“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.
A Swedish friend of mine in Shanghai asked me to write a treatment for a short film he wants to make. This strange, disconnected story is what I came up with. Maybe there is the premise, minus the obvious violence, for a good TV series in here. Who knows?
The Giants game was on TV. They were playing Atlanta in the San Francisco home opener. I had had a long, shitty week, so I didn’t want anyone, or anything, disturbing me or the game, or stopping me from putting my fingerprints on the pint of Asahi Super Dry resting on a coaster on the arm of my Adirondack chair.
I was home and safe, and it was baseball season, and I…….
……saw the room…..fill with light….felt the light….
…..explode into my eyes.
And there I was again. I even knew I was on the same bench. Before my vision cleared, a process which seemed to average about two minutes, I could feel with my right hand the ten notches I had cut with my knife into the edge of the bench from previous trips. I reckon it had been several months since the first notch, because it and the second were feeling a bit worn and smooth from other people sitting on this exact spot. I guessed.
After taking the moments I needed for my eyes to clear and adjust, I looked around to confirm what I already knew:
I was in Shanghai. Again. Seated on a wooden bench along The Bund, at night under a very starry sky. Well, as starry as the ambient light from this insane bottle-rocket of a burg would allow. And by looking at the stars I could tell that, as usual, I had arrived at about 2 o’clock in the morning. Hey, after this many involuntary teleports I had decided after the first two trips that I had better know my stars in this hemisphere for reference.
Also as usual, there were a lot of people out along The Bund. I sat there for a moment looking them over, scanning them, seeing if I recognized anyone from my previous trips. Luckily, I did not. That would make things easier. And there were, as usual, no signs from anyone walking within ten yards of me that they had seen me appear from nowhere in the spot I now occupied. Like the actual teleportation process and the reasons behind it, I had not figured that part out yet. Maybe it was some naturally occurring thing. I don’t know.
I always tell myself I will figure this out later. But I haven’t yet.
Maybe I won’t.
Since it was two o’clock Sunday morning, it was always two o’clock Sunday morning, the people along The Bund were the young, late-night party crowd. Younger than me, and too tired, drunk, self-absorbed or all three to really notice a large, older gweilo hanging out on their periphery. That was fine. I wasn’t interested in them anyway. After ten trips, I had learned that these youngsters weren’t the sources I needed. So I stood up and started scanning the crowd for the older, wealthier type of source which would have what I needed to get home.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take me that long this time. Previous trips had taken me as long as ten minutes to spot a sufficient source. This time, thirty seconds. And he was alone, which was good. No fancy hired girl with him to get in the way. I didn’t like doing more damage than was absolutely necessary.
I think he was looking for a girl, though, because he was walking off The Bund, away from the Huang Pu and towards Guang Dong Road. I knew from my sixth trip there were a couple of side streets there where gentlemen could procure a lively girl if they had the discretion and the cash. Which meant my source must have had the cash.
This was good, too.
I checked my jacket pockets just out of habit, to make sure I had the things I needed. I was always teleported from home, and I always wore this jacket when I was there. Even when I slept. The second trip made me realize I had to do this. So:
I had my wallet, but only about 100 bucks U.S., and the very, very convincing fake California driver’s license. And I had an equally exquisite and fake U.S. passport. These, plus the renminbi I got off the source, would get me a ticket back to San Francisco, through immigration and onto the plane. I always had to fly back.
And I had my knife, of course. The same knife, every time. A cheap but very sharp carbon steel job I could get easily and anonymously in San Francisco Chinatown whenever I needed, since I always left the knife behind.
So, with the source still in my sight, I was ready.
He did, in fact, go down Guang Dong Road, towards the second side street. I followed him to the dark entrance of that street, but stopped at the corner after he went around it. I had become good at this, but still had to be careful.
So I slowly peered around the corner, and saw him immediately about twenty yards away. This side street was dark, very few street lights were on. And he was alone, in his expensive party suit, thumbing through the wallet he must have had in his breast pocket. He had, I just noticed, a couple of gold rings on each of his hands. His wallet looked fat. I had chosen my source very wisely this time. Between the rings and the wallet, this source had to have at least the 14,000 renminbi I would need to get home.
So, it was time.
I got out my knife, and rounded the corner to the darkened side street, pretending to be a bit drunk. More of a safe amusement and less of a threat that way, even for a big gweilo like me. It always worked.
He wouldn’t see it coming, and I promised myself he’d feel no pain. I made the same promise about the ten sources I had used before this one, and I was pretty sure I had made good on it. The Shanghai cops might have an alert or a sheet out on me by now, but I really didn’t care.
I was always careful. And being in Shanghai was never my fault anyway! What the hell was I supposed to do?
I had to get home.