Laugh at ME will you?

This is in case I don't have your email address, but you talk to people who do, and might get all offended you were off the list. Get off my back already!

So, a lot of you have been bugging me for another funny email, sorry it's taken so long, but I've been pretty busy lately. If I haven't been calling various law enforcement agencies on my boss, shaking him down for hush money, or vandalizing his offices, I've been sorting through my every material possession trying to make a backpack sized lump of the most vital stuff, and deciding whether any of the rest is worth its weight in outrageous shipping costs.
Anyway, despite my boss' nearly constant fuckering*, I have managed to have some fun/adventures/what have you.

Went to Japan in late July, and like, whoa. It's like, if everyone in Korea sobered the fuck up, gained about 20 IQ points, bothered to learn anything at all about the world around them, stopped living like they're just waiting to die, put on some damn makeup, and took a God damned driving lesson already!

Part One: The Landscape, oh my God, the Landscape!

Most people don't care to know this, but there was a war here fifty years ago. Of course that's what the memorial plaques say. Looking at the place, I would have placed it about 4:50pm last Tuesday. Every animal larger or less elusive than an alley cat has been rounded up and exterminated either for food or to be ground up into hard-on powder. There is literally no wildlife. A bird was singing from a rooftop yesterday. That's rare enough to warrant comment. Homes are built as though for refugees. Four story concrete boxes with no ventilation or insulation are thrown up in a month, by workers who don't know enough to put in earplugs to work a jack hammer, not lift a palette of bricks with their lower back, or avoid light switches when painting, and then are torn down a year and a half later, when what amount to damp, sweltering caves built by idiots for some reason become unliveably foul, mouldering, crumbly hovels. The flora is a bunch of straggly pines, never more than 30 feet high, never wider than two feet in diameter, most usually held up by ropes because they'd been transplanted within the last year because Koreans believe in something called Geomancy. I'll let you look that nonsense up, I couldn't do it justice. Let's just say the man they elected in a landslide in December had his family's corpses exhumed and reburied in a "luckier" spot to help his chances in the election. Everyone knew this and no one cared, and then acted surprised when he turned out to be a complete twit. What I'm trying to say is there's no place in this country that hasn't been fucked with, at least not for the better.

Japan, on the other hand, was not only bombed flat but nuked twice, and besides the ruins of the A-bomb Dome in Hiroshima, I'd have been hard pressed to find any evidence. The landscape is beautiful, the farms have variety, not just endless plains of one crop for miles, countryside houses look like Asian versions of Amish country and the cities have buildings with angles both obtuse and acute! Imagine! We climbed Fuji, and I've already gone off on what a nightmare mountaineering is in Korea, so I'll just say that everyone was unfailingly, infuriatingly polite (We never successfully yielded right of way. Some how they can spot a courtesy from twenty paces and beat you to the punch every time.), while there was litter, people cared enough to chuck it into inaccessible and hard to see parts of the mountain, instead of just dropping it anywhere, and the drive to the trailhead went through some of the nicest, lushest, most diverse forest I've seen since leaving Appalachia behind almost a year ago now. (Correction: -temperate forest- Thailand and Laos were pretty nice too) It was restorative being in a place where the biggest douchebags were Americans, as God intended.

I guess Buddhists are way better at meditating than anyone else, because their temples are nowhere near as relaxing as a Shinto shrine. We went to one on an island in Hiroshima, and it beat the ever-loving buhjeezus out of any Buddhist temple I've ever been in for being a calming, meditative place to just wander around and wish I hadn't left my frigging camera on a bus to Jeonju two months previously on my way to what had been described by Koreans as a "Cherry blossom festival" which turned out to be the equivalent of a local fire company's shitty summer carnival, without the rides or funnel cakes, and a lot more reeking pots of boiling bugs. So equanimity's not my thing, so what, wanna fight about it?

The cities were really nice; expensive, but the quality of everything was so much better than in Korea you hardly cared. We ate mostly out of 7-11's and I think I was better nourished on my fish-rice ball/fruit juice/bread and cheese/Mystery Box Prize diet than I've been since I left Bangkok in February. I should explain here that if you spent more than 700 yen in one go in a 7-11 you got to reach into a box and pull out a coupon to get something in the store for free. There's a minors box with candy, coffee, etc. and an 18+ box which I generally frequented. Among other things I got an object lesson in ignorance being bliss, when having learned to read Japanese meant that the label on the "health drink" I was given told me I had just downed, among other things, 3mg of "neekohteenoo". I don't smoke. Also I got a can of "Can" brand drink, which was basically a can of straight vodka someone had squeezed about four whole lemons into. After "Can" we were pretty well scared straight. As for accommodations, we slept everywhere from internet cafes (very nice) to pod hotels (very cool, but noisy, and kinda gay) to public art (surprisingly comfortable, and cops are too polite to roust you) to a love motel. Love motels in Korea are concrete boxes where you get one dingy room for extremely cheap to be used for... (imagine slapping the side of one fist with the palm of the other hand, that's been my favorite description so far, from the desk staff no less) if you're Koran, or just flopping if you're a Westerner. In Japan, they look a set from You Only Live Twice. The room had a sunken zen rock garden, above which the living room was suspended on comfy bamboo mats, the bedroom had an enormous, laundered, king size bed, there was a bathroom for brushing your teeth, one for the toilet, and one for the shower, a minibar stocked with seriously good booze easily stolen enough to be essentially free, and a TV with the most emotionally scarring porn I've ever seen in my life. It only cost around twice what you'd pay in Korea. And while we're on the subject of quality, the sushi was frigging amazing. We decided to wait until Tokyo, to go to Tsukiji Fish Market to have any, and God what a good decision that was. The equivalent of $40 bucks got you, fresh from the docks twenty feet away, three slices of sashimi, a tuna roll, 11 pieces of the most delicious, fresh (in one case still alive) frigging fish that ever existed, and great sake to wash it down with. Best meal I've ever had, and I've been to Italy and Thailand.

Part Two: The Women, oh my God, the Women!
My main beef with Korean women is that if they hatched out of effing pods they couldn't be any more conformist. In the summer time everyone wears big baggy tshirts covered in atrocious Engrish, (i.e. "The God of Surfing has gotten off inside of me" - I'd sell my firstborn to Rumplestiltskin for that friggin' thing) and tiny little booty shorts (Great for the first week or so, then you become that tribesman from National Geographic - surrounded by topless women but, you know, so what?) In the wintertime, ridiculously long hoodies that go down to the knees (think garbage bag), the same damn booty shorts, and long socks and fuzzy underwear - to keep warm, obviously. Add in the hairstyles, all one of them, and the fact that they act like retarded 4 year olds because all Asian men are secretly beastiality-ophiles who don't want a woman so much as a dog with unthinking loyalty so you don't have to worry about being cheated on when you go out to fuck hookers, and no introspection so they don't raise hell about what bullshit it all is, and you have an entire nation of women doing their best to look like everyone else. Or to put it another way, average.

That is emphatically -not- a problem in Japan. Some of the women barely even look human; it's too bad "Star Wars Cantina" is an overused metaphor, because it's so damn on the nose in this case. About ten minutes after getting off the train in Tokyo, we learned how to spot hookers - first, go to where all the girls with two foot high blonde beehives, three inch long bead-azzled fingernails, three postage stamps worth of clothing, and six inch clear plastic stilletto heels hang out, then look for the mousy chicks dressed in sensible clothes. Ironically the only way for a girl to stand out in that city at night is to dress like she's going to a job interview. Obviously it's not all broads dressed like hookers and hookers you could take to your cousin's wedding, there's a healthy cross section of just about any other fad you can imagine taken to its logical extreme, from punks, to hippies, to a rumored Shinjuku rockabilly enclave we never did find. However freaky your alley there are a ton of Japanese way further up it than you would think possible. Which is the third thing I really dug about Japan.

Part Three: The... Giving a Shit? Oh my God the giving a shit!
"In Korea, it's everyone's first day and last day, everyday." I've been thrown out of a MacDonald's for serving myself after the counter woman couldn't get her shit together within ten minutes. My pal Mike has been reduced to a trembling mess trying to get his morning coffee fix at a Dunkin' Donuts while three girls try to figure out how to work the machine (Pour into filter, put filter in machine, press big red button) and ignore his instructions shouted at them - in Korean. We've fucked over a cabby by asking for an hour and a half long ride to our city on Sunday night and negotiating on a price, without him actually knowing where we were asking him to go. You should have seen his face when he asked another cabby at a red how to get there, the fare didn't even cover tolls. Basically, all Koreans go about their lives as if it's their first and last day on the job. Incompetence, combined with an utter lack of interest in learning to do any better, and not just in their work, in pretty much every aspect of their lives. I've had kids freak out over my Ipod, "80 Giga! Much music!" and then only listen to Old Beatles. I've tried playing them Sgt. Peppers, and no kid has yet sat through the entire first song. I had a "Music Appreciation class" with my gifted students, where I played punk, rock, rap, pop, blues, psychedelia, reggae, and country. Of about 25, I got one kid to admit he enjoyed Aesop Rock, one kid wanted to know where he could download Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and one girl actually argued with the rest of the class when they hated on Drive-By Truckers. I felt like kidnapping her and smuggling her out of the country, it's gonna be a damn shame when she hits 9th grade and becomes an insufferable ditz whose dream job is "stewardess".

The first night we spent in Tokyo we went looking for record stores. The second night we realized we are retards, because they are EVERYWHERE. The first we went into had a handbook listing the location of every record store in Japan. There were 11 within three blocks of where we were. Anyway we ended up in stores where the proprietor only dealt in Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady, etc. and had original pressings of Toots and the Maytals, Bob Marley and the Wailing Wailers, and Reggaeton music that didn't make you want twist a rusty corkscrew into your ears, Jazz places with original pressings by James Brown, Miles Davis, some of which cost over $4000, Punk, Classic Rock, you name it. And the only connecting thread was every one of these guys actually cared about what they were doing, could talk confidently and knowledgeably about every album in the store, and was actually eager to listen to your music, even if it wasn't in their little genre slice. Even the corporations know people there aren't into screwing around. We went to a Tower Records, and I ended up in the bookshop, and except for the obligatory Dan Brown, I don't think I saw a single book that wouldn't be intensely interesting to read. They bothered to get the English on their shirts right for God's Sake! Old women are tastefully dressed, polite, and walk erect, rather than miserable, squat gorillas with hideous L-shaped backs from years of carrying everything on their bottom two vertebrae!

So in summation, Japan is a very cool place that if you have several million dollars of disposable income, could be the best place to just hang around in and Korea blows goats, or would if there were any left. Anyway, soon I'll be gone and on to a succession of better places. I've put this out there a bunch of times, but I'll be going through Russia, Eastern Europe, Turkey, Greece, and maybe onwards if there's time and money left during September and October. Anybody has any free time and interest in meeting up or vacations already planned lemme know, I'll see what I can do about meeting up with you. Otherwise I'll catch up with Thanksgiving-ish. This will also very likely be the last email, funny or otherwise until then.


*fuckering - verb, to act in a manner consistent with that of a total fucker



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