I have no camera. My phone’s dead and not just the “out of battery” dead. I mean the “will not hold a charge, forever blinking low battery dead” dead. This is unfortunate because I am at a reggae pizza restaurant and want to take so many pictures but I can’t*. I want to take a picture so that when my memory of this place fades I can look at the picture and be remembered of the colors and the faces on the walls and the books on the bookcase. But I have no camera. But I have my journal and a pencil. Let’s see how this picture turns out**.
– – –
I first noticed this place when we drove by it on NYE. The front has a big Bob Marley face with chopsticks crossed in front so I named the place “Bob Marley Chopsticks” (I still don’t know what the actual name of the place is. Maybe “Goat’s Place” because the owners name is apparently Goat? IDK) and obviously I had to go in***.
Anyway, final night in Kenting and we come here for dinner. Hallelujah! Outside the front door is an open kitchen and seating area where the pizza is made by an American man in drug rug pants, puffy North Face, and beanie with bulging eyes and a close-cropped beard. There’s a box with books inside on one of the chairs and it says: “Knowledge is free****.”
Open the sliding wooden door and you’re in the restaurant being harassed by the colors red, yellow, and green. The ceiling is red. The lights are inside empty yellow cases of green Taiwan Beer bottles lining one wall and hanging from the ceiling snaking around the entirety of the room as if to simulate a bottling plant.
There are wooden tables, then the bar, then the dance floor/stage area (so the bar separates the music area from the restaurant area), but the whole place is so small you can sit by the front door and still see over the bar to the stage and band and hear the music just fine (that’s where I’m sitting). I like that intimacy actually. There’s even couches lining the right wall where you can just chill and a fancy electric dartboard by the front windows.
We sit down at a table and I look around the room at the paintings, murals really. The wall behind the stage is adorned with (from stage left to right): Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Che Guevara, and Fela Kuti. On the wall beside the stage there’s the Jackson 5. On the way to the bathroom there’s a black lady with big hips shakin’ it, Ray Charles, and Zach Galifianakis holding the baby from that scene in The Hangover with a punching Mike Tyson behind them. Scattered around the walls are other images: flamingos, a rasta shakin’ his dreds, more ladies dancing*****.
There’s one mural I can’t figure out. It’s on the right wall when you walk in, midway between the door and the stage. It’s a big black face with a tight fro and a mouth open in a toothy grin. So after I finish my pizza (I ate a “veggie hippie”) I go ask the pizza man. He has no idea and tells me to ask Goat, the owner. Goat is jamming on his guitar in the sound system corner of the dance floor, conveniently located next to the mystery face. When I get there and actually look at the face up close, I kinda think it could be a young Barack Obama. I ask Goat – a Taiwanese man with pretty decent English:
Me: “It kinda looks like it could be Barack Obama?”
Me: “Barack Obama.”
Goat: “Who’s that? A singer?”
Me: “No. The President of the United States. You know, Obama.”
Goat: “Oh! No. No. We’re not political.”
Me: “So who is it?”
Goat: “I don’t know. Out designer made it.”
I guess it’s just a black guy enjoying himself. Maybe they could’ve put Miriam Makeba enjoying herself there instead of Barack Obama’s doppelganger.
Anyway, after everyone’s finished eating, my friends go back to the hotel and I stay to listen to the live music. It’s strange because the mood shifts slightly when these two tall Taiwanese ladies wearing platforms and blue and white stripped Corona dresses begin walking around trying to sell a special Corona package, which seemed not quite in the spirit of the restaurant. Despite this tonal discordance, the live music begins. And it’s pretty good. It’s these old Taiwanese dudes playing blues and folk and rock. The first few songs I can tell are in English but I can’t recognize them. Then they play “Honky Tonk Women,” “Time in a Bottle,” and “Susie Q”******. It’s not the best playing – the transitions are kinda sloppy – but that made me feel good. I’ve been listening to a lot of new music lately and kinda regretting that I didn’t pursue music more in college, like solidifying this group of people I sometimes jammed with at school into an actual college band that actually played a club at least once. But anyway, watching this band gave me hope that someday I could jam on stage at some random Rasta pizza bar in the outskirts of a vacation town. But seriously, it was thoroughly enjoyable. I thought they were just the opener for another band with Goat and the Pizza Maker, but I’ve been sitting here for about 1 hour writing this and drinking water and no one else has taken the stage. But they’ve been playing good music over the stereo: “Polly (Live),” “Dumb,” “Love Buzz,” “Sleep Now in a Fire.” So I guess I’ll leave now.
– – –
JK. Before I left I got up to go to the bathroom but also ask the hostess about the live music and she said there was another band but their drummer, Mr. Pizza Man*******, was making the pizza so he couldn’t start playing the set yet. LOL! Now THAT’S in the spirit of a Rasta pizza bar restaurant.
I could leave but I’m not tired and my friends have left the hotel key outside for me hopefully so I can get back in whenever. Why not? Or, You only turn 16 once********!
– – –
The band’s taking the stage! The band’s called Sheperd. They have a flautist, bassist, drummer, electric drummer, keyboardist/accordionist, and two electric guitars. All of them are Taiwanese men, except for the drummers, who are American, and the keyboardist/accordionist, who is a Taiwanese woman.
It’s totally a jam band. No lyrics. They’re just jamming. I think they practice basic rhythms but leave a lot of room for improvisation during solos and such because there’s a lot of looking at one another and slipped beats around solo transitions. After the second song they all took a shot of tequila. The third song has Chinese lyrics and seems tighter, more rehearsed. The jamming segued into a slow, soft cover of The Door’s “Love Me Two Times,” and now the keyboardist is playing one of those blow keyboards? IDK what this is called. They were each soloing and the electric drummer is clearly not as skilled (maybe that’s why he’s playing the electric drums?) because his facial expression is “I don’t know what I’m doing!” and he’s shrugging after he hits a beat off. I hate that. That apologeticness. I do it a lot, like when you feel like you should be better but you’re not so you’re like “sorry I’m ruining this thing, shrug my shoulders, suffer through it, you should just tell me I suck and kick me out now.” Like, you clearly want to be up there playing so just do it; errbody messes up. I’ve been thinking about this rugby saying frequently these days: “If you’re gonna f*ck up, f*ck up hard. Go into the ruck hard, run hard, throw hard.” When you second-guess yourself and feel self-conscious, that’s when you actually fudge up. On stage, if you feel awkward you make the audience awkward. But if you just vibe with it and acknowledge that you are improvising and roll with it, I feel like that might not happen. IDK. I felt awkward whilst he soloed. But then it went back to the keyboardist. She tried to get her accordion going but it wasn’t working. No idea why.
– – –
You know when you feel like you’re exactly where you need to be? Of all the cubic meters in the entire Universe you feel like your body is in the perfect ones at that moment? I feel this way right now about the Goat Bob Marley Chopsticks Pizza Reggae Restaurant and Bar. It’s getting late, but I feel like this is the place. Sometimes I ask myself: “if you could be anywhere doing anything right now, where and when would you be?” Usually the answer is not actually where I am or what I’m doing. For the longest time in it was a cabin in the woods, preferably in the Pacific Northwest. But right now it’s the Bob Marley Chopsticks Goat Pizza Restaurant and Reggae Bar*********.
– – –
Sublime’s “What I Got” jam band cover? Maybe? IDK. Now the vocalist (the bassist) is singing “Hey Zabba Deebah Hey!” Is that a Sublime song? Not sure. Would Google it but… phone’s dead.
*It’s also unfortunate because I have no way to communicate with my friends who just left and hopefully will leave the hotel room open for me to get back in after I’m done here! Also I’m driving a scooter back and this will be the second time I’ve ever driven a scooter so hopefully I won’t crash and lay dying with my already dead phone in my pocket, the universe taunting me with the irony that if this machine were alive, my life would continue.
**Probably you will have no idea what this place looks like because my prose is crappy and my descriptions hang off the cliffs of my mind in such ways that sometimes I can’t even imagine what I’ve just written after I’ve written it. But WHATEVER. GOOD LUCK AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS RIVINE SUCKAH.
***IDK why but this anecdote reminded me that I wrote on my freshman year housing/roommate preference survey that reggae was one of my favorite genres of music just because that summer I’d been on a pretty intense Bob Marley’s Legend album kick. Anyway, this footnote is perfectly irrelevant. But also so was the survey because my roommate, although nice, was not a reggae fan, nor had any of the attributes you would associate with a reggae fan.
****Can someone please tell Princeton University this and give me back my parent’s back their 200k? Oh, wait, I know. Knowledge is free, but the “free” sweatpants and t-shirt giveaways are not. Nevermind.
*****Why no famous ladies? Like Miriam Makeba? IDK. I’ve been on this lady bands kick lately (Ex Hex led me to Wild Flag led me to Sleater-Kinney) so I’m like, you have Zach Galifianakis and the baby from the Hangover on your walls but you can’t even have a famous lady, just anonymous big-hipped, big-breasted ladies shakin’ it? Okay Bob Marley Pizza Palace… Okay.
******At this point I do believe my friends Clare and Matt would dig this place.
*******His name isn’t actually Mr. Pizza Man, BTW. This is just what I’m calling him. I could also call him Drug Rug Pants, or Beanie Baby (because he wore a beanie, but so do like 90% of the people working in this restaurant. Really everyone but the two Corona girls).
********Before the whole YOLO craze, I had the catchphrase “You only turn 16 once!” This is an allusion to a movie I made with my friends whilst in high school. It was about a girl who was turning 16 and wanted to have an awesome sweet sixteen (live band, big cake, new car) but everyone in her life (including herself) is kinda lame and it ends up being horrible. It was called Cheap Sixteen. It was a mock of Sweet Sixteen, the show on MTV. And it was rejected from the New Trier Film Festival Competition, probably because the surreal comedy was too fresh and original for anyone to get (including myself). Actually it was just really crappy. We weren’t good actors, I wasn’t a good director. We pretty much wrote it then did it, no rehearsal. And very few takes. If it kinda worked and we only laughed a little, we kept it, you know, in the spirit of mockumentary television. We just wanted to do something fun and frankly it was hilarious to shoot. But don’t let me be the critic. You can watch it here and weigh in.
*********YOU GUYS NO JOKE AS I WAS WRITING THIS I LOOKED AT THE BUSINESS CARD I GOT FROM THE RESTAURANT AND THE PLACE IS CALLED The Goat Restaurant and Bar, but I like my name for it better. Also it has a Facebook page so MOST DEF check that out. If you want to watch part of the performance I watched, go to January 4th. Also, Bing translated the January 4th post as follows. From now on, no more jamming for me. Just music ing.