Friday, October 31, 2008

The Silent Stars Go By...

Where even the most mundane things in San Francisco inevitably seem "hip," my home state has the tendency to dazzle you with her beauty. It is best to keep in mind Joel Weishaus's words that "New Mexico's emptiness tempts the imagination to overdose on scenery and clichés."

But clichés aren't all that easy to avoid.

As my plane swoops in, I look down at ancient volcanoes rising like areolae from the brown earth, which curves away toward the edges of horizon. The desert here is a fuller color than it was last summer. And the sky so blue, not as dark as the High Sierran lakes we'd flown over, but much more dramatic. There is so much space here that thoughts come out in fragments, with little to hold them together.

A day or two later, I get up early to help my mom clean her church. I sweep the courtyard, pushing the broom over land than had once been sacred to the native people now long pushed out by the Mexican farmers who've for centuries plowed the nearby fields. There are a few spaces carved like caves into the adobe walls, hiding a handful of this county's long forgotten war dead. As I sweep, I think how the zen monks in my adopted land pull their brooms toward them, where here at home I am pushing it away. A metaphor lies here somewhere, maybe in how zen is about moving inward toward one's true face, while the Catholics expand outward to meet God. As I amuse myself with these useless thoughts, I try to ignore the Right to Life posters on the wall. Apparently the parish priest himself isn't so extreme in his ideas, and in a brief conversation, I find him a delight. He literally howls when I tell him how Miki once mistook a confessional for a bathroom.

Afterward, I indulge myself in that other American past time, politics. From abroad, the election seems like a sporting event, but here at home it is more like a battle. It's depressing how easily the news networks throw around war metaphors. This is the first day of early voting and here in New Mexico, a swing state, it takes me almost a hour to do my civic duty. It's always fun to listen to the opinionated conversations of these small town folk around me. I happened to be here four years ago, and I'll never forget hearing one old guy saying, "Well that Bush just looks a whole lot tougher." That 2004 election had been really tight here, taking on a reddish hue by a mere 11 votes. How I'd prayed for a tie, which according to state law would've been decided by a hand of poker. I eventually get my pencil and darken the circles on my ballot, taking the multiple choice test that is democracy.

I spend long afternoons out in the back yard. The space here is not only in the physical landscape. It's all too easy to sink into the silence. The ring of the phone feels especially offensive. One afternoon, two Apache helicopters fly over, so low that I can see the door gunners, leaning into the space. I read and watch the birds feed. Two sparrows have built a nest over the front door, and the daylight hours are marked by the near constant tapping of their beaks on their own reflections in the mirrored glass just below. One night I step outside, accidentally scaring dozens of migratory birds from the trees out front where they'd chosen to pass the night. Another night, I surprise a coyote.

As usual, I watch films. The sub woofer of the home theatre setup more than once tricks me into thinking that we're having a quake.

My sister and her family fly over from North Carolina. I hike along Sandia Crest with my nephew. The wind is strong, my ears aching with the altitude. We climb onto the roof of the Kiwanis Cabin, (the place where I proposed to Miki last year), with its 270 degree views of the desert floor a mile down. On the road home, three elk run across the road and escape into the scrub, the white bulls-eyes of their asses moving toward the ridge above. The setting sun makes the sky a tapestry of yellow, throwing gold bars across the striated rocks of the valley's mesas.

Throughout it all, the sky keeps its constant blue, broken only by planes plowing vapor trails high above...

On the turntable: Bonnie Prince Billy, "Blue Lotus Feet"

On the nighttable: Ivan Morris, et al., "Madly Walking in the Mountains"

On the reel table: "Amongst White Clouds" (Burger, 2007)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hip to T²

Kansai airport in the rain. The place seems more Asian these days, with the package tourists bottle-necking the duty free shops. One guy stares at me for the 15 minutes it takes me to drink my coffee. I get into my seat and on take off, I watch air currents thick with water curl around the wing like a flexy straw.

On the other side now. Less than an hour in town, and I'm already awed by the polycultural faces I see rushing toward me. I pull CLo out of work and we go eat sandwiches in Yerba Buena Park. We jaw away his lunch hour. Perched on his big rock, CLo looks all the sage. I have to kill time until he finishes at 5, so he gets me free pass to MoMA, a perk of his job. I wander the galleries, finding the surrealist paintings completely in tune with the fuzzy edges of a jag-lagged brain. Calming in a way. The abstract expressionists seem too linear. I've now been up close to thirty hours. I walk over to Market Street and head toward west. After a few blocks, I'm moving through sections of the city literally corroding. The people on the streets too seem in various stages of decomposition. (The irony here is that these folks represent a higher percentage of the American population than those of the yoga enclaves where I spend most of my time while in country.) The people here pace and talk, pace and talk, either to themselves or on their cellphones. Teenage Vietnamese gangbangers look much younger than I remember. Has crime too been outsourced? A few blocks over in City Plaza, it's all marble and gilded accents, suits and capped teeth. A small group of potheads fire up in the grass outside City Hall. I soon come to my goal for the day, Hyde Valley. I grab a coffee at the Blue Bottle Cafe, a walk up kiosk down the street from a chop shop. I find a seat amongst the young urban hipsters in a nearby park. A pair of women sit cross-legged facing each other. The rapt attention on their faces means they're either doing an energy reading or going through a lesbian break up. An Asian guy sits on a bench, playing the same straight four-beat djembe tattoo over and over. I finish my cup and begin my walk back. There are Obama posters everywhere in this city. I feel somewhat conspicuous since I seem to be walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk. In front of Yerba Buena is a large Catholic church, so I go inside to light a votive candle for Ken. It has been an especially long October 14th this year. I'm shocking to pay $5 for a candle, but I convince myself that part of that is for the ambiance, as a dozen or so elderly Latino women chant prayers behind me. My own prayers finished, I make my way to meet CLo.

After dark, we make our way down toward the Mission. We decide to grab a beer before dinner. The Argus is dark, the clientele young hipsters again. The same can be said later over at the Latin American Club. In both bars we can't seem to get the IPA I've been craving for most of the year. Distributor seems to be out. We sit under the pinatas drinking Anchor Steam, laughing at all the 80s tunes that come over the sound system. They come across much cheesier having played the soundtrack to teen memories. We are finally able to get a seat at Barretta, a new Italian 'comfort food' place CLo had been wanting to try. A place so hip that when we'd originally balked on joining the wait list, the hostess shrugged like, "Don't care if you eat here or not." The food was outstanding, but would've tasted better in sobriety and on more sleep.

The next morning, we do the morning ritual at Liberty Cafe, where Miki and I ate often last year. CLo finished work midday, so we drive over to the Haight for lunch and a walk. Our legs take us up over a few hills and up Fillmore. We go into the Japan Center, all the kanji messing with my head so soon off the plane. We check out Yoshi's jazz club, with its beautiful pre-war vibe, high ceilings and spiral staircases. Fillmore looks pretty beat down. We see three instances of road rage on three consecutive blocks of a single street. The Fillmore Auditorium plays bookend to yesterday's Warfield, two names often seen on cassette tapes of Dead bootlegs.

Drop the car up in Bernal and watch some of the debate. Growing fat on slogans and hungry for a meal, we make our way out. The debate continues, flashes coming from every bar or shop we pass. Even the butcher is tuned in. Down the hill, the seedier pool halls opt to show a futbol match instead. A fine representation of the artist/workingclass vibe in this part of town. We pop into El Rio for our long sought after IPA, downing them as CNN begins their spin. We finally make it over to Popolote, now bustling with amateur spin of its own. We've eaten late a lot these two days, testament to CLO and I getting caught up in our gab, scattering our attention. I ask him about why everybody in this city just vibrates with hipness. He said that most people here are able to work some kind of cool job which allows for a certain lifestyle. I think about this as we pass a Hello Kitty piñata in a store window, under the buttery light of a harvest moon, hanging high above the Victorians.

On the turntable: Haco, "Happiness Proof"

On the nighttable: Dervla Murphy, "Full Tilt"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Seasons End

The Red Sox finished their season last night, after an exhilarating Game 5 and a business-like Game 6.  What I think I love most about the team is their fans, who had so much faith in their team after years of near misses.  This of course being puritanical New England, faith is nothing new.

I think too of my uncle's team, the Dodgers, whose own season finished a week ago.  I think how their move from Brooklyn to LA back in 1958 killed two communities.

And I think of course of the Yankees, who couldn't even eke a few more games out of their beautiful stadium.  It dawned on me recently that back in the era of the club's hot 1970's teams, I had been too young to see that those teams I adored had been created by Steinbrenner's Hand-of-God approach to ownership, an approach which eventually went on to kill the entire game of baseball for me. 

OK, that's it.  Three strikes, I'm out...

On the turntable:  "Rogue's Gallery"

On the nighttable:  E. Readlicker-Henderson,  "Under the Protection of the Cow Demon"

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday papers: Thoreau

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can let alone."

On the turntable: The Album Leaf, "The Enchanted Hill"
On the nighttable: Edward Seidensticker, "Tokyo Central"
On the reel table: "The Big Lebowski" (Coen, 1998)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fragmento Mori (下) (TSH VII)


One Saturday night, there was a release party for the latest issue of Kyoto Journal, one that highlights some residents of that city. Among these is a Zen monk from Myoshinji's subtemple of Taizo-in, where the party was held. All of the interviewers and interviewees were invited to connect and re-connect over beer and vegetarian fare. Miki's friend Aki played the Ainu instrument, mukurri. She in turn was followed by a kamishibai performance. Later, everyone was invited out to the garden. The lighting created an entirely different visual subtext than a zen garden seen in full daylight. Some areas were hidden, others revealed. Long shadows were thrown in a way that closely and uniquely paralleled the contours of the viewer's mind. Swells of shakuhachi phrases came out of some of these shadows. The light behind revealed multi-colored patterns of kimono...


The next day, Miki and I had intended to continue on our walk of the old roads, but an insistent rain limited us to a medium-sized stroll over Kurodani past Honen's hut of purple clouds, then on down to Heian Shrine for Veggie Festa. We ran into quite a few of our friends there, so many that it took us over a hour to actually leave. Cafe Millet's Juri and Kuma-pan were selling vegan sweets and coffee, and not far away, Iain D. and Chie were explaining how the magic behind their biofuelled truck. A couple of Hare Krishna were spooking people with their literature, most of all, JesusChris, who felt stalked. I was surprised and happy to run into the Sikh who runs the Kundalini Center down on Mt. Ikoma. We continued a conversation we had back in the spring. He has renovated the retreat space and hopes to do more events there. Very intriguing. On the stage nearby, a very talented band was playing a unique, jazz-world music hybrid. We walked past, happy and recharged as we made our way home.


Bodhi over at Iori invited me to take part in a series of workshops and events held as part of the Origin Arts Program. Founded by Alex Kerr, Origin offers the opportunity for people to come to Kyoto and experience a variety of traditions under a master instructor. Due to work commitments I could only attend the Noh portion, but this was the area that most interested me. As a long term student of aikido and kyudo, I had long been curious to see if there is any connection with the footwork of Noh. (My previous study of the Omotesenke tea ceremony found similarities in the movement of the hips.) The workshop was run by the son of a famous Noh actor. He led us through an enjoyable afternoon, the movements of the Japanese guests done in the utmost concentration; those of the foreigners a study in self-consciousness (myself included). This was followed by a philosophical and spiritual lecture on Noh masks. It was incredible how these masks took on a life of their own when worn. It literally became a living face. As he talked, his real face became a mask, that of a performer and a teacher. It was only when speaking of his personal life that this "mask" cracked to reveal the typical face of a 27-year old. During the performance later that night, while performing as part of the chorus, his face became ethereal, almost demonic. This otherworldly nature of the performance was enhanced by his father, dancing and stomping less than a meter in front of me. In his mask, flowing robes, and furious glare, he acted the shaman, connecting us simultaneously with all ancient cultures and all ancient places. The only human part of him was his hands, which looked massive. Time too flirted with stopping completely and becoming all times, but for the lone shime drummer keeping human time marching on, sticks brandished stiffly with flourishes that revealed some of the roots of kumi daiko. When the beat stopped, we, the audience, were silent. When and how does a person applaud a transcendental experience?

Afterward, we all went over to the Yoshikawa Ryokan for a formal sit-down dinner. The night was still warm but the garden surrounding us was moving toward the colors of autumn. Alex was a fantastic interpreter and host, tying themes not only between the arts of Japan, but also amongst other Asian traditions. For example, he mentioned that Gagaku is basically 6th Century Turkish dance, sped up. When he spoke of this cultural game of telephone, I had to smile when he said that these arts "came to Japan and never got lost." This coming from a man who wrote a book entitled, "Lost Japan." As we ate and talked, a handful of geisha and maiko moved about to keep us company and see that our glasses were full. I was surprised to see that one of the maiko was a familiar face, having been part of our filming, "Tengu" last spring. I especially enjoyed talking with Teruko, an aging geiko still going strong in her 70s. She was particularly interesting in that she'd spent a month in Hollywood as part of the cast of Marlon Brando's "Autumn of the Teahouse Moon." Yet to me, the best part of these parties is how, in a room filled with people of various "social standing, " the geisha are magnanimous in treating us all exactly the same. It was a wonderful night, one that won't come again. It served as a explicit reminder of how non-Japanese my life has become. The life I've been leading lately could be had anywhere, despite achieving my decades long dream of living in the ancient capitol.

The second day, I arrived late, yet in time for the Kyogen performance. In it, I could see in the exaggerated yelling and gestures the roots of today's TV talento. Similarly, the use of onomonopeia seemed a precursor to the sound effects of manga. The lead actor was surprisingly a Czech, who bore an uncanny (yet beardless) resemblance to Richard Chamberlain in his role as "Anjin-san." While performing, his face took on the characteristics of a Japanese, yet later in English conversation, he was all European. A very friendly, humble, and talented man.

This event too was followed by a party, where Alex and a calligraphy master wrote out a variety of kanji characters in differing styles. As the wine went down, the strokes became more gorgeous, and we too became more bold in shouting out the names of kanji whose beauty we hoped to see created on paper, words referring to those beautiful qualities we hoped to instill in our own lives.


Another Saturday, I took part in a haiku hike up Arashiyama's Mt. Ogura. It was a combined literary tour and mountain clean-up, led by local poet Stephen Gill. It was another beautiful autumn day, and even the color of the rusty homes near the train station could be a kigo for koyo. We went up through the narrow bamboo lined paths at the base of Ogura, surrounded by groups of Chinese and Korean tourists. The forest beyond the neatly-kept bamboo fence were wild tangles of roots and fallen trees. Holes in the fence showed where inoshishi had brought some of that wild through. We stopped occasionally to hear a poem, moving steadily up through Saga, the color of moss on kaya roofs mimicking the forest beyond. At a bend in the road we found a group of Ritsumeikan students hard at work cleaning appliances and other large trash off the hillside. (I love how this is part of a college course on "Volunteerism," yet is considered a mandatory requirement.) We made our way down, staying close to a series of ropes which had been criss-crossed in order to create a hold for balance. The slope was close to 45 degrees, with a false surface that was about two or three meters of garbage reclaimed by soil. As you bent your head close to the ground to pick things up, you were in constant danger of being beaned by rocks carelessly dislodged by the feet of those on the ropes above you. The feet had no real place to plant themselves, making for a bizarre type of ankle yoga. This sense of working at zero gravity was probably not unlike doing a space walk or working underwater. If you slipped, after a series of uncomfortable bounces you'd wind up in the Hozu River. We worked a couple of hours, then had lunch at the top of Ogura, with Kyoto splayed out below us to the south. Another short walk brought us to an fenced in area of land which belongs to Ristumeikan. Within was a large clearing of indigenous (autumn) wildflowers and small fir trees. This was real landscape, far more lovely than the obsequious sugi monoculture of the higher mountains now at the reaches of our vision. Whereas the damage on the hillside that we had cleared had been the work of individual polluters, what we now saw before us was systematic pollution as a matter of national policy. Navigating that bureaucracy will take nimbler footwork than any we'd demonstrated today.


(Tokai Shizen Hoedown VII)

That same weekend, Tim was in the Kansai to play a gig with Nara musician, Roman Rhodes. Miki and I did a hike nearby, following the TSH along the Kizu River. We got off the train at Tsuki-ga-Seiguchi, stepping onto a platform built excessively long due to the old SL trains that once travelled this valley. The first bit of our walk was along a moderately trafficked road, going past dams and a nuclear power plant. Beyond this we entered the forest, below Buddhas and Jizo carved into stone. The mountains down here feel particularly ancient. Near one bend in the river we heard the voice of what I thought may have been a bear cub, my heart stopping immediately. We didn't see anything, but it was probably some just kind of waterfowl. The trail took us up to a nice little village, where an old woman made her way gingerly and deliberately to pull weeds at the side of her garden. Atop the hill was yet another shrine connected to Amaterasu. The river became narrow and wild here, its length easily traversed by hopping large boulders all the way down. The last couple km were right next to the iron rails we'd ridden on that morning. At the far end we came to Kusagi, where the rafters finish their runs of the white water. On the table beside the sand were a dozen tea bottles, clustered around a 3D model of the river's course. The stone banks further down were covered by the tents of those enjoying the long weekend. A festival had just finished up in the village itself, dozens of kids now running around a mikoshi laid on its side, its carriers downing yet another sake round for their labor. Miki went home, but I met up with Tim and Roman, for our own parade of the Kyo's many Irish pubs.

There were also many smaller things, like my taiko lecture at a local college, or Miki doing a talk at Green E on Holistic living (with another to follow soon) or our teaming up to do a pair yoga/pair shiatsu workshop (this one at Cafe Millet, followed by an incredible lunch). October 14th was the 6th anniversary of Ken's death. Tempting fate, I boarded a plane bound for the States...

On the turntable: "Rogue's Gallery"

On the nighttable: Werner Herzog, "Of Walking in Ice"

On the reel table: "Two for the Road" (Donen, 1967)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fragmento Mori (上)

The past four weeks have been a distillation of experience. Coming home to roost.


I've written before about Soul Flower Union. Besides their usual J-rock magic collective, they also perform in smaller, stripped down permutations. Perhaps the most interesting of these is their chindon unit, Soul Flower Mononoke Summit. The group formed in 95, playing free gigs to people living in temporary shelters after the Hanshin Earthquake. They rarely perform, but I was lucky to catch them at Taku Taku in August. The opening act was an aging acoustic blues singer, with a penchant for cups and spliffs. He seemed to have a hard time getting through his set, stopping three times midsong to begin another. Apparently this guy is pretty famous, but he seemed to have left any artistic integrity up with his guitar case. The crowd seemed amused, but I wasn't. A long half-hour.

Mononoke came on and ran through a lot of their usual tunes, though I was a little disappointed not to hear their sanshin version of "The Internationale." Playing with them was band member Itami Hideko, who now lives in Okinawa with Irish musician husband, Donal Lunny. But I most enjoyed watching Utsumi Yoko on accordian, who forewent the cliched rock star facial expressions, looking more like a typical Obasan, in kimono and hornrims. As usual, the crowd sang along. More than a few folks brought their kids, who danced on the tables to the Irish-Okinawan klezmer groove.


A month later, my friend Roger Walch played a gig at Kyoto's other historic livehouse, Jittoku, along with Shakuhachi player Taro Matsumoto. They ran through tunes from their newest CD, as a hard rain fell outside. Their soundcheck was shot by local filmmaker Alessandro and can be found here.


I too did a couple gigs, after a 2 year absence from the stage. Back in June I hooked up with Morphic Jukebox, a local unit who has been getting a fair amount of positive press over the past year. They had hoped to bulk up their sound with percussion, which is where I came in. I created a 'drumkit' of congas, bongos, cajon, and cymbals, backing both originals and covers of Dylan, Beatles, Paul Weller, and various old blues standards. My first gig with them was played at Pig and Whistle, and an unfortunate opening act of a Kiwi-Aussie rugby match. Our audience consisted of a group of very large, very bald men, half of whom were due to be unhappy with the match's outcome. But the gig came off well. Two Saturdays later, we played at McLoughlins, as a release party for a CD the group recorded before I joined. The crowd was homegrown, brought in mainly by word-of-mouth. (A review can be found here.) The other band members were happy with the gig, but I felt that we never really gelled as a group. Our previous show came together better musically. (Somewhat inevitably, the band and I parted ways amicably last week, due to my other time commitments.)


The same weekend as the McLoughlin gig, I went up to the 'Nog to do a memorial service for Ken. It was my third visit since I moved to the Kyo in '06, and the first one that was actually enjoyable. (The other two were very emotionally exhausting and more about 'family business.') Tim dragged me off to Matsue to take part in an Irish music session. There was Irish guitarist, a Welsh fiddle player , plus a dozen Japanese on their forest of tin flutes. One young Japanese guy kept a beat on the bodhran, though he couldn't seem to get away from a single rudimentary rhythm. I created flourishes on another bodhran. Since I'm not very proficient on the thing, I decided to play with my thumb and pinkie in lieu of using a beater. Getting past this technical hurdle gave me the freedom to really swing. Midway through the night, a middle-aged Japanese man joined in on the piano. He was amazing, familiar with every tune that came up. Most incredible was his banging out the honky-tonk piano parts of The Beatles, "Lady Madonna." I talked with him a long while, intrigued at his job as Professor of Japanese Folklore. When I asked him why he was so interested in Irish music, he told me it was because he was part Irish. I laughed, thinking he was being ironic. "No", he said, "really." In fact he and his wife had spent the summer in Ireland and Greece, looking up his roots. The full effect of his words needed a second to take hold and when he saw it on my face, he said, "Yeah, my great grandfather was Lafcadio Hearn." He then presented a card, written with the name, "Bon Koizumi."


One rainy Sunday, we went to Shiga for a performance by the Sankaijuku. This was my first Butoh experience and this troupe came very highly recommended. As expected, I was profoundly affected by the incredible body control of the performers. My yoga and martial arts training log nowhere near the amount of time put in by these men to achieve this sort of discipline. The silent screams one performer held was right out of silent German Expressionistic cinema. The contorted facial expressions and movements of the others reflected the horror of hibakusha nightmares. This kind of thing could never have been born in the US. Only a society of repressed expression could produce something like Butoh or Yoko Ono or even tentacle porn. Most powerful to me were the series of unbelievably dignified bows by the group's creator, Ushio Amagatsu. Then the lights dimmed slowly, and the white-caked dancers began to almost dissolve, as if beamed away. Miki and I had a great walk back to the train station, each expressing our take on what this performance, "Toki" or "Time, " was all about.

On the turntable: Miles Davis, "The Complete In a Silent Way Sessions"

On the nighttable: Bruce Chatwin, "What am I Doing Here?"

On the reel table: "Small Change" (Truffaut, 1976)

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Early morning
on the road,
waiting for a bus
in the rain,
sipping coffee,
whose scent
brings to mind
dozens of other
early mornings
on the road,
waiting for a bus
in the rain,
sipping coffee.

On the turntable: The Pleasure Barons, "Live in Las Vegas"
On the reel table: "The Idiot" (Kurosawa, 1951)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tokai Shizen Hoedown: Westbound I

Miki and I are biking across town.  The signal is red, but the road is clear.  I bike over to the bridge, and halfway across an old man scolds me for crossing against the light.  This triggers a long discussion about morals and ethics. I recognize that laws are necessary for a (polite) society to exist.  Yet my politics lead me to the belief that most laws are created because man is too selfish and/or ignorant to police his own behavior.  I feel that reality is more important than rules, and they  needn't  be upheld so long as you don't interfere with anyone else's happiness. (See?  I'm selfish too.)  My crossing against the signal didn't impede anyone's momentum, so that was OK, I thought.  Unfortunately, the old man chose to be offended by this, which retroactively contradicted my thinking that no one was negatively affected.  His choosing to scold me in turn affected my happiness.  My taking this on as a point of philosophical argument with Miki negatively interfered with her.   The circle spins on.  I suppose that if we are to take a view of relativity with regard to laws, we need too to take on similar thinking when it comes to how we choose to deal with those who flaunt them.  

The real irony here is that in a few minutes we'll be illegally parking our bikes in order to catch a bus bound for our next hike.  It drops us off near the Chofukan, and a few minutes later, I run into Aimee, on of its members.  After a short catch up, Miki and I descend a steep road pockmarked by circles, then follow the road below into the forest.  It is a peaceful walk along a stream, leading us past a few remote homes where artists communally live and work.  The concrete gives way to a path that rises steeply toward the pass.  The earth is dry here, another reminder of New Mexico.  At the pass, we find the Kyoto circuit trail, an intersection we reached a year ago.  After the following day, everything beyond here is off limits due to the start of Matsutake mushroom season.  These spores  fetch a steep price and any strangers around here are looked at as theives.  The city has therefore closed the trail for six weeks every autumn.  They can't keep out the bears apparently, and the signs warn us of their predilection for these parts.  We chat a bit louder now, passing the narrow road for Sawa-no-Ike, where Miki and I saw the filming of a Mito Komon episode, inspiring me to use it as a film location a few months afterward.   There is a beautiful Fudo statue in a hollowed rock just above the road.  A high waterfall drops to our left, falling powerfully and confidently due to all the recent rain.  Lower down we eat trailmix above a wider river, which we then follow along a busy road.  Being a weekday, the traffic is lighter and rushes at us in small and infrequent clusters.  The long spaces in between allows us some peace on this sunny day, which we wind up just below the root-knotted trail up to Kozanji.      

On the turntable:  John Doe, "A Year in the Wilderness"

On the nighttable:  Jack Kerouac, "On the Road (The Original Scroll)"

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday papers: Joel Weishaus

"In measuring a world, we're merely estimating the distance between our ears."

On the turntable: "Mele o Hawai'i"

On the reel table: "The American Friend" (Wenders, 1978)