Crowded World

» When Panic Attacks
» Watching Indian TV
» Vietnam Girls
» Summer Love Blooms in the Dead Heart of Winter
» Medical Trials in Japan
» Going to a Japanese Prison
» Moving House in Japan
» Manifestation & Magic on the Streets of Tokyo
» Media Jobs in Iceland & England
» Media Jobs in Japan
» Traditional Japanese New Year in Shikoku
» Earthquake Migraines
» Maniac High -- Part One
» World Expo 2005
» Summer Stay on the Banks of Lake Suwa
» Doing Kyoto for Under US$40
» Donating Blood in Japan
» Lesbian Japan -- Part One
» Chiba and Saitama -- Tokyo's Dormitory Suburbs
» Akiko in Aoyama
» Russian Girls in Japan
» Hobbits of Indonesia
» Coredo Department Store, Nihombashi
» Dreams, Flights of the Imagination
» Into the Year of the Goat
» Polar Pop
» Chatrooms and BBSs and Masturbation
» Niu Gini On My Mind
» Travel Resources in Tokyo
» Japanese TV Stars
» Singapore Airport
» Israelis In Asia
» DropOut
» Love & Being a TV Star In Japan
» Love In Japan
» A New Hope

Tokyo Architecture

 

The beautiful serene blue Toyota Amlux Showroom at Ikebukuro, near Sunshine Tower
Toyota Amlux Showroom -- Ikebukuro Shinagawa Port City
Shinagawa Port City
Night View from Roppongi Hills Tower
Night View from Roppongi Hills Tower Typical Japanese suburban architecture
Apartment block, Kameido Ueno, DownTown Tokyo
Ueno, DownTown Tokyo
Shinjuku street near Kabukicho
Shinjuku street aesthetics Disney Castle, Maihama
Disney Castle, Maihama Tokyo Tower, as seen from Roppongi Hills Tower
Tokyo Tower Viral Tubes, near Landmark Tower, Yokohama
Viral Tubes, Yokohama Yokohama View With Baseball Stadium
Yokohama View

Fiction

The 70s Never Died, It Just Smells That Way
The 70s Never Died, It Just Smells That Way



m o v i n g - h o u s e

INTRODUCTION JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE

MONDAY, MARCH 5, 2007 ---- Danish Riots


FIRST it was Paris, then it was SYDNEY, and now it is the lovely city of Copenhagen that is facing trial by RIOT. As today's edition of the Guardian newspaper reported: "Copenhagen is burning. For four days the downtown area of the Danish capital has looked like a war zone. At least 690 people have been arrested, many of them younger than 18. As I write, Copenhagen is still trying to recover from a most violent confrontation between supporters of Ungdomshuset (the Youth House) - a Danish squat that has been at the heart of the Danish youth subculture since 1980 - and the police who had just evicted the squatters.

"Such was the ferocity when the conflict culminated Friday and Saturday night that several parts of Copenhagen were rioting simultaneously. From Nørrebro, where Ungdomshuset is situated, to Christianshavn, where the free town of Christiania is, sleepy Copenhagen was transformed into something reminiscent of Belfast in the bad old days. International riot supporters from Sweden, Germany and Holland arrived by their hundreds and Danish police had to borrow vehicles from neighbouring Sweden to cope with the ever-increasing numbers of arrests. Police officers have been wounded, as have many protesters, members of the press have been beaten up and cars and houses set on fire. Something rather un-Danish is going on in Denmark it seems, but everybody knew the conflict was coming..."

I was happy to have hung out in Copenhagen for a week or so in 2003, and enjoyed the subversive vibe there. it troubles me now to hear that there is conflict there. Please check out my guides to the counter culture centers of Nørrebro or Christiania, you just have to click on the links!

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m o v i n g - h o u s e

MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2007 ---- Nan Tien Temple, Near Wollongong (Australia)


For a long time I've had RECURRING DREAMS of my old home in Australia, on the NSW South Coast, the high school I used to attend, the red brick dwellings which cling to the headlands as the southerlies blow. On a recent trip back home to Australia I convinced my parents to take me down to the NSW South Coast, where I spent some time as a little kid. On the first day of the whole trip (mid March, 2007) we scootered down the scenic coastal hill roads of North Wollongong, did a driveby of our old bank home at 1a Market Street in the heart of the city, and passed the steelworks. My mother (you can see her next to the shishi lion thing on the left) was interested in visiting one of growing number of typically Asian institutions springing up in Australia these days -- the Nan Tien Temple on Berkeley Rd, Berkeley. My mother has never been to Asia (update: she is planning to visit Vietnam with me next month, August 2008! We will be staying at the best beach resort in the country!), but this complex probably gave her a good taste of Asian life. My Dad on the other hand wasn't in the mood for it, and spent the morning sulking in the car. I guess the Illawarra just isn't his idea of a holiday haven! Maybe it brought back unpleasant memories. For many other folk, however, Nan Tien has become a haven from the stresses of modern life, and even a full scale retreat. Meaning "paradise in the south", Nan Tien is described as a place where devotees and visitors can experience humanistic Buddhism. It features all the standard Buddhist cliches: a lotus pond a hell of a lot cleaner and more beautiful than the great lotus pond in Ueno, Tokyo, Japan, a main shrine packed with five Big Buddhas (representing Confidence, Longevity, Wisdom, Inner Beauty and Calmness), and 10,000 Small Buddhas, a Great Compassion Hall, an 8-storey pagoda, an auditorium seating 330 souls, a conference room and a pilgrims lodge for pilgrims wishing to lodge here... (To read the full story, click here.)

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THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2007 ---- Nourishing a Culture (the Cuisine of Viet Nam)


A couple of days ago I found myself with a lot of hours to kill inside Ho Chi Minh City airport, and to pass the time I bought a little book on sale there called THE CUISINE OF VIET NAM (Nourishing a Culture). A nourishing little book it turned out to be indeed -- it got me through the layover at Tan Son Nhat, and provided me ample food for thought, regarding the rich world of VIETNAMESE CUISINE. One essay in the collection, by Nguyệt Biều, concerned one of the greats of Vietnam food, the spicy relative of phở -- I am talking of course about Bun bo Huế, otherwise known as Huế noodle soup. Of course, Huế is the food capital of Vietnam, and represents the culinary perfection of the nation. Nguyệt writes: "If one had to pick a single food which is reminiscent of Huế, it would be rice noodle soup with beef and pork. Huế residents prefer to buy their bun bo from street vendors, rather than in restaurants. Street vendors carry soft, thin white noodles (bun) and slices of beef (bo) and pork with them in two bamboo baskets hanging from a pole balanced across their shoulders..." (To read the complete post on Bun bo Huế, click here!)

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MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2007 ---- Stoned and Sad/Scared


FROM THE windows of my present house in TOKYO, I can see two banks of lights: two BIG TOWERS looming over me: one white, nearer, the FURTHER one orange. As I look out the window on the FRAUGHT-RIDDEN eve of my move across town, it strikes me as rather INTERESTING that I watched both buildings go UP. When I moved here 6 years ago, neither tower existed. When they did go up, they went up fast (10-20 times faster than any similar building project in Australia.) The noise of the cascading pipes, the clangs of steel-capped boots on steel scaffolding kept me awake in the early (to mid) morning, when I was longing for sleep, lusting for Ayako (or Miyuki), for at least a month or two on either or both occasions. They went up, and they have kept on going up, ever since. In six years, I have noticed many other changes in this part of Tokyo, a testament to this city's hyperspeed pace of evolution and expansion.

Forced offline by my move to Shinozaki, I found an old article on my harddrive from Z-Mag:

Autonomous Politics and its Problems

Thinking the Passage from Social to Political

by Ezequiel Adamovsky

"Let us face this awkward question: Why is it that, being the Left a better option for humankind, we almost never succeed in getting support of the people? Moreover, Why is it that people often vote for obviously pro-capitalist options --sometimes even very Right-wing candidates-- instead? Let us avoid simplistic and patronizing answers such as "the people don't understand the pervasive power of the media and so on. These sort of explanations give us an implicit sense of superiority that we neither deserve, nor do they help us politically speaking. Of course, the system has a formidable power to control culture so to counter radical appeals. But we cannot look for an answer just there.

"Leaving aside circumstantial factors, the perennial appeal of the Right lies in that it presents itself (and to some extent really is) a force of order. But why would order be so appealing for those who do not belong to the ruling class? We live in a type of society that rests upon (and strengthens) a constitutive, paradoxical tension. Each day we become more "de-collectivized", that is, more atomized, increasingly isolated individuals without strong bonds with each other. But, at the same time, never in the history of humankind was there such an inter-dependence when it comes to producing social life. Today, the division of labor is so deep, that each minute, even without realizing it, each of us is relying on the labor of millions of people from all over the world. In the capitalist system, paradoxically enough, the institutions that enable and organize such a high level of social co-operation are the very same that separate us from the other, and make us isolated individuals without responsibility with regards to other people. Yes, I am talking about the market and the (its) state. Buying and consuming products, and voting for candidates in an election, involves no answerability. These are actions performed by isolated individuals in solitude..."

m o v i n g - h o u s e

THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2007 ---- Sacrifice Comes First


HERE is a COOL IDEA for people who have JUST MOVED into a new house. Take photos of the whole process of evolution. I was amazed moving out of my last home of six years, how many layers of acquisition had taken place, like the layers of an archaelogical dig. Taken photos of your new home in its various levels of evolution will kind of act like an historical record, available on the worldwide Internet for everyone (even the people of the future, the unborn) to access.

Imagine if you ran a cool place like a warehouse somewhere legendary, in the downtown of a big creative city, and the place was always populated by real crazy freaks. Imagine hooking that whole warehouse on to the Internet, with cameras in every room. To record everything that happened, all the arguments and hijinks. It would be just like Big Brother, but without the corporate control. Online users could edit the raw feeds of data, and create their own narratives. The house could connect with other houses, a viral network with subversive political potential. Maybe I should do that one day (or I could do with the house I am in now, except that it is a house of one, so probably not that interesting.) Anyway, the idea of the online house is a good one, so why isn't anyone doing it?

Moving House reminds you of your own MORTALITY.

I was waiting in Shinjuku to see my porn actor friend Dennis the Menace, and to while the hours, I browsed the excellent Kinokumiya book near the station there. (It's the best book store in Tokyo, according to many gaijin.) To really flex out the time, because Dennis was being mega LATE, I started perusing every nook and cranny, and even stooped over to see what they stored in the little drawers down near the floor. Gradually it dawned on me: man, they really do have a lot of diversity and excellence in this place. This is better than a lot of book stores in London. I couldn't believe my luck when I discovered a whole little rows of books devoted to the recently deceased Jean Baudrillard. Flipping through one of his volumes, I was struck by one particularly bold and enigmatic quote:
"Animals don't need a subconscious mind because they already have a territory..."

Or words to that effect.

Enigmatic and I didn't really get it for quite some time. Recently, however, after moving house halfway across Tokyo, I saw the connection... between TERRITORY and MEMORY.

And from there, how the disappearance of TERRITORIAL MEMORY necessitates the creation of the SUBCONSCIOUS WORLD...

What NLP understands, and this is something which I experimented with personally back in 2004 at Liberty House, is that certain places can be anchored with emotional energy. When I toured around Australia with my Mum and Dad earlier this year, I could tell which parts of the country my Dad had a bad experience of (these were usually places he worked in while he was getting moved around by the bank), and which places had pleasant associations for him (for example Maclean on the NSW North Coast, and other holiday towns.) Just as dogs squirt urine on trees to mark their territory, so do we spurt our emotions (MEMORY) on the places we inhabit.

If you knew someone's weak points when it came to territorial association, wouldn't that give you an advantage against them... from a martial arts point of view?

If territory equates the subconscious minds of men, then how can we improve our lives, by reshaping our physical territories? Is this indeed what feng shui is all about? How about moving house? By establishing a new territory, do we get the chance, the opportunity, to reprogram our subconscious from scratch? From the beginning, one association by another? This would be a powerful self development tool to have if it were true.

AN EXTRA NOTE: ONE of the cool things about moving into a brandnew spotless apartment or home is, you get to see the process of HOW STUFF GETS DIRTY -- right from the very beginning. Dirt is noticeable in an otherwise spotlessly clean house. In the clinical wastelands of the year-old bathroom, a couple of stray hairs stand out. In your old bathroom you might not see them -- camouflaged by the background SCUZZINESS. Contrasted against the purity of the new, these couple of hairs radiate repulsion. One is driven by guilt to clean them up.

ONE MORE FURTHER NOTE: That my boss is also my new landlord, how will that affect our relationship? Now that I pay him more than he pays me, how will that transform the strange bond between us? Won't everything be turned upside down? Well, only time will tell!


FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2007 ---- Territory and the Immensity of Time.
THE IMMENSITY OF TIME -- Earlier this year, on my big trip to Australia, I managed to return to some towns I had lived at as a kid, some of them places I have not seen since 1993. I went back to a town on the NSW South Coast, Kiama. In the last couple of years my subconscious mind has taken an apparent interest in my Kiama years (which are 1984-1989, for that matter.) It was like every night while I lived in Tokyo, I would go to bed and dream of being back in Kiama, timewarped, playing tennis in the backyard of our bank house on the headland on the volcanic shore and the Irish lookalike green hills, and surf crashing on the Icelandic lookalike volcanic shores. I hit the ball too hard and it bounced back and slid under the fence into the neighbour's yard, and I was too ashamed to go ask them if I could reclaim it. That has been the subconscious chatter of my dreams in recent years: looking down the headland to the shattering blue seas piling on to Easts Beach. All I wanted to do was get back my tennis ball and roll down that headland and plunge into that deep blue sea, demented. When I woke, despondancy sank: the numb realization that it was just a dream. Easts Beach wasn't just down the headland, shimmering in the Australian sun... it was on the other side of the world. Unreachable, supremely.

I was Exlied.

As the recently deceased French nihilist Jean Baudrillard remarked once: "Territory equals the subconscious mind." Kiama was a place I had lived for a big chunk of my high school days, those really formative years when your personality really gets set, and stuck. I hadn't been back to the place for 14 years... I hadn't actually lived there for 18. Living as I was now on the other side of the world, in Japan, my subconscious nonetheless every night kept returning to my memories -- my emotional map, particularly my emotional map of Kiama -- every night, after I had gone to bed. Kiama was crying out to me... so as soon as I had the financial means, I returned there.

And perhaps by returning to Kiama, I managed to reset my subconscious map, my TERRITORY of Kiama, and by extension a significant portion of my dreamlife. The effects emanating outward, that might explain, the rapid and rupturous changes ripping ashield my life right now...

MOVING HOUSE

m o v i n g - h o u s e

MONDAY, MAY 7, 2007 ---- Breaking the Internet Addiction


JEAN BAUDRILLARD said something when he was alive about how he would never use a computer to write, because he would have the problem of having to deal with his text miraculously transforming into an IMAGE, thanks to the medium of the screen. It is strange that the collapse of my writing efforts and ambitions, collapsed at exactly the same time the Internet arrived. I can chart the slow decline of my creativity and idealism, from the moment I started messing about with homepages (1994 and 1995). Looking back on it, I can see it was indeed the Internet -- and the potential of the Internet -- which slowly strangled my writing, sucked it into a discourse of images, and finally sheer imagery (for example, my Japanese interest in spontaneous photography and photo publishing in the early 2000s.) By 2002, I wasn't even writing in fiction at all, which had always been my primary love. I wasn't even making the effort -- although my soul tried to spur me on, giving me night after night of vivid dreams of great novel ideas: vast future histories, intense glimpses of life in the Chinese Wild West of 2500AD.

If it was the Internet which killed me as a writer, then perhaps my recent bout of isolation from the Internet, caused by moving house, has produced a new renaissance. And the realisation that indeed it is the simpler things in life, which are the best.

Years later, living in Australia, I would have a recurring dream based on this scene... final farewell to Liberty House, in Shitaya, Taito Ward!

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FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2007 ---- Mission Accomplished


The last time I was in my room at Liberty House, just a few days before I was arrested in Shimokitazawa. Years after I left, I used to have  dreams about going back to Liberty House nearly every night... and in my dreams Tokyo slowly became a fantastical place, not quite real, like a vision of another world.

m o v i n g - h o u s e

SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2007 ---- Shuns Rolls.


HERE IS a story I had published in the Tokyo Notice Board magazine last year, a review of a fusion sushi restaurant called Shuns Rolls, in Roppongi.

Put up your hands everyone who had wrong ideas about Japan before you came here? Japan is one of those countries which invites endless misconceptions and fanciful stereotypes. It's only natural, given that most people learn all they know about Japan from watching anime and movies like "Lost in Translation". In the food department, if your introduction to Japanese cuisine took place in a strobe-lit New York City cellar packed with models and movie stars, you might be surprised when you finally come to Japan. For starters, you won't find California roll on the menu at many old-school style Japanese sushi restaurants. You probably won't find other foreign inventions like the spider rolls or rainbows either. That is, unless you go to one of the new Japanese/Fusion restaurants, such as Shuns Rolls at Roppongi... (For the full review of Shuns Rolls and the dishes they serve, click here.)

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MONDAY, JULY 09, 2007 ---- Bonding With Your Home.


I was at WORK tonight with my buddy Cristal Meth, talking about our most recent karaoke outing, when Crazy Mal moved over to our chairs and said to Meth: "What's this I hear about some mate of yours who thinks he is a hero just because he got locked up in Tokyo? Blogging about it as if it was Escape from Alcatraz, the life story of Nelson Mandela? Blogging about it and he wasn't even in bloody prison to begin with, he was just in lockup! The guys who have really been to jail ought to punch this sook in the nose. You tell him, we are looking for some vengeance."

I ought to be scared, but I am not!

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WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2007 ---- Moving Beyond the Zero.


MARS has changed signs into placcid and DOMESTIC Taurus, and today I noticed a sea change in the "weather of astrology" which covers this planet like a blanket, affecting every being here. On a personal level: I suddenly found 16,000 Yen in my bank account which must have come from Google, it is my latest Google Adsense payment, which I immediately invested in a block of chokko from Maniac High. I stepped into a lazy midmorning calm -- a welcome respite, after weeks of hard work. I was talking to the Maniac about how mind conditions matter, and I suddenly I could see the whole history and future Time sweep in front of me like another Dimension. A Dimension without sight, but with a kind of emotional composition. In an interview at Der Derian, Paul Virilio said concerning the convergence of outer and inner space: "I think that the infosphere - the sphere of information - is going to impose itself on the geosphere. We are going to be living in a reduced world. The capacity of interactivity is going to reduce the world, real space to nearly nothing. Therefore, in the near future, people will have a feeling of being enclosed in a small, confined, environment. In fact, there is already a speed pollution which reduces the world to nothing. Just as Foucault spoke of this feeling among the imprisoned, I believe that there will be for future generations a feeling of confinement in the world, of incarceration which will certainly be at the limit of tolerability, by virtue of the speed of information. If I were to give a last image, interactivity is to real space what radioactivity is to the atmosphere."

A flat, frozen screen of immobility -- a brickwall of death -- a brane of death afloat in an Infinity of Life. I could see my grandfather dying, awakening at the same time on the other side of the Brane, the other side of death. I realized: eternity lies in the awareness of the complete expanse of time. I could see whole generations, generations of generations of future humans, the slow exploration of different worlds. How long would it take to truly move out into the unknown, and to colonize other worlds? I wondered, before the answer hit me: a long, long, long, long time. A million years -- but on the universal scale, a million years is nothing. Humanity has already existed for a couple of million years already; as for the other animal families on the Earth, the cat family and the rodents and the horse families and the sheep and stuff, haven't they all been living here for far longer, anyway? I have to say: Don't believe the millennial hype -- humanity is in for a long future, setbacks like Global Warming being just your typical ups and downs of life. You have got to see the bigger picture -- and today I could see the picture as vast as it gets, stretching all the way to the ends of the universe.

Imagine a new geometry: the center of your mind is the only place there is, an inpenetratable sphere (a fundamental atom). All that exists "out there" (the perception of your senses) is just a mirror, a reflection. Logically enough, the further you speculate out (16 billion light years out to the most distant galaxies), the weaker the reflection becomes. You take yourself out to the vicinity of the Sun, and your reflection is still bright enough to blind you. You have to wonder what is out there at 150 million kilometers, reflecting back our light so intensely, right into our very faces. Some huge and unknowable presence in the void, or a black hole. Or maybe the sun is simply a distortion in our sensory fields, an optical and sensory illusion (even eluding the senses of our supposedly neutral technological sensors, which are just as warped by consciousness as our own nerves and eyes.) The planets and stars and gallaxies are just repetitions of the illusion on an elliptical wheel, spiraling ever fainter into the void of measurement. Someday we will have the technology to see a 100 billion light-years out, but the view will be basically the same. Endless ever minuter quantities of light, stretching relentlessly to infinitely, but becoming infinitely minute.

Why is it aliens are often imagined as being humanoids? Is this not a projection, the fantasies of a limited imagination. Perhaps humans are destined to be the primates of the universal realm, once we make contact with the other dominant lifeforms of the universe. A new ecosystem is being built, in space!

In an interview at Der Derian, Paul Virilio said concerning the convergence of outer and inner space: "I think that the infosphere - the sphere of information - is going to impose itself on the geosphere. We are going to be living in a reduced world. The capacity of interactivity is going to reduce the world, real space to nearly nothing. Therefore, in the near future, people will have a feeling of being enclosed in a small, confined, environment. In fact, there is already a speed pollution which reduces the world to nothing. Just as Foucault spoke of this feeling among the imprisoned, I believe that there will be for future generations a feeling of confinement in the world, of incarceration which will certainly be at the limit of tolerability, by virtue of the speed of information. If I were to give a last image, interactivity is to real space what radioactivity is to the atmosphere."

m o v i n g - h o u s e

THURSDAY, JULY 12, 2007 ---- Shitting Myself


TWO MONTHS after being released from lockup, I suffered a sudden onset of severe stomach pain, which lasted for like three days or something. Luckily (if you believe in luck that is), the very same day my bowels erupted, squeezing me with pain, a familiar friend arrived -- of the black tarry kind. A genuine painkiller and good for gastric complaints as well. When I went trekking in Nepal five years ago, marijuana was the only thing which kept me going, through an endless bout of diarhhea. Could it be that genetic bug encoded within me is now being activated, and merging with the incoming THC, to create a virulent new lifeform -- an ailment both spectacular and scary. Or it could be that all the feelings I had suppressed in the lockup period, were being released and expressed in a psychosomatic illness. In other words: shitting myself. You have got to talk to your illnesses, that is what I am doing now. They are messages which must be understood. I can feel now, just how scared I was during my first days behind bars, but I can understand how important it was not to show any weakness or vulnerability in such an environment. I know now what happened: the emotions got suppressed. Stoned tonight, just before I spontaenously burst into dreamlike song, I saw an image come into my mind, or rather the image of a movement rushed into my mind -- a nervous reflex, the reflection of a guy shit scared. I have only now reached the necessary level of relaxation, for the suppressed emotion to be released.

If the pain goes away and my latest dose of the shits dissipates, I will know that the illness has made its case and been expressed, though in a twisted and mutated fashion. And I guess it means I won't be getting an ulcer.

Even stranger than the attack of psychosomatic pain which is even as I type receding, came an experience a few minutes ago -- stoned and listening to music, I turned around to watch, another inane English conversation program on Tokyo TV. I couldn't hear what the presenters were introducing, but LIPREADING THEM. For a couple of sentences at least, I was LIP READING -- I had never done that before. And the interesting thing, the LIP READ sentences were perceived in my mind not as images as like you would expect, but SOUNDS!

Prove yourself as the karaoke legend, and Miho will be impressed.

Another stoned revelation, which hit me in the shower this morning, as I was being massaged by hot jets courtesy of Tokyo Gas and the Water Department: my boss (and now my landlord) is autistic. My boss is down with a lifetime case of autism. I always thought he was crazy, but I never realized he was officially mentally ill, according to the criteria. I went on to the Internet and found out my boss does in fact fit with the criteria for autism (which doesn't mean shit I guess in some way, because according to the official criteria I should be an alcoholic, along with most of my friends.) But I have got a feeling in my bones that my boss/landlord is indeed autistic, and I ought to write an autism blog about this guy's behavior, and my methods of dealing with him. For all those out there who need guidance or are just curious, about this small subset of the human family.

According to one definition of the disease: "Autistic people have social impairments and often lack intuition about others that many people take for granted. Noted autistic Temple Grandin described her inability to understand the social communication of neurotypicals as leaving her feeling "like an anthropologist on Mars".[20]"

Lack of intuition: for example my boss/landlord thinking that I am a potential future leader for his religion Soka Gakkai, when I am probably destined more to a life or petty crime and "breaking the law, breaking the law!", as that old number goes. I thought my spell in Japanese lockup might shatter some of his illusions, but he still thinks I am leadership material for his inane and aggressive creed. But just like my episode of pyschosomatic stomach pain 6 weeks after my release from jail, and in fact just like the whole lockup experience, this presence in my life -- this relationship is trying to tell me something. I have to live this experience unconditionally and release it, tossed aside into the electronic void of the Internet. And in the meantime, I can create a resource for autism sufferers.

According to the School of Cognitive Neuropyschology: "autistic individuals can systematize -- that is, they can develop internal rules of operation to handle internal events -- but are less effective at empathizing by handling events generated by other agents. It extends the extreme male brain theory, which hypothesizes that autism is an extreme case of the male brain, defined psychometrically as individuals in whom systemizing is better than empathizing. This in turn is related to the earlier theory of mind, which hypothesizes that autistic behavior arises because autistic people cannot easily think about thinking."

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FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2007 ---- The Equalizer.


I GOT a letter from TEPCO the Japanese electrical board saying if I didn't pay my bill today, they were going to cut off my power. I didn't know where their local office was, all I had was an address, which as anyone who has lived in Japan will tell you, can often mislead you rather than help you find your destination. In the end I amazed myself by not getting lost, and I actually found the place (in Ojima near Higashi Ojima Station). It was all totally lineal, logical -- just a matter of keeping a note of the numerical coordinates of my present location. I realized that Japanese addresses actually do have an inherent logic to them after all -- it is the strategy of the grid. Addresses are determined by grid; rather than by road. Perhaps there is an important sociological discovery here: a revelation into the differences of thinking in the peoples of the west and the east. Here was my discovery today, which was also an initiation, because I passed the test and found the bloody place: westerners map in directions, a one-dimensional expanse -- the road. Which explains in a city like Wollongong, Australia (a bastion of the west), you might find an address like 1A Market Street. Somewhere else you might get a 69 Marsden St. Your house address depends on a street (called rushes in Greece according to Paul Virilio's PURE WAR.) In East Asia they have streets and some long ones at that, but your address doesn't mention your street even if you live on the mightiest highway of the land. In East Asia your address doesn't indicate your position on a one-dimensional street, it indicates your position in a series of ever smaller, two-dimensional grids. It is a map based on density, rather than expanse. It might explain why westerners are always flying out, while easterners want to converge themselves on to the center and ever increase their mass. Asia is dense, and is centered on the group (the grid), rather than individualism (the street).

Here is a really dumb way to lose a lot of money in Japan -- start surfing the web on your cellphone and not be part of some special plan designed around excessive web use. I did it for two weeks without checking to see how expensive it would be (or maybe I didn't care, because I was starved of the Internet at home) and it ended up costing 30,000 Yen. Ouch! Anyway, come Sunday I will have the Internet and cable TV finally restored at home, after a 2.5 month hiatus. I am looking forward to getting it back!

Back in my youth, I think I once wrote down that I wanted to release an album called THE EQUALIZER in 2007. I can distinctly remember that. Tonight with Jeremy and Jo-Jo, in the middle of this bizarre conversation which developed around sex, I commented that it was the great equalizer... and Jo-Jo said
m o v i n g - h o u s e

SATURDAY, JULY 14, 2007 ---- The Storm of the Eye.


THERE is a TYPHOON on its way past, it is bucketing down outside and windy, but here inside my new Japanese flat, I wouldn't even know about it if it weren't for all the stories on the TV news. I was engulfed in a hazy dreamlike bath experience just then -- it is so cool to be stoned in a spotless pure bath, and blasted and caressed by pure Japanese bathroom technology. I have said it before I will say it again -- Japanese bathrooms are the best in the world, and Japanese spa culture is the most developed of its kind. Probably because so many people are bone-tired in Japan, working such long hours, that there is such a massive market for relaxation. Huge markets bring huge innovations, which later spread to other parts of the world.

So, comfortably cocooned in my new apartment as the typhoon rages outside, I picked up a book from the bookshelf, and started browsing. I found this excerpt (it's from Paul Virilio's Ground Zero: "Here, communication techniques do not in any way enable people to `communicate`. They merely have a compensatory function, sparing each person the painful "encounter of the self with itself" which still trammels the consciousness of every human being."

It is worth noting that I have been effectively offline for 2.5 months -- I am finally getting the Internet connected at my new house tomorrow. I have suffered a loss of some freedoms I used to take for granted (like watching cable TV) for so long I have almost, almost gotten used to it. In the middle of this period, I suffered an even profounder loss of freedoms, when I was kept in lockup at Kitazawa Police Station for 16 days. Anyway, that is history now, and the tides are definitely turning. Suddenly, joyously, the freedoms are springing back, along with money! But the extended detox has changed me in a lot of ways, and one of them relates to how I view the Internet. As Virilio writes (and it is worth noting that I wouldn't even be reading this book, if the Internet was connected): "After the resounding failures of the (military, political, nationalistic, etc) totalitarianisms of the 19th and 20th centuries, which exploited to the full the mystical fusion/confusion of each individual's bodies with the extravagant, super-potent fusions/confusions of a common body (the army, the masses, the body politic, etc), which did their living and thinking for them, and withdrew from the creative physiological dimension in a manner worthy of a Thomas Hobbes, individual incompleteness is now dependent on simulations of proximity (TV, the web, mobile phones), as highly effective as flight-, weapon- or driving-simulators, drawing, in this case, on an imposture of immediacy that is more dystopian than ever..."

m o v i n g - h o u s e

SUNDAY, JULY 15, 2007 ---- Climbing the Tower of Babel.


I WOKE up early this stormy morning, eagerly awaiting my reconnection to the online world. The man from Mediatti (Edogawa Cable Television -- phone 0120-281641) did indeed come at 11am, as it rained outside; my contract was finally signed, 2.5 months after our first attempt. However, contrary to my expectations, the guy who installs the hardware side of the equation couldn't come today on account of the typhoon. He/she won't be able to come until Tuesday. Which means two more days of trying to avoid myself, in a world of reduced interactivity.

My computer has been in detox for like 10 or 11 weeks; my mind has been in interactivity detox for the same length of time. There are still cookies and viruses in my computer flapping around like condemned fish on a deck, trying to get online and complete their programmed agenda. It makes me wonder: are there also viruses and cookies implanted in my mind? Now they are in detox, they must be feeling the pinch. Are they frantically trying to rehook my consciousness to the Web, but are mysteriously (from their point of view) being denied access? Access has been denied a long time now, and there are two more days of interactivity cold turkey to go. Maybe it was a good thing the Internet was not reconnected today, because it encouraged me to go out and experience the typhoon, which was bearing down on Tokyo. After a night of heavy rain, I was very surprised when at about noon the skies momentarily cleared up, and the sun shone bright and hot. The eye of the storm wasn't supposed to pass Tokyo until 6pm. I thought to myself: this seems to be a strange meteorological phenomena, and if I go outside, I will be able to experience it. Just like my mate down in Chiba, surfing the waves... just like that mad Australian I would be meeting the typhoon halfway, and riding it. So, I hit the street, and the first thing I did, was walk around the corner, so I could see my little pad from the rear. This innocent act of spontaneous curiosity freaked out the neighbor who lives almost right on top of my back door, a racist old woman. She even opened her front door and came out to watch me look at my backyard, mumbling to herself. When I got out my camera to take a photo of my room, she virtually had a heart attack. Stunned by this latest experience of Japanese racism (why do I always end up living next door to racist freaks? and by the way, I am not the only gaijin who has trouble with odd neighbors!), I swivelled around and left. Which way should I go? (which way...)

My little apartment in Edogawaku, viewed from the parking lot behind it.

I looked down the street, and saw in the distance a great white garbage incineration chimney, 20 or 30 storeys high or so. Like many parts of deterritorialized suburban Tokyo, my local monument was a garbage chimney. Inspired by Paul Virilio's concepts of speed (and its effect on the city), I decided to head towards it. It's good practical sense, after all, to know the way from your house to your local monument, in case you ever got lost. And as it turned out, I had gotten lost once around this tower, more than 4 years ago in another era of my Tokyo life. Back in the old days I would never have gone for something as utilitarian as the chimney or tower -- but I have learnt to appreciate industrialism recently, I have learnt to go for it. I also reasoned it would be a good way to experience not only the typhoon, but also the devastation of Paul Virilio's speed -- the devastation on the environment, the Japanese countryside which had been swallowed and cemented over, by progress. As I was to discover, this was a good part of the world, to see how an older world had been bulldozed by speed -- and it was a good place to recognise the potentials of negating speed, by building a new aesthetics even in the middle of such desolation.

One of the first things which struck me, as I started towards the chimney, was how much more greenery there is in Edogawa Ku, compared to my old locality in Taito Ku. Soon a beautiful temple lofted into view, radiating such an atmosphere of calm that I knew it was a little pocket of old harmony, in other words a piece of old Japan which had survived the eruption of speed. As I ventured on, it became more apparent, that there were flotsam and jetsum of old harmony all over the place. Weeds springing verdantly from a cracked sidewalk, looming over churning puddles... it was a spontaneous Japanese garden, in miniature and scattered to the margins. The real gardens of the people living on the river, every front yard covered with low hedgelike scrub (perhaps tsutsuji?), without a single blade of grass in sight. Totally different from the suburbs of Australia! And the weather was totally different from your weather back wherever you come from, unless you come from the tropical belt or tropical storm locales -- yes, the weather was pretty interesting today. As I walked the sun would come out of the clouds sometimes, and turn everything into a beautiful's summers day -- for a couple of minutes at least. Then the wind and the steam and the humidity would return.

Asked if there was any merit in information society, Paul Virilio replied: "Yes, because it finally poses the question of a common language. It cannot be otherwise if there is to be world citizenship. It is Babel, moreover. What we are witnessing is not the Tower of Babel but the return of Babel. Can the world have a single language? Is this unicity of communication good or evil? Another positive point: Information will make us earthlings..."

m o v i n g - h o u s e

SUNDAY, JULY 22, 2007 ---- Electronification of the Home Front.


IT HAS taken altogether too long, but finally I am connected again... no more need to surf the Internet on my keitai! On top of that, the little fridge I bought in Akihabara yesterday arrived, and I have already stocked it with a couple of Asahi blues!

Electronification of the Home Front!

New fridge stocked with Asahi Blue, a happoshu!

Chris Mae, on the train.

m o v i n g - h o u s e

MONDAY, JULY 30, 2007 ---- Walking Through a Full Moon.


One good thing about my new house is that the area it is in is pretty low rise, lowlier than my old place in Shitamachi, and it is easier to observe the weather here. It seems more natural here in Edogawaku, more exposed to the gods of earth and sky. A couple of weeks ago I went out to experience a typhoon. Since then, I have resolved to keep an eye on all the passing storms and cloud formations. Midmorning I got woken up by stupendous cracks of thunder and the hiss of tropical rain, I predicted it was going to be the kind of day you stay indoors. But after gongyo at 13.45 or so, the sun came out for a minute or so and my spirit soared. I decided to walk part of the way to my evening job in Shinjuku...

Maniac High calls me last week and he says: "Man, we were brothers in jail together... I got to pay you back. I got to get u laid. There's this porno they are making next week, it is about Nova English teachers fucking their students in the classroom. I can get you in -- u cool with that?" Actually I wasn't that cool with it for a while, and I actually called the director to say that I couldn't do it -- but by strange chance he was trying to call me at the same time, to tell me the shoot had been delayed for a week. And then suddenly I thought: "Maybe I should give it a try anyway? I could have sex with a beautiful girl!" And in the process, I could get 30,000 Yen. Once I get the payment, I could head in to the hostess bars of Roppongi, to invest in further p--sy.


MONDAY, JULY 2, 2007 ---- Homelessness as the Ultimate in Budget Living.
THE NEW HEART OF BUDGET AND BACKPACKER ACCOMMODATION IS WITHOUT DOUBT TAITO WARD IN THE NORTH OF THE CITY. Asakusa has always been a magnet for budget travellers with its many cheap ryokan and numerous old world attractions, such as temples and noodle shops and souvenir markets and the like. In recent years a string of cheap guesthouses and hostels have extended from Asakusa into the somewhat downtrodden suburbs further north -- Minowa, Kiyokawa, Minami Senju, Kita Senju and especially the suburb formerly known as Sanya (now called Nihonzutsumi). As well as being the new budget hotel heart of Tokyo, it also has the city's highest concentration of homeless old men. If you want to see the flipside of the Japanese economic miracle, and the ruin the recession of the 1990s caused to the Japanese constuction sector workforce, the streets of Minowa or Nihonzutsumi are a good place (Ueno Park is another.) It might be depressing, but it is a cheap place of town to stay -- and there are good transportation connections, only 25 minutes to Roppongi by train. And there are some local attractions of interest to tourists, including frequent festivals and traditional shops and markets. (For the full review of north Taito Ward, the new budget accommodation heart of Tokyo, click here.)

WHERE are the COOL PLACES to live in Tokyo? That depends on what you want and what you define as cool, but in general, it would seem that west Tokyo is the cool part of town. (Why is it that I always seem to live in the East?) The west is the new part of the city, with a lot of universities and youth enclaves such as Shibuya, Roppongi, Sangenjaya, Kichijoji, Ogikubo and Shimokitazawa (although word is that this colorful little neighborhood is due to be sacrificed to the sword of Progress -- a new highway is going to be built over the smashed remains of the once buzzing boutiques and crowded alleyways.) I have got a lot of friends who live at Kichijoji, the whole Telephone English crew, and if I had the chance I would like to live there too, for a while. It has got a park, the famous and tragic Inokashira Koen, tonnes of gaijin, an extremely crowded bazaar (called Sun Road), and numerous bars and izakayas and the like. I often go over there to enjoy a couple of brews and a smoke, and in fact, I will be staying over there this coming Friday night, to coincide with the visit of my buddy Garnet, who is on his way to the Cannes Film Festival in France.


SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2007 ---- Oversized Garbage.
WHAT do you do if you want to throw out OVERSIZE GARBAGE in Japan, big stuff like chairs and beds (which don't fit into BINIIRU FUKURO bags)? The bad news is you have to pay for someone to pick it up; the good news is, it doesn't cost as much as you would think. According to Kenichi at Tokyo Ryokan: "Oversize garbage, one of whose dimensions is over 30cm (except air-condition, TV, Fridge, Washing Machine, Personal computer and so on) needs to be prior noticed at at either 03-5296-7000 or at http://sodai.tokyokankyo.or.jp/. Charge depends on what you throw away, but you need to purchase the tickets (A is 200 Yen, Bi 300 Yen, therefore if the charge is 800 Yen, you should buy one A and two Bs) at nearby convenience store..."

Word is it only costs 1000 Yen ($10) to have a bed disposed of. I remember when I lived in Sydney I got rid of a troublesome futon by dumping out the door of my friend's car, on the banks of the Harbour in Balmain -- but there is not enough space for such hijinks in Tokyo yo!

A CACTUS thriving in a BARREN ROOM -- that has been my experience of this week.

I met the first person ever TONIGHT who makes a LITTLE money from Google Adsense -- the first person apart from myself of course. I met him at a tiny country music bar on the way to Todoroki. His name is Toshikazu Yoshida -- he runs an online radio station playing country, Hawaiian and blue grass (www.radiosetagaya.com). At the same table at the on the way to Todoroki bar, I met another guy with an obscure passion -- and a homepage. Dressed in an immaculate cowboy outfit and cowboy hat, Wolfmichi was without doubt the coolest guy in the bar. Apart from country music, his greatest love in life was photographing wolves in extreme parts of the world (Rocky Mountains, Siberia, etc), he proudly proclaimed. He seems to love all dogs in particular, even the ones you never hear about, like the longeared savannah dogs of Africa, and dingoes of Australia.

Dogs are like humans, Wolfmichi said -- even down to the way they organize their packs, the power struggles that go on. I guess that is why he likes them so much.

What is my latest passion (apart from going back to Vietnam?) -- that has been my latest dilemma, ever since I returned to Japan at the start of April. The problem was I didn't have any real problems. The hard thing was that things seemed too easy. I was lost for a cause. I was in need for a new myth. Then suddenly, the earthquake happened -- the earthquake I always feared at Liberty House. I ruptured myself sideways, and created a new drama. All the rules have changed now.

This year is starting to look very interesting.

r e n t a l + s t i n g

Rental sting in Japan.

WHEN you rent an apartment or house, you must pay FEES in addition to the rent. These are the fees which really sting, especially for someone new to Japan, or trying to live on a teacher's wage:
Reikin: Key money or customary fee.
Paid to the landlord when the contract is finalized. Usually, equivalent to one or two months' rent. This fee will not be returned.
Shikikin: Damage deposit.
Collateral paid to and held by the landlord in case you fall behind in your rent payments. When you move out and cancel the rental contract, some money may be deducted from this deposit to cover any repairs for damages. Usually, equivalent to one or two months' of rent.
Tesuryo: Handling fee.
Paid to the real estate agent who serves as the liaison with the landlord. Usually, the equivalent of one month's rent.
Rent for the rest of the month.
Rent is calculated on a daily basis from the day the contract is finalized until the end of the month.

With all these fees and "presents" and such, you can see how moving into a new flat or house in Japan can easily cost you six or seven months' rent -- all paid in advance, some of it non-returnable.

m o v i n g - h o u s e

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2007 ---- Communion on the train.


I WOKE up at Menace's house on the floor at 7.30am, getting kicked by his kid P-chan, who was stomping around the flat noisily and acting, in general, just as aggressive and annoying as his Dad. On the table besides and above me, a few cans of beer and Chu-Hi stood abandoned, testament to the minor session which had gone on the night before. Menace and me had gone down to an odorimatsuri -- dance festival -- down the road from his place, blown a couple of cans in the undergrowth, and then went on to have what I considered this strange encounter with 2 babes, as the band played enka behind us. I had gone off to the toilet absolutely ripped for the first time in a week, and everything had turned really Asiatic and exotic, as if it was my first day in Japan again. I was realising how eastern and Asian this place still is, even though you get misled by its western veneer (all the convenience stores and The OC on TV). I was realising how different people act here too, and in particular, how open the women are. I don't mean that in a slutty Japanese girls are easy! kind of way, even though it is obviously true -- what struck me walking around stoned tonight, is how the women here have an innonence which is really endearing. They don't put up their defenses the way western women do (not that I am taking a swipe at western women because I love them too!) I will give you an example: when I returned from the toilet, Menace had cornered (captivated?) two young women with a camera, and was at work capturing their souls. It was the classic "May I take your photo?" ruse -- evidently Menace had approached them taking photos of each other with their digital camera, in their festival finery, and like a gentleman he had offered to take some photos of them together. Smooth move... he was prancing around like an artiste, zooming in for romantic close-ups, getting them to pose, making sure the light levels were just right. The man was a perfectionist -- he was putting on a performance for them, and getting them to perform for him. What struck me, as I saw them together across the festival, as the band played enka for everyone, was the bond that was developing -- an intimacy which was also an artwork. Menace was brandishing the camera like a martial arts weapon -- except his was a Venusian arts weapon (a weapon of mass seduction). That's to be expected to him, he is always trying something -- what caught me was the openness of the chicks. They weren't putting up a fight, but were submitting themselves to the photographic lens. Admittedly it was their camera, but Menace had infiltrated it, he had infiltrated them. Which allowed me an entrance to start talking to them. When I talked to them, I got the sense they were enjoying the whole routine, and they wanted more of it! But all of a sudden, just when I thought this could be a repeat of the passionate pool pick-up of Yomiuri Land, Menace gave back the camera to them and walked away. "What could I do? -- I have got my kid here," he said afterwards, although he had his kid with him at Yomiuri Land as well, and that hadn't deterred him from hitting on multiple womens. About 15 metres away from them, I looked back and saw them both still standing in the same place, as if rooted to the ground, scrolling through all the photos Menace had taken of them, and laughing. In a frolicsome kind of voice. Again, I was struck by the same kind of passive openness, a lowering of the guard and the sense there was something between us -- mindsex is too strong a word for it, but it was more than just flirtation. With the music and the festival now in its final throes, it felt like an episode of summer love. Except we would never see each other again -- it was a disposable affair.

This is going to be the year of the disposable affair I think. I have been experimenting a lot, and experiencing a lot lately, and learning a lot. And there is still a long long way to go!

m o v i n g & i n

HERE is some information about getting UTILITIES connected at your new Tokyo home:

ELECTRICITY.
Once you flip on the circuit breaker in your new residence, you can start using the electricity. Look at the postcard attached to the breaker. Complete the card with the required information and mail it to the electric power company.
Inquiries: Tokyo Electric Power Company, Tokyo Customer Center, telephone: 0120 995-001 (for moving, contracts or changes), 0120 995-002 (other inquiries.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2007 ---- Communion on the train.


I WOKE up at Menace's house on the floor at 7.30am, getting kicked by his kid P-chan, who was stomping around the flat noisily and acting, in general, just as aggressive and annoying as his Dad. On the table besides and above me, a few cans of beer and Chu-Hi stood abandoned, testament to the minor session which had gone on the night before. Menace and me had gone down to an odorimatsuri -- dance festival -- down the road from his place, blown a couple of cans in the undergrowth, and then went on to have what I considered this strange encounter with 2 babes, as the band played enka behind us. I had gone off to the toilet absolutely ripped for the first time in a week, and everything had turned really Asiatic and exotic, as if it was my first day in Japan again. I was realising how eastern and Asian this place still is, even though you get misled by its western veneer (all the convenience stores and The OC on TV). I was realising how different people act here too, and in particular, how open the women are. I don't mean that in a slutty Japanese girls are easy! kind of way, even though it is obviously true -- what struck me walking around stoned tonight, is how the women here have an innonence which is really endearing. They don't put up their defenses the way western women do (not that I am taking a swipe at western women because I love them too!) I will give you an example: when I returned from the toilet, Menace had cornered (captivated?) two young women with a camera, and was at work capturing their souls. It was the classic "May I take your photo?" ruse -- evidently Menace had approached them taking photos of each other with their digital camera, in their festival finery, and like a gentleman he had offered to take some photos of them together. Smooth move... he was prancing around like an artiste, zooming in for romantic close-ups, getting them to pose, making sure the light levels were just right. The man was a perfectionist -- he was putting on a performance for them, and getting them to perform for him. What struck me, as I saw them together across the festival, as the band played enka for everyone, was the bond that was developing -- an intimacy which was also an artwork. Menace was brandishing the camera like a martial arts weapon -- except his was a Venusian arts weapon (a weapon of mass seduction). That's to be expected to him, he is always trying something -- what caught me was the openness of the chicks. They weren't putting up a fight, but were submitting themselves to the photographic lens. Admittedly it was their camera, but Menace had infiltrated it, he had infiltrated them. Which allowed me an entrance to start talking to them. When I talked to them, I got the sense they were enjoying the whole routine, and they wanted more of it! But all of a sudden, just when I thought this could be a repeat of the passionate pool pick-up of Yomiuri Land, Menace gave back the camera to them and walked away. "What could I do? -- I have got my kid here," he said afterwards, although he had his kid with him at Yomiuri Land as well, and that hadn't deterred him from hitting on multiple womens. About 15 metres away from them, I looked back and saw them both still standing in the same place, as if rooted to the ground, scrolling through all the photos Menace had taken of them, and laughing. In a frolicsome kind of voice. Again, I was struck by the same kind of passive openness, a lowering of the guard and the sense there was something between us -- mindsex is too strong a word for it, but it was more than just flirtation. With the music and the festival now in its final throes, it felt like an episode of summer love. Except we would never see each other again -- it was a disposable affair.

This is going to be the year of the disposable affair I think. I have been experimenting a lot, and experiencing a lot lately, and learning a lot. And there is still a long long way to go!




Contact the author Rob Sullivan at coderot@gmail.com. Copyright March 2005/February 2013.

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