my website riqart.com and my Redeemer comic at The Weekly Revolver.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Big in Japan: True Story.

video


I don't use my blog for personal stories, but this is a tale so tall that I chuckle even just thinking about it.. These events that transpired in the year of two thousand and zero are not endorsed by Blogger and Tariq Hassan makes no claim toward the verifiablility of any anecdote that follow this non-binding and unprofessional intro...

A long long time ago in land far far away( from me now) I was just another Gaijin American trying to make it Big in Japan. I started in Tokyo, and eventually ended up in Osaka, using my trusty Japan Rail Pass that allowed me to walked on any Shinkansen and zip across the country, FREE(it cost several hundred in the states, but one Shink ride could cost that much)

Anyway, at this point I was stilll "small in Japan" so with the paltry sum of yen I possesed, I found the most affordable, um.. cheapest place to stay in Osaka. INTRODUCING the Namba Park Guest House. It was basically a one building slum that was probably owned by low level Yakuza ( but absolutely safe, like pretty much everything in Japan, except for food poisoning.. oops, I digress)

The Namba Park Guest House was truly a sight to see with marble counters( installed several decades previous), wood floors( scuffed), leather sofa( maybe found in the dumpster), Cable TV( the tv actually was pretty good), washers and dryers( in the apt bldg across the street) and personal sleeping quarters( imagine 3X3 foot squares cut into the wall that go back 6ft, and each having it's own door.)

We called the sleeping quarters "the coffins". Imagine a mourge. The squares were 2 tall and 4 across, and opened the door and climbed in.. And this Mourge was a the back of the "house" separated by it's own door.. Claustrophobics had to beware. ( a lot of shenanigans went on in those coffins.. I heard.. :).

Okay just a little more set-up.. Even wackier than the Namba Park Guest House was the collection of characters that lived there. There was Rob( nice laid back from Oz, Australia), Illiterate Phil( Robs best friend from Oz also who spoke in an intelligible Australian accent), literate Phil( from Tanzania, who spoke very clearly and was fluent in Japanese having gone to University there, but bitter at his lack of opportunities in Japan) Japanese guy( can't remember his name, but he would dress up in a pink bunny suit with a tail when they went out on the town-I think he was low level yakuza), and then there were always people in a out hanging around- kinda like friends. I never knew who was actually living there, and who just sat on the sofa all day. Okay.. I'll cut the set-up short.

One day, I'm down and out with some sort of flu/cold/make you feel awful bug. So I'm on the leather sofa just feeling bad. And then someone, I think Rob-nice australian, tell me some dude outside is looking for a black guy.. I guess he knew this would be one of the few places to find one in Osaka(in tokyo that would be no problem) And I ask, "for what".. And the tells me he's looking for a black dude to be in a music video. And of course, being small in Japan, I had to inquire abut the monetary reward for doing such a thing like a music video.. And tells me 10,000 yen, around 100 bucks, and I said "ten thousand yen!?!? GREAT!! I'll do it!" ( remember I was still small in Japan) Quick story, I talk with the dude( I'll call him Producer X) and he says he'll be back in a week or something blah blah.

A week or so later, Producer X does show up, true to his work.. BUT.. The producer or director( someone important to the video shoot) is passing a stone.. He's really apologetic about "wasting my time"( he did know I was small in Japan and had no time to waste) I was pretty happy about the situation because he bought me lunch in the diner down the street.( still small, remember) He said lets do it in a month.

During that month, many significant events transpire

After doing some small "English teaching" jobs, illegally with only a tourist visa, in and around Osaka I lucked out and found a longer term illegal job that paid me enough to happily subsist on rice and bread( there was a bakery across from the small school) Only problem was that rice very expensive there, in my opinion.

At this point I was living at the Greenpeace In Kyoto( no connection whatsever with Greenpeace) It was a slight step up- I actually had a really bunk bed there.. I was in a shared space, but I usually was the only one there, so it was like having my own room. The psychotic house owner/house mom Chikako didn't make things easy, but she definitely made them fun.

Okay Month passes, and I go back to the Namba Park Guest House at the time that I agreed on with Producer X, and yes he also shows up.. And another adventure begins.. Of course the end result is the video that you see- but I'll fill in the details of that later.

But this is the turn that took me on the path that made me Big in Japan!!

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