JOURNEY THROUGH ANOTHER WORLD…

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By Tom H. Brooks 3

This is STREET JOURNAL 80

 

TO CREATE IS TO LIVE…

_______

 

 

DOWN THIS LONELY ROAD…

 

Down this lonely road I walk

into a fiery red sunset

 

Another day

another year

another decade

I go swiftly into the unknown future

 

Time flies away

on the wings of angels…

and demons

 

Time flows over me and drags me under

like a slow muddy river

across the floodplains

 

Can you hear me speaking to you

across the miles,

across the great distances?

 

Can you see me here

in the dim scarlet twilight

of this endless wasteland?

 

Can you understand the things

that I say here,

walking down this road of mine?

 

I`m calling out to you

 

I see far

 

I see you there,

on your road

going your own way

through the madness

of this vast world

 

We all struggle

to find our way

in this life

 

There is no map

for your road

or mine

 

Your cell phone

will not get you

where you are going

 

There are no tour guides

no buses

no taxis

 

All we have

is our wits and

our own two feet

 

So keep walking,

you there,

and I`ll do the same

 

Perhaps I`ll see you

at a crossroads one day

but not likely

 

The sun goes down

and night shadows

crawl across the land

 

As my eyes gradually adjust,

I can see clearly,

even through the darkness –

 

It`s beautiful out here…

 

 

THB3

5/9/14

Tokyo, Japan

 

 

_____

 

“LESS IS MORE.”

 

Walter Gropius & Mies Van Der Rohe

BAUHAUS

_______

 

LESS

more

_______

 

 

— = +

 

_______

 

If you can`t laugh at yourself,

then you have no right to laugh at anyone else.

_______

 

Friday, 5/9/14

Tokyo

 

The density of Tokyo, especially Shinjuku is fucking amazing.  A million different shady things going on in any number of bright neon-lit skyscrapers or down dark, forbidding alleys.  Thousands upon thousands of people all walking somewhere or going nowhere.  Everyone rushing through the streets, helter-skelter, here and there, all around you…there are pimps from Ghana, Nigeria, Jamaica and Tokyo.  And they accost you at every turn, it`s almost impossible to have a peaceful walk in this area.  The streets are filled with obscure secrets.  They are ripe with fragrant sin.  The night is bleeding with vice.  The underground is all around you.  You`ll never know what`s going on behind those closed doors unless you can read Japanese Kanji.  Around the corner, up the dusty stairs, through that red door under the pink and blue neon light…debauchery awaits like a dirty, sexy mistress clothed only in black lace panties, she calls to you with insistent and relentless temptation…

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When you take the train everywhere, you never get to know the varied endless layers of Tokyo.  You just fly underground from one place to another without ever seeing what lies between.  But when you walk or skateboard, you get to see the mysterious places betwixt the mad nerve centers of this vast mega-city.  You can be in an area of dead streets and haunted alleys one minute and in a frenzied mass of party people in the heart of the madness the next.  It is a relentless and overwhelming trip with no mercy for the weak or the faint of heart.  Really, the ONLY way to see it all is to skateboard and walk and you know this is my specialty.

The mysteries and the different worlds unfold for me like a blossoming neon lotus flower.  And now I give this flower to you…

_______

 

“Though I know that evening`s empire

has returned into sand

Vanished from my hand

left me blindly here to stand

but still not sleeping

 

My weariness amazes me

I`m branded on my feet

I have no one to meet

And the ancient empty street`s

too dead for dreaming

 

(Chorus)

 

Take me disappearing

through the smoke rings of my mind

Down the foggy ruins of time

Far past the frozen leaves

The haunted frightened trees

Out to the windy beach

Far from the twisted reach

of crazy sorrow

 

Yes, to dance beneath

the diamond sky with one hand waving free

Silhouetted by the sea

Circled by the circus sands

Driving memory and fate

deep beneath the waves

Let me forget about today

until tomorrow…

 

(Chorus)

Hey Mr. Tambourine Man

play a song for me

I`m not sleepy and

there is no place I`m going to

 

Hey Mr. Tambourine Man

play a song for me

In the jingle jangle morning

I`ll come following you…”

 

Bob Dylan

______

 

People look at me when I`m eating alone in the Mexican restaurants of Tokyo.  Japanese tend to eat in big groups.  They tend to do everything in big groups.  I suppose they`re thinking,”Oh, that gaijin is always eating alone.”   I`M NOT ALONE, PEOPLE.  DON`T YOU WORRY ABOUT ME.  I`m here on a date with my beautiful enchiladas and we`re having a great time together…

______

 

I CAN SEE SO FAR,

BUT I CAN`T SEE

WHAT`S AT THE END…

______

 

“I KNOW WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED

`CAUSE I`M THE ONE WHO BURIED `EM.”

 

Tim Hudock

Hong Kong

May 22nd, 2014

______

 

The sound of the wind through bamboo is a magical thing, indeed.  It is a soft whisper and a gentle creaking sound that is almost indescribable. “Peaceful” does not do it justice…

______

 

“All that is not perfect down to the smallest detail is doomed to perish.”

 

“The point is not to take the world`s opinion as a guiding star but to go one`s own way in life and work unerringly, neither depressed by failure nor seduced by applause.”

 

“I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way.”

 

Gustav Mahler

_____

 

5/23/14

 

I`m back in Miyota, Nagano Prefecture again, visiting after a whole year has passed.  Things look different after all this time – in some ways good, in other ways bad. One depressing thing was the way they`re building a big, ugly house where there used to be 3 gorgeous trees in the middle of a soba field.  I have a great autumn photo of these colorful trees from a couple years ago so I`ll always remember them.  They also mowed down a special, mystical grove of trees that shaded a small graveyard over the rice fields so some stupid fuck could put up a bunch of ugly solar panels.  Sad.  The mountains are still beautiful, though, lush and green, rising up into the deep blue sky.  And at night, a chorus of frogs in the fields.  Things could be worse, indeed…

___

 

Sakamoto Dam, Lake Usui…..SPECTACULAR, on the border of Karuizawa and Gunma Prefecture.

___

 

THE LURE OF THE OPEN ROAD

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Gunma/Karuizawa border; Japan Fast and Furious.  A caravan of at least 40 convertible sports cars racing up and down the winding mountain roads at dangerously high speeds……only in Japan….

___

 

Driving down a Japanese highway through ancient green, misty mountains listening to traditional Japanese koto, shamisen, and flute music.  Both women and men are singing.  Magic.  A singular moment in this dream life of mine…

___

 

Jakko no Taki……Jakko Falls, JACK.

An ancient shrine from 820 A.D.

___

 

5/25/14

 

Sunday night in Lower Nikko Village in Tochigi Prefecture.  I`m walking through the dead, empty streets of the ghost town, and like a moth to the flame, I am drawn, there it lies, like a beacon in the night, THE BEER VENDING MACHINE.  Only I would find beer in the middle of nowhere.  No stores that are open around here at 10pm.  There is nothing for me but the lone beer machine lit up on this dark street of phantoms.  Just leave it to me, baby.  I`ll make all your troubles go away…

___

 

Toshogu Shrine: Absolutely beautiful and otherworldly, but TOO DAMN CROWDED.  Like fucking Disneyland it was; tour groups of old Japanese people with their little green flags.  I shoved people outta my way to get the shots I wanted and then I got outta there.  Back to the ruins with me…there won`t be anyone where I`m going….

 

(In retrospect, it was an amazing feat of ingenuity that I managed to get so many beautiful photos of these famous places with NO PEOPLE IN THEM! How the fuck did I do that?!?)

___

 

One night in Lower Nikko Ghost Town, I found a 7-11.  It was the shittiest 7-11 I`ve ever seen in my life.  The shelves were empty, the whole place was shabby and understocked.  It was like some 1950s communist-bloc country during bread-rationing.  I bought the very last Kirin Nodogoshi out of the almost empty beer cooler.  The very next night, I walked by and it was GONE – the whole store – as if it had never existed at all!  Just spirited away in the dead of night, sign and all.  I guess it`s entirely possible that I bought the last beer EVER at that ghost town

7-11.  Lucky for me, I remembered where the beer vending machine was…

___

 

OH, WHAT I WOULDN`T GIVE TO SMOKE A JOINT IN SOME OF THESE CRAZY PLACES!!

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5/27/14

 

Deeper, higher, into the misty, green mountains… (eventually made it to 6000 feet: valleys, lakes, plateaus, snow…..the WHOLE BIT….

___

 

NEW HORIZONS

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Route 120 to Lake Chuzenjiko may be the best road I`ve yet driven in Japan…absolutely gorgeous, I tell you.  It`s a beautiful and green, winding road up into the clouds with spectacular views along the way.  On a particularly dangerous blind curve, I saw one of those red-faced monkeys (he looked like me when I`ve been drinking, in all honesty…).  He was sitting, I mean, he was just chillin` on the side of the road.  I slowed down, but I couldn`t get a photo because there was no place to stop.  ROAD MONKEY!!!

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Last night of this epic road trip and we stayed at some kind of weird onsen/spa/hotel called “Numata Health Land” in Gunma.  Room 3002.  FASCINATING.  I just can’t explain how weird and different everything is here…

That`s why I take photos for you.

___

 

So, of course, they have a spa at this hotel, a Japanese version that they call “onsen.”  Japanese people LOVE spas.  I decided to head in for an evening shower and bath.  They gave me a RED locker key, so naturally, I assumed the RED entrance was where to go.  I was wrong.  There were 2 naked girls and one old woman lounging about through the steam, but I saw them before they saw me and I bolted.  Getting caught would have likely been quite embarrassing.  I found the men`s spa and, after double-checking, I went inside.  A bunch of old, naked men; (really, only 4, but 4 too many…).  I was ready to go back to the women`s side and hang out with grandma and the little nymphs.  Whatever.  I had a shower and splashed in some cold water, dipped in the pool, and then went in the jacuzzi.  I`m showering off again when this old grandma cleaning woman enters and starts starts scrubbing the place down right next to me, eyeballing me up and down.  Weird.  Japanese are pretty comfortable with nudity.  She seemed to be REALLY comfortable with it, at least other people`s nudity.  Perhaps even too comfortable.  No problem here.  I`m not shy.  I walked out after drying myself off laughing hysterically.  I stepped out into the night for a last beer and a smoke and listened to the sounds of the night insects and frogs.  What a fucking day this has been…

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It`s hard to go home after a road trip like this, but it`s nice when you get there…

___

 

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL…

 

 

THB3

5/29/14

Tokyo, Japan