Just a small party announcement to tell you that tonight I’ll be playing at Bar Tokyo for their closing party.
Komei was told two weeks ago by the owner that the lease wasn’t gonna be renewed and this week-end is their last one before inventory and handing the keys back.

Bar Tokyo was one of the only enjoyable place in that massive suckage that is Roppongi, one where I could still stand to set a foot despite my general hatred of all things roppongi… unfortunately its being gone only goes in the overall direction taken by the neighbourhood (more suckage, if that is even humanly possible).

Anyway, Ian, Atsushi and myself will be playing there all night… making sure to leave on a high note! so if you are around, feel like getting down tonight, come by and say hi: there will be great fun to be had no matter what.

Bar Tokyo is located on Roppongi Crossing, 6F of the bookstore building across from Almond and the Koban (round the corner from 1st Kitchen)

Updated 05/29/04 03:30AM

I’ve been asked for link recommendations (on Japan and in general) but since I’ve not yet come around to add a decent link section to this log, a dedicated entry will have to do for now. So, without further ado, here is a quick round of my bookmark collection:

  1. The Obvious Ones (everybody already know these, but if you don’t, it’s high time to add them to your bookmarks)
    • Boing Boing is a collective link blog where most net oddities and other hidden jewels of the web that people usually forward to each other are bound to end up eventually.
    • Gizmodo shares a lot of content with BoingBoing, but overall specializes in cool gadgets and other geeky announcements.
    • The Onion is, by far, “America’s finest News source” and reminds us that it is indeed scary times when parody sounds so close to actual truth that you have a hard time telling them apart.
    • Guardian: although Fox news does a much better job of accentuating the clairvoyance of The Onion, the Guardian is where I usually go to get straight coverage of recent news (including US domestic ones).

  2. The Serious Ones (or “how I shine in good society thanks to my elaborate Internet readings”)
    • God of the Machine‘s only downside is a rather low frequency of updates. But its entries, whether covering English poetry, irritating logic problems or any other topic on Earth are always top-quality readings.
    • Turning the Tide is also updated way too infrequently for my liking, but apart from that, I would be hard pressed to find any reason not to bookmark Noam Chomsky’s blog.
    • Whiskey Bar was previously mentioned here. Still one of my favourite political blog out there
    • A List Apart belongs to an entirely different but nonetheless primordial domain of serious things: Proper Standard-Compliant Web Coding (some would place it more along the line of tetrapyloctomy, but we shall ignore those heretics).

  3. The Fun Ones (Because you are certainly not going to entertain your date with the latest technique for creating standard-compliant drop shadows using CSS)
    • The Filthy Critic is not actually a humorist, he’s a very dedicated and fiercely independent movie critic. But his reviews are still the most hilarious texts you’ll read in a long while, regardless of the quality of the original movie.
    • Kind-of-Crap is the unfortunate tale of a poor Gaijin who accepted to sell his soul and any remaining shred of nerdy dignity he might have had by signing for two years of JET program and being subsequently sent to some godforsaken village deep in rural Japan. Luckily (for us), his subterranean level of self-esteem goes hand in hand with an amazing gift at recounting horror stories of shame and humiliation in a foreign country (I highly recommend to start at the beginning).
    • Bunsen.tv: “If you really loved me, this pathetic cry for help would be totally unnecessary”.
    • Let’s Have fun with Geishas (or Geisha Asobi if you prefer) is: “link site which is introduce funny, crazy and interesting site”. Couldn’t say it better.
    • Kontraband: though highly immature, the video clips, pictures and other waste of bandwith that you’ll find there should help getting you safely through a thoroughly unproductive day.

  4. The Japanese Ones (people and things at least somewhat japan-related… like they love mangas or drink green tea every night or something)
    • Kokochi (formerly known as Tokyo Tidbits): Mie doesn’t live in Japan any more, but she is still documenting her everyday life in Baghdad by the Bay from her keitai.
    • Tokyo Times is an apt sum-up of what you can find in Japanese news on a good day and with an eye for it… only it would tend to focus more on stories involving keywords such as “panties thief”, “upskirt keitai snapshot”, “subway gropping” etc. But despite its stereotypical coverage, it is still not so far from actual Japanese dailies.
    • Gen Kanai writes on Japan, modern technologies and a lot of other interesting topics.
    • Paul from In-Duce also does. with a really cool site design.
    • Greggman, with focus on the gaming and gadget angle. Probably the idol of hundred of nerds begging for some internship at Sega US in the faint hope of ever making it to the mecca of videogames.
    • Maki (who’s not a nameless cat): on web design and programming.
    • Mayumix probably has one of the coolest blog name around… but also, unfortunately, one of the slowest site to load (I blame blogspot… and the international communist conspiracy).
    • Yaw and Mog kinda reminded me (in its principle at least) of Rica and Rhedi. But I’ll grant you this is quite a far-fetched comparison
    • i-Sako: “an American expat in Japan, a father of two, a loving husband, an armchair political wonk, an inveterate geek, and an all-around garden-variety fool”.
    • Taro: Dignified representant of the natto-for-brains Fucked Gaijin community on Japanese soil.
    • j-dreaming: is to dreaming what j-pop is to pop… roughly the same with more furry cat icons and shots of traditional temples.
    • Mediatinker.com has tons of wonderfully written notes and some video works.
    • Jean Snow. “Jean Snow”? Now what kind of a name is that? Why not Billy Neige since we’re at it… Well, I very much like his page design (and content) nonetheless…

  5. The Pretty Ones (most of them also on Japan, but with extra graphic goodness)
    • Antipixel quite deservedly holds the title for most beautiful blog about Japan, but the occasional insightful comments are definitely up to par with the nifty design and gorgeous pictures.
    • Yuki, at Kissui.net does not leave her camera alone for a second. I can testify to that. But it makes for a great photo-log.
    • Hunkabutta: series of pictures on a different theme each day, dripping with life…
    • Schoolgirl Sophistry has lotsa text and some very nice pix from a “tall, blonde chick in Tokyo”.
    • hmmn: musings from the far east(erwood) likes artsy B&W shots. And so do I.

  6. The Froggy Ones (because we love the French, yes we do…)
    • Padawan Info gives you the latest political and technological news, straight from the homeland of the Minitel. The English version tends to focus more on matters of international interest.
    • 404 Brain Not Found, despite its English title, is a reading reserved to those with more than a passing interest in French affairs. If your master of the Gallic idiom is up to it though, you’ll definitely appreciate these posts that, in a style quite openly inspired from French genius Pierre Desproges, exquisitely dissect French and International news, with a keen eye for human pettiness and pathetically stupid items of mass culture.
    • Canal Plus Videos also requires pretty strong language skills, but features one of my favorite TV piece of all time. It’s pretty much the only show I ever watched as a student in Paris. It’s called “Le Zapping” and it squeezes the substance out of a full day of French TV programs into a couple minutes of uninterrupted zapping. The excerpts can really be culled from any French-speaking program that was aired over the previous 24 hours, from obscure graveyard talk-shows all the way to prime-time reality-shows. Most of it only goes to prove that French TV is up to common international standards in terms of inane populist programming, but some pearls reaped from news broadcasts or documentaries are so mind-blowing they’d nearly make you want to watch TV. Also available on this site, is the web archive for Les Guignols de l’Info: an iconic, if somewhat aging, show that I mentioned once before: entertaining, but rather hard to follow I you are no longer immersed in the local political and media scene.

Right now, I need to make sure my neighbourhood bar in Shinjuku didn’t disappear overnight and still serves Saphire and Tonic.

Yet Another Party Announcement

If these upcoming party announcements are becoming a bit monotonous for you, that’s because they are, believe me… So this is the last one, I promise, and precisely to tell you where Party Notices will be posted from now on.

Let me introduce our brand new NativeTokyo page (that is, until we get nativetokyo.com launched). For now, it contains details for two parties in May:

  • Candy in Shibuya on Friday, May 21st
  • Free Day Party in Yoyogi Park on Sunday, May 23rd
  • you there!

    Picture yoyogi01.jpg Here it is at last. I just finished a first version of the flash flyer for our May 23rd Party in Yoyogi koen.

    This flash anim is definitely not a work of art. There are many things I am not quite happy with, and I kind of botched the sound editing. But this will have to do, as I’m a tad busy trying to ingurgitate a few hundred nasty pages of applied mathematics and quantum mechanics in time for next month’s finals. All this, naturally, on top of my regular full time job and musical activities.

    The skinny:

  • Music will definitely be on the house side, with a pretty wide range of deep, funky and latino beats, maybe some electro and probably a bit of progressive (though not before later in the evening) along with other old school stuff to cap the evening. Overall, definitely of the easy-to-groove on variety, and most definitely NOT trance.
    In fact the subtitle to this party could very well be “NaTP – Not a Trance Party“… ’cause there won’t be an inch of it… got enough of that around there.
  • The spot is really damn cool: in the middle of the trees, a bit secluded. Nothing to do with the concrete area in front of the NHK building where the trance parties take place.
  • We’ll be there before noon and probably start actually playing around 2pm. No actual plan to stop it at any set time. Will depends heavily on conditions. But it should go at least past sunset.
  • More details soon enough, along with a map. Send me a note if you wanna receive an update.

    A small update to my entry on the Kusama Yayoi exhibition at the Mori Museum:

    The Mori’s website has a really good page dedicated to the exhibition and the crazy woman behind it (I had looked in vain for this link last time, probably not hard enough):

    Here is the English version, Here is the Japanese version.

    Kusamatrix is going on at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills until May: go check it out it you’ve not done it already!

    The king of Cambodia has a website.

    But his deliciously tacky homepage is not just some static compilation of pictures and bland official communications: it features a message-board regularly updated (sometimes more than once a day) with notes handwritten by his majesty the king himself addressing various issues of both national and international policies. This low-tech (when I say “handwritten”, I really mean handwritten; as in “written on paper and scanned as is”) blog immediately made me wonder if I was in presence of some elaborate prank or mildly funny parody. But after careful reading and apt googling, the whole thing definitely seems legit. The question of whether these posts are genuinely his or just the work of some random office hack (as seems to be the trend with most western politician “blogs”) is a very quickly answered one too: the sheer candor of tone as well as the numerous corrections made on the original paper notes (text stroked out, paragraphs inserted in the margins) make it obvious that, while probably carefully thought of, these notes are nowhere near the sanitized professional-looking work a communication counselor would come up with. The notes are written in a flawless though sometimes slightly formulaic French, as Cambodia used to be a French colony and the king has received a French education both in Cambodia and France according to his biography.

    From the notes, and although I must say I know close to nothing of the inner working of Cambodian politics for the past few decades (except that is, for the infamous Khmer Rouges and Pol Pot inhuman reign of terror), the man seems to be a rather nice, open-minded chap with progressive positions and opinions on a wide array of topics.

    The site really reads like a weblog, with its fair share of “check this out” entries, that point to magazine articles and news-clippings usually scanned along with the note, replies to miscellaneous fanmail and typical “what I did today” entries, occasionally followed by discussions on much more serious topics (such as giving a proper burying to the hundred of thousands of people murdered by the Khmer Rouges and dumped in mass graves).

    Which takes us to one of his later and widely publicized entry: a comment on Gay Marriage!

    Now, call me prejudiced, but I would certainly not have expected a respectable 80 year-old monarch of a south-east Asian country to voice an opinion on such a contemporary issue in his personal tribune. And I must make a confession: the horribly misinformed patronizing westerner that I am, definitely was under some vague but deeply rooted impression that a country like Cambodia, given its recent history and the political climate of its neighbours, had to be somewhat lacking in the field of personal liberties, let alone personal liberties of sexual minorities… Well, it seems like it’s not in such a bad shape compared to the glorious god-fearing US of A. Actually, if they are to be judged by the positions of their respective leaders, it would seem like Cambodian are a few miles ahead of American, as far as entitlement to the pursuit of happiness is concerned:

    I hope to have some time later today to put up an actual transcription and translation of the original text, but in a nutshell, His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk explains that, though he is not gay himself (and incidentally, thanks God for it), he still thinks gay and lesbians should receive the right to marry whomever they want and be considered with the same respect as any other human being in this regard. He also mention the cause of transexual and transgenders, who should be “accepted and well treated in our society”. Even though I think it’s important to mention that his tone is not one of beatific embrace of gay culture: he does make a few comments that most gay militants would probably consider disparaging, he holds an unequivocal position of acceptance and defense of personal freedom that prompts for immediate respect.

    Lastly, after receiving what was most obviously some typical piece of empty-headed American bible-thumping conservative hate-mail, he posted a short yet thoughtful reply in English reiterating his position in lights of his Buddhist beliefs of compassion and acceptance…

    Wouldn’t there be any way for Dubya to somehow, one day, by some incredible miracle, drop some of his rancid hate-spiked distorted Christian version of “compassion” (the same compassion that probably prompted him to execute the highest number of inmates in recent US history)… and trade it for a tiny bit of Buddhist wisdom?

    This interesting text points out the increasingly frequent habit with major media outlets of turning provable facts into mere “quotations” coming from the mouth of political opponents… For example, the fact that the US budget has gone from massively in excess less than four years ago to one of the biggest deficit in US history, is no longer a fact backed by hard cold official numbers: It is a “charge” made by political opponents:

    The forecast comes as Democrats campaigning to run against President Bush charge that he has turned a surplus into a deficit.

    The all too common story of how newspapers can distort objective information under the dubious pretense of “keeping viewpoints balanced”.

    When I was a kid and people asked me what I wanted to do later in life. My definite answer – that is, before I figured how fun it was to tell grown-ups that I’d love to become an international drug dealer, hit-man or dictator in a small African country… my answer used to be that I’d love to become an official Lego set designer (Master Builders it seems they are called).

    Whatever the hell that meant: maybe the guy who designs new models to be displayed on lego boxes in supermarket every year and make these ubiquitous construction booklet that go with each box… or the one who decides whether to introduce glowing red bricks or black sliding bricks in next season’s Lego collection…

    Yea, that sounded like a job I could handle.

    Anyway, even my innocent and stupid young self could barely believe there were actual people paid to design and/or build Lego stuff, somewhere in an imaginary world where swimming pools come filled with lego bricks and you just need to fill a form to receive three hundred new 3 by 1 yellow bricks the next day…

    Well… apparently, such a job does exists…

    Though I’m not such a huge comics fan (especially the online kind…) the stuff at Electric Sheep Comics really caught my eye.

    Not only does this guy really put the web format to good use, with a few very subtle animations and some nifty interactive tricks here and there, but some of the stories make a pretty good reading, tackling serious issues in an original way.

    His last piece, Delta Thrives is a bit too mushy new-agey for my taste, though not totally uninteresting and featuring some beautiful graphics… but the series I really liked, was his sci-fi take on the recent US war in Afghanistan, the Spiders, which features both over-the-top, though not so stupid, ideas for what war could be in an alternate dimension, what it could become some day, as well as accurate commentaries on what it already is these days…

    The oddly familiar Overheard @ the Rave, “Written in Willits, California September, 1997“, brought back many fond memories of one of my favorite place under the sun… (and by the way, her name is Kelly, and she likes to watch the stars hint, hint).

    The life of wannabe-pioneers of the dot.com era and the arising of the golden computer age will sound eerily close to home to anybody who’s lived in SF somewhere around the late 90’s… Ahhh, the cyber-dream…

    Definitely a worthwhile way to kill a few minutes in front of your computer.