Nisan didn’t mean to fall in love with Nemutan. Their first encounter — at a comic-book convention that Nisan’s gaming friends dragged him to in Tokyo — was serendipitous. Nisan was wandering aimlessly around the crowded exhibition hall when he suddenly found himself staring into Nemutan’s bright blue eyes. In the beginning, they were just friends. Then, when Nisan got his driver’s license a few months later, he invited Nemutan for a ride around town in his beat-up Toyota. They went to a beach, not far from the home he shares with his parents in a suburb of Tokyo. It was the first of many road trips they would take together. As they got to know each other, they traveled hundreds of miles west — to Kyoto, Osaka and Nara, sleeping in his car or crashing on friends’ couches to save money. They took touristy pictures under cherry trees, frolicked like children on merry-go-rounds and slurped noodles on street corners. Now, after three years together, they are virtually inseparable. “I’ve experienced so many amazing things because of her,” Nisan told me, rubbing Nemutan’s leg warmly. “She has really changed my life.”
Then there's a separate article in The NY Times claiming that hostessing has become respectable due to the economy-color me suspicious:
The women who pour drinks in Japan’s sleek gentlemen’s clubs were once shunned because their duties were considered immodest: lavishing adoring (albeit nonsexual) attention on men for a hefty fee.
But with that line of work, called hostessing, among the most lucrative jobs available to women and with the country neck-deep in a recession, hostess positions are increasingly coveted, and hostesses themselves are gaining respectability and even acclaim. Japan’s worst recession since World War II is changing mores.
“More women from a diversity of backgrounds are looking for hostess work,” said Kentaro Miura, who helps manage seven clubs in Kabuki-cho, Tokyo’s glittering red-light district. “There is less resistance to becoming a hostess. In fact, it’s seen as a glamorous job.”
But behind this trend is a less-than-glamorous reality. Employment opportunities for young women, especially those with no college education, are often limited to low-paying, dead-end jobs or temp positions. Even before the economic downturn, almost 70 percent of women ages 20 to 24 worked jobs with few benefits and little job security, according to a government labor survey. The situation has worsened in the recession.
For that reason, a growing number of Japanese women seem to believe that work as a hostess, which can easily pay $100,000 a year, and as much as $300,000 for the biggest stars, makes economic sense.
Even part-time hostesses and those at the low end of the pay scale earn at least $20 an hour, almost twice the rate of most temp positions.
In a 2009 survey of 1,154 high school girls, by the Culture Studies Institute in Tokyo, hostessing ranked No. 12 out of the 40 most popular professions, ahead of public servant (18) and nurse (22).
Then there's this one from Japan Today translated from a Japanese weekly in which women are getting paid to do wifely duties like have sex or make lunch for their husbands:
What’s that you say? Wives charging their husbands for basic services --- like preparing a boxed lunch to take to the office or dispensing a haircut? Or when making love??
Well, think of them as business-to-business transactions, advises Aera (Aug 3).
“If it helps bring order to a chaotic household, something may change in husband-wife relationships as well,” observes a 42-year-old gent identified only as Kimura, who began paying his wife 400 yen to make him an “obento” to carry daily to the office. Considering he receives 50,000 per month for pocket money, taking his own lunch translates into daily savings of about 500 yen.
A 45-year-old chap named Kobayashi pays his better half to trim his hair. “You pay your barber 3,000 yen; I’ll do it for 1,000,” she proposed. Now, of two monthly trips to the barber shop for a total outlay of 6,000 yen, he now pays 2,000 yen and pockets the remaining 4,000.
Ironweed is the 1983 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by William
Kennedy. It is a short novel about a hard luck bum who used to be a standout
baseball player and a family man who has a fallen. It was a tragedy that threw
him off his life’s path into one of alcoholism, bumming, violence, and a sort
of second wife with another bum Helen. It sort of reminds me of the alpha male
bum from the film Barfly. Kennedy does
an admirable job in detailing what has brought such a man to these sorts of
circumstances. I am curios to see the film version that stars Jack Nicholson.
Greg Mottola director of Adventureland, was the director
responsible for the comedy high jinks of Superbad. It’s hard not to love any movie that basically opens and closes with
Replacement songs-he had me at “Bastards of the Young” and “Unsatisfied.” There
are plenty of other great songs that I listened to in the summer of 1987-where
the film is set-like The Velvet Underground, Husker Du (“Don’t Want To Know If
You’re Lonely”), New York Dolls (“Lookin For A Kiss”), Big Star (“I’m In Love
With A Girl”), The Jesus and Mary Chain (“Taste of Cindy”), The Cure (“Just
Like Heaven”), Crowded House (“Don’t Dream It’s Over”), and INXS (“Don’t
Change”). Yo La Tengo, the band did the soundtrack, also nailed the non cool
period songs by the likes of Poison, Rush, Outfield, Falco, Whitesnake, Judas
Priest, Wang Chung, etc. Mottola seems to be about 4 years older than me-it was
the year I graduated from high school, but I had a crappy/wonderful job much
like the Jesse Esienberg character at Chuck E. Cheese. It sucked but it was
also fun working with all the young people. We had our after hours wind downs,
cute girls, and practical jokes. This story is more poignant than Superbad, but also seems somewhat real to life with some of
the social interactions that take place through out the film. Not a
masterpiece, but extremely enjoyable in the positive nostalgia it created for
We gathered with members of BELTA and staff from AIUB at their weekend retreat in Sreepur on Friday. We had a buffet lunch and walked the grounds which had deer, tropical birds, emu, a duck pond, a basketball court, a gazebo, and many other features. It was nice to get out of the big city for a day.
I made some new friends from Teachers Helping Teachers as well. Below deer in captivity.
We were treated to some music: traditional Bengali folk songs as well as some western favorites. Faheed, the gentleman playing keyboards, sang a haunting version of Joan Baez's song "Bangladesh," my first exposure to an arresting song about the civil war between East and West Pakistan that resulted in the modern state of Bangladesh-the flag is shown below.
Gomorra is one of those sprawling multi-character,
multi-story socio-political fables that reflect a certain reality. This reality
is that of the organized crime of the mafia in Italy. It shows how corrosive
this element is in society by showing the microcosm of the slums where drugs
and violence rule the day. Furthermore, it shows how on a larger more seemingly
legitimate scale-it helps corporations illegally dump toxic waste. Perhaps my
favorite story was about a tailor who moonlights teaching some Chinese how to
sew haute couture. He is found out and he Chinese are murdered and the tailor
is injured and quits his trade to drive trucks. At one of the truck stops he
sees a starlet wearing one of his dresses at the Academy Awards and he smiles.
There are several realistic performances in this gritty documentary-like. The
film ends by quoting statistics about the damage caused by the mafia in
Italy-this film was an adaptation of a book.
Unfortunately, my tight schedule has prevented me from doing any sightseeing. But I have very much enjoyed the hospitality of the AIUB staff. They speak excellent English and have been very generous and helpful.
I realized after seeing this album cover made by British artist Julian Opie that I had seen his work before. This is the cover of Blur's Greatest Hits. I really like his pop art inspired portraits as well as his landscapes. It seems that his work is also informed by Japanese wood block prints by the likes of Hiroshige and Umetaro.