…during one not so long ago weekend, on a mission to find adventure in the mountains. His tale is filled with glory and celebration, with pain and dull agony; a story that ends this very night, covered in nationwide rain and thunder, but starts only a mere thirty-six hours ago.
[download and play this BGM on repeat while reading]
…twenty years ago I was banned from my homeland, parted from my wife and son never to see them again. Why? Because I suggested to use the atomic elements for producing super-beings, beings of unimaginable strength and size. I was classified as a madman, a charlatan, outlawed in the world of science which had previously honoured me as a genius. Now here in this forsaken jungle hell I have proved that I am all right!
Saturday 11:40 a.m.
I’m wearing my rarely used suede fuchsia G.T. Hawkins, which means that either all my other sneakers are soaked or I’m going raving. Fortunately today it’s the latter.
I’m on the ambling Ome Line, bound for another mountain adventure of Japanese psytrance and stamina-breaking sensuous inundation. Currently I’m cool in my Osaka blue three-quarter length sleeve listening to the Ravemobile favorite Global Trancemissions, but it was a little challenging getting here. Well, challenging suh-nap! only in the respect I got up too late, fought through too much PC mundanity, and overestimated the frequency of trains for a remote JR line on a weekend. But I threw my battered stead down at the subway entrance, and fought my way through Shinjuku station, like a crazed Iberian in the Crusades. But now it’s just the bass and the treble and a six speaker cascade of German aural fidelity in a fire engine red slab of rollicking Detroit highway aristocracy [or rather it was, and now it’s just a memory].
Already I’ve sighted fellow travelers on the road to acoustic community [it turned out later I was wrong and they were a sort of camp group going to someplace else in the middle of nowhere for the weekend]. There are a group of rowdy, drink-laden boys across from me, and a handful of equally grocery store-stocked girls sitting quietly and thumbing through wallets a ways down. Initially looking for a ride, I emailed the info address for the party and got a fairly prompt response, and I ended up volunteering to help. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing, running cables or taking money I suppose, probably the former. I assume I will still get to recline and celebrate as usual, but I will have the chance to meet some new people in the process. I hope my Japanese holds up. [It would, except under the most daunting of conditions…more on this later.]
Since raving and community are two of the same, I’m starting to think that like any form of ritualistic religion, the mind and the soul need to be purified before beginning the solemn act, so that the most natural sort of interactions may freely occur.
I expect nothing.
I wish for nothing other than to breathe and share life.
All people are once children.
There is nothing to divide us.
The music will join all.
Peace. Love. Unity. Respect.
I’m here to help. I want to give back. Reciprocate: oxygen; carbon dioxide; water; sweat. Running, breathing. Laughing, flying. I am a boy like so many others but unique. Bond feathers blood beats. I will hold my face to the grass and inhale the earth. Let us sing through mountains together.
Fingers slide with one grace and a face exists. Flying like honeyed mercury over plateaus of marble. Dart and dance and grow larger than your lithe body. Awake! In a call to goddesses and gods alike– we slide through gates that echo and reverberate our smiles. Fade; fade and fan and blur out; far, far out, leaving iridescent mist contrails of wisdom. Overlooking the sun of tomorrow on horizons past thatched roofs and cable lines abound, the juice that is the gum of verve simmers into the universe. The two dimensions that hold our feet to the soil break loose, and a tenshi hovers among us. It shoots out from every pore; notes and melodies rife with innocence and a chance to reform and refine technology into nature, and the things kept inside are unlocked bringing purpose and sacred meaning to every thought that drifts awash in an utopian mind.
[I just set my hair on fire while reaching over the back of the computer to find the power cable…was using candles because of the storm; amazing how quickly it burns. I think it’s time for bed. ]
… default RPG inn-resting music goes here …
[Apparently not sleeping and the previous day’s events had made me a little tired. I just woke up after an eleven hour hibernation.]
Although glancing at the map seemed to place the party (which was at Yamagawa Camp Village) only about ten kilometers from Okutama station, it was a grueling forty minute bus ride to get there. I’ve never been a big fan of buses in Japan, partially for the motion sickness and partially for the ridiculous (to my mind) lack of efficiency involved within. You usually pay one and a half times as much as a train for a ride that takes three times as long. Japan is only slightly larger than California in land mass, but it takes a ridiculous time to travel anywhere when compared to the US. Unfortunately the mental ideal of sixty miles to an hour just doesn’t apply in Japan; unless you’re on the bullet train, then its 180-200 miles per hour.
Upon arriving at the base of the campsite I took the hike in and got to really appreciate the pristine forests of Yamanashi prefecture: deciduous blankets of cream with marbled scrub cypress piercing the sky. Further up the slope, I met a group of the organizers as they were erecting a pipe dome for DJ tables. Though I wanted to help right away since it was already two and the party supposedly opened at three, the event’s main organizer, 「ミッシェル」 (Michelle?), wasn’t around and the co-planner, Take, told me to just take a break. While the dome was being slowly constructed by a handful of the staff, I got to chatting with several of the other volunteers to break the ice.
First and most notably there was Hiroo, who I would later learn is the token drunkard of the group. I don’t believe I saw him well-grounded once, day or night, the whole time I was there. This ended up being a good thing though because I was often invited to be his tagalong sidekick, which was a nice entryway to meeting others, as well as means to a cornucopia of kind-hearted handouts consisting of all sorts of treats.
Also while waiting I met Nittsu (sp?), a girl from Montreal who was currently in Japan on a tourist visa looking for work. Previously an English teacher, she was now looking for other means of self-support, but had become resigned to the fact she may just end up as a hostess for the six months she planned to stay before heading to Italy. She was very talkative, just a tad vacant, but probably one of the nicest English-speaking people I’d met in a long time. From her, I met her brother/friend (which I’m not sure) Santos from Nepal, who was quite energetic and everything you’d imagine about a hearty, strong-chested party individual promoting world peace and good feelings. I actually got an invite to a party plastered with Rastafarian colors and a Shiva, set in the trendy Shimo-kitazawa to promote global tranquility.
Later on, I ran into a group of four friends, two Japanese (Kibun and ????) who ended up becoming my suppliers of mood enhancers, and two very nice gay men, Jay and Ricard. I wonder if it’s strange to introduce someone as being gay. I suppose that’s not very P.C. and an ugly sign of ingrained clandestine thinking, but their life preferences don’t bother me any. I just mention it that way because it adds to their amusing character in much the way most homosexual men do. They were incredibly funny, and their banter was quite amusing even when sober, as they argued about keeping the new tent clean, where to hang the wash towel, and getting the fishy smell out of chopsticks. Jay was apparently from America, where exactly I don’t recall, and Ricard was from Sweden. Their tent was set up between Kibun’s and mine, and I often ran into them when on my way back for gear exchanges.
After some time I discovered that although the main stage was closing down Sunday afternoon, the party was more or less continuing on until Monday for the organizers and the die-hard attendees, presumably in the form of a “campfire celebration” down at the base of the waterfalls by the chill out dome. Although this seemed quite interesting, I had dramatically underestimated my need for provisions in my hasty departure that morning. Most importantly, I would later (for various reasons) run completely out of food by ten o’clock Saturday night, and then proceed to shiver through seven hours of quasi-sleeping on my arms and rolling over in what probably bottomed out at a low in the 50s. Note to self: ALWAYS bring a sleeping bag after mid-August or when in the mountains.
While walking up to the main stage for the first time with Hiroo, I got a small bit of satisfaction in my role as a volunteer, as I stumbled into doing translation work. I managed but got pretty flustered since I’m rarely around non-Japanese people, I’ve never had the opportunity to translate. But in any case, there I was, relaying the impassioned proposal of a feisty British DJ who toured with (to him the highly touted) Goa Gil, which mainly involved him having in his bag some of the most unbelievable sounds on the planet which he was sure would cause mass chaos and ecstasy at the party. He wasn’t in the lineup however, so the official reply from the organizers was that if someone cancelled in the morning, he may be able to have a slot after ten. But boy was it a rush, a feeling of power. It made me feel special and it was like taking a lick of an amphetamine-laced lollipop for the first time and feeling my blood roar. Anyway, I’m sure you think I’m overreacting and I probably was.
[Time and many blurry escapades later…]
Via my always convenient Sanyo voice recorder…
…time accelerates and slows down always ending on the same instant as reality when you stop to notice. But in between that, it’s like, a cat playing with the jog on the VCR. And the parts that are fast and are slow, you see, things that aren’t there, little illusions and what not, but uh, what I was going to say? Is that you’re cold, and you snap and you’re hot, like things are fluid, and then, then snap into real-time. It’s the snapping; it’s like you’re falling in and out of two bodies at once. It’s not that it felt like a long time or felt like a short time, it felt like every time. Things get heavy and light, and you don’t; you know people are always talking about you.
It’s when all the Tupperware fits inside of itself, like a Russian egg doll, it’s like being, that’s you, and then you jump around from one layer to the next, you look at it in bullet time… and then you jump to something else or you slide down the wall. The couple next tent over has a prairie dog on the leash.
The translator is stoned.
One out of every nine times you move through one of the Tupper-layers, you get an outside view, I mean a third-person perspective of yourself. It’s like Johnny Depp looking into a camera but with a separate studio sound-over, muffled. In gauze…
Doup, soup, loop, so…
The water sounded like it was louder, louder over the rocks so wonderful that only grandma’s electric organ could accurately reproduce its weeble. I noticed the CD was skipping after it doing so for about sixty seconds. This does not help with all the criticism of techno sounding the same.
[I really have no idea what I wrote here, it was dark and I couldn’t see the paper. Something about “BEING THERE” underlined a handful of times.]
…and everyone’s calling my name…
“Wars? We have no…wars.”
It’s Sunday morning about nine o’clock I guess. I couldn’t get much sleep last night as it was just cold enough to be uncomfortable. However, I didn’t get sick or anything and after getting out in the sun and moving around, I feel a lot better. Almost everyone is up at the main stage now, either dancing or watching the dancing. It’s gotten warm so I’ve switched into my dorky Adidas shorts. I say dorky because they show how sticklike my calves and ankles are. Dancing is something that’s become more second nature over the years, but I’m still unable to completely purge the feeling of people watching me. That’s too bad, because I’m really best when I think nobody is. I have, however, had a good number of people come up and dance with me, I guess it’s because I put so much energy into it and move around like I’m on fire.
I’ve met a delightful array of blue collar workers since being here. Hiroo is a construction worker, and as he says, he “lays the road”. Sou who lives like a two minute walk from my house is apparently a freight elevator operator in a very tall building. And Shigeo works as a hair dresser in a salon, though he was the only one who said his work was fun. He gave a very charming boyish grin as he said, that he “got to talk with all these pretty girls as cut their hair.”
It was a foreseeable conclusion, even without the aid of herbal supplements, but in the morning I got to witness the ranting and raving of Jonathan, the British DJ, which went loosely like this.
Because I get paid four THOUSAND dollars for playing parties, and I’ve got music right now in my bag that nobody on this PLANET does. They would rather have some guy play chill out in front of ZERO people than have me spinning Goa Gil’s stuff that will just drive everyone crazy!
Yeah, I tried to get away from that as quickly as possible. Aside from being just annoying egotistic ranting in general, it was really spoiling the entire focus of the party, which has absolutely nothing to do with ego and “the best” of anything. Still, this whole tirade made me think of Altman’s Nashville, like I could just see a quick camera zoom in to see his reaction, his exhausted (and long-suffering) wife’s, and the other few English speakers in the unfortunate close proximity to have to be audience to it.
Light, light in a chair of nylon, Coleman’s and back door grills. Waves and sunlight, shadows from a pencil and a tree in the distance. The distance to cast surface affects shadow intensity and edge clarity. It’s sad, but I had to think about work because we were just tuning this in a demo last week.
And I’m listening to Diana Ross.
I came to this party alone, which to me is common since I don’t really have any raving friends and it’s usually a deep personal journey for me artistically anyway. Like a training camp, for dancing and surviving and making friends and drinking and running and soaking up just LIFE. I stared at those peaks for hours just prancing about in a shaking, heaving sense of THANK-YOU to those that made this place and me. But Take says coming to a party alone (especially a three hour trek) shows heart. I’m glad. He’s a nice guy, I really want to help him and Michelle (Mitchel? .. he was a guy!!) out.
Our cameraman for the rave looks exactly like a Japanese Noah Wyle, with beard and long flowing black hair just as he did when playing Steve Jobs in The Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Tonbo lands on chair.
Can I really end before
he flies away? Yes.
[Tonbo is Japanese for “dragonfly”.]
Now we’re listening to something that sounds like a Spanish WASH-FM (easy listening DC area station full with the dentist offices of my youth), smattered with the occasional big band sound. Like my friend the hair stylist said in tight-lipped smiling through Italian sunglasses said, “This feels good.” Yes! Exactly yes! I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to realize that!!
Without looking, he says I just wrote some really good words. He’s right. He knew it! He knows! This guy is so slick and into it.
I’m sinking in a Coleman chair, slowly roasting with hairdressers and in love with nothing except the feeling I’m in some movie with Robert Urich. Everyone’s asleep…shhh! Pass the picante, here comes the Crocs vendor looking like a tired cross between Lou Pinellia and Joe Torre.
Have a cigar!
Have a cigar!
See a promising boy!
I must have been sooooo mellow. Even the insects wanted to commune with me–
Now the dragonfly
rests on my journal quite near.
Do we share a bond?
Back is red wings gauze.
Tiny green hairs flutter in wind.
How long are we here?
Eventually, it would start to rain, and I had the good fortune to be coming down to my tent just as it began. So I pulled up the stakes and moved the tent under a house, so I could get it packed up without risk of mildew. The next several hours were of dancing, and sleeping next to the waterfall, sprawled out on the rocks, or sleeping in a chair, and eating the honest-to-god most delicious fish I’ve ever had in my LIFE, roasted on a grill over a pot of charcoal, with some of the most sublimely placid people I’ve ever been in contact with.
“It’s everything, it’s nothing. It’s death. It’s nothing.”
In the end, my chances for a ride would fall apart, as they were all based on “if the timing was right”, which essentially means no one’s going to plan for it so it won’t happen. This is fine because you really don’t want to plan _anything_ when you’re up here in this thing. The closest thing to planning I got into was resigning myself to taking the last bus back to the station, which ended up leading to an arduous journey back (I’m not sure where this karma came from, maybe it was because my atrocious planning left me with no food or drink whatsoever to share with anyone else).
I really don’t want to think too much about it, but long story short I took the bus back and the angry British DJ came along for the ride and when we got to Okutama station they said the train couldn’t run (I thought it was broken, but actually it was because of the horrid rain from the typhoon coming in and everything was flooded), so we had to take ANOTHER bus, standing up and packed in like sardines for yet forty minutes more to get to Ome station to ride another train. I came quite close to being sick several times but fought it off with two whole bags of chewy fruit candy that I bought in a gift store by the station.
From Ome to Tachikawa and Tachikawa to Tokyo I just grumbled under my breath and tried to fight off a simply rotten headache of dehydration, sunburn, and long-past-their-prime contacts. I lost my JR ticket someplace, but had zero patience to talk with a conductor about it, so I just boosted my way through the gate without a ticket behind some guy in front of me. It’s Shinjuku and nobody has a chance to notice with one million people running around; the plastic gates started to close on my legs but I just pushed through.
And as a reward for my endurance my bicycle was still in front of the subway station, and not even ticketed. Now I’m glad to be home and away from the storm but missing my newfound friends.
[I think this is a record post, though it was only a day and half’s worth of events, it took seven pages of text in MS Word, and over four hours to transcribe, edit, and publish, to say nothing of the minor grammatical and phrasing tweaks I’m sure to make over the next couple days. Wow! How long did it take you to read it, listen to the sound clips and look at the pictures? Shouldn’t you be getting something done now before the boss comes to check up on you? :)]