Archive for March, 2007

Groove in The City

Posted in Events on March 25, 2007 by skyeviewtraveler

ICRT 100 FM is the English language station in Taipei.  Music heads who miss old school radio programming have funktified “church” by listening to this weekly Sunday program.

If you fancy Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Dionne Warwick, Curtis Mayfield, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, The Police, Doobie Brothers, Bob Marley, James Taylor Quartet, Eddie Grant, Ike and Tina Turner, Yellowman, Steely Dan, Bobby Blue Bland and B.B. King, Dee Clark and Issac Hayes-you will love this program.

Check out the playlist/music log_(select 3/18/07)
Listen to a live broadcast

Synchronized Time Zones
Taipei Sun 9:00 PM
San Francisco Sun 6:00 AM
New York Sun 9:00 AM
Paris Sun 3:00 PM

World Clock

Dispatch #4: Japanese Lunch-box Art

Posted in Dispatches on March 22, 2007 by skyeviewtraveler


It’s the eve of my departure for San Francisco. This has been a productive but compressed 3-week business trip.  I spent the day alternately lounging around the hotel suite, catnapping, listening to the excellent jazz station and reading the Taiwan News and The China Post newspaper.

If you want to get a sense of Japanese ingenuity and some might say compulsive obsession with precision and aesthetics, check out these photographs of lunch-box art created by Japanese housewives.   The images on these sites are not nearly as elaborate as the two photographs that appear in The China Post; however, I could not find the exact images on-line.

What do you think-human imagination at it’s best or just crazy in a dysfunctional way?


ICHIHARA, Japan: Kazumi Shimomura’s kitchen table is cluttered with tools not usually associated with cooking: A pair of tweezers, a razor knife and a digital camera. Her culinary style is just as unique. She sculpts rice colored with egg yolks into the shape of a dinosaur, fashions its eye with sliced cheese and strips of seaweed. Star-shaped pieces of okra adorn the belly.

“I just wanted my son to have fun when he goes to day care on Saturdays,” explains Shimomura as she uses tweezers to place tiny teeth-shaped bits of cheese in the dinosaur’s mouth.

Spending hours meticulously perfecting a meal that will be gobbled down in a school cafeteria by her 6-year-old son hardly seems like time well-invested.

But lunch-box art marries the age-old Japanese penchant for precision and aesthetics with the country’s modern, shrinking, affluent nuclear family, where fewer children mean moms have more time and money to lavish on their little emperors. The intricate presentations are also a public way for mothers – who often forgo careers to cater to their families – to demonstrate their devotion to motherhood, dedication to their children’s nutrition and creative skills.

(Excerpt from Frankenstein For Lunch)

I learned on this trip that it is common for Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese married men to keep concubines, take mistresses to “Love Hotels” and indulge in drinking binges to relieve the stress of being the supreme head of household and breadwinner.  Hmm, let’s see, womenfolk relinquish their careers and devote their time and creative energies into making elaborate lunch box art to feel appreciated by their children and to gain public recognition.  Menfolk get dey sex and drink on.  Hmmm.

I’m just saying, nah mean?

Heading home.


Dispatch #3: Groove In The City (Taipei, Taiwan)

Posted in Dispatches on March 18, 2007 by skyeviewtraveler

ICRT 100 FM is the English language station in Taipei and the “Groove In The City” playlist is DELICIOUS! Mark your calendar to listen to the live broadcast.  I am not certain if the program is archived however the playlist is archived. Music heads who miss old school radio programming can go to “church” on this Sunday weekly evening program.

If you fancy Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Dionne Warwick, Curtis Mayfield, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, The Police, Doobie Brothers, Bob Marley, James Taylor Quartet, Eddie Grant, Ike and Tina Turner, Yellowman, Steely Dan, Bobby Blue Bland and B.B. King, Dee Clark and Issac Hayes–you will love this program.

Check out the playlist/music log
(select 3/18/07)

Listen to a live broadcast

Photo quiz clue

A Skyeview reader wrote:

“Your posts are fantastic…I remember the ‘etiquette’ buttons from my travels…how (fun)ny! I’m smiling as I write. You capture so much and allow so many others into the culture through your gaze. Beautiful.”


Dispatch #2: Taipei, Taiwan

Posted in Dispatches on March 16, 2007 by skyeviewtraveler


Greetings from vibrant, lively, fast-paced and cosmopolitan Taipei, Taiwan. The temperature is in the low 70’s; this is a good time to visit Taipei before it gets too hot. When I first traveled to Taipei it was in late April when the temperatures climbed to the mid-80’s before 9:00 am and by mid-day pedestrians and commuters were sparse until early evening. The only other place I’d experienced such intense heat and humidity was in the city-state of Singapore.

One bi-product of the subtropical climate in Taipei is an abundance of “exotic” fruits and vegetables on display in outdoor markets. I gleefully took snapshots of brightly colored and multi-textured papayas, melons and citrus and greens of which I don’t know the names. Ironically, the US remains the top exporter of certain fruits like apples, peaches, table grapes, cherries, plums untitled52.jpgand oranges to Taiwan. In my opinion peeling an apple doesn’t compare to the sensual experience of eating a succulent litchi or pineapple with a lover. Subliminal messages of “eat me”; “suck it” and “taste me” drip with every juicy bite of jackfruit, papaya and mango. Can I get a witness?

The early morning is not only a good time to venture outdoors for food shopping but one will also see groups of elderly people wearing matching t-shirts participating in Chinese fitness and meditation activities in the parks. The climate and mid-day shower storms are another factor in making this a 24-hour city. It’s just too hot or wet to be taking a leisurely stroll outdoors.

I so enjoy this city. If you haven’t a clue about the vibe here think pleasure seeking Manhattan cosmonauts on steroids minus the threat of crime and considerably less expensive. Taipei is a late night city with jammed packed open-air night markets, clubs, and restaurants that serve traditional and creative fusion dishes. The soundtrack for Taipei is hip-hop and R & B streaming from audio systems on the sidewalks, in stores, in the subway and other public venues just about everywhere in the central metro districts. The locals might not be able to tell you what the songs are about or who the artists are but they do LOVE them some Black music!

untitled1.jpgTaipei is a city that brings the best of East Asian and Western cultures—a convergence of influences from Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Berlin, and Mainland China. It’s Friday night and folks are fixing to get dey groove on. Earlier this evening I ventured out to join the school kids, office workers, and shoppers here in the central business district. I made a beeline to Artland Book Co. a fabulous resource for anyone interested in design arts, whether it is interior design, architecture, photography, graphic arts, illustration, jewelry, fashion, or product design. Last year, I purchased Japanese interior design magazines and architectural books (for small spaces) to help me pull together a color scheme for my apartment.

Club Launch: Velvet

Posted in Events on March 8, 2007 by skyeviewtraveler

Please support this new venture. The club is located in the Laurel District affectionally referred to as “Park Slope West”–in reference to the visual number of lesbian homeowners and close promixity to Mills College.

Who: Paige Hodel

When: March 17th, 9:00 pm.

Where: 3511 Macarthur Blvd. @35th
Oakland CA 94619  USA
Announcement from Page Hodel:

Dear friends,

I am so excited to be able to provide, for the first time in my career, a venue that will be open all the time, providing our community with a gathering space every day. No more 3rd Tuesdays, 4th Fridays…just always open. Always there when you want company.

The space is very raw but very cool at this point… as we grow we are going to develop the space and really turn it into a dream club. For now we get the doors open and throw on great music and explode with the amazing energy and experience you have come to know and trust when we all get together.

Help me spread the word.
We have a home again.

The club is very easy to get to. Tons of parking.

From SF.
Take Bay Bridge toward Oakland. Take 580 towards Hayward…take the 35th avenue exit. Left at the light on 35th and left at Macarthur. It’s on the left.

From Berkeley:
Take 80 West to 580 east and follow directions above.

From North Bay:
Richmond Bridge Towards Berkeley on 80.
follow directions from Berkeley above.

South Bay:
Take 101 north to Bay Bridge.
After bridge take 580 towards Hayward. Follow directions above.

Spread the word.
See you there.

Dispatch #1: Seoul, Korea

Posted in Dispatches on March 8, 2007 by skyeviewtraveler

Greetings from snowy Seoul!

The streets were covered when I arrived very late last night and I didn’t give the weather too much thought until this morning when I had to dress for my meeting. Upon waking I pulled the drapes back and pondered for a good minute the nature of the “debris” that appeared to be floating in the air. I reasoned it was too early for the “yellow dust” storms from the Gobi desert and besides the “debris” appeared to be white.

Ahhh, it took my Southern California bred self more than a minute to realize it was SNOWING!

Korea and Taiwan

Posted in Travelogues on March 4, 2007 by skyeviewtraveler

white lotus

The characters in my Chinese name Hua Se Kai roughly translate to “open thinking flower”. Hua is pronounced “Hwaaa” similar to how Taiwanese pronounce my family name Ward.  Se Kai ran together sounds like Skye.  I made this discovery on my first visit to Taipei in 2004. I have found that each return visit offers new discoveries and insights. My rapidly approaching East Asia trip promises to be just as extraordinary.

In March, I will make my fourth and fifth annual trips to Taiwan and Korea respectively. I will travel on business but have cleared my agenda for a few days of checking out the local and underground scenes.  How does a “soul sistah” keep it real in Seoul, Korea?    And, just how does an English speaking dreadlocked Afriles navigate East Asian culture and business protocols?

Iban and Tongzhi

What is it like to be living out loud in the Iban and Tongzhi communities in Korea and Taiwan? Did you know Taiwan’s first public gay “marriage” took place in 1996; the couple received a letter of congratulations from the mayor of Taipei.  Would you feel comfortable patronizing a Taiwanese lesbian bar called “The Jailhouse”? The bar entrance accessible via stairs in an alley in central Taipei.  Another bar, Esha is described as a tomboy club for women only.  Uh, does that mean one might find femme tops on the premises too?  Look for my upcoming dispatches from these countries in late March.

Now, let’s see how culturally savvy you are. Click here for a photo quiz. Answers forthcoming in Skyeview.

Chant peace.

Korea / Taiwan Links