Monday, July 4, 2016

Worldwide Rock N Roll Radio! Now On Air!

Crimson FM "Rakuten Power Morning" (The Mike & Taro Show) has begun! Now on air!

This show is the 1st time in Japan history for a show to be broadcast on radio in Japan and simulcast all over the world on the internet. This is the future of radio broadcasting. It's not streaming. It's simulcast - if you miss the live show, you can't listen later. In fact, we are the 1st and the ONLY one from Japan. If you have Wi-Fi, then you can tune in anywhere in the world.

It's the return of the Mike & Taro Show!「Rakuten Power Morning!」 On air now! Want to listen? On PC「Crimson FM」Go here PC: (Click the red arrow!)

Mike & Taro Show 「Rakuten Power Morning」始まりました!ここにクリック!

聞きますか?ここ:Go here PC

Rakuten Power Morning is on air every Monday ~ Friday 6 am ~ 10 am Japan Time. (Broadcasting live in Tokyo and Osaka from August 1 - Worldwide from July 4, 2016!) Wi-Fi is now the biggest thing to happen to radio broadcasting since the advent of FM!

Click the red arrow.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Short Conversation With a Follower of Islam

I have a friend who has been a close friend of mine for more than 30 years. We worked together, got mad at each other, celebrated with each other and shared dreams.... I knew him when he was a young radical (well, so was I) and since...

He found a religion that fits him many years ago and has since become a very peaceful, sincere and serene guy. 

He's finally happy, it seems.

I'm happy for him.

We had a conversation. For what it is worth, here is that conversation:

Me: "Hey, my friend... How are you? I have a question, if I may. As you probably know, I do not follow any religion (but lean towards Buddhist thought and believe all people should follow their heart's desires. So I am absolutely not against organized religion....I say we should let people worship the way they are happiest - there's enough shit in life as it is). 

Many people want to blame Islam for yesterday's shootings, but, I believe that, just as there are some really lunatic Christian sects, Islam has some too. For example, so-called Radical Islam (as a generalization and possible abstract). I don't think all of Islam can be bunched in and blamed for yesterday. But I do think Radical Islam is a problem for true followers of Islam as well as those that radical Islam seeks to attack. What do you think? 

Of course, the USA bombing, maiming, orphaning dark skinned kids in the M.E. 24/7 over these last few decades has a big hand in making this situation. Anyway, just wanted to know what my devout religious dear friend thought about this."  -Mike 

His answer: "Hello brother. I moved back to Japan earlier this month. America is not my vibe anymore. To my knowledge, true followers of Islam would never commit these acts. Its unIslamic and against the Quran. These acts are political responses to their issues. Some of this activity goes back decades. War is a business. The media is the hypnotizer. Islam is a tranquil religion, i.e. Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, etc.  There are those who use us for political profit and fame." - Muhammad 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I Was a Teenage Punk Rocker - Why Dedication Beats Fanaticism Anyday! Even for Punk Rock or Success in Any Field!

"Do something once or do it everyday." - Andy Warhol

Just like the title says, I was a famous punk rocker... Really.... It's true. I was a famous (sort of) punk rocker.... Woo Hoo! And dedication does matter... Even if it is dedication to something that seems as ridiculous as punk rock...

Early 1980 at Santa Barbara for one of our last gigs

I think that everyone knows that dedication has immense value... It is especially valuable if that dedication is true dedication over the long term and not short-term fanaticism.

I was the lead singer of a famous one-hit-wonder band of the late 1970s. Why were we only "One Hit Wonders?" Because we weren't "dedicated" to what we were doing. We were short-term fanatics. 

By some miracle, or accident of god, even though we were terrible, we sold a sh*t-load of records back then. Bands like the Dead Kennedys or Black Flag were opening bands for our shows. We used to play many shows with bands like the seminal Los Angeles Punk band, Fear. The bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea, was a bassist for Fear at one time.

Left to right: Furukawa Taro, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea, me, George Williams at Tokyo Dome.

Guys like Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedy's and the members of Black Flag, Flea and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are dedicated. That's why they have performed for such a long time. We were fanatics, so we faded quickly into oblivion.

Dedicated people stick with something for a long time. Fanatics are like people who get interested in a new religion one day and they are "on fire" about it for a very short time... Yes. "On fire" is a good description... So "on fire" are they that they also burn out quickly and lose interest. 

The dedicated ones are on a slow, evenly burning flame...

Maybe it's like "falling in love" is comparable to fanaticism; "falling in love" is easy and quick but can end too soon in a sudden fashion. Dedication is like "true love;" "true love" lasts a long time and requires dedication and work to achieve. 

If you do something, anything, try to be dedicated not fanatical.

Back in those days I hung around with lots of kind of famous people. Many of those people who were famous in those days are now dead...

That's me on the left

But the guys in my band (and I) were stupid. A lot of those people from the other bands figured out something that the guys in my band were too dense to realize... What did they realize? Well, it's simple; if you want to be famous and live off of playing music then you have to live it. I mean really live it. You have to dedicate to it. Many people do the talk... Few do the walk. My band wouldn't do the basics. We wouldn't dedicate.

Why didn't we figure out? Well, we didn't figure it out that "Stick-to-it-tiveness" and "dedication" pay off... We wanted the easy way to fame and fortune. It was so easy to make our first hit, that I think it spoiled the hell out of us. We got lazy and didn't work hard. 

What I am getting at is that, "...if you keep to your guns, and do not compromise and work hard, then maybe, perhaps, you can succeed..." If you don't keep at it, then you fail for certain.... 

Is there any business or endeavor in the world that doesn't require dedication and stick-to-it-tiveness?

It's pretty easy when you look at it that way, isn't it? You either do or you don't.

"There is no try. There is only do or not do." - Yoda from Star Wars

May I digress? There is one other reason we didn't succeed; we were conceited jerks. Long ago, I worked with one of the most famous DJs in the entire world, the world famous Rodney on the Roq (Rodney Bingenheimer). He told me, "You have to be nice to everyone because you never know who will become famous or powerful someday." It's true. In show business, you never know who will one day become a famous producer or get married to a powerful person.

It took me years to figure out what he meant. He is absolutely right! Now, I try to be nice to everyone. Even the old cleaning lady who comes to the station to clean up everyday. Who does she come to clean up for? Of course because it is for her job, but she also comes to clean up for us! So we can have a clean environment to work in.

Great ideas and creations do not come from dirt and filth; they come from clean and fresh and healthy ideas and places.

I told the guys in my band, at that time, that "If we just stay together for the time it takes to build a crowd and a solid reputation - maybe 10 to 15 years - even without any hits - we can be famous and live off of playing music all our lives." (Perhaps that's also what Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book "Outliers" that says "10,000 hours of work are required for success in any field.")

But it was not to be for us...

Alas, we were too hard-headed and selfish too see the truth in dedication. My band spent more time fighting over silly stuff like trying to alter other people's behavior to accommodate our own, rather than playing and practicing hard. 

The Rotters 1977 (L to R) Phester Swollen, Johnny Condom, Nigel Nitro (me), Rip Chord

What a waste! Now we are all businessmen and/or unemployed and live with high-blood pressure, stress and all sorts of diseases and sicknesses that are going to kill us ASAP. 

What a fun life, eh?

Now, please allow me to indulge myself and allow me now to ramble quite a bit....

From late 1977 to 1979, my name was Nigel Nitro and I was the lead singer of a punk band called the Rotters. We had a single that sold 600,000 records in Europe; supposedly 1 million records all over the world. (But remember that record labels always inflate their numbers so remove a zero from those and you are probably closer to the real totals! Still not bad.)

It was also the only song by an American band that the Clash played for the BGM of their first American tour. It was also one of the first (and only?) records to be banned nationwide on American FM radio. The song was called, "Sit on my Face, Stevie Nicks." It was a monster hit and why were are called "one-hit wonders."

Listen to: The Rotters - Sit on my Face Stevie Nicks here:

It was all a scam (of course, it was Punk rock, right?)... I think about it now and can't figure out how the guitarist, Phester (real name is Tom) and I arranged all that... But we did. We talked people into recording our record, making a master, and printing it.... All for free...

It was totally DIY in late 1977!

By some miracle of timing, we were lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to be one of the late 1970s Los Angeles punk bands... 

At that time, I had all the most beautiful girls in town as my girl friends (in my vanity I considered them decorations) and our band was hot and famous. We charted on radio stations all over the country and were guests several times on Rodney Bingenheimer's radio show on KROQ and, according to Rodney, "The most requested song in the history of the radio show..." (beating even the Bay City Rollers and the Sex Pistols!).... 

I met the Clash, the Ramones, Blondie, Phil Spector, the Knack (My Sharona) and many others; we played at the Masque for Brendan Mullen with the Germs, the Dils, the Bags, The Screamers; as I said, we often played gigs with Fear, the Angry Samoans, Black Flag (before Henry Rollins) and bands like the Dead Kennedy's were the opening band for our shows!.... I was even at the debut show of the Go-Gos (they were terrible! - but they stuck with it!) and I've gotten high with Dee Dee Ramone and the Ramones many times before and with so many artists that I can't name them all.... In fact, I've even gotten stoned with Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO in Santa Barbara in 1980! All because I was in a one-hit wonder band!

Joey Ramone and I even became good friends one day many years later....

Oh, those were the days, my friends. I thought they'd never end! We'd sing and laugh forever and a day....

So don't you tell me there's no god!

How did that happen?

Here's how: I was a college student in 1977. I was a full-time stoner... I never studied... One day I came home from school "high," as usual, and turned on the TV.... 

TV in those days was sometimes redeeming as I found Monty Python at that time (I have always been an "early adopter") and would come home to watch PBS. There, that day, on the TV was a program about this, "New and sick music craze that was sweeping Britain!" It was Punk Rock. I immediately loved it!

All I really remember was that people had short red hair and were wearing dog collars and jumping around. I'd find out later that it was a video of the Damned live. They were choking each other. 

The announcer was saying how sick these kids were. I thought it was cool. The kids also had cool fashions and wore lots of leather. The bands were real and they were rock and roll. I thought and, as I watched, I felt that I was watching a revolution.

There was a record store in town called "The Wherehouse" so I went there and asked the guy at the counter if they had any "Punk Rock"? He looked at me strange and said, "What?" I said it was a new kind of British rock music. He pointed to the left and said, "The imports are over there!"

I didn't know the names of any of the bands or really what to look for in the import albums but I knew they had short messy hair. I started rifling through the records of guys with nice crew cuts and hippie bands. Then I came upon the first Damned record. The one where they have pumpkin pie smashed all over their faces. I turned it over and there was Dracula and the guy wearing a waitress dress. "That's it!" I thought. So I bought it.

I rushed home and put it on the turntable. Neat Neat Neat came on. I loved it. Soon I took a scissors and cut off all my hair.

That moment changed my life. I became a fanatical fan of Punk rock. Within 3 months, I got together a band and arranged a recording session and we made our first and biggest hit... We toured a lot and played many shows... But my band members fought constantly and weren't dedicated...

And, that, in a nutshell, my friends, is how we became "one-hit wonders."

Phester Swollen, the guitarist in that band is still my dear friend to this day. In early 1980, the famous San Francisco punk band, The Nuns, called us and asked us to open for them. Of course the guitarist and I said, "Yes!" but the drummer and bassist refused to go to SF to open for the Nuns because, get this, they said they had "already promised their friends to go surfing." Idiots. 

That was the defacto end of the Rotters. I was furious. If I knew then what I know now, I would have kicked those two assholes out of the band right there on the spot and the guitarist and I would have gone to SF and performed by ourselves.... Alas, we didn't. We messed up big time.

I fucked up. Really, I should have fired those two idiots. Why? Oh why? Didn't I?

With the White Stripes on July 25, 2002
(Left to right: George Williams, Jack White, me, Meg White) 

That may sound disappointing and it was to me for a long time. For years I was bitter and sad about it until one day, Jack White of the White Stripes - way before they were famous - was a guest on my radio show. When I told him I was in a punk band and what the name of the band was, his eyes grew wide and he shouted, "I bought that record when I was, like 13, I loved that!! I told him how I was pissed off at my failure and he then put his hand on my shoulder and said to me, "Mike, it's better to have punked and lost, than to have never punked at all!" 

Wow! That was like lightening hitting me right between the eyes. He's right!.. I'm glad I was in the Rotters... Too bad, though, it could have been so much more...

Actually our second single did get some airplay and sold pretty well too...
I once saw it in a record collectors shop selling for $250... I told the clerk that I was
the lead singer of the band... He didn't believe me...

Oh, but that's all past now... Long past. Up until a few years ago, the guys in the band had many reunion gigs in the USA, and asked me to come perform, but I never did. The last time I ever played with that band was a few shows in Japan in 1988.

I don't want to do that anymore. It's a good memory and I want to keep it that way.

The point of this all is, like I said, determination and dedication.... Fanaticism isn't necessarily a good thing. Long term thinking, planning and work and practice - no matter what the business - pays off; whether it's music, a new business venture, sports, or a hobby or craft. 

Stick to it. Dedication and hard work pay off... Even if it's only Punk Rock.

NOTE: The above is far too serious. I've always thought that Punk rock should be laughs and fun. If you want a laugh, actually many good laughs, read the below. It is a short recollection of those days by the guitarist, Phester Swollen. Phester has a way with words and this is hilarious! From the online band information site, Break My Face has this:


It was 1978 and rock and roll was the worst putrefying heap of overblown bovine excrement imaginable. Walking into a record store was about as fun as having a raging bout of the Hershey squirts and with no choice but to use a Super Seven gas station toilet that was plugged with some wino's puke and butt blow. Hearing the likes of Peter Frampton, Steely Dan, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and that phony working class schmuck, the Boss, left us contemplating the big sleep to put us out of our misery. What the fuck was this shit? It sure as hell wasn't rock. We were frustrated, pissed off and offended.

Nigel Nitro and I were a couple of nasty film production students at Moorpark College, just northwest of Los Angeles. We stuck out and didn't fit in. Neither of us wanted to make films with a couple of retarded lovebirds walking on the beach to some lame ass Jim Croce ballad. Our goal was to make vicious, stabbing satires. If people were offended we knew we were on the right track. One night we both saw an episode of 20/20 on the lobotomy box ranting on the evils of this hideous new scourge on society from England called punk rock. It featured live footage of the Damned and the Sex Pistols with subtitles for the lyrics so that the world could see how vile and disgusting they were. They hated it. We loved it. If it pissed them off so much it HAD to be good! It had everything we'd been dying to hear for years and besides, any idiots could do it. That meant us, too.

Within a couple of weeks we started The Rotters with another Moorpark film loony, Bruce Brink on drums and Rip Chord on bass. Bruce soon bailed out for fear that the local Oxnard or Ventura hillbillies would kill him for playing punk, a reasonable concern. Rip's friend Johnny Condom took over on drums. Since Nigel and I were both students at Moorpark College we were able to weasel our way into the recording class almost immediately as they were in need of bands to record on the four track. The recording students hated us. We weren't real musicians. We were sloppy, not together. We were out of tune most of the time. We didn't know what the fuck we were doing. But we didn't care. We had a lot of wild enthusiasm and the teacher of the class, Richard Simpson, caught on to this. He told us; "you guys aren't any good, but you have fun and that's all that's really important." Then he encouraged us to put out a single, which he would master for us for free.

We'd played a few volatile shows. After being kicked out of the Mickey Moose disco in Ventura for sucking and being pelted with debris in Anisque Oyo Park in Isla Vista for being shitty, we knew we were good. "Sit On My Face Stevie Nicks" was a standout and the logical choice for the single. It had been written in about ten minutes as one of the worst songs possible while at the same time taking a stab at the big bucks rock world we hated so much. "Amputee", a kind of anthem of the stupid, was on the flip side.

Once we had a test pressing we naively decide we should take it down to KROQ and give it to Rodney Bingenheimer to play. Rodney's show Rodney On The ROQ was THE punk show on L.A. radio at the time. We drove down to Pasadena to the station and snuck in by standing at the back door with a bunch of punk looking guest types. When they let them in, we walked in too. We didn't know it right away but they were the Ramones and Clem Burke, the drummer from Blondie. Even though we didn't have any drugs for Dee Dee, Rodney still played our record and put us on the air with Joey Ramone. Almost immediately Rodney asked us, live on the air, if we liked the Ramones. Nigel and I simultaneously said, "uh... er... we like the Sex Pistols". They broke for a commercial, told us "you guys gotta leave now!" and kicked us out. But the damage was done. KROQ was inundated with requests for "Sit On My Face Stevie Nicks" the next day.

For some strange reason Fleetwood Mac took offense. Well, there's no accounting for taste. It seems this was the era when Mick Fleetwood was boning Stevie Nicks behind Lindsey Buckingham's back and he felt he had to rescue her honor. Christ! As if they didn't have enough problems of their own with all the break ups, infidelity, cocaine addictions and millions of dollars burdening them! They had to throw their weight around and go after some fledgling punk band. I guess it was a case of the big bully beating up the asthmatic wimp on the playground for making a smart ass comment and laughing during his oral report. We soon found we were banned in Los Angeles. Someone claiming to be Mick Fleetwood himself called KROQ and threatened them with a lawsuit if they played the song, then called Nigel at home with the same threat. All the major record stores in Los Angeles were threatened with no more big selling Big Mac albums if they sold our nasty little single. Ooh scary! What a threat. Who the hell bought Tusk anyway? It sucked the turds out of a dead bloated water buffalo's anus. Some stores hid our records under the table like a bunch of pussies and some gave Fleetwood Mac the finger and still got their albums anyway. Then they decided to be less obvious and the doors to a number of the clubs in town closed to us mysteriously.

We didn't really need their help in fucking everything up though. We could do that ourselves. Any money we might have made went into beer. We couldn't play worth shit most of the time, didn't follow any L.A. punk clique rules and were lazy as hell. None of this helped at all. The second single, "Sink The Whales Buy Japanese Goods" b/w "Disco Queen", we couldn't give away. None of us had any use for stacks of the record so many of the 1,000 copies went into the trash. Now it's a coveted collector's item. Go figure. Disillusioned, with our dreams of glory crushed, we broke up early in 1980. However, The Rotters have managed to survive although not with the original line up. But what the hell, how many punk bands stay the same for more than 20 years? The whole idea of middle age punks is offensive anyway. But then again, that's the point.

— Phester Swollen

The first Rotters 7 inch. had at least two distinct pressings. The first pressing says "BANNED" only while the second pressing says "BANNED IN L.A." (pictured above). The second and far more rockin' Rotters 7in. was a single pressing, but with a couple of different paper stocks. The more common sleeve is on standard white stock, the less common is on heavier yellow stock (though either are practically impossible to find). Some copies have both sleeves. Both Rotters 45's (along with several other early L.A. punk greats) have been reissued by Dionysus Records.

Here's a video that I made that has footage of our 1988 show in Japan:

Thanks to Jp Valentine, Kona Cindy and Enrico Ciccu.

For my dear friends Yuri Tsujimoto, Sharon Kennedy and Tom Swollen

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Rodney Bingenheimer in Japan

Rodney Bingenheimer (Rodney on the Roq) came to Japan the other day. Since John Peel passed away, I figure that makes Rodney Bingenheimer the world's most famous DJ. Rodney came to Japan the other day with his friend, Kansas Bowling (she's a sweetheart!) Kansas is a film director and producer (See "BC Butcher") and, since I was Rodney's assistant over 30 years ago, I became his and Kansas' tour guide in Japan. So, since I was the tour guide, I figured I'd better take lots of photos... So here they are (with a few from my friends!)

Here's what Wikipedia says about Rodney:

Rodney Bingenheimer (born December 15, 1947) is an American radio disc jockey on the long-running Los Angeles rock station KROQ who is notable for helping numerous iconic bands become successful in the American market. His contribution to the music business has been described as important. He developed a reputation for being the first American D.J. to identify new artists and play "edgy new bands" such as Blondie, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Guns N' Roses, Duran Duran, The Cure, Joan Jett, Hole, Symbol Six, No Doubt, Blur, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, The Bangles, X and many others.... He was the subject of a documentary... titled Mayor of the Sunset Strip. He was described as a "famous groupie, now respectable" by Mick Jagger and he has numerous high-profile friends. In 2007, he was honored with the 2,330th star on Hollywood Boulevard.

Rodney and Kansas at Tokyo Tower May 26, 2016

I was an unpaid Go-Fer for the World-Famous KROQ's Rodney on the Roq (Rodney Bingenheimer) for about 10 months between mid 1980 - 1981. I would clean up and organize albums that were scattered about in some rooms and also carry records for Rodney to and from his car. The best part of the job was answering the door for Rodney and greeting guests who came to be on his show. Through that I got to meet Clem Burke and Deborah Harry of Blondie, the Ramones, and a bunch of other super famous punk stars whose names escape me at the moment. I also greeted Phil Spector on Christmas of 1980 and when he arrived at the door, he didn't look like a Punk so I was rude to him (like an idiot!) I didn't find out until much later who he was!... Doh! I used to go with Rodney to that all-night diner he likes (Canter's Deli) too after every show. There I met lots of people who were famous or to become extremely famous later... 

Two nice girls at Asakusa who allowed us to take photos.

Rodney and Kansas did the Rikishaw ride at Asakusa

These guys run 15 to 25 miles a day carting people around on the Jinrikisha... As they have done for the last 130 years!

Nakamise Dori

We went to Tokyo's fave punk rock club, The Poor Cow, on the night of May 27, 2016

Rodney and me in front of Tower Records... May 25, 2016

Lunch. Clockwise from left: Kansas Bowling, Rodney Bingenheimer, Mike Rogers, Tatsuji Nobuhara (the Privates), Ken Nishikawa on May 25, 2016... At Denny's in Shibuya!

Rodney and me with David Bowie and Mick Ronson at Shibuya Tower Records.

♬♬No future. No future. No future for you!♬

Classic Japan photo of Kansas and Rodney at Asakusa May 26, 2016. 

Rodney as a guest on WTF? InterFM 897. Back, left to right: Furukawa Taro, George Williams, Mike Rogers

Last night in Japan? My favorite Italian restaurant, Antonio's in Minami Aoyama! General Douglas MacArthur used to dine at Antonio's. It's been there since 1944... Rodney even sat at the very same seat MacArthur used to sit at!!! Well, maybe not the exact same seat! May 29, 2016

Last night in Japan? Karaoke, of course!

Even though I was just a lowly unpaid Go-fer back in the day, just working with/for Rodney - the most famous music DJ in the world today - was one of the best and most fun experiences in my entire life. 

Thank you Punk Rock & Roll! 

Thank you God!

Thank you Rodney! 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Grandfather Dies. Father Dies. Son Dies. Grandson Dies: This is True Prosperity

An ancient Zen Buddhist story goes like this:
A very wealthy family in China bought a large farm and built a beautiful palace upon it. They wished for good luck, health, and fortune, so they decided to ask a famous Zen priest to write a scroll for them to hang in their den. The priest accepted the job and went back to his shrine to pray for enlightenment.
After a few days, the priest returned with the finished scroll and the entire family gathered around in great anticipation to see the words that the priest wrote for them. The priest said a short prayer and opened the scroll and hung it on the wall.
The scroll said:

Grandfather dies. 
Father dies. 
Son dies. 
Grandson dies.

The entire family was furious at the priest. They shouted and demanded that he go back to the shrine and rewrite the scroll for them.
As the priest was rolling up the scroll, he sighed and said: “I will rewrite the order of names on the scroll in anyway you wish. But I think there can be no other sequence. If all die in this order, I think that is true prosperity.”
My own mother died in a freak car accident in 1994. Of course, I was crushed. I was in Japan and she was in America.

After the car accident, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital. I understand that she floated in and out of consciousness before she died. Since I was so far away, I had no way of seeing her, holding her hand, and saying: “I love you mom. Thank you for everything.” But at least I can be thankful that my father was there to do so when she went away. Many people who die are not fortunate enough to have a loved one with them, to hold their hand, to whisper in their ear: “I love you. We all love you…. Please rest. You may go now.” And with words like these, my mother “let go” and passed away. I will always regret that I couldn’t be there with my mother in her time of need. I thank God that my father could be.
There are too many people in this world who die alone. Could there be a more woeful way to die, than when loved ones cannot be there by your side to say their last, “Good-bye”?
After my mother died, though, I was angry. I was angry at the world and I was angry at God. For months after my mother’s death I had recurring nightmares and the most bizarre dreams. Many of the dreams involved times when I was a boy. I would be playing in a playground and I would see my mother on the other side of a fence. I would cry out, “Mom! You’re back!” And I would begin to sob uncontrollably. My mother would grow angry at me and she’d start to leave. I’d cry out again, “Mom! Come back!” As she walked away, she would turn around, look at me, and always say the same thing: “I cannot come to visit you, if you are going to cry every time I see you.” And with that, she’d disappear into a field of tall grass.
I would always promise not to cry the next time. But I couldn’t keep my promise. I think I saw this same dream just about every night for at least six months.
Then one night, I had the most bizarre dream of all. My mother, as usual, walked away because I was crying, I was on my knees. I had my head in hands to try to hold back the tears. And then suddenly, I found myself in a huge chamber. It was like a colossal courtroom. I looked up and there was an old man sitting in a chair, looking quite frustrated and irate at me. He was massive in size. He was huge, at least 40 or 50 feet high and he was sitting down! He was brushing his beard and looking at me as if he was considering what to do.
I knew exactly who he was, yet I was not afraid of him; I was furious.
I shouted: “It’s not fair! It’s not fair that my mother died in an accident. My mother was still young and healthy. She should still be alive you bastard!” The old man just stared at me. I continued to shout at him. And I began to cry.
Then he calmly said: “So you think it is unfair that your mother has died?”
“Of course it’s unfair!”
The old man sighed and said, “Very well then, I shall allow you to be reborn and I will give you a different mother, and that mother will still be alive today. Would you find this acceptable?”
“A different mother!?” I said. “No… No, thank you.”
I suddenly awoke from my dream. I was in tears.
I pondered this strange dream for many weeks after that. Then it dawned on me: Instead of being angry that my mother died in an accident. I should be thankful for all of the wonderful times we spent together, all the hugs and bedtime stories. All the laughs and the great dinners. All the special times that my mother made me feel special, and all the other times she cheered me up when others did not. I should thank God for all the wonderful memories I received from being the son of this loving woman. She was always there for me when I needed her. And now, whenever I see her in my dreams, I do not cry. In fact the dream I often have with her now is one where I am on her side of the fence and we are sitting in the field and having a picnic and smiling together.
I haven’t seen my mother in a while, but I look forward to the next time I do.
I told this story to a priest who has become my friend. He asked me to show him a photograph of my mother. I did. He said: “Your mother was a very beautiful woman. Always keep this image of her in your heart. You are most fortunate that it is you, and not her, who has but memories and a snapshot.”
“How profound!” I thought. And I have always kept his words of wisdom in my heart. I share these words with my friends whose parents have passed away.
If only I could have been lucky enough to be there to hold my mother’s hand and be able to say, “I love you” when she passed away. How thankful I would be; thankful for that moment that I could be there. But I wasn’t.
But she was there to share and be a big part of my life.
I wouldn’t trade those photos or memories for anything in the world.

Would you?
My mother and father sometime in the very early 1950s.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ghostroads - A Japanese Rock N Roll Ghost Story Movie Trailer released!

The trailer for the movie I am making is finished. Please check it out. It features some of Japan's best rock n roll bands.

The story is about a struggling artist who buys an antique guitar amp that comes with some bizarre surprises!

Ghostroads - A Japanese Rock N Roll Ghost Story

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Donald Trump, Border Wall, James Santagata and Me

My good friend, James Santagata, a top-of-the-line professional business consultant, often posts comments that make people squeamish. He has posted another outlandish one today. As always, James is concerned with cost-performance.

Actually, it seems he (nor I) try to entertain, nor deal with subjective morality or reasoning....

I think some people get mad at his posts. I usually laugh.

Today he posted:

"Border Wall? Why are so many pushing for such an expensive solution? I'd settle for concertina wires and landmines. Cost effective and still superior to the watering stations that exist now. But that's just me."

Chuckle. I can see the PC crowd getting into a major huff on that one. He isn't talking about anything excepting cost-performance.... 

Immigration is not the issue here.

Not being a guy to take this sort of inflammatory rhetoric lying down, I responded:

"An exploding landmine that doesn't kill but blows off a leg or two, or sends a 1/8 inch piece of shrapnel rocketing through a left eye, leaving some guy screaming to high hell is a very effective method of "getting the word out" and promoting your product to other people around you. 

My dad, who fought in Korea, once told me that he thought it might have been an early method of Buzz Marketing."

I wonder if a big wall between North and South Korea in 1950 would have prevented the Korean War?

Just thinking from a different perspective, or at least, showing dear reader how most successful businessmen and entrepreneurs think. 

That's all.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Baby Metal is the Ultimate Corporate Musical Act

Baby Metal is not a "Metal Band" in the way we think of most metal bands; High school dropouts in need of a shower and haircut who listened to too much Metallica and AC/DC in school and then one day got together in their dad's garage to make head-banging screaming noise. 

No. Baby Metal is better. Baby Metal is three girls, who never listened to metal music, who were put together as the result of a Japanese record label business meeting where executives plotted in a smoky backroom to decide what kind new Japanese Idol group they were going to create and sell. And they would do so attempting to emulate the quality production evident in many Korean Pop projects.

In my most probably confused opinion, there is not much difference between your average Japanese Idol group and the next. I also don't think there is much difference between Baby Metal and the more immensely popular (at least in Japan) Japanese Idol group AKB48 excepting uniforms, dance steps and that decision by those back room executives as to the "type" of music that would accompany these projects.

Of course I wasn't at any of these Baby Metal meetings but I can guess that: 1) None of the 3 girls in Baby Metal had any input as to the musical direction of this project; 2) None of the Baby Metal girls write or compose any of the songs. 

Generally, speaking, I think many music fans in Japan don't care if their favorite artist writes their own music or not; the average Japanese music fan likes image over substance any day. Then there are those negative nellies who like it when artists write and perform their own music. They claim that an artist making their own songs is more "real." Can you imagine? I wish Justin Bieber would get someone else to write his songs for him; that would make him even better than he is now!

Alas, Japanese Idol singers don't write their own music... So does that make their music "fake"?

Perhaps. But it's not any more or less fake than 99% of the other crap you hear on your standard run-of-the-mill FM radio Hit Parade of Hell countdown program.

"The Japanese Pop Music industry is all that the pop music industry in the west aspires to be: Conveyor belt produced corporate schlock shoved down the throats of the unsuspecting masses." - Me

It really astounds me that people in the west like Baby Metal. I don't know any music fans in Japan who like them (there must be some.) I do know many so-called "serious" music fans in Japan (folks who work at record stores, "Music is my life" types, etc.) who absolutely hate Baby Metal.

I think most of us in Japan scratch our heads when we hear that people in the west like Baby Metal. I don't really care for Baby Metal just like I basically don't really care for all Japanese pop idol groups; I think they are the same thing. Just like I think Justin Bieber and New Direction are the same thing; but most of the fans of one or the other will surely protest.

Baby Metal is a Japanese Idol Pop outfit. It is "metal" with some Japanese "schoolgirls" "singing" over the top (Lolita Complex is strong in this one) with plenty of autotune, all created artificially by some record company so they can flog it to the Western version of "otaku." 

NOTE: ("Otaku" translates into "geeks" or "nerds" but there is a fundamental difference between Japanese otaku and geeks or nerds in the west. Japanese otaku are generally perceived as overweight guys, with a zero love life who read too many comic books and watch too many anime and spend far too much time gaming. Western geeks and nerds, might play games and watch too many anime too, but geeks and nerds in the west are generally considered intelligent. I mean, geeks and nerds in the west are the types who are president of the science or math club in high school... In Japan? otaku, well, otaku play too many games and read/watch too many cartoons and comics.)

Classic Baby Metal lyrics such as these are sure to invoke strong emotions:

C! I! O! Chocolate! Chocolate!
Cho, cho, cho,
Is it OK?
But, you know, recently I worry about my weight 

Deep! Bobby Dy----lan! Move over! You've met your match! It don't get much better than this!

Some might say the lyrics are atrociously bad. Not me. Baby Metal and AKB48 are all a sales pitch. And the public are buying, right? So what's the problem? Perfect!

But, really, western music fan, if you are going to go bananas over Baby Metal, then you should be a hardcore fan of AKB48 too. They are, de facto, the same thing (excepting AKB48 videos are more akin to softcore porn). Check it out. Here's an AKB48 video that has almost 100 million views: (You must watch for at least 1 minute or you get penalized!): 

This is the same thing as Baby Metal, excepting, as I said, dance steps, uniforms (and the AKB48 girls are much prettier and much more famous) and the style of music that was decided in the backroom of some record company by some cigar smoking executives....  a decision, of which, these girls played absolutely no part in. Cool, eh? A perfect pop formula.

Baby Metal and AKB48 are manufactured music projects from the get go. 

I think I can say in the defense of Baby Metal is that (if you do consider them metal - I don't) is that "Metal" has always been absurd, over the top pretentious and ridiculous....That is what Heavy Metal has always been. 

Just ask Spinal Tap… 

And finally, one last thing in their defense: the success and acceptance of Baby Metal by westerners shows us one thing if nothing else: The Monkees were waaaay ahead of their time.

Pop music really is just one big joke. So is metal music.... 

But I figured in the case of metal music, westerners had always known that.... 

Maybe not, eh?

- Thanks to Apryl Peredo