Spring Break ’03 Part 6 — The Long Return Home

I’m bleary-eyed and back in the US of A. Today, apart from the continued illegal war, and a frightening virus sweeping through China, I learned that Hong Kong actor/pop star Leslie Cheung committed suicide today. This sad news made a weird connection with me because the Reuters article [now, sadly, offline] about the incident indirectly quotes the Barnes and Noble web site, which features a bio written by yours truly, back when I was working for allmovie.com. I guess this is an example of the decline of journalistic standards.

Anyway, R and I spent the remainder of my time in Tokyo around Ueno. It’s cherry blossom season there, so we went to Ueno park and looked at the blossoms and thought about the transcience of life. We then looked at the drunk middle-aged men gathered under the trees in the traditional picnic party/drinking marathon on a blue tarp known as Hana-mi and we thought that we should leave.

I bought some pants at the last minute at a store called Muji, which is like Ikea, Trader Joe’s, the Michael Graves section of Target and an slightly more interesting Gap rolled into one. It’s great. Contrary to popular opinion, Japan is becoming a reasonably affordable place for clothes, if you have the right body-shape. Since I’m build like a tall (if hairy) Japanese — Gap clothes look weird and billowy on me as if even pants with a 31″ waists have legs the width of cheese wheels — this place is great.

Somehow in the bizarre logic of time-zones, I arrived in Los Angeles seven hours before I took off from Tokyo. I departed from Narita at around 7pm 3/31/03 only to arrive at noon the same day. Needless to say, my body clock is still higglety-pigglety. The same sextet of loud UCSB college girls sat in from of me who same in front of me on the way over. They all filled out there sweatpants like overstuffed sausage skins as they read People magazine and brayed loudly about boys, partying and tennis. Girls gone Wild in Tokyo. Still nothing short of a projectile vomiting toddler could be worse than the Texan frat boy I sat next to that last time I ventured over the Pacific. For the entire ten hour flight, he proselytized to the guy sitting next to him about the virtues of fundamentalist Christianity and right wing politics. I was hoping the plane would crash just so I wouldn’t have to listen to the guy.

When I arrived, my heart swelled when I learned that I had seven messages on my cell phone’s voice mail. Friends and family wished me a safe return, I thought? A possible job offer to pull me out of my art school penury? No. It was some stoner who thought I was Raymond and, like, was waiting for me on the “second level.”

Anyway, I’m going to start seriously working on this autobiographical essay film that I’ve been thinking about for years and for which I shot 8 hours of footage in Japan. Instead of standard shots of scenic wonders and family, or even trains — of which I shot 14 hours when I was in Tokyo in 2001 — I shot a lot of semi-abstract images of light and reflections. I have no idea if any of them will look good or not, but I might post a few samples.

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