Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Cell Phones
They’re everywhere in Tokyo, no shit. Yoga students tuck ‘em under their mats and check for text messages during practice.

That Crazy Bastard Katsu
My buddy Katsu, he of double-practice hamburger-flipping fame, is trying to out-zealot me! The crazy bastard! He connived a key to the studio and I arrived at 4:30 this morning to find he’d already started his practice! (Presumably his first.) I’ll show him who’s crazier …

Tokyo Defamiliarization
I walk or bike everywhere in Tokyo and live at the top of a fourth-floor walk-up. What’s a lazy man to do? I keep cashing out my calorie bank account, and consequently I’m so hungry at all times of the day that, if pressed, I could devour my own foot. (I've thought a lot about it: the left one goes first.) I cannot stop eating.

I walked by a Subway sandwich store the other day and ducked inside to hork down some carbohydrates. Ah, the generic familiarity of the global chain stores! One is always automatically oriented to the colors, the menu, and the layout.

Tokyo Subways are the same as the ones in the U.S.---the wallpaper features nineteenth-century newspaper headlines and subway blueprints, the palette is the reassuring yellow and green, and the employees stand behind the same glassed-off sandwich assembly line.

Fabolous’ “You Can’t Deny It,” featuring Nate Dogg, bumps from the overhead speakers, volume at eight. The Japanese woman behind the counter, resplendent in her Subway uniform and visor, inquires about the bread I desire for my 8cm carb-laden treat.

I am about to answer when Fabolous interrupts to say, “And if you duck cheese I'ma fuck her---duck these, motherfucker! Ghetto fabulous nigga, I ride 'til I die!”

I am stunned into immobility. Apparently big corpo chains don’t require radio edits! I recover my composure enough to ask for wheat. The Subway woman and I slide down the counter, and she asks me in open-faced earnestness which vegetables I want. Nate Dogg pipes in from the speakers: “Y’all can’t deny it, I’m a fuckin’ rider---you don’t wanna fuck with me!”

My mission is now to pay for my sandwich with a straight face.

It is difficult.

Fabolous hijacks the familiar in Tokyo! What’s the word? “Ostranenie:” to make the familiar strange. The Russian Formalists, the Situationists, Fabolous, and maybe even Brecht would be doing cartwheels.

I wolfed my Veggie Delite, head bobbing. Fabolous says, “Still don't know me, still jump in a Lex---the chain so icy I got chill bumps on my neck!”

Speaking of Bumping
The girl behind the counter at the corporate yoga studio bumped Enya at volume 10 this morning, doubtless because Enya is on the corporate “Approved Music for Yoga Studios” list. I force her to swab my vomit from the hardwood floor. “There’s a good lass,” I tell her. “You couldn’t have known.” There's nothing worse than Enya, except maybe Enya and power crystals and pewter dragons.

... And Just to Keep it Chemical!
On the heels of the popular phencyclidine posts comes another must-read!

Unfortunately I cannot lay claim to genuine experiential participation in the following event, given my hatred of cigarettes, which seems to be genetically encoded. In addition to dipping their coffin nails in liquid phencyclidine, John and a few homies used to dip 'em in Wite-Out. You know, Liquid Paper?

There was another cross-town crew who reputedly dipped theirs in embalming fluid, but that might've been rumor. Where the fuck does one get embalming fluid? Then again, where does one lay hands on liquid PCP?

I wasn't on-hand the day Eddie flopped over and had a seizure as a result of smoking the Wite-Out-coated cigarette, but I did see him after he'd recovered. One side of his face was paralyzed and looked like lumpy clay: the left side of his mouth drooped and leaked drool and his left eyelid sagged closed. Eddie had to worry about the eyeball drying out because he couldn't blink.