Sunday, August 31, 2003

Tsujiko Noriko . . . 

is like some kind of like Oval meets Enya meets something else (the sleezy side of Ikebukuro perhaps?), and I'm spending a lot of time these days listening to her albums and trying to figure out what that something else is. Transcriptions and translations of her radio broadcast and the lycrics from both her new and previous albums will be appearing here soon (by permission of course).

Saturday, August 30, 2003

"Japanese Independent Music" - A meta-review. 

Seemingly aspiring to such lofty adjectives as 'tome-like' (at 361 pages + CD) but falling markedly short of other more imperative ones such as 'comprehensive' (an entry on Kazumoto Endo, a key player in the '90s Tokyo post-noise scene, seems suspicious in it's omision) "Japanese Independent Music" by Franck Stofer seems as good a jumping-off point as any . . . at first glance.

Of course, since the book in it's English version (the original version was in the French) was published just a little over two years ago, perhaps something a little more subtle than a straight-ahead review is called for here in terms of critical style. This is due not simply to impending obsolescence of the information contained therein, but also to the fact that since publication, several pertinent, if not slightly pedestrian, reviews are now available on the internet by various sources, thus circumventing the need for yet another of that ilk. (Here is one such review by the well-meaning folks at METROPOLIS, which should more than suffice for the non-aficionados out there.

After all, Mr. Stofer's labor of love will never grace their coffee tables in the first place. Frankly speaking, the group of people out there who actually would loose sleep if they failed to meditate deeply enough on the implications of such pennings as contributing essayist Michel Henritzi's delighfully perilous "Extreme Contemporary - Japanese Music as Radical Exoticism" is admittedly infinitesimal. Perhaps even to the extent that it might serve to dissuade general musings on the work itself. However, since this isn't simply a question of how many sheep are being counted out there right now and by whom, it might be of some value to seek to engender a multi-faceted perspective on the volume.

Saturday, August 23, 2003


Disclaimer: Here I present the disclaimer to an interesting (insofar as it is wildy generalized) way of looking at dynamism along the information production/consumption continuum as is manifest in the pop cultures of western and westernized (by the way, I wonder why don't we have the word "easternized") countries. This is rather perilous, so please bear with me. I only hope that the novelty of the analogy will prove enough to circumvent the need to beg for the forgiveness of both scholarly communities brazenly appropriated.

I suppose it was Xenakis who taught me how to disrespect music in a healthy way. Most of my friends might guess Cage, but his approach was always too reverential for my tastes (sorry John). Anyway, my main man Iannis was a great help in that he demonstrated in some of his more important works the idea that we can look at music in a "non-musical" way. His particular way was mathematical of course, but as anyone who has a basic overview of the field of mathematics might be able to ascertain, it wasn't exacty upper-echelon stuff.

Of course, this left the music-boys who new their numbers crying "foul" and the one's who didn't in the dark. The historical lines are drawn quite clearly here, but I won't do any muckraking here and name any names. It is of interest here to mention that the actual mathematicians seemed to have been pleased as punch to finally "hear" an algorithm translated into sound way before this was possible with any ease of rapidity in a real-time computational environment. They might have really gotten the big picture i think, since they didn't really have anything riding on it in the first place.

Now of course, we are (or you are, I don't have the time) free to haggle over the details when it comes to Xenakis, he certainly isn't around anymore to prevent you from doing so. Both in and without his presence, notable personages have taken up issue with such minutiae as: the solutions to some of his calculations, his "erratic" treatment of timbre (i.e. his theory's inability in the acoustic realm at least, to comprehensively treat such intangibles), and even (I'm kind of reaching here) the fact that glissandi are "illegal" in the eyes of some of the more stick-in-the-mud total serialists (the explanation here is too long and music theory-geeky to go into.) Needless to say, these claims are not without merit. What I'm saying is that any validity that these nitpickers (love that word) might have it completely overshadowed by the fact that they are missing the point. Again, I should iterate the fact that it sounded totally cool to listen at long last (who was waiting anyway) music that was constructed from non-musical principles. (Remember that algorithm thing?)

The main thing to keep in mind here is that since theories are usually constructed "around" the things that they describe, they tend to do their job in an overly efficacious manner, and most often only in terms (literal and figurative) of a reciprocity with the thing itself. Why is this? Well, theories are made-to-order phenomenon containers, and heaven forbid that limitations in the capacity of the container truncate the contents in any way. (Partitioning is acceptable, however.) William Barrett in his book Irrational Man (1958) states (I quote liberally here) that "The price one pays...is a deformation professionelle, as the French put it-a professional deformation. Doctors and engineers tend to see things from the viewpoint of their own specialty, and usually show a very marked blind spot to whatever falls outside this particular province. The more specialized a vision the sharper its focus; but also the more nearly total the blind spot towards all things that lie on the periphery of this focus."

So here we come to the crux of the matter; how to administer some sort of triage to the seemingly gouged out eyes of theoreticians legion? The ol' switcheroo! Yes, that's right. You heard right. It's really fun to mix n' match theories and the things that they were made to explain! Yippie! Well...OK, not only fun, but actually useful, eye-opening. Heck, I'd even go so far as to say "enlightening", but I may be getting ahead of myself. I'm sure you'd like to get right to it, yes?

OK, here is how it works: first just take two fields (naturally any will do), say for example music and sex (both of which are of interest to me at whatsoever, and therefore allow for total and lucid objectivity). Obviously each of these fields (here music and sex both meet this definition of "field" as they are subjects that people study or are involved in as part of their profession) contain various phenomenon (respectively, organized sounds and a variety of carnalities). They also have, each to their own, various theories in every sense of the word. From lofty and esoteric tomes and theories (I'm thinking here of the Stockhausen's "Superformula" and tantric yoga) to urban legends (rock journalism and the infallibility of "the rhythm method") surrounding them. The next step would be to divorce the theory parts from the phenomenon parts (or at least encourage it to sleep around) and then with a little magic, before you know it...bada bing bada boom...you've got the ol' switcheroo working for you too.

Now here is where the real fun begins! You are now forced to think of music in terms of sex, and of sex in terms of music. I know this might hurt a little bit at first, but please don't be shy! By all means, start gettin' jiggy wit it ASAP. It'll all come out in the wash later anyway, so what do you care? Show 'em how it's done Chef! Take it away! "You've gotta hold your [functional tonality] like you hold your lover. Gently, yet firmly. You gotta be both nuturing and clinging at the same time. Just like you're giving sweet love to the [functional tonality]. Naughty with the [functional tonality]! Spank it, ever so gently." Ahem...well, you get the picture. Or do you? Visions of symphonic expositions and foreplay, appoggiatura and nipple clips (sorry about that one), codas and afterglow, and all manner of devilment are now dancing throught my head. What kinds of strange and exciting new possibilities will open up thanks to your new way of looking at things? Will you develop some kind of grand unification theory that finally reveals that Sylvano Bussotti and Dirk Diggler are counterparts? Or will you simply never look at blowjob the same way every again? Well, that��s all up to you and your imagination I guess. By now, however, the benifits of this kind of free play should be more than obvious. Go ahead and try one by yourself next time. I double-dog-dare you.

Anyway, as stated above, right now I��m playing around with an interesting way of looking at dynamism along the information production/consumption continuum as is manifest in the pop cultures of western and westernized countries. I have taken as my contemplative foil the field of agriculture (randomly chosen), and will let you know what happens when the smoke clears.

Office redux  

Appearing here shortly will be a review of the new Office Cafe in Meguro. I'll be addressing the cafe in and of itself, and also comparing and contrasting some recent opinions that can be found (both in English and in Japanese) at such places as the Jean Snow, Momus, and the Tokyo Cafe Mania websites.

Read 'em and weep... 

Knots by R. D. Laing
Hemingway (various)
To Have or to Be? by Erich Fromm
Aeschylus: Plays
Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography
The Penguin Book of 20th Century Speeches
The Summing Up by W. Somerset Maugham
Steinbeck (various)
War Crimes on Asian Women: Military Sexual Slavery by Japan During WWII
Citizen 13660 by Mine Okubo (This book is my current favorite!)

Friday, August 22, 2003


The word "senko" in Japanese has many homonyms. Here is a non-exhaustive list - precedence, first attack, major/specialty, perforate, flash, go underground, submerge, incense stick/sparkler, and selection. Its the penultimate one that I and some of my acquaintances concerned ourselves with today near that big ol' river in Saitama after we made a meal of home-cooked okonomiyaki. Of course I cooked, and I must say that it was tasty. During the fireworks, I recalled these lyrics. Thanks Vic.

My earliest memory is of holding up a sparkler
high up to the darkest sky
some 4th of July spectacular
I shook it with an urgency
I'll never ever be able to repeat
At times I might could be accused of being
painfully nostalgic
but as of late I'm looking forward to the future
though I've never been much of a planner
Throwing caution into the fan
catch as catch as those catchers can
And so all you observers in your scrutiny
don't count my scars like tree rings
my jigsaw disposition, its piecemeal properties
are either smoked or honey cured
by the panic pure

Lyrics to Vic Chesnutt's Panic Pure from his album West Of Rome

Thursday, August 21, 2003

I'm the type of guy that shows up on the scene and gets the seven digits, you know the routine. 

Very interested in how all of these "types" translate into the laptop scene. I personally think that the complete failure of communication would be very interesting for That Thunderingly Clever "Freebird" Guy to make his request to a French laptop artist at an event here in Tokyo, but hey, that's just me.

Oh, and much respect to Paul, who is helping keep laptop kids south of the Mason-Dixon line from offing themselves.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I's a workin'! 

Days and nights are filled recently with only a few activities:

・ Working on the editing/re-writing jobs for OK Fred - articles this time include folks in NYC (think microsnd), London (think the British version of Adorno), and Paris (hi special K. & the A.S. kids)!

・ Studying for the 日本語能力試験一級 which is coming up in a about three months (gulp)! With the help of a few friends, I'm concentrating these days on 四字熟語 (and 死語 just because) in addition to grammar. The reading and listening sections are a breeze for me thanks to too many hours with the boob tube on. Of course, this has a totally different function than TV viewing in America (brace yourselves kids, this link is scary) since the name of the game here is second language acquisition; no matter what I watch, I learn something, either on a linguistic, cultural, or quasi-educational level. Needless to say, the atomy contained within these treble poles is riviting, at least for someone like me.

・ Reading, reading, reading (my average is around 2.5 books per week, but this is a costly endeavor, as they are mostly imported), new finds are Bertrand Russell's later writings on society and also more books on those pesky Frankfurt Skool kids. (They leave my humors all mixed up.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

I saw the best minds of my generation educated beyond their intelligence.  

The folks at NHK come knocking on my door (and everyone else's in Japan) from time to time to collect fees for the public educational broadcasting that they provide. Do I dodge them as many young Japanese people here in Tokyo now do? Do I pay up? Of course I do, and with a smile in fact.

Needless to say, the now dormant American in me would, if reanimated, probably react in horror. "Why should you have to PAY for PUBLIC TV programming?" He might ask. "Aren't we doing just fine in the U.S. of A. with PBS and our sterling educational system? AREN'T WE?!?" Well, I suppose that we aren't. Although overall we do seem to be on the literate side of things in our "literacy ranking", but compared to other countries in our group, our position is no less than embarrassing.

What accounts for this? Well, I guess it must be all that time and effort that we spend on world peace (please be patient, this page takes a while to load). It seems to cost us dearly in lives and dollars. Well, perhaps this prevents us from otherwise spending such vast sums of money on our kid's educations.

By the way, here is an interesting factoid kids: the largest number of Americans to die an any war was 562,130 in the Civil War. This is a telling figure in that more than the combined 525,014 WWI and WWII deaths. Yes, Americans killing Americans over the issue of slavery lead to this grim tally, and as far as I remember, it still didn't solve all the issues. I recall vividly that in my hometown of Dawson, GA in Terrell County being taken to the doctor when I was a child of no more than 10 or 11 and being shown to the "white waiting room". I wish I was kidding, but I'm not. The inhumanity. Even then, being brought up in that surreal environment, I knew that something terrible was going on, but no one ever had the courage to tell me right out. I had to figure it out for myself, and the burden of "my heritage" still crushes me slowly to this day.

But anyway, all conjecture aside, I do very much enjoy being able to study a language or two on NHK without leaving my home. I'm also into the calculus program and "Ally My Love" along with the rest of Japan. Of course, getting back to the language thing for a sec. my glee doesn't address the inherent sexisim to be found in the selection of the "language chicks" who will be picking up the gauntlet of second and third language acquisition. Being able to mull over that alone is worth my hard(ly) earned dollar that I give to NHK, but I digress.

Anyway, I think that my favorite is probably "Music Box" which comes on around 2:45 in the morning. It really is the best way to find out what Japan was like in the 70s, 80s, and 90s (and with songs in chronological order to boot)!

Monday, August 18, 2003

Link Of the Day 

Effie Rassos says interesting things about John Cassavetes' Faces (Time is on his side.)
The A-Team Shrine
The Greatest Basketball Player of All Time (And oh, how times have changed!)
A page that makes an analogy between SCO/Linux and The Dukes of Hazzard (Big points for originality!)


Not a red string, but a green one binds us together now, and that's OK. I'll take what I can get at this point.

Sunday, August 17, 2003


It looks like Paul Virilio's The Information Bomb and Jamiroquai's Virtual Insanity are on the same wavelength, but when exactly did this particular fear first rear its ugly head I wonder. Can anybody out there point me in the right direction?

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Take 5. 

Kumi and I braved the weather and went to the "FIVE POINT ONE" Audio-Visual Exhibition by CORNELIUS (Whoops, wrong one! Try this link instead) in Nakameguro yesterday afternoon at the Mizuma art gallery right next to Giggle Cafe.

We arrived late and had to wait for the next show, so we went ahead and paid the 800 yen admission in advance (nice price, but she pulled out a discount ticket at the last min.) and scurried over to 茶の間 (no queue due to the rain) to kill some time over drinks. Since today was our first meeting, there was so much to discuss: mutual acquaintances, Tokyo, Paris, the ins-and-outs of working in a patisserie, fooling one's parents, and so on.

When it came time for things to begin, we slipped into our reserved front-row seats, switched our keitais to "manner mode" and settled in for a 5.1 AV (the nice kind) minimalist extravanganza. I'll connect all of the dots and color in the lines here later when time allows.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Rain, rain go away! 

A relentless downpour has prevented many people here in Japan from returning to their parent's homes to observe the Obon holiday. Under normal circumstances, they would consecrate the souls of their departed family members by Buddhist prayer and by various ceremonies such as symbolically cleansing graves, burning incense, and so on. The possibility of terriorism has not yet been completely rulled out by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, but as things stand now, it looks like we'll pin this one on Canada too. Watch out Jean Snow!

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"They's a workin'." - R. Schrock trippin' on M. Stipe  

"the bull and the bear are marking
their territories
they're leading the blind with
their international glories"
(from "Daysleeper" - REM)

Go here Lots of scary information about the minimum wage (or lack thereof) in America. Notable entries include: Alaska (the highest in the U.S. at $7.17/hr.), California (at $6.75/hr.), Kansas (at $2.65/hr.), and Mississippi (no minimum wage). (Note that in some cases, the Federal min. wage overrides the State min. wage.) The entries on American Samoa and Guam also make interesting reading.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

In the Garage. 

I've got a Dungeon Master's Guide
I've got a 12 - sided die
I've got The Canonical List of Famous Last Words
Waiting there for me
Yes I do, I do

Word of the day. 


Sunday, August 10, 2003


I spent the evening watching the largest of the annual fireworks festivals in Tokyo from the roof of a beautifully architectured 27 floor modern office building overlooking the Sumidagawa river. I was lucky enough to be have been invited and surrounded by a bevy of 浴衣美人, and needless to say, my glass was never empty, and my eyes were treated to a visual banquet of colors, patterns, and subtle contrasts of form. Oh, and the fireworks were kind of nice too.

Today will be a great day.

Saturday, August 9, 2003

CDPD (Compact Disc Pick of the Day)  

CDPoD: Vulgar Display of Power by Pantera.
Best Track: Fucking Hostile
Comments: This CD socks my rocks! I laughed, I cried. It was much, MUCH, better than "Cats."

Shimomeguro burning. (Well it ALMOST has as many letters as the Magnolia State.)  

Mississippi and Shimomeguro...one of these things is just like the other. Early this morning (from 3 to 5) I watched a television broadcast of Mississippi Burning and was reminded of all that I left behind in the South...and some of the things that are still waiting for me. After finishing the movie, I went for one of my regular early-morning walks along the river, which pretty much cleared my head and made me glad to be here in Tokyo where wackos like that can't touch me. Well, guess who I ran into? A very, very long (longest to date that I've seen) Right-Wing caravan of "speakermobiles" creeping along Meguro-Dori with their drivers dressed up like Japanese versions of Cival War re-enactment freaks. These flag and banner wavers were keen on letting us all know that Japan has been corrupted for too long by foreign influences, and that we need to re-install the Emperor in all of his former power and glory. Perhaps these guys where doing some kind of pen-friend exchange thing with the KKK and their girlfriends where meru-tomos with the DAR? Or was it the UDC? Is this the M.P.L.A.? Is this the U.D.A.? Is this the I.R.A.? I thought it was the U.K., or just another country and other cunt-like tendencies.

Today I didn't even have to use my A. K.  

Meeting with the OK Fred crew in down in South Central Nakame (nobody I know got killed) over the potion at Giggle. Mission briefing, secret files, deadlines set. Talk of OGs comin' out of Paris, London, New York, LA, and Tokyo in nearly imperfect accents. There was a typhoon comin' so we gotta go cause I got me a drop top and if I hit the switch, I can make the ass drop. Hooked up with Mrs. M. and had some wine and conversation. I got to say it was a good day (shit!).

Friday, August 8, 2003

You're my favorite poison device. 


Thursday, August 7, 2003

I'll be back. 

Well, it looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger (or Shuwa-chan as they call him over here in Tokyo, which sounds a lot less threatening) is in the Californian gubernatorial race, and it seems he announced his candidacy recently on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Of course, if not on that show, where else would he have done this, I wonder? He can't be faulted for at least keeping things in "the family" as it were. I mean, why run the risk of a faux pas in an actual political arena devoid of spectators when you can just make sweeping, quasi-grammatical, semi-factual iterations in front of a captive audience who will be taking their cues from the "APPLAUSE" sign anyway. Every man is the same size behind his Nielsen's Rating anyway, so let the best man win!

Anyway, all of this is starting to sound just a little bit too much like typical U.N. proceedings of the near future. after all, as their upbeat, Gapish webpage proclaims: "It's your world." Which should probably be jammed to the tune of "Your World, Right Away" with every last dripping gram of political saturated fat that is implied in all of that recent gluttonous American self-indulgence. What is binge without purge anyway?

Anyway, what follows is a little Shuwa-chan inspired grab bag chock-full of related goodies.

First we have two very topical quotes culled from Back to the Future (one of my all time favs). The relevance is to thick you could cut it with a knife...or if you are Shuwa-chan, you could just mow it down with a Gatling gun. Of course, since this is LA, might as well just go ahead and do the whole thing up right in a big Cecil B. DeMille drive-by sort-of way: Yes, I can see it now! A cast of thousands, stray rounds tearing into the opposing party's candidate, and...
Doc: So tell me futureboy, who's president of the United States in 1985?
Marty: Ronald Reagan.
Doc: Ronald Reagan, the actor? ha! Then who's vice president? Jerry Lewis? I suppose Jane Wyman is the First Lady.
Marty: Whoa, wait Doc!
Doc: And Jack Benny is the Secretary of the Treasury. Ah...
Marty: Doc, you gotta listen to me.
Doc: I've had enough practical jokes for one evening. Goodnight futureboy.
Doc: Thank god I still got my hair. What on Earth is that thing I'm wearing?
Marty: Well, this is a radiation suit.
Doc: Radiation suit, of course, cause all of the fall out from the atomic wars. This is truly amazing, a portable television studio. No wonder your president has to be an actor, he's gotta look good on television.
Of course, this totally reminded me about what Jean Baudrillard said about Americans and their smiles. Scary

OK! Next up is a really fun Six Degrees of Separation kind of web-page thingy called The Terminator which is brought to us by the pocket-protected kids over at the UVA's Computer Science department. I had fun doing this search, this search, and this search. This one was just to see if it would really work or not.

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

It dawned on me. 

Condoms and their role in 21st century sex: Now everything is hot-swapable!

At Kinokuniya, Japanese books are all (basically) the same size and shape. On the floor for imported books (from America and Europe mostly) they come in all sizes and shapes. This naturally has an effect on how the books can be shelved, displayed, arranged, and so on. This in turn has an effect on how people's browsing habits. I've observed this many times in person, and I'm convinced that something interesting is going on here. More to come...

Black slang is great! Go here to find a small but well tended collection of slang. And while you are there, don't forget to try the "slangathang" which has just become my flash animation pick of the day! Now I'm really feeling like I need to run out to Shibuya or Roppongi and make friends with "my peoples" or something like that.

Monday, August 4, 2003

What are you reading? 

Here is a quick update to my previous installment. I found out that I forgot to list the books that I bought at actual bookstores. You see, these days I usually just go "window shopping" at places like Kinokuniya or ABC, or COW BOOKS (Everything for the freedom) if I'm in a kind of vintage, Socialist, bovine mood. Well, no matter where I go, I usually wind up just buying my books at Amazon.co.jp since the prices are between 10-30 percent cheaper. Go figure.

The Archaeology of Knowledge by Foucault
The History of Sexuality by Foucault
No Logo by Naomi Klein
The Trial by Kafka
Serendipities by Umberto Eco
9-11 by Chomsky
Welcome to the Desert of the Real by Slavoj Zizek
Crepuscular Dawn by Paul Virilio and Sylvere Lotringer
The Culture Industry by Adorno
Hegel: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Globalism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Post Modernism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes
The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

I sing the dictionary electric. 

I sing the dictionary electric;
The armies of those words I love engirth me, and I engirth them;
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the Soul.

Friday, August 1, 2003

I scream, you scream . . . 

Thank God for Haagen-dazs Japan who sells my new favorite flavor, Cassis & Cream! By the way, in case you need to drop by, they are located in Nakameguro (Meguro-Ku, Kamimeguro 2-1-1) as are all other tasty things in Tokyo these days!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?