I can’t disclose any details, because I think...

I can hear you calling

I can’t disclose any details, because I think the title is unannounced, and I’ve gotten burned by NDA stuff in the past, BUT I think it’s fair for me to say that it seems I have procured another voice acting gig. AND this time it’s not F-Zero, which I suppose is all for the best because the first one that I made, you guys in the States didn’t buy enough of so the sequel was fated to be Japan only.

I’m sure you’re just percolating, wondering what sort of zany voice(s) I’m going to spin this time. [The truth is so am I…I can’t wait. I LOVE this stuff!]


Like so many other blog entries involving new trains...

The Unforgettable Fire

originally recorded September 5th

Like so many other blog entries involving new trains I’m currently surrounded by comfort and listening to U2. Odakyu has a special train called the Romancecar, which like many other private railways’ salutes to eloquent travel, involves fewer stops, faster transit times, and fully carpeted cars. I have a window, a fold-out table, a place for my umbrella and jacket, and a sense of import and excitement. The only thing negative I can say is that this no smoking car smells terribly of odor-treated cigarette upholstery, much like any car ever owned by my father. Either this used to be a smoking car or the ventilation engineering is a wreck. Oh well. The extra four hundred yen guarantees me a seat and no stops until my destination of Machida.

As I said, things feel special today. Even more so as I’m meeting a friend I haven’t seen in three years. Uezu-san worked at ATR in an internship the same summer that I did. She was on the greater-funded Robovie project with Dan. They worked behind me in the third floor MIS lab. Aside from the once or twice that I made an ass of myself (which I hope she has long forgotten), we had a couple good times together hanging around Takanohara and Nara. Actually a deer attacked her once when we were in the park, it’s awful. We also went to the now defunct karaoke bar above the Kushi Raku next to Takanohara station, and the staff commented that it seemed like we had been friends for quite a long time. So I’m really looking forward to catching up and having some good, wholesome fun with someone I can still believe in. With it being cool and having my umbrella and “date outfit” on, I feel like I’m sixteen again and on my way to my first night out junior year. All I need now is a rambling old car and a stick shift, man I miss driving. ๐Ÿ™

Uezu-san paired with a markedly younger and more healthy-looking me a mere three years ago at the good ‘ol Snack Mizuno.

A summer wasting

I don’t think four hours have ever gone by so fast. It was faster than being asleep. We had dinner at a nice little place Uezu-san ferreted out on the web.

Seven weeks of staying up all niiiiight…

Fortunately for me washoku (Japanese cuisine) stopped being a hindrance to growing closer via food long ago. Raw fish, tofu, and vegetables pickled with rice vinegar are not only acceptable, the truth is I’d more often than not choose them over any kind of junk food. It tastes good, and feels good.

I still have a bad habit of being a karaoke hog. If we’re in a group it’s not so bad but with only two I have to fight off my overly efficient search-and-entry skills. It’s the mind-set mostly. My need to impress and gain acceptance weighs much heavier than my general need for sharing, equality, and just letting things happen. Fortunately, I think I lucked out today as all of my selections were J-Pop hits that Uezu-san both knew and claimed to like, and the sheer variety of my knowledge seemed to make a fair impression. No excuse for being selfish though. ^^;;

But it was really nice, and just as much fun as I expected (something in scant amounts as of late). She said she likes history, and of course I’m a knowledge nut so I think it’s quite feasible that we’ll go museuming or something soon. Now if only the floors mopped themselves while I was gone this would be a perfect day.

Long live Belle and Sebastian and thanks x10万 to Melia for introducing me!

Not many people here today. It would be nice if...

There’s nothing like…

Not many people here today. It would be nice if the tickets were discounted, or we could sit in the many open reserved seats along the first base line (hint, hint).

late season baseball. Less than ten games left, your team far out of contention, you decide to pour it on at the end and perhaps squeak by your rival for season attendance. But apparently I’m in the minority. Whether it’s the brisk evening air or other things on TV, most of the crowd here is seated in unreserved section of the outfield, which in itself isn’t overpowering. I got here ten minutes before the opening pitch (thanks to an excessive string of trains at the crossing between Minami- and proper Shinjuku stations on the Odakyu line), and I still got a seat in the third row of the section. Since it is cool, coffee and whiskey are being sold by the roaming vendors in addition to the standard beer and coke (separate). Curry, noodles, and other hot foods seem to be favored today, though I am content (for now) with supermarket popcorn and rice cookies. Actually, even though it takees a hell of a wind to get me admitting that it it’s cold, I took the extra precatuion of bringing my 1998 Sturcture jeans hacket to back up my Virginia henley, which is overlaid with my awesome Ichiro replica jerset that Mikiko gave me for my birthday last year.

An impassioned teenager in horn-rimmed glasses and a ruddy-colored Swallows jersey has just humbly requested the crowds support in cheering for Ramirez, our team’s home run leader for the reseaon. The fans rose to their feet to cheer our swat champion with panache as the red-breasted youth prepared his trumpet for a rallying toot.

Ramirez struck out.

I had entertained the idea of keeping score in the official manner and writing an AP-like writeup of the game, but in the end I decided that it would require far too much effort and prevent me from accomplishing virtually anything else. I did, however, recall fondly the time six years ago that our Lambeth neighbor (the amazing Greek) Karen taught me how to keep score at one of Brandon’s club games.

A little chin music from our starter Yoshimi.

If you’re a fervent follower of The Simpsons, you may have seen the episode where Homer is trying to give up beer and goes to a baseball game. After he realizes how incredibly boring an activity it really is, they cut to a shot of him sitting in the stands with virtually everyone in the crowd around him taking a sip every couple of seconds. It’s kind of like that, but I’m sitting next to a middle school girl and her mother, neither of which have a beer.

It’s the top of the fourth but it feels like the sixith. Our starting pitcher did a gem of a number last inning, walking two and allowing four runs. The disappointing thing about Japanese baseball is there are no Roger Clemens‘ or Orel Hershisers. There are no twenty-two game winners because the pitching is universally mediocre, and there’s always a good chance today’s pick from the rotation won’t see it past the first third of the game.

However, probably the oddest thing is how quietly the games begin. There is no national anthem, and no opening pitch by the mayor. One second some middle school kid is flexing his might in a little league-pro home run derby, and the next you’re two outs into the top of the first. Man that UCC coffee smells good. Everyone around me in a three-seat radius is buying it (well, those that aren’t drinking beer).

Fifteen stories of parking, eating, and a very un-Tokyo use of space for truckloads upon truckloads of technology.

I went to Akiba today to pick up a camera for Brandon. I got there at ten-thirty, perhaps the second earliest I’d ever been in the area. It was kind of nice actually, not many people, easy-to-navigate sidewalks. Since Densha Otoko gained fame Akihabara has dubiously seen a new influx of women, mostly twenty- and thirty-somethings looking for the earmarks of otaku society. I’ve been meaning to ride the new Tsukuba Express [even though it’s damn ugly]. It’s not everyday a new train line opens. Being the rail transit freak that I am, I just have to ride it, especially since it goes deep into Ibaraki-ken, a place I’ve never been. It’ll probably be one of the first things I do after I get back from the States next month.

As several people at work have commented, things like the umbrella dance make Swallows’ games feel like a matsuri (traditional Japanese festival).

Even though he carries the lowest average in the starting lineup, Atsuya Furuta still remains the Swallows’ fan favorite. He’s been around like forever, he’s the catcher, he’s team captain of the Swallows, and he’s practically being begged by the media to take over the role of manager of the team to see us out of the consistent middle-of-the-deck finishes. We actually have a little bit of a rally going now, having scored one run with two on and only one out. The crowd is screaming for a home run, let’s see if Furuta can make it come together.

Double play. End of rally.

Yeah, it’s time to get going. I have a feeling things aren’t going to change much in the next two and a half innings. Sorry dude, not all the bugling in the world can save this season.

[I ended up leaving halfway through the bottom of the seventh as I had an obligation to fulfill. We ended up losing 4-1.]

Unfortunately, having a late summer vacation and...

More festival fun

Unfortunately, having a late summer vacation and several other distracting events transpiring in my life have led me to miss Super Yosakoi for the second year in a row, in addition to the Shiba-Daijingu fresh ginger matsuri. However, I did manage to make it to Honmachi’s autumn festival again this year, helping out a little more than I did last year.

There was the requisite protecting of the children’s omikoshi and taiko tours, the former of which being quite difficult as the amount of strappling young lads roughly the same height was rather scant, thus requiring me to support a good deal of the weight at an awkward angle with my wrist turned down. However, all was good and after I made a couple unexpected cheers in little-boy Japanese to rally the troops, I was receiving my fair share of obligatory whacks with the taiko drumsticks.

More fidgety and restless than usual, I chose to forego the sitting around with the village seniors while drinking copious amounts of complimentary alcohol, and ran back and forth between my house next to the park doing laundry. I also aided the ladies in creating a mammoth vat of curry sauce by slicing up roughly three dozen onions and carrots.

On Saturday the festivities came to an early end as typhoon 17 wouldn’t be tabled any longer and a lashing rain came overnight after the last lilting bon odori (a series of traditional Japanese folkdances). So I spent the better part of the morning hauling supplies back to various garages around the town with a rambling old cart. The entire process of teardown (or “striking the set” as it was called in my theatre days) took about five hours, but I silently slipped away at the sound of the lunch bell as the unkempt floors of my apartment were nagging at my conscience.

In I went out to see Fantastic Four, which I decided to try despite the B user rating on Yahoo! Movies, because it was the best thing in the theatres and I was hoping it would be like Spider-Man. But of course, that was hoping for far too much, as it turned out to be not much more than an eighty-four minute long one-liner with the occasional exploding building. Even the “action” sequences seemed rare and underwhelming. Oh well, the comic book companies are just trying to get at that disposable income of us socially-challenged Gen X-ers. Too bad they won this time. Damn you Mr. Fantastic! Why do you have to look so uncannily like a cross between someone I went to school with and Jon Stewart?

[Note to the reader: As confusing as it may be,...

Work and recovery cocktail

[Note to the reader: As confusing as it may be, I recommend reading all the main passages (unitalicized text) first, and then going back and looking at the pictures and reading the captions below them. Most of the normal text was written before I took an pictures at all, but if I put all the pictures together at the bottom, the balance of the post would be shot to hell and an eyesore. This journal is as much an exercise in visual symmetry and form as it is in expressing emotions through words. Please bear with my unconventional behaviors.]

If you’re a devout afficianado of my photography, you know that I have an affinity for man-made lines stretching out into the distance. You also probably know that I love trains more than pizza (ow!) so I am wont to take pictures of vacant platforms in the country.

I dragged myself out of bed at five-thirty last Saturday morning and took one of the first Shinkansens for Kyoto. Rodney and I had been trying to put together a unified weekend for me to come home for summer vacation for a while, and since Honmachi has the big autumn matsuri this weekend, I just decided to get up and go. I actually got a fair amount of coding done on the train down, and thusly my usual “ride home” introspective journal entry is a bit sparse. I spent most of the time there talking with Rodney and visiting with his friends, which was pretty nice actually and a half decent recovery, marred only by guilt from sleeping eight to nine hours a day when I was shooting for seven.

I scurried past this monk and under this sign countless times during my first summer in Japan, racing back for the last train to Takanohara. If you have the time, ask me about Dan’s adventures with the fountain. Sadly, the arcade that I loved so dearly, has finally closed. The neon sign is still up but the store is barren and vacant. Today there were some social workers pushing some community program. I’ll never go fishing for crustaceans there again. ๐Ÿ™

In any case, I got a fair number of pictures on Saturday bicycling from Nara to Kizu, and on Sunday at my architectural bellwheter Kyoto station. I have one-hundred and forty shots, about seventy percent of which are postable, but I haven’t decided if I’m going to make a Kyoto station special collection, or what. So for now, I’ll sprinkle a handful of chronological excerpts for your viewing enjoyment and my mildly displeased criticism.

I was in too much of a hurry to buy mismatching colored socks at the 100 yen store here to investigate as to what exactly the Uneme Matsuri is in honor of. However, there were a great number of people and food stalls congregating around the always majestic Sarasawanoike man-made pond. The turtles and pigeons turned out in force for handouts.

originally recorded September 17th

It’s about five months to the day since I was last at home in Nara. Usually the day after being incredibly drunk I feel sick, an augmented sensitivity towards people looking at me, and my movemnts are fluid but disturbingly accurate. It’s like mild oversteer in a car or being incredibly put off with the tiniest of details in a mania sort of way. Today I still feel sick, though it may be be not enough sleep last night, or not enough food in my stomach. Every time I meet someone that I haven’t seen in a while they ask me if I’ve gotten thinner, and the sad truth is that I have. There seems to be no end to my slow wasting away. I have the impression that binge-drinking speeds up my metabolism. In addition, I’ve been growing increasingly health conscious diet-wise, in hopes that I may improve my performance at work. Unfortunately the healthy things that I eat are all dreadfully low calorie, low sugar, and low fat. So staying up late and stressing out just makes a downward trend worse.

Nara Park is actually a lot larger than I initially gave it credit for. I could easily bike around in it for hours visiting all the shrines and monuments. However, today as I was pressed for time I rode straight to the back and visited Kasuga jinja for the first time. The papers meticulously tied on the right are wishes left on a sacred branch to be granted.

Last week I saw The Aviator. At the video store it was that, or the movie version of Phantom. One reviewer hit it on the head and said that Leo still feels a bit young for the role, but regardless he did an excellent hob. I really liked it because it was a film, not a movie, and the post production work on the image stock was lush and evocative. It made me think of my photography from three eyears ago, when I was working with my painfully low resolution Casio. Due to the fidelity constraints of the hardware I had to mess with the palette and saturation to cover up all the artifacts produced by the grainy CCD. In any case, it was a well put together film and the eccentricities portrayed in Howard Hughes seemed at times a little too strikingly understandble for my own comfort. In that respect I think it was a useful piece of art. Art that causes you look at yourself may be some of the most wonderful of all.

Koi is the Japanese word for carp, and a fish that has a long and hallowed tradition in local culture. Much like the warlords and daimyo of long ago, I enjoy watching them, as their slow and graceful movements calm me. I hope to flow through life as they do someday. On the way back I found a very creepy (and apparently still open) entertainment center in an eerie state of disrepair near Saidaiji. Upon mentioning it to Noriyo later, she said she remembered going bowling there twenty years ago. In Japan, this is a very, very impressive accomplishment for an establishment, regardless of its appearance.

Express song

Floor scuffed, filleted sunlight rhombus
so many plastic rings dangle unused
sideways glances and meticulously made faces
heel tapping sneakers and I’m happy
tired, happy, and on a retreat from myself
Kizugawa runs to JR
soon the rice is all pulled in
stop at Shin-Tanabe
three years’ ago hitchhiking
lost after last train
helped by a vanful of kids.

Ladies smell wonderful.

Meandering over hills and through a densely forested residential district outside of Heijo, I came across a field of rice carved into a perfect little trench of sunlight between trees and river. This is by leagues, the worst my PowerShot has ever failed me, and I am reluctant to post anything at all because even the perfect photograph would not be capable of reproducing a grain of the feeling at that moment. The sky was pale orange, and the sun the ever-glowing eye of Osiris. The rice was a bent and rippling sea of daffodiled harmony, so disarmingly touching that Wordsworth would have clawed out his own eyes for knowledge of never having another chance to see such serene beauty. This was a place and a moment and an expression that tore down every steel-curtained wall I’ve built in my twenty five years on earth, and it pulled me one step in towards nirvana. Words are a poor, jaded branch for me to paint love on a grain of sand. I cannot begin to tell you how perfect it was to be there just then.

originally recorded September 18th

Today I had plans to go swimming in the Kizugawa with Rodney, but I ended up coming to Nara instead, as it was getting past one o’clock and we were invited to someone’s birthday party that begins at six. It’s hard to describe being here alone because I don’t think that I ever have. It’s always been with someone very close to me. How do you pull apart a new city from someone? It’s grafted onto your heart and the assocations stick like tendon to bone. It’s not just memories, it’s navigation and stores, cobbled streets and alleys; cafes where you had a spartan breakfast of sharp coffee and toast after a long night. A movie theater where you both sat in lace-covered highback chairs and cried; a pond you sat by countless times and saw yourself changing as the sun set. Tissue and fibre, realigning under a full dusk of patient turtles and temple pagodas. Even if I’m here by myself I’m not alone. I’m walking the streets next to a thinly veiled ghost wearing a porcelain smile and a swishing plaid skirt.

On the left is the rebuilt facade of what was once Heijo castle, the first great national seat of Japan and home to the emperor. Unfortunately, like most Japanese castles it has been razed several times over by wars and natural disasters. Now all that remains is a huge, vacant, and mostly treeless park, bearing only the stone footprints of the world’s oldest dynasty. On the right are two sample shots from another hour at Kyoto station. The one on the left has poor contrast and shows little patience in its taking, but the lines are vaguely interesting nonetheless.

[I don’t believe myself. Even though my favorite TV drama is on with a special 90 minute episode, I’m passing it up for a heavily edited network showing of Back to the Future. I’ve seen this movie twenty times already and even have it on DivX somewhere on my computer. Yet the fact it’s on TV “live” and unexpected, I’m compelled to watch it, helplessly caught in the nostalgia. Densha Otoko is going to have to be Winny’d this weekend. Oh well. At least I can get the photos prepped now while I watch.]

We pray for our sorrows to end, and hope that our...

Looking for wishes lost along the way

Thinking of you, wherever you are.

We pray for our sorrows to end, and hope that our hearts will blend.
Now I will step forward to realize this wish.

And who knows:
starting a new journey may not be so hard
or may be it has already begun.

There are many worlds, but they share the same sky–
one sky, one destiny.


้ก˜ใ†ใ ใ‘ใงใฏๅฑŠใ‹ใชใ„ๆƒณใ„ใ‚’ๅถใˆใ‚‹ใŸใ‚ใซ ็งใฏ้€ฒใ‚‚ใ†ใจๆ€ใฃใฆใ„ใพใ™ใ€‚


ใ“ใฎ็ฉบใŒใคใชใไธ–็•Œใงใ€่พฟใ‚Š็€ใๅ ดๆ‰€ใฏไธ€็ท’ใ ใจไฟกใ˜ใฆใ„ใพใ™ใ€‚

There was something I was supposed to do…
…something, but I’ve forgotten.

Yesterday we had our company’s annual review...


Yesterday we had our company’s annual review. Afterwards, we went to dinner at El Paso and I got in way over my head with tequila. I didn’t feel sick, I just got dead, memory loss drunk; so drunk that I couldn’t even ride my bike for more than ten feet without falling over. I cut my shoulder, scraped up my elbow, and have a large, swollen, slightly bloodied bulge on my right temple. I wish I could have just done all this on my own, but unfortunately I realized halfway down Omotesando that during one of the half dozen times I fell off my bike, my satchel was gone. I freaked out and went back the way I came and ran into my boss as he was going home. He helped me find it; thank God someone turned it in to the police box right at the traffic light, but after that the drama and the alcohol ruined me. I made an ass of myself– broken up, stupid, destroyed, and sobbing to my boss about my salary and how I was thinking of quitting. Lovely stuff for the guy who’s ALWAYS incredibly patient and covering for me at work. I didn’t go in today, too sick and unable to show my face.

I’ve turned off my phone to crawl into my shell, temporarily, so I can run from reality until my head heals. I’m going to Nara tomorrow for a short trip as it’s a three-day weekend, though I think I’m going to try and code on the bullet train on the way down and back. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but essentially the only thing I can do to even come close to holding my ground is write an application level graphics engine by Tuesday morning when I go back into the office. God help me get out of this one with the last shreads of self-respect I can scrounge up in this wreck of a life I’m so talented at fucking up.

For the longest time I thought it was just a word...

No comfort

For the longest time I thought it was just a word, and that it didn’t really mean anything. But it’s a truthful thing, as real as war, cancer, and racism. I have a serious problem with alcohol abuse. It occasionally brings me to the brink of destroying relationships. I tell myself that I should really stop, but nothing changes. It’s probably one of the reasons I don’t like myself and hate looking in the mirror. I’m not a child anymore, I’m just a lousy person in a lot of respects.

I don’t know what to do.

Let’s say you really miss someone. Let’...

The twenty-four hour challenge

Let’s say you really miss someone. Let’s say you think of them often. Let’s say it’s Friday night at 11:33 and you want to call them. What do you do?

You enact the twenty-four hour challenge, of course. You think of them, and think of how much you hurt not seeing them, and you wait twenty-four hours. If tomorrow at the same time you still want to call them, you do, and assume it to be something deeply rooted in your heart. If you don’t, well then either it was a whim, or you’re really self-conscious and worried about ruining their life in the process…

A story of a boy and a rave

…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, ใ€ŒใƒŸใƒƒใ‚ทใ‚งใƒซใ€ (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.

(in Spanish)
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.

The end.

[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? :)]