‘been a very long time since I have posted anything about Tokyo’s most notorious pit hole… Time to fix this oversight!

Legend has it that, back in 1929, one of the few guys to make money off the market crash – Joseph Kennedy Sr., I believe it was, but the name hardly matters since this story is probably made-up anyway – was wise enough to take all his marbles off the playground before it sunk, when he overheard shoeshine boys in the street exchanging stock tips.

If 15-year old shoeshine boys start investing in the stock market, was his thinking, it’s high time to get the hell out and start selling short. He was right, and his clairvoyance pretty much built the Kennedy’s fortune and indirectly resulted in Jackie getting a very heavy dry-cleaning bill, thirty years later in Dallas.

Of course, while Economics 101 textbooks love to give you this fairy tale as an illustration of the danger of uninformed speculation, the truth more plausibly resides somewhere in Joseph Sr.’s arm-length records of insider trading and stock pulling. Hell, he might even have been one of the guys giving that last tip to a stock market teetering on the edge for months.

Then what is the moral of this story, I hear you ask. And more importantly, what the hell does it have to do with Roppongi?

Well, a modern day version could be thus: When you start bumping into pimply junior-high-schoolers while ordering drinks, it’s really time to get the hell out.

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Now… Since you are reading this, and probably other blogs too, I think we can safely infer that you belong to that category of people who get their secret kick out of hearing how miserable other people’s lives are.

Don’t pull that innocent face: you know who you are.

And I don’t blame you.

I’m with you on that one: sure, fuzzy pictures of playful kittens might bring some warmth to even the most hardened seaman‘s heart… But only the news that some stranger at the other end of the world is having a really shitty day can bring true, lasting, peace of mind. Why do you think I have my PubSub keyword watchlist set to include “I cut because my life sucks” and “suicidal thoughts”: you never know when somebody’s unhappiness is gonna come handy to reinforce your own precarious sense of happiness…

With that knowledge, allow me to humbly feed your shadenfreude with this little story of tragi-comical woes in the land of technology…

We are talking movie material here.

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And now, award time for most moronic idea of the month, with automatic entrance to the yearly draw.

If you are gonna be cheap enough that you keep old bottles of top-shelf vodka prominently disposed behind your bar to try and give it that international hip flair it quite obviously hasn’t… At least:

  1. Make sure your new barmaid is aware they aren’t the real thing.
  2. When picking a transparent liquid to refill the bottles with, use water, not fucking bleach.

Will I come out as an insensitive cold-hearted bastard if I publicly lament here the fact that all things interesting and exciting only happen in Japan when I’m not there, stuck six thousands miles away, in a city where major earthquakes, flood and other cool natural disasters are about as likely as a shred of human soul mistakenly finding its way into Dick Cheney’s corpse…

On that count, Paris is quite boring.

I am told the floods of yore, when the as-of-then-undomesticated Seine river expanded its bank to all surrounding neighbourhoods, were a vision of surrealistic awe. What with the people, bank clerks and congressmen alike, having to swim their way back from work, French baguette in one hand, cigarette in the other and beret on top.

OK, perhaps the congressmen didn’t have to go freestyle swimming, but surely there couldn’t be enough boats for everybody…

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As promised, here is a first update on the progress of the previously mentioned no-roommate project.

And I am ashamed to say that there isn’t much progress altogether.

You see, after briefly considering adult movie-making or experiments in urban anchoretical life as chief occupations for my week-end, I finally settled on a much more pedestrian — yet of proven entertainment value — plan. A plan essentially centered around a few easy concepts such as: alcohol (preferably cheap and plentiful), friend(s), cultural exploration of new neighbourhoods (through random sampling of bars and izakaia) as well as, potentially, use of substances and sex (on same requirements as alcohol).

In that case, you may ask, why am I sitting in front of my laptop on a friday night, typing this while most obviously not partaking in any of these activities. And that is a very legitimate question.

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In music, major performance bloopers are usually caused by the most mundane details. Like realizing you forgot to plug your keyboard (or guitar, or microphone or any other electric musical appliance), right the second you hit the first key during a live act… Muting/enabling the wrong channel on your board by mistake and failing to realize how bad it sounds to the public because you got your headphones on… All typical stuff. Who never did it, never performed live.

Actually, the best one I have ever seen was not one of mine.

Back in London, some DJ-legend-I-shall-not-name-here was scheduled for a major 5-hour set at the club. Things were not looking pretty when he showed up 30 minutes late in a more than advanced state of chemically-induced mental regression.

When their headliner DJs are too wasted to perform, I’ve seen promoters use all kind of tricks to keep the show going… most often putting on a mix CD and regularly slapping the passed-out artiste out of his daze so he can wave at the crowd like he means it. Depending on where you are and who the DJ is, that usually works. But in this case, the club owner (a DJ himself) was quite adamant about having Mr. Drooling Superstar play his own set. Essentially basing his decision on the quite valid idea that such caliber of a DJ could play a set in his sleep… and that most of the assistance would be at least equally wasted anyway.

This, as it turned out, was not the best decision of the night…

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Picture IMGP2415_1.sized.jpg Did you know that “quantum vortices have been observed in alkali Bose-Einstein condensates that seem strikingly close to those exhibited by traditional anisotropic superfluid such as 3He” ?

Neither did I.

And quite frankly I wish I still did not.

Anyway, last Sunday was party time in Yoyogi. Despite a last minute downgrade of the weather forecast, we decided to go through with it and make the best of it (we already had the sound equipment ready and figured it made little sense to cancel at that point).
The weather was indeed far from ideal and not so engaging for an outdoor party, but thankfully remained dry most of the day.

After the usual organizational bloopers without which a party is not worth being called a party, we eventually got everything set-up in our back-up spot, a few hundred feet from the original spot, which had turned out to be already claimed by rather stingy fellows. We then proceeded to get the party started and act as if the ominous grey skies above us were on their way out.

As it turned out, Park Security has much less patience for any form of amplified music as we had hoped (hopes based on previous experience, but then again: one should never rely on occasional lapses of lenience from the gods). After being shut twice, trying to wait it out (the park’s security supposedly goes off-duty at 4), we did what we should have done from the beginning and moved to the outskirts of the park… roughly 20 feet from the “official” park entrance, and just in front of a sign strictly forbidding the use of any amplified music instrument within the park.

The new spot turned out to be much more welcoming and, beside a small and courteous visit from the police a bit later (they only gave us a small warning and asked us to keep it down), we were able to crank the music up for good and until the end of the day. Of course, rain started falling in the meantime, and the temperature, which had not been so high to start with, fell even lower along with the night.

By this description, those who weren’t there might draw a rather horrendous picture of that afternoon… but actually, it turned out to be a kick ass party in the end:
Rain did not stop us and before the first serious drops had even touched the ground, we had wrapped everything (including the dj) in transparent plastic sheet. With a few people seating under the surrounding trees and the rest keeping their position on the exposed dancefloor, it nearly seemed like nobody had noticed the rain.
It’s always nice to see a group of people getting together and dancing in the middle of nowhere. But when that group of people keeps dancing until the very end, completely oblivious to a rain that goes from drizzling to pouring and back, believe me, it does make your day!
I would not trade 5,000 people in a club in California or Ibiza for the couple dozen people who shook their ass under the rain until the very last record on Sunday…

We have just uploaded a few pictures and some really neat movies, go check them out here and don’t hesitate to leave comments! (Update 2006: Gallery removed)

Also, chances are high that we will do it again. Although this time we will probably opt for a more sound-friendly location (still outdoors, of course). July would be the month, no day has been fixed yet. If you wanna be kept informed about our future parties, just add your name and email there (we promise we won’t use it for anything else!).

Ok, time to go back to quantum vortices… you might not hear too much from me until next month, but if everything goes according to the plan, and once I’ll have gotten school out of the way, I might even have cool stories and pix from Europe to put here.

Pac-Man etymology

And by the way: don’t buy the hype about video-games putting a bad influence on the youth of today. It is completely unfounded.

I mean, come on: if Pacman really had affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music.