August 28 - September 2
London - ECTS
New Orleans -
October - November
Japan Book Reports
For the Love of God
4 July: America Feeling
Sex Brain Birthday
Stand up Speaking
Make The Web.
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Between the familiar narrow streets and the forgotton heat, Tokyo is a welcome density. I am eager to find myself soon with the gum of my shoes walking these streets trying to sort out the necessities of life.
I maintain some sickness here - a remnant of a cold that is not at all pleased with this ample stimulation. After being refused in April at a Japanese club, my slight Japanese serves me well enough to gain some pyrrhic entry into the fabled gendered confines here in Tokyo.
The bartender and two evening ladies, Hello Sanae, smile for the Internet from a small hostess club in Ginza
Hoping to have Colin my brother centrally located during his first visit here, and striving to accomodate his desire for hotel hipness I have found us a room at the Tokyo Cerulean Hotel. A nice joint - bigger rooms than I remember from most of my other businessman's living quarters. In this case hip is two months old - everything is pre-peeling, with a genuine shine of fine new materials and a high speed internet connection, faster than my home bandwidth.
This connection last night learned me something of the modern depth behind my dalliance. Diary of a Tokyo Hostess is about as much as a white person might ever see of the Tokyo commerce in companionship. And my bronchial backfiring, my chest filled with unfriendly bacterial clumps occasionally reshuffled in fits of air jackhammering, it gives me an uneasy feeling to balance out the sweet stimulation available to me. It's a pale illness next to the bone-deep foreigner Tokyo sickness explored in the rather deliberately sordid Tokyo Sex Wars.
Aside from mostly chatty and expensive forays into Tokyo nightlife, I've found a calligraphy teacher who gave me a name in pictographic Japanese Kanji characters, paid my respects at a Shinto shrine to Japanese soldiers, sang Jim Morrison karaoke with Sanae and scrawny flirtatious bisexual fashion model hostess club recruiters, seen the future of mobile vending, secured a large political poster of the current prime minister, improved my Pachinko hand, bathed myself and my nascent acne in healing smoke from a Buddhist temple, met someone with a pet prarie dog.
The only thing I'm not taking much time for is the necessary relay of article pitches at editors from Finland to the rugged lands of America; only a trickle emerges from this keyboard. Instead I have extended my time here to prepare a Tokyo life for September.
* * *
Where Have All The Phones Gone?
There used to be these things called phones, you picked them up, dialed, and if you reached someone you could talk to them until you were done. Not content with that level of communication, we've added computers to phones. Now if you reach someone you have a 40% chance of being able to talk to them before a system crash - the signal fades, their battery dies, and you are somehow mysteriously cut off. Maybe they were just run over by a car. Maybe their phone has died a permanent technology death, and you can not ever reach them that way again. How do you know what's gone wrong when you can't reach them by phone?
* * *
Spirits in the Material World
I've consigned myself to live in a world of ghosts, at least as my life is recorded by digital camera. Since a flash makes for photos of pore-level intensity, all persons made into sheets of crisp whiteness, ugly cold colors stealing all souls, I prefer a flashless photo generally that leaves all sorts of blurry noise and dancing ambient lights and spirits in the background. And a warm palette. Now and then the spirits of people are larger than their image, but it's a small price to pay for photographs that better resemble humanbeings.
Recently: SFMoma ArtCade Panel
I'm sick at home, sucking down soup.
Akira DVD arrived by mail and I have been watching it on repeat, in English and Japanese. It mirrors nicely my reading of the-so-far-deeply-pessimistic Dogs and Demons; these last two days the picture of modern Japan here is of too much concrete, with rising social costs of overconsumption.
24 hours until I leave for Japan again, this time in the company of my brother. I look forward to dragging him on to the subway during rush hour, when he should stand about eighteen inches taller than most Japanese folks. Having been there once and now after studying it, I have a rich network of folks to see there, and avenues to explore. So much, in fact, that a week is not enough. I become increasingly eager to live in those parts.
As I assemble the approparite materials for a journalist's visa, I'm planning the conversations I want to have. I'm curious about the intersections of Japanese sex, art and technology. I want to find the folks my age doing work in Japan in these areas. This trip I hope to find a copy of Shu Lea Cheang's I.K.U.. Maybe some day I'll chat with Hiromix. Anybody know any other young working (post)modern Japanese artists?
This weekend and early next week, I'll be staying here:
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel
26-1 Sakuragaokacho, Sibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8512
Tel: (81)(3) 3476-3000 Fax: (81)(3) 3476-3001
Yesterday stuck sick at home I wanted to play
one of my old Japanese PlayStation games to see if I could understand any of the Japanese involved. I hadn't dealt with this gaming equipment in some months; in the basement here I found two old PlayStations, modded to play Japanese and American games (one spraypainted blue), a vanity blue PlayStation controller, my Neo Geo Pocket wrapped up in an old bandana, a copy of the game Family Restaurant (a Japanese ramen shop simulation), and an unopened jar of Postum. It was a strange material flashback - a collection of tools and artifacts from another time in my life. Still eminently functional! Unfortunately the game was mostly mystifying.
The Short Shopping List for Tokyo:
Everybody's Rhinoceros Beetle
(First seen at the Tokyo Game Show.)
Thanks to Amy and Sam for bringing me Orange Juice.
The Webby Awards: For the Love of God
Many summer parties and occasions to enjoy. And each time I venture forth I find wonderful folks, people who teach me, and people who can help me learn about Japan or maybe find a job or a place to live.
Still within my home and this wide web I have already piles of articles and email and the wildly fat lover I have taken on - an entire language. The surfaces, contours, crevasses and phalluses are enough to keep me stimulated and searching for that spot that I can touch and feel as though I am touching myself.
Still I am not much of a "sixty minute man" so to speak, I leave our bedroom after only twenty minutes to take up with my older internet lover. And I've made an effort to leave the machine for books -
Japanese Book Reports:
The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima by Henry Scott Stokes
Confucious Lives Next Door, by T.R. Reid
asian self-perception: a nuanced world of superiority and persecution.
Confucius Lives Next Door brought up reverant Asian stereotypes; the image of industrious people with tight knit families. Then I open a recent issue of AsianWeek, a newsmagazine for/about Asian Americans, and find these two articles: Higher SAT Scores: Possible Link With Chinese Language and Census: Asian Americans Have Fewer Single Mothers.
I guess it's a nice thing if it's true. I'm interested to find the shadow side of that, to understand the balancing act, the silent victims, the strange changes pending; whatever would make that stereotype stand out in context, and resonate with some more true humanity.
That issue of Asianweek also had some reflections on scapegoating - redress for South American Japanese folk who were brought up to the US to be put in prison camps, and then used as hostage bargaining chits, and a film review that examines recent stereotyped Asian bad guys. Ugly persecution, from the outside - doesn't this community have any of its own problems? Maybe they keep their problems to themselves. Not like this web publisher!
I have a cold coming on, I've been eating raw garlic to fight the oncoming symptoms, so I smell pretty darn lively, especially when I pass gas. Also the garlic causes inflammation, so my wrists are feeling a bit of the bite; especially since I do most all my computing these days on my intimate. I've had this thing for three months and I've already worn most of the keys on the keyboard smooth.
Uh problems? Hard for me to sit down and do my Japanese language learning exercises. Easy to watch two delicious Kon Ichikawa films at the Pacific Film Archive instead (Odd Obsession and Nihonbashi - lyrical, inspiring).
I don't know - today each of my problems seems like the outgrowth of a wonderful blessing. Thank you, cold virus. Tomorrow I assail you with chicken soup.
People sometimes ask me, and what is Howard up to these days? He's been working on some ideas about the social impact of mobile communications (what are these cellphones and wireless computers doing to us, or what are we doing with them?). For a preview of what's on his mind, you might try two recent articles, both on TheFeature.com: Four Futurists on Tomorrow's Mobile Media and Mobile Virtual Communities
I'm moving to Japan for a year starting in September.
I was intrigued by Japanese culture after years of studying their media and technology. So I found an excuse to travel there in April.
I was very stimulated and still curious. So I studied the language to deepen my understanding. But my ten week Japanese language intensive this summer won't be useful unless I cement the learning with some serious immersion. If I'm going to up and go to Japan for any length of time, it might as well be a full term, so I'm going to move for a year at least.
I'm applying for work with a game company as a researcher, or a news agency as a reporter. I want a job that forces me more deeply into Japan while keeping me professionally active with my international community. I get the feeling my exploration of Japan would be more limited as an English teacher/Professional American Fetish Object, though the idea of being employed as a male host in a bar for rich Japanese ladies is a fleeting temptation. I've worked hard to establish myself as a free-range reporter, covering technology culture. I should be able to find some American media outlets interested in my reports from Japan, and Japanese media outlets interested in international interpretation. All I have to do is convince the Japanese Consulate that freelance web journalists deserve a one year working visa.
I'm in the Biggedy-Biggedy O, after I got freezer burn on SFC. Three years after I was hit-a-lick in lower bottoms, I'm livin' nappy, prolly a rooti poo in the town. Not so much L.G. and I ain't ballin' out of control. But definitely P.H.d., just doin' my squat, and spittin' game - tryin' to come at the web correct. Pickin' bits of nappy stack out of my gold ones. On the rilla, I'm a cold piece of work. Tadow! (What's he flawsin'?)