Currently listening to: Dummo Loop - WAVEDASH
The holidays are coming up soon. Despite buying everyone gifts, this season feels just as dry as the last few.
The lab sent me my negatives early! The service was so good that I am going to endorse it here: Memphis Film Lab has some of the most personal customer service of any company I've encountered. Not only did they work with me during the global email outage, they even called me and gave me a detailed breakdown of each film roll, with some light critiques. One of my rolls didn't turn out at all, and they apologized profusely, despite it being my fault! (Shot PanF at 3200 ISO on accident.)
The price was right, and the scan quality on par with TDR or others.
My new skis arrived yesterday and I took them out immediately. The difference was unbelievable. It was like having two wings underfoot. For the curious, I got 2020 Volkl Mantra 102's (170).
Locals here wear these pigskin Kinco mittens, but what makes them so cool is the designs they draw on them. They have such minimal branding and large surface area, that the canvas is really yours. I snagged a pair in town, and have been slowly working on them. My right mitten is currently Evangelion themed, not sure what to do for the left.
Other than this, I'm mostly just working a lot. From about 6:45 to 4:45 every day. They are long, but satisfying. I have been reading a lot more manga recently, including finishing Chainsaw Man, which I absolutely awesome.
Currently listening to: Jeff Rosenstock - To Be A Ghost
This song reminds me of endless drives through the volcanic meadows of the inaka, cherishing the last few hours with my friends, drinking, crying and having the time of our lives.
Ate it hard on the slopes this weekend, leaving me sore all over. Ow.
I was promoted today. I am now a manager of a whole base area ski lift crew. Yay? Weird to be in an authority position again. Radios are a lot of fun though. My crew is likely the most positive energy on the mountain. Do right by me and I'll do right by you. Covid makes work a little weird - my whole job basically revolves around telling people to make reservations, put their masks on and maintain social distancing. It's mostly easy though, and getting yelled at by strangers doesn't phase me. The crew is happy to pass off the problem people to me.
It's funny how much my life has changed in a matter of months. If you had told me my life would revolve around skiing a year ago, I probably would have laughed it off. Honestly though, I'm having a great time. Not taking a lot of pictures, plus the new lab I sent my rolls to has pushed back there developing schedule to 2021... No new images for awhile.
Currently listening to: Crystal Castles - Kept
What a day. Skied all day with my new liftie buddy and met the Grateful Dead's drug dealer. He was an ancient man sitting all alone in his apartment, watching Westerns and drinking wine. I gave him a bunch of beer in exchange for 1960's stories and a peek at his photos with Jerry Garcia. I had the time of my life. To photograph this man and his apartment is the dream. It is the ultimate space. I will be bringing him some veggie pizzas and beer in the future, just so we can sit down and do a portrait session; the man is a dying breed.
I'm kind of unbelievably happy being a ski bum so far. Skied everyday this week with my buddy Philosopher. Work itself is mostly boring and forgettable, but the one hour a day I get to hit the slopes makes all the difference. My coworkers are interesting to talk to; they all have wild life stories. I went ahead and bought some insane new skis to replace the used rentals I bought on the way up. They should arrive next week. Hopefully I won't be a corpse by the end of the season! This mountain is secluded and extreme to the point that it makes me nervous, even as a veteran skier.
I do miss skiing in the inaka. I was sad last year; the mountain never opened. We had the lowest snowfall in 700 years in 2020, a sign of what the rest of the year had to offer. It seems they have already opened this year, albeit with about 40% of the runs of a normal season. Last time I skied there, I taught a good friend how to ski and it was a blast seeing her go from unable to stand to bombing down the slopes with the rest of us by the end of the season.
Currently listening to: Kill this - (sic)boy,KM (ft. Only U)
I finally brought the Nikon out yesterday and shot some photos in the wilderness. I took the 28mm with the red filter and a roll of Acros. It was unbelievably cold - the creek I had sought out to photograph was nearly frozen solid. There are so many cute dogs here! I forgot how much I missed big dogs.
The impending reality of resuming a professional life has me feeling more clear-headed. Decided it's about time I have the backlog developed. Will try a new lab, since it seems my old lab has raised their prices, and home development is off the table for now. I'm excited to see some of the Tokyo images. A little worried about this roll of Pan-F (a gorgeous film) that I accidentally shot at 3200 ISO. I wonder if they'll turn out at all.
With the possibility of physical display indefinitely on hold, I have decided to put some more of my work on the site. Hopefully by next year, when I'll likely have access to a larger living space, I can set up a darkroom and do some printing. The darkroom owner in my hometown took my money and ran.
In an earlier (paper) journal, I promised myself on a darker day that 2021 would be the year I would delve into large format. When I bought the Leica in 2018, it was supposed to be the camera to end all GAS, but here I am. I spent a large amount of my time in Tokyo ogling endless rows of weird handmade M39 and coupled conversions, although I couldn't bring myself to spend the money. There is something so much more attractive about the strange lenses made for the Leica lens mounts. It's also about time that I replace the FM with something more reliable. I fell in love with the well patinaed black Nikon F2 Photomic we tracked down in Osaka. It has the most amazing film advance, definitely nicer than the F3, and perhaps even better than the M3.
The main issue with large format is developing - it's too cumbersome to send 4x5 negatives to a lab for development, and I don't currently have a developing tank.
I wonder if my style would even translate well to a large format negative - I struggle to compose in medium format a lot of the time. I suppose to some extent I am chasing the legitimacy that comes with a larger negative. My insecurities about my work extend even to the tools I use to make it.
All this camera talk has made me remember that months ago I promised myself that I would place all my negatives in archival sleeves. So many projects.
Currently listening to: mos thoser - food house
I just can't focus.
I've since left the sweltering South for the beautiful, frigid Rockies.
I think I've reached the end of the W-Curve of Adjustment, having more or less returned to the person I was years ago. I lack a lot of that vigor I had upon returning. Finally getting to spend time totally alone again has been nice, although of course it's only the mornings that appeal to me. As soon as the sun crosses over the apex, the day is more or less finished in my eyes. I've had to stop drinking coffee, a real tragedy. Tea does have the advantage of being drinkable at every hour though.
Recently, I've been reading a lot. At some point, I would like to do some book reviews on this site. I just read Speed Tribes by Karl Taro Greenfield, and can recommend it wholeheartedly, despite most of the contents likely being fiction. I managed to find it in a used book store for $3, and was pleasantly surprised. The story about the skatepunk motorcycle thief and the juvenile detention system was especially interesting.
I've also been playing video games again! A whole mess of them. With nowhere to go, no one to see, and nothing to do, games provide a great way to eliminate the long, lonely nights. I find it's harder to make friends online in recent years. At least, consistent ones. Although, it's probably my own fault.
It's been many weeks since I've taken a photo. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, and I just can't find my creative state of mind. That applies to this site as well, more or less. I want to put more things up, but it's hard to find the words. Maybe now that the real work is finished until mid- 2021, I can relax and spend more time tinkering with my thoughts here. I really would like to.
Currently listening to: お前のドリームランド - 4s4ki (ft. KOTONOHOUSE)
The darkroom owner stood me up again today. Waited for ages outside the door in the beating sun only for him never to show.
These days it feels like my photography is atrophying at the hands of my largely homebound existence. I haven't taken a picture since returning. In fact, I haven't had my rolls from my time in Tokyo developed either. This happens sometimes, where I go months without taking a photo or touching a camera.
Currently listening to: 不革命前夜 - NEE
Time passes so quickly.
For Labor Day, I made a last minute decision and drove for a day in the truck, to the familiar hills of the Ozarks. I left well before sunrise. Drinking coffee, screaming the lines of each song on Jeff Rosenstock's new album, NO DREAM into the steering wheel the whole way there. Does Jeff ever take a break? It seems like just yesterday the live album Thanks, Sorry came out. I'll never forget listening to We Cool? on my great Osaka-Kyoto bike trip; cutting my leg open in the... This is a tangent and a story for another time.
On my drive, I passed by a little lake filled with boats parading flags for their chosen political candidate.
I have decided to take Japanese studying seriously again. While my vocabulary, reading and listening skills are quite good, my grammar is notoriously lazy. It's about time I take the JLPT again anyways. Will include anything I find useful in the links section of this site.
Work progresses on akihabara.html slowly. It takes me a long time to organize my thoughts these days. I have a bad habit of writing multiple documents for different projects simultaneously, all the while alternating between different genres of music, creating a sort of deafening mental cacophony. It doesn't help that the only time I can feel comfortable writing these days is the hours before the sun rises, when no one is awake and I can drink my coffee in relative peace. Finishing Gibson's Idoru last week left me nostalgic for Tokyo, and so writing continues.
Currently listening to: ritual. - CVLTE
Reconnecting with life America has been a sluggish process. Returning to one's hometown is particularly difficult. Reverse culture-shock is genuinely knotty; I find my mind clashing with things constantly. Even if the dreaded disease wasn't keeping everyone away from their friends, I really have very few friends left here. Unemployment provides plenty of time to read.
I took a roadtrip to the Rockies to see if leaving town would help clear my head a bit. It was introspective. It was a bit jarring to drive in America again, especially since the vehicle provided was a massive F-150 truck. Driving it makes me miss my little Nissan Moco, it was such a fun little car. An old friend who lived in Europe while I was in Japan drove for hours to come see me. I couldn't believe it when she showed up. It was a much needed debrief from a friend who understands what it's like to come back after so long away. She was in the midst of a solo, cross-country roadtrip, reconciling with America herself. It was very nice to see her. We sat out on the back porch, smoking and talking about changes, and my goals for the future, under a night sky of unrivaled brilliance. There was even a shooting star, the brightest I've ever seen, that left a luminous white trail behind it as it passed behind the dark mountains on the horizon line. Our dazed minds were in awe.
I liked it so much there, I decided to take a seasonal job at the local ski resort. It looks like it's going to be frigid.
My friend and I went to the bookstore the next morning and picked out some books. It was the first time I've bought a physical book in awhile. One of the books that she selected for me was Jia Tolentino's Trick Mirror, a series of essays. The first essay in the book was about the history of and issues with a centralized web, and how it's shaping our reality. I found the material and her writing style really captivating, and can wholeheartedly recommend it. Next, I would like to read through some of the WW1-releated works of Ernst Junger, or maybe some of the limited literature on the former Soviet Central Asian nations. I also received a reprinted copy of Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command, a ubiquitous book (more of a tome, really, at over 700 pages) in Naval History circles, but it looks unlikely that I'll finish that in the next year.
David Chao's 広島の子 finally arrived. The images and printing are both dreamlike in quality. His work reminds me quite a bit of one of my favorite photographers, Hashiguchi George (橋口譲二), whose books Couple(カップル) and 17's Map (十七歳の地図) inspired me to pursue my own (somewhat ill-fated) portrait project.
I was able to find a darkroom to do some printing, but being on the other side of town with a somewhat slippery owner in the midst of a pandemic, I have not gotten to go as much as I'd like. Prints have come out really gorgeous though, hoping to go sometime this week and do a few hours printing 5x7's to send to the inaka. The magic of the image appearing before your very eyes in that dim, red room never fades. I have a few rolls of film left over from my Tokyo escape that need to be developed, but I have been putting off sending them in. I'm not sure I want to see them just yet.
Being mostly stuck inside due to the South's hellish climate, I have found a lot more time to dive into FOSS. I received an old Ultrabook from a friend, and decided to give Linux a try. My local library used Linux exclusively, so I was atleast somewhat familiar beforehand. I think I bit off a bit more than I could chew with Arch (couldn't get past the initial setup), but found Linux Mint a nice balance between approachability and customization. Will come back to this later once I've found my footing.
Oh, as an update to my PO-32 Tonic, I gave it to a 15 year old boy who lived in the inaka. He's obsessed with Vocaloid and is a skilled pianist, so I figured it'd be a cool way to introduce him to electronic music production. I'm sure it'll be more value to him as a tool than it was to me as a toy. He gave me a Kaito keychain as a parting gift.
It's been awhile since I was able to play PC video games, having been at least somewhat nomadic for the last few years. My poor laptop did not survive the various moves and was getting on in years. It also had a nasty habit of electrocuting me, which was only partially mitigated by covering most of it in electrical tape. Sent it to the e-waste facility. Hoping to build a PC (for the first time!) at some point in the next few weeks. I really want to play Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, CONTROL, and the newer From Software titles. I guess I have been playing games here and there. The Switch is cool, but if I must confess, I bought it mostly to have something to talk about with friends. I have never really been a die hard Nintendo fan, although I grew up surrounded by them. Maybe one day I'll get around to writing an article about my history with PC gaming, if not just to organize it all in my head. Playing Hollow Knight on the Switch is a blast, but recently I haven't really felt like sitting down to play. CARRION will probably be the next title I sit down to play.
Work has begun on a new page for the article section,
Currently listening to: NEON - DPR Live
Well, I made it back to the States. How strange it is to be back here. Currently it's about 4 AM, but due to my lifelong friend jetlag, my body thinks it's around time for dinner. You'd think after 10 years on the go, I'd have gotten over it or developed some real coping skills, but nope.
Tokyo was fun.(?) Stayed in Asakusa. Didn't end up meeting up with anyone, but did have an enjoyable, slow week going to galleries and looking at thousands of cameras in nearly all of Tokyo's camera boutiques. Somehow managed to stop the urge of buying a new lens for the M3, so I have quite a bit of money for a new PC. Was weird to see how normal Tokyo was compared to the rumors we had heard all over the net and news.
Saying goodbye to the inaka was probably the hardest thing I've ever done. I guess I hadn't really truly cried in a few years, but saying goodbye to my friends was a lot more difficult than expected. When I went to give my car back, I had just come from a tearful goodbye in a chain coffee shop parking lot. The older lady there always gave me a hard time (all in good fun), but was sympathetic this time around.
Anyways, moping isn't going to do a whole lot of good. Hoping to use this downtime to put together a darkroom, and maybe print a zine or two. Stay tuned, dear reader.
Regardless, I'll have a lot more time to work on the site now.
Currently listening to Bringing Them Back to Life (The Stars Were Exploding) - Good Luck
It's been a tough few days. The reality of leaving my 'home' is really setting in.
Currently listening to: 深夜とコンビニ - ネクライトーキー (Spotify)
Busy busy busy. With the gym back open, my time to work on the site has gotten pretty limited, but I haven't forgotten about it. kansai.html will be completed eventually. Like most things in life, it will never be how I want it to be, or even up to snuff generally. Photos included.
I guess I've been feeling down on my work recently. Not being on Instagram or the like helps a lot with the problem of comparing myself to others (I'm not perfect.), but also leaves me without that burning feeling of inspiration and community when I find someone's work I really enjoy. I would love to find a local community of like-minded photographers, but due to my current living situation, that's been off the table for awhile now. Hard to find any chatty people in the first place, much less those with niche hobbies.
Time is moving too quickly now. Trying to divide the hours and minutes among all of the people I've met over the years is tough, especially when most of the time, I would love nothing more than a lazy morning to myself. Pour over coffee and an omelette. Feels like splitting hairs, trying to find the balance of how much time I can spend 'on' and how much time I need to recharge. Really, leaving here is sort of like a restart though - coming back from a long vacation of sorts. Maybe the dark clouds that have hung over me for much of my time in the inaka will part upon returning to the States. I guess I shouldn't count on it.
I'm supposed to tag along eel fishing with a few fishermen friends late-late tonight and take photos, but the rainy season has other plans. Absolutely torrential. We'll see if it comes through. I've been reading a lot about eels and their bizarre lifecycle recently, and I'm excited to see one up close.
The film came back from Popeye the other day, but I didn't find many of the images all that impressive. They'll probably age well, and fit with the larger body of work I have planned, but I don't think I'll be showing them off individually. Haven't been taking as many photos recently. Being cooped up in the inaka for too long has left me without much inspiration. Same people, same roads, same places. Spending a week in Tokyo next month. Although everything will likely be closed, I'm excited to walk from Ryogoku to Nakano again in the sweltering heat, bouncing from konbini to konbini and snapping photos, until I succumb to the heat or meet Johnny Walker. Seeing old friends for the first time in years will be nice too. I haven't been to Tokyo in ages.
The following speeches have been on my mind the last few weeks. Hope you'll give them a listen, dear visitor.
Currently listening to: Let Me - 唾奇 × Sweet William
I'm leaving Japan exactly 2 months from today. Mixed feelings about it. I've been here long enough that this little apartment has become home - Japan has become home.
I could write for hours about how I feel about life here, and how it's changed over the years, from that first time I came here nearly a decade ago. I don't think I'm 'finished' with Japan. I don't feel finished.
But alas, the time has come to move on. Can't stay in the inaka forever. It's a bit sad though - I feel as though I am finally coming out of my shell a bit. So many plans coming together right at the end... It may just be a symptom of leaving though. The end of any era feels the same, no matter what stage in life you are in.
Working on kansai.html today. Hopefully I can have these relatively old images up for people to see.
Sharing images online has always been a bit of a battle for me - ever since some of my highschool designs were taken for an album cover of some band's CD's. The nice thing about film is there is no debating whether an image is yours - you own the physical image. The magic of a crystalline structure.
Hoping to take the Leica out this evening and get some good shots before driving the hour and a half or whatever to the bar. Another Friday 'tatami camping' on a mates floor.
I love this old WIRED article by Gibson about Tokyo from way back in 2001. He nails it in a lot of ways. In a similar vein, this 2001 VHS walk around of Dotonbori was fun to see. It's wild how little has changed about that part of town. I'm curious to see my own walkthrough of the strip, shot on a DVC early into the corona panic. Would like to bring that camera setup back and do a walkthrough of Misono at some point. Interview with Hans the purveyor would be fun.
Well, regardless, I'll be back to Japan soon enough. For now I'm excited to spend some time unemployed and near a darkroom.
Three rolls of film went to Tokyo this week as well. Probably the last ones to be developed and printed here in Japan. They include photographs of my day with the leader of Japan Para-Clay Shooters, Hamamura-san. So, quite excited to see how those turned out.
Currently listening to: NEVER MET! - CMTEN (ft. Glitch Gum) & Saboteurs - Days N Daze
Ripped out the needlessly complicated CSS that was running this page before and replaced it with a simpler solution.
My Pocket Operator PO-32 Tonic came from Osaka. Fun little gadget! Still learning how to use it effectively, especially the 'FX' key. Looking forward to spending more time with it.
The Sunday after a pair of nights drinking till dawn always leaves me feeling antsy and a tad foggy. It was fun to spend some time with friends for the first time in ages, loud and drunk in the middle of nowhere.
Caught up on The Expanse T.V. series today, I quite enjoyed it. An old friend gave me the first book in the series, Leviathan Wakes last year, but I didn't find it all that enjoyable. Quit before Eros. Reading it right after Liu's Three Body trilogy was perhaps the wrong move. Despite both being hard science-fiction, Liu's masterpiece trilogy is a difficult thing to follow-up. After watching the show though, I think I'll give the books another shot.
I finally got ahold of Gibson's Neuromancer, loving it so far. The parts about Ninsei made nostalgic for the antics of Kabukicho, Juso and Shinsaibashi.
Managed to get my hands on a copy of Charles Yu's Sorry Please Thank You, my favorite short story collection. Looking forward to rereading it for the first time in years. Yu really kicked off my love for magical realism and literary fiction generally. Without reading him, I probably would not have gone on to read the likes of Dennis Johnson or maybe even Murakami.
Currently listening to: hikari - Pasocom Music Club
Rainy day is the perfect day for some repairs to the site. Removed some redundant text, removed the "rebuild" r's from all of the HTML links.
Outside of Kansai/Tokyo, most of Japan has come off of lockdown as of the last few days. Used it as an opportunity to get back to the reopened game center and bruise my fingertips on Chunithm and JuBeat. Lot's of fun new tracks added. BeatMania still kicked my ass. Quarantine never really changed life all that much here, apart from the gym's and parks closing.
I really hope all of these free live sets stick around after quarantine blows over - I am loving it. Today is EDC Las Vegas. Haven't had the chance to go to a real live show since March, but this has kept my weekends feel a bit more lively.
Halo 2's PC release has been a lot of fun. Surprising number of people playing on the Asia servers.
Today I have been really thinking about buying a used Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator. They seem like cool little devices. It's funny, after so many years not playing anything, there is an immense amount of information related to music that has just left my brain. I bought a guitar last summer and realized my fingers no longer knew what to do. What was most difficult was realizing I had lost the ability to play and sing at the same time. Trying to play Picking Sides by Wingnut Dishwasher's Union ended up being more of a trial than fun. Maybe the PO can rekindle that. I have been having fun playing with the iKaossilator. Maybe it would be more prudent to play with a free DAW or emulated synth first though. Went ahead and bought it anyways though.
Pasocom Music Club also has a fun old school website on FC2.
Currently listening to: Raising Hell - Sega Bodega
snapchat.html is now complete. A bit undecided if I'll move my film photos here. Still focusing on physical display. With COVID, the opportunity to go to the darkroom is gone, and by extension, my summer gallery dreams in Osaka as well. So we'll see. I'm still holding out I'll be able to see Namba by July.
Oh, and here is Porter's set from yesterday, if you didn't catch it, dear visitor. Flashing lights warning.
After 5 months of procrastination, I can finally say for certain that the site is up and running. Coronavirus proves to be more of a distraction than an opportunity to work on anything meaningful. Has allowed me to completely cut myself off of social media, hopefully for the last time. Oh, and sorry if you, dear visitor, find any spelling errors. I am building this site on Atom, and both linter-spell and spell-check have failed to work for me.
Observing it from afar like this has been strange. At first, in February, it seemed like all of my friends back in the States were messaging me out of the blue asking if I was alright. A month later and the tables turned. Now, as we reopen schools here in the prefecture, I can't help but feel a bit burnt out and apathetic. Even as the rest of the world is on lockdown, my little corner of the world trudges on in obscurity. That's the double-edged sword of the inaka, I suppose.
On the bright side, I have been able to read a lot more - finished 3 books in the last few weeks. Notably Eric Schlosser's Command and Control and Benjamin C. Hett's Death of Democracy. I also read through Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny, which said much of the same things as Death of Democracy, just in a more digestible manner. Waiting in the queue to checkout Gibson's Neuromancer now.
Sitting here watching the Secret Sky live show. Madeon is playing Shelter. Makes me want to finally get outside and take some pictures. The other day, I caught the Square Garden Minecraft concert put on by 100 gecs in the morning. It was awesome. So much Thos Moser.
I have also used this as an opportunity to get back onto EVE Online, although with mixed results. EVE is one of those games that everyone who plays it always seems to come back to. It's a deeply social experience, but living outside of the main US/EU playerbase timezones, space is eerily quiet when I'm online. I can't tell if it's harder to make friends online than it used to be, or if it's the result of my timezone predicament. Will probably quit playing after this month. I have also been slowly walking my way through Legacy of Kain 2: Soul Reaver. Haven't controlled the camera with the arrow keys in awhile. Won't ever forget sitting at my desk in high school playing a cracked version of Resident Evil 4, which had Gamecube button prompts and no mouse aim. I beat the whole game through that way, and then later with mouse aim in the Steam release. Still think I prefer the arrow keys.
Hoping Porter will play FLICKER.
Update: He didn't.