Author Archives: Jake

Writing For Rodney – Day 10

So I’ve been wintering in LA. It’s the second time I’ve done this. I did it in 2010 as well when I was dating a woman who was living here. That time I stayed in Santa Monica. This time I’ve been splitting my time between Hollywood and Topanga. Two great places. I’ve always had a fondness for LA. Growing up I was so entranced by NYC and LA. The big two. I’ve never really understood why anyone would want to live anywhere else. I guess I just always wanted to be near the action. Any sort of action.

LA and NYC always held special sway with me, i guess because the only way outside of my little world where I grew up were TV and movies. And to a lesser extent magazines and books And all I saw when I looked at those were LA and NY, where they make most of those things. Sure you would see DC, but that always struck me as a huge bore. Politics is just entertainment for boring people. And more and more obviously nowadays full of complete pieces of shit. Though it’s been great seeing the quick and sudden ride of people like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. I love Bernie too but there needs to a huge of influx of young new blood that was raised on the internet and knows how to communicate and fight. For what’s right. Other than burning the whole hunt down it’s people like that who will actually affect change. But I digress.

Anyways – Los Angeles and NYC. And Vegas and San Francisco and New Orleans. Those were all my bucket list American cities from as far back as I can remember in my childhood. And they still remain the only cities I could conceivably imagine living in to this day. And I can’t even really imagine living in all of those. Only New York and LA, really. And the longer I’m staying in LA this time around, the less I think I could make a full time life for myself here. But I’m wondering if that’s maybe because I’m only here as a visitor, and have been house hopping with various amazing friends. I think I’m beginning to feel a little unsettled, because I’m exactly that. I haven’t been settled anywhere since before Halloween. And even before that I was bouncing back and forth between coast for two months. But that’s another story for another day, and will be during whenever i decide to do my deep dive into my love of motorcycles, as that’s what’s drawn me to LA this time.

After my first and only year of college I had two offers for internships. One was in the accounting department of Don Law Concerts in Boston. The other was i the PR Department at Relativity Records in LA. And I knew a guy who said I could crash on his couch for the summer in LA. So that was a no brainer. I bought a one way plane ticket, packed a bag, and headed west of New York State for the very first time at the ripe old age of 19. When I landed i got it immediately. California. The air just smelled different. The sky was bluer. The trees were greener. California was just… cooler. Still feels that way every time I get off the plane at LAX. That was an amazing extended summer I spent here.  Broke, no car, and a shitty paying job. I gave up on the internship after one day when I realized it was going to be a 5 hour round trip

commute from Hollywood to Torrance on public transport. So i went out looking for work and found a job at a pet store in the Beverly Center. I never even made it back from my lunch break on my first day. But I quickly found a job at the Tower Records on Sunset and I was in heaven. I borrowed $300 from my buddy and used it to buy a 50CC red Honda Scooter that I found i the old “Recycler” newspaper. I had wheels. I was free. I rode tyt thing all over the damn place. Rode it to Santa Monica. Eve. Rode it up over the Hollywood Hills and down to Ventura Boulevard.  I wouldn’t do either of those things today on a 50CC scooter, but back then, there was such ignorant bliss in not knowing what you didn’t know, that you’d totally try to do ANYTHING at all. I guess I still have that tendency in me. As evidenced by sketchy shark cave diving in South Africa, bungee jumping in Zambia, and willing getting into a full

grown Tigers’ cage in Thailand and actually grabbing the tiger by the tail, and laying down on it like it was a big pillow. All of those I’ve done in n the past five years, and all of them I did without even simply googling the relative safety of these things. Had i done that first I probably wouldn’t have done any of those three things. But, ya know, I live my life by one guiding principle, and that’s “What’s The Worst That Could Happen?” Like, even if jose things killer me, they all would have been pretty cool ways to go. Not that I thought that at the time. In fact, I didn’t even consider that there could have been an awful outcome. I just sort of trusted that if these businesses were in business, well then so was I!

As Richard Branson says “Screw It. Let’s Do It!”

So I did whatever the fuck felt right at the time and Ive continued to do it over and over again and it’s brought me back to California so

Many times over the years that I’ve literally lost count. I probably landed at LAX a dozen times in 2018 alone and and rode my motorcycle hundreds of miles out of the city and back 3 or 4 more times. And it never gets old.

New York May be home, but California, knows how to party!

Sadly I never got to visit Cali with Rodney. I fucked that one up big time. I always thought I had plenty of time left with him. And that’s never a given. Do why you wanna do. When you wanna do it. Every time.

Writing For Rodney Day 9

Thankfully done with all that Aussie nonsense I decided it was time for a change of scenery. I had spotted a bar the was just called THE WHO BAR and the sign was their classic old red white and blue logo. I figured they would be playing music by The Who. But I was wrong. Very wrong. I earlier upstairs and Bohemian Rhapsody was blaring at ear splitting volume. And the bar was full of a half dozen young Japanese men, all of whom, including the bartender, were singing along to every word, with surprising accuracy, maybe I’d found the holy grail, a group of locals who spoke English!

Oh, did I mention that they were all shirtless? Including the bartender. For reasons that are now a complete mystery to me, i actually surveyed the scene, took it all in, grabbed a quick video, and headed back down the stairs. As i looked around the alley for another bar, suddenly i was struck by Japanese lightning. WHY ON EARTH WAS I NOT PECS DEEP INSIDE THAT NIPPON NIGHT FEVER RIGHT THIS EVERY SECOND. And then it made sense. I was only a few drinks in. Which sometimes keeps me from doing outrageous things. But not always. Nope.

So I turned around and lept up those stairs in a single bound, shedding my shirt mid-spring and joining the party just in time to scream “MAMAAAAAAA OOOOOOHHHHH OOOOOHHHHHH  OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHH” and the party somehow got kicked into yet another higher gear! Pretty soon we all had our arms around each other. This was waaaaay better than Karaoke!

This went on and on through innumerable songs by Led Zeppelin and the Doors. We were all carrying on and on and these guys knew every single word to every single song. I was in heaven with my new friends! But then there was a lull In the music for a bit, so was stoked to get to know these hombres. And that’s when I came to the crash crash sudden realization that these guys didn’t speak English. At all. Like, not a drop. Sure they could sing along to every word of every song that came on. But they had zero idea why it meant. And I totally understood! It’s like – i can’t speak German… but I can sing along with Das Schutzenfest by Faith No More!! And actually that’s a lie. I speak a hunch of German. Like Gezundheit. That means health. Do you think it was Germans who invented blessing someone after sneezing? That would be cool, I’m gonna go with that and add it to the fun facts I have filed away about Germans. Also Danke Shein, do you think a German wrote that song for Wayne Newton? That would make sense to me. Because Germans live visiting Central Park. And one of my favorite lines in the song is “i recall / Central Park in Fall / when you tore your dress / what a mess / I confess”

Do you think that’s the writer confessing to what whatever it is that caused the dress to be torn? Could be an early Me Too situation. But alas, while he confesses… I digresss

Back to the matter at hand. Which is these loopy Japanese fellers. Once I realized I couldn’t communicate with them through words, it was time time to go to the TRUE international language.  And I’m not talking rock n roll… or mine… but maybe something t 

Hat combines the both of those things… PRO WRESTLING! the international

Language of platonic man love.

Anyone’s who’s watched any amount of pro wrestling knows what chops are. Right? When the guys give each other back handed slaps to the chest. The slaps usually can be heard in th whack rows of the arena. One of the master a of the chop is Ric Flair. In fact, nowadays when you go to match and the guys start chopping each other, the arena fills with Ric Flair’s patented    “WHOOOOOOO” with each chop landed.

So I decided to take he dangerous route to finding out if these shirtless guys in the bar were wrestling fans, by laying a lethal chop onto one of them.  I didn’t think to hard about which guy to pick, so just grabbed the guy next to

Me by the shoulders, put him into position, and without much warning at all just gave him a vicious chop! It landed with a crazy loud THWACK that broke through the already insane volume of the music. People didn’t so much stop what they were doing as they did hush, and the guy looked as if he was confused for about a second and a half… then let out a loud roar that would be familiar to any wrestling fan, and which let me know I was in the clear. And then he grabbed me by the shoulders and positioned my body the same way I had his, and I knew I was about to get it. And get it I did. He let out a roar and reached his arm back and leveled me with a chop that sounded a deep THUD. That’s the things with chops. The higher the pitch of the sound they make, the more impressive they sound and carry through a hall, and the more they sting but the less they HIRT. The ones that thud on the other hand are all pain. Everyone in the bar grained, as if to say they felt my pain.

I wondered if he knew what he was doing and if he had done it on purpose. But it was fucking on, so i grabbed him and returned the favor. But I delivered another loud SNAP!! And everyone in the bar roared!! They got it. They knew the SLAP was the desired result.

Before you knew it the entire bar was in chip fights. Thinking back about it now I can’t believe they didn’t put on the song “Everyone Was King Fu Fighting!”

But I doubt the Japanese fellers would have know the words to that one. but Rodney sure would have. He knew the words to EVERY song. Man I miss him. #RodSpeed

Chopping it up with the locals

Writing For Rodney – Day 8

Shinjuku. Specifically Piss Alley. Or, as The Trifecta of our night. And the third night in a row that I had wrecked havoc upon that poor stretch of filth. Piss Alley is a collection of TINY bars and restaurants jammed into a little corner of Shinjuku around the bend from the Robot Restaurant and right by the Red Light District – OPA! They call it that because for years there were no restrooms in any of the bars, so the drinkers had to empty their bladders wherever they could. Rumors persist TO THIS DAY, that I have a video of a drunken Godzilla peeing in the bushes out there from our very night roaming the alleys, but I somehow can’t seem to find it. And what a shame too, because the policeman who happened upon him did NOT seem amused. But this Leopard tells no pee tales. Today.

A quick google search tells me that Piss Alley was formed in the 40s as an illegal drinking area for people who wouldn’t normally have the riches to access such things as alcohol and meat. Int also says that there are “restaurants” among these establishments. But Ive been all over piss alley and never seen anyone eating anything, except for a few flop down drunks who were feasting on a face full of concrete.

But if you’re heading to piss alley with the intention eating, well then you’re not that kind of guy I wanna be doing Sake shots with.  The first night I arrived in Japan I met up with Naughty Nicky and Evil Erin Stern, Badass Jay Belin, MeShuggah Mo Traynor, Juggalo Jeremy Holgerson and a few others too hazy to name for a steak dinner in the Lost in Translation Bar which led to an even hazier off-key romp through a private Karaoke room.  As per contractual restrictions, no pics or videos will be shared from that room. Which is for the best. The next night I hit Piss Alley on my own, which is always when the real trouble happens.

It always starts innocently enough. With a beer. Or two, or three. And then someone starts singing that Lil Jon Nugget SHOTS. Funny thing is, nobody else can ever hear this song. I think it’s just a hallucinatory siren scared up by a mixture of the whistling and my tinnitus. But once you put some gas in the engine, watch out.

I should mention that every bar in Piss Alley has about 6-8 seats packed tightly around a bar and sometimes they cram a few more folks in to cram around them. And now they have bathrooms, because apparently the whole hood compound burned down in the late 90’s and the Japanese Government rebuilt it EXACTLY the way it was, except this time equipped with commodes. Still didn’t stop that dang Godzilla feller though.

My first stop was supposed to be Death Match In Hell, which was closed, as it seemingly always is every time I try and go int here. Death Match From Hell’s theme isn’t death matches at all, oddly enough, but they show a steady stream of awesome horror flicks and play metal. So good enough for me. But seeing as it was closed, I moseyed on down the hall to the “Not Suspicious Bar” Pretty sure that’s the name, because it’s got multiple signs outside that are scrawled with NOT SUSPICIOUS pointing you upstairs. Like the sign says, not suspicious at all.

We Can’t Go On forever…
Caught in a trap, and can’t look back!

Which is what drew me to it last year, and made me bee-line toward it as this year’s first stop. And it was just like I remember it – jammed to the gills, full of drunken tourists wearing plastic tiaras that the barman bestows on the luckiest of lads and lasses, and is also covered inches thick in paper that people write notes and draw dicks onto. Or and onto which they draw dicks, if you wanna be technical about it. But it’s Japan, so Im gonna let a little grammarly transgressions glide by for this gaijin.

That was all well and good for a while. Met tons of Australians and discussed the finer points of the differences between NFL and NRL (Australia’s National Rugby League) and AUSSIE RULES FOOTBALL. And everyone agreed, of course, that Aussie Rules is the best. If you’ve never seen it, here ya go. It’s basically a prison yard version of the old playground game “smear the queer™” Thank me later.

Anyways, why are there so many Australians in Japan you ask? Well, it’s like their New England, or Colorado, or Utah. Namely, the closes place you can go for a is vacation. I was gonna say it’s like their Mexico, but that’s more like Indonesia and Thailand. Which makes me think they have a better Mexico than us., I wonder if Australia is full of amazing Thai and Indonesian food spots. And housekeepers? Who does their gardening over there? And who does their President blame all their problems on? Oh RIGHT! They don’t have any problems, because they don’t have nay guns. Just an infinitesimal amount of critters that will kill you just for THINKING about asking an Aussie where all of the Kangaroos are. Or Koala bears. Turns out they aren’t outside the airport. Or so Ive heard. Ive never even been there. BUT the homie John Joseph told me they have a very progressive vegan scene. A fact that I brought up to one of the Aussies I met which almost got me into a fight. He was SO ANGRY about Vegans, you’d think his tiny wallaby cock was made out of soft Tofu. Which, in retrospect, it probably was, since later int he night when I ran into him again at another bar he kept challenging me to fight, on the basis of me being gay and all. And he really didn’t like it when I pointed out that HE was the one wearing the FINGERLESS PINK GLOVES!! And this was the night BEFORE I was dressed in the  skintight Leopard Print outfit. Oh boy, we didn’t even get into the shirtless part yet. Which didn’t involve that twisted fruit, thank goodness. 

And just like that, we passed the 1,000 words for today. More tomorrow! G’DAY MATE!

Writing For Rodney – Day 7

The Robot Restaurant. The most amazingly ridiculous place in the world. Not sure why they call it a restaurant. Because Ive bene twice and haven’t heard of or seen anyone eating there. What is IS though is an over the top, intense, phantasmagorical assault on your senses, your being, your take on Tokyo, and overall, an assault on any semblance of good taste. Imagine the costumes and colors of Carnivale, the odd view of the future shown in comic books of the 50s, the floats of the Rose Parade, and the gaudiness and commercialism of Vegas all rolled into one. Now add in pounding music, blinding lights, about 100 costumed performers, and a never ending cavalcade of “Robots” all crammed into a subterranean lair, and you’re beginning to get the picture.

I guess the first thing to understand is that there aren’t really any Robots at all, per se.  Which is what a to of the reviews seem to focus on. But there are a seemingly endless array of moderately animatronic sculptures, some piloted by on board humans, and some being remotely shepherded by assumedly Japanese assumed fellers in ninja costumes manning remote controls looking apparati.

But before we get down into the basement, let’s start with the entrance. The whole operation takes top both sides of a narrow Shuijuku alley. But before you even get there you can’t miss the hundreds of signs around the neighborhood that advertise this theatrical bonanza.

“Expect the Unexpected” has never rang so true

Once you arrive you have to navigate the ticketing hall to make your booking, and then go diagonally across the alley and stop in front of a couple of amazon sculptures upon whose laps you can lay in for a pic or two.  Then you can shepherd up a few flights of stars into the “Lounge” Last time I was there the homie Rich jones commented that it appeared to have been furnished in the style of a Turkish bodega. Im. Not sure that they even have bodegas in Turkey. Or that Jones has ever been there. I certainly haven’t, as of yet. But I still knew exactly what he meant. It was literally the tackiest collection of over the top furniture and lights you could imagine. Every color of the rainbow, plus a bunch that have never been seen with human eyes, all blended under about 13,000 brighter than they need to be light bulbs. At the far end of this long room was a stage that had a woman playing piano and a backing band dressed as robots. There was also a bar, because nobody should try to negotiate thins place sober.

It really says something when me in a skin tight leopard suit is the least interesting thing in a room. But it happened here.

Is this seat taken?!

Next apartment I move into I might have to sire someone from this wonderland as my decorator. Or just got to Canal Plastics and Canal Street Lighting in NYC and tell them I want 420 of EVERYTHING in their warehouses.

Toilet anyone?

After spending god knows how many thousands of Yen on drinks, it was time to make the pilgrimage downstairs. A couple hundred of us made a single file line and descended through a seemingly never ending maze of staircases, with each level getting freaking that the last. Gold, silver, lamé, strobes, LED’s, neon, and freakier and friskier pics were passing by in a whirlwind… Was that a Japanese schoolgirl dominatrix riding a dolphin?!?! Why yes it was, and it looks like I’ve also found my next tattoo.

Down I to the main showroom we went. It was a long rectangular room with a set of or 3 tiered bleachers running down each long side.  There were “tables” at each seat, ostensibly to hold the food people might order, but what it really did was to give plenty of room for drinks, in addition to the TWO cup-holders that were included with each seat. Burp.

After a quick round of selling us all MORE drinks from carts they wheeled out onto the performance space, they announced that it was time for the show.

And what a show it was. That doesn’t even do it justice. Spectacle started to cover it. GOD DAMN MONSTROSITY OF AWESOMENESS comes even closer. From the opening bell, it was a non stop cavalcade of kookiness coming through the curtains. The only thing that kept this thing from being non-stop was the fact that they stopped the show three times in the middle to sell us more drinks and let us in to the bathroom. Or at least that’s the convention wisdom. And certainly makes capitalistic sense.

But Im betting more it’s because they knew that if they gave us 60 straight minutes of their “show” that our collective heads would have melted, and then congealed, melted again and EXPLODED. It is literally impossible to overstate how weird this whole thing is. The first time I experienced it I likened it to an acid-trip. The second time, more like DMT.

Almost every contraption is topped by a human, or multiple humans, in incredulous costumes made from feathers and leather and spandex and foam and future minded fashionry. Every one wilder than what came before, and none of them anything close to pedestrian. This made a Tragedy show feel like solo acoustic subway busker in the middle of a transit strike. 

There was also some sort of a “story” they tried to introduce. Something about people from the future trying to enslave humans, and then take the earth from them. Which somehow ended with a woman being eaten by and then carted off in the mouth of a T-Rex. And then some explosions.  But then back to the REAL SHNOW, which was the parade of absurdity.

It’s well documented that Tokyo is a city squeezed for space, where everyone lives tiny capsule sized lives inside of literal capsule sized spaces. But that only begs the question of WHERE do all these Robots come from. There is seemingly no end to the number of the devices. thee must be a multi story garage behind the scenes, plus a mammoth worksop to maintain them all. But come they did, as the finale was just a loop of one after another after another after another until we were all, quite literally, breathless.

Once it was all said it done. We took a few moments to catch our breath, headed back upstairs to the “Turkish Bodgea” to grab a few more drinks, and then led a crowd a revelers to Shinjuku’s “Piss Alley” and byzantine labyrinth of tiny bars… That report will be filed tomorrow.

But if there’s one thing you should take away about the Robot Restaurant, it’s that if you go to Tokyo and don’t make it an absolute must visit on your travel, then Im not sure that you are I are gonna be friends.

Rodney would have gone. And he never would have shut up about it. Be more like Rodney.

Writing For Rodney – Day 6

Anyways, back to Wrestlekingdom.  At the Tokyo Dome. The entire event was a trip all in all. The Japanese crowd might not be as vocal and emotive, but what they might seemingly be lacking in “giving back” to the performers via their outward expressions, some might argue that they actually fuel them with their intense focus, respect, and passion for their art form. While US fans will start random chants, and singing theme songs and start noun sing beach balls around an arena when they aren’t into something, the Japanese fans are ALWAYS focused and attentive on what’s going on in the ring. And that’s got to be a big boost to the performers in it’s own right. In the US it almost feels as sometimes the in ring action is an afterthought, and that the fans are just creating fun amongst themselves, but in Japan all focus is on the ring. And after I while I got that and fed into it. And in a way, that’s very thoughtful since these guys are doing such crazy moves that they are literally taking their lives into their own hands each and every time they step into the ring. So let’s show them a little god damn respect.

The matches went on for about 4 and a half hours total, and the highlights were the opener and then the last tow headline matches, but once I realized that the matches would end around 9pm, I told Rich to be ready at the final bell to hit the road and get out of the stadium as soon as the bell rang, because I had a plan for our second round of the night.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading this that I love to squeeze as much action as I can into a single night. I’ve been described as an “event addict” which is totally true. Show me an interesting event and Im down. Especially if Ive never been. I’ve come to posit that I’ve likely attended more different types of events at Madison Square Garden than anybody else who wasn’t working there. That will probably have to become a post of its own his year. But do you know anyone else who has been to MSG for NBA, WBNA, College Basketball, Harlem Globetrotters, And 1 Mix Tape Tour, NHL, Professional Wrestling, Sumo Wrestling, Bull Riding AND the Westminster Dog Show? That doesn’t even begin to count all the concerts, tennis matches, haunted houses, UFC Fights, motorcycle races and monster truck rallys Ive been to there. And that’s not even all. Like I said, show me a crazy event, and I’ll try it out, at least once.

So of course, if there was a chance to jam some more excitement into a night in Tokyo, you know I was gonna squeeze that lemon til the juice splashed all over my sashimi!

Enter the ROBOT RESTAURANT! This might quite be my favorite place int he whole world, and easily the most insane thing I did on my last visit to Tokyo. And for this trip, I wanted to make sure I did it again. But when I got to Tokyo I found out they were closed for the XMAS and NYE season, which is a weird time for a huge tourist spot to close, but they were… and I was gutted. BUT they had 4 shows on January 4th, though the last show was at 9:45pm, and since the main wrestling card started at 5pm, and the fact that it’s not at all rare for NJPW matches to have main events and co main events that both last close to an hour, I wasn’t sure we would be able to make it.

But once I knew there was a shot, I made sure we both split as soon as the final bell rang, and rocketed right out to the subway line for a straight shot to Shinjuku! Shinjuku is two neighborhoods in Tokyo (and there are probably lots more) that feel like Times Square meets Blade Runner with a dystopian Pikachukian sheen. Totally dang BANANAS. Coming top out of the subway was a sensory explosion of skyscrapers, neon, video screen, flashing lights and more people than you could shake a chop-chop-stick at!

Godzilla and the Leopard hot the streets a running and made a mad dash for the Robot Restaurant. When we got there we were told the show was sold out, and that we could make arrangements to come back another night, but we weren’t having it. This was OUR NIGHT dammit, and as it turns out, was really the ONLY NIGHT as Godzilla Richie was leaving the next night, and I was determined to share this madness with him. This was, after all, his birthday present from me. Well the wrestling matches were his gift anyway, but damn if I’m not gonna go down swinging to extend a part, especially when it involves a friend. We wouldn’t take no for an answer, and finally pestered thew until they decided to find a couple of seats for us.

Before we went in, we got some pics taken out front in the laps of super huge amazon Robot women. There were certainly no shortage of folks in the street willing to grab our camera and take the pic for us, and tons of other folks started snapping their own pics. Man, I figured we wouldn’t even cause a blip running around town in our wacky getups, but boy was I wrong.

Both native Tokyoans, and those who visit Japan, really need to step their game up. Or, maybe, just maybe, I should consider toning mine down?  Hahahahahahah NEVER!!!!!

We were cutting quite the scene out there in the streets on Shinjuku, and that’s really saying something. But it was time to exit the streets and enter the Robot Restaurant. Down into the psychedelic rabbit hole into the belly of the beast. For the most Japan thing that Japan could ever produce. Ladies and gentleman, tomorrow’s installment will be 100% focused on the insanity that is the Robot Restaurant. But for today, here’s a little taste via the pic we took outside in the laps of the Robot ladies…

Just a couple of Tokyo Maniacs out in the wild. Possibly on furlough.

Writing For Rodney – Day 5

Yesterday was jammed packed and I hit the Japanese Trifeca of jamming 3 nights worth of fun into fanatical Friday night. I was up at 6am, damn jetlag, and ended up leaving my room around 8am, wandered around for breakfast then traipsed all over Shibuya and Harajuku looking for a Godzilla costume. I had ordered a dinosaur onesie, but that didn’t really translate into Godzilla as I had hoped, so Rich ended up wearing that one and I found a skin tight leopard print bodysuit with a hood. Needless to say, we made a striking pair.

Harajuku is wild. Takeshita street is basically jammed with the wildest clothing stories selling all the newest and zany Japanese Youth fashions and everyone comes dressed to the hilt. Gwen Stefani famously memorialized these fashionistas in her Sogn Harajuku Girls. First time I went there the only thing I bought was an enamel lapel pin of two bananas… which, also in Gwen Stefani fashion was B-A-N-A-N-A-S! That joke never gets old. To me.

After that I went back to the room, changed into my running outfit and jogged 3 miles along the Sumida River, which I juts had to look up. I had been referring to it in my own head as there Tokyo River all week, and who even knows if that’s a real thing? Hmmm, it’s weird how you can just make things up and go with them in life. But usually Im a pretty firm proponent of facts and research.

After that it was off to the Tokyo Dome for Wrestlekingdom. The Tokyo Dome is a stadium that anchors an entire complex right in the center of the city known as Tokyo Dome City.  It’s where the biggest baseball team in the city plays, The Yomiyuri Giants, basically the Yankees of Japanese baseball. The complex also houses the Japanese baseball hall of fame, seemingly about a million restaurants, and one of the craziest one two punches of amusement park rides I’ve ever seen. First of all, there’s a ferris wheel with no spokes or central hub. Something only the Japanese would dream up. And then there’s a roller coaster that zooms THROUGH the CENTER of the Ferris Wheel. I rode that one last year. To add to my amazement and magic, it’s called THUNDER DOLPHIN!! It was awesome.

But today there was no time for riding roller coasters. I arrived at the Dome at 3:45 and the first match of the night, the “dark mtach” that doesn’t get shown on the TV Broadcast was set to start at 4pm,. And I had to figure out how to pick up tickets, how to leave one for Rich, which wasn’t at all a given considering that not many folks around Tokyo speak English. But definitely more than in NYC speak Japanese, and then I would have to find a store to buy some beer, because THEY LET YOU BRING YOUR OWN INSIDE. And thank goodness they did, because I bought two cans outside for about $2 each (2 cans is the limit) and the ones inside cost $8! Just like home haha… I somehow ended up making it all happen, and got inside just as the first match was getting underway. Phew.

Wrestlekingdom was everything I had hoped it would be. It’s the largest wrestling event in Japan, and dates back almost 30 years, though only under the WrestleKingdom name for the past 13. Over 40,000 people were there this year. For some reason it’s held ever year on January 4th, no matter what day of the week it falls, though this year was a Friday, so that probably added a bit to the energy of it all.

New Japan Pro Wrestling is the promotion that puts it on, and they have been on a. Pretty amazing hot streak over the past few years, and have also made a lot of inroads to the USA, with a weekly TV program on the AXS network, and a decent roster of American and British talent mixing with their homegrown Japanese stars. All this led to there being a sizable Gaijin contingent, and for some reason they had us all set up in our own two sections. That felt a bit weird, ads I had been shop ing to mingle more with Japanese fans, but, well, I was just happy to be in the building.  Apparently they give All the best seats to the fan club members, which you can only be if you are a Japanese resident, and then they also make the rest of the best seats only available on their Japanese language online ticket sales website. If you want to purchase in English (or Chinese) you get redirected through a different company, and, well, that’s how we all ended up together. One of the things that struck me as a difference between the matches in Japan vs the US is that the crowds in Japan are so sedate… which they would probably rather refer to as “respectful.” But it’s a huge difference e, and one that only seemed more present at the Tokyo Dome.

Int he past, at the 1,600 capacity Korakuen Hall, it felt. More reverential, so almost more normal for people to be so quiet during the matched, but in a a huge stadium it felt, somehow, hollow.  If you go to Wrestlemania or even any big arena matches, Monday Night Raw tapings etc, the crowd reacts to the performers every move not only with boos and cheers, but also with heckles and chants, and songs and, well, anything that entertains them. But at the matches in Japan, all you do is clap politely after a move has been performed particularly well, and then again at the end of the contest. I learned that the hard way Thursday night at Korakuen Hall when tow wrestlers started brawling into the crowd and I shouted a bunch of gibberish at the top of my lungs, something that would have been right in place at a US match, earned me. A lot of head turns and nasty looks. Whoops…. Much more to follow tomorrow…

DISCLAIMER: I just got back to LA from Tokyo, and have lived through two Saturdays. Time travel, for reals. So this post was written over what was probably about 38 hours, but it was all done while I was inside of locale time on January 5th. IKm stopping now, mid-story because Im slightly delerious, and will pick back up tomorrow. Not every day is gonna be a winner, but Ill never skip a day.