Tuesday, March 4, 2014
March 5, 2014
March 5, 2014
I'm at the Lion Cafe in Shibuya, which is in a perfect location, among its sexual slime of love hotels, relaxation clubs, and the water trade. Here one can avoid the outer world to lose one self into the exquisite world of recorded classical music. Volume is not so loud but loud enough to drift into a blissful state. They don't allow photos to be taken and rightfully so. How can an image penetrate the magic that is the Lion Cafe?
When you walk in one notice the mixture of Rocco and post romantic setting of the coffee shop. It was launched in 1926, and I doubt they have changed the decor over the years. All the tables and chairs are facing two massive speakers and various turntables as well as a pair of CD players. The speakers are built-in wooden cabinets in between two poles with a bust of Beethoven's face facing the coffee drinkers. Along the bust is two decorative candle holders and at its end are two electric fans. The building is old and looks very much like it was built in the 1920s.
The tables and red velvet chairs seem antiquated as well, but still in good condition. The only drawback is the smokers that come here. The smoke lingers like a needy ex-lover you just hope that they will go away.
Overall the lighting is on the dark side, but one can still have enough light to read. But the best thing to do is meditate and allow yourself to be pulled into its seductive charms. Before the waiters take out a record to play, they softly make an announcement of what they are about to play. Servers are in black and they move around the cafe like ninjas in the jungle. They take your order for coffee in a low volume voice. Talking, even when ordering drinks, is reduced to a bare minimum.
The windows facing the street are frosted, so one can only see the dim lighting of the outside world. No one outside can look in. It is just like a church but instead of worshiping Jesus or Buddha, one admires the speakers. On the middle of the woofers, it says "3D Sound System."
The only sound I can hear besides the music is the sound of pen on paper. Behind me is a writer looking over his manuscript. It's in Japanese of course and his writing paper is horizontal with tiny squares where he writes his kanji in. I just wonder what he's writing and even more important will he dedicate his book to the Lion Cafe.
In my notebook, that is only devoted to writings that took place a the Lion Cafe, is focused on the fantasy of the actor Dean Stockwell working with the great Italian poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. I imagine them working together for some reason, due to the nature of passion spent on modern times. One of my favorite novels by Pasolini is “”Ragazzi di vita, ” which can be translated to “Boys of Life” which could be read as “hustlers." I imagine Dean playing a Pasolini character as he roams around Rome to look for trade or adventure. But the way I would write it, the location would be in Tokyo, and to be more exact the same area where the Lion Cafe is located.
I often like to hang out in this neighborhood, because one, the girls here are cute, and two, the mixture of neon lighting for the water business as well as the nervous middle-aged men that haunt this location are an inspiration for me. Yet, while sitting here, and listening to J.S. Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1 and 2, ” I find myself approaching the entrance or gateway to a depression. All of sudden the writer behind me got up from his table, and whispered in my ear, “I wrote this narrative already bud.” He then sat down, gently and in low volume, ordered another cup of coffee, and then started to work on his manuscript.
I left the cafe, with a heavy heart, and thought of Max Jacob’s great collection of poems, written sometime in the late teens, “The Dice Box” and thinking that it always picked up my spirit, but alas, being in Tokyo, it will be very difficult to find a copy here. Nevertheless I headed towards the Shibuya station to locate another setting, where I can write, think, and be something that is not me at this moment.