Sunday, April 27, 2008


I absolutely adore Japan; especially Tokyo. Brights lights megalopolis!
My girlfriend, Mel, and I just spent a week and a half in Japan. It was my 2nd time there and I fell in love with it all over again (for maybe slightly new/different reasons). There is something about being on that pulse in the heart of a giant city that I love (perhaps it is due to my rural roots) and I enjoy the challenge/task of adapting to a different culture and language.

We flew into Narita airport which is like nowhere near Tokyo proper and easily caught a 2hr bus ride to Kichijoji Station at the other end of Tokyo. At Kichijoji, we were greeted by a lot of rain and one of my dearest friends, Ryo.
On our first real full day, we awoke with the whole Matsuura family! Ryo, his super nice wife Kaori, Shizuku-chan who was to become the highlight of my trip, and 4month old Akari. I fancy myself somewhat of an uncle to the daughters and a main thrust to go to Japan was to meet them for the 1st time. We gave Shi-chan some gifts to break the ice and she warmed up to us quickly; especially Mel (or "Meru-chan") who she loved.

That first day, Ryo took us on a fuckin whirlwind tour of Tokyo. We hit a lot of trains and most major districts.
On our second day, I led Mel to (...well, she navigated) the wonders of Shibuya. Shibuya definitely has the stereotypical Japan hyper futuristic sensory overload feel to it. We took it all in: all the people, Love Hotel Hill, the best store ever- Tokyu Hands, and I spent some Yen.

We headed back to Kichijoji, met up with Ryo, and walked through some nice neighborhoods and a nice park with a lot of stray cats.
It was off to Kyoto. In my opinion, spending more than a week in Tokyo as a tourist is overkill. If you are gonna hit another city and want to take in Japanese culture, history, and landmarks I think all bets are on Kyoto. Kyoto is a big city with a university but it attracts a lot of tourists for the massive amount of shrines and temples. I was actually shocked to see SOOO many gaijin everywhere we went.

We spent 3 days getting to love Kyoto and did A LOT of walking to temples, shrines, parks, the shopping arcade, and grocery store. I really suggest just going to my photos to check it all out. One thing we did not get any pics of were the dudes who infest Kyoto like a plague. We later learned they are called "garo" for guys who look like gals. We had christened them OC Goblin Kings because they look as if David Bowie's Goblin King character from Labyrnth took on all the horrible attributes of Orange County, CA.

If you are interested in Japanese toys (especially capsule toys), you have to find Super Position in the Kyoto Arcade. That place rules.
One extreme highlight was our venture to the Iwatayama Monkey Park.

I love monkeys. Who doesn't? This sort of preserve has tons of monkeys running around and you can feed them (from inside a human cage). Overall, it was a little scary. You are warned against looking the monkeys in the eyes and they are big and aggressive. We got charged by a male and it scared the hell out of me! Nonetheless, I got to spend an afternoon in Japan with monkeys! They were so cute I wanted to grab them. Amazing.
As train fatigue neared, we headed back to Tokyo. This leg we stayed at Oakwood Apartments in Shinjuku. The apartment/hotel was very high tech and nice (especially for an American). The staff all spoke English to us, which threw me off and I disliked. All this was right in Shinjuku. Shinjuku is more like a dirty major US city but 10x as crowded and it looks a lot more like Blade Runner. Shinjuku is the only place we saw a real visible homeless population. The streets leading to/from the major Shinjuku Station was like walking a gauntlet during a major concert (VERY crowded with people shouting advertisements at you).

Mel and I spent 2 days going to all the major districts and I spent more money than you can imagine.
I love people watching in Tokyo. It isn't probably as crazy as most USAmericans think it is but it is interesting nonetheless. I don't know if I could get into most contemporary men's fashion in Japan but I have to admit I was smitten by the fashion of the vast majority of young Japanese women. The women show more and are done up more than Americans in spades.
If you are in Tokyo, keep an eye out for Viking Skins stickers or stickers dedicated to Mr. Mark Kelley who is in Tokyo right now looking for his face plastered all over Harajuku and Shibuya. haha
For our last day, we met up again with the Matsuura family. I was happy to see them all again.

They took us around Kichijoji on a busy Saturday (and the beginning of Golden Week). Kaori led us to Young Soul Rebels: I highly suggest this spot if you are in Tokyo and want good priced mod/skin wears! Then it was time for "puri cura"- the very Japanese picture sticker booths. What a great idea. We had a load of fun. A big thank you to Ryo and all of the family! You have always been great to me and it was a pleasure to get to spend time with you all. I sincerely hope we meet up again soon.

Japan (especially Tokyo) has got to be one of the most accomadating cities for anyone who speaks English. If I was Japanese, I would be annoyed with the amount of English used on signs and in audio broadcasts... but it was pretty nice for us. The train/subway system is amazing and super cheap. Finding vegan food wasn't much of a hassle either and we ate amazingly! You must got to Mel's Veglicious blog for all the details (I purposely skipped over the food and there are plenty of highlights!).

I don't know that I would seriously consider moving to Tokyo as I once had but I love that city and aim to go back asap.

Flickr Photo Set (and more details)
Veglicious Tokyo Food Entry
Veglicious Kyoto Food Entry

Friday, April 25, 2008

Last communique transmitted from Japan

Still in Tokyo and dreading the return to my banal routine after tomorrow.
I think an important factor in my life and for my happiness is to have as little dichotomy or compartamentalizing (- is that a word?) between my work, obligations and my "free time."

As unhappy as I have been with my job and other aspects of my everyday life, I really don't like the idea of looking at this holiday as some temporary escape. They tell young people that using drugs as a form of escapism doesn't solve or get rid of any problems on a real permanent basis. Someone should tell everyone that other diversions like travel, porn, or weekends only temporarily distract our attention and do not leave us with a more generally satisfying experience in whole.

I do not look forward to my job, my boss(es), my struggle to find satisfactory social footing. I do look forward to my brain resting from reading katakana and the awkward social settings here when I don't know what to say other than "arigato gozaimasu", "domo", "gomenasaii" or "wakarimassen." I also won't miss crowded train stations.

I will miss Tully's kora guma latte, heels + knee high sox + short shorts!, bright lights, easily accessable football gear, great public transit, vegan Nikes, gluten on a stick, improving my Japanese, and the Matsuura fam; one of the best friends in my entire life, Ryo, Kaori, the cute Akari, and the best kid ever who makes me so happy, Shizuku-chan.

(this was all a ramble as I wait to go to Kichijyoji Station one last time)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

reporting from Shinjuku

Hello anyone reading this. I am in Shinjuku Tokyo Japan where is looks like Blade Runner and I am told Lost In Translation takes place.
This past week has been amazing!
Even with my minimal Japanese language skills, Tokyo (and Kyoto) are extremely accomodating for English speaking foreigners. However, I have been without any English/USAmerican news for about 1 week.
I wish I could post all the wondeful photos I have taken but that will have to wait until I return to USA... not that I want to return. I don't know if I could move here as I once wanted to but I love Tokyo and don't want to return to my banal life.

I have been in Tokyo and Kyoto along with my girlfriend and master navigator, Mel. Our first leg in Tokyo was spent with the Matsuura household who we are grateful to for their hospitality. Shizuku-chan is my favorite 4 yr old and the highlight of my trip. Then we visited Kyoto with all the other tourists.

We have enjoyed some amazing food and, unlike my last trip here, have found little trouble eating vegan.
Right now I am in a swank apartment/hotel and can't believe we are so enjoying being on the internet after web-deprivation. How pitiful.

Signing off with hopes that Tully's Coffee brings their soy black sesame latte to the USA.

By the way, over in Palestine, The UN has had to abandon humanitarian aid to Gaza because Israel won't allow them in.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008



Sunday, April 13, 2008

Portishead in Portishead

Current is broadcasting a show of Portishead performing their soon-to-be released album "3rd". If you aren't excited, you should be.

Food and No Food

Today I ate at an awesome new restaurant in Oakland; Souley Vegan.
As one might guess- vegan soul food. I think I sampled everything on the menu. My favorites being the mac-n-cheese, bb-q tofu, and the fantastic crispy tofu. The people running this joint were amazing. They accomodated our party of 15+, made sure we were satisfied while assuring us all the food was made fresh with a lot of love, and were just all around friendly.

Speaking of food: A lot of people don't have any.
You might not guess it looking at your plates or the corporate news but food shortages are sparking riots and dire circumstances around the world.

It might be easy to look at this and shout that it signals the end of civilization or that our planet can't cope with the population and has already given out. However, a look at the massive rice shortages of The Philippines, itself full of rice growers, points to monopoly imperialism.


In non-food news, Jimmy Carter continues to be a right-on anti-Zionist.
(And can I just point out that when the corporate US media says "seized control of Gaza" they mean won an election.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

12April: QUAKES!

First home game.
Taking on Blanco & Chicago.

I will be there even if SJ still hasn't got a proper club name.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Portraits Of Past: 924 Gilman (edit)

The Portraits Of Past reunion show at 924 Gilman has been booked and confirmed.
They will be playing with Comadre (of course) and others.

whoops- typo corrected

Brave & Bold cartoon

Next season on Cartoon Network:
Batman: The Brave and The Bold!

Batman will team up with various other heroes.

Friday, April 04, 2008


This afternoon at my busy (new) job, I was snatched into an impromptu Human Resources meeting.
Apparently I am Human Resources for the company; which is interesting because this was the first I had heard of that.

I sat with a (White female) HR consultant for over an hour. The bulk of the time she instructed me on how sneakily break the law. I never knew there were so many reasons why a company shouldn't hire women.