Thursday, March 31, 2005


The View From A Plane

OK, so I'm up in a JAL 747, 35,000 feet over the middle of northern Russia maybe Siberia, moving at 510 mph, midway through a twelve hour journey from Tokyo to Amsterdam. Just had a little snooze (luckily the plane is a good half empty so managed to get three seats together and slide up all the armrests), just watched a really boring movie about American football with the usually excellent Billy Bob Thornton, called 'Friday Night Lights' (don't waste your Fridays or any other night on this boring crud), just found the source of free chocolate snacks and the laptop seems to have a little juice in it.

A quick check of the bird's eye view camera, confirms that there is not much to see down below except clouds, I love these cameras, never seen them before - one in the front and one down below, when we landed in Tokyo they screened all the action on the bigger screens, whilst I was clutching the games controller trying to straighten the thing up... hard to port captain, for God's sake get that wing up man! Maybe it's a specifically Japanese fascination that hasn't caught on elsewhere yet...

I managed to snap a few shots earlier, out of the plane window with the trusty Holga, when we had something down below to look at, pretty amazing country desolate rolling hills with not a trace of human activity. Except of course for the secret Soviet era rocket bases, and Tunguska meteor craters, or crashed alien ships, whatever your conspiracy theory may be. I don't expect whoever's down there are going to worry very much about being caught on a twenty year old camera with a plastic lens from 35,000 feet up, and hell it was made in Russia anyway!

So further to the last Blog I was writing, Monday and Tuesday in Tokyo - weather was a bit crap on Monday, rained a fair bit so didn't really get around that much during the day. However went over to Shibuya to see LEMON JELLY in the evening at the Shibuya Ax, which was excellent. They had so many instruments on stage I was expecting that thay had transformed into a six-piece band, and the biggest mixing desk I have ever seen used in a live performance, it was MASSIVE, I wouldn't like to have been to person responsible for shipping that monster around the world, and making sure it all kept working.

Whoops bit of turbulence, nope seems to have stopped., where's that damn seat belt, how come I keep on having to let these straps out on JAL flights? Does that say something about fat middle-aged Englishmen?

Where was I? LEMON JELLY seem to have transformed themselves into some huge dancerockmonsterband, complete with the occasional metal guitar… but it works somehow. Older songs like "Travelling Man' and 'Staunton Lick' are completely beefed up, and to see 1,600 people all waving their arms along to 'All the ducks are swimming in the water, fa la la' was pretty funny. Although I'm still not 100% convinced by some of the samples they use on the new album - Chicago's 'If You Leave Me Now' and Bad Company's 'Feel Like Making Love', but maybe I'm just a grumpy old sod who knows those songs too well from the first time around - not enough post-modern irony for me. However on the whole it was great gig, with what must have been a sell-out crowd.

Funnily enough I had been to the same venue two years ago to see Patti Smith and had gotten lost then trying to find it as well, although I'm sure that then it had a different name.

On my final day, I went for a big walk all through Ueno Park and out through some neighbourhoods as far as Yanaka Cemetery, stopping of at some different shrines and temples. One of them, Janali (I think) was pretty amazing, filled with 84,000 little Jizos or idols, all about one foot high and piled up everywhere. Although it is apparently impossible to count them, because the Gods will always add or subtract a few, just for a little joke - personally I wouldn't know where to begin anyway.

A huge army of homeless people seem to have taken over Ueno Park, evrywhere are there little huts in among the trees, made out of old boxes and blue plastic tarps - but all incredibly neat and orderly, with clothes hanging outside, brushes and bicycles. Lots of them go off to work every morning and then come home to their shacks in the evening, they just can't afford anywhere to live in this city where the rents are so high. Very few of them seem to be drunk or drugged up, and there is absolutely no begging going on - which I thought was pretty amazing.

So that was Tokyo, all went pretty smoothly really, except for this morning, when I must have lost my Skyliner ticket on the train to the airport and was told in no uncertain terms that I had to pay another 1960 yen… something along the lines of 'You pay me!', subtle but there was no getting around the officious bastard. I very seldom lose tickets, but the only other time it's ever happened to me was on the Heathrow Express, which just happens to be the most expensive rail journey on the face of the planet. Go figure!

Well won't be long now, another five hours until Amsterdam, then another couple down to Barcelona, then a quick cab ride across town to Gracia and hopefully a nice shot of Crema Catalana in Musica Maria's before bedtime.

Buenas Noches

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?