Monday, October 31, 2005

Blue, White, and some Shades of Grey

I keep having this vision in my head. A vision of snow, mountains and darkness. I am travelling on a bus. A white bus with blue stripes. A Chinese bus, where the doors have to be opened by hand. There is no heating and it is freezing The smoke from the breaths of my fellow passengers cloud my vision. But, I am not in China. The men on the bus, there are mostly men, suggest that I am in Eastern Turkey, Iran, or somewhere in Central Asia. Leather jackets and empty eyes staring through the window. Sunflower seeds and cigarette buts litter the isle. I don`t know where I am going and it is cold. Unbelievably cold. The snow keeps falling outside my window. We pass through towns. Grey concrete and filthy cars. Russian and old japanese cars. Nobody speaks English. Men fiddling with their prayer beads. We stop on the outskirts of dead-end towns. Everyone is carrying bundles of something and boxes. Traders? I want to be on that bus, but why? Where am I? Why do I want to be on decrepit bus driving through the snow?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I'm Your Mint Daddy

A new wave of addiction is spreding through Tokyo like a wildfire. Particularly widespread among workers in the service sector, this plague is threatening to reach disastrous proportions, unless something is done soon. Yet, governments continue to turn a blind eye. The addictive substance remains legal, widely available, and highly affordable. Meanwhile, I see more and more people around me who are plunged into a life of addiction, an inability to consume water, and ever-present fresh breath. Yes, I am talking about mints. Small, round, white tablets sold in plastic boxes at the negligeable price of a couple of hundred yen.

All around my office I see people shaking their plastic boxes to get their fix. Sometimes an addict will run out of pills, in which case he or she needs to go look for the mint daddy. As this is still a rather new phenomenon, there do not seem to be a regular mint daddy. Instead, the addicts seem to take turns to act as mint daddys. The mint daddy is always ready to provide the addict with a quick fix, but will at a later stage ask for the favour to be returned, with interest. Thus, those who ghave approached the mint-daddy, will henceforth live in constant fear of the mint daddy coming to get his payment. At present, the affordability of mints is limiting the problems caused by the mint-daddys. Only the truly desperate ever need to approach a mint-daddy.

The producers of mint are pushing their products in every convenience store in Tokyo, and their are many. The initial culprit is Frisk, a Belgian cartell, whose somewhat upmarket mints are the cocaine of the mint-world. The flavors are subtle and discreetly named - eucalyptus, peppermint, spearmint etc. Following the immediate success of Frisk, local manufacturers were not slow to catch on. Decidedly more plebeian Mintia offers a cruder fix for the less discerning. At half the price of Frisk, Mintia offers a more imaginative range of mints - Wild & Cool, Berry Mint, and - the crack heroin of mints - Dry Hard. The users of Dry Hard have sunken the furthest into mint-hell. You can recognize the unfortunate by their artificially fresh breath and a complete inability to drink water (due to the strength of Dry Hard, users are unable to drink water as it hurts their throats too much).

Having seen mint addiction up close, I hereby urge the government to take immdiate action, in order to curb mint addiction. I propose immediate criminalization and that all mints currently on sale be confiscated. Furthermore, thousands upon thousands of mint addicts will need assistance in order to return to a normal life. I recommend that each city assist in the creation of local MUA chapters (Mint Users Anonymous). Only through these measures, can we remove mints from the streets and save our young.

And, as a Mint Daddy, I look forward to rising prices and the prospect of using mints to lure people into becoming addicted to more lucrative substances.

Criminalize Now!

J. Mint
Tokyo Mint Daddy Association

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


There is a big hole. It isn't always there. But, when it is there, it is big, gaping, empty....and inside me. It appears when I listen to songs that were big on P3 (swedish radio). Kim Wilde makes it bigger. In the crisp autumn air I imagine that we are walking to the supermarket. The football stadium in October. Jumping up and down with Okinawa on my mind. The hole grows and grows. Do I have to throw half my record collection out the window? This is so fucking stupid.

You know who you are.

Tomorrow I won't need you.

Earthquakes 2 and 3

Well, it was only a question of time. In a café among the trees earthquake no 2 struck. My Tiger beer rattled. Conversations were left hanging in mid-air for half a minute. No biggie at all really. Sort of half-way through any earthquake you realize that the roof isn't going to collapse and stop contemplating weather to get out or not. Conversations resume where they left off.
Today, while I was working earthquake no 3 rattled my world. It got of to a slow start, but increased in power and Hiroko looked at me and said that maybe we should get under the table. But, the halfway mark came and went and everything was in its place. And, importantly nothing had fallen on my head. So, we resumed our conversation, which had been left hanging. Kaori said that if there is an earthquake we should go to the bathroom. It took me a while to figure that one out.

On another note, I am starting to feel very much like I'm living the first song on Pinkerton (Weezer).

Friday, October 07, 2005

Oggie and the Dragon

Yesterday a most pleasant surprise rocked up in Tokyo. My very long time ago colleague and Beijing buddy, Oggie, came to Tokyo. We hooked up in Shinjuku with Junko and her colleague. After some standard Izakaya stuff, Junko suggested Absinth. And why not? Why not Absinth on a thursday night in Tokyo? We let her lead us to a basement near the citizen registery (convenient if you need to change your status to disabled after going blind from drinking A). Che Guevara loomed large over the entrance. The place was shoddy to say the least, it felt like China - sanitation wise. The bar, and yes this was only a bar, had only a counter and six bar stools. Russian cartoons were pojected on a screen, Che hung around on a flag behinde the bar, a dildo in formaldehyde (?) was perched on top of a jug of 60% fire water. Behind the bar stood Dragon, slightly round and bald propietor of this bar, wearing - yes, you got it - a Che t-shirt. Dragon poured some absinth in tall shot glasses. Oggie looked suspicious: It is supposed to be green, and why is there ice? I thought they held a spoon with sugar over the glass and lit fire to it. Dragon said he had the green stuff too, but that this was better, and I have to agree that it was a rather pleasent drink. That it fucks with your head is an added bonus. Oggie finished his fancy absinth and asked for the green stuff. And I want you to lit it on fire, no fucking ice. Dragon smiled and embarrassed smile: I don't do fire, it is a house-rule. Oggie looked at him quizzically. Why? Dragon looked like a child who has been caught red-handed stealing from the cookie-jar: Eh....My last bar burned down, so...ahem...I don't do fire.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

This Is My Truth, Now Tell Me Yours

Not everything I write is necessarily true, or at least not always immediately true. I am not about to make a break with the fictional and the imaginary, or with embellishments and interpretative truth. I just thought I should let you guys know that not everything is true, although that might depend on your definition of truth. You are all free to choose what you want to believe is true. If you have a need to know according to a standard definition of truth, then just ask me directly and I'll try not to lie (Don't want to make any promises).

Fading Out

On saturday it was hot. I sweated. I ate noodles and sweated some more. She wore black. She sipped red wine in a comfortable chair. Her lips were purple. She smiled as she turned and walked away on the platform.

Today it turned cold. Black or white. I choose black, but black fades to gray. I can't see gray. The clouds are gray, the buildings are gray. all around me just gray. She fades to gray and I can't see her. A note in my hand says 'don't try to find me'. So, that's it? A crumpled note in my hand. Everything is gray. I guess that this is the end.

Tomorrow I'll look for real colours.