Wednesday, March 29, 2006

At what age does cool die?

On Sunday night, I went to a masquerade party at DoDoDo. I liked the premise, and since I'd never been to one, I decided to go. A handful of foreign friends were there, wearing butterfly-shaped masks, just like everyone else in the place. It was only the second time since New Years since I went out, and I was happy catching up. For awhile. At many large Japanese social events, here is a tendancy to schedule games or activities. Usually, these are good, drunken fun. But on this night, the staff came around to all the tables and made us join in. I didn't care for this, especially since the party was moving along at a nice pace until then.

So stood off to the side with Cian, heckling the whole thing. In my slightly annoyed state, I looked around the room at all the people having their enforced fun. More than enjoying themselves, the majority just stood around trying to look cool. There was no need to hand out masks here, everybody seemed to have brought their own. I used to really enjoy this place, which stands at the pinnacle of cool in the 'Nog. But it seemed hollow tonight, a reminder of what bothers me about this city. When I first came here, I was amazed at all the hip looking people around, but was soon told that for the most part, it rarely goes deeper than fashion. Yet another uniform in a country that thrives on them. It took time to find the depth, and before long I had found an interesting circle of funky Japanese friends who never fail to stimulate and challenge me. None were here tonight.

But am I so different? If it hadn't been a masquerade party, I wouldn't have come out at all tonight. And I know of course that uniforms are not specific to Japan. A long while ago, I came to the conclusion that cool is just a commodity, bought and sold in terms of the right look, the hippest music, the trendiest film. If you think that you're cool, you've been sucker-punched by advertising. I prefer to measure my life in terms of growth and depth.

Or maybe it's just that I'm getting old. And increasingly pretentious.

On the turntable: Jeff Buckley, "Grace"


kyokoshell said...

i'll take desperate attempts at looking cool over half-naked j boys sharing body sweat any day. yelch

dr Dave said...

Sounds like a bad case of Yaknowbackinmydays you got here... ;-)
Surely you are familiar with the old social theory about the correlation between the number of years after you move to a new place and the decreasing level of coolness of your entourage at large (you may, since that's practically what you are describing):
- person moves to new city, finds everything exciting, makes new circle of cool friends
- person stays in city and enjoys said circle of cool people
- circle of cool people grows old (people leave, get married, tired of hanging out etc.)
- person is no longer used to "acquire" new friends and is left with a feeling the whole city is on the decline when it's mostly own little circle of friends that would tend to give that impression
- city is officially dubbed "not as cool as it used to be"...

This particularly shows when a large group of people has moved to a place all at once (flourishing economy or whatnot) and simultaneously start feeling bitter a few years later...

Timeto move out of the 'Nog?

ted said...

Shell--Guess I missed that part of the party.

Doc--You're absolutely right. The difference between Tokyo and the countryside is that the latter acts like a revolving door for expats. The new energy keeps things fresh. My gaijin friends are great, as always. It's my quirky J-friends who've moved on. Their mindset being so open that they were attracted a multitude of things. And it was that discovery that served as the catalyst to change. Sitting at the edge of the fishbowl looking out gets tiring after awhile. Gotta swim sometime.

I feel that I am now in that same mindset. My time-share existance between here and Kyoto being the reason. There is so much going on down there, but I'm hardly around to enjoy it. All this foreplay is a tease. Before long, I'll be rolling around on that much greener grass on a daily basis.

Then I'm sure I'll miss the simplicity of the 'Nog. (Sigh)