Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Become a college athlete, make tons of money (sorta)

Hey folks,

It was great seeing everyone this past weekend. I came across this article today and thought it might end up being the most controversial twist in the debate over whether to pay college athletes. I'd be curious to see what the annual salaries for athletes of other sports (soccer, swimming, lacrosse, etc.) since there isn't the same kind of tv contracts and ticket sales. Given the recent reports of how high poverty levels are, it might make college that much more appealing for the get rich quick ticket- basketball players might potentially make more money in college then they would in the initial years after getting out of school with a degree if they don't play in the pros. A bit weird.

Anyways, hope to see more posts this fall from everyone. I'll try keep it up on my end.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It is Done

Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Okubo 1-1-43. I'm a 2 minute walk from the cavernous Toei-Oedo line, maybe 15 minutes to Shinjuku station, and about 10 to Shinokubo station. Maybe a 10 minute walk to one of the wildest areas in Tokyo, Kabukicho, and I also live within those same limits from 3 of my favorite venues.

Schools started, and man is it different. Not in a bad way, but in a "this is Tokyo and there is money in Tokyo, and where there are responsible people with money, there are really nice schools" kind of way. My Junior High School has a population of about 300 students, and my elementary is maybe over 400. The JHS was built in the late 80's and has sculptures and gardens and rooms that approximate what little kids think of when they think of NASA. The teachers all seem pretty alright, the students can actually speak the language, and the lunch lady is a super babe. The elementary school is older, but still nice with a pretty decent playground. That's right, I play with kids at recess now. Dodgeball seems to be their game of choice, but I may end up trying to get them into kickball or, even better, wall/buttball.

I'm also now getting into voice acting, and come the 29th I'll have submitted my first/test article as a music reporter to a culture magazine, for a Noise A-Go-Gos/Die You Bastard!/Terror Squad show at Shinokubo Earthdom. Whether or not I'll make the cut is yet to be determined, but I'm hopeful that they'll keep me on. Finally, I'm also working on getting a band together with my friend Ian. Basically we need a drummer, but even without we've been arranging some things and talking about the general direction we want to go in. Sounds like he found some french drummer this weekend, so I'm not really concerned that thisll take a while. I havent even put fliers up yet. Christ, I've only been here for a little over a week and all this shit is happening.

SO… Once you've stopped being scared of radiation, potential high-magnitude aftershocks, and possible impending second-wave tsunamis, save some money and come visit me in fucking Tokyo!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Life Update Episode VII: Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport!

I don't know if I've ever made a post about my jarb, which is French for job. I don't know when I last made a post, either, but you don't either so I guess it will remain a mystery for many a fortnight to come. Fortnight is French for "a couple of minutes." What I'm trying to say is that I work in marketing.

Which sounds slimy right from the start. Feels sort of flimsy and slightly damp. But so ok, I work in IT marketing, which is so decidedly unsexy that it attracts a markedly petite percentage of douchebags, relative to your average corporate rate (of douchebag concentration). The truth is I really like the people I work with, and the things I do. M@4K5T1NG R00|z! For me, anyway.

I like to get up real early. At around 3:32ish every morning I get up jaggedly and face the bed to stare at Melanie's sleeping body for circa 60 minutes. Then I go back to bed. Then I try to get up forreal around 6:00 or 6:30. Normally I use this time to pet my extremely awake cat and stare blank-faced at NBA results from the previous night until its time to get beautiful, but I'm lately trying to get to the gym in the morning before work. Gym in the morning before work. Marvel at my domesticity, and also my totally juiced pecs.

Work technically starts at 9, but we're like just so modern, so most people saunter in between 9:30 and 10:00. Since this is New York, it's very easy to get delayed on the train because of all the movie stars, and the sex in the city. You see why people are late. Fugghetaboutit! Haha...we say that ALL THE TIME. All of us.

I manage an inside sales team, which consists of 3 people in New York (besides myself) and 6 people in Bogota. Its strange to manage people. If you know me, you know I rule all around me with an iron fist. And a feather foot. My kicks are not very effective. I rarely deploy them though, since my team is mad effective and extremely easy to work with. The cool thing about being at an agency, is that there's no room for obnoxious people at a small company. This also helps mitigate the douchebag concentration at my work. Crappy people wash out naturally.

My company, and my role inside it, has grown considerably since I joined two years ago. We've grown by over 100% for two years in a row, and I get to take regular trips to Bogota and join in secret Satantic rituals and all sorts of fun stuff. Then I come home to my babe girlfriend and awesome cat and get to drink beers and listen to The Weeknd. Life is DOPE.

I'm so pumped for the summer. On nice afternooons we take real long lunches, and it's extremely rad to eat outside and watch everyone mozy along with their day. Lunch options are seemingly endless in my work neighborhood, two years and I'm still finding new things. Last Friday I popped out for a few hours in the middle of the day to watch a few innings of the Sox game, and in the process ate a killer burger and consumed a few beers. They actually won. True story.

I hope you guys make some life posts as well. I really dig it when Matt updates us on his Pacific Rim goings-on, and I would love to hear what's going on in everyone else's neck of the world. But not the ribcage of your world. Please I do not want to hear about the ribcage of your world. Do not make me repeat myself.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


So, I've been transferred out of the disaster area that is still Miyako down to Tokyo. I've been assigned to 2 Junior High Schools in TakadanoBaba and Mejiro, both of which are on the main Yamanote train line. They are also both directly north of the bangin'est district of Tokyo, Shinjuku, where a number of my friends live and a lot of really great clubs and venues are, and is also where I am currently looking for an apartment.
Tokyo's expensive, you all know, but lemme relate what I'm looking at, and what I was paying in Miyako. My apartment in Miyako cost me 30k yen every month, which is the equivalent of about $330. Every month, if I paid that, I not only could live in my 3 room + bath apartment, but got a bike, a storage closet, and a free awesome meal every thursday out of it.
The apartments that are within my budget range that I am considering are hovering around 77k yen. That's probably around $900. However, on top of that, there's this very annoying real estate phenomenon in Japan referred to as Shikin and Reikin. Shikin is basically a deposit, and it amounts, in many cases, to double the monthly rent. Reikin is totally Japanese as it basically translates to present money, as in a present to the landlords for letting you live there. This also typically amounts to double rent. So there's rent, theres 1 double rent, and another double rent. this 5X rent needs to be paid before you are allowed to move in. Of course, it varies, and thankfully due to the crisis, many apartments are only asking for 1 months extra rent for Reikin and Shikin, amounting to only a requisite 3X rent in order to move in. So, to sum up, for me to move in to any one of the places I'm looking at (haven't decided yet), I need to drop about 231K Yen, or somewhere in the vicinity of $2600. BAM.
I am also looking for apartments in another area, Musashikoyama, southeast of Meguro, which itself is a southeastern stop on the Yamanote line, where the prices are about the same. Its much farther from my schools, which means I'll be paying more to take trains there instead of feasibly walking or biking if I choose Shinjuku, but friends of my friends in Miyako live here and when youre in with people like I'm in with my friends in Miyako, that basically means you've got an older brother type figure watching your back. Or, in my case, 2. And while if I lived in Shinjuku I'd still totally see these guys a lot, but if I lived this close to them it'd come to approximate the family-like situation I had going on up in Miyako a lot quicker than if I was in Shinjuku.


Saturday, March 26, 2011


Here's the full text from an interview I submitted to a Pittsburgh newspaper about, you know, surviving a 9.0 earthquake and a 4 or 5 meter tsunami that totally wrrrrrRRRECKED my apartment, as I'm sure you've seen.

My landlords, Hisashi and Kazuko Kando, and I retreated to a Buddhist
temple on a hill above my apartment at the wharfs opening.

From there, we watched the tsunami, pitch-black and towering, smash
into and over the walls that were built to protect us from just such
an occasion. After the worst of it, after maybe 45 minutes of being
continually impressed by the seemingly endless tidal destruction, I
went into the remains of my neighborhood to survey the extent of the

Cars were stacked on top of each other, alarms sounding shrilly;
buildings were precariously leaning on one another for support, or in
its absence falling down to become indistinguishable from
thedebris. Uglier than the physical state of my neighborhood,though,
was the sight of a manimmersed in the remaining filth, struggling as
hard to stay afloat as he was trying to find his mother who was
apparently in the house when the tsunami collapsed it. For a time all
we could do was watch from above, imploring him to get to higher
ground, as the steep path down to him was yet blocked. Despite our
pleas for him to get to a safer place, he was stuck where he was, and
only answered us with desperate calls to his mother

Finally, the tide receeded enough for 2 to make there way to a rooftop
near the struggling man and were able to extend a pole to him and drag
him to land. While this was being performed, Hisashi and I brought
blankets for the man lying soaked on the ground, shoeless and crying
in the snow flurries at dusk.

After wrapping him in a truly ridiculous amount of blankets, we
devised our strategy to get him up out of the flood zone to where we
were safe. Because we had descended via a very steep path made into a
makeshift staircase, we had no choice but to use the blankets as a
sling and try to carry him up as slowly and carefully as possible.
This worked, but it wasnt very pretty, but the guy got out ok so Im
notcomplaining. We brought him into a house with a gas heater, gave
him some hot tea, and wiped nour hands of that. In the face of all the
other problems that neefd addressed, this didnt feel like much more
than one small item checked of a very long list.


My apartmentwas located in an area of Miyako called Koganji, which was
at the end of the main drag stretching from the train station downtown
to the fisheries of the wharf that is Oodori Road. It was owned and
also lived in by the Kandos, a really great married couple in their
60s with whom I had dinner every Thursday. Thursday also happened to
bethe day AM. Football games were broadcast, what we tuned in for
anxiously everyweek, but thats neither here nor there.

Koganji was a nice area with parks, and I was literally a 30 second
walkfrom the shore... so yeah make no mistake that the tsunami hit me
hard. While not as bad as the neighboringvillage of Taro, which has
been completely levelled, Koganji itself is massively devestated.
Which is why I am so completely surprised that all Ive lost is my road
bike and luggage. Because I lived onthe second floor and also because
my building was completely surrounded by others that absorbed a lot of
the impact, I was able to break into my apartment a few days later
and recover valuables. Dumb? Sure, but at least Im a well-dressed
homeless person.

Well, not exactly homeless. A good friend of mine Seiji Shimoyama
isputting me and a few otherfriends up at his place. Everyday we wake
up and do what we can to help, and everynight ten or so of us sit down
to a meal, toast each other to a job maybe not well done but good
enough, and spend the night in each others company joking, comforting,
and supporting each other as if nothing has changed. Its not bad.

Miyako is in Iwate prefecture, 2 prefectures above Fukushima
prefecturewhere the power plant is, so this is not really something Im
thinking about.

Why wouldnt I? I could relocate to Morioka, or I could go as far as
going back stateside, but the fact of the matter is I wont, not for
the time being. Ive lived here since November '09, and in that time
Ive developed many relations andattachments, and since the moment I
learned I had these options to leave, all I can think is, what kind of
person would I be if in fair weather Id readily participate in the
give and take of friendship, but in the midst of the storm just pack
up and leave? I also find myself thinking, dont Pittsburghers fiercely
protect their friends and family? Arent Americans supposed to help
those in great need? If i really think about it on a meta level,
everything Ive ever been taught by friends and family, all the culture
and values of my hometown that I grew upwith, and the calling that all
citizens of the nation I was born in... taking all of these things
into account, I dontthink I ever had much of a choice in the matter
but to stay and do my part tohelp this town recover; because, more
than anything, its what people, not just Pittsburghers or Americans,
but what people are supposed to do.

Thats not really a topic of conversation at the moment. Sure, shop
owners are hinting atwhat theyll do down the road, but the cleanup
itself will take months if not more, and until thats complete we dont
really know what is going to happen.
At the moment, Im relying solely on cell phones to communicate with
others. And, since my phone company is the AT&T, I have to rely on
friends with phones on a different network, because I still dont have
service. You have no idea how long it took for me to write this on
this alphamumeric keypad.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh Yeah

I also recently joined another music blog, the first one since Lucid's demise. I sort of doubt there's too much on there that many of you will like, but if you feel like exploring (predominantly) Doom, Black, or Death metal a bit,

is a good place to start looking.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bloody Ears & Beer

If you guys are at all interested in my attempts to live vicariously through the readership (currently standing at ~0) of my new blog by convincing them to go to concerts/venues of Japan I can't attend with nearly the frequency I would like to, then head on over toooooo...