Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Slam Jam!

I was definitely surprised by the turnout last Sunday at Slam Bar's 2nd Annual "Jam". It was described to me as a flea market and dance showcase but I didn't expect this caliber. There was a dancing double dutch group, a freestyle soccer b-boy, 14 year old dutty winers (had many speechless and confused), a friend and I and much more.

I didn't get all the performances of tape but here's a clip I put together of some:

Comfort Food

I didn't know I needed comfort food till I found it. I enjoy Japanese food but after accidentally stumbling upon one of my all-time favorite restaurants in a neighboring city, I realized there was a part of me that needed consoling.

Thank you KFC for lending a helping hand.

I hadn't felt that content in a while. I wasn't even hungry but after making eye contact with Colonel Sanders on a billboard, I had to stop by. I was in a trance and thankfully, the directions were intelligible enough for a non-Japanese-reading fried chicken lover such as myself to follow.

I momentarilly considered the implications (The only black guy in the entire city...found in a fried chicken joint) but laughed it away. And the cashiers didn't even seem surprised. People are typically taken aback when they see me in that city but the people at KFC acted as if they were expecting me!

Great, because they'll definitely be seeing more of me. A couple of old roommates and I used to make frequent pilgrimages to KFC and I have decided to continue the tradition here. I'll be going once a month, minimum. It's about a 1 hour drive but worth every minute.

Slightly Asian-a-fied Colonel Sanders

Smaller portions but it still hit the spot. Combine that with melon-flavored Fanta soda (left) and you have a deadly combination.

Japan furnishes KFC the way it should be. Like a nice, restaurant; none of that fast-food styled ambiance. KFC, IMO, is gormet food that just happens to come out fast.

Field Trips

I must say, for rural Japan, they sure do have some nice field trips. Back when I was in school, we used to go to the zoo. Every year.

But one of my schools here has sent students to England and Germany, not to mention every major city in Japan.

And 2 weeks ago, the entire school went to see John Neptune perform. It was just before 1st term tests so I think it was meant to calm their nerves. Whatever the reason, it was a great show.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Choreographing a dance with a language barrier

There's a block party coming up in June and Ryohei--the b-boy I met at last month's hip hop show--and I are putting a routine together. Despite the language barrier, things have been coming along pretty smoothly. We put this first part together in about 10 minutes:

I find that amazing. Not the dance itself, but the fact that we were able to choreograph it so quickly while not speaking each others' respective language. The routine isn't complex, but we literally only communicated using the music and the moves. It was equally created so we both had to do some "talking" and "listening".

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said that "music is the universal language of mankind". Does that make dancing its sign language?

Phallic Fixation

I can't think of any other way to put this: the male students at one of my schools have a penis obsession. But not with their own...with others'.

These kids are down with O.P.P. and groin grabbing is a regular occurrence. Its like the equivalent of wedgies in the states. Except it's not done by bullies, it's done by friends to one another. And it doesn't appear to be sexual. It's just...done.

This has been my first conscious taste of culture shock. Sure, I've been surprised by things here and there, but nothing truly shocking. This, however, was electrifying. And that's even after living in San Francisco for a year and a half.

But I'm not one to judge. And I really wasn't paying it any mind at first. But in the last few weeks, some of them had been setting their phallic fixation on me.

On 2 separate occasions, students reached for my crotch. Thank God for my quick reflexes, because had they succeeded, I may have lost my job. And on 3 other occasions, students tried to ask me about my stature. One guy just kept saying "You. African American?" and throwing an exaggerated cack in a b-boy battle manner. And then another one brought out a ruler...

Anyway, its rare times like these that I'm glad some of my students don't speak English particularly well. Because the bits and pieces of their broken English were so dilapidated, I could easily act like I didn't know what they were asking me.

But I'm staying alert. Because if I do my job well, then they'll be asking me with grammatically correct sentences in no time.

Driving in Iwate, Japan

Jamosa Show in Morioka

This past weekend, a bunch of us Western folk met up in Morioka, Iwate's Capitol. We kicked it in the city (its 300,000 population seems huge in comparison to my town), traded city/school war stories and hit up a show. I didn't know much about the line up but was pleasantly surprised: 4 DJ's, 2 rap groups, 2 3&B groups, 5 dance acts, including one that was half And 1 mix-tape/half hip hop troupe.

One dude, MPG (apparently stands for "Mack, Player, Gangsta") was able to complete the unfortunately difficult task of getting the crowd moving. He also looked like Ice Cube back in his gheri curl days:

Not sure what I was expecting out of this singer, but definitely not that voice

And finally, the headliner, a J-Pop/R&B singer by the name of Jamosa.

Good times