Author’s Note: This is our second “list” piece, following our minor piece on airports. I happen to like “minor” pieces in general, and this piece is dedicated to a reader who said her our airport piece was her “sneaky favorite.” Here, we will simply list a few things I find interesting. There is no particular connection between these items, other than that I am interested in them.
I. Bradford Cox’s Stage Patter at a Deerhunter Concert in Osaka
A few years ago I went to see the band Deerhunter play live in Osaka. The original show I had tickets to was canceled and I didn’t get a notification, so I trekked all the way into Osaka only to find this out. This worked out ok though because I took a picture of some girls in fairy costumes on the trip. Anyway, the show was rescheduled for a few months later and the tickets were still valid.
The frontman for Deerhunter is called Bradford Cox. His side project is called Atlas Sound. Deerhunter is not one of my very favorite bands, but they are pretty awesome. I had seen Deerhunter before at a weekend long event called “Hostess Club Weekender” in Tokyo, which sounds a little edgy but was really just a series of Saturday and Sunday events featuring a bunch of bands. My favorite Deerhunter song is “T.H.M.” from 2013’s Monomania, however my favorite Cox song by far is “The Shakes” from his side project called Atlas Sound. The Shakes opens thusly:
Found money and fame/ but I found them really late
Uh huh. The Shakes is more than a sneaky favorite; it contains multitudes. In any case, the re-scheduled Deerhunter show was in January or something and I was excited to see them. They were the headliner, however unfortunately they had an inordinate number of opening bands and by the time Deerhunter took the stage they had like only 45 minutes until the venue had to close. Brief as the show may have been, Cox managed to build in quite a bit of between songs patter. I am a big fan of between songs patter, and wrote about this topic at length here.
The one piece of patter I remember from this show was when Cox addressed the issue of Japanese toilets. Now, without getting too graphic, most Japanese toilets these days have a built-in “washlet” which, true to its description, washes your sensitive areas with water after your business is done. Here is Cox on the subject (as I recall, more or less):
“I love your toilets here. In our hotel the toilet has a stream of water which cleans you up after you use it. As a gay man I have to say this is a great feature.”
Now, what was so interesting to me about this patter was not the content per se, which was fairly straightforward and only just a little risqué. What fascinated me was that Cox in various interviews in the American press had referred to himself as asexual. Cox suffers from a serious skin condition, as well as maybe some kind of eating disorder, is super thin and generally has a lot going on. He has been pretty open about all of this, including his supposed asexuality. However here he was in Japan, where maybe only a quarter or so of the audience understood enough English to fully understand what he was saying, identifying as a gay man.
Of course I was and am aware that people’s self-identification, sexual or otherwise, can fluctuate, however I don’t think this is what was going on. Rather, it is my supposition, unproven albeit, that Cox preferred to index his supposed asexuality in the American media for reasons of his own, however in Japan allowed himself to speak his truth as a gay man. Perhaps, as I like to imagine, he thought that no one in the crowd would notice this little slight of hand. In the immortal words of the Lone Gunmen in the X-Files, however, “someone is always paying attention, Mr. Mulder.” In this instance, I was paying attention. And I was interested.
II: The Difference between North Indian Food and Nepalese Food
In Japan, at least, there are a good number of both North Indian and Nepalese restaurants. The North Indian restaurants, for my money, are, without exception, way better. This is because of one simple reason, Nepalese food, as prepared in Japan, is full of sugar.
There is nothing I want less at lunch than a bunch of f***ing sugar. I understand of course that carbohydrates in general are full of sugar and all the rest, so I guess my position is that food already has more than enough sugar without adding more. However, Nepalese restaurants put excess sugar in the curry, and super extra sugar in the nan bread. Sugar is everywhere, and it leaves me feeling bloated and bad. North Indian restaurants do not seem to have this problem. These also feature nans and curries, however they are un-sugared and basically delicious.
Now, I do not wish to demean all Nepalese restaurants, nor indeed Nepali food culture in general as I have never been there. For all I know, Nepali restaurants in Japan just happen to add a bunch of sugar for some reason. But I doubt it. I suppose that somewhere on the North Indian plain there as you move north toward Nepal sugar factors more and more into the cuisine. To each their own, but I don’t like it. This whole matter is of interest to me.
Hostels are interesting. I have only really stayed at a hostel once, on the South Island of New Zealand when I was checking out the New Zealand Alps. I don’t remember much about this, however the basic features of hostel stays were all in place: the shared room and concomitant lack of a private bathroom and shower, the slight anxiety about getting one’s stuff stolen, and the opposite sense of excitement that one might meet, say, a chick.
A few years ago my buddy “P” came to town and asked me to catch up. I said yes, and met him at his hostel near downtown. When I got there, he introduced me to two gorgeous and sophisticated Indian-American woman from California. They were his “hostel friends.” Paul is a very good looking guy, and this incident confirmed for me what I already suspected, that hostel life could be exciting, even action packed. Me and P and the ladies went out on the town and had a great time. My takeaway was that hostels rock.
On the other hand, my buddy Doug checked out of his life and into some Russian hostel action for about six months or so a while back. His plan, as I first heard it, sounded quite romantic, however when he returned from this sojourn he informed me that hostel life was not all it was cracked up to be. Hostel life in Russia, it turns out, was pretty dreary. I had no difficulty believing this, and arrived at a more balanced picture of hostels as a result.
All in all, hostels are interesting, however I don’t think hostel life is for me.
IV: People’s Working Speeds
I have noticed that folks tend to work at very different speeds. I am a teacher, and these days the job of a teacher is basically split between i) teaching in the classroom; ii) working on the computer: iii) taking breaks. Teachers, generally speaking, have a lot of flexibility with break taking, which is nice. And classroom teaching is bounded by the bell, so that’s settled. Which leaves computer work.
Some teachers rip through their computer work in a matter of minutes and are able to move on to other pursuits, such as Wordle. The top-end version of this type of teacher I admire greatly; they are marvels of efficiency and mange to go home on time every day. Other teachers are super slow, and pick at stuff for days, weeks even. While I respect the fact that everyone has their own process, this is not my style at all. Then there are the teachers in the middle, including myself. These folks are neither hyper-efficient nor super-slow. Rather, they tend to procrastinate around for a bit before settling in to serious work, after which they crunch and get things done.
As an ambivert myself, I like to gather just enough information, Goldilocks style, to be dangerous before I do my computer work. I neither need nor want all the information, however I function best when I have a general “feel” for the landscape. This is just how I work—like I said, everyone’s different.
V: Making Friends Quickly
When I was in university I was trying to hang around some artsy chicks, and was lucky enough to know a few. One day I was hanging out with them and a few girls I didn’t know came over. One of them was called Nadine. These new girls were super cool, and Nadine in particular was a little intimidating. She was from Eastern Europe. I definitely wanted to hang out with Nadine, and sure enough she invited me, right away, to accompany them all somewhere. I hesitated, for some reason. Maybe I didn’t know the first rule of improvisational theater, which is “yes and…” Yes and means, basically, follow the person that goes before you. I would have followed Nadine pretty much anywhere, however I said “I don’t really know you guys,” I said. “Well,” she replied, “this is how you get to know us.”
(The Nadine incident confirms one aspect of my social relations. I’m a Gemini sun with Mars in Leo in my 10th house. I am, basically speaking, not afraid of people. At the same time, I must admit that there is a certain class of beautiful women whom were I to meet them it might take me a second or two to find my tounge. This would include Brit Marling, actress and creator of The OA, Emily Haines, lead singer of Metric, and Kristin Stewart, actress in Personal Shopper. Nadine was not quite in this stratosphere, however she was pretty close.)
Nadine was right of course; I just wasn’t used to making friends quite so quickly. I came to my senses and went with Nadine and the crew. That was a good move.
I find Nadine’s approach to new people fantastic. It can be a little risky to apply it all the time, but in general it’s a good starting point. Love ya Nadine baby.
VI: The San Diego Chicken
Americans of a certain age may remember the San Diego Chicken. The San Diego Chicken was everywhere. As I recall, the San Diego Chicken was originally a mascot for the San Diego Padres baseball team that would run and jump around on the dugout and stuff. What the connection between the Padres (named after the Catholic priests that ran missions into California back in the day) and the chicken was, I have no idea. Nonetheless, the chicken, over time, somehow transcended the role of mere baseball mascot and became an all- purpose mascot for all types of situations. The chicken, in fact, became the uber-mascot, the mascot of mascots if you will.
I have an exact image in my head of the chicken; essentially the chicken was just a dude with a bunch of yellow feathers and a chicken-esque head. The resemblance to a real chicken was decent, however as mentioned the San Diego Chicken was super yellow. Also, the San Diego Chicken was ugly. Like seriously. Nonetheless, the chicken was huge, and became a meme before anyone even knew what a meme was. Therefore, the chicken must have had something going on. The chicken had his own baseball cards; the chicken was everywhere. At the time I didn’t get the chicken at all, and basically still don’t. But as with a lot of topics, there may be something I’m missing. That’s why I find the chicken interesting to this day.
Dedication: For AC, who likes lists, even though this barely is one.