Everything Old is New Again

Hullo m'friends!

Back from Florida! We did Disney and Disney did us. Does anyone know if kimchi goes bad? I came home and found no apples so I attacked this jar of pickled cabbage that I am sure is months old. Tastes awesome, I pray it does not prove toxic.

So I'm walking down the exit tunnel at Pavonia Newport when this wiry Adonis next to me removes his shirt and breaks into a jog. Just couldn't wait until he was outside to maintain his skeletal tan. I was vaguely paying attention when Kuchibashi ni Cherry by Ego Wrappin came up on my Ipod. I have an imagination that works when I don't need it to. Something about over the top kitschy swing made his retreat hilarious in my mind. Then again, swing was designed to make me laugh. It's feel-good music concentrate. When I first heard Ego' Wrappin, I thought they were covering the theme song to Japan's most famed manga playboy Lupin III.

One of Japan's earliest enka* idols, Misora Hibari, also took to jazz, swing and salsa in the forties. She is credited as being Japan's sweetheart during the postwar depression. One of her biggest hits, Omatsuri Mambo, sounds like something Danny Kaye would have bounced to. This leaves me to ponder what kind of overblown inhuman chipperness one needs to alleviate devestation of that proportion. And she didn't even have the benefit of T&A! No wonder she got a fucking museum.

The Japanese have a profound respect for nostalgia and Showa era swing has seen an enthused comeback on Japan's pop charts. Ego Wrappin are just youngsters from Osaka (Kansai). Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and Pizzicatto Five have also relied heavily on American retro. Huge as Tokyo Ska Paradise (Skapara for short) is, I prefer them in collaboration. The first time I encountered Skapara, they had just released a single with L'arc En Ciel called 4th Avenue Cafe.

Now L'arc's lead singer, Hyde, is an example of a Japanese man I cannot listen to. I know he's the neko's meow and whatever but I can't help it if all I hear when he opens his mouth is mrrrrrow mew meow. However, through Skapara's influence I managed to overcome my distaste for Hyde and 4th Ave became one of two L'arc songs I could listen to without fighting back bile. Some people have a hard time disliking when Skapara gets involved. Takashi, bartender and ex-floozy, initially gave Shiina Ringo's (shutup) first two albums a lukewarm response. He turned his nose up at every dissertation I handed him. No amount of enforced listening, piercing argument or spittle-inducing fits would sway his high-falutin ass.

"She's too shiny!" He'd complain.

"You say that like it's a bad thing." I pouted. Takashi preferred his sentiments, rock music and living space coated in a fine layer of dust. Then Ringo put out Mayonaka wa Junketsu. (Midnight is Pure)

"Skapara sugeei!" (Skapara awesome!) said he in his dirty Kansai accent. Not that you should take a crusty Osakajin's word for it but the old man did cave for the "shiny".

My favorite Skapara collaboration is Kanariya Naku Sora (Sky Without Canaries) with vocals by Thee Michelle Gun Elephant's Chiba Yosuke. There's little middle ground with Yosuke. You either love his voice or hate it. Me, I've got it bad for that no good greaser. He sings with an hysterical passion unconcerned for liver and lungs. He smokes too much. Drinks too much. Asks too rarely. Somehow the union works. Yusuke's garage rock tude and Skapara's forties swing. Lest it be forgotten swing was the fuck all of its generation. When your taste in music could still earn you a warrent.

On an utterly unrelated note, one of my future coworkers* in Japan directed me to a Blankey Jet City cover by a late 80's UK group I have never heard of known as Snuff. They sound (to me) like Green Day singing Sweet Days. Their Japanese sucks but they're playing too loud to notice. Why am I titilated? Because whitey attacking Nihongo is the awesome.

*Traditional Japanese bath house music. Akin to country or the blues. What old people get drunk and reminisce to.

*This same coworker recently sent me a video of himself sitting in what will soon be my classroom performing "Stand By Me". Yes, I think. Yes.

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Blogger d said...

sounds like you're headed to the right place.

if you haven't already, you should watch kurosawa's drunken angel. good times, good times.

10:10 AM, July 14, 2005  

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