Sutras of a Winesoaked Buddha

Dispatches from the Rucksack Revolution

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Knuckles and Beans

“I’m in a bad place,” was apparently my response to BC’s question to how or where I was. And I was. I have an emergency switch in my brain that makes me escape the scene when I get one shot over the line. This has taken me into some unusual places, usually backyards, once I woke up in the luggage compartment of an RV and still another time in the Pacific ocean. It’s an odd mechanism, but I’m generally glad it exists. This particular night, Saturday, I was in an dark ally.

Once I had some idea of where I was it and sobered up a bit, I rejoined the group. Or maybe the group rejoined me. Whatever happened, we were all foreigners, and drunk. We needed refuge in the form of increased drunkenness, soft lighting, and the robot politeness of the Japanese so we went to a late night Izakaiya.

An izakaiya is sort of like a restaurant and sort of like a bar. They serve beer, fried food, edamame (little green bean things) and are reasonably cheap. Sweeting the deal, they also usually have picture menus. Lastly it is acceptable to be drunk here. In a word it’s sanctuary.

At the first sight of Laura’s tits bursting out of her bride-of-Santa-red-corset, and sound of our loud foreign and boozy voices we were put upstairs. By ourselves. This was a good thing; for it was there that we acted in the foul and stereotypical ways of the dirty gaijin.

First, we made mistakes with the ordering counting system. For some reason counting things in Asia is pointlessly difficult. I can’t remember if we ordered too many or too few or what, but mistakes were made. Fingers were used.

Secondly our Japanese reading ability was so shitty that we accidentally ordered a plate of fried chicken knuckles to go with our beers and edamame. At about this point things start to get bad.

Nico, completely passed out, laid across the adjacent table totally asleep and snoring loudly. BC was pissed off about something and was very loud. I was totally drunk and slurring or lamenting something trying to keep my shit together in a vain attempt construe what exactly had happened. Communication was severely lacking a everyone was in their own groggy worlds, but it was fun.

I don’t know if it was just in my mind, but I seem to recall batter-sucked knuckles being thrown around the table.

It was as if all of Japan was thinking, "Dirty dirty gaijin, why can’t you just eat your knuckles and beans in peace?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Application of a Festering Thought

Application of a Festering Thought.

During my strange year back home in Santa Barbara I was drinking fairly heavily, and smoking copious amounts of marijuana. Drinking and driving is a very bad idea, I have only good things to say about smoking pot while driving and did so with great regularity on long night runs to bad areas in Los Angeles to pick up a Chevy S10's worth of political material for one of Jeremy's crazy political schemes. There was no CD player, and it being 2004, I had no tapes. Just the general madness running through my head, and my arm out the window to let as much Central California Coast into my car as possible before going over the hump into the Los Angeles Basin, and all the bad vibes that doing so entails.

It was on one of these weird drives, possibly the weirdest one of them all that I had an idea that was to fester. I was dropping off anti-Wal-Mart material to a strange and paranoid but well intentioned gentleman outside of Paso Robles. He swore constantly, and I was stoned completely out of my head after several hours of late night "madroad driving", so communication was abnormal at best. This is actually of little importance to this already rambling narrative.

It was an idea running though my on this long drive took hold. I was in that fearful and weird post graduate twenties career/life decision bullshit phase of life referred to by help hucksters as "the formulative years". It's a cake walk for some, a testing period for others and leads to paralyzing nervous breakdowns for others. It's a total crapshoot. The possibility for mental collapse is especially real when drugs, booze, sleep deprivation, are combined with a total lack of tangible work skills. Which they most certainly were. These days are much quieter.

To add to all the normal weirdness of the time, 2005ish, I had just been in Thailand and all around South East Asia finding solace in the poor and hot places in that part of the world. I had been eating the proverbial and literal lotus leaf for long enough to permanently destroy the cutthroat instincts necessary to screw people out of money as a young bloodthirsty yuppie from the ugly troughs of American business. I just frankly didn't have it in me and knew I never would, nor would want to. The rags to riches story is bullshit, and I wasn't from rags anyway, so I didn't need to prove to anyone that I could screw people more efficiently than some other baldhead.

Anyways in the same way that turns men to be jungle guerrilla warriors and Catholic priests, I looked to my heroes. In my case I thought about the lives of Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, and Noam Chomsky for inspiration. But you probably already knew that. Anyways, the story continues, and the idea festers.

EDIT: In proofreading this I realized that I haven't even told you what the idea was, but don't worry it's coming soon enough, and it's good, but first more writing..

The idea of being a pure drifter like Kerauac and the other vanguards of rucksack revolution was out of the question. I don't have the stomach for it. In the hot South Fresno summer of 1998, I'd had a taste of farm work and, while an excellent way to cultivate virtue, was not for me. Beatnik drifting is a very beautiful thing, but being financially indebted to kin was not. So, while I respect it immensely, like I said, it was out of the question, though I am always tempted to pack up my 6200 cubic centimeter Kelty Red Cloud and my synthetic and trail tested 4 season Marmot sleeping bag for destinations and durations unknown.

I'm currently sitting in Japan so it's safe to say that the bacteria that inhibit settling tendencies have (ironically) developed colonies throughout my nervous system.

In addition to Jack Kerouac, the psychotic life of sheer documented madness of the late Dr. Gonzo was extremely appealing, though prohibitory dangerous. The process pioneered by Thompson was to match the external madness of the modern world with internal madness and then see what came out the other end of the typewriter. Then, assuming it's legible, somehow convince someone to print it and try to pass it as actual journalism. The possibility for addiction, psychosis, estrangement and certain rejection are very real for those who chose this path. It takes talent and sheer weirdness that can't be faked. I know people weird enough for this lifestyle. They've asked to remain unnamed. One man in particular is, or maybe once was, a filthy and raging monster, fully in the moment and disturbingly beautiful in his God-given madness. If somehow inspired, he could write some truly weird stuff. Maybe someday we'll get torn back and write it all down in a frenzy. But I fear those days may be over. Time set in. Life set in.

Sorry, got a little distracted there.

Anyways, from Thompson I'll hang on what guru Alan Watts describes as "the irreducible element of rascality," and remember that, like Vishnu, you sometimes need to totally lose your mind in order to find it. Maybe I'll keep writing too. Hell, maybe someday someone will read it "with the right kind of eyes" and have a laugh. The important thing is to always keep things a little weird. Weirdness maintains thinking. Thinking delays stagnation. Stagnation invites death.

Oh yeah, almost forgot, I also really need to emulate the productivity of Thompson. Although he was completely out of his mind, he got a lot of shit done. All the creativity in the world goes nowhere if it's stuck in your skull.

Lastly and distinct from the other two nutcases is Professor Noam Chomsky. Certifiably odd human Glen Jackson introduced me to Uncle Noam and his academic brilliance in college. His thinking and morality enlighten (small e) people that listen and read what he has to say about world politics and the corrupt fascists bastards that profit from it. And Uncle Noam is a badass professor, and a brilliant one at that. Perhaps, it is from Noam that I'm most inspired. After all learning is my real hobby. That and teaching. I love teaching, especially to adults.

I suppose what interests me most about all three of these white men. They were all teachers in some capacity and had a curious mind to look at the world from different angles, and it doing so find unique ways of interpreting it. I'm not so sure I have that kind of mind, but I hope that I do. Or I suppose I can steal if from unsuspecting person who does.

So, back to that idea I had. The idea I had on that and many other very weird nights is make a life and living as a gonzo educator. I'm have, am, and am going to try to incorporate the elements of gonzo, socialism, and anti-fascist thinking into a career in education, a field usually full of suited tight-asses on a pencil necked ego trip. Maybe all this isn't coming across effectively. I'll give you an example of a gonzo educational activity. Examples usually help.

Example: In a class of all Swiss-German students I took them on a field trip to a bank. They then had to write a paper, in English, on how to rob that bank step by step. Defiantly gonzo, definatly socialist, questionably educational.

Of course this kind of stuff is impossible teaching ESL and living in Japan. A) They just don't have the vocabulary for it. B) they don't have any reference point to begin with. Gonzo like any form of change comes on very slow out here, and to be honest, being out here is tough on the gonzo already in me. No motorcycles, no drugs, hell not even a car.

One thing I've learned in this fucked up place is that you have to scale craziness to an acceptable level for the environment. My very existence is weird enough for these groupthinkers, and introducing individuality and free thinking in the classroom can only be done after puréeing it and serving it with a Gurber spoon. They couldn't handle anything close to the Isla Vista shit like smoking pot in full view of the police, or playing baseball with recently emptied beer cans completely zonked out on plycibin and Wild Turkey in the middle of the street laughing hysterically while singyelling "Sugar Mountain" at 3 in the morning. That shit won't fly. None of that would fly. They haven't had their Ken Kesey yet, but God willing, they will...he or she has to be homegrown. It ain't me babe.

Staying focused while writing this today hasn't been easy. I'm at work, and that means coffee. Copious amounts of it. Today I made it; and it's very strong. In the absence of anything really mind altering, you have to take what you can get. Most mammals do something, anything, to distort reality even it's just banging their heads against rock

That's what I want to, be a gonzo educator. So here's the plan, I'll stay in Japan and keep teaching, even though it's rather mindnumbing. I'll Work on the educator part during the daytime hours Mon-Friday, and study International Relations at night. Giving the highly interpretive and dynamic nature of the field and the sheer amount of fascism needed to be dismantled, IR is a great field for Gonzo. I need to get qualified in it to teach it to people capable of understanding English. Then after I finish an MA, on some moonlit night I'll take the gonzo out of storage and hit the throttle...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Change of Plans

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” is not one of my favorite Clash songs. I think the Combat Rock album (except for “Straight to Hell” which may be the best Clash song) is fairly weak; especially in comparison to he highly underrated Sandinista album recorded in Kingston.

I haven’t even started writing anything and I’m already distracted. This doesn’t bode well for the patience of the reader. Fight on dear reader.

Anyways the decision to stay or go has been looming on the minds of pretty much the entire JET community. And let me tell you, deciding to stay a 3rd and final year on JET was not an easy decision.

Q: “WHAT?! Another year? But I thought you were going to go to graduate school/London/Rome/home?”

Yeah I know, I know. But let me explain my decision.

-The main reason I’m staying is that I’m extremely interested in the postgraduate program I’m doing in International Relations. I think people have a vague idea of what it is, but I think I should explain it a little better.

The program is through the University of London’s external program with the London School of Economics as the university in charge of my particular program. I’m taking 2 upper division undergraduate courses as well as 2 graduate level courses. I study on my own reading books and journals online, and in June I will take an examination in 2 of the 4 courses required.

-My original plan was to bust my ass, buckle down and finish all 4 of the required courses at the same time. I’ve recently decided to sit only two of the exams this year and will sit the other two next year. I’ve done this for two reasons. First, after talking to others studying externally in the same program, I’ve learned sitting 4 exams is only really possible if you’re a full time student. Secondly, I really like the course work and by splitting the course into two years, I’ll have longer to digest the material.

So that’s the main reason I’m staying.

Q: Why don’t you just go to grad school right off?

That’s a better question. Actually I really want to go to grad school, and I will, I just want to get course taken care of first. One step at a time. I’ve always had a very difficult time in seeing things through to the end, and I want to see this thing through. Plus my grades as an undergraduate weren’t very good and I’m changing my field of study, so a big name certificate from LSE will make the transition into graduate school less jarring.

Q: But I thought Japan and teaching ESL drove you crazy

Yeah pretty much. But lately I’ve really found my stride out here. I’ve got a routine that suits me very well. My biggest problem was finding meaning in what I’m doing. Because of this academic stuff, I have a better reason to be here in the Japanese countryside then just the “experience”. Also staying in quiet Kamiichi, doing a job that requires a fraction of my brain and time, and having the cash to easily pay for the tuition fees makes studying easier. Plus I want to continue a career in education so staying adds another scape to my teaching belt.

Q: What about moving to Tokyo or another country and finishing the course there?

The idea of moving to Tokyo and studying is laughable. Moving to another country would of course be cool, but I know the situation here and I’ve found a way to make it work for me. Believe it or not, Kamiichi and Toyama have really grown on me.

Q: Is there any other bullshit you want to feed us?

No, not really. I could sing songs about how I really want to speak Japanese well, but when it comes down to it, all I really want to be able to do is hold conversations. Learning Japanese is priority number 3 out here.

Q: Are you ever coming home?


Friday, December 01, 2006

Debotchery in San Juan

Dear Reader

Unfortunately our worst fears are confirmed. I've only just recently received the following letter from the authorities in San Juan:

To Whom It May Concern:

As the Governor of the territory of Puerto Rico I feel it is my duty to inform you that your lost “creativity” has tbeen captured and later lost by the local police, agents of La Migra, and the United States Coast guard as he fled our custody in a brazen attempt to enter the United States under refugee status from Japan.

The description of him that you faxed to us perfectly corresponds to a man who spoke in a queer tongue referring to himself only as Zipacna. He was arrested late Wednesday night after drunkenly brandishing crude a blow gun at a local fish market. A spear, a pearl handled revolver, and 6 sharpened railroad spikes were also found on his person.

From the description of several witnesses including several women in his escort, he was heavily intoxicated on a variety of illicit chemicals. He was raving hysterically about the shrill screams and martial behavior of a Japanese Fascist Generalissimo he called Tsukashima. While we in San Juan are used to the disgusting behavior of the gringos, it is the utterance of this word, Tsukashima that I am writing you personally.

We don’t know if you are aware of this but the name Tsukashima is considered unmentionable on this island and has not been uttered for some time as it is connected to a series of savage rites preformed long before the arrival of Cortez. After merely hearing mention of this this name, several of the officers on the scene have failed to report to work and have resorted to mere beasts, descending into increasingly unacceptable violent, and, frankly—perversely savage behavior.

We will of course keep you informed as to the pursuit of Zipacna. Any help in understanding how your Zipacna came in contact with this name would be greatly appreciated.


Carlos Jimenez
Governor of the Territory of Puerto Rico.

On Hold

While the rest of me was listening to Okazaki-sensei, my creativity went on vacation. Therefore there will be no new sutras until my beatsisitude comes back from a disastrous and possibly self-harming rum fueled romp through the backstreets and neon districts of San Juan.


--The Editor

Monday, November 20, 2006

We Didn't Start the Fire.... Updated

So I'm a history/politics/pop culture nerd so, naturally I love the Billy Joel song, "We Didn't Start the Fire" The following is my attempt at updating it starting from where it left off at the end of the 80s. The rhythm is tough but here it is.

Charles Taylor, Estonia, game boy, Latvia,
Sandinista, Johnny Carson, Pablo Escobar,

Bart Simpson, Magic Johnson, later Nancy Kerrigan
Desert Storm, Desert Shield, War in East Timor.

Clarence Thomas, Arafat, Seinfeld, Yitzhak,
Fertility pill, Brady bill, Walmart's gotta new new store..

Time Warner, Marion Barry, Rwanda’s gotten really scary
Rap, Gotti, Ebay, Ukraine, oh, and say goodbye to McVeigh!

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the worlds been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light
But we tried to fight it.

Douglass Coupland, Kurt Cobain, Rumsfeld met Saddam Hussein,
Newt Gingrich, Jian Zemin, Mike Tyson takes it in the chin.

IPO, Monica, Liebermann, Slovakia,
Free Tibet, the internet, and all of Enron’s shit

Putin, Blair, Ken Starr, Shell wants the ANWAR
OJ, Kobe, Heaven’s Gate, and foot and mouth in cattle.

Pokeman, MoveOn, trouble in Florida
Tony Hawk, Tiger Woods, and the Battle for Seattle!


Anorexic, Atkins’s, Napster, invade another nation
“A Clash of Civilization” and Bin laden’s in Wazuristan,

Xbox, Matrix, Ali G, anthrax,
China, Chavez, Cheney, Juarez.

Taliban, Harrison, “Brokeback Mountain”

Ipod, Hezbollah, peak oil, Africa,
Venezuela, Gaza, Hurricane Katrina
Victor Prodi, Spiderman, tsunami, Koizumi
Frodo, TiVo, Daily Show, and Chechens seiging Moscow!


Friday, November 17, 2006

Same Night Revisited

Go out somewhere new. In some roaring group. Or just wrangle lonesome. Find some wild bar or if short in the pocket: friend's apartment. And keep up the sleepless fight by means of 520 yen MAXIO genki drink. Keep with the wit. Keep out the wrinkles. Wear this but not with that. Dance. Goof. Remember all that silly glossy Men’s Health and Playboy advice! Look at her, but not at her…for too long anyways. Fresh breath, always fresh breath! All manner of recommendations on how to act and attract, but I can’t remember any of it and let loose and ‘cause I wanna drunk, I do!

And I do by orange juice and tequila.

And after the last dance in Roppongi, CRASH the genki potion wears off and everyone flees to coat lockers and then into the subways to avoid the judgmental and somehow parental crows that sound like my angry mother waking me up early in the morning with “Maaaaaaaaaaax Maaaaaaaax”. Go underground with the other late night refugees. Ghastly girls with strange chemical skin in miniskirts and suede Selfish Queen boots sit with dapper gents in refined flimsy hats leaning against white tiled subway walls. Sprawled. It’s early morning in West Tokyo and it’s full of friends and ringing ears.

These boots are actually say, "Selfish Queen" on them. This may be the only picture I put on this whole blog. Ever.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Last Slow Dance in Roppongi

It was the last slow dance in Roppongi. I was there dancing with a girl I’d never spoken a word to. A Japanese girl, with soft cute face, almond eyes, dressed smart-— but otherwise difficult to describe. Her right hand rested quietly on my chest. She felt feminine and oddly familiar like the incarnation of some Ernest Hemingway goddess made real.

It was the last slow dance in Roppongi. The natural attraction of Italian car jocks and girls with eyes for diamonds and glitter was over. They'd all gone home to bon vivant lifestyles. Done too was consumer frenzy, and the click-clack of designer heels on rain soaked concrete.

Note by slow note that music was playing softly as if to cleanse the testosterone so carelessly spilled on the dance floor. It felt as if all my bop heros in heaven were saying, "all is well". It was the last slow dance in Roppongi, so I kissed her.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Overheard in Toyama

Overheard in Toyama

Drunk 1: Do you wanna go to that place that hates foreigners.
Drunk 2: Man, they really hate us there don’t they… but the beer is cheap. Alright let’s go.

On alternative lifestyles:

ALT1: He was so amazing he chopped wood all day. I’d love to be like that.
ALT2: Mongolian woodcutters don’t have ipods though.
ALT1: Yeah that’s true.

On the phone in staff room.

Japanese teacher on phone: Hai, moshi moshi
Caller: (inaudible)
Japanese teacher on phone: onegaishimasu
Caller: (inaudible)
Japanese teacher on phone: onegaishimasu
Caller: (inaudible)
Japanese teacher on phone: onegaishimasu
Caller: (inaudible)
Japanese teacher on phone: onegaishimasu
Caller: (inaudible)
Japanese teacher on phone: onegaishimasu
Caller: (inaudible)
Japanese teacher on phone: sumimasen
Caller: (inaudible)
Japanese teacher on phone: sumimasen
Caller: (inaudible)
Japanese teacher on phone: sumimasen

On what’s next:

ALT1: damn people are dying a lot this season [on LOST], what do you think they’ll do?
ALT2: I don’t know, maybe just focus on those other people walking around on the beach.

On what’s next 2:

Me: Damn dude, I like your post-JET plan.
ALT2: Yeah, It’s my plan… this week.

On false Expectations:

I don’t think the water is any better here than the water anywhere else.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Beaten up at Bananas

I came into the room like Sal Paradise into some beat crash pad to get over workaday blues and prepare for party goofs with the JET crew and… GOD damn if there wasn’t the most beautiful girl in that old room. She had more than a cute new face. It was like she had just been dropped off into the universe and was ready to, as Jack said, “take on new worlds with a shrug”. My word! Such a lively face—lithe even—yeah that’s an appropriate description. And and and not the kind of beautiful that’s like, “huh, yeah I guess she is real cute", like a whitewashed Dave Brubeck song. Rather this girl's being was like the ripping tearing straight-to-the-organs kind of beauty of John Coltrane whacked out of his gourd steaming out of control in “A Love Supreme”. And her eyes!! Even the most detached of Bodhisattvas' old heart would skip a beat sending him back into the hellish realms of desire and worldly attachment with just a look. Wonderful to see. I thought to myself, with all that’s rotten in this world there are and will aways be beautiful girls right around every corner.

Anyways the charm (and she was charming, too) of this girl was not lost on old Randy Brownstone who, believe you me, when he gets air of a beautiful girl is a thing to see. Childlike and smooth if making her was a possibility, even a remote one, he was there doing it all the right way. He reminded me of Dean in On The Road but without the madness and Benzedrine. When there was a girl like this in the room Rich Randy was really in his Buddha nature. Unlike me, who unwisely turns to juice and tequila joy, ole’ Randy B stays on target. Never flustered. He’s a sight to behold!

I was deep in juice joy and running around digging the whole scene. We’d all be lying if we said we weren’t looking forward to it! Rashaan Roland Kirk wrote a poem about how great a particular crowd was because the patrons didn’t look like Saturday night people. He said that “Some people only go out on Saturday night; and they act like it.” And for all my midweek goofs in my college days, and all my drunken motorcycle rides, we couldn’t deny that we were defiantly Saturday night people.

And there I was, a part of the whole thing. I was genki as a yellow cap kid kicking stones on the walk from school, and I was listening to some gone Japanese girl dressed up as an angel talk about something I didn’t really know about, or maybe I was telling a story about some mindless adventure I’d had, or wanted to have. Either way, while she wrote on my hand, I looked up and saw the people.

The people!

People who had been real go-outers in far away homes in New Zealand, England, and all points around the English speaking world have been cooped up in the suit guglag that is the education system here or in any town in any country really. But we were without even a same-speaker to have giggles and glad talk with at work.

There were cats there who looked like they just came from some long lost Kansas or, say, Garden State, farm, let lose for what seemed to be the first time no longer with their good looking and faithful boyfriends waiting and worrying at home. Pretty much everyone earnestly looking for companionship. Most hadn't discounted the chance of sex and were all fumbling and gyrating (some stone sober even! God! how?!). Everyone with great gusto and biological sense of purpose. The whole scene was like the freshman dorm scene played out ad infinium across the middleclass-isphere.

And the people!

By this point I was well lit, and tried to get into conversations with beautiful girls all dressed in fancy East Coast degrees, but addled with my juice joy it all come out weird. It was if they knew all my faults and bad habits already and I babbled on incoherently. As I asked pointless questions and in response got back the WTFinstant message faces that I more then deserved. Had I been out here in isolated Kamiichi to long to properly communicate effectively with the future leaders of tomorrow? It appeared I had. Later in recounting the night, I guess others had the same experiences, getting the same rejecting faces, so I didn’t feel that bad. But as it usually does luck was to shine on me again…

This new groovy cat from far away Philadelphia’s was lucky enough to have a birthday that night. I liked him because he seemed honest and terrific and we'd been on a great rip though Tokyo. Before I knew it we were hit by the proprietor of this crazy bar with 4 birthday plastic cup fingers of plastic bottle tequila that sent my mind back to Sharkees of all the bars in Santa Barbara.

Oh man! I was fully right back there in Sharkees looking at a totally different set of people. Back in skanky old Sharkees, and me in jeans and t-shirt sadness looking though booze eyes at the storied women of California shanking their hips like a hurricane all while trying to avoid eyecontact with me. Was I really was the broke square that I saw myself as at the time? But I'd come out of my selfloathing soon enough and I was really just there to hang out with Chris and Rob and tell stories of the days' waves ridden, and how they’d gotten tired of hearing overhearing the gay sex in the apartment above and moved out, or other such bar talk. And as corny as it sounds, every conversation was really just a celebration of being young and enjoying the weird freedom we’d half deserved and half had just fallen into.

But I wasn’t there anymore. I was back in Uozu with Florence who was having herself a good time in the thick of it all to. She’s amazing, an honest woman, riding that fine-zen-line between feminist and feminine, able to get what she wanted and do it all her way. I dig her, I think she’s terrific. “Cool” doesn’t even suffice for her she’s something else. She was more than that. She'd best described by some adjective not yet percolated into the vernacular of the middleclass children playing Peter Pan games far from home. Anyways we talked and gossiped about the course of this night… natural and silly as always. Like two zen monks throwing bananas at each other, only we were at Bananas (that was the name of the bar) and not throwing them.

Somewhere in the pheromone fog of the place I was thinking of those that weren’t there. TokyoPUA was surely up in some Shibuya ward playing cool games at night with adventurous local girls looking for a laugh and something different. He would always write to me about regretting his wild actions the morning after. I don’t really believe that he's sorry for his actions, the relenting that is, but he was out there in the mix being really kinetic and I loved him for that.

Another group that didn’t make it was the too cool for that crowd. But we’ll let the melancholy Chet Baker, “they’re singing songs of love but not for me” crowd be. Some simply had to work the next day and stayed in, these are the same type of people that never get second notices from the bill man.

Then there were the others that I missed, that had escaped Neverland (not THAT Neverland) and went home for even fancier degrees and realjobs to show their proud grandfathers when they gather around for Thanksgiving or Sunday roast. We missed them greatly! Lastly we missed the brave adventurers who left the handholding world of the English teacher in Japan for journeys into to Tibet and other far out places on the Earth. These who truly let it all hang out deserve praises.

Anyways, the people at this great party were like the beatniks of the 50s. We were the outsiders of the community. We were seen as wild and unruly, but in a romantic, and lonely way. We were the free living in the midst of self-imposed worker bees who had sadly long forgotten the meaning of Saturday night. We didn’t think of ourselves as being at the bottom of the totem pole of ancient Confucian hierarchy, but rather the dumb drunk bastards dancing around it. Anyways... I’m getting rather carried away here.

Within an amount of time, I was sitting on the ground with back to the wall listening to the loveletter-life of Dorthey and Toto (the symbolism was not lost on me) thinking about her sweetheart at home and they way they were. I was far too long gone to try and be cool (ha) , and just wanted to listen and hear what she had to say (no, ulterior motives) when the lights went on at the club…

The show was over, and it was off to stage two, where it was all jamming to the beat, but I was done and had to work the next day so I went back to the apartment where I saw that amazing girl a few hours and God only knows how many tequila sunrises before. But she was gone, as girls like that usually are, and I folded the futon down, laid down and tried play Stan Getz and Oscar Peterson bop jazz in my tired brain’s jukebox and get to sleep. But I was not alone there. I talked half awake, though mostly listened really, to the wild and, to be honest, fairly raunchy stories of a wild Southerner doing things that I couldn’t even arrange in my head properly. It was all beautiful, and I must have passed out while she was talking, but like most nights like this the last thing I thought about was that Jake Kerouac poem that I carried around in that mupple head of mine:

“Man exists in milk and his rancorous music takes place in honey and creamy emptiness.”

Friday, October 27, 2006

Short term goals revisited. Long term goals posted.

Short term goals revisited

1.) Fix the fucking shirt. Done and done! Total time spent 2 minutes.

2.) Go to a museum. Check! Went to Kyoto castle (which is like a museum), the Golden Temple, Silver Temple, and walked around a bunch of Japanese gardens, which is also like a museum.

3.) Stop eating chocolate. Well unfortunately my parents know that I have the chocolate cravings of a pregnant woman so they went to Costco and bought a huge box of Toblerone. Fortunately they bought the Halloween style individually wrapped type, perfect for giving as omiyage (small gifts given to coworkers when you go on vacation). So I was able to get rid of the chocolate and butter up my teachers.

4.) Haircut. Done and done!

5.) Give Kakuda more slack. Although this woman can hardly breathe, she is in the full employ of the Japanese government as a teacher in a language she can barely speak. Therefore I have to do most of the planning for all of her classes. Last week was especially bad. I had about 3 minutes notice to plan and teach lessons for her. Of course I didn’t make a big deal about it, but she does kind of bug me. So if there was a fail for the week it was this.

6.) Download more reggae. Big success here, I scored a Toots and the Maytals album that rules. Funky Kingston is especially groovy and their Country Roads cover is fantastic. I also downloaded Bob’s Babylon by Bus, which has some pretty good stuff on it as well. At this point it’s safe to say that I’ll be forever loving Jah.

7.) Less Sorry more thank you. This is pretty hard to measure, but while my mom and granddad were out here I said a lot of Thank Yous, had had little reason to say I’m sorry.

Conclusion: damn writing stuff down is pretty useful…So now it’s time for some longer term goals.

1.) Live in a big city for at least a year. I’m a small city person in my heart, but I have to give it a try.
2.) Masters degree by 30 a frightening close 4 years away, if I can swing this one, I can consider the whole Asian experience will be a sojourn rather then a debacle.
3.) Smoke pot with Bob Dylan. Might have to wait until heaven, but…
4.) Write the great American novel. I don’t really need to publish it, but the whole process would be sweet.
5.) Do a 540 on a snowboard and land it.
6.) Ride a 15-20 foot wave. My biggest yet is about 12 feet, and I still get jittery thinking about it.
7.) Rob an armored car…without firing a shot, give the money away anonymously.
8.) Ride my bike across the US.
9.) Finish the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve done the hardest part already (John Muir Trail) and the rest is pretty much below the tree line. Peace of cake.
10.) Make and bottle my own wine.
11.) Build a deck and Adirondack chair out of wood without nails or screws
12.) Get tenured at a college before 45.
13.) Take care of my mom and dad when they get old.
14.) Rescue somebody from a life or death situation.
15.) Do a triathlon.
16.) Learn to play the saxophone.
17.) Sell a piece of art that I made to a stranger.
18.) Learn to sail. Buy a boat. Live on it.

Love and family? That shit's totally out of my control…

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Short term goals. (boring)

I've hear a lot lately that if you write something down your more likely to accomplish what you want to do. I think that if my friends and family, not to mention some of cute girls, read it that will just make it even more likely to happen. So here's the short term list:

1). Fix the button on my orange shirt. It’s old, out of fashion, and a bit worn out but I’m loyal to that shirt, I have the string, I have the time, I have the button. Fix the fucking shirt.

2) Go to a museum, buy the t-shirt. If you can’t remember the last museum you went to, you’re a philistine, it's just that simple. Plus talking about museums in far away places is pretty cool. I guess I went to a small art gallery in Tokyo a couple weeks ago, but it's different. I still I gotta go to a museum. My mom and my grandpa are in Osaka this weekend, anybody know a good museum there?

3) Stop eating so much goddamn chocolate. I’m relapsing. I read somewhere that crack dealers do their best business in autumn.

4) Speaking of relapse, I need get a haircut. I look like teenwolf again.

5) Give Kakuda-sensei more slack. She’s trying her best.

6) Download more reggae. Winter’s right around the corner.

7) Less ‘sorries’ more ‘thank you’s’.

Seven will do.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Fine Balance

Rohinton Mistry wrote a fantastic book (it’s on Oprah’s book club incidentally) about revolutionary-era India called ‘A Fine Balance.’ On the cover of the book, a young girl is holding on to the steeple of some tall building with a somewhat worried look on her face. Throughout the story the protagonist is pretty much constantly dangling above a precipice of loneliness and despair. She’s trying desperately to hang on to whatever she can get her hands on.

It’s not like being shipped off to the Western Front or anything, but the first few months on JET you're definatly disoriented. You have pretty much no idea what is going on, how to teach, what that sign says, who is cool, or even what food is edible. The teachers around you are just trying to make sure your not a drug addicted ax murder let alone a teacher. Everyday is a mad goof of trying to find that fine balance in the neon jello that is Japanese culture without falling off the steeple.

Of course as things settle down they start to make more sense. You start to live here mentally instead of in some schizophrenic halfway point between Japan and home (Hawaii?). Before you know it the first year is over and the funeral procession of your non-recontracting friends begins. One by one you sherpa your friends luggage to the station, saying that you’ll meet up in London, Denver, or Melbourne. The balance of life that you found bit by bit as a first year finally tips over. You find yourself back where you started. It becomes all too clear that you’ve resigned yourself to an “I’m going to stay home and study” hermit attitude.

OK now I’m going switch into first person. After all this is a blog, and due to its bloggy nature it has to be narcissistic. Richard told me that people don’t like to hear that things are going well on blogs and that it just makes people sick. But that’s just because he’s British. So damn it, this is going to be positive! So if you wanna read me slag off Japan just scroll down, there’s plenty of that going on here, too.

Because I’m not really the otaku type, I’m 26, and I’m ready to be Drifter Senior grade, I decided I was going to be an academic hermit instead of a Japanese language hermit. I got started on some postgraduate work in international relations, which is becoming increasingly interstesting because my focus is on East Asian politics (Korean nukes) and South East Asian politics (Thai coups). A long nerdbook a week as got my academic neurological webs lit up for the first time since I graduated 4 long years ago.

I also started working out regularly for the first time since doing jujitsu with Jake last year. I don’t know if I’m actually getting stronger, or leaner, but the endorphins rushing around my brain make me feel stoned without the foggy side effects and the sketchy dealers. Actually the girl at Nakamura Sports is pretty sketchy. Anyways, I work out in the mornings before work. I haven’t gotten up early since the morning surf sessions ages ago, and it feels good to get up early and get things going. Instead of the drunkerd, I feel like a productive member of society. The real test of my tenacity will come with the first snows…

Socially I was ready to just say fuck it and stay home all the time. I’d made my friends already, I didn’t need anymore. I just needed a drinking buddy (Francie), a ride to the slopes in the winter (Richard), and stalwart Devin to hold down Tokyo for the occasional superbender. For the first few weeks into being a second year things looked pretty bleak for the go-outers. Toyama’s finest late night squad had been globally dissolved, replaced by stable couple’s and nondrinkers. Not to say that that is a bad thing, I just know I need the company of gonzo all-nighters who consistently opt for one more adventure before the crows of remorse circle above my doorstep.

…then we had Welcome Weekend. There was some definite second year bonding: Shoulders to cry on. Stories retold. Faces that no longer looked like the faces of the bright eyed and bushie tailed. We’d developed the thousand tatami stare, able to teethsuck and headtilt their way out of even the most outlandish Kyoto-sensei request. Juxtaposed with the unfamiliar new English speaking strangers (who might have been ax murders), I saw a lot of 2nd years in a new light. A better, cooler light.

That’s not to say that the new folks aren’t cool. Most of them I just don’t know yet. BC, Niko, and I had a nosleep mad tear through Tokyo and had some fairly fantastic adventures (on bridges, with a helmet). Way out in distant Tonami the mostly first year crew laid out a fine, albeit slightly krunky, party. So, I guess it’s like the Grateful Dead said, “once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”

So this second year has not been a descent into delusional loneliness, but rather a new and fine balance of academic pursuits, health kicks, and a mixed social life. So with a firm and manly will we embrace a second year in the karma Toyama. What will happen!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jake's Survey

Ok so Jake is a snob and sent me this survey I added a few questions, but think it's pretty damn good as far as myspace surveys go.

1) What is your spirit animal?
The Pacific Pelican: The Jimmy Buffet of animals. Free to go wherever, kind of smelly but still dignified, doesn’t get real uptight, loves the water, digs a good adventure, but always keeps things mellow and by the beach.

2) If you could make love to one song, what would it be?
Piotr Ilyitch Tchikovsky “1812” overture in E Flat played through outrageously large speakers. Orgasms as the cannons fire. THAT would be memorable sex. Elaborate, but memorable.

3) What's the furthest distance you've traveled to get some nookie?
Unless long term trips to Asia count, I’d say Washington DC from the West Coast for the weekend.

6) What's your favorite Spanish word?
Mi corazón (my heart) is a great sounding word and portrays the meaning well. Also, The Clash sing it with a horrendous working-class accent in Spanish Bombs.

7) If cost wasn't an issue, where would you want to have your wedding?
Jake the Snake said, “space”, which of course is a great answer. I think a modest wedding aboard a huge 1920s sailing yacht would be sublime in a Kennedy sort of way. Then we drop off the wedding party, pick up the surfboards and the red wine and sail God’s beautiful Earth until we die.

8) What book changed your life?
“The Book” by Alan Watts totally blew my mind spiritually and philosophically. It’s transforms the intricacies and non-duality of Eastern thought into a practical way to enjoy life second by second. Noam Chomsky’s "Hegemony or Survival” and Howard Zinn’s “People’s History,” forged my socialist political leanings.

9) Who is your favorite New York Times columnist?
Not Freidman, his, “India is like a champagne bottle” metaphors are inane. Dowd is a bit too rabid. I like Nicholas D. Kristof. He likes to get dug in deep and see things for himself, and he’s not afraid to take on controversial issues like religion. He’s as rational as he is biting in his Bush critiques.

10) Perfect Meal?
California Red Zinfandel from the Central Coast, bruschetta, and good cheese. A second course of tacos made by Carlos’s mom, to be followed by fillet minion topped with murell mushrooms, and wasabi twice baked potatoes. For desert my mom’s apple pie.

11) What's your all-time favorite Simpsons episode? You only get to choose one.
Tchaikovsky’s “1812” was an easy one, this is a toughie. I’m going to go with Homer as the Beer Barron episode, but only bimyo.

12) What’s your favorite quasi-legitimate religion?
Rastafarianism for several reasons including: religiously sanctioned laziness, high spirituality, and political awareness, but mostly to say things like, “I&I be speak to Jah on the most high”.

13) Who would you cast to play yourself in a bio pic? Who would write the novel of your life?
I’d like the novel of my life to be written by my good friend Brad Griff*th, and that Michael Cane would play me in my adult life, but I think Doogie Hoswer is much more likely.

14) Finally, think about the one that got away. How did she/he get away?

got on a plane…

Friday, September 29, 2006

Phuket City, Thailand

My previous city profiles were all pretty standard, its at this point were things start to get a bit off the rails. Keep in mind here that I’m profiling the people and the city I knew of, not necessarily my part in the city. Because Im not Thai, I guess I’ll look at the Phuket lifestyle from an expat perspective.

Level of Bad-ass-itude
Pretty damn high. Being a local and chillin’ at O’Malley’s pub and scaming tourists was pretty cool. Biologically successful chumps and Drifter senior grades save their nickels and dimes to make it to your doorstep. But then again your toilet doesn’t flush, your apartment is up to its ears in geckos (or worse) and you make about $500 on a good month. All in all it’s the land of the lotus eater.

Your motorcycle is your badge. Its says a lot about you. Honda Dream minivan. Yamaha Speed pussy wagon. Kawasaki Ninja/Honda CBR? badass killer bee. Lots of people have twirrly fire things for beach parties. Everyone has a Frisbee and a soccer ball for beach parties and odds are you have a scuba or spear fishing kit. Although it’s crude to say, your bits and pieces are all you really need out here, cause everyone’s getting laid.


During the week its fake names brand clothes and a tie, after work it’s swim trunks, scuba gear, and during the hot season, just a threadbare sarong. If you wear jewrey its either made of hemp, or the gaudiest yellow gold imaginable.

If your privileged enough to have one it’s a used Japanese car/truck that’s been blessed by a monk and has so many flowers, charms, and shrines hanging from the rearview mirror, you can’t really see out the window. The back seat is filled with scuba gear.


Here is the real split between the expat guys. About half have a Thai girlfriend that they stay true to. In this case her respectable profession (usually she’s a teacher) must be stated when greeting other expats for fear her being solicited for sex. The other half of the guys are total whore mongers, who could give a rats ass for nice beaches and hot curry.

Strip Malls?

None (when I lived there), department stores and family owned businesses are the name of the game. Consumerism isn’t really part of the scene there. Its more about heading to the beach, getting drunk, and driving motorcycles, or some unholy combination of the three.

Intellectual culture

Unexpectedly vibrant. The Thais I knew were usually pretty aware of what was happening at home and abroad, and the people living there were incredibly interested in philosophy especially Heidegger and Hegel and postmodernists. Discussions about international politics were unanimously leftist and idealistic, usually involving people from at least 3 or 4 countries, over a hot curry and a couple gallons of beer. The intellectuals that made up the scene usually had fake university credentials and had long since stopped caring about making money, choosing instead a mellow downshifted life.

Bar Scene
The bar scene pretty much rocks. If your feeling mellow there are plenty local pubs and beer gardens to chill at, and for better or worse there’s no real laws against drinking and driving motorcycles. If your feeling like you need something more….eh….stimulating, nearby P@##&$ offers a wild ride through a scandalous world of bargirls, pickup bars, ladyboys, and god only knows what other unknowns.

Sunburns, STDs (including the biggies), Joel being pissed off because your hungover at work caused you to just give your students worksheets while you “sweat it out”, being mauled on the road by some Thai maniac driver hoped up on Yaba, being stabbed by a ladyboy, having absolutely no money, but most of all ghosts.

Vacation time
You’re on the vacation most people dream of all their lives.


Shrooms are easy enough to get a hold of, pot is defiantly around, but its dangerous to score. Thai jail doesn’t sound pretty. Thankfully theres beer everywhere, and its pretty good with curry.

Drunken debates rage for days, but nobody is active in politics at all. Dharmaic Socialists fits the bill.


Everyone there is pretty much into Buddhism in some respect. Braah Farang (a foreign monk) is not a rarity. Expats feel little guilt in going to the Wat (temple) with a bargirl after a particularly enlightening evening the night before. The Thais are well into Buddha and ghosts and that defiantly rubs off on the expats.

Hotter than hell.

Side Note
Hookers play a mean game of connect four and while I’m writing this I’m dreaming of going back and never coming home.