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Monday, Mar 12, 2007


I’m in a hotel where a full-length mirrored closet gives me a view of the bed. Do I need to think about the uses of that? Not really. Not, at least on this trip. I’m alone and the Internet cable that enables me to access the server doesn’t seem to work. Since I’m alone, it is the first thing I check, even before checking the fridge, washing my face, or using the toilet. My bladder works better than this cable (and at this stage of my life, that isn’t the condition you want your Internet in), so I have to call down to the front desk to get it fixed. Down there it’s called the “Front” (or “furonto” in Japanese). The concierge (or maybe she’s just the staff – “sutafo” in Japanese) comes upstairs to troubleshoot. She’s fast. I just barely have my jeans zipped and buttoned when her knock comes on the door.

Once inside, she does everything that I did: unplugs all the plugs, reconnects them, moves the table away from the wall, wiggles the connection in back. And, when she wiggles it,


everything

wiggles. But we don’t have to get into that. Except that after the wiggling, the connection mysteriously works. She’s definitely a pro. Her wiggles work.


She also did everything I wouldn’t have done – I mean, if I were her. Or “a her”. Namely, she entered the room – a male guest’s private chamber – and allowed the door to close. The last time this all happened—at an airport at Narita a couple of months back—the male staff (sutafo) made sure he left the door open. I think that was intended as a courtesy to me, although I could have had that wrong. Maybe he just had an inflated view of himself. But, back here in the moment, with this female sutafo with the wiggles,  her potential problems are compounded when she moves farther within the room’s recesses, enabling the male guest to become interposed between her and the door. Then (even more egregious—this ought to be a deposit account at the rate that she is compounding) she turns her back on her guest. Finally (and most egregious of all), she bends over at the waist – and, yes, proceeds to wiggle.


Wasn’t there a story like this involving Kobe Bryant a few years back? Fortunately (or not) I’m not that guy, and she (my wiggler) isn’t that girl. And so the result is all very different – for all hands (and other bodily parts) involved.


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Sunday, Mar 11, 2007


This is something that many travelers have to contend with. How about you?


You return to a city where you’ve stayed before and where do you choose to hole up? A place that you have lodged and dined before? Or somewhere else different? Sure, I know that should depend on the quality of times past. And some other factors such as money in your pockets or proximity to those things you have planned this go-round. But, all things being equal – say it was a fine stay before and the place is close to where you will now be gigging – then what? You up for a new experience? Or would you prefer to fall back on what is known, what is safe? What will cause points of least resistance. After all, now you know the route to and from the station, you know the layout of the streets, the location of the convenience stores and the neighborhood noodle shops. You know which dog’s bark to avoid at just which house along the way.


In short, you have sunk time and resources sufficient to now produce economies of scale. Are you now up for capitalizing on the benefits?


 


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Thursday, Mar 8, 2007


What a difference a day makes. Yesterday I was comped at one of Tokyo’s finest; today, on my own dime, I am in one of the more plebian of stop-spots. A difference of 2 stars, but in the end, does it really matter? All we peripatetiques require is a hole to sit over to deposit our wastes, a spigot to cleanse us, a bed to lay our heads on; if possible, a television to enlighten or entertain, a closet to hang clothes so they don’t inordinately wrinkle and smudge, a fridge to store and keep some liquids and edibles cool.


The rest? The bidet, the fully stocked fridge, the movies on demand, the internet hook-up, the room service, the pool or exercise room? . . . In the end, like life, it is only a matter of degrees. Everything beyond basic is merely an exercise in ostentation; leaps in perception.


 


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Saturday, Feb 17, 2007
by tjm Holden

I was in Tokyo for work at The Japan Foundation and ended up at the Mandarin Bar. This watering hole commands the entire 37th floor of the 38-storey building that houses Mandarin Oriental, one of Tokyo’s nascent six-star hotels. Rooms at the MO start at five hundred bucks, which is why I was only having a drink there. As it was, drinks were about 20 smackeroos a pop, which is also why I was there. I wanted to partake of what surely is one of Tokyo’s most expensive pubs. As dear as it may be, if drink is your thing then you should consider going. And if you go I would recommend the Martinis. Ample in portion, very dry, chilled, and shaken, and probably strong enough to stop a rampaging rhino at fifty furlongs.


The Manhattans were not bad, apparently, as the woman seated next to me was quickly learning. Red (were both the drink and her cheeks), with enough whiskey to make “s” quickly transmogrify into “th” (and occasionally x, y and z). This inadvertent seatmate introduced herself as Sachiko (which, soon enough sounded seriously like “Thathiko”) and after the slow dance of “how-and-who-are-you”s, and the magic elixir of a softly-lit, tastefully understated, but glistening, vibrant, barroom full of sleek, well-appointed, self-satisfied people, Sachiko and I were quickly moving toward shoulder-to-shoulder camaraderie.


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