Friday, March 28, 2014

Thinking of Toshio Sasaki

Our show at STOREFRONT for Toshio Sasaki in 1982

Spring breaks with cool winds in Kyoto. 
Here in my mountain home, Hieidaira, my body shakes with Parkinson’s, the bitter sweet truth that age brings. 

Toshio was masculine genius, a sensitive individualist, unique in his perfection… a powerful artistic force. He lives, a radient jewel, tucked inside for reassurance. 

In Spring we remember the flowers we have known and they again bloom… a quiet moment in our garden with the perfection of beauty, immortalised in memory, manifest in a bud.

Thinking of you Toshio, 
wondering which collection of forms again could match your force, your unique truth in my life. Accepting your death as my own, 
the perfection we call Spring.


His last major work (a proposal for the World Trade Center memorial)

March 31st 2007

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is my Love of Japan inherently Evil?

As I grow old in Japan, so too grows my love. It can't be Nationalism, a sentiment I hold in suspicion, because I am not a citizen of Nihon. Nor does Japan particularly want me. At best, I believe Japan politely tolerates this outsider. I am simply a blip on the screen of the Japanese bureaucracy.

The Nipponese see me as an amusing nuisance as one does a young child, cute at a safe distance while under the care of the appropriate authorities. Japan is a master baby-sitter... And I am content to be a meek non-voting witness to the mad genius of this country.

Japan warms the cockles of my hardened heart. I love her immaculate infrastructure, as I ride my sterile taxi-bus over clean smooth highways from a space-age Kansai International... A polite white glove clad driver pronouncing niceties, over the crackle-free speaker system, to polite soft spoken passengers. Such a dynamic contrast to the hair raising, bone crushing ride on the other end, in my death defying kamikaze ride to the Cebu Airport in the Philippines.

In Japan, things work. Public space planners, of toilets and other essential comfort zones, always consider the customer. 'Okyaku-sama wa kami-sama desu' ...The customer is God. Which is not a Christian-like platitude, but a real functioning cultural assumption. The Japanese actually believe in honesty, responsibility, and each other's right to feel warm and fuzzy.

Underlying this is a sword swirling, suicidal self righteousness. But all countries have a Jingoistic backbone to frighten off the other Neanderthal. Fearing our neighbors is an assumption in Asia. Japan has bookstores full of racist crap and a National Diet filled with sour faced politicians, all too ready to prick their neighbors with pointy sticks.

Northeast Asia is an endless 'Punch and Judy' show. A drama we are forced to participate in, riders on a roller-coaster clinging to a precarious parapet... daily daredevil militaristic brinkmanship is our new normal.

Yet, all this said, I still truly love Japan. I love sushi and most of everything else served in this gourmet pleasure palace. Sure I know we are depleting the world supply of tuna, killing whales and dolphins for dubious 'cultural' reasons, and most likely exhausting the world's supply of chocolate. Who could resist a country where eating, packaging, serving all consumables is an elegant art form. And, by no means, let us not forget the women.

Who can not love a country, birth place of the infamous yet gorgeous Yakuza tattoo, where women are not tattooed and pierced like hellish voodoo dolls, now the fashion plate served elsewhere. Here creamy uncluttered skin, of delectable proportions, is still sacred and protected. Cleanliness and an semblance of tasteful fashion, the Goldilocks perfection of moderation... strong yet feminine, sweet yet sharp as the snap of a whip.

In the world of crime detection, it is ofter said, we are most likely to be murdered by those closest to us, those who we love. In a quest for art, beauty, and spiritual peace I found my way here. And though she may kill me, I can not resist kneeling at her feet, pledging my allegiance to her seductive charm. I love Japan and that warm and fuzzy feeling I get in her arms. If I am a fool, I am a fool in love.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Search for the Ideal 'Selfie'

I hate this new word selfie. The word is too cute. Cute, like the adorable mobile phones creating these mercilessly Facebook-likeable visuals.

 Technology today is too small for my hands, too tiny for my ageing eyes... obviously designed for the young and delicate. Selfies are for this world of instantaneous perfection, ephemeral... a whisper into the silky ear of a lover.

Phone cameras are too good, making too many master artisan, who turn out too many delectable temptations... scrumptious dinner images, voluptuous landscapes, and forever loveable pets. I too want my own selfie to be adorable, a transcendant irreversible documentation of mouth-watering masculinity.

Is that too much to ask?

If sexy is no longer applicable, what then should I shoot for? ... Professorially professional? Rugged ageing woodsman? Perhaps what the Japanese call Romancing Gray... that financially stable womanizer... a generous Epicurean of fine pleasures. All seem off, if partially true. Tempting self-endearment, suspended disbelief.

What exactly am I trying to express with a head tilt and a glaring glance into the camera? Surely not the self I feel, nor remember, from years of shaving in the mirror. Should I embrace the chaos, the frailty of each moment? None of it, all of it, me. Larger than life itself and really just a selfie.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ashes to ash, dust to dust

Parkinson's, my stifling preoccupation, possessor of both mind and body... What can I do to weaken your malicious grip, to stop you from distracting me from the common delusion of a sweeter life, soft sunshine and ruby roses?

Why do you insist on medieval metaphors, of tortured mind games... war among nagging evils, penitent self-flagellation... condescending comments from well meaning strangers?

When owned by a diabolical disease, the crucifix images of a Catholic childhood rush in, like water into the mouth of the drowning. I want to find sins to confess, errors to correct. But, instead, find clumsy thoughts of haunting disbelief in a silent sadist, lording over my discontent.

There is no logic in unforgiving bonds of discomfort, no gracious goodness, only the cold fact, with Parkinson's, it gets worse and then you die.

50% of Parkinson patients will eventually suffer dementia. Chew on that for awhile. I watch as my mind can not recall the simplest of things. If I forget your name, cut me some slack. If I tend to fall, thanks in advance for picking me up.

If my face has no expression, don't be pissed, all of us mean well, our charming face just doesn't work like before. We lose control of our muscles, from our twisting toes, right up our bodies, to our drooling jaws. A curiosity, living in pain... a buffoon drenched in shame... an embarrassment.

We were, up until recently, maybe one year, maybe twenty, just like you. Only not any more. From the image of perfect health to something else. If there is a lesson to be learned, I am learning it everyday. If you don't have Parkinson's, enjoy not knowing how it feels. Smile, while you still can.