Fri Apr 21 2000 (ctd)
I didn't make it to any Japanese punk rock shows this time around, but I did poke around a little at Japanese music.
I spent some time at the Okayama Tower Records. I went looking for ska. According to Tower's filing scheme, all ska is hardcore. Even the Ska Flames, who had a pretty laid-back Jamaican early-ska sound. I got some CDs from the hardcore section. Should I make recommendations? Do you think you can stop me? I mean, it's not like I'm some super-knowledgable j-pop fan, but I can't help but gush over some of these bands.
There were a bunch of other bands on the compilations, but nothing that really leapt up and grabbed me. That doesn't mean that they weren't good. I liked the No End Why song on the "Japanese Homegrown Vol. 4" compilation, but it sounded a lot like the Gadjits. Mega Stink Men reminded me a lot of Rancid, except that I couldn't understand what they were saying. The same goes for Duck Missile. The one Stack Inside song I heard, it sounded like the dot product of the collective output of Jump Up records. They were fine bands, doing good things, but I don't know that I'd seek out more of their stuff. It would be like going to the non-Japanese pop section of the Okayama Tower Records. It might be familiar and there might be good things there, but you'd wonder why you came all that way just for the same stuff.
The hotel room had a shower. I showered. I shampooed. I did all this while standing up in a shower, not while sitting on a low plastic stool by a low faucet while worrying about someone walking in. It was very nice indeed.
Sat Apr 22 2000
The Shinkansen back to Tokyo was full. I was glad I'd reserved my ticket. I read further in Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, where I learned that Jerome's Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) contained a scene in the Hampton Court hedge maze--the British hedge maze I'd ripped off when making a Doom WAD. I had a heck of a time navigating the Tokyo train station with my suitcases, and made some mistakes, but no-one was injured and no lawsuits ensued. I didn't have trouble getting a ticket on the next NRT express, though it was crowded. In line for plane tickets, I watched some other gaijin being obnoxious. They were up at the counter, trying to wheedle ticket upgrades by means of sheer chutzpah making me embarrassed for gaijin everywhere.
On the plane, the seat beside mine was empty, and I extended long legs and read all the way, except when I was watching "Anna and the King," idly wondering how Yul Brenner would have fared as an actor in Hong Kong gangster movies. Unlike the last time I went through customs, this time my list of imports was done by category, not by individual item. Last time, the inspector had looked at my huge list and just charged me a percentage of the total. Later on, I'd learned that books were free. This time, I paid no customs, all thanks to better-organized accounting. A quick jitney ride to the CalTrain station. On the CalTrain, many high-school children were riding into relatively exciting San Francisco. More of them were making out than I would have expected, but then I was never young. I rode the Metro streetcar. I carried my bags up the hill from the streetcar stop to my apartment.
It only took a few days to get caught up on Mexican food and Zachary's pizza.
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