Tokyo Damage Report

grindcore hanami


SOUNDTRACK: death metal

EVENT: hanami

Today marks the beginning of the 3 fuckin’ days a year when the cherry blossoms bloom, which means I have to go hanami.

Hanami is Japanese for ‘watching the cherry blossoms’. . . which is English for ‘getting totally hammered on cheap sake’.

Hanami is a sacred and profound Japanese tradition. It’s all about the fragile beauty of flowers that only bloom once a year, and then die soon after they’re born. Sitting on a blanket all day, watching the flowers be born and then waste away, engaging in a poignant contemplation of death, beauty, loss, and elegance that constitute the heart of the Japanese soul, or ‘Wa.’ Plus they looks purty.

Naturally a foreigner like me can’t do this alone, so my guide to this deeply spiritual and delicate custom was the Japanese band VOMIT REMNANTS.

That’s right, it was DEATH METAL HANAMI.

Actually the whole thing happened by accident. I was supposed to meet my old pal Jekyll-And-Hyde Girl, and she invited her pals too, and imagine my surprise when the pals show up and it’s the same dudes I was rocking with last year. For the 1,034 th time I was heard to remark, “damn, Tokyo is a small town.”

So we hung out, sitting at a table and getting utterly nasty on screwdrivers (them) and sochu (me). The band is Dwayne, Other Steve (although at times I become Other Steve, which doesn’t make it any less confusing), and Murph. The Japanese contingent of the band rolled in later but I forgot their names. sorry, contingent.

Murph was in the American navy, which was obvious because 1) his girlfriend is a navy groupie, and 2) he breathes with his mouth open. What’s NOT obvious: he’s CANADIAN. Jesus. I thought the U.S. military was supposed to be ‘don’t ask don’t tell,’ but he just came out and said it. “I’m Canadian.”

He was all complaining about hating Pakistanis because they smelled bad and they were getting all the good Canadian jobs.

I was like, yo, your band (VOMIT REMNANTS) used to be all Japanese last year, now it’s 60% white. Think of all them poor Japanese metalheads . . .all getting laid off because the band got outsourced to you! all getting cheap third world labor from poor countries like America and Canada.

plus, he was all complaining that in the navy the dudes all play ‘that faggot rap shit.’ . . . meanwhile, seriously, his pants was sagging like kriss kross or something but forwards and here he’s all dissing rap? I was like, ‘My good man, have you seen your pants lately?’

On the one hand, Jekyll-And-Hyde Girl seems happy with her boyfriend. On the other hand, it’s kind of weird. . .She’s all into being punk rock and rebellious and shit, but when her boyfriend is talking, she shuts up like a good traditional wife. “oh, my boyfriend is talking, isn’t it wonderful?” I was telling Dwayne the bassist, “You know, she’s always dug white guys, and now she’s found herself a REAL white guy: always burping and spitting and saying ‘faggot’ and ‘pussy’ and . . . . so she chose him. I guess that’s her idea of the ‘whitest’ or something? Yo isn’t that just a LITTLE bit racist ? ”

More witty dialogue: when Japanese toast each other they say “kampai!”

Me: ‘i’m the weakest fuckin’ drunk here, why am I the only one kampaiing????’

Darcy: why did you start drinking??

Me: Two words: HANK WILLIAMS.

Darcy: junior or senior?

Me: What the FUCK?? why are you even asking that question to me?

Other Steve: Ok, so junior then.

Me: seriously, I just started drinking 2 years ago.

Darcy: How old are you?

Me: Seventy-five. my granddaughters got admitted to this really elite sorority and so I wound up drinking at the sorority party, and ever since. . .

Later still:

Me: ok, so you’re In 2 grindcore bands, but what’s up with your free jazz ornette coleman band?

Bizarro Steve #1: well, I just finished the website, but we haven’t toured yet. . .i guess you could call it free jazz, it’s got some improvised. .

Me: dude, . . . dude, I was KIDDING.

All that, plus some head-butting, semi-private vomiting, and general high-school foolishness. Everyone took off at around 10:30 but I decided I was going to have a little nap on the bench. It was totally weird. . . it’s almost time for the trains to stop running but the park is PACKED. All full of young people who I guess are going to stay all night drinking? You can’t see them but you can hear them all around, small bands of people hollering and tittering. It was not sketchy or scary, but it was totally unlike anything I’ve seen in japan. Just unregulated and, well . . sigh . . . tribal.



Different parks in the same city, you’d think they’d have the same tradition. But no. HANAMI is so different from park to park, it’s nuts. shinjuku is half walking and half picnic and all amusement park, TOTAL Disneyland. Just tons of old grandparents bussed in by the truckload from the countryside, and little gangs of housewives that all bring their young’uns and circle the strollers like a fuckin’ wagon train preparing for a native American attack. Yoyogi is all sitting down, and young people. and ueno is all walking. Probably because of the very recent ‘japanese tradition’ of “let’s make the parks entirely out of fucking concrete!”. Also ueno has the reputation of being the loudest, drunkest hanami event. Not a lot of little kids or grandmas here. although the grandpas in the group next to us were hell of clapping rhythmically and hunched over in a big circle. Total cipher. All busting grandpa rhymes in Japanese or something.

Last week was DEATH METAL HANAMI, but this week my pal The Manager is in charge of inviting the guests . I’m kampaiiing with the genius who brought the world the AIBO CRUSH VIDEO, and a systems engineer, and some random 2CHANNEL BBS addict high school girl. . . that’s right, this week was OTAKU HANAMI. We’re a bunch of perverts and nerds and we’re rolling 7 or 8 deep in this mother.

we saw some lady who, it seemed, had the misfortune of having a cherry petal fall and land square on her forehead.

we decided that clearly this was a tradition worth copying.

No really, we were all just picnicking. I’m drinking brutal Korean rice whiskey on 3 hours of sleep and a totally empty stomach. Many witticisms are exchanged. Me and the Mormon go walking and stumble on a street musician: some older Canadian guy playing totally insane classical guitar. Between songs he’d talk to us. Being classical, I was expecting him to be kind of stuck up, but in fact he was just nuts. He was like if George Carlin kept saying ‘aboot’ and cared about Vivaldi. He kept calling me gay because I insisted my hair was “not pink, it’s really more fucia!” but he also called me ‘kid’ so I was happy. I feel young again!!

Later, a HUGE CRANE came, busting through the crowd (which was thicker than Disneyland) and some firemen jumped out and were all climbing waaay up there. I asked my friend what is the reason? He said there was a crow in the tree. Ok, so? Well the crow was eating a pigeon who died in the tree. Oh.

More hanami, more witticisms, more whiskey, and on and on. I’ll spare you the details but suffice to say that by the time it was time for the concert my body was in pretty bad shape and my glasses were totally broken. which meant that I was finally ready to experience drunk-oi-punk the way it was intended to be experienced.


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