Why don’t those love songs leave me satisfied...

Searching with Caroline

Why are there so many love songs?
Why do they sing about love?
Why don’t those love songs leave me satisfied?
I guess they keep writing and singing about love.

建国記念日の休み時にRodneyは三つのギフトを上げた。やはり、全部が大好きです。一番面白いやつは富田ヤンのCD、「Doopees-Doopee Time」です。偶然だったんけど二人で日本橋に見つけた。けっこ安かった。(人気じゃない?)中古だったから、¥300だけ(税込)。そういう訳でちょっと心配した。

とにかく、先週仕事で聞いてびっくりした。めちゃめちゃカッコイイ。近未来、俺のアマ映画にサウンドトラックで使いたい。テーマは大体ラブ何ですけど、トーンはとってもクール。ラウンジじゃなくてスムーズだ。では、先週木曜からずーーっと聞いた。最近僕の気分は大分寂しく混乱したので、そんな感じです。ちょっと電話したいとか二人でとかと思うんだけど、仕方が無い。まあ、これはベストでもね。だろ?

Why does all the world pass me by
Why does no one hear when I cry
Why do lonely arms long for you
Why can’t I believe that it’s true

Now that you’ve gone, gone, gone away
Gone, gone, gone away

Hey Caroline.  You know life’s not only about having fun.  That’s also why it’s not only about being sad.  When you’re down you’ve got to realize that there’s a deeper kind of sadness. So…go ahead and sing, Caroline.

...

レイヴだけ

It's all inside of your head.

多分、もう貴方は知っているけど、レイヴ音楽が大大大好きだ。バージニア大学の一と二年生時に余り方向が無かった。なかなか悲しかった。色んな訳が有ったんけど、目的が無かった。なぜ大学入ったの?他の予定が無かった。そして皆は入学したね。

特に嬉しくじゃなかった。勿論友達がいった。然し、朝の授業余り行かなかった。けっこ長い時間寝た。実はよく寝ぼけんした。起きたくなかった。

二年生の春学期MobyとAphex Twinを初めて聞いた。すごく模様をつけた。僕の夢とファンタジーは音響で見た。現実は苦しいが、テクノは安心。段々色んな勝利を見つけて初めて聞いた。変わり始めた。

今、その発見は本当に遠い気持ちです。辛い時に、寂しい時に、レイヴ音楽が有ったん。常に僕を守ってる。未来は大変かもしれないけど、音楽が有ったら続ける。

I used to silently mock friends of mine who made...

Happoshu and high-fiving Buddha

I used to silently mock friends of mine who made a big deal about getting curtains that matched their carpet, or what percentage of their furniture was Ikea.

Those in glass houses…

The only reason today was awesome was because I found a six-pack of Draft One (the cheapest mass market domestic beer-like* substance you can buy in Japan) for 898 yen, (about nine bucks) at Lucky. (Or was it Life?) I say domestic because it’s true that you can still get tepid Schlitz by the case at the less reputable “discount grocers”. I think I saw a dog go blind though after I poured a can over some weeds I was trying to kill.

Anyway, yes. My life is officially pathetic. The only solace I can derive from missing my (10:46 p.m.) train home and losing my tofu (really…I don’t know where it is), is staggering into Life (Lucky?) in between train changes, arms full of 92 yen quasi-paper towels, and getting a cold, poorly packaged box of tasteless ale to rub my back and tell me good job today. Err, wait, Minnie is supposed to do that.


Draft One, the revolutionary beverage that inspired the “Naze sonna yasui?” ad campaign on trains all over Tokyo. This roughly translates to “Why is it so cheap?!”

Here we see the good (Draft One), the bad (very bad Sung Hi Lee on the laptop), and the ugly (my Vodafone bill). Oh what ever would I have done? Only a week until the end of the month and I hadn’t seen my forty-dollar charge for not making any phone calls. Phew. Don’t scare me like that guys.

Yes, just about the only good thing about living alone and having zero chance of a girl coming to your house is that you can put pictures of half-naked chicks up on your computer and no one will ever complain (except your mother if you point the webcam in the wrong direction).

I wish I had the time and energy to go into more detail, but suffice it to say Kung Fu Hustle rocks. Stephen Chow will soon be added to my Friendster list of people I’d like to meet (along with Harrison Ford, Sandra Bullock, and the toilet duck), because he has just an indelible knack for wicked comedy. The movie (which you continental Americans will have to wait a couple months to see), is much in the vein of The God of Cookery, or Shaolin Soccer– as Phil would say, ridonkulous. I don’t think it’s as funny as Shaolin Soccer (don’t run away!), but then again, the subtitles were in Japanese this time, not incredibly bad Hong Kong pirate English. I understood almost everything though (which speaks well for either me or Mr. Chow; probably the latter), so it wasn’t a problem. I can’t get over how awesome a blend of action and inane buffoonery it was. Let me put it this way, no…wait! If I tell you, you’ll probably hate me for spoiling the surprise. Curses. But…

HIGH-FIVING BUDDHA!?

*Draft One is actually, happoshu, not beer. Yes, it tastes like beer (sort of), and yes it has alcoholic content (5% mind you), but it’s NOT beer. Example:

Me: Yusei, you want wine or beer?
Yusei: Uh, beer right now.
Me: (hands a beer)
Yusei: (opens and drinks)
Me: (chugggurggurgg)
Yusei: Ah, that’s pretty good.
Me: Yeah, I like it. It’s cheap.
Yusei: Yeah, it’s decent for…(reading label)…What the fuck?! Is this happoshu? Oh my god, this stuff is nasty!! (violently puts down the can)
Me: What? What?
Yusei: I can’t believe you gave me happoshu! I can’t drink that shit, it’s so wrong.
Me: Well, do you want some whiskey or something then?
Yusei: Nah, I’ll finish this.

Me: (puts down empty can) I’m going to the fridge to get another. You want anything?
Yusei: Yeah, grab me one.

If I didn’t start writing about tonight at...

Lies, courtesy, and human compassion

If I didn’t start writing about tonight at this very moment it would be a crime to humanity, and a black mark on the very experiential existence I so often extoll. Though this post probably won’t get finished until the morning, I figure I’d give myself nine minutes and rough out the major points so it sticks in my mind.

Tonight I met Yamamoto-san for dinner and drinks. This is a fellow whom I’ve had the pleasure to know for nearly three years, a friend of Nobue’s who has long been an ardent supporter of my awkward attempt at a life in Japan.

We went to an izakaya (Japanese-style restaurant/bar), Toshi-chan, that I discovered while showing V around Tokyo last month. I happen to like this place mainly because it’s down-to-earth, cheap, and not so far from my house (maybe a fifteen minute bike ride).

Yamamoto-san had already done some drinking before he met me; he’d been hanging out with some old high school buddies earlier on to celebrate some soon-to-be-closed business contracts (he’s currently a real estate agent). As usual, conversation centered around sex, which is to say he talked about sex and I listened. Yamamoto-san is one of those “close to the soil” people whose boisterous attitude and beaming grin win him friends in all sorts of places. Seeing him in a good mood is gratifying enough to keep me entertained for quite some time. He seems to have the women market cornered, and through extensive trial and error has developed a pretty complete picture of the Japanese female psyche when it comes to ecchi (sex). Like I said, I mainly just listen and say, “Really? … Oh is that right? … I see…”, which is completely fine by me since he’s so effervescent in reciting his doctrines.

Though it was quite apparent he had plans to meet up again with the high school buddies he’d met before seeing me, he was polite enough to ask if I had any other particular plans for us in the evening. Since I was naturally short on cash I said no, and in turn we went to meet up with his (quite inebriated) comrades in Shinjuku.

These three fellows were an interesting sort. For one, the average age was about twice mine. For two, the leader of the group, Yamamoto-san’s senpai (honorific senior) was completely sloshed. He was falling down, shouting inspirational phrases at policemen/vagrants, and tripping over himself asking nearly every woman that passed how they were doing. He also did his best to break up an argument between a group of drunken guys on the way into our next watering hole. In addition, it seemed he had a thing for proclaiming the importance of male gentalia in the world, and I somehow managed to get punched/groped twice during some of his rallying exclamations.

Where we went is beyond description. I tried my best to reaffirm to Yamamoto-san that I had virtually no money at all, once I noticed the establishment had a doorman in a suit and our party leader asked for a certain lady by name. However, I was the guest and the boss took a liking to my verbal support of his affirmations on the gravity of samurai lifestyle, so in we went.

As I said, words cannot accurately describe this place. Did you ever see The Great Muppet Caper, where Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo go to this really swank supper club in London with a huge chandelier, a band in tuxedos, and ballroom dancing? It was kind of like that, but we had a cadre of ladies (bearing name badges with numbers to aid either our memory or the owners’) who joined us at the table to pour our drinks, rub our shoulders, and chat us up. It was like a sunakku for really, really rich businessmen. The lady that sat on my left was named Neko (cat); I’m pretty sure it was a pseudonym. She said she enjoyed soccer (like me, oddly enough), and in between falling into my lap, calling me “Deivu-chan” (Little Davey), and feeding me Pocky (chocolate-covered pretzels), she insisted that we play soccer together tomorrow. She even put my phone number into her cell phone’s memory dial. I’m not sure how far the “fantasy” goes here, but I really can’t picture myself playing soccer on a Sunday afternoon with some lady my wealthy, middle-aged friend paid a hell of a lot of money for. The hair dye stains and hole in my jeans further served to put me out of sorts. My suited friends brushed it off by saying it the style to be worn now. Boy, did I stick out.

While a dolled-up songstress in a sequined dress performed old Carpenters and Beatles songs, we got the whole nine yards in terms of company. I even got walked to the bathroom by one of the older ladies (probably the head of our service group), and she was waiting outside the door when I came out, so she could show me back to our table.

Things really got going when we were joined by a Russian hostess, who seemed to be a favorite of our boss, presumably for her cleavage. I nearly had my hand thrust into a pair of surprised bosoms by our noble leader before I managed to wriggle my way out of the embarrassment. I always feel kind of uncomfortable when I’m around non-Japanese people in Japan, especially those in service roles. It shouldn’t matter one damn bit but it’s like I have a switch in my head I have to toggle for how I act: a) polite and humble Japanese, b) abashed, awkward American.

I didn’t know what the hell to say, and external drunken insistence that the lady marry me made it all the more strange. At first I tripped over the few words of Russian that I knew (in a horrible accent, no doubt), and after that just gave up and spoke English, though that proved to be a bit of a challenge for the woman as she had been living in Tokyo for eleven years and dealt with Japanese businessmen every night. So of course I then fell back on the same material I use any time I’m nervous around a woman who’s paid to provide intimate support, and I completely failed in the whole practiced flirtation thing by asking about her life, if she was happy, what her family was like, etc. This is probably the worst kind of stuff you can ask a hostess because as honest and good-intentioned as it may be, it most certainly depresses the hell out of them. How many times do you get an answer along the lines of “Yeah, I love having drunk guys fondle and drool on me nightly”?

This lady was no different. She was a single mother with a five-year old son, who wasn’t sure if he was Japanese or Russian. She was torn about how she got upset with him every time she needed to scold him and he could only reply in Japanese. She didn’t really like Japan at all, and just lived here because it was safer than Russia, and so feeling pretty awful in general. I tried to console her by telling her how much I admired her for toughing it out and surviving in a foreign country and raising her son so well, and how someday he’d tell her how much he loves her, and is thankful for all her years of caring, much like the way I’ve felt about my mother since growing up. I guess it didn’t really work, and I felt like a real rat after she mentioned that the club had bingo at 9:30 and climbed over the seat to leave. I should probably just stop talking to women in men’s entertainment all together, because all I ever seem to do is depress them.

After closing time at the bar (I think it was called Club Heights, or something), we shuffled our way to a yaki soba (fried noodles) restaurant in some basement [I had no IDEA why the hell it was still open]. At this place we ate and drank a little, and listened to our leader talk about samurai and balls some more (by this point I had my hands folded across my lap out of instinct). I’m not trying to make this sound trivial, I mean he was a really nice guy and all, and he said he really took a liking to my spirit and we had to meet up together at next week’s drinking party (making a point I should wear a suit). He was just rambunctious when inebriated, that’s all.

We did this for a couple hours (during which I was asked to recite British romantic poetry), and then we all said our goodbyes more or less. One of the other businessmen (a network engineer coincidentally) lived nearby, so we took a taxi to his house and intruded on his wife watching Ally McBeal so we could all have a talk. I got Domino’s Pizza and chicken wings (I can’t tell you how surreal this was, besides the fact the pizza was topped with baby shrimp, squid, and bacon), and while I played with a some stuffed animals lying around [see the Kappa, above], the three “adults” had a long conversation about different things including samurai, business, the recent Indian Ocean tsunami, and of course my history. Yamamoto-san has to inevitably explain our relationship to everyone we meet, and I have to endure (somewhat painfully) another summary of Nobue’s and mine’s tragic breakup, and how it went wrong and that I haven’t been the same since. This isn’t entirely accurate, but it’s a well-told tale that invokes a lot of sympathy and makes for a good story from his point of view so I rarely comment on it.

In the end (after reciting Wordsworth for the second time in the evening) I was asked how I feel about war and patriotism and such, and I did my best to explain my ignorance of world politics and thusly my personal reliance on human-to-human ethics in an interdependent and compassionate sort of way (which always ends up sounding like popular Buddhism). Yamamoto-san fell asleep (understandably) in his chair at some point during this, and I politely declined my hosts’ offer to sleep on a guest futon in their lovely new condominium. I got walked out to my bellwether of western Tokyo, the Kanda river, and sauntered home in about half an hour, trying to avoid loneliness by whistling and dragging my umbrella through the bushes along the way.

It has now been exactly one hour since I started typing this and I seem to have broken my promise to just take notes and go to bed, as it is now nearly five o’clock. Somehow, I can’t see myself getting up at eight as I initially envisioned to run and study Japanese, but you never know. I made it last Saturday on two hours’ sleep, so I suppose I have the potential to do it again.

I am not so pleased to announce that my latest (...

Thanks a lot… NOT!

I am not so pleased to announce that my latest (and in my opinion, greatest) voice over work will never see release in the US. Since not enough of you bought “F-Zero: GP Legend“, “F-Zero: Climax” will stay a Japan-only release. It’s too bad, really. Now you’ll never get to hear me go balls out saying “BLAAAACK FIIIRREEE!” in an ominous tone. That is, unless you import and/or accost me at the GDC or some other equivalent stateside function.

Looowhooo-sseehhhrrrr!

[Yes, I’m teasing you dammit. Get over it!]

[PS – I will entertain said imports, if you wish. Mail if interested.]

Shortly after I first came to Japan, I learned about...

Courtesy and the “snack”

Shortly after I first came to Japan, I learned about the phenomenon known as the sunakku (snack). Basically what this entails is a place where you drink and eat a little while occasionally singing a song via a public (bar wide) karaoke system. The catch is you pay more for each drink than you normally would, and songs cost something too. This can easily be factored in as the nebulous “snack” charge, which essentially means you pay a little extra for the ladies of the joint (be they 17 or 70, and the age determines the cost) to pay attention to you and give you props. For a long time the dominant Holden Caulfield-side of me was pretty much disgusted by this. “You mean you pay to have people PRETEND to like you?!” I thought often, “What kind of losers are so lonely they need to pay girls to pretend they’re hot shit?” Then after working in Japan as a “salary man” for about a year and a half it began to make sense.

Me. I’m the kind of loser. Because I bust my ass for thirteen, fourteen hours a day, and what do I have to come home to? An empty house, some anime’, and cheese if I deviate from my budget. I’m not quite sure if the excuse is as valid for married folks (Nobue’s father appeared to fall into this crowd at a glance), but for single, tired people like me, this is starting to make a hell of a lot of sense. I go to a snack (I have an array of them now, actually), I hang out with people at LEAST my mom’s age, and get told I’m amazing for a foreigner in my ability to eat and sing virtually anything Japanese.

I’m willing to bet not too many gaijin (foreigners) go the same route as me, but they’re probably mostly English teachers and have a flock of nubile Japanese surrounding them after class (note the cynicism). In any case, I usually end up being quite popular in the 37-85 bracket, if that means anything. But since I am continually widening my view of what’s “good and worthwhile”, it really doesn’t bother me too much. So what if their daughters are either thirty-three or eleven? I just want what every other human being wants, compassion and companionship.

Occasionally my plans backfire and I get virtually two hours of drinking, singing, and eating bought for me by some nice lady/couple who admires my moxie. If I had enough dough to go to a snack every night, I’d probably have a lot more friends and be even more Japanese. But, with things as they are, I wouldn’t trade it for a whole club full of peppy coeds. You know why? Because it’s honest.

[PS – If you haven’t been reading my Kyoto blogs that I’ve been retroactively adding (see February 11th-13th), you’ve been missing out on my delirium.]

[PPS – Yeah I always have been and always expect to be just about this thick-headed.]

My heart flutters and I am awake, gliding over a...

Frozen Flame

My heart flutters and I am awake, gliding over a sea of green and returning to someplace I’ve dreamt. I stumble and fall, rolling my ankle passing through the doorway. Out of sync my fingers fly, and time slips like a tide, ebbing back and surging beyond the stuttering pace of my rubbery legs.

Fighting destiny and fate I battle with myself for control, the moments of being lucid growing farther and farther apart. Strike me down or build me up, but do not leave me caught in between worlds. The grey is suffocating to me, and I need to land someplace; on a cloud or below the ocean.

You really, really, really miss your ex-girlfriend...

Pop quiz, hot shot

It’s cliche’, but play anyway!

Prompt:
You really, really, really miss your ex-girlfriend. It’s Valentine’s Day night (no coincidence, honest). You can’t get anything done at work; you’re so depressed and lonely. Upon returning home you decide to:

a) go to your favorite hostess bar and sob to the mama-san
b) buy a couple beers and watch Moulin Rouge, crying over lost love and how great Ewan McGregor looks
c) think a funny movie is better and decide to pretend you’re in college, getting wasted on hard liquor and Animal House (telling yourself it’s in honor of the recently deceased John Vernon)

TOGA! TOGA! TOGA!

それは小さい冗談ですが、然し「James...

In Japan Mr. Bond, men come first

それは小さい冗談ですが、然し「James Bond」はメチャンコかっこいい。とにかく今日は「Valentine’s Day」ですから、女は男にチョコを与えます。会社に社長はすごくファンシーFAUCHONチョコを上げました。包み紙はゴールドホイルので、宝物みたいです。

昼ご飯に和風レストラン「花の舞」へ食べに行った。日本語の宿題中にウエートレスさんは特別なハート形のチョコを与えた。びっくりして嬉しかった。だけど、後一ヶ月僕の義理があるね「White Day」。^^;;

if ( bGo )

Returning home in a seat and fighting sweet fatigue...

Returning home in a seat and fighting sweet fatigue

I’m on my way back to Tokyo now, coasting in on fumes, so to speak. I had an espresso and a genki drink at Tully’s with Seiko, because while I could very easily doze my way back home, I figure it’ll screw with my sleeping tonight, so I’ll just try to tough it out and make sure I hit the hay before midnight.

I was feeling pretty bad on my way out of Takanohara, but Rodney’s porridge patched me up and I had a nice lunch with Seiko at the Merry Island Cafe (another shot from the past in Kyoto). There’s a twenty-five cent word (as my grandfather would say), called kami hitoe. It’s basically a very elegant way for describing a sensation of great pain coupled with deep love– two intense feelings only a shade apart. That’s pretty much Kyoto in a nutsell as far as I’m concerned. Every element of the city is draped in tradition, romance, and wonder. That’s essentially the Nobue I see, so visiting is never without some degree of regret or longing. Still, it’s not a bad experience and I feed on this as much as I can. Kyoto has been and always will be one of the most complicated cities in my life. It’s in my tentative plans to migrate there after the inevitable toll Tokyo will exact on my verve.

During lunch I came up with the idea of going to the zoo (assuming Kyoto had one) [it did], almost as a joke. However, the rewards of spontaneity held true and it was well worth it. It was pretty small, but that was about what we needed, given the flaky weather and our time constraints. Zoos always excite and depress me at the same time. On one hand, I love seeing the animals. I love watching them, watching their eyes; studying their grace, taking note of their sounds. Fascination of life is such a satisfying thrill for me, I’m happy to spend hours just following the joints in their legs and the instinct fresh on their faces. On the other hand, it hurts me to see them in captivity. Even if it wasn’t so apparent how depressed some of them are, it’s all too easy to imagine how tortuous an eternity of instinct to fly must suffer in a cage. The penguins want buckets of dead fish no more than I do an uninspired livelihood of charity. Every sentient creature longs to make its way by its own wits.

As I anticipated, my favorite animal was of course the tanuki (Japanese raccoon), a poor old fellow with cataracts milling idly about on arthritic legs. I was also lucky enough to experience the rare “treat” of confirming that a cat is indeed a cat, when a distressed lion loudly coughed up (and subsequently reconsumed) a hairball.

Before we went to the zoo Seiko and I visited Heian Jingu (a Shinto shrine quite famous but until now unseen by me). Seiko did a wonderful job explaining hina matsuri, a festival to honor the imperial wedding.

After the zoo we planned to go see a movie (I was really hankering for some popcorn), but Seiko had some take home translation work to do so we cut it off early and went to a Tully’s to unwind. I’m not in the crowd of affluent coffee shop junkies (firstly because I’m not affluent). These kind of places are so popular in the states now, I guess it’s just a latter day drug store/soda shop, though there seems to be a little more pretention involved.

But as Rodney said, I’m on vacation, and thusly I managed to burn through about 48000 yen in three days, which at first is kind of startling, especially since I didn’t pay for a hotel or most of my meals. But, that’s the Shinkansen for you. You get a little upset for spending a hundred twenty-five dollars for a mere two hours’ travel, but the alternative is an overnight bus for over half as much.

All in all, it was pretty sweet. I got quality time with Rodney and Noriyo, Nobue, and Seiko, and I also had a nice time at an outdoor mountain onsen (hot spring). I also wrote a hell of a lot (as you’ve probably noticed). This is really great, though every time I come back it’s never long enough. Three days is pretty short for a trip away to pretty much anywhere. But still, it was a blast and I’m not going to let the fact work returns tomorrow ruin it.

I’m not quite sure how, but I’m on my...

I saw cats having sex this morning

I’m not quite sure how, but I’m on my way to Kyoto again for the second time in seventeen hours. If I weren’t so upbeat about the whole situation, this might seem mundane. But I am, and it’s not. Interestingly, my time alone this weekend has basically entailed about three hours from five to eight a.m. walking through the bitter cold of a Kyoto winters night by the Kamogawa river.

I really like Rodney. He’s one of my favorite people in the world, and he’s always so wonderful to me I’m almost embarrassed. How do you repay such human warmth? Even if I didn’t feel indebted to him, I’d still want to give him every break and fortune I can think of. In my contemplation of how to be a better person, and care for my friends, I think it’s a combination of genuine thoughtfulness and lots of little extra efforts, like small treats or taking the initiative to help out with stuff. I’m thinking that my personal accomplishments are decreasing in significance when weighted against my relationships. “No man who has friends is a failure.

So I haven’t really taken any pictures this weekend, but that’s okay because I do that by myself all the time. I would almost say that it’s for the best since it has been overcast all weekend, but after reading Philip’s tutorial I’m starting to think differently. Less sky shots, more ground-anchored subjects. No annoying hard shadows that way. But the color temperature is way too cold, unfortunately.

My stomach’s pretty torn up from fighting the cold an only resting for two hours of being half-awake and shivering. I guess my dad would say, “Well, you’ll sleep good tonight.

[I just realized this is the first time I’ve EVER been down to Takanohara and not gone down to Nara city, missing out on visiting my favorite bar, and seeing Yuki.]

Frank van `t Ende and beating through my mind and...

Frank van `t Ende and beating through my mind and heart

Swing, careless time, do not rescue me from myself.
I am deep inside of my mind, and a cold wind blows through the window I cannot shut leading to the seat of my emotion.

Beat, ting, beat, ting, roll, 12345678

Pad, warm pad, chorus, echo, crying voice belonging to a girl standing smiling on the black canvas of my dreams. Climbing through a forest on a mountain to a door with stairs leading into a basement filled with candy-sucking starlets tripping around in a circle that shivers past my eyes.

The notes fall from a guitar flipping over my knuckles with my head dropping into a pool of ice cold water VAT! ring and reverb, shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake.

Beat and maps and bicycle tires rolling around and along and past a hill into a field over a river with fish and jumping live live from the water, live with life that they feel which passes in a second from an egg to a child to a nice fat fish caught by a man and sent to General MacArthur who was loved by a country of new, free people.

Jumping, jumping, jumping why can’t we all be jumping? In one place yes a very fine place so far away from the cries and the papers and the weights that come hung around your neck for the “freedom” of being a man. No, humble, humble am I living in a time and a place without so many fears and sicknesses consuming my health but oh so unfortunate for living in a time and a plce with so many fears and sicknesses consuming our health. Where is progress? When will that “convenient” future come? Twenty years ago it was today and twenty years from now it will be forty, while the man is liberated by machines which free him from the strain of repetitive, mind numbing work which bind him daily to the strain of repetitive, mind numbing work and I am not a number! Not a resource, or a cliche’, or a demographic, or “disposable income”. I am a breathing thing, like a beetle or a mold, or a crab so much gooey meat moving about inside of a stupid, fragile sack. Crack open the crab and see his flesh, so much like the mud and trash collected on a storm drain. Crack open the man and see his flesh, so much like a wet, rotted tree fallen over and eaten by insects.

No I say, no I will not sit here and say nothing. I will say everything and I will say it more than once, again and again for you not to listen and unwinding raw before you, standing naked in the ugliness that is a shunt to all the crap that a human thinks and feels. Shake your head, pass it by and forget that you’ve seen a man kneeing on a crushed cardboard box scraping dried, processed cheese [it’s LOVE!] off wrappers with dirty fingers. There is your clean world and a dirty one which you avoid, but those are the ideals, and they exist only as you imagine them, for in reality they infect every living creature with the stunning beauty of overlooked grey.

I’m in a net cafe in Kyoto. It’s a...

Nojuku, or three hours at Popeye

I’m in a net cafe in Kyoto. It’s a little after 2:00 am. The first train back to Takanohara is at 5:20, though that is a local train, and it’ll put me back in Nara still a good 40 minutes or so before the kind people lending my (unused) bed at their house wake up.

So, I’m in Kyoto. In a manga-kissa (internet and comic cafe). You can rent a little space, with varying degrees of privacy in increasing cost, for a nominal fee. You get all the internet, comics, and drinks you can take, and the fancier ones, (like this) have a shower room. It’s basically a really compact hotel for about nine or ten dollars. The only down side is people smoking in here. I guess I should have paid the extra three bucks for a private booth. Oh well.

I intentionally passed on the last train to spend time with Nobue. She got off work later than planned so we couldn’t get together until about half past nine, which left us with under two hours if I was to go back to Nara. I kind of knew that I couldn’t get her to stay out all night (no one ever can anymore), but I didn’t care. Initially I thought I’d just crash at the love hotel near Yasaka-jinja that I stayed at the time we were here together and she got sick, but somehow I managed to go through a hell of a lot of money today (leaving little left for my train ticket back to Tokyo), and I’m really not all that tired right now actually. I can probably make it to the first train without too much trouble.

I kind of wanted to get back to Nara tonight so I could spend more time with Rodney and Noriyo, but assuming I don’t sleep but half an hour on the train, I guess I’ll get that anyway. So much for a restful vacation.

Everyone has their reasons, but I actually haven’t been out all night with someone in quite some time. A lot of people I go out with say they’re too old for it, but I guess if they think that, then it’s probably true. I need to make younger friends, perhaps.

I kind of have this complex, or something, where I get incredibly hyper as time goes on. There’s this strange mix of alcohol, food, genki (stamina) drinks and self-will that just drives me on in situations like this. The down side is I don’t really like just sitting and talking for too long. That drains me more than anything. I can’t count the number of times though I’ve been dying for playing wiffle ball in a park at three a.m. I want to run, I want to shout, I want to sing and catch and hug and scream and dig all of the energy just radiating from every thing around me. But I’m pretty much alone on this… so far.

I’ve written about five thousand things in the paper journal my mom’s neighbor gave to me before I came to Japan. I’ll have to type them all in here when I run out of original things to say. For now though I think this will be an interesting experiment to just kind of keep up on my three hours here. I’m not typing nonstop or anything, it’s already 2:54, but I’m taking it in, chatting a little, and reflecting on the rat’s nest in my head.

I’m listening to ETN (formerly ets-global), on some real shitty Aiwa headphones. I think I’m going to have to unhook these and put on my beat Pioneers that I picked up the first time I went to Akihabara. I already have enough headache from wearing my contacts which are now too weak a prescription.

Frank van `t Ende – Deeply in Trance 041 is really good. Even though it has virtually no vocals, there is a really kicking tinging and bass thing going on.

Ok, my thoughts are kind of degenerating past the point where I want to type them into the computer. I suppose you could call this melancholy. Or I could be getting tired. Maybe it’s time to get up and grab some of that great Popeye coffee.

On the way to Shigi-san, great mountain of Ikoma...

On the way to Shigi-san, great mountain of Ikoma

Japan is a series of patchwork houses, roofs huddled close in a mosaic dissolving into the mountains. My mind is like the horizon, so many scattered stars, glittering through moonlight on a flowing black canvas to the sea. Joints and tissues stretched, my ease is a tarpaulin, stretching over a drum and breathing in the wet air. A plate on a floor in a magazine shot by a man with a debt and a wife. The bells ring lonely in a countryside, and time shifts, and circles forward, spinning out as my days spent living.

A hill is raised, earth borne from fire in a time not to be recorded by men. Unexisting it remains in history books. But it is climbed and covered and praised. A thousand men’s prayers carried on the wind belong to a swinging bell, aluminum and copper rattled to wake the gods. A doorway waits, formed in the minds of the believers, logic and math self-constructed for purpose, just like religion. The religion of self-service, contentment formed for peace of mind and purpose. But was, was, and is, is. Thought of or not, this land will be covered with roofs and doorways, things with purpose and not. To see is enough, to see and remember. And these are the things I shall dream to make my own.

Tell Me Lies

They say a lot of things. They say that if you live in the past, you die in the past. They say those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Rodney says old flames are burnt matches. I say a lot of things, well actually I think a lot of things. How can you cut away the mystique and fantasy from a person and leave only a human behind? We endow everything. A dog is a dog. But no one can think of a dog without bringing up some partial feeling one way or another. Maybe you had a loving pet, maybe you were attacked by a rabid animal as a child. Maybe you’ve never even seen one. But if you’ve heard of one, you still have bias even if it’s the third degree. That�fs experience. That’s being human. Let’s say I tell you about a lor. What is a lor? Well, it’s a �clor. Beyond that, I have to make a comparison which will inevitably create bias. If I don�ft, you’ll never have any idea. The mind needs to make associations. And if you encounter it first hand, then you will involuntarily draw such parallels. Oh, it kind of looks like a Frisbee, smells like a frog, and makes me feel like an old jazz song.

So, we must maintain bias. We have to use experience to evaluate things, and in turn react to them. There’s no way around it. How we choose to act on our instincts determines who we are. My high school lit. teacher Mrs. Campagnoli said we are the sum total of our experiences. True. But who we will be remains unseen, because we have free will (supposedly). Who will I be tonight? What about tomorrow night? Next week? Next year? I don’t know. But I know who I want to become. I think. I know what experiences I want. Or do I? Maybe any experience is worth having. No, that’s certainly not true. Misconceptions about “the way things are” or not, I know millions of experiences are had every day that no one, no living THING should have.

But planning your destiny is futile. A waste of resources and a recipe for disappointment. “To thy own self be true.” So I need to not plan for “the best”, but I need to avoid “the worst”, if I can. So again, the answer lies in the middle. Not in the black, not white, but grey. How many things can you ask of and get the answer “Balance?” A lot. “Should I eat fish?” “Should I work really hard?” “How do I love?” Sometimes. Occasionally. With balance.

How do I take my own advice?