Sunday, August 19

Culture vs. Consumerism

Just in case you didn't know, it's summer here in Tokyo. It has been crazy hot. Last week we reached a new record high temp for Japan; 40.9 degrees Celsius. That is a ridiculous 105.62 degrees Fahrenheit. Not surprisingly, some people died and some went into the hospital. Read all about it HERE. But don't worry my faithful readers, I have been able to survive the heat. I have also managed to live through a couple more small earthquakes. Yeah for me!

Last post I started with a night shot of Shinjuku from my apt. I got a couple requests for some daytime shots. This shot just below is the matching shot to my last post, only this time it's a bright sunny day.

My place has a 270 degree view. It is pretty nice, if I do say so myself. If you look a little more to the left, I can see the limited towers of Ikebukuro.

And if we turn slightly more we get the view of the suburbs of Hoya/Nishi Tokyo. Nishi means in west. We live to the west of central Tokyo. But if you take the train for 30 mins, so start to get to the deeper suburbs. And now you know what it looks like from the 11th floor of my apt. Yippee.

Thanks to all of you how threw your 2 cents in about the "This or That" sneaker question. I could only find the orange Air Max Lights. Which I do like, but I wanted to see the brown 90's in person before deciding. So....I went with option "The Other Thing": Rainbow 6 Vegas. Which may or may not have been part of the reason for the lack of a post last week.

All this shopping and gaming made me feel like a bad person. So I have been trying to get some culture as well. Let's see if I can balance my consumerism with some cultural experience.

Cultural Experience #1.

A couple weeks back I had a chance to go to a Japanese Tea Ceremony. Otherwise known as Sado: "the way of tea". I had no idea what to expect. I thought we would watch some people perform it, learn a bit, and I figure it would be a lot of sitting "seiza style". This is when you sit with your on your knees with your feet tucked under yourself. I was right and wrong. We did have to sit seiza style, but we were also expected to try doing it as well.

The key is moving your hand as fast as you can. As you can see from the pic, she could do it really well. But when she put the cup in front of me, with the green tea powder, and a little water; I couldn't move my hand fast enough to make the tea good.

After my second try, she tasted my attempt and declared it "green juice" not green tea. She didn't really smile about it either. I almost told her her Rolex didn't really match her kimono, but I held my tongue. In addition to my failed and insulted tea, my legs were dying. Seiza style is so hard, like torture. My legs did not recover until a couple of hours. It was a good experience, for sure. I LOVE CULTURE!

Consumerism #1.

So, I have been having a lot of bag related problems on the weekend. During the week, I need to carry a book, magazine, ipod, etc. I got that bag situation covered. But on the weekend, I only want to carry my wallet, sunglasses, and maybe a bottle of water. I wanted something small, but not tiny. Last weekend I finally found what I had been looking for.

For bags I lean away from sports brands; Nike, New Balance, and so on. It would give me too much of a headache trying not to cross brands. Also, camouflage works pretty well so I don't have to be too concerned about color matching.

I used it today, and it worked well. Although one of my friends said it was pretty gay looking. I never got a chance to ask him if it was the dots or the shape. He is a backpack only kinda dude, I won't let one tiny comment scare me away from what looks like a promising relationship.

Cultural Experience #2.

I have an interest in graffiti and how it connects to underground culture and culture in general. I really don't know nearly enough to be able to comment on it intelligently. But I do try to go to exhibits when I can. This show of Barry Mcgee was pretty good. Sadly, I couldn't take any pics inside. Rules! He is also know as Twist, click HERE for some shots of his stuff out in the open. He has been around forever, so he uses a real mix of styles and materials. What I really love is his graphic textures. Here is one shot that I found floating around on the interwebs.

I couldn't figure out where I had see these kinds of patterns before. They had some really warm feelings attached to them. It took a while to come to me, but I realized where I had see them before. I found out they are based on back covers of old sheet music from the 30's and 40's. My Dad had some old music that had these types of patterns on them. It was nice to be able to connect something of today's subculture to my Dad's memory. I wonder where all that old music went to?

Consumerism #2.

If you know this logo, you just might be a brand whore. I am. My girl is.
Come join us. The brand is Goyard. They are an extremely exclusive (<--- read f*cking expensive) luggage maker. They also make wallets, see below.

My girl has been looking forward to owning one of these for years now. We were finally able to make it a reality. That is fun. It is also a nice way to balance out my large purchase of the Xbox last month. Compromise and balance is very important in both relationships and consumerism.

I didn't love the wallet right away. I thought the pattern was classic, but on the boring side. Now I have changed my mind. I like the quietness of it. All signs point to my next wallet coming from Goyard as well. I gotta start saving my pennies! If you have a chance, check them out, they are beautifully made pieces. But good luck finding a shop in your neighborhood. Less than 15 shops worldwide. Now that's what I call brand management. Taking forced exclusivity to a whole new level. They also do bespoke pieces and personalized monograms at your request. Developing.

I hope I found some balance in the ongoing struggle between my arty side and my side that wants to buy everything. Let's get to some music.


#1. M.I.A.'s album finally dropped. I have yet to pick it up. I have been content grabbing stuff of the web. Case in point: this her track "Jimmy"

I swear I heard the original before. I think my CitySis turned me onto some bhangra remixes of this track ages ago. Who knows? Also came across this adorable and heartbreaking snippet of Diplo and M.I.A. in happier times. (They used to be together and now they ain't.)

That shit almost makes me cry every time. I have no idea why. Maybe it's the amazing song. The happiness on their faces. The bittersweetness of it. Here is the track in it's entirety. (Not the proper video, just audio.)

#2. Since we are on a ethnic tip. I found some shit that brought me back to my high school days. I got this awesome mix tape got from some kid in my school. We aways swapped rap tapes and this one day he gave me this tape full of Spanish hip-hop. At the time I played the hell out of it, and then kinda forgot about it. I had now idea it was so good. It was way before I understood what was happening culturally in the music. Click HERE to read all about it. But if you want to hear it click HERE and HERE. A 2 for 1 special. Just call me K-mart. [via Negrophonic]

#3. Not too much to say about this one. It is just a great mix by the South Rakkas recorded live at Fabric. What more needs to be said, really? Lot's of different styles, all of them good. Riddims galore! This shit should make you smile all the way. Love the amazing re-working of a Lily Allen track at 7 minutes. They tear it to shreds and build something fierce. [via Mad Decent]

#4. Nothing to say about this one either. Or, actually, a challenge. See if you can listen to this song without your mood improving. It is one of the most joyful songs I have ever heard. Click HERE to get happy. [via The Fader]

Off to kill me some terrorists.


Sunday, August 5

Congrats all around!

This is the view from my apt once again. On clear nights, the Shinjuku skyline is really nice. The Empire State look-a-like in the center is the Docomo Tower. If and when we move from this apt, I will miss the view, that's for sure. But wait! This is a happy post, let's get to the happiness!

That's right folks. Man in Tokyo is 1 year old! My first post was on August 2nd, 2006. Congrats to me! I made it one year without stopping. I started this thing with a lot of encouragement from my City Sis. So of course...a big shout out to her! To all the kind people that spend some of their time to read this, thank you. Still not exactly sure what the point of this thing is, but I hope to be able to stick 2 candles in something someday! While we are making announcements.

* Congrats to my Country Sis and her family! They welcomed a new daughter to their ever expanding family. I got a new niece on the 4th of August. Can't wait to meet her in Nov.

* An early HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my brother! August 7th is his big day. I won't be able to make it back to see you for this one. Good luck on your tour! If any of you readers are in Europe and you like hardcore. My brother will be going on tour with Bane. Click HERE if you want to have your head kicked in by some live hardcore loudness.

Ok...that's enough congrats to last me a long while. Let's get back down to business. Last week I informed you that I made a big non-sneaker purchase. Now is the time for the big reveal.

That's right people, I bought an Xbox 360. It was one of the more difficult choices in my life. I knew I needed to upgrade, but I was not sure which direction to go in. Other times in my life I had no doubt. My 5th system was the most difficult to decide on. I have been a game player all my life. I still have fond memories of buying my first Sega Master System.

For more picks click HERE. Back in the day, It was my first big purchase. I remember walking out of Kay-Bee Toys a very happy boy. I played the hell out of After Burner,

Alex Kidd,

and many more. (Outrun, Zillion, Double Dragon, Sonic, etc...) My brother and I played a lot. (Mind you, we were also active outdoors: BMX, basketball, wiffle-ball) And just in case you were wondering, I had both the gun and the 3D glasses. This was just my first entry into the video game world. I never got down with the Nintendo, besides Mario of course. Much later I got the Sony PlayStation 1 and 2. I loved them. They satisfied me very well. So, why did I jump ship you ask? Good question!

What you see above are 2 good reasons. I thought long and hard about which system to go with, Xbox or PS3. And as you see, I went with the new boy on the block. I have been dying to play Forza and Table Tennis. Both of these games are NOT available on the PS3. Gran Turismo (on the PlayStation) served me well, but I thought it was time to move on. I'm not sure what GT thought. (Not that I care.) So far, I am very pleased with my choice.

The Rockstar Table Tennis game is pretty amazing. I wouldn't say its JUST like playing ping pong in real life, but it's pretty damn close. Do you know what's even better than playing the one player tournaments at home? Playing against my new friends online. Although I lose more than I win, it is a complete blast.

As for Forza...

Here is my first tricked out car. It is first generation Lancia Delta. So far the game is making me happy. I am not quite used to it all yet...but I am having fun.

Lastly, and for no reason at in game shot of a vintage Porsche killing the competition.

I will keep you updated with the good times as they occur. Sadly, the purchase did put a large dent in my sneaker funds. It might be quite a while before I can pick up a new pair. But...that doesn't mean I have to stop thinking about them. Right now, these are my top two contenders.



I am leaning towards the brown ones. But I have yet to see them in the flesh. Let me know what you all think. I might just listen to your opinion! (Maybe)


#1. As I have said before, 50 Cent ain't my favorite rapper ever. That being said...I can get down to some of his tracks. I am still loving that remix from a couple weeks back. Here is his new track "I get money". might ask "When will this conspicuous consumption as art ever end?" Who knows? But, I think it's hilarious. Plus, does anyone else think it's strange he talks all about Ferrari Enzos and Jaguars in the video, but is surrounded by Lamborghinis? I will have to ask him if he knows the difference the next time I see him. And if you can't get down with the original, from Catchdubs comes a nice fix up of "I Get Money". It is somehow simpler and better. I can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe it's cause I don't have to watch that video. Maybe? [via Catchdubs]

#2. This next one sounds like the best video game you've never 140 BPM. Just picture Mario and Luigi getting their groove on. Watch out for the "Game Over" before everything goes into double speed! If I had any talent at all, I would be making a You Tube video for this right now. Sadly...I am only sharing it with you. It is a Switch remix of a Les Rythmes Digitales track "Jacques Your Body Make Me Sweat". [via Attorney St.]

#3. This track speaks to me. I am not sure why. Is it the slow heavy bass? The organ like twiddling? The old school hook from Gang Starr's track "Ex-Girl to the Next"? The smoothness of the MCs? Or is it all of the above? Click HERE to read a bit more about the track and listen to the track. [via The Fader]

#4. I don't have much info on this one. be honest, I don't really need any. Neither should you. It is a hot-ass remix of Lil' Mama track "Lip Gloss". I don't think it could get any more fun. [via Palms Out]

BONUS TRACK. Holy goose bumps Batman. This thing killed me. It is ridiculously good. A bit of a slow start, but once it starts getting its groove on, you won't want it to stop. You must listen to Bjork's Timbaland produced track "Innocence" as remixed by Simian Mobile Disco. The synths are to die for. The beat just never stops. And Bjork floating above it all in the minor key...fantastic. [via Discobelle]

That's all for this week. See you next week!