Col. Baldwin, increasingly old, increasingly battered, ambles down Chuo-dori, arguably looking for Liquid Rooms. Deep winter. His jacket is an N-1 naval deck coat, fur collar long since frayed, size, a bit too short. “Double-double”pants, pilfered from a construction site near Ni-chome, billow out beneath, covering square-toed dress shoes; his sole concession to the date he’s supposed to keep tonight with yet another Yuka. The lookout for Liquid Rooms is not going well. The Espionage Rejects have yet to actually locate one, and whatever forecasts and precog flashes they get via the Overtones are vague, borderline hysterical, and ultimately useless. All the home office wants is hard data. So why send out the ER, who are by nature, nothing but allusive and obscure.
Baldwin’s brain is long since fried too, but a kernel of discipline still remains. He’s good at managing the long term tasks, seeing what the outcomes of any given scenario might be, but minute-to-minute task fulfillment is a struggle. Psy-Ops did a number on him, pre-op experiments before the E.S.P.Y. project really began… ferocious hallucinogenic drug cocktails, leftovers and backwash, the absolute dregs of so many failed truth serums, mind control cocktails, et al. Psy-Ops were just passing time, pilfering defense budget change. They never expected to find the Overtones, the missing frequencies between oscillating standing waves. But somehow, on October 13th, 1963, Baldwin’s brain tuned into them and began receiving and broadcasting signals -- like a two-way radio -- that no human mind had held before.
It manifested as hysterical laughter, which the doctors and white coats assumed was euphoria. But Baldwin knew, even then and forever after, that the moment was not transcendent. He was laughing because there was nothing out there. In the world and inside of himself.
Image via http://www.yokoboxxx.com/
Dead Panda looming large tonight in the figurative scheme of things. Grief and sadness so severe that it crosses over the frequency band and out past the overtones. Emotions that could be real, could be Government of Darkness propaganda. The lines blurred in this here scene from the Taishomei Jidai: Espionage Rejects on a sidewalk of Tokyo2, looking between building and around corners for Liquid Rooms, tiny singe of sadness manifesting as tightness between the eyes. The Goka-na jyupun senso is still a little ways off. G.O.D stashing weapons, drugs, contracts, religious artifacts from the Vice Fairy wars, whatever and whoever for unimaginable sums of money and power. The ER – a core group of five – can sniff them out these stealth spaces, but only for seconds at a time, by which point the rooms have vanished into spectral aeather. Button push by mod on server. Even Col. Baldwin, and top-level Paranormal Rejects, can’t explain how Liquid Room tech works. No one has ever secured evidence of one. Probably something to do with nanotech construction and frequency modulation, very much an Espionage Reject’s brain, which is how they are able to tune into them and “see” what goes on in there in fleeting glances. Examples: Youna in a dress made out of luxury belts doing a samba, Mami in yet another schoolgirl uniform; on a phone selling steel to rebuild a post-earthquake alternate Japan, Yuka Yuka burning her arm on a frying pan making Chinese food for a group of ayashi producers. And a tiny pink baby animal, breathing labored, levitating, glowing.
P.E. going to top a groaning, heaving, dying luxury department store waiting for the storm that might actually end the Taishomei Jidai.
15 stories to the top and nothing going on. Perfectly groomed clerks all putting on appearances and polishing the brass. Trying to look busy; maintaining appearances. Outnumbered by mannequins in dramatically priced Prado and Salvatore Bellomo. But few pilgrim/cusotmers here only browsing on the sale sections on the 13th floor before perching themselves on the restaurants floors to eat and eat food that they’ve brought and prepared in advance.
Meanwhile, only a few feet above the world of nothing happening, the clouds gather around the neo-NTT building nearby, low rumbling thunder-knuckle cracks signifying the damage weather is going to do, all part of neo-G.O.D.’s massive conspiratorial plans to fuck up yet another one of P.E.’s seemingly aimless trips to Tokyo2.
So what exactly IS P.E. doing here? Superficially, he’s merely hungry and looking for something to eat (It’s all been timed in advance to coincide with the feast of Easter), but he can’t resist taking a slow escalator ride up and down again trying to capture the feeling, to have to sink inside.
Lingering. Hanging on. Lots of it. The goka na jyu-pun senso was just that: a gorgeous and decisive ten minute war. But the uncertainty of aftermath and the impossibility of resolution 7+ long years now.
Youna Youna is still gone: so far off any radar as to never have existed at all before. P.E. still half expects her to show up in times of crisis dramatic rescue, but the battle is mostly internal now, so even if he/she did arrive waving a toy gun in a dress made out of gold and silver luxury belts, there wouldn’t be much to do anyways. Sometimes, there are rumors of he/she appearing in the streets near Sakura-dori for only minutes at a time, but P.E. is OK with not even trying to search for her anymore. It would probably just be awkward anyways. And he’d prefer to be alone now because someone always wants something, needs something done. Surviving the jyu-pun senso only paid out in more responsibility.
Part of him knows how Col. Baldwin feels now. The never-ending search for the mystery frequency is P.E.’s now. Which means, when he’s back in fortress America, he will take the occasional sub-legal (but effective) mind-bender. Col. Baldwin famously discovered the Overtones that way, which lead to the creation of the Espionage Rejects, but for P.E. the recent effect was not nearly as revolutionary. Total sensory distortion expanded his mind and field of vision, but only in the physical sense; an aspect ratio that jumped from 4:3 to 16:9 mid-frame, but still playing the same old film. The fear is now that there is nothing but never-ending bio-chemical process and high signal to noise ratio out there. P.E. forever a spectator.
But the lack of revelation could be tip-off in itself. Col. Baldwin discovered that the mystery frequency was closely related to ill-defied concepts related to “love”, but what comes next will require a spectrum far wider and more demanding, prone to self-delusions and loss of control:
And then P.E. finds something to eat on the roof garden.
Ok, looks like we’re due for another tour of duty. I’ll be in what’s-left-of-Tokyo from Nov. 15 to Dec. 12. Mission objective: complete filming for Season Three of OTAKU-VERSE ZERO. Side missions: secure the future, have fun, etc.
The "image concept" for this trip will be: "Travels through Unknown Space"
So what else is going on? Mostly doing my part in the streaming anime wars by working out of the Crunchyroll offices here in San Francisco. In addition to writing and editing the Crunchyroll News site, I’ll be behind the scenes and on camera for a new weekly streaming show there slated to begin in November. Otaku USA is doing well and we just shipped our latest to the printers. Also updating the Japanese Fashion Inferno blog several times a day...plus ComiPo! and several other IT things…the Area 51 video project is nearly done as well…and as I blabbed on Twitter, I’m also beginning work on a light novel for a Japanese publisher. I can’t say anything about titles or story details, but anyone who has read this blog for a long time may recognize a few characters and situations.
As for this ol' blog, I can't say that things have slowed down so much as they have $cattered and taken root in other place$. In any event, I have a couple of big music-themed posts coming down the pike for here soon, so please stand by FOR ACTION.
On the Xanax flight to Haneda, I hallucinate there’s a vintage toy store on the plane. The power is off to conserve energy, but it’s there. I have to crawl alone the humming corridors and past a café filled with the ghosts of ex-EPSY agents, but I finally find it. Bullmark Godzillas circa late sixties in plastic wrapping. No price tags and the store staff will only whisper vague utterances when questioned. I awake and the plane is filled with white people: a youth baseball team from Alameda in matching polo shirts and khaki pants. At nyukan, the clerk tries mindfuck.
“You were just here a month ago.”
“Actually, it was two months ago…”
“You tend to stay a long time.”
Now I know how Col. Baldwin feels; poked and prodded and always suspicious. Nyukan gives up and let’s me go. I’m in.
Ok, I'm going to be in Tokyo for August. Mission objectives: lecture on music, film, and fashion at Meiji University and team up with Yuu Asakawa to make Season Three of the OTAKU-VERSE ZERO webshow. Tempuratures will be hotter than the final reel of Nobuo Nakagawa's Jigoku, so my plan is to do as much carousing as possible after nightfall. See you in the shadows of the center of the city.
Strung out and flattened in Inokashira Park. Renamed Inokashira Dark because of all the troubles. Pretty much homeless and nowhere to go. Me. Canned classical music plays on hidden speakers while the final rays of Golden Week fade out. Trail of worker ants on every surface, mirroring human sized traffic on the paths behind me.
The first earthquake I ever felt in Japan was a 5 min walk from here. A now-dead café where yet another girl named Yuka (the most popular name given to the last-born during the Taishomei) used to work, putting up with my policy of trying to stretch out a single drink purchase into a 3-4 hour stall for time. That marked the beginning of the Gerotan invasion, but not the ending, which Counter-ESPY still deems classified. Whatever else ended there in then-definitive terms has turned to a staunch policy of no-closure and denial, making burn victims of us all.
Government of Dark. Secret mission in the park. Everyone trying very hard to relax, but their hidden trauma and fear bubbles up to the surface in subtle configurations. “We see terrible things if we live too long” said some old dead person in a Gamera movie; the great truths of the universe spilling out in hastily written words made to fit out of synch lip movements. And these are mine.
I'm on the doubutsuen. What’s left of it anyway. Seated. Trying to get to gray blasted Shinjuku on twisted train tracks before the next disaster strikes. Lolita girl (not fat, not really a girl: early 20s) stands in front of me, her Metamorphose temps de fille skirt continually swaying to brush my skin via the perputal hole in the right knee on my torn jeans. Oblivious. She has no idea this is happening, and -- to get real honest -- I'm not a big fan of it either, but this seat was hard won at Tokyo Teleport and I don't want to make a fuss about moving out of the way, in the way, any way.
No one wants to make a fuss now.
The 3/11 earthquake broke a hole in the mystery frequency. Psychic flotsam and jetsam from the tsunami poured into the year 20XX where we sit here now at the very end of the line that was the Taishomei jidai. Then the radioactivity from Fukushima polluted the Tokyo2 biotope along with substantial portions of The Big Board. The result was that the spectral bands have recently become unhinged. Reversed. Even what few children and old people who remain know this to be true: the overtones have become the tonesover.
And still we all pretend like nothing has happened. Precedents: it was a little but like this a few years back during the height of the Gerotan invasion. But the damage this time is much more severe; taking its toll even on infrastructures carefully set in motion by the Government of Darkness. Even they are mere insects now; they too facing greater foes than those behind the Goka-na Jyupun senso.
As we approach the station, the great yawning Taishomei Jidai that was all our lives begins to end. There’s still no name yet for what comes next. It’s not so much that the best days are behind us so much as the most dangerous ones are about to begin.
Light green fabric with lace trim with a satin ribbon brushes my leg yet again. I have to get of this train and find some place dark to hide. That won’t be hard in Shinjuku, but the usual maps no longer apply.
I suspect at least some of the usual players will be back in the game: Col. Baldwin, Youna, Yuka Yuka, the Paranormal Rejects, and co. But I almost wish they’d sit this one out. It’s clearly a new age, in need of new heroes and villains who can define it. We can’t ask the former to save us anymore.
The world needs to save us now.
Ok...well! Looks like I will be in post-apocalytpic last-days-of-planet-earth Japan very soon, via a stint in Tokyo to shoot more episodes of OTAKU-VERSE ZERO. Fellow Espionage Rejects can expect more video diaries, podcasts, and posts here and elsewhere as I make my way through the wreckage. As always, ping me thru the Overtones if something comes up (hopefully, something good!). You can always hold my hand if you get scared.
Where the Indo Curry lipgloss is, that’s where I am taking refuge, hidden on the second floor. A whole world here dim with frosted windows so I can't see the tenants next door, mere feet away. Out somewhere in hazy west Tokyo...Taxidermy store across from a mansion that is not a “mansion”. Closed now, but the windows glow from within at night. Owl, raven, fawn, and cat rattle around on their stands when minor earthquake strikes. But for now, just watching passerby’s limping by in yet another series of light showers. In Shibuya earlier, everything is grey and black. Few are willing to brave the rain. Giant Popteen cover atop the 109 building forms a leyline, destined to weaken, with the 109-2 down the block. The campaign there promises a Scandalous X-mas (photoshopped schoolgirls wielding guitars) but all we see inside is a bumbling bespeckled security guard. He shuffles a stack of Floor Guides, sorts them out, and pats them down to align them in some configuration of all conquering tidiness. Mean faces speed walk at the intersection. There’s no more umbrellas left anywhere.
There’s a wedding going on atop a building parallel to my balcony view at Chogokin Heights. A female organist plays a thin Muzak-y version of Amazing Grace while the participants stand their ground. The preacher looks like a Norifumi Suzuki vision of Dracula: rubbery black floor length cape, tight orange punch perm. The couple is about what you would expect: rich, boring, barely enjoying any of this weighed down by an invisible web of obligation. A really odd touch is a trio of empty picture frames that the guests take turns standing in while the wedding photog snaps away. Months later, upon closer inspection, there I am in the left corner of a wooden circle, peeking out from behind a thin curtain, making very much the sort of mistake that Counter-ESPY will soon be making loud and angry phone calls to me in the middle of the night about. The security trip triggers a contingency plan somewhere in the Overtones. The area is renowned for sudden typhoons and heavy rains, so a vast & invisible hand can work with that. Sprinkles soon fall at odd angles pushed by gusts of wind. The flower girl begins to spin around like a top and everyone else runs inside.
The train to Chogokin Heights is the dobutsu-sen. At Counter-ESPY’s insistence, I’ve been given an electro-magnetic signature that will allow me to exit the train and enter THE building: a luxury residential apartment made out of “super alloy” scrapped from the destruction wrought during the Goka-na jyupun senso. Very little is known about the tenants or what goes on inside it’s cold blue and white walls routinely shown amidst many “oooohs” and “ahhhhs” on morning television shows. I’ll work for any side depending on what the perks are: Col Baldwin, Counter-ESPY, and ESPY proper. But mainly, I need a place to stay. So here I am on the train, holding a supposedly “invisible” key signature, but some sensitive riders are clearly picking up on it. Harsh old salaryman, whose eyes have always looked wet and rheumy in their heavy sockets, figures out where I’m headed and can barely disguise his contempt. He thinks I can't see him, but there’s his dim reflection in the window. He picks up on this instantly and starts to rest his arm in such a way to make sure I see his Expensive Gold Watch. “I’m one of them – or at least I want to be. You’re not. Never will be.” But only one of us exits at the right time at the right place. Nothing else happens on the way to Chogokin Heights save for a stroll through an rickety old shotengai they keep around just for contrast.
Japan for sale and everything must go. Dying department store in a mall up in Kita-ku wallpapered in fading red and white paper squares. Sale. Sale. Sale. And then no sale at all…A rush job retreat that leaves battered nude mannequins and antiquated cash registers behind. In the allies: boxes of plastic wrap and trash. Outside, a drunken old timer groans and chooses the place for an impromptu piss, tears from one generation to another. Anti-overtone radiation (EDLP) emitting from the Walmart-owned Seiyu nearby, but the place is only popular with a rag-tag bands of survivors after 12am.
Meanwhile, on the train (“the doubutsu-sen”), restored to it’s former glory but and already fading again fast, our inappropriate foreign bodies aren’t blocking the door so much as just there inhabiting it. Occupying. Arriving at the his stop, an ancient salaryman can’t resist shooting a volley of “Sorry-Excuse-Me-Please” at us, the pitch suggesting an mix of intense sarcasm and linguistic unfamiliarity. But we’re the least of his problems now…
Government of Darkness spirit drone sending rain and storms over the Kanto region for reasons we cannot ever possibly know. Tokyo Gerotan dash for shelter in every dark and humid corner of the country. The overtones humming beyond the range of human hearing and sensory perception for the coming of Espionage Rejects…
…but first, jabbering, spun cab driver ranting about Hamas, Palestine, and the Same Old Shit puttering sad little car going down freeway. Insisting on eye contact in the rear view mirror leading to a near collision and outright missing the exit to International Terminal XO. Defeated post-everything airport vibe: no one checking on, no one actually going anywhere, no one buying Swarovski crystal, no real security threats anymore beyond what you’d find in a low end shaky blockbuster. Milling unsuccessful white men, speaking too loud into Bluetooth tech, sweaty palms greasing Android touch screens. People really feeling the pinch at Currency Exchange, voicing shock and anger that the dollar has suddenly become the Philipino peso. Psycho-eyed guy with mohawk doing 100 Yard Stare down the concourse into the symbolic center of Ghost Fortress America: the Sunglasses Hut.
Ok, after a long bitter absence, I'm finally going to be flying my space battleship over Tokyo again from 7/13 - 8/6. The main event is a 3 hour seminar on music, fashion, and film I'll be conducting at Meiji University on 8/5 (details forthcoming), but I reckon there will be some hot tears of shame, fireworks, scowling, and some new chapters in the Taishomei saga to jot down as well. So hit me up if something is happening.