Friday, July 13, 2018

Raindance Film Festival: Confessions of a Sandwich Sign Man

I was hoping my parents never found out about this... But I can't live like this anymore; I can't live with hiding who I really am. I am coming out now for the entire world to see. 

I will admit it... I was a sandwich sign man.

In front of the Vue Theater at Raindance Film Festival Sept. 21, 2017, London, England. (Photo by Vertic Arts Gallery)

Sure, you've seen us before. You know, you consider all of us losers, those near homeless guys who stand on the street sandwiched between two cardboard signs selling this or that... 

We are thought of as the deepest depths of a loser class; a job with a pay minimum lower than the minimum paying job. The lowest of the low. The worst of the worst.

But that was my job; sandwich sign man, and I am damned proud of it and this is my story.

I did it my way.

By some miracle of God (or most probably a clerical error) a film I made with friends was selected by one of the most famous film festivals in the world; the 25th Raindance Film Festival in London. Sure, you've heard of it. Who hasn't?

The festival ran from Sept. 20 ~ Oct. 1, 2017, at a venue called The Vue Theater in Leicester Square (the British spell things in a strange way, so let's just call it "Lester Square.")

I kissed the wife, kid and dog, goodbye then packed my bags and was on a jet airliner, on my way to England, the land of many giants of world history: Churchill, Cromwell, Isambard Kingdom Brunel,.... Eric Idle. 

I arrived at the theater hoping to promote my film by pasting posters all over the place. I had been in a punk band in the late seventies so I was used to ripping down other bands posters and putting up my own. I figured I'd do the same thing at Raindance.

But, it wasn't 1977 anymore. The theater had those new-fangled electronic posters on the walls; they didn't use paper posters anymore. Paper posters were verboten.

Gee! I had arrived a few days early to promote and then was told I can't promote as I had planned... Dejected, I hung around the festival and tried to get free food and drinks.

While I was floating around the venue, I made several good new friends. They were there for the festival with their films too. I asked them how they were promoting and they all told me that they weren't. Not at all. I thought this was odd. It wasn't what I was told by my movie sensei, Stephen David Brooks director and filmmaker (whose most recent work, Flytrap, has won a dozen awards at some famous film festivals such as Chelsea in New York!) 

Let me rewind here a second. When I found out we had been selected for Raindance, I called "Stephen sensei" and asked him what I should do. Since Stephen has won more awards than my mom has Tupperware, and has been to many festivals, I figured he'd have a tip or two. He did! He was the one who told me to take posters to hang in the theater. He was the one who gave me all the good advice for little promotional goodies to bring. He was the one who told me, "It is the filmmakers' duty to get butts into seats to view the films." 

I didn't realize that. I thought the film festival would fill the seats! But no! It was the duty of the filmmakers to sell tickets!

Anyway, while I stood around in London at the theater, wondering what to do for promotion, some of my new friends told me shocking news: they had been to some film screenings and, in a theater that seats 200 people, there would only be three to eight people in paid attendance!!!!

What?! Only three people? Only eight people?! I was shocked... Well, no... Not so much shocked, but scared!

My life flashed in front of my face. I thought about my wife. She's a smart woman. What would she say if I had spent three years of my life making a movie, spent $2000 going 6000 kilometers to the other side of the earth only to have it viewed by four people (including me?) 

By the way, the number four also means "death" in Japanese. I could see my death. If only three people came to see my film after all this rigamarole I'd have to kill myself by hanging from the London Tower! (Say! That's a good promotional idea!)

So, with that, I decided that's what my mission was: I had decided to sell out our screenings or, if I couldn't, to at least give it the good old samurai try. 

I think that is the attitude of a professional.

I decided that since we couldn't hang posters, I'd take my biggest poster and make a sandwich sign. Then I'd stand in front of the theater wearing the sign every day. 

I went to an art shop and bought the supplies for making the sandwich sign. I then went home and constructed it with more loving care than mom making Christmas dinner. The next morning, I went back to the theater with my sign and put it on and I stood there; in the heat and the sun... 

I hadn't decided how long I was going to stand there in my sandwich sign, but across the way, I noticed another guy hawking tickets for a discount ticket store. This guy was standing there like a statue with the tickets in one hand held way above his head. I tried that for a while with my small sign, but after just a few minutes, my arm was exhausted. This guy across the way was doing it for hours on end and he barely moved. I began calling him, "Ironman."

My legs hurt after a little while, so I began fidgeting around; I also had to take a break every two hours. Not Ironman, though. He took no breaks that I saw. Ironman stood like Nelson's statue at Trafalgar Square; tall and stoic. Nelson, as you might know is the famous British admiral who is known for winning the Battle of Trafalgar Square... (snicker!)

From that day on, Ironman was my inspiration. Because of him, I would stand in front of the theater with my sign for five or six hours every day. Ironman, on the other hand, was out there for at least 8 or 9 hours. He was a real pro. A real inspiration to all of us who had to stand there advertising the old fashioned way; the way of real men.

With Ironman (not his real name). Sept. 23, 2017

There were several things I learned from being a sandwich sign man; first off, we are faceless and considered a curiosity by most passersby. Think about it, no one looks at our faces, they see some guy standing there with a sign. It's like the view of a time machine into a better time in the past. So I wondered why other filmmakers are so self-conscious and embarrassed that they refuse to promote their own films in this way? Nobody really cares what we do. Nobody watches us as much as we like to think they do.

There really is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Also, people think sandwich sign man is an expert of the local geography and knows where everything is located. I was approached by literally dozens of people every day asking for directions. Of course, when the beautiful girls all approached, I tried to help but, yeah, I was basically useless... I didn't even know my way back to the subway station.

With beauty queen and dancer/filmmaker Tim Lo. 

With Kosia Sawicka. See? I told you all the hot women wanted to know sandwich sign man! (Photo by Hendrik Frentrup.)

I was, though, a curiosity to the other people at the film festival. Some said sandwich sign man inspired them, some laughed; others ridiculed me (really). One time two young filmmakers walked past me, pointed at me, and one said, "That's what we should be doing. I wonder how much that costs?"

Being an old punk from the late 1970s early days of punk, I thought, "It doesn't cost anything. It's free. Have you guys never heard of D.I.Y.?" Even Joe Strummer of the Clash never forgot his D.I.Y. roots and often made the pin badges and items for the band by hand - even after they were really famous.

On the day that I was informed that the World Premiere of my movie, "Ghostroads - a Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story" was sold out. I felt redeemed. 

Ours was one of the few that sold out. In fact, both our regular screenings were doing so well (thanks to sandwich man?) that a third screening was added. I was told that the third screening being added was only the sixth time that's happened in the 25 year history of the Raindance Film Festival.

Maybe Sandwich sign man is an embarrassing job. Maybe it is low class... But there also is an old saying, "He who laughs last, laughs best." When I found out we sold out opening night, I had a hearty laugh.

Sandwich sign man caught on video Sept 22, 2017

A lot of people think sandwich sign man is a pretty easy job, but it isn't what it seems. It is quite difficult to stand outside in one place for several hours. A sandwich sign man has a sort of unspoken agreement with the public so beautiful women are often approaching us and asking for directions. Our sandwich sign is a sort of mark or sign of trust: It says, I'm here. I'm me. Go to the restaurant I'm advertising or "Go see the movie that I am hawking"... 

It also shows the mark of someone who just might not be what he seems.

Thanks, Raindance Film Festival. I can truly say that I have done something that very few people will ever experience in their entire lives: I was a sandwich sign man in London's Leicester Square.... And it was a fab experience I will never forget.

Ghostroads - a Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story (trailer): (


I Interviewed Johnny Rotten - the True Story.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Japan? Samurai, Ninja, Geisha and Benshi...

In the old days (1908 ~ the 1930s)、during the heyday of Silent Films, there was no such thing as subtitling of movies in countries like Japan (that loved western culture). 

Also, as in the west, pianists or string quartets would accompany the Silent Films (Until the music started recording those soundtracks in 1923). So, how did, say, Charles Chaplin or Rudolph Valentino, become worldwide stars when people couldn't understand the silent movies? Or the cards that were inserted into the films to explain situation or dialogue? 

There's no way the average Japanese could read this back then... 
Heck, it would be troublesome today!... Wait a sec... You guys all read English...
Imagine if the cards said this:
Get it? They could be on the screen for 2 minutes and it wouldn't matter! Chuckle!

Outside of English speaking countries, the films were narrated and explained by what is called, "rhetorician." The Merriam Webster dictionary defines, "rhetorician," as a: "master or teacher of rhetoric; an orator." Or "an eloquent or grandiloquent writer or speaker."

In Japan, these orators were called, "Benshi." 

Benshi (stage left)

The Benshi would stand on the stage to the side of the screen and explain the situations in the movies and even add in character dialogue... 

Some of these benshi were incredible at what they did; many became superstars in their own right. In fact, these benshi were responsible for people like Chaplin or Valentino becoming famous in Japan. Many fans came to see the Benshi, not so much to see the Hollywood stars! Chaplin or Valentino or the rest were the side acts... Many people came to be entertained by the oratory of the legendary Benshi...

For many people in Japan, it was the Benshi, not the Hollywood stars in the movie that was the main reason for attending the theaters back in old Japan in those days. 

I believe, as far as cinema and the mass media, the rhetoricians, the Benshi, were the very first in the evolution of today's voice actors. 

Thirty years ago, in Tokyo's Asakusa district, there was a theater called, "Kaminari Theater" (Lightning Theater) and they used to have performances just as they were held during of the heyday of silent films: They would have evenings set up to recreate the exact experience and event of Benshi and Silent Films from the 1920s. 

In the old days, in Japan, going to the cinema and seeing a Benshi was a premium experience for the high-class; people would have dinner and champagne or sake while watching the Silent Films.

I went often to those recreations in the 1980s.

Kaminari Theater used to show these Silent Films with quartet & Benshi. When the films were over, I was so impressed, moved and inspired, I had tears in my eyes. 

Benshi: Sawato Midori

If this is difficult for you to comprehend, about the Benshi, here's an example: It might be difficult to understand because it's in Japanese, but watch this lady, Sawato Midori, she is awesome. At the very start, she does the voices, of the daughter, mother, sister; then she goes on to do the voices of the samurai men who are fighting... And then flawlessly back to the narrator.

Here is Sawato Midori who is probably Japan's top Benshi.... Even today! She's an incredible talent, :

I met some executives at a silent movie company in Tokyo the other day and am attempting to arrange a showing of, perhaps, a Chaplin movie (and an old samurai movie) with a string quartet accompaniment and a Benshi for our Mt. Fuji - Atami Film & VR Festival and other Japan film festivals planned. 

The events will be promoted just like the above explanation. They will be promoted as something like, "A time trip back to Japan of the 1920s." 

The shows might include a dinner (like the food they ate back in those days) and drinks.. Drinks from the 1920s: Salty Dog, champagne, rice wine.

After everyone is served, the main event starts: A Harold Lloyd, Chaplin or Samurai Silent film with quartet and Benshi... 

Everyone can experience the past and even foreigners will like it as the Samurai movies even have English subtitles in most cases movies and the Chaplin films have the dialogue and situation card inserted. 

I think this would be the most fantastic theatrical experience! 

Time trip back to the days of the Silent Movie stars, dinner, the show featuring a string quartet and the Benshi!

A once in a lifetime trip to a better time and an age long gone by.

Form more information about the Mt. Fuji - Atami Film Festival see:


For more information about Mt. Fuji Atami Film & VR Festival

Please, come and "Follow" our Twitter page:

And, we have a Facebook page too!


This post is dedicated to Stephen David Brooks, Koji Kamibayashi, Sawato Midori, My wife, Candice Anne Marshall, Scott Hillier, Giedre Bumbulyte and Elliot Grove.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Japanese Have No Holes in Their Socks

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

My mom was Japanese. I was raised with the idea that it is unquestionably taboo to wear shoes in the house. There is absolutelynothing in the entire world that you could do that is worse than wearing shoes in a Japanese person's house. Nothing. The dog craps on the living room floor, set the house on fire, earthquakes, tsunamis, whatever – they do not compare with walking into the house with your shoes on. It is the unwritten law of the land for Japanese people.

It is so forbidden that it doesn't even matter if no one is home, you cannot enter a house with your shoes on. I have heard stories on TV news where they talk about burglars entering someone's home to rip them off and yet the burglars remove their shoes when entering the houses. I'm not making this up. This shows just how engrained in the Japanese psyche removing your shoes, as a sign of respect, is in Japan. Entering someone's home with your shoes on is just not done here. Period.

Because I was raised in a house with a Japanese mom, I believed that everyone thought this way. That is, until I got into high school in Southern California – and made friends with some typical Southern California kids.

Southern California people are a strange breed. The typical Southern Californian will wear their shoes indoors, but go running around outdoors barefoot. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? I remember inviting a friend over to my house one time and I told him that he had to take his shoes off before entering. He didn't want to.

"But my feet are dirtier than my shoes." He insisted. Well, maybe in his case that was so. One time when I visited his house it was so filthy that I didn't want to take my shoes off. He opened the fridge and took a big swig straight out of a carton of milk. He wiped his mouth with his shirt sleeve, then as an after-thought, he held the milk carton towards me and asked, "Oh? Do you want some milk too?"

"Uh, no thanks." I said. Not only did I not want any milk, I didn't want to touch anything at that house. The grime in that place gave me the willies.

What a pig sty! I took a shower as soon as I got home.

I had always felt strange when I would be visiting someone's house and they insisted that I keep my shoes on when I walked inside. Frankly speaking, I find that a bit disgusting. When you are walking around in your shoes outside, you are stepping in all sorts of dirt and debris. And when you stop to think about it, you are also stepping in all sorts of specks of animal excrement, human spittle, gum – Lord knows what else.

So why in the world do people wear their shoes into their homes? Aren't shoes to protect your feet when walking outside? I never understood this kind of thinking when I lived in the USA and I even understand it less after being in Japan for so long.

You would be surprised at the look of complete horror on a Japanese person's face were you to step into their house with your shoes on. That is an absolute no-no. But, really folks, if you had one iota of common sense, you'd understand. Only savages, barbarians, and the French, wear their shoes inside the house.
Recently, I've been wondering how is it that the Japanese became this way? Certainly Japanese dwellings had dirt floors a few 1,000 years ago. Did they take their shoes off then?

Nearby by my house is a traditional Tatami maker's home and business. Tatami is the traditional, uniquely Japanese, flooring that you can find in any Japanese home or apartment. Tatami is a flooring mat made of woven rice straw and covered with woven rushes, and they are used to cover the floors of Japanese houses.

I found it interesting that there would be a tatami maker so close to my apartment here in Tokyo in this day and age so I went over and asked about business. The shop is called, "Ishii Tatami Ten" (which translates into "Ishii Tatami Store"). There I found the father, Ken Ishii, with his son, Takuya, hand-weaving tatami like they do everyday, like their family has done everyday – at the same location – for over 90 years. The business was first started by the father's great grandfather and passed down through the generations. Both father and son seemed to take great pride in their work – as they should. They showed me how tatami is made and, after watching for a while, I now consider tatami as a kind of art.
Business seems good for the Ishii family. Even though modern Japan has wooden floors in most new homes and apartments, there is always at least one room with tatami flooring. My home has both Western style rooms, called "Yo-shitsu" and Japanese style rooms called, "Wa-shitsu."

Tatami has been used by the Japanese for more than 1,000 years. At first, only warlords and kings used it as an ancient king in Western civilization would use a special chair. In ancient times, in Japan, the person sitting on the tatami was sitting on the throne. The nobility would use the tatami to receive guests. All would understand that the person sitting on the tatami was a king, prince, or leader of a powerful samurai group. Whereas in the west all would bow down in front of a pompous fat jerk sitting on a throne, in Japan they'd have to touch their knees on the dirt in front of a pompous skinny jerk sitting on a tatami.
In the 16th century, tatami, became widely used by the samurai and the merchant classes. Rooms with tatami were considered rooms to be used for important meetings and ceremonies. The rise of the popularity of the very spiritual Tea Ceremony also gave a boost to the wide-spread use of tatami.

Also, since tatami rooms were used for ceremonial purposes, these were the rooms were the samurai would commit "seppuku" (uh, hari-kiri) whenever they screwed up something big-time. Think about it: You go into the clean room to kill yourself – spilling your innards all over the tatami floor – That's okay. But don't you be wearing your shoes when you do it. And it is true, when Japanese commit suicide, they will always remove their shoes first. Go figure.

By the 19th century, tatami was used in all Japanese homes and became an integral part of the fabric of Japanese culture. It is still, to this day, the room to be used for important family discussions.

Tatami is perfectly suited to Japan's climate and to the idea of not wearing shoes inside the home. Tatami is soft and retains heat in the winter, while being cool in the summer. I especially enjoy the fragrance of tatami. It reminds me of the smell of freshly cut hay.

Also, since Japanese apartments and homes are small, tatami is better suited for various uses. A tatami room, with a futon rolled out, may serve as a bedroom at night. In the morning the futon is rolled up and the room may be used for many purposes. This couldn't be done if there were a bed in the room.

The father of the tatami shop, Ken Ishii, told me that there will always be a future for tatami in Japan as it cannot be manufactured by machines. Each one must be hand made to fit the various special sizes and requirements for certain rooms. No two tatami are alike.

Not only that, but tatami are relatively inexpensive. Depending on quality of materials, one tatami mat cost anywhere between $100 to $500 per piece. Most rooms in an average apartment in Japan are about six tatami.

So tatami fits perfectly with the Japanese temperate weather, and is woven into the culture. It is unthinkable to wear shoes in a Japanese home and especially in a tatami room. This is also why you will never see a Japanese person who is wearing socks that have holes in them. The Japanese consider it quite embarrassing to have to remove their shoes in front of a host only to have holes in their socks. The only person I have ever seen in Japan wearing socks with holes in them was me.

This leads me to ask, in Japan, which came first: The tatami or the socks?

By the way, the son tells me that the Japanese did indeed take their shoes off inside the house more than a thousand years ago when the floors were dirt. He said, "The dirt inside the homes and the dirt outside the homes was different." I'm sure that is probably true – and how perfectly Japanese

(This article first appeared on Lew Rockwell)

Saturday, June 23, 2018

1978 Los Angeles Punk: Black Flag & the Rotters.

Just a quick post. Hope it inspires you....

40 years ago, I played in a one-hit wonder late 1970s L.A. punk band called The Rotters. We had a smash hit called, "Sit on My Face Stevie Nix." 

That's me wearing my Kamikaze headband! See? I wore headbands even before those wankers in Guns & Roses!

I had a dream back then. We were a lighting smash success within a few months and on radio stations and charts all over America and Europe. 

One night, my band played at a new club in Hollywood called Madame Wongs with another band. We all were expecting a packed crowd of 300+. 

My band opened. When we hit the stage, we were dumbfounded to see a crowd of only about eight people. Eight! 

We played a flat and disappointing set. 

After us, the next band played in front of the same eight people... That band was fucking awesome! They were electric and exciting! Their power made the small crowd (including me) go simply crazy. 

After the show I asked the guitarist how they do it. My band was flat "because" of the disappointing size of the crowd; their band was explosive. The guitarist forcefully blurted out to me, "It doesn't matter if there's three people in the crowd or three hundred people - we always kick ass!" 

They did indeed. 

That was 1978 (79?) The guitarist's name was Greg. The band? Maybe you've heard of them! Their name was Black Flag. 

The point of it all? Live your dream. It doesn't matter if there is only one person who sees what you do or 10,000 people: Do it for yourself and build a legend. 

Sometimes, it doesn't matter what other people think now. It only matters what you think. 

In my case, I remember what Jack White from the White Stripes told me. He said he was a "Big Fan" of the Rotters and even bought our record when he was 13. He said: "It is better to have punked and lost, than to have never punked at all!"

James Dean said, "Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die 

Black Flag 1978. Nervous Breakdown.


Anyway, I made a movie. It premiere's at Raindance Film Festival in London on Sept. 25, 2017. You can get tickets here: 

Here's the trailer:

Here's our webpage:


About Mike in Tokyo Rogers: Mike has been a professional music/TV/radio/anime-related program producer in Japan since the eighties. He began in the music business in 1978 as lead vocalist with the legendary Los Angeles Punk Band, “The Rotters” (Sit on My Face Stevie Nix.). As a university student, he was assistant to the legendary Rodney Bingenheimer (Rodney on the ROQ – KROQ Los Angeles from 1980 ~ 1981.) So Mike has met Blondie, Phil Spector, The Go Gos, the Dickies, The Germs, Black Flag, the Vibrators, Slaughter and the Dogs, The Angry Samoans, the Ramones.) Mike was the first and only foreigner in Japanese history to become the General Manager of a major Japanese broadcasting station (TV Tokyo owned InterFM). Has produced a few smash hit programs (some real losers, too!) and several of Tokyo’s highest rated and most famous radio programs. A recent hit program was “The TV Show” (Set Program with “Ninja Slayer”) which, between April – Oct. 2015, garnered over 10 million viewers.  He is currently producing and hosting “WTF?” the hugely popular Sunday live show on InterFM 89.7. And his life’s dream is his just completed full-length motion picture, “Ghostroads – A Japanese Rock and Roll Ghost Story” which will world premiere at the prestigious Raindance Film Festival in London on Sept. 25, 2017.

… Oh, and he likes to write about himself in the third person!)

Ghostroads – A Japanese Rock and Roll Ghost Story Japanese Trailer:

Ghostroads – A Japanese Rock and Roll Ghost Story Foreign trailer:

3) These are short - and true. You'll laugh. please read: 

Rock N Roll Music and the Proof of the Existence of God!

Belinda Carlisle Naked, The Ramones, Rodney Bingenheimer and Me - Another True Story

David Bowie, Blondie, the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and me! A True Story!

Friday, June 22, 2018

The "L's" and "R's" of the Japanese and Eric Crapton

Everyone knows the Japanese have a problems with "L's" and "R's." They keep mixing them up.

Well here's a hirarious tlue story:

About 15 or 16 years ago and Japanese record label (can't remember which one) put out a "made for radio only" cd of Eric Clapton's newest song (can't remember which one that was either....

Well, you know how Japanese have trouble with "L's" and "R's"? They spelled his name:

Eric Crapton. 

I still have a copy downstairs somewhere.

I keep telling the Japanese that they have it all wrong! It's "R" as in "Rondon" and "L" as in "Lome!"

Don't believe me? Here you go:

You can even buy one if you like at the collectors site called Discogs Marketplace (where they sell one that shows the Koreans may have the same problem with consonants).

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Spirit of Ecstasy

Do you have something that motivates you? I mean, besides money or a family and kids? Do you have something that has captured your imagination since you were small or some item or object that enthralls you and makes you dream of what could be? Something that helps you to become your best? Something that helps and motivates you to be more than you could be by yourself?

I do. It is a statue of the Spirit of Ecstasy.

If you enter my home, at the very entrance is the Spirit of Ecstasy on a solid marble stand. It is big and it is very old and it is quite heavy. The height of the statue is about 70 centimeters tall (about 2'3" tall - 27 inches). And since it is bronze with a solid marble base, it weighs about 22 kilograms (about 48 pounds). 

Most people would know the Spirit of Ecstasy as the statue that adorns the hood of Rolls Royce cars.

Since I was a young boy, I had always been fascinated by art and this particular statue. If you have seen it once, you will never forget this historic and enduring design. The Spirit of Ecstasy is in the form of a woman leaning forwards with her arms outstretched behind and above her. Billowing cloth runs from her arms to her back, resembling wings. For me, she also represents the symbolic queen of what is probably my favorite art movement of all time: Art Deco.

Even as a child, the Spirit of Ecstasy captured my imagination. She "spoke" to me and she pushed me to chase my dreams. She showed that I could do the impossible, that I could fly. The Spirit of Ecstasy has always reminded me to never give up and to always push forward in spite of all odds! 

I had always dreamed of having my own Spirit of Ecstasy since I was small. 

When I saw this statue, years ago at an antique shop, I just had to have it. My wife agreed, but, to this day, she doesn't know the secret this statue holds and what it really means to me. I am serious when I say that, since I was a very young boy, this was one of the designs that has truly held my imagination all my life, and will continue to do so, until the day I die. 

I'd like to tell you why.

But first, about the Spirit of Ecstasy herself. 

Before 1910, her name was not The Spirit of Ecstasy but was "The Whisperer" or "Emily" or "Silver Lady" or "Flying Lady," and she was designed and created by sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes

There's a fascinating story behind this statue and the people involved with its creation too! From Wikipedia

The statue carries with it a story about secret passion between John Walter - the second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu (a pioneer of the automobile movement, and editor of "The Car Illustrated" magazine) and the model for the emblem, Eleanor Thornton. Eleanor was the secretary of John Walter, who fell in love with her in 1902. Their secret love was to remain hidden, limited to their circle of friends, for more than a decade. The reason for the secrecy was Eleanor's impoverished social and economic status, which was an obstacle to their love. On the other hand, John Walter was married to Lady Cecil Victoria Constance Kerr.

By 1910 personal mascots had become the fashion of the day. Rolls-Royce were concerned that owners were affixing "inappropriate" ornaments to their cars.... Rolls-Royce Motor Cars turned to Sykes to produce a mascot which would adorn all future Rolls-Royce cars and become generic to Rolls Royce, with the instructions that it should convey "the spirit of the Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy and a beautiful living organism of superb grace to evoke the spirit of mythical beauty."... Sykes chose to modify "The Whisper" into a version similar to today's Spirit of Ecstasy. He called this first model The Spirit of Speed... Some critics and fans have given The Spirit of Ecstasy the dubious nickname "Ellie in her Nightie", suggesting Eleanor's influence.... In February 1911 Sykes presented to Rolls-Royce the "Spirit of Ecstasy." The similarity with "The Whisper" was hardly coincidental because the model for both had been Miss Thornton. The sculptor's signature appeared on the plinth and were signed "Charles Sykes."

Eleanor, our heroine, died on 30 December 1915 when the SS Persia was torpedoed by a U-boat! She had been accompanying 
John Walter (Lord Montagu.) He was thought to have been killed too, but survived and was saved after several days adrift in a life raft.

A beautiful woman who was the model for this iconic design? A love affair between a baron and this impoverished woman? The baron and the woman are off having an affair and their ship gets sank by a U-Boat? The beautiful woman gets killed in that U-Boat attack? The baron survives after being adrift for several days at sea? The secret history of one of the world's most famous automobiles? 

Wow! What a story! Wow! The aristocrats! Where's the Hollywood writers?

But I digress, like I said, to me even as a young boy, the Spirit of Ecstacy represented chasing my dreams and flying towards success. 

What my wife doesn't know (to this very day) is why I was so insistent upon buying that Spirit of Ecstasy statue when we saw it. Before we found it in the antique shop, I had never seen one in real life except the tiny 4 or 5 inch tall ones on Rolls Royce cars. And, actually, I'm not interested, nor ever have been, in cars or clothes. 

But when I saw this bronze Spirit of Ecstasy statue at the shop, I knew I just had to have it. We've now owned her for over 11 years. 

Sometimes work gets me down or projects that I am working on don't go well or they get cancelled (like radio or TV shows)... Creating a movie or a radio show or TV show can sometimes seem like an impossible dream....

I can get depressed.... 

My wife knows this about my personality very well.

But what my wife doesn't know is that everyday when I walk out the front door or I come home at night, she is there waiting for me. The lady! The Spirit of Ecstasy stands at the front door and always cheers me on.

She always says, "Chase your dreams. Never give up! Always fly!" 

It must be my mental disorder that such an inanimate object can hold such sway over me and motivate me. I can't explain exactly why excepting that she has always been this way to me.

I think the story of the Spirit of Ecstasy is a fascinating one and find this sort of tale to motivate me and to make me think, "It's great to be alive."

Art that makes me happy or motivated, like the Spirit of Ecstasy does, is like magic. I hope that everyone reading this has some sort of item at home or office, be it a child's drawing, a painting, a photograph, an object or some art that inspires and motivates them. Doing so is a sort of mind control and can help you to overcome your fears.

Never forget everyone: "Chase your dreams. Never give up! Always fly!" 

She says goodbye to me and she welcomes me home everyday. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

True Story: Sandii & the Sunsetz, Go-Bang's and Rodney Bingenheimer and Me.

Some readers might know that I am a disc jockey in Japan. I have been doing this a long time. 

Long ago, I was the assistant for the legendary DJ Rodney Bingenheimer. It's how I got started in this business. And, since Rodney is my philosophical and spiritual leader for being a DJ, I have always tried to support new bands and new things like "Rodney Sensei" does. Today I want to tell you about the two hot Japanese girl fronted bands that were, I believe, the first Japanese bands that ever graced the airwaves on Rodney on the Roq's KROQ show in Los Angeles; one of, if not thee, most legendary rock n roll radio shows in history.

Earlier this morning, I had been talking with a friend about Little Tokyo in Los Angeles in the seventies and I was recalling a true story when I realized something for the very first time! That the very first Japanese band I ever got aired on the radio in Hollywood (on the World Famous Rodney on the Roq Show) had to have been Sandii and the Sunsetz (He played it once so he might not remember). 

The second one I got played on Rodney's show on KROQ, were the Go-Bangs which Rodney played heavily (He'd definitely remember them, I think.)

Here is my recollection of that time, to the best I can... 

See that? That just looks like a great record!

In 1980 ~ 81... I was a university student and assistant to legendary DJ Rodney Bingenheimer. 

On weekends, in the seventies and early eighties, I used to love going to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles just to hang out. Anyway, one day, I was in Little Tokyo wandering about and I walked by a bookstore. They had all sorts of Japanese magazines (duh!) and, right by the front door, they had a bin of used seven-inch records.

By this time, I had already played in a band and had a massive record collection. I became so cocky that I believed I could tell a good record just by looking at the jacket. 

I still do.

Anyway, I looked into the used bin and found a record by a band named "Sandii and the Sunsetz," that I thought, "This absolutely looks great!" But it was a Japanese band? How could I be sure? I couldn't. So, being a curious sort, I bought it and took it home to listen to and test my record selection skills. 

It was a GREAT song! I listened to it and loved it. That weekend, I took it to Rodney's show and handed it to him and he played it!

I can now honestly say that the first Japanese band that I ever got on air - in my radio career (and on the Rodney on the Roq Show), was Sandii and the Sunsetz - Battery. 

Maybe that isn't such a big deal to dear reader, but it is to me. I would have never guessed that so many years later, I'd be a DJ in Japan doing the same thing as Rodney: Finding new bands and playing them first!

Here's that video. I thought Sandii was a goddess!

Sandii and the Sunsetz - Battery:

Time would pass and I would move to Japan a few years later. I would find good music and send it to my friends like Rodney. Everyone liked Japanese versions of albums, because the Japanese versions always had extra tracks not available on the foreign releases.

In Japan, after looking a long time, I found another Girls band that I thought was fab! It was the Go-Bangs. I loved it!

I sent the Go Bangs song to Rodney and he liked it a lot too and played it several times. (I know he'd definitely remember the Go-Bangs!)

(The actual song, "Special Boyfriend" starts at about 2'30" into the video so you might want to fast forward to that. The other stuff is punk rock nonsense!)

Go-Bangs - Special Boyfriend:

For me, being into punk music in L.A. since the early seventies, I felt that most Japanese music at that time was, well,  lacking... I felt the Go Bangs were a sort of Missing Link and liked it a lot too.... 

The Go Gos, Bangles (in America), then a Japanese "punk taste" girl's band named the Go-Bangs... They were the first ones to get big. 

Those were the days before the internet so it was hard to get information on music. Not like today...

Nowadays, there's a cool Japanese rock/garage music boom. We have the internet. I still have a radio show... 

And, recently, Rodney Bingenheimer has been playing a steady stream of cool bands from Japan. 

Thanks Rodney!

So, the point? I just wanted to set the record straight; the two bands that really allowed all these other Japanese bands to get airplay on the world famous Rodney Bingenheimer show, and the first two Japanese rock bands I got on air in the USA were Sandii and the Sunsetz and The Go-Bangs.

So, those artists have a special place in my heart and my Dj history.... 

If anyone from Sandii and the Sunsetz or The Go-Bangs wanna come and be guests on my show, my doors are open!!!!


Rodney Bingenheimer has been playing some cool Japanese bands these last few years too. here's a couple of them:

The Privates - Action Woman:
(I made this video with Ken Nishikawa and some friends. Rodney plays this a LOT!) 

taffy - Snowberry:
(90's Brit Pop better than the British can make.)

The Routes - Perfect Hell: 
(The Routes have to be, by far, the most played band from Japan in the entire history of the Rodney Bingenheimer Show.)


The Rodney Bingenheimer Show is on Sirius Radio! Check it here:

Here's his Facebook page:

Thanks to Gene Gingatake for shaking the old cobwebs loose and reminding me of good times long ago.

Raindance Film Festival: Confessions of a Sandwich Sign Man

I was hoping my parents never found out about this... But I can't live like this anymore; I can't live with hiding who I really am....