Is it just me or are there any others who think the Christmas season in America (Japan too) has become an orgy of crass commercialism? Of course, that is a rhetorical question. I think most people do.
Christmas is no longer is it the heart-warming family get-together tradition of days long gone by. Christmas today has turned into a mad dash towards debt and poverty. It’s not only debt and poverty concerning money and lifestyle, it is a poverty of the soul. One need only look at the news about “Black Friday” and the violence to see what Christmas in America has become.
The only reason we celebrate Christmas at my house is that we have an 8-year-old. I could never be such a Grinch to deny a small boy Christmas.
Whatever happened to just getting together with family and friends and enjoying each others company? It’s sad what has happened to the “Season to be jolly.”
In that spirit though, I’d like to relate today about a great present I got when I was a kid… It is a present that I have received over and over these past 44 years. That was a wonderful present I received from a classmate of mine when I was a kid in Minnesota. His name was James Rudd and the present wasn’t in a box. It was on his face and in his heart. Every time I see a box brightly wrapped as a present, I see Jim Rudd’s face and that moment, the spirit of him, comes to visit me and I receive that wonderful gift yet again.
Even though I cannot transport my children into the past by use of a time machine, I want my children to know and experience the true joy of giving and receiving. Towards that end, I always try to relate to my kids the story of James Rudd.
When I was in forth grade, James Rudd, “Jim,” wasn’t really my good friend. He was a classmate. I am quite ashamed to admit that I think I wasn’t very friendly to Jim because he was sometimes bullied by the other kids so, in order to make sure that they didn’t bully me, I foolishly joined in in making fun of Jim. Jim was a down to earth dorky kind of kid that might remind you a lot of Opie Taylor from the Andy Griffith Show.
In those days, at Christmas time, the kids in the classroom all shared in Christmas festivities by buying one present. The catch was that you didn’t know who you were buying the present for! The rules were that each child could buy one gift of no more than two dollars. Each child would wrap the present and bring it to class and put it under the tree. When it came to the last day of school, before Christmas holiday, each child would draw a name out of a hat and receive the present from the person whose name they drew.
I was quite unhappy that I drew Jim Rudd’s name because he wasn’t “cool” and was kind of dorky (look who’s talking!) I think I was so unhappy about that drawing that it showed up on my face for everyone to see.
When I went to the tree to grab the present Jim prepared, Jim came to sit in front of me at my desk.
In those days, I was a World War II nut. I loved building plastic military models of planes, ships and tanks. Especially German tanks. I thought those were the coolest. Of course, in a class of 30 kids, with each kid buying one present to be selected at random by another child, there was no way to know what you were going to get.
To expect a King Tiger tank was probably setting myself up for a big letdown.
I got that letdown when I opened the present from Jim. It was a plastic model alright, but it was a plastic model of an old Spanish Galleon. I didn’t like it at all. I am once again sad to admit that my disappointment probably greatly showed on my face even though I tried to hide it.
But then, after opening the plastic model, was when Jim Rudd gave me the present that he has been giving me every year since then. It was the present that has warmed my heart all these years. It is the story I have told my children repeatedly and am now sharing with you.
With disappointment on my face and sadness in my heart, after opening the present I looked straight into Jim eyes and he looked into mine. With the utmost sincerity and enthusiasm brimming over Jim smiled brightly to me and said,
“Mike! I hope you like it!”
I could see from his eyes and his words that he meant it from the bottom of his soul. My heart melted and I thought,
“Gee! What a really sweet, nice guy!”
Mere words on a paper could never express the way I felt at that time. Here was this incredibly sincere boy giving me a present (that he picked himself and thought was really cool) and was hoping that I would like it as much as he did.
He gave me something that he wanted! Not only that, he gave me sincerity, enthusiasm and a warm spirit of friendliness and a feeling that I will never forget until my dying day: With just one smile and six words, he gave me the true spirit of Christmas.
Jim Rudd, you gave me something that I have always remembered and I will never forget it. I recall it every year at every birthday party andChristmas and every gift-giving celebration. I wish I could give such a wonderful gift to someone someday.
I will cherish this memory all my life. And now, Jim, you allow me to share it with others. James Rudd, wherever you are, thank you so much sincerely from the bottom of my heart…. and Merry Christmas!
Ron Paul’s real cousin didn’t win in Japan, but his “ideological cousin” did. What happened in Japan, and what is happening the world over bids well for Ron Paul and candidates who want to tear down the massive Leviathan of government and restore the constitution and get things back to the way they used to be and the way they were meant to be. Read on!
In Osaka, a minor party candidate defeated one that was supported by both the major parties in a mayoral election. Can you imagine that? Talk about David versus Goliath! Read that again: A minor candidate defeated one that was supported by both major parties!
The smell of revival and revolution is in the air! The updated election results are in and the winner received over 60% of the total votes, but here’s an article in English for you about it before the election results were posted.
Ex-Gov Hashimoto assured of Victory in Osaka Mayoral Election
OSAKA (Kyodo) — Former Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto is assured of victory in a contest Sunday for the mayoral post in Osaka, Japan’s second-largest business center, by defeating incumbent Kunio Hiramatsu, as Hashimoto won support for his proposal to establish an Osaka metropolis with an administrative structure similar to Tokyo’s, according to Kyodo News projections.
In a gubernatorial election held the same day to choose the successor to Hashimoto, 42, Ichiro Matsui, a 47-year-old former Osaka prefectural assembly member and Hashimoto’s close aide in a local party led by the former governor, is set to win by beating six rivals in the race.
With the two from the Osaka Restoration Association headed toward victory, the election results are expected to stir a national debate on the structure of regional governments in Japan and influence the strategies of major political parties in the next House of Representatives election.
Hiramatsu, 63, who ran for reelection as an independent, was backed by local chapters of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party. Osaka prefectural assembly members of the two parties also supported Kaoru Kurata, 63, former mayor of Ikeda in Osaka Prefecture, in the gubernatorial race.
In the double election, the first held in Osaka in 40 years, Hashimoto’s proposal to launch an Osaka metropolis by 2015 was highlighted as the most controversial issue.
The outspoken lawyer-turned-politician argued that his idea will eliminate overlapping administrative services by the prefectural and municipal governments and lead to the rehabilitation of the ailing local economy, with Matsui pushing the proposal in the gubernatorial election.
In contrast, Hiramatsu, a former TV anchorman, opposed the plan, saying administrative efficiency should be improved through the cooperation of each municipality.
Get that? One guy wanted to keep the old system and “improve” it. The other guy wanted to slash that system. The guy who wanted the big cuts in government spending, Hashimoto, won.
Mr. Hashimoto is the new breed of politician that has arisen in these last few years who is sick and tired of the business as usual, meet the new boss, same as the old boss, school of politics that we have been subjected to for all these years. He is young, passionate and he loves Osaka. He kind of reminds me of Chris Christy (before he went out and endorsed Romney!) He is considered a radical by the old school politicians and political parties as he is trying to actually trim down the size of government – not “reform” it by creating new branches and committees. Hashimoto, in spite of his flaws, is fighting corruption and old boy BS. So, far, many say he’s doing a great job.
In Japan, waste of taxpayer’s monies is astounding and gets worse with each new elected official. This has got to stop! (Japan’s total debt is 492% of GDP!) For example, in the area, there are separate water treatment plants in Osaka. One run by the city and another run by the ward (borough). Their services overlap and waste millions annually. Doesn’t make any sense that there can’t be just one. The examples of this sort of thing are too numerous to list up. Hashimoto is trying to cut this kind of ridiculous waste.
The guy he defeated in the race, Hiramatsu, is the epitome of what is wrong with politicians in Japan.
The other point about the majors supporting Hiramatsu and yet still losing losing isn’t precedent setting, It’s been happening recently in Japan as some people are getting fed up. Minor party candidates have been doing well recently. Independents are growing stronger.
So, Ron Paul didn’t win in Japan, but his Japanese Cousin did. This bodes well for Ron Paul and reformer politicians all over the world. If they can win in Japan’s staid political arena, they can win anywhere in the world!
Sometimes in posts on this blog, I want to warn people with small children about dangerous diseases and illnesses that can be prevented easily. But sometimes people will write thing like, “Who are you to make such claims?” Or like in yesterday’s post, a comment like this, “You seriously are comparing the worst nuclear disaster ever, to flu shots. (sic) You are a sick individual.”
I get lots of hate mail especially when I compare the risks of everyday occurrences with a media sensationalized story like Fukushima.
Challenges. Those are comments that I often get… Along with invective and personal insults. I try not to insult these people back. I like to think that the big electrode, God, Buddha, Zig Zag, what-have-you, in the sky put these people on the earth to teach me patience and how to be a better person.
Kindness to people works wonders!
My third daughter Wendy. Some say she is handicapped.
I say she is “just perfect!”
The most recent attacks I have received are because I have warned parents about serious problems, diseases and illnesses that can affect their children and I use Fukushima sensationalism as a comparison. People will grossly overreact to Fukushima, over a hundred miles away, but when serious causes of diseases (that get little media attention) are right under their noses, they are oblivious.
To pat myself on the back (once again) as a mass media professional for over thirty years, I know what kind of BS goes on with news reporting and sensationalism as I have seen it from the inside. And, with four kids, I hope I know a bit about raising children. In fact, because of 4 kids, and one of them defeating a rare, deadly childhood disease – yet remaining handicapped for the rest of her life – I know more than most parents would ever want to know about raising kids and diseases like childhood cancer.
Many times I have pointed out that we cannot believe what we hear on the TV news and even so-called alternative media. The sensationalism sells advertising. That’s the point and, in this day and age, it astounds me that most people today say they know that, but when it comes to something like Swine Flu or Fukushima, they seem to forget it. I am beginning to think that this selective response is due to some childhood phobias. Please refer to: Japan Nuclear Disaster Update & Strong Criticism of Western Media Sensationalism:
Actually, it astounds me that people do accept what what the media says as gospel truth. Don’t forget that this is the very same media that told us 3 years ago that Swine Flu was going to kill more than 50 million people worldwide. This was the same media that told us that the USA had to invade Iraq because of Saddam’s nooklar weapons. This was the same media that told us that SARS also was a killer virus that was going to wipe out entire populations. This was the same media that told us that Bird Flu was going to do the same.
As of today, worldwide deaths from Swine Flu: 82. No nuclear weapons for Saddam (if he had any, do you really think we would have invaded Iraq?). Worldwide deaths from SARS: 100. Worldwide deaths from Bird Flu: 80. Don’t even get me started on Man Made Global Warming!
Fact of the matter is that this is the same media who constantly exaggerates stories in order to sell advertising space to an extremely gullible public. When will people ever learn? If history is any example then the answer is: Never. They’ll never learn.
Just wait a year or three for the next killer disease and we can start all over again.
So, I write posts like the above pointing out problems with the media. Then I write articles alerting people to serious cancer and disease causing problems that, while not trendy, nor spectacularly newsworthy, are actually much more dangerous to our children than Fukushima will ever be. For one example of that, please refer to:
Benzene in Cars! This Will Kill More People Than Fukushima Will
Do not turn on A/C immediately as soon as you enter the car! Please open the windows after you enter your car and do not turn on the air-conditioning immediately.
According to research done, the car dashboard, sofa, air freshener emits Benzene, a cancer causing toxin (carcinogen – take note of the heated plastic smell in your car). In addition to causing cancer, it poisons your bones, causes anemia, and reduces white blood cells. Prolonged exposure will cause Leukemia, increasing the risk of cancer. may also cause miscarriage.
Acceptable Benzene levels indoors is 50 mg per sq. ft.. A car parked with windows closed will contain 400 – 800 mg of Benzene. If parked outdoors, under the sun, at temperature above 60 degrees F (15.5 C), the Benzene level goes up to 2000 – 4000 mg, 40 times the acceptable level… And the people inside the car will inevitably inhale an excess amount of the toxins.
It is recommended that you open the windows and doors to give time for the interior to air out before you enter. Benzene is a toxin that affects your kidney and liver, and it is very difficult for your body to expel this toxic stuff.
Or even my most recent post:
Massive Cover-up! Worse Than Fukushima? Japan (and the World Over) Danger Levels at More Than 250 X Safe Limit!
Here are the facts: 300 death claims from flu vaccine. And Flu vaccines and neurological problems (caused Guillian Barre Syndrome in over 500 people). These two links show over 800 deaths and nerve damage vaccine related illnesses from, you guessed it, flu shots in one year alone! So far deaths or illness from Fukushima: Zero.
Because of these posts, though, I will get attacked by people who ask me what right or authority I have to mention anything about diseases like this or children’s cancer. Perhaps I am confused, but here is where I think my authority lies. My authority lies in my dearest third daughter whom I love deeply and will spend the rest of my life caring for and trying to help other parents (and their children) to prevent a similar struggle.
So let me give my qualifications. First, my darling daughter, Wendy. One day, when she was age 1 1/2, she suddenly could not walk anymore. It was very strange. One day she was running around, the next day she couldn’t stand. Soon after, she was diagnosed with 4th stage of a rare form of children’s cancer called Rhabdomysarcoma. The doctors said it was incurable and her diagnosis was poor. She, like all children diagnosed with this horrible disease, was only expected to live for 2 ~ 6 months.
As some may know, 4th stage cancer is the worst and final stages. The doctors at Setagaya Children’s Hospital told me that she had virtually no chance. But I fought back. We fought back.
I fired those doctors and hired the #1 expert in Japan (and top doctor in the world for this type of cancer - Dr. Mugishima at Nichidai hospital in Itabashi Tokyo) to handle my daughter. I fired the first group of doctors because they said, “Virtually zero chance.” Dr. Mugishima gave us a 7% chance. Good enough. Better than zero. If your doctor doesn’t think you have a chance, then that’s not good. Fire them.
As part of the new doctor’s regime, my then wife had to move into the hospital with my daughter 24/7 and that left me at home with two small girls to care for by myself and to try to hold down a job too! In spite of that, I took care of those two girls, and visited my daughter and wife in the hospital everyday religiously for over two years.
The hospital cost me an impossible amount to pay. It was well over $10,000 a month every month for those 2 years (insurance doesn’t pay for private hospitals and choices) and yet I paid it out of my pocket with no loans (Heck, I was a foreigner in Japan, my wife was in the hospital with my daughter, I had no assets, who’s going to give me a loan? No one.) Yet, even with all this, I held down my job, paid for everything, cooked and cleaned and we came out victorious in a war with a deadly disease.
When my daughters cancer was declared in full remission she was released from the hospital with one big caveat: Because of the treatment, her immune system was so damaged that she was not allowed to live with other children for six years because she would be catching all sorts of illness (from her sisters who played with other children at school who caught colds all the time). And those illnesses might kill her.
After two years apart in the hospital and then another six years apart (at least) for the future, and me with a 11-year-old and a 9-year-old from a previous marriage, my wife and I decided it was best to get a divorce. In over 80% of all cases where a child in Japan gets cancer in Japan, the parents wind up in divorce. The pressure and stress are too great.
My daughter is now a high school student and looking forward to college. She is wheelchair bound for life but one of the happiest and most positive people you could ever hope to meet. I wish my other daughters were so happy!
Japan has a population of about 130 million people. Only about two or three children per year get this rare form of cancer. Nearly all of them do not survive. My daughter was only the second one in history of Japan, since it started cancer study with Germany and the USA in 1971, to do so.
These are my qualifications. I don’t think they are so bad.
UPDATE: People need to get their priorities straight. For example, did you know that: In the U.S., the odds of being killed by conventional medicine are almost 20 times (2,000%) greater than being killed in an automobile accident and almost 30 times (3,000%) greater than being killed by a gun. – From Confessions of a Drug Industry Insider.
*If any parents have such a challenge to deal with, please write to me and perhaps I can give some advice that may be helpful… I will try.
This is an open-letter to music and concert promoters in Japan. I’m writing this for me, but you can be sure that there’s lots of industry insiders who feel the same way I do (if they don’t, they were brought up under rocks and households that didn’t teach them any manners either, so forget ‘em.)
Promoters of Japan, it’s bullshit. It’s bullshit how you handle “Guests” to your shows. I used to go to concerts all the time. But I stopped in 2005 or so. It doesn’t seem that any promoters have the sense to think about why (or they don’t care… That’s fine too!)
This post will be hard to understand for most people. But try, OK? This isn’t completely and uniquely about the music business in Japan and concerts, per se, it’s mostly about manners and common sense.
I have been a music industry professional for over 30 years. I have always produced and created Alternative and underground music shows. When new artists come out, I always play them first. When new artists come out and need a break, I always play them first in Japan. It’s been this way since the mid-80′s.
When artists needed a break and needed airplay, I gave it to them. Sometimes, rarely, these artists struggle and “make it” most just fade away.
When these artists come to Japan, I always get invited. I always get put on the “Guest List.” I haven’t paid to go to see a “Rock” concert in 30 years. The last time I remember paying to see a concert was a Jazz performance.
I don’t play Jazz music generally on my shows, so it is understandable that Jazz promoters would not treat me special. I don’t “help” them.
It used to be that “Guest List” meant that you were a guest. Like in the word, “Guest” like G-U-E-S-T. That meant I could get into the concerts for free. I’d walk up to the door, say my name, and they’d let me in. I didn’t have to pay any money.
A few years ago, the venues and cheap-assed producers changed the rules. Now, when they ask me, or plead for me to go to a show, and tell me that I’m on the “Guest List” it costs me money.
Contradiction? Yeah. And that’s why it’s bullshit. And that’s why I don’t go to concerts anymore. Let me explain more.
Even though your name is put on the Guest List, in Japan, in the last 5 years or so, the claim is that the venue still charges for one drink. That one drink is usually ¥500 (about $6.00 USD). If you don’t pay this ¥500 at the door, they won’t let you in.
Get that? You are on the guest list, which means you get in free, but if you don’t pay the fricking ¥500, upfront at the door, you can’t get in. I don’t get it. How could having to pay ¥500 be free?
So much for being on the “Guest List.”
It didn’t used to be that way in Japan. I’ll bet the foreign artists don’t know this or they’ve been told, “It’s the way things are done in Japan.” Well, maybe it is, nowadays. But it didn’t used to be that way.
The first time I was “welcomed” to a concert this way was 4 or 5 years ago. I walked up to the venue and said I was on the Guest List. They checked and I was. I walked in. Soon the door attendants stopped me and said that I had to pay ¥500
I protested, “I’m on the Guest List!” They said that it didn’t matter. I still had to pay ¥500 for one drink. I insisted that I wouldn’t. I had never heard of such a thing. I insisted that I wouldn’t pay. They insisted that I had to or I wouldn’t be allowed entry. “Wow! I’m glad I’m on the Guest List! How warm and welcomed I feel.”
I was pissed off. Here’s an artist whose music I played heavily for a few years and these clowns invite me as a guest, yet they want me to pay to enter!? What’s wrong with this picture?
I turned around and walked out.
¥500 (about $6 USD) is a paltry sum for sure. But this isn’t about the money. It’s about the principle. (I usually wind up with a drinking tab of over $50 anyway when I go to a show) so this isn’t about the amount of money. ¥500? ¥5000? ¥50,000 it doesn’t matter; it’s the principle of the thing that matters. And that principle means means that “Guests” don’t pay.
I didn’t ask for any tickets to any shows. If I wanted them, I’d buy them. The promoters asked me to come, “as a guest” to a show. They asked me. I didn’t ask them! Then they want me to pay money at the door? With the bullshit excuse that “it’s the venue’s rules”? No thanks. (I promote shows too. I know the venue doesn’t decide this by themselves. It’s a part of negotiations over venue rental price).
Think about that for a moment.
How about if the shoe were on the other foot? Say, your artist comes to the radio station and is a guest on my show. Can I charge you all ¥500 to get in at the door? No? Why not?
Oh, but I know that “your artist” is important to you – much more than I am of course and that’s natural… As they make money for you… (OK. So let’s even the tables: I don’t play them anymore. You don’t make money from their airplay or from my help selling their albums or their concert tickets anymore, agreed?)
Or I start charging ¥500 at the door of the radio station to let you and your artist in… But! Aha! You can’t trick me! You’ll try to secretly pay for them at the door in order not to have the artist insulted (of course, who wouldn’t be insulted?) But I will make that against the rules. Your artist will have to pay in person, from their own pocket, or they won’t be allowed in. That’s fair.
So, this set-up, using the typical promoter’s rationale and lack of common sense, seems a good deal. No? Why not?
You sure are hard to please. How about this option, then: If I have to pay ¥500 to get in to your show that you asked me to attend, then let’s make it fair? How about I don’t go to any shows at all and I don’t play your label’s music as favors anymore… That’s fair. (And, actually, probably better for music in general and for everyone else.) Then, if I want to go see your artist, you sell me a ticket. If I want a drink, I’ll buy one.
For my radio show that you guys always ask for support, on air plugs for your artist’s shows, and for allowing your artist to be a guest on air (trust that there’s lots of artists and labels who ask to be guests and we politely say, “No!”) I can’t charge you a measly ¥500 each to get in? Why not?
It’s only ¥500 yen. No big deal, right?
At least, in the case of my radio show, I didn’t ask your artist to be a guest on my show (it’s a music show. Not an interview show. I don’t really want any artists on it at all actually). If and when I do ask your favor to have your artist be a guest on my show, you can bet that your artist will treated as a guest and not be charged anything for entry… In fact, I always buy guests drinks.
Funny that. I always treat guests as if they were special! My, what a quaint and out-dated, old-fashioned notion!
It seems doing favors for labels and promoters in Japan and being a “Guest” isn’t a two-way street.
So that’s why I don’t go to concerts anymore.
NOTE: This is not an attack on any artists. I like the music of all artists I play. This is a complete attack on promoters…. On top of pissing me off about this pay at the door bullshit, they give me pressure to show up at the shows or give me shit after the show when I don’t show up. Gee, it’s wonderful feeling wanted and cared for…. How about used and bow-legged?
PS: I also think it’s bullshit that the fans – the ticket-buyers, who buy tickets for entry, should have to be charged again when they arrive at the venue. People already pay exorbitant sums to go to concerts in Japan; sometimes paying $70 ~$80 (USD) or more for a show to see ONE artist and then the get hit for a ¥500 drink charge at the door? Nonsense!
No wonder the music business in Japan is doing so poorly. It’s run by idiots who don’t know how to treat people (as in people with money who they need to make a living) properly. If they thought about it for half-a-second they’d realize that people don’t like being treated like this. THAT’S why concert ticket sales are down!
All my life I’ve thought that having a diary was a good thing. I never started writing one because I was; a) way too lazy. And, b) Never really thought what was going on was worth writing about…
Actually, that last part is not exactly true… I thought it was interesting enough, it’s just that I was always too drunk/high or fatalistic and figured that I’d die before I finished the book about my life’s story… So why bother? I wouldn’t get the royalties for the movie rights anyway.
I reckon that makes sense in a twisted sort of way.
One guy, though, that seems to have been keeping a diary for all these years is my friend Andrew Joseph. He writes a blog called, “It’s a Wonderful Rife.” “Wonderful Rife” is all about his escapades as an English teacher in Japan in the early 1990′s. Sometimes he has some really steamy stories that are quite full of ribaldry and sex. One such story is a recent posting about a hot babe named Junko. I think Andrew is in that story too somewhere, but I can’t remember…
Read more about Junko and her other “friends” at
Well, as you can guess… I’ve never written a diary. That’s why, sometimes, I use this blog for one. Recently, Andrew’s postings have inspired me to tell a short story about what Tokyo was like when I first came to Japan in 1979… Then, in 1984, when I moved here for good.
Today, in 2011, Tokyo is full of foreigners. Foreigners are not unusual at all in today’s Japan (excepting way out in the countryside I hear). But it wasn’t that way not that long ago. It used to be that foreigners were like movie stars in Japan merely by the fact that they were foreigners. I know. I was here when that was the case.
I first came to Japan in December of 1979. I was a Southern California boy and a university student. The Socialists who were running the government in the California at the time had something they called, “Affirmative Action.” What that meant was that they thought they could use your tax money to even things out for others. If the population of your town was, say, 50% Hispanic, or some other minority, then they did some social engineering and required that all schools, government positions, and scholarships had to be divvied up amongst the Hispanics and whites 50/50.
At that time, I was a half-Japanese American guy at university. Having a Japanese mom and American dad put me in the classification as a “Pacific Islander” (nonsense, sure, but I didn’t make the laws). Most of the Japanese American kids I knew studied stuff like becoming a lawyer or doctor. I was studying television. I would find out later that, at my entire university, I was the only “Pacific Islander” studying television (those were the days way before Tricia Toyota and Connie Chung, and all these other beautiful Asian American women you see so often on TV nowadays).
Since I was the only “Pacific Islander” and I had very good grades, that set me up for a scholarship… Are you sitting down?… That was in 1979 and the government of California gave me over $7,800 to go to university! It wasn’t a loan. They just gave it to me!!! Can you believe it? I couldn’t either.
Of course, I didn’t waste that money on school or books or stuff like that! I wanted to use it to have fun! I found out how to go around the system (It’s the government after all! Of course they were all messed up!) and I got the check cashed and immediately went and spent a large part of it on taking a one month vacation to Japan.
I stayed at some friend’s house in Chiba but, most of the time, I stayed at my girlfriend’s house in Kawasaki. I didn’t have much of a clue as to what was going on the entire time I was in Japan because, even though I was half-Japanese, I was too stupid to bother learning any of the language before I got here. After all, the second language of the Japanese people is English right?… Wrong!
One day, my friend in Chiba decided to take me to a prostitution parlor… Er, I mean, a massage parlor, er, I mean a “health parlor” called, “Soapland.” He brought me inside and I sat in a waiting room. It soon became apparent to me what kind of establishment that place was and I got very frightened! I know! I know! I am a wimp, but I was only 19 at the time and had never, ever paid for sex and wasn’t about to then.
I’m not that kind of guy!
Yes. She could frighten me out of my pants!
Like an idiot, I ran out of the Soapland and into the “pink” area of town and was completely and totally lost. Like I said, I couldn’t speak any Japanese so I was walking around trying to get someone to help me find my way back to where ever it was I was going to….
In Japanese, the word “lost” can be said a few ways. There is “makeru” which means like, “I lost the game” and there is “mayou” which means like “I am lost and can’t find my way” (as well as a few others). I opened my Berlitz dictionary and looked up “lost.” There I choose the first definition which was “makeru.” Which means, “I lost (the game)”….
But, “Makeru” can also mean “discount” too! So here I was walking around the pink area of town and all these yakuza looking types were trying to get me to go into their parlors for some paid sex and I was looking for someone to help me get back to my friend’s place. I kept mistakenly saying, “Makeru!” (I’m lost!) and they took that to mean, “Give me a discount!” They all smiled and nodded and welcomed me into their places.
I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t understand that I needed help. They probably couldn’t understand why, when I asked for a discount, and they said, “Yes!” yet I kept walking on. Finally, after wandering around totally lost for over 2 hours, through a stroke of blind luck, I found a police box and the police helped me to find my way back.
I knew that I had better not take a chance and get lost like that ever again!
A few days later, my same friends took me to Shibuya to drop me off so my girlfriend could pick me up and take me to stay for the remainder of my trip at her home. What a relief that was! At least her English was pretty good.
I was taken to a very famous landmark in Shibuya. It is known by all Tokyoites and visitors to Tokyo as 109 department store. It still stands today as an extremely well-known landmark and meeting place. When I was taken there to meet my girlfriend, 109 had just finished construction and it was the pride of Shibuya.
My friend dropped me off and told me to stand in front of 109 department store, but I was early by an hour or so. Even with that, I was quite leery of going off and adventuring by myself because of the recent experience in Chiba so I thought I’d better stay put and wait for my girlfriend.
So that’s when it happened. And that’s the first amazing part of this story. I told you that there were no foreigners here at all. There weren’t. While I stood there waiting for my girlfriend, all sorts of people were walking by me and pointing and staring. Some people said, “Hi!” I said, “Hi!” back.
After about 10 minutes of waiting an extremely beautiful girl walked up to me and said in very good English, “Why don’t you come and have a coffee or tea with me?” I thought, “WTF? I didn’t know this girl. What was going on here?” Even though she was a babe, I declined because my girlfriend was a babe too and, after coffee, what was I going to do? Where would I stay?
I know what you are thinking: “Duh! This Rogers guy is a real moron!” And, yes, I would agree with you.
Well, I said, “Thanks, but no thanks” to the beautiful girl and just thought, “Wow! What an awesome babe!”
But it wasn’t just that girl. After her, three different extremely gorgeous women walked up to me and, in very good English, basically asked me the same thing! The last two really blew my mind. One said,
“Oh, I’m sorry. She’s not coming, you know. Why don’t you just come along with me?”
The last one was even more brash and said,
“She called me up and told me that she can’t make it, so she wanted me to take you to dinner.”
I thought, “You know my girlfriend? Are you sure? Wait a minute!”
Finally, not being the sharpest tool in the shed, it dawned on me what was going on. These girls were actually trying to pick up on me. I couldn’t believe it! In all the years I had lived in the USA not once did a girl ever ask me out for a date excepting Shanda Shinkaruk, my very first date which was a Sadie Hawkins “Backwards dance” when I was in ninth grade. Now, here I was in Japan, standing on the street corner and, all within an hour, four different girls… NO! Four different extremely awesome sexy Japanese girls who you’d die for were trying to pick me up!
It was like I’d died and gone to heaven!
“What a wonderful country Japan is!” I thought. “I want to live here!”
That was 1979. You may think I am totally stupid, but, my girlfriend, by the way, was a famous model at that time and was on the cover of magazines… That’s why I thought twice about dumping her for these hussy women… Today? Absolutely not! I wouldn’t think about it for 1/2 a second before I’d be massaging their toes and cooking dinner for them every night!
Anyway… Between 1979 and 1984, I came to Japan many times and, each time, I never wanted to return to the USA… Finally, in 1984 or so, I got fed up with the USA and my job and decided to move around the world. I wrote about that in Working With Thieves Liars and Crooks. But the first place I wanted to live was, of course, Japan.
In 1984 foreigners were still rare in Japan – and popular with the women, and that led to my first divorce as I was unable to control my hormones.
I still feel sorry for my ex-wife and kids about that. Forgive me. The How to Survive Women Blog has an excellent article about that entitled: Cheated on – Now What?
But I digress.
By 1984, when I moved to Japan, I had taken several courses in Japanese language at my university and was one of the top students in class (it didn’t hurt that there were many Japanese exchange student women living in the dorms with which I could, er, “exchange” lessons with.)
I landed a job with an English school in Shinjuku, then Iidabashi. Since I could speak some Japanese, I was the liaison between the Japanese staff (managers) and the few foreigners on roster.
Those, my friends, were the glory days of English teaching in Japan.
Yen to dollar rate from 1985 to 1989. From 1985 to 1989, the US dollar lost 1/2 its value against the Japanese yen. English teachers were being paid $50,000 a year – or more – working part time teaching English!
In those days, since I was in management, I know, there were English teachers at our company getting paid, I’d say, on average, ¥700,000 per month. Some were earning over ¥1,000,000 per month. ¥700,000 per month, in 1985, was “only” about $2,756 per month in USD. By 1989, that was about $5,512 per month… And that was for 20 hours a week of classroom time!
Think about that! English teachers were so rare in those days that they were earning, on average, more than $60,000 a year in 1989. People who couldn’t get a job mowing lawns back home were pulling down $60 thusand dollars a year teaching part time and sleeping with their students! Since I was a measly liaison, I was only making $80,000 a year to babysit those dumb foreigners (maybe not so dumb, eh?) I even knew a few guys who were making twice that amount.
Like I said, those were the Golden Days of English teaching in Japan. No matter how much I warned other foreigners around me, people played and spent like the gravy train would never end. So don’t tell me that teaching English in Japan is a crap job, I remember when it was an awesome job!
Like I said, English speaking people were a rarity and we were always short of them. My old boss, Mr. Hasegawa, and I would go to Shinjuku station and hang around looking for foreigners to teach classes for that evening. We were desperate! If the foreigner was walking and breathing, then they qualified for a teaching job.
We even hired white guys with the names of Ewvig and Euwie (from Austria and South Africa) and told them to say their names were Eric and Ernie, just to save, er, “confusion”… Oh, and don’t forget to say that you are from “Canada” or “Nevada”… That’s to “explain the accent.”
I remember a guy named Arya who, during class, wowed the students with some great phrases like, “Someone explain me this!” or “How to someone say that?” Seriously, he really did say things like that. I cringed…
But it didn’t matter…
Those were the days. Us foreigners were rare and oft sought after. We got paid gross amounts of money. Even if we were the dorkiest jerks in town, we got the hottest girls… And why? Not because of our training or education, but just because of our looks, even if they weren’t good. Just because we didn’t look Japanese. We had the place in the top of society just because of who our parents were and where we were born. Pure and simple and stupid blind luck.
Today, being a foreigner in Japan is no big deal… In fact, in many circles, it is now a detriment… It used to have style and pizzazz! Not anymore.
There is no real moral to this story excepting that I can say that Japan, up until the mid-nineteen nineties was pure men’s heaven… I thank god to have been able to have lived through that, in the right place, and at the right time.
Seriously, she was one of my students… Well, at least several girls who look exactly like her were.
NOTE: Later on, I’m going to have to write about when I was a teacher at a girl’s high school… Now THAT was a dangerous job. There were at least 9 awesome girls in my class. Or the time I was teaching another class and a girl that easily scored a 10+ wanted to talk to me after class and she started unbuckling my belt while we were discussing her score… Of course, I gave her a 100… Both jobs I quit immediately… Like I said, they were way too dangerous.
Playing with dolls is for little girls. Collecting ridiculously expensive dolls is for collectors (preferably women). My ex-wife collected porcelain Barbie dolls and some of those were way over $1000 a piece. I’m sure she still has many of them.
Being a guy, I’m not really into dolls. Funny that. Even when I was a kid I didn’t much care for dolls. I remember in the mid-sixties when the first GI-Joe dolls came out, my parents bought me one. I think I liked it when I first saw it. But when I opened the box, I thought,
“Gee, mom, dad, what am I supposed to do with it?”
In the last 20 years or so, playing with dolls has come back into fashion for some guys. Though they won’t call them dolls. They are called “figurines.” Call them what you want, they are still dolls.
One time, I went to a friends house and in his room, he had all sorts of these figurines lined up at the head of his bedroom wall. They were things like Star Wars’ Darth Vader, R2D2, Luke Skywalker, Star Troopers, etc. You get the picture.
He said to me, “Mike! Do you like my figurines? Aren’t they cool?”
I ribbed him back when I said, “Yeah. Real cool. I think I stopped playing with dolls when I was 6 years old.”
“They are not dolls! They are figurines!” He protested.
That reminds of my second daughter, Sheena. When Sheena was about 6 or 7, Ren & Stimpy was on TV. I loved that cartoon. On Ren & Stimpy, they had a fake commercial for a toy called, “Log.” Log was just as the name said it was; it was a piece of wood. Since I watched Ren & Stimpy religiously, my kids watched it too.
Never underestimate the power of TV on a child’s mind. That’s why it is so bad and dangerous.
One time, after the commercial for Log came on, my daughter said, “Daddy! I want one!” I was so surprised. “Are you kidding me?” I thought. I decided then, that I should use that opportunity to teach her a lesson about life and about BS of TV.
Soon after it was her birthday so I went to Tokyu Hands Department store and bought a piece of wood that looked like Log, wrapped it up and gave it to her for her birthday. She was so happy to get it. After opening the package, she said to me with wide eyes full of bewilderment, “Daddy? How do you play with it?” I sang the song:
What rolls down stairs
alone or in pairs,
and over your neighbor’s dog?
What’s great for a snack,
And fits on your back?
It’s log, log, log
It’s log, it’s log,
It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood.
It’s log, it’s log, it’s better than bad, it’s good.”
Everyone wants a log
You’re gonna love it, log
Come on and get your log
Everyone needs a log
log log log
LOG FROM BLAMMO
I think she was so disappointed. Of course, I had also predicted that she would be so I had bought her some other presents that I can’t remember…. Funny that… I’m sure that neither can she… But I bet we both remember Log.
Now there’s a new doll in town that’s making noise. Well, she’s not new. She’s old. It’s Barbie. But this time, she has tattoos and is, er, well, ostensibly “Punk.” Yeah. “Punk” as in “Punk Barbie.” How could Barbie be punk, you ask? Well, easy. Just imagine if Paris Hilton decided that she’d go punk for the evening and there you have it… Punk Barbie is about as punk as Lady Gaga or Boy George…
Punk Barbie is causing a fuss amongst parents who actually think their little snowflake will run out and get a tattoo just because their Barbie doll has them…
In an article from the New York Daily News some candidates for Parent of the Year were appalled and quoted as saying,
“Barbie’s supposed to be a role model for young girls, right? I don’t want my daughter looking up to someone like that.”
Another contestant parent said,
“I don’t think that’s an appropriate toy for a young girl,” she said. “You don’t want your kids to think tattoos are a good idea at such a young age because they last a lifetime.”
Tiffany Newkirk, 51, said her 17-year-old daughter has been pestering her for permission to get tattooed.
Gee… I’d hope that, at 17, Barbie wouldn’t be such a great influence on your dumb kids… Hopefully they can get good influences from things like MTV, American Idol, and their dimwit parents….Can you imagine your five-year-old with an awesome spiderweb on her neck, dragons on her arms, and three nose rings? Kewl!
These same parents who are complaining about Punk Barbie are the types who will complain later on, when their daughter is 16, drops out of school, and really does get tattoos an her neck and face that “…it was all Barbie’s fault!” Yeah. Your kids being all f**ked up couldn’t possibly be the result of being spoiled to death by idiot parents.
But why listen to me? Let’s hear what a real punk says. What about it Ryan Cooper at About.com Punk Music? Ryan says:
I think it stands to reason that if the Barbie you gave your daughter is the biggest influence on her life, you might need to look more closely at who the parent is. Barbie may be the president, and an astronaut, and a doctor, and a race car driver, but the last time I checked, she’s not a mother.
So if she’s the primary influence on your daughter’s sense of ideals and fashion, you might want to kick her out of her dream house and on to the curb.
Or you could just leave Barbie alone.
And you be the parent instead.
Punk Barbie sold for $50 at retail, but they are all sold out (Go figure!) Now, according to Ryan, they are selling on E-Bay for $100.
So, Ryan, you think that’s bad? Hell, Punk Barbie in Japan is selling for over $1,250.00! (USD!)
Hopefully my kids won’t have their lifestyles and fashions influenced by Barbie… But then, again, if they can afford more than $1,250 for a Godd*mn doll, then I guess they are adult enough to know what they want to do…
Let’s just say that Ken is not the “marrying type”
So, I won’t say anything, unless, of course, my daughters bring Ken home one day and say they want to get married to him. That’s when daddy puts his foot down!
You know why? Guys don’t play with dolls.