Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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Monday 30 April


Greetings from New York; Wilson, Justin, and the Velvet Girls.

Saturday 28 April

it had been hours since I last scored.

i remember the last taste I had, late at night. this gal gena met me at a party and after the crowd wore thin we retreated to a special spot she'd picked and we filled ourselves with the sweet stuff. i was so drunk coming in, i remember staring my passion in the face like a greedy fool but still i could understand the thorough pleasure of consumption.

today i woke up still feeling its effects. as much as i love it, i made no effort to keep any with me. so i hit the streets in new york, visited some folks. i couldn't tell if they were the type of people to indulge with me - they were not. even as we sat in places where people partake of such things, they didn't offer and i didn't propose.

finally, free i walked from soho uptown. i passed streetlevel dealers, people waving product in my face. sure it was tempting, but i only like the primo stuff. so i waited, hours. it was stupid - you stop being able to function when you're addicted as i am. still you can walk a long way and play along fine on your reserves - it's a testament to the strength and will of the human body, moving forward through time. still the day which had been sunny began to seem gray as my appetite grew. I was surrounded by stimulation and still I could think of nothing else.

Finally I found a trusted source. I was a stranger, but they welcomed me in - everyone comes into a place like this for the same thing. They took my money with all the confidence of men who have been peddling this stuff for years.

i took a seat towards the back of the room, at a small table facing the door, next to an attractive lady. The ritual of the thing began to comfort me, I felt more relaxed already. I picked it up and brought it to my mouth. It was oral pleasure; it was delicious food.

More pictures on Links.net

Wednesday 25 April

I'm headed into New York. Initially this was a visit planned to regroup with a woman I very much enjoyed palling around with six weeks ago, but in the interceeding time the young man to whom she has pledged her heart stepped in to remind all parties that primary intimacy suffers when amiable word peddlers with a taste for smart flesh come calling.

So instead my time in New York will be anchored at my brother's apartment and I will stride unannounced and appointed into the offices of several editors and writers and media manipulators, to announce my availability for conversation. I bear no expectations but I understand that a trip to New York for a further flung writer can be like visiting a sweet Babylon where your words are currency and the alchemists who turn them into gold have their corporate laboratories and will occasionally let you brush up against their long thick philosopher's stones.

coy girl Dana reminded me of online dating - I think I had mostly pushed it away in favour of the coincidence of age-appropriate stumblings. Hello, we're sharing space now, how about for the short forseeable future as well? Then I dial up personals.salon.com, log in the old Justino account, and begin searching for ladies between the ages of 18-34 who live in New York, like men, and have pictures posted online. It's a little too cyberrific I think - no smell, no accident, only the mental frenzy of predetermined longings potentially gratified. I remember what that leads to - some good sex with weird women. Hey - isn't that what I want? I can't remember - but leaving relating to chance takes date shopping off my list of "things to do before 5am departure." I think all I really want is conversation, on all fours.

Howard turned to me yesterday and asked with a smile, "So, you're still wandering aimlessly?"
I think that's a fine career, as long as I take notes and remember to send occasional invoices.

moving here

Sanae Many perceived degrees of freedom lead to expansive plannings. Since my trip, I have contemplated moving to Japan, with some help from Sanae, a young gal I met on the subway. She reminds me that teaching english can be a sustaining career there. So I picture myself shuttling in and out of a tiny apartment, paid to entertain shy students, reflecting on the cute orgy of consumer culture boarded up over the aging timbers of an insular society. Living in Japan seems like living in a giant shopping mall filled with very literate people. Fun but not challenging.

So if I want to move somewhere difficult, and learn a non-Latin language, what about China? Wide and changing, sounds stimulating. But I'm not sure I could practice my poking about. John Ricciardi, formerly of Gamers.com, currently living in Japan, he said to me on chat the other day, "I think you would be arrested here for too much enthusiasm." I don't know if I'm ready for serious Communist or Muslim fundamentalist parts of the world.

I'm travelling to Northern Europe in May, for an internet conference - Reboot. A plane ticket is part of the deal. Once I'm across an ocean, where should I wander? I might as well stay for a month or two, compute from abroad, travel somewhere. Travelling for months starts to sound like a living arrangement - if you're not paying for hotels each night, you're probably leaving bits of dead skin in someone's home. And how am I paying my bills? "Please wire transfer the payment for that article, thank you." Either way I feel my travelling legs under me strong - having a laptop and an attitude and some paying writing gigs has made me itch to see the world some more and share it here.

If I am choosing between time in Asia and Europe, what about Africa or South America? What about the Artic? Choosing a destination demands a goal. My goal these days would be to dust off my copy of The Atlas by Mr. Vollmann and see what his goal was in wandering. Thanks for that idear Wayne.

AMC Rambler 1968 4-door green Kathy calls, she just purchased a green 4-door 1968 AMC Rambler for $2800 and she's very happy about it.

FOREIGNER!! New Tokyo coverage: /vita/trip/japan/ese-only.html.

Tuesday 24 April

What happens if you remove most all the personal context from a personal exposure web site and lay bare the human sufferings of relationships? PsychoExGirlfriend.com. Yiminey.

Monday 23 April

Through this site-chat device Howard willed on me, I've become more immediately connected to the folks who read my site. One young man made a nice comment, along the lines of "you're destroying the attractive distance you've traditionally kept from your readers."

Along those lines, I've stuck up the first Justin's Links Message Board. An experiment. Thanks to the folks who suggested free message boards, EZBoard was the consensus.

(Some EZBoard experiment - their servers seem to be down all the time! Dag nab it. Someone on chat reports that they're moving their servers. Humph.)

Sunday 22 April

WonderCon Chris Hecker noticed WonderCon was in Oakland this weekend. Reminiscent of DragonCon and GenCon - comic books, role-playing games and anime, star wars, action figures and the hellmouth young men and women who identify themselves with this culture of alien-nation and fantastical gratification.

WonderCon is primarily devoted to comic books - comic artists sign autographs, many old prints and panels are for sale, and many folks have stands filled with aged yellowing back issues enshrined in modern plastic. It was a wonderous place to stumble through odd comics history - there were piled up back issues of Soap Opera type comics from the 1950s and 1960s - not stuff you usually see stuck between SuperMan and SpiderMan at the comics store. Romance, comics called, "Life Stories" about young men and young women trying to find their way in the world.

Corey Haim, Radar from MASH, Julie Newmar - the usual assortment of seemingly obscure celebrities. Radar was selling a small oil painting of a big bear head coming out of some water - his signature was bigger than the bear's teeth. In a corner of the expo hall, a few Playmates from the 1980s signed autographs and pictures from their firmer days. Seeing Keith Knight and his comics was the only moment of political and social consciousness in an affair otherwise devoted entirely to fantasy.

Archie's head Chris and I had a running bet: would each Archie comic book we pulled from the stacks be offensive? So many of those old jokes seem so crass today. Jokes about scrawny but shaply Veronica losing weight. "Nice Indian Clothes Archie!" "I have No Reservations about them!" It's strange to see this aged sense of propriety, because Archie comics today display the same youth with the same old "jalopy" car in a strange sort of suspended animation. Will current comic book jokes appear this dated in fifty years?

Hard Boiled Head Chris and I debated some the fate of comic books - the medium has become impentatrable, he argued. No adult is going to read these things. Looking at a comic book cover today does seem to take some more serious interpretation - all the drawings have a creeping density to them, evocative more of Frank Miller's HardBoiled, rather than the primary color simplicity of early SuperFriends type material. Still I'm always inclined to argue that we are older and growing increasingly unable to parse the density and distraction of true youth culture; the comics audience has always been primarily young men, and that's who the medium speaks to. But from what I've heard recently, the young men aren't listening so well. Video games have seriously poached that market; mainstream comics companies are in poor financial shape, making them even less likely to put money behind anything as revolutionary or perverse as comics targeted at women or mature folks. Let's hope this is not the same fate intended for the bulk of the electronic gaming industry.

mule After some pho, Chris showed me M.U.L.E., a legendary game of some brilliance that I had heard about but I had never played. It's a fantastic multiplayer bartering strategy game from 1983 - we downloaded a version that plays with a Commodore 64 emulator in Windows. I had never been able to get into the game before, and here I was with two painful canker sores ignored for two hours - it's amazing what another human being can do to introduce you to an interactive experience.

Last week, Chris invited me to attend a local game night with some game designer folks in Berkeley. We played German and Italian board games and card games, including the fantastic fun Bohnanza. I'm travelling to New York later this week, and I will bring this along with me if I can find a copy. I'm glad to find games that seem appropriate for folks who wouldn't identify themselves as active gamers - Bohnanza seems perfect for that - it's a very social affair.

Now that I have a laptop, I want to set up a wireless home network, so I can compute from the couch, the bed or the toilet. Or in the sunshine! Amazing how efficient technology encourages spending. My machine habit can be expensive. I write about it here some, and it helps me feel like I'm doing research. I'm fittin' to get the appropriate graphics software, and then I'll process the remaining photogems from Japan. More in store.

Thursday 19 April

New laptop in my life, an IBM ThinkPad X21 - quite stimulating. Taking up a lot of my time - upgrading apps, installing, customizing. I can now enjoy computing from the couch, from the car, from the field. It's a way new old Justin.

I saw more crazy examples of camera/computer convergeance in Japan, but this machine makes the most sense for a writer/communicator. Give Sony another two years though, and have them contract out their keyboards to IBM.

Click on that box and if I'm at my computer, we can chat it up, yo!

Clicking on the picture will open a new window! Don't close that too quickly.

Howard sent me a link to the HumanClick site. Surveillance and customer service for fun and distraction!

Monday 16 April

Besides the self-published travel writing, I went to Japan to cover the "Tokyo Game Show" - a wonderland of Japanese/console video gaming. I came away with two articles, both posted today:

FiringSquad.com: Tokyo Game Show 2001
Straight reporting from the show floor, including, by request, pictures of the "booth babes" (tending, in Tokyo, towards the scrawny and asian). I was able to write about some of the strange games I found in Japan, and provide pictures. Thanks Bob @ FiringSquad.com!
From the Reader Comments: "I never thought reading a Firingsquad article would give me a woody." and "Considering the material, that was an excellent article. However, it only had 2 pages of booth models. Considering the FiringSquad audience of 98-99% guys, it would've made more sense to include more ladies."

Feedmag.com: The X-Box Hustle
Feed is more high brow - accordingly, they had me scrape away the reporting elements I'd written up for them and instead write this essay about the fate of Microsoft's XBox, based on Bill Gates' XBox performance. No pictures, but lots of drafts - Elaine and I rewrote this thing like four times. So it ends up being some good writing training.
"The Microsoft marketing machine went to great lengths to dazzle the Games Show audience. In the cafeteria, each lunch tray featured a picture of Gates, smiling and holding up a Japanese X-Box controller in one hand, and a cheeseburger in the other. An inscription in the upper right-hand corner read, "Which Is More Delicious?"

Which is More Delicious?

My mother turned 62 this last weekend. She has done so much for me in my life, I wanted to give her something strong back. It's hard to think of anything material that could begin to approach what she's given me. It became clear that the most valuable thing I had to give was time.

The night of her birthday, George said he was taking her out somewhere. She got excited, figuring it would be one of her favourite french restaurants. Pretty soon, it's clear to Mom at the car is swiftly approaching Greek town, where George's favourite restaurants are. She wasn't too psyched, heading to Santorini (where they eat twice a month) for her birthday. She saw Colin and I seated at the dinner table and she was so surprised, excited and pleased.

She had no idea that Colin and I would be there. We spent the weekend together, visited the girl's school, and I accompanied her to three religious oriented Easter services (Presbyterian, Catholic and Greek Orthodox). Whew!

The trip felt divinely ordained. In spite of the fact that the recession has hit and freelance budgets are shrinking, I put the money down to visit my ma. Then I go to Oakland airport last friday morning, and they need volunteers to take a later flight from SFO. I volunteered and I got a travel voucher for just about exactly the amount of money I spent visiting my Mom. Looks like I'll be headed to New Orleans in July!

Monday 8 April

The Japan flow continues; Joi.    Joi's Mobile Phone

Some of you may not have heard - the Internet businesses are hitting the skids.

I talked to some folks at a content site last night, they said they are owed over $400k by advertisers who have bankrupted.

I talked to another guy - he said about his old site/employer, "I wish the data well, but not the people."

Sunday 7 April

Japan: Tsukiji:
What a way to sea food!

Friday 5 April

Today's featured Japan story:

Capsule Capsule Hotel Fontaine Akasaka

U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said the numbers concerned her.

"I think there's a lot of concern about these new numbers. The economy is kind of like the Pillsbury Doughboy at this point -- it continues to soften," Chao told CNNfn's Market Call Friday.
From "U.S. unemployment up" on CNNfn.com today

Looks like some shocking adolescent TV has gotten carried away:
MTV apologizes over 'Shower Rangers' incident

Brenda Laurel dives into the trenches of Teen Culture in the Midwest:
Backstreet Boys in Hoosierland

Thursday 4 April

Spent today cranking out a mess of Japan materials, taking a break only to photograph my house with this loaner camera, before the sun went down.

More to come.

* * * 

I'm finishing up my Japan writing and digital photo processing on a borrowed laptop in my living room. Long days parked on the couch can be understimulating, so I started running the TV. It's like inviting a box of demons into my house, except less cultured perhaps.

Alcatel is running an ad campaign with footage of Martin Luther King jr. delivering portions of his "I have a dream" speech in Washington DC. Matrix-style video game spin-around camera angles are used to impress us with technology, while his words are supposed to inspire us to dream, about the products of Alcatel, which aren't entirely clear in the ad.

In my high school, we made a serious occassion of Martin Luther King day. We listened to speakers, debated issues of race and culture, and each year we would watch that speech, amongst others. It used to be that when I heard his words, his vision, the powerful oration, I would get chills.

Using that speech to promote a brand, communications technology, seems entirely inappropriate. Did they give money to poor school disticts in Alabama for the rights to use that footage? Or maybe they gave some school vouchers to laid-off parents.

Apple used powerful figures in their "Think Different" ads, except they used only pictures. There's something more reverant in pure visual icon-weilding - the picture is a symbol, the words have express content. maybe if MLK's picture had inspired chills in me I would have taken offense. Either way, I guess I should blame Apple for opening the door for this sort of thing. Funny - just a few weeks ago I was admiring Eleanor Roosevelt standing on the side of a building.

King's vision for race and justice in America is not included in the advertisement. Would it have been better if it was? "This brief rebroadcasting of Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech brought to you by Alcatel - we network your neighborhood." Like PBS but with a shorter span.

* * * 

Anyone got a good suggestion for a good free message board service? I'd rather not make people register anywhere.

Wednesday 4 April

Back from Japan - strange to leave Wednesday at 4pm and land Wednesday at 9am.

Pictures and text coming soon - prolly tomorrow. Here's a preview: Shogestu Unagi.

Until then, enjoy Greg Costikya - I did.

Nice to be home where Willie McTell sings Crapshooter's Blues - he knows more of the lyrics than I did.

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daze | justin's links

justin's links | www.links.net

justin hall | <justin at bud dot com>