Saturday, October 24, 2009

food for thot

food for thot
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

japanese cars must be like sushi, tempura, kaiseki
the designer pontificates at a party
to add value and defy the challenge from hyundai of korea
like yakiniku korean barbecue and bibimbap

think of all the poor people in india
the nun swishing her black habit prays
the chicken soup swimming in the urn turns into urine and
the bread into styrofoam sponge in our throats

let's have a picnic here, mommy, OK?
my son plunks down in the grass
he eats boiled eggs, claiming his place in the japanese family,
believing they are delicious, the best in the world

when will my husband be able to eat again?
my mother asks the doctor, who answers, "never"
after brain surgery, tubes trickle paste through a hole in his stomach
he gurgles in mucus, his eyeballs batty with fright

Isaku takes a stand

It is so important for a person to take a stand for the music, or whatever else, he or she stands for.
And Isaku really took a stand _ literally on his cajon _ with Winchester Nii Tete and Cari at "The Beat Ahead" at Harajuku Crocodile in Tokyo.
Isaku Kageyama has been playing professionally for years in Amanojaku, the taiko troupe led by his master teacher Yoichi Watanabe, as well as other contexts.
Those situations often required the player to carry out the vision of the leader or pull the whole group together.
A lot of musical technique, hard work and dedication is involved in carrying that out.
But something different happened that night.
Isaku told his own story, holding his own with full accountability for what he stands for _ his own colors, his own music, his own view of the world.
It was a cathartic moment for my son _ and for me.
All the technique in the world doesn't make sense or take meaning without this sense of purpose.
And that's what makes it all _ the pursuit of technique, the years of hard work, the struggles of everyday life _ worth it: That real purpose.
It was stunning to see the transformation before me, although I knew all along someday it would happen.
I forgot to take photos.

more on YouTube

"The Beat Ahead" opened with a rock group led by Isaku's new collaborator Yuu Ishizuka, who hails from Oedo Sukeroku Taiko.
The closing segment was all taiko with Isaku and Yuu collaborating.
It was great to see drummers from different backgrounds share ideas and create new sounds _ something that surprisingly happens rarely in the world of taiko.
There is so much more to be explored.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Music at the Moon Stomp

From left to right: Isaku Kageyama, Winchester Nii Tete, Robby.
The "MoveThatPoem" poets from Spain read after the music at the Moon Stomp in Koenji Tokyo Sunday Oct. 11, 2009.
The music keeps getting stronger.
And the poetry _ read in their Spanish original by the poets, followed by English translations _ was a perfect way to end a multicultural evening.
Isaku plays with minyo musicians tomorrow night Monday, Oct. 12, 2009, at Takanoya in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Move that poem


Today, I got "MoveThatPoem," one of just five books in the world, created by poets from Spain _ Miguel Jose Aniceto Bardisa, Rafel Llobet Deia, and Fco. Javier Barrera Barcelo (seen in photos reading at the Moon Stomp in Tokyo) _ for an experiment into poetry and mobility, to answer the question of what will happen to this book if it gets passed from poet to poet, crossing national boundaries, language and cultural differences, and to see what the power of connection of poetry does to the problems of physical space: "What has happened to the inner journey of the poet," the poets ask.
"The goal of the MoveThatPoem initiative is to make the poetic object, as the physical object of the project, travel as an independent entity and be transformed thanks to the individual recipient's interaction with it .... Why poetry? Because we believe that poetry is a universal concept present in all cultures. For this reason, the ultimate concept of the MoveThatPoem initiative does not include any attempt to deal with language barriers beyond the original work, but merely to create a poetic object capable of being understood above its formal level by any person who may have it in hand, a living object that can break out of the literary circles in which it has, on occasion, remained buried, a living object that is consolidated as a site of free expression for whomever so desires."
I will write a poem in this book and then pass it on, keeping in mind that the book wants to be set free in its world travels.
The journey the book takes will be documented on a special website called MoveThatPoem, which will be up by Oct. 30,
or through email:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fear of death

If you ever panic about the impermanence of life, if you ever get worried about your job, your relationships, your future, if you fear death, the best way to put all that turmoil to rest is to reassure yourself that death will come _ surely, whether you worry or not, whether you try to stop it or not.
All of it will end _ surely.
Since you know this, you could conceivably go berserk and kill everyone you ever hated before you kill yourself.
This is one obvious scenario. And daily headlines tell us some people really do this, thinking they are justified.
OK and so why doesn't everybody go out and do this, since death comes oh so surely.
We want to leave this world a better place for those who are still alive, and this means that we don't really deep inside believe that death ends everything, though it comes, surely, as we know it.
There is something else that goes on forever.
Like our love for our children, including other people's children.
Simple things like the light of the stars, the taste of food in our mouths, a blade of grass, the scentless smell of the wind.
Simple things that are so forever complex.

Interviews with Isaku Kageyama on taiko

Isaku Kageyama, taiko drummer with Amanojaku, has an interview in the latest Metropolis, Tokyo's entertainment magazine.
He is interviewed in Japanese in Moonlix magazine, which has also interviewed Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yoko Ohno _ pretty good company.
Isaku is putting on a rare kind of show _ a collaboration of taiko drummers from two different schools _ with Yuu Ishizuka at the Crocodile near Harajuku, Tokyo, Thursday Oct. 22, 2009.
Also appearing that evening will be Winchester Nii Tete from Ghana, Chris Holland from Denver and others.

THU OCT. 22, 2009.
from 7:30 p.m.; doors open at 6 p.m.
Harajuku Crocodile
TEL: 03-3499-5205
ADDRESS: 6-18-8-B1 Jingu-mae Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0001.
3,000 yen for advance tickets, 3,500 yen at door.

Isaku performs with Winchester at the MOON STOMP in Koenji tomorrow night, SUN Oct. 11.
Starts 8 p.m., doors open 7 p.m.
A good deal at just 1,000 yen door charge.
The following day, MON Oct. 12, a national holiday in Japan, Isaku plays minyo (Japanese traditional folk music) at TAKANOYA in Shinjuku, Tokyo, with singing, shamisen and shakuhachi.
Starts 7 p.m., doors open 6:30 p.m.
Advance tickets 2,000 yen plus one drink at 600 yen.
At door 2,500 yen plus one drink at 600 yen.