Thursday, July 31, 2008

Keio Kids ...

... are precisely this prescient!

One of the challenges of road work, or book tour gigs, or just speaking gigs generated by a specific book, is confronting wildly divergent audiences and attempting to reach them for forty minutes or so--in the absence of a drum kit, a loud guitar and a dazzling vocalist (i.e., a band).

(Yes, that's a piano behind me. But no one played it--even after I begged.)

Last night I gave a presentation to a bi-cultural, partially bilingual group of American and Japanese high schoolers at Keio Academy's spacious campus just north of the city.

I've now spoken at anime conventions, business federations, government agencies, embassies, museums, galleries, universities, radio and TV studios and, of course, bookstores. But an auditorium filled with teens who happened to spend a steamy afternoon beforehand at a 5-hour baseball game at Yankee stadium ... well, this was a first.

Me vs. Matsui = Nolo contendere.

As you might imagine, conventional spiels don't suffice. (Telling moment: one American boy suddenly peered up at me with arched brows while I was mid-blather and asked: "What does otaku mean?")

You're forced to start from scratch, as they say, to revise assumptions and clarify not only to your youthful, more inquisitive, less cliche-seasoned crowd what it is you're actually talking about, but to yourself as well.

I keep thinking of the late Yeats writing about "the smiling public man" the students see when he visits a classroom--or "the tattered coat upon a stick."

Last night they saw both, most likely.

But I also think of Rilke: "Always be a beginner."

Begin again.

(Vast thanks to Miyoshi-san for the photographs.)

Tomorrow: Portland and Seattle.

Book Bust: Yohan files for Bankruptcy

One of Japan's biggest, oldest and most prominent book and magazine distributors filed for bankruptcy in Japan on Thursday.

When I was in the Bay Area last year, hopeful talk of Yohan's life-saving investments in Cody's Books and Stone Bridge Press prevailed.

Bankruptcy filings are far rarer in Nippon than elsewhere--especially the US.

Long hot summer. Indeed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back in NYC

Back from a long weekend in the Catskills (means "cat's creek," in Dutch, and suggests the presence of Bobcats and other felines, but now signifies numerous mountainous resorts north of the city)--and back in action, speaking tomorrow at Keio Academy New York.

On Friday I fly to Portland to appear at the SubVersion Anime Festival, then head to Seattle for meetings and friends.

Lots of activity on new and ongoing projects, including Anime Masters & Masterpieces and some just cinched West Coast bookings. More on that later.

NY radio just declared: "Tomorrow will be hazy, hot and humid," but when it comes to all three, Tokyo trumps NYC on any given summer's day. And muttering atsui ("it's hot") under one's breath eighty times an hour, as Tokyoites do, doesn't help a whit.

Finally realized that trekking between Tokyo and New York is not exactly a recipe for rest. But as Milton writes in Comus: 'what hath night to do with sleep?'

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mario Mandala and me, Friday, July 18

My dear friend, uber-artist and literati vet Mario Tauchi (wall-painting above) is hosting a series of events and exhibitions relating to self-expression and sanity (mutually exclusive?) from July 18 to 31.

Mario graciously invited me to join him, a fellow Tokyo artist and a gallery owner/art researcher on a panel discussing 'Artists and Self-Management' tomorrow night (Friday, July 18) at the void+ gallery in the Minami-Aoyama/Omotesando area. Starts 7 p.m.

If you're in this town, enduring its torturous temperatures and keen on airing out, please join us. (*note: the dominant language will be Japanese.)
Info below:


Mario Tauchi-PSYCHE-GA-DELIC 2008
void+ is showcasing Mario Tauchi's PSYCHE-GA-DELIC 2008 from July 18th to July 31st. Mr. Tauchi has been expressing himself by creating Mandala paintings in various media and also collaborating with musicians, visual artist and other specialists, improvising Mandala paintings live. at void+alternative, he will be collaborating with a guitarist, cloudchair (aka Jake/Masatomo Kawase), and a chef specializing in spice, det2, to create a unique Mandala, while exploring the transformation that happens when his inner self meets the outer entity, at the void+ gallery, also showcasing his new works.

July 18th - July 31st
Gallery Hour: 14:00-19:00 (sat:12:00-) Closed on :Mon, Sun and Holiday

Event Schedule
July 18th (fri)
Panel Discussion "Artists and Self management"
-Roland Kelts(Author of Japanamerica、Lecturer at Tokyo University)
-Haruka Ito(Research associate at Kyoto University of Art and Design: research center for editorial studies, magical, Gallery manager of magical, ARTROOM)
-Tadasuke Iwanaga(Artist)
-Mario Tauchi(Artist)
19:00- Charge: 500yen

void+では、7 月 18 日 ( 金 ) ~ 31 日 ( 木 ) まで、田内万里夫の" PSYCHE-GA-DELIC 2008" を開催致します。田内はこれまで、様々なメディアに曼陀羅という形を通して自身の存在を表現してきました。特に、音、映像、料理等とコラボレーションの形で、即興のライブペインティングを得意とする田内は、今回もまた、 cloudchair こと川瀬昌知( aka. Jake )、スパイス料理スペシャリスト det2 とのコラボレーションで 3 日間にわたり曼陀羅の世界を繰り広げ、自らの世界が外の存在と交わった時に生じる自身の変容を探ります。展覧会期間中、ギャラリースペースにて鏡を使った新作を発表します。こちらもお見逃し無く!


Gallery Hour: 14:00~19:00 (土:12:00~) Closed:月、日、祝日

< 18 日(金)>
・伊藤悠(京都造形芸術大学芸術編集研究センター研究員、 magical, ARTROOM ギャラリーマネージャー)
時間: 19:00 ~ 料金: ¥ 500

Friday, July 11, 2008

All the quirks ...

As promised, here are my musings in the Daily Yomiuri on Speed Racer's Japan premiere on the largest screen in the world, and a few thoughts on other Hollywood anime incarnations, due in cinemas shortly. With Hellboy 2 and The Incredible Hulk doing their duties at the box office this summer, Speed Racer's bizarre collapse may be a lesson for such Mobius Strip transformations.

The appeal of anime is very specific: It's cool because it's messy. ... duh. Punk, Hip-Hop, novels anyone?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Australia goes Japanamerica

This is an interview I gave a few weeks ago to Australian Radio (ABC). No aggrandizement, but the overall program is smart--thoughts on Kawaii in English start 24:50, and I am on around 35:00:

ABC Australia