Saturday, July 31, 2010


I went on a pleasure boat, 屋形船, in Yokohama Bay.
These are the long low drinking boats you see cruising around the harbor, hung with lanterns and issuing raucous singing and laughter.
We watched the fireworks and ate food and drank beer and tea. They even had karaoke, but we were busy.
All photos by Hadi, one of my boat-mates.

This is a fun and interesting way to have dinner and watch fireworks. The boat companies usually only take reservations for large parties, but some of them do book smaller groups.

Friday, July 30, 2010


My friends Andy and Christa are in Yokohama this summer doing an art residency at BankART 1929, near Bashamichi station.
(photo from Christa's blog)

Two warehouse floors on the water are busting with artists of every stripe, doing various things from making plastic bottle sculptures to video installations to drawings to performance art.

The opening for their work is tomorrow/tonight, Friday July 30th, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is 500 yen. The work will be available for viewing until August 5th. Go check out contemporary art in a cool location and a great space!

Try 80*80, a local food restaurant (80% of their food comes from within 80 kilometers of the café), or La Tenda Rossa, a little Italian joint with great pizza, both within a few blocks of the studio.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I loathe loathe mosquitoes, but I love mosquito coils/katori senko. Obsessed much? Maybe a little.

And Jen B set her first TNR project in motion.

I had the pleasure of meeting the little rascal and I must say he certainly is a yowly one. Although, I'm not sure about the moniker Nits-kun; I feel that he looks more like a Lionel. Thoughts?
Poor baby. We learned through Japan Cat Network that Yokohama does a partial reimbursement for spaying or neutering of strays. Upon some extra research, it looks like my city, Machida, does the same. Arkbark is also a great animal rescue non-profit, and though both organizations operate out of Kansai, they have small Tokyo branches. They are good sources for information about the dismal plight of strays and would-be pets in Japan (the information about how those tiny plastic box pet stores operate is shocking and sad) and are also great at giving advice for doing your own Trap Neuter Return project in your neighborhood.

If you can spare it and are so inclined, either group would benefit greatly from your donation of time, money, or goods. Or you could try giving Jen a hand - I've seen at least a dozen ferals in her immediate neighborhood.

Stay tuned: next up, hummus that looks like wet concrete!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


When I was fifteen, I wrote a lot of letters. Fifteen was the year I found punk rock and indie music. And zines. Maybe even more than music, I credit zines for politicizing me, teaching me, and drawing me into a community of really fucking cool and intelligent people that showed me that there were alternate ways of thinking. That the bullying, cocaine-snorting, Banana Republic wearing status quo that I saw all around me wasn't the only way of being. That sounds emo now but it's everything when you're fifteen.

I had been exposed to cool music a year or two before: grunge, Radiohead, Fugazi (thanks Scoot!). But fifteen was when I really started to get into the underground, go to tiny all ages shows, post on internet BBSes, and develop pen pal relationships with folks all around the country and the world that were writing and drawing and making art.

I can't remember now exactly how I found Ryan, whether it was through Pepito's zine or a sojourn to Green Noise Records in Eugene or through some other sinuous and complicated connection. But I found You Think You're a Failure Fanzine and I fell in love. The spare, simple stories, the pen comics, the stark backdrop of Cleveland with cigarettes and wool knit caps and warehouse spaces. I wrote to Ryan and we became pen friends, trading back and forth letters and zines and cassette mix tapes. I always thrilled to receive one of his letters, the page thick with his neat boxy handwriting and harboring some secrets or wisdom. Not that he was ever didactic; just that he was truthful and sensitive and a little older. We poured out our souls on the page and trusted our stamps would deliver them intact.

I didn't love him in the puppy love way, and I didn't have a crush on him. But I respected the hell out of him and cherished his friendship.

A few years after we started writing, I found myself in Cleveland during a long and stinky cross country trip on a forged Greyhound bus pass. I looked Ryan up and he took me in, letting me crash on his couch. I felt a little apprehensive at first, not because I was afraid of him but just that we had never met in person and I wasn't sure what to say. But he immediately swept that away, confiding in me and talking to me like we were old friends. Which we were, in those letters. We had been making confessions forever. We ate perogies in a diner and I met his roommates and we walked that concrete and rusty wire fence town, his writing come to life just as I had seen it in my imagination.

We continued writing after that, sporadic letters and packages, eventually a few emails, and lately Facebook. He moved to South Carolina and married his girl and had a son. Ryan was always lovely and sweet, but often morose. After making this family, there was new light around his words. He wrote about how they made him look at his life differently.

Ryan continued to make art, and his most recent and well known project was the I Want Your Skull zine series, collecting artwork from a range of artists and publishing volumes and posters.

Ryan died in a car accident this past weekend. His son was in the car but survived. Ryan August was 34 and left us far too early. Ryan helped make me who I am today and I have only love and gratitude for him.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Tuxy luxy.
Tux and Tim, BFFs.

hard working
always together
17 years おつかれさまでした。
Thanks for all the snuggles over the years baby.
Love you.
this week sucks

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Beth and I hiked up a mountain.
Well, we hiked on a mountain. When we got there though, there were these adorable chair lifts that could take you half way up. Like a ski lift, except with brightly colored canopies, like a dilapidated amusement park. It was a tea party in the sky.
This photo from here.

After getting up top, we ate ice cream, looked at monkeys, and hung out with people trying to shout at aliens from the top of the mountain. Ice cream and aliens; that seems pretty par for the course with Beth.
 Alien communication viewpoint
Takao is known for tengu, it seems. At Takao station, there's this huge tengu head sitting on the arrival platform. This one has the trademark penis nose.
It turns out, though, that tengu didn't always have phalli (phalluses?) on their faces. Penis nose is a more modern tengu. Originally, tengu were more like flying dog-birds, and evidence of this can be seen at the temple on the top of Mt. Takao.
I love these fierce bird-men. It makes me want to read more J-mythology. Of course, Lafcadio Hearn's Kwaidan is a great place to start, as well as translations of the Kojiki. Any other great mythology resources to recommend, either in translation or simple enough for a mediocre Japanese reader to be able to get through?

Monday, July 05, 2010

Do You Like Impressionism?

Another museum: this one is owned by the Bridgestone Corporation. Nothing like tires and the ex-prime minister's mama providing art exposure!

The show that's running now has a big mish-mash of impressionists. I'll admit to knowing diddly squat about art; they do have some water lilies in the mix. Manet, Monet, Renoir, van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne.

Rousseau was my favorite.

Bridgestone Museum
The collection runs through July 25th, but they seem to have a pretty large private collection and do shows something like this pretty often. It's a good place to check out Western and Western-inspired art.