Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Rocking With Anvil

November 12th will be 8 months in China. I have weighed the pros and cons of staying as I like the school I work at and life in China for a Westerner is easy living so signing up for another year or two would be an easy decision. The choice is tough because I am getting more involved with the expat community here and socially things are great. The school is also doing well with new students weekly but oddly I have somehow taken on more responsibility, dammit. Responsibility just keeps finding me no matter how hard I try to hide from it.

I think the absolute final decision will be an easy one.  Winter is coming and with that the air quality is deteriorating daily, although today the skies are blue, and yes it is as bad as you see on TV. Starting November 15th the government will activate over 2000 more coal fired plants to supply heat to the masses making it a common site to wake up every day to the scene in the photo below. Easy living or not who wants to live like that? Yes it is true that you can not see across the street. Yesterday the pollution index was 212 where 30 means the air is clean, and it was terrible. I was told to expect  500 and even a few days of 1000 (photo below). The reality of things that are accepted as normal in the world can be disheartening. The 4 coal plants that Canada has shut down to "save the environment" means nothing. Anyways, that is my reality at the moment and as I said, will  determine my next move.... of me moving on to blue skies and clean air. Not a tough choice really.

This is an actual un-doctored photo of Xi'an last year
October ended with a fun school Halloween party and a trip back in rock and roll time when I had long hair, a flat belly and good eyesight.

Anvil! I had not thought about Anvil since the early 80’s. They were synonymous with heavy metal and were from Toronto. They were also the inspiration behind some of the biggest names in metal and toured with some of the greats, but much like the amazing Sixto Rodriguez of 60s and 70s glory, the never exploded to greatness.

Anvil were the metal leaders of the time and although I did not jump on their bandwagon I knew the music. Fast forward to about a month ago and one of the teachers here said to me “Do you know Anvil”? I thought for a second, jogged my foggy musical memory and said “if you mean the 80s metal band yeah, I remember them” My only logic for guessing music was we had talked about music for a couple of days while sitting around the office. “Well they are coming to Xi’an, want to go”? It was an obvious yes which was followed by the downloading of their catalogue to catch up. I was also directed  to a movie about the band from 2005, Anvil: The Story of Anvil that has been compared to a real life Spinal Tap. If you watch it you well understand why. I now find myself searching Pirate Bay for This is Spinal Tap.

I quickly got to work catching up on what has turned out to be an insane story of arguable one of the pioneers of Metal that never made it big. The movie will make you laugh and even cry a little bit but these boys never stopped believing. Now they were in China and it was time to hit the Apature club and rock with a mixture of Chinese and expat metal heads. What could possibly go wrong?

Anvil was tight and Rob Reiner is arguably one of the best unrecognized drummers in music (but that is changing) and it turns out he is an accomplished painter. Check out this drum solo from 2016. Listen to the double bass, his feet never stop and he never missed a beat. After 40 years these guys still give it everything they've got plus they were as down to earth as rock legends could be. We hung out with them for about an hour after the show drinking beer and taking photos. All the Chinese patrons left immediately as they do so the 30 or so foreigners had the band and the bar to ourselves.

Anvil revived my inner metal and thus I have been a torrent maniac lately. Metallica, Slayer, Motle Crue, Motorhead (Lemmieeee!), Sabbath, Iron Maiden and of course Anvil have been downloaded. It is going to be nothing but Metal for the foreseeable future in my apartment and I am sure the neighbors will love it. I suddenly have the urge to smoke a joint.

Halloween is not a holiday in China but everyone jumped on board knowing a bit of the western custom. Most of the Chinese could care less about what it was about and more about dressing up. We played games, danced, had a costume competition and just had fun as you should on Halloween. Most of the parents got dressed up as well and many of them brought beer...to their kids Halloween part. Some days Chinese culture could teach the world a thing or two.

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