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.