Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Weekend in Taipei: Robin Gibb in Concert, and the Museum of World Religions

We were out of town again this weekend as we headed up to Taipei to see Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees doing a solo concert at the Taida Sports Arena. The kids had a blast....

Advertizing Robin.....

We hadn't told the kids what we were coming up to Taipei for -- it was just a surprise. So as we walked to the auditorium Zeb spied the banners for Robin Gibb with "Bee Gees" on them and said "Hey, look, Dan-dan! It's Robin!" Dan-dan looked at the banners and then riposted with the world-weary cynicism of the ten year old. "But it can't be him, that's impossible." Moments later she added. "Wouldn't it be great if he were here. But that will never happen." Juying and I were in stitches. So you can imagine their happiness when they found out it really was him.

Taiwan University Campus as dusk falls...

We got there at 6:30 and grabbed our seats -- 9th row on the balcony. They sound like awful seats, but in fact we were closer than most of the people in more expensive seats. Incredibly, the layout was so badly designed that it was possible to get seats in the $5800 range that were closer than seats in the $6,800. Ours cost $2,800, and we were closer than probably a third of the $5,800 tickets. Yes, that's right, we blew $11,200 to see Robin, but how many chances do you get?

Robin sings....

The audience didn't get warmed up until halfway through, so I filled in the relative quiet with a yip! that Robin heard and gave a thumbs up to. My son talked about that in an awed voice all night.

....and sings.....

Halfway through the audience was on its feet and everyone was dancing and clapping. The kids sang along -- my daughter knows the words to every Bee Gees song -- and we had a ball dancing and shouting at the top of our lungs.

Early on the audience sat like parents at a recital.

The music was great, of course, but the screen show in the back was sheer high school. The acoustics of the auditorium, needless to say, were less than stellar. Robin did not speak much to the crowd, and introductions were very limited.

Here we are having a great time.....

The irony is that I came of age in the late 1970s, the disco years, when popular music was blighted for half a decade by the worst trash imaginable. So I hated the Bee Gees until a few years ago (I had never realized how prolific and talented they were, simply associating them with the disco scene and dismissing them).

Robin says good-bye.

The show was over all too soon and we headed home, hoarse and exhausted, but happy. The kids have a memory that will last forever.

Posing on the museum steps.

Sunday morning we visited the Museum of World Religions in Yungho next to Sogo, that Mecca of shopping. The Museum is on the 6th & 7th floors of an office building. Bring your teacher's ID if you have one, as you'll get a discount from the tickets, which are $150.

Z & D marvel at the Egyptian exhibit.

The Museum is, at that price, a complete rip-off. I've seen some good press for it, but really, it is bland and insipid, and not very informative even where it permits itself to speak.

Zeb checks out the models of famous religious buildings.

There are several problems. First, the exhibits are hardly what anyone would call comprehensive. Religions that have exhibits include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Judaism, and Taiwanese folk religion. Egyptian and Mayan religions also have displays. Not shown are hundreds of major religious beliefs.

The hall of life experience

The exhibits are full, but small, and can hardly even begin to encompass the various sects and ideas of each religion.

The gift shop, for worshippers at the shrine of Mammon.

A second problem is that the museum is dedicated to the idea that all religions are about peace and love. Everything negative about religions is banished, nor is anything that might call them into question or give them a historical context presented. There is no mention of Christianity's bloody involvement in slavery and western colonialism, and Islam's brutal spread across Asia and Europe is ignored. From reading the exhibits one would never know that Lao-tze is generally considered a myth, and there is no credible external evidence for Jesus' existence. The temples at Khajuraho are mentioned, but the fact that they are covered with intricate carvings of people having sex in every imaginable position and with both humans and animals is left out of the display. The result is a very insipid museum.

Inside the children's area

There is also a children's activity area that is stupid beyond belief and costs $100 a crack to enter, separate fee. It is supposed to teach kids about love, and there is a guide there, but it is aimed at children from another planet who are infantile and passive. Note the animals from the exhibit pictured below.

One of the animal displays...

Children have vivid imaginations that contain plenty of violence -- my daughter's favorite movie for a long time was Minority Report, which she loved for the scenes with the eyes in the plastic bags -- and they love the outre and the gross. What were they to make of this display that somehow managed to infantilize children? I recommend giving this activity a wide berth, and spending the cash on The Twits or A Wrinkle in Time.

The Shanghai Hsaio Guan

We ended the day at The Shanghai Hsiao Guan, one of the best restaurants in Yungho.....

UPDATE: Some others have blogged on the concert. Here's a tale from a local missionary who encountered a courteous and tolerant old man outside the auditorium......


Anonymous said...

What a blast to see Robin Gibb!
The museum of World religions I would like to see even though you were disappointed. If it was truly comprehensive in its display, then it would cover acres of land, be totally incomprehensible to anyone other than a scholar, and people would tune out.
2000 years of just "Christian" history in all its flavours, distortions, barbarity and perversions necessitates a lifetime study, but sigh....... who could be bothered?

Anonymous said...

Wow, people sitting in a rock concert? Interesting...