Post-it Note Stuck to Cerebellum
Pee first, then the Tiger Balm.
Extra-wide Sharpie Tattoo on Back of Hand
(For Walking Around Tokyo)
The Best Part of Cappucino
The sludge cloud at the bottom of the cup, cut with espresso and sugar.
The Ol’ Truck Door in the Face Trick
A classic! I bike with the flow of traffic. Sometimes passengers get out of trucks stopped at traffic lights. I caught the door right in the face! Actually, I took most of it on the shoulder. Surprised hell out of the guy climbing out, too.
Chilling with Yakuza in the Sento
There’re just three of us, and we sit and sweat in the wood-walled steam room. A speaker on the ceiling pipes in the Muzak version of Van Morrison’s “Moondance” and comes very close to killing my soul.
The old yakuza guy on my left has the full-body tattoo hook-up. Arms, shoulders, back, thighs---his body is fully covered in tattoos but for a vertical stretch on his chest. All his skin is covered but for the parts that would be revealed when he wears a kimono. He smiles a genial grandfather smile and nods at me, then cracks open a manga comic about yakuza.
The younger kid now sitting on my right is the older man’s underling. He held the door open for the guy and waited a full respectful minute before entering the steam room. He’s since sprinted out twice with comic over-enthusiasm for the older man’s ringing cell phone. Comic because we’re all buck-ass naked, and there’s nothing funnier than a buck-ass naked man attempting to sprint on a wet tile floor with his dick flapping.
He’s got the beginnings of what will be the full-body tattoo hook-up, and he’s shooting sideways glances at the ink on my arm. It’s enough that I baldly stare back at him---man, I fucking hate being stared at like I’m not there, especially when I’m sitting six inches away from someone and we’re both naked.
I smile and point at his tattoos and say, “Nice.” He smiles and points at mine and says, “Very good!” We give each other the thumbs-up---two buck-ass naked guys giving each the thumbs-up and grinning like idiots. It’s not as comic as watching Junior hop around the corner at high speed on a wet floor. But it’s close.
Rice Ball Roulette
I’m not just subsisting on muesli and bananas---I’m also eating a shit-ton of hockey puck-shaped rice balls from the local Sunkus, AM/PMs, and 7-11s. Generally, I’m fairly sure what I’m getting---I prefer the sesame seed and red-bean rice ball---but when that’s not available ... spin the wheel, try your luck.
Lessons in Tokyo iPod Detournement
Directions: wander until lost. Set iPod on stun. Create dream-state meaning. Strip personal biography from the city; hijack Tokyo’s geography and history. Become an alien, make the city a strange and wondrous lunar landscape.
Round One: Leonard Cohen Versus Tokyo
“Famous Blue Raincoat” on the Metro; body pushed and pulled by the tidal wash of the crowds and the ebb and flow of the train; an ocean of humanity; “Did you ever go clear?”
Round Two: Krishna Das Versus Shibuya
4 a.m. bike ride to studio; Krishna Das’ bass-chord voice, perfectly struck, thrumming “Puja”; masked, helmeted, vinyl-suited astronaut construction worker waves me to practice with his twin orange flashlights; cold, cold, empty studio, don’t think, just do.
Round Three: Metallica Versus Akihabara
“Back to the Front”; jaw-clenching phencyclidine disconnection; “You will die/ When I say/ You will die”; technology in all its shapes and sizes; flickering, strobing, pulsing; raw wash of too much, too much.