Generations garbled on the sound of take off. Homeless guy running into neighboring flight gate, a Hefty bag for his carry on luggage. Guy next to me reading new William Gibson from cover to cover. Aged author’s photo peering into my laptop the whole time. The long sweet Xanax hole. Detained as usual at immigration. New sign on the wall saying not to use cell phones in the detention center. I wonder how yelling “HELP” at the top of my lungs instead would go over. Officer amused by Otaku USA and Schoolgirl Inferno. As a MEXICAN AMERICAN, I know that La Migra can be a tough crowd, but he actually gets a laugh out. “Crazy Japanese culture.” He waves me out, probably wondering what the fuck is his country coming to. African soccer team staring at Limousine Buses. White nerds with long sturdy posters tubes, stragglers for Comiket? I come alone. I come in peace. I move fast. But the freeway is only two lanes. It’s not until hours later that the family restaurants appearing out of the dark that you realize you are finally almost home: Jonathans, Skylark, Denny’s, Volks. It’s a bug filled oven when you step outside. An inordinate amount of J-pop names a big deal of “natsumi no hi” and about half of Masamigi Sugi’s songs seem to take place duing “hachigatsu”, but my round eyes fail to see the charm. Someone seems to be intent on destroying the fabled yakitori stands of Kichijoji, replacing them with nothing. But Draft One still stands and it sounds like this when I hit the stinky crunk stained futon…
I’m off to Washington DC (nee, DX) tomorrow to lay down some nuts and bolts on Superhuman Samurai Secret Project 2007. I’ll be back in Tokyo on Feb/20 where new the seeking out of new frontiers in gaijin otakudom will begin apace. That’s it.
It’s no joke. Tomorrow I’m back to the boxing gym for the first time in almost a year and a half. Training means beer, smokes, and (sadly) tonkatsu intake will start to become scarce around here. But self-destruction, via damage to the head and hands – hopefully sometimes other people’s, will still be very much a part of the plan.
Coincidently (*very* coincidently), the 20th also marks the release of ROCKY BALBOA. Perhaps you've heard of it.
The guy at the sporting goods store was a little skeptical when I asked where the hand wraps were. “Everyone has been coming in here looking for wraps and gloves. Maybe you want this.”
The ghost of Kafu Nagai, pulling a rickshaw, munching on a giant sembi, wearing a rubber chomage, leads the cheer some hungover day last spring:
“Asakusa! Asakusa! Asakusa!”
Slasher and Betty. We eat okonomiyaki off an ancient griddle in what looks like someone’s un-kept house circa 1963: tiny Sony TV, yowling pussycat brushing past our ankles. First time for me to eat liquid monjayaki, which looks unnervingly like spazz chow.
A long slow walk up Roku-za, past the cabaret where Beat Takeshi got his start, sharing the same shabu spike with everyone else backstage. Nude show lures. A few battered old blondes poke out of sun-bleached photo lineup. 60 bucks. Not the nice price...
Babysteps past the underground theaters playing old Koji Tsuruta and Tora-san flicks. Smells like urinal disinfectant and stale popcorn down those battered old steps with plastic sealing cracking. In the street: the Asakusa army of dirty old men sipping Ozeki One Cup, watching horserace results on giant public TV screen. A sole tekiya sets up a grilled mochi stand, turning over blackened little bricks on greasy plate of steel.
Hanayashiki! Formally, an Edo-era flower garden become post-war family fun center turning to post-Disneyland decaying Showa-holdover. How much longer can it hold out? A gaggle of fake Sentai power rangers greet the kids on a stage. Brats on motorized panda contraptions. Attractions include: a palm sized roller coaster with tracks trailing around the tops of izakaya shacks. Random shit and rides: Mopper's Band in the Forest, Funky Duck, Bikuri House (highly reccomened), 3D Surprising Bus.
Betty crying at the scary gates of the Ghost House. Says Western style haunted houses do no damage to her, but obake Peeping robot yokai inside, including snake neck lady and the tortures of the dammed.
Rusty old Bee Tower. Taken into the sky by dental floss wires in a tin cage. Then they spin you around. Damp mineral smell and steam coming out of building tops. Exhaust ports from public baths nearby.
Nothing like a freak show. The light-activated automata do their jobs so fast there’s no time to get a pic off. Little kid with his pants going down. Severed heads popping out at you on uncoiled springs. And giant tits for the whole family.
We found Pedro Edogawa (by himself, as per usual) tripping in the cherry blossom clinc. He wouldn’t share his beer with us. Nice overpriced Takeo Kikuchi hoodie, asshole.
Tokyo Tower Wax Museum. 3rd floor. “No pictures please,” the sign up front says but the place is closing soon and security is a non-issue. Tomo once warned me the place was run by a rich music nerd. Time to whip out the broken Kodak and snap a few off…
This is Elvis, probably sculpted by a person who’d never actually seen The King before. Looks more like Nicolas Cage after a binge to me.
Incredible wax work of Carl Gustav Horn. Wait...it's JFK. I think.
Jimi looks like someone who'd be walking around Shinjuku huffing paint thinner circa 1973.
Freak out. It's classic wax museum staple Frank Zappa. There was a massive Last Supper tableau on the other side, meaning beardy weirdies everywhere.
Space is at a premium so some of these guys are going to have to share the same glass case. Note Toshiro Mifune lurking in the background.
Nice use of sickly green light on the Bush.
Behind a door marked "The Torture Never Stops!" I found an incredible likeness of how I spend most of my time in Kabuki-cho.
People begin scratching their heads in unison wondering "who the fuck is that?" as wax statues of obscure krautrock acts suddenly take over. Here's your fav and mine, Klaus Shulze!
Things get positively Matt Gray once Faust shows up...
But prog isn't entirely Germany's fault. There's also Jethro Tull to blame.
Robert Fripp and a single crafty guitar.
Your dream super-team up and mine: Sabbath's Toni Iommi meets ELP's Keith Emerson (hopefully playing the Godzilla Final Wars soundtrack).
After this, you get dumped out into a gift store full of Iron Maiden stickers and fake Rainbow platinum records. I doubt anything in the new Tokyo Tower could possibly top it.
Pedro Edogawa checking in big time from the starry, secular Overtones. Pictures of what he ate today! A new gallery opening in Senzuri Jieitai! Asian Movie Review with much wry criticism! Boring band and sad man in Sanya.
The mind smokes beneath the moon. So we go to café non-stop and get the habit. Six pairs of Converse into the shopping shiranai known as “feeling.” The only nihongo he really knows and can say without reaching in for a hazebook: classic pants, supermens, kyu size, and nama biru.
Blame it on the Gal no Bunka and what it does. The pregnant Manba in the Game Center. The hage hakujin who shot you the dirty look just for being there too. The waitress who sighed in dot-dot-dot, “you again?” The tanned agent at Takeshita dori, stopping you with a wave of laminated meishi. What did she want? Was it a photo op for FRUiTS? A faint echo of what it was.
Hog guts in Takadanobaba in anticipation of Thunder Matsuri. Asakusa! How he wants to jump over the rail of the Azuma bashi and swim in the Sumida gawa until he finds...a little elfin face peeping over the wood sign and smiling at him in Ura Harajuku today, kissing spirit of Nagomu girl while he writes about Doki Doki. Because he is he? Because he is ESPY? Everyone carrying epics bags of tasty Wendy's past him. There's your fashion, there is the cool.
Coffee shits. Waiting for a bus. Woman tripping over mystery step in Shimokitazawa. The Okonomiyaki counter. Crowded again. Interracial couple Olympics just outside the zoo window. Servant asking back “hitotsu” while relishing the cynicism. Wench with a half-laugh after the honest, bowing “sumimasen.” Okuni wa dochira? Kaaaaaa-sei, beeeeeeatttch.
Hangover. Face hit with a bat. The long crawl from station to station fighting stomach. Big Mac set with Cola 0101 hitotsu. Wish I was white. Wish I had one of those big wallets. Skin tanned like a Center Guy already, but those nose. Too boku.
All dudes the club tonight. No Gals in the gal gal. Did we really go to Roppongi? Clinging to Blackman nikumon 5am. Strawberry Fields, the bad cover version. They ordered the Kitsune Soba. Or rather, she did.
Still living sea slug turning in its shell. Hibachi grill inches away. Lobster eye sockets reflecting little slivers of garlic shaving. A shaft of wine a mile long, all the way to the other side of it.
To my surprise! Wound up in Kita-senju, way up north in the sexy Shitamachi, just across from the Arakawa river where you can throw rocks and cans at Tokyo Prison. Seemingly populated only by small children and old people. Home to a temple where the bodies of dead cats litter the rock gardens when the earth and moon get out of whack. The whole place just dern felt funny. Hard to capture in pictures, especially when the flash on the camera doesn’t work…
Whole area looks like it’s been left out in the rain in a bad way. Here’s the local offices of the Asahi Shimbun. Scared to see what the paperboys looks like...
Miles of ancient oden and candy shops run by old men watching black and white Panasonic TV sets. Bags of ume rock for 150 yen.
One side of the block is home to what looks like a ramen place that uses red acryllic paint for soup base.
The local boso-zoku help Kita-senju "avoid the Noid."
It was Children's Day in Japan, so the Knit Room was unfortunately closed. Fuck it.
When you think of Tokyo, think Blade Runner...
The Ichikawa conbini. Not a chain, but it sure looks familiar. Note the hours of operation. Open from 7 to 11. Convenience Kita-senju style, OK.
An old building where the offices of an eye doctor are located. I wonder if he wears a cape and keeps some of the patients buried behind the walls.
Plastic food on display at the Cafe Mazui from sometime just after the Edo era. Note terrifying "Black Rice."
This is probably as close as most of the people in Kita-senju have come to seeing an actual Mexican. It's basically me, every morning, minus the sombrero and Godman-sized coffee cup.
The local hot spot near the station. Note: no promise of TV Game inside.
Trying my hand at the Sub Marine Catcher. Failed to nab a lobster because those suckers run like hell the second the crane begins to move.
After kissing Kita-senju goodbye, I was brutally attacked by Roppongi. Someone there asked me what Les Girls means...
The cafe No Such Thing As Love in Shimokitaesther. A screaming yellow bunker with Bass Ale on tap. Tiny little Gerotan waitresses interrogation with me avoiding eye contact.
Why do I always come here?
Weird women parked at blue little tables, staring blankly out the window-wall and scribbling in almost invisible schedule books. In the northeast quadrant lingers neurotic traumatized Chiaki Kuriyama lookalike. Thin box tryin' of ladies’ cigarettes hover in her orbit, drawn in by a military issue black peacoat draped over slumped shoulders. She could be an ageless 18, 23, 36. The pencil does the evil work of whatever spirit that possesses her: composing double suicide love letters to Kojiro Abe. I can’t imagine what her face would look like with a smile affixed to it, if someone came at her with a hand puppet and a high pitched voice.
Seen on a night walk through Inokashira park: Pink sludge gathering around the rocks in the ink black stream below. The final resting place of all those cherry blossom petals. Pedro Edogawa dumb enough to think his first O-hanami would last forever.
From the pink, into the stink. Enormous half mountains of trash parked in rows for the homeless and crows to fight over. Park after dark: filled with blue tarps, lit by portable butane ovens, punctuated by white Sapporo cans. What must be several hundred people getting shit-faced on a Thursday night. A tent pitched up over by the bridge. Old time photo of a fire department, sitting in stubby little rows: a Godzilla Counter Measures Task Force defending us from Smog Monster insurrection. Matt says they are there mostly to make sure that no one chokes on their own vomit.
The real cops all in Shinjuku now. Funny how the Government of Darkness always tries to fuck with your favorite places, making you miserable-scurry, clutching at new cover. I saw it: half a dozen hosts shaken down by a legion of abunai deka. The sound of the batting cages in Kabuki-cho all that night, like wild animals clubbed to death, timed to the sound of a rusty whistle blown every three balls. So Tokyo stretches north. Yanagi says all the police stations in Ikebukuro have turned into yakitori stands.
I don’t wear the sunglasses anymore, I just don’t. My face has to hide itself. Eyes down. I’m not really here in your cafe for eight hours on a single melon soda. Just a camera set on record, a pair of hands flipping through last week's notebooks. I have my deadlines and hangups, but Weird Chiaki Girl, what keeps you writing in that schedule book of seeming meaning?
Transference. Cafe society because there really is no other choice. Waiting for the Taishomei era to begin again with the days alternating between winter and something like spring. Freud wrote off the human race as trash before he died.