Tokyo Damage Report

sealab 2021 quotes

OK, here's the last TV punchline mp3 posts for a while.

256 quotes from Sealab. Because that's what I do to unwind from reading esoteric Shinto textbooks.

right here:  RUBBERSPOON  RUBBERSPOON RUBBERSPOON RUBBERSPOON RUBBERSPOON RUBBERSPOON

1 comment Tags:

mp3 punchlines from THE CRITIC

The Critic was a short-lived cartoon back in the '90s.  I just re-watched it, and now realize it was not very good. Way too sentimental, not vulgar enough, and the basic idea (animated film critic reviews parodies of Hollywood movies) was never funny even the first time: Hollywood is so boring even parodies of it are boring. Same thing with Elvis and Guns-n-roses. Some things are not even interesting when you mock them. Anyway, that didn't stop me from watching every episode and sound-capturing the punch-lines. There was plenty of absurd, non-sequitur humor hidden away in this series. Especially with dude's dad, a george bush-Sr. clone that said stuff like " SPEAKING AS THE FIRST BLACK FEMALE PRESIDENT OF THE KU KLUX KLAN , i'D JUST LIKE TO SAY. . .. AMERICA SUCKS!"

 

THE CRITIC SEASONS 1-2

 

Don'T forget I also previously posted my soundbites from . . .

SEASONS 2-5 OF IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA

 

and . ..

NEAL HAMBURGER SIGHS FOR YOU

No comments Tags:

June Decay

a

a

a

a

zzzzz

a

a

a

a

zzz

a

zzzzzzzzzzz

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

The shop that burned down? The ROAST CHICKEN.

2 comments Tags:

Architechture of West Chuo line

Between Musashi Sakai and Kouenji!

a

 

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

above, this nutty MC Escher building is an architectural firm! the "BOW STUDIO." Talk about getting high on your own supply.

a

a

a

a

a

Below, this building is not only interesting, but all the tenants are ALSO interesting:

an English prep school, a mental health clinic, another architectural firm, a software firm, a sheet-music transcription service, and a "scenario clinic"!!

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

Laputa theatre in Asagaya. No relation to the Miyazaki film?

a

a

a

a

a

 

a

1 comment Tags: , , ,

theatrical rock live:strawberry song orchestra, ryuuketsu blizzard, katsutori gakudan at CHOP

sunday february 20 , 2011, at ikebukuro chop

theatrical rock show put on by A La Mode magazine (who, if you're a long-time reader, recognize as the people who usually put on Gothic Lolita liveshows)

1: gekijou guernica 場ゲルニカ

not very good art-rock with a whiff of emo. Too incompetent to be prog but plays with a sense of dynamics and bombast typical of prog.

best part? they had a Conductor. Baton and everything. Also a Para para dancer. The Bass is a mod? Huh??  Conductor jumped into the crowd and was all trying to conduct audience members but people just stared blankly. This made me think, though: What if there was a conductor pit? Like what if a bunch of knuckleheads with sleeve tattoos and batons started running in a circle while waving their little batons?

Their name means THE STAGE (as in theatre)  IS GUERNICA (a reference to the famous historical massacre). And  four different members sang. I asked if they played different roles, if it was like a rock opera they were doing. No. Apparently their reference to "the stage"was just fashion, not substance.


 

 

 

a

a


band #2  : struggle A struggleA

Singer: looked like nina hagen, sang like Yoko.

Victorian hot-pants.

Japanese guy in Hitler costume taking pictures of same.

Much more serious / art and less glam/fun than most of tonight's bands. But that doesn't automatically mean they were bad!

Actually they couldn't play, but they did long songs with a one- or two-note repetitive tribal groove to it, so they turned their lack of talent into an asset. Everyone had hella echo, so even with only 2 instruments it sounded cool. All songs went like this: groove, noise, repeat.

Feedback guitar, throb tribal drums. Drummer – you can't see it in the pictures-  was wearing THE SAME EXACT OUTFIT as the singer PLUS A DEAD FOX AS A TOUPEE on top of her nest of hair.

 

I realized a thing during their set: Why is yoko Ono this chick that only ever gets made fun of but mike patton makes the exact same noises and he is a genius? Fuck that.

 

I wish they did surfin’ bird.

 

 

 

a

a

a


Band #3 : ストロベリーソングオーケストラ

STRAWBERRY SONG ORCHESTRA

These guys have been going strong since the '90s. Their main influences are  avant-garde flamboyant theatre guy Terayama Shuuji, and the horror manga artist Maruo Suehara, and the whole Taisho era (1910s and '20s).

STRAWBERRY is  the main influence that other bands in this scene all copy. In the past – not that I've seen it – they put on full plays, spoken word events, spin-off bands where one of the characters in the play gets their own group for a one-time event, and other multi-media stuff, including a Strawberry baseball team. Like some Wu-Tang Clan shit where they sort of manufacture their own world.
 

Unfortunately this time, they didn't bust out with anything theatrical or any Japanese traditional instruments. They just put on a sort of generic visual-kei (glam rock) show.

The only “theatrics” were 2 cheerleader dudes – which used to be common in older days – called 応援団 (ouendan). Yes, dudes.


 

 

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

a

and suddenly  . .. hitler salutes! I  have no idea. Their logo is four Ginsu knives bent into a swastika shape, with the kanji for "strawberry" in the center.

 

a


band #5 – katsutori gakudann. 霞鳥幻樂団

 literally "hazy bird phantom music squad"

Best costumes of the night: basically a Rennisance Faire of all Japanese history. The banjo player (?!?) mixed samurai clothes with Yankii ('80s juvenile delinquent) styles. The shamisen player was a geisha in drag, the accordionist was an Eduardian-era foreigner with a skull, the drummer was a  lady in a Chinese-looking ramen-shop-worker costume, and the bass was a normal looking guy who kept playing “number of the beast” between songs!

 As you might imagine, this band does heavy versions of folk songs.

First song was really heavy Japanese melody, but the rest of their repitoire was light-hearted and western scales, even harmony iron maiden-style bits played on shamisen and banjo (the guitar was only rhythm). The songs mostly sounded Irish more than Japanese. . .More like flogging molly or dropkick murphys than anything else, despite costumes! Wild!

 

 

 

a

a

a

a

a

a

a


band #6 – 120 minute sandwitch.  サンドイッチで120分

Matching wwII army uniforms with dr-seuss wigs.

Logo is Japanese flag with "puke" written on it.

Vocalist skipped in a circle round stage literally the entire time. As if he was chasing a monitor to put his foot on it but it kept running away.

Worst band. Not only were the Drums and synths pre-recorded. . .but even the vocals were milli vanilli style. 

 

 

 

a

a

a


band #7 – blood blizzard 流血ブリザード 】 (ryuuketsu burizaado

Judging from their picture, i thought this   was going to be dumb visual glam band, but  turned out to be the most theatrical band of the night!!

Not in terms of costumes or strawberry-like attention-to-atmosphere, but in the  nuts-and-bolts way of actually having characters, a plot, a resolution, and etc.Basically they recapitulated the entire plot of This Is Spinal tap. Halfway through the set they broke up: Everyone went solo. and did solo songs one after the other. . .

 

The bassist did a vicious gakt parody, the guitarist did k-pop, the drummer came out doing some anime theme song and stripped naked. They all stopped their songs halfway through because they realized that they sucked.

 

Band reunited in order to do what they did best : throw much maxi-pads into the audience.  Then more guys got naked and threw sandwitch bread and condiments at the audience. Naked food fights erupted as the band members dived off stage and chased each other around the audience squirting mayonaise and ketchup at each other. Then the drummer ran and dived chest-first onto the concrete floor, and slid 15 feet on a lubricated trail of condoments.

 

After that, the finale: a show-tune.

Their songs hinted at punk, as well as bad metal, knuckle-dragging bosozoku hard rock, and a religious worship of X Japan.

My friend is working on a book about Japanese rock, and he said that one of the things he learned was ,Japanese don’t have that indies-vs-majors hatred like in west. These blood blizzard fellows seemed to really like street-punk, glam, and pop, but take none of them seriously, and kind of acknowledge that they weren’t real or good enough to excel at any of them. Their lack of "realness" made it possible for them to have fun playing around with different genres, which they WERE good at.

 

 

The bassist was hella bosozoku chick but post-apocolyptic style with Doctor And The Medics hair (?!?) and "hooker" written in sharpie on her ass cheeks.

 

a

a

a

the guitarist was Road Warrior with gangster tats.

a

a

a

above: the drummer put a lit firework in his mouth and  ran around with it.

a

below: condoment fight.

below: the epic 15-foot condoment slide.

below: the encore – a broadway show-tune karaoke number!

a

7 comments Tags: , , , ,

funny Japanese surnames

 

I decided it was time for me to learn Japanese names. I used this helpful site:http://www.h2.dion.ne.jp/~inkan.z1/sei.htm , which lists the top 5000 most common Japanese family names. I'm studying the top 1,000 for now. . .but in the process found some really awesome family names. Keep in mind that the translations I'm giving are very literal and not the way that native Japanese would think of the names. (Like how Americans don't really realize that Schwarzennegar means 'black plowman') But it's still funny!

 

野尻 - Nojiri – WILD ASS

宮脇ーMiyawaki – PALACE ARMPIT

生駒 - Ikoma – LIVING SPINNING-TOP or LIVING PAWN (!!)

森脇 - Moriwaki – FOREST'S ARMPIT

高谷 – Takatani – TALL VALLEY

熊倉ーKumakura – BEAR WAREHOUSE

妹尾ー Imoo- LITTLE SISTER'S TAIL

麻生- Asou -MARIJUANA LIFE

毒島 - Busujima – LITERALLY POISON ISLAND, but they must have figured that was too rude, so they changed the pronunciation  of ' poison' from DOKU to BUSU, but BUSU means UGLY WOMAN, so frankly I don't see how that is an improvement.

粕谷 -Kasuya- SAKE VALLEY

香取 -Katori- TAKE THE SMELL

毛利- Mouri -CONVINIENT FUR

鶴見 -Tsurumi - LOOKS AT CHICKENS

亀井 - Kamei – TURTLE IN WELL

尾形 - Ogata -SHAPED LIKE A TAIL

横尾 - Yoko'o – BESIDE THE TAIL

長尾 - Nagao – LONG TAIL

目黒- Meguro – BLACK EYE

丹羽 – Tanba – MEDIOCRE FEATHERS

有馬 - Arima – EXISTING HORSE

宍戸 – Shishito – HOLE IN MY DOOR

酒井 – Sakai – WELL FULL OF SAKE

大沢 – Oozawa – BIG SWAMP

馬場ー Baba – Literally 'horse place' but it's pronounced like Grandma, so Japanese people find this one funny.

尾崎 - Ozaki – TAIL CLIFF

中尾 -Nakao – MIDDLE OF THE TAIL

三輪 – Miwa – THREE WHEELS

福沢ーFukuzawa – LUCKY SWAMP

熊沢 - Kumasawa – BEAR SWAMP

寺沢 -Terasawa – TEMPLE SWAMP

相沢 – Aizawa – SWAMP PARTNER

金沢 - Kanazawa – GOLD SWAMP

宮沢 - Miyazawa – PALACE SWAMP

吉沢 – Yoshisawa – LUCKY SWAMP

5 comments

neal hamburger sighs for you

So the server that hosts this site went down, and that's why the Hamburger and Japanese Surnames got lost, along with the most recent comments.

 

Neil Hamburger sighs is hereeeeeeeeee

These aren'T the jokes – just his trademark sighs, coughs, and rueful chuckles. Put these on any playlist on shuffle and listen to Neal be bitterly dissappointed at the last song you played.

No comments Tags:

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

terayama again?

the server went down, and some emails were lost.

Sorry if yours was lost!

also, to the excellent person who said they had a COPY OF A PHD THESIS ON TERAYAMA and would loan it to me, please get in touch, OK?

i would love to look at that thesis, and thanks so much for offering. sorry  your comment got lost!

No comments

Japan book review 2: TERAYAMA SHUJI by stephen ridgely


JAPANESE COUNTERCULTURE: THE ANTIESTABLISHMENT ART OF TERAYAMA SHUJI by STEVEN C. RIDGELY

Part 2 in a series of reviews of books about Japan.

First let me say: I hate the theater and plays. I think the last play I saw was 9 years ago – an atonal 20th-century-opera about Aileen Wournos, America’s most famous lesbian serial killer.

And I even found THAT boring.

But it seems that a lot ofJapanese bands and artists I like are influenced by theatre director (and movie director, poet, essayist, and all-around naked dude) Terayama Shuji. They say he was like the only weird dude in ‘60s Japan (besides Mishima Yukio), and pretty much ALL avant-garde music and anti-establishment art of today can be traced back to him. So I figured, “OK, fuck it, let’s find out about Terayama.”

So I picked up the book JAPANESE COUNTERCULTURE by Steven Ridgely. My original intent in reviewing the book was to copy the best parts for you guys, so you could learn about Terayama too. But the book is a huge mess – full of indecipherable “artsy fartsy” literary criticism. Since there ARE no ‘best parts’, you all are going to instead get a huge rant about why “artsy fartsy” literary criticism is so awful.

Despite being billed as “a long overdue study of Terayama’s complex oeuvre”, it only covers a little bit of it.

There’s no mention of musical collaborator JA Seazer, or Terayama’s influence on other “underground” people and culture – which is the whole reason I bought it. It’s basically just about what was going on in dude’s head. But it’s not even that: The book isn’t about Terayama so much as it’s using Terayama as a pawn to score points in some arcane academic pissing match between “visual culture” theorists and “literary culture” critics. 

Not only is there no mention of Terayama being super gay (basically the first thing any Japanese will tell you about him), the book doesn’t discuss counterculture despite it BEING THE FUCKING TITLE. (in the afterword, Ridgely says he deliberately avoided discussing Japanese counterculture because he wanted to “avoid the snare of conceiving a global and explicitly antinationalist movement through the category of the nation.”)

So, if it doesn’t discuss counterculture, Terayama’s influence on society, his gay-rights schtick, or even most of his artworks, what IS the damn book like?

THIS PARAGRAPH SAYS IT ALL:

“His characters are not centered on a diachronic timeline; they gain no self-awareness from knowing their position within a historiclal lineage. It is the crosscut in time – the experience of synchronicity –that grounds them and provides a base for the ir experience of being. The broader project may be to fictionalize and shrink both the future and the past so that the present becomes bigger and more real, an inhabitable space.”

In this short sample you can see the three main irritating themes of the whole book;

1)    The wacky words that don’t mean anything,
2)     the deliberate confusing of the author’s pet theory with what Terayama meant to say : (‘the broader project may be. . .’ is that YOUR project or Terayama’s? ),
3)     the pretention that the author’s ultimate motive is about helping the common man (‘making the present an inhabitable space’). Who doesn’t want an inhabitable space? Yay! Terayama and Ridgely are on your side! Fight the power! You’re welcome!

OK, to be fair: I really shouldn't single out Ridgely, since pretty much ALL 'artsy fartsy'  academic books share these problems. But he'll make a good example.

MORE ON  THEME #1

The wacky ‘difficult’ academic style of writing was originally developed for hard sciences, where you actually need SPECIFIC words to express specific math concepts – you can’t say ‘fourish’ or ‘squaredish’. Or, you know if you discover a quark or particle you have to make up a new word for it. So there was no good reason to go ‘difficult’ in the humanities in the first place.

Unlike math or science, the liberal-arts-critic’s jargon does not stop them from being illogical or preposterous, in fact it can HELP them to do so, since it obscures their statements and wraps them in a thick cloud of dense fog. After trying to decipher a sentence, I am so mentally exhausted I don’t have energy to actually analyze the deciphered sentence to see if I agree with it or not.



As Philip Howard says in his book Death of Common Sense, as long as one adheres to the proper FORM and PROCEDURES, one’s ass is covered and who cares if one actually accomplishes the original task one was assigned. Of course, Howards  was talking about beuracrats and OSHA regulators, not revolutionary art critics, but if the shoe fits, wear it, bitch.

Also, besides obfuscating the lack of real substance, and functioning as the Emperor’s New Clothes, the academic jargon has one more function: making the authors feel as avant-garde and creative and ‘way out there’ as the famous people whose work they’re critiquing. Nothing academic or intellectual about this : you can find the same phenomenon on any barely-literate music review website: “HAHA !! I’m even weirder and harder to figure out than (name of famous artist)!! I must be more talented than them! THE STUDENT HAS BECOME THE MASSSSSTER!!!!!”

All Baron Mordo style.

I wonder. . . .if you asked academics straight-up, “For God’s sake, why?” would they acknowledge that, “Well yeah the nutty jargon is a drawback, but hey, I need to do that to keep the job.” Or would they seriously insist, “No,  I wouldn’t change a word if I could, because writing using regular-people words would seriously destroy all the nuances of my argument.”



MORE ON THEME #2

The book is full of interpretations of Terayama’s work. But with the cleverness of a lawyer or politician, Ridgely words his statements to dodge the issue of “This is what Terayama meant” vs. “This reminds me of a pet theory of mine which has nothing to do with Terayama.”

In other words, in the book, nothing is ever ‘my idea’ or ‘Terayama’s idea’.

Instead, he’s like:

‘the central problem of his work is a renegotiation of. . . blahblah ‘
Or, ‘a more ambitious reading is xxxx’
Or, ‘What seems to drive this process is yyy’
Or, ‘Terayama seems interested in unwinding the themes of zzz’
or, ‘The phrasing suggests another possibility: yadayadayada’
or, ‘this project seems to point to. . . .xxx’
Or, “Goffman and Reich’s ideas can open up Terayama’s play in two ways.”
Or my personal favorite:

‘We are left to ask whether encapsulating desire within a diachronic framework functions to justify maintenance of the status quo – that what we have been taught to want is stasis, and we naturalize that desire by cutting off the possibility of geographical and synchronic motion.’

To me, these kinds of statements are classic weasel words



Of course Ridgely might hit back with, “I have to use these very specific terms like ‘A more ambitious reading’ and so on . . . because of my commitment to truth: the truth is that meaning is produced by the author in collaboration with the reader in a way which is so subtle and complicated that you all couldn’t possibly understand it. and if I wrote my book in regular-guy words, all the nuance of how meaning is produced would be lost. It has to be written in fancy words just like a math or science book. Liberal arts is TOO a science!!!!”


However, simple common sense fucks up this counter-argument: This technique of using the passive voice, of avoiding responsibility and ducking the question – that’s what politicians and lawyers do. That’s what BP public relations flacks do after they destroy the Gulf. And it’s clear to everyone they aren’t doing that because of a “concern with truth” or because they are “super-avant-garde” and are “trying to illuminate how meaning is produced”, they are talking that way to obfuscate the truth.



USING THEME #2 ON A CHILD’S PICTURE


Ridgely’s talent at bullshitting is wasted on a guy like Terayama. I’d like to see Ridgely really put his BS skills to the test – perhaps with a crayon sketch of a 5 year old.

A ‘conservative, limited-by-the-staus-quo reading’ of this: it’s a crappy picture of a dog.
A ‘more ambitious reading’ is: Timmy’s difficult-to-tell-what-it-is scribbley crayon blots ‘leaves us to wonder if Timmy is undermining genre and communication’
A ‘reading which draws this thread out even farther, if I may’ : by drawing attention to how dogs are objects (in this case, a piece of doggy-art) Timmy’s project seems to point to a thorough interrogation of capitalist culture.
A ‘perhaps radical reading’ of this: it means wango dango purple banana monkey patch googley going going dudddddddddd.



MORE ON THEME #3

More examples of this ‘I’m writing this book to help the common man!’ idiocy, in case you think I’m exaggerating:

“Parody of the structural guarantee against total institutions.”
“a project of deinstitutionalizing lived reality.”
‘deconstructing the relationship of erotics of war’
‘exposing the mechanisms of control’
 ‘an indictment of the top-down social institution of gender formulation that we are accustomed to as the status quo.’
 ‘metaphorical project of deinstitutionalizing’
 ‘a renegotiation of contracts between actors and audience’,

Why do all these academics persist in this pathetic fantasy that their angels-dancing-on-the-end-of-a-pin philosophizing is helping to ‘Stick it to the Man?’

I’m probably the millionth person to notice that all their ‘revolutionary’ writing uses this obtuse jargon which “the people” who they want to “free” could never decipher. 

There is this rule that “You have to write in this impenetrable blathering style” which a) totally alienates the very people the academic wants to liberate from The Man, and b) forcing people to write in this way is just as inefficient, old-fashioned, useless and inflexible as anything The Man could come up with. Why don’t you guys free YOURSELVES from the rigid rules of the academic system before you go criticizing The Man? Sheesh.

Honestly, how can anyone even get past that glaring contradiction? Do these people not even understand that this dooms everything that comes out of their mouths, no matter how true it may be?


PERHAPS THE MOST PREPOSTEROUS SINGLE PARAGRAPH IN THE WHOLE BOOK

And of course, even after I go to the trouble of deciphering it, usually I still don’t get it, simply because the premise – stripped of the protective fog of jargon– is so ridiculous it just makes no sense to begin with.

For example, this classic:

Terayama’s thirty-minute tv drama version of DENEN NI SHISU aired on Nihon Television. It opens with lines that hint at the broader theme at play across all of these DENEN NI SHISU projects: “The red flower blooms, hush-a-bye, hush-a-bye, let me be twenty once more.” The lullaby here is clearly designed for the caretaker more than the child, but what is striking here is this desire not for escape but for a return to a better past, perhaps a time of greater vitality, but likely a time of freedom. Terayama brings us to these moments again and again as if to ask why a desire essentially for freedom of movement – a geographical impulse – gets processed through this historical metaphor. A shift from diachronic to synchronic orientation might explode this sort of longing, so we are left to ask whether encapsulating desire within a diachronic framweork functions to justify maintenance of the status quo – that what we have been taught to want is stasis, and we naturalize that desire by cutting off the possibility of geographical and synchronic motion.

‘As if to ask?’ ‘We are left to ask’?!? WTF weasel words?!? But still there’s this relentless, preposterous pretension he’s trying to help you out. . .  (The Man wants you to stay in stasis! Who wants to be held back by The Man?!? Who could object to an academic who is fighting to give you freedom of motion??)

 You’re supposed to buy that he’s fighting for your rights and ignore
a)    how is a book that only 5 people ever will read going to help The Man re-evaluate His position re: stasis?
b)    This whole absurd house of cards is erected on the one-sentence poem: “The red flower blooms, hush-a-bye, hush-a-bye, let me be twenty once more.” So we’re going from a fucking one-sentence flower poem to a general indictment of society, by means of this weaselly little ‘we are left to ask’ phrase. Who besides YOU has EVER asked that after hearing that poem, Ridgely? Are you saying Terayama MEANT specifically that The Man was trying to keep us in stasis, for whatever reason? That was the reason he wrote the poem? Yes or no, dude!! We are left to ask. Sheeeeeeeeeeeeit.
c)    The assertion of conspiracy. Really? The Man has nothing better to do than sit in smoke-filled rooms and say, “Yeah sure we are reducing job wages, fucking up the environment, making Wall Street rich, and installing video cameras on every corner, but what have we done about making sure the oppressed masses are too duped to have a ‘synchronic orientation’? Because really that’s our #1 priority. “

And – even better – if you re-read that paragraph like 5 times (maybe 4 if you’re smarter than I), eventually it will dawn on you that   THE WHOLE THING IS BASED ON A FALSE PREMISE. A straw man, if you will.

Check it out: First Ridgely says the poem is about a return to the past. Fair enough. “Let me be twenty once more.”

Then Ridgley just flips out and decides that, no, people who want to go to the past actually REALLY want to move to a different part of the country. Huh? Where did that come from? And then –the coup de grace – he says, “Well since the average Joe really wants to move to a different place for more freedom, why does Joe instead dream of going back to the past? BECAUSE HE HAS BEEN DELIBERATELY DUPED BY THE MAN!!!! AND TERAYAMA IS A REVOLUTIONARY GENIUS FOR EXPOSING THIS NEFAROUS SCHEME OF THE MAN! AND I AM AN EVEN BIGGER GENIUS FOR EXPLAINING WHAT TERAYAMA MEANT TO SAY, THUS CONTRIBUTING TO THE LIBERATION OF MANKIND!”

But – wouldn’t it be simpler to just say that PEOPLE WHO EXPRESS NOSTALGIA ARE, IN FACT, EXPRESSING NOSTALGIA?

That’s like saying, “People who like Sponge Bob ACTUALLY are TRYING to say they like Mickey Mouse. And the fact that they get their own thoughts so wrong is proof that they are deeply insane.”

I mean, shit.

But that’s what all the wacky big words are for: they’re like a cloud of fog that obscures the central sleight-of-hand.





COMPARING LIT CRIT TO REAL SCIENCE

Maybe I’m wrong here. Maybe I’m just not “academic” or “intellectual” enough to get what Ridgely is talking about. Let’s tackle this Emperor’s New Clothes argument head-on, shall we? Ok, maybe I’m not that smart, but all I have to do is compare the academic rigor of literary criticism to that of hard science, because scientists ARE that smart.
 
When I say science, I mean engineering, biology, economics or even history. Say a politician did something with interest rates. An economist or historian who wants to have an opinion re: that politician’s policy would have to a) provide some documentation proving the politician actually raised or lowered rates, then b) prove that this policy (rather than other factors) actually had some effect on the economy, and then c) evaluate the results: was it good for the economy or bad? Did the politician fuck up or do well?

Compare this to the Literature Major:

“By this account, it would seem that the entire project seeks to undermine not only genre and commucation but also the vary nature of the most basic units of those concepts: images and words.”

 Ridgely  just arbitrarily decided that Terayama is on purpose ‘undermining not only genre and communication’ (he doesn’t attempt to consider other possibilities, such as “T. is a poor writer”), and then just takes it for granted that ‘undermining genre and communication’ is a worthwhile goal (stick it to The Man! I’m on the side of Liberating!). And he doesn’t even bother to address the issue of, is Terayama is a better, more influential playwright , because of this?

It’s not just the academic laziness of liberal arts writers, it’s the pat, arrogant assumptions that irk me. The cynical use of big words. The big words draw attention AWAY from the fact the author hasn’t proven anything, he just made some snap value judgments and then buried them in a mountain of jargon.





ACADEMIC OR PUBLIC RELATIONS HACK?

In order to read Ridgely’s book, not only do you have to be able to translate from academic into English, but you also have to learn how to translate from blarney to English – a whole separate skill, but probably a skill you have if you’ve listened to politicians or watch commercials on TV.


When it comes to Terayama. . .

Nothing is ever confusing or poorly planned, it’s always ‘challenging expectations of’ or better yet ‘exposing the contradictions of’ social norms.

 A film isn’t boring or terrible, it’s ‘An attack on audience comfort’ that ‘begins with the opening sequence.’

Scenes that have no cause and effect or cut off in mid-scene are ‘undermining not only genre and communication, but the basic building blocks of these: words and images.’ 

Here’s some more blarney:

1)    Terayama’s take on Marcuse is not the normal one, he takes Marcuse in an even more radical direction = TERAYAMA HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH MARCUSE.
2)     Terayama explores themes of boxing because it is a jazz language of improvisation and he considers it ‘the language of violence’ = TERAYAMA LIKES BOXERS BECAUSE THEY ARE HALF NAKED MUSCLEY MEN
3)    Terayama’s a genius at taking a radio play and turning it into a theatrical production and turning that into a movie, because it undermines your preconceived notions of media and meaning = TERAYAMA JUST PLAIN DOESN’T HAVE A LOT OF IDEAS.
4)    Terayama’s radio drama where people are talking who aren’t actually in the room at that point is a genius way of exposing our pre-conceptions about time and challenging our assumptions that radio reflects reality, thus critiquing the capitalist ‘news media’ which purports to tell us the truth = TERAYAMA WAS DRUNK AS SHIT WHEN HE WROTE THE RADIO DRAMA.




WHY I BOTHERED TO WRITE 3,000 WORDS EXCORCIATING A DUDE THAT DOESN’T EVEN OWE ME MONEY:

I don't care if academics want to write badly about their pet cats or their toothbrush or whatever : to each their stupid own, I say.
 
But what pisses me off is that you can find a dozen books about “What Sony Did Right As A Corporation” or “Doing Corporate Business The Samurai Way” or “Inside The Otaku World!” or “A History Of Crap Anime”. . . .and these books are written in plain English. But if you want a book about an actual interesting topic (‘30s fascism, the way that Japanese people’s self-concept of what it means to be Japanese is a by-product of feudalism and outright lies, banned books, the iron triangle of beuracrats, business, and right-wing politicians, how even ‘rebellious’ Japanese are still influenced by history and culture and can’t break free. . . etc.) anyway, if you want an actual GOOD book, you have to put up with their jargon and gibberish.
 
The lack of choice! THAT’S what I can’t forgive. Why do you have to write badly about stuff I CARE about?
 
It’s like when you get this metal album that is full of rad riffs, good arrangements and really good screams, but the asshole sound engineer made the hi-hat twice as loud as ALL THE OTHER INSTRUMENTS PUT TOGETHER. You know how that kind of almost-great-but-ruined album (and in metal there are a shitload of them, believe me) is way more irritating than a REGULAR shitty album? That is books on Japan in a nutshell.

As this chart should demonstrate (blogging is TOO a science!!)



5 comments

sunny in philadelphia punchline mp3s for you

Done with all the re-ups. (in case you are wondering what the deal was with that: there were around 50 posts from around 2004 that never migrated to the new, wordpress, version of the site, and I fucking took care of that. The re-upped posts had not been see-able for maybe 3 years and I wasn't going to let the utter lack of demand stop me from wasting many hours putting 'em back up where they should be. I run a tight fucking ship here).

 

good news is: from now on, all new content.

bad news is: back to a once-a-week schedule.

For now: mp3s for you. I noticed that you can find oodles of simpsons, family guy, etc. soundbites in various internet areas, but no Philly quotes. I fixed that.

180-some-odd soundbites from seasons 2-5 of IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, all right here.

 

NEXT TIME DON'T COME BACK WITHOUT ANYTHING UP THOSE ASSES!!!!!!!!

No comments Tags: ,

reup ; 2005 winter design festa

 

11/26~27, 2005 @ Tokyo Big Sight

ok, finally. . . . design festa fashion roundup.

thanks to the kind folks who posed for me.

or, you can click the picture. ooh, internet! click stuff! woooo.

also i love how she is accessorized with that industrial pylon.

 

DESIGN FESTA WINTER 2005 ? NOV 26 and 27

 

Not only was this way huger than last year, but also there were a lot of new artists that were pretty good! now, as it turns out, most of the best people are so un-mainstream that they do not have a website I can share with you. If only I had taken pictures of art, instead of all the cool fashions. Damn my shallow, superficial eyes. But this year to do something different, I decided NOT to photograph the performers and booth-doing people in their “I only wear this once a year” costumes. Instead I shot people whose everyday fashions were kind of interesting . one thing is, there were just a rediculous amount of japanese guys dressed as mods this time. All these guys taking their little scooters down to the bay to look at postcards of drooling bears and rhinos with pants. Huh. A lot of the women had this very wooly, english-nanny, marry-poppins-meets-mod-girl-with-crazy-handmade-wool-hat-or-maybe-monster-eating-her-brain-can't-tell – Look that I had never seen before. . . . So there is that.


LINKS TO MY FAVORITE ARTISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

this time you have to go to their site to see their work. not becuase i realized that stealing pictures is wrong, but because i am lazy. but this is like the top 12 out of 1,000, so trust me ok?

Kuniemon mixes traditional japanese art with hip hop afro picks and something they call “crunk.”

 

kurono atsushi does pretty much dead-on imitations of coop and kozik, but with a sort of kawaii anime feel to it.

 

Illustronics is a lady who makes incredibly elaborate Adobe Illustrator hairdos for her frequently naked pictures. The hair also looks like old-school Japanese yuki-o tsunami waves!

 

gumliens are from a distant planet where everyone just chews gum, all the time.

Click the enter button, then sort of move your mouse around until you hit a pop-up that says “aliens” and you will be rewarded with English descriptions of the various guys and ladies.

 

noriya Takeyama’s Mystery Animals ?

flash animation of cute and scary and ambiguous critters!

 

Mr. Twin are two real- life identical twin sisters (mrs. Red and mrs. Blue) and their apprentice, Ms. Green. They are prodigiously talented in model photography, illustration, collage, costume design, and generally they are one of the most talented people who I have not reported on already.

 

However, their web-design skills are um. Not so user-friendly. Like even though they were using ENGLISH it still took me 5 minutes to find the photos. First, click on the little brown word “GALLERY” on the left side. Then, on the next page, click on either “photo” or “pict” which is in the upper-right hand corner. Because the other links do not, ahem, work. But seriously, do it, because they are fucking amazingly awesome.

 

3CM is a company dedicated to making these really cute 3 centimeter hand-carved figures. This site is a breeze to navigate.

emi akimoto is one of those mysterious only-in-japan girls that likes to draw wounded schoolgirls in erotic poses. I explained to her that in the west, women really hate that kind of thing. I could not really understand her reply, but I think maybe she said that she doesn’t see the same thing as a hentai guy does when he looks at schoolgirl s/m porn. Not sure what she DOES see, though. My theory is that maybe some girls feel trapped by cuteness and the pressure to be it and use it as the criteria for everything, and this is their way of wrestling with it or fighting it or expressing how they have been hurt by it? Or something? anyway her friend had stuff that was WAY more out-there, but her firend does not have a site. Or maybe they just did not want me to see it because I am a pervert. Who knows??

TAKORANTIS does the most detailed, cross-hatch-frenzy art since edward-gorey. But instead of victorian perverts, he draws these huge organic-looking cities on huge posters. They look awesome from far away AND up close. he (they?) does (do?) the best stuff, and their site gives you a great deal of it for frees.

 

Finally, LIPSTIC are these two girls who were not even BORN when new wave was around ? the go-gos and april greiman were having their retro-50’s assymetrical party and only dudes in skinny ties were invited. But somehow they manage to wait, nevermind, their website is not up yet. SHIT.

Of course, this is just the kind of stuff that I like. Go to the official website, here, and there are links to literally hundreds of photos in many different (meaning, hippy) styles!


 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—- #

 

—-

 

—- homey is a mathematician who makes illustrations based on equations. Also a man who likes his legwarmers.

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—- not even born when New Wave was a going concern, she nevertheless gets it down like ba-bomp. http://100web.org/lipstic

 

—- Marry poppins on the right was hella shy about it, but her friend was like, "Dood, you totally should! About time someone recognized your awesomeness!" they spent like 10 seconds thinking about poses before settling on this one.

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—- for some reason all the totally out-of-control scary fashion people like this were at the Black Metal Communist Schoolgirl booth

 

—-

 

—-

 

—- #

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—-

 

—- recognize this style from FRUITS? Apprently it is called SHINORA, from "shinohara" the pop star who started it, and "ra" from . . .rabu (love)? I tried to steer clear of styles everyone knows about (lolitas and goths etc.) but damn. Shinoras.

 

—-

 

—-

 

—- first, check the beard.

 

—- these toys are handmade!

 

—-

 

—- I was so shocked this woman spoke japanese. The "understated, wealthy chinese princess" look is not popular here. I asked my friend why and she said that this kind of quiet sophistication is considered womanly, but japanese women all want to be cute 10 year olds forever. That's her, not me saying it. I'm a fucking white man, I love everybody. You know me.

 

—-

 

—- the lady on the left is normal. Sorry about that. Right-hand-girl was shy. But why should she be? She is taking this kind of hip-hop tight-bright down jacket and boots thing and mixing it up with like gureilla warfare and plus some visual kei hair on top.

 

—- these artists had this booth where the audience had to draw their vision of the future and make a little paper origami airplane out of it which then got put into a mobile which twirled around in the little sky there. (of coruse I drew a cat crossbred with an octopus and turned into a ufo) Afterwards we, the customers, were issued a "flight pass" with a coded number we could use to see the final art piece on the internet.

 

—- THE HUMPTY DANCE!!

 

—- should also point out that the giant penis was mechanical and kept bobbing up and down hour after hour.

 

—-

No comments Tags:

Mexico