Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Part II: Of Typhoons and Earthquakes and Tsunamis...The Adrian Belew Power Trio in Japan

Julie Slick and Belew Trio engineer/musician extraordinaire Biff Blumfumgagnge (can I possibly be spelling that right?) at the Tokyo airport and is it just me or are they eerily color coordinated?

Julie sent me an email all about the earthquake and while trust me, I don't make light of this tragedy, her version was just so hilariously Julie that I asked her permission to post some of it here and she graciously agreed.

So without further email from my daughter dated July 16, 2007.

"Hi, Mom:

First things first, of course, the quake: I was sitting in bed when all of a sudden, I felt myself rocking back and forth, side to side. It felt like I was on a boat in the middle of the ocean. I knew immediately that it must be an earthquake. I actually wasn't scared - my body kicked into survival mode. All I could think was: Get Eric (he was in another room) and run downstairs (because we were on the 10th floor). A minute later and I was running out of the door. The shaking got lighter and lighter. I saw Eric and he was just looking around

"What's going on?!?!" I said

"Must be an earthquake - let's get the hell downstairs."

We went down the hall, and it felt like the shaking had really almost dissipated. We saw Adrian at the elevator and he assured us that the shaking wouldn't return (although he's been to Japan 13 times and has never experienced an earthquake). We left the hotel 45 minutes later and hightailed it to Tokyo, where I sit in my room in the hotel writing you (I'll have internet here all week). I still feel like I'm shaking though, and the more I reflect on it, the scarier the whole thing seems. I'm just glad it wasn't worse, and luckily Toyama was the perfect place to be during an earthquake, since it's situated between mountains. It registered a 3 there, and a 6.6 just northwest of Tokyo. Hopefully another one doesn't come now that we're here.

After the show, Iori, Midori, Ito, Sasha, and our other crew took us to a traditional Japanese dinner. The menu was entirely in Japanese, so we let Midori and Iori order for us. As you can see from the photos (Eric sent?), it was playing Survivor or Fear Factor. I tried mostly everything (not the fried creepy fish thing though) and it was actually pretty delicious. In the middle of the meal I really had to pee so I excused myself to use the restroom. We had to take our shoes off when we came in, so I was a little nervous about touching a bathroom floor with my bare feet. Luckily, when I opened the door, I saw two pair of shoes there waiting to be used. Unfortunately, my humungously big western feet would not properly fit in them (see photo for comical evidence). I hobbled over to the stall, only to discover with great shock and horror the toilet situation (see photo). I shut the door and stood in the middle of the bathroom pondering what the hell I was going to do. I really had to pee. I saw another stall, but it was locked - but locked from the outside. In desperation, I tinkered with the latch and got it to open - only to find a washing machine and piles of dirty clothes. Why me? I had no choice...

I returned to the table traumatized and exhausted - I just wanted to go back to the room. But the exotic food kept coming! More fried whole fish, mushroom with live fish crawling over the top, eggplant, cold tofu, hot tofu, peppers, some sort of egg rice thing, little prawns, big prawns, pork in bbq sauce, fish balls, chicken balls, balls balls - finally Martha spoke up and they called us a cab. Eric, Biff and I then hung out for a bit in my room and watched tv.

On tv there seems to be a lot of transvestites. One show featured a shemale who had a group of 12 or so young people behind her, some of them also transvestites, some of them not. She talked to them, but rarely turned around to talk to them. Why? i have no idea. Then they would cut to clips of her doing stuff in crazy outfits - playing baseball, going to the bank, etc. Some of the clips were shots of her talking to a different group of people, but in the same way, in the same studio setting. Very confusing. This was all topped off by the ending: She strapped on a Les Paul, walked over to a stage with a full band awaiting her, then she sang a song with an out of tune horn section but did a pretty sweet solo. Then the show ended. We were all confused, parted ways, and went to bed.

Then I woke up, the earthquake thing happened, and we flew outta there. The planes are awesome - HUGE and there are cameras all over the outside so that when we take off and land you can see it live. When we're in air, they first show the clouds below, then they show some more crazy broadcasting. Today we watched a show about food - I hope it was all about eggs, because everything they made - scallops, beef, rice, noodles, shrimp, was always cooked, and mixed in with eggs, topped with barbecue sauce and mayonnaise, and sometimes with more of that live fish stuff. The music and sound effects were great.

Last night we ate shobu shobu at a nice Tokyo spot. Shobu shobu is the art of boiling beef (thinly sliced kobe), seafood and veggies in water and eating them in flavored sauces (terriyaki, some sort of peanut, and a special garlicky one for seafood). After we ate the meats and veggies, a waitress came over with rice patties and noodles. She placed these in the same pots as flavored water in which we cooked the dinner. From this she made a very tasty and refreshing after dinner soup, which we flavored with salt, gray pepper and a very hot red pepper flake. Then they passed around hot towels and strong tea. Delightful - only one problem... you weren't there!!! You would have loved this meal!!!

And the bathrooms were normal.


Oh god. That really deserves to be in the email Hall of Fame. I have absolutely nothing more to add.

Oh wait. I lied. I do want to say something else. On Monday, Biff put out a desperate plea for help on the Krimson-News website, in particular, Adrian was having major amp issues and they were desperate. I was sitting here idly surfing the web when I saw it, and alarmed over the thirteen hour time difference and their impending twelve shows, I saw that they were Johnson amps so wtf, I took matters into my own hands and immediately went to Johnson amp's website and fired off an email to their customer service department with contact info for Biff, Adrian, Eric, etc. Within minutes, I got a return email from Dean Athens of their company, which basically said:


We are acquainted with your offspring through the School of Rock connection. We have been trying to send emails to Biff.


Digitech Support"

So I sprung into action, forwarded his email to Adrian and Eric, did cartwheels - you name it...anyway, Dean and Biff began an email exchange which ended in a happy ending for all and although Julie and Eric are pretty humble, they reported that the first shows Tuesday night at the Blue Note were "unbelievable" and also, they are being treated like rock royalty. They're playing two separate sets a night and behind the scenes have three people attending to each of them. After the first set, a crew member took Eric's shirt and washed and ironed it for him (!); when J&E left the stage for a few songs while Ade does his solo numbers they were immediately handed icy bottles of water and a literal feast waited for them backstage...all I can say is, they are having an amazing, amazing time and they both agree that the Blue Note in Tokyo is one of their all-time favorite venues.

So thank you, Dean, and I thank you for the other kind words in our email exchange throughout yesterday, where Dean admitted:

"We sent a couple of procedures via email. Whether or not those helped, or perhaps the unaided ingenuity of Biff and his efforts did it, we are glad to hear things are up and running.

And by the way, three cheers to all parents who support their children's musical endeavors. If not for mom and dad's support, I'd be musically poorer.


Dean Athens"

And right now, it's 6:30 p.m. in Tokyo, where the Belew Trio is currently backstage, doing their usual fun and games warm-ups in anticipation for their first show of the evening, which will be in approximately 30 minutes.

Oh how I wish I were there.