Personal Health Update

I wasn’t exactly handed a winning ticket at the Genetic Lottery. As a kid, it would have taken less time to list the parts that did work as they should have. But things got under control and I am generally fine these days1.

However, God personally hates me and wants to make sure I know it. Which is why I belong to the statistically improbable demographic of young people with recurring kidney stone problems despite relatively healthy dietary habits2.

On a nearly regular basis, about once every two years, I get to enjoy the pain of childbirth, minus naming process and postpartum hormones rush.

On the plus side, with the years, the routine has started to take the edge off (or I am developing a much higher tolerance to pain): when a stone episode strikes, nowadays, I just casually recoil in a fetal position for a couple hours at a time while waiting for it to pass after a week or so; years ago: I would longingly stare at a kitchen knife while considering my options for self-surgery on the spot.

The other good thing is that I have learned to recognise early symptoms (as well as the time they are likely to occur: mine always happen in Winter, for no reason any specialist has ever been able to explain satisfyingly), which helps preventing me from making bad decisions… such as embarking on a 15 hour trip home to San Francisco from Paris via London (aka: the Story of my First Stone). Testament to the good old pre-911 days: when some security guy at Heathrow noticed the sweaty, grimacing guy waiting for his plane, went and asked “Sir, I must ask you: have you been consuming any drugs?” and got a near-hysterical answer of “No, but if you have any, I’ll take them!” through gritted teeth… he just walked away as he came.

These days, once the chest pain shows up, I would know better than trying to lob it with, for sole comfort, 2 aspirins and a cup of boiling hot tea purchased on the Eurostar.

Three days into the current episode, I finally went for a consultation at my nearby hospital: a CT scan confirmed the obvious and I was sent on my way with the usual advices and a couple prescription drugs.

Incidentally: I paid ¥5,000 (less than $50) for a full consultation and a CT scan, both of which took a grand total of 40 minutes, from the moment I stepped into my neighbourhood clinic. The actual cost, pre-universal-coverage, was ¥19,000, or about $200 (for that money, a US CT technician won’t even spit on you): dear US readers, aren’t you glad you live in a country gloriously free of such pesky Universal Healthcare and reasonable health costs.

Anyway, all that to say that I am slightly incapacitated at the moment, and lagging on communication (although oddly productive on whatever I manage to put my mind to, in between two bouts of holding my abdomen, wondering if downing a bottle of Draino might help). It will get better and I’ll catch up on email and everything, soon (i.e. anywhere from next week to next year).

That’s it for the immediate personal health update. Everybody with a normally working pair of kidneys and zero interest in the practice of hobbyist medicine at home can (and should) stop reading right now. Trust me, there’s nothing interesting under the fold.

  1. beside that violent twitching on the left side of my face and the regular furball coughing, that is []
  2. people in their twenties who barely drink a can of coke a month aren’t supposed to get kidney stones, let alone chronic ones []

When leaving the residence, this morning, I found a note in my mailbox.

Under a delightful MS-Word Clipart-esque depiction of what your mum’s 60’s medicine cabinet might have looked like, sat an ominous “Urgent Warning” about the evils of (illegal) drugs, in big bold red letters. Promising resident researchers somewhat decreased health and much decreased freedom of movement, should they choose to ignore said warning during their stay in Japan.

The thoughts going through my head were, in that order:

  1. “What’s so ‘urgent’ about that warning? drugs are bad? Quick, somebody gets the message to Syd Barrett and Janis Joplin before it’s too late.”
  2. “You mean there are drugs within a 300 mile radius from here?”
  3. “Wait, what is this note doing in my mailbox. OH MY GOD THEY ARE ONTO ME!!!”
  4. “No, seriously, where are the drugs? And how come nobody’s told me anything?”

Update: added some linky goodness to some of the pics H took that night.

Last weekend was メタモ 08, aka the Metamorphose Music Festival in Shizuoka: a comparatively low-key, 3-stages-1-night, affair with affordable ticket price (a fourth of Fuji Rock’s), featuring mostly electronic and/or non-mainstream acts.

Conditions this year were just short of apocalyptic, thanks to the nastiest weather of the entire Summer: rainy and cold… Fortunately, the real downpour held off until Sunday morning and we managed with only a couple light drizzle episodes through the night.

Anyway, I’ll spare you our own antiques and just post a couple thoughts on the different acts we got to hear:

1. Tony Allen opened the night with some kickass afrobeat on the main stage. He did quite alright, bringing up the generally dampen mood into party mode. Having spent countless hours of my youth looping Africa 70 tracks to exhaustion, this was probably one of my most feverishly awaited act of the night, and the only disappointment was that it didn’t have a better timeslot.

2. Since I’d already heard Jazztronic and DJ Krush a few times before, I used the chance to take a little rest at our “camp” and stock up some [mostly natural] energy for the night. Whatever I caught of Album Leaf in the distance (and later up close) provided a satisfyingly eery ambiant background for a relaxing time.

3. Fully rested and after walking around a bit, we came back to the main stage for Boom Boom Satellites, which was really the nice surprise of the evening: knowing nothing of them save for a couple tracks and videos H. showed me, I was expecting some slightly boring typical J-pop with some electro-rock accents… But apparently (and also according to H.), their style has evolved a great deal over the years and they played something much closer to full-on electronic music with rock instruments. Both the resulting hypnotically long tracks and the super-upbeat crowd made it one of the highlight of the night.

4. Theo Parrish was another act I was really looking forward to, seeing how his two last parties rocked my Summers
And the disappointment was commensurate: his usual awesome blend of beats was made absolutely unbearable by some of the worst sound quality I have ever heard in my life (and I have heard a lot, trust me). Not only were the highs and mediums ear-piercingly loud, to the point of physical pain (we had to walk one full hill over before we could stand it), but they were also so distorted as to make the whole thing absolutely impossible to listen to.
I remember one of the first piece of advice I was ever given when I started pushing records in clubs, was to always take a minute off and walk around the place to see how the music sounds from the other side of the turntables (usually heaps less nice than what you hear from your spot). Of course, when you play some huge outdoor venue like that, you don’t need to worry about it: that’s what the sound guy is for. Except the sound guy that night was obviously sleeping. or deaf. or both.
Either way: after toughing it out for 20 minutes, we gave up in rage and went back to the other stages.

5. Back at the steamy indoor stage, we caught the end of a nice set by Fumiya Tanaka (seen a month ago at Womb) and then Josh Wink: pope of 90s acid house and producer of one of the most infectious 303 track ever made… A solid and largely danceable set, albeit ostensibly geared at people in a much less sober state than I was (yea, no higher state of consciousness for me that night): could have used a teensy bit more melody and texture here and there to complement the raw pumping beats.
Also, I realise whining about this puts me into the annoying clueless fanboy category, but I was really hoping to hear some version of his signature track: I know he might have got sick of people expecting it every single time for the past 15 years, but there really aren’t many occasions to hear it in a live club these days.

6. Galaxy 2 Galaxy was another nice surprise (only today did I realise I had heard them before: many years ago at DNA lounge in SF): live instrumental, jazzy, funky house with some seriously good vibes… Would have probably been the high note of the trip with an uplifting warm sunrise instead of that gloomy morning weather drowned in drizzle and gray skies. Still enjoyable nonetheless.
Also they played the best dance track of all time, so there’s no way to go wrong with that.

7. I honestly felt bad for Cobblestone Jazz: they played some nice groovy stuff, but by then rain had started falling for real and we were all rather content sitting under the roof structure, huddled together in our makeshift camp, snacking on curry and planning a strategic exit.

Apparently, we left none too early, since, just a couple hours later, torrential rains forced all trains out of Shuzenji to a complete stop until Monday.

Overall, a great night and some awesome music: can’t wait to do it again next year, on a dry and warm Summer weekend.

We sure did our best to make up for yesterday’s disappointing cancellation of outdoorsy beach partying fun (for weather purposes. damn screwed-up rainy month of May. grrr).

  • Saturday night thus got converted into food and drinks in Golden Gai, mad dancing at Yellow with H.
  • Theo Parrish is still a music god.
  • Worst excuse for last minute flaking, ever, courtesy of Fred and Natalie: “can’t make it. the dog ran out. we are waiting at home for her to come back” (so ok: the dog really ran out during her midnight walk… still, shouldn’t you at least make up an excuse that is believable?).
  • Surprisingly fresh and early wake-up, lovely brunch under the sun.
  • Took out my fancy (loaned) MTB for a first ride. Now realize how ridiculously clunky my mamachari was in comparison: that thing is made of thin air and climbing hills with it is actually fun.
  • Also remembered why sometimes fixed-gear bikes are nice (and why having a plastic bag in your bag is a good idea for when your bike chain derails).
  • Collected yet another piece of bleepy machinery.
  • Stopped by Café U_U to say hi and check out Yuki’s opening (only one month left to check out her cool artworks, folks!).
  • Met up with Justine at Canal Café: chilling in the sunset by the canal with the occasional Chuo-sen train flickering and sparkling in the background: that’s what Tokyo Summer is all about. Unfortunately, getting eaten by mosquitoes as soon as dusk hits: also.
  • Stuffed ourselves on delicious Japanese soul-food at ろばたの炉: loads of veggies and mushrooms, incredibly smooth cream cheese tofu, katsuo tataki (seared on a mini-bonfire right there in front of us)… Oh yea: I also finally got my ocha-zuke.
  • Capped the night with some lovely Yama Neko sweet potato shochuu to make me appreciate the fact that the road from Iidabashi back to my place is just one long straight line.

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.

Dave:

Kai: Get fucking a-moving.

Dave:

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).