Jazz musicians say they can tell if the band is good just by watching them set up. When I played shows I was conscious of this as I built my kit. Details betray the whole.

I had a hangover today for the first time in a few weeks. I figured after the eighty-hour work week I'd earned it but now I wish I hadn't bothered. There's been worse, but this lingering headache is not fun. I can't believe how many mornings a week I used to spend in this condition. What's the point of even having a day off?

To get the blood pumping I went for a quick stroll that turned into a two-hour expedition. Shimokitazawa is a wonderful neighborhood, and apparently half of Tokyo knows it because the narrow, crisscrossing streets were clogged with people. It's futile to fight. Just give in to the will of the mob and ooze along on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Through some trick of insulation, it is actually colder inside my house than outside. Some mornings I sit shivering for several hours only to go out and realize it's a gorgeous sunny day. Today was fifty degrees, and some trees still have their leaves.

I discovered "Coffee Old," a narrow cafe run by a broom-like man with a weak chin and a bristling mustache. I was once again struck by the obsessive skill of Japanese craftsmen as he drip-drip-dripped hot water onto fresh-ground beans. The trickle of coffee never wavered in the two minutes it took him to fill a demitasse cup.

I also found an obsessive toy store whose owner had crammed well over 10,000 toys into the store's thirty square feet. Such clutter demands strict organization lest chaos take hold. The collectible Star Wars Coca-Cola bottle cap-top figurines were arranged in perfect rows. The Chairman Mao statuettes all waved in the same direction.

Lapel pins are big now. Literally. I've seen some outrageously oversized pins glittering on the velvet jackets of wealthy hipster financiers. A diamond-studded lizard, a jeweled bird, a gold sunflower. Then there was the huge sword-cross draped with silver chains, which looked like it could slay Dracula.

Hyper-evolved mohawks are another men's fashion fad. The head is shaved except for a patch at the top, towards the back, which is a few centimeters long and gelled into a sort of spiky tuft. Also trendy is the buzzed head with various stripes and patterns shaved in; goes nicely with $2,000 worth of Bathing Ape.

I love compelling design, but I hate unreasonable prices. It's all pageantry, pretending to be someone of substance.  People go crazy trying to keep up. I think it might be more worthwhile to live simply and devote energy to actually becoming someone of substance.

I don't think the Human Broom at Coffee Old cares about fashion. When he makes coffee, I imagine his vision turns into that scene from West Side Story where the guy and the girl see each other across the dance floor and everything on the periphery disappears. I doubt he gives a damn about having a $1000 lizard on his nipple.

I want to take my entire bank account to Harajuku and couture myself to the hilt, but with that kind of consumption, it's never enough. Like I said, people go crazy. Better to save money for a vacation, or grad school, or to start my own bar someday. Lapel pins will gather dust next year, but ¥30,000 never goes out of style.



Breakfast Hot Dogs and the Hawaiian Pineapple Burger

Well, I asked for it. I walked into a tiny little mom-and-pop restaurant and said I felt like fish. They suggested salmon because it was easy to eat, and I said, "Oh, don't worry about that. I eat everything."

In that case, the old man behind the counter recommended sanma, mackerel. I agreed readily and the next thing I knew he had cut an entire fish in half and tossed it on the grill. I suppose I had been a little too cavalier, and had neglected to mention that I don't really like to eat anything while it watches me.

Whole fish, with a few exceptions, almost always creep me. It's the bones and the eyes and the possibility of eating fish shit, I guess. I have never really been certain that you're supposed to eat the guts of the fish as well, or which organs and how to tell the difference. Because one of those is the intestinal tract that you're eating, and, at least in America, even popcorn shrimp are de-veined.

The fish was small, maybe nine inches long, and a ribbon of something dark was oozing out of its center. It could have been blood, but my money was on fish shit. I figured it wouldn't kill me and resigned myself to the experience.

I wish this was the part where I said, "Wow! If I hadn't accidentally ordered that whole, shit-filled fish, I would have never known how good it was! I am hooked! Pun!" Sadly, no. It was edible but rather distasteful. Sanma is a naturally oily fish, so the Japanese typically just grill it with a little salt. The predominant flavor was the bitter taste of burnt fish skin. The fish had both dark meat and light meat. The sides were a brown, oily flesh and behind that and along the spine was a pale, less oily meat. These both tasted good, unless I got too much of the burnt, sour skin with them. But it was no mean feat trying to figure out how to debone tiny flecks of meat with chopsticks.

Along the underbelly, though, the innards were to be found. These had been grilled until they were essentially mush. Mush that didn't taste good. Like the skin, it was bitter and a bit sour, and I finally had to stop when I bit into a crunchy bit, like gristle. It was not a bone. Perhaps it was the remains of a charred gill. I don't really know, but that ominous crunch and the bitter flavor that flooded my mouth pretty much turned me off the rest of the fish.

Thankfully I had saved the guts for last, so when I shoved it aside and drained my beer to get rid of the flavor, the fish was pretty much gone, except for some grey mush and the eyes, which I'm told are delicious. Maybe if someone had removed the eyes for me and put them on a spoon and blindfolded me I would have eaten them. But I am a gentle person and I don't really have the courage to go prying fish eyes out with the tip of a chopstick just for the pleasure of putting them in my mouth.

Every other meal I've had in Japan has ranged from good to outstanding. Japanese food is really eclectic and surprising. Contrary to Japanese food's prim, minimalist image, many Japanese dishes are messy and lively and flavorful. Okonomiyaki, for instance, is one of my favorite foods in the world: a big pancake of cabbage, egg and flower with pork or shrimp or squid, topped with mayonnaise, fish flakes, seaweed sprinkles and Otafuku sauce (like tangy Worcestershire).

Oden is a translucent kelp broth in which various things simmer for hours. It is a winter dish, a sort of Japanese comfort food, though I believe you can buy it year-round in konbini (the Japanese shortening of "convenience store"). I was skeptical of konbini oden, but have been assured that it's fine. It looks a bit dubious, though: big tubs of steaming liquid with alien-looking items floating in them. Especially since I never see anyone change the liquid.

The floating items in oden vary widely, and are almost completely strange to Western eyes: octopus tentacles; konnyaku (rubbery, gray bricks of devil's-tongue root: 97% water and 0 calories); pouches of fried tofu with pork or mochi inside; fried fish cake, unfried fish cake, square fish cake, ball fish cake and fish cake substitute; enormous hunks of Japanese radish; huge puffy bulbs of flour and salt; tofu of every variety: fried, grilled, or crushed and mixed with anything imaginable into a cake.

There will also be a few more familiar floating items like potatoes, boiled eggs, and sausages. The Japanese love their sausages. You can always get sausages in some form of another. There's usually a half-sausage in any konbini lunchbox, for instance. (Also a few token strands of spaghetti, which the Japanese love as well [see: Italy, below].)

Or you can find sausages in one of the many different types of Japanese "breads". These are called "pan", which means bread and sounds reasonably healthy. In fact they are Japanese junk food, a soft, sweet bun with something in the center: cream, egg, bean paste, pork cutlet, curry, chocolate, ham and cheese, custard, sausage, spaghetti, or some combinations of the above ingredients. Frighteningly, none of these--not even the meat-based ones--need to be refrigerated. There's usually an entire aisle devoted to pan, next to the entire aisle of cup noodle.

And there are potato chips. Of course there are potato chips. The Japanese are no strangers to Western food, but they use it to make food that is still somehow very Japanese. They like shrimp-flavored potato chips, for instance, and miso, curry, leek, or um, "salad". The curry chips are good, actually, but unheard of in America to my knowledge.

The Japanese love foreign food, actually. Particularly Italian food, which in my extensive research (asking "What's your favorite food?" during the food chapter at Berlitz) is a universal trait among the Japanese. Italian food in Japan is probably not particularly authentic, but I've given up pretending that I know anything about authenticity. Any cultural superiority I might feel vanishes when I think about the "Little Tokyo" food-court chain that sells Chinese food.

It's all very well for me to say, "You're making that latte/burrito/curry/cocktail wrong!" but I can't say with any certainty that I would know the real thing. Or if there are any "real things" left in this world. Every culture, it seems, adapts food to their own tastes. Sorry, Italy, you lost the trademark on Pizza™.

Because I'm reasonably sure that in Italy there is no pizza™ with eggs, potatoes and mayonnaise on top, but the Japanese can't get enough mayonnaise so they slather it on. And onto everything else for good measure. During the whole-fish incident a guy sitting next to me ordered sanma (voluntarily! I think he was drunk) and ham salad. The ham salad, when it arrived, proved to be a mound of lettuce with several pieces of lunch meat ham folded on top, all lashed with mayonnaise. At this point I have stopped raising eyebrows. I simply shrug and think, "why not?"

Mayonnaise is so popular that it is now a staple in many traditional Japanese dishes, too--as are processed cheese slices. Many fried things are topped with mayonnaise, white American cheese, or both. The Japanese are quite happy to combine food, clothes or music in ways that seem strange to Western sensibilities. That sense of "why not?" is vital or you'll go crazy trying to figure out breakfast hot dogs and the Hawaiian pineapple burger. Although maybe the Hawaiian pineapple burger really is Hawaiian. How would I know?



All Work and No Play Make?

All I want's a comfortable middle-class life
with nice teeth for my kids,
and nice shoes for my wife.

More than a few of you have written me asking about Japanese girls. And the answers are: "I don't know", "no", "I don't know" and "I haven't tried that one". I'm way too crazy to date anyone right now, and for some reason I'm totally OK with that. I guess I've learned how to be single by this point, and I don't sweat it. Yet.

I don't really have anyone in my life, to tell the truth. I talk to my roommates occasionally about how the other roommates don't clean after themselves. I text message one of my friends from Osaka about once a week and see them once a month, or less. But I rarely hang out with anyone. I work, I study, and what little time remains I spend on my own.

It's not ideal, of course. But it was how my Tokyo experience began, so until my social life picks up I might not even realize there is any other way to live in this city. I've finally achieved the monastic austerity I wanted, and there's a lot to be said for it. Sometimes it dawns on me that this was exactly what I wanted: get up early, stay busy all day, study for several hours, and sleep.

But this city seems somehow closed to me. Entertainment is a 24-hour business in this city and yet I can't even consider enjoying these diversions. I pass thousands of cafes, stores, restaurants, bars and clubs, and it's like they were built for someone else. It doesn't even occur to me to enter them. My life lies elsewhere; in the windowless dungeon of Berlitz, in a cheap cafe studying Japanese, or in my kitchen with a cup of coffee and my laptop.

With friends and a bit of spending money I would be having a much different experience and, I daresay, more fun. But I didn't come here for fun, not initially. My hope is that if I work my ass off now, without any distraction, fun will come later. Hopefully then I'm uncrazy enough to start thinking about girls.

I've been one crazy bastard these past two months. I've been so impulsive. It's like I'm frantically looking for a direction, any direction, in which to sprint. On my sixth day in Tokyo I was freaking out about not playing the drums anymore, and desperately tried to figure out how to get to a drumset. The very next day I decided I needed a sampler and some beat boxes. The next day I decided my money should be used for Japanese school instead. Then I started researching grad schools for an MBA. Then for advertising. Then Pacific Studies.

When I got hired by the Roppongi Hills Club about a month ago now, I had just read an article about the best Tokyo mixology bars. The obsession returned; I decided I would open a bar in Tokyo someday. No, actually, I would move to London and learn their techniques.  No, New York. No, I would go back to Minneapolis and start my own place. No, I would go to New York after all. But there are all these brilliant bartenders running around the world opening bars, so maybe I should just give it all up and go to grad school after all. Definitely, I decided. I'm going to grad school in Tokyo for Telecommunications Studies. No, design. No, Pacific Studies...

Worrying about crap like this was stressing me out, so I'm trying to focus on today rather than my mercurial multi-year machinations. I'm trying to take things in single-day servings. Today, I tell myself, the only things I have to do are: make lunch, take a nap, and teach three hours of English. If that's as bad as things get, my problems are pretty good. This helps restrain the crazy a little bit.

Happily, the good days have been increasing. Sunday, for instance, I took the loop line around the Tokyo metropolis, twice, and saw a whole bunch of city that I hadn't seen before. Then I took a monorail out across Tokyo Bay and back, and I saw cranes that looked like brachiosaurs and I saw the city from the middle of the bay, a crazy perspective on the scope of my new home.

I'm still crazy, though. Today I was walking with a spring in my step. (Probably the coffee.) I was loving Tokyo and felt great and happy. But two hours later I was squirming with restlessness, convinced I needed to move to Shanghai: Tokyo wasn't Blade Runner enough. My mind started racing, considering the options for studying Chinese and Japanese in Shanghai and how quickly I could leave. I figured, I could be teaching in Shanghai in about five months if I transferred with Berlitz. I was ready for action.

How silly the idea seems now. I make plans that sometimes stretch years into the future, and then I worry about those plans. Which is stupid. I can hardly plan tomorrow with any certainty. Why stress something a year away? "Tomorrow," someone said once, "has a way of happening by itself." I try to yank myself back down to Earth every time I realize what I'm doing. There is no good solution to this except time and patience but I've been trying to rush things. Eventually it will all fall into place.

I hope. Because if this is it, I'll be pissed. Teaching, as I've observed before, is a noble thing, but I despise every minute of it. I really, really hate teaching English. I want to scream and punch and kick like a six-year-old. I hate whoring myself out speaking slow, tedious English for six to eight hours a day despite being able to speak Japanese. It's humiliating and boring and frustrating. And useless: I really don't believe that the eikaiwa actually improve English ability by more than about 5 or 10%.

I knew what I was getting into when I started. In fact, it took several months to talk myself into teaching because I was dead-set against the idea for years. But it got me to Tokyo, and now it's like I buried myself with a shovel and have to start digging.

But which way is up? I have to figure that out first, and that's been a challenge. The first and most obvious way to improve my life is to crawl out from under Berlitz. Despite every attempt to be chill about things, manage my attitude and whatnot, I hate Berlitz so fucking much I see black. It makes me want to get violent. Every lesson makes me want to throw my book on the floor and escape this terrible steel trap, chew my leg off animal-like and take my chances.

I want to strangle the supervisor who gave me my schedule.

"You will burn out with this schedule," dude told me solemnly when he presented it to me. My face fell as I saw the four split shifts every week. "You will be miserable and exhausted in a month. You won't be able to sleep at night because you will be too wound up after your evening lessons, and then you will have to get up early the next day. I could not work a schedule like this, I hate it. Well, maybe we can do something about it in a few months." That is what he said to me, and just to prove to him that I could take whatever he could dish out--and what he couldn't himself take, apparently--I've refused to budge a single lesson time from the original schedule.

I've observed this before, but it is almost a deliberate hazing, this schedule, a test for the sucker newbies. I work at 8:30 a.m., go home at 12:15, then return at 5:30 and work until 9:15. The first shift ain't so bad, but the second shift puts me in a foul mood. I've just returned from the late shift and this mood is fresh in me. Watching the setting sun from the window of the the train back to that detested basement is heartbreaking.

Yet every time I consider complaining, all I need to do is think about my students to shut right up. I usually teach male office drones of all species who work for the enormous financial hives in the area. These poor guys work ten to twelve hour days, five or six days a week, for slightly more than my minimum Berlitz salary. They make like half what I make per hour. And they're in for life; turnover in Japan is nigh-nonexistent (though this is changing).

This can't be rushed, I think. I'm doing everything I can do at the moment, maybe too much. I'm working fifty hours, six days a week. I'm getting my translating chops and some journalism experience. I'll probably be applying to grad schools in several months. In a year my Japanese should be marketable, so I can take the JLPT aptitude test. Companies are much more likely to hire you--and pay you--if you have some papers. With some patience, I may be able to get a job in journalism, or advertising, or publishing. Or something completely different, perhaps.

Except today I want to make cocktails again!



Life as a dry martini, stirred.

On Saturday I relearned how to make a dry martini.

I had thought a dry martini the simplest drink imaginable: big splash gin, small splash vermouth. Swirl it around with ice (or shake it, if you swing that way) and dump it into a martini glass.

But such simplicity is unforgiving, at least according to the Japanese. With only two ingredients even small mistakes are obvious, so the balance must be perfect. On Saturday a Japanese bartender showed me how the simplest drink in the book might just be the hardest.

Dry Martini, Japanese-style:
0.) Skewer an olive, cut a shallow slice of lemon peel and put them both aside.
1.) Take a chilled martini pitcher (about 24 oz.) out of the fridge.
2.) Take the chilled gin, vermouth and cocktail glass from the fridge and place them on the bar.
3.) Put a large piece of ice in the bottom of the cocktail glass.
4.) Fill the martini pitcher with cube ice.
5.) Pour well-chilled water into the pitcher until it's about half full.
6.) Stir quickly with a long-handled bar spoon twenty or thirty times. This will dissolve the corners of the ice cubes which, having the most surface area, melt very easily. Doing this will ensure that the corners don't melt into the gin later.
7.) Strain the water out of the pitcher. Like flicking a switch, bathing the ice in water has set the ice-meltage in motion so speed and efficiency is crucial in the next few steps. This is why everything else is already prepared.
8.) Measure 80 ml. of gin into the pitcher.
9.) Measure 10 ml. of vermouth into the pitcher.
10.) Stir quickly with a bar spoon perhaps thirty times.
11.) Throw out the ice cube in the cocktail glass and strain the martini into it.
12.) Drop the olive in and squeeze a piece of lemon peel over the top of it for the tiniest hint of zest. (Don't drop it into the drink, though.)
13.) Consume quickly, "while it's still laughing at you," as someone once said.

Earlier I wrote that I admired the Japanese cocktail process but not the product. I now see that was misguided. Learning how to make a dry martini showed me that the process is the product. They are indistinguishable. The product is not possible without the process. It is the final, inevitable step.

I may take issue with some recipes (I still don't think that a gin and tonic should be five parts tonic, sorry) but the execution is quietly dazzling. To watch the care with which a Japanese bartender simply stirs a cocktail is inspiring. Each step is performed with a reverence that approaches worship of classic cocktail culture. The Japanese never really got past the sensibilities of the Fifties and every detail pays homage to the old ways, down to their retro glass martini pitchers. They order Gin Rickeys, White Ladies, and Brandy Alexanders. Garnishes are minimal. Martinis are always gin, always contain vermouth, and are always stirred. Always.

According to the old manuals a delicious cocktail is, above all, cold and pure. These two traits are somewhat mutually exclusive. It's easy to chill liquor by adding ice and shaking it, but the ice melts and dilutes the martini. One could just keep the liquor on ice but a small amount of water is actually desirous to develop the flavors and cut the bite of the liquor. (Plus it's cheating.) The proper ratio of gin:vermouth:water is sacred to some. A badly-made martini can ruin an evening; a well-made one can save lives. So the Japanese make martinis as cold and pure as they damn well can.

Enter the Japanese martini process. What I took for an excessive emphasis on methodology is actually the dedicated pursuit of a technique that produces what they believe to be the best martini possible. Each step is important and must be done perfectly; carelessness is not worth doing. The goal is perfection, and perfection doesn't happen by accident. To think you can accidentally make a perfectly pure, cold martini is as ridiculous as thinking that Tokyo Tower was built by holding a bunch of girders in a circle and letting them fall against each other.

Perfect products are possible only through perfect processes and a hell of a lot of effort. In the Japanese dry martini process every step exists for a reason and each one is important. It reminds me of yoga, properly locking each joint into the pose, step by step, to create a mind-boggling union of geometry and kinesthetics. One cannot look at a picture and recreate a pose; yoga poses are only possible through a rigorous and difficult process. If done wrong the pose will be shaky and awkward, and if the yogi is me he will fall over.

Or maybe it reminds me of tying knots, firmly securing each loop before moving on to the next. If tied correctly, the knot will be solid and tight. If tied carelessly or ineptly the knot will be loose and maybe fall apart. In any process, each step must be executed well or the process is pointless and so, by extension, is the product. And why do something you don't care about?

Each detail is important. It may seem unimportant to cut a lime perfectly, but it's not. How else to ensure a consistent amount of lime juice goes in each drink? The Japanese take the time needed to do a thing well, favoring precision over speed. I understand why: I spent five years at a drum kit with Floyd Thompson grumbling, "Do it slow until it's perfect--then go faster." Speed comes by practicing until smooth. Smoothly executing a complicated process is as fast as blundering through a simple one.

Sloppiness is not worth practicing at any speed. It is tempting to move quickly at the expense of precision, but handle things roughly and they will break. Move too fast and cause spills. Build drinks hastily and they must be remade. Sloppiness sacrifices quality for the illusion of speed because it creates more messes to clean and more errors to fix. It is better to do one thing perfectly than two things sloppily. I wish I could compare, in my life, the amount of time I have spent actually doing things against the time I have spent cleaning up sloppiness or redoing mistakes. Actually, I take that back: it would be too depressing.

To achieve perfection it is important to get things right the first time. This is illustrated by the dry martini method. If, for instance, I have don't have the gin, vermouth and cocktail glass ready beforehand then I will waste precious time scrambling to get these items from the fridge as the ice rapidly melts. The difference might be so subtle the drinker does not realize it, but I know that the martini is not as cold and pure as it could have been. My mental sloppiness has tarnished the drink.

A product is only as good as the maker's mental and physical abilities, so the proper state of mind is essential. The mind must not wander from the task at hand. The body must move as smoothly as possible, for every unnecessary movement, every dropped olive, every slammed bottle distracts the mind and slows the process. If I follow the process then I can serve the drink with confidence that it is the best I can possibly make. This is as good a definition of "perfection" as I can think of.

* All this is not to say that Japanese bars don't have their flaws. They do, and there are many cocktails I would prefer to drink in Minneapolis over Tokyo. But for their faults, I am beginning to understand why they are so particular about the minutiae. I hope the above explained why.


Murse Alert!

I'd like to take a moment talk about (what else?) purses.

Because the Japanese love them some purses. Japanese women love purses, of course, the way a fat kid loves cake. Outrageous purses and subdued purses, high-tech purses and fuzzy hippie purses like the sewn-up skin of a Lorax.

Know who else loves purses? Japanese men. They love purses, fanny packs, briefcases, messenger bags and backpacks. They love cell phone purses to carry on their belts and they love canvas shopping bags to carry over their shoulder like your mother did in the Seventies. Japanese guys are, by many American standards, gay as hell. Except they're not. They just really like purses.

An entire floor in the department store Tokyu Hands is devoted to various personal cargo transportation solutions. Tiny pouches on turquoise-studded straps retail for two hundred dollars. (The Japanese can't seem to get over their turquoise.) A company called Agility makes $250 suede chalk bags for rock climbers, though of course they're used for cell phones and business cards. The Porter section alone was as large as the men's shoe department of Minneapolis Macy's. There was an entire wall of hard-shell backpacks: smooth, ridged plastic cases resembling Yakima car boxes. Their straps were detachable, and could be fastened in various ways so that backpack was upright, horizontal, or worn like a shoulder bag.

I was really intrigued by the offerings of a company called Tagger. Their customizable messenger bags are sold in separate pieces: strap, bag and top flap were all sold separately. The top flaps were held onto the bag by velcro on both sides: they could be opened from the right or the left, or the flap could be completely detached. There were dozens of different colors and patterns so the Japanese kids could clash in a different way every day of the week.

There was another brand that specialized in bags sold in zippered segments of various colors. Beginning with the bottom piece, which is sewn shut at the bottom, new segments are zipped on, creating a bag as tall and multi-hued as one could hope for. The only problem is that they're damn ugly. Another company sold heavy-duty messenger bags assembled with big rivets, with waterproof zippers whose tabs stuck out like silver tongues from rubber lips.

Japanese people love their fanny packs, too. They use them to carry phones, iPods, etc.* But they're not the purple nylon numbers you see at the State Fair. (Although you can buy those too.) They are small pouches intended to hang from the belt loops of a pair of designer jeans. Alternately you can wear them around your waist or over your shoulder using the tiny strap that's included. Gaysville.

These bags are so varied it's impossible to make a single generalization about them. They can be leather, pleather, plastic or canvas; studded with jewels, plain and minimal or patterned and embroidered; large and bulging with pockets, slim and low-profile or only big enough for a condom and some change. They cost anywhere from seven dollars to three hundred dollars. Everyone has a few, it seems. Tough-looking dudes covered in tattoos will strut around with a little leather fanny pack bouncing against their right buttock. There's one for every conceivable style and occasion. They are as integral to Japanese fashion as baseball caps are to American fashion.

A more temporary fad (I hope) are these crazy double-waisted jeans that I occasionally see men wearing. Imagine a guy wearing a pair of jeans. Now imagine him stepping into a second pair of jeans and pulling them up until they just barely reach his back pockets. These double jeans have that effect. The makers sew the top three inches of one pair of jeans into a second pair of jeans. Usually the lower pair has a bunch of different-colored belt loops sewn onto the waist--or what would be the waist if they weren't hanging several inches below a second waist. It make me wonder how many more pair of jeans are underneath that pair. It's a weird look, like they're always falling off, The Five Hundred Jeans of Bartholomew Cubbins. I don't get it, that's for sure. What would appear, to me, to be ridiculous is apparently pretty cool to some guys. I wonder if it's one of those things that I'll only get several years after it's not cool anymore.

In a different clothing store I saw something slightly similar: a black hooded sweatshirt with another hooded sweatshirt sewn into it. It gave the effect of wearing two hoodies. Now that in itself is nothing new, but I had a problem with the fact that there wasn't actually a second hoodie inside. There were two zippers, two cuffs, and two hoods sewn on at the edges, but, for instance, in the back there was only one layer of fabric. I considered that to be affectation, which as a rule I don't really like. Nor was this hoodie particularly well-made. It looked like it would survive about two washings. But these were apparently a pretty hot item for that store. Silly, cheap crap, I guess, is the new black.