Tallahassee-Minneapolis Part II

Day II: NOLA-Memphis

Beginning the day with some really confusing parking in the French Market area, but when I got my coffee from Caffe du Monde in my car I legitimately screamed. That is a very different taste from anything! Yes I do think that the coffee itself was fine, not like outstanding, but the flavor of chicory adds so much to it and it made the coffee so unique. However, cold beignets weren’t good. I assume that they would have tasted much better if I didn’t get them at 8am and waited till 1pm to have them.

There were quite some wetlands before I left NOLA and it was another really gorgeous view. Driving in the Florida Panhandle has been awful – it was just constantly forest. However, seeing water bodies and more diverse plantations make the drive much more lively. However, it did take me some time to realize that Spanish moss is no longer in sight and that is kind of strange.

As I mentioned in another blog post, I decided to go to Memphis because I became really interested in Elvis after the documentary. It also happened that there might be music that I have not heard before. Visiting Graceland was a big investment. It is potentially the most expensive museum I have ever visited. However, how often would I be in Memphis and visit the house of one of the most iconic musician of all time? I was glad that I did the tour because it was all worth it. 

Visiting Graceland mansion was a very unique experience. The audio guide was very well done, even though there are actually not a lot of things in the house to be seen, as they are all moved to the Elvis complex.

The mansion itself is not as flamboyant as Elvis’ costume, even though there were a lot of elements that were obviously very luxurious back in the days. The living areas were just as elegant as many tasteful houses, but it was the entertainment areas that were wild. The fabric walls of the billiard room was too gorgeous, and having a racketball court in the property? How many musicians can afford that?

Thinking about the last recording in the Jungle Room, and imagining what happened emotionally in that room, were quite overwhelming. How difficult it was for everyone to experience that singing and musicking process. I can see the shades of faith and gospel throughout the whole place, and ending the tour in the memorial garden, with all the stained glasses and religios statues…what a contrast between his extravagent life and where his heart eventually rested in.

The rest of the museum is kind of essential, but too boring. I wish all the gold and platinum records could be placed at where they used to be, instead of being taken out of the context, becoming just a big wall. I also couldn’t care less about the cars, though I know that was part of his life. 

Visitng Beale Street was as exciting and as wild as my night in NOLA. Street bands were everywhere making music. However, comparing with NOLA, people are playing more diverse stuff, and there were a few places that are much more famous than the others. There are definitely more blues stuff here, (duh) but the rhythm is not as straight as New Orleans jazz, and there are more 12-bar blues going on everywhere, with some kind of country going on at multiple places. If I were to look for the classic sounds in New Orleans, I chose to see what new things Memphis could offer. 

I went to an outdoor bar and listen to a trio that is doing some fusion stuff. It was not purely jazz, or blues, or funk, or whatever. It was another sound that I truly adored. They also had a singer who sang a few very basic tunes, which I preferred to have less of that. The instrumentalists were so outstanding and the keyboardist’s improv was tremendous. I wandered around Beale Street just to hear more things, but in general it was not as creative as what I heard in NOLA. There is a little more emphasis on tradition on this street. 

I met a Brit who was on a month-long tour around the south, and we basically had a similar agenda. He was so eager to learn about the glorious past of American music, and almost convinced me to go to Sun Records the day after. However, the fact that tourists coming to Memphis, not the other big cities, to learn about music that were born in America is something to think deeply about. Music is how America was known. It is where a lot of the trend-setting music happened and it still does. Where is American music going? How can we, the classical musicians, create such an impact as well?

Tallahassee-Minneapolis Part I

Finally I have settled down in Minneapolis and things have been great. But I cannot not write anything about my trip up north. This trip has been amazing and there are a lot of things I have learned through the process.

Moving from Tallahassee and all the smart goofy colleagues was quite difficult emotionally, I was having all the farewells of people that I valued. They helped me tremendously in passing through my depression stage, as well as helping me see that I have some precious values inside. I also did something right for my students. Being away from them is scary, since they are potentially my first group of friends in the States that are so supportive. However, despite the fear of leaving them, once I loaded up my car with all my belongings and left my temporary hut, I was really excited to go on this grand 5-day tour filled with amazing music and scenery.

I never really explored the real Southern culture in my two years in Tallahassee for multiple reasons. Half of them were money and time. I was also planning on working till 2-3 days before I had to move in order to see my friend’s wedding in the area, but with a confusing management and schedule, I decided to earn few less bucks and left early. That makes it possible to take time to explore a few of the great American music mecca, and time to return to Kansas and visit people that matter to me greatly.

Day I: New Orleans

The drive to NOLA was unbelievably gorgeous. I passed by a huge lot of national forest areas in FL and AL, then the archipelago area and the huge bridges. How much things have I missed in the last two years? 

Once I settled in the motel, it started raining heavily as I headed to the French Quarter. It was not a very nice feeling. But I’m back in an area where streetcar is a thing (from then till the end of my doctorate!), where music is not a responsibility for students only, where something really beautiful is easily accessible.

My first impression of the French Quarter was just strange. I totally did not realize how much Spanish influence there is in the southern part of the States. Looking at the really weird-looking houses, it reminded me a lot of the earlier European architecture that I saw a little back in the days. Not the romantic style, but something more down-to-earth while strange. A lot of the bars also embraced the history of the buildings and kind of created the atmosphere of the old days, with minimal electrical lighting, and very bare floors. I also did not expect that I would see so much architecture in European style. It definitely reminds me of the great old days when I was travelling all over the place in the Baltic States. But the sounds I heard in the early afternoon was already telling me that I was not in Europe. That raggy sound and super rhythmic sound is so unique in American music. Seeing a kid dancing so naturally on the street with his dad banging on a water bucket was surreal.  There were also a fair amount of street musicians already getting into business after the rain. Well, tourists are there, money is just flowing around. Just like those big-ass bottles of booze, even if they are awful someone is wanting to be wasted in one of the burlesque show right? 

My professor insisted that I need to try crawfish etouffe and gumbo. I just randomly went to The Gumbo Shop, and ordered Jambalaya, which my professor also mentioned. I never thought that Jamabalaya could look like this and tasted as flavorful. The waitress suggested me to add some garlic hot sauce to it. I hesitated but what the heck, my heat-loving friends would be proud of me if I tried. That turned out to be an amazing decision. Yes I tried hot sauce and it wasn’t the end of the world. In fact, it is heavenly.

Then I started my evening of exploring music. It was a Monday and many places either did not open or would not have live music till late night. But there were still places that had something, and I went to Mahogany Music Hall (plus Burlesque Hall) and saw a pianist-song writer singing to nobody. He sang some NOLA-style classics and something that’s newer but still quite close to the classic style. That was so soothing and gorgeous. I talked with him a little during his break and tried to get some hints about getting started with playing something somewhere. To be honest, I just need to constantly remind myself that nothing will happen if I didn’t say yes to things, and put myself at an uncomfortable position. Also, I thought I would not like sazerac, but it was quite tasty.

Stuart suggested me to check out The Spotted Cat to hear more classic NOLA-style jazz. I went there and stayed a little later than I should be. There was a quartet with a singer and they were singing a really good mix of classics and folk stuff. The atmosphere there was equally great. With a nice local wheat beer, that was so soothing, and marked such a great first day of my 2000-mile drive. I was also reminded a lot of the groovy moments that I expeienced in Silk Road GMW. Yes this type of music is something that does speak to me, just like many things else that I experienced in the past few years. In fact, I missed the feeling of grooving with music. I barely did that during my Master’s degree. I was depleted with good music for so long! What a good reminder that I needed to be fed with good stuff in order to create my own!

Once I left Spotted Cat, there was a 9-people band playing right outside with another style of NOLA music. It’s not exactly parade music even though it was definitely outside music. Wow, I never experienced anything like that. What a night. What a night.

Searching for the American Music Culture

This summer I am getting ready for my doctorate studies. I have packed quite a lot of my stuff, I also got a silly summer job which an IMAX cinema is also located at, and we get to watch stuff here and there. I am also getting some videos recorded and put on Youtube. I still need to get more composing and writing done, but I feel good. I am feeling that I am being more optimistic about what is going to happen in Minneapolis.

In the last 24 hours I have quite an interesting journey on screen. My internet service provided me a free HBO trial for 3 days, and I noticed that it included Elvis Presley: The Searcher. Expecting it to be a 2-hour thing in total, instead, I had to stay up to watch the 4-hour thing.

I have never been an Elvis fan, nor did I feel affiliated to the Rock-n’-Roll tradition at all. However, the documentary made me think about how much heritage Elvis has reflected and developed on, and how crazy his time was. Think about that, in the mid-twentieth century, so many things have happened in the world. However, it might be the first time in America that we see people who are pursuing some ideals are being chased after and hate still exists in many places. Elvis, in the midst of everything, is mixed with his uniqueness, excitements, and sentiments. I am now really interested in visiting Graceland and learn more about this tragic figure. Also, it really inspires me to look at musical figures in that era much more carefully, and understand how they come to who there were.

Very surprisingly this morning at work I got to watch the American Musical Journey. I can’t say I like this film at all. The use of IMAX technology is basically pointless. The story of the musical heritage of jazz, blues, pop, and rock is almost like completely fragments that do not make much sense. It was not educational at all. However, as a travel movie, it worked. It definitely reminded me of how Chicago felt, and it successfully made me consider visiting some of the cities as I travel from Florida to Minnesota. It is, however, a pure coincident though. I was already planning the trip the night before.

In a month I will be doing a grand tour. It has been under revision forever and I am still working on it. It looks like that the 5-day trip will be Tallahassee->NOLA->Memphis->Little Rock->Lawrence and Kansas City->Des Moines->Minneapolis. I will be seeing a lot of the musical styles that I have not really exposed to much, as well as some part of the civil rights movements that I have always wanted to know more. I am very looking forward to seeing and hearing new sounds, and once again, be filled with wonder.

Wintergreen Summer Music Academy 2016


It has been a little while since the festival, since right before the festival I was in the process of moving out, and right after I went back to Lawrence and loaded all my belongings in a car that had wiring problems, and drove two days to Tallahassee, FL. Now I have settled in Tally for a week and I can finally typed something here about the festival.IMG_2528

I think it is my first participation in a festival. Last year I was at the Global Musician Workshop, but that’s really more like a one-week intensive of world music tIMG_2417hat does not involve many guests artists or is loaded with tonnes of performances. Wintergreen is located in the mountains with some really interesting history, in many ways it surprised me, by the scale as well as the organization, but more inspiring than the concerts were the people I met here and the scenery.


In terms of composition, I must say it was more because of me being lazy, as well as not willing tIMG_2402o start a big project in this transition process, that I didn’t do too much in these two weeks. (and we weren’t assigned anything during the festival) But I spend so much time talking with fellow composers, about life, really intimate parts of life, as well as our views on music. It really made me think how introspective I am as a person, I listen to others a lot, I hear a lot of stories, I ask myself why they matter, I ask how I could do something, either through music or my own actions. At the same time, I really need to listen to a lot more music.

I was assigned to work with the Trillium quartet, 3 of theIMG_2544 members were still in high school and one is a freshman to-be. I knew I wrote a simple piece. However, it turned out that for the kids, they didn’t found it that simple (while they worked on Beach’s string quartet in one movement which is, to be honest, a million times harder), and they progressed fast. In the unexpected dress rehearsal, things went really well, but in the real performance, they probably suffered from both anxiety and fatigues, that the performance/recording was not as satisfactory. Nonetheless,  I had a great time seeing the kids working hard and asked intelligent questions, and really tried to make things sound good. They are all so gifted and I hope to see them shine on big stages soon.



The composers also had a chance to write a movie score collaboratively. The more-than-a-thousand-measure monster of music was executed in a very nice manner. I heard some words about the project, but it was a great experience for u s. There are a lot of funny moments in the movie that was illustrated through the score effectively.

I also volunteered to help the chef Giustino in preparing dinner once, and I think I learned how to use the deep fryer perfectly after frying two big boxes of tofu and 3 packs of dumplings. It is veryinteresting to hear his perspective as a chef and an observer of the festival, and his participating in a salsa band.

The most impressive and inspiring thing during my stay is definitely everything about Joseph Conyers. Not just because he presented a ridiculously wonderful bass concert, but his absolutely passionate and useful masterclass that addresses so much performance issues, his absolutely selfless sharing on his musical journey and his project 440. I really would ask, how can one has such a big heart, such musicality, and such entrepreneurship? Maybe having a big heart itself is the answer.


I really miss the nights when my housemates and a friend hanged out in a 70s-styled house in the woods, but in many ways, I am glad that I am back to the modern world and I am using a modern stove.

Sioux Falls and Omaha


住在Sioux Falls, SD的友人早前說要是要探望他就要在六月頭前找他,看看月曆,大約是五月尾最合適了吧。於是定了日子,順道看看Omaha, NE,找找風琴教授。這也是到Florida之前在Midwest的最後一次旅行。

只是…旅程剛開始就出了小意外。小車的Cruise Control失靈了。在高速公路駛了三個小時,在休憩站停泊時發現車有點難剎掣…park了以後引擎竟然開始以極速加速…嚇了一跳之後立刻關掉引擎,幸而車子沒大礙。平伏心情以後通了幾道電話,縮短了旅程(但其實…也許沒關係),再駛到Sioux Falls。IMG_1589

IMG_1585Sioux Falls據說是South Dakota的最大城鎮,但也許那兒比Overland Park更小。大部份主要地方距離Downtown都是在半小時步程之內。Downtown 有很多有特色的小店,但隔兩個街口就已經是金融區。說不上有甚麼特色。但為了見老朋友,足矣。這兒最大的景點大約是Falls Park吧。很明顯地,政府用了很多資源美化這公園,而這兒又真的很美麗。但是水是臭的,走近一點的話衣服就遭殃。IMG_1769

但探他的主要原因是看看Vermillion的National Music Museum。這小小的博物館在音樂圈子裡真的是有名。當中的展品有很多都是很罕見的樂器。有些很古怪,也有些很精緻。然而在這兒看到了一個未被平均律污染的琵琶和「代表香港」的古琴(…),真的是有點意外。但我和朋友最大的問號是:這些樂器很多都沒有機會弄出聲音來了,那不是很可惜麼?然而,一個「音樂博物館」,只有一部Portable Media Player在門口的gift shop播著用上其中一部fortepiano來錄製的CD,音樂的原素在哪?

回程是短暫留在Omaha,本來這應該是要多留一點時間的一站,但IMG_1997不同原因之下我只是留了幾個小時。教授載我四處走,才知道Warren Buffett就是在Omaha,而且他和太太和Buffett有過一面之緣。Omaha和Lincoln也給我很相似的印象-舊區很有工業的餘韻,而藝術在這兒很蓬勃。而Omaha也開始起飛了吧。對比起Kansas City,60-70年代的建築在這兒還是主數,但新式建築也在慢慢增加。

IMG_1884教授太太在St. Cecilia Cathedral工作,然而在這音樂主保的主教座堂,又怎會沒有音樂學校。那規模有點誇張。座堂裡的風琴也是很特別的一部琴。IMG_1888Pasi在設計時,把Well-tempered stops和mean tone stops設計在一起,所以風琴師可以按喜好用不同的調律演奏。一直覺得音律這回事很複雜,而它真的是很複雜,但聽起來,well-tempered和mean tone的確是兩回事,pure thirds聽起來真的很舒服。但限制也太多了。它…就留在復古的東西吧。

我在Omaha Zoo逗留了一會。魚還是我最愛的動物。其他展館真的不俗,但我真的沒太大興趣。這些日子很多友人貼了不少反對開設動物園的東西。我明白。看著動物們在有限、虛擬的空間生活實在令人不忍。但是,城市的小孩,沒有了動物園,畏首畏尾的家長們會讓孩子接近大自然麼?孩子們不看見這Biodiversity,會相信牠們處於危機麼?




對我來說,美國其中一個很奇怪的現象是Antique Malls。四處都有賣所謂古董的地方,而所謂古董,可以由鐵皮盒到明信片到上了年紀的樂器。美國人的屋都有很多很多很多的裝飾物,全都是上了年紀的。但,要說甚麼可以把這種復古現象表達極致的話,非Renaissance Faire/Festival莫屬。這個奇怪得很的活動,從頭都尾都很令人費解。來了這兒第三年了,我終於有個機會和藉口去見識一下。一個音樂學的博士生在做有關KC Renaissance Festival的研究,於是我跟她遊走了半天。去那天,已經到了活動的最後一星期。這個Festival,由八月開始一直到Columbus Day為止,它的規模也是全美首屈一指的。中西部人真的有這麼奇怪的嗜好麼?!



我們的第一站是看馬上比武。 當時已經開始了一點點,「騎士」們在比賽,表演給貴族看。其實娛樂性很高,也很有難度。但怎麼騎士們的說話好像有點怪,我記得我好像聽到了”What the hell you are…”, “Do … stuff”…我和友人翻了幾次白眼。

之後我們遊走了一下。村內有很多的小店,售賣紀念品、手工藝、奇形怪狀的東西的,也有提供服務的。但,我沒想過有商店可以專賣掃帚…也沒想過原來有一種東西叫中古按摩…有一些「海盜」在另一個舞台表演唱歌,他們唱的東西是PG rated。我和友人都在說,這很合理啊,當時的歌很多都是說「另一種死亡」和「天鵝」的。但當然,他們不是唱Madrigals,他們在唱一點像Country的東西,有結他伴奏的。 事實上這兒的音樂表演很大部分都不像十六世紀,只是人在自娛娛人而已。最像那時期的東西大約就只有他們的服裝了。


之後我們還去了兩次馬上比武的表演,原來是有個故事的。騎士們有些是有裝下馬,或是真的突然下馬,隨即開始地上的格鬥。有一兩次的下馬有點太造作,我看到一臉無奈。故事的發展之後是…其中一個騎士挑釁要決鬥,要決鬥至死。負責起鬨的群眾,也就是我們,竟要叫著”Cheat to win! Cheat to win!”或是”Blood! Blood!”…當然另一半群眾是叫嚷著正義的口號…但在我這一邊的小孩們都在大叫這些口號時,我暈了。

友人來了三個星期,她在我說要來那時已經開始說道那個奸角很型,對她來說很Age Appropriate。的確,他是頗有台型的。但我卻覺得那看起來傻傻的,說台詞說到不倫不類的騎士有點太怪,因而對他有興趣。後來找他談道,原來他只是開始了五個星期。但他卻對古音樂有一點理解。

昨天古音樂小組排練時,友人告訴我她找到了我喜歡那個騎士的真名和Facebook =_____=

說算在,來年還會不會再去,應該不會…Renaissance Festival實在是一個很怪的現象。也許,是太怪太怪的一個現象…



亞歷仕曾經說過我的美國經驗奇怪得很。我去過的地方都不是熱門地點或是”Real States”。威斯康辛、明尼蘇達、密蘇里、堪薩斯…都不是人們心中的美國。就算我現在去過了紐約州,我大多時間逗留的地方都不是紐約市而是紐約上州。現在我去過的州份又加上了另一個沒人理會的地方-內布拉斯加,這個連我自己都是到了堪薩斯才第一次聽的地方。


對林肯市的第一個印象是…亂。市中心地帶全都是單程行車,更多還要是五線單程行車,聽著導航的指引,我走了無數次的錯路,也無數次差點行錯方向。勉強地找到了泊車位,但走在街上仍然迷路。從O Street走到Q Street,竟用了十五分鐘……本來想找個地方吃點點快餐也沒有時間,但卻又連汽油站的便利店都關門了。最後很幸運的,在開場前十分鐘找到了一家咖啡店,買了一個巨型Scone,就要跑到劇院裡去。然而在亂走的時候看著這個downtown,很美。突然覺得那有點像尖沙咀的諾士佛台和尖東美食地帶。

然而老師寫的American Smoothie,音樂部份固然很有他的影子,Tuneful but with a twist as usual。劇本的笑位拿捏得很好;第二幕的劇情有點點粗糙,但回家細想以後還是合理的。當中說IT人的東西把我笑翻了。來了美國這麼久還是第一次看劇場製作,大約是因為這兒的劇作都不太多也不吸引。但這個原創劇把我帶回了劇場,也渡過了一個愉快的晚上。然而見到老師還是很快樂的事,和他談話永遠是充滿笑聲的。

十時多完場以後到了附近的Arena舉行的Ribfest。聽說這是當地一個大型節目,有十家來自各地的得獎燒烤商家聚集,也有音樂表演等等。從橋上看到場地還是覺得有點誇張-燒烤店們的店面都是被極大的橫額掩蓋,上面全都是寫著招牌菜和無數的得獎紀錄。有些店舖還陳列著無數個獎杯。台上的樂隊演奏著,台下有很多人聚集。呼,很久沒見過這樣的場面,上一次大約是兩年前在迎新週,但那次並不享受。上一次這樣又享受的日子…應該是在Kungsträdgården看到Eric Saade吧……我選了來自佛羅里達州的商家Porky ‘N’ Beans,叫了一個牛肉豬肉燒烤,配上了玉米包、蔬菜沙律和焗豆。配上了最普通的Bud Light Lime,哇,這是我來了美國這麼久,覺得最好吃的一餐。肉的質感很好,配上燒烤醬很捧。配菜中上。加上了啤酒,就算是這樣普通的飲料,和食物配上來還是很爽。很久很久沒有這樣的感覺。


第二天早上在遊走多一會,到了內州大學林肯分校看看。天,這個校園雖小, 但十分十分美麗。校園的建築風格雖然迴異,但未至於完全不協調,而且色調如一。校園四處都是花圃和一片翠綠。這是我看過最漂亮的校園之一,KU完全被比下去了。事實上,我一點也不喜歡KU的校園。太亂,到處也是那笨拙的吉祥物。到處都是商店主導。UNL另一個令我留下印象的絕對是大學書店。天,KU的大學書店也未免太小了吧。在UNL,「大學書店」是印在學生會大樓的外牆上,而且佔地一整層,而不是瑟縮在學生會的一角。KU和UNL在各方面可是不相伯仲的呀…

我本來想到UNL Dairy Store吃一杯自家製雪糕,但在早上九時多吃雪糕,還是過不了自己的一關。看到UNL正在興建第三個校舍,專門是給商校合作之用。我只能說,這,太、太、太令人羨慕了。有這樣目光的學校領導,我相信這兒的研究可以走得很遠。


這天天陰,本來想到兩個最大的公園看看,但雨已下起來,所以只好到一個小花園Sunken Garden。這個花園可漂亮呢。花園的設計很有歐陸色彩,很細緻,植物的選擇也很合適。羅倫斯最美的花園,大約又是隱藏在Downtown裡的一個迷你日式花園而已…而且沒有好好打理過。








我在租車的地方開始問當地人,我要如何保障自己的安全,來回Downtown Detroit和機場的時間安排等。一直一直我還是抱著很多懷疑。到了酒店,大約時九時多,看到天還不算很黑,想著這兒天黑還需一點時間吧。沒想到一到離酒店0.4 英哩的餐廳以後,天就全黑了,這刻人都慌了。然而我進了餐廳才發現自己把酒店鑰匙留了在車內……但晚餐還是要吃的,我請侍應給我介紹了她喜愛的菜,那是一個磨菇漢堡,配了cole slaw和薯條,計了小費才$9,在Lawrence$9才是餐牌上未計稅未計小費的價錢。菜端來了,我嚇呆了,份量是真正的美式份量,漢堡包和漢堡扒都很大,我沒可能把整個包疊起來吃,要分層吃之餘,用刀叉處理還有點吃力。那可是我吃過最有肉汁最有「牛」味的漢堡,薯條熱騰騰但軟軟的(對…我那軟薯條愛好者),Cole Slaw很開胃,一直都是預期之外的好。說說這餐廳,這兒的裝潢停留了在九十年代,想起了在愛沙尼亞那前蘇聯咖啡館,但這兒整潔得多,人氣還是有的。侍應未算很友善,但最少不會膚衍客人。鄰桌的客人想要的東西售罄了,她很氣忿,侍應還是會很有耐性地開解她。這樣的地方我還是第一次見到,在這大城市裡有著這種小鎮才有的人情味,讓我感到有點驚奇。


第二天早上,五時多,我想翻熱那前一晚的漢堡,但食物盒是發泡膠的,於是到酒店服務台問有沒有其他食具,結果服務生說用那盒翻熱一分鐘完全沒問題= =,我在他口中認識多了一點這地方,他說著酒店/機場所在的這個區域安全得很,他們整晚在街上也不害怕,是別人不認識底特律才覺得這兒完全不安全了。

我到了Riverfront看看Windsor和那美麗的Riverfront plaza,六時多還是有人會在這兒踏單車和早操,而這兒看起來也有點點像西九至尖沙咀海傍,只是這兒有建築物在重建而已。我和這兒一個在巡邏的老人家談了一點點,他還是說著自己喜歡這個地方,沒有遇上過一點麻煩。他很熱情的指著我要怎樣怎樣走,怎樣保障安全,問了我的行程,帶著一個很滿足的笑容。我看著那極端奢侈的GM Headquarter,還是覺得,這兒儘管不復二十年代的光輝,最少這兒的人願意改變,願意接受現實。也許就像是新聞和Time所寫的,That’s the real change and new life for Detroit.

然後那不清不楚的GPS app讓我繞著Detroit Tigers Statium轉了三圈,沒機會試試那Russell Street Deli,但我還是看了一點點Eastern Market。這兒開始有了頹廢的感覺,車不少,但開著門做生意的地方很少,Detroit 的問題時佔地太廣,管理要用的資源太多,但明明要服務的人已沒那麼多,把一切集中起來,同時重組行政資源,才是解決問題的辦法。某程度上,要是底特律破產,即時的形象雖然全毀,但長遠來說,這不是轉機麼?這問題太複雜,我不懂,但我看不到這是一個壞選擇。

我最後在Heidelberg Project轉了一圈,進入那個Neighbourhood時還是有點害怕的。明顯地這個Neighbourhood已近乎空無一人,剩下來的好像很多都是黑人。但Heidelberg Project的色彩讓這兒有了一點生氣。我沒有時間好好去看,但我看到了那沒有時針分針的鐘,好像是其中一個線索。藝術家是想說著,時間在這地方,是停留了在某個時刻,還是,就算這地方變成怎樣,時間還是在溜走著?



瑞典民族在美國 – 林茲伯格



沒睡好的我一早起來去Lindsborg出發,準備到第一站時差點出意外-衛星導航在普通路上永遠只是在1/8 Miles前才提示轉彎,但我要轉彎的地方前一點點就是高速公路,我在加速之時才發現要剎掣轉急彎,聽到了剎車聲不禁害怕起來-我幾天前才換了剎車片。

第一站是在Lindsborg城外的Coronado heights,這兒有一座小小的城堡,本來想爬上去看看,但聽到昆蟲的聲音就逃跑了。沒有在城堡上,但在這山上看到的風景依然美麗,一大片的稻田看起來很舒服,這兒也有很多很豔麗的野花。這山雖然很矮,但在這平原來說已很突出了。這兒也讓我想到了Kiruna渡過仲夏的那天,剛到埗時Hostel的主人和他的友人帶我到了附近的一座高山 Luossavaara看Kiruna的景色。雖然兩座山的高度和風景的樣子相差太遠,這天我只是自己一個人走,但我感覺到,這兒還是會有著瑞典的氣息。

一進Lindsborg城區,看到了一些瑞典文,如藥房會用上apotek,路上的旗會寫著Välkommen Lindsborg。不過,這,文法不對啊。到了大街就剛好遇上巡遊開始,他們穿著北歐傳統服飾、演奏著民謠,路人都戴著了花環,Dalahäst的出現更是不用說了。看來這兒把瑞典更有著一點點民族傳統氣息。但,又回到了當日在Duluth那個問題,到了現代的瑞典裔美國人來說,這些瑞典傳統代表著甚麼?

雖說這兒是小瑞典,但這兒的建築卻找不到瑞典和北歐的風格,看到的就是二十世紀美式中西部的建築風格。然而,在這兒有一個保育著歷史建築的Old Mill Museum and Heritage Square,Mill的顏色的確是很瑞典的Falu Röd,那些保存下來的歷史建築不多不少也有點點北歐的味道,但,比在Duluth看到的來說,還是像美式多於北歐風格呢。大約這兒的氣候相差太遠了吧。

我在這兒的一個Microroastery和老闆談了一會,問著究竟Mellanroast做了甚麼讓它的味道與眾不同。他的祖先是第一代移民美國的瑞典人,但他的長輩都沒有了和瑞典的連繫。我問他,為什麼會選擇研究瑞典的Blend and Roast,他說道,只因這咖啡好喝,質素高。談著談著,竟發現在這小鎮的小店,竟有在香港供應著精品咖啡豆@@”

雖然我始終沒機會看Midsommar Maypole的升起,但這半天在小瑞典還是有一點點得著吧。究竟對美國人來說,他們的Old Country、和文化傳統代表著甚麼?他們新的文化,何時才真正成為他們的根?
回程路上,在Topeka看見烏雲密佈,心知不妙,沒想到不夠就遇上了暴雨,我連前面的車都近乎看不到。安全回到家裡,阿肋路亞。現在頭很疼。Road trip,不好玩啊。


這不是第一個在外國過的新年,但這一次,我沒有和在Lawrence的同學一起過。之前在中秋節認識了堪城中華民樂團的長輩們,也在他們在Lied Center Pavillion的表演混了一下。在年三十晚和初八這天,我跟了他們到了Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art和Washburn University表演,也看到了一點點不一樣的堪城。

“The Nelson”每年都會舉行大型的新年慶祝活動,把區內的華人社區藝術團體都帶進博物館裡。這年博物館舉辦了「江山行旅-中國古今山水畫展」,而展覽就是在新年慶祝活動當日開始,整個Timing剛剛好。

民樂團是一個很有趣的小組,裡面的人都上了年紀,都在Kansas area待了好一段時間。他們有時本是在內地讀音樂的,來到了美國就轉了行;也有人是來這兒做Post doc和做教授。然而,區內的華人真的不算太多,我們到不同地方表演時,那兒的華人也對這小組入面的人很熟悉。


The Nelson的表演在Noguchi Sculpture Court舉行,我們表演的位置一部分被其中一個雕塑擋住了,看來還是有點搞笑的。但當晚看表演的人出奇的多,很大部分更是外國人。演出以後,不少人都來看看我們的東西,也問及很多和中樂、樂器、樂譜有關的問題。我遇上了一個媽媽說她的女兒喜歡我彈的東西要找我拍照,也遇上了一個伯伯,可以說普通話之餘還可說幾句廣東話,也遇上了一個玩結他的專業音樂人。回家搭車的那司機說他去年也有來湊熱鬧,還是覺得這辦得有聲有色的。


這天到了Washburn U演出,那是在一個小型演奏廳+Lecture Hall吧。那兒有個小小的Organ可憐地站在一角。這天演出的東西還一樣,但有一些內地的交流生表演鋼琴獨奏和獨唱。獨唱的曲目,呃…好紅。晚上他們去了吃Buffet,聽到了更多他們的故事。還是在想,其實,上一代的華人們,面對的苦頭一點也不少。在美國他們得到了平靜安穩的生活,但要建立自己的家,自己對這新地方的歸屬感,要花多少的時光。