People of the World:
Look you guys, you can post comments now. It's an experiment and we'll see how it goes. If nobody's commenting or if the comments bum me out, I'm getting rid of it. This blog is an ego/vanity project whose sole purpose is my pleasure.
My fave acupuncture doctor told me he found my blog. Hi, Masaru!
Masaru is from Sapporo originally, so he understands about drinking. He said Sapporo got beer when the Germans brought it over in the late 1800s. Japan was busy getting Westernized, which included, you know, beer.
The Germans are good for two things: beer, and Axel.
Did you know that Japan and Germany have a history of, how you say, cultural exchange?
I didn't know this.
Masaru's all, Um, hello?
OK, I know. WWII and all.
But it's hard for me to think of Japan as a German-style enemy. When I think of Japan, I think of Hello Kitty, Cibo Matto, superhero fashion, cute skinny boys with bleached-blonde Beatles haircuts, haiku poetry, video games and stereos and gadgets of all sorts, sushi and amazing candy packages, kimonos and cherry trees and bonsai trees and gardens and tea, and the world's most sophisticated and outrageous street fashion.
I think of Zen Buddhism too.
Also, Pink Lady and Puffy AmiYumi.
Plus, soy sauce flavored cracker balls, and the world's best holiday names: Ocean Day, Children's Day, etc.
As you know, Japanese kids are the world's greatest music fans, too
And sake bombs. Let us not forget the esteemed sake bomb.
Our next-door neighbors growing up on Third Avenue were the Ishibashis, a great 3rd-generation family with lots of cousins and grandparents and people running around all the time. Once a week, they had a family reunion, every Tuesday, and I would go over and play with April and Audra, my favorite cousins.
The Ishibashis were the first people I knew to have early cable, called "On TV." I think they had "The Z Channel" too, maybe. Maybe later? Anyway, they were in love with boxing, which is why they got those channels, to watch Holmes vs. Whoever and Sugar Ray Leonard and whatnot. And basketball--you could practically keep score by the sound of the men exploding whenever the Lakers scored.
Us kids were mainly into eating those soy crackers, watching TV, playing in my backyard, roller skating, running in sprinklers, swimming at the Manions' (a great Irish clan down the block), and doing crafts projects, because Mrs. Ishibashi was an art teacher. Her house was full of great '70s crafts stuff like macrame plant hangers, hippie lithographs, pottery, etc. Growing up in the '70s, in general, was all about the crafts projects--macaroni madness, God's eyes, you name it.
Mr. Ishibashi loved Playboy Magazine and jazz music. I don't even know what he did for a living. When you're a kid, you don't care about that stuff. All you care about is, will he let us watch TV upstairs. I remember one time watching "Enter the Dragon" on their bed with Ben and some other random kids. Ben was so into Bruce Lee. And Ultra Man, and Giant Robot.
They had two dogs in the '70s: a pretty girl mutt named Puff, and a tiny, scaly, decrepit old thing with no hair called Suki.
Poor, poor Suki. I could never pet Suki in the first place. But then, Puff died prematurely (one of the sons had his truck on the lawn, as usual, and Puff was asleep underneath, and her hearing was going, and he felt just awful afterward). After Puff was gone, Suki didn't stand a chance against the evil pit bulls from 9th St., who had crippled Suki in the first place. Poor, poor Suki. If you can't picture Suki, just think of Eeyore with mange and no ribbon on his tail, and you've got the basic vibe.
Later, in the '80s, I drifted away from April and Audra and the whole family. I don't know what happened. I guess our schedules changed, and our interests. Audra was a little older than me, and I think she started to become a real teenager when I was still just a child. She got really into basketball and she went to public school and got kind of tough.
I found out when I was older that the Ishibashi grandfather, a quiet gardener man, had been interned during WWII. "Interned." What a word. It sounds like he was doing graduate research.
Much, much later, I found out from my mother that all the women on the block had a thing for Mr. Ishibashi (the Playboy guy). To me, he was this kind of fat guy who went clamming and gave us these horrid, huge monster clams with enormous protruding "necks," that lived in buckets in the back hall until my mom cooked them. But according to Faith, Mr. Ishibashi had the sort of sexy sly vibe that drives a lonely 1970s housewife slightly mad!
In the '80s they got a horrible satanic German shepherd named Moussaka or something (however you say "warrior" in Japanese), and you couldn't even go in your own backyard because he barked so vicously. It ruined everything and it seemed like they hated us.