Sound equipment

Three years since I last owned any serious piece of bleepy-music-making equipment…

Only have to get a midi keyboard next week and we should be back in business for real.

I foresee a sharp decrease in outdoors activities for the weeks to come.

Walking home in the morning, cursing the pre-monsoon rain that forces you to spend all 30 minutes of the way back, hunched under a cheap plastic umbrella, suddenly hearing a loud thump above the noise of rain falling, lifting your head up and noticing that some bird just plopped all over your umbrella; a bird that, judging by the radioactive hue of the goop dripping from all sides, had some serious digestive problems…

And then realising that, at this very moment, your life could be much shittier.


Busy as I was lately, justifying my miserable research stipend, visiting Japanese universities and writing my Ph.D. thesis (yea I know, it might sound a bit premature, seeing how I haven’t even started on my Ph.D., but this is Japan: in order to get a chance at getting a grant for your Ph.D. you pretty much have to submit your finished thesis, along with the rest of your 200-page application), I nearly let the date slip by…

This month is this blog’s 5 year anniversary. A meaningless token milestone that I would feel very remiss for not celebrating. Also, what would anniversaries be without the self-indulgent navel-staring and faux-emotional look at the past:


1988 … huh… somewhere? (where again?)
1993 … amidst the green pastures, snowy mountains and red brick walls of my catholic boarding school.
1998 … in a rent-optional warehouse, south of Elephant & Castle.
2003 … in a 1.5 tatami room near Gotanda.
2008 … in a 4.5 tatami room near Shin Nakano.

Spending my days…

1988 … studying algebra and grammar.
1993 … studying latin declensions.
1998 … at a variety of hip glossy magazines, most of which never made it through to the 21st century.
2003 … sleeping. Pouring drinks at a seedy Azabu-Juban bar on the outskirts of Ropponghell.
2008 … plotting world-domination, atop a research center overlooking the imperial gardens.

Spending my nights…

1988 … reading under the sheets.
1993 … on group expeditions to the nearby all-girl boarding school.
1998 … at a variety of hip glossy nightclubs, most of which never made it through to the 21st century.
2003 … socializing with “snack bar” hostesses at the end of our respective work shifts.
2008 … socializing with old japanese geezers in improbable Shinjuku ojiyas.

Listening to…

1988 … lots of dead German and Italian guys and whatever’s playing on my dad’s turntable.
1993 … still lots of old people’s music with the odd age-appropriate musical ventures here and there (mmn, maybe my first Nirvana?).
1998 … everything under the sun. Serge Gainsbourg, Pulp, Prodigy, Miles Davis, Laurent Garnier, Leonard Cohen, Sex Pistols…
2003 … too many botched karaoke renditions of My Way by heavily inebriated Japanese salarymen to keep track of.
2008 Polypunk, Fleep and a whole lot of retro-80’s synth tracks with badass electro bass lines.


1988 … my dad’s library, in alphabetical order.
1993 … Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arsène Lupin.
1998 … Burroughs, Anaïs Nin, Baudelaire, Albert Cohen, Boris Vian, Hunter S. Thompson… anything with sex or drugs in it.
2003 … 皆の日本語.
2008 … “Class Discovery and Molecular Class Prediction by Gene Expression Monitoring”.

Plans for the future…

1988 … archeologist.
1993 … that job where you get paid to read books all day.
1998 … astronaut, princess or dictator of a small self-sufficient country.
2003 … assistant bar manager?
2008 … underpaid slave to Science.

Plans for the night…

1988 … hoping there’s no liver for dinner.
1993 … 7:30: dinner. 7:30 to 8:00: recess. 8:00 to 9:00: evening study. 9:30: lights off.
1998 … editorial committee work meeting in a VIP booth at The End.
2003 … go spin some records at Bar Tokyo after my shift.
2008 … drinks in Golden Gai, house party at Aya’s.

Secret ambition…

1988 … understand more than half the words in la Divina Comedia and Midsummer Night’s Dream.
1993 … life without an alarm clock.
1998 … make it alive to the year 2000.
2003 … speak Japanese.
2008 … find a cure for cancer. or hangover.

All names, situations, health hazards and general disregard for a sane and reasonable lifestyle depicted here are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead or soon to be, is purely coincidental.

Kai: Mosh’mosh’!!!

Dave: Shin Nakano Suicide Hotline, what may I do for you?

Kai: Dave, I know it’s you.

Dave: Barely.

Kai: Where are you? get your ass over here.

Dave: Sorry: I’m sure it’s a great party, but I think I’m gonna pass on this. I badly need some rest.

Kai: Man. Get over here. NOW.

Dave: Really, I’m sorry… I would. But all I can think about is: my bed, some hot chocolate and a good movie.

Kai: Sakamoto Ryuichi is standing less than 3 feet away from me now.


Kai: Get fucking a-moving.


Dave: Do you know how much sleep I’ve had in the past 3 days? I currently look like what a 70 year-old crack whore raped by a meth-addicted raccoon might give birth to.

Kai: Sakamoto. Ryuichi.

Dave: Oh: and I finally succeeded at dislocating entirely both shoulders at the gym tonight. I can’t raise my arms above waist-level. I would need a 3-ft long straw to drink anything from a glass.

Kai: Sakamoto Fucking Ryuichi.

Dave: I am one hour of sleeplessness away from paranoid dementia. Random acts of senseless violence cannot be too long to follow.

Kai: Sa. ka. mo. to. Ri. yu. i. chi.

Dave: You have really sworn my demise, haven’t you…

Kai: Great. Get a cab. See you in 20.

  1. If you are heading for a night out and contemplate leaving your winter coat at the office: consider double-checking said coat’s pockets for any items that you may need, further down the night. Special attention probably needs to be paid to small, flat, key-shaped items, which may turn up crucial when you finally decide to hitch a cab-ride home and find yourself very stupid, standing at your frontdoor.
  2. Always make sure you have backup keys, planted at somewhat walkable distances from your place.
  3. Ex-GF at 4 in the morning: definitely not a good idea (whodathunk).
  4. Giving a key to your friend living nearby: much better idea.

NB: Remember to treat Nordine to a fancy dinner some time soon. (So sowwwy I had to wake you up: I promise it won’t happen, ever again).

Aside from a brief emergency trip to an eye-specialist last Summer (literally a mom-and-pop operation, whose office was approximately half the size of my current bedroom), I have never, during my stays in Japan, been afflicted with illnesses serious enough to mandate a trip to the hospital. At least nothing that couldn’t be treated with a self-administered treatment based on quinine-rich tonic water (aptly sterilized and base-neutralized with proper dosage of gin and lime).

This morning, though, I had to check in at my neighbourhood clinic and undergo a whole series of health exams. Not that I was feeling in any particularly bad shape (nasty lingering chest cough and faint hangover from previous night’s gin&shochu outing aside), but the Japanese Ministry of Education and Research insists on making sure that I don’t have tuberculosis, cancer or bubonic plague before even considering shelling out some Yen toward my World Domination Plot research, otherwise known as PhD.

In the grand tradition of furthering cross-cultural enlightenment that has made this blog famous in the greater Shin-Nakano Sanchome area, I figured I would share some random observations about the experience:

(as the movie we’ve been watching together is rolling its credits…)

Her: [Looks up suggestively and moves hand across bed]

Me: You do realize this is quite possibly the worst pre-coital movie. ever?

Her: [Keeps silent and smiles a wicked toothy smile]

Me: That’s it! stay the hell away from me!!! I’m sleeping on the floor tonight.

(awesome movie, otherwise)

Upon latest head count, it would appear that direct family members are:

  • Brother #1: Expecting the great Kanto earthquake from his Tokyo apartment (any day now).
  • Brother #2: Traipsing the Moroccan Desert with his backpack and a donkey.
  • Brother #3: Learning Cantonese pillow talk in Shanghai.
  • Dad: Watching snow melt in Eastern Canuckistan.
  • Mum: Enjoying Lebanon northwestern coast (lovely weather at this time of year), currently deciding between Syria and Cyprus for an emergency evac (wins extra bonus points for Country-on-the-Brink-of-Civil-War).

Honestly, I don’t know what that says about us as a family.