한국에 도착!

I have a couple minutes to pop in and let you know a couple juicy news tidbits:

  1. I am pleased to report that my previous post is already the top result on Google for the search terms “couch surfing zach bardon girls”! Future searches for these terms will now be much more fruitful.
  2. I arrived in Korea (finally — after about two months of waiting for the immigration office to get me my visa) about 24 hours ago. I am pleased to report a fantastically delicious inaugural meal of 감자탕 (spicy pork and potato soup).
  3. I got here right in the middle of one of Korea’s major holidays — 설날, the lunar new year! It’s a three-day holiday, quite long by Korean standards. So I don’t have work for a few days, but I can’t work on mixing until I can go shopping when the holiday is over. (I need to get a power converter to be able to use an essential piece of my equipment.) What’s more, my phone needs to be reactivated so I can’t call all my Korean friends to hang out yet either. So the next few days should see a flurry of blog activity.

Until a few hours later, my friends.

COMING IMMINENTLY: The Carputer, Part I.

Couch Surfing Zach Bardon Girls!

I occasionally Google myself, just for fun. There’s plenty of hits about me and my music, and a ton of hits for some programs I wrote ages ago (an m3u-to-HTML conversion utility and a solitaire card game I invented and co-wrote with my friend Kevin Baba).

Today, among the Google results was a Thai website detailing search statistics, and in the list of keywords was “couch surfing zach bardon girls.” All together.

What does this mean? This means that someone, somewhere, did a search for the phrase “couch surfing zach bardon girls”! I think that is fantastic.

As it turns out, a Google search for “couch surfing zach bardon girls” lists that Thai site as the only result. If I remove the quotes, we get my friend and fellow singer-songwriter Amaryah’s MySpace page as the top hit (I’m playing drums on a couple of her tunes, by the way). Amaryah has been Couchsurfing a bit, and I’ve commented on her page, oddly enough mentioning girls, hence the match.

Just in case there’s something the searcher knew that I don’t, a proper search for “zach bardon” couchsurfing girls (quotes only around my name, “couchsurfing” is properly one word) shows nothing terribly exciting. Some Couchsurfing pages where I happen to appear, Amaryah’s page again, and a couple blogs — one by David Lamignan Larsen, a Norwegian rapper I recorded in San Francisco, and one by myself, where I was talking about the Tour on my own MySpace.

I feel that the search terms “couch surfing zach bardon girls” ought to have much better results than that, so I have used them several times in this post (including the title) and I am also including actual pictures of real Couchsurfing girls that I have stayed with and/or hung out with during the Tour, in the hopes that if anyone makes this search in the future, they will have more fruitful results.

Actual Couchsurfing Girls that Zach Bardon Met on His Tour

Daneen in Minnesota Liz in Boston Angie in NYC Becky in Tucson Emily and Megan in Storrs Trinh in Atlanta Susan in Mobile Maggie in Gulfport Julia in Knoxville Laura in San Fran Dominique in Vegas Kaelee in Logan

I, Zach Bardon, would like to express my thanks to these girls for giving me many excellent couch surfing experiences, and for each being another wonderful reason the Couchsurfing project is world-changingly great!

Also, if you are the person who searched for “couch surfing zach bardon girls”, please let me know so I can thank you for making my day.

NEXT: Our regularly scheduled travel blog about Logan, UT.

State of the Project: 12/23

It’s been over a month since my dad took this picture:

The triumphant return!  Only about 17 steps to go!

In fact, now it’s the day before Christmas Eve (a.k.a. Christmas Eve Eve) and here I am, writing about what I did back in the beginning of October. But there’s a method to my madness: if through some miracle I finished writing about the tour today, there would be months of nothing but “well, I’m still mixing…” posts. Not very exciting. Instead, I’m timing things so you get a slower but constant stream of actual, exciting project news.

“Bah!” grumbles Mr. Yerfulovit. “You’re just telling yourself that to make yourself feel better about not updating as often!”

Maybe. And hey — welcome back Mr. Yerfulovit, we haven’t seen you around for a long while. Anyway, while slowly bringing the travel bloggings home, I will occasionally mix in current project news so you also know what’s going on now.

Current project status

Mainly, I’m waiting on my visa to go teach ESL in Korea again, and start climbing out of the debt this project has already put me in. The wait is far longer than expected, evidently due to lots of changes to the visa process in Korea. Because I needed a week or two where I wasn’t thinking about the project and 10,000 related details every day, I had been planning on waiting until I was in Korea to really buckle down and get things edited, mixed and recorded, but as the wait drags on I’ve had to reassess that plan. So, I have been working on making sure I have everything recorded in the States that I need. I’ve been doing a good bit of mixing, and recording a handful of people in Omaha.

But to be honest, I’m experiencing a bit of a “down” after the constant hustle and bustle of traveling and recording. Certainly I needed to crash a bit, just to recover from the exhausting tour. But I still don’t feel like doing anything, and it’s been about a month since I got back to HQ. This constant waiting for the visa and not knowing when I’m leaving yet has also got me a bit frayed. But it’s been more than long enough and I need to get back on my feet.

I’ll be taking a very stripped-down version of my studio with me to Korea, so I’ll be able to finish up the project over there. But I won’t be recording anyone (besides myself) in Korea. It’s a kind of project rule: only US Americans on the project. I know some great Korean musicians, but I’m saving them for later. This particular project is about Americans from all over playing American music from all over. As it turns out, even limiting it to the USA is diverse enough for at least three albums (Amazing!). I’m not generally very nationalistic — I don’t see why any country is necessarily better than another, when every person on Earth is equally valuable — but America is my home and the source of a lot of my musical upbringing, and the best context for my first album. A kind of foundation, from which I can depart but never permanently (I’m applying that to both my geography as well as my music).

In exciting future news, I have both a really great painter and a really great graphic designer both on board to help out with album artwork and jacket design (!!!!1!!11!!), and a handful of musicians ready to collaborate with recording online should I discover a hole I’m not able to fill myself in Korea.

There’s a new version of Sonar out. It looks shnazzy.

And now for our regularly-scheduled travel blog.

Tour of Love 100%!

Yesterday morning, I arroved (was arroven?) back in Omaha after successfully completing the “Traveling and Recording” phase of the project.

THE GIST: I am now done touring and recording!


I will now address your questions. (Many narrative devices raise their hands.) Yes, you in the back.

Q: Did you go to all 50 US states?
A: No, that was never my goal. I had no plans to drive to either Alaska or Hawaii.

Q: Fine then. Did you go to all 48 continental US states?
A: No. I had to skip North Dakota due to the aforementioned computer problems.

Q: So you went to all 48 except North Dakota?
A: Yes.

Q: I think North Dakota only counts as half a state anyway.
A: That’s a good idea, but I still only went to 47 states.

Q: No, because there are 50 total states, so the extra half has to come from somewhere.
A: Where?

Q: Probably California. Yeah, let’s say California counts as 1.5.
A: Okay. So I went to 47.5 of the 48 continental states.

Q: Cool! But… this blog still has you in Portland, OR.
A: I liked it there, why not stay?

Q: Haha! Seriously though.
A: Now that the touring is complete (which was rather exhausting, by the way) I’ll have some time to start catching the blog up to the present. Don’t expect me to catch up lightning-fast, because I have only a couple weeks to prepare everything before I go back to Korea (where I will teach ESL again), but you can safely expect more regular updates.

Q: Can we get a promise, say 2 posts per week?
A: No. In the history of the internet, that never works. I won’t waste your expectations.

Q: Okay. What’s next?
A: The next phase of the project is the hole-plugging phase. I recorded a massive smattering of happening peeps, but some of the songs still have sections that need a little something. I will be working on trying to fill those holes, either by recording people in Omaha before I leave, collaborating from Korea with musicians in America over the internet, or playing stuff in myself.

Q: The question everyone wants to know the answer to is: when can we hear it??
A: It will still be several months. Don’t panic, but don’t hold your breath either. Rest assured that I will keep working on the project just as hard, even though I’m no longer Touring. While you wait, read my exciting posts about the awesome places and people I encountered and recorded. Play a game. Call a loved one. Perhaps enjoy a cold mojito. Above all else, chillax.

Q: What does that mean?
A: Kind of like hanging out, but a really cool type of hanging out.

Q: Sweet. Will do.
A: Awesome.

Q: Yes.
A: Okay, stop now. These aren’t even questions.

Q: I know, right?
A: Every time you say something I have to answer you to keep the Q&A format intact, but it’s really annoying when you aren’t even asking a question.

Q: Okay! I’ll stop.
A: … *sigh*

Q: What?
A: NOTHING! Shut up.

Q: Got it.
A: Good.

I hope that all of your questions were addressed in this highly informative Q&A session. If not, please submit any further questions in the comments, but they may not be answered unless you include “Q:” at the beginning. Just FYI. Thanks.

Q: You’re welcome.
A: …

Some Responses to the Project

Everywhere I go, people ask me “so what are you doing exactly?” I keep getting better at explaining the project, but I invariably leave something out. I could probably talk about the project and the philosophies/reasons behind it indefinitely.*

Despite my continually incomplete descriptions, I have gotten nothing but positive response to this idea everywhere I’ve gone. Musicians love the idea and are often even openly envious. Nonmusicians love the idea just as much if not more. Some examples:

  • Shereé Johnson (a musician, location not specified) wrote me to say:

    I just saw your website today and all I can say is . . . you so lifted my spirit. It’s nice to see that there are still some individuals who ‘get it’ and are not afraid to ‘do their thang’ and go outside of the proverbial box. It is very refreshing seeing expressions of creativity and freedom.

  • Wayne Mitzen, a producer and musician from the DC area, called me to ask a bunch of questions about the project. He eventually concluded it was awesome and donated me some funds for gas. Thanks Wayne!
  • David Santistevan (who you may remember from such posts as: Pittsburgh, PA) wrote a bit about me in his blog.
  • Micah Williams, a friend from college who you will hear about later, called my project “the most creative recording project I’ve heard of.”
  • And — this one really made my day — a musician in Baltimore named Shane Gardner wrote “a song of my take about what you may be thinking on your travels from town to town.” He will eventually record that song for his upcoming project. You can hear the demo version on his myspace page — the song is called “So Long My Friends.” I was amazed that someone would write a song about me. Says Shane: “Your quest is a great inspiration.”

I continue to be pleased by the warm reception this project is getting everywhere I go. I only wish I had more ways of getting the word out, but I’m far too busy actually doing the project to advertise it.

You can help!
1) Leave your own response to the project below.
2) Tell the musicians in your life about this project. (If you don’t have musicians in your life, you owe it to yourself to get some ASAP.)

* If you still don’t exactly know what I’m doing, I’d encourage you to read my brief description of the project (click “The Road?” at the top of the page).

Trivial Update (Optional)

Some non-critical updates for you.

A Technical Update

At the suggestion of my good friend Matthew Campagna, I have begun integrating Shadowbox, an excellent standards-compliant media viewing solution, into this blag.

Presently it seems to be working on the home page, but not individual post pages, although the page code is identical. ????

Check it out on this scenic scene we got driving to Vermont:

Some awesome nimbulus clouds.

Hopefully I’ll get it working completely (or someone will) before I die.

A Descriptive Update

This update exists to provide more opportunities for you to see Shadowbox in action. It’s just some “on the road” type shots.

Let’s start with a dynamic action shot.

Action shot! (All blurry pictures are action shots.)

The carputer has mostly been working well. There were a few issues (one with the battery terminal bumping the frame of the car, shorting things and causing the carputer to reboot. I couldn’t figure out what was happening until we were driving at night and every time we hit a bump, sparks came from the engine compartment!) The GPS software also decided it wouldn’t load anymore, so I thought I was stuck until I discovered I still had the install files on my recording data hard drive. A fresh reinstall fixed the problem. Then the music stopped playing. Some weird setting with Roadrunner’s interface with Winamp was glitching. A manual run of Winamp to readjust the volume solved that problem.

Here’s a shot of the carputer actually working.

Look closely at the number of songs in the playlist.  That has since tripled.

Yeah, there are over 12K songs in the playlist now and things seem to be working. Except for that one time when it wouldn’t recognize the keyboard. Turns out it had come unplugged, and plugging it back in was not working. I’m not going to point any fingers, but I’m not the one sitting on the passenger seat… haha. Anyway, JH was a trooper and helped me fix it while we were driving.

Doing some on-the-road carputer maintenance.

When the carputer is working normally (which thankfully, is most of the time) we are free to enjoy nice scenes, such as the beautiful mountainous territory of Vermont.

Scenic.  TOO scenic.

NEXT: The beautiful mountainous territory of Vermont.