Tag Archives: culture

Japanese Culture and Language Primer

A few notes and tips and phrases compiled for guests coming to wedding but likely useful for most anyone coming to Japan. 

Culture-ness

Remember you must always have your passport with you (stupid but hey… rules is).

Shoes are never worn in homes, change into slippers (which will never ever fit), then different slippers for toilet, don’t forget to change back (you will forget), socks only in tatami (straw mat) rooms.

Big stores / malls often offer tax-refund. Gotta take receipt, passport and credit card (if used) to special kiosk. They will stick receipt and stamp in passport, weird but hey, ya get money back.

Don’t walk and smoke. Hang in front of konbini store, pachinko, find smoking cage, or smoking section of resto or park. 

Can drink alcohol on streets and parks however… no sloppiness, penalties/jail harsh.

Language Primer

Handy Phrases:

  • Konnichiwa = Hello
  • Chotto matte = Just a moment/please wait
  • Hai = yes
  • Iie or Chigaimasu = no / different or wrong
  • Douzo = go ahead, please (this is super handy!)
  • Sugoi! = Great! Amazing! i.e.: How is Japan? Sugoi!
  • Suimasen = excuse me (used allll the time as is Go-men which is like “sorry”)
  • Kudasai = please i.e. “Kohi o kudasai” = “coffee please” 
  • Domo, Domo Arigato, Domo arigato gozaimasu = thanks, thanks a lot, thank you very very much
  • Jaa ne / Matta ne = See you / again
  • Toire (toilet) doko desuka? = where is the toilet (there are more trad words for toilet “benjo” and “o teirei” but the Japanese-i-fied english word is easiest
  • Konbini = convenience store (7-11, Lawson, Family Mart are plentiful & amazing)

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Tea Ceremony in Sketches

A loose translation of the poem on the scroll in the alcove

My darling Ryoko studies Japanese tea ceremony with a group of others from Okayama and Kurashiki. Recently i was invited along to a special tea-drinking session at her sensei Ms. Matsuke’s house (she’s moving house so wanted to do one last one shindig at her home). 

We gather around, have some snacks and chat while setting up and then convene in a room to go through the process. As a new-un to the routine, i sketched a variety of quick scribbles to remind myself the process and find the moment of stillness (not always easy for this eager fella). Brief notes accompany the sketches. 

The general set up of the tea room with the alcove, scroll of poetry, brazier, tatami mats on floors – otherwise intentionally sparse.

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Europa (unfinished) / sketches and remixes – vol. 3

Fields out of train window – somewhere in France, 2005, watercolour pencil on paper, 11″x17″

In 2005, i wandered Europa (Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal) by train, car and tram. Along the way, i wrote an extensive cycle of poetry, and completed a solid dozen or so paintings (acrylic, watercolour and charcoal) – some of which you may have seen along the way.

I also started a load of other pieces which haven’t had a day in the easel yet — mostly because i like to let art ferment but also because i can never decide which medium to use to “finish” these. Acrylics were more exciting in the white hot moment of creating en plein, watercolour teases my rather clumsy and aggressive touch and i am tempted to use simple black ink and make something colour-able by kids and adults. Not sure how to go about this as its not a technique i am polished at (yet) but these do need a life beyond a shoebox.

Maybe you kind folks and artists can offer a word of advice or idea?

Regardless, they are nowhere near and as such, lonely and sad. So, here are rough drafts in ragged spontaneity and various forms and mediums.

This is Vol. 3 of a few (last one i think), pardon repeats and redundancies.

Fishing boats on beach – Salema, Portugal, 2005, pencil on canvas sheet 11″x17″

bonus: another version of Fishing Boats near cliffs in Salema, Portugal. copied and coloured

Continue reading Europa (unfinished) / sketches and remixes – vol. 3

Europa (unfinished) / pencil on canvas or paper (vol. 2)

Beer and mussels in a cellar bar with wooden beams - Brussellex, Belgique, 2005, pencil on paper 11"x17"
Beer and mussels in a cellar bar with wooden beams – Brussellex, Belgique, 2005, pencil on paper 11″x17″

On a 2005 ramble through a few western European countries (Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal), i carried a satchel of art supplies and painted / sketched along the way. Mostly on 11″x17″ canvas sheet and watercolour paper.

In most cases, i “finished” the pieces in one sitting using acrylics or sometimes watercolour pencils or pastels (these are catalogued, sold/gifted and posted elsewhere).

Little lane to a door (24) to elsewhere, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2005 - pencil on paper 11"x17"
Little lane to a door (24) to elsewhere, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2005 – pencil on paper 11″x17″

Anyhow, i have a several which never quite got finished and now sit in a folio in a storage locker elsewhere. I snapped photos and have considered how to finish – even soliciting advice which ranged from “they are finished” to “consider gouache” or “make a colouring book” which i did for my nieces and nephews.

Regardless, they are nowhere near and as such, lonely and sad. So, here are rough drafts in ragged spontaneity and various forms and mediums.

This is Vol. 2 of a few (maybe), pardon repeats and redundancies.

Café with wine and beer on tap, espresso, croissants and the like, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 2005 - pencil on paper, 11"x17"
Café with wine and beer on tap, espresso, croissants and the like, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 2005 – pencil on paper, 11″x17″

Europa (unfinished) / pencil on canvas or paper (vol. 1)

Eiffel Tower from Arc du Triumph, Paris, 2005 - pencil on paper 11"x17"
Eiffel Tower from Arc du Triumph, Paris, 2005 – pencil on paper 11″x17″

On a 2005 ramble through a few western European countries (Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal), i carried a satchel of art supplies and painted / sketched along the way. Mostly on 11″x17″ canvas sheet and watercolour paper.

In most cases, i “finished” the pieces in one sitting using acrylics or sometimes watercolour pencils or pastels (these are catalogued, sold/gifted and posted elsewhere).

Bridge and canal (with cheese shop and bicycles), Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2005 - pencil on paper 11" x 17"
Bridge and canal (with cheese shop and bicycles), Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2005 – pencil on paper 11″ x 17″

Anyhow, i have a several which never quite got finished and now sit in a folio in a storage locker elsewhere. I snapped photos and have considered how to finish – even soliciting advice which ranged from “they are finished” to “consider gouache” or “make a colouring book” which i did for my nieces and nephews.

Regardless, they are nowhere near and as such, lonely and sad. So, here are rough drafts in ragged spontaneity and various forms and mediums.

This is Vol. 1 of a few (maybe), pardon repeats and redundancies.

Cyclist runs red light, Police whistle to no avail (while i wait for a bus) - Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2005, pencil on paper 11"x17"
Cyclist runs red light, Police whistle to no avail (while i wait for a bus) – Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2005 – pencil on paper 11″x17″

“The Internet Age Began on August 9, 1995” / via Litkicks (with comment)

Dave quoted in Guam’s Pacific Daily News about Jerry Garcia’s death, Aug, 10, 1995 (Guam time)
{excerpts – go read the whole article, its great}

Two separate things happened on August 9, 1995, both by chance emerging from Northern California though they had little else in common. The first was a scheduled event: the initial public offering (IPO) by Netscape, a startup tech firm designed to make software to power the Internet.

I remember walking through the hallway at work that morning, probably heading for a coffee refill, when I saw a clump of co-workers and magazine editors talking anxiously. I thought they were talking about the Netscape IPO, but they weren’t. “Jerry Garcia died,” one of the editors said to me. “We need to replace the front page and get a new headline up, stat.”

Jerry Garcia. This one hit home.

Nobody said “going viral” yet by the summer of 1995, but that’s exactly what Jerry Garcia’s death did, and it was pretty much the biggest anything had gone viral anywhere up to this point.

Jerry Garcia’s death was the first major spontaneous news event to break big on the Internet, and the first of many to follow. There is one simple reason why it took a Grateful Dead member’s death to inspire the world’s first flash mob: the Internet’s early-adopter user base was heavy with educators and scientists and technologists, and educators and scientists and technologists tend to love the Grateful Dead. There was also a remarkable preponderance of Deadheads at magazines like WIRED as well as among the Internet’s most well-known early voices, like lyricist John Perry Barlow, who had recently emerged as the co-founder of the freedom-minded Electronic Frontier Foundation.

It’s because the World Wide Web and the Grateful Dead loved each other so well that August 9, 1995 turned out to be the first day I ever used the Internet to find out where I would be going that evening.

“wake now discover that you are the eyes of the world”

Comment:

This day was pivotal for me and the day *everything* changed for me. I was a Deadhead and living on th e island of Guam after leaving Japan for a visa run and, after finding i was somehow very employable, i stayed on. Then, 1995 came and instead of joining my pals from BC, Canada and Utah and all points in between, i figured i’d work one for season as a Japanese speaking host at a private beach club – which sounds like a dream job but i could feel my brain atrophying and i’d imagine myself 20 years later as a character from a Jimmy Buffet song…And then in the weird time shifted hours of a 17 hour difference, i got the call that Jerry died. I was crushed and flummoxed and didnt go to work and instead starting making calls to find out “what happened? when’s the tribute? what the fck?” etc.

I couldnt learn a thing and the newspapers operating on a day or two delay was no help – of course this hippie didnt have a TV and then again, watching some make-upped clown on CNN tell me the generic anecdotes was not what i needed. So i went down to a park where i thought i might find some other Heads and sure enough, i found tribe of wide-eyed wonderers in the same state of mind.

I passed around a few little pinner joints – not worthy of the big man but did what i could – and commiserated with the assembled mix of oddballs who end on the island avoiding <something>. And then 2 haoles walked up and started asking questions. By that time, despite my heritage felt mostly local and raised eyebrow with the others at the intrusion and instead starting asking them questions: how? where? wtf? and they had all the answers. Mouth agape, i asked how they knew all this and they replied, “We work at the newspaper (Pacific Daily News for the record) and we have the internet.” “Ummm… The internet?” my reply. “Yeah its send words and pictures of any kind over phone lines and onto a computer,” they explained and i thought “whoa computers can do that?”

The next day, their write up was in the paper including a few of my quotes talking about how (paraphrasing) i’ve travelled all around the world and always found community with Deadheads to celebrate the music and counter-culture lifestyle.”

I realized there was no way i could physically get from Guam to San Fran in time for any memorial and instead tried to call friends who i’d roust at 3AM and barrage with questions quickly as i was paying like $8/minute or something. Still no real sense of understanding so i went to an ISP called Kuentos.Guam.net and took a one night workshop to connect to the internet using Win 3.1 and Trumpet Winsock. I couldn’t have cared less about the tech but wanted to see the words and pictures… and over the 9600 baud modem, i began to see Dead.net appear with words and pictures. The page was about 1/2 way loaded when the power went down on the whole island after a (endemic & invasive) brown tree snake bit into the one of the warm electric wires and shut it all down. I had seen the future enough to know that this was something for me.

Since i was a kiddo, i’d made ditto-machined newspapers, punk rock fanzines, the best school reports, and shared little chap-books of poetry and sketches with pals and now, i realized, i could do this at a bigger scale… take all my weird bits of knowledge and share with a larger audience. Head melted i started my first web page a week or so afterwards, a treatise and clearinghouse about the history of Hemp in Japan. The page was endlessly long as i didn’t realize the concept of multiple pages linking together but like the endless scroll feeling of the page — mountains and rivers without end, its seemed organic and right away, there was conversation and community sparked as i quickly met other folks exploring nascent hemp culture. Within a month, i was importing hemp surf trunks and trucker wallets to sell on island and also sending my research out to publications.

Realizing the my lifestyle/hobby of the Grateful Dead was no more (ostensibly anyhow), i made plans to leave Guam and head to Olympia Washington where i could mop up a long overdue college degree and find a place in all of this new web stuff.

Within 24 hours of landing in a strange climate and town, where i set up a tent in the woods by Evergreen College, i met some heady looking guys setting a booth to sell tie-dyes the next day at an annual campus fair. I asked them for change for the laundry and they asked “are those hemp overalls?” Yeah man,… of course this led to the usual passing of the bowls and swapping tales of tour. The next day i learned they also had just opened an ISP called OlyWa.net. “Come on by,” they said. I did and joined up and crashed coursed myself in TCP/IP, POP, PPP, HTTP and all the other acronyms i could and, seeing the 3 dudes werent exactly “people persons”, i worked my way into the biz as the marketing guy. This was a wild great ride from 1996-2000 when we sold it (a whole other story including the acquiring company requiring me to take a drug test… they tried anyhow).

Then moved back up to Vancouver, working for Raincity Studios making new-school database driven content rich, community building sites, Warner>Rhino was a client and was able to do some work on the site which brought me to the Internet in the first place. I added my fuzzy photos and hazy memories to the list of shows and felt something about full circle. Also by this time, my first web project about hemp in Japan had been published extensively and i had High Times staying at my house and related fun and chaos.

Then, moving on i was the first Marketing Head at Hootsuite – a social media tool in full startup mode. We were 10 in a dingy office and i was charged with growing the audience with basically no budget. But years of hustling the Grateful Dead lot and making enough to get to the next show and have a good time doing it, came in handy as i recruited an international team, fed them stories and together built community around our users including epic campaigns at SXSW where i went back to my Dead roots and created the Hootbus which was a modified short bus turned into a party on wheels as we’d roll the streets of Austin getting people “On the Bus” just like on tour — well kinda anyhow. In my barrage of public speaking which came along with the ride, i shared stories (to tech heavy audiences) of building community on tour, the resourcefulness needed to build and move, the “one hug at a time” ethos which i espoused to treat each user like our favourite.

Then last year, The Grateful Dead did the 50th anniversary shows and Hootsuite reached a Billion dollar valuation. Im still the same guy, sitting on a porch with a smoke and cut off jeans wondering when the next show is and how i can share the story.

Car(e)-free Sound Stroll – Urban Vancouver #8

A walk around various car-free day festivals in Vancouver, 2008 with unedited soundstream of drum circles, live bands of various sorts (including several numbers by a Grateful Dead inspired band, a free jazz combo, a protesting singer-songwriter, and a Latin-esque outfit…), plus skateboards, slam poets, and a bassoon quartet playing “hockey night theme” among other tunes.

Wander along for: Car(e)-free Sound Stroll – Urban Vancouver #8 (51:49, 75MB, 192k .mp3)

Podfeed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/UrbanVancouver

Continue reading Car(e)-free Sound Stroll – Urban Vancouver #8

Tattoo Culture of Sailor Jerry – Choogle On #124

Choogle On with Uncle Weed – Sailor Jerry Tattoo Culture

From SXSW 2008 – amidst sirens and Austin, Texas 6th St. street noise – comes an interview with filmmaker Erich Weiss premièring “Hori Smoku, Sailor Jerry” about the originator of contemporary tattoo-ing – and iconoclastic libertarian American – Norman Collins who combined Japanese technique, Polynesian traditions, and American motifs in Hawaii during WW2.

The interview delves into the the “screwed, boozed (blued), and  tattooed” wild culture as a million sailors and soldiers descended upon the idyllic islands (especially Hotel Street), plus Mr. Collins’ complex life, the artistic lineage of Sailor Jerry, rivalries and legacies of various tattoo artists/legends, mentorships of Don Ed Hardy and others, and the remarks about “fad” tattooing and (lack of) regret. 

Might hurt a bit: Sailor Jerry Tattoo Culture – Choogle On with Uncle Weed #124 (.mp3, stereo, 30MB, 14:44)

Continue reading Tattoo Culture of Sailor Jerry – Choogle On #124

Humble Boys Hard Land Weed – Choogle On #123

Humble Boys Hard Land Weed

High in Jamaica, Uncle Weed visits Black Ras’ abundant mountain growfield to discuss “swamp weed” grown in morass versus “hard land weed” grown in volcanic soil with bat guano, plus varieties of ganja strains – both domestic and imported. Plus background about his family teaching him the ways of growing most anything and living an Ital lifestyle.

Head to the hills for: Humble Boys Hard Land Weed – Choogle On with Uncle Weed #123  (.mp3, stereo, 30MB, 14:44)

Continue reading Humble Boys Hard Land Weed – Choogle On #123

“Fck Stats, Make Art” Talk Transcription (Northern Voice 2008)

Dave Olsen Reads Rousseau

What follows is transcription of a talk called “Fck Stats, Make Art” at Northern Voice, 2008 in Vancouver, BC. Original audio (record by Jay Stewart who is identified as Speaker 1 below) exists, as does a “round-up” of photos, tweets, artifacts, and so on. See “Consider Perusing” below.

Speaker 1: We’re at Northern Voice 2008 in Vancouver BC at the University of British Columbia Forestry Science Center and I’m about to record Dave O’s presentation.  What is the name of the presentation?

Speaker 2: Fuck Stats Make Art.

Speaker 1: Fuck Stats Make Art.  It’s going to be a little bit controversial because he’s going to give a call to up the ante on quality of stuff people are posting.  He’s like, “It doesn’t matter if people are looking, it matters if it’s good content, that’s more important.”

Speaker 2: Certainly good content comes first and then you really [inaudible 00:01:06].

Speaker 1: I don’t need to know when people’s cats are going to the bathroom.  I see a lot of that on Twitter and other sites and stuff, you know?

Announcer: So, it’s my pleasure to introduce one of my best friends here Dave Olson.  He also works with me at Raincity Studios and I’m really excited that you guys get to hear him talk today.  I think this talk would be quite a bit different from everything else that you hear at Northern Voice.

I dragged, Dave, kicking and screaming in the world of Google Analytics and I just didn’t get it, just like every moment I spent either looking at my viewers or attracting new ones is one less moment I’m writing or doing something else that I love.  So, I always respected that about him.

He’s a poet, a filmmaker, an author, photographer and many other awesome things.  Anyway, I’ll leave it up to him to go with the rest.  So, welcome to Fuck Stats Make Art.  

Continue reading “Fck Stats, Make Art” Talk Transcription (Northern Voice 2008)