Inside El Torito now in Minami Shinjuku. Figure some Mexican chow will reboot my system. I’m about as Mexican as Danguard Ace (For the record, I’m American), but God in high heaven do I love the food.
Non-smoking section. Seated across from a bad Diego Rivera parody mural that looks like something Batty Cheese would paint. 3pm. It’s all high-class women up in here, either in pairs or by themselves. The portions are a joke. The paltry amount of meat in this taco is the punch line. I’m going to need three of these combination plates after what I’m used to from the Mission District.
Next to me sits an English teacher and her student. “I have. No, I haven’t. Yes, I have,” written in large letters on a Xeroxed work sheet. Sounds about right.
You have one guess as to what song they’re playing right now:
Livin' la Vida Loca, of course.
Having wrapped up a set of liner notes, I buy some tall boys and take ‘em to a show of Uchu Senso (War of the Worlds).
Before the film, Peter Jackson addresses the capacity Kabuki-cho crowd: “Hello everyone in Japan. You’re going to be among the first to see a special theatrical preview for King Kong.”
Aside from a few extra shots, and we’re talking milliseconds here of machine gun fire and the T-Rex, it’s the same preview that’s been released to net, minus Jackson’s Jerry Lewis telethon-like begging.
Yoshiki says “it scores,” but somehow I’m just not feeling it. Naomi Watts is too old. Jack Black is too young. Everything else is CGI.
While I wish it were a remake of Toho’s Uchu Dai Senso, War still winds up a good time. So much fun to watch bitch ass America fall down and disintegrate. Best loss of innocence in a Spielberg movie since Empire of the Sun. Palpable sense in the room of “go team” when someone says of the alien tripods “they managed to bring down one of them in Osaka.”
I wake up in Shimorenjaku sweating and sticking to myself. The Gods and me hate Japan during the summer.
I swing the door open. Bu-chan the cat with the inkwell-spill face is pawing at Honda-san’s carryall bag. He digs around inside slowly, in total control of his feline senses. No big deal, I figure. Cats are weird enough for me to seldom be surprised by anything they do anymore. He’ll probably go back to passing out in his cardboard box any second.
The Coffee. The toast. Me in my Muji yukata, waving myself with a paper fan with a map of Asakusa on it - a gift from the Chuei girls.
Suddenly, there’s a bird in Bu-chan’s mouth. A small sparrow. That’s what he was poking at earlier inside of Honda’s bag. He looks at me with an expression I can only read as “want some?” before he waddles off to the living room.
Bu-chan is big and fat. Silent and deadly also it seems. The windows are closed, the doors are locked. How the fuck did that bird get in here?
Bu-chan drops the body smack dab in the middle of the floor. It’s not moving much. Just getting in a few last gasps of humid sticky air before it croaks. Bu-chan stands at attention next to it, pawing at his avian prey and meowing like he’s not sure what to do next.
Cats, I know. Birds, especially Japanese birds, are still a mystery. Honda-san is still asleep. I imagine the bird regenerating itself like a phoenix and flapping about the apartment, an earthquake on wings. Total chaos.
I grab the wash bucket from the bathroom and throw it over the dying little bird.
I pet Bu-chan until his eyes close and his ears slide back against his head. Cats kill. That’s what they were born to do. His performance today was a guitar solo or a four legged surfin’ safari.
My god. The manager at El Torito might actually be Mexican. And I’m Mexican too, whenever it’s convenient.
I should ask him for a job washing dishes. But what if this place gets raided by La Migra?