The Next Step: part seven - of pine trees and octopus

Thursday, April 27. 2006
Goodbyes were said this morning over leftover takoyaki. I felt like my pack was lighter than before, even when there was no less inside. I guess Im getting used to hauling it around. A week ago it was enough just carrying it down to the station is Itabashi. Now I got it down.

I had to leave at the same time as Tomoko, so I took the local train into town and rode the loop line around while I waited to hear from dial81. Nothing came I kept waiting and going around. It got close to twelve and if I waited any longer I was never going to get anywhere and end up wasting a perfectly good day. As much as I would have like to go back to Tomoko I had to keep going. There is a time limit, I had to break away. So I went to the bus terminal at Umeda and bought a ticket for Takamatsu. The train didnt look like a viable option to get to Shikoku, so the bus was on. It was also a year since the accident, so it seemed somehow right to leave the trains for a day.

I gave up on dial. See you around next time, I guess.

As I was throwing my bag on the bus I hear a voice from behind. Some rangy looking Japanese dude is talking to me. Turn out hes on his way from Thailand, where his post working holiday travel ended. So we talked all the way to Takamatsu, where he pointed me in the direction of the local shopping area. We said goodbye and he kept going to Marugame.

Takamatsu is a place I previously knew nothing about. Its the biggest city in Kagawa, which is the smallest prefecture. Famous for the local noodle cuisine, as a port it gets trumped by both Osaka and Kobe over the inland sea and both by Tokushima and Kochi which are closer to the Pacific. Still, the port is put to good use by ferrying tourists to the nearby islands and the local economy seems as healthy as it could be. The area around the station and port is clean and open and studded with two overshadowing towers a hotel and the Takamatsu Symbol Tower. The former is a hotel. The latter is probably unnecessary but has a free observation deck at the top. Always a plus in my book.

I dumped my things and went a-searching. The first stop was Tamamo park where the remains of Takamatsu Castle are preserved, except instead of formaldehyde they seem to have used pine trees. The effect is much me pleasant on the nose. Not much is left of the castle these days, all but a few of the towers and a house in the middle. The gardens are immaculate and the extensive moat, which is connected to the inland sea that the castle faces on the front side, is also well maintained. The five story castle in the centre is gone, now there is a modest temple in its place. I wandered around and was mostly alone. The front of the castle no longer really fronts the sea, because someone built a road and a pier in between the wall and the water.

I left the park and went over to the Symbol Tower. I went up to the 30th floor and took in the view. The city was as far as the horizon, while the sea disappeared into the mist and the islands slowly faded.

I took a last look at the city and then went for a walk on the pier. Theres a red lighthouse at the end and a stood out there watching the sun set over the inland sea. I felt free, awake, and finally out on my own. This was the first new place, the first time I had found my own accommodation. I stood out there and breathed in deep, the clean air of the not-so-big city the intoxicating scent of boundlessness.

The sun sank below the sea and I walked back into town. Kagawa is famous for udon noodles, so I had decided that I would make it my dinner a long while back. Unfortunately, the not-so-big city happens to not be so convenient and most places were already shut. I walked for about ten minutes and found a place that was still open. It wasnt a home-down family run genuine place, it looked like a chain store. But it was the only thing open and short of going the Mac Attack, it was it. And it was good.

I retired to my room, took a bath and retired for the night.


***


Sentimental Theatre presents:
How To Make Takoyaki


You need the mix, thats first. Add water and an egg, mix it up and thats the basic. Of course you need octopus, you cut it into one centimetre pieces.
Then theres beni-shoga and konyaku, negi and tenkasu.

But first, you need the machine. Its round and has semi-circular holes. You grease it up with veggie oil and let it warm up, then in goes the mix.

Its better with two of you. Then one puts in the octopus, the other the shoga and konyaku. Throw the negi and let it cook a while, Now comes the tricky part.

Grab an oversized toothpick and once its nice and golden brown on the bottom, spike it and spin it around. Theres an art to it, you gotta stick it the right way and use your wrist and get it nice and round. Its all in the shape, you gotta get it nice and round. This takes some practice, because by this point the tenkasu is making it swell out of the hole and you dont want to miss anything. So getting it all in the half cooked half, spinning it and getting it nice and round, could be just what you need.

Now youre almost ready. Stab them and pull them out, go crazy with the sauce and mayo. Got to get that mayo, and then katsuobushi to watch it dance. Then you go, eat and repeat.

When you run out of octopus but still have batter, improvise. Chikuwa, mochi, cheese, its all good. Eat till you cant move, its the best fun you can have cooking.

The smell stays for days afterwards, but you cant do anything about that.

But like I said, the most important thing and the best part? Someone to do it all with.

Thank you, Tomoko, anytime Ill do it again.

Thats how you make takoyaki, Osaka style, thats how two Saitama kiddies make it in Kansai. And thats how you make a true friend.

The Next Step: part six - crashing around

Wednesday, April 26. 2006
The window in the kitchen was open all night, so when the wind came up in the morning the door to the room I was sleeping in started rattling. About the same time the alarm went off in the room next door, so I was up bright and early and helped get breakfast ready. I was really beginning not to just realise that there existed a six oclock am but was beginning to become damn good friends with it, too.

We cooked breakfast, she showed me where the key was and after she left I had a kip on the floor. Some things you cant really change. What was I to do with my day? I knew I had a few things I needed to do, like find an internet caf to upload the last post (so we can now presume this to measure to be true and never mention it again) and things I wanted to do, like lose all my money playing Smart-Ball downtown. I was also trying to get hold of the owner of the now-defunct dial81.com but that turned out to be a big ball of hot air. Im still waiting to hear from him. So if anyone call tell me where the fuck he is, go and kick him in the balls.

So I left about eleven or so and took the train to Tennoji. I left the station and walked through the pitiful excuse for a park and went right for the bellybutton. The bellybutton of Osaka, the big old guy. I like to think of it more as the hard-on of Osaka. I guess that city is really an outie. Its not so much that giant rusty pointy thing that attracts me, but the little slice of history around it. The neighbourhood is called Shinsekai, or New World to non-speakers, and was built directly after World War 2 as part of the citys recovery. It was going to be a outpost of the future, the bright future that surely lay waiting for the destroyed country to find. In a way they were right. Its just that now, Shinsekai hasnt hardly changed at all and the first generation pachinko parlours are now old and run down while their infinitely advanced cousins now rule this land. Many of the buildings have survived the razings that befell most of their compatriots in the ensuing decades and stand here in 2006 as decrepit and filled with much the same kinds of endeavours. So its here you will find the greatest of all the small foods Japan has to offer kushikatsu. Imagine a skewer with meat on it covered in batter and deep fried. An unstoppable combination of yakitori and tonkatsu (again, non-speakers need not apply) and the best is right here. To find where its at I simply enquired.

Intrepid foreigner: Excuse me, is this the best kushikatsu in town?
Guy out the front number one: Of course!
Intrepid foreigner: Ok, thanks.

Intrepid foreigner goes to the next store.

Intrepid: Excuse me, that guy over there said his was the best. Is that true?
Guy out the front number two: No, of course my store is the best.
Intrepid: Right, cool. Thanks.

Attention of the locals is rapidly shifting toward the foreigner as hoe goes the shop number three.

Foreigner everyone in the street is now looking at: Miss, is yours the best? Those guys said theirs was
Girl out the front of store number one: Oh no, this is the best in town.
Foreigner everyone is now staring at: Really? I cant tell who to believe

The first store is revisited and now there is shouting between the kushikatsu pimps and pimpettes. This goes on and the foreigner eventually goes into store number four. A pall falls across the street for about five seconds and all falls silent. Then things get back to normal.

I ate myself stupid and then indeed, lost the rest of my cash playing Smart-Ball.

I went back to Tomokos house after looking around Nanba and Shinsaibashi for a while. I bought a postcard for my mum and sent it. I got back about six, which is when Tomoko said would be the earliest she might be home. Since I had the key, I figured I better be around just in case. In the end she wasnt home untill about eight thirty, but dont it show how much I care?

Ill tell you about the takoyaki later.



April 25 2006
I want them to remember that they are not carrying mere passengers. They are carrying lives.
Words of a survivor who lost both her mother and aunt.
One year ago today, the worst train accident in Japanese history took over a hundred lives in a single crushing blow. I wrote about it at the time. A year is not a long time for such wounds. I stayed off the rails as much as I could and took a bus. What has JR changed? Not so much, it seems. I bet the trains go around that corner slower these days, but dont it just say so much that not even this has shaken the company any further than that.
I truly wish that I had died with them. This is my honest truth.

May you find your way to where it is you are going, may it never have to happen again, and may the people who need to learn this lesson at last figure it out.

-KC

The Next Step: part five - back to O-Town

Monday, April 24. 2006
Lets rehash things. The last update was made under duress, mostly of my own procrastination coming back to bite me in the arse (just as it always does - the only thing missing from this picture is me actually learning from my mistakes) so here, for the record is a detailed rundown of what just happened.

I might add some of the regular bullshit in the middle. This will form the template for the rest of the travel diary (watch me follow that one) so lets see what I can do.

APRIL 20: Ikebukuro Shibuya Shin-Kambara. Total cost: 280 yen. Travel time: about three hours.

Stayed at the Banchos place. His wife was away, therefore my presence was tolerated. We drank beer and played video games.

APRIL 21: Shin-Kambara Nagoya Odaka. Total cost: 700 yen. Travel time: three and a half hours.

Stayed at the Miyata house. Rakushiji, a Buddhist temple. They feed me and drive me to the station. I am eternally thankful for their hospitality.

Bullshit. Its an emotional mess every time you go there. You like them and they happen to be really nice to you but you regret the way you met them right down to your bones. You hate that such a connection led to your fortune.
Who the fuck are you?
Im the voice that you try to block out. Yeah, Im a tell these people how it really is on your little holiday.
Holiday my arse, its a goddamn journey. And rack off, Im telling this story.
Ill be back.

Anyway. Yes, its known that the way I got to know this family isnt something Im so happy about, but some trees need a bushfire to grow. The beginnings of something never have to dictate how the course of something will go, like the river that starts as a trickle and finishes a mile wide at the sea. Their oldest son, Yuki, gets along well enough with me but I imagine he could get along well with everyone. He is a monk, after all, and must have patience eternal. Good thing, really. That evening we went and had dinner with Mika, went shopping for a cushion, some really normal stuff. We also played pool (or billiards, as the natives call it) and I lost.

I get about four hours sleep, in between talking to the rest of the family and being woken up by crack of dawn prayers. Temple, remember.

You got no sleep cause you couldnt stop thinking about her, and what happened, and why she is the way she is, and how theres just no-one else out there quite like that. You get all fucked up because she just doesnt give you anything back. Face it, she is to you a damaged black hole who knows how to deal with you.

I didnt sleep so much. The next day I took it easy in the morning. Its been a while since I watched TV. Did you know Kiyohara got dumped from the Giants and plays for Orix Blue Wave these days? And Shinjo retired? Went to karaoke that afternoon. Went to a revolving Chinese restaurant for dinner. Ill leave it up to you to decide exactly what that means.

Went home only to go straight out again, wasted money on a train ride home really. After running around a little bit, the three of us went to a caf and had a hot drink together. Its kind of funny, how the conversation never turns that way, but it felt like it wanted to and didnt want to and I still cant help but feel like I wished it was me in the other seat. Mistake or not? Its a small miracle that we even know each other, another one again that she is still around in any form at all, and a pretty large one that we can even get along on any level. Still, I doubt whether we should hang out every again. I do every time.

And you go back every time, too.

I left the next morning, this morning. On the train at about ten thirty.

APRIL 23: Odaka Kumeda. Total cost: 660 yen. Total time: about five hours.

From Odaka you get on the rapid at Kanayama, ride through to Ogaki to get the connection to Maibara. From Maibara is another hour to Osaka, from there its the loop line to Tennoji and the Hanwa line for twenty minutes to Kumeda and my friend from University days, Tomoko. I had sent word out of my journey and she invited me to stay. Having graduated in Saitama she moved to Osaka a year ago, where she teaches some of the worst behaved junior high school students in the land. I met some of them. She had about seven of them over, apparently to watch DVDs about dancing. It was later told to me that this happened in the hope of giving them a hobby and maybe keeping them out of trouble later in life. The local area has a bad reputation and problem students are, well, a problem. Students smoking in the school hallways. Greeting teachers in the morning with a sunny fuck off and a gob in their direction. Driving weaker teachers to tears and new, safer, employment opportunities. Tomoko teaches art, but such lessons are rather difficult because a room full of students who will knife up a desk as soon as they get any kind of cutting implement, who will graffiti anything nearby with any kind of paint, who would fling clay at the teachers as quick as you can turn around not the easiest place to work.

So maybe get them into dancing, start something good. A trickle at the top of a mountain, all that. She told them I was coming and they decided to make food for us all. You had to admire the gusto that they took to the task with, if their skills werent exactly up to it they made up for it with enthusiasm. And it didnt taste bad at all, you just had to ignore the method they employed. Spoons for tasting? Never. The floor? Just a brief stop before the saucepan. You get the picture. Alphabet pasta and meat sauce, basic salad and homemade cake.

For all the noise they made here, apparently its worse at school. The fight is being taken to the establishment and I hope good wins I just dont know which side that is. Good luck Japan, educate those kids. Somehow.

We watched I Heart Huckabees after the kids went home. Tomoko fell asleep. I was moved.

The Next Step: part four - moving out, moving on

Friday, April 21. 2006
So this is it. This is the end, this is where one book is closed and another opens up.

I didnt think there would be so many boxes.

All day, packing, walking down to the post office, walk back, walk to the bank, fix up my finances, walk home, walk back to the post office, ask some questions, walk home, walk to another post office I guess giving my bike away this morning wasnt the best move. But everything must go, one way or another. It makes me genuinely sad that most of it is going away in rubbish bags. What was all if it, then? I know that I am an accumulator, that I am very good at gathering things and keeping them. Thats the kind of thing that is left, all the detritus that makes mine a very non-Zen existence. All this fluff, but if you take it out, theres not much left to stuff those empty corners with

The Russian visa situation is not good. The travel agency I had to go through were very unhelpful and untimely, so I will be setting off tomorrow morning sans-Russian tourist visa. I guess I will have to hook it up in Beijing (not as bad as it sounds, and will free up more, uh, freedom in the meantime) but I loathe that I had all this time and still didnt make it happen. Thats just Irresponsible. Lazy of me. But it did get me thinking, this last month I have done quite enough to satisfy my need to justify how I used my time.

To make a list of it, well, that would be cold. But wrapping it up in some slovenly prose is hardly an improvement. That is my style, however, so we'll need to give me a little room here. Personally, I have touched base and laid it down with almost all the important people in my life, all the acquaintances I have gathered. Most of them, because not everything works out the way you want it, and there were a few select individuals whom no matter how much I would like to see, wont really understand what Im doing (or more likely, what I did). But in percentage terms, Id be looking at a decent ol resigning bonus if I were a sports player of some kind. Professionally, I wrapped up my job and didnt burn any bridges. Not even singed. I gained a lot of experience, and a handful of friends who I would be lucky if they were around for a lot longer. They know who they are, I hear you. Too cool to lose contact with, one said to me. Right back at you.

At this point, Kerouac Cat was dragged away to play four player Mario Kart for approximately three hours. He did indeed bring the blue sparks, and upon returning to his room realised he had to get his shit together. The computer was the first thing to get stowed. Boxing of items was finished, a few hours of sleep were taken and the next morning several trips to the post office were followed by returning his keys to the landlord.

We now find our hero a day later at the Banchos house


Ok then. Spent last night drinking and playing video games. I got messed around at the post office when I tried to send my suitcase and had to leave it behind. My bags are heavy as fuck, heavier than anticipated, but I will get there. I might have to lighten the load.

I had some good thoughts going before I cut this off. But I lost it, and now I am on the move. Ill be in Nagoya by nightfall. I am now ready to do this, because the Bancho cut my hair, I am set.

This is on battery power at the moment. Time to leave it here.

Fear

Monday, April 17. 2006
You start a web site with your best friend. A year or two go by, the site goes up and down. You put a ton of time into it.

Then, your friend invites a guy who you don't even know to write for the site. And he writes miles better than you. All of a sudden, you can't seem to find time to write.

I'm going to just say it: The Bancho fucked everything up for me. I find the blank fields of the admin pages intimidating. They wait to be filled with crap I don't have the heart to fill them with. Every time I want to write I basically have two choices: Compete, with my crap, which would come off a desperate and useless, or just throw in the towel. I'm too scared to check when exactly it was I wrote anything. So many days and months, so many towels.

Today is my birthday.

You can express it in fractions of a century, or how far I am from whatever milestone in my past or future, but I'm still twenty-five.

I want to know, is everything going to change after this?

The Next Step: part three - getting scared

Friday, April 14. 2006
Its three thirty in the morning and Ive been lying in the dark reading other peoples stories about travelling the Trans-Siberian. I dont mind telling you that I want to be happy and fun and confident that this is all going to work out right, that it will all be good But I dont feel like Superman, I feel so scared that I might just die. I feel horrible, like throwing away my easy life of convenience here in Tokyo would be the stupidest thing I could ever do. Like taking off, for all my cheer and bravado, will be the most retarded thing I could manage. Why throw it all away?

Jesus, I feel so good about it when I chat the shit to my friends, when I blast away on e, when I think about Dostoyevsky (yes, really, the bastard didnt scare me off) and I guess that illicit disco biscuits dont help a paranoid person But fuck, I will be on my way in week and over my head is not where I should be already. I got a fever to tell and I dont know if I want to leave.

All alone, no-one here tells me it will be alright. I guess the best I can do is not go in blind. I guess the best thing I can do is not worry and just sleep. I hope the worst that will happen is sitting here typing this.

Heres the core of this apple. Japan has made me soft. Im not a hard-boiled guy to start with, I wrestle with emotions most people barely glance at. Japan is so easy for me now, with no language barrier there is nowhere easier to be on this planet (says me who has seen next to none of it) and I always tend to the path of least resistance. Set up a challenge and knock it down, what a way, what a way Getting crushed is nothing I want, regardless of the overall lesson it will be paying for.

Too late to turn back now, I just ask for a little strength to get momentum worked up just enough to leave the first stop. Just a little, just a little and maybe just a hint to get me through the night.

PUNK SPRING: PART TWO

Wednesday, April 12. 2006
Looks like that is another Punk Point to me!

MxPx were treated like a toilet break. Due fluids were released and others captured as I fought the urge to show my wiener to the girls who had been brave enough to say Fuck It to the line for the ladies and go use the cubicles in the blokes. They were ballsy enough to be saved that fate, so I washed my head down, filled a bottle and left. The end of MxPx was reasonably unremarkable and left me thinking of Nissan commercials. And why I wasnt wearing a wetsuit. I went fully sick (officially) as they played their only memorable song. You know, the one about the Responsible Chick Magnet who goes to a Punk Rawk Show with some Broken Bones? That one.

We sat down, with further liquid nourishment, while The Academy Is did their thing. We actually sat down.

Eyeing off the jarheads and local stoners gathering for the attendant storm called 311, the Bancho was getting psyched for some more substance abuse. I liked the shit, this 311 business, but I said it before the secondary vocalist looks too much like a chipmunk, and he always takes the lead when the band kick it hard. Its like being egged into a fight by a fieldmouse. The jarheads beat up the stoners and the stoners didnt seem to care. I was mellowed and I was rocked. 311, nice work. Is Nebraska such a mellow place? I never knew. Mellow, baby. As they thrashed into the second half of Down, I pogoed off to the other stage to get in good place for Ellegarden. This was the highlight of the day for most of the crowd, it turns out. Should have know, given that the number of Ellegarden shirts outnumbered The Academy Is shirts by about a zillion to none.

Find me behind the light tower! See ya! And Ellegarden hit it, the entire place went up. And went off. The crush was legendary, the kind of thing that happens at big shows and underage gigs back home. These guys are talented, polished just enough and popular. The sound was set just right for these guys and I must have been the only one who didnt know all the words. Best crowd of the day. I was a punk rock wafer by the end.

The crowd evacuated, somewhere, and I took a place on the front barrier. I sat and rested my legs, got the cramps out and sat through Zebrahead doing their business over on the other stage. I heard a lot of bravado and oversexed Americans. But I saw a lot of happy punters, too, so their showmanship is at least up there.

This left me right at the front line for Panic! At The Disco. Their album had been one of my favourites of last year and I quite rightly was looking forward to seeing of they could pull it off on stage. Young men, and the record for all its literary reference and balls-out rocking, sounds polished, vocoded and pro-tooled to all but the most virgin ears. So could they do it all onstage without a producer fixing their shit? Did they have a stage presence worthy of such a large arena? Could they stand up and make it happen?!? I was in a state, plus the rest of the crowd seemed to be mostly teenage girls who knew all the words. I did too, so we all sang along as they came out immaculately dressed and played the album from front to back, perfectly. A feeling of urgency and lividness made its way into the live sound, but otherwise and doubts about their ability was driven away. They have it, and once they write a few more songs to get the set longer than 40 minutes, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

I had a rockin good time, then I bounced off to find the Bancho. He was looking forlorn behind the light tower, but I quickly dragged him to his feet and off to worship at the altar of Greg ect. with all the other survivors. By this time the clock had clicked past nine, and we had been there since about midday. This was the promised ending, the pot at the end of the rainbow. What were we to find inside the Bad Religion brand silverware?

A bunch of old men playing punk rock hymns, it turns out. Hymns to the servitude of man, to the conditions we put up with over a scale that goes from macro to micro and back again. Be it country to soldier, father to son, the songs zoom in on conflicts, directed anger and deflected grief. The potential for hero worship is too high, we all have sat back and listened to these guys do their thing for longer than most of the crowd had been alive. That kind of longevity is rare enough in any genre but over here it is unheard of.

Looking at the crowd it aint hard to see why. That kind of combustion combined with the inherent self destructiveness doesnt lend it self to long term anything. Yet here we were, still finding it in ourselves to go in circles for a bunch of balding dudes who are well old enough to be our dads. The passion is genuine, it has to be at that point, and the songs ring true. It hasnt descended into self-parody or a pale shadow (the newest album was as crushing as anything they have put their name to in years past) and the repertoire is strong enough that their most watershed of albums (The Gray Race) didnt even get a run.

At forty minutes (plus the days only encore) we didnt see Bad Religion kick too far past second gear for old dudes, they regularly play sets over two hours but to be brutal, we were only half heartedly calling for that encore. You could feel the energy level needle dip below the proverbial E and the beds of a thousand punk kiddies calling. We were bruised and I personally had taken one too many metal studs to the head. After Sorrow faded from the PA and the house lights went up, I reflect upon the scene ever so briefly before joining the exodus.

We had Mexican, then went home.

PUNK SPRING: PART ONE

Tuesday, April 11. 2006
I claim a bonus Punk Point by beating the Bancho to posting my Punk Spring article! Take that.

Im going to leave the more poetic rundown of the days events and the final scorecard to my esteemed colleague, as well as the transcription of the notes we took on the day instead I thought Id write about moshpits.

Moshpits. Yeah, you over there, I saw it. You learned how to crowdsurf because you saw it in a Nirvana video on MTV. The rest of you, do you really have to express yourselves by slamdancing? What the hell, are you all sheep? Sheep! Sheep! Hurl your skinny body like a bowling pin with that reckless abandon around, pogo like a retarded yoyo and then face ultimate humiliation as you careen headlong into me. Then find out why they call it SLAMdancing as I pummel your sorry behind three shades of purple and send you hurtling at speeds close to that of the riff the man onstage is playing to incite the whole scene. Find yourself crashing into another equally skinny dude, passing on two of the three shades of bruising like Newton balls transfer energy and recover slightly, just enough to stay on your feet. Remain standing just long enough to find yourself the victim of the poor dude I just grabbed and threw at you.

Repeat.

Wonder why those two white guys keep chanting Aussie Aussie Aussie! at the band, and equally wonder why people keep replying with a cry of Oi Oi Oi!. Wonder just long enough to find one of them hurl himself, this time like a punk rock bowling ball, directly at you, then in eight other directions, clearing a circle of space just big enough to drag his friend in and commence some serious head thrashing.

Repeat until the only two songs of the set you made it in time to see are finished. Feel dazed and wonder where they just went. Feel dazed all day, then go home.

We might not have seen all the Living End set, but we hit the pit with a healthy abandon only substance abuse and a double bass can fuel. Why were these guys opening? The mind boggles.

With less foreign interference, the next band had a much more malleable crowd. The dudes onstage all had identical semi-jumpsuits on and the same wraparound sunglasses. The keyboard player appeared to be a robot, albeit one programmed to play a recorder at the right moment. The singer looked to be having a fit, in amongst some of the stranger sounds of the day were coming out. Fast, repetitive, almost bleepy, almost electronic, this was anything goes. Headlong, no rules, the punk spirit was truly alive in these ones. A trend that continued later, the Japanese kids all went hardest for their local bands and the energy in that pit could have torn a hole in the roof. It was pretty amazing, but like I said, these kids are so small.

But pointy, too, so for every one I fended off, two more elbows jabbed me, forcing me to take revenge and hope I didnt hit one of the numerous female participants. Best performance of the day went to Polysics and you all need to check their gear out, its something else.

Sugarcult can go fuck themselves, because its beer oclock again. We took stock of the surrounds and hoped they would be the biggest posers of the day. Hustling into a good position for the growing crowd in front of the other stage, it was soon time for the masked Beat Crusaders to come on down.

Seeing them all decked out in their masks was good enough for me. I admire their spirit but the flow wasnt right with my, the pace a bit slow. It was not exactly a punk-rock paced set, but massive points for the crowd. The tunes are worthy but as much as the kids love you, this is still PUNK spring!

The Bancho was located near the back with attendant beer. It was discussed and agreed that father moshing would be put on hold until said beer was consumed and more located. A look around the venue was also in order. The line for the merch stand was fucking unbelievable, so these punk rock kings would be going without their new t-shirts. That line is a piss take, those kids will be there all day, just waiting for the prive ledge of spending their parents money on an Ellegarden t-shirt. Life is funny sometimes.

From The Heart Of The Matter

Monday, April 10. 2006
This is the church
You are my priest.
This is our sacrament,
This is our ceremony.
Now is the time
We shed all our fear and hate
Embrace the freedom and hope,
We hold the truth now.

For this is my confession.


Forgive me father, for I have sinned
It has been five months since my last confession
Now hear this.

Ive never seen you so happy!
Gonna miss you mate.
Youre the best!

Do you take this man to be your best fucking friend, through health and wealth, happiness, fucking great times and fun, till the end do you part?

Do you take this man, in sickness and in pain, paralysis and whatever ills you might have, in everything till death do you part?

I do, mate, I do.

You may now go fucking crazy!!!

The Next Step: part two - Mr. Cat Goes To China

Wednesday, April 5. 2006
Its raining today. One of the guys I live with got back from a visa run to France today. I ran into him after I came back from the return leg to the Chinese embassy. You know, the one where I find out if my fraudulent application was good enough for the Reds or not.

Apparently it was.



So now I need to find out how one gets from Taiwan to the mainland. I understand there is some animosity between the two constituents. Nonetheless, there will be a way but I foresee a lot more effort and sense that I will be adding Hong Kong to my list of destinations.

The J will hopefully, lovingly look into this. Cheers buddy.

Next on the list of visa-terrorism is Russia. Can I say terrorism on the internet yet? Still not so good? Ok, so I think I should cover with a communism joke. Ill get back to you on that front, for now I am going to sit here and dwell on the things my mate Rocky told me about his time in the Dragon. A dollar twenty? Get out. Thats a quarter of the first step to that kind of shenanigans where I come from.

Maybe Ill Photoshop some more of the Bad Religion photos.

Oops, I said too much already.

Look Out

Monday, April 3. 2006

Let Them Eat Punk

Saturday, April 1. 2006
Well, thats over. What a marathon effort. Even if you take out the hour on the train each way, it was a good solid nine hours of Punk. Mostly.

We took notes as things went on in a battered little notebook. For now, the Bancho has already retired his battered and bruised body to the sleep-man and I have to dress some war wounds before I retire.

It was fuckin ace, man.