Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Drifting into Umeda by train, bluegrass in my ears, the rhythm of the picking moving us forward.  The banjo player on this old classic, 'Lonesome John,' picks as if playing a bodhrán, and is thus the engine of the piece, navigating along a line that extends back to the old country.  And the train is thus propelled into Hankyu Station, above a shrine squat and angular against all that towering glass.  A block away is the Toaster building, with its thin squinty windows.  

Out on the city streets, I have a Ferris Bueller moment when The Smiths enter my ears.  "Good times for a change."  I'm not alone in finding refuge behind the music.  One girl is singing as she strolls up the street.  Here is another difference I've noted upon my return.  Two years ago, young women were criticized for putting on makeup on the train, the current generation's means of blurring the lines between public and private, lines that give definition to this particular culture.  These days, already dolled up like their favorite pop stars, they've taken to singing their songs in front of everyone, the "i" in iPod threatening the wa

I too feel a desire to perform, to whip my furled umbrella out like a sword, using some of my finest iaido moves to knock the cigarettes from the mouths of those smokers who walk past.  And the lines again undergo a further blurring, as iai (居合) means literally to, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, "fit in" to your surroundings. 

On the turntable:  Brendan Perry, "Eye of the Hunter"
On the nighttable:  "Forty Stories of Japan"

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