Thursday, April 30, 2009

Boca Raton

Boca Raton is an affluent town full of shopping centers tinted coral pink. BR is also heavily Jewish - yarmulkes abound. Adam Roberts of The Amateur Gourmet is from here, and I remembered that he made a post about a good bagel shop, a shop I was determined to visit since there's a dearth of good bagels in Tokyo.

Bagelworks is really yummy and good! It has a feel of an old diner, except filled with bagels and juice and lox. I got an everything bagel with cream cheese, and orange juice, and coffee. The sweet/surly old man clerk asked me how many sugars and put in the sugar and cream for me. I can't remember the last time someone did that. C. got a honey wheat bagel and liked it a lot.

We went again the next day and the guy remembered us, saying "Hi girls", and calling us hon. This time we got sesame. Really super tasty. Recommended. 8177 Glades Rd, Boca Raton.
I was also really excited to eat as much Cuban food as possible, and to drink Cuban coffee. We went out two nights to different places. The first place was The Cuban Café, which was casually upscale with a friendly host. The food was tasty, and the coffee was especially good. The second place, The Caribbean Grill (1332 NW 2nd Avenue ), was more of a dive. But I liked it more, and the food was better, especially the congris – Cuban style beans and rice. Yum! I could eat this with maduros and yucca all day. Washed down by batidos de banana o coco, and café.

Strip malls aside, the beaches in Boca are really stunning. C. has a beach access parking sticker that allows free parking at three local beaches (otherwise $15/day). I visited all three, as well as the Gumbo Limbo Environmental Center. The flora and fauna of Florida is so verdant and thriving, it was really a treat to check out so many things that I had never or rarely seen before, like gumbo limbo trees and curly-tailed lizards. A fist-sized frog hopped across my path my first night in Florida on its way to one of the many ponds in the area. Banyan trees are everywhere, and lizards of all kinds, and palms of course. Gorgeous.

Monday, April 27, 2009

skirt rolling

Some high school girls like to roll up their skirts around here. Some of them roll them up super, really high. Some are rolled so high that I can actually see their underwear sticking out when they're walking, and of course when they're sitting.

Some girls don't roll their skirts at all. They hang down to mid-calf. When you see what length the skirts are supposed to be, it's quite impressive how high the other girls have managed to roll their skirts without it looking very bunchy at the waist.

Some girls take the anti-rolling to an even further extreme, and wear track pants under their skirts on the train. I feel like these girls are saying, "Stop looking at me, you perv." I feel a special affection for these girls.

Friday, April 24, 2009

grammar through political campaign slogans

Today I was practicing a simple "Yes, I am/No, I'm not" pattern with a group of seven and eight year olds.

"Are you hot?" "No, I'm not!"
"Are you happy? "Yes, I am!"

I got a few screwups, like, "Yes, I can't!" "No, I don't!" "No, I can!"

Following this was Sho, an adorable cut-up, who threw out, "Yes, we can!"

"Yes, we can!" he said again. "Obama-chan!"

Give that kid an honorary citizenship.

postscript: On the other hand, McDonald's should die for making a campaign that confuses the crap out of my students who think it's appropriate to say stuff like "I'm lovin' it".

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Shinbayashi park is a pretty park about fifteen minutes on foot from Fujisawa station.
There is an old-fashioned thatch-roofed house there, some lovely trees, and a mildly steep trail that rewards with a view from the top of the surrounding city.

It's not a park that I would specially recommend traveling a great distance to visit, but it's a nice stop if you're in the area.

In the area I was, researching a story about country music in the Kanto area. One of the stops on my schedule was Stagecoach.

Stagecoach's proprietor is a really nice guy named Satoshi Katayama. On the night that I went, it was pretty quiet. There was another customer, who looked about 70, and had with him about a dozen harmonicas, one in every key. He told me proudly that they were Tombo harmonicas, a Japanese manufacturer. He got on stage and performed J-versions of Bridge Over Troubled Water and Blowin' in the Wind. I liked him.

Then Katayama got on stage and played a few tunes: Merle Haggard, Hank Williams. He beckoned me up. I demurred. He cajoled. I declined. He insisted. I was hauled onstage to sing. I picked the first one I knew in his playbook, which was Bye Bye Love. Everly Brothers. He strummed; I sang; Mr. Harmonica took video.

They're very nice there. I recommend it. Then again, I enjoy hanging out with septuagenarians.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Feeling a little restless, I walked down to the local video store at about midnight to pick out another flick. After choosing my (Yuu Aoi) film, I meandered back toward home, lost in my thoughts and singing along to the Iron and Wine in my headphones, occasionally peering in lit windows of small restaurants.

Almost home, a few blocks from, a flashy black SUV rolls up beside me. The window rolls down. There's a man inside and his mouth is moving. I remove one earphone.

『帰るの?』"Are you going home?"
I give him a strange look and an ambiguous head-nod-wiggle, Indian-style.

The dashboard is glowing with all manner of high-tech equipment. He looks about my age or so. His hair is a bit gelled. The car is polished to the gleaming hilt.

『いっしょにどこか行こうか』"Shall we go somewhere together?"

Hmm. Tempting. I smile a little and give him a kekkou hand signal, the same one I use to turn down packets of tissues and hair salon fliers. A gentle, open palmed pushing motion. Then wait until he drives past and a few blocks away before turning into my street.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ready to wear?

I've been eyeing some cute jeans at Uniqlo for awhile. They have pretty good jeans that are comfy and fit well, although the ones I wanted - grey and oh-so-soft without being too idiotically pre-distressed - are a little strange in the seat.

The ones I ended up getting are the "skinny fit - tapered" series. For some reason the bum is shaped differently. The only problem I had when trying them on is that they are freakishly long in the leg. Like they were made for flamingos. I'm on the tall side of average here, even though I'm decidedly average back home. So having six extra inches of leg was a little disconcerting. I figured I could bunch it up or hack it off and do a half-assed sewing job on them at home.

When I went to the check-out, though, the clerk asked me (after fumbling around trying to speak English to me, which was sweet but unnecessary. I appreciate it anyway.) if the length was ok. I replied that they were a little long. He said they could chop and hem them for me in store – for free. Really? Cool!

So I went off to my appointment and came back an hour later and they were beautifully hemmed to just the right length. Bonus.

I guess it's something I might expect when buying a suit, or shopping at some fancy-schmancy place. But a basics, big-box store? For thirty-nine dollar jeans (admittedly the most I've spent on jeans in a long time – maybe ever)? They actually have sewing machines and people who can operate them on site? So nifty.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

potential burger excitement

I went to Freshness Burger next to Hino station today. I usually don't go to freshness burger, because they don't have much I want to eat. But I was tired, having just walked 11 kilometers around Tachikawa and Hachioji, looking for caches near the river.

I ordered the coffee (it's organic - one nice thing about FB is that they have a few og things on the menu) and a small fried potato. Then I noticed an advert on the cash register screen: they were announcing the release of a new category of burger at FB. A vegetable burger~

I asked the cashier about it, and he said it wasn't out yet, but would be made of tofu and avocado and things like that. I asked him if there was any meat at all in it, and he said there wasn't.

I hope hope this is true! I'm very excited to have a potential new spot to get a new spin on a veggie burger! And it's always encouraging to find more places with veg options. It's so hard here sometimes...

The vegetable burger debuts Monday, April 20th.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I love the way my cat, Timothy, smells. Like dirt and fresh air. He rolls around in them.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Oh, Yokohama

Yokohama is a beautiful city.

I don't too much care for the Minato Mirai and Sakuragicho areas, which I feel are a little sterile. They don't feel very homey. Even though I like parts, especially bits of Rinko Park, the boardwalk, and the fairy-lit bridges.

But Mom and C. and I spent Monday walking around, especially Moto-machi, Chukagai, and generally Naka-ku. It was so pretty. Yokohama feels more spacious and low-slung than Tokyo. A bit more room to breathe.

We went geocaching near the foreigners' cemetary.

Everything was in full bloom.

raggiest rag

The washcloth anecdote below was published in this week's Tokyo Notice Board, which is a classifieds rag. Ha.