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Showing posts from May, 2010

The Postage Stamp Renaissance

This is the story of how a postage stamp, a rocket scientist, and a blind bluesman brought an obscure musical tradition of outer Mongolia to the world.

I'm sitting in a Portland, Oregon rock club. It's situated right smack in the middle of the downtown meat market. To the right of me is Voodoo Donuts. Gutter punks spange outside, grabbing a few bucks from the drunks attracted to the scent of bacon and glazing. To the left of me is a flophouse, the human overflow sleeping in the streets outside it. On a normal night, the club caters to bored frat boys and enterprising bank tellers, everyone dressed in their cleanest polo shirts, Axe so thick it smells like a Thai ladyboy exploded.

Tonight it's different. The club is filled with drifting incense. People crowd the stage, sitting on the floor indian style, necks aching to see the white robed performers. Passers by wander in, hoping for the usual drunken party, and stand struck dumb. The sta…