135

Walking the back route down narrow streets to Ōji Station I pass the house with the orange tree where I once heard somebody playing a guitar. I stop and listen for the sounds of any strumming, or the sounds of someone thinking about strumming, but there is nothing except silence and the smell of January cold. A vending machine next to me suddenly glows and whirs to life providing me with a ghostly consolation prize in the possibility of hot beverages. A quick nod of acknowledgment to the machine for its attempt to communicate across the gulf that separates inanimate and animate matter and I am off towards the park with the miniature fence with a touch keypad lock. Waiting for me at the entrance to the park just past the tangle of telephone wires is a small convention of people with compact dogs wearing winter clothing and one of the dogs – appearing like four uneasy sticks attached to a stunted sweater – looks just about 18% gray and matches the sky beautifully. If I was to pick the dog up and hurl it into the air it would abruptly vanish, only to remind us of its presence by the snapping sound of its landing. Across the park heading east I consider leaping over the fence as I near toward it, but I speculate about what I will feel like once I am on the other side. I might not want to return to where I jumped from, or I might not be able to. It seems that it would be quite easy to hop over, but this might be an illusion, some diabolical method of falsely inflating intruder confidence, then snaring them mid-vault. The fact of its impossible smallness only serves to heighten the unknown threat of how it actually operates. What this fence lacks in height it more than makes up through a fiendishly confusing psychology. I pause for a moment and consider that the rate at which my body ages and shrinks is not so fast so as to keep me from a potential crossing on my way home from the café. I acknowledge the holding pattern and I am off. First I walk to see that the golfers are busy golfing – and they are – but I am disappointed that the skateboarders are not skateboarding. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could hear the bark of their skateboard trucks across concrete curbs and pedestrian handrails in the parking lot, but it is empty and even if they had only recently departed it is now impossible to see even the faintest trace of their breath in the air. I hear the sharp claps of clubs hitting balls and the dull thuds of balls hitting nets, but no wheels intermittently crackling and gliding across tarmac. I circle around the parking lot in a holding pattern of my own breathy clouds until an unexpected squawk from a crow atop a garbage can followed by a quick ding-ding from the nearby Toden Arakawa line punctuates the late afternoon and signals that it is time for a warm coffee. Once inside the café I am struck, as usual, by the complete lack of separation between the smoking and non-smoking sections. The curls of smoke drift above the customers wearing face masks and the waning plants in the center of the circular smoking table forming low sheets of gray cloud cover. I slowly lift my 18% gray card up into the haze above our heads and it promptly vanishes. When I lower my arm again it materializes and I make a snapping sound accompanied by a whine that catches the attention of the schoolgirl 72% napping at the table next to mine.

134.5

I am thinking more and more about my Maxell UR 90 Tinted Oval Window Cassette Shell / POSITION•NORMAL / JAPAN•JAPON cassette from the mid-80s. Actually, I seem to be thinking of it almost all the time. After reverse importing it to Japan three times, as well as bringing it to the diminutive Shinjuku psychic twice, it still remains an obdurate mystery. After an improvised ceremony, I quietly placed it in a locker in Ueno Station, locked it, and walked away with the locker's yellow key. It will steep there like a tea becoming darker and richer. It will sit in the darkness of the locker until my three hundred Yen runs out and station attendants take the locker’s contents to the lost and found. What will the individual think when they first open the locker door and see my unmarked cassette waiting for them? Imagine if they played it and heard the clear nothingness. How would they assess the situation? At the appropriate moment, when I receive the correct sign, I will try to track my Maxell UR 90 Tinted Oval Window Cassette Shell / POSITION•NORMAL / JAPAN•JAPON cassette down and see where it traveled to and what stories it has acquired along the way.

134

Stand tall before a small fence with a touch keypad lock and you will understand.

133

I unexpectedly spot the first image of 2010 attempting to conceal itself in the crook of a tree.

132

Up in the sky on the fifty-second floor the exemplary pear tart patiently waiting in front of me gradually takes on the dark shape of Yoyogi Park out the window to my left. What should I do? Open spaces are so precious in Japan and particularly so here in Shinjuku. The untouched and glassy surface of the pear radiates a sense of new beginnings and opulence. Actually, it seems to be glowing. A deep silence begins to gather around the table as the lights dim leaving a solitary point of illumination focused on the pear. Along with the intensifying and narrowing of the lighting scheme is a rapid and unforeseen flattening of the table space in front of me. The gentle arc of the pear is undergoing a visual compacting that will eventually leave the apex of the fruit at the same level as the black plate upon which it is resting. The transformation underway will leave nothing more than a two-dimensional nature morte. Sensing this shift and its implications, I eat the tart in one flawless maneuver and lick the plate spotlessly clean with a long drag of my tongue. The waiters and chefs stand nearby looking on, secretly happy – joyful even – for my appreciation. Momentary transplanted voracious imaginary real estate developer fantasy followed by mellow fruit sweetness, perfect succulence, and echoes of buttery pastry.

131

While heading west on the south side of the Shakujii gawa tonight I was vaguely annoyed by the realization that nothing in particular caught my attention. I often turned my head like Seijun Suzuki’s slow tracking shot around a rice cooker from his 1967 film Branded to Kill in order to stay attentive to various objects as I ran past them, yet my observations had no particular focus and meandered constantly from the indecisive angle of tree branches to the indeterminate feelings associated with the time between 16:00 JST and 17:00 JST. Nevertheless, while returning east on the north side I was practically stopped in my tracks by a quick sequence of appearances. First, I saw a spotless, yellow eight-prong Lego brick resting on its side in a patch of dark soil. It seemed as if the ground had been evenly raked, then the brick placed on top with such care that it left no impression and floated slightly above the ground. This was followed immediately by a young boy bounding towards me in a green down vest, his left bloody nostril plugged with tissue paper. Evidently his nose had been packed for some time, as the tissue had drawn blood out from deep inside his skull almost all the way to the remaining white tip. The last triangular iceberg of tissue would no doubt soon succumb to the flow in his mobile paper chromatography experiment. Three paces later three identical dogs appeared in rapid succession from a bush. Impossibly small dogs in matching and impossibly small dog sweaters, their nails nervously tapping out an erratic Morse code like a bushel of crabs dumped on to pavement. The dog in triplicate instantly made me conscious of the fact that tonight along the Shakujii gawa there were no cats and simultaneous with thinking "no cats” from the end of the thought “tonight along the Shakujii gawa there are no cats,” a cat promptly appeared on my left. The cat's head momentarily lifted, ceased the fastidious cleaning of its ass, swiveled and slowly tracked my passing, all the while its left leg sticking up in the air at a precise ninety-degree angle to the ground upon which it was sitting.

130

When placed close to one another on a kitchen countertop two mikan oranges can’t help but generate a momentary glow of mutual affection – Mikans blush orange.

130

Laundry clips as the sun sets and the Yuyake Koyake plays.

129

The most beautiful rice cooker in the world and a slowly opening curtain from Seijun Suzuki's 1967 film Branded to Kill.

128

A one half Japanese, one half melted child.

127

At one hour and two minutes into The Third Man and at one hundred and twenty-seven entries into Takinogawamonogatari Harry Lime makes his entrance accompanied by a cat. The actor is cued. The cat actor is cued. The cat pads down the cobblestone street to its mark on the doorstep of an apartment building, and then briefly glances at someone off camera, possibly the director. A single glance is all it takes to show the feline's high level of reverence for the movie making process, as well as simultaneously undermine the believability of the scene itself. One can almost hear director Carol Reed whispering to the cat in barely contained rage not to look at him, to look at Orson Welles, "Look at Orson!" The cat then plays for a bit with Welle's shoelace (most certainly slathered in sardine oil as an enticement), followed by a painstaking cleaning of its paw, and then by a gargantuan yawn that concludes the scene.


126.5

126

Staring vacantly at the clouds on the in-flight television's live video feed from underneath the jet it suddenly strikes me as entirely appropriate to photograph the screen while dangling from the ceiling like a bat. From this new vantage point hanging with my feet wedged into the overhead luggage compartment I can see that the clouds actually appear quite similar to what they look like when you stare up at them from the ground, which makes me consider, if only briefly, that the jet is in fact below the clouds and is flying upside down. As we prepare for landing the camera view switches from looking down towards the creeping earth to looking forwards from the front of the cockpit. We land, taxi up to the jet bridge and slowly begin to stop. As has happened to me once before, we come to a complete halt with the camera pointing directly at a dumpster full of garbage. None of my previous actions, or even the overflowing dumpster disturbs the Japan Airlines stewardess sitting next to me who is now meticulously folding her blanket, after painstakingly consuming a package of pretzels, after napping with her hands carefully folded in her lap. If a jet flight is a series of precise actions carefully executed in a technologically advanced container, then this flight has ended accurately on a three cubic yard assortment of unorganized refuse and goo.

125

The gift of moisture that my clothing quietly absorbed from the Shakujii gawa while I was running alongside it has evaporated without my knowledge and secretly given itself as condensation to the cold windows, effectively blocking my view of the river with the river itself. A cunning strategy for escape, but one that does not stand a chance against the blue and white striped dish towel preparing for the confrontation. The colors of the impending brutality will unfortunately clash so terribly with the day's dominant color scheme and the crisp cleanliness of the kitchen countertop. I will try my best to dissuade the towel from following through on its intentions and allow the condensation to evaporate again and move on to the next transformation, but this is a delicate matter. Perhaps I will attempt a flattering comparison between the towel and the striated white clouds against the rich azure of the sky. I don’t know, possibly this will diffuse the mounting tension and make clear the high esteem I hold for the earthbound mundane as well as the ephemerality of moisture.

124

As I look through some images from several years ago I realize that the one-week weather forecast from December 12, 2007, 06:58 JST did not mention the earthquakes that would intermittently punctuate yesterday, December 17, 2009. However, looking back it seems clear that the distorted reception of the program was predicting it all the same. As well, the last fuzzy frame of the broadcast bears the slightest resemblance to Africa, foreshadowing the connection between Egypt and Japan on the back of black sesame cracker snack packaging. I am curious what would be revealed if I saw the reflection of my erased cassette tape in a news brief on the television after the weather report. Would mysteries be revealed that could not be coaxed out of the cassette by the diminutive Shinjuku psychic?

122

The complexities of how to cultivate attachment are divulged, yet the language is either scrambled, or in a dialect that I can't understand.

121

120

If flying from Cairo to Beirut yields shimmering red and green hexagonal light refractions in photographs, and if flying from Cairo to Tokyo yields arcing red, green, and blue color flares on in-flight television, then what kind of light and what kind of shape would a flight from Beirut to Tokyo generate? Would it be red and blue, or blue and green? Would the colors present as undulating waves, crisp, rotating pentagrams, or would they take the more radical form of the Japanese Red Army being extradited from Lebanon?


119

There is the question of plastic bottles filled with water and placed in public to consider. Last night I saw five liter bottles crammed onto a single step, a dozen surrounding a telephone pole, and single, small bottle blocking a large entranceway to a home. I have seen narrow alleyways scrupulously lined with plastic bottles on both sides, or a solitary, token bottle deliberately positioned. They are supposed to ward off cats, although I have never heard a credible explanation as to how this actually functions. I am usually told something along the line that that this system works because “Cats are scared of water,” or that “Cats see their distorted reflection in the bottles and are frightened away.” Last night it was suggested to me that I might consider that the water bottle phenomenon is not actually to dissuade the creatures from loitering, but to function like a flag and strategically let neighbors know the position that the owner of the premises takes towards feline loitering.

118

The "Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor" appears suddenly on in-flight television as my plane hits turbulence approaching Japan and forms a perfect blend of the possibility of a mechanical disaster in the present with the environmentally progressive technology from the 1985 comedy Back to the Future. It looks so bright and warm on that suburban front lawn – a round, soft afternoon light – whereas it is 18% gun metal gray and getting cold along the Shakujii gawa. The foliage, of course, is also very different. What then might be the role of the blue down vest worn by the film's protagonist in altering the course of the upcoming past, or previous future? Protective insulation would no doubt be of use in navigating through time without contaminating one's own existence with flak from a deviant tangent. As well, that Mr. Fusion was based on a Krupp coffee grinder raises some interesting connections with the past – with the German company's study of barbed wire in the war between Russia and Japan. Would the stainless steel of the DeLorean DMC-12 sports car upon which Mr. Fusion is mounted shine in the trenches of Manchuria as it does in the Californian light? Would it have been more appropriate to call the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor Mr. Mikasa after the Krupp armor and guns on the Japanese battleship of the same name? The pivot point of the gun barrel certainly does have a striking relationship to Mr. Fusion's logo. But above all, what is the relationship on my TV screen between the cutaway of the down vest's missing right arm and the tinted arc of the home energy reactor facing it? The tinting must be significant, though I am uncertain why.

Top image: Film still of the "Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor" from Robert Zemeckis’ 1985 film Back to the Future. Bottom image: Krupp gun on the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Mikasa battleship

117

Top image: Looking across an empty lot in Onomichi in Hiroshima prefecture. Bottom image: An accident in Cairo next to the Nile.


116

Top image: Film still of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz from Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film Apocalypse Now. Bottom image: On the river Thames.


115

The yellow warning stickers on the Tokyo Metropolitan Subway doors depicting a highly distressed cat with its tail stuck in the door have been replaced by stickers of a masked raccoon and its pup pointing at the closing door. Upon first inspection the stylized violence seems to have been replaced with a more sober cautionary lesson; however, upon closer scrutiny one notices that there is a large, severed human hand in-between the closing doors that they are pointing towards. They must be enjoying the spectacle of human dismemberment because I detect the slightest hint of a smile in their masked faces. The explosive red graphic sited at the severed wrist is truly gruesome. Quadrupedalism trumps bipedalism. At first I missed the traumatized cat whose eyes practically popped out of its sockets enough to reveal the sinewy nerve, but now I have been won over by the ingeniously encoded horror. Unfortunately, I don't have a tail, so I will have to put my forearm in the door to see if what they are warning me against really is as extreme as I am told.

114

I want to befriend imperceptibility and begin my slow transformation over the years into an expert Japanese Sunday photographer with a long telephoto lens, bulging multi-pocketed technical vest, and familial support team standing at the ready nearby. Deep commitment to a hobby along a river seems healthy and right. But the expert photographers are now quite scarce along the north side of the Shakujii gawa. There is no more photographing of lazy cats absorbing heat, as they have retreated from the cold into the warmth of their mysterious cat communities in underground pyramids somewhere. Besides, the light is completely wrong now for photographing cats at 17:00 JST with any kind of lens. Although the photographers have departed, the colder weather has brought out the migratory expert fishermen to the south side. I used to see them further west upriver, vests also bulging with gear of a different sort, but now they sit on miniature folding chairs close to where I start my run. Fishing rods have been placed in shining holders pushed into the ground and lines have been stretched a short distance into a small pond on the river floodplain. I can't see any activity in the water and there doesn't seem to be anything living in the pond’s undersea world, but the slow movements of the fishermen indicate that they are doing something when they gently tug at invisible filaments. I never thought about it, but the expert fishermen might potentially be the expert photographers in disguise.

113

The entire Akihabara Station platform smells of butter. Is there a “Beard Papa’s” cream puff store nearby venting baking aromas into the station at a high velocity? Suddenly I am pulled from my olfactory reverie – or is it horror – when I see a man accidentally drop his wallet. I call out to him to inform him of the situation and he is both startled and thankful. I could have a delicate sandwich with the crust cut off to celebrate the encounter and successful maintenance of his financial situation, but I go for a louder culinary statement, order curry rice and inexplicably receive a plate of fatty meat. Recently in the town of Onomichi I found another wallet and brought it into a nearby store. The owner was also startled and thankful (who knows if it was even his wallet). I could have had a delicious bowl of piping hot Onomichi noodles to celebrate the encounter, but yet again I went for a bolder statement and in a nearby alley I had an impromptu staring contest with a medium sized, yellowish brown cat. Why does the mascot for “Beard Papa” look like the author Ernest Hemmingway, or the Gorton's Fisherman from packages of frozen fish when he is from Osaka? Is there a relationship between weathered old men, beards, the sea, fishing, luscious cream puffs, and the inadvertent jettisoning of personal wealth?

112

The euphoria of encountering a clear beginning on a crisp day is soon to be interrupted by a crossroads, a conspicuous absence of people, vast openness, and the sound of a prop plane overhead. I am not inside of Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 film North by Northwest, but a check on Google Earth shows that my current position in Japan is not so different looking west from Garces Highway near Corcoran Rd. in Wasco, California.


111

Some repercussions of red tail signage on a Japan Airlines jet when modified to red/green tail signage and viewed with 3-d glasses, or simply "the in-flight Television safety film looks much more plausible if you shake your camera."

110

Making images of scenic rivers, blue skies, and autumnal foliage while crossing red bridges is prohibited. Running alongside the river, or traveling up the river by boat might be permissible.

109

What would be the consequences if Japan Airlines altered their aircraft identity signage so that the tail had a second slightly offset green circle in addition to the current red circle? Against a blue daytime sky it would form a red, green, and blue additive color model, cleverly hearkening back to the initial attempts in the late 1800s to generate color photographs from three separate red, green, and blue filtered black & white images. On the other hand, it could trigger a different chain of events for an approaching aircraft where the pilot happened to be wearing 3-d glasses.

108

On Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 12:40 JST, a discarded VHS tape case tires of communicating with a playful cellular phone's video camera, painfully aware that the phone is ignorant of the fact that it is fast approaching the sad days of obsolescence. Nearby, the dead fish indicates that it understands all of this perfectly by not winking the glazed over eye that is no longer in its socket.


107

Three days ago there was a glowing, fat mikan orange tucked in a candlelit niche in a cave at Hasedera temple in Kamakura. Last week in Onomichi there were orange peels scattered elegantly down the embankment leading from the path in front of Jodoji Temple – where Setsuko Hara and Chishū Ryū stood after the funeral in Yasujirō Ozu's Tokyo Story – down to the train tracks. Last March in Nihonzutsumi in Taitō-ku there were orange peels that had been carefully Scotch taped back together into a husk with the form of an orange. Two days ago running west along the Shakuji gawa I heard classical piano again, another koto lesson, and as usual I saw a cat, but I did not see a single orange, or even notice anything that was orange colored. I did notice that the narrator reading of Heart of Darkness in my headphones delivered the lines “The horror, the horror” in a breathy voice just as I ran past the nurse’s dormitory across from Teikyō University Hospital (another zombie hospital perhaps?). Last night in Moriya I was given a plump orange for desert at an izakaya. I am curious if growing up in a room painted orange has predisposed me to seeing orange wherever it is available to see and desiring it where it does not exist.

106

The Excelsior Café on Inokashira Dōri across from CoCo Ichiban Curry House in Udagawachō is positioned so that anybody outside rounding the corner will accidentally activate the sensor of the automatic sliding door. When sitting at the front counter next to the door one is treated to the right edge of the glass door continually moving back and forth in front of you. The change in perception that this creates is delicate, only the vertical line of the glass’ edge erratically moving horizontally across your field of vision, but it is enough to disrupt the normal flow of mental meanderings so common when one sips espresso and stares aimlessly out a window into a place crowded with people. The moving glass edge reads as a scratch on a projected modern Japanese version of James Agee and Helen Levitt's 1945 film In the Street, with its concentration on frenetic activity and impromptu human dramas. It could also be an enormous twitching whisker from a cat sitting atop the café. As well, it reminds me of the shimmering light in Ain Soukhna in Egypt last August, which reminds me of the shimmering light in Onomichi last week. This succession of remembrances is all the consequence of the edge of something that is principally invisible.


105

I dart into a bathroom at the northwest corner of Ueno station and hang my three hundred yen, clear plastic umbrella on the peg to the right of the urinal – the deliciously subtle notched aluminum peg that is to the right of the urinal. What a surprise. I would like to meet the designer who made the decision and campaigned enthusiastically for a triangular wedge sliced from the top of a circular peg. Employing such a minimal, yet bold intervention is enough to cause one to stand stationary in awe despite the possible misinterpretations of loitering at a urinal. Further, the missing triangle is positioned precisely one triangle's width away from the front of the peg and two triangle widths from the wall from which it protrudes. The depth of the notch is precisely one third of the peg's diameter. These decisions, coupled with the material choice of dull, brushed aluminum provide a contentment possibly only rivaled by the happiness of total bowel evacuations taking place nearby. I am in love with this missing triangular notch, where it came from, what it left behind, and where it went. The fact that the surface from where the wedge has been removed is smooth and shiny as compared to the peg's dull, brushed surface creates a feeling of unexpected fulfillment not unlike cutting a perfect slice of birthday cake. When I complete my reverie and am finally ready to leave I reach for my umbrella and it is gone. I am stunned yet again. What is one supposed to do in such a situation? I try to remember that this missing umbrella is only one umbrella lost today, which is nowhere near my record of four in one day. Perhaps the accidental thief is a lefty, or an intentionally ambidextrous thief, or in liege with the peg designer. Still, it is a small price for such an experience, although I have a feeling that this particular bathroom will cause me to lose many umbrellas in the future.

104

My pen is beautiful. My beautiful pen is orange. My orange Naoto Fukasawa designed Lamy pen. My Naoto Fukasawa designed model 282 orange – Lamy noto Ballpoint pen is a triangular thing of beauty to behold. The pen profile looks just like the San'yō Shinkansen (bullet train) that I am riding on towards Onomichi. The resolution of the pen clip problem is elegant and deeply, shockingly satisfying. I love looking at it as much as I like using it to trace rocks into my notebooks, but most of all, right now, I love holding it up against the window and imagining that there is a very special, one car, orange Shinkansen in the distance that is traveling in parallel at 285 km/h. My pen is a speedy little mikan.

103

The reflection on the kitchen countertop of the erased Maxell UR 90 Tinted Oval Window Cassette Shell / POSITION•NORMAL / JAPAN•JAPON cassette. What would the reflection of an erased cassette tape sound like if it could be played?

102

The cats in Takinogawa always stop what they are doing and watch me as I run past them. On the densely packed 00:32 JST Yamanote train from Shinjuku heading north towards Tabata, two girls only inches away have hair so sculpted that it looks as if they have poodles attached to the tops of their heads. The poodles are looking at me and I half expect to hear a snarl, or perhaps get licked. Two kids to my right in-between the train cars are singing loudly, encouraging each other to increasingly higher levels of raucousness and physically pushing each other in a playful way. They momentarily stop, turn, look at me, tentatively smile, then continue on with a heightened ardor. Somebody gently sobbing amongst the sleeping passengers, or throwing up would round out the scenario nicely with the full range of emotions. Once while sitting on a late night Yamanote train from Shinjuku I saw the terrified woman in front of me suddenly cover her drunk boyfriend’s mouth with her hand, forcing him to swallow the vomit that he was trying to evacuate from his system. The last train from Shinjuku often feels like a space suddenly shifting back and forth between comedy and horror, and it would seem equally as plausible if the train was rolling down the tracks upside down. The last Yamanote train from Shinjuku is one of my favorite places to spend time.

101

SoonSoon I will return to the diminutive psychic at the corner of Kuyakusho Dōri and Yasukuni Dōri and see what she says now about my Maxell UR 90 Tinted Oval Window Cassette Shell / POSITION•NORMAL / JAPAN•JAPON cassette from the mid-80s that has been reverse imported to Japan from the United States for the second time. Until then it will wait patiently on the kitchen counter refracting light through the rectangular plastic case, through the layers of plastic cassette shell, then eventually stopping at the normal bias magnetic tape. The tape was erased in 2005, so actually, in truth, I am uncertain of magnetic tape's ability to block light once it has been obliterated through demagnetization.

100

I am interested in the multipurpose Japanese “I’m going fishing for the afternoon / I'm going painting in a garden / I'm going to school / I'm going to make one of the best films ever” hat seen on adults, grandparents, school children and famous filmmakers alike. Sometimes the back brim of the hat is turned upwards for a stylish flair, other times it is pulled down fairly tight. I wonder if this gentleman knows that the rock he is painting in front of him is actually the Rikugien skull rock when viewed from the right of where he is sitting?

99

Five days ago in the rain at 12:06 JST I photographed signage of a penguin on the back of a delivery truck, knots of silhouetted telephone pole wires, red, blue, and yellow laundry the same color as the penguin's tuxedo, hat, and cane – so many of my favorite things – all viewed through the blue gradient of a Honda's wet front window. These elements serve to remind me of another simpler photograph made through the Honda's cool tint, then further back in time to old surfing shirts with silhouetted palm trees in front of radiant sunsets. It must be the gradient that smoothly transitions between present and past and triggers reflection and nostalgia

98

Eight days ago.


97

After visually consuming delicacy after delicacy in the paper museum in Asakuyama Park I emerged into the middle of a group of kids roughly playing. One faked an eye injury, wailing in agony, then attacked when the others came over to see if he was OK. The late afternoon light illuminated the imaginary eyeball perfectly as it rolled on the ground, its stringy nerve and tissue collecting dirt and twigs. The wounded boy grabbed a piece of paper drifting by, crumpled it into a ball and stuffed it into the gruesome socket to stanch the gushing of imaginary blood.

96

Last Tuesday somewhere around 12:50 JST someone outside close to the laundry balcony was whistling something along with the hourly chime – skillfully, like pastel colored birds warbling in an animated Disney film. Either it was a "ten minutes before the hour" chime, or my watch was off. At least I am not saying, as Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush (Groucho Marx) said in A Day at the Races, “Either he’s dead, or my watch has stopped” – not that I really have ever understood what that means. That said, last week while running by Teikyō University Hospital I believe that I saw a body with a sheet covering its face being wheeled out from the back of an ambulance. Perhaps there is a chime, or a song that I have yet to hear.

95

Maxell UR 90 Tinted Oval Window Cassette Shell / POSITION•NORMAL / JAPAN•JAPO cassette from the mid-80s reverse imported to Japan from the United States. The cassette once held recordings made of a conversation with an American psychic, but was erased in 2005.


94

While standing in the hallway trying to salvage a thoroughly mangled three hundred yen umbrella ($3.37 USD), a crisp, white slip of paper – again – came through the mail slot in the front door without warning. I was immediately tempted to use the umbrella to hook the person on the other side of the door through the mail slot and hold them until I could see their face, but I thought that it could possibly be a zombie in search of innards to feast on, in which case my actions would not only be rude, but a potentially tragic mistake. The floor in the hallway would become soiled with zombie goo, as even Japanese zombies don't remove their shoes when entering a home. Moreover, even if this zombie did politely leave their shoes at the entrance I would still have to contend with the putrid ooze and rot emerging from the filthy zombie socks. In the final analysis, a polite zombie is more problematic than an everyday zombie.

93

The connection between Egypt and Japan suddenly appears again, yet before I was born and in architectural form. (1967, Shōnen Magazine, Takayoshi Mizuki).

92

I try my best to send out a quick email each day as soon as I hear the Yūyake Koyake – the song that plays at 17:00 JST signaling the end of the school day. I type as quickly as possible, click the send button, then after a short delay the whooshing sound of Apple's Mail program floats briefly over the top of the song echoing from the speakers outside in the street. The arrival of the Yūyake Koyake always takes me by surprise and the volume on my computer is consistently lower than I expect it to be, which I always note as I film this process. Currently, the day ends with a whoosh, which seems perfectly matched to the fleeting nature of life. Yet, were I to change the mail program's alert sound from a whoosh to a duck's quack, then the entire affair would take on a different tone and probably conclude with a slip on a banana peel, or two men in a horse costume.

The sunset is the end of the day,
the bell from the mountain temple rings,
hand by hand let’s go back home together with the crows.
After the children are back at home a big and round moon shines,
when the birds dream, the brightness from the stars fills the sky.

91

Was there a waterfall featured in Heart of Darkness? Although there are falls on the Congo River I can’t remember if they feature in Joseph Conrad's book. Heading upriver along the Shakujii gawa in this part of Takinogawa (waterfall river), at this time of the day, is heading west into the sunset. Did the book's protagonist Marlow head west on his journey? If so, inside the “heart of darkness” – whatever that might be – is potentially a sunset? The telling of Marlow’s tale begins at sunset. I pass a Buddha on the north side at the beginning of my run. Marlow’s character is described in the last paragraph of Heart of Darkness by Conrad as having “…ceased, and sat apart, indistinct and silent, in the pose of a meditating Buddha.” If I start running on the south side of the river heading west at sunset then finish on the north side heading east near the Buddha then perhaps some clarity might emerge. Nevertheless, since the whole matter of traveling upriver in Heart of Darkness takes place in London on a stationary boat in the form of a recollection, then the real question I should be asking is if the river Thames has a waterfall.

90

I have always wanted my own personal robot and several years ago there was a robot in particular that I desperately wanted. This robot was made by the Asahi beer brewery and would pull a frosty mug from its chest, open you a cold Asahi beer, pour it, and present it with a cheery Japanese salute. Asahi makes my nose stuffy for reasons that I don't yet understand (although I love Osaka where Asahi was originally from), so I never bought the two hundred or so cases needed just to qualify for the lottery. A robot pouring Sapporo beer – now that is something I would get involved with. Even better than that, a joint venture with Japan Rail to provide a Sapporo beer pouring penguin robot. I just mailed one month’s worth of Sapporo cans back to New York as a status report, snapshot, and souvenir of my time in Takinogawa, but I may need them back if the contest begins, or if Sapporo begins a point card loyalty and reward program. What did airport security think when they saw the X-ray of the shipping box filled with empty beer cans and what would I really feel when confronted with a machine that willingly disembowels itself and offers you its innards with a smile?

89

Heading east along the Shakujii gawa at night the inverted pyramidal street lights repeatedly appear and disappear perfectly in the crooks of the trees forming glowing, sudden, upside down tree crotches. That implies that the heads are buried underground, or removed entirely.

88

Heading west on the north side of the Shakujii gawa I leave behind the sounds of the neighbor's koto lesson, then somewhere around Itabashi I hear a parallel koto lesson. With enough height the right vantage point would emerge and the individual lessons would compress into an unknowing duet; however, at this point I am no longer growing into the height that I would need to witness this, nor would I ever grow to the five hundred feet needed to see this occurrence, but am compressing into a smaller unit with greater density. As a result, the duo will remain forever separate. On the south of the Shakujii gawa walking towards Ōji Station it is not the third point of this koto triangle that I encounter, but hesitantly played classical guitar drifting out from a window and through the branches of a mikan orange tree. The mikan oranges are small, squat and look tender. The round plucking of the nylon strings compliments the mellow dark-orange color in a pleasant manner. As well, the delicacy of the notes and the way that they hang in the air seems abstractly similar to the increasingly tenuous hold that the mikan oranges have on their branches as they become riper, more luscious, and heavier. I sense a parallel in the tenuous nature of the situation so I abruptly leave towards the station in solidarity – detached and horizontally dropping.

87

The woman across from me on the Yamanote line took out her notebook and pen and started writing at the same time that I did. Her pen was also blue. I reflect on this. I wonder if she will put her notebook away at the same time I close my notebook? She didn’t. She put her notebook away before me, but it looks like she is thinking about taking it out again. I remain on the train three extra stops to see if this will happen. It doesn't. I get off the train at Ebisu station and as the train doors close, as the Hatsumelo theme from The Third Man plays, I cover my eyes tightly with both my hands and wish for her to take out her notebook again and write notes. The train pulls away and I sense a notebook emerging from the darkness of a bag and the possibility of a pen pressing into soft paper, leaving a line, as well as an indentation.

86

Long golden fingertips on the Yamanote line are precisely tap-tap-tapping black jack cards on my left and delirious PlayStation playing is positioned to my right. Somewhere in-between these two descriptions is a precocious child in Monte Carlo playing Baccarat.

85

On the Seibu-Shinjuku line on my way to Araiyakushimae the door opens at Shimo-Ochiai station and everything becomes quiet. It is as if the theater curtains have been drawn and the performance is about to begin. I see three kids in matching tracksuits practicing synchronized dance moves that they are copying from a video playing on a cell phone. They finish their routine, the doors close, and we pull away. I begin to invisibly, loudly clap in appreciation of their routine.

84

The new array of laundry clips I recently purchased is not quite a rainbow and they do not even make a full gradient between red and green. Still, they will look buoyant and carefree against the restrained and 18% gray sky if I can bear to break up this range of color.


83

The earthquake last night woke me and I suddenly thought about the Kabuki from two nights ago. I thought about how a beheading before a snowball fight is funnier than a snowball fight followed by a beheading. Two men in a horse costume – that is always funny and requires no contemplation.

82

The Keihin-Tōhoku line runs side by side with the Yamanote line and today it is running four seconds behind the Yamanote line, so I keep seeing the same people across the platform at each stop as we pull in. After the train stops the doors open, it is suddenly quiet, and we stare at each other across the platform divide. We participate in parallel in a series of meetings every two minutes and forty-five seconds. That woman in the front car keeps patting her forehead with a handkerchief and delicately blotting away the perspiration. She has repeatedly done it at each of the past three stations since Yūrakuchō. Normally that is me, the one with the rising temperature in the perpetually steaming train cars, but now for some reason it is not. Maintaining a four second lead on the Yamanote must prompt overheating.

81

Paper-thin, waxy napkins from cafés have almost no absorption power. They simply relocate food to new areas of your face. I am hoping that a crow doesn’t swoop in for a snack. I was recently asked to consider that the napkins are intentionally not absorbent because they are actually ornamental – that you should be eating so carefully that you have no need of a napkin in the first place. It turns out that crows are the guardians of good manners.

80

Trains departing from Ōji station initially make a slight complaining sound, the same sound you hear when you wake a cat that has been sleeping.

79

Earlier this evening I was heading east along the Shakujii gawa towards a little girl riding in the basket on the front of her mother’s bike. Both of her hands were tightly pressed covering here eyes. Her mom was laughing as we passed. Again, I experience the Doppler effect.

78

For five years I have wanted to purchase the 3,000 Yen melon ($33.73 USD), but have not. On the way to Ōji Station across from Asakuyama Park an old man on a bike with white hair, a pink shirt, and a green sweater rode towards me. Signs are increasing in frequency. If he dyes his hair from white to black I will go to the market immediately. But there is a slight complication in that I have found a store in Shinjuku that sells 25,000 Yen melons ($281.07 USD), the new gold standard regardless of the bike rider's hair color. What signal will notify me when it is time to go shopping for expensive fruit in Shinjuku?

77

Three days ago while transferring from the Yamanote line to the Seibu-Shinjuku line at Takadanobaba, in a city of almost thirteen million people, I ran into someone I know. Sudo Takaki was wearing headphones and leaning against the seat next to the door opposite from the side of the train I was standing on. I watched him bobbing his head to sounds potentially playing in his headphones and studied his shockingly total lack of expression as he stared out the window. His confusion was palpable after I tapped his shoulder, smiled, and silently mouthed the word こんにちは (konnichiwa - hello) as I exited the train onto the platform.

76

I can hear the song It’s a Small World being played by a marching band somewhere out in the darkness of Takinogawa.

75

A young man on a bike heads east along the Shakujii gawa past the post office with wheels the size of mikan oranges. It seems to take ten rotations of his pedals to move just one foot. It is comforting to know that there is unrestrained pedaling along the once roaring and turbulent "waterfall river." I yell "がんばってください!" (ganbatte kudasai – do your best) to encourage him. Tucked discreetly within his furious motions I glimpse the slightest nod of acknowledgement.

74

I have run past the same person in a wheelchair, smoking, with two broken legs in front of Teikyō University Hospital at least ten times already. I am starting to know someone here in Takinogawa, yet I am not sure how my running presents to a smoker sitting in a wheelchair with two broken legs. Should I cross to the south side of the Shakujii Gawa from the north when I near the hospital?

73

Across from the three-story Buddha on the north side of the Shakujii gawa there is a scaffolding system installed on the side of a house to support an old and still growing two-story cactus. The image from Google Maps shows only construction materials where the Buddha now sits; however, it seems that the cactus has always been there in 1-3-16 Kita Ward.

72

I am tempted to hop over a two-foot tall fence, bypassing its touch keypad lock, but I don't.

71

The Takinogawa laundry clips align with the afternoon sun so well. The three-color composite film of laundry in Higashi-Nippori from 2005 never really aligned correctly. Filming drying laundry three consecutive times with black and white film shot through a red filter, then a green filter, then a blue filter inevitably encounters the issues of wind and improper registration between the plates when superimposed to make a rudimentary color film. The irony is not lost on me that an almost impossible task utilizes the most mundane of acts as its focal point. I can understand why this experiment was a filmic failure, but I still don't understand why the successful conclusion of the laundry process here in Tokyo results in slightly metallic smelling clothes.


70

From this spot facing west in the parking lot near the giant bowling pin in front of Ōji Station I can see the Toden Arakawa trolley, the Keihin-Tōhoku commuter train, the Shinkansen bullet train, a freight railway, city buses, cars, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, and people walking. I can’t see the Namboku subway line, but I sense its vibrations under my feet. Also, the two skateboarders are to my left creating an intermittent racket. Ōji is Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy Town, but without a personable worm as of yet. Soon a charming guide will materialize.

69

I decided to put my watch back on. Then while running through the park I looked at my watch, admiring the legibility of its magnified proportions and noticed that it was the same style as the giant clock atop a pole that I was running past at that moment. Now I know why MUJI named it the “Park Watch.” I place a high value on knowing the correct time here, although I am uncertain why, as I have no particular daily routine. Watch = precise time for no reason. No watch = imprecise operation of ambiguous schedule with the possibility of intermittent human contact to ask for the correct time. Watch on, off, off, or on – different choices, each with their own particular clutter.

68

Last night I heard the click-clacking of high heels again, "どですかでんどですかでん (dodesukaden)." There was a slight pause, then click-clacking at an intensified volume and rate. It could have been someone who suddenly remembered something then set off in a new direction towards an alternate, more pressing future, or it could have been an exceptionally volatile and naughty trolley that strayed from its normal route.

67

Two tentative Takinogawa cats walking west while I walk east.

66

Last night on the south side of the Shakujii Gawa I saw two dogs with illuminated collars, one collar was red and one collar was green like the left and right running lights on a ship in the darkness. Their erratic movements gave the impression of an alternately shrinking and expanding vessel, or of a drunk riverboat captain traveling towards me, then abruptly turning around and traveling away from me.

65

Three cats appeared tonight, all on the north side of the Shakujii gawa. The second cat was forty-seven paces from the first cat, the third cat was somewhere around one album's worth of music away from the second cat.

64

Two nights ago I passed by the tree that bit my hand, stopped, returned to it, and was tempted to snap its neck, but I didn’t and thought it best to hurry home for fear of encountering hordes of bloodthirsty Japanese zombies in the night. But perhaps if I did meet zombies I might feel a sense of kinship with them, as we are both “destined to wander the earth in search of brains.” Listening to an unabridged audio reading of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is affecting me, but not nearly as much as listening to The Toyota Way, read by the same man who read Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. After that the two texts merged and I was imagining Foucault’s Pendulum's nefarious "diabolicals" roving about everywhere, safely and economically in Japanese compact vehicles.

63

Yesterday, running into the close of the day on the south side of the Shakujii gawa, the 17:00 JST song played (Yuyake Koyake) mixing with the sounds of crows and crickets. I passed the Disneyesque playground, empty except for a single cat perched on the top of Cinderella’s castle.

62

Heading west along the Shakujii gawa into the setting sun, suddenly the smell of flour, water, salt, oil and boric acid, or otherwise known as Play Doh.

61

Last night I saw – and remembered that I previously saw – a square electric meter with five lights glowing in the dark on the south side of the river. Two yellow lights formed the eyes on the upper row and three lights made up the mouth on the lower. This meter has a red right tooth and two teeth that look to have fairly advanced tooth decay. Depending on the fluctuations in the building's energy consumption this meter could change and be sticking out its tongue, or have lost its eye leaving only a bloody socket. Alternately, it could have a completely bloody mouth after gorging on human flesh.

60

Three days ago I saw an exhibition of product designs by Naoto Fukasawa. The elegant pieces were reverently displayed and guarded as objects of significance. I wanted to write a note about a clever, inexpensive pen, but suddenly felt very odd when the pen I produced was the same as the one in front of me on display (and Pantone color matching system Orange 021 C too). It struck me as the equivalent of taking a pet to visit a zoo. Immediately afterwards I went to across the street to the MUJI store that Naoto Fukasawa often designs for and saw the same objects on display, but could touch and fondle them, even potentially break one. Then it felt oddly like taking a pet to visit a pet store.

59

Early yesterday morning there was the tiniest glint of sunlight on the black plastic of the rice cooker as I circled around it. Last night there was a smiling, waning crescent moon set against a dark sky and the soft purple glow of the bug lamps along the running path. Today the kitchen soap bottle is refracting long green streaks across the countertop. Tomorrow when the moldy zombies emerge from the hospital next door there will also be red and green. The sequence is as follows: yellow, black, white, black, purple, black, green, white, red, green; yet the implications are inscrutable.

58

While running along a particularly dark area of the Shakujii gawa tonight I reached up to grab a tree branch, unaware that there was a large thorn precisely where I was grasping. There was a momentary resilience of skin followed by rapid puncture and slice. I was sweating heavily from the run, so continually wiping my face and not realizing that I was smearing blood all over my cheeks and forehead. In retrospect, the perplexed and nervous expressions on the faces waiting at the Takinogawa traffic signal now make sense.

57

The embankments of the Shakujii gawa occasionally have ventilation shafts for the Tokyo Metro Namboku subway line, so as I run along the river I often hear the clacking of wheels and have the impression of trains moving in parallel with us. If the ventilation shafts are not for the Metro, then phantom trains definitely exist in Takinogawa.

56

Divisions are incrementally evanescing – soon the sky and my 18% gray card will be one.


54

There is a man with a chainsaw strapped to the back of his bike heading east.

53

In Tokyo we are now into the somber business of fall. Tonight in New York you are wearing masks and dressed as ghosts and rotting zombies. I can’t imagine the International Date Line that separates us. On a map it is sharp, like the folds of a well-made paper airplane. I try to see it cut through the water, yet it blends into the surroundings and submerges deep into an undersea world populated by glowing creatures with fangs, visibly pulsing innards, and fantastically ugly faces.

52.5

Across from the three-story Buddha on the north side of the Shakujii gawa there is a scaffolding system installed on the side of a house to support an old and still growing two-story cactus. Zooming in on the current, but outdated image from Google Maps “street view” shows only construction materials where the Buddha now sits, but it seems that the cactus has always been there in 1-3-16 Kita Ward. The cactus' house is cater-corner to the Buddha, so the cactus has the opportunity to contemplate Buddha contemplating the electric cables and telephone pole wires directly in front of his face. The apartment building nearby has the opportunity to contemplate the back of Buddha's head, while the electric cables have clear sight lines of both Buddha and the cactus and can consequently contemplate a wide range of topics.

52

"The slow-flowing Shakujii River originates from Sanpoji Pond, Shakujii Pond, and Fujimi Pond, then becomes a rapid stream in the Ōji area. It is said that the river roared like a waterfall. Hence, the name of the river became Takinogawa (Waterfall River). Takinogawa became famous for its autumn colours after the 8th Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune, had them planted in this area in 1721. A woman stands in the foreground, enjoying the scenery."

Photographer unknown, date unknown. From the University of Nagasaki Library Metadata Database of Japanese Old Photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Periods, inherited data from the original “Japanese Old Photographs of the Bakumatsu-Meiji Periods.

The slow flow of potential story lines triggered by an image caption – an unknown photographer, an unknown date, an unknown woman, and a landscape – turn into a rapid and roaring set of possibilities if viewed from a certain perspective.

51

I realize that the typical Western plating of starch at ten o'clock, meat at two o'clock, and vegetables at six o'clock doesn’t work with a bento box because there are “o’clocks” in the middle, as well as around the perimeter. Rice is often consumed at every meal – 09:00, 12:00, 18:00 (plus potential onigiri rice snacks at 16:00 and 22:00?) – so I have stopped looking at my watch while dining, or even wearing my watch.

50

An old man with a flashlight and a sharp looking stick is slowly looking for something stuck in a shrub along the Shakujii gawa. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, poke, poke, poke. As always, there is a cat watching. The situation seems innocuous enough at first; still, I get a momentary image in my head of numerous heads on sticks lining the path – both human and feline – with flashlights taped below their chins to create a childish horror effect. A moment later it is once again just a man with a stick looking for something while a cat stands by as witness.

49

Each week I quietly slide open the east door and secretly record a neighbor’s koto lesson. Auditory voyeurism, if such a thing is possible.

48

Endless emails regarding my Tokyu Hands “Hands Club Point Card” keep coming to me, in Japanese. I can’t read them, but I know that they are good because the Tokyu Hands "Creative Life Store" has upwards of nine floors with products ranging from practical household items such as twenty varieties of nail clippers, to the more mysterious giant daikon radish costume. Variety and interconnectedness is the order of the day and there is even a cat petting salon on the top floor.

47

I am looking at a relatively mutilated, 3” x 5” photograph of my childhood room. I brought this small catalyst with me from New York across the ocean to Japan. My current state of remove on a different continent and across the span of years affords me the opportunity to methodically, almost surgically go back into the heart of adolescent darkness and contemplate what exactly makes a high school room tick. I note the two old, battered skateboard decks mounted on the wall in the top left corner of the photograph. They are trophies. Recently, I noticed that there are two skateboarders regularly in front of Ōji Station in a parking lot on the east side. The numerous generations of skateboard decks developed since I skateboarded have evolved so much that now it is virtually impossible to distinguish between the front and back of a skateboard. That one skating closer to the Toden Arakawa line could potentially face forward and move backwards, face backwards and move backwards, face forward and move forwards, and the most interesting possibility to me: face backwards and move forwards. The last possibility reminds me of photographing, of expressing gratitude for mounting distance.

46

The autumn light at 17:00 JST on the kitchen counter can even transform one hundred Japanese Yen ($1.12 USD) dish soap into the obelisk from Kubrick's 2001, or into filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu's grave marker in Kita-Kamakura, or into what seems like an image from an advertisement in which the tones have been inverted are are waiting to be considered.

45

Two days ago, an earthquake in the middle of the night so small that I forgot.

44

どですかでん、どですかでん、どですかでん。。。(Dodesukaden). In onomatopoeic terms, dodesukaden is the sound of a moving trolley. Also, sometimes, the sound of click-clacking heels. Also, the name of Akira Kurosawa's 1970 film set in a Japanese garbage dump and a failure that almost drove him to kill himself.

43

Take an advertisement from a country that is not your own, reverse the tones in the image, and then mull over the details. My conclusion is as follows: meanwhile, there is an uneasy entente cordiale between penguins and robots in the netherworld where SUICA and PASMO exist. PASMO the robot roller skates over and presents an olive branch in the form of an 18% gray card to SUICA the penguin who is standing with its right flipper raised as if holding a 0% gray card in the night. The half purple, half 0% gray card in the penguin's left flipper is possibly for measuring things beyond the comprehension of those outside these infernal regions. This vignette could alternately be taking place in the depths of the undersea world, which would account for the penguin's luminescence. If this is the situation, then perhaps Utis, or Nobody would be more appropriate names for both of our characters rather than SUICA and PASMO. Are we, the spectators, presumably in a bathysphere?

Bottom image: Captain Nemo observing a giant octopus from the viewing port of the submarine Nautilus, in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. (Courtesy of NOAA Photo Library.)

42

The enigmatic connection between Egypt and Japan that had been eluding me for years is suddenly revealed on the back of snack packaging. Sesame is so evasive and slippery. How does it manage to travel so far when it is so small? A very clever seed indeed.

41

After an exceptionally violent mid-air catastrophe the paper airplane completes its sudden plunge towards the earth on the top of a dark green bush, the cockpit buried in the foliage. The bodies of the pilot and flight crew are indistinguishable from one another, just unimaginable human configurations and red mist hanging in the air. Nearby a dog’s ears – the same shape as the former nose cone – are attentively listening for the sounds of any passengers that survived the rapid decompression and subsequent impact. There is nothing. Only stillness, save the dog's own panting and its concerns for the victim’s families whirling around in its dog brain. The gurgling of the Shakujii gawa slowly fades back in as soundtrack for the torsos still safely strapped to seats. Beheadings are always such tragedies. Woof.

40

I am considering my “SUICA” transportation smart card sitting in front of me on the counter table. The Super Urban Intelligent Card (SUICA) brings together images, concepts, and references to watermelons, integrated circuits, and ease. The card is poetic compression in a rectangle. Of course one joy is that it makes travel effortless, but it is the penguin mascot possessing both cuteness, as well as the fortitude to travel long distances that really makes it so extraordinary and poignant. SUICA adds a touch of the epic to your routine commute.

39

Man gesturing to a cat, a woman leaning over talking to a cat, a bushel of leeks heaped on the back of a bike – zap-zap goes the purple bug lamp.

38

Here is a description taken from the internet of Busy, Busy Town by children's book author and illustrator Richard Scarry: “About the Book: ‘Battle Royale, a high-octane thriller about senseless youth violence, is one of Japan's best-selling - and most controversial - novels. As part of a ruthless program by the totalitarian...’” Wait – there must be some kind of mistake because that doesn't sound like the idyllic Swiss backdrop for Richard Scarry’s characters Huck the cat and Lowly the worm to learn the process of transforming trees into paper, the operation of a mill, the transportation industry, and the daily details of running a stationery store. Huck the cat is not a totalitarian – he always shared with Lowly the worm. Wait a moment – hold on a second, "Lowly the worm?" Now that actually IS starting to sound just a little bit suspicious as I think back to the paper pulp factory, who had to operate the dangerous machines, endlessly clean the shop floors, manage the stinky dumpsters, and who seemed to be sitting pretty and cozy with fat cat management. Large sigh, bipedalism trumps reptilian locomotion yet again. It is time to send in Lewis Hine.

37

12:14 JST, no traffic, but still waiting for the Takinogawa signal to change from red to green. I look down and down is looking up. Over one month later on a dark and stormy night it will surprise me again.

36

The classical music DJ purred that it was Mahler day, but I honestly wouldn't know. Still, I can say clearly that I covet the obsolete two story speakers from the 1960s. The occasional whispering of the customers blends nicely with the occasional sounds of someone napping. My Belgian friend brought me here to ライオン (Raion - Lion) in Dogenzaka in 2008. Now I come here regularly to consider the dusty, cascading chandelier with the accompaniment of scratchy string crescendos and clinking spoons in china cups. Here: 20091019 18:17 JST, total running time 1 minute and 1 second.

35

Everywhere I go I make it a point to look at where I am from above on Google Earth so that I can see my surroundings. One never knows if there is a nearby neighbor with a kidney shaped pool that can be secretly drained when they are away on vacation, and furtively used for the purpose of skateboarding. The Google technology that allows one to zoom in and out reminds me of two films that incorporate zooming into their structure – A Rough Sketch for a Proposed Film Dealing with the Powers of Ten and the Relative Size of Things in the Universe made in 1968 by Charles and Ray Eames and Cosmic Zoom made in the same year by Eva Szasz.

From the vantage point of 2-32-10 Takinogawa, Kita-ku, The National Film Board of Canada presenting eight minutes of film in Cosmic Zoom of a boy rowing, a mosquito, his dog, and a blood cell, along with the Eames' eight minutes focusing on a picnic all seems like some far away experiment. Still, genuine connections and linkages exist. They are on a river and I am near a river. I have no dog, but I was born in 1968. I like picnics and I also like rough sketching without the requirement of crafting a final, honed something. However, neither film hints at the possibility of a kidney shaped pool.

33

The telephone repairman with white helmet, indigo work clothes, and belt with clippers, wires, gadgets, and meters – who is attached to the telephone pole outside at the same level as the balcony, and is nestled within the telephone pole wires with a clear sight line from where I am now sitting – almost blends into the powder blue and lightly clouded sky. If the light changes a bit he might disappear and I would see wires moving and attaching to one another of their own volition.

32

Earlier while heading west I saw a man wearing a backpack and technical vest photographing a willing cat on the north side of the Shakujii gawa with an expensive digital single-lens reflex camera. Shortly afterward on the south side of the river I saw a different man (I think) in knee length shorts holding a small plastic grocery bag in his left hand while leaning precariously over a bush to photograph an awkwardly located flower stem with the mobile phone in his right hand. Now I hear the sharp sounds careening off the river embankments of someone clipping their fingernails indicating that unfortunately, personal grooming is publicly taking place somewhere off in the distance beyond the river bend. Perhaps later in the day I will come across a small pile of waning crescent moons further west.

31

I am still thinking about Disneyland Park in California in 2003, but also thinking about Tokyo Disneyland in Japan in 2005, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Florida in 2006, and getting stopped by Magic Kingdom security in 2009. I am considering visiting Tokyo Disneyland once again as the gray of winter approaches. The gray of the painted ground in Tokyo Disneyland would match the sky and my 18% gray card perfectly, much more perfectly than in all the other Disneylands and Disney Worlds. Although they are collectively "The Happiest place on earth," they are not always the most scrupulously clean places on earth, which is absolutely necessary to achieve an even 18% gray. Waste is not visible, or acceptable at Tokyo Disneyland, which creates an overwhelmingly powerful curiosity deep inside me to see what is at the heart of their garbage dumpsters.

30

Just down the street from the local サミット (Samitto - Summit) supermarket there is a surveillance camera in front of the Kōban (neighborhood police station). Seeing the round dome of the camera housing nestled discreetly amongst the streetlights got me thinking about how the villainous HAL 9000 computer from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001 looks almost exactly the same. I once saw HAL living in a parking garage in Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California in 2003 when he migrated out of the film and into the real world (if we consider Disneyland Park as a part of the real world – or is it an intermediate step for migratory characters from films?). So, now HAL possibly lives in Takinogawa. I am curious if HAL was still capable of reading lips in 2003 as in the film and if it understood what I was conspiratorially communicating to it in that inky Californian parking garage at the end of the day.

...When the nights dark, we can both despise

Policemen and lamps as well.

There are bright lights in the dazzling eyes

Of beautiful Daisy Bell.

29

On Sundays I sometimes go to Narita Airport to photograph the people photographing the jets and the people photographing their children photographing the jets from the outdoor observation deck. Today I am thinking about that Austrian Airlines jet that just arrived from somewhere. Also, I am thinking about traveling from New York to Vienna to see The Third Man on January 17, 2003 at 7:44 AM and the jet bridge stretching out to meet the Japan Airlines jet that was next to me. Could there have been a hatsumelo warning song as the jet bridge pulled away from the aircraft? If the hatsumelo for the Japan Airlines jet flying to Vienna were in fact the theme from The Third Man, then what Japanese film might have been referenced in my plane's departure song as the jet bridge pulled away? On that note, could Austrian Airlines hatsumelos for jets departing Vienna for Narita possibly play Kojun Saito's theme from Yasujirō Ozu's 1953 film Tokyo Story?