Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Mutha' of Exiles 

Reuters tells us in this article that The Statue of Liberty (SOL) will soon be open again for this first time since 9/11. Thanks a LOT, France! We are sorry that we decided to drop that 'fraternity' part of that whole 'liberty, equality, fraternity' thing. That whole 'brotherhood' deal was just way too...Enlightenment...for us, and we know that back then, the brotherhood of 'man' just ment the white, land owning, slave owning men of your OWN country only. So we just struck that word out and decided to go with our own 'Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness' shtick. I mean, we're alive at least, right? (Please check the death machine. Make sure to have fun trying out different demographics!) Well, whatever! We're just putting all our money on the fact that we can keep those pesky folks like the UN from trying to rework that whole 'fraternity' thing to include the brother/sisterhood of humanity. Look deeply into my eyes and repeat after me. 'It's your world, It's oUr world, It's U...SA's world....' G-o-o-d! Now who's my little bitch? Say my name!) I mean...we've already got Japan eating out of our hand, right? We foisted that white elephant of a SOL on them. Did we mention it was the 3rd largest of it's kind in the world? Yeah, that was part of the plan too, since we figured that was about how much actual 'liberty' we were willing to dole out to those poor saps.

Wait a min! I don't think they got the picture. I mean, they've gone and turned that lovely SOL into somekind of underground cultural icon, with this one guy with a funny name making millions in a place called...what was it? (checking notepad) Urahara...? This will never do! We'll have to remind them of the true spirit of the thing! Time for a poem!

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

by Emma Lazarus, New York City, 1883

Hang on...this didn't turn out too well either! Hummm...and on top of that, I'd say that ours isn't even all that cute. Oh, bother! Now we have to dust off them plans to make a REALLY BIG-ASS version of the SOL. We've code-named it RBASOL, but we can't reveal what that stands for at this time.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004



Hommage a OK FRED #4 (redux) 

Everything but the Burden
The White Negro, by Mailer, Norman
Something that I couldn't believe was real...


...dans les vignes du Seigneur...Hiccup!

Caravan Books 

[Photos culled from the CB website. Thanks!]

What is Ikebukuro's best kept bibliophilistic secret? Why, none other than Caravan Books, of course! Those who know me know well that I'm not one given to hyperbole (especially when it counts); Those who know me even better will observe that I can rarely seen employing superlatives with even an air nonchalance ...at least not outside of the bedroom. Those who know me best know better than to believe the previous statements.

With that being said, let me state unequivocally that Caravan Books is hands down THE best used English bookstore in Tokyo. Of course, I am, for the record, quite fickle. For example: I DO observe a strong distinction between say...a 'Miss Right' and a Miss 'Right Now'...but that's probably more than you care to know. But anyway, until something better comes along, I'll proudly stand by my opinion. If something better ever does come along, you'll be the first to know! I promise...

Last Saturday, after having not only my patchy mustache, but most of the flesh on my upper lip as well melted CLEAN off by some of the best Thai ramen to be had in Ikebukuro, I dropped by Caravan Books to pick up the following order...

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Gide, The Immortalist
Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Bataille, Eroticism
Fruffaut, The Films in My Life
Stanislaw Lem, Hospital of the Transfiguration
Bret Easton Ellis, The Rules of Attraction
Nabokov, Lolita

NOTE: Those not privy to the pay-per-view version of my inermost thoughts might not be able to guess that this list is more or less the bastard son of a kind of aesthetic menage a trois that seems to have taken place recently in my mind (cheeper than checking into a love hotel) between a near-ancient reading list by the venerable Momus (peace be upon him!), a formidable yet yummy 'best 100 in translation' by the bookmongering kids at Counterpunch, and something SciFi-esque that Dr. Cook - my first college Mathematics professor - suggested to me.

...that the well-read and highly opinionated Jessica (staff) had readied for me. These two characteristics are usually found in inverse proportion to one another. Furthermore they are often not found in the presence of other, more important qualities, like 'amiable' (Jessica in possessed a plentitude of all three). Such persons are hard to find anywhere! This is especially true here Tokyo, where the general populace seem not to read anything of any import, and even fewer people have opinions regarding things with much gravity. I should make a special exception here by mentioning my friend and mental microninja Tadashi Usami, who is probably planning to blow up something somewhere, in protest of everything...in his mind. In any event, I made a mental note to pick dear Jessica's brain at a later date, out of deference to the non-English speaking acquaintance with whom I had come.

After being handed my bag of affordably-priced used books I ordered coffee for two (they have a cafe space), and my acquaintance and I sat down to chew the cud; Our impressions of the store were comparable. The images I suggested were that this was a veritable book-lover's Shangri-La, as tucked-away as it is rewarding to venture into. My companion suggested that this sort of place might be found in the opening scene of a Miyazaki animated film, such as 'Tonari no Totoro' or something out of The Hobbit. Imagine an older Japanese two story, wooden-frame home totally re-done inside in a way that might make you recall the interior of Bilbo's hobbit-hole. Ceiling to floor books, a 'totally concrete-free environment', quaintness-a-plenty, randomness, bits and pieces of Asian-inspired aesthetics in the nooks and crannies, 'slow life', thousands of books, 'tekitou-sa', etc., etc. According to the webpage, the good folks at Caravan even host literary events!

Such literary savoir vivre of this caliber is a rare treat to which I'll be treating myself to again in the very near future.

Monday, March 29, 2004



Sunday, March 28, 2004


Is it just me, or is Roddy the only person that thought this was half-way funny?!? Whatever, I'm happy with it...

Hommage a OK FRED #4 

[Five Points, Denver. A bum pushes a cart full of his belongings past Denver Meat Packing, a rundown warehouse. Sirens, gunshots, and a woman's screams are heard.]

Jimmy: Excuse me, sir. [the bum stops, startled] we're looking for a group of people called the Crips.

Bum: You are?

Jimmy: Do you know where they meet? We've already tried the rec center and the library.

Bum: The Crips hang out at that old warehouse down there, [points to the building he just passed] but ...nobody goes in there.

Jimmy: [moves forward] Oh, it's okay. We're Crips ourselves. Come on, Tim-Tim.

Timmy: Timmmih! [follows]

[Denver Meat Packing, inside. The music is thumping, there's gambling and general conversation going on. Jimmy and Timmy walks in]

Jimmy: Well hello everyone. [music abruptly stops] I'm Jim Swanson, and this is my friend Timmy.

Timmy: Timmmih! [awkward silence, then softly] Tih... ti-timmih.

Jimmy: [to a friend at left, as he points to the duo] Well, let us tell you a little bit about ourselves. Timmy and I are both true Crips, born and raised. We're the only Crips in South Park, where we live, and we would love to join your fa-fa-fabtasitc Denver chapter.

Large Crip: Is they for real, manh?

Jimmy: We just have one question before we join your c-club. Do you think it's better to be born a Crip, or to become a Crip later by accident?

Braided Crip: The only Crips is born Crips, dawg.

Tall Crip: Yeah, you can't become a Crip by accident, fool!

Jimmy: I agree. I mean, it's like [enunciates] "come on"! Why do these people who become crippled later in life think they're such great pot-potatuhs?

Timmy: Timmih! [silence]

Jimmy: Well, we're glad you see it our way, fellas. So can we join your g... group?

Buff Crip: All right, you wanna thug with the Five Point Crips? Bitches, all you gotta do is pop some punk-ass Bloods.

Jimmy: Well, sure. Tim and I would love to pop some punk-ass Bloods. We're terrific at it.

Timmy: Timmih?

Jimmy: [turns and answers softly] I don't know, Timmy, just play along.

Timmy: Uh-tu-Timmih!

Buff Crip: So you sayin' yuh down?

Jimmy: Down like a clown, Charlie Br... Down like a clown, Charlie B-broooowww... Down like a clown, Charlie Browh... Bro-uh-own. Down like a clown, Charlie Br-Brown. [music starts up again, and Timmy and Jimmy leave. As they walk down the street a rap song plays]

Jimmy: Say Timmy, did you notice that all the crippled people in that club are negros?

Timmy: Timmih!

Jimmy: That's an amm-mmazing coincidence. I mean, there's not one crippled colored person in South Park. [as they walk, a police car rolls up and the passenger-side officer calls out]

Officer: Hey you kids.

Jimmy: [stops and looks] Well hello, officers.

Officer: What the hell do you think you're doin'?

Jimmy: We're goin' to pop some punk-ass Bloods.

Timmy: Timmih! [the officers simply look at each other and drive off.]

Jimmy: [sees something] Look, Timmy. There's a convenience store. ["Ribs N Gass." A lot of gang members are milling around in front of the store] That must be what the fellas meant by "pop some punk-ass Bloods." They want us to get them some soda pop and treats. [the gang members notice them coming and stop to look. They cross the street] Let's buy them ginger ale and marshmallows. Then they'll let us in the club for sure.

Timmy: Oh, Timmih. [a truck appears in the distance and comes up fast.]

Driver: [noticing almost too late] Oh shit! [swerves to avoid the duo and slams into the convenience store they were trying to reach. The store and truck go up in a ball of flames while Jimmy and Timmy stop in their tracks]

Jimmy: Suh, suh, suh, suh, Sssunday driver!

[back at Denver Meat Packing, night. Jimmy and Timmy are back at the warehouse]

Buff Crip: Yo yo, listen up y'all! Let me tell you about my little Gs, Roller and 4 Legs here. They just smoked thirteen Bloods in one night!

Crip 1: One night?

Crip 2: You're kiddin'? You're kiddin'? One night?

Buff Crip: That ain't never been done before!

58 Crip: And they got us marshmallows and ginger ale.

Crips: [chattering] Uh huh. Cool. He's right.

Jimmy: So does that mean we can join the c-c...club?

Buff Crip: You're not just in, you're the baddest mofo Crips in town! Cipac! [a Crip steps forward] Turn up the beat so we can celebrate our new Gs Five-Points style!

Cipac: All right. [hobbles off]

Jimmy: Wow, these guys really are crippled. [the music starts up and the Crips start dancing] Timmy, I have a feeling that this is the start of something b-b-b-b...b-b-brilliant.

Timmy: Timmih!

Thursday, March 25, 2004

In case of Art, break glass! (Part 2 of ???) 

In today's installment of ICABG, we'll be heading down to Yokohama to pay Nao Suzuki a visit.

A hurried, unofficial profile: Nao is a twenty-something, art making (video + photo + object + painting, etc.) young woman who lives in the Yokohama area and maintains a studio (Ateliero-Eksperimentoj) with two of her friends (both musicians). I first became aware of her activities after the indefatigable Ludo Pierre (French sound & visual artist based in Tokyo) introduced me to her last year, as we were all to appear together (along with Midori and other friends) at one of his soundscreen events. Nao seems to have worked in the past with more or less 'traditional' mediums, but has been making a move recently to more 'normative' (i.e. digital) modes of expression. Personally speaking, I've only seen her in action in her 'video artist/VJ mode' at a few events in the Shibuya area. She seems to have found a comfortable niche in the international experimental arts community in Tokyo, and this due in no small part to her diverse, refreshingly sensual art. I'm planning to head down to Yokohama sooner or later and drop by her studio. Will update this entry after that.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Don't play games with me, your Highness! 

This just in from the 'you've come a long way, baby!' department: USC will be starting up a Master's Degree in 'interactive entertainment' soon, underwritten mostly by EA (Electronic Arts, THE videogame company). Here's the full story.


Here's the BBC's profile and latest info on Richard Clarke, who's coup de grace last night on 60 MINUTES still has the Bush administration reeling.

In case of Art, break glass! (Part 1 of ???) 

Today, I begin a series of shameless plugs for artists who are Japanese (NOTE: I didn't say Japanese artists) by taking a look at Yasumichi Inoue...but come to think of it, before I get ahead of myself...the blog entries in this series will probably wind up being more like 'roots' (as in 'Root, root, root for the home team'). In any event, they SHOULD under no circumstances be mistaken for 'shout-outs'. (I don't DO 'shout-outs' on this page.)

A picture being worth what it is in relation to words, let's just take a quick look at one of his recent works before going any further...

Yasumichi (Japanese profile) is a young artist who I've recently become acquainted with here in Tokyo. I first saw a short piece on him broadcast on NHK (Japanese public educational TV) about a year ago, and I found his story, and moreover, his work quite intriguing. Yasumichi recently moved to Tokyo from Toyama Prefecture (i.e. the middle of nowhere), and resolved to eke out a living doing ONLY his art. In the broadcast, I saw scenes of him in his hometown, newly-arrived in Tokyo, setting up his studio here (his station is well-placed, and right in the middle of the whole 'Chuo-line culture' thing), painting, and getting out there and really trying with all his might to sell his works.

Since becoming aware of him through that broadcast, I've actually seem him in action a few times around Tokyo, in places like Shibuya...looking rather adrift amidst the cultural flotsam and jetsam there. Several months passed, and I ran into him a while back in Inogashira Park, which he seems to have taken to like a duck to water.

After all, it really one of the best parks in Tokyo, and it's in one of the best towns. (This park seems to have been loved by several of my favorite Japanese modern fiction writers from the 60s and 70s, as I've found it being mentioned in more than one novel.) Well, I finally screwed up enough courage to talk to him, and after a pleasant conversation and a little underhanded bargaining, I wound up leaving as the proud owner of three of his paintings (not pictured here), which at this very moment grace the walls of my Nakameguro studio.

The work above is titled 'Umeyoshi'...Actually, part of the charm of Yasumichi's unmistakable style is that he does most of his works on cardboard box panels, giving them a very unique texture. He also wields a very 'Japanese' looking brush technique, which itself refers to other, more traditional/historical styles. His themes are chosen from a variety of both 'modern' and 'eternal' scenes - from life in 21st century Tokyo ('Tokyo no sabau' and so on) to the imbibic follies of 'oyaji' (old men) sittling around enjoying a nip of the hard stuff before admiting defeat to trudge home to their wives. Simplicity and directness, along with a muted palette are also things that attracted me to his paintings.

On a personal level, his close involvement with undergroundish, grass-roots arts culture along the Chuo-line is more than obvious one a quick glance is taken at his links section. I also know from my conversations and emails with him that he's done some 'action painting'/collaborations before at music events in Japan, which was pretty interesting. To top thing off, he seems fairly politically minded (which I must confess I find do be a disappointing rarity among most Japanese youth who haven't run screaming from this country to find havens in Europe or America), recently inviting me to join him in a recent peace rally (these seem to be poping up everywhere around Japan these days...finally!) in Hibiya-Park.

Anyway, if you have time, please DO drop in and visit his homey website (Japanese only). Like it says on the opening page "...you don't have to be able to understand the words in order to get a feel for the pictures." You'll be glad you did!

Monday, March 22, 2004


Masahiko Sunami added to the "People" section.

Friday, March 19, 2004

The bookmobile of Dr. Theopolis (peace be upon him) 

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From a to B and Back Again
Postcolonialism by Robert J. C. Young
The Thief's Journal by Jean Genet
The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray kurzweil
Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History of the New AI
The Anatomy of Dependence by Takeo Doi
The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem
The Politics of the Family by R. D. Laing
Future Shock by Alvin Toffler (retro styling...)
Three Plays by Alan Ayckbourn
Hiroshima in Memoriam and Today (ed. Hitoshi Takayama)

Ode to Shelley 

I don't really like Shelley, the Romantic period, or even poetry in general for that matter, but this rather extreme statment is probably just due to a few personal inhibitions that I have. I know deep down that poetry is a good thing, on the whole. For example, there is one poem that I studied by Shelley that I keep coming back to again and again because it's just so...useful. Of course, everytime I feel the need to use it, I find that I'm using it in a different way, to describe a different phenomena. The eternal theme, however, remains the same...

by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command      
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:       
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
It's 5:30 something in the morning here in Nakameguro, and as I sit here, typing these words, I'm waiting for things to start blowing up in Tokyo.


Mae-Shi link added in the people section. Go Brad and friends! You've vorpal swords galore backin' you up in TKO!

Thursday, March 18, 2004

...and speaking of white trash, today's entry is another example of a rock band from the 'too good to be true' department!

Omega Baby is touted as having "Superior, dynamic rock with that extra edge." (I'm wondering why they didn't add something about having 'twin guitar attack' in there somewhere.) As before, the photos section is to die for! The bios section is also snappy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


glitch.com...taking white trash to the nth level, and without really knowing it! (The photos section, the lyrics section AND the video section are all a MUST!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Putting 2 and 2 together 

Just realized today on the train that almost all of my favorite cities (i.e. Tokyo, Paris, Berlin, Athens GA.) have at least one very interesting thing in common: They were all occupied, either completely or partially by 'hostile' forces, for a considerable period of time after the most recent wars that were fought in their respective locales (WW II's Pacific Theater and Europe in the case of the former three, and America's Civil War in case of the latter). Furthermore, as for Tokyo, Berlin, and Athens GA, all three were on the 'losing' side. Cities like London and NYC, while I do think of them as grand, just don't do it for me. I wonder why that is? Anyway, if my little observation holds any water, I'm sure that after having read Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon, I'd find some of the post-colonial cities of Northern Africa spellbinding. I really have to spend more time thinking about that continent.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

katamari damashi - a 'superflat' video game 

I haven't really been into playing video games since I was a teenager, although there was a short spell (a few months in fact) in LA a couple of years ago when I was playing Tekken on the weekends with my Korean friends. That doesn't mean that I don't like playing them, I do. I still use a hacked PS Dual Shock 2 Controller on my Max/MSP patches sometimes, when I know nobody is looking, just for kicks. And recently I did go out to see the 'level-x' thing in Tokyo with Jean. (I'm almost done with my review of it for 1-UP MegaZine!) But I guess I'd rather read about the whole thing than play...I'm probably getting old, that's all. Anyway, with all that said, I'd just like to report that the new cool game soon to be released here in Tokyo is called 'katamari damashi' (in Japanese this means something like 'lumped-together soul' although if you've got a better translation of the title, please let me know). Anyway, I'm sure it will mean more to kids on my side of the aesthetic equation than the other, but just for the record, I wanted to say here, once and for all, that the concept of superflatness has FINALLY made it into video game form. Non-linear accretion never felt this good!!! (Remember kids, you heard it here first.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2004


Jean, Jean, Jean...I resolved some time ago to use the French pronunciation, 'cuz I'm trying to 'Lay down my burden' of my monolinguality. But don't be fooled; I'll never lay down my sword and shield. That's because, although I do have some reservations about the man who originated them, I do tend to agree with the Nietzschean claims which impeach 'slave mentalities' and their attendant meekness. I'm also reading Frantz Fanon these days, in case it matters. In fact, I'm listening to 'Nique La Police' by NTM (feat Cut Killer), and even though it totally sucks, I think it, along with everything else, has taken its subliminal toll on me. I'm left with no choice: I must resort to violence. Yep, I either have to go out right now and do a rent-a-car drive-by on the 'Ambassade de France au Japon' over in Minami-Azabu OR fly over to Paris and do some gang-banging with my posse in WEST Paris (EAST Paris can just go FUCK ITSELF) and knock over some of them candy ass Parisian ramen places. Why? Cuz' at around 8 EUR, they are overcharging!

8.00 EUR
Euro † = † 1,108.56 JPY
Japan Yen
1 EUR = 138.570 JPY 1 JPY = 0.00721658 EUR

8.00 EUR
Euro † = † 9.96261 USD
United States Dollars
1 EUR = 1.24533 USD 1 USD = 0.803002 EUR

At least some of the stores have cute names, like 'Higuma' (brown bear) and so on. I'll pay top dollar for that alone...

Well, whatever! Ramen may be the lingua franca of cool cheap food in Tokyo, but I'd be a fool to look for it elsewhere. At least in LA it was cheap. The taste, however, always left something to be desired! By the way, for all you hardcore, ramen-eatin' muthas out there (who can read Japanese), 'Ramen Daisuki!!' by Shoji Sadao is now your new bible! (Thanks for the tip, Masahiko!)

Anyway, Jean and I met last night for some ramen and cafe action in Ikebukuro. Yes, Ikebukuro! Not my normal hang-out, but thanks to Jean's hospitality, the image in my mind of that city being merely a former playground of the indefatigable Tujiko (who has kind of been dissing me these days) and a 'marked' territory when it comes to gang culture was completely eclipsed. I'll be back to check out the neighborhood again sooner than later, I'm sure. Thanks Jean!

Oh, and stay tuned for part deux of my 'Jean et Robert' series. Just in case you want to review, here is part one.

Monday, March 8, 2004

Burn With Mad Death/Restrained Play 

I've decided that from here on out, I'd best be burnin' with that mad death or else!

Recently, I've also been advised that however gifted an intelligence I may possess, people will refuse to recognize it if I am a greenhorn, because, at this time, my resource is not of a mature kind. I'd better build up my brightness until the age of fifty or so, and then give it restrained play. The slower, the better it seems.


Yes, that's right, I suffer from cafe mania. I feed my habit weekly. As anyone who has even the slightest inkling can tell you, the Tokyo Cafe Mania page (a small, good thing) is probably the best place to get started. Today, I walked over to deborah in Sangenjaya (Sanchya for short), stopping along the way to visit my favorite local used bookstore. The cafe was nice, but a little to 'Mujiesque' for me. That aesthetic, when overdone, bottoms out a little too quickly in my book when I'm in Japan. Which I'll be the first to admit is a totaly knee-jerk reaction on my part. Although with that being said, I wonder how I'd feel about a Muji cafe opening in say Paris, or even the Muji store in Lyon reopening. Antonin, can you help me?

The refrain in my brain falls mainly on the pain: An open blog to Nick 

Refrain isn't just an abstract concept, it is one of my favorite works by Stocky (yes, I DO have the right to call by his pet name, as Feldman did before me, whereas most of you probably don't), and something that is treated by Nietzsche as well. It is also something that, when it comes to the inevitable raze of Tokyo (sigh), I can't shake from my mind. This is not the first time that I've intimated on this topic, mind you. Go here to read a rather disturbing report, dealing with the aftermath of 'the big one' (glup). As luck would have it, things down at Ye OldeClick Opera have gotten downright...maudlin as of late. So much the better, since personally speaking that's probably the side of Momus that I'd like to get to know from here on out. On everything else but himself, he is so...impregnably 'collected'. Thus, it is to this end that I post this, my second 'open blog' to Nick. Recent conversations with Mr. Schrock have caused me to realize that I've quite a store of questions to which I'd like to hear Nick venture answers one day. Keeping the tectonic follies of my subconscious in mind, it is from that list I now select the following query, charging the good Mr. Currie to reply at his leisure, if not for his own personal betterment, then for the betterment of mankind: How would life change for Nick Currie/Momus were Tokyo to be razed in a cataclysmic earthquake? (The rest of you talk amongst yourselves.)


When it comes to books, I seem to be going through a somewhat acquisitive spell recently. Today's new reads are:

The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon (with a yummy preface by Sartre!)
Nova Express by William S. Burroughs

Sunday, March 7, 2004


Go here if you'd like to apply to have Tujiko spend a little quality time with you in your very own home this month! I already did...

Saturday, March 6, 2004

A day in the life... 

Today I went over to Kichijoji, droped into Bondi Books and picked up the following order of books:

by Camus - The Plague, The Myth of Sisyphus, The Outsiderby
by Sartre: Iron in the Soul, Words, The Reprieve, The Age of Reason
by Kafka: Letters to Milena, America

After that I FINALLY went to the The Return of the King (student discount). Finally it was over to was over to the AB Cafe for a quick cup of joe. Tonight I'll be up all night reading my new books, but first I have to finish up my re-read of a great online version of Orwell's 1984.

Friday, March 5, 2004


This looks like a nice bunch of kids!


This week's books...

Dude, Where's My Country by Michael Moore
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Bushido by Tsunetomo Yamamoto
Philosophy of Science by Samir Okasha
The Rebel by Albert Camus
1984 by George Orwell

Next week looks like it well be pretty Camus, Kafka and Sartre heavy, since I'm going down to BONDI BOOKS tomorrow and pick up a big order that's they've been kind enough to put together and hold for me! They have my OFFICIAL endorsement for being coolest English language used bookstore on the Chuo line west of Shinjuku, with reasonable prices and a well pruned collection. The staff are friendly, and the interior has its act together. (NOTE: Once you go east of Shinjuku, towns like Jinbocho are THE place to go for serendipitious finds!)


Just in case it matters, these days, I'm tending to side with the guy in this picture who ISN'T gesturing upwards...

Thursday, March 4, 2004


Regular readers of this page will instantly realize that I've done this sort of thing before, but if you are new to glitchslaptko then I'll refer you to some precedent postings on this subject, which were 2003.11.03 and 2003.10.07. What is 'this sort of thing' to which I'm referring? By way of an answer, let me posit the following: I am interested in finding THE MIDDLE PATH between Western consumerism (really a form of materialism) and 21st Century Japanese aestheticism (really a form of spirituality) if there is in fact such a way to be found at all.

Well, please allow me to quote from the 2003.11.03 posting at this point. "I always like to visit the webpages of big, nasty companies and compare the different versions that they've done up for different countries." I went on to write "Why this is interesting to me, I don't have time to go into here." I think I'll take a few seconds to give speculate as to the things that led me to feel this way.

* The story of my families financial history certainly isn't a 'rags to riches' one...nothing that Horatio Alger would write about. But at the same time, let's just say there was a marked period of economic 'contrast' before the current, rather comfortable situation, and I don't recall being born where I was born (e.g. Georgia) with a silver spoon in my mouth.

* I spent the better part of my 20s in Athens, Georgia, reading things like THE FLAGPOLE.

* There are too many books by Naomi Klein on my bookshelf.

* MMCC, an essay by Momus has always weighed heavily on my mind.

* I currently live one of the most aesthetically ENLIGHTENED neighborhoods in the universe, which although it is 'weightless' in terms of the points given above, it is its own center of cultural gravity. To keep myself from floating off into the void, I tether myself to America, whose sheer cultural 'mass' keeps my feet on the ground.

A formulae for the development of a pretty unhealthy neurosis you say? Well, yes...probably. Yet, while the sheer atomy of the point-by-point explanation given above might seem a little bit...exhaustive (and I've always maintained that exhaustivity itself is the highest form of indiscretion), it at least has a positive side. I'll not put too fine a point on it, but instead allow the ever-anecdotal Mr. Cage to diagnose the case...

'I was never psychoanalyzed. I'll tell you how it happened. I always had a chip on my shoulder about psychoanalysis. I knew the remark of Rilke to a friend of his who wanted him to be psychoanalyzed. Rilke said, "I'm sure they would remove my devils, but I fear they would offend my angels." When I went to the analyst for a kind of preliminary meeting, he said, "I'll be able to fix you so that you'll write much more music than you do now." I said, "Good heavens! I already write too much, it seems to me." That promise of his put me off.'

- From Indeterminacy, by John Cage

Whew...I'm glad all of that is over with! Things almost got downright...personal.

[Insert dramatic pause here]

Ahem! Anyway, let's now turn our attention to today's example, which is the (originally) American convenience store 7-Eleven. (Before reading further, please DO take a minute to visit their webpage and familarize yourself with it.) Please give at least a semi-cursory glance at the 'Milestones' section of their webpage. Here is a quick rundown of my favorite 'milestones' for you, peppered with some rather sardonic comments by moi:

1927 The Southland Ice Company is founded in Oak Cliff, Texas

[So we have Texas to thank for this cultural phenomenon. Well, everything is big in Texas.]

1946 7-Eleven store name introduced because the stores are open 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.

1952 100th store opening

1966 Slurpee frozen beverage introduced

[Such an innocuous beginning...]

1963 First 24-hour operation introduced (Austin, TX and Las Vegas, NV)

[Personally, I'd like to map the new store hours atop a graph showing any changes in crimes that occured. I would imagine that it now became quite 'convenient' for the criminal element to make a quick, late night cash withdrawal from this point.]

1969 "Oh Thank Heaven for 7-Eleven" campaign introduced

[I can't tell you how often this thought occured to me, especially when I was living in LA.]

1974 First store opens in Japan

[Now there is literally a 7-Eleven on every block in Tokyo.]

1979 First $1 billion sales quarter

[Hummm...I'm sure there is no connection here whatsoever to the first store opening in Japan 5 years earlier.]

1984 Super Big Gulp is introduced (44-ounce fountain soft drink), ATMs introduced to convenience stores

[It is also interesting to note here that the video game PAC-MAN was invented in 1980, the sound 'paku paku' being a Japanese onomatopoeia for 'munching' this being the econonomic and cullinary zeitgeist of the decade!]

2000 20,000th store opens (Tokyo), 7-Eleven is re-listed on the New York Stock Exchange

2002 7-Eleven Celebrates its 75th Anniversary, First sugar-free Slurpee drink introduced nationally

[If we do a little calculaton, and figure that 7-Eleven customers have been drinking 'Super Big Gulps' for about 19 years, then any movement in a 'sugar-free' direction may be too little to late.]

Anyway, I'll end what has inadvertently turned into a kind of indictment of the American 7-Eleven (no fun shooting fish in a barrel anyway) here with this statement: I know that for America, with its attendant 'car culture' a store like 7-Eleven is probably...indispensable. But iTHE AUTOMOBILE CULTURE ITSELF is what I'd like to see dispensed with. Of course this will never happen -- at least not during my lifetime -- since the impending energy crisis aren't due for another 50 years or so. Oh well...In the meantime, while I spend the waning years of my 20s and my early 30s in Tokyo, I'll always have my fond memories of American 7-Elevens to keep me company: The constant fear of walking into a robbery in progress, the embattled look on the employee's faces, constant surveillance, the gastronomic banquet that was the menu, the cornucopia of products on sale, the fact that I couldn't use a 100 dollar bill, and oh yes...least I forget, the pungently sweet smell of fossil fuels literally going up in smoke. Fear and trembling...

[Oh, I'm just so SPENT now!]

Since I haven't been in America, and therefore in an American 7-Eleven in quite a while, I'm not sure exactly how the currently reality of the situation would compare and/or contrast with this diatrible. And of course, I'm also interested in learning more about the situations in other places, like the EU and the rest of Asia. Perhaps some kind soul out there would be kind enough to clue me in on what I'm missing?

Now for the piece de resistance, I'd like to consider the 7-Eleven Japan webpage, which is really quite a study in contrasts when compared to its American counterpart. There is such an overabundance of points that deserve to brought up that I really don't know where to begin. Actually, that isn't true at all. I was just being hyperbolic. I know the perfect place to begin and end. In other words, there is something on the 7-Eleven Japan webpage which completely encapsulates all the fundamental differences between the American and Japanese manifestations of this establishment. Namely, these four commercials.

Although the Japanese languages ranks in the top 10 most widely spoken languages in the world, I personally don't know that many non-Japanese who are fluent, so I'll provide some translations (my own) here. (In general, no commentary is provided except in a few places, since I think these adds basically speak for themselves.) Hope you enjoy!


Yuuki [Courage in the Japanese]

Man [customer]: Ummm...

Man [continuing]: I want some courage.

Woman [employee]: Yes, we have that.

Man: Where is it?

Woman: It's inside of you.

Man [turning to a different woman in the store]: Please marry me.

ON SCREEN TEXT READS: What is 7-Eleven to you?

Woman [to which the man proposed]: Nods in agreement


Nikuman [a kind of Chinese dumpling popular in Japan]

Elderly Man [customer]: Nikuman, please.

Woman [employee]: How many do you want/How old are you? [This phrase is a non-sexual double entendre in Japanese having both of these meaning.]

Elderly Man [in a friendly tone, turing the question into a joke]: How old do I look?

ON SCREEN TEXT READS: What is 7-Eleven to you?


Tsuki [in the Japanese this means 'moon']

Man [customer]: The moon was beautiful, and I just came here.

Woman [employee]: The moon will be beautiful tomorrow too!

ON SCREEN TEXT READS: What is 7-Eleven to you?


Kodomo [meaning 'child' in Japanese]

Child [potential customer, running up to the store]: I'll come back again!

ON SCREEN TEXT READS: What is 7-Eleven to you?


I suspect that Japanese politicians were probably less famous for putting their feet in their mouths before the Meji Era, a time when most of them were still wearing 'geta' (Japanese wooden clogs). Of course, they closed the fashion gap with their Western counterparts years ago, and these days they may have even surpassed them in political faux pas department, as even the most cursory of glances at the Japanese mass media will confirm. Yes, saying stupid things in public isn't a just prerequisite for occupying a political position in America, the practice seems to be extant in Japan as well.

Item: Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara has said recently that if Iraqi deplyoed SDFs suffer casualties, then public opinion will shift to the side of the government, adding weight behind a move to revise Japan's pacifist Constitution along more militant lines. Ishihara was quoted as saying that if such a revision were to take place, Japan would "...no longer at the beck and call of the U.S." See the Japan Today's article and its attendant running commentary by concerned readers.

What could be behind such (for Japan) bold comments? Nothing more than a rather obvious American political gambit, but enough of one to completely rook more than a few countries around the world. France, for example, is now completely bamboozled. What's going on? OK...This isn't that complex, but please allow me to explain.

Since Japan, after a series of visits by key US officials, has sent troops to Iraq this time (previously Japan had only sent money...to the tune of billions of dollars), it makes them look better in the eyes of the UN. Why is it important to look good in the UN's eyes? Well, Japan has been salivating over a UN Security Council position for some time now. What's wrong with that, you say? After all, Japan IS a peace-loving country, isn't it? Won't it always vote on the side of peace if it can become a permanent member of the Council? Hummm...well, on paper, that is CONSTITUTIONALLY speaking, yes it is a peace-loving country. But, in terms of real world policy, the story is quite different, since Japan is one of the countries that America has well in pocket, in terms of military as well as economic 'support' (read: extortion), it will probably have little choice but to side with America on any key votes that come before the Security Council.

Remember, the Security Council only has five permanent members. They are China, France, the Russian Federation, the UK, and the US. It doens't take a rocket scientist to figure out that currently, three of the five members (China, France and the Russian Federation) aren't exactly George W. Bush's new lapdogs. So the President figures that after the UK, there is a little more room on his lap, at least enough for Japan. This will give it the key vote that it needs to act bullish in its role as a UN Security Council member. (As if it matters to the US what the Council decides anyway. It will just go ahead and do what it wants, just like it did with the recent war in Iraq.)

But in any event, a constitutionally more militant Japan leads eventually to a Japan more likely to back the US in a UN Security Council vote. Ishihara's naivete is stunning, since he is speaking in terms of 'if' and not 'when' the SDF incurs casualties. Mark my words, it will happen. For ONE reason why, I refer you to my previous posting on the SDF presence in Iraq, which voices some novel concerns. How Japan reacts after the SDF casualties is what I'm really interested in. i only hope the endgame doesn't play completely into US hands.


"The fact is, the number of people willing to blow themselves up to kill you is infinitely small. Yes, anyone prepared to die for their cause may eventually pull it off, but those people exist everywhere-and they always have. The 'War on Terror' should not be a war on Afghanistan or Iraq or North Korea or Syria or Iran or whatever place we'll end up invading. It should be a war on our own dark impulses." (Excerpted from "Dude, Where's My Country?" by Michael Moore)

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Celebrity Atheist List 


Tuesday, March 2, 2004

This just in... 

Of course, this is a very trivial posting if you are living in Japan and you have even half an ear to the ground...but if you aren't, and you don't, then let it be known that Cornelius' music is being used (with permission of course) by a nationally syndicated evening news program in Japan called 'KYO NO DEKIGOTO' (in English "THE NEWS TODAY'). Actually to say that his music is being used isn't quite accurate, since he actually wrote totally original music for the opening, segue, commercial breaks, and closing parts of the broadcast. All of this bears too much meaning to go into here, but I should also mention at this point that the music of Steve Reich is also frequently used in Japanese TV news broadcasts. Now if they'll only consider using the music of Guilty Connector at their next board meeting...After all, it does seem to have that 'extreme brutal shibaki harsh' thing going on that Reich and Oyamada's music doesn't, and that might go along well with well...say, bombs bursting in air and such.

Monday, March 1, 2004


Today Roddy, Midori and I went to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, which was a totally experience! If you are ever in the Kichijoji/Mitaka area, you really should just go and check the place out. After that, we went to one of my favorite cafes in Tokyo, where Tadashi Usami joined us for an in-depth discussion of Cardew, Marx, and avant-pop music culture...as per our homework assignment. Roddy was kind enough to record everything on his ever-ready MDR, so I guess I'll transcribe and edit things sooner or later, and I'll try to get them up here at some point. After that Mr. Schrock and I went to Office Meguro for some wine and conversation about someone we know being first in line for the third gender.

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