well, this week was pretty slow… all i did all week was party… and by party i mean do homework (i.e.: take photos, rule at lower level math, and watch all of veronica mars season 3 [kinda weak... but i did develop a newfound hatred for "the cw"... WHY!? WHY CW!? I WILL NEVER HAVE THE RESOLUTION I NEED BECAUSE YOU CANCELLED VERONICA MARS BEFORE THERE COULD EVEN BE A SEASON 4!!! YOU SUCK! THEY TOTALLY ENDED SEASON 3 LIKE THERE WAS GOING TO BE A 4TH SEASON, BUT NOW THERES NOT... SO I WILL NEVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO VERONICA MARS AND "THE CASTLE"! ANY SERIES THAT INVOLVES A COLLEGIATE SECRET SOCIETY REQUIRES RESOLUTION!!! YOU SUCK!]
anyways, i took about 1200 photos, and umm, about 95% of them were terrible… but i was able to turn in the requisite 14… including these 2 self portraits…and i admit they are nice portraits, but whats so damn great about self portraits? its just some excuse for your prof to see how lame you are at coming up with ideas… granted my teacher told me they were “really strong”… but come on… art students + self portraits… glorified myspace photos and self indulgence… lameness. petty bourgeoisie individualism! why are all art teachers so concerned about self portraits? window to the soul my ass. here they are anyways, cause they are “really strong”
did someone say chiapas?
no bears allowed in the dorms
and to clear your mind.. heres a baby
hes just peekin out at ya
heres my whip, in color and black and white… cause its that epic
high contrast means business!
and heres the obligatory blurry kids staring at me photo
heres some other classy art photos i took
he saw me. oops.
side note… its totally ok to be sick and wear a surgical mask all around.. to school.. to work.. on the train… you, my friend, are doing everyone a favor! keep your illness to yourself… and while you are at it, look like you are prepared for the impending apocalypse… japan is all about prepardness… the apocalypse is going to happen any minute now… so just go ahead and start rocking your surgical masks and retrofitting your majestic skyscrapers for tsunamis and earthquakes…
oh yeah, i made a new friend… well an acquaintance… he wasnt that stoked that all i had to offer was leaves, so he kind of peaced out before we could really sit down and chat
i really need a zoom lens
for a country that is notorious for inaccurately applying english phrases to things, i thought this was really clever.. on a side note… in japan it is apparently totally ok to wear a shirt that says “100% nigger” as long as you dont know what it means… weird. and lame. and you know, horribly racist. very odd. once again, i should have taken a photo with my futuristic japanese cell phone. damn.
more bike porn
mama chari bikes rule the street here… god bless any country that sells a $150 bike that comes with a built in lock, a basket, a kick stand and a light. you might not know much about gender equality, but at least your bikes are functional and accessible.
KITTENS! KITTENS MOST LIKELY ON DRUGS!
on another tangent… i ran into these cats on the street in shinjuku last monday… last monday was a holiday… a fake “yay! its fall” holiday created to somehow circumvent or repair the labor laws in japan… so fewer salarymen jump in front of trains to get out of the ridiculous work cycle… and someone did actually jump in front of a train last friday (not in front of me… 2 stops down)… right when i was about to get on said train line… so i had to wait like a half hour before we even moved… you want to end your life… whatever… just dont stop my damn train!)
anyways, and by cats i mean… cats on drugs! real cats… and im sure they were real drugs! after the show, the kitten tapped me on the shoulder and was like “hey man, do you know where i could hook it up with a few rails?” and i was all “dude, thats not my scene… get lost.. go talk to some yakuza over there.” at least i know who im not inviting to my next holiday get-together this year. high or not, these cats were adorable.. and asleep and motionless in crowds of people for like 3 hours… which is why i suspect drugs
i hope that sign says “these cats are really high, crowd around and pet and gawk and take photos, they dont know no better”
i forgot to mention the breakdancing mime. cool.
and i forgot the artsy fartiest shot of the week
check ya’ll later. peace. oh those wood panels are some kind of votive thing that you pay for and write a prayer on, or like a wish for peace or something positive… its at the meiji shrine.. basically every single person in my photo class had a photo of these things… so i didnt turn it in… didnt make the cut. its certainly a valid thing to take a photo of.. i mean east meets west and all that… and yay for being exotic… but its clearly played out.
well first off let me pronounce that rupert murdoch is a slimy piece of controlling shite!
anyways, i went to the polysics myspace secret show on saturday night, it was kind of fun. the djs were awful, playing stupid “indie rock” of yesteryear, i.e. blood brothers and bloc party… they weren’t even mixing songs, just song. stop. new song.
then i was trying to take pictures to show all my friends the fun i was supposed to be having, but i kept getting shut down by the myspace police. so i tried to convince the myspace staff that i needed a press pass because im a temple daigaku no gakusee (temple 大学のだうがくせ, and my senmon （専門わ）is communication and i work for the paper and im writing a write up of the show, but they werent having it. but i did give them my contact info, and they are supposedly sending me the “official press photos”. weak. i snuck a camera in for nothing!
anyways, the first band was awful… basically bloc party plus placebo. typical british rock shite plus japanese teen heart-throb lead guitarist/singer. kinda catchy but they sucked, i was thoroughly nonplussed. and i think their band name was “ogre you asshole” which doesn’t even make sense, and sounds ridiculous. hecka lame.
polysics was pretty awesome, the venue was packed, and i got a little something-something for alon who is totally stoked on the polysics. at least someone will be totally stoked that i went.
plus, even though i showed up in the only blue shirt i owned, i had to wear a bright blue t-shirt into the show because light blue isn’t blue enough for myspace. once again, i curse the name of rupert murdoch. ill have you know i threw away the shirt right after i left the liquid room, just to stick it to ol’ rupey one last time.
fox news corp is a stupid stupid organization.
anyways, sunday was way cooler than saturday.
as you might have known, on friday night i blew my back tire. lame.
i thought it was the actual tire, but it turned out to be the tube which was a much cheaper repair. but i had to walk for more than an hour to get to a bike shop that sold more than mama chari tubes, which are decidedly smaller, wider and less applicable to my sort of tire. but nonetheless, i prevailed over the standard shopping bike stores, found a road bike store, and got to get all manly and change my tube on the sidewalk… with the tools i had in my backpack! (plus the pump from the store)
it totally rules to have a wrench and tire levers in your pack all the time! my dad would be proud. for the first time in my life, i own tools. and i carry them around with me. i wonder if john wayne carried a wrench with him when he was righteously metering out ol’ fashioned cowboy justice and rescuing damsels from savage indians? i wonder if john elway carries a wrench? what about bruce willis? bruce willis could probably defuse a bomb with a paper clip… he probably doesnt need that wrench.
anyways, i walked the first half to harajuku はらじゅく, changed a tube, then rode the other half… it took like 2 hours to get there. but it was fun. i noticed quite a few fixie riders on the way.
so i got to harajuku はらじゅく, helped out this dude im working with on a rad website/blog/impending clothing line and online store and then rode all the way to shimokitazawa しもきたざわ… which was kind of far. i kept having to ask people “shimokitazawa wa doku des ka?” ”下北沢毒ですか” and then hoped that they pointed in a direction, so i could nod and smile, not understand anything they said, and then ride off in the direction they hopefully pointed in. the highlight of that leg of the trip was when i went into this childrens bookstore, the two ladies looked at my map, then looked up the spot on google maps (double true!). they then proceeded to print out 3 pages of maps, cut them out, tape them together and then highlight the route in highlighter! japanese people can be so damn nice sometimes! or so damn racist, but gaijin 外人 usually suck, so i dont blame them. the only problem was that all the google maps for japan are in… japanese… and i dont know kanji yet… so i just kind of had to gesture at the map i couldnt read and hope that someone pointed in the direction i should be heading it… needless to say after 90 minutes and many miles more, i arrived in shimokitazawa and it turned out to be the best neighborhood in tokyo ive seen so far!!!! simutaneously low key and bangin’ at the same time! awesome little shops (ps: graniph you rule as a store… i want your pink hoodie that says helvetica (in helvetica) [even though helvetica is the font of the petty bourgeoisie masses] ever so badly) (pps: my size is small and if you are in the process of buying this for me you probably know my address. im aware that the only color is “frost pink” but for the love of christ, its a “frost pink” hoodie with a typographic reference… love!) anyways, i got invited to a bike event of some kind, and then hung out on the roof of a bar looking at some radical tokyo skyline… really cool! and im ashamed to say that i drank a cappuccino from starbucks but it was ironically the best coffee ive had in japan… thats a new low, japan! the other older low was the first week i was here being denied entry to a bar because im white, but get this… the bar specialized in budweiser and had a huge american express sign outside!!!! IRONIC!!!!!???? maybe it was because i was in a group of pasty whiteys, but that is just silly. what self respecting japanese person would drink budweiser and pay with an american express card?
then i had to ride for like an hour and a half back to the dorm, and my chain fell off for some reason, but it was alright cause i had a wrench in my backpack!
then i got home and typed this. mom, i hope you enjoyed it.
sunday was huge!!! the most epic day in all of my time here! its 8am on monday and ive been up all night editing these photos and making slammin’ party beats… so sorry if i seem kind of silly
sunday was huge! most productive day ive had in japan by far…
first i got a skype phone number, which means anyone can call me and it only costs the local rate for in-seattle calls… or irvine to seattle.. or whatevs… its not that expensive! if you have my number, call it!
so i got to talk to tons of people, friends and family! yay! hearing your voices stokes me out to the max!
then… after making all the aforementioned phone calls, i walk out of my dorm, on the way to the train station and theres a parade outside my door! a shinto holiday parade… an omikoshi parade! from my meager understanding (experience + wikipedia) a mikoshi is…
A mikoshi (神輿?) is a portable Shinto shrine. Shinto followers believe that it serves as the vehicle of a divine spirit in Japan at the time of a parade of deities. Often, the mikoshi resembles a miniature building, with pillars, walls, a roof, a veranda and a railing. Typical shapes are rectangles, hexagons, and octagons. The body, which stands on two poles (for carrying), is usually lavishly decorated, and the roof might hold a carving of a Phoenix.
During a matsuri, people bear a mikoshi on their shoulders by means of the two poles. They bring the mikoshi from the shrine, carry it around the neighborhoods that worship at the shrine, and in many cases leave it in a designated area, resting on blocks, for a time before returning it to the shrine. Some shrines have the custom of dipping the mikoshi in the water of a nearby lake, river or ocean. At certain festivals, the people who bear the mikoshi wave it wildly from side to side, and from time to time, deaths occur when a mikoshi strikes a bystander or participant.
anyways… shit was rad!
these are way out of order, but here are my radical photos of the event:
everyone was so pumped!
this kid got a free ride the whole way!
so stoked to carry the shrine
seriously, judaism needs to incorporate a drum and flute truck this holiday season! (and bonus points for the pensive looking dude in the right hand corner!)
everyone was so stoked to be in on the shrine carrying
when we stopped, this guy got up and clicked his sticks… then kinda crowd surfed/trust fell into the crowd! awesome!
picking up the shrine and moving on….
i hope this peacock was made of solid gold, because that shrine was really heavy!
this dragon was epic!
ridiculously intricate.. but i guess thats a shrine for you
this is my favorite photo of the day
also another good photo
the shrine… all purdy like
this is ken, he was so stoked! everyone was stoked! he was the one who sort of half english/half gestured that he would hold my backpack, hold my camera and take my picture if i would help the ‘hood carry the shrine.. so naturally i obliged
its really hard to carry a shrine! its ridiculously heavy as well! and for some reason there are people at the end of all the poles, pushing downwards as hard as they can the whole time! needless to say my shoulder is sore! and also im taller than most japanese, so i kind of had to stoop down, which didnt make bearing the load any easier. notice andrew dying on the left. i think that its some kind of happiness through intense suffering kind of zen thing. it was painful, but everyone was so friendly and stoked to bear the weight of the shrine, you couldnt help but be happy to pitch in!
getting super zen
so pumped to carry the shrine! this guy getting other people pumped! everyone takes a turn! when you stop you get free beer! shinto is rad!
so i walk out of the dorm, go with this parade, help carry this ridiculously intricate and heavy shrine… get free iced tea (i hear if you went back to the temple you got unlimited beer, sake, sacred homebrew sake and tons of food…) but i had an awesome time with joa and those guys… and then walked for a couple hours taking terrible night photos, then i came home and got to play guitar, then ate food, then stayed up all night…
another weird/cool thing about japan is that they are very lax about sticking to one religion… i read in a cheesy tourbook (so this may not be very accurate) that japanese are born shinto, marry christian and die buddhist… they are just stoked to celebrate, so they will be shinto, christian and buddhist all the same time, or whatever fits on that day… (correct me if im wrong) its my understanding that christmas is a big deal, but its more of a shopping thing and not a baby jesus thing… i guess ill find out on christmas!
on another note, i found chabad in tokyo!? (totally by accident.. there is a chabad kosher deli across the street from school) how weird is that? im totally going to kol nidre on friday! i need an exuse to wear my dress clothes anyways. and the dude im working on tokyofixedgear.com for is a british, albeit secular, jew… weird! i cant escape jews anywhere i go… i guess thats a potentially good thing. im also friends with a south african jew at school, but hes one of those spoiled la jews that i just cant totally hang with… being a spoiled oc jew is one thing, but la jews are a cut above… and not in a good way. but i guess we relate to each other on that weird jew level. maybe its time to go shinto.
i think, against all better judgement… im going to go to mcdonalds and eat a egg mcmuffin and then go to bed… i’ll leave you with this…
next time you want to show me your crew, show up on a flatbed truck and then we’ll talk
well, this was definately the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me… possibly ever… not just in tokyo
i was on the train with like 10 kids from the dorm and this really old lady in what seemed to be a 10 year old girls princess dress (with puffy see through shoulder puffs and everything) starts speaking in english and says a couple times (with hand/face hand motion) what i thought was “your face is silly!” and so i was kinda like… “well listen grandma, your dress is silly!” you know, all snappy like… but i dont think either of us heard each other… which was cool because….
she stands up all frail like and touches my face and says in english “your face is wonderful” so i was like kind of shamed at previously inaudibly shaming her and was like “well, your dress is WOOOOONNDERRFUUUUULLLL” all nice like… and then i said she looked like a princess and she blushed… ADORABLE!!!!!!
fucking amazing, right?
then she got off the train and this creepy toothless shitfaced drunk bum guy got on and was making kissy faces at me for like 3 stops till he got off, and also proceeded to stare at me through the train window till we left the station… but he was drunk, so who cares… especially considering what occurred directly before that.
tokyo is so weird.
monday is “national respect for the aged day” in japan. kiss someone over 60 and give them daisies or something too. maybe carry their bags… or tell them that they look like princesses if you get on the train and they are really old and are wearing a princess dress. just dont push them down the stairs like you want to cause thats your fucking train and you might be late to school if they dont hobble any goddamned faster… (just kidding, id never push an old person down the stairs…. they are all hunched over and short… in a pinch a relatively lanky person could probably just jump over them!)
ps: i need to have my camera in my pocket at all times from now on. or a video camera. golly!
pps: i should have used my futuristic japanese cell phone… it has a camera and does video.. and the battery lasts for like 5 days… and i can watch tv on it (for free.. with japanese captions! WTF!?)… what the fuck was i thinking? im not used to having a cool phone. my apologies to everyone involved
well, the envy/mono show was radical! it was super fun, even though it ended up sounding nothing like i thought it would! but i got to do the seth-freakout dance and shake my hand in the air alot which is the best part of shows… i went out with some friends to a club in shinjuku that was actually super fun, and it was cheap to get in… you just had to buy one drink… the envy/mono show you had to buy one drink as well… seems like to go anywhere you have to buy one drink to get in… and water doesnt even count! what the fuck? oh well, one beer isnt going to kill anyone. but sometime im going to go back to that club with a grip of people, super mellow… dancin all night long!
and im rockin pretty hard at school, so thats good. keeping everything cheap and under control…
gyoza time… its only ¥198 for 30! score!! rice and gyoza!
oh yeah, will someone please tell me where to get sriracha? i need spicy vietnamese chili sauce in my life.
so i was eating in harajuku last weekend and i see this white family, which is rare… and they have 2 little kids and they are doing the usual pointing and laughing thing at me, which is pretty unexecptional and not really news in itself… then today i was walking in shinjuku looking for a PIA ticket counter so i could get tickets for the Envy/Mono show and the mom of the aforementioned family walks up to me and apologizes for her kids! WEIRD RIGHT? i didn’t really care in the first place, it certainly wouldnt have been the first time its ever happened. so i thanked her, and then i asked her where PIA was… and she asked someone else and I had a crew of 2 middle aged ladies walk like 5 blocks with me until we found the spot! that was super cool! its very odd to run into her again, maybe i have a stalker? i guess times that those are the blessings/curses of being seth. oh well. oh and the show was sold out. damn! maybe i can get to the venue right after school and buy a ticket tomorrow night at the door… id love to see two epic japanese hardcore bands in one show! oh and polysics are playing a myspace secret show… im going to try to get one of the free tickets on 9/17.
although i have to admit i dont entirely miss being solely responsible for the life and care of my dog… i miss the shit out of that little shit. i wish my feral mexican coyote dog was here with me now, we could have tons of adventures. IRIE-I ROOTS DOG!!! a little flashback to the old days:
oh and i miss my west coast friends too:
ps: i miss barda too, my “other” dog
try memorizing this new alphabet with 46 characters (hiragana) in 36 hours while having a cold and a million other homework things to do:
fun. not to mention the extra like 20 hiragana characters with the diacritical marks!!! next week is katakana. then kanji. good thing these alphabets are all over the place… i have about half of hiragana down, and you know… im in japan… so i can sound out signs and parts of advertisements on the train and on the street! cultural immersion rules! the weird thing is you can construct a sentence in japanese using all 3 alphabets and a few english words… it can get pretty complicated, but as i said cultural immersion rules! and so does lemon tea… and extra strength halls lozenges… and japanese tv.
I’ve been pretty lax about writing up my experiences here, mostly because I’m hardly ever at home. But I will try to sum it up here:
I live in a guest house/dorm type building, where I have a single sized bedroom. There are about 60 people in the dorm, all of whom are pretty nice people. There aren’t any Japanese in the dorm, but there are a few other international students from places like Spain and Russia. Its pretty quiet here, and the building is located in Ota-ku, which is a small residential area. The train station is a 10 minute walk away, and it will get you to Kamata on one end and Gotanda on the other. From Gotanda you can transfer to the JR Yamanote line which will take you to Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku one direction and to my school in the other (at Tamachi station). Theres a killer sushi bar right next to Ontakesan station, and a grocery/department store called Jusco. Theres also a sweet bar called Pearling Cafe, which is really small and run by this guy named Masa who is a surfer. A bunch of kids from the dorm, particularly the ones under 21 go there pretty often (probably because its a novel experience for them to go out drinking). Thats about it for the neighborhood, its a little far from school in terms of biking, and I haven’t found an english map yet so I just take the train to school right now and that takes about 40 minutes.
School is pretty swell, there is a good mix of Americans, other internationals and Japanese students. I have met and hung out with cats from all over the world in the last two weeks, from Europe to South America to other parts of Asia, like India, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. Thats pretty fun. There are two school buildings, and all of my classes are in the Azabu hall building. Azabu hall is near a cool neighborhood called Azabu Juban, where a lot of foreign embassies are located. Theres a good mix of international food there. After Azabu Juban theres Roppongi Hills, where there is a huge fancy mall with lots of hyper expensive designer clothes and an art museum. Behind Roppongi Hills is Roppongi, which I haven’t been to yet. Roppongi is where there are a bunch of bars and clubs, filled with mostly tourists and foreigners. It sounds pretty over-hyped, but I will probably have to go there at some point to at least check it out. Tonight I am going to Koenji for the first time to see PWRFL Power, this guy named Kaz who is on tour from Seattle. I met him just before I left and he seemed like a nice guy and a very talented musician. I have been going to Shibuya fairly often, mostly because thats where people always want to go clubbing, which I am not that into. I like Harajuku, and I picked up some nice clothes there. There are tons of vintage stores and boutique clothing shops, most of which is insanely expensive. Shinjuku is kind of the same as Shibuya, with a bunch of bars, shops, restaraunts and skyscrapers. In Shinjuku there is also this art supply store called Sekkaido that is enormous. Its 6 stories tall and has anything art related you can think of. Thats where I got some of my school supplies.
I’m slowly picking up Japanese, mostly at bars because thats where it seems like Japanese are most likely to talk to you. They love to get “socially lubricated”, as it were. Theres some good beer here, lots of Kirin Ichiban and Heineken. There is a severe lack of good whiskey here, I miss Jameson! I’m stuck with crappy Jack Daniels most of the time. There is also Wild Turkey everywhere, for reasons I don’t understand. As well as Early Times. All crap. Japan is definately a drinking culture, all the businessmen go straight to the bar after work and come home drunk, passing out on the train en route to their destination. (see photo below)
There is tons of awesome cuisine here. I love the Ramen and Udon. Sushi is the best however! You can also get rice bowls with Unagi (freshwater eel I think… the other is Anago and its cheaper, sweeter and all around not as good.) for pretty cheap, but there are also places that specialize in Unagi and thats going to cost you.
All in all, this place rules. I’m having an awesome time so far, but I’m trying to keep my costs down by not drinking all the time and cooking some of my own food. Come out and visit me!
i got a new camera! and i found these two awesome fixies on the street in ebisu. super stoked!!!!!! i’ve only seen a couple of nice fixies around, but i’m sure i’ll find more.
this is my favorite photo that ive taken so far… very spontaneous, taken right before the train filled up. its pretty common to see drunk salarymen passed out on the train late at night. funny, huh?