I live in Tokyo now but most of my friends and family do not. The main idea here is that I can tell these people about interesting things that happen and are seen.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Today I Didn't Even Have To Use My AK

Well shucks it is pretty nice weather today. Things have cooled down a little and the sun is out. Temperature is low-to-mid 20s most of the time at the moment. Dragonflies in the garden. I saw smart yellow butterflies doing a mating dance, or possibly an attempted rape, while I was hanging out the washing. The dude butterfly got rejected and then flew into a spider web. I felt a lot of empathy towards that butterfly, like maybe he was my spirit totem or something.

(Here I am imagining a glossy, beautifully illustrated children's almanac called "Losers of the Animal Kingdom", that butterfly is on one page, maybe a shot of him all snarled up in the web, and on the next page is a picture of me with my hand stuck in a peanut butter jar. With maybe a pregnant male seahorse on the cover.)

But I digress. It's a lovely day so I walked the long way around to the supermarket and discovered a park. Perhaps a good spot to down cold brews on the adventure playground in the middle of a humid night. When I got to the supermarket car-park there was a stand-off happening between the police and a small group of moped enthusiasts. The gang had these piddly little white mopeds, and the police had rolled up on their own cute little motorcycles, about half a dozen of them. I assume it was a stand-off - neither group was speaking, both were idling about and shifting their weight from foot to foot, as though waiting for the others to leave. I had the distinct impression that the police were waiting for the youths to confess some crime (any crime?), and had previously issued an ultimatum to the effect that "they could wait all day if necessary". I may well have misread the situation.

Finally I had a happy discovery in supermarket - they make loaves of croissant bread here! It's like a croissant.... except it's a LOAF of croissant. Brilliant idea! I just ate some - seriously, just now.

Things are pretty okay!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

More People In Japan Need Me To Explain English To Them

There is a finance company here called NoLoan, and their motto is "Yes!".

Tokyo Bay Sparkling Night

Dang, well, it seems I have been kind of a useless prick and not really updated my blog in a considerable spell and in terms of actual things that I do in my life even longer.

Remedy. A few words on my first all-nighter here in Tokyo.

First a note on how the night life works here. Most gigs and events start comparatively early. 7PM is common. This is because the city is enormous and most of the attendees at any given gig will have no realistic option for getting home if they miss the last train, which is generally around 11PM to midnight. Basically if you miss the last train - or choose not to take it - you gotta just keep soldiering through to the first morning trains, around 5AM. Or pay for a cab which would probably be the equivalent of about $300 in my case.

Last Monday was homeboy Joe's birthday (also the anniversary of that other thing), so a group of us gathered to celebrate Joe's birthday in whatever fashion Joe did see fit.


TOKYO BAY SPARKLING NIGHT is a two hour harbour cruise featuring musical entertainments and All You Can Drink. Sounds pretty classy, yes?

Digression (again):

All You Can Drink is an idea that has a lot of legs over here. It is an option that exists in most places, and all things considered, it is generally pretty cheap. I'd like to say that this demonstrates a seasoned, responsible attitude towards alcohol that is not be found in New Zealand's notorious binge-drinking culture. People say that kind of thing about Europe all the time - "oh you know it is just another kind of ordinary thing over there, little kids straight up drink wine and beer at the dinner table with they parents". I mean if nine-year olds kids are cold getting hammered at lunchtime, Europe gotta be more grown-up about this stuff than we are, right?

I'd like to say the same kind of thing about Japan because I consider myself a guest in this country, and a guest should be gracious. But I've tip-toed too many times over the dessicated remnants of last night's vomit, anonymously splattered over a train platform or parking lot, to entertain that notion with any sincerity. The descendants of fried pork and kimuchi proud and evident, and on a Wednesday morning no less. Basically people get out on the munt a lot here. The main difference between NZ munterdom and Japanese munterdom is that here, economies of scale exist that make All You Can Drink viable. Also people are still pretty polite when they're drunk.

I would like to make it clear at this point that though I ain't a stranger to drunkeness, I consider vomiting and passing out to be pretty gross things and I don't see a lot of point in them. But they are familiar concepts. This is a kind of cultural bridge for me. Throughout my own life, access to an open bar has reliably resulted in disgrace, and regret, and sometimes woe. I'm from New Zealand. If I don't have to pay for my drinks, bad things happen.

So Where In The Name Of Things Holy Was I:

Oh yeah. TOKYO BAY SPARKLING NIGHT is a two hour harbour cruise featuring entertainments and All You Can Drink. Sounds pretty classy, yes?

In reality: no, not classy at all. But certainly a great deal more fun than you'd get from the same idea executed with due dash and decorum. The "cruise ship" upon which TOKYO SPARKLING NIGHT takes place appeared to be an old Norwegian ferry, spattered and rusting, in direst need of a paint job and probably only a couple of bilge pump failures away from being awarded the status of "hulk". I know it was originally Norwegian because no-one had ever troubled to alter the big flag painted on the exhaust stack. To contribute some vestige of "SPARKLE", the place had been gussied up with a few lengths of neon tubing shaped into palm trees and flamingos. Dotted frequently about the ship were small beer stations, where po-faced, bored attendants mechanically poured paper cups full of beer to be snatched up by passing guests (all of us well aware of the time limit on the bottomless cup we'd paid for). There was a lot of nasty, overpriced food being served at the wrong temperature - giving the boat the ambience of a disorderly, rather poor foodcourt, rife with drunkards. On a boat.

Though it was a Monday night, a city this size has no lack for people who have a reason to go out on an old boat and get drunk regardless of the day of the week. So there was maybe a few hundred people milling about, being entertained by women in yukata performing carefully choreographed dances to such hits as KC & The Sunshine Band's "That's The Way I Like It" and "The Macarena" (yeah, the Actual Macarena). In accordance with the general, trans-cultural nature of such events, Someone's Mum went buck wild and was getting krezzy on the dance floor in her own wee space (Matthew has video footage that it may be possible to share at some point). Also a foppish man was pretending to conduct the dancers with broad sweeps of his limbs, while the greater mass of the crowd bounced on the spot and shouted "Eh!" on every second beat like Punjabis at a wedding.

I am probably failing to convey how awesome this all was by the way. You might even believe I didn't think it was awesome at all........ in fact it was very awesome.

And the view from the boat was pretty good, by the way. It's difficult to get any kind of long perspective on the city here, since it's all so cluttered and the land is so flat. The cruise afforded views of the night lights around the harbour, the sprawling cargo docks, and planes taking off and landing from Haneda airport. (As usual, I neglected to bring my camera. Which is a sucks camera anyway.)

After the cruise, still officially in Joe's thrall, we went to karaoke in Ikebukuro. Featuring: All You Can Drink. My previous experience of karaoke had been marred by excessive sobriety and overly ambitious, frankly lunatic song selection (Stevie Wonder? Frank Sinatra? WHAT IN HELL WAS I THINKING????). This time out, by 3am I had utterly ruined my voice singing Metallica's "Enter Sandman" with ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PERCENT passion and commitment, veins springing from my neck and free hand curving, clutching and clawing at the air; like Satan in the shower, grasping blindly for some infernal towel when he straight up got shampoo in he eyes; like a murder victim curled around the fatal blade, reaching futilely for his killer's throat in some final instinct of revenge.

I will tell you that I was very into that song at the time that I was singing it. Born in Wainuiomata, raised in Te Atatu - sometimes a man's heritage is plain to see. And perhaps even... his destiny????

Friday, September 08, 2006

Keeping Myself Amused... #2

It's time once more to remind you that I am basically a geek.

(Yeah yeah: Who could forget? -- classic.)

World Cultural Investigator Sandy-Bear recently directed me to Mister Kitty's Stupid Comics Page, an index featuring scans from various poorly-conceived and frankly bizarre comics produced in the last 60-70 years. There is a reason why "creatives" employed in the comics industry have been held in contempt these many decades. In fact there are several reasons and many of them are catalogued on that site.

Of particular interest to me is the highly singular work of 1940s artist Henry Fletcher (AKA Fletcher Hanks, Barclay Flagg). By "particular interest" I mean: basically it makes me shit myself. The weird art, stiffly posed characters... the indescribable writing(*). His heroes are typified by ill-defined and seemingly limitless super-powers, and a uniquely macabre sense of justice. In short, every kind of shit happens in these comics and it will make you laugh and gasp like a tickled infant.

(*) Okay, the writing is probably describable. Right time, right person doing the describing... it could be described, sure. At this minute though, I'm pretty struck and ain't no describing happening, none.

To my delight, a few complete scans of Henry Fletcher stories are available online... I thoroughly recommend them.

Tabu: Wizard of the Jungle: Tabu has a very intense neck. I like how he childishly bitches out his various animal companions during the introduction. "Sh-h Green-Eye! You're making too much noise!" (how loud is he saying that, anyway?) I also like how the slave raiders jabber fruitily on to one another about the various torments to which Tabu subjects them. Verdict: awesome.

"Space" Smith: This one I appreciate for the freakishly drawn action sequences. I also like that "Space" is always in quotation marks - it's not his real name you see. And what is up with "Space's" crotch?

Stardust the Super Wizard: Placid, doe-eyed Stardust continues his surreal battle against America's "Fifth Column" and "the aggressor nations of the Eastern hemisphere". I think if there's one kind of propaganda we can all get behind, it's anti-Nazi propaganda.

Check it out, seriously.

11/09/2006 UPDATE: Huh, I fixed the Stardust link... it was pointing to the same "Space" Smith link again. DERRR BRAAAAIN.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I've Been Trying To Learn Hiragana


How do babies put up with having to learn to read? I mean, they cry if someone breathes on them. How could they ever have the patience to learn they letters. And yet it happens. This thought alone sustains me as I try to learn hiragana.


As regards the blackhead-removal-nose-strips.... they are unremarkable. You put them on your nose for about ten minutes and then rip them off and there is some gunk on them. A man's nose reveals scant difference to the naked eye. Afterwards, my nose was extremely itchy and I spent an embarassing amount of time rubbing and fussing at it, no doubt rapidly replenishing whatever pore-blocking oils and detritus as may have been removed from my nose skin ("nose skin"?). Replacing the divots, in golfing parlance. I was thinking about doing Before, During, and After photos but I suddenly developed a sense of proportion - I mean: what?

Furthermore people have informed me that blackhead-removal-nose-strips are scarcely a phenomenon unique to Japan. Perhaps they are more prominently advertised here, but they are a trusty aid to people who are vain about their noses worldwide. Anyone can know about these things without my help.

What has been gained here, save an intense itchifying of my nose. Let's forget all about it.