Friday, March 27, 2009

My Days as a Phonebooth Groupie...

So I thought I would do something productive with this blog besides whining about my job. I decided that this will be my music blog. I go to see a lot of bands, so I might as well write about them. Especially when it comes to the hijinks that often happen after the shows end when we all go out…

Anywho, the first band I shall write about is my favorite band and one that I’ve been friends with for a rather long time. Phonebooth.

When I first heard Phonebooth, I had only been in Korea for about a month and a half. I had never been to a club and was absolutely shocked to see that there was a live rock club here, especially with the large quantities of pop and ballads that are pumped through loud speakers in every store. We went in to FF and Phonebooth was on the stage. It was a Wednesday night and there weren’t many people in the club, but the lead singer was jumping around and dancing like it was a packed house.

Immediately I was impressed. I made a mental note to remember their name and try to see them again. I snatched up a sticker with their Myspace address and added them as soon as I got home that evening. Thus started the following of PHonebooth. It wasn’t long before they noticed that I attended shows a lot and started inviting me to come hang out with them after the show. They then started asking me when I was coming to shows and inviting me out even when they didn’t play. And it wasn’t long after that when we all became friends.

Phonebooth started out sounding a lot like their inspiration, The Strokes and Oasis. But as they grew and matured over the year, their new music started to take on its own fresh sound. And after returning from a tour in Japan and a rock festival in Taiwan over the summer, the band’s stage presence morphed from that of a post-high school garage band, to a professional band who is out to make it big.

They have charisma. They have style. They have a fanbase. And to top if off, they are humble and never forget were they started from.

And they are versatile. They each take turns writing music and lyrics. Sometimes writing in English, sometimes writing in Korean. But each song causes everyone in the room to react, whether it’s bobbing your head, tapping your toes or all out dancing around and running into everyone around you. It’s impossible to stand still when Phonebooth takes the stage. Especially when front man Kwang Sun is jumping on top of speakers, microphone in one hand and half-smoked cigarette in the other, encouraging the crowd to sing along. It doesn’t matter if its lighthearted “Pizza Boy” or inspirational “Gotta Chance”, you move when Kwang Sun sings.

The band as a whole seems to blend together in a way that ensures success. Kwang Sun is the crazy front guy that hypes up the crowd both on and off stage. Guitar player Tae Woo backs him up and dances around, always wearing his signature black hat, black rim glasses, gotee and Converse sneakers. Off-stage, Tae Woo is funny, intelligent and not afraid to state his opinions. (Even if it is saying that tattoos are ridiculous while in the presence of someone who has one and wants another…) Quiet Jun and Sang Min dance around on the other side of the stage, playing bass and guitar. Off stage, Jun is adorable and the resident pretty boy, and can speak English quite well even though he claims he can’t. It’s been about a year and I’ve barely heard Sang Min speak one word, English or Korean, but his funny and sweet girlfriend talks enough for the both of them. Last, but certainly not least, is Min Soo on the drums. Quiet off stage, but a powerful musician on stage, it’s rare to see him without a smile or his drum sticks.

It’s like magic when they are on stage, but yet they remain normal people once they are off stage, sitting in a bar drinking soju. Yes, you’ll occasionally here them ‘talking shop’ or discussing great bands. But most of the time they talk about life outside of music. They make fun of each other and of other bands (who happen to be their best friends). And occasionally they make fun of me. (Though I often wonder who doesn’t nowadays…) They are good people and talented musicians. A nice combo.

And thus ends my post about Phonebooth. I feel like there is so much more I could say about them, but the words just won’t quite form in my head. I could tell you about the time the guys gave me a group hug when they found out my grandfather died. (Kwang Sun’s girlfriend called and told him while I was on my way home from the airport. At the time I had no idea I was going to see them that night.) The girlfriends have given their approval on…maybe two guys now. Though that’s a bit dangerous because they kept asking about the first one after I introduced the second one…

But all in all, they are wonderful and if you ever get the chance, you should see them.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Childish Rant

Okay, so bear with me...I'm going to have a fairly childish rant session, but I need to get it out of my system.

I'm the youngest member of my team, which consists of two people. My co-worker, Ji Won, is three years older than me and has been working at my company about four months longer than me. When I first started at my company, we became good friends and she acted like my personal translator and helped me out. I thought she was really nice and a sweet girl, albeit a bit naive for someone who is 28 years old.

However, over the passed few months, Ji Won has morphed into a power trip psycho, it seems. I understand that I make mistakes and they need to be corrected. However, Ji Won tends to yell at me and degrade me over these mistakes. She often says things like "I don't want to have to tell you again." or "Why can't you just double check everything," and "When you make mistakes, Mr. Ahn yells at me." On Friday, she went as far as to say, "When you make the same mistakes over and over again, it speaks about your ability."

Of course, about five minutes after these exchanges, she's smiling and trying to act like my best friend.

What she doesn't realize is that by yelling at me all time, it actually has the opposite effect. Instead of inciting me to do better work, I just get angry, stressed and end up making even more mistakes.

On Friday, I tried to talk to her about this and suggest using a more constructive approach to criticism, but she unfortunately jumped to the wrong conclusion and thought I was telling her to quit correcting me. She refused to listen or understand me and then basically said, "I'm your senior. It's my right."

This pissed me off. I know I'm still learning Korean business culture and Korean PR, but damnit, I've studied PR. I did a year-long PR internship. I know how to write a press release and put together a press kit. I've worked many different jobs, all of which have given me applicable experience for this kind of work. I know I'm smart, a hard worker and capable of doing well at anything I set my mind to. And little miss senior has never worked in PR before and didn't major in PR. This is her second "real" job. But she thinks that just because I'm young and she went to uni in Australia for four years, she is the shit and master of the universe. All the while, she keeps asking me how we should do things and passing on all the work that she doesn't know how to do to me.

Though the clincher is, Ji Won has thyroid cancer. She had surgery in December to remove a tumor and will have one treatment of radiation in April. Though, it's not fatal and completely treatable. And thyroid cancer seems to be quite common among women. Unlike most of the people I've known with cancer, Ji Won is always complaining about how tired she is and how stressful her job is and how her mother said she didn't have to work. But to everyone else in the office, she just smiles and acts like nothing is wrong. And then tells me that she doesn't want people to show her sympathy when all of her actions are screaming "Pity me!" These kind of people disgust me. And it doesn't help that she's also the office gossip (and admitted to saying things about me to my other co-workers). On Friday she told me, "I know I'm always smiling, but I'm really tired, so please help me." Heh, she wants me to help her when she can't even treat me with a modicum of respect?

I've met children with terminal cancer who never complained about being tired. I've known women with Lupus who were incredibly optimistic and never said," I don't want people to pity me." They lived their lives as normally as possible and never blamed their shortfalls on their illness.

Ji Won comes from a fairly well-off family, from what I take, and doesn't seem to know what it's like to be completely independent or how to start at the bottom and work your way up. She thinks that she can glide up there. I find it very difficult to respect people like this.

Ugh, I know I complain about this way too often, but it just frustrates me because nothing I try seems to work to make the situation better. I try to just sit there and take it, but I get so angry that I end up talking back to her. I try to talk to her and she doesn't understand. My job is great and I'm finally getting along really well with all my other co-workers, but it's just this one person who can make work miserable in a span of two minutes.

I can't talk to my boss about her, because he often babies her since she's sick and puts off this "I'm helpless and innocent" kind of persona. And I can't talk to any of my co-workers about it because they would all think that I'm the big bad guy because I'm the outsider and the foreigner.

Oi...I really hope she just quits...according to her she can get a job like this anywhere...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another Blog...

So I've started another's to hoping I keep up with this one...

Life is peachy here in Seoul, despite the fact that it's White Day and my boyfriend is too busy to see me this weekend. Ugh. Stupid corporations. This whole week has been a little bleh because he's been working on a bid proposal and hasn't had time to meet me. Ugh, the downside of being in a relationship with a corporate guy. Doesn't help that he hasn't even mentioned White Day...

Work is better, though I think I've just made an important realization about one of my co-workers who I thought was a friend. Apparently, appearances aren't all they seem and I should definitely be more careful about what I say around her, but that's all I'll really say about that. Just thinking about it gets me more frustrated than I already am...

Eh... I suppose that's about all right now. I'm just really upset with Young at the moment...bleh...