October 18, 2014
“To exist to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” I keep that in mind as I wander through an empty parking lot in Shinbashi, looking for a Chinese restaurant that is placed on the third floor. It is a Saturday night, and not a person in sight. Alas, the restaurant is closed, and after 20 minutes of walking overpasses that connect the large boulevard and then down a steep staircase to the entrance of the lot, and then to climb two staircases to reach the floor of the restaurant - and it being closed seemed to be a slight miscalculation on my part. I should have known that these types of businesses are closed on a Saturday night. Also it has been noted to me that this specific restaurant is the oddest eating joint in Tokyo. Shinbashi, a business district in Tokyo is famous to me, due to the Japanese film series “The Crazy-Cats, which is a combination of Martin & Lewis mixed in with the world of the Salerymen. A lot of the key scenes in the film series were shot in this part of Tokyo.
On my journey here and on the streets of Shinbashi, I kept hearing the voice of Bobby Troup and Anita O’Day singing a duet, but oddly I don’t think they ever made a record together. Yet, in my mind, I can clearly hear both voices singing perhaps “On Route 66.” I always have that talent of taking something that is out there, and somehow making it mine. I look at the world as one big reference library, and I’m just a guy roaming around the stack and aisles of ideas, trying to connect “C” to “Q.” For instance I could have sworn that there was or is a store that is devoted to Lee Harvey Oswald as an iconic figure - not that far from Marilyn Monroe or Elvis. His presence becomes more important than who he really was. The more literature out on Oswald the more obscure he gets, and eventually he just becomes a symbol that is empty, yet we know he is part of a landscape that caused either pain, or an awareness that things will never be the same again.
To be honest, I was drinking a bottle of Chinese sake, which causes me to lose time and memory. Or even oddly enough, causes me to make my own memory up. Therefore this Oswald store may not even exist. But why do I clearly remember the key chain being sold at this store that represented the foreign made rifle as well as his image (the mug shot) after he got arrested for murdering the Dallas cop. There is something of a Huell Howser in me, that likes to see Tokyo as a series of objects that somehow people contain these objects as livable space. It seems impossible, yet here I’m, slightly dazed and of course confused.
Lotte Lenya of Berlin could easily be part of the Tokyo landscape as well. Never have I ever been in a city where one can watch the daily life of going to work, being at work, and then going to Shinbashi, before going home for dinner - having that quick drink of beer or sake, as you gather dutch courage to make it home and knowing you will be facing the exact actions the very next day. Ms. Lenya (Weill) had the power to convey the struggles of the mice against the machine that is society. “Metropolis” has many forms and disguises, and I see it here in Shinbashi, as I can still smell the tension of the new high-rises fighting against the low-life, and culinary level of the eating places that serve the white collar worker. I always inspired to be the A. J. Liebling of Tokyo where "I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better." To document a time as it passes by me, in such a violent manner, is truly being alive at the very moment of realizing that this is it.
My only refined moment is to attach my earphones to my ears and listen to the sarcastic voice of Catherine Ringer, and I wander the streets of Shinbashi. I’ll never go back to that Chinese restaurant in a vacant parking lot, nor be able to find the Lee Harvey Oswald store, that again, could have been part of my imagination - as well as the Chinese restaurant. All I know, is that I can express myself in a world that may not exist. So I made a straight line, and walked that line till…