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J a v a J i v e :: Paradise is not all that it seems
a boy leaves everything he knows for the tropical island of java, Indonesia - soon to find that paradise is not all that it seems...

October 31, 2004  


posted by Brandon | 10:22 PM

October 30, 2004  

Let me start by proclaiming that this will be a random post written in a state of complete apathy. It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’ve already worked out, already sat in the sun and read “Dude, Where’s My Country?” and have accomplished all that I had set out to do today – which was basically nothing. Downtime is a good word for it. It seems to happen to me when I know a vacation is coming up, workloads have let up, and I’m easily bored doing anything for more than an hour. That’s when my most random thoughts pour out of my cortex. I even had to number them to keep them straight.

1. This was amazing to me, but may not interest anyone else in the least. I have been browsing Flickr lately as you already know, and have even found some connections to people that I already knew. While browsing through completely random topics like “canon digital rebel” and then by region like, “Michigan” I came across the same guy twice – and he was the one who created both groups – even though they weren’t related in the least. Then if that wasn’t odd enough, I visited his website and found that he recently had taken a photo of the same exact building as I had – except I had taken it 3 years ago while in university from EXACTLY the same spot.

The same night, I received a comment on one of my photos from someone else, and in return, checked out his work. He had taken a photo of a building reflected in the windows of another building – in Asheville, N. Carolina – exactly how I had captured it this summer.

Ok, maybe I’m easily amused, but c’mon that’s kinda cool huh? Three coincidences in one day – and two photos taken exactly as I had, in different years and in different States.

2. Did you see the new photo ipod? Pretty cool, but it’s not for me. My current handphone plays video games, mp3s, and stores photos (oh and it makes phone calls) – guess how many of those features I use?


Why? Because even though it has each of those features, the mp3 player isn’t nearly as good as my 40gigabyte music player (which I like better than ipod anyway), my xbox blows away the games (although I never use it), and my photos are better displayed on my laptop, as are movies. Yeah I know I’m either a tech geek or a snob. I will hold my breath for the PSP – Playstation Portable (personal) – and see how it turns out.

3. A huge injustice has occurred within my immediate family. That’s why I’ve been slow to post. I’m extremely pissed off, fired up, and wanting revenge. Unfortunately I cannot even discuss it with my friends or explain it on here until some decisions are made. Even then, I’m unsure how I could deal with it considering the fact that it also directly impacts me. Let’s just say that as nice as I am 95% of the time, I am hugely defensive of my close friends and family. When someone pushes one of my loved ones around, I push back much harder, and with disturbing force.

There will be a RECKONING – mark my words.

4. Take a deep breath B.

5. The elections are coming up very soon. That’s all I have to say about that. The numbers are too close for my liking. I feel so far removed from America right now.

6. The rainy season apparently has begun somewhere in Jakarta, but it seems to continually miss us in the north. Still sunny and 90 degrees every single day of my life.

7. I hurt my shoulder so bad while bench pressing too much weight again. Ego schmego. Why do I even bother with lifting?

8. Nice to see that Osama finally officially admitted blame for September 11. I’m sure Bush still blames Iraq.

9. I bought shares of Google at $175 / share – a VERY expensive stock. Everyone said I was stupid. 3 days later it is at $199 / share. I guess I’m just stupid and lucky.

10. I am still waiting for more of you to join Flickr – if you want me to send you an invitation with an account already set up, please let me know and I’d be happy to help. Like I said, I want to help further a company that actually “gets it.” (rarely)

11. I had Chili’s tonight – one of the only American restaurants that I actually like over here. Apparently it was bule night, as I blended in for once, yet still felt like a foreigner.

12. I still haven’t moved my archives over to my new site, so I’m actually putting each post on both sites for now. What a retard I am.

13. Scott is all better now. (see post below) Quit eating off of the street vendors buddy.

14. I am too lazy to post any photos today. Sorry. And by the way, I never grow tired of hearing your opinions – they do wonders for my encouragement, just not tonight.

15. I was told by security guards that I couldn’t take photos of a street near my house. I protested and told them they were phuckin idiots – no dice. They got on their walkie talkies and stated saying some white guy was insulting them and trying to take photos. When a half dozen jackasses showed up I decided to give up. As I pulled away I wanted SO badly to capture their expressions on camera.

16. I hope Shark Tale makes it over here. It looks entertaining.

17. Britney Spears is nippin out on Saturday Night Live at this moment. I figured she’d be using band-aids for live appearances, guess not. I still can’t stand her, nips or not.

18. Something odd has been happening lately – I haven’t been viewing Asians as Asian. Everyone simply looks like a person. Perhaps the rest of the world should try it.

That’ll do for now. Maybe I’ll post something half readable soon.

posted by Brandon | 11:25 AM

October 26, 2004  

Frost on a Rose

After a battle with my travel agent, and losing, I will no longer be going to Lombok for Idul Fitri. Gone are the thoughts of basking in the equatorial sun and damaging my skin beyond repair. For those of you unfamiliar with Idul Fitri (don’t you love it when a white dude explains Muslim holidays) – it symbolizes the end of Puasa (the month of fasting) and generally includes a week of holiday. Luckily I work for an organization that embraces many different religions. What does this equate to? Tons of official holiday breaks and three (yes 3) months of vacation time a year!

The good news is that I’ve secured tickets to Yogyakarta (spelling varies) – near Borobudor – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I can’t believe that I have yet to see it. From what I hear it’s absolutely phenomenal. You can bet I’ll have my camera with me. Does anyone have any experience with either places?

The shots that I’ve been putting up lately are from last Sunday. I took the most random and odd day trip to some river dam about an hour east of Jakarta. I’m sure some of you will recognize it, but I have no idea what the name would be. Supposedly it was built by the Dutch before they pulled out of Java.

Dutch Dam

As we got out of the car, I noticed that it wasn’t exactly a hot tourist destination – I’m sure I was the first foreigner to visit in quite a while. For the most part, it was pretty much a shithole (pardon me) – filthy, trash littered, industrial, and the road we took getting there gave new meaning to the word “potholes”.

A group of steel workers were soldering a beam without eye protection, calling out the national slogan of, “Hello mister!”. Instead of ignoring them, I sauntered on over to strike up a conversation.

“Where you from Mister?”

“No, where you from?”
North Jakarta”
“Oh, you Australian yah!”
“Not even close man.”
“How’d you guess?”

“George Bush shit, but America ok.”
“I guess that means you support Kerry?”
“Nothin dude.”

“Why you take photo here? It’s not pretty!” (waving to the urban expanse in front of me)
“Would you rather I take your photo?”
“Take photo? Yeah Mister photography me!”

“So why you take photo here?” (do I hear an echo?)
“Cause I just drove an hour for this.”
“But over there is pretty!” (pointing to the OTHER side of the damn.)
“Shit, don’t I feel retarded.”

Hello Mister!

So basically here I was pissed off that I’d driven so far for nothing, only to have a steel worker tell me I was taking pictures of the wrong spot. You know what? He was right. When I ventured over to the other side, it was quite a view. People were all over the place fishing, hanging out, and taking in the view.

There were men in the river balanced precariously on these small planks, fishing with the grace of a swan. In some ways it truly was artistic to see the way they moved and floated so gently down the river. I have yet to see this technique any other place.

Other people were fishing off of the wall of the dam, as the woman in my photo entitled “Alone”. The roar of the dam was not bothering them in the least. I wish that for just a moment I could have taken it all in without the rushing water creating a deafening crash. Often I find scenes in my ordinary day that would be more appreciated without sound distracting from its serenity. Do you remember the “plasic bag” scene in American Beauty, swirling around, and being teased by the wind as if somehow it was given life for just a moment? This was one of those times.

The longer I stay in Indonesia, the more I begin to see past the grime, the choking pollution, and the heartbreaking poverty so rampantly visible in Jakarta. Whenever I view this country through a camera lens, the negativity begins melting away like frost on a rose.

Dutch Dam

posted by Brandon | 8:01 PM


A woman.
A river.
A lone.

posted by Brandon | 6:48 AM

October 24, 2004  

Brown-nosing Flickr.com

What’s my latest addiction? Flickr.com

How many of you have tried sites like friendster, hotornot, or other “group” websites?

Ok, how many of you have joined sites like usefilm.com for photo critique?

Now, how many of you have spent hours reading over travel blogs, photoblogs, and other weblogs searching for new experiences and perspectives?

Flickr is almost all of them combined. Where some other sites like friendster have failed, I believe this will succeed. We as an online community are constantly looking to connect to like minds. We as photographers are always looking for new inspiration and critiques for our work. We as travelers are permanently on the lookout for new experiences and ways to see other cultures through words and images.

I’ll be honest. A month ago I started hearing about the site, and was thinking, “yeah, yeah another photo hosting site”, signed up for it, and spent a total of 20 minutes browsing around in the last 4 weeks. That all changed this weekend.

Here’s why it’s different. Friendster started with a fascinating idea – connect people based upon the recommendations of others. Search through hundreds of photos of which may or may not be the real person (very often not), and be able to contact those which share common interests. In my opinion it has become a piece of crap. The server is slow, the photos are often not real, and it’s becoming an ego trip of how many friends / testimonials you have. What started out as a great idea has become a failure.

Photo critique sites? I belong to a few – usefilm.com being the one I’m on the most. I enjoy the feedback and critiques that I’ve received. The basic idea is great, but unless you pay the 25 – $50 a year, you often miss out on the benefits. Usefilm and others generally allow something like 1 upload a day – great if you have the patience. I’ve also noticed that the photos which receive the most attention are not always the best. Any photo showing skin will have 10 times the viewers and comments. Not too helpful for those of us shooting “normal” images.

Weblogs and photoblogs? They’re a wonderful way to connect – and generally much more “real” in their commenting, feedback, and returning visitors. I would much rather have 50 “genuine” visitors than 5000 “surfers”. The only problem is that they’re often hard to find, categorize, and stumble across. There are some wonderful resources out there: photoblogs.org, blogrolling.com, etc.

Flickr has proved itself to be an awesome new contender in all of these areas. They’ve come out swinging, and swinging hard. As a user, you’re able to upload as many photos as you’d like as long as you stay below 10 mb a month – let me tell you that’s plenty! I am MUCH happier with that system than the “one photo a day” or other tiny restrictions. With the cost of storage dropping dramatically – there’s really no reason for that anymore. Let’s talk to Mr. Gates about his 2mb hotmail accounts – what a bunch of shit that was. Luckily they’ve made a mistake on my account and upped mine to 2 gigabytes. Gmail has it right – I have two of their accounts for 1 gb each. Any site that wishes to become a leader in its genre needs to buck up for more space for members. Flickr has that part down pretty well.

The way that you can connect to others with similar interests is also a selling point. If I have “tags” that say “Indonesia, java, and volcanoes” people can quickly find my work, groups related and individual users. I’ve already found it to be a great way to find similar material.

There are groups that can be made by any user – I’ve made two of them myself. Within a group, members can show off their photos and hold discussions similar to a forum.

As the world becomes more populated, less diverse, and more interspersed, people are increasingly searching for ways to express themselves and share with others. Look at the explosion in chatting, blogging, and online photography sites. People are screaming out to the world in masses and trying to be heard.

Photography used to be a fairly small interest group – expensive, time consuming, and difficult to receive feedback on. Only 10 years ago, if I was living in Indonesia think about my options for keeping in touch: the phone, mail, and umm a plane ticket? Now I can write this post, take a photo of what I did today, and upload it within seconds to a site reaching anywhere in the world. I can chat with my dad who otherwise would never call, and receive feedback on photos that otherwise would sit in my desk drawer for eternity. People are becoming photographers – and quite good ones. The quality of photoblogs has sharply risen even in the past year.

Why am I promoting a site like this? Do I have shares in the company? Is my brother the CEO?

I wish.

I simply wish to see a company succeed when they finally “get it’. I’m rarely impressed by sites of this kind, so when it happens, I’ll speak up.

For those of you interested in checking it out:

My photo portfolio on flickr
My “group” about anything Indonesian

You can also create a “badge” that will display randomly changing images on your website – pretty damn cool. Check out my WordPress blog for an example.

Flickr is not perfect. There are still some bugs to be worked out, perhaps that’s why it’s still in “beta” form. I’m not seeing the real benefit or need to shell out the $40 to become a pro member – I think the free account suits me just fine. The google advertising is minutely annoying, and sometimes my photos don’t show up as planned. But what the hell, I’ll give it a whirl – and you know what? It’d be a lot more fun having a bunch of you join as well.

Ok, I’m going to pull my nose out of Flickr’s ass now and get some shut eye.
Sampai jumpa.

posted by Brandon | 8:45 AM

October 23, 2004  

Post coming later tonight.

Sabar sayang!

posted by Brandon | 6:53 AM

October 22, 2004  

My buddy Scott (in this pic) is so sick that he had to fly to Singapore for better medical care. Get well soon bud.


WordPress Rocks!

I can completely revamp my template in Photoshop (which I'm much better with than css) in minutes. I've changed my header image to match javajive.blogspot - what do you think? view it here!

There are a few bugs to be worked out, but all in all, I'm pretty impressed by the system. Now I just have to figure out how I could possibly move my entire site over to there. Until I do I'll continue to use blogger and possibly post duplicated on there as a test.

It's Friday at 4pm. I'm still at work? What am I thinkin! The perfectionist in me couldn't leave till I had this under control.

My friends are going to Bali for the weekend. I'm going to the gym.

Life's not fair!

posted by Brandon | 2:12 AM

October 21, 2004  

Ok, so I'm trying to make a decision but could use a little help.

Should I make TWO separate blogs, one for writing and one as a photoblog, and keep both addresses? OR delegate one of them as my single outpouring of creativity and rantings both visually and intellectually? Do you prefer to have more writing or photos?

posted by Brandon | 5:48 PM

October 20, 2004  

I apologize for such as weak posting week. I've been pulling my hair out playing around with WordPress - If you care to see the messy details of my project, you can check it out here. Note - it's not pretty and it's FAR from done.

I'm debating whether or not to move my entire blog over to that or not. Typically blogspot is a service for those without paid web space (which I have) and/or lacking in experience for sake of ease (I'm not great, but I'm past the beginner level).

The advantage of using blogspot - If I decide to move my hosting, their server gets fried, or I go bankrupt and resort to selling polaroids on the beach, I'll still have a blog.

The disadvantage - not as much freedom. I HATE having "java and a "-" jive . "blogspot" - when I already pay for thejavajive.com Why did I use the "-"? Because someone else decided to create a blog that had absolutely nothing to do with the island of Java and/or coffee and call it javajive - so it was taken. Plus two years ago, my web design skills were what you'd call "challenged".

I'll continue to plug away at this, and hopefully decent results will follow. Any thoughts on the matter?

Has anyone read "The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint"?

posted by Brandon | 7:54 PM

October 19, 2004  

Browsing through my site stats, I found that someone landed on my site after this search:

www.google.ca/search? =warm-hearted caring male bodybuilders&meta=

How did you know?!

I guess I'd rather have that than the other popular one linking to my site somehow: "toe sucking asian girls with sexy breasts".

Pandora's Box applies here.
Now that I've listed this post, I'll capture even more hits from the freaks looking for those keywords!

Things that make you go "hmmm..."

posted by Brandon | 5:34 PM

October 18, 2004  

hue and saturation

This land is dripping in colors - radiant, vibrant colors the camera cannot capture.

Words may not either.

Women here care about their appearance without being vain. No matter what level in society they represent, nor their age, they take care of themselves in the most delicate of details - a splash of color in their skirts, crisply pressed shirts, and the definition of cleanliness. There is no wonder why Asian women are often said to be the most feminine the world over. I absolutely agree.

posted by Brandon | 9:28 PM

My coworker: "So I think I'm gonna go on the no carb diet."

Moi: "That's good. Will you be eating mostly meat?"

My coworker:
"Yeah, some. Pretty much vegetables, rice, and cereal."

"Oh, ok then."

I couldn't break it to him that rice and cereal aren't exacly South Beach favorites.

Good luck with that.

posted by Brandon | 7:53 AM

October 16, 2004  

I remember that.

I remember how that felt.

No cares in the world except to burn your feet on the scorching sand, strip down to the essentials, and run head first into the salty waves.

This was before university, careers, money, and bills. Before relationships, love lost, and love found. Before gossip, health concerns, dishonesty. Before we forgot what it was like to live without a care in the world.

This was life in its purest form. This was what we all spend our remaining years searching for.

This was living.

Run little one, run.

posted by Brandon | 9:30 PM

October 15, 2004  

cruel intentions?

These guys were adamantly poisoning themselves before Ramadan - the month of fasting, which began yesterday. They staked their spot early in the morning, passing around liquor and enough cigarettes to give lung cancer to Satan.

As the afternoon wore on they began climbing the trees to get a peek at my friends in their bikinis, saying obscene (I'm assuming) remarks to passing females, and overall being a nuisance to anyone in line of their blurred vision. The only word that came to mind when I saw this guy in orange was "cruel".

posted by Brandon | 3:28 AM

October 13, 2004  

Tony Soprano for President!

Bush and Kerry had their final debate this morning (evening in the States). All politics aside, I thought this was hilarious:

"Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order," Kerry said, referring to the murderous mob boss in the U.S. television program "The Sopranos."

I like that one. I'll throw my vote in the mix tomorrow. It's a bit different being overseas.

If you've noticed a slowdown in my posting this week, it's due to an absurd amount of work going on. It should be all finished by Sunday, and I'll post more photos of the characters I met last weekend in Cisolok (south Java).

* I've finally come to a conclusion about the long nailed Indonesian men (see post below). I understand now that it IS a class thing, a cultural thing, AND a mullet thing. Mullet thing? Yes. This would be the same situation in the eyes of a foreigner that had visited any state fair in America. They would wonder, "Why do some American men (and women) grow the hair on the back of their head till they look like a Cocker Spaniel?" I would simply reply - "It's a Kentucky thing." - An answer they may not like, but would have to accept. I may now rest easy knowing that our countries have more in common than I had previously imagined.*

Changing gears...

It's funny how my site comes up in the top 10 when people search msn for "Modzilla Firefox". I was wondering how I ended up so highly ranked - then I realized that my dumbass spelled "Mozilla" wrong (no "d") - therefore putting myself in the category of other dumbasses searching the web.

Good one Brandon.

posted by Brandon | 9:06 PM

October 12, 2004  

the glance

What a powerful stare. Sometimes it's as though an old soul is captured in a youthful body.

posted by Brandon | 8:30 PM

October 11, 2004  

Can someone please explain to me why *some* Indonesian men feel the need to grow their fingernails to obsurd lengths?

I realize that it has something to do with class distinction, proving that they don't work manual labor, etc. Am I correct? But if so, why do taxi drivers have daggers (is that not manual labor as well)? When I see them pickin their nose, I'm worried their gonna poke their brains and crash.

I'm sure I can chalk this one up with the whole "masuk angin" thing. Some things are too much for the bule mind I suppose. The force is not with us.

posted by Brandon | 11:00 PM

The Flintstones visit Indonesia!

This was taken yesterday on the way home from the south coast of Java. What an image! You wouldn't believe how many people were packed in that car if I told you. Can you imagine if they got rear-ended?

Here's a contest for you -

Email me or leave a comment with the funniest caption for this photo. I'll post the results later.

posted by Brandon | 1:57 AM

October 07, 2004  

These images were taken in Ancol as well. Probably the last that I'll be posting from that "series". The top photo is actually the sun, taken through the veil of pollution - causing an intense redness to seep through. The light changes so rapidly in Indonesia that photos of the same scene often change dramatically within hours.

I worked out on Wednesday - pushing myself way too hard. I think you can tell when you're bench pressing too much if something starts to bulge out of your wrist. Something tells me that's not normal. I went home, and within an hour developed chills and a fever. It was the weirdest thing. I generally never get sick here, yet this came on like a freight train. I dragged myself to work on Thursday but was absolutely useless. I'm quickly getting better - a sign that my immune system kicks ass, but my throat feels as if Arnold is choking the life out of me.

I am leaving in an hour for the south coast of Java (yeah, again) - a trip which I had cancelled while on my death bed. My friends convinced me that I am indeed feeling better and that I could sit in Jakarta with a sore throat, or sit on a beautiful beach with a sore throat. If you haven't noticed I am easily pressured by my peers.

On another note - for the first time in over two years I am able to be online after leaving work!! That's right! I bought a wireless Internet card, which plugs into my laptop. For about $400, I'm now able to work from my bed, Starbucks, the beach, Bali, you get the point. In other words, I'm pretty pumped! It's been frustrating being confined to having access only at my desk and staying late if I needed to be online.

Life is good.

posted by Brandon | 11:04 PM

October 05, 2004  

In the fade

Another series from Ancol - these were extremely dark settings. They were taken in an alley where workers were smoking and carving - I converted to black and white because the images were almost unusable otherwise.

On a side note:

Today I finally switched over to Modzilla's

I'm wondering why it took me so long to realize this browser kicks Microsoft's ass!

I'm wondering why it took me so long to realize what I've been missing.

I'm wondering what else is out there that is MUCH better than what I'm used to (that speaks for all parts of my life!).

posted by Brandon | 5:35 PM

October 04, 2004  

I spent all day Sunday perusing paintings, sculptures, and throngs of locals in the art markets of Ancol in north Jakarta. It truly feels as if you’ve stepped out of the madness of the city for a moment. The laid back existence of artistry takes hold of everyone, especially the artisans themselves. Every other shop owner was unconscious in the heat of the day; I quietly stepped over and around their corpses scattered around the floor. They create exquisite works from the most ordinary materials, all the while sucking on voracious amounts of clove cigarettes, giving each shop a special haze of its own, not dissimilar to the sky above.

Although the area is not a magnet for foreigners, I’m sure they receive a fair amount of bule, so I wasn’t shy with my photo taking. Another typical “tourist” activity is to sit down and chat with the artists, so I made sure not to be an exception. I met a number of characters, and even took part in some of the carving process. During one of the conversations, the artist said that the single piece they were working on takes over two months with two men to create. The relief carvings are seen everywhere, and are simply remarkable in their attention to detail and resourcefulness. I ended up buying some leather stools and some framed canvases, but no dice on the $2500 relief.

Another artist was twisting and weaving what appeared to be reeds or another fibrous plant.

He was bursting with personality and obviously excited to have someone take notice in his activity. I spent about half an hour taking his photo and conversing with him.

“What’s your name?”
“No, sorry, (I repeat in broken Indonesian) my name is Brandon, what’s yours?”
“Macaroni! – you know, like from Italy!”
“Ok then.”He then says to me, “I’m going to be in the Guinness Book of World Records!”,
“For sculpture! See, people have carved wood, stone, sand, and ice, but no one has made sculptures from plants!”
“Right on.”
“Yes, I’ve already traveled to 89 countries showing my work, but to make it in the book, I need to visit 100 different countries.”

I’m a bit confused how a man working in such conditions has afforded to travel that extensively, but who am I to question his words? He wondered what my photos would be used for, and I mentioned that for my own use, but that I do put them on the Internet. His face beamed with excitement after hearing that.

“Would you tell people they can buy this one?” pointing to two large voluptuous nudes. “Sell them on the Internet for me ok?”
“I’ll see what I can do, Macaroni.”
“Yeah, some European man already ordered 100 of these, (holding up an evil looking doll), but never collected them.”
“Now they are like my wives, see this one’s pregnant!” grinning and sticking his tongue out.
“Yep, and on that note, it’s about time for me to go.”

He really seemed like a decent guy, except for that last remark – so if anyone is interested in making this fine art purchase, give me a shout.

posted by Brandon | 1:09 AM

October 02, 2004  

The architectural wonders that we encounter on a daily basis are nothing short of breath-taking if you stop to notice. This hotel in Singapore was just another hotel I suppose, and yet even a hundred years ago would be utterly impossible to construct. While having a drink in the lobby, I couldn't help but simply stare at the space and atmosphere created by such a magnificent creation.

Then again, maybe it's just another hotel blending in with the speed at which our world is progressing.

posted by Brandon | 8:36 PM

October 01, 2004  

As Dr. Dre put it best, "today was a good day". My gallery is moving along well, and one of my images was chosen for the Photo Friday Challenge! Here is a link to the image chosen. That being my first "noteworthy" selection, I'm pretty happy. It simply fuels me to strive harder to produce better photography.

On a side note, this month marks the two year anniversary of javajive! So much has changed, but I have remained in Indonesia the entire time - never thought I'd last this long!

What a great end to the week. Thanks for your votes!

posted by Brandon | 2:06 AM
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