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2004-08-25 8:34 p.m.

part 1: he wants a shoehorn, the kind with teeth

Today is one month since I arrived in Japan (this time around).

It seems like every time I see something my brother has written, the handwriting is different from the time before. That's actually pretty representative of how he tends to live his life, though. He's a cool dude.

avalanche or roadblock?

I was listening to the Ventures earlier. Guess what I'm listening to now!


Yeah, anyway. I'm hoping to send off my absentee ballot application form tomorrow.

SO. This weekend I was in Nagasaki city. Let's discuss that!

My weekend kind of took the form of a big scavenger hunt.

With minimal prior knowledge of the city, find:

the cheapest possible place to stay
a pawn shop with a good selection of guitars
an application for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test
cheap passport photos
a multiple re-entry permit

For bonus points, find:

ground zero of a nuclear bomb detonation
a site where Chrisitians were crucified
an artificial island where dirty gaijin and their dirty Christianity were kept segregated from the pure-blooded populace

Though at times the outlook was dim, I found all of the above! Yay! Plus, I found an absolutely amazing cemetery complex and a festival for the Mistubishi ship building union, both of which I will now proceed to tell you absolutely nothing about!

I ended up staying in a capsule hotel, which was kind of fun. Felt like a futuristic army barracks, or the crew's quarters of a trans-galaxy spaceship, where most of the crew is in cryogenic slumber at any given time. The only barrier between the capsule and the outside was this little screen thingy. You could hear everything that was going on in the other capsules. Everything.

I did go to the Atomic Bomb Museum. It was very... educational. It's impossible to imagine what it was like to experience something like that, but that place gets you pretty close. It was weird to walk the city afterwards and try to imagine what it looked and felt like 59 years ago... Crazy stuff, man. There's a park now at ground zero. It was strange to go there and just think, "Damn."

life is a placebo masquerading as a simile

About the pawn shop... I did indeed find one. I did not, however, purchase a guitar.

Alright. Here's what happened. I bought a Love Psychedelico single there, and then asked if I could try out some of the guitars. The guy said I couldn't just play any and all of them. So. I started by picking two. They had two 100 buck guitars, a 300 buck, and a 600 buck. (Theoretically these prices were about half what you'd pay for them new.) So, I picked the 300 buck and one of the 100 buckers.

Of course they were way out of tune, and I had to spend a great deal of time on that. Then I spent some time going back and forth between the two, playing different styles of music, trying to get a feel for them. Of course the 300 buck was better- much fuller sound and full bodied vibration. The 100 buck had obvious globs of glue on the wood inside and the action got higher and higher further down the neck, which is no good. I had about decided I was gonna go with the 300 buck, but I looked at the other 100 buck and it didn't seem to have the same action problems as the one I'd been playing did, so I thought maybe I could give that one a little try before deciding for sure on the 300 bucker.

So, I go up to the dude and ask very quietly and politely, "Would it be possible for me to try one more guitar?"

Angrily, in classic stupid-sounding katakana Engrish, he growls, "No! No moah! Sutoppu!" as if he was scolding a dog that wouldn't stop humping the couch.

I was dumbfounded. I followed him quietly back to the guitars where he proceeded to put the tags back on the ones I had been playing. Suddenly my wits more or less returned to me and I got really pissed off. I said in (albeit somewhat broken) Japanese, "Well I guess I'll go look in another store," and left without a backward glance.

I was seriously pissed off, and a few minutes later wished I had come up with something better to say ["at least an artichoke has a heart!"]... I was absolutely livid. I had been more or less planning to purchase that 300 dollah number, but if that's how they treat their customers, fuck them, man. I'll go elsewhere.

It's not so much that he wouldn't let me play another guitar. I recognize that he had already told me that he wouldn't let me play a lot of different guitars (quite why I don't know, but whatever) and that I kind of took my time trying out those first two. But the way he told me to stop was totally unacceptable. I will not be treated like that. If he had just said politely, "I'd prefer it if you stop there and either make a purchasing decision or come back another time," I would have been annoyed, but I probably would have ended up buying the 300. I wanted that one. But talking to me like that? No. Uh Uh. I won't tolerate that. Fuck you, pal. Keep your guitars. I hope you never sell another.

You just can't expect a person, especially a person who has some clue about guitars, to buy a guitar without spending a little quality time playing it first. That's doubly true with second-hand guitars. What gives?

I guess in running a pawnshop the dude probably frequently deals with the grittier elements of society, and maybe he's pissed off about it. I don't know if it was because I'm a gaijin, or because I look young/don't look like I'd actually buy a guitar, or if it was just because he's a dick... Probably some combination of all three.

I was so angry after that. I'm still pretty angry about it, if you noticed...

i'm going to die if you touch me one more time


well I guess that i'm going to die no matter what...

Actually, I've always gotten pretty shitty customer service in Japan. Oh well, whatever.

if it wasn't for disappointment
i wouldn't have any appointments

After that I found my JLPT application at the big bookstore, plus the English version of Howl's Moving Castle and the French version of Stupeur et tremblements. I felt a little better after that.

Hmm. This is getting pretty long. Maybe we'll call it good for tonight. Next time: Nagasaki history lesson and the Sentoro Matsuri!

i love the world and if i have to sue for custody
i will sue for custody

this colorful spell under which I live protects me from all I write,