The Sunday Series:
Sunday August 16, 2015
When you look upon the stars as you lay on a Shibuya pavement, it is not the star that you’re looking at, but a projection of a star on a tall building looking over the Shibuya crossing. If one is to fall on a street, it is best that you do it here, because everyone is polite enough not to step on you. So without that reflection, I’m happy to lie on my back and watch the projection, that is very much my life, taking place on the oversized screen. I felt a kick on my side, and I looked up towards her direction. It was Aki who by chance just came upon me. She took my arm to pick me up, and she dusted my shoulders and butt, and told me to follow her.
We went to a Doutor coffee shop that is two or three buildings from Tower Records. It’s a good meeting place because one, it’s huge, and two, pleasantly bland. I, for one, like a space that doesn’t have too much of an identity. When I write or think, I like to be in an environment or landscape that is totally neutral. Doutor Coffee fits all the requirements for me to focus on empty space, and with my imagination, I can feel every inch of that space to my liking. Even on such a Sunday evening, the coffee shop is full of people quietly chatting or students working on their schoolwork. When I come in with a pen and a notebook, I pretty much fit in this world of total bliss. Of course, as others are doing English sentence diagrams. I’m trying to find some form of structure for me just to exist in.
Once you get in Doutor, you have to find a table as soon as possible. It is very difficult to find seating in a coffee shop in Tokyo, especially in the afternoon and early evening. Locate space and place your belongs on the seat and table itself. Then back to the counter to order your coffee. No one steals anything in Tokyo, at least go through one’s bag or purse. Well, it's possible that it can happen, but it doesn’t happen that often in Japan. We brought our coffees to the table, which was about six feet away from the smoking section, which is an open room. When you look at their section, you can’t see a figure, just large bellowing white smoke. Once in a while you see an arm or head poking out of the smoke, but then within seconds it disappears into the tobacco mist.
Tokyo is such a formatted city. One can only fit in, and it’s very difficult town if you chose to embrace the system, yet remain apart from it. It is best to be like me - never learn the language and allow yourself to be thrown into one situation after another. A typhoon can come, and like the powerful wind, one is picked up and placed in another landscape. It is very much like Buster Keaton in his film “Sherlock Junior.” Except it’s Tosh Junior, and the location is Shibuya Tokyo.
Among other things I have been suffering from jet-lag, which makes it impossible for me to focus on things on hand. As I talk to Aki, I notice that her mouth was moving and I was responding to what she is saying, but I haven’t the foggiest idea what she is actually commenting on. I wish I could quote her, but the sound coming out of her mouth is just that - vowels without meaning. She may have been speaking to me in Japanese. A language I don’t know, but I pretend to know in dicey situations. Such as this one. I then become aware that she may know that I’m missing the bouncing ball here, and that makes me panic, but I hide it well with my acting ability to look interested through my eyes and hand gestures. But as I look at her, I can feel my eyes crossing, and I now wonder if she notices. She then asks me if I’m feeling OK? Shit.
What I would do now to be able to go back to the Shibuya crossing, and lay myself on the ground and just let the neon lights bath me with its rays. Even in the hum of people talking in the cafe, I can hear the cicadas in the air, as if pulling me outside. The temperature is around 90, and the humidity is high as well. The whole city is like being in a kitchen with the oven fully on. The heat is intense, and I feel embarrassed that my hands are sweaty as well as my wrists. When I place them on the table, it seems I leave a pool of water, and I quickly swipe the moisture off the coffee table.
I ask her if it’s ok if we go to a record store - someplace like Reco-Fan. I want to escape the heat, but I also don’t want to have a conversation. I just want to move among the vinyl bins and if we need to chat, we can do it there. The record store is about three blocks in a large building, which name I totally forgot, but that’s OK, because Tokyo is just visual to me. I never think of a language when looking for a structure or place in the city. It is always the shape of the building that stands out, or if it's near another shop. I often miss the building by walking right by it, and I try to imagine how I could do such a thing? Reck-Fan is on the 4th floor, so we got into the elevator. The door opens to a paradise, and even in my weak state, I have a smile on my face. Right away I found two albums that I have been searching for eons: One is “We Want Billy” which is a live recoding with Billy Fury in the early 60s, with Joe Meeks’ band The Tornados. The album itself is not great, but it holds a lot of history for me. Also I love the cover. The other album is a Japanese release of songs the Rolling Stones recorded, but for other people. The songs are all produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, and they either showed up as 45 rpm singles or demos. It’s an intriguing way to look at a bands’ (The Stones) work, through this specific route in trying to sell themselves as songwriters.
It dawned on me that I was feeling much better, and I decided to purchase the two albums and Aki, and I left the store. I asked her if she would come with me to the Shibuya crossing and lay on the ground with me. She said yes, for reasons that will never be clear to me, but as we approached the crossing, I grabbed her hand and as soon as the walk sign went on, we ran to the center and placed ourselves on the pavement, looking up to the stars that are not there. But we both shared a certain amount of imagination, and as the thousands walked around us, I tried to count the stars that were in my mind. I lost count after ten. She made it to fifteen.