decoded_ Something for your mind… Something for your mind…

August 20, 2009

San Francisco…

Filed under: General,Music,Travel — decoded_ @ 6:34 am

Hello from San Francisco. We’re having a lazy, sleep in, late start today, something we’ve not done much of at all so far on this holiday.

I’ve just been updating the previous couple of posts on my blog, and Googling around for some details of things we want to see and do here in San Francisco. We plan to take it easy, and only do a few things here. Later this afternoon, we’re doing a mini-bus film/TV tour thing again, we’ve really enjoyed doing these, a nice way to see around a city, see sights and entertaining filming locations for many of our fave films and TV shows. They have video systems on the bus, so you get to see clips of the actual location you’re visiting.

The hotel we’re staying in here, The Orchard Hotel, is really nice, probably the nicest, largest, quietest, most comfortable room of our trip so far, and one of the cheaper ones too, go figure. Joanne has done a fantastic job of researching and booking all the places we’ve stayed. They are lower end hotels, affordable, and have all been clean, safe, modern, quiet, comfortable, well serviced, and located close by to all the things we’ve wanted to see and do, makes for a very enjoyable holiday.

So yesterday was our first day here, starting late in the afternoon. Door to door mini van from airport to hotel. After checking into the hotel, we ventured out and had a walk around. We see cable cars, buses powered by overhead electricity, and… it’s colder here! About 10-15 degrees cooler than the east coast, a cold wind, no humidity. We finally get to use the jackets we brought.

They don’t have meals on flights here (well not with AA economy) across U.S.A. So we had nothing to eat for 5-6 hours, between breakfast and late afternoon, choice of food on the flight, for purchase, is nuts, potato chips, crackers and cheese. Hungry! We ate some Chinese food from a dodgy looking place in Chinatown, that had a bunch of people inside. The food was great, we over ordered but ate it all anyway. We’re staying close to the Chinatown area, so I can have… Big Fun In Little China!

Speaking of food, over the last few weeks it seems we’ve eaten from all over the world: Chinese, Italian, Japanese, French, Spanish, American, Modern American, Modern Asian, and Korean. I think we need to find some Thai, Greek and German restaurants now. We did try to find the Halo Berlin carts in New York but failed. I guess we could add Australian food as well, we brought along a jar of Vegemite, and had it on buttered muffins and bagels in Chicago for breakfast at the hotel one morning.

So anyway, here in San Francisco, yesterday afternoon, we had a look around Chinatown, saw the Transamerica Pyramid, and then ventured to Market Street, checked out the Westfield, saw Union Square, did some shopping, ventured up Powell Street, came across a massive, multi-level, new and second hand movie and music shop, called Rasputin Music & Movies, spent an hour in there looking at CDs, DVDs, and Vinyl. I bought some more old Depeche Mode albums on CD, ‘Some Great Reward’ and ‘People Are People’, brand new for $7 each. Had a quick look in the vinyl area, and found and bought a 12″ of Depeche Mode ‘Personal Jesus’, which I didn’t have. I seem to be buying a lot of Depeche Mode music this trip, I wonder why? Speaking of Depeche Mode, Joanne and I can’t seem to empty our heads of the Depeche Mode song ‘Shake The Disease’, I think we heard it at the after party, more than 2 weeks ago… “You know how hard it is for me… To shake the disease… That takes hold of my tongue… In situations like these… Understand me… Understand me…”

Anyway, must wake Joanne, and get into our day. Thanks for reminding me of Tweekin’ records Matt too, shall check it out.


August 19, 2009

Hello from the sky… Between Chicago and San Francisco…

Filed under: General,Travel — decoded_ @ 6:48 am

Hello, I’m posting this from the plane, using American Airlines Gogo Internet Wi-Fi service, it works well. We’re about 40 minutes away from landing in San Francisco. Joanne is reading her San Francisco Encounter Lonely Planet book, doing research and ‘enjoying the silence’ with her noise canceling headphones on. I’ve got my iPod blasting into my ears, listening to various Depeche Mode songs. I scored the ‘Black Celebration’ and ‘Music For The Masses’ albums on CD for $11 each in Boston, at a Barnes & Nobble.

There are some amazing landscapes down below flying from east coast to west coast, mountain ranges, cities, towns, mountain tops with snow, forests, rivers, lakes, deserts, salt pans, canyons, farming lands looking like a patch work quilt from this height. Hope you’re all well. Speak again from the ground.

August 16, 2009

Hello from Chicago, via New York, Boston…

Filed under: Art,Clubbing & Gigs,Films,Food,General,Music,Travel — decoded_ @ 5:49 am

Hello from Chicago, via New York, Boston…

Sorry for the lack of posting here. We brought along Joanne’s laptop with us to the U.S.A, excited to be able to easily update our blogs with all our travels and adventures, during them. But, it’s been difficult to find the time, with so much to see and do, then collapsing at the end of every day into bed. We’ve been doing so much walking around, it’s great, but sore feet! It’s been awesome having a laptop with us, very handy. I wish Joanne’s iPhone’s Internet/data was working though.

We’re having a fantastic time, so much fun. I’m really surprised at how much we’re enjoying the U.S.A. This trip has really changed our (media influenced) perception of America and Americans. They are lovely people, polite, friendly and helpful, although that’s seen mostly through their amazing customer service, and obviously $ play a part. But we’ve had some great chats with random people we’ve met too, who are interested to hear about your travels and experiences, people are not afraid to strike up a conversation with strangers, like they are in Sydney.

Our flight with Delta from Sydney to Los Angeles was great, good cabin service, excellent on-demand video system, watched many movies and TV shows, decent food, smooth flight etc. The Los Angeles airport experience and flight to New York was far from great though, and very scary. We had the worst turbulence coming into land at New York JFK, I really thought we were going down any moment. Then we had a worrying 30 minute wait for the other half of our bags to finally turn up on the carousel at baggage collection. The queues and security checkpoints are a long wait, we’ve had many. I can’t believe how dirty, old and rundown LAX and JFK airports are, maybe it’s just the terminals Delta use. Customs and immigration all went well, was pretty quick, photo with glasses off and electronic scan of fingers and thumb of prints each hand, and welcome to the U.S.A.

Weather here has been hot, very hot, and it’s a lot more humid than I was expecting. And we’re had more hot days in a row than we’re used to in Sydney. We’ve probably had equal amounts of clear blue and overcast cloud covered skies. We’ve only had a couple of days where it rained or there was drizzle, but it didn’t last for long, quick storms. I think I’m going to be coming home with a tan, crazy! It’s certainly nice to be in warmer weather, coming from Sydney’s winter. Speaking of winter, it’s hard to imagine everything being covered in snow and ice during their winter when it’s this hot here.

So, Depeche Mode in New York, the main reason for our trip. The first concert we arrived late, missed 2 songs, and were seated side on to the action, half way down the arena, which was disappointing (these were the fan pre-sale ticket seats!), but they sounded fantastic, and the show looked amazing. Huge LED RGB giant (TV) screen behind them, with a half sphere LED RGB screen in the top/middle. Every song had a unique look, and visual/video. I’m sure there are loads of photos and YouTube clips around so you can see what I’m talking about. They used a lot of red and blue colours during the show with the lighting. I loved how they moved the lighting rigs around as part of the show too, and I don’t mean just up and down, during one song the lighting rigs looked like a bird flying, or ocean ripples, like a modulating syne wave, amazing. I tired to take some photos but our little old digital camera is really crap for photo’s at night in low light, and 3x optical zoom didn’t get anywhere near close enough to make it worth while.

Second concert, the next night we were on the dance floor, in the middle, about 20 rows back from the main stage, behind the VIP area, perfect spot, it sounded so much better, and the show looked fantastic front on. They give a fantastic performance, Dave Gahan sounded great, and jumps around like he’s 20 years younger. I decided to not bother with any photos the second night (although they would have looked great being so much closer), and just dance, enjoy the show, and make the most of the experience, and I’m really glad I did. I had a fantastic time. They played a slightly different set on the 2 nights too, which was nice. I was really happy that they played so many more of their older songs, I feared they may just play mostly the new album, which hasn’t really grown on me.

I’ve finally seen Depeche Mode live, and they were awesome! Here is the song list of the Monday night…

In Chains
Hole To Feed
Walking In My Shoes
It’s No Good
A Question Of Time
Fly On The Windscreen
Little Soul
Come Back
Policy Of Truth
In Your Room
I Feel You
Enjoy The Silence
Never Let Me Down Again

Encore #1
Master And Servant

Encore #2
Personal Jesus
Waiting For The Night (Bare Version)

On the Tuesday night, they replaced ‘Little Soul’ with ‘Jezebel’, ‘Home’ with ‘A Question Of Lust’, and ‘Come Back’ with ‘Miles Away/The Truth’. The bare version of ‘Waiting For The Night’ at the end, has Martin and Dave out at the end of the catwalk extending from the main stage (5m away from us), singing together, with just the main simple keyboard lines (played by the drummer), then later the other keyboardist and Fletch join in. A really beautiful way to end off.

I was going to write in detail about what we’ve been up to, but I think that would fill a book, so, here’s a list of what we’ve been up to, quickly off the top of my head, in no particular order. I’m sure there will be some forgotten things and spelling errors here, I’ll fix them up with later edits.

New York – 9 days

– Stayed in the Stanford Hotel, on W 32nd Street, between Broadway & Fifth, aka Korea Way.
– Blk|Market warehouse minimal/techno party in Williamsburg, 500+ people, with Euro guests Hugo and Reboot playing live, couldn’t stay awake past 5am, so missed seeing Reboot. Hugo was ok. The party went till noon!
– Depeche Mode @ Madison Square Garden, Mon & Tue night concerts.
– Deep Space @ Club Love (moved from Cielo for 2 weeks) with DJs Cosmo & Francois K, such awesome range of music/set flow.
– Depeche Mode After Party @ Rebel NYC, one of the best after parties I’ve ever been too. Way too much to drink.
– Met a DM fan from Finland who had Violator tattoos on his arms, and travels the world seeing them as often as possible.
– Ferry to Statue Of Liberty, went up inside it to the crown lookout as well, very cool, and hot!
– Empire State Building observatory at night.
– Spent a lot of time in queues and going through security checkpoints!
– Amazed at the amount of people and different races and languages.
– Rockefeller Centre Building, top of the rock, observatory by day.
– NBC TV Studio tour, kinda lame, but the NBC shop, full of TV show merchandise, was awesome.
– Visited Godiva chocolate shops.
– Joanne spent a small fortune in La Maison Du Chocholat.
– Located the Ghost Busters firehouse.
– Went to Chinatown and located Brett & Jermaine’s apartment and Dave’s pawn shop from Flight Of The Conchords.
– Ate Korean food, Korean food, and more Korean food, our hotel was on Korea Way, and just down from Madison Square Garden.
– Ate lots of healthy food from a place called Speedys.
– Got drunk and danced, and got drunk some more. Love the heavy pour with spirits here, or is it the altitude that makes us drunk quicker?
– Guggenheim Museum.
– MoMA Museum.
– Went through Central Park… in a taxi.
– Restaurants: Buddakan, Balthazar, Grand Central Oyster Bar.
– Times Square by day and night.
– Theatre District.
– Grand Central Station.
– Caught lots of subway trains.
– Went to Warm Up 2009 @ PS.1 MoMA – DJ Lovefingers.
– Hung out with Sydney friends, their friends and relatives, made new friends.
– Ate a pastrami on rye with pickles at Katz’s Deli.
– Shopped in SoHo, and all over Manhattan.
– Bought sneakers, sneakers and more sneakers, $40-$60 USD for Adidas Superstar IIs! Nike is king here though.
– Clothes are so cheap here! So much range too.
– Flatiron building.
– Cocktails & tapas at Bar Onda in the financial district.
– Wine Bar called Cava in the upper east side.
– Bunker @ Public Assembly Brooklyn – Stephen Beaupre, Smirk, Alka Rex live and other DJs.
– Saw Brooklyn by night, didn’t get there during daylight hours.
– Spent too much on hotel laundry services, not doing that again.
– Bought another suitcase because we bought too much stuff.
– Spent a lot of time/days in a T-Mobile store trying to get Internet/data working on Joanne’s iPhone with a T-Mobile pre-paid, it’s still not working properly.
– Got sore feet, slept very soundly.

Philadelphia – 1 day
– Joanne and Motoko (friend from Sydney) went to Barnes Foundation Museum.

Boston – 4 days

– Caught an Amtrak train from New York to Boston, wow it’s green and lush along that route.
– Watched USA FTA TV (so bad!) and bits of movies on cable TV – Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Depeche Mode 101, Batman Begins.
– Stayed on Hereford Street, just off trendy Newbury Street in Back Bay, in a brown stone walk up.
– Enjoyed dragging 3 heavy suitcases up 4 stories of stairs, not.
– Movie & TV walking tour, Joanne loved all the Matt Damon stuff.
– Boston Common (park) & Public Garden.
– Played with squirrels.
– Museum Of Fine Arts – Joanne and Rowena
– Museum Of Science – Dave, watched the Theatre Of Electricity.
– Student led walking tour of Harvard.
– Visited more Godiva chocolate stores.
– Visited 500 Boylston – The building where Boston Legal (TV Show) is set.
– Ate all up and down Newbury street, taking advantage of Boston’s restaurant week, with cheap set menus, ate French, Spanish, and Modern American.
– Quincy Markets.
– Caught the ‘T’ subway trains/trams around Boston.
– Bought a Boston Red Sox t-shirt, didn’t get to Fenway Park.
– New England Aquarium, some amazing marine life there.
– Shopped at the Prudential Centre, ate lunch above the (closed) observatory, at the Top Of The Hub restaurant.
– Ate Italian in the North End.
– Got sore feet, slept very soundly.
– Flew from Boston Logan to Chicago O’Hare airports.
– Used a laptop on a plane for the first time, I can see why business people get smaller laptops.

Chicago – 5 days

– Stayed at the Comfort Inn & Suites on E Ohio Street, between N State and N Wabash Streets, in the middle of the city.
– Ate Italian dinner @ Uno, spaghetti and meatballs, we’re not fans of deep-dish pizza.
– Ate Japanese dinner @ Oysy, 2 nights in a row.
– Ate huge meat sandwiches for lunch @ Weber Grill.
– Checked out the Rock’N’Roll McDonalds (just down the road from where we stayed).
– Visited more Godiva chocolate stores, everywhere in the U.S.A, only at David Jones in Australia!
Architecture Foundation River Cruise, got rained on 3/4 through, when a storm came in for about 20 minutes.
– Visited the Art Institute of Chicago, Awesome!
– Had drinks and food at Emmit’s Irish Pub (Where George & Matt chat in Oceans 11)
– Shopped at the Water Tower Place, and rode in the elevators, the same elevators in the movie Class where they…
Chicago Film Tour – Mini-Bus, fantastic way to see much of Gotham City/Chicago.
Millennium Park – Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Lurie Gardens.
– Caught the Chicago ‘L’ trains, still a bit confused by them, but we managed to get around.
Wrigley Field, hours after a game had ended, saw lots of drunken Cubs fans everywhere.
– Saw John Tejada DJ @ Smart Bar, danced and danced, until the lights came on, and the music stopped.
– Chatted with John Tejada afterwards.
– Shopped and walked all up and down Michigan Ave aka The Magnificent Mile.
– Went over, under, around the Michigan Ave Bridge, where Keanu escpaes in the movie Chain Reaction.
– Traveled along Lower Wacker Drive, where tunnel like Batman and Blues Brothers car chase scenes were filmed.
– Went to the movies, saw District 9 (packed cinema at 10.30pm on a Sunday night), and Public Enemies
Sears (Willis) Tower.
– Walked along Lake Shore Drive, saw Lake Michigan.
– Saw and heard Air-Force jets screaming overhead as part of the Chicago Air & Water Show, over 3 days.
– Saw the Picaso ‘Chicago Picasso’ and Alexander Calder ‘Flamingo’ sculptures at the Daley and Federal Plazas.
– Bought yet another suitcase, because we have bought too much stuff, and it costs less to travel with more bags than have heavy bags.
– Bought North Face backpacks, so cheap!
– Had our best/fave meal so far, at The Gage, modern American/Euro food.

So, we’re off to San Francisco next for 3-4 days, then Los Angeles for 2 days, and then fly back home…

While in San Francisco we also get to see Steve Bug & John Tejada at a Poker Flat Party @ Mezzanine, and in Los Angeles we’re seeing Steve Bug again. We didn’t plan our trip around seeing these guys, it just turned out they were playing on the w/ends, we were in those cities.

Thanks for reading, hope you’re all well.

Photo’s here:

More coming soon.

Cheers Dave

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