You say it’s your birthday? Dun nuh nuh nuh nuh… It’s my birthday, too! Dun nuh nuh nuh nuh… Are you on an airplane? Dun nuh nuh nuh nuh… Well then, fuck you! Yup, today is my birthday and I’m spending it right now on a plane bound for California. With the time difference and crossing the International Date Line, I’ll have managed to stretch the celebration of my birth out for forty hours, if my math is correct. That’s a long time to spend turning thirty-one.
It’s time to go home. Always bittersweet, especially given that I have to head straight back into work. The very clean streets of Japan will be sorely missed when I begin again my daily ritual of counting the human waste deposits in the alley towards my place of employ.
After our shows were done, I had three rollicking days left to spend in Tokyo. I have to say, I totally thought Japan sucked… at first. Well, I still maintain that Nagoya is one of the most boring places in the world. But then, we didn’t get to go see the giant penis shrine they have there. I suppose if I spent an entire vacation in Noe Valley in San Francisco, I would think that place sucked, too. My main point is I had to eat my words, er, thoughts. Tokyo rocks pretty hard. I’ve heard Hanoi rocks, too, but that’s a whole other trip.
We headed to the second day of the fest on the eighteenth. Jason and Sean would part their ways with me and Raul there to head home. After General Surgery soundchecked, Raul and I headed with them to take the Tokyo Metro to the place they call “Electric Town.” We picked the wrong exit, as we headed around the station and found an exit pocked by cute Japanese girls in English maid outfits. Wow. This town is magic… and totally fucking perverted. We took a trek up all six stories of a sex shop. Six fucking stories. The group went separate paths. Grant from General Surgery came with me and Raul.
Come to find out, these girls in maid costumes are all over. They were actually kind of annoying, passing out flyers and looking ever so demure. It may have ruined the entire maid thing for me. At least, if I can ever get a girl to dress like a sexy maid, she best not try to hock me some crap.
Poor Grant and Raul… they were stuck with me. I had a special Japanese shrine I wanted to visit. It was called the “Arcade.” I’m pretty sure the shoguns of years gone by would pray there before going to do battle in the House of the Dead. I managed to get Grant to help me kill some zombies. Then I played some drumming game. It didn’t have any Extreme Noise Terror on it, so I had to manage with some Japanese pop. I’ll have you know I cleared all three stages. Sure, it was on the easy mode, and this Japanese guy behind me waited patiently for my amateurish ass to put down the sticks and give him a turn. He brought out his OWN sticks. This is like playing some drunken pool and some guy whips the pieces of a cue out and screws them together like some kind of bar ninja. The guy got on the drum game and roundly put me to shame. Fucking bastard.
It was time to move onto Dance Dance Revolution. Long have I dreamt of playing this game in Japan. Truth be told, I wanted to play against one of those freaky kids who plays all the time and have my ass handed to me, but no one else was on. Instead, I got to watch Grant and Raul’s mouths gape with a mixture of astonishment and embarrassment as they watched me dance AND clear all the available stages. Yes, there is a video. It’ll cost you.
In Japan they also have CosPlay. If you’re not familiar, that’s shorthand for Costume Play. On one whole floor, there were flocks of little Japanese girls dressing up in outlandish costumes and wigs and taking pictures in computer photo booths. We thought about doing it, until we realized we’d probably get arrested.
We headed back towards the show. I stopped by an internet cafe. In Japan, the internet cafes are interesting in that they have private booths where the feint aroma of spooge can be smelt. It seems in a place as crowded as Tokyo, there’s not a lot of privacy to be had. Especially when most people live with their parents until they are married and sometimes longer. These places are crazy huge, with reams of normal videos, games, showers, cafeterias, and one would assume Kleenex.
The second day of the fest was awesome. Mainly this was because I got to see Zombie Ritual, easily my favorite band in Japan. Hey, they dress like zombies and shamble about the stage in-between songs of righteous gore thrash with the word “zombie” in every chorus. How can you not love that?
All the other bands were really awesome, too, and it was a fun day. That night, we headed to another restaurant to enjoy more family restaurant style debauchery. There was no noodle sniffing, but there was some dance routines with me and Naru. I think there was also some chicks making out, proving once again that girls making out is always a welcome sight. Don’t pretend you don’t like it, you gay bashers.
The next morning, I got up relatively early because we were going to meet up with our old friend Micah of Bodies Lay Broken fame who was going to show us around his adopted city. Most of General Surgery left, but Johan and his friend Tomas stayed behind. When I went to find and wake them up to get ready, I got lost in the compact and maze like house I hadn’t set foot in proper yet. The dog found me and went nuts, and Naru’s mom showed up to save me. We sat and had a coffee and had a terribly difficult conversation. She was real nice, though. She managed to express how proud of her son she was and that she’d seen him perform for the first time the day before at the fest. She also told me she had to pray to watch her boy perform in Butcher ABC because she was a good Christian. Now that is one fucking interesting mom. A devout Christian to the point of making sure her dogs all had Christian names, but supportive of her boy who plays in a bands called Butcher ABC and Clotted Symmetrical Sexual Organ and runs Obliteration Records. I’m sure she must’ve loved the cover to “Necro-Phallus.”
We met Micah at the train and headed out to see the busiest intersection in the world. It was pretty busy, yup. I love the smell of commerce in the morning! This was finally the Japan I had hoped I would see… big signs! Skyscrapers! Kids dressed like old glam rockers!
The Swedes picked up some electronics as they are not blessed like us to have easy access to cheap slave labor produced devices like Raul and I are in California. Go iPod! We then took a train to another neighborhood Micah told us about where all the kids hung out and we’d see some of them in outlandish CosPlay outfits. I was not disappointed.
There were girls dressed like… I don’t know, some kind of Victorian era vomit abomination. There were also lots of glam rockers with multiple belts slung low and scarves tied where scarves really didn’t need to be. The neighborhood was kind of like if Hot Topic was a mogwai and someone poured water all over it. Everywhere there were rock shops selling just dumb shit. So of course, we bought some. The best was a store selling a swastika shirt. No racism intended, it was just, you know… “cool.” I came so close to buying it, just so I could give it to Aesop, the jewy Jewish drummer for Ludicra. He would’ve loved it. This is a Jew, you understand, who is pretty commonly wearing Graveland shirts and KKK belt buckles. Unfortunately, it was a bit pricey, and I didn’t relish the idea of customs quizzing me about it. They would’ve taken me to the back room and made a muppet of me for certain.
That night we took it pretty easy, and by easy, I mean drinking only a lot, and not a whole fucking lot. We went on a search for Mentos and Diet Coke to see if that shit really explodes like I’ve seen on YouTube when you mix it, but alas, there were no mint Mentos to be found. I didn’t want to be made the fool for lack of the proper ingredients. The next morning, we headed out with Naru to see more of Tokyo. We checked out some cool record shops that had entire separate floors dedicated to thrash, death, and heavy metal. We visited another temple (just a little time to be really touristy or my mother would probably kill me) and then the grandest thing of all ever… a six floor toy store.
This was my temple. My shrine. My God. Granted, I don’t really buy toys per se anymore, but I still love to look. Food for the eyes. I finally found Transformers in a NEW toy store. I also found out that one too many robots and Ultraman monsters can actually put me into some kind of anaphylactic shock. Life size gremlins (those are still around?) and an entire case of about fifty zombie heads didn’t help, either. The poor sods I was with didn’t stand a chance. I had to check this shit out for a long time while Johan did adult things like buy designer jeans. What a jerk, making me feel like jerk.
We had met up with some of Naru’s friends (and now ours too) and we headed to get food. It was this retro place, made to look like Japan sometime in the forties. I kind of felt like I should celebrate the successful attack on Pearl Harbor while I was in there. Old music was piped in and vintage black and white televisions showed old episodes of Astro Boy. We sat on the floor and ate some crazy fucking shit. The menu was extremely old school, not a western item to be found. So, at this venue I found that in addition to animal products such as milk and egg, my version of the vegetarian diet allows for me to eat some six legged creepy crawlies. Mmmmm… fresh cricket stewed just for you! It was actually pretty good.
I couldn’t make myself eat the scorpion, however… that was too far plus they looked like my little scorpion, Fuck Frankie, back home.
Johan and Tomas found their limit, as well, when they had to spit out the whole sparrows they tried to eat. You have to understand, these things came with spine and skull intact: the whole nine yards. The looks on their faces were priceless as they both came close to vomiting. Raul, however, was a champ and seemed to like it. Raul outdid the Swede who days previous had snorted his own vomit. Good job, Raul!
After gorging ourselves, we headed to take part in another Japanese tradition: karaoke! Watch out if you ever step into a karaoke bar with me. I’m a ham and will continue to sing even when my voice gives out and I can’t sing for shit. It’s done a bit different in Japan, however. They provide separate party rooms with karaoke machines. I prefer the bar, as I think an essential part of karaoke should be making an ass out of oneself in front of strangers. I do this oft. It started slow, but the booze flowed and so did people’s sense of shame. I guess the private room was kind of good because it did allow for my amazing air guitar solo on top of the table and for Johan’s and my interpretive dance performance to Raul’s rendition of “Caught in a Mosh.” At the end of the night, there was the most amazing recipe ever: two Swede hessians, two American long hairs, four Japanese metallers, everyone dancing on chairs, and Abba’s “Dancing Queen” being sung at the top of our lungs.
Alas, the debauchery was over… kind of. We managed to pick up some beers and continue drinking to the wee hours of the morning back at Naru’s place. It was a bit sad to go to sleep, because Raul and I would have to leave early the next day. All things good and bad have their end, however, and this too had to pass. Or something philosophical like that. Whatever, I should probably sleep on this damn plane at some point. Going back to real life will be better if I’m bright-eyed and bushy tailed before it crushes me into a somber and cynical mess of a man again. A thirty-one year old man, now. Le grande sigh.