Monday, June 05, 2006

Oh, Shirt! (Takadanobaba, Tokyo)

In my previous life as a hyphenated workaholic (film/video producer-media personality-writer) I never had enough time. Now I'm in my goof-off phase. The time I suddenly have is delicious beyond belief. I'm actually spending time on the net, too. That's why I decided to do a blog. I'd been talking about it for a while, but a friend told me about hers and it inspired me enough to stop waiting for a designer friend to help me but to go at it on my own.

Another blog I am a regular visitor to is The Homesick Home. A fellow workaholic clued me into this one when I was telling her how much I miss Japan now that I'm away most of the time. And since becoming a Blogspot Blogger, I discovered My Life with Bad English. I went there thinking it might be a collection of really Bad English but was pleasantly surprised to find it was another Cross Cultural Experience blog. (The Russian dude who posts videos here, tells us the story of when he arrived in the US and went into a place that had tons of clothes. He and his friend ransacked the place looking for a cool T-shirt. Something with English on it. A freaked out woman came out saying "What are you doing here?" "We're looking for a T-shirt!" She realized then that these dudes were not American. "Uhhhh, this is a dry cleaner…" Blogger Dude tells it much better. Check it out.)

I think there is a world wide subculture of Cross Cultural People. Some were always. Some became, later in life. But no matter, we share a common bond. There are things that people who've never really experienced another culture will never get.

But that's not what I wanted to tell you today. The Bad English and T-shirt story reminded me of a T-shirt I made for my (soul)mate Big Dog back in the 80's. He was in a gaijin band called The Flyboys and I made him a T-shirt that said "Flyboy" in Old Japanese Kanji characters. The kind of font you see on Kabuki posters. 飛行少年 If your computer shows kanji fonts, you'll see "hikoshonen" there. Literally, Flight/Fly Boy. But, if you write "hikoshonen" like this 非行少年 it means Juvenile Delinquent. So it was a little pun, a joke.

Big Dog would wear this T-shirt and sometimes Japanese people would come up to him and ask him if he knew what it meant.
"Of course I do. I'm not Japanese."

About a month ago, Big Dog was also here in Tokyo. As we descended from the platform to the exit of Takadanobaba Station, we saw this girl walking in front of us with a photo-worthy message shirt. We had to get a picture. Big Dog dogged her down the stairs and into a kiosk where he snapped this photo. We thought it was quite funny and wanted to share the joke with Shirt Girl. But when Big Dog went up to her to show her the shot he just took, she gave him a quick, disgusted look (it was so unnecessary! your shirt says it all!) and stomped away. She didn't look at her photo. Hey, Sister, if you can't take it, don't wear it!

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