Real True Confessions With Padre Pienbique

My wife and I arrived in Japan the other day for a month-long vacation. Not that I usually go globetrotting for weeks at a time, but my personal calendar opened up considerably when I got laid off. I can sit at home and fiddle about with nothing better to do (getting another job didn’t strike my fancy) or I can fiddle about with nothing better to do in someone else’s home. Being in Japan gives me a distinct advantage as nobody asks me why I’m not making myself useful, at least in any language I can understand.

The last time I came to Japan, I wrote my column in the middle of the night as I had jetlag. That was painful because I couldn’t figure a way to slip out of my in-law’s condo to procure that soothing, refreshing liquid thesaurus known as beer.

The trip before that, The Big Wu did a fun little tour where we broke every work visa law on the books and left our promoter holding the bag to the tune of $8k in fines.

Then, to add insult to injury, I noted several observations while watching the hip, young folk of Tokyo strut about including, but not limited to:

– Comparing the Salary Men with their black suits and skinny ties walking through Tokyo Station at rush hour to a casting call for an all-Asian production of Reservoir Dogs

– Describe the overwhelmingly popular tint of highlighted hair everyone under 30 as “Clown Puke”

-Note that the otherwise graceful dolls on the scene were awkwardly stutter-stepping the Hurdy-Gurdy like drunken sailors while wearing three-inch stiletto knee-high boots

In turn, any Japanese could’ve fired back with just two words: George Bush.

While I’ve still seen a few suspect shades of fashion victim orange and a couple sprained ankles in waiting, there seems to be a lull in costume comedy.

Then again, I haven’t gone into Tokyo proper quite yet. I’m in Tokyo’s homely sister city Chiba. Chiba is the Oakland to San Francisco, the Ft Worth to Dallas, the St. Paul to Minneapolis. Nothing goes on here and although are plenty of people, nobody comes here for any reason. Probably because there is no reason to.

Nonetheless, I’ve got my ducks in a row this time: Although I’ve got jetlag, I’ve got a fridge full of Kirin Chu-Hi (think: Mike’s Hard Lemonade, but palatable.) Also, the rents are at church so I can jam Sgt Peppers at an appropriate volume.

I’ve got email, which keeps yanking my head back into the work-a-day life of American Life. Folks are sending me tidbits, usually about politics. My hopelessly racist, yet hilarious uncle sent out a mass email encouraging every right-winger he knows to vote on a National Public Radio web poll concerning the validity of Fox News as being “Fair and Balanced” (“Those NPR lefties are skewing the poll because they’re the only ones voting! This is our chance to show them!”)

If you’re so inclined

Got another one from a retired English professor sporting a poll on that invites you to grade Obama’s performance so far. I’m not sure what side I’m supposed to take, but the results so far suggest that 61% of Americans give the President an “F”. I hate to break it to her that it is literally impossible any president to score a solid 61% with either an “A” or and “F”. (Any legit pollster will tell you that we don’t feel that strongly about anything…)

Have a little fun

The funny thing is that I would never bother to even open these emails at home. Somehow I feel that the country just went to pot- or further down the crapper- since I left four days ago. That’s because, like you, I usually get my news from the only people I trust: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Better leave well enough alone.

Back here in Chiba, I hear from my promoter friend that Galactic is touring Japan. Hoping that he forgot about the excessive fines, I’m going to go hang with my promoter buddy in Tokyo this week. Perhaps he wants to go ride the Crazyhorse Mongoose and see what Galactic is up to. Perhaps Dean Budnick, my esteemed editor at will assign me and my photographer wife to cover a Galactic gig here for a feature article, or at least a review for The Greatest Jam Band Website In The World (Do I hear the sounds of sucking-up?).

Hell, Dean may even email the contact info for Galactic’s public relations firm or their management as to secure guest list passes, as I’m sure the tickets are $100, at least.

It’s not as if would have to sport for transportation, parking, hotel or drinks… I can get around in Japan well enough without having to park a car for $70, have a base of operations gratis, and as for the extensive bar tab- well, that’s where I’m simply magic.

Not to mention, when attaining quality interviews with musicians, one can never go wrong as long as one ruled is followed: It takes one to know one.

There’s absolutely no end to the trouble that could be caused by the wrong person overhearing the wrong comment at the wrong time- especially in Japan. These issues can get sensitive. If you paid attention to the sublime observations concerning the Japanese at the beginning of this piece, you would have to agree that a deft touch is essential.

As fortune turns, Dean Budnick is the kind of editor that not only understands, but dances upon the waves of circumstance and opportunity. That’s why he’s the editor and I’m a happy minion in the trenches; willing to make the necessary sacrifices just so you, the gentle reader, can take in the magic of music from your cubicle, couch or jail cell.

It’s the least I can do.



Today we celebrate the Old Style’s Asian cousin and mid-morning muse: Kirin Chu-Hi. Celebrating life’s stolen moments when my in-law’s are at church and I’m left to my own devices, Chu-Hi rights jetlag’s wrongs and tastes damn fine doing it!

So drive safer that the 120 Million folks around me, be nice to your mother, and drink whatever you can @ 208 Yen/Tall Boy!

Bonus Photo: A Little Found Japenglish