Saturday, February 06, 2010


As I cruised up the road on my motorcycle last night, the headlight beam kept filling with millions of tiny diamonds flashing into sight from out of the dark air, all from a big winter cloud that was barely edging over the mountain into the deeper dark, spilling some of its riches on our side and giving me the pleasure of a ride though swirling gems.

It was all the more enjoyable because I tend to ride slowly up the bendy mountain road in the pitch dark night of winter, wherein the occasional patches of ice can be hard to see, but I just roll right over them because I'm not racing anymore, I'm riding wisely now, having painfully realized at last that there's no real hurry for me to be home 20 seconds earlier.

When I was younger I would have taken on the whole thing as a challenge, there were challenges everywhere and a twisting mountain road was at the top of the list, a complex speed-skill-time-agility-bravery challenge, a personal challenge to me from mountain, road, weather, world, time and darkness, with quite a few other things thrown in there as well, to fill it all up. At those earlier ages you're always looking for challenges and taking them on-- what are inexperience and energy for, after all.

It's crazy but it's true, and as you get older and do a few wipeouts, if you survive sufficiently intact, and for long enough, you get to admit vulnerability, you get to acknowledge your limits, you get to feel your frailties, you get to know the fleshy reality of yourself right to the bone and the sinew, so you slow down, and when you slow down you get to see things you're finally ready to see, things you've never noticed before in the blur of being, things like millions and millions of tiny diamonds flashing in the light right in front of you all the way home through the winter dark up a mountainside-- worth the wait of a lifetime, if you've slowed down enough to get to be my age.


Apprentice said...

You were much younger then (Aug 2008), you're older than that now....
I used to like to ride my bike up to Kurama or Atago-san with the high beams on if it wasn't snowing too crazily.
Try taking an evening ride down between Arashiyama and Matsuo Bridge along the west side of the river on the skinny road lined with Cherry trees in early April when there is a light breeze blowing.
They aren't diamonds falling, more like pearls.

R. Brady said...

Yeah, Aug 08 was the final straw... not that I never go fast anymore... I remember both those roads you mention, the latter in Spring; haven't traveled them in many a year though... BTW, thanks for posting that Connection reading; haven't found any contemp photos thus far however; I was reading too quickly tho, since it was to be a looping artificial voice; I'll post a link to the YouTube file later, with the script itself, when I dig it out of my dusty floppies... Neat to hear it w/ an audience after all these yrs; thanks for doing that. + Is yr blog up yet?

Apprentice said...

When it comes to traffic, I am genetically predisposed to need to get through it as fast as humanly possible - I'm convinced it's a form claustrophobia. Glad to hear you have been able to overcome those inner demons - there may be hope for me somewhere down the line if I don't meet with a telephone pole between now and then...

Thanks for the update on the progress with the photos. I do have a couple more recordings worth posting for you - 'Bonsai' comes to mind. That one got the crowd going.
I'll wait a while longer before posting it just in case something does come up - maybe Ken Rogers has something (I think I remember seeing him stalking around with a camera over the years at Kyoto Connection).
Lastly, yes, I have just begun to post some bloggish goop - not sure what I am doing yet, but I'll get into a groove eventually. Thanks for the encouragement!!

Iwakura Ken said...

I will have to sort through the Connection archives. Looking for a Digital8 Sony cam to transfer Hi8 tapes to computer... I have a big boxfull to sort out when I can find the time... Meanwhile, if you remember Phil Norton playing (up at Teatro Marron) he has a great song here called Everybody get in the Lifeboat: - is coming back to Kyoto this year.

Apprentice said...

Iwakura-san - thanks for the info!
I have a Digital8 sony cam that I got on e-bay for a pretty good price. If you have lots of old Hi8 vids like I do, it would be a worthwhile expense.
Teatro Maron was the place up north of Kitaoji near to Bukkyo Daigaku. I don't recall seeing Phil back in the day (over 12 years ago now)- he may have come after I left Japan.
Many of the videos I took there are from the early 90's and I have posted on youtube already. If you care to take a look - I post under the name VDOVoyuer. Here is one of them for you:

Iwakura Ken said...

Hey, so natsukashi to see those! Amazing to see them online. Thanks for posting them! I have a bunch of videos of the Dissonants KC gigs that I should post too. Definitely have to get that D8 cam. Have been planning a totally reformatted Kyoto Journal site, intending to make it more active, was thinking of having a Connection page for some of those classic sets. Meanwhile, my son Kaz, who came with us to the Connection every month, has a band in Hawaii called Soul Revival Sound System, you can see him on guitar here:

Apprentice said...

That would be great to see them - if you ever have the time. It has taken me a very long time to patch all my old videos together and put them into viewable clips.

Here are a couple more for you:

I am online friends with many of the people in my videos performing at KC and also with Charles Roche who often attended KC's as a viewer (like me) and who now owns a of couple restaurants/coffee shops in Kyoto - Papa Jon's coffee shop and Fiasco Restaurant near Doshisha. Perhaps you know him. I am sure they would love to see what you have - buried treasure really!!

I think I recall your son as a young boy running around before KC night while the chairs were being set up. I still can't believe my videos are from 17, 18 and 19 years ago!! It's almost hard to be natsukashii when it seems so near in time to me. Perhaps I should accept it was a long time ago. Looking at your son and how grown up he is now, I guess it becomes easier to see the passage of time.

Thanks for sharing !!

Iwakura Ken said...

Amazing sound quality on your clips! Tom & Dave used to bring in their own mikes and a special tuner.... can hear the effects on "Silvie." "Share a Load" is really a classic too -- love the audience response! I remember that trio with James too. Great to see Richard Goodman (now a Presbyterian minister in Virginia, self-described "loud fart of grace in the solemn temple of trivial piety") doing "Irene", and Josh, that first set with Paul. I definitely have footage of Josh. Kaz homestayed with John and Eiko Cusick (friends of Josh & Cora) in Hawaii, senior high days. That koto mandolin piece -- just can't remember the gentleman's name either, but a genial Kyoto Godfather of bluegrass... I think his duo with his wife was called Birdland, though he only played solo or as a guest at KC.
Kaz was helping Yuri selling beers out in the lobby from when he could barely see over the table...I think the Connection was a great influence on him. He helped start something similar at his high school in Hawaii, that got him started with a band over there, they toured US West Coast when he was 19...
OK, I'd better dust off my tapes.
Looks like a Video Walkman would do the trick too.
Thanks again for posting!