Friday, October 27, 2006

Cultural Devolution

Allow me to attempt to stay on topic here, for this is, after all, Adventurepan.

I know a lot of my posts stray outside the topic of Japan, but while I like to keep things Japan related (being that I'm here and whatnot), things get a little cloudy and I tend to lose focus.

That's ok though, because I don't tend to follow my own rules. And now I give you......a completely uncohesive, incoherent, pointless post!


I heard about this article posted in the NYT about Japanese people traveling to New York. It reminded me of a trend that I'd been reading about, namely two articles published in my beloved WaiWai. The first was an article about young Japanese people wasting their lives away in Cambodia. The second was about Cambodian dudes taking advantage of Japanese female tourists.

I read these types of articles and I just have to scratch my head, and wonder what people in these places think of Japanese people, and what the Japanese folks are thinking when they go over there. One thing that kinda depresses me is that Japanese folks a lot of times feel like Japan is some sorta prison, and feel obligated to act "Japanese" when they're here, and that somehow going somewhere else gives them to green light to do whatever they want, and they have a reputation for being pretty inconsiderate tourists (not that Americans are any better, but everyone expects that of Americans because we're generally loud and rude). Since Japan is a stratified and regimented country, when they get to their destinations, they don't really know what to do with themselves, so they end up doing pretty much the same thing they do in Japan surrounded only by Japanese people, and somehow that's liberating for them. The extent of the womens' cultural experience seems to be getting tricked into having sex with the dudes wherever they go and buying things that they could get anywhere in Tokyo. And as for the guys, well, I dunno what the hell they do.

I try not to be "that gaijin" who runs around talking shit about Japan all the time -- a lot of roundeye over here are consumed with a serious bitch complex about Japan -- but I feel that I talk approximately the same amount of shit about Japan as I do about the USA. I might even venture to say that recently I badmouth the youth of America more, as I am frequently subjected to user comments on myspace and youtube, which are typically written at a 3rd grade level by people with popped collars and huge, flat billed ball caps turned sideways.

Be that as it may, stuff like this makes me think about evolution. Yeah, I said it. Evolution. The societal type. Now, we all know natural selection, right? Things that, for whatever reason, can survive long enough to reproduce faster than its competitors will be more successful, and the other one will eventually go byebye. It doesn't necessarily have to do with how smart something is or how cool something is, all it has to be able to do is fill a specific niche and pass its genes on enough to survive. Pretty basic definition, I guess. Anywho, animals adapt physically (and behaviorally I guess) to deal with the shit sandwiches they're forced to eat on a daily basis, because aside from domesticated housepets, the life of an animal pretty much sucks. More specifically, if they haven't adapted well enough and everything changes, they're SOL. Humans on the other hand adapt extra somatically. I had an anthro prof whose favorite definition of culture was An Extra somatic means of adaptation. I like it too. Wanna see if someone knows what they're talking about? Ask them to define culture, and if they give you an answer like they know what they're talking about, they're lying. People write books about defining that word. But today, we're gonna define "culture" as "an extra somatic means of adaptation," and therefore, the mechanism by which a culture succeeds or fails. We're gonna include behavior and stuff like in there too, btw.

Follow me?


So where am I going with this? I'm concerned for the survival about Japan, that's all. Japanistan. Not that I'm predicting a doomsday thing or anything, but I think there are gonna be some serious consequences to some of the shit that's going down socially here. Am I worried about the survival of the USA? Naw, the USA will be OK, because Americans tend to adapt to change pretty well, which is a key to survival. Bear in mind, the smartest don't necessarily survive, the ones that can adapt and procreate survive. (So yeah, we'll be taken over by hilljacks I guess...) So what's wrong with Japan? And what am I most worried about? I'll tell you, and it's probably going to surprise some folks.


Yep. That thing that we all love so much about Japan. "A culture With Deep Traditions." or how about "A country Rooted in Deep Tradition." Notice the rooted part. In the USA, we like traditions, because we're generally pretty non-traditional. Traditions to us are more like a distraction; something we do once a week or once a year, or some silly ritual that we do during our martial arts class to bolster the sensei's ego. So what is a tradition anyway? Let's consult my good friends Merriam and Webster.

Let's use this one:

1 a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom)

One thing about Japan is that their daily life is much more governed by these "customary patterns" (read: traditions) than those of us in the USA, and they are, again, in general, more accustomed to following patterned behavior and sticking to it for an indefinite amount of time. It's what's made their society great. Whenever they get hold of something, they perfect if through exhaustive revision. They (again, that "in general thing") have an almost limitless capacity (and seeming desire) to do shitty grunt work, and seem to derive pleasure out of sticking out really shitty situations and overcoming something "together as a group". It's something that's instilled in them from the time they're little kids. It's the sort of thing that enabled the odd Japanese soldier to live in a fucking cave until the 1980s, and it's what enabled them to stick it out during post war and completely rebuild their country in a couple decades.

But, dear readers, could it also be their bane? Their doom? Their Achilles-san's heel? What happens when they're no longer a happy homogeneous isolated country, and are all of a sudden competing with foreign countries? What happens when they're not allowed to seal their borders and marginalize foreigners (as much/as blatantly) anymore? What happens when that common thing -- that common ideal -- that drives people to dig in their heels and sacrifice everything is gone? I dunno, but I think we're just starting to see it now. There's this generation of listless Japanese 20-somethings and below who don't really see what the point of anything is. They're living at home until they're well into their 30s and just expecting something to happen, but the social mechanisms that made this feasible aren't really in place anymore. A lot of the Japanese women are working odd jobs for a few months, saving up some scrill, traveling to weird countries for a few months at a time, having sex with exotic men, and making their way back to Japan to repeat the process ad nauseum. They don't really have to worry about living expenses because their parents will house them infinitely, and they can just save up their money and/or hit up their parents for money to buy accessories and whatnot. The Japanese guys have the attractive option of joining a company, working 80 hours a week for about $2000 a month, on which they can live at home for free (and not meet women) or they can live in a shoebox in Tokyo and be house-poor. I often sit there and wonder what kind of force would be able to motivate these kids to get ambitious, fired up, and say "OK, this is bullshit." But they won't. Why? Because everyone before them has had to deal with it. Because they don't want to be the one(s) to stand up and draw attention to themselves.. Because it's all about the struggle, and we likes the struggle, doesn't we, precious? It's Tradition, bitches, and you bettuh reconnize. It's what We Japanese do. When Japanese people don't wanna act Japanese, they just scoot off to a foreign country, get they' freak on, feel liberated, and come back to the grind. The escapes found in rock gardens and meditation practices have simply been replaced by beach resorts and Manhattan Island. The birthrate in Japan is the lowest it's been ever, and right now all the baby boomers are fixin to retire. What's gonna happen I wonder? If Japan fails to adapt as a society, will it suffer the same fate as every other thing that has not been able to adapt in competitive situations? I think about the potential these people have and what they've been able to accomplish numerous times in history over incredibly short periods of time, and the loss of potential saddens me a little bit.

Again, I don't wanna seem like I'm Japan bashing, and anyone who knows me can tell you that I do a lot of America bashing too, which, uuh, somehow justifies anything I say I guess... When I talk to Japanese people about the future, I'm usually just met with shrugs. "We'll try real hard," they say, but trying hard at something that's doomed to fail is just gonna get you there faster. I asked my girl about what she thought might get people excited and motivated to change, and she doesn't really think anything could. "It's not a total waste," she said, "They're unambitious people, but we have a lot of smart, ambitious people here in Japan too. Those people will run stuff, and the unambitious will work at convenience stores, gas stations, etc, for the rest of their lives. After all, we need people to work at convenience stores, don't we?"

I guess she's got a point.

Discuss. I really want an informed, irrefutable, well stated comment showing me that I'm completely full of shit. I wanna be wrong on this one, folks. Show me that everything's gonna be ok.. h...hold me..

Friday, October 20, 2006


Yes, it's my birthday today. Well, it still is in the USA. It's officially not my birthday here in Japan, because Japanese culture is so far advanced over American culture, their country exists one day BEFORE you guys. Yeah. Stinky barbarians. FACE!

I took a day off work -- a legit one -- and saw the Lady in the Water movie with the fine, fine woman of posts previous. I admit that I like M. Night Shamalamadingdong's movies. I like situations where seemingly normal, average people are faced with something completely fucked up, but manage to pull through because they have some weird skeletons in their closet. Things aren't always as they seem, he seems to be trying to say.

After that we got some cake.

Ever wonder what it looks like when a newly-turned 30 year old is holding a super-super rich chocolate cake with inappropriately long candles wearing a t-shirt and underwear?

I thought you might.

That might look like a thumbs-up, but it's actually a fighting stance I developed during my time as a cage fighter. First I blind you with my Forehead Reflection of Doom. Right when you think I'm giving you a thumbs up, I strike you in the KOTT-DAMN

Just kidding. But the cake was super rich, and after just a smidge, I felt pretty incapacitated. And yeah, I was wearing boxer briefs.

It was pretty much the perfect birthday. No fanfare. No frills. Maybe this weekend I'll get my drink on, because people are supposed to buy me shots. Maybe I'll show the aforementioned lady how charming I can be when I'm throwing up on myself and peeing my pants.

I feel it also bears mentioning that this is the third birfday that I've blogged on. The first one, of course, was this one from Afghanistan, and the second one was last year, where I went on a stupid birthday rant. If you've somehow forgotten at some point while reading this what a complete retard I am, I recommend checking out those two posts.

Anyway, I thought I'd make a little post giving you all the opportunity to shower me with birthday wishes, and hopefully the odd gift certificate. More later.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fear the Manslap...

Looking at this picture really brought back a lot of memories of Afghanistan, mainly because, like, these people are obviously from there.

One thing I always got a kick out of in Afghanistan was the fact that anytime you drove past a huge group of kids, like when school was getting out or something, there were at least 2 kids that were no-shit going at it. Like for real. Like "I'm trying to injure you." The kids there beat the dogshit out of each other all the time. There are a lot of fights in the streets too, between adults. I liked it because for the most part, Afghans were pretty chill folks. Chill folks that like beating the crap out of each other and killing Russians.

One common form of physical expression down there is the Manslap, as shown in the above picture. This picture is a fine demonstration of a calmy administered manslap, complete with de-hatting, which makes anything more funny. Notice, if you will, the slapper's calm demeanor. He believes he is clearly in the right, because the slapee has committed some sort of greivous transgression. He's issued his slap with all the confidence he needs to assure that his message has gone through, loud and clear. His manslap must have also come from no where. This is a post-manslap picture, and the slapee's hands are only raised slightly. What speed! We are dealing with a professional.

Most of my friends know that I'm an advocate of the manslap, but that one must wield it very responsibly, like any sort of physical force. Manslaps are very, very powerful. Again, use them responsibly. Do you have a manslap story? I'd like to hear it. And yeah Joe, I already know yours. Or rather a few of them. There are so many.

So what happened this weekend? Well, the lady friend went back to her home town, so I hung out around Tokyo, trained on Friday evening and Saturday morning, then had a bit of a boozefest on Saturday night. I think I was pretty dehydrated and I was a cheap date, and the night turned into the typical "Paul says absurd things to people all night" show. I played my favorite "Pretend to mishear what people say and repeat back something outrageous or vulgar" game. I also played my other favorite, namely the "Tell the group of girls that your friends are talking to that you're really all homosexuals, and describe what you do to each other without letting your friends in on the joke" game. Oh, and another gem, which is the old "dry heave out of a cab window" game.

The cabby was getting a little nervous up there in the front seat, cuz I was mouth-sweating and sticking my head out the window. I looked at him and said, with the confidence similar to that of a seasoned doctor about to perform a simple procedure, "Don't worry -- I do this all the time. It's just routine," and proceeded to have myself a little bit of an ab workout. I hit the hay at about 5am, feeling none too good, and woke up at around 11am, feeling surprisingly spry and not-too-bad. A heaping bowl of noodles and a cup of joe later, I was ready to roll. And by ”ready to roll" I mean "ready to lay around and watch TV all day in my underwear and marvel at my brontosaurus-like constitution."

Oh yeah, and I took a picture of this too, for Mr Tony's T-shirt collection:

Smoke is billowing from a stand ashtray. If it were my home, I wouldn't be so calm.

Yeah, it's a retarded analogy, I know. Cuz we don't live in stand ashtrays. At least most of us don't.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hawaii Trip!

I’m gonna cheese out here for a bit, so bear with me.


For the last decade or so I’ve been on the move pretty constantly – a rolling stone collecting no moss, etc etc etc.. From traveling in college to being pretty mobile as an active duty Marine, I was never really able to hold down a relationship for a number of reasons, most recently because I was, and still pretty much am, very much a mal-socialized animal prone to outbursts of rudeness, crude behavior, a lack of manners, and general social malfeasance.

Almost 6 months ago I was fortunate enough to find someone who is more than forgiving and tolerant of my constant relationship fuckups and stupid, outrageous behavior. She amazes me with her wit, intelligence, and strength, and makes me want to be a better person.

This past weekend we went to Hawaii together, and had a great time. I never really thought I’d head back to Hawaii (I was stationed there before). While Hawaii is nice and all, it sort of represented a rough patch in the road for me in some ways. Going back with her was a big step in our relationship, and as we approach the “6 month mark,” I see it as an opening in a new chapter, and look forward to the future. I’d like to thank her for accepting me and my cornucopia of social/mental inadequacies, and for just being a really cool girl. I appreciate her tolerance for my sometimes erratic and explosive behavior, for never giving up, and for reminding me what it’s like to feel the way she makes me feel. At risk of sounding cliché or like a Top 40 song, I’ll leave it at that. I’m sure the guys will gimme a hard time about this one, but they’ll secretly be happy for me. ;)

Anywho, I rented a Geo Tracker convertible so we could cruise the island Hawaiian style, and not worry about becoming a target for the carjackers running rampant on the island. I’m happy to report that nothing was lost or stolen. We stayed in the lovely (and currently being renovated) Gateway Hotel right there in the thick of things in Waikiki, in easy walking distance of the “hotspots”, and more importantly, Dennys (Moons Over My Hammy mmmmmmm) and Jamba Juice. While I was ribbed for my penchant for making wrong turns and going the wrong direction, I was pretty proud of myself for remembering where things were, given my horrible sense of direction and ability to get lost.

So on to the pictures!!

We arrived at Diamondhead about 15 minutes too late, and the morbidly obese yet friendly local girl manning the guard shack didn’t let us continue to the top. That didn’t phase us though, as we snapped off a few pictures.

Here she is (erm, my girl, not the obese rent-a-cop), all smiles!

Here’s me, pimping my new shirt that she picked out for me the day before at Ala Moana.

Here’s the two of us together:

Here’s a pic of Hanauma Bay, which is like swimming around in an aquarium. We rented snorkels and went to town, and even saw a sea turtle.

Here’s a cool pic she took of herself near Waimanalo. She admitted that it took her a few tries to get it right, and she pulled it off pretty well:

Here we are on Waikiki Beach, around Sunset Time:

Here’s the sunset, which was more like a pseudo-sunset, cuz of the clouds on the horizon. It was pretty nonetheless:

And here she is, with Mr Diamondhead in the background. The picture is a little blurry, but it’s still nice:

So here’s to the future, and I can’t wait to take more groovy trips and exciting adventures together. Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Backgammon + Injins + Parrots + Hezbollah = A Terrible Post

Oooooooooh my gawd

This video is so funny on so many levels. I demand that you click upon it.

Their stupidity will be immortalized on the innernets, for generations and generations to see.

So will mine, but it's different. You see, me and my blogger circle get a kick out of self-deprecating humor, but never could it be misconstrued to be representative of our greater associations. Your associates should be ashamed, and not just because of your haircut and poor oratory skills.

Video highlights:
  • Poor public speaking, or should I say, stammering
  • Mature behavior
  • "We are all hezbollah"
  • Blond/blue peeps talking about the "struggle"
  • Peoples' ideas of "basic rights"

    Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression are pretty cool, cuz apparently it means "Freedom for me to say and do whatever the fuck I want if it's politically motivated".. We've posted about this in the past tho, so I'll stop there.

    You know how I protested the deforestation, comfort women, eating dolphins, and child exploitation this weekend?

    I played backgammon until 5am Sunday morning. Suckahs.

    Y'all know I love me some backgammon. My retarded cousin got me into it way back when, and I'm always looking for a new opponent. I've recently let my partner* into the inner-circle, and she wouldn't stop until she beat me, which would explain the 5am thing, but since I'm a master, she had to call it quits.

    She beat me first thing Sunday morning tho, so good on her. She's a smarty.

    Sunday we finished off the first season of LOST, and went to a BBQ, which was attended by a large group of hipstered out, unambitious Japanese youngsters. The meat was tasty though, the company was good, and after a few beers and an assload of meat we took off to look at shoes and rent a movie.

    OK, I know I've harped on this before, but I think I remember someone saying this movie wasn't all that bad, so I rented it.

    Hey, thanks for fuckin me Jinxy. As if Syriana didn't put me in the hole enough.

    I love the fitted buckskins.

    You know what part I found the most offensive was though? What really pissed me off?

    The Presence of Tropical Parrots

    The quick scene back at the camp with the tropical parrots. You probably don't even remember it, but it almost made me barf up a bunch of meat and beer. Yeah, for about one and a half seconds, they showed a couple Indians playing with two tropical parrots. In Virginia. In the 15th century. You're kidding me right? I guess you're gonna try and convince me that this small band of Indians had trade-routes down to South America? Or maybe you're going to tell me that bright orange and green parrots could survive there without getting taken the fuck out by a slew of birds of prey that would love nothing more than a brightly colored birdie to fly around in the darkened woods. I guess they'd survive the winters too? Get real. I'm so mad right now I can barely type.

    I also thought the Indians in the movie acted like retards. I'm sure they were trying to portray them as unspoiled, childlike, and noble, but in the end they just came off looking retarded. Am I saying Indians were/are retarded? No. Am I saying they looked retarded in the movie? Yes. Also, did the Indians back then always wear body paint? Were they able to do nice mono-chromatic fading? Did they have some sort of primitive dirt-airbrush? Shit.

    They say "God is in details". I'm tired of being insulted!!!

    So to make a long story short, I'm not doing so well on movie credibility with the significant other*. I think that buying LOST was a move in the right direction cuz she liked that a lot, and now makes frequent references to being attacked by "The Others" while walking down the street, which never gets old to me... but I need some movie advice, people. I need a ringer. A sure shot. Help me out here. Something that's out on video in Japan.

    So that's my life right now. My biggest worries include renting ethnographically incorrect/insulting movies and losing at backgammon. I'd say life is pretty good. Oh, and I'm going somewhere nice next weekend. Somewhere warm and sunny. Somewhere that starts with H, ends in I, and in the middle sounds something like "awai". I'll keep you updated.

  • * y'all know I used those words for comedic value. She's my girlfriend.