return to sender, sender not cool enough*

dear mr. darnielle,

like the best (worst?) of us, my fingers often, automaton-like, type random, stream-of-boredom, things in the google search and see what the web trap and prepare for us to consume this time. in the past two years i often type jakarta, followed by + then other things that might pass my mind: porn, indie chicks, punk, hardcore, grindcore, black metal, writers, female writers, blog, morrissey, etc. i miss jakarta. i was brought up there, briefly, before i moved to syldavia to study. i lived there again two years ago for just a little more than a year, which probably has only made me miss it more. it’s strange don’t you think, that my google search has never tangled itself around your webzine, last plane to jakarta? i remember i once typed jakarta + zine but the result was a few pages of women’s magazines like femina and dewi (which i used to read when i was a kid, especially for the gynaecology Q & A section – but now i have thumbnail porn). i mean, shouldn’t your website have come up when i typed jakarta + interesting thing? i really like your writing, even though i still haven’t found any articles on jakarta or indonesia, but since i only found out about it last night (via aquarius records’ website) i’m looking forward to dig into your fleshy archives. i read that in issue #5 you wrote about a jakarta punk band called parkinson, i’d love to read that, though i read somewhere that the content of the webzine and the paper and glue version never overlap. but i hold on hope. at the moment i’m all fuzzy and warm inside thinking that i’ve found someone who’s interested in both jakarta and black metal. i left jakarta in 1992 (on the last plane of the day from jakarta) wearing morbid angel t-shirt (don’t you think altars of madness is prototype black metal? – it’s evil-sounding even now, though i don’t understand why. it’s before their ancient sumerian fixation; perhaps the simpler anti-jesus propaganda was closer to their black hearts, though sometimes it sounds almost innocent and sweet). soon i would be wearing sadistik exekution, darkthrone, anatomy and a year and a half later i put them all together in a monster-sized garbage bag and donated them to the salvation army. i started listening exclusively to bowie and i’ve been regretting it ever since (i.e. throwing out my metal t-shirts, i’ll have to get back to you re: bowie – he’s another one in that exploding jakarta/indonesia scene, in black tie white noise he recorded a bahasa indonesia version of don’t let me down & down: jangan susahkan hatiku (bad translation: it now means don’t break my (achy breaky) heart, but it sounds awkward in indonesian. it’s like saying don’t make my heart sad. it sould’ve been jangan kecewakan aku, or jangan bikin gue kecewa if he wants to sound like a real jakartan, but he probably wants to be a balinese first)) i’ve started to listen to metal again since i found a copy of altars of madness in a record fair, the record reminds me of/sounds to me like jakarta: the spidery trey azagthoth (what a name!) leads that flick reels of 6 o’clock commuter traffic (am and pm) in my head, david vincent thrashy growl (“it’s the dawn of the crucifiers, SUFFOCATION!”), which seemed to scream inside my head inside a sweaty minibus stuck between a secretary with fake chanel no. 5 perfume and a rooster, agitating me to get out of the city. ah, the memory. the record lead me to aquarius records then to you. have you actually been to jakarta? did you like it? or did ‘the last plane to jakarta’ refer to a last-second getaway trip after a nightclub raid by jama’ah islamiah fanatics? i would like to know what you think of jakarta and i want to read all the things you have written about the city. i have found a copy of issue #4 on bed of sweats records website and i’m going to order it as soon as the owner tells me how to. please tell me if you chance upon a forgotten stack of issue #5 or any of the other issues and i’ll buy them off you. i like reading the non-jakarta stuffs of course, as i said i’ve only read a few articles since i found the website just last night. i like your meshuggah best video article and the darkthrone/circle of dead children review, i tried to look up more of codc lyrics (i never heard them before) but their lyrics link didn’t work. if they’re like the one you quoted then that’s the most poetic grindcore lyrics since carcass’s symponies of sickness. i would also like to buy a last plane to jakarta t-shirt, in the burgundy colour and small size. i want to use a money order, please tell me whether the item is still available or not, and i’ll send the money. from australia it takes around 10 days to get to you. have you ever heard jakarta/indonesian black metal, grindcore etc? unfortunately i don’t have a double-deck tape recorder but if you’re interested perhaps that’ll make me buy one. do you know a good model? then i can tape you some, not much, i only have a series of compilation tapes called metalik klinik (metallic clinic) with bands that do note-perfect pastiches of kreator, napalm death, darkthrone etc. indonesians are great at pastiche, bands usually adopt a ‘real’ band and play their songs for many years before they write their own songs. but that culture seems to be changing. metalik klinik contains only original songs, though the styles are derivative. one band tengkorak (skulls) sounds exactly like barney greenway era napalm death. one band from bali tries to do gamelan riffs as black metal tremolos, but that’s about the only thing ‘indonesian’ about the project (tengkorak has samples from a batak father scolding his son for hanging out after school, but it might not be funny if you’re not from jakarta). i have tapes of other bands like rumah sakit (a stone roses/ride pastiche), clubeighties (duran duran/the cure), naif (‘70s pop). but what am i doing tempting you with all these? i don’t even have a double-deck cassette player! sorry. i love your writing and i’ve refrained from mentioning anything about your band the mountain goats because i have never heard it (i only found out about it last night too). i am sorry. i’ve been listening to too much morrissey. i have read some biographies and interviews of you last night and i know all about the PT 500 panasonic condensed microphone etc. (the ‘do you know a good model?’ question was a lame joke, wasn’t it?) i imagine your method (old? – do you still do the boombox recordings?) attracts a lot of rabid fans, so i’m sure you won’t be freaked out by this rabid letter. i will order some cds from 3bos with the magazine. or do you know a better way? thank you for putting jakarta on a small but bright corner of the web. i will visit it often.

yours faithfully,


*email to john darnielle of the mountain goats, june sometime 2003

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