The monsoon month of August that marks the fall of Manila was in itself a parable of rain and an improbable game of hopscotch on the flooded sidewalks of Avenida. Not for lack of trying did a few fans miss the Smashing Pumpkins concert in Cubao, though some tickets must have been had somewhere between the crevices of rolls of thunder and the omnipresent downpour, perhaps in the clutching hands of a scalper, who despite all his rage is still like a rat in a cage floating in a swollen creek of Tatalon.
Smashing comes and smashing goes, but here comes that rain again with its myriad myths rearing its ugly whatever like Billy Corgan’s bald head. Those born in 1979 please raise your hand. Yes, you and you, Banaue and Mookie and Rowena, that’s one song the Pumpkins are well known for, from the album “Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,” which cassette was released sometime in the mid to late 1990s, at the time your correspondent was working at Agencia Efe faking a Spanish accent, trying to avoid Don Pepe on the phone with his crisp admonition, “Why you make me wait?!”
Apart from 1979, there was Tonight that was good either for a rousing opener or a showstopper of a number, you could see the crowd going wet and wild, or at least those who braved the monsoon madness, just to see this other brilliant madness of music and then some, although with an entirely new lineup, no more D’Arcy or James Iha, rather an equally ravishing bassist Nicole Fiorentino late of Veruca Salt, so maybe Corgan’s organ is not that washed up after all.
At times too you could hear them on the radio, their version of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, the vocalist’s rendition maybe a bit more nasal than necessary. But Efe loved the Pumpkins, and how, if Efe were Oda and Larissa and Kit, grooving to the sound at the time the first cell phones were like ice scrapers and even if it meant having to make Don Pepe wait.
The Pumpkins were the second rock act of consequence to enter the islands this year, after former Smiths front man Morrissey in May. Floods had yet to arrive back then, so it’s possible Morrissey must have delivered on his promise that the concertgoer would leave the venue feeling a bit taller, as if a cat were sitting on his or her head. Morrissey had even written an impassioned plea for the transfer of the Manila Zoo elephant Mali to a sanctuary, lest its fate be similar to a girlfriend in a coma. How soon is now, the elephant must have asked about the transfer proposal.
On the same rainy night of the Smashing concert of smashing water levels, Marina Cruz’s show “Corners of My Sleep” opened at the Art Informal on Connecticut Street, perhaps meters away from where a huge crack reportedly had been left by the pounding rain on EDSA near the Petron station.
Cruz, from the latest batch of 13 Artists awardees, looks to the subconscious and nearly abandoned houses save for traces of former inhabitants as material for her work. Leave it to Marina to tap the sleepwalker in us all, as the nine-day rain had reconfigured the city into armies of somnambulists, stalled or otherwise, slogging their way through the muck and haze.
It turns out the world was more than a vampire, and the records on the top shelf of a book case had to be evacuated when a ceiling panel in the old UP Village homestead finally gave way, and in the basement the creeping snake-like floods threatened yet again the books in the ancient library, a phenomenon not seen since tropical storm Ondoy.
This monstrosity however was like a horse with no name, but a few of the vinyl records were surely by Neil Young, who has yet to come to the Philippines, preceded already by hell and high water.
Here’s something written by your correspondent culled from a sort of dream diary, from the corners of sleep after PM’s Lihim ng Panaginip yeah, about Neil Young in the Philippines:
“Neil Young, folksinger forever young/.finally came to the Philippines/ for a one-night only/limited edition concert at the/ Araneta, though tickets were/ priced way out of reach./ Was only able to catch the/ tailend of the concert when/ someone from the office gave/ a complimentary ticket at the/ last minute./ The parking lot in Cubao was/ nowhere near full, and the/ coliseum ticket guides barely/ helpful to find my seat/ in the venue which looked more/ like the Music Museum in/ intimacy, with a bar where/ you could order food and drinks,/ and on the front row I saw/ an old colleague from Jingle magazine./ But the repertoire itself was limited,/ A Lotta Love, The Old Laughing Lady, / Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Don’t Let It Bring You Down,/ hardly the stuff of greatest hits./ Before we knew it the concert/ was over after only a handful of songs,/ and an old Jingle cohort was surfing online/ to scan the write-up of the show on/ the website of a rival paper, how/ quick it all was, even the reports./ ‘Love there will be another one,/ you’ll have her over you beneath the sun,/ tomorrow see the things that never/ come today.’ (Birds)/ It’s over. Danger bird still flies/ alone. The loner sits at the back/ of the bus.”
Or as Kit would say, patay tayo dyan. Even if it meant the sky falling over the loyal and ever noble city again, just to put an end to mythmaking, and no longer having to make poor Don Pepe wait on the telephone.