The road to Amsterdam lies in rumination

Long story short, train came late, didn’t die, but almost did dive to subzero temperatures in the compartment; not dwelling on it. Right now I’m in Blumenmarkt, which I wandered on to by accident but am enjoying. A row of little shops on the canal selling not just tulip bulbs but all manner of strange plants that you may “grow from a can”, including Venus Flytraps and “Buddha palms”. Alongside are of course your standard fare trinkets/branded goods. Clogs with the flag, clogs with tulips; clogs with hemp leaves. Hash tin with hash leaves, has tins with tulips, has tines with a silhouette and “red light district” written across them. Oh and a cheese shop! I may go insane buying souvenirs here (mostly for myself). I wondered about the import regulations in Japan for plants and worried about my lonesome roses back in Tokyo.

When I got here this morning I was panicking, having not eaten for over thirteen hours. So I had a frozen hamburger at a sketch middle-eastern bistro in the red light district. But now I can eat famous, natsukashii Dutch food, split pea soup! You have to respect a country where mustard and black bread come standard as a side.

Anyway, the real reason I was inspired to write now was a China dress and paper umbrella I saw outside an oriental porcelain shop. It reminded me of the fabled “white fur china dress” I’d seen in a crane game. I tried and I tried and I tried but no matter what, I couldn’t get it. I never had any trouble with boxed figures like Sakura Taisen or Evangelion, but the dress always eluded me. Arka commented that perhaps the white fur dress was symbolic, an ideal I had in my head that could never really exist. In a world where I win the dress and get some submissive girl to actually wear it for me, I wouldn’t really be happy I wonder…

Unfortunately finding a trance party continues to elude me. Maybe it’s just not meant to be, and I need to coordinate my visit with a particular party. I got excited to find a Trance Nation flyer until I realized it was for next month. Every venue sees geared up for tomorrow, but I worry if I’ll even be able to get in to one of these countdown house events. I get the impression every place is going to be packed and right now I’d give 4:1 odds that when the clock strikes 2010 I’ll be at some random street corner and just crack open a beer after kissing my cellphone. Let’s do a quick Japan-era reacp of New Year’s Eves’ past:

2009: had the flu at home, went to bed before midnight
2008: went to Iwate New Year’s Day
2007: homeless, went to midnight hatsumode with Ai during a Rocky marathon, spent New Year’s Day in Kyoto
2006: Seoul, countdown in town square with other hostel people
2005: New Year’s party in the states with Mike and co.
2004: went to Akita with Miki
2003: Akihabara and weekly mansion with Nobue while job-hunting

Wow, that was a dumb idea. I went from giddy to depressed as hell in about twenty minutes.

There are some parts of me that don’t like people watching, because it feels like a waste of time, that value equation thing again, with production of something being up on the value side. Anyway, people watching is good somethings because it’s just engaging enough to let your mind sort out things without becoming nervous.

I think that ultimately I have to make things, and I have to break them apart and master them on my own, but I still need an audience, I need someone to share them with. Fundamentally I buy off on that, and I recognize that belonging is a basic human need. I guess I just need to work on deepening my connections with others. If I could really convince myself of the value of deep relationships, fruitful, balanced relationships, I think I would be more leaning towards respecting them. Things of value require care, I know that in my head. but I don’t know it in my heart. That’s what I need, knowing in the heart. Is there any way other to figure that out then breaking all my things? Is that even a route that leads to success? No. And I’ll tell you why. because as soon as I break something I can easily replace it with something shiny and new. that’s what my charisma/looks/confidence/exoticism (the Dave appeal equation) gets me. Blessing and a curse, I don’t have to work hard for koi, it comes for the free and it’s expected. In other words–

I take it for granted.

So, because of this I don:t think the breaking things is going to lead to that valuing deeper relationships… so what is??

Old music, old thoughts

Somehow, German draft beer on a leather love-seat while reading Faust and listening to the Foo Fighters just feels right. Most of my favorite music in high school was stolen from my car in Pittsburgh by a crack head, over two hundred CDs and eight years of music.

Recently I’ve started yearning more and more for those old songs, especially as the fire to play guitar burns hotter and hotter in my soul Foo Fighters, Nirvana, STP, this was the music I blared through my Charger’s Blaupunkt system while driving around northern Frederick. My girlfriend at the time, Mari, cooed at how I pounded the gear shift to the bass line of Cake’s The Distance, a damn great song. Driving a car of my own, a dream unknown to most Japanese teenagers, taken for granted by most Americans. Unique myself lost that special freedom, so long suffering since my father sold my car.

Before I bought it myself, I think I copied this album from Adam and had it on my Walkman. I remember walking around and listening to it, Offspring, Bush, and Everclear. Oh the wailing of guitar, fed into effects so it layers and distorts like a heavy static or a buzz saw. Could I ever cover this in front of Yoyoko in an impromptu live someday? Get Phil and Hayashi?

2010 New Year’s Resolution: no matter what I _will_ take guitar lessons and practice more. I will have at least two exhibition, I will make at least a CDs worth of electronic music.

I don’t know, track ?? just triggered a cascade of memories of Holly, the bad girl from the other side of the tracks (literally) that was on my periphery while dating Mari. We kissed, I came to her house once and we listened to Revolver on her water bed. She had bead curtains to her bedroom. Posa was all excited when we started dating. We went and laid by the river next to Church of the Brethern… she smells like cigarettes and pot. I gotta find and email her…. I was in Berlin and thought of you,

Why didn’t it work out? She had a part-time job at the 7-11 on East Street, sweet. I want to email Phil so much right now and say, “Let’s make a band!”

It’s about 7:20 now, well past my bedtime of late. I admit I’m quite bleary. I’m up to the 300-page tier or Faust, sleep, neck hurts. But my train isn’t for another five hours and I’ve no bed.

So, I’ve got to tough it out. I’ve though about hitting up U5 but they don’t open (assuming they’re open on Tuesday), until 800, so I guess it:s another forty minutes of Faust. Poor Gretchen! [in the end, U5 never opened…only weekends it seems]

22:15

Talk about efficient. I got from Fr. Tor to H. Bahnhof in about eleven minutes. That’s roughly ten stations and one transfer. This reinforces my theory that German transit is either faster, or the stations are even closer together that Tokyo. Anyway, the trouble now is my mass market dilemma. I can’t hope to completely avoid Foo Fighters when I travel, but I try to swear offf American bands. Unfortunately the long arm of democratic capitalism has me corner here. I was hoping to get at last one pretzel before I left Germany, I was thinking the Kasse here in Hauptbanhof but they’ve run out. It was either the fourth hoagie in three days, or face Big Brother. So I was left with Pizza Hut or BK, and the question was which would torture my digesting system less in an already long day.

More interesting is the young, Asian tourist couple next to me. How unwittingly they display the stereotypical man/woman disconnect, reinforced by racial stereotypes! The man is fervently trying to fold his receipt into an aerodynamic vessel while the girl stares glassy-eyed into her phone email. If only they could realize the absurd clarity of textbook dysfunctionality they exhibit. After upgrading his plane for supersonic flight and checking its wingspan, the male opens his subcompact laptop and being typing. How droll! The irony. How much time do we spend together communication but not with the person right in front of our faces? So sad, with today’s society affairs of the heart, never physically consummated, yes just as if not more so devastating.

Oh, so much insight to the human tragedy, inwards and out this week. This isn’t a journey of inter-nation, this is a journey of condemnation. The tragedy… and speaking of tragedy, poor Gretchen. I’ll be finished reading of her by tomorrow at this pace. Then what I will do with the rest of my rainy week? Smoke?

It’s cold, even sitting in the back of the Pizza Hut. My clothes reek of CK-1, since I spilled a tester on myself the other day, and I only have one set this week. Cold and stinking of Calvin Klein, a theme for inaugural trek. If I went to America, but the middle of nowhere, would that be a vacation worth taking? Fly to Vegas then rent a car and drive out to Oklahoma or Nebraska, or somewhere. Hmm, driving alone for hours all day. Could I handle that? If I:m going to do that, why not get a Japanese license finally and drive to Kyushu? The cost would probably end up being more in highway tolls and gasoline, ha. So tired. If this train comes late, I may just die.

Motivation

Somehow, I manged to sleep over twelve hours without any difficulty. I don’t think I would have been able to get up and go look for a club anyway, so now I have a while day afead of me, refreshed and envigorated. Yesterday I made two arcs through the city centre, one from Hauptbahnhof through Brandenburg Gate and then more or less along the Spree visiting Alexandre Platz, the carnivals and the largest remaining section of the Wall in Ostbahnhof. The second route started in Mauer Park where I bought an old poster for an Eastern German performance of Ivanhoe. Afterwards I visited the Berlin Wall memorial and took some photographs through the wall into the Death Strip. I remember vaguely as a fourth grader of learning that the Berlin wall was torn down, but at the time it didn’t make much sense to me. A wall is for holidng up a house, or rounding out a garden, so the idea of a wall that went through a city to keep people apart was confusing. Most of the literature in the memorials has been in English so I’ve gotten a lot out of it. I felt a slight, sobering shiver looking at the electrical equpiment in the Death Strip, but I think I’ll have to meditate on it more today, perhaps at Volkspark.

10:30

Knowing that all of this is tied to the DDR and the Berlin Wall, can we still (should we) evaluate the works of art on their own?

‘Modern history’?!

Two perspectives on the same object, video vs. photography.

Artists don’t shy from the filth, waste, and destruction. They show what is there, and what is affecting our lives, regardless of its conent.

Is time constant? Does our perception distort its passage? So many speeds in these videos, perhaps changing dynamically, subtlely?

12:00

I’m beginning to feel like I was a fool for not having an exhibition in 2009. I need to keep pushing myself and just exhibit because without exhibiting I produce nothing, which was obvious from my 2009 nengajyou selection. I had virtually nothing suitable to choose from. Why? I didn’t take any pictures? Why? I had no burning pressure to produce for a show. I swear I will do at least two expos in 2010!!!

So much for German efficiency…

Thus media magnate Elliot Carver rued after discovering that yet again, james Bond had eluded his Arian hitman. The train from Amsterdam ended up leaving five hours late due to locomotive difficulties. We received one notice during those five, but I’m not what it said. Inany case, we had our sleeper couchettes so it wasn’t that bad. To be hoenst, I preferred th edealy because it meant more time for rest in a train that was scheduled to arrive in Berlin at 4:21 a.m. I spent th efirst three hours chatting with a Parisian student from Hong Kong and two Puerto Rican girls.

The days are short here. It’s quarter to eight and the sun still hasn’t come up. In a short while I suppose I’ll trek out and start walking, or perhaps take the S-bahn. There are a number of markets that open on Sunday I’d like to see. Currently I’m debating whether I should change into my long johns. Hopefully toilets don’t carry a charge here as well. To me there’s something very appealing about this all, not knowing when or where your next chance for comfort/self-preservation will come. This follows in the Rob canon of never turn down a chance to use the restroom. Food, warmth, and toilet are all things that you never want to be stuck hunting for, so best take advantage of the opportunities as they come.

17:10

Behold! Tegernseer Hell! The dignified white and blue label of true German pride and an unassuming 500ml bottle to match. Germans don’t fuck around with pissy 333ml bottles, hell no. Germans know bier. Brie, not so much. Chene d’Argent “fresh” style brie is virtually flavorless, odorless, and a waste of space. Forget about it. Sausage? Sure, I had me a Bochwurst in a rolee for 2,50 euros at Mauer Park Flea Market. Sucker was over 1.4 feet long if an inch and wide as a half-dollar. The roll is not so much a pitiful concession to carbohydrates as it is an edible napkin, so you don’t get your manly hands greasy. The dude asked if I wanted mustard. What’s German for, “Hell yes I do!”? According to Matt’s hostel guide to Berlin, “Do you have any horny single relatives?”, is… well, suffice it to say it’s past stupid o’clock my knickerbockered friends. As I was trudging back from Kaiser’s I spied a ‘Minimarkt’ across the street and said aloud to myself, “‘MiniMARKT’…’E’?! We don’t need no stinkin’ ‘E’ to spell MARKT!”

Accordingly to my body it’s 1:15 Monday morning which means I just got my first shower and bed in 38 hours. Oh hell yes I am bushed. I have no fucking clue what it will do to my body to sleep now at 5:30 p.m. but I don’t really give a damn. It’s dark out and my muscles are so sore I can hardly move the pencil anymore. It’s time for more HELL, shitty brie francais and Fause. Ack!

Schiphol

Schiphol airport is clean, vast, and smartly lit. The immigration officer spoke Japanese, though I’m not sure if that’s a personal thing or common between all the staff. One hustler started speaking French to me, and when I replied no, he switched to Italian. I think it’s a tribute to living abroad that I’ve lost my American vibe. Very rarely do people place me as such any more, usally I’m tagged as French or Italian. This is my second time in Europe in two years; last year I visited Vienna and Venice after finishing Lips. The continent is such an eccelective mix of nice and dirty. Better than some parts of the states, but not as orderly as Japan. At four-thirty it’s already drak outside, a recent light rain has wet the cars and road. It’s warm, the lower forties with no wind, not much cooler than Tokyo, though I expect Berlin will be harsher.

Okay, I take back what I said about the warm part. After sitting on the cold floor of Amsterdam Centaal for a few minutes the cold leaves its mark. In retrospect, staying at the airport would have been more accomodating. I have an hour and half until my train for Berlin leaves. The train station, at leat the part I’m in, is a lot smaller than I expected and there’s really no place to sit. So it’s my lot to camp out here in the middle of the hall with the other backpackers and fight to stay awake another ninety minutes or so.

In my hurrying to leave I didn’t restock my iPod, but for now I have the Eternal Sunshine soundtrack on. In fact, I left all toiletries at home, including my oral positioner unfortunately. Waking up in Tokyo this morning was methodical and disconnected from what I was really doing. There was a three-line conversation that just repeated itself endlessly in my mind. I was talking with my co-workers and we were very clinically evaluating my state from a dispassionate third-person perspective. If I didn’t get up and get the hell out of the house, I’d be out of the whole trip and three grand. It was that simple. The insobriety had walled off all but th emost critical pathways in my brain. There was no discussion, no debate about what to ready/pack. All I saw was shower, ruck, passport, and go. I only had twenty minutes from the time I rose to when I left the house. That’s all there was to it. Anyway, I have European stylish toothpaste and brush from HEMA and some cheap bread goods from Albert Puyn to go, so I won’t starve or die of toothdecay in the next twenty-four hours. Tired, so tired; too tired to even notice how badly I need a shower. No, I’m in stripped down standby mode. I may fall asleep reading Faust now.

Skin of my teeth

So by some sort of miracle I’ve managed to get on the plane with a window seat and no serious ill effects. I’m a little hung over but given that I got only two hours’ sleep on a wide assortment of twelve drinks, I’m doing pretty damn fine. I didn’t get a number of things into my bag that would have been helpful, but packing Thursday was the smartest thing I’ve done in ages and I do have the essentials.

I ask myself how I ended up with such a precarious balance of self-destruction and success, but truthfully it was just a complete lack of judgement coupled with a virtually non-ending string of good luck. VERY lucky: lucky I didn’t say anything more self-centered or obnoxious to my co-workers, lucky I somehow paced myself drinking through the night; lucky we didn’t all split up at midnight and call it a day, lucky we went back to The Hub, stole a good table and the girls we chatted up were just the right level of drunk to screw around with for hours. I must have bought a lot of karma in sending those nengajou (New Year’s cards), because I was just on fire from the minute we left the office last night until I walked down the boarding ramp. What adventures lay in store for me now?

Pure. Unadultered. Mayhem.

I’d write about it, but the crusted sunburn of my victory is far too sweet for words. I am just going to sit here and let it slowly waft off of my skin while the mind reels in nirvana.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

Sometime earlier this week Rob was joing about me going to Amsterdam hung over. I told him in earnest I have had the displeasure of flying wrecked before and it was so terrible I’d never do it again. So he administered then that I just stay drunk from Friday night’s excursion, and then I related how I’d eventually come down and feel terrible. This is the poin t in which he introduced the novel idea that I just stay drunk for the entire week, which I was even less enamoured with. No, I would be completely sover by the time I got on the place to Amsterdam. Oh, the best laid schemes…

Somehow, yes, I was drinking until 4:00. Somehow, yes, I am still drunk, and my mind was swimming with a 1000 racy delights on the train here. The black tight-bound leg to my left was so tantalizing I nearly clawed my eyes out in lust. Oh, this week cannot end in anything but debauchery and mayhem. How fitting I’ve brought Faust along with me for the ride.

Bokeh

I bought a new Canon 50mm USM lens for the 5D. The zoom that came with the kit was always limiting at f/4, so this prime should hold its own in handheld, low-light situations. Just in time for the company Christmas party!

All things being equal

All things being equal, I should be content. In a sense perhaps I am, and I just don’t want to admit it. Very little is about wants and perhaps so much of what goes on is about needs. Needs are serviced in order of priority, with those for sustaining life coming fairly high up on the list… strike, no… there is something else I wanted to say. Oh well, no, there is… nevermind.

My heart is like a radio with flashes of static from varying signal strengths. It’s like living in one broadcast area and then moving just out of range into another. After some time you forget about the first, until one day you’re driving down the interstate out of your usual area and the signals start fighting halfway through the song you’ve been listening to off and on for the last several years. That old station crops up for a few seconds and you hear the chorus of your youth that you used to joyride around to. After growing used to a different kind of filter over your face, suddenly for a moment it’s torn away, pouring oxygen into your lungs which brings the fire, the adventure, and the excitement: they all come rushing back. Then in an instant it’s gone, and the big city station is back, the exhiliration rushes out of you so fast you feel disoriented and lost. What was that crackle? Who were you and there was something ou promised yourself… no… no, it’s gone.

Why did I come to Japan?
Why did I fall in love?
When did I stop remembering how to do these things, and why they were important?

There’s a Jeremy Piven movie on the plane. Jeremy Piven, the eternal best friend-sidekick. This reminds me of a number of moves, one of which is The Family Man. There’s a scene where Nicholas cage is in a state of shock and denial when he finds himself in an alternate history where he did end up marrying and having kids with his college sweetheart. Incredulous he consults with Jeremy, who tells him,

“Don’t screw up the best thing in your life just because you’re a little unsure about who you are.”

I’ve always really liked that line, but not until right now did I think to ask myself, what is the best thing in my life? Or more appropriately what was the best thing in my life. Was it Ai? Was it her and I threw that away? How many times can you forsake love and still expect it to give you another honest chance? And more importantly, should you as a human being really do that in the first place?

夜の向こう

I have a new keyboard. This keyboard’s space key should work 100% of the time. The last keyboard’s did not. You can imagine how no space key would impede writing. Japanese was especially frustrating because the conversion key from kana to kanji is the space bar. Oh yes, it was most impossible to do any sort of writing at home.

Mail, blogs, chat, GOOGLE!

Time after time again I had to CTRL+C a space from some random web page and then CTRL+V it between every word. Maddening. Yes.

But I’m back. Slightly crazed, but back. Expect much more writing (tonight I want to get at least three posts in.) This again is a good time to recommend the RSS, because these entries are dated retroactively. A feed will inform you of them nonetheless.

Huzzah for space bars.