceived, shot, directed and produced by Thomas Simon
editor, Yehuda Brandriss

filmed in:
NewYorkCity, USA
Vienna, Austria
Salvador, Brazil
Kathmandu, Nepal
Varanasi, India

"and this was just the beginning......"

Tuesday, December 2nd, 7PM...reception....

CANADA GALLERY
55 Chrystie Street (bet.Hester&Canal), (212) 925.4631
NewYorkCity
the gallery is in the back of the ground floor...
subways: S to Grand; J M Z to Bowery; N R W Q 6 to Canal

admission is FREE, but
please RSVP at :917.482.7381 or suszinka@hotmail .com

"the story of one man's search for the rhythm of peace"

original soundtrack by Thomas Simon
featured musicians are:
In Salvador:
Xuxa, Reinaldo, Paulo, percussions; samples of Pelo Cover, percussions; samples of
Cortejo Afro, percussions....various street vendors....and the elements....
In Kathmandu:
Dhrubesh Chandra Regmi, sitar; Atul Prasad Gautam, tabla; Umesh,flute; Shyam Nepali,
sarangi; samples of Udaya Man Tamrakar, singing
bowl...............
In Varanasi:
Mor Murkut Kedia, sitar; Manoj Kr. Kedia, sarod; samples of Ishwar Lal Mishra,
tabla.................
In New York City:
Jill Simon, backing vocals; Susan Mitchell, violin; Jim Galbraith, drums.............

conversations with:
in Vienna: Andreas Simon, Klaus Muhr
in Salvador: D.Corral, Xuxa, Reinaldo, Annalisa Pilo
in Kathmandu: Dhrubesh Chandra Regmi, Udaya Man Tamrakar, Atul Prasad Gautam in
Varanasi: Dr.Sunada Patnaik, Mor Murkut Kedia, Manoj Kr. Kedia
in NewYorkCity: Jill Simon, Kevin Kelly

special thanks to:
THE UNIVERSE, JILL SIMON, ELWOOD KLYAP, ARNIE WEINBRAND, VIKTORIA SIMON and MY
ENTIRED FAMILY, D.(mariano)CORRAL, SALATIEL SOARES(@DieBar), PATRIZIA ROSSI,
ULRIKE(minka)PIECHA, ANNALISA PILO, UGO TRUONG, NICHOLAS PALLAY, DHRUBESH CHANDRA
REGMI, ATUL PRASAD GAUTAM, UDAYA MAN TAMRAKAR, SANTOSHEE, SUDESH(@the
NewOrleansCafe), ANNA FISCHER & LIO, ALINE MOTTA, KEVIN KELLY, PAUL ALVES, RANDY
SIMON, THE ELEMENTS....and RIVER...

respect and light
Thomas

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