January - December 2012
You couldn't have missed the recent news about the twenty kids killed in a Newtown Conn. school. Everyone is calling for new gun control laws. but even if they stop selling all guns there already are 300 million out there in America.
My wife and I were discussing if there was another way to fix the problem. She said, "Why don't the people of Newtown decide not to have guns in Newtown and invite other people to live in gun-free Newtown and see if anybody comes?"I think that's a much more practical way to change something than creating new laws, which many people are likely to resist. I think that the ideal way is to have freedom of owning guns but nobody chooses to.
Why are the targets of these gun shootings always in schools? Some people think that these killers are programmed with chips embedded in them. The technology is there. They are usually taking psycotropic drugs like depression pills and are under a psychiatrist's care. And as if it was their destiny they all kill themselves after killing everybody else--thus, nobody ever learns what might have been done to them to trigger these events. And no one ever looks for the chips.
My wife also had an idea about how to solve the nuclear plant problem in Japan. She said, "If the TEPCO executives and pro-nuclear politicians are willing to live next to the plants and bring their best friends and families to live with them they have the right to advocate continued use of nuclear energy."
Have a happy new year!
When you read this the election will be over and America will get what it deserves. It's been a contest between a liar and a shit head all along. The only thing these guys disagreed on was abortion and gay marriage. Obama will probably win because who wants more babies in a world that is about to destroy itself? I'm happy to be living in Japan--not so much of a political choice here, either, but I'm not allowed to vote.
Last month, my wife and I did a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle of Van Gogh's Irises. It kept us away from TV, which was featuring the liar and the shit head. We had been looking for jigsaw puzzles of beautiful paintings for about six months. We went to shopping malls and museums, and finally after seeing about seven art exhibitions we found the last puzzle in stock at a museum in Yokohama. They've been discontinued. I guess everyone would rather play video games on their smart phones.
We took a picture of the completed puzzle.
I mostly drew and worked on our new digital picture book this month. Our new story is about bullying.
I took a walk to the MinatoMrai area last Saturday. I thought the long hot summer was finally over, but look what I've found. I think that the divers were cleaning the sea.
Just got my special senior citizens' city bus and subway boarding pass
for hitting 70. Really settling into old age. Just took up gardening. Still
writing and recording a lot of music, working on a new digital picture
book. This one is very current. It's called "The Bully".
Tonight I will listen to John Coltrane, to celebrate his birthday, too.
Last month we stayed by Lake Kawaguchi and enjoyed the area around Mt. Fuji.
Please see our Meltwater video. It'll cool you down. (6 min. 25sec.)
I've been listening to Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Chet Baker to find some new standards to play. The old lyrics were so deeply intelligent and had so much meaning. The chords and melodies so beautiful. What happened to the modern brain? Was it too much studying and not enough life experience? We've become dumber and the smartphone smarter. Social networking has made it possible for everyone to share all their stupid thoughts. A text message is answered immediately, but e-mails ignored. Conversation is passe. It seems as if we were all plugged into a giant computer and very few people have time to sit down and get in touch with themselves.
As I grew up I noticed how old people couldn't understand the modern changes in the world. My father's brain shut off when he tried to operate a tape recorder. I told myself that it would never happen to me, but as I drift into old age it has. I don't understand how people can live inside a smartphone all day, walking down the street with earphones on, (probably listening to rap or Madonna) never experiencing the beauty of their surroundings.
Today, to belong is to give up being an individual. That's why there is no one to write the wonderful tunes any more.
I made a rare trip to Tokyo to see a photo exhibition by a Korean photographer of the so-called comfort women from WWII. It was in the Nikon Salon with very heavy security, including bag searches and metal detection.
From the photo show to the Sankyo flutes repair shop, I walked up Meiji-dori. Upon entering a jazz CD store in Shinjuku, I heard a familiar sound. It was me. The female staff of the store was a flute player and somehow recognized me, and put on one of my CDs. She told me that she really liked our digital picture books, too. What a nice surprise!
My wife and I went to see kyogen, very old traditional Japanese comedy. The words are spoken in a beautifully exaggerated fashion--something like kabuki. It's almost like extremely early rap. They used no amplification, but their voices carried like those of opera singers. The body movements were also very stylized. It was a lot of fun.
Here is my video blog for June.
(Origianl videos are now available here.)
I normally prefer doing things in Yokohama, but last month I had two good reasons to go to Tokyo. One was a movie called Standing Army. I strongly recommend this movie. It was about the more than 700 U.S. army bases around the world. It didn't paint a pretty picture of America and I was glad to be viewing it in Japan where I now live. Since coming here I've read a lot about the situation in Okinawa. Local people want the U.S. out, but the central government is sticking to a deal made right after WWII. We're finding out about the pollution caused by leaking barrels of Agent Orange in Okinawa. The noise from the planes is making the people who live right next to the base miserable. Local residents have been kicked off all the choice lands and can't get it back even though Okinawa was supposedly given back to Japan 40 years ago.
Every time there is a war the U.S. leaves behind permanent military bases. The yearly cost of running these bases is about one trillion dollars. No wonder America is broke. I learned from the movie that they are now building a new base in Italy almost 70 years after WWII ended. Local people protested but the central government said "OK". They always do.
The worst story was about Diego Garcia, an island in the central Indian Ocean. It was a perfect space for future military action, and the entire population was kicked off the island.
My second trip to Tokyo was also intense, but in a positive way. I saw a Jackson Pollock show. I wanted to go home and throw paint afterwards, but I would have had to trash my place, so I gave up the idea. It was a beautiful show and included a movie of him painting. In the movie, it looked as if he were pointing where he wanted the paint to land. The lines had a mind of their own. It was a little like my piano playing.
Next, I am going to see a Max Ernst exhibition after the crowds from the Golden Week holidays go away. Luckily, it's in Yokohama.
The cherry blossoms in my neighborhood have become a major attraction of the season for people who visit Yokohama. This year, they began to open a little later than usual, but are now in full bloom on April 10. Check them out!
Cherry trees along the O-oka River, which pours into Tokyo Bay. You can see lanterns for the nightly viewing through the blossoms.
Birds wade through the river and can also be seen in the park near Yokohama Stadium.
Spring is here. Our avocado pit has grown roots. Went to hear Hideo Ichikawa's quartet at Airegin (Nigeria spelled backwards) in Kana. I enjoyed it immensely.
It's been a year since the earthquake, tsunami and the meltdown, and it looks like Japan can do fine without atomic power. The only people who want to keep it are TEPCO and politicians.
Young Guitar magazine is featuring a story about Tommy Bolin, a great rock guitarist that I used to have a group with. The editor-in-chief Nishimura of the magazine did a wonderful job with the story.
We took a trip to Kobe in late January. When we arrived at the hotel the room key turned to the left. The fast lane on the escalators is also on the left. I wonder if there are many left-handed people in Kobe.
We went to two great museums. We had some delicious just-brewed sake at the Sake Museum. Then we went to the Lamp Museum. It had the complete history of lamps in Japan. Very beautiful stuff (See photos). In Kobe, jazz can be heard in the hotel rooms, restaurants and elevators instead of Muzak. But they only play ballads. Kobe is a very laid-back and quiet city. Of course, we had Kobe beef steak.
I'm not surprised that the Costa Concordia, the Italian lux liner tipped over and sank. I used to watch those ships on the Hudson River in NYC. They are basically large buildings on to of a ship. The balance can't be good. Nothing will be done until one sinks at sea killing many people. By the way, I read that they are still trying to locate an original Sharaku in the sunken ship and he didn't do that many works.
2012 is here. The last year of the Mayan Calendar!? If you think that there is a heaven and hell try to be an extra good person. I'm going to do as much creative work as I can just in case this is it.
Speaking of large volumes of creative work, I recently saw a show of Kuniyoshi in Tokyo. He was a fantastic ukiyo-e artist. Seeing his stuff was very inspiring. He did great demons and wonderful animals. I went home and started drawing.
We also went to the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World in Yokohama. There were thousands of people attending. The speakers were terrific and some of them were very emotional. I think that if the politicians listened to the majority of the Japanese people all the nuclear power plants would be shut down.
We also saw the movie On the Beach this month on DVD. Fred Astaire was in it and he wasn't dancing. In the end, everyone in the world dies and we see a religious banner that reads "THERE'S STILL TIME BROTHER." The movie was made in 1959 and now there really isn't much time, is there?.