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Friday, 4 July - link

Yours is Yone-Chan

Thanks to Souris and Silvio, via Wayne met at E3 warm introduction and immediate generosity, their references and contacts in Tokyo have yeilded already one long night of deeper than intended questions and unpredicted locales and even defying the curfew at our hotel. Before the quaint family charm of a Japanese-style inn Ryokan seemed charming and unique. Comfortable even, and particular to this island. The propritors talk to you and make breakfast for you and even dial your room to ask Jane to come downstairs to translate for Trista from Pittsburg via Taiwan. She just moved here yesterday before after three years of learning chinese and working as an editor. She met us with no friends, phone numbers, job or plan beyond class tomorrow at 1.40pm. So we began inundating her with the basics - the FCCJ, Caroline Pover, and eventually ordering food from vending machines. She regailed us in turn with stories from Taipei, where American food is precious. Her jaw dropped at the sight of a Denny's.

It was later that night that fun compounded. Trista was only the second to last guest to join our small party of Tokion veterans, kids our age restarting the famed cross-cultural magazine chronicling and establishing street style between NYC and Tokyo. Marx and Sakamoto talked of fashion and politics. I sat with the boy, he was young and loquatious, eager and studied. Spoke Japanese like he'd been drinking from the neon gutters here. But then I found he was well read and studied - I heard his Bathing Ape breakdown, how the most famous street fashion brand of postmodern Japan manipulated its way through media and real estate to claim a kingdom already in decline. He has much more to say; I hope he'll write honestly about a world enveloped in unlikely threatening shadows.

Later, joined by Miyuki we all sat circled around an elder of Japanese counterculture - Yasumasa Yonehara. A trucker style baseball brim hat reading "Leche" in pink script on camo print sat perched four inches above his baldish head.

His work is photographing young women - not the polished women of old men's fantasies, he says, but the modern attitudinal ladies. With their eyes glazed by imbibements and their flesh revealed with their clothes peeled to the side. They lay splayed and stranded in a polaroid. It was challenging, smut it seemed to me, art jack off material what did it matter?

My ambiguity was heightened by his gleeful and hearty shared insight on gender and fashion politics in Japan. How older men chase younger ladies from trend to trend, across neighborhoods in southwestern Tokyo. And the Rolling Stones generation owns television. So the kids turn elsewhere for their culture. I said, ahah, what about the TV show Parky Party? Jane and I loved that intercourse of interviewer and fashionista kids from the glee streets of clean punk style. He replied steadily, I am a supervisor on that show. And so it unfolded that he was working on magazines with and without bare breasts and white panties, magazines promoting street fashion and youth culture. And he had just helped produce a new form of all-female underground theatre, like Takarazuka but something else.

Ethically muddled I was confused and admired this man. I couldn't decide if he was a gender-violent exploiting smut peddler masquerading as a teacher and activist. Or a man without my morals sharing beauty as he saw it. I decided to admire his complexity and avoid his hunger. It was his appetite for sex, for beauty, for media that made him so hard to understand. But a relentless smile and nudge nudge wink wink kept me off balance and wanting to smile back.

His office was adorned with so many spread legged young ladies. My wife knows, he smiled, my daughter knows. She's eleven, he told me. She knows what I do. And what if someone wants to photograph her? I asked. It's her choice, he spread his hands out.

There we sat, Jane videotaping, me next to Yone-chan, arm outstreached to catch his words. Through smoke and beer, all of us, ten or more years his junior, gathered around in a circle listening to him describe the formation of culture for business or belief. July 2.

Posted on 4 July 2003 : 17:17 (TrackBack)
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Justin's Links, by Justin Hall.