Friday night’s Birthday Party was brilliant indeed.

Even though I am still here for another couple weeks, it had a certain feeling of grand season finale: what with the improbable juxtaposition of characters plucked from miscellaneous episodes of my life: past, current and hopefully future.

The mood and settings weren’t unlike the last time we had a party at Cozmo’s, in a good way. This time around: no drunken ex-girlfriend discussing the size of my manhood with friends, but lots of friends and friends-of-friends having a good time and mingling across groups, much drunken DJing with Atsushi and Ian (escaped from Sapporo for the weekend), unexpected gifts and free drinks pouring on me ceaselessly and, most of all, Hako clad in her geisha kimono bouncing around to the music, being her usual upliftingly cute self…

A very drunk subgroup essentially made of Ian, Deny, Rie and myself then headed out for Shibuya’s very own no-name bar (aka the Chandeliers Bar, aka the Red Room etc) whence the merriness kept on going until (very) late, although we shall keep the late remainders of that evening under an opaque veil of virginal mystery.

Expectedly, the following Saturday was a bit more low-key. Movies huddled on a bed most of [what was left of] the day. Hawaiian burger lunch/dinner in Shibuya. Fruity cocktails in Harajuku. Early sleep at home.

Sunday afternoon was both Saeko’s and Etsuko’s birthday party, as well as the day of my own actual birthday. All duly celebrated in much fancy wine-drinking and buffet-eating at a gorgeous floating restaurant in Shinagawa. Some of us then went for tea and dessert nearby and I finally left to attend my own birthday dinner in a more intimate settings.

I had purposely kept my evening very mellow and was just planning to meet Rie at Araku for a couple drinks around 9pm. Noticing how unusually busy the place was for a Sunday evening, we realized that day was Golden Gai Festa: 5,000 yens would get you a pass that’d let you get into most of the tiny Golden Gai hole-in-the-wall bars with no seating charge and one drink free. Additionally, you could ask for your card to be stamped at each place and get some sort of reward upon collecting all 30-some stamps (presumably a very fresh wet towel to alleviate next day’s massive hangover). The festa had officially begun at 1pm and by evening, a lot of people were actually already on their way home. With only three hours left to go, we still decided to give it a go, figuring it was as good a way to cap the day as any other…

We didn’t regret. It was the best bar fun we’d had in a long time. Everybody was friendly and having a good time: a great mix of ages, styles and interests… We got to see a dozen such tiny bars with their peculiar themes and strange decoration before finishing the night at Albatross‘ Golden Gai branch: same cool people and cozy atmosphere, marginally more seating space (say, 10 people instead of 6)…

The rest of the week was predictably spent recovering and catching up with work. Still managed a couple drinks with Sandy in the middle of Thursday’s wild thunderstorms, discussing relationships, God and viruses… Also met up with the lovely M. yesterday, just long enough to learn that her favourite way of procrastinating at the office involves talking dirty to her coworkers, all the while pondering what “only 60% of what he wanted” could mean exactly, in the context of an overeager Italian suitor’s love nest…

Unfortunately gotta do some work-related stuff all day tomorrow, so no big plans this weekend. As of now.

Sweet Sixteen

It appears that I am geared to turn sixteen at the end of this week (I started counting the years backwards a while back).

In celebration, a couple merry friends and I, will be drinking, spinning records and being a general nuisance to the gentle people of Shibuya, on Friday, August the 24th. This is all taking place at Cozmo’s Bar, from 9pm on (presumably until last train’s time).

So feel free to pop by and have a drink or ten with us !

Stuff is piling up way faster than I can find time or motivation to write it out. Let’s try to see if we can remember some of the main events of the past couple days. Keitai pics are coming soon too.

Left Tokyo for the barren wilderness of Yokohama’s suburbs, joined Miss Sin, Sandy & family for some authentic Blues tunes in Japanese at Blue Corn.

Went to a birthday party at what might very well be Tokyo’s most obscure bar. Luke had mentioned something about the place being something like “an apartment/bar”… Aya’s directions included stuff like “ring #401 and tell them you’re a friend to get in”. After being let in the most residential-looking building of the most residential-looking neighbourhood of southern Tokyo, after ringing the inconspicuous apartment door, after walking past the doorstep, taking off my shoes and being shown to the end of a long corridor, I was fully expecting to walk into the Tanaka family’s apartment living room: I found myself standing in the middle of an actual unlicensed bar, complete with couches, hardtop bar counter, DJ booth and people ordering food and drinks as if they’d be sitting at their local dive. The place had its own business cards and is called The Hidden Lounge. Definitely go check it out if you ever have a chance.

Had a meeting and chatted with Ashimo‘s dad. Just work and stuff, but had to mention it and gloat, given how absolutely utterly über-nerdly cool that is.

Had a housewarming BBQ party of sorts at my new [temporary] place in Shimo-takaido. Blended industrial quantities of margarita and mojitos. Took half the party with me (leaving Tracey behind with the other half) just on time for last train to Misakiguchi beach, Kanagawa, where we arrived just after midnight…

You know you have made it to the real Japanese wilderness, when the one and only combini store in the area is a fifteen minute walk and closes at night. Twenty minutes walking through fields in complete darkness, much laborious searching along the coastline (with some serious flashbacks to the days of trying to locate underground Californian parties in the most improbable locales) and we finally found our Japanese neo-hippie Eldorado. By all accounts, it was definitely worth it. Much dancing and partying on the beach was indulged until morning and beyond (for some). Beach parties still are my favourite.

Less fun, was the nasty eye inflammation I had neglected to take care of all weekend, finally upping it a couple notches on Sunday morning, making for a hasty return home, nearly blind and rather pitifully hanging onto Rie’s arm for directions. Lead the following Monday to Masako&Nordine’s kindly taking me on my first visit ever to a Japanese medicine man and my learning to say “acute inflammation of the iris” and “what the hell were you thinking waiting so long before consulting” in Japanese. Much Atropine eyedropping and lying at home in the dark ensued.

Recovered about just in time for T’s glamorous birthday party at Golden Gai’s Araku. Stood the crazy heat and spent the night being merry with the better half of Tokyo’s gaijin and gaijin-friendly shock troops.

Capped the night with much drinking outside of Golden Gai’s seediests with Rie and Jim. Jim’s stories sound straight out of a Murakami (Haruki) novel. Except he has got pics to back it up.

Had drinks with Yi at our usual Shinjuku hangout (where she is slowly starting to become a regular herself). Since both 5-seat bar and upstairs room were packed, we got to enjoy the truly surreal sight from the rooftop makeshift lounge. Sitting with our drinks in the middle of Shouben Yokochou, except outdoor, looking down on hundreds of tiny ramshackle bars, Shinjuku’s high-rise blinking neons above in the distance and absolutely not a human soul in sight. A truly weird Mary Poppins in Tokyo-moment.

Also: drinking, firework, drinking, food of all sorts, drinking, art expos, drinking etc.

Upcoming: more of the same. My birthday party on the 24th in Shibuya: much drinking, partying and live electro tunes to be had (come on all, you’re all invited !).

Spending the night drinking in Aoyama and dancing in Shibuya until morning with Deny and friends, 6 hours after landing in Narita.

Yoshida-san at Albatross, casually wishing me a welcome back, asking how I’m doing, as if it had not been two years since the last time I sat there ordering a drink.

Soon-to-be-official-geisha Hako-chan, demonstrating her shamisen skills at a tiny Shibuya izakaia, before going on a drunken quest for some old Pink Floyd albums at nearby Tower records.

Sheer serendipity and Saeko’s MBA program being located 6 floors down from my lab in the same Jimbocho building.

Drinking our asses off with Yi, Jun & co., enjoying Kaikan Hotel’s Beer Garden‘s “All you can drink” formula until the very last minute (and the last dozen hastily ordered pints).

Tokyo clubbing. Receiving a freshly removed pair of lacy underwear adorned with the wearer’s phone number. Having never asked for it in the first place.

I’m not sure if anything can still be done for the reputation of this blog, seeing how the past 24 hours have seen an unusually high amount of somewhat sensible, even possibly useful information put here. Frankly, I don’t know if my blogger’s ethics will ever recover.

I will try nonetheless.

Wars of the Geeks is officially over, silly inconsequent navel-gazing is now back for the month.

Let’s start by what should have been yesterday’s sum up of how to succeed at cooking an enjoyable Summer evening with friends. It goes a little something like this:

[steps sideways, does two entrechats and starts singing while tap-dancing to the beat]

  • Some second-hand equipment purchased for a fistful of euros on the outer rim of the Internets.
  • Cranberry juice + vodka + a splash of lemon juice + a dash of cointreau + a few wedges of lime + loads of ice, times a few gallons.
  • One lovably demented masterpiece of a Japanese movie recommended by S. a while back.
  • People (also: other people without blogs, but likeable nonetheless).

Shake but do not stir, serve fresh with cocktail straws.

Such a fabulous evening that our little Cinéma de quartier might very well be on its way to become a regular bi-monthly.

Then there also was yesterday’s recipe: another kind of enjoyable dish. Though it’s made of much harder-to-find of ingredients and I am not even quite sure I remember myself how the cooking process went.

If you absolutely want to try at home, I think it involved a bottle of contraband Absinth, eye-burning Japanese menthol eye drops, one of the most furious thunderstorm of the Summer and lots of Parisian girls running by in the street, wearing but thin blouses soaking wet from the sudden rain.

Also what appears to be a medium-sized rodent stuck to my living room table in a puddle of melted wax and solidifying liquor. But I will only be able to confirm that when I finish removing the few dozens glasses and beer bottles stacked over it.

I am back.

Or more exactly: I am back closer to an internet connection. Still somewhere down south, albeit in a more family-oriented settings.

These five days in the boondocks were absolute paradise and helped reminding me that, was the choice to come down between: big city and the internets on one side, friends, sun, fresh veggies, cheap wine and homegrown on the other, I’d easily slide toward the latter as a permanent way of life.

During my blissful stay in the heart of French Aveyronais region, I:

  • ate lots of delicious homemade food including chlada felfel, aligot, moroccan brownies and much more.
  • spent entire afternoons on a sun-drenched deck reading, chatting, smoking and overall doing absolutely nothing requiring electricity or a phone line whatsoever.
  • stunk to high-heavens of lemongrass essence the entire time, but didn’t get bitten by mosquitoes once.
  • spent hours excitedly exchanging musical tips and hundreds of bad-ass 70’s funk tracks
  • had to climb up a ladder to get to my bed (when I didn’t opt to stay in a hammock outside).
  • walked through a [small] open field of odoriferous plants with strangely shaped leaves and got to sample last year’s crop.
  • realized that buying and fixing a house somewhere deep in the country, away from civilization, wasn’t only a way to live a healthier, cheaper and simpler life: there are a few perks on the side.
  • spent a whole night playing poker while a fierce Summer thunderstorm raged outside (complete with flickering lights, blown fuses and all).
  • met Chucky, the mellow schnauzer, who has never been quite the same ever since he accidentally ate half a pound of mushrooms found drying under his master’s bed.
  • made two gallons of frozen margaritas and brought a few more converts over to the church of the Holy Citrus Tequila Cocktail.
  • did many other things that shall remain safely out of read from potentially underage eyes…

Back in P-town this week-end.

Does effervescent codeine taste like crap or what?

Having to stomach the incredibly bitter aftertaste nearly offsets the pleasure of absorbing pharmaceutical-grade mind-numbing painkillers.

What’s with French meds and bubbles? Can’t they just make them into tiny little pills you swallow, as the rest of the world does?

Must be the Champagne factor…

The Markets

On both evenings, I sampled the variety of local street markets, most of which were nearly walking distance from my hotel in Kowloon. Fast, loud and overwhelming on all sides… In a word: awesome… Also very similar to markets anywhere else in the world. Though I spent a long while getting lost amidst the chaos, I didn’t buy a single item: having no use for chosen dog meat delicacies nor Louis Vuiton ripoffs on the cheap.

The Pit

I really wasn’t planning on hitting Hong Kong’s infamous expat ghetto, even less after Justine’s flaky friend in Hong Kong (with whom I was kinda supposed to hook up, never did, all for the better, most likely… friends of friends… remind me to write about the topic one day…), strongly urged me to go entertain myself there, touting it as “Hong Kong’s very own Roppongi”… Yea, that was a big selling point.

I knew exactly what to expect when on Friday evening I decided to go for a drink in Lan Kwai Fong: not feeling like hitting the sack at 11pm leaving me with few alternatives, by myself, in a city I knew nothing of… I certainly wasn’t let down in my expectations: while undeniably lively and more densely crowded than moribund Roppongi, it features the same congregation of sorry expat losers drowning their bitterness and the vacuousness of their life into whatever alcohol-laden cat piss they can get in a western-labeled bottle.