You have to suck Tokyo into your lungs and let it rewrite your DNA.
You have to piece together your own reality one combini at a time.
As you look around your tiny room and try to remember the rest of some words from an Elvis Costello song,
you grab things and put them together and that is how you change a part of the world.
It doesn’t matter, not to anyone but you, and it doesn’t objectively matter actually at all.
But it will matter when you hit Tokyo’s streets.
It will help your brain figure out how to piece it all together and give it immovable coordinates on your permanent brain map.
Like I said, you have to let the city rewrite your DNA.
Actually, you don’t have any choice in the matter, but it’s always easier when you acquiesce and let it happen easily.
“Blade Runner” is my favorite movie ever. I even wrote a very short sequel to it once. It is also a popular cult movie in Japan, where the urban landscapes of Osaka and Tokyo have long been compared to the rainy, neon-lit street scenes in Ridley Scott’s film. In fact, the Japanese have produced some of the best high-end and unlicensed “Blade Runner” memorabilia since the film was released in 1982. A shop I really like in Nakano Broadway called Mandarake displays some very nice “Blade Runner” collectibles, and they’re the subject of the following photos. Unfortunately, or fortunately for my personal cash resources, most of Mandarake’s “Blade Runner” display pieces are not for sale.
Deckard’s rather pricey LAPD service pistol.
Two-headed Deckard and a spinner. I love the accuracy of Deckard’s necktie.
Mr. Batty, a blaster, and some unfinished Batty and Deckard chibi figures.
Items you’d not be surprised to find in a blade runner’s coat pocket.
A spinner, as close to flying as it is likely to get.
(Pictures taken at Mandarake Special 5 in Nakano Broadway on September 11th, 2013. Have a better one.)
Last night, I had a dream. I was stuck in western Tokyo with no passport or plane ticket, and only a few thousand yen in my pocket. But fortunately, all the signs on the train platform where I was standing looked like this:
The sun was going down, and the train doors were open. I looked at the warmth of the Japanese light, then took a moment of quiet in which I could hear my own rapid anticipatory heartbeats. As usual, these forced me to focus and take the first step of the journey.
Then I got on the train. And the sun went down as the Chūō Main Line shot through the long dark dream night and brought me back home. I have not had this dream again.
(Picture taken at Nakano Station, Tokyo in March, 2008)
It’s quiet here
at the galaxy’s core.
I don’t suppose the stars would stop moving
even if we asked them to.
I have considered doing so.
Night after night we bathe in ever-moving light,
some of it from the sun we abandoned
so many birthdays ago
surely it must have extinguished by now.
If you had never been born
I would have found you anyway,
used the machines we have spun
from neutrinos and platinum and DNA
to go back in time and find a way to make you exist.
The centuries, they are mere miles for us,
and the best ones we lived, we lived on Earth.
No, I don’t miss it, I would rather be here with you,
even though it amazes me that we still have to change cat litter.
And other corporeal things, this ring.
I shall always wear it.
Remember when I lost the stone that Christmas in the 21st century?
I’ve beat the hell out of this ring, but I shall always wear it.
The circle of it remains perfect,
the nicks in it are the hieroglyphs of our history.
And on your birthday, like it is today,
I look where the stone was
and remember that the love which first set the stone remains,
after all this time it remains.
And that, as ever,
is always good enough for me.
—Love, Dan, January 9th, 2013
The skies give birth
to ten thousand suns.
And one of them
always shines on Brisbane, California.
On my last day in Tokyo, I encountered this extraordinary-looking woman in Shinjuku Station on the Narita Express train platform. Turns out she and her husband were Americans, going home to New York City after 10 days in Japan.
I asked her “Is this a punk-rock thing, a cosplay thing, an art thing, or just your thing?”
While very graciously allowing me to take her picture, she explained that this was a personal thing, a look she had carefully considered and crafted with a dear female friend from Sweden who has the identical appearance configuration, only in bright green. She said she’s not into cosplay, and gets tired trying to explain that to people.
“That,” I said to her, “Is the most remarkable look. You have kind of a Predator thing going on. And you are also a very pretty woman.”
She laughed at the Predator reference, and thanked me for the compliment. Then the train arrived and we parted ways to the cars in which we had reserved seats.
Later, at Narita Airport, I saw her and her husband boarding a United flight to Newark. The woman and I smiled at each other and waved. An hour later, I boarded a United flight to San Francisco.
Then I left Japan.
Quiet moon, I hate you, hate your brightness.
At these times of the year, you won’t let me hide from the evil I know the night normally harbors in the darkness.
So, I guess those sons of bitches will see me coming.
But on the bright side, I suppose, it will make it easier for me to see and kill every last goddamn vampire in Brisbane. I should be able to kill them all by the end of the month, or at least banish them back to San Francisco.
Yeah, always look on the bright side.
Or under it.
Aren’t things viewed in transparent globes supposed to be upside down? Or maybe the view through them has been right all along, and it is the world that’s inverted.
I don’t know.
The crystal balls our gypsy mothers gave us have been tuned to a wrong or dead channel for centuries. Our attempts to see the future are like the chains on Marley’s ghost, weighing us down with guilt and keeping us from living the future.
So I was watching a cop show through a globe of transparent plastic……
….and I wasn’t all that surprised when all I saw…..
….was a handsome actor playing a lawyer on TV.
The advance probes had made it very easy to find the ruins on Feltran. The journey had been long, but uneventful. And now that we were there, establishing orbit and the optimal descent were proceeding normally.
However, as the pilot lowered our ship ever carefully to the preset landing coordinates on the edge of the ruins, we started to realize….
…the advance probes may have missed a few things.
Most of the people are gone now. They left Earth to find more room and better opportunities on Mars, Saturn, and beyond the solar system. Oddly enough, for folks like me who stayed, that means there’s plenty of room now. No jostling for washers at the laundromat anymore, for example.
It’s nice. Some days, I don’t see a single other person. The folding tables are always free. It takes me an hour to do what used to take me five. It’s always warm inside the laundromat, too. I have warm clothes to wear when I get home.
Still, it gets lonely sometimes, having the laundromat all to myself. And, of course, you still have to pay.