Monday, May 28

A Little Bit of Everything


I always love it when you can see rays of sunlight. It is like "seeing" the wind. We feel them all the time, but how often do we see them. It was a happy moment. Seeing this was happy too...but for very different reasons.


If we can ignore for a moment the offensiveness of the term, we can see how rightly named this car is. Plus...how can you hate on a car that WAS popular in the 60's. It has no illusions that it is still popular now, no no, it's heyday is over. But it has good memories, and you can't take those away. Ok, ok, enough chit chat...let's see what the rest of this thing looks like.


If you don't think that is an adorable face, there is something broken in you. That is a car looking to be loved. Sorry to get carried away. I will put my emotions on hold for a sec, please notice that the Midget II offers seating for 1 and 1/2. So either you can take your kid with you...or half your wife.


And the fun doesn't stop there. Oh no...it is actually a truck! You carry....ummm...a small TV? A bike...with the back tire hanging off the end? What else could you store there?

I guess you could tie a stool back there, so you can bring a friend. I condone this...I am just saying it's possible. I hope the smallness of this thing is coming through loud and clear. It be tiny y'all. The owner lives near me and I have seen him and his wife in this thing. Saying they looked squished is a large understatement. On the plus side, parking must be a breeze. For fun, let's look at a car on the other side of the spectrum.

Nothing like taking things to extremes. Why not spend a boat-load of money on a Bentley Arnage and then throw a couple more stacks at it to trick it out. Those 20-something inch wheels are probably worth more than the Midget II. Wait!!! You could fit ONE of them in the bed of the Midget! Now that is a proper use of that space! Speaking of good uses of space.

So, by now, most people have at least heard of Uniqlo: the retail giant that has some hipster cache. Since I came to Japan I have been purchasing their cheap and not un-stylish clothes. I stick to their t-shirts and shirts, not a huge fan of their pants or jeans. Well, they have decided their t-shirts needed more attention. Solution: open UT.


I went there on a Monday and I was able to grab this pic with no customers or staff messing up the consumer perfection. One of the best concepts ever: wall to wall white and t-shirts hanging displayed on a simple pole.


But this is where they take it to the next level; the t-shirts you buy are in plastic containers that are stored in coolers.

They have tons of corporate tie-ups and artist collaborations. This is were they flaunt their hipster rep. You really should check out their website or if you can, one of their shops. And by the way, the price can't be beat; ¥1500. ($12.50) There were a lot of t-shirts I liked, but nothing made me reach for my wallet. Partly because it is almost empty...and party cause I have been in a holding pattern as of late. I have been saving my pennies for these.



Damn...the Dutch know how to do it right. Would love to grab that bag as well...but chances are slim. The release date for Japan is not confirmed yet, but that there is a shoe that belongs in my closet. While I wait for these I have kept entertained by the all the music on the interweb. And over the last couple weeks the wide wide wide has been very good to me. I lost track of all the good mixes, videos, and individual songs I have enjoyed. It have been a musical bonanza! Here are just a few that I have come across.

Who wouldn't want to hear a Lupe track with a nice Thom sample. Also features Pharrel and Kanye. [source]

A ridiculous tranced out remix of the Wes Fif's crunk hit Haterz Everywhere by Sinden. I don't know how it works...but it oh mama does it ever! [source]

And here is a video, for those of you who are too lazy to click on links. Dizzee is doing his thing with his old hit I Luv U. Tell me...is it just me, or does it look strange to see Dizze rocking his shit to a festival crowd? His stuff belongs in some dirty, grimey, basement; with sweaty walls and ceiling. A mean bouncer and a some anxiety about your car, will it be there when you get out of the club or not, also come to mind when I hear his music. Is it only me? Whatever the case...enjoy the clip.


[source]

While I was messing around looking for more Dizzee I came across this: a drum & bass remix of Sirens. I have no idea why this user posted it with a DangerDoom album cover, cause I doubt they made this. Strange. Ignore the incongruities and enjoy the Dizzee drums.



And lastly, just to mix things up just a bit, here is The Streets for you; a remix with some other people I haven't heard of. Not knowing who they are does not make me enjoy the track any less. I am usually not a fan of rappers as story tellers; "I walked to the store on a Friday afternoon, saw my friend...." (Yes, I talking to you LL.) But, somehow Mike makes it work. He has that ironic, but optimistic song down pat.


[source]

That is all. Later

Monday, May 21

This or that?

I took this shot in a fancy building near Tokyo Station. The picture doesn't quite do it justice...but it is a nice and unusual interior. The lighting structure is designy but somehow doesn't overwhelm the place. While I was there I had a nice, if expensive, meal. (Sorry, no pics.) And most likely I will be going there again soon. If any of my friends or family ever came...I might just take their sorry asses here!

Moving on. Near my work there is a Nissan showroom. These days they are holding some exhibitions with the focus on vintage cars. Right now the focus is on the...

...Fairlady Z. Or as it is known in the US, the Datsun and then the Nissan 240Z. On the right, is the top of the line NISMO tuned 300Z for 2007. It was great to see them together. I have always had me some love for the 70's and early 80's Fairlady. It seemed like an underdog of a sports car...and plus it looked cool as hell. Then they were terrible for most of the 90's. I hated that car. But now, with the latest car...they really got it right.

The lines of heritage are perfectly clear. But not in a retro cheeseball way, a la the Beetle. It is a little retro, but in an update way. A way that reminds you of the vintage years but doesn't pretend to want to take you back there.

As simple and cleanly designed as the 240's back end is...it pales in comparison to the NISMO. That looks as serious as a heart attack. All those diffusers and spoilers and the dual exhaust and on and on. I like it. Click HERE for some more pics. Put them up for a vote and I would go with the modern 300Z every time.

And now for your moment of Zen.

Today I went to Inogashira Koen in Kichijoji. The reasons for traveling to this area, a bit to the west of Tokyo, will become obvious soon. But while I was there, I took advantage of the gorgeous day and ate some lunch in the park with my trusty can of beer.

This was my view as I ate my lunch and got my drink on. All those parents taking their kids out for a spin and all those young couples working so hard. I was not about to rent a boat all by myself...but...me and the little lady have in the past. We did it in spite of the long standing superstition that if a couple uses the swan boat, they will break-up. I'm not sure how much weight I would put in that claim...we are still going strong.

It really is a nice park. But forgive me one complaint; there is a complete lack of garbage cans. This is not cool. But it is a small thing. I won't let that stop my enjoyment of the park. It has lots of bridges and paths through the forest. I even came across a tiny shrine.

Make sure to notice that the little statues of different animals are wearing some red clothing. I see this from time to time...but have yet to hear why. I will not give up though, I'm on the case!

But, as nice as the park is, it was not the main purpose of my trip. This was.

You may not be familiar with this shop. And to be honest...neither was I. It was a serious over site on my part. I am ashamed of myself. Here I was thinking I had it all figured out. How silly of me. But hey...life goes on. So, last week I was doing research about sneaker spots in Tokyo and I came across 2 that I didn't know. SKIT was the one in Kichijoji. It was quite a find. Just off the main drag, in a nondescript building, is a medium sized room utterly jammed with shoes. I didn't have the courage to take any pics...plus I was kinda dumbfounded. None-the-less, I was able to grab some pics from their website to give you the feeling.


[source]

It is crazy. I could never step back far enough to get an overview. I kept stepping on shoes and knocking my head on the stuff above me. I found some great stuff. They carried deadstock and used stuff. Each shoe had a tag with it's details: condition, box (yes or no), size, year made, and price. I can't even remember all the stuff I saw and considered. To give you some idea, click HERE to see the shoes they put in stock ONLY today. Here are the two that came the closest.


[source]

These are some Air Max 90's from 2005. They were part of the Albis pack. They have become known as the Sertig 90's. I love them; the bright colors mixed with black, the laces, the speckled midsole, all of it. I was even preparing myself to overlook the leather toebox. Then, these caught my eye.

[source]

These are some Opium Air Max 180's from a few years back. The air is actually glow in the dark...which is pretty dope. But today was not my day...both were not in my size. If they were, I would have gone with the 180's. Those neon laces cannot be ignored. But is a close one. As for the store...I will be checking in on the regular. Sadly, the staff left a bit to be desired; not so friendly.

The other store I found out about...I went to on Sunday. I had totally forgotten about it. I went there by chance about 3 years ago. It is very similar to SKIT...but a bit nicer. It is PX-Station. They had some nice stuff too...but nothing I just HAD to have.

A word about these stores. While I am happy I found, or at least re-discovered them, they are not exactly my cup of tea. If I were a hardcore collector or wanted to buy and sell shoes on the web, I think I would be peeing in my pants. But, I basically love going to regular shoe stores. Knowing all the shoes are in perfect condition and there is a good chance they will have my size. Who knows, maybe I will learn to love these types of resellers...but I doubt it.

And that's all she(he) wrote, besides some music.

I heard this track on EVR a bunch of times. Today I came across the video. And BANG...2 million views!! So, yeah...I might be just behind the curve on this one. I still like the song. (And I'm gonna ignore the plethora of all-over-print hoodies up in this video.)

Lil Mama - Lip Gloss


And if I am waist deep into the shit that is pop music...I might as dive all the way in. Here is the other pop song that is getting stuck in my head. (And I am not all that angry about it.)

Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend


Wow...good luck choosing the winner in that match-up! I pick Lil Mama, just cause. Well, to be honest, it might be because I just don't like Canadians. (joke)

All right everyone, on that note...have a nice week. Make sure to let me know if you agree with all my choices. To refresh your memory: 240z vs. NISMO 300z /Air Max 90 vs. Opium 180 / Lil Mama vs. Avril.

Later

PS. To clean out your ears after that pop crap, make sure to listen to the new Sinden Kiss show. (via Mad Decent)

Monday, May 14

Doing Things Differently

I still love the signage here in Japan. I have been here for a couple of years, and I still want to whip out my phone to grab pictures. This one was taken from a train platform around my way. Speaking of signs...how does this one grab you?

Came across this while I was out on the morning run. I'm still undecided if it is a case of Japlish: "white" instead of "wild". Or there is the competing theory that it is just a joke. Whatever it is...it was a nice excuse to stop running and take a short break to snap a pic. As interesting as it may or may not be, it's nowhere near the most common sign that is to be seen. These are:


This 7-11 opened up nearby a couple weeks ago. This combini makes it 3 I pass on my four minute walk home from the station. Regardless...I was happy the 7-11 opened cause they are my favorite. They truly re-define convenience. I don't think I can tell you all the different things that you can do and buy in a combini: buy prepared foods, send packages or golf bags or skis, pay bills or CODs, buy beer, buy magazines or comic books, buy concert tickets, use the ATM, buy stamps, use the restroom, and on and on. 7-11 is actually starting their own e-money scheme. They are truly taking over the world. Click HERE for a great article. Just another example of how things are done differently in the land of the rising sun. Want one more?

First off, I'm not sure I saw too many chrome trucks when I was in the US. That's cool. If you look close enough...you must be able to see me in the reflection somewhere. But all of that is beside my main point. The larger question is this: why is this truck popping a wheelie?


To unload it's steamroller of course. In Japan...the truck lifts you! Why make a complicated lift system for the trailer when you can just slam a couple of jacks onto the front end. I was happy to catch one of them in action, cause without pics, it would be a bitch to explain. And a lot less shiny!

No interesting segue comes to mind so let's go straight into some sneaker math.

[source]

Take an Air Max 90. A shoe I am clearly a big fan of. Add it to this.

[source]

Adding the Air MAx 90 to the quarter of the Nike Humara Air. A shoe I had a long time ago, and miss dearly. I like this colorway a lot and if it crossed my path for a decent price...I would have to snap it up. For this math problem, pay special attention to the stripe-like green and grey things.

[source]

Put those together with the sole from Nike's Talaria Boot. It being an interesting shoe in it's own right. A shoe that gets almost no love on all the sneaker sites. Anyways...put them all together. Throw some hot colors and a speckled midsole at them. And what do you get?

[source]
They are only samples at the moment.But they are pretty hot samples. They are part of Nike's hybrid strategy. Nike puts different parts of shoes together to create something new. Some are successful, others...hmmm not so much. This I would say is pretty damn good. Who knows if they will be made. But, if I was a betting man, I would say yes.

One last sneaker tidbit. After all of those lace changes of last week, I have just one this week.


I rocked these today and I was pretty happy. But sadly my killer outfit went to waste cause I was mostly a home-body today. Oh well. I'll be able wear the same thing again in a couple weeks!

And before I leave you for another week, some music.

A dope track from M.I.A. [source]

A slammin track with a nice electro "dooo-uuuu" by The Cool Kids. [source]

Hold Tight

Monday, May 7

Golden Week Report


Vacation time in Japan means only one thing: Shinkansen! That's "bullet train" to all of you not in the know. Off to Kyoto again...but this time for a funeral. My girl's uncle passed away. We didn't know him that well...but he seemed like a decent guy. It was my first straight up Japanese funeral. I had been to a wake before. And compared to the ones I have been to in the US...man, was it different. (And long!) A two day affair. The wake the first day and then the for real ceremony the next day. It might have been a language issue...but I think they were pretty much same.


They did have really nice flowers, in an abundant Asian kinda way. (I snagged this picture when no one else was around.) After the last rights were said...in a Buddhist chant...the staff came in and cut all the flowers off. They put all the flowers in baskets and then all the family & guests filled the coffin with the flowers. It was a beautiful thing. Very sad, yes...but beautiful. I didn't get a picture of that, for obvious reasons. (And yes...I know it might be a bit tasteless to even post this picture, but I seem to be ok with it. But just barely.)


Then we hightailed it back to Kyoto Station. It was not a peak travel day, but it was still pretty crowded. As you can see, the transit cops like to keep above the riff-raff. More power to 'em. Keep those trains safe! The trip back to Tokyo was smooth and trouble free as always. Back in vacation mode there was more relaxing and eating good food to be had. As for relaxing...


I knocked off these two books over the vacation. Absolute Friends by John le Carré was ok. Not nearly as worthless as I thought it would be. It made me think a little. Shocking! I think I am a bit confused about him. I think I should read more of his book...because he did not give me what I expected. I expected all guns and spying and 007 style action. Not so, at all. Mr le Carré had other plans. What I got instead, I did like. The story was a realistic chronical of a mid-level spy in Europe during the Cold War and up the present so-called War on Terror. A friendship begins and remains over the years and through the different political changes. Not a bad read.

The Final Solution by Michael Chabon is a book I started and put down more times than I can remember. It seams there was a rather big hump around chapter 2.
Once I got over that...it was a quick mover. A good little book. I say "little" cause it clocks in at 131 pages. But what it lacks in length it makes up for in style. Written as an homage to the Sherlock Holmes style mysteries. It is almost too well written for me to enjoy. But I did...as much as I could. If you see it while you are out and about, I do recommend it.

While we are talking about books, here are some other books I have polished off in the last couple months.


I love buying crap fiction in Japan. They give you book covers so no has to know what utter nonsense you are entertaining youself with on the train. It's brilliant. This cover was pretty girly...but I didn't hate on it. It did it's job well to cover up this:


This monster of a book was pure popcorn poppycock at it's best. The Swarm that Frank Schätzing is talking about in his title is an intelligence living in the world oceans that gets pretty pissed at humans for f-ing up the environment. It is very well researched with tons of facts and descriptions of scientific and environmental issues. You can find it in the Science-fiction section but it is definitely heavier on the science. It could be one reason that it is 900+ pages. Long in the tooth? Yes. Boring? No. Worth you time and energy? Yes.


And last we come to Philip Roth's book The Plot Against America. The most serious literary fiction I've read in many moons. And serious ain't even adequate in the least. You should read this historical "what if?" now. It is pretty amazing. It had me mesmerized from the first chapter. But, get ready for one heavy and tension filled story. That is all I will say about that one, don't want to spoil anything for anyone.

So besides doing a spot of reading...I did some eating. Sadly I didn't snap pics of all the goodness I ate. Sometimes I can't be bothered. Sometimes the food is just screaming to be eaten post haste. And I submit to my cravings without taking any pics. But in one case...I was able to control myself. And it happend to be the one thing I was demanding to eat over the break was yakiniku.


And I got my way. The galbi was this restaurant's specialty. It was damn tasty: all tender and juicy and succulent. This, and all the other meat made for a great dinner. A bit too expensive...but wonderfully delicious. But it was not all sunshine and roses over the final days of my vacation.


This was taken around 2pm on Sat from my apartment porch. It was not pleasant out in the least. And what, you may ask was I doing to keep myself entertained at home? Watching movies? No. Reading? A little. Writing a book? No, not yet. Playing with my shoes? You betcha.


If you remember, these were my latest purchase in their original form. I had been considering what other laces would look good in them. The options are wide open...seeing as it such a clean and simple colorway. And once I started experimenting...I kinda got carried away. See for yourself:







So people...which color are you feeling? Let me know what you think. I have some other ideas, but I need to make a run to the shoe store to get the colors I have in mind. This might be an ongoing project. Sorry.

And lastly, a musical hit. This one is for those of you who like the dance floor fillers on the electro tip. The video will also be enjoyable for fans of dope t-shirts.


[via Electric Zoo]