the charade of reality tv
| akihabara & omotesando japan
| june 13 2010
| crowded world
IT HAS been claimed that reality TV was invented in Japan. That is what I used to believe, and it kind of makes sense. This is, after all, the land of Game Center CX, a reality TV show devoted to men fighting classic video games. This is the country in which TV producers thought nothing of sealing up a naked young comedian (Nasubi) in a bare room with no food or contact with the outside world, and only a stack of newspaper and magazine competitions to survive upon. Minus the enforced solitude and the cruelty, it is the kind of challenge I would f/savour, to pay for myself via sweepstakes (they call it kensho seikatsu
in Japanese.) Sweepstakes took Nasubi to South Korea and back home, and they ultimately made him a celebrity. I am sure they could take me around the world, but one thing I am not so sure about, and that is the integrity of Japanese TV producers. You cannot believe what you see on the screen here, nor the way they manipulate their "talent". I have learnt this from experience. Let's consider this video clip which was filmed in the streets of Akihabara (and other parts of Tokyo) in late 2007, and which recently surfaced on YouTube. If you fast-forward to the 4:07 minute mark, you can see a micro-interview with me, hence my interest in the program! The idea was evidently this: a film crew would hit Akihabara (or Omotesando, or other happening places around town) and ambush any foreigners they could find to ask what they liked about Japan, vox pop style, with a particular focus on clothing and figures and figurines and pop culture and shit. That is the way it was supposed to appear to viewers, the random opinions of foreigners stopped by the crew on the street, with the ever assertive hostess asking visitors to open their bags to show off their gear, their favorite icons and accessories, and say something funny in Japanese. It was supposed to be a vox pop, but in reality it was anything but random. At the beginning of the segment you will see the title in Japanese: "Nihongo no haneseru gaikokujin 600 nin ijou ni kikimashita... koko ga sukii da yo Nihonhen" ("We asked at least 600 Japanese-speaking foreigners... what they liked about Japan"). But as anyone who knows Akihabara (or Omotsando, for that matter) is aware, most of the foreigners milling through the place are tourists, and their Japanese language skills are next to nil. The only way you could ensure finding 600-plus Japanese-competent foreigners in Akihabara or Omotsando or Shibuya on any particular day, would be call around all the acting and modelling agencies, and rustle up a herd. Which is what they evidently did this day (I was only there accompanying my man Menace, who was on a genuine assignment. He was due to have his ears cleaned in a maid massage joint for an accompanying clip, courtesy of his agency.) I was just there for the ride, but I got rustled into the action nonetheless. Since I wasn't aligned with any agency, I didn't get paid for my gig, and I had to stand around a long time in the rain with some Citibank currency trader from Chicago, enduring his conspiracy theories. Waiting for my time in front of the camera. On top of that, the clothes I was wearing, the badge that evoked the laughs, and the bag I was asked to open and expose, were not even my own. They belonged to my man Dennis the Menace (whom I sometimes refer to as Maniac High), now in jail in Peru, who kindly lent them to me. Because the threads I was wearing were not interesting enough.
Menace, back from his ear cleansing, was more than a touch concerned as the hostess started rummaging through his (my) bag; it contained his pipe and a quantity of dope, which he used to carry on his person wherever he went (until he got busted by the airport staff in Lima at the end of 2008!) Fortunately she didn't find the goodies, and she took an interest in my (his) Maru chan badge instead, which I went on to describe as kawaii! ("cute") If only the customs officials in Peru had been so negligent, Menace would not be in jail right now. And I would not be feeling quite so guilty, about the disappearance of this man. But that is another story.
meeting TV stars in japan
| beachside & poolside
| enoshima & tokyo japan
| august 13 2008
| uncloned world
IT IS the middle of another long hot summer in Japan, and more and more I am enjoying the languid feeling in the air, the heaped up clouds, the thunderstorms which come out of nowhere and drench you, the chorus of cicadas in every dripping park. I used to find Tokyo summers oppressive, but I guess I am getting used to them. Just as I am getting used to the cold dry skin-chafin' winters. It must be said that I am going down to Thailand and Vietnam next week for another dose of tropical love, this one codenamed Family Ties, and I am mighty excited about that. But I have a semi-holiday for much of this week and I decided it might be interesting to try to relive the amazing summer I enjoyed with Maniac High (aka Dennis the Menace) last year, although it must be said, the magic always retreats whenever you try to recreate it/capture it (or perhaps you realize how much you have grown/changed since then). A part of me just wanted to stay at home hanging out on the river (Edo River) near my house, watching the clouds and curls of humid mist, the darting dragonflies. The soft, languid sigh of summer. Thinking about Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, and what I might soon be getting up to there. But I have been putting off Maniac High for a long time and what excuses could I make now -- I was semi on holiday, after all? After the English lesson at Fun Club finishing at 9am today, I was free until Thursday afternoon. More than 48 hours of possibility. Two days of nampa adventure (although truth be told, I didn't really have the libido for serious nampa.) As soon as I wound it up at Fun Club in the fashion heart of Harajuku, I trained it out to his crib in Setagaya Ward, all the skyscrapers and rooftops a-shimmer. Saw two young Japanese guys stumble out of a packed train and tackle each other to the platform, brawling, while their ho girlfriends shouted at them to desist, at Shinjuku Station. Caught the train further west, under a sky of molten lead, every cicada in the city humming. Maniac and I were drinking by noon, unfortunately there was no dope (this has been a long drought). I must repeat that this was an attempt to recreate the magic of our Obon adventures of mid August 2007, when I kissed a beautiful girl in the swirl pool at Yomiuri Land, and held hands with another in a Shibuya fast food joint. Back then we had focussed our girlhunting on the pools; this time around, Maniac wanted to comb the beach. (As I was to find out, literally.) We bundled into a train bound for the Tokyo Bayside beach town of Enoshima, near the ancient capital of Kamakura, a place I had not been for more than five years. On the way down there, between drinks, Maniac told me of some of the acting jobs he had done, the promotional work, the stage shows. We reminisced about the two weeks we spent in jail, and he gave me some tips for my upcoming trip to Vietnam. Most of which I rejected! He can be so dogmatic at times (all the time). Especially when trying to pick up women. We rattled south through the greater Tokyo/Yokohama urban sprawl, the endless blocks of apartments eventually giving way to seas of blue-tiled rooves and the odd hill popping through, topped with bamboo and fortified with concrete so as to prevent landslides; noren flags fluttering outside ramen restaurants. Some of the people in the train were clutching floaties. I think we had a floatie too (probably draped around my neck!) At length we arrived at Enoshima, near Eastside Beach.
As you can see, this ain't Thailand or coastal Vietnam. Black sand, twigs and leaves and other garbage in the water, and don't get me started on the jellyfish! Actually I have no problem with black sand, I hope to visit soon the black beach at Vik in Iceland, it has long been an ambition of mine. It is the lack of wave action that really sinks Enoshima, in my opinion (but then again I am spoiled because I am from Australia where beautiful surf beaches are dime a dozen.) On the other hand, there were plenty of girls there, and many of them were wearing bikinis. Maniac wasted no time in trying to hit on them. All of them. He literally chatted to/harrassed every girl on the single beach. All kind of mendokusai for me, I hate barging into people's spaces and conversations, and anyway, I have a girl in Vietnam I will be seeing next week. After a refreshing swim floating with the trash, I retreated to the open-air beer shacks which line the sand, drinking plastic cups of beer for some 700 Yen each or so. I have never been to southern California, but the beer shacks gave me a southern Californian vibe, and everyone was dressed for the occasion.
I slept over at Maniac's crib that night. It was such a nice thing to be able to sleep in the next morning, after my 5.45am awakening on Tuesday for Fun Club -- but little did I know at the time, it was going to be my first painfree sleep in a long time! More on that soon.
Coffee, vegemite on toast, and then the plan of the day: basically chilling out at the local pool, drinking beer and chu-hai and hitting on local women. It was a pool we had rocked in the magic summer of 2007, at what I now recognise was the peak of my Scorpio Upwave (I should add Maniac is a Scorpion native, and it was no coincidence that he appeared in my life, just at the time I needed to learn some Scorpionic lessons.) For a time, he was a good teacher. That time has passed, surprisingly fast, to be honest. Maniac is a typical Scorpio though and like many Scorpions he just gets a little too intense sometimes (a lot too intense, all of the time). To be fair, I always have wild adventures whenever I am with him -- a night out to karaoke turned into two weeks in jail, for example. What happened at the pool that hot sunny drunk Wednesday afternoon was, obvious both at the time and also in retrospect, the kind of wierd coincidence and colorful encounter which only happens when I am with Maniac. But the pompous way he was acting at times drew me to distraction -- and I guess I have to blame him for the nasty fall I sustained riding home from the pools, which left me with sprained wrists and a month of pain which intruded into my Family Ties adventures right up the coast of Vietnam. I often have a serious accident when I run with this dog!
So, here's what happened at the pool. We managed to smuggle our cargo of silver beers, chu-hai's and vodka blends in through the gate, along with a hefty bag full of grated ice. We found a place to chill. There are a whole lot more people here today than when we were here last year, but then again, that was a weekday. Today was a holiday, and the pool was heaving. We cracked open a few of those aforementioned drinks. Next to us was a toddler's pool, and on the other side of that, I noticed a white geezer with a Japanese bikini babe, and two young boys in tot. At first glance I thought he was another white guy with a Japanese girlfriend/wife, although his girlfriend/wife seemed a little hotter than those who usually date white guys in Japan. As I looked at the guy, I got the feeling that he kinda looked a little familiar, like I had seen before -- on the set of some saigen drama I did for Lazarus back in 2003 or something. Then I thought: No, wait -- isn't that the guy I have been seeing on TV for years -- isn't that セイン カミュ (Sein Kamiyu), the most famous gaijin media star in Japan? The way that the Japanese mothers and fathers in the pools were looking at him, I knew that they
could recognise him too. Yes, that was him, and to compound the strangeness of the event, him and his wife seemed to be heading right over to where Maniac and me were sitting, right to our very spot. When they arrived, his wife asked me if it was cool for them to sit on the bench behind us, upon which we had stored some of our stuff. At close range, I could see she was pregnant (it turns out she was expecting a daughter to be born in November.) Naturally, I granted them access -- you can't go denying a pregnant woman a seat, especially if she is wearing a bikini.
Strange stuff always happens when I hang out with Maniac. We did time together, and he even got me into a porn flick. We must have chatted with Sein Kamiyu for two hours or so, on and off (between toilet stops and missions to the canteen to buy plastic cups of beer.) The cicadas hummed in their trees, and misty specks of clouds curled in the skies, soon to be forgotten. Little kids slid down the long tube of the waterslide, which gushed them feet or head first into the churning main pool. Sein Kamiyu had many interesting things to say, about the state of the entertainment industry in Japan. Not all of it was pretty.
Want to star in a porn movie in Japan -- head to this site for the lowdown, the dirty low down: Porn Japan
fastest money in japan
| clinical trials
| tokyo japan
| june 12 2006
| uncloned world
I HAVE got another number and email address (and even a real life experience!) here for ppl looking to make fast, easy money in Japan. Imagine a job which involves being flown to a beachside resort town on the southern coast of Japan, all expenses paid, followed by a week or two of lying around in bed, watching TV, studying Japanese, writing that script that you have always wanted to write, but you never had the time, and fraternising with the nurses. At the end of the gig you get three nights' accommodation at a big hotel, and US$100 a day for all those essential living costs -- cruising the clubs, for example. And after that you get paid -- US$5000 to US$9000. That's right, up to US$9000 for two weeks lying around in bed! Does it sound too easy to be true. Well, in a way, it is. But here is the catch -- while you are lying around in bed you are actually testing new drugs and medicines, and most folks are just too damn scared to try this kind of work. The guys I know who have done it swear it is a safe job and a breeze, they never felt uncomfortable or sick, but nonetheless, a risk factor remains. Medical testing and clinical drug trials have got a bad name recently after those volunteers got sick in England, but if you are brave enough to give it a try, you can make megamoney as a human guinea pig in Japan. And you can make those megabucks in a megafast time, which is perfect for me, because I want to travel the earth, and the number one obstacle to becoming a permanent world traveller, is the need in today's capitalist society to have a permanent job. So I say jack that -- in the future I am going to do two or three clinical trials in Japan, collect the money, and then go on a trip somewhere. I am going to opt out of the capitalist treadmill by hocking my body on the medical tests market! And then when I go on vacation afterwards my real "job", my real passion (writing) can begin, and I can explore fascinating new countries, and record my impressions on to this blog. I could also do plenty of writing while confined to bed in hospital during the trials, so it is a win-win situation for me, there are no negatives at all.
If you think the clinical trials could be the thing for you while you are in Japan, send me an email and I will try to recommend you to the relevant authorities. I am hoping to start my first trial in late 2006, God Willing, and I am going to use much of the proceeds to try to make a movie in Iceland in early 2007!
In other news: I was feeling depressed about breaking up with my girlfriend, and wishing that I could get back with her, when I found a way to beat depression -- and that is, to take Royal Jelly! I have been taking it every second day or so recently and I have already begun to feel better about the whole situation. Maybe Royal Jelly isn't the only factor in my recovery, but it is a big part of the strategy I have cobbled together, to get over the break-up as quickly as possible. I found another thing which works well, is rearranging the furniture in the house -- I did that last night, and within a few minutes I noticed there was a different feeling in the air. So go figure.
So, the World Cup is upon us, and tonight, my old homeland of Australia take on my new homeland of Japan. It is just a game, to be sure. Although I am surprised to find myself getting interested in this World Cup much more than I did in the past. Even when the World Cup was held in Japan in 2002, I wasn't that interested in it. But now I am. So later tongiht I am going out to visit my Australian buddy Chris Mae in Kichijoji, and we are going to watch the game there.
For many ppl in the world, I guess this is a dreaded Monday morning for you? I am so lucky that now I don't work on Mondays or Wednesdays, and I want to get more days free in the future. I am moving over to the freelance style life. So today I was free all day, and I find for me it is so good for my mental and emotional well being, just to wander around with no fixed plan, thinking about stuff, discovering things, and so on. I went for a walk for about three hours, I first headed over to Asakusa with all of its temples and tea shops, and then chose a direction at random and walked that way, and kept going, for miles and miles. This city seems to get bigger the longer you are here -- it is endless! (I guess London is the same though.) I am always finding new stuff here. By the way I am getting back into the journalistic field as well -- I started working as a restaurant reivewer at a magazine, and I have also been doing extra jobs for TV and movies. Not only is it easy money, but it is fun as well, and gives me the chance to meet interesting people. The Australian guy I am visiting today is not only an old friend (we go back 12 years) but he is also an agent in the Tokyo modelling/acting industry. So he gets me plenty of jobs!
While I was on my trip today, here are two of the photos I took:
| earthquake risks
| tokyo japan
| june 07 2006
| uncloned world
MY new student has connections with the Japanese Government. On his
business card he describes himself as a "senior economist" with the
Department of Finance. He doesn't look that senior in age though --
maybe he is in his 30s like me. He told me tonight that he had been
commissioned to develop a risk analysis report regarding the
possibility of a major earthquake striking the Tokyo region. He said
that from a risk analysis point of view, Tokyo is number one in the
world when it comes to earthquakes. It has a risk rating eight times
greater than that of Los Angeles in California, for example. But on
the other hand, he told me that the buildings and roads in Japan are
much stronger than those in other countries, so that compensates for
the damage. He said he recently interviewed some earthquake experts at
Tokyo University, and they said:
++++ An earthquake above 8.0 on the Richter scale is unlikely to hit Tokyo
within the next 30 years.
++++ However, an earthquake above 7.0 on the Richter scale is likely within
the next 30 years.
++++ Since 1981, strict building codes ensure that new buildings can
withstand a earthquake up to M8.0 in scale.
I took some photos near my house today, in the Asakusa area of Tokyo. I had earlier dined with my buddie Kenichi, at the Ramen Tei restaurant in the Old City (ramen here costs you only 290 Yen a bowl!) Later I went prowling through the old suburbs which surround Asakusa. I stumbled upon the Homeless Heart of Tokyo (pictured below), with plentiful old men posed spreadeagled over the pavement. I also found plenty of cool old style shops, such as this pet shop and this sweet potato shop, pictured below:
| kichijoji & nishi ogikubo
| tokyo japan
| june 05 2006
| uncloned world
I HUNG out with my old Australian friends Crystal Meth and his brother GAM, they were having a party at Chris's house in Kichijoji, near Shinjuku in Tokyo, Japan. The party was nothing to write home about but after it was over we hit the streets and the night (for it was night by that time) began to develop an anarchic and even explosive vibe. GAM set the scene early by firing off some fireworks on the street outside Meth's house, as we walked up to the nearby Shidax karaoke parlor. Once there, he began indulging in some very unbecoming (for Japan) behavior, such as kicking over the table in our little karaoke room whenever a Nirvana track came up, or trying to set fire to an artificial potplant whenever he got bored (luckily I was there to blow the flames out before they got out of hand.) -- the guy was out of control, and not even I was able to restrain him on this particular night. Whenever an especially heavy song came on, would grab a mike, jump on to either the table or sofa, and start indulging in old school rock theatrics such as kicking over tables or sending ashtrays flying across the room. Or trying to set fire to fake fabric flower trees in the corridor outside. I tell no lie -- it was kind of freaky, but fun in its own way. In a way it was a sign of my own impending (momentary) escape from Japan and its tough social rules, my approaching return to the West with all its violence and exciting attitude. In two weeks time I will be in London awaiting my flight to Reykjavik, and once in Europe I am sure I am going to be shocked by the level of attitude in the air -- it is going to be such a shock compared to the placcid conformity of the Japanese masses. I have got used to Japan in my long time here, and whenever I go abroad for a holiday (to India for example, or Australia) I always feel a heavy dose of culture shock and homesickness... homesickness for Japan. Garnet and his theatrics, his setting off fireworks on the public street, his lack of respect for his fellow man, was all a foretaste and a shockwave of my temporary return to the West.
After the karaoke gig we cruised the streets of Kichijoji in what looked like a miniature black Hummer from the House of Mercedes Benz, firing little rockets into the night. We eventually wound up at Nishi Ogikubo, which is actually a kind of cool place -- real old school and authentic. If you want a taste of old Japan not far from Shinjuku, you ought to check out Nishi Ogikubo. We went to this Okinawan bar which was complete with old peeling wallpaper and tables which leaked their own sap, a soundtrack which got lost in the 1980s, and a pesky little cat which delighted in pouncing on hapless diners. The food wasn't bad either, and followed an Okinawan theme: on the menu was one of my favorite dishes, kakunin (boiled Okinawan pork). The next day I passed my second hurdle in the process of obtaining my latest media job, which is a singing job at ++++. I will be telling you about this job soon enough because it is one of the best jobs for newcomers to Japan, and it has a strong media/performance arts potential. So if you want to get leads and develop contacts in the Japanese media and performing arts, ++++ is a good place to start. I am hoping to be working there by the end of the summer.
In the evening I went down to Shimbashi where I snapped these pictures, of the skyscrapers caught in a rare dose of late afternoon sun:
| a modelling agency in tokyo
| tokyo japan
| june 02 2006
| uncloned world
I TOOK part in another modelling/acting/extra'ing job this week, making it the fourth such job I have undertaken since returning to the scene on May 10, 2006. That's four jobs in one month, which must rank as some kind of personal record, and further proof of the accelerated upswing in my life, which began about two months ago. To put it in perspective, during the freelance age of 2003/2004, when I had oodles of free time, and the most flexible schedule you could imagine, I did I think a total of five TV/movie jobs. That's five jobs for two years. In May of 2006 I did four jobs (one of them admittedly was for the Internet, but who cares, it is all fame and money, after all.) The irony is I haven't gone out of my way to approach modelling agencies or signal my desire to work. The jobs have come to me almost miraculously. I interpret it to mean that the gods are on my side this time around, that my time has come to shine. And I am having a lot of fun in the process!
Earlier this week, I played the role of an extra in a Japanese World War Two movie, which was filmed in the beautiful Ibaraki Prefecture north of Tokyo. Me and my crew played the roles of American soldiers during the Occupation in 1946, and according to the script, we were supposedly stationed on the southern island of Kyushu. In the story we stumble upon a vintage kamikaze plane left out in the fields, and in our anti-Japanese hate, we burn the plane down! Yes, that is right, this was another role in which foreigners are cast as devils, insensitive to the hurts they inflict on pure-hearted Japanese folk. But what the hell, it was a great day out in the sun, the birds were singing, the sun was shining, and it was a beautiful day. I earnt 12,000 Yen (about US$120) for my efforts. I got to see a part of Japan I had never seen before (maybe I will be back there one day.) When the shooting was over and I was back in Tokyo, I headed out to Kichijoji, to team up with old Aussie bud Garnet. We decided to head in to Shibuya, to take photos of all the girls on the street, and all the cool shops.
Today's movie extra job was organised by a modelling company called Group Echo, an Osaka based outfit. If you would like to do some acting or modelling when you are in Japan, Group Echo might be able to help you out. You can email them on firstname.lastname@example.org, or call production manager Hikaru Furukawa on this number: 03/5282 5321. Group Echo have branches in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.
Below lie some forbidden photos from the shoot in Ibaraki Prefecture, and some photos from my jaunt around Shibuya and Harajuku later in the day, with my buddy Garnet Mae:
australian colony in japan
| australian colony in iceland
| tokyo japan
| may 29 2006
| uncloned world
A FAIRLY amazing day from a part of my life, which is rapidly developing amazing characteristics. In short, these are the headlines of what happened today:
++++ My Australian colony took another great leap forward, and the possibility of an Australian colony in Iceland was greatly enhanced.
++++ A full scam report from the Cannes film Festival was delivered by my friend Garnet Mae, the notorious scammer of Cannes.
++++ In an amazing development?CGarnet then delivered me a list of contacts in Iceland?Cwho are waiting to meet me and show me around, as soon as I arrive there next month in June. Did Fire Burning manifest these new Icelandic friends?H
In the evening I returned to one of my haunts?CMachida?Cwhere I had a kind of date with my old girlfriend?CA. While she has a boyfriend in Europe?CI kind of feel like a new relationship is starting with her. She invited me to her pottery exhibition in July. She wants to smoke hash with me. Maybe after the failures and disasters of the C. relationship, I am going back to relationship school to learn how relationships are done, with all the pressure of the real thing removed. Well, it's an idea at least!
It is funny how things can change fast, when luck is on your side. In
the past month or so my life has been getting better on an almost
daily basis, although there have been some big upsets as well. But I
am beginning to think that my life is taking off and I am doing the
things I want to do (like working as a restaurant reviewer for one of
the magazines in Tokyo.) It is just the start of the good times and
plenty of more good things are on the way.
As you know I am going to Iceland in a few weeks and I really want to
have friends there, but I didn't know how to go about finding them.
Well, this morning I got woken up by a phone call, it was Garnet just
down the road from me, at Ueno Railway Station (see the photo
attached.) He was on his way back to Australia from the Cannes Film
Festival. I went up to meet him and we had a coffee, and he showed me
all the photos of the stars he met at Cannes. Then he said that while
he was at the festival he met some Icelandic people -- one of them a
mineral water exporter (Iceland's meant to have the cleanest water in
the world), another one of them a popular radio DJ in Reykjavik -- and
apparently the Icelanders were really taken with Garnet. They became
best of friends. They said to Garnet: "You should come to Iceland and
make a movie in Iceland!" Then Garnet said: "Well, funny you should
mention it, but my good friend Rob is going to Iceland next month --
can you look after him?" And they said: "Sure, tell him to give us a
call when he arrives, we will show him around."
I know some people sometimes promise the world and then don't deliver
on their promises, but I have got a good feeling about being able to
meet with them. My angle when I do meet them is going to be that I am
Garnet's assistant -- I am his script writer, and I am doing some
research for a movie he wants to make in Iceland. So I am going to ask
them to show me some places we could feature in the movie -- like
bars, nightclubs, that sort of thing, and if they could introduce me
to some of the local characters (celebrities, rock bands, etc.) You
have got to remember that Iceland has a population of only 300,000
people, so it probably isn't that hard to get to know even the famous
people there. Reykjavik the capital is smaller than Wollongong. It is
a hell of a lot more interesting, though.
back to iceland
| and this time for good
| tokyo japan
| may 27 2006
| uncloned world
I AM heading back to Iceland in three weeks for my second visit in three years, and this time, I have a way to stay there permanently (but on a part-time basis.) In other words, I have found a way to ensure that I can spend a good proportion of my life in Iceland, using Japanese money. And my goal is to spend at least one month of every year in Iceland. I also want to spend like a month a year in Thailand, a month a year in Thailand, and a month a year in either India or Vietnam. In all of these countries I want to develop contacts and local knowledge which I can express through my homepage, to help boost viewers and advertising takings and most importantly interest. This has always been my dream life -- to be able to slowly circumnavigate around the world, rotation after rotation, with my finger in every pie going/with my finger on the firmly on the pulse in every country I visit. I want to be able to speak Japanese and Icelandic and conversational Vietnamese and I want buddies (and gals) who can show me around all of these respective countries. It used to be my dream, an idle dream... but now I have found a way to fuel this dream, and blow it up into reality, a fantasy made real in my life. And here is how I am going to do it: medical tests. Yes, you read that right: medical tests. On various film shoots in the past few weeks I have met a bunch of foreign guys who regularly take part in Japanese medical/clinical drug trials, with very lucrative results. The deal seems to be this: you spend a week or two in a Japanese hospital testing a drug new to the Japanese market, and at the end, you get paid something like $5000 to $10,000 American. Talk about easy money! US$10,000 for two weeks of lying round in bed in a Japanese hospital -- I can do that! It sure beats teaching English for US$15 an hour, which until recently, was all that I did. Those days are coming to an end, thankfully.
My plan is, a few times a year I will do a stint in a clinical trial in Japan, which is supposed to be something of a junket in itself (you get flown down to the southern island of Kyushu, spend a week or two in hospital, and then at the end get treated to an all-expenses paid couple of nights in a beachside hotel). Once the trial is done and I have got my money (which could be up to US$9000), I will bank a proportion of it for the future (say a third of so), and then head to one of my international home away from home's: Iceland, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Australia, Greenland, wherever. And once in my new location I will set to work developing media contacts and collecting materials for my web. It is the perfect life plan for me, and it will give me the chance to "live" in a lot more countries than just Japan. It will enable me to become an International Vagabond at last. But even if I go down the medical/clinical trial path, I am still going to have to spend at least half of every year in Japan. That is not so bad, because there are endless pleasures to be had in this land, and endless new vistas open before the jaded traveller no matter how many years he or she has lived here. Here are some photos I took today, in the Shinjuku skyscaper district of Tokyo:
tv job in harajuku
| next stage of international vagabondancy
| harajuku japan
| may 26 2006
| uncloned world
TODAY I took part in my third modelling/acting/extra'ing job since I made my triumphant return to the scene at the start of May. The three assignments have collectively netted me 24,000 Yen, which is about $240 American, for I guess what has been about 1.3 days of work. Today's assignment was one of the most lucrative on the time/money scale -- 6000 Yen for only about an hour's work. My Australian friend Chris Mae tipped me off about the shoot (and probably earned a commission), which was set on the streets of Harajuku, one of my favorite parts of Tokyo. My new dude Dom (from Ai Nori) was also in attendance, and looking suitably disheveled. The job was like a fake vox pop with passing Australian males stopped on the street to be asked their opinion of two current Japanese celebrities, Kyoko and Mika. (Everyone there was supposed to be an Australian, but there were a couple of Russian guys passing themselves off as Aussies just to qualify for the 6000 Yen pay cheque, and a couple of people of others nationalities.) Specifically, we had to decide which of the sisters (at least I think they are supposed to be sisters -- at least they come across as sisters on TV) we fancied the most. And we had to answer in Japanese. Now while my Japanese skills have been poor for a long time, they have been getting better -- but I still find it intimidating to be asked rapid fire questions in Japanese in front of a camera and crew on the street, with crowds of gawking shoppers and schoolgirls gathering around. I had some witty lines prepared for my match with the camera, such as: "Kyoko san wa newhalf mitai!" ("Kyoko looks like a dragqueen!"), but once I found myself in front of the camera, I lost my nerve, and all my jokes came out wrong. Anyway, who cares? I had a lot of fun, met some great guys, and spent another morning living the dream of being a model/actor/extra in Japan. It only took a few minutes and then I was free to go. And I got 6000 Yen which is nothing to sneeze at!
The nature of my life is this: long periods of stability and stagnation, followed by rapid and amazing bursts of creativity and change and growth, taking me up to a whole new level of existence. Ever since the start of last month, I have been in one of these upward thrusts. For me these seem to happen every five years -- the last Upwave took place in 2001, when I was new to Japan and earning big money as an English teacher in the elementary school system. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then -- I have spent five whole years in Japan! I have spent more than five years in Japan! Since that heady time my life has stagnated a lot, although I still remember 2003 as the best year of my life -- mainly because I had a freelance lifestyle that year and a lot of free time, an escalating series of girlfriends, and I made a trip to Iceland in that year. 2004 and to a lesser extent 2005 were downer years compared to 2003, and I lost my freelancer lifestyle, even though I gained a permanent girlfriend, compared with the flaker girlfriends of the previous years. Come May 2006 and suddenly, unexpectedly, my so-called permanent girlfriend is gone, the freelancer lifestyle is back, and in fact I look set to take it to a totally cool and sublime level -- that of the International Vagabond. The International Vagabond is here, waiting to assume command of my life. According to my own astrological forecasts and understandings, I have entered the Scorpio Upwave. During the last Upwave which kicked in at the end of 2000, I left behind my old deadend job in Australia, and moved to Japan. It has been a heady and exciting time since then, and despite a lot of hardships I have established myself in this country, forever. I want to live here forever, and now I have the contacts and the means to achieve that goal. Living in Japan has always been exciting, a new experience every day, and I have done things that I would never have done back in Australia. But despite the novelty factor of being a stranger in a strange land, during the past two years I have started to feel like I am wasting my time, missing out on life, getting left behind by the pack. Little by little, my life in Japan has come to resemble my deadend life in Australia, with even less of a chance to escape. Astrologically (according to the Uncloned World creed of astrology at least!), 2004 and 2005 were the years of the Scorpio Downwave. According to my astrological theories, this was the time when the element of Scorpio was introduced to my life... but in a negative way. Or rather, shortcomings were revealed in my life which are to be resolved and transcended in the Scorpio Upwave, which will run from 2006 to 2009. It is only just the start of the Upwave, it is just the opening chapter. But I can already see what these three years will be about, and I have an inkling of the ways in which I will be transformed.
Here are the traits I have to overcome in this Scorpio Age of my life, according to the Esoteric Astrology of Alice Bailey and Djwhal Khul:
Sex - the relation of the pairs of opposites. These can be selfishly utilized or divinely blended.
Physical comfort - life conditions, selfishly appropriated.
Money - selfishly cornered (if I may use such a phrase).
Fear - which conditions activity today.
Hate - which is a factor in conditioning relationships.
Ambition - conditioning objectives.
Pride - which is intellectual satisfaction, making the mind the barrier to soul control.
Separativeness - which is the isolated attitude and which makes the mind the barrier to right group relations.
Cruelty - which is satisfaction with personality methods and which makes the mind the instrument of the sense of power.
When these faults are realized and are overcome, the result is twofold: the establishing of right relations with the soul and also with the environment. These two results are the goal of all tests in Scorpio.
the goonie feeling
| intervention and inspiration
| kichijoji japan
| may 22 2006
| uncloned world
WHEN I first came to Japan back in the year 2000 one of my big plans was to set up a kind of "Australian colony" in Tokyo, given that many of my friends and even some of my relations had some kind of connection (kankei ga aru) with Japan. Already, one of my cousins was living in Japan (as luck would have it she left the day before I got here, and retreated to the depths of Lesbian London.) My Australian Colony idea kind of fell flat for a few years, but in 2003 my old friend Chris Mae migrated to Tokyo, where he continues to reside. In the next entry (the next article as you scroll down the page; in chronological time, it was my last article) you will read about Chris's mad scammer brother Garnet, the Inflitrator and the Agitator of the Cannes Film Festival. But today's article is devoted to Chris Mae, who recently moved into a nice house in the Kichijoji district of Tokyo, where he lives with his wife and two kids. I was feeling down about the deteriorating situation with my girlfriend, and thinking about giving up. With a few deft words of encouragement Chris dispelled my doubts, as I sat on a stone in his weedy garden. Then we headed indoors, to drink some brews, and smoke some Nepali ha$h.
The night was already developing a dreamy and mysterious feel, what with my determination to take my relationship with my girlfriend into some pretty amazing uncharted territory, a soft breeze coming in off the verandah, and behind that a whole soft tree full of leaves rustling against a purple spring sky. The ha$h was not strong (I was getting more of a buzz from the bottle of Royal Jelly I had drank earlier in the day), but I was feeling high on life and the potential of life. As if to put the icing on the cake, one of Chris's kids demanded we put on a video of one of my childhood favorite movies, The Goonies R Good Enough. This was the movie which, back in 1986 or something like that, gave me the inspiration to become an actor and a writer and all the rest. I used to feel that yearning so strong, when I was a 13-year-old in 1986. And now the dream has come true... is coming truer every day. And as the leaves rustled against the purple sky outside, and I thought about the magical realm of multisexual possibility which has opened up with my girlfriend, and the weak ha$h merged with the stronger and nobler Royal Jelly within my system, I began to feel triumphant. The Goonies R Good Enough starred Sean Astin who went on to become Sam in The Lord of the Rings. As Sean relates on his own website:
One thing that makes acting in films a worthy endeavor for me is how the movies take on a life of their own over time. The degree to which Goonies lives on in the hearts and minds of millions of people continues to amaze me. I suppose we were able to tap into a spirit of magic and adventure that resonates with kids! People want to believe that it's still possible to discover treasure -- or win the lottery.
A film like Goonies is a terrific fantasy that allows kids to enjoy the notion that some game they play in their backyards could become the fantastic adventure of a lifetime. I've had so many people tell me that they used to "play" Goonies in the trees behind their house or that they would "be Mikey" when they and their friends would re-enact scenes from The Goonies.
Chris is a master of manipulating the Tokyo media -- in association with the recent The Da Vinci Code boom, he played Jesus Christ in some biblical documentary on Japanese TV. He showed us the video and I kind of thought, he looked more Charles Manson, than Jesus Christ. Check out the photos below -- what do you think?
gatecrashing the da vinci code
| cannes film festival
| may 19 2006
| uncloned world
I LIKE to surround myself with crafty and ingenious people, and my buddy Garnet, from Australia, is as ingenious as it gets. For the past couple of years the guy has been successfully scamming his way into the Cannes Film Festival over there in France, despite the fact that he has no invitation or credentials, and was in fact at one time on the run from the police in two continents! The guy has got class -- he manages to con his way into the festival everytime, whereupon he sets about his mission, which is to find backers for his own movies. Yeah you read that right, he wants to be famous, and he gatecrashes big events like the Cannes Film Festival to con famous entities to support his cause. This guy Garnet is the real Pink Panther of the underground film movement, except he is not clumsy or socially awkward, and he bats for the criminal side of the law. Al Qaeda ought to hire him for assassination missions, he could probably pull it off. In the last email he sent me, he described meeting Sidney Poitier and Samuel L Jackson, and some Indian bird who used to be a Miss World. He also attended the world premiere of The Da Vinci Code, which as most commonsensed people are starting to realize is a complete piece of crap and a waste of the public's time. Here is Garnet's email in full. It is interesting to note that his brother Chris lives close to me in Tokyo, and features prominently in the adventures on this page.
++++Day 1, Cannes 2006++++
The festival started with a bang. I heard The Da Vinci Code was shit,
so I thought I'd bar the premiere, but then I was watching the red
carpet, with Tim Roth and Sam J walking in and I'm like, "fuck fuckin that." I
ran home, pulled my tux and sneakers on (I left my black shoes in
Milan, can you believe?) and ran back to the premiere, snuck through
12 levels of security guards and plonked myself next to Andie McDowell
from 4 Weddings and a funeral) and Aishwary Rai (possibly the most
beautiful girl in the world (see photos). Then the film starts and it's
so bad it's making my films look good. Then the film ends (praise the
lord) and there's this festival opening night dinner party and another
12 layers of security guards telling me I shouldn't be
wearing sneakers. After three failed attempts to crash the party I tap
Sidney Poitier on the back and say, "Mr Glover, I'm a big fan, can I
shake your hand?" We go to walk into the party and the security guards
accost him for not having a pass, I'm like "Its Sidney fuckin Poitier!"
(having realised my "Mr Glover" gaff). They're telling him he can't
come in and I sidestep them all into the greatest dinner party I've
never been invited to. We're talking Ron Howard, Tim Burton, Helena
Bonham Carter, Juliette Binoche, Jean Reno, Tom Hanks, ya di ya da. I
was shaking a little till my mate Murali, who had actually been
invited to the party yells, "Garnet, you sneaky fucker, get over here!"
I sit down at his table and the head of ceremonies comes over and asks
"Who the hell are you?" Murali's like "He's with me" and they're like
"Oh, so sorry Mr Murali." So we wined and dined with the best of them,
though I don't drink
and the food was a vegetarian's nightmare, foix gras, urgggh and some
sort of fishy french thing. The dessert was a piece of art though, an
installation no less. This chocolate ball that they pour hot sauce
over and it eventually melts to reveal fresh raspberries and custard
delights. Yes folks, I'm up to my old tricks and its only day one. After
dinner, Murali, Nick and I start our "Proof of Life" game, happy snaps
with the stars.
Missed Ron Howard, but caught Jules and Mr Tibbs. We crashed the Da
Vinci Code after party too, but after the poor reception the film got,
the party was rather lack lustre.
(The chick is Aishwary Rai, She was Miss World a few years ago. The
brothers are of course Samuel L Jackson and Sidney Poitier (not Dannny Glover).)
Samuel L Jackson's new film Snakes on a Plane isn't even out yet but it is already acquiring legendary status on the Web -- go visit the official homepage here!
| may 10
AFTER a long hiatus, I am back in the Tokyo acting/modelling/extraing scene... and absolutely loving it. Today was a spectacular day which not only delivered me a reasonable amount of money (15 000 Yen) for relatively easy work (dancing in a hiphop club)?Cbut it also introduced to a bunch of fine fellows. And not only were the fine fellows I met today cool and fun and fresh, but they were also inspirational... and after hanging out with them for the day I began to ask myself, "What the hell am I doing with my life? Why can't I lift my sights a little higher?" Well, my sights have been lifted, and I am aiming for the stars. And curiously I was able to meet a real life star today, as I will presently relate. But first, let me relate, the specifics of the Tokyo media job I undertook today:
This job was a kind of hip-hop video/shoes commercial crossover, filmed in one of the first clubs I ever visited in Japan: Club Asia at Shibuya. Along with a crew of some ten foreigners and about 40 or 50 Japanese, my job was to basically dance in the background while three beautiful women -- a new hip-hop group being promoted in the video -- pranced around in the foreground. That's right, you read that right -- my job was to dance, their job was to prance! There was a lot of time between takes which gave me the chance to become acquainted with my fellow extras -- the good fellows I was alluding to before! -- and they were good, believe me! About half of the group were Russian chicks of the kind who often turn up to film shoots like this -- they are housewives of Japanese gents for the most part, looking to having a little fun and making a little mon during the daylight hours (when hub's away). Of the non-Russians?Cthere was one Canadian guy called Jeff who said he had set up a website to allow foreign models to meet Japanese women (interesting idea). Jeff encouraged me to keep on going with the development of my website until I push into the realms of profitability. He also said something which was to hang with me for the rest of the month: "It is possible to make all your dreams come true in Japan, but you have to get out there and make it happen." It made me feel like I have been missing out on life these past few years. Well, it is time I did some catching up!
There were a handful of other foreign guys there, and they were all great value in their own way. I kind of got the feeling that after a long time of being shipwrecked amongst the Japanese masses, I had found my kindred spirits... the right people for this period of my life. I spent a lot of time talking to this South African guy called Dom. At the end of the day he astounded me when he revealed that he had been a star on the popular Japanese reality TV show Ai Nori. I have since asked a lot of Japanese people if they know who Dom is, and a lot of them do indeed know. Yes siree my new friend is actually famous in Japan... and I am looking forward to drinking and linking up with him a lot in the future!
This weblog is intended to document the media job opportunities in Japan. To be more specific?Cit will tell you where to find media jobs in Tokyo?Cbecause that?fs the place I live and hang out within. What do I mean by ?gmedia jobs?h?Cexactly?H Well?Cto begin with?Cthere are the obvious stereotypical media jobs?Csuch as writing for newspapers and presenting on TV and the like. I recently started working as a restaurant reviewer for a Tokyo magazine and I will give you some information about that in due course. But more importantly?CI want to use this weblog to capture and relate my experiences in the acting and modelling fields. If you know where to find it?Cthere is so much going on here.
So here is where you find it!