Happy Showa day, see you next week.
Happy Showa day, see you next week.
I could say a lot about raving in Japan, about how it’s still pure, how it still nurtures a lot of the innocence that built the PLUR movement over fifteen years ago. But I have a fever of 102 right now and I’m buried in my own work for society so I can’t go into details. Instead, I’ll let a picture say it better than I could ever describe. This is Yoyogi Park, my liberal, open air backyard, where nearly every Sunday there is a free party set up by someone who just loves spinning and seeing people having a good time.
Young and old, affluent and impoverished, peace, love, unity, and respect are for everyone.
I am very, very, very sorry. I have a degree in Computer Science, and I have not looked at my blog in Internet Explorer in over five months.
This is a CSS thing. I will fix it very soon.
Until then, use Firefox, please.
Living in Japan, I don’t get to communicate with my family often, much less see them. I often wish I could, especially my brother. We’re probably about as typical as brothers come, doing all the things brothers do: hanging out a lot, getting along well, not getting along well (pretty much always my fault), and having a lot of common interests. From James Bond to Nintendo, Jackie Chan to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we started stuff side-by-side and finished things side-by-side. My brother is probably more like me than anyone on the planet, but also more different. I don’t know what brothers are really supposed to be like, but I know I wish we could do almost everything together. He’s probably the last person I still truly believe to have some kind of special link with, or at least romanticize to. If only we lived in the same town, there’s so much we could accomplish, so many monoliths we could build.
But we live apart, and live vicariously through each other. I make the games he always talked about, he makes the music I always did. When I was in high school I got my mother to buy me a guitar and pay for lessons, just like I had her buy me a trumpet and pay for lessons when I was in middle school. But at fifteen I wasn’t obsessive about anything other than D&D and Mountain Dew, so it ended up being the “I told you so” that depresses every parent.
But Tony is the opposite. He tinkers with guitars like I do Photoshop. He goes over the basics and imitates the masters, from dusk to dawn he works at it. He applies himself, he’s serious about it, and he dreams of having the kind of music he wants to make respected. Most of all he probably just dreams of finding some people as dedicated to it as he is, which is always hard in open society.
My brother is a lead guitarist, bassist, singer, and writer. His music is genuinely good, and even more exciting than his productions now are those he’s going to be making once he has the luck to find some mature people to respect what he’s trying to do.
The Scene East rocks. My brother rocks.
I have a lot of goals to accomplish by the end of May, but I’m not going to accomplish very many if I don’t first succeed in managing my time well. I’m shooting for getting out of bed between 6:00 and 6:30 each day. Last night I was motivated to keep messing around at 12:30, but instead I was a good boy and climbed up into the loft and actually took a little while getting to sleep. Suprisingly, I woke up on my own at six after having some sort of dream about participating in some traditional coming of age ceremony. I was also hungry immediately after waking up, which is even weirder, since it always takes me about an hour to “wake up” and stop feeling groggy/queasy enough to feel hungry.
In any case, I woke up in a good mood and got a bunch of things done. I didn’t really make anything new, but while digging through my photo archive I decided to make a collection out of my summer 2002 photos. These are my first shots from a digital camera, and first work with Photoshop. When I first came to Japan four years ago, I bought a little camera in Akihabara and spent the summer in awe taking pictures of an incredibly new and intense country. The image quality is pretty bad, but the colors are thick and punchy; I think you may get some idea of the way I felt when I first got here. Small samples have always lived on my top site on the “Photography” page, but these may be a little easier to appreciate.
Thinking too much makes me tired, maybe I should be more about feeling too much.
I have a warm, dry apartment. I live in a rolling metropolis. I eat food until I am full. I stretch muscles and ride a bicycle every day. I have a perfectly beautiful mind and an impressionable heart that lets me soak up every complete drop of life I fall through.
I’m lucky to be alive.
Today is the greatest
Day I ve ever kown
Can’t live for tomorrow
Tomorrow’s much too long
I burn my eyes out
Before I get out
I wanted more
Than life could ever grant
Bored by the chore
Of saving face
Today is the greatest
Day I have ever known
Can’t wait for tomorrow
I might not have that long
I’ll tear my heart out
Before I get out
Pink ribbon scars
That never forget
I’ve tried so hard
To cleanse these regrets
My angel wings
Were bruised and restrained
My belly stings
The greatest day
That I have ever known
Though I can’t really claim to have had any significant downtime in the last four years, I do have a standard that I’ve maintained for more or less half a year. A normal day starts with one hour waking up/shower, thirteen hours communting/work, one and a half hours dinner/television, one hour reading news/comics on the computer, half an hour tidying/getting ready for bed, and then roughly six-seven hours of sleep. I used to analyze it thinking I could improve it somehow, but there are constants which fighting will only exhaust you more.
After I got back from Paris last May and registered for GEISAI, I made plans for a restructured schedule, and got into it really during the summer, at which point I spiraled into an intense three months of simply work (corporate) + work (private). It was tiring, it was exciting, and it ended in a sleepless daze that I vaguely remember. Afterwards I “took a break” which meant going back to “the standard”, and not touching my camera or synth for about six weeks. It didn’t exactly get me back to like-new condition.
But, an idle mind is a crazy one, for me, so perhaps it’s best that I stay near the cusp of exhaustion fighting for something that only makes sense to me.
Now that I am “idle”, and have a lot of time on my hands, I decided I needed another improbable goal to motivate me to tighten the screws on my regimen. The next GEISAI is proported to occur sometime in the summer, and a tentative art show four months away isn’t enough of a impetus to spur me to serious action, so I made a spur of the moment decision. I squeezed through the closing door of DESIGN FESTA 25 registration and got myself a booth for Saturday the 26th of May.
My gosh! That’s less than seven weeks away! How in the world will I put together a display of artwork that’s a substantial improvement over last autumn in half the time?
Good question, let’s find out.
Today I got started late in the day on things asset management wise (failed attempt at starting this season’s gardening), but I did find all the originals and make a Gallery album for Artificial Horizon. This was the last dedicated collection I made in 2004. It has a couple of interesting shots. Check it out if you have the time.
Today I am like the weather.
This morning it was sunny, but the forecast was for it to grow overcast, with a late chance of rain. I knew it would be poor shooting, but I had to go. There were some things that I had to do. The last time I came to Sendagi, the weather was much like this, but colder. Haruka wanted to attend meditation at a temple, and Zenshoan was one of the few inside the Yamanote line that had service. That Sunday was much like today, time spent alone at the beat 50-yen arcade, and in the park, with some empty beer cans and a full mind. My adventures around Tokyo have changed somewhat. The problem with experience is you expect everything, and you’re jaded on discovery. I could wander for six to eight hours just riding and taking pictures of every fascinating thing I came across. Now I have a hard time making a continuous drive, it’s just pockets of concentration forty-five minutes apart. Using my film camera makes it even worse.
I filter out the mundane and excess on the rare. I’m thinking again too much. When it’s new I’m left to nothing bt reaction. And I think that’s where the best of me surfaces.
I could go to the zoo. It’s only 3:15, I could be there by 3:30, it closes at like five. I could look at the animals and think of their life, thinking and find some of mine.
I want to go to the zoo. I want to go to a baseball game. I want to live, live and soak up every riveting real experience I can find. I am too stagnant a human. I waste too much on things I’ve done and felt before. Familiarity is nothing but torture. Miyagawa-san says I do more in Tokyo than anyone he knows. I feel I do nothing. The more I breathe, the more sunny, empty days I spend on the tatami by the window, the more I feel every bit of it is rushing away from me like the tide. I thought about going to see the ocean. Maybe the sea has some sort of solace for me. Yano-san says those that take their own lives are the ones looking for answers within, but find nothing. The answer is not within, but [all] about, he says. It’s serving others. Is that what we’re for? Is that really the stuff to make one healthy and alive? And so my wandering is nothing more than repetitive mental depressants? Am I so addicted to the poison of my own fantasy? I sang at a karaoke bar in Ohshima. Christ.
I should call my grandmother.
I see colors, the colors as no machine can. As no other human can. I see them for all of their indescribible beauty and die slowly alive, on a bench, in a park, in a city, on this star earth.
This park is my temple, these arching branches my ceiling, this bench my altar. And I am prostrate, a breathing sacrifice to life.
Tonight I didn’t get started on processing as early as I hoped, but I managed to get one old collection into Gallery.
Though in preparing my website for graduation from Carnegie Mellon (and thus some sort of recruitment), I had prepared a small photo page off of my site, I had never really assembled decent-sized photographs for the web. Using my primitive Casio EXILIM and a copy of Photoshop 7, I put together some heavily processed shots of Tokyo. Though the primary motivation for using heavy filtering and color balancing was to reduce the effect of CCD noise, it ended up providing some interesting results. In comparing this with the 31 days of snapshots that I just finished last December, the core elements of my style stand out, but the photographs are about as different as day and night.
The original collection complete with hackneyed rollover images can still be viewed here.
I started a post in late July last year, right about the time the police tape was being drawn over the door of another Mariners’ baseball season. The homicide had been committed months prior (the perpetrator of course being Bill Bavasi), but everyone in the neighborhood knew since the 2005 postseason that the victim was bled to death from a thousand bad signings. It’s just that the smell of rotting sluggers gets particularly unbearable in mid-summer’s heat.
The title of the post was “The increasing lack of baseball relevancy”, and it ended something like this:
That’s it, I’ve had enough. From now on, I’m going to focus on more useful pursuits– as soon as the World Series is over, I’m not going to follow this anymore until next season.
The takeaway here is the sad truth of my baseball addiction. In elementary school I collected nearly the entire 1986 Topps series (collecting far more copies of Jose Guzman’s scruffy mug than any boy should ever see), fixating on my hero, Charlie Hustle, Mr. Pete Rose. However, after Rose was banned from the sport, I didn’t have much to do with baseball, other than an unhealthy obsession with Robin Ventura Donruss prints.
Many years later, I went to college, and still didn’t really care, but dragged around a 1976 Catfish Hunter Wilson glove for the occasional game of catch with Big Dog. Then I moved to Seattle.
Long story short, Kazuhiro Sasaki came to town and kicked ass. I got to see some free games and marvel at Safeco Field. Then Ichiro came to town and kicked so much ass Chuck Norris began to grow concerned about copyright infringement. So I came to Tokyo, became a Yakult Swallows outfield junkie, and cleaned the clock of my ESPN-devouring master in games attended for two consecutive seasons.
But I wasn’t the cleanup hitter for Mark McGuire, or on the chain smoker-ridden UVa club baseball roster.
So this year I’m torn between being more concerned that the Yakult pitching squad has actually gotten WORSE, or the fact that Mariners are prime for another dismal season and exit, stage right for Ichiro come July. Like the Mariners, my season looks to be about over before it’s even begun. Brandon has season tickets at five dollars a piece (compared to my occasional twelve). Even if I had season tickets, I’d probably lose the game attendance challenge since the number of days I leave the office before nine-thirty is about twenty five a year.
Yeah, it’s going to take some sort of sexy bitch owner cardboard strip tease to save this season.
Around the end of February it seems that iPowerWeb decided to move my account to a different server. This caused all sorts of problems, as you have most certainly noticed, among them bounced mail to ichigoichie.org, ftp server troubles, and last week autumn tactics was knocked out of service (this seems to be a MySQL problem).
I’ve been running WordPress for three months now, and the mix of pros and cons hasn’t made me a fanatic yet, but with my slowly improving understanding of the system, I’m feeling more comfortable about it. I’m not sure what script generated over 50000 queries in an hour, but traffic was up recently and something did, and that’s what brought everything down. I know the sidebar is slow, I mean to look into it, but as you know I still haven’t updated the single post archive or the search functionality yet. Anything other than the top page is broken, and even that doesn’t look right as tabled and linked images don’t align or display borders properly. But, these are the things one has to deal with for increased configurability. I still don’t have a grasp on the concert of CSS and php, and I’m sorry that I haven’t fixed these things yet.
Gallery on the otherhand, is at first less configurable but far easier to use. I realized last weekend that my Gallery page was down, this is the result of the unannounced server move. However, I don’t think anyone really visited it that much so I suppose it’s not that big of a deal. However, I have since installed Gallery 2, which is much slicker looking and easier to use. I got it installed and imported my old albums in just over an hour.
I’ve been meaning to create photo collection pages for GEISAI 10 and the thirty-one days of photography from December, but obviously I’ve failed miserably on getting either of those up in any sort of timely manner. I have a Photoshop file for the Geisai site that I’ve been working with on and off since the move, but my technical skills are still throwing a wall up, preventing me from getting what I want. So, considering the volume with which I take photographs and my recent philosophy to “share the love”, I’m canning the custom collection page format for now, and just going to start making heavy use of Gallery. It’s quick to update, it’s spartan, and we can get a feedback loop going on with the images if you’re inclined to comment. It also supposedly dovetails nicely with WordPress, if I can get a better grasp on php.
So, please enjoy! Take a look at the old galleries from overseas trips. The GEISAI images are up, is last December’s photo special. In the next couple weeks, I’ll be putting up more of the Tokyo Bicycle Wanderings sets from the last several years. I think there is some support of IP management/watermarking that can be extended through Gallery. While not a perfect solution, enough of a deterrent to cull the lazy gankers. Hot-linking should also be disabled at this point. I’m toying with the idea of watermarks, perhaps a small embossing of the site url. For those interested, RSS is currently enabled. From the main gallery page, trick out the sidebar and follow the RSS link. That should cover all updates to any of the sub-albums.
I’m a little hung over from yesterday’s hanami party, so I’m not inclined to talk about why I take pictures right now, but I will say that in the future much more of my evolving work is going to be available for those interested. So I hope that you like it. It’s well-past time that I present my work at another exhibition; I have taken a couple good shots in the last month that I’d love to see on paper.