Saturday, April 29, 2006

Today, the sun was shining and it was gorgeous outside, so Trevor and I grabbed our bikes and rode 3 miles to the Japanese market to get mini chirashi sushi, pickled vegetables, and cold green tea. Trevor also discovered the market has his favorite little Japanese snack, "steamed wheat cheese cake." Mmmmmm, so perfect.

Yeah, I know, 3 miles aint no thang, except this was in Oakland, yo -- no easy-breathing feat. Barring the crazy drivers and smogtastic traffic, it was so lovely. I thought, why aren't I riding my bike everywhere? Oh yes, because it just stopped raining bucketloads a few days ago. But I can't kid myself: ever since my employer moved from downtown Oakland to the boondocks of Richmond, I haven't rode my bike but for the odd excursion to the grocery store; in fact, the tires were flat when I pulled it down from the rack on the kitchen wall. I used to ride 5 days a week! That's just sad. Today reminded me that I should never drive my car, at least on the weekends, from May through September, unless I'm going to be out late. I mean, c'mon, why do I live in the Bay? Getting to enjoy the most fantastic Cali weather is one of the big reasons! And the concerts, and people, and food, and ocean, etc. etc.

This place would be perfect if the housing prices were a little lower, or there were actually still dotcom boom style wages floating about. Even the crime here isn't so bad, comparable to cities a little bigger than Oakland. Trevor and I are always talking about the inevitable day when we decide to pack it up and take off for friendlier housing prices. I can't begin to fathom it. Okay, maybe Portland, or Ashland. My boss says wait for the "big one" and housing prices will go down. I am hoping for (in order of fantastical daydreaming) 1) winning the lotto or some random person like Donald Trump leaving me his fortune, 2) Trevor getting a fantabulous job when he's completed his Information Science Masters, combined with a big but non-lethal earthquake to drive prices down, or, 3) that we will continue to live in this fantastic place, and save money until we can retire to a home somewhere else. I'd really hate to leave the Bay, but I'd really love to have a house and a garden.

At the very least, we've got a few years to enjoy ourselves and see where life is calling us.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

NP: Antony and the Johnsons -- I Am a Bird Now

Have I told you lately how much I love Antony and the Johnsons' "I Am a Bird Now?" I have said this before, and I will continue to say it -- there is absolutely nothing wrong with this record. There's never too much or too little of anything, whether it be the vocals merging with then rising above the piano, an entrance of rich strings or horns, or the undertone of subtle drum beats. The sumptuous vocals are at once heartbreaking yet comforting, and the words are of someone utterly destroyed yet still completely formidable.

From 'Fistful of Love'

and I accept and I collect
upon my body
the memories of your devotion
and I feel your fists
and I know it's out of love
and I feel the whip
and I know it's out of love
and I feel your burning eyes burning holes
straight through my heart
it's out of love
it's out of love

From 'Hope There's Someone'

hope there's someone
who'll take care of me
when I die, will I go

hope there's someone
who'll set my heart free
nice to hold when I'm tired

there's a ghost on the horizon
when I go to bed
how can I fall asleep at night
how will I rest my head

i'm scared of the middle place
between light and nowhere
i don't want to be the one
left in there, left in there

The words and voice are so right because they feel so true, like looking straight into the void of someone's heart. Timeless. This one goes on a desert island list. I couldn't live without it.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

If you've never had the pleasure of reading the blog Maldoror Loves My Bradly then get your booty over there this instant. This woman rocks my world.

In fact, today, she brought to my attention a fairly recent literary happening in Nihon -- keitai tanka. I had never heard of this but I am fascinated. It is the art of tanka, which is a form of waka (Japanese poetry) that is similar to haiku, but the twist here is that it is composed and disseminated via mobile phone.

My first reaction was, eh?

But then I instantly felt guilty for being such a fucking elitist. Poetry for the people, right? While more modern tanka has been a studied art form, I was discussing it with Trevor and he said he recalls that tanka started out as a "literary game" for Japanese commoners, but "evolved" into a poetry form for the Japanese elite.

I have a serious hypocritical conundrum about art, including the literary arts. At once, I am really weary and wary of pretension. I loathe people who are high and mighty about certain types of art while dismissing others as worthless. But then again, without discernment, we're left with a situation where anyone who has opposable thumbs and can work a mobile is a poet. I used to have a roommate who was an art student. We used to get into huge verbal brawls about whether art therapy was "art" -- me being on the yes side, him on the no. Roll your eyes, folks, but we were in college, that's what you do.

I guess what we should've been arguing about was not ART, but how YOU define art, and how YOU define bad art. In that context, he may have thought art therapy was bad art. I maintain that if it supplies satisfaction, or speaks to you, or makes you feel and/or think, or is just plain old kickass to you, its good art. What I think is kickass or satisfying, might make you break out in hives. Alright.

So, 21 year old Japanese girl with 3 keitai tanka books to your name, roll on with your bad self. And according to Wikipedia, "Japanese poet and critic Masaoka Shiki created the term tanka in the early twentieth century for his statement that waka should be renewed and modernized." Fitting.

And YOU -- check out Bradly's blog, where you can appreciate her brilliant juxtaposition of YouTube and keitai tanka. Quality paradox indeed.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Woo-hoo! The 496 page _Faux Press Anthology of Bay Poetics_ is finally coming out, and Trevor will be one of the poets featured in it.

This project has been 2 years in the making, and the work of over 100 Bay Area poets is included in this mammoth book. Check out Faux Press to learn more about the book, and maybe even get this puppy hot off the presses for a mere $29.

Here's a little taste of what you'll find from the Casual-T in this anthology. This is part of a series Trevor did as a artistic call and response with Bay Area artist Joey Alamo's "Slurb" series of Sharpie art (to check out even more cool stuff that Joey is involved in, go to The Center For Tactical Magic)


It’s all right, everything’s going.
Two stacks wake up the morning.
When the sun still rises, it means that
we don’t need a central system or structure.
“Hey it’s all based on trust—right?”
My observation is inky, but
constantly and generally placed.
“I’m channeling some heavy shit!”

You need my subversion, the way
I find holes in your system; the way
I liaise. You understand the way,
the rhizomorphic probability.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

David J's Cabaret Oscuro played with the Dresden Dolls April 18 in San Diego. Not able to jet off to SoCal after blowing my cash and vacation time on Nihon, and on two tickets to Bauhaus in July, I was unable to attend. But a Bauhaus fan down south was able to go, and gave this fantastic account of the show.

Looks like another J fan has been born!


... and kneels down before his cellist to perform fellatio on her instrument.

It's true! I never imagined I would see David J so animated. Whoever mentioned there would be feathers and glitter flying was right. So, I'll try to do my best at describing last night, since I'm not very familiar with David J's solo/side-project stuff (yet). There were two opening acts prior to the Dresden Dolls set, and a band named Reverend Glasseye went on first. I was standing off to the left side of the stage (near the stage door) when I first noticed David hanging out listening to the last song of Reverend Glasseye's set. DD's drummer joined them, sang and played guitar for some sort of vocal harmony country-like song.

Then Cabaret Oscuro went on stage. David (vocals only throughout the whole set), his cellist Joyce Rooks, and a man on piano keyboards. I didn't catch the name of the keyboardist. Sorry, I'll look it up later. They were all dressed in tailored suits. Very classy. David wore a white feather boa, white specs, white shirt, white shoes w/ a black suit. Their music was interesting, and I think it fit well w/ DD's set. Similar clanky piano's which gave it that "cabaret" feeling... the piano and cello had a definite purpose though, as David tried to paint a picture for us and describe scenes (ie: red light district, Berlin, etc.). One of the songs had him singing line upon line auf Deutsch. Sehr gut!

He would play with his boa often, wrapping it around his waist, or flapping it like a bird about to take flight. He had a huge inflatable mic at one point that he claimed was given to him by Ms. Rooks. AND yes, he did kneel in front of the cellist in mock bj fashion. Unfortunately, I wasn't standing at an angle where I could get this shot, but I caught him on his knees shortly after. I'll post pics (warning: they're not great) when I get a chance.

And contrary to popular belief, the man does sweat. He had to take off his jacket and undo 3 shirt buttons. He used a red hanky to dab the dew off his brow, and also used the hanky as a prop he placed against his chest to simulate a heart beat. For the final song, he brought out someone to play the saw. Literally a saw played w/ a violin bow. Nice sound, almost theremin-like. The gentleman playing the saw was introduced as Paul Jenkins from Black Heart Procession, and wonder of wonders, I had gone to high school with this guy! This night was getting more and more interesting.

Before they left the stage, glitter was thrown and David clawed at the low hanging wood beams. He was pumped!

After their set, my friend and I were later able to catch up with Paul and yammer on about the old days in high school and what he's up to now. He asked if we were there to see the dresden dolls. I said no, I was there to see David J. Paul asked if I'd like him to get his autograph. I said ok. He went backstage and came back mentioning we could go back there with him. So I met David J.

When we walked into the tiny back room, David was sitting in the far corner w/ a large sketch book on his lap, flipping through pages and pages of drawings. It turns out they are the sketches for the next dresden dolls video, which I suppose will be a short animated film...

David's such a sweet guy for putting up w/ gushing fans; although, I wasn't able to say much, as I was in too much shock. And my new hero who made it all happen, Mr. Paul Jenkins. Paul, you're precious. Thanks again for everything. And a big thanks to David J, who remembered my name later on that night when I asked him to sign my newly acquired CabOs cd.

Wonderful performance. Some would even say it was "magick"!


I don't know if I'll ever get tired reading about David using a red hanky to simulate a heartbeat. The man is an exquisite storyteller, with a knack for taking the simple and transforming it into something absolutely breathtaking.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Got my tickets for Bauhaus/Peaches/NIN yesterday. Seats, on Danny's side, but still fantastic. And am getting to meet a bunch of folks from the Bauhaus/Torched: Love & Rockets/David J forum peepery, whom I will be sitting with. Should be a grand time!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Our friend Sylven is back for a few weeks, visiting from Vietnam. He looks great, better than ever. Healthy, buff, and tanned, though maybe smoking a tad much. Hey, but he's in Asia, land of the cheap cigarette! His girl, my bestest friend, is moving there in a couple of months, so he's got lots of reasons to be very stoked too. After I attempt to mobilize my ass to do a little housework (bleh) we're going to the carnival to eat corn dogs and ride the ferris wheel. Whee!

Speaking of my bestest girl, I showed her all my records that I picked up in Nihon today. As I meticulously pored over the Japanese pressed Bauhaus records I picked up (okay, maybe "cooed" is a better word) she said (somewhat facetiously) she thinks its time for an intervention. What? Tee-hee, when I stop spending Friday nights playing Ms. Pac-Man for hours with her, come talk to me, sister.

NP: Low, 'Pissing' from The Great Destroyer. My friend at work has been trying forever to get me to listen to this record, and he finally succeeded. This is an incredible song. The words crescendo and goosebumps are apt but don't do it justice.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I almost forgot: yesterday Jason asked me where I got my "San Francisco jeans." He said the wash, with vertical lines which I told him wasn't anything special, is what him and his friends call San Francisco jeans. He was wearing his dark blue Levis, as always. I told him he's been living in the sticks too long.

NP: Juana Molina, Tres Cosas
My good friend Jason was in town yesterday. I haven't seen him for over 2 years, so it was excellent to catch up. Both of us have changed a lot, for the better. I think really trying to sort out where we want to be in life and what we truly want out of it has been at the core of our lives the past few years (but oh god, my friends in their late thirties and early forties say that never goes away -- good for the character, but bad for the psychological stress it can incur). The foundation of our friendship hasn't really changed, but maybe we're just less self-absorbed and hungry, you know? Or, relatedly, not freaking out about success and such as much like in our late twenties. More at ease with each other. Jason is a high school English teacher, and was just approved for tenure. He's playing music again too, and it sounds like he's really in a pretty good spot.

We went out for Thai food and ice cream, and then drinks and pool at the Mallard. When we sat down at the bar, what came on but "No New Tale to Tell." Serendipity. Jason then gave me pointers on how to play bass for practically anything on every Love and Rockets album without a distortion pedal. I also had the most delectable drink -- a frozen creamsicle. Orange and vanilla stoli, cream, ice, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, blended and topped with whipped cream. If I was less happy, I could become an alcoholic with that drink!

We were having such a good time we stayed until almost closing, then went out for sushi and took silly photos for Jason's English class -- many students he said have probably never even seen sushi. Since BART was closed, we drove him back to his hotel in San Francisco, getting lost along the way (no new tales there either).

I am never going to get over jet lag, by the way. I was falling off my barstool with exhaustion at 10 pm, but powered through. Dropped of Jay, drove home, got on the internet for a spell, took a shower and went to bed pretty wide-awake at 4:30 am, then woke up at 2 pm! Jay was worth the late night, but my body is craving a regular schedule. Maybe by Sunday.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Arrived back from Japan yesterday. It always weirds me out, the time difference. We left Narita airport at 4 pm on Monday and arrived at 9 am on Monday. We had sprung forward too with daylight savings, which also made it weirder. Then I really fucked up and instead of powering through the day like I normally do and crashing at 10 pm or so, I decided to give in and take a nap -- a 6 hour nap. Grrr. So here I am, wide awake this morning at 4 am, with a nasty case of jet lag.

I already miss Japan. It is hard for me to describe why, especially after arriving in Cali and seeing the bright blue sky and fluffy clouds, smelling the clean air and not being assaulted by cigarette smoke everywhere, and feeling free of the stifling pressure of Tokyo, a city that never sleeps. The missing is much more than just missing being on vacation. Japan is otherwordly, you know? It is like inserting yourself into someone's strange dream, where you are always a spectator, the anonymous audience, and where your interactions with the landscape are almost always completely controlled by you. You are at once on a pedestal and watched by everyone, and also held in contempt and frankly, feared, which gives you an eerie sense of freedom and feeling of lack of responsibility, because you attach yourself to the organism of Japan and ride it, but you will never be part of it. That dreamscape is attractive. But it is lonely too.

Japan holds its citizens in a sort of cocoon, and this is especially true in Tokyo, where anything can be bought except for that human spark that comes from adversity and diversity. Even Hiroko told us she thinks that is the thing that stifles Japan: its lack of passion and danger by isolating its citizenry from natural human interaction. You can have a toilet that plays water sounds when you sit down on its warmed seat in every public restroom (admittedly, very cool!), Balenciaga on your arm, the finest restaurants around, and a mobile that can do more than many personal computers, but what does that matter when these things are meant to take the place of questioning, interacting, and feeling true joy because you know about pain as well?

Not that Japanese life is easy. I really believe that Japan, for all its nifty little gadgets and curry and beer at 3 am and trains that really do run on time, has a lower standard or living than most places. And this is because of its intense need to shield its citizens from plain old untidy LIFE. Without strife, the human mind withers, the soul becomes empty, and soon all people do is buy material goods, endure intensely crowded trains and cities to make the money for those material goods, and forget that life is about feeling something. It's Japan's propensity to politely gambatte -- endure -- very orderly but still inhuman work, transportation, and city conditions, (aaargggh, and the fucking endless noise pollution from announcements about being careful about everything, everywhere) but trade that endurance for simple fleeting creature comforts, that creates dullness . At the end of the day I too would simply look forward to the only time I was ever really alone -- in the ofuro -- and a can of grapefruit shochu to try to melt the stress of the day away. No wonder there's a monstrous suicide and alcoholism rate. Where is the spark, the duende, and that fundamental need for real human interaction amongst 33 million people standing shoulder to shoulder literally 15 hours of the day?

But I digress. I do miss Japan already, and, yes, sometimes for its creature comforts. That toilet that talks to me at the mall and plays lovely music at my mere presence in the stall. Gourmet groceries in every basement of every department store, with enough free samples of dried fish, osenbei, pickled vegetables, and sake, yes sake, to make a meal for a poor gaijin. The ubiquitous Japanese vending machine, stocked with hot curry, whiskey, socks, ice cold green tea, hot cans of mugi cha or sake, even out in the middle of nowhere. Trains that run on time. Leaving your digital camera (or money-stuffed wallet, or purse, or child) in an ATM kiosk near busy Tokyo station and running back 20 minutes later to find it still there, unmolested. Clerks who will leave their store and walk with you for 4 blocks in Shibuya to show you where a competing record store is. Sitting at Shibuya station and just watching in awe the neverending ungodly throng of people that seems to boil out from the sidewalk, all day, at all times, even when the trains have stopped running. Earring hole floss. Japanese fashion. Men who dress better in general than any other men on this earth. Cherry trees that crop up everywhere, and blossom in explosions, showering you with petals at the slightest breeze. Exquisite fruit. The coolest eyeglass frames for $60, standard. Mos Burger (oh, cruelty that you are not in the States). Matsumoto Kiyoshi and 100 yen shops at every turn. The Japanese cafe, where one can order an inexpensive daikon salad or a yakisoba omelet, a drink, and have a smoke in some of the most relaxing, hip, and unique-looking atmospheres around. Best cafe: All glass storefront and bare concrete walled Ojiyan, in Shimokitazawa, where I shared ojiyan (savory soft rice), natto salad, and black sesame latte with Hiroko and talked about butoh while listening to spacey jazz and perusing the crazy colorful acrylic and charcoal art on the walls.

Nihon, for all your faults, I love you still. See you in a couple of years.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

I just ate two sweet potato croques with Japanese mayonnaise, and then took a super hot soak in the deep tub, with a cold highboy can of grapefruit shochu at my side. Now warm and cozy in my cotton Japanese pajamas, I am signing off to get snug under layers of fluffy futon. Vacation -- does it get any better than this?
Last big shopping day for me in Tokyo today. Hit Disk Union in Shibuya and Kashiwa (better in Kashiwa, interesting), and Recofan again to dive into the 7" singles for a friend who is into Bowie, of which there is a treasure trove. I had passed over the 7" last time because there were just too many and it didn't look like they had much that I was into. But lo -- Kick in the Eye/Satori! And a really nice numbered Echo and the Bunnymen -- "Life at Brian's - Lean and Hungry." Seven Seas, All You Need is Love, The Killing Moon, Stars are Stars, and Villiers Terrace.

I also took a turn around that tourist trap, Tokyu Hands, but I have to brag here -- I think I'm finally a regular in Japan, because everything I saw in there I knew I could get somewhere else for 1) cheaper, and/or 2) better. Except for the "Hard Gay" merchandise. Hard Gay is a television personality who is an effeminate leatherdaddy who is both "hard" (by Japanese standards) and "gay" and has a penchance for hip-thrusting. I've read English editorials about "Hard Gay" both pro and con as far as gay rights in Japan goes, and I have to say I am still confused. On one hand, he completely stereotypes gay men and is offensive. On the other, because it's funny, it eases a crazy homophobic Japan in to the 21st century. I saw parents buying Hard Gay merchandise for their kids in Tokyu Hands today. That, if not a testament to the loveableness of hip-thrusting Hard Gay to the average Japanese citizen, is at the very least entertaining to gaijin.

You can decide for yourself:

Speaking of hip-thrusting, today I gave a smoke to a homeless guy outside Meiji-Jingu shrine, and upon hearing I was from the US, he began talking crazy about how much he liked Bill and Hillary Clinton while making hip-thrusting gestures. Eeew. I smiled like an idiot and pretended I didn't understand him, and made my escape. And I hoped for those very nice French tourists that the guy didn't like Jacques Chirac.

Oooh, it was so beautiful at Meiji-Jingu shrine today. There was a light rain while I made my wishes to the gods there, and literally the minute I was finished the sun broke out and filled the courtyard with warmth and sparkle. A beautiful reminder to not hinder ourselves on the pain and sorrow and unchangeable things in life, but to open ourselves to positive energy. It reaffirms for me that life is about love.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Yippee! Today I spent hours poring through literally a hundred crates of used vinyl to score: Japanese versions of Bauhaus' Burning From the Inside, The Sky's Gone Out, and Mask. Plus I picked up David J's The Promised Land and a Japanese Should the World Fail to Fall Apart (by the Murph for you uninitiated), and other various non-Bauhaus-related records as well. Very reasonable too!

Cheers to "Recofan" in Shibuya!!! And to Yellow Pop for Japan's Tin Drum for a measly 9 bucks! Not that it's really that big a deal -- every store seems to have loads and loads of Japanese David Sylvian and Japan. Hmmm, wonder why? ;)

If any of y'all ever go Japan, I've discovered Shibuya is getting to be the place for record shopping, not Shimokitazawa anymore. And the new trend, it seems, is the specialization store. All reggae, all rockabilly, all classical, all electronica, and tons and tons of shops catering to DJs; in fact, Recofan and Yellow Pop were the only good shops I found that had a healthy selection of all types of music. I didn't go to Disk Union, but I may Saturday. The Shibuya store is supposed to be good, but the one in Kunitachi is just so-so, so it wasn't a high priority.

NP: Seventh Dream of a Teenage Heaven, Love and Rockets -- because I didn't find any Japanese LNR, especially this favorite of mine.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Completely Gross: the copper-haired, shaggy, sloppy suited, mushy-mouthed, perpetually smoking twenty-something boys who hang out outside departo and train stations hassling women to be in amateur porn. Fascinating to me is that they all look and act exactly the same way, in every train station and at every departo. Even the nasty sukibe fringe must follow a rigorous code of dress and conduct, I suppose. It is Japan, after all.

Completely Amazing: Women who literally hobble or drag their feet in 4 inch heels all day long. What's worse, there's practically no sitting in Japan. Hiroko says it is because Japanese women take exactly what is in Vogue and translate it into everyday wear. Well, yeah -- that is what makes everyday Japanese fashion so kickass. But someone should tell these poor girls that those models are wearing those shoes for like a minute, and then throwing on ugly Sienna Miller furry boots or a pair of sneakers to actually wear out. Plus, you don't look good if you're hobbling, or scraping your poor Jimmy Choos along the cobblestone. There is a huge phenomenon of highheel hobbling and foot-dragging in Japan, and at first I thought it was that many women didn't know how to walk in stilettos. I realize now that it is because of pain. Next life: Japanese podiatrist

NP: Bauhaus Live In Berlin 2006. Don't go waving your pretentious love.
Went to our old stomping grounds, Kunitachi, yesterday to meet our good friend Hiroko and look at sakura. Kunitachi is a university town situated west of what is commonly known as "Tokyo" -- Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza, etc. -- but is the second smallest town in Tokyo. It is a beautiful town with a cherry blossom lined street and plenty of open space. We walked among the cherry blossoms and ate octopus spaghetti while catching up with Hiroko. She has a big jazz dance performance coming up in July, so the rehearsals for that is taking up all of her time, but she was able to take a few days off this week to see us. We're going to Shinjuku today to shop like madwomen!

So, while Japan will never be environmental saviors, I must give props to my favorite little plastic convenient goodness that I discovered yesterday. Y'all must know everything in Japan is wrapped twice and then wrapped after you purchase it and then put into a bag and sometimes two bags. At Starbucks yesterday (the only time I go to Starbucks is in Nihon, yo, swear on god and every barista job I've had!) I was waiting for our to go order to be double-cupped with javajackets and placed in a bag with a cardboard insert (you can't fight it) when I noticed that they had placed little plastic plugs in our lid sippy holes. Stir-stick sippy hole plugs. Ingenious, and so Japanese (hotto kohii wa abunai!!!). I'm collecting mine and taking them home.

And after yesterday, I have been officially talked into those shorts that were all over the fashion mags in the States last Fall. You know the ones -- slightly above the knee, slim cut, and usually in tweed or cuffed. I told myself, NEVER! But the Japanese gals are working those shorts like nobody's business -- with flats, stilettos, and my personal favorite yesterday, over the knee dominatrix stiletto boots. Of course, they have the skinny bodies to pull them off gorgeously. I may be turned.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Trevor thinks he may be allergic to Japan. Everytime we come here, he gets a nasty sore throat. Last time, we thought it was our friend's new house -- there is an ailment with respiratory symptoms called "New House Sickness" here because of the toxic glues they use to put the houses together. Nice. But the ryokan we are staying in is at least a few years old, and we aren't using the air conditioner or heater at all. So we don't know what it is but to chalk it up to a violent reaction to Nihon.

It isn't helping him that you can smoke in every nook and cranny in Japan -- even in the hallways in the mall. And Japanese cigarettes have so much tar, it's insane. Poor monkey.

As I'm sitting outside tight now to gank someone's wireless, I have to say I am so weirded out by the proliferation of the van mounted loudspeaker in Japan. There are vans that are allowed to drive around on the little one-car-width, alley sized streets blasting advertisements from their loudspeakers mounted on the roofs, all day long. I always giggle because the only difference between those vans and the nationalist vans that do the same thing is that the nationalists have anti-gaijin propoganda written on the outside and thier vans are painted black rather than cheery pastel colors and usually have surly looking Mama's basement dwellers and sad looking middle-aged men behind the wheel rather than fleshy faced smiling salesmen. Woe betide the gaijin who mistakes the two! *LOL* Actually, I think most of those nationalists have never spoken to a gaijin, so they would probably freak out in that "I can't see you, lala" type of way that many shy Japanese men do (and it does seem a large proportion of those nationalists are men).

I can't claim to know the nationalist movement inside out, but my conclusion is that its a boy's club -- something to make insecure men who feel crushed by their wives' love of the Korean soap opera and their kids' fascination with Western pop feel better about themselves and give them a place to drink sake and bitch and moan, while talking themselves into thinking they are true Mishima-like patriots who are saving Japan from the blue-eyed devils.

Whoa, I guess that's a lot of conjecture for someone who doesn't claim to know anything now, isn't it?

I guess I just feel like I've seen it before, just like in the States where there are people who feel so powerless in their own lives and are either trapped or are so afraid to make the necessary changes to not be trapped that they have to scapegoat that which is different than them, because god forbid you take responsibility for your own personal hell or misery. And I hate the nationalist movement using Mishima as a trump card all the time. Mishima didn't hate gaijin or think Japan was being crushed under the stifling foot of the West. He loved Japan, the Japan that was redolent with structured harmony, or wa, and saw it going to pieces with the Western influx. This is an oversimplification, but time constraints on my wifi connection and my need for some hot rice and natto is making this a conversation for another day! In short, granted, I do think he was a little inflexible about Japan's social modernization, but Mishima was not a gaijin hater. His ideas were a lot more complex than plain old Japanese redneck mentalities. And dude, I'd like to see any of those nationalists commit seppuku for their ideals. Please.
Yesterday I went shopping at that mecca of Japanese teenage cool, OIOI. I was on a mission for the ubiquitous Japanese face-blotting hanky, the best thing since sliced bread. But not just any old Japanese face blotting hanky -- Vivienne Westwood signature face blotting hankies! I had lusted after those little squares of kerchief the last time I was here, but couldn't bear the cost (around 3000 yen then). This time around, I decided I'm definitely worth at least one, and at OIOI I found them in spades. My heart leapt when I saw the neat little rows upon rows of colorful squares of kerchief. And then the price! 1100 yen!

But so sad, for some reason, her line for spring hankies are really, well, super ugly. Not even worth 1100 yen UGLY. It was not to be. I picked at the Burberry and Yves Saint Laurent dope old lady kerchiefs, but my disappointment couldn't get me in the buying spirit

So, to console myself, I went to UniQlo to drown my sorrows in bitchin' tees. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they have really expanded, adding more women's trousers and accessories, and a very large men's section. They were closing in like 15 minutes, but I was still able to find a super tee with a deer on it for 980 yen, and a black zip hoodie with contrasting white lace on the inside that will work nicely for my homemade Bauhaus hoodie, for 1900 yen.

Alright, and y'all are gonna find this too funny, but I bought a fitted blazer at UniQlo for Trevor -- in black fleece, yo! But believe me when I say it is cut really well, and there is incredible attention to detail to whip it into shape and make it actually drape like a suit jacket. There are even 3 buttons on each cuff. And, unbelievable to me still, even while I hold it in my hands at this very moment -- it's made of sweatpants.

As I was making my way back to the train station, I passed a guy in a gorgeous cropped grey fleece Sgt. Pepper jacket. I now understand even less the plethora o' nasty oversized hiphop cum couch-potato fleece going on in Nihon right now after seeing how beautifully it can be done.

Three things I'm loving right now about Japanese fashion, besides delicious beautifully cut suit jackets made of sweatpants...

**patterned and lacy Peds worn with flats so that they fully show. Very nouveau punk, and a nice change from the legwarmers/flats look.

**boho chic + Japanese fashion sense = boho sleek. No baggy Olsen twins creepy shit here. Best look today: full grass green prairie skirt, worn with a long grey waffle-weave slouchy sweater and a fitted black parka with contrasting brown fur trim, and flat black riding boots. And a proper handbag! Plenty of sleek pieces to pull a slouchy look out of the gutter.

**Bubbleman tights EVERYWHERE!!!!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

We arrived safely in Japan on March 31. It is so much nicer to be here when it isn't a gajillion degrees!

I am currently sitting in the middle of a freezing alleyway in the dark near my ryokan so that I can get on the internet. I am staying in a small town near Tokyo called Noda, and this is what you do to get an unencrypted wifi connection! So bear with me if my freezing fingers or rush to get this posted before I'm booted off results in numerous spelling errors.

Can you believe I have a few musings, even only after 24 hours? Can I get a hell yes for:

**the cherry blossoms being out in full force

**118 yen to the dollar

**renting a mobile phone for 500 yen a day

**smuggling 4 pork salamis and 4 tins of anchovy stuffed Spanish olives through customs for my Japanese friends whose salamis I sent at Christmas were quarantined and incinerated

**hot wet naps before every meal, and one free beer a day from our ryokan, not that it matters because...

**...Chu-Hi is in the hizza again

**Japanese ofuro and then futon

**plentiful tuna onigiri and cold green tea

**organized parent-child costumed dance numbers on a Saturday at the mall

**my man bag fetish being satisfied at every turn, serious yo!

**no jet lag!

**and again, getting to wear a coat and look cute for once in Japan because its not hotter than hell

Noda, where we are staying while Trevor gets his ninja on, is a nice little town with a lot of shitamachi spirit, and not too far from the grandeur of Tokyo. I am really looking forward to languid days interspersed with mad dashes into Harajuku and Shibuya/Shimokitazawa for shopping orgies. Yay!


Wrote this earlier today, when I was internetless.


So, capital F Fashion. Japan is a mecca, as many know. But I have to say WTF to the fashion scene at the moment. What the hell is up, yo? Where is the risk-taking fashion I see every time I come here? Everybody has some kind of sweatpant and sneaker fetish going on right now, like refugees from some Ludacris video. I didn't pay good money to come here and be crushed under the stifling weight of yards of fleece. If fleece is going to be de rigeur at the very least want to be dazzled by folks turning America's uniform on its head.

Then again, I am sitting outside Mister Donut in Noda.

But, thank god, you can still count on the old ladies to look fly. Why, there goes one now. Luminous in an fleshy peach sheath with just enough understated sequin bling to make it fantastique. And she's out buying groceries. For shame, fleece-ridden twenty-somethings, for shame.

Everyone here is also wearing paper masks. It is pretty smogtastic right now, and I'm sure the blossoms are having a field day with the poor souls who are afflicted by allergies. And covering every part of your body is so Japan anyway, so I don't question the masks too much. But why SMOKE while you are wearing one?