Letter: Palomar, schools, c0rona, Dirty Windshields, and baby Stanley

Sometime along the way (late 2019?), Grant Lawrence, BC broadcaster and writer (and Tin Tin fan), had some question for me about the erstwhile pandemic which was here in Japan before *everywhere else* plus lots was going on in our little world, while his extraordinary wife Jill Barber was preparing for a virtual show at the legendary Palomar where my Uncle Lorne was once the maitre’d and the memory inspired this letter. I am stashing here as a diary of sorts as it catches a lot of the spirit of the time as i share some thoughts about his book Dirty Windshields and other topics. Might make sense to you, either way, carry on.

Grant and I with a crappy camera at CBC open house, prob 2006

Hello Grant, Enjoyed all the updates… Been a wild summer on this side of the Pacific for us ~ which recalls your initial questions to me back in early February when the schools in Japan were just shutting down and you were curious about how people would handle this… Or how far we’ve come!

We now have a wonderful little dude with the middle name of “Stanley“ born just before the NHL came back (not quite enough good luck with that name but still…), followed by a very unique Buddhist funeral circumstance, then a Typhoon, my 50th birthday (which included a personal archaeology project when my entire life archive a ride from various storage lockers to 150 year old grain barn now art studio/music lounge) and just recently, an oddly awesome exhibit of my poems and paintings at a goat farm, plus my singer wife (& pandemic rock who has also stick-handled through reams of paper work getting me and the official in Japan and a little dude official in Canada) returns to the stage at a cavernous convention center with her bossanova blues the same weekend as your wife hits (my great uncle’s old haunt) of the Palomar / we’re planning on “being there“.

Also, Dirty Windshield should be longer, not shorter… I mean I really enjoyed all of your books but this one was like reading about my own parallel life, ergo: we were in the same places in similar situation is just different years and circumstances. From punk rock tour vans in Germany to getting robbed in Washington DC to underground explosions in Olympia (where touring bands crashed at my house dubbed “hockey lounge“), bewildered in Japanese labyrinths, VW vans with lightspeed snowstorms & de-icing lighters… and many points in between. 

Of course, I was Whalley trekking in by bus to York theater & making zines while you were in West Van doing the same stuff with Nards – just in different suburbs and, back in those days crossing a river *and* an inlet might as well be crossing the English channel.

Anyhow, thanks for the update – I love living here but I’ve been very much in the “Japan bubble” since all of this began so it’s nice to hear familiar riffs / let’s get you and the family over to Okayama for top-shelf beer at the goat farm, &/or a goat milk lattes! No these goats are not on the roof and they don’t do yoga.

And yes, we have trains, lots of trains which sparks a whole other idea…

dvo

Dave (with specs obv) and Dan and Bob along with Uncle Lorne who sorta inspired this riff

Postboxes (and related items): mostly in/around Okayama, Japan

postal coin banks, envelope-esque pencil / pen holder, paintings of post boxes in Vaticane and Olympia, Greece as seen at Tsuchida Cottage

As will no doubt be *not shocking* I have quite-literally hundreds of photos of post boxes around the world, as well as other postal type artefacts – from “still lifes” of writing letters, to random global stamps, to paintings of post boxes etc. etc.

postboxes in a magazine seen at, yup, the Shinogoze post office

While I made a book out of some of the artifacts {Post’d: Letters to Elsewhere}, most don’t have a “permanent home” here in this creative life archive and well, it’s a bit of a daunting task to do *all of this all at once* so sometimes a collection just sort of falls together around a theme and says (metaphorically, i hope) “hey, this seems nice” and here is one of those times.

postal code mark as seen painted onto the street

In this case, a few post boxes – both for sending and receiving – in and around my Tsuchida neighbourhood and Okayama at large, and a few other snaps that friends here sent me (i think, sometimes i don’t know if took the photo or someone else did, no offence intended if i mistook).

No doubt this post could go on and on but instead I’ll say, “Here are some postal items, please enjoy (and remix as desired)”.

simple, rustic delivery box in the neighbourhood

Note: i have meant to start participating in #postboxsaturday Twitter activity, maybe this’ll help me start.

Continue reading Postboxes (and related items): mostly in/around Okayama, Japan

Diary: sundry notes of ukulele, drums, stereo, handy items by post & slices of culture

Sundry tasks:

get in number

Tended to an “important call with an official agency” about a significant life decision… Don’t mean to be vague, just floating it out to the universe, next step is visiting a consulate in Osaka, September 8.

(I really don’t like dealing with things by telephone, much prefer a written record – whether analog or electronic – and feel express myself much better when I have the time to choose words.)

So, just gonna play some baritone ukulele for a while.

Working on:
Atlantic City
Illegal Smile
Questionally
Carey
Hallelujah

Pretty good at:
Depreston
Moonriver
Monkey and the Engineer

In other news:

a box of frozen meat was delivered yesterday

also several more Nick Bantock books and a replica of Indiana Jones’s Journal showed up

stack of mysterious dispatches

wife’s industrial grade water pump also arrived

Oh, and tomorrow is “go clean the graves of the ancestors day“ / We’ll bring incense and flowers. [update: done x2]

More Items, arrived by post: various seeds, porridge, legumes and nuts.

many seeds, nuts, legumes and so on (also box of meat, not pictured)

These simple tasks of convenience thrill me and are a huge help for those who are mostly house-hermits (#MECFS) this is all, carry on with the world melting down etc

After grave tidy (incense, water, candles, flowers, prayers) Tidied up carport then hung out with Ichiro, playing with inky stamps & stationery, listening to groovy records in the slowly improving (warm!) first floor of the kura barn studio.

Its all possible, Ichiro making stamp art in a “Norman Rockwell-esque” pose (as a kind correspondent observed)

Disco theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”? Yes you have come to the right place. Evidence follows:

Take a spin around the first floor studio space which is made for: listening to music; hanging out and making art; eventual more craft making (paper and kintsugi); plus emergency/camping supplies, tea ceremony supplies and impending musical jam space
Continue reading Diary: sundry notes of ukulele, drums, stereo, handy items by post & slices of culture

Post’d: lovely correspondence with @Hez (involving Japanese characters, famous dogs, & wonderful paper / stamps)

At first blush, it seems to be extraneous to embed Twitter messages into this creative life archive (i’d best not make a habit of it) but my goodness!, this lovely documentation of correspondence with a real life friend in far away Vancouver stuck with me since our exchange of dossiers over the last couple of years.

I just didn’t want the artifacts to be lost into the endless vortex of ephemeral short form messaging so, at the risk of being redundant and forever incomplete, here is evidence – both written and photographic – of an exchange between a.k.a. @Hez and me (and my family).

Highlights include: her fine Japanese writing, and all kinds of papery treats (a mobile which was used on our festive tree), there are other “parts” to his but for now, here we go (note: I did my best to reciprocate by including some cute dog stamps to amuse her).

Continue reading Post’d: lovely correspondence with @Hez (involving Japanese characters, famous dogs, & wonderful paper / stamps)

Collection: (Pay)phones (vol. 8) – junk shop in Okayama + typewriter

(Pay)phones (vol. 8) – junk shop in Okayama

In the various collections of payphones (as well as hotel house phones and other related analogue communication tools) throughout this archive, generally the devices are in current use and from a variety of locations. However, this instalment includes items observed in a single used artifacts shop in my *new home town* of Okayama.

(Pay)phones (vol. 8) – junk shop in Okayama

As for these various phones, most I suppose were used in businesses or public settings, while some maybe were for home use, i dunno. The eras certainly range from early days of telephony, to some classic golden age design, to the rugged utility of 1970s.

(Pay)phones (vol. 8) – junk shop in Okayama

You’ll notice various states of disrepair and jumbled-up-ness of display *and* there’s also a typewriter snuck in here. Carry on as usual, remix as desired.

Continue reading Collection: (Pay)phones (vol. 8) – junk shop in Okayama + typewriter

Item: Ryoko’s new kei truck (with dump back)

Ryoko pick up her new rig

A few moths back (March 2022) Ryoko traded in her long-running trusty Suzuki kei-truck (kei-trucks/van/cars are a class of vehicles with 660 cc or less motors and a carefully determined physical footprint).

take a ride in the old truck to pick up the new truck, try the dump feature and drive back

She ordered it from a catalogue some months before – the first time strangely enough either of us have bought a “brand new vehicle” –assisted again by the kindly Claudia Car office who have helped her with previous purchases.

He came to our house with the catalogue and paperwork and we even exchanged a stack of cash at the kitchen table like some clandestine transaction.

Continue reading Item: Ryoko’s new kei truck (with dump back)

Ichiro Round-up: its all just so normal now… #io

So we go on so we go on, the little guy keeps growing… and while it used to be a regular routine to make an “Ichiro card” to document milestones and extra cuteness, now he’s completely engrained into our exceptional regular days of usual life.

trippy times with space farmer Uncle Mac

Months whisk by and sometimes I’m not sure exactly when these were but, that’s not really the point is it? The point is, I am a very lucky Papa (and these snaps are very mildly annotated with more, much more at #io tag).

Usually just take 1 snap but this time several all-at-once with my growing-up-happy-charming lil pal

While tidying up the archive (this collection started Oct 2021) and noticing he is “everywhere now” completing our little trio (or quartet with grandma and grandpa along), however, sometimes enough snaps and artifacts appear to create a *round-up* beyond the usual outings, events and circumstances. And you know i love a round-up, pardon duplicates if appear.

tie dye, aloha bib and floppy hat, yup, my dude
this was at a trip to a hot spring bath and a nice tatami room with garden view after
Continue reading Ichiro Round-up: its all just so normal now… #io

Item: Toyota Esquire hybrid van (now named Agnes)

Bluebird and Agnes side by side for just a moment

Last April, we traded in our beloved Toyota Aqua hybrid named “Bluebird” for a Toyota hybrid van now named “Agnes” – she the “esquire” trim model, similar to the Voxy or the Noah but with a stepped-up interior which means leather captains seats, lots of extra gadgets, shades, connectors, DVD/stereo stuff, and other automatic gizmos.

We purchased used (about five or six years old depending on how you count the imperial years), about 100,000 km on it but in fantastic shape.

Our “car guy” from Claudia car office hooked us up as he did with our previous vehicles. In fact we spotted this on his lot when we went to pick up Ryoko’s incredible dump kei truck.

looks like a transformer
Continue reading Item: Toyota Esquire hybrid van (now named Agnes)

Memo: why i do the archiving, scrapbooking etc

In reply to a tender correspondent:

Thanks for the sweet note. Sometimes I wonder what I do all the archiving for but a lot of the reason is because when the illness started ( #MECFS) In 2013, my “brain broke” and I sort of had to relearn how to do everything from writing into painting whatever so found that making scrapbooks, postcards and later “sort-ganizing” helped rebuild the neural pathways.

Scrapbook: in process, a pleasant way to pass the time, sitting in bed, with scissors, tape, glue and ephemera

When I went to India to the Ayurveda clinic, I can still remember the day the brain started sparking again and then I tried starting to write and paint. Was a little clumsy so I filed everything under “old man punk rock“ :) and made some drawings of the neighborhood and unforgiving oil pastels which quickly attracted a throng of fellas around me who I snapped with a Lomo camera (note: evidenced somewhere here in this archive).

I spend a lot of time in bed still so it’s kind of like playing a video game or puzzle or something for me… finding the right context for all the miscellanea. Imagining about containers in the bath and filling them with stories in all sorts of mediums, both in and out of my fog.

As for the handmade scrapbooks, comes from our mutual love of notebooks etc. – which I don’t keep near as orderly as you do – but now they’ve all sort of come full circle back to me, I’m enjoying transcribing the scribbles, putting checkmarks on the pages that are finished, and organizing on a semi-climate-controlled shelf. All shapes and sizes and formats, eras, all intertwined. Mostly (vaguely at least) inventoried.

Making whole buncha scrapbooks

My own handmade scrap journals are so much fun to make as it gives me that mixed media/interdisciplinary thrill of playing with tools and sharp objects and paper and the finished result is something that very few people understand the endless possibilities.

A page from Nagano to see the wizard

Anyhow, thanks for your kind words, honestly it’s been a really tough summer so far for me, I just can’t seem to bounce up so it’s nice to just be “seen”.

Pages from a journal for no particular trip or reason, just feeling with things that cheered me up

One of these days, I’ll hook you up with a scrap journal of your own if you would like. I know you’re very partial to your own specifications so I might go a little bit off script if that’s all right.

Collection: Scrapbooks, Journals and Notebooks (view 2)

Do you keep travel ephemera and other clippings, oddities, coasters, matchbox, ticket stubs etc.? What do you do with them all?

Scrapbook: assembly / stack of books (binding detail)

[i’ll about pasting of reply]

Exhibit: Noriko Miyake’s goddess art

the phallus points the way…

Catching up on my/our miraculous life, yonder back in December 2021 amidst preparation for Christmas and a few of their ongoing projects, we went to see an exhibit of one of our favourite artists, Noriko Miyake who is just about to head out for creative sojourn in Paris.

3 shining stars

We have a couple of her paintings [see: Diary: New Goddess Art from Miyake Noriko, Diary: Get on the Omnibus (annotations from the fog)] and have flowed a couple out to the world as gifts as well, she’s always doing something interesting, often involving p3nis and vag!nas and related whatnot (pardons keeping this post safe for search).

The exhibit was in a great coffee shop in which was on board with placemats, menus, table flags and other treats to make the exhibit completely immersive. There was even art hanging in the toilet (yup, we purchased one, a wild collage) and in the hallways (yup bought one from there as well, a sort of jellyfish kite).

Then, you climb a very steep dangerous staircase (watch your head! gonk!) and head into a room FILLED with painted, stuffed and sewn vulvas, yup! Cozy up and lounge in the splendor. We all enjoyed and have one at home now.

Continue reading Exhibit: Noriko Miyake’s goddess art

mixed-media art library, global diary, project dossier and whole life documentation