Thursday, May 27, 2010

arty farty

It was Redhead's birthday a few weeks ago, so we checked out the Mori Art Museum before heading off to dinner at the Hills. We saw the Roppongi Crossing: Can There Be Art? exhibit. About 1/3 to 1/2 of the pieces were pretty good, I thought; not bad for a group show. They allow photographs, and the one above is a skate ramp and mural by some graf kids. I guess a friend of mine, a skate-rat kid, knows one of them: SASU.
This ∞∞∞∞∞ piece is made out of circuit board thingies.
This was my favorite section, a series of embroidered photographs by the artist Satoru Aoyama. The artist hand embroidered these photo recreations with metallic thread. The attention to detail and dedication this requires boggles my mind. The description gave a nod to William Morris and his commitment to handcrafts, and this is just the kind of OCD personality-driven art that I can appreciate.
The exhibit runs until the beginning of July and is worth a look, I think. By the way, did you hear about the art theft in Paris? Some jokers sawed a padlock and broke a window and made off with Picasso, Matisse, and more. If that's all it takes to steal master works, I'm in the wrong line of work.

A visit to Mori Tower wouldn't be complete without the obligatory picture of the Tokyo skyline. This was the first time I was able to visit the roof. Tokyo was cold and blue that day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ladies who lunch

Went to this organic restaurant the other day in Center Kita, in northern Yokohama. Confusingly, it's called Restaurant and Café Coa, located in the Natural and Harmonic Plant's store (don't get me started on superfluous apostrophes, I might spit).  They have a nice vegetarian set lunch as well as meat and fish stuff, and it's all connected to a natural food grocery store. It's in the Northport Mall. Thanks JB.

Friday, May 21, 2010

wanna join my band?

We're totally hip on the in-the-know circuit. Well, we've never toured, and we've only ever played one show, in a cardboard box under a bridge in the middle of a potato field. It was attended by a couple of gossiping dormice.

We haven't actually released any albums, and we don't really have any songs - well, we don't play them out loud, anyway. We just think about them and emanate their essences.

Monday, May 17, 2010

okinawa eats

Eating in Okinawa was a little more difficult than I expected. I had researched a few veggie options before I went, but a Taiwainese restaurant that I found on Happy Cow was out of business, and other spots that I found there and elsewhere on the web were remote and hard to get to.
This island is really meaty. Spam and dried pig faces proliferate. Even the soba noodles, usually just having a little fish item in the bowl, boasted a couple of pork bones resting on the top. Despite this I managed to pick and choose a few delicious bites at various izakaya. Sea grapes/海ぶどう was one such dish. These salty little pearls are a fresh surprise.
Beni-imo, a purple tuber, are also popular in Oki, and these fritters were really yummy. So good alongside a simple goya salad dressed in vinaigrette, which we ate by the plateful.
Fresh papaya rolls. Washed down with tumblersful of shikuwasa juice, a native citrus. Love!
Emi got this nira crepe, too. And of course I ate boatloads of shaved ice, ice cream, and frozen yogurt. Tropical island; what can you do?
Please don't hurt me.
Apparently, Okinawa is all about sweet potatoes, freaked out shisa (lions), sugar cane, and penis towers.
I was also invited to a goat party.
"We're going to a goat party!"
Me (thinking): Hmm... What's a goat party? Lots of old dudes with goatees?
We arrive at an open-air sculpture atelier in the middle of the field, where the folks are... roasting a goat on the barbecue.
"Here! Eat! Eat! Delicious. We Okinawans love goat. Why aren't you eating! Hurry, there's still some left."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My shoes are talking.
"Hey, what are you gawping at? You look like a country bumpkin!"
"Me? Speak for yourself! Catching flies?"
"Shut up. Got any Shoe Goo?"
"Me neither. So shut your trap."
"I would if I could."

Friday, May 07, 2010

okinawa deets

I went to Okinawa, and lots of things happened. But first I wanted to tell you that Okinawa is pretty easy to get to. I booked a flight two weeks in advance, just ahead of Golden Week (but not during GW), and my tickets on Skymark were 27,000 yen. That's cheaper than most round-trip shinkansen tickets. With more advance notice, it could be less. I feel like people are always taking ANA or JAL and bitching about how expensive it is, but I find that the domestic cheapy airlines have better deals.  They fly from Haneda and the flight takes two and a half hours, which goes by pretty fast unless you have rowmate issues.
Some people are inclined to go down there and spend wads of money, and that's fine if that's your thing. But I shy away from resorts and packages and just go for inns, business hotels, and pensions. This time I stayed at a hostel, Burney's Breakfast, where my friend and I shared a twin room, a small clean white wooden room with loft beds and Ikea furnishing and a computer and wi-fi and breakfast included. It was about 2,000 yen per person per night for this.
But there are also super cheap fleapit accommodations everywhere, for as little as 1000 yen, and you could bum it even more. I saw signs around town.
Ok fine, that's not a lodging sign. But I had to share.
There's a monorail in Naha that takes you from the airport into town and goes up to Shuri Castle, so for Naha stuff, it's more than adequate. But the bus system for the rest of the island kind of sucks. It doesn't come that frequently and takes a long time to get anywhere. For exploring outside of Naha, next time I would rent a car. The hostel recommended this car company, and it's really cheap: as little as 3,000 yen a day for a compact car, all inclusive. They're located in Okinawa City, and while they will bring a car to your hotel for you, I definitely recommend reserving at least a day in advance, since it's difficult to work out the delivery logistics otherwise. And all the best beaches and nature are outisde of Naha.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Michael Bolton cut his hair!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

mister congeniality

The flight from Haneda to Naha is two thirds full, and I find myself in the aisle C seat of a six-across 737, toward the aft. Though I normally like the window seat (easier to sleep), I had been given the aisle and was glad that the center seat, at least, was vacant. I figure that it's only a two-point-five-hour flight, no great hardship. The guy on the window is already seated, clutching a can chu-hi to his chest, which he cracks as we start rolling down the tarmac.

The last few years, I haven't been able to stay awake on airplanes.  I settle in, stow my stuff, snuff my electronics, and fall promptly to sleep.

I wake up a mere few minutes later when my rowmate presses the call button, summoning the flight attendant to our seats. He wants a drink, and after she explains the different options and prices in great detail, he decides on red wine. Drowsily I observe as, a little while later, she comes back with the drink, leaning across me to hand it to him. I doze off again.

Ten or fifteen minutes later, I wake up again. Sumimasen, he says, wanting to squeeze past me to the toilet. I move my knees sideways, into the aisle, and let him pass, then again to let him in when he came back.

Sleepy... ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

He wants a blanket. She goes to retrieve it, putting her boobs in my face as she leans over to give it to him. Is he trying to get a date?

Ten minutes later:

White wine this time.
Drinks up, BATHROOM BREAK. I move, he goes, comes back. I'm rolling my eyes now.


Newspaper. This is a two and a half hour flight, people. The air hostesses are apparently saints. An American stewardess would have kneed him in the nuts by now.


Bottled water. Cold or room temp? Cold. She comes back with it.

BATHROOM BREAK. This time he attempts to speak English to me, though I have given no indication of my nationality or language. I glower at him and he backs off.

Oh god, we're finally landing. In Naha, he gets on the same monorail train as me, and I quickly switch cars. Strangers who ruin my sleep get no mercy.