Tokyo Damage Report

Japan Book review 3: EROTIC GROTESQUE NONSENSE


Japan Book review  3:   EROTIC GROTESQUE NONSENSE by  Miriam Silverberg

I thought ero-guro (the combination of cuteness and violence) was a new, ‘90s thing – like visual kei or Shintaro Kago or Akayukihime made up. Turns out it’s a term from ‘30s! So I got a book about it. The bad news is, ‘30s ero-guro is so tame you wouldn’t even notice it. Even Edo-era sex/violence pictures (muzan-e or ukio-e) are way more explicit. Long story short – the ‘30s were NOT a super sexy or gross time to live, there were NOT a bunch of naked people running around with huge dongs and breasts all cutting guts out of babies while wearing flamingo hats. The preoccupation with ero-guro in the ‘30s media was society’s way of expressing anxiety about the rapid westernization, the rapid modernization of Japan, and the loss of traditional culture.

Fortunately, I enjoyed the book anyway, because the author is good
a) she keeps the nutty academic jargon to a minimum,
b) she has a good eye for the funny stuff in the original source material i.e. (“On more than one occasion . . .militatant factory workers experienced employer lockouts on returning from group outings to the movies.”)
c) she gives lots of down-to-earth examples, and
d) she frankly admits that hers is only one way of analyzing that era of history and explains other ways that other folks might look at it.

Sure, she’s a communist, so there is a huge amount of space wasted on nitpicking “this magazine was for lower-middle-working class women and that magazine was directed at middle-lower-class women BIG WOOP”, and some chapters seem as if a computer program dropped the phrases “capitalist society” and “proletariat” into every third sentence in random places, but overall it’s not the nightmare that the Terayama Shuuji book was.

Most importantly: even though it’s about the ‘30s, you can still use the information in everyday life TODAY! A sort of “the more things change, the more they stay the same” thing.

Like for instance:
Moga (short for ‘modern girl’) = kogal
Mobo (short for you guessed it) = herbivore men
Café = hostess bar

Most of the media hype/controversy over ‘new’ things today is actually re-hashed controversy from the ‘30s.

Ms. Silverberg passed away in 2008 from Parkinson’s disease. Luckily for everyone, her book was pretty good so I don’t have to worry about insulting a dead woman. There is a moving tribute to her life and work here.


 TIMELINE OF MODERNITY

Silverberg explains that her book covers the years 1923 (when the big Tokyo earthquake caused people to lose touch with the past and embrace the new) until 1938 (since after ’38, pop culture was basically forbidden and replaced with stoic warrior propaganda)

Here’s a time-line of the years covered in the book – covering pop culture, technology, politics, and the economy.

23 – Great Kanto Earthquake. All classes’ desires turn from basics like food and shelter to leisure and consumption. Movies overtake ‘misemono’ (carnival sideshows) as the main entertainment of Asakusa.

24 – post-quake construction boom stimulates economy. Women can now eat alone in public. Also they can go to cafes or restaraunts FOR FUN now. Osaka tekiya (carnies) try to unionize.

25 – radios become common, as do bars, cafes, tearooms.

26 –

27 – a financial crisis fucks up the economy, and subways are installed in Tokyo. Massive increase in vagrants sleeping in Asakusa park.

28 – the film industry invents marketing tie-ins (the comic book becomes a movie which becomes a pachinko game and a Happy Meal), and the terms Moga (modern girl) and Mobo (Modern boy) begin to be used

29 – worldwide economic depression. Start of the ‘casino follies’ theater troupe, which makes fun of The Man and modern times.

30 – the term ‘ero-guro nonsense’ becomes widespread. Urban population is up 50% from 1920. The café boom starts. Tokyo law forbids the shaking of buttocks in cabaret performances (and also in dance-halls). 50,000 juvenile delinquents under police surveillance in East Tokyo alone. “stick girls’ appear on the scene: for a fee, they will hold your arm while you shop in Ginza and make you seem popular while you shop.
Kawabata Yasunari publishes the popular novel “Asakusa Crimson Gang” about cross-dressing delinquents hustling to survive on the mean streets of East Tokyo.

31- Japanese agricultural depression throws even more people out of work. Mancuria invaded. The ‘moga’ trend peaks. The term ‘nonsense film’ comes into vogue to describe slapstick, plotless cinema.

32 – Prime Minister Inukai assassinated, marking the end of rule by politicians (politicians still exist but they are mere figureheads, and all power is held by the army, big business, and the Imperial household). The café trend peaks.

33 – beginning of the ‘emergency era’ (meaning, permanent wartime state of emergency). Restrictions on import of some foreign films.

34 – Military spending begins to bring economy back to normal

35 – nothing, apparently.

36 –

37 – full employment. The ‘north china incident’ (battle of Shanghai) brings another victory for the Japanese empire.  Popular magazines forbidden to use katakana ‘loan words’. Hollywood movies outlawed.

38 – pearl harbor. Mass roundup of students at cafes. Matchbooks required to display the rising sun logo.


“ERO GURO NONSENSE” : DEFINING THE TERMS

Layout of the book is very systematic and easy to understand: one chapter for modernity, one for erotic, one for grotesque, one for nonsense. So far, so good. BUT: as with so many English ‘loan words’, the Japanese media just arbitrarily invents their own meanings.

Erotic meant: Cary Grant! Valentino! You can see girls’ knees now!

Grotesque (to quote Silverberg’s summary of the contents of a 1930 “grotestque” magazine) meant: a world history of toilets, replulsive Chinese eating habits, meiji-era peep shows, gregor samsa, women sumo wrestlers, lesbians, Josephine baker (‘queen of negro dance!’)
Mr. Yasuda (a ‘30s film critic) on guro: “that which leds to feelings of strong distattes, as one turns a way from a human being while at the same time wanting to look, that is where the beauty of guro is born.”

Nonsense meant: Charlie chaplain!

To make matters even more confusing, Silverberg does a typical academic-liberal-arts dick move: she makes up HER OWN, EVEN MORE IDIOSYNCRATIC MEANINGS for those 3 words.

So now each word has three separate meanings.

To Silverberg,

Erotic means: anything sensual – eating food, smelling flowers, anything that gives your body pleasure (why she thinks that nobody had fun in Japan before ‘23 is a mystery to me)

Grotesque is: poverty! Homeless and on the streets! Also: anything sexy (that is to say, anything a regular person would call erotic) (but to Silverberg it’s grotesque since she’s a granola feminist so anything sexy= male domination).
In fact, Silverberg specifically says she is going to IGNORE the topics of the “grotesque” magazine (they’re merely ‘titillating’) and only concentrate on her own more boring definition that only she uses. WTF SUCH A TEASE.

Nonsense: according to Silverberg, ‘nonsense’ means political criticism of Japan, DISGUISED as nonsense to fool The Man. As much as I would like to believe that this was a big thing in ‘30s Japan, I don’t really buy any of her examples of this, because, to her, ‘political criticism’ is so broad it’s almost meaningless.

Like she gets really excited watching mainstream comedy movies where one character is richer than the others because “the movie draws attention to the class-based social inequity of the power structure!!!”   See, that explains why – when I was a kid- I used to watch reruns of Gilligan’s Island and then run around the house screaming “Off the Pigs! After the Revolution you will hang!” My folks just thought I had too many between-meal snacks, but actually I was really worked up about the social inequality. I mean, huh???

 


MODERNITY

Basically as far as this book is concerned, modernism boils down to: leisure time was invented.

And even if you couldn’t afford a fur coat or a record player, you’d go to a movie or get a magaizine that told you all the new slang and American trends. But still you felt like happiness could only come from buying newer shiner stuff – modernism didn’t mean escape from capitalism or materialism.

New phenomena like “Pop culture” and “mass media” sort of propped the status quo (they were in it to make money and tell everyone to buy more shiny crap!) but their agenda wasn’t 100% the Army/Emperor agenda: they were fun, not stoic and warriorlike, they embraced America and newness instead of tradition, and they wanted to get women out of the kitchen (and into the shopping malls!). 

Nowhere was this ambiguity more apparent than the 1921 world tour (and publicity stunt) of the crown prince Hirohito: the magazines were used as a propaganda tool by the Imperial state, but at the same time they were full of ads of Crown-Prince-related merchandise. Were they ripping off the prince, or were they pawns of The Man? Interesting!

Another major characteristic of Japanese modernism: whether fashion or language, people like to mix east and west for fun: mixing up English ‘loan words’, with Japanese.  Like instead of saying ‘hanami’ (cherry blossom viewing party, basically a picnic), they’ll say piknikku. Wearing a kimono with a bowler hat and a chaplain-style cane!

Silverberg refers to this process as ‘code-switching’, a term which I simply refuse to use.

I do agree with her opinion that all these loan-words and western accessories did NOT imply that Japanese were being taken over by USA or brainwashed or whatever, they were just people having fun and being sophisticated, showing that they could master both styles.

Interestingly, modernization of Japan started when they got humiliated by Perry and his ‘modern’ cannons. One of the first things the government did after the Meiji Restoration was to go on a modernizing binge re: guns and ships and factories. For some reason THAT stuff never provoked the tedious soul-searching debates of  “Is Japan getting too westernized? What is becoming of our young people? They’re learning how to weld steel and make tanks! Are we losing our traditional heritage?!?!!!11” 

The ‘strategic’ modernization was seen like, “Well, copying foreign techniques makes Japan stronger and giving us more freedom, so it’s really making us MORE Japanese since we’re ready to kick anyone’s ass now.” This interesting double standard is not talked about in the book, or – to my knowledge- in any Japanese history book. I scooped y’alls ass!!

New modern media: Photograpy, radio, cinema, television!

New hand gestures used in Hollywood movies! And white-people facial expressions from same!

New luxury goods: radios, record-players, cameras, electric irons!

Suburbs!

New places to go: Tearooms, bars, movie-houses, and cafes, cafes, Cafes!!! For the first 100 pages of the book, I had no idea why she made such a big fucking deal out of the cafes (every other page!) but  it turns out that ‘café’ means ‘bar’ – dudes didn’t go to sip cappuchino and read the paper, they went to get retarded on Chablis and hit on the waitresses, who, in true Japanese tradition, were required to sit with the customer and flirt with him.

Sophisticated consumers can ‘get’ photo collages and post-modern ‘montages’ (i.e. a play about a fictitious Japanese movie (which itself is about a Russian movie) where the movie star is a Mongolian pretending to be Japanese). Also mixing up western and Japanese language/fashion is itself sort of a montage. Not something that harajuku kids invented in ’94!

Documentaries were a popular  new format (because they helped explain to people the rapidly changing society and trends)

Speed! People walk faster and trends and new language comes and goes faster.

Unlike Euro modernism, the bourgeois loved new, modern art. Also even hardcore Marxists apparently danced the Charleston in Japan.

Rapid change and a feeling of freedom but also uncertainty about the future. This was a new fuckin’ concept back then.

You can keep your shoes on in the department store!

Big traditional families give way to small nuclear families.

Censorship laws didn’t just regulate content and words, they regulated TONE and ATMOSPHERE:  Silverberg cites radio laws, “ stipulating the broadcaster’s tone of voice (‘colly neutral’), and the supposed prohibiton of the terms ‘extremely’ and ‘absoluely’ with regard to any topic whatsoever. Such songs as the notorious “wasurecha Iyayo” from ’36 were banned because of the erotic style of singing.”
This attention to context over content, atmosphere over logic, is hella Japanese.

Anyway, on to the #1 media-hype of the ero-guro times. . . the


MODERN GIRL (moga)

Somewhere between a flapper and a kogal. Basically Japanese of all genders and social classes were very nervous about modernization (are we becoming too westernized? Where will it all end? WTF is even normal anymore? Are we losing our traditions, our uniqueness?) and all this general nervousness was projected onto young women, doh.  Like, SHE’s too modern, SHE’s too out of control, SHE’s a big huge fat slut, etc.

General grumbling aside, here’s what made her special

She smokes and drinks in public!
She has short hair all permed!
You can see her knees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She has a job and lives by herself in the big city, so she can pretty much do whatever she wants.
She evaluates men’s attractiveness (this was apparently a new thing back then)
She flirts!
She goes dancing! (did I mention about the knees?)
She doesn’t plan on having a family or kids
She uses the masculine ‘ORE’ for ‘I’.
She isn’t super political but she will join unions and have debates about the best jobs to get or how to improve the job conditions.
Also: mogals  switch jobs frequently. This kind of freedom by itself was kind of a threat to the bosses.

Mogal jobs: service industry! This confused the fuck out of the communists at the time, since the jobs were neither blue-collar or management, and the term “service industry” had not yet been invented. This is no excuse, however, for Silverberg being so confused and nit-picky about these jobs’ category, since she is writing in fucking 2005.

Example jobs: Typist, office worker, nurse, telephone operator, bus conductor, sales rep, journalist, clerks, elevator girl, and a really new job: human store-front-window mannequin. And of course, café girl, of which more later.

Ambiguity is a big part of the Mogal phenomenon. Besides the tedious working-class or not? Debates, ‘30s newspapers and magazines (both male and female writers!) wasted years over these OTHER questions:
Was she Japanese? Or trying to be white?
Was she a decadent person who lived only to shop, a superficial sex-in-the-city trend-whore?
Or was she an early feminist or Marxist because she earned her own money and would tell the boss to fuck himself if she didn’t like the job, all Dolly Parton 9-to-5 style?

Silverberg makes a big deal out of saying the moga is “transgressive” and “totally new to Japan” and “a threat to tradition” because she does things that normally only men are allowed, that she has a job outside the home and is aggressive. But – and I’m just guessing here – for most of Japanese history weren’t 90% of the people peasants? And didn’t peasant women basically have to work outside the home, in the fields? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe peasant women who stand in fertilizer all day or work gutting fish were super dainty and giggled into their hands and gutted fish with their toes pointing inwards. I mean, who knows. Definitely they never peed or pooped.

There were modern boys too, but apparently they were considered kind of pussies, the ancestor of today’s herbivore men. But again, this is according to a granola feminist, so take that with a grain of salt.

On to the #1 most stereotypical moga job. . . .


CAFÉ GIRL (jokyuu)

The “hostess” of the ‘30s.

uniform: traditional kimono with western-style apron.
They sit at the table with the customer.
Unlike most sex workers, café girls were considered – if not middle-class – they were considered service industry (like elevator girls or sales clerks) moreso than considered hookers.

Also: the cafes played jazz music! How risqué!!!!
The drinks aren’t that overpriced, but if you want the girl to flirt you have to tip her. She might brush your elbow with her hand!!!

Later in the ‘30s, there was a glut of cafes, so they got more sleazy in their desperation for customers:

Match service: you light a match, and until it burns out you can fondle her lady bits.
Subway service: for a fee, you could go ‘underground’ and put your hand through a strategically placed slit in the waitress’ kimono.

The café girls would get even, though:

Silverberg quotes Mr. Hayashi, saying: “there was a fad among the jokyuu to promise a number of customers that one would be with them on eone’s day off then gather them in one place and stand them up.”

Not unlike today’s kabukicho, or the ‘image clubs’ of the ‘90s, cafes also had themes: if you didn’t want a ‘modern’ café girl, you could go to a ‘special’ cafe where the girls dressed like medival Japanese, or one where they dressed Chinese (but interestingly the clubs with actual Chinese or Korean women, they had to dress Japanese. I guess dressing them like the violently conquered ethnic groups that they were would have ruined the mood?)


MODERNISM AND THE FAMILY

Modernism changed the family. It went from the feudal IE structure to the more modern KATEI structure. Huh? What does that even mean? Let me explain:

1)     the depression, “leading to the sale of daughters into sexual servitude” and dads with mountains of debt abandoning their families.
2)      the spread of communism led parents to be like, “Fuck this feudal shit!”
3)      Modernism – especially Hollywood movies – led the younger generation to be like, “I want to marry for love!”
4)     The women’s magazines spread the idea that a wife was not the servant of the husband’s whole family (as it was in the old, multi-generational IE system), she was half of a couple (a modern, nuclear family, defined in Japanese as a fuufu (夫婦))

It’s like, ok, these little baby steps on the road to feminism and equality are necessary, but that doesn’t make them interesting. Ooh, she is just a servant to her husband, not her in-laws too! Ooh, she is allowed to get a perm! I mean, get the fuck out. Especially if your book is called EROTIC GROTESQUE. If I have to read 200 pages of very dense academic text, I want a payoff like “squads of big-breasted naked ninja girls come up out of the sewer into the Emepror’s parade and disembowel him and stab all the cops in the nuts with petrified walrus dongs!” 

Instead I get, “the 1930 version of Cosmo actually asked women to have an opinion on what the best kind of husband was! The very idea that women might have opinions on who they’d like to marry is so radical!” (spoiler alert: They want rich macho guys)

GTFO.


ASAKUSA

A neighborhood in east Tokyo, that resembled ‘70s Times Square, all Escape From New York style. People woud go there for the temple and (true to Japanese tradition) stay for the booze, prostitutes, the misemono (freak shows and carnivals)  . . .and increasingly for the movies, cafes, and cabarets that modernism brought.

Interestingly, the population was half pleasure-seekers (intellectuals/hipsters who were slumming, and blue-collar guys, often farmers from the countryside) and half street-people (beggars, gangsters, day-laborers, and the various hustlers – the equivalent of NYC’s 3-card-monte scammers, mixed with carnies operating rigged “hit the bottle and win a prize” games).

This potent combination of street poverty, decadent escapism, and the new culture of the intillectuals (cabarets, movies, political satire, etc)  made Asakusa basically the ero guro nonsense capital of Tokyo, and half the book is dedicated to it.


This is slightly more exciting than the previous 100 pages about housewife magazines. Here's a breakdown of different kinds of hustlers:

 

Beggars (kokiji)
Beggars weren’t like ‘modern’ homeless guys. They were like a caste or a guild with a finely-honed craft: they’d dress in super-filthy rags, kimonos ripped to shreds, and put on a performance of being broke. (Silverberg re-tells one story of a Japanese sociologist who saw a beggar change out of his ‘begging clothes’ and into a regular kimono at the end of his ‘shift.’)


Ishizumi (a sociologist) divided the more than one hundred beggars (men and women) into five categories. At the top . . . was a kind of high-level beggar called KENTA. the kenta boss kept strict control over his jurisdiction, wherein almost sixty kenta commuted to five fixed, lucrative sites, such as spots around the Asakusa temple. On the second rung, the TSUBU had a freer bnut more precarious existence, for although they were not subject to the dictates of a boss, neither were they allocated a fixed site for ebegging. At the third level, both the ZUKE – the same word was used to refer to leftovers- and the DAIGARA subsisted on leftover from eateries. The lowest beggars were the SHIROI (a rephrasing of the term HIROI, meaning those who pick up) . . . foraged for the foulest of refuse on which to subsist.”




Vagrants (furousha)

“According to (another sociologist) Soeda, vagrant is a generic term covering those out of work, alcoholics, those who have not been able to return home after a bout of pleasure in Asakusa, embezzlers, fugitives, wives escaping dischord in their shouseholds, day laborers, beggars, and the abandoned.”

Vagrants don’T just beg. They’re more like the “will work for food” guys, or they chase other homeless away from restaraunts in return for leftover food. Or they’d illegally collect trash (why this was illegal is not explained!), or wear sandwitch-boards advertising movies. Or if you were a woman vagrant, you could be a prostitute, which since most women vagrants were over 40, their customers were other vagrants, and the tricks took place in the only free, private space around: the graveyard.

Also: at the end of the Taisho period (’25), most vagrants were people who couldn’t work – the handicapped or elderly, the sick. But by around ’32, most were able-bodied men who wanted to work but got unemployed during the depression.


 
 
Carnies (tekiya, AKA yashi (which seems to be more of a negative term, meaning ‘scammer’ more than ‘carny’))

Basically they ran STREET STALLS :

Food, food, food!
Knitted goods,
Fountain pens,
Sandals,
Used magazines, fireworks, balloons, old clothes, pipes, neckties.
Street performers, fortune tellers


The merchandise was usually marked up (at best) or fraudulent (at worst), although no examples are provided.

Here is what she says:

Tekiya are organized somewhere between yakuza and an artisinal guild. (in fact, Tekiya along with bakuta (gamblers) were the groups that hatched the yakuza). So you had pinky-cutting (usually for fucking another member’s wife), indecipherable slang, and junior members who were tied to senior members. But unlike Yakuza, “rather than weild tight control over the hawker, the senior figure gives business advice. It is presumed that should either party seek aid, the other will, without question, provide it.”



Freaks : (Misemono)
Freaks (giants, dwarfs, people without legs or arms, a man who “talks through his mouth but eats through his belly”)
Feats of prowess: strongmen, putting a snake in your nose and it comes out your mouth, etc.
Crafts: a giant, manmade elephant (no other examples given!)



Delinquents (furyou)
These were homeless sleep-in-the-park kids who banded together in gangs of up to 150 people.
Kusama (another sociologist) is quoted as saying: new delinquents arriving on the scene are first robbed, but then offered a place in the gang (for protection). “These youths fall deper into the ways of the gang as they steal from the temple offering box and scavenge for food.” They play a variation on the western “badger con”, in Japanese called gasebiri. He added that they were “attracted to homosexuality and violence.”

Then there were the “soft-core” delinquents – often girl gangs – (it’s not noted if they live with their parents or also live in the park), who were ‘attracted to the opposite sex’ and  divided into 2 subgroups: “the peragoro (pera being short for Asakusa’s operettas) who followed the actresses in Asakusa, and the café-goro whose prey were both delinquent girls and young women from good falimies who entered the park looking for recreation.”




Oppressed minorities-as-freaks: (ijin)
Chinese! Koreans! Russians! Colorful native garb!  (it’s not clear from the book if the foreigners are kept in cages like the dwarves, but I’m guessing they are hustlers who go from bar to bar or go through the crowd putting on a little ethnic dance show, selling ethnic snacks, and maybe stealing your purse or having sex with you).



NONSENSE
 
 Nonsense – a term used negatively by the mass media to refer to the ‘lowbrow’ slapstick movies as well as the carabets of Asakusa.

Like I said before, Silverberg insists that ‘nonsense’ is subversive – that it’s a way for people to poke fun at Japanese authorities, and it’s precisely because it’s absurd and meaningless that it can escape the censors and the cops. But I swear I couldn’t find even one example in her own book to support that. The main ‘nonsense’ in the book is the Asakusa Casino Follies.

The “modern” aspects of Casino Follies are:
Deliberately shitty props, a sort of precursor to Adult Swim’s consciously shitty animation, a tribute to how the smart the audience was – that the ‘modern’ audience was smart enough to know even a good prop was fake and not real.

All the male and female roles were played by sixteen year old girls. They apparently didn’t get a lot of the jokes they performed. “Sato Hachiro . . explained that he terrible acting was a plus for the very reason that the acting was so terrible. They could not even follow a script- which was all the better because the Asakusa audience would not laugh at a script.”

The pacing and switching back and forth between acting, skits, singing, dancing, was very modern because it was fast.

They did parodies of traditional Japanese theatre pieces – really heavy, patriotic stuff like “the 47 samurai that died for honor” or whatever, but they had 16 year old girls playing all the parts and all the details and props were modern and western: slingshots instead of swords, western flutes instead of Japanese style flutes. Also the main dude (who in the original story gets decapitated in battle), in the Follies version, he got decapitated AND a sign was hung on the body reading UNEMPLOYED (topical humor!) and the headless body then got up and paraded around the theatre followed by the 16-year-old girls, in a grotesque parody of the leftist political demonstrations of that time.

Another kind of ‘subversive’ play was : LUMPEN SOCIOLOGY, where a vagrant plays the part of the sociologist (yoinks, postmodern!), and explains why he has more class than ‘regular’ Japanese who look down on him.

The most interesting-sounding play was called STORM OVER ASIA, which is just post-modern as fuck.

To begin with, the original Storm Over Asia is a Russian commie movie.

The Japanese play opens with an actor playing a Japanese director announcing that he’s going to make a Japanese version of SOA, but he goes off on a tangent about how rad commie cinema is and misses the boat carrying the crew and cast to the set!

So right off the bat, you got like 3 levels of parody AND slapstick comedy, PLUS making fun of the intelligentsia.

For some reason the Japanese movie-of-a-movie-within-a-play is set in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. And in Manchuria, there’s a Chinese bandit chief named – you guessed it – Mr. Storm Over Asia! So now there’s a fourth level. This shit boggles my mind in 2011, and yet lowbrows in asakusa in 1930 found it funny.

The climax: the bandit decides to kidnap the lead actress, and the only way the bandit can sneak on set is to pass himself off as a Japanese actor, and pass the audition for the part of Mr. Storm Over Asia!!! So the real bandit is passing as an actor playing the bandit in a play version of a movie version of a movie. Fuck!


4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. Francois June 10th, 2011 6:11 pm

    This was a totally rad read. So-called new trends are just a copy of the past, hey ?
    I got shit to say to the next oyaji that says young people's culture is so un-Japanese (whatever that fucking means). Man, your parents/grandparents started that trend.

    Loved it and will read again. As a bonus, discovered this cover of 忘れちゃいやョ (original is good too, but a very old recording, being Taisho-era and shite). And me being somehow transfixed on old J-music…

  2. Kellen June 11th, 2011 8:09 am

    You definitely need to find out more info about STORM OVER ASIA and review that too.

  3. Narcoleptic June 11th, 2011 9:36 pm

    Totally amazing, Schultz.  I really want to see some Casino Follies now.  
    If you're interested, all of Storm Over Asia (with English titles) is free to watch on youtube: 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjdP2UfmG0I
    And it looks like Tuvan throat singing rock band Yat-Kha perform a live soundtrack of their own music over the film… example here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKSe2LjEx0c
    Valery Inkijinoff, the lead actor (an ethnic Buryat; aka Russian Mongolian) was later in Fritz Lang movies and his last role was Sitting Bull in a Brigitte Bardot film.
    I think the novel The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa is about that era.  I've never read it, though.  

  4. Steve June 15th, 2011 12:54 pm

    Weirdly enough, I knew about all this. Both from a combination of modernist courses I took in college and a 3-hour lecture on 30s ero-guro I went to for ‘fun’ once.

    Unlike Miriam’s book, the academic jargon-o-meter was turned to MAX. And the 3-hour lecture concluded with the audience (all senior members of academia) going up to the speaker and jerking him off (intellectually, of course, in tame 30s ero-guro style).

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