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THE ROPPONGI HILLS ANTIPODE

"The only explanation we have is that, you know, we're living in what you call the 'last days.'"
—Wayna Morris, Boyz II Men

On a spur of Mount Adams, at about the six thousand foot level, is a sandy field strewn with white birch, hardened lava, and the words patrickmacias.com, written in a sort of looping backhand with a twig of alder. You may think it vulgar to link to this site thus, but on summer days it may call the lightning down to touch, the returning stroke to rise, the standing wave to build, until the high atmosphere is full to be drawn back by anyone on the frequency.

I don't see the Colonel very often. I listen carefully when I do. The last time he was lifting a theremin out of a polished wooden box at the Amnesia. Mostly I am left to cypher through the dead drops of the director's commentary on SPECTRES OF THE SPECTRUM. In 1930 or 1931, my grandfather, СТЕФАН КРАЉ, met Nikola Tesla in Central Park. The link was Professor Pupin of the Serbian National Defense Council, whose work made the telephone reach long distances.

Mt. Adams is the second-highest mountain in Washington State; maybe forty meters shorter, if that, than Mt. Fujiyama; or, in English, Mount Fuji-Mountain. The trail I was looking for is in Indian territory, on the rain shadow side. The U.S. Forest Service ranger gave me the route, saying, one of their rangers will meet you on the other end. Theirs is a profession statistically more dangerous than the FBI, for they walk alone and the woods are aloud with the pukka-pukka of acorn mush and cooking meth.

To get to the other end one leaves behind God's good pavement to drive five miles over gravel and then, with incredulity, five miles over fucking rocks. This might have been fine in one of those SUVs you hear so much blamed upon, but I drive a white Probe GT honestly named Noriko Takaya; here, I am sorry to say, getting treated more like Naomi Tani. It was some Mars Rover shit, but also a situation where the moment is so absurd you have to play it out. You know the kind well.

The Forest Service ranger at Trout Lake had been Heidi, a girl of the Alps—her skin so pale and clear the freckles seemed to float. By contrast, the Yakama at the other end was a woman of the Cascades, brown and round. I paid five dollars for a hiking permit I was too rattled by the road to see expressly forbade me to bear firearms, or, intriguingly, even bows and arrows. The Indian wars were over by the time my kind arrived on this continent, but even so they intended this time not to be outgunned.

Fred Schodt writes of an Indian from these parts named Ranald MacDonald; a name and a life so bizarre as to suggest time looped like a sheepshank. The first American otaku if you will, and I will; a Chinook out not for trade or conquest but just so fascinated by Japan that when he was twenty-four he bribed a ship's captain to set him adrift in a boat off Hokkaido. He had to sneak in, you understand; this was 1848, and Narita customs wore a topknot and two swords.

Nobody is happy with who they are; a good thing, really, or we'd still have to live in harmony with the Earth. So likewise I was here to cosplay on Mt. Adams; to the Yakama, Páhto, standing high. I dressed for the mountain as Sasshi—Aussie hat, shorts with painter's pockets, Osaka Buffaloes jersey Number 5. I don't own a cell phone, nor would it do any good here, so I hung a toy one around my neck. But the SHOJO BEAT strap it bore was genuine.

This is the Bird Creek Meadows trailhead, famed for its July in bloom, where just below the Mazama and Klickitat Glaciers is found earth's darling gachapon of paintbrush, monkeyflower, yarrow, penstemon, lupine, and pearly everlasting. I carry one of the real thing within each pocket, Banpresto Yamanote pins, Utsunomiya and Gotanda on a green circuit, in their clear buds pierced with breathing holes, turned forth tumbling like random seasons.

One has to be wary of romanticizing the Indians. Not because of those ways in their old lives that we would find hard, but because our own lives are what we get in exchange. Here, I mean—in the United States of America. It is by the same token a bit late in the day for us to fear we have lost our innocence to imperialism and have put bases on a foreign land. There were West Pointers here, aiming the corn cob pipe of peace at the Cayuse, a century before MacArthur landed at Atsugi and never left.

Still, as I made my way up the ridge of the Hellroaring Overlook, I was glad for the Yakama that they had been able to hold onto all this, rather than some forsaken patch of offramp casino. We regard this as somehow appropriate for them. But when whites live such—upon the high beautiful land, of traditional music, deeply spiritual, poor and struggling with addiction—we call them hillbillies. There are voices in their council which would doubtless prefer that feathered serpent in the garden.

After about twenty minutes weaving up between the pines, I saw my first meadow and lay down flat. It had the look of the table upon which Julie Andrews danced in full maid fechi, but the sound of music was too loud for you to hear the flies. The flowers are not here for you; they are here for them, to come, to pollinate. Kurt (the blonde one) knew about this; check the liner art of UNPLUGGED. I cast my hat over my face, but they settled on me only briefly, deciding I was not a corpse. Patience, patience.

I am the sort of fellow who leaves a copy of JAPAN EDGE on a bench in Viretta Park. I say sort, but I mean, I am the only one in the world. So it was no surprise I would want to see LAST DAYS at the Cinema 21, ketamine such as Van Sant has made lately, to dissociate from the clanking laudanum jags of STEAMBOY, the last film I had seen there. There would be long outdoor shots like this one, distressed interiors, the inevitable scene where a drifter makes love to meganekko Lukas Haas.

If you will permit it, Van Sant is sin trama, sin resolución, sin punto—in short, he is the leading yaoi creator in America today. The film opens with a stumbling forth and a territorial pissing, something I'm such a big fan that I didn't even get until several days afterward. In fact Michael Pitt's "Blake" stumbles through this and every door of Van Sant's antiadvent calendar, until his body lie and his soul takes its first steps up, showing signs of improved coordination.

Ricky Jay's metaphor of the Chinese magician was choice; an allusion to the theory of murder (we are never shown the manner of the death) and, wait, is that Kim Gordon? Saying what she would have said had she been able. I didn't prepare well for the film, but just sort of let myself be carried on its bier, through its Mormons, rifles, and its peeling paint. And then Haas's chara asks Blake if he'll help him with a song he wrote about a girl he left in Japan.

Fuck those who say Koike's plots are contrived, and let Ikegami draw the fucking with great shafts of emptiness, whereby the man, too, becomes negative space. The only Indian member of Congress in recent times, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, of the Northern Cheyenne: he went to Meiji University and was the captain of our 1964 Olympic judo team. He would play the occasional movie role there too. I want to say he played Goemon in SHINOBI NO MONO, but that can't possibly be right.

Here in these woods a view emerges. Now I can look east across the reservation, as the land leaches out to desert. I fancy I can see all the way to Richland, the only genuinely small town in which I ever lived. It was the model for "Lancaster" in Douglas Coupland's SHAMPOO PLANET. Here in the winter of 1944 two refineries eight hundred feet long toiled secretly without cease to produce thirty pounds of plutonium, half for Trinity, half for Nagasaki.

Mountains are not eternal; they're just older, and in some cases, even younger than we. On the dry eastern face where the trail winds the lava is exposed. It is these flows which form the mass of Mt. Adams, and they are no more than fifteen thousand years in age, perhaps. When the first humans walked upon this continent, the mountain did not even exist. In fact nothing is eternal but the fact of having existed. That you were can never die, cannot be taken back.

Not that you should necessarily mention this to the Yakama. Indians can be as touchy about their creation as any Pentecostal. That's why the new museum on native Americans at the Smithsonian is completely without archaeological data on their origins. Under Clinton this would have been a patronizing indulgence, a pat on a coal-black head. Under Bush it co-exists in mutual respect, a spirit brother to Anglo legends of intelligent design. Raven, Charred Body, Sky-Woman, Jesus.

Perhaps, after all, your death will be part of a great historical event of the 200Xes. The term you was found stacked in Moscone Center, one of many makeshift morgues from that season of flu. Or in Shimokitazawa, there; down there, beneath a slab after Second Kanto. Or just cached as shadow when the old Russian nuke lit Pioneer Square for a microsecond in the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. And perhaps one day you will Google upon all this and laugh.

I don't know why the Japanese come to my neighborhood. I would, I know, have a hard time phrasing the question right. You can see them in threes and deuce on NW 23rd, an exile people along the road that links Lucky Brand to Lush, shearling boots stopped beneath a folding table; dealt the Hierophant to portend a crepe at Chez Machin. Two blocks down is the Irving, where Van Sant shot DRUGSTORE COWBOY. I used to buy my gauze at the very drugstore, but now it's a trendy café.

The last time I saw her in Tokyo I was a mess outside and in. We were on our way back, or on our way forward. I'm not trying to be coy. I honestly don't remember which it was. I had noticed me, in a glass, and darkly, upon the suicide doors before the track at Nihombashi, waiting for the Ginza Line. She spoke without tragedy on the delays to travelers that these leaps impute. I hear families are billed by the railways for the lost revenue; a reminder to them that life goes on, in circles.

Here the black gate is obsidian, sharp on a ridge of basalt. This door down has two hundred feet of gap to mind; at its bottom Hellroaring Creek, where Charon will take over, your whitewater adventure guide. I only thought about it; I didn't have the sudden urge to jump and dash my brains—the only sure way, perhaps, to get out of your own head. That won't do; you have to be like Blake and leave behind three great albums first. It's better to burn out only supposing you were alight.

Does it then rock? To rock is not the film's subjective. You might say that Pitt's acoustic "Death To Birth," upon which the trailer winds like a mumbled shroud, sounds like a parody of a Nirvana song. Yet you could say that also of "Old Age," which really is one. I had likewise thought his use of the word, lonely, was too direct a statement for him, but, of course, you may find it on that top ten hit, "Lithium," the only song on NEVERMIND written by him alone.

But then you get to his electric number, "That Day," where the camera creeps back so slowly from Blake's one man band that you feel Van Sant is only reminding you that it can. It feels—not sounds—like a bootleg of his séance, two-inch tape melted to ectoplasm, a mic down the throat of the channeler to catch those heyyyyyyyyys and ahhhhhhhhs which were the summary. That sound Kurt makes in "Rape Me," right after each "I'm not the only one"? That's what he was really trying to say.

This was the summit of the spur. I had passed snow hiding from the sun in cracks along the way, dirty grey on mustard stone, a reserve of sterility that could be here or on the moon of Titan. I sat and looked at the greater mountain, six thousand feet higher again. How far could I possibly get, bare-handed? At least another half mile, I thought, past the melt which fed the waterfalls on the bare east face. After that it would be cold, white, still.

I hadn't seen a living soul the whole climb up. But one never really does, here or anywhere—one only sees the living. From here was now only a descent, but beautiful, a flat tilted cel in Takahata green. At the beginning I had taken the wrong way; the lovely Bird Creek meadows of legend had been the trail to the left, not the right—although they both ended here in the same place. I didn't know, having never been before.

After a minute I perceived ghosts rising from the peak as vapor. They were, in fact, vapor. In ten minutes more I could see the very vibration in the air about it, as if the blue was both the surface and the depths of a boiling pot. It looked not unlike the pattern in THE END OF EVANGELION where the A.T. Fields align. Every culture will experience these events differently. Put it in perspective. This is animism; the belief this land is full of spirits.

NEXT: THE SHAMANISTIC OEDO LINE: Carl watches EIKEN inside Ape Cave beneath Mt. St. Helens—the longest lava tube in the continental United States!

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