Thankful as a Bunch of Snap Peas

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Snap Peas Thankful Harvest

 

There was a serious hankering for some tacos for this shabbat meal.  You know how craving just come out of know where.  This was no different.  I prepared the meal, and as sun was setting I wandered out onto my patio to be in awe of the abundance of snap peas.  As if the rains of the other day had made them all pop out with the true SNAP, in the snap peas.

I am truly thankful that my wife had sowed these seed while it was still winter.  We have been just about supplementing our meals and salads with a few snap peas.  There is really nothing quite as satisfying as bringing in something that you had grown and being able to say a shabbat grace over that food.

I wish you all a fabulous day of rest.

Be thankful for all that we sow.  For what we sow will come back to us.  Make sure we so the seeds of love and compassion and a few sweet snap peas for good health.

 

Sipping, Chatting, and Developing in Coffee, with NYC Photographer Giovanni Savino

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

A Man and His Camera, with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC
You can learn a lot about someone by what they choose to post about on social networking sites.  There is so much junk to wade though that those that actually have  a voice stand out and speak to me as a human being.  This is how I first became aware of the work of NYC based photographer Giovanni Savino .

I am not sure exactly how our paths crossed in the image making digital stratosphere.  Most likely it was though our mutual friend art historian John E. Walford.  I very quickly became fascinated with Giovanni’s candid NYC street portraits.  His brilliant black and white portraits on the New York streets stood above the much of what people unfortunately call “street photography.”  It didn’t hurt either that Giovanni often hit the streets armed with my favorite camera, the Ricoh GR.

I did what I usually do when I come across work that I can relate to, is I want to dig deeper and explore more of the artists vision of the world.  His website’s images came alive.  The portraiture of everyday people in the DR (Dominican Republic).  His images were unpretentious, and full of soul.  I instantly developed a rapport with the images, I wanted to know more about the man behind them.

I read his blog.  I waited with anticipation for the next images top be posted on Flickr,  Facebook or fascinating thoughts on his blog.  Again, I was drawn into his world.  We started some backchannel conversations, and I decided, since I was coming to NYC, if he was down, we should link up for a face to face meeting.

It was on a freezing snowy Tuesday in February that I headed uptown on the A train, last stop, Inwood 207 Street. Any further and I would I have been in the Bronx, or New Jersey.  The absolute top of Manhattan.
Giovanni Savino on the Water's Edge, Inwood, NYC

Before heading up to Giovanni part of town, I made a quick stop in a hungover haze to the Moma, thanks to borrowing friend, Jerry’s MOMA card.  I got there before the galleries opened and I knew all I really wanted to see was a small selection celebrating the 75 anniversary of the publication of Walker Evan’s  photographs .  It was a pleasure to see them in the flesh, as printed by the master himself.

In a quiet corner of the Museum I stood gazing at a Jackson pollock painting.  Away from the noise of school children running amuck, I just stood and stared.  The splats and splatters danced and pulsated like never before, possible due to my underestimating the power of NYC sized martinis versus Tokyo ones.

The trip to MOMA, was only the beginning to a beautiful day.  Giovanni greeted me just outside the station like a long lost brother.  In fact, he often used the word, “brother,” when referring to me.  I instantly knew this was going to be a good day.

Inwood is a dominantly DR neighborhood, yet, it is on verge of gentrification like most of the city.  Giovani told me the hood was much different 20 years ago when he first moved in.  Giovanni and his wife took me to their favorite DR place to have some roasted chicken, sadly, they were out, but that didn’t stop us.  We had a great meal and then he showed me the sights around the neighborhood.
Roasted Chicken Reflection, Inwood, NYC

 

He would occasionally take out one of his “cursed” e-cigs and puff on it as we chatted about the streets of New York, photography, life, and everything.  There was nothing off limits, and we both opened up and were happy to be in each others company.

The sun had finally come out by the time we reached a view of the George Washington Bridge.  It was time to head back to his studio and really dig into photography.

From Inwood to The George Washington Bridge, NYC

He brewed us up a cup of black espresso using an Italian stovetop maker.  This coffee was for sipping, but we would soon brew up another batch for developing, in coffee.  I would love the way Giovanni would say “in coffee!”  There was such wonderment in the way the words would just roll off his palette.  Just the simplest of pleasures that photographs can be developed in a brew of homemade Caffinol.

He told me that he had been depressed at the end of last year.  His doctors wanted to put him on anti-depreesents.  He wouldn’t have it.  He knew that there had to be a better way.  And there was.  He brought out his large format camera, and started developing “in coffee!”  So coffee and photography was part of his progress to a healthier life.  That was so beautiful to share with me.  We all struggle with depression, and to find happiness by getting our hands dirty by making a clean mind.

He told me that our energies that create our work come from either the light or the dark.  I want to be in the light!  We both do.  We are both comfortable with our place, and the work that helps us though, and understand the truth in life.

Brewing Coffee (for Developing), with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC

 

It was time to bring out the lights, and big old fashioned Tachihara 4×5 camera loaded with first poloraoid then  Fujifilm positive, with a mounted Schneider Symmar-S 210mm lens for a portrait session.  First with polaroids and then some negs that would be processed, “in coffee!”  I hadn’t used a large format camera since my high school days, but we set it up, mixed up some different temperature lights and got down to business.

There is no waste in Giovanni’s studio.  After peeling off the back of the polaroids, we taped them down and removed the plastic to save the negatives that most people discard.  I loved that low tech way of making images.  Perfection in it’s imperfection.

Low Tech Perfection, with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC

Then it was time to brew up the Caffinol and another portrait session.  Giovanni explained the chemicals needed, and we went to town.  I sat in the light, and he squeezed the cable release.  We went into his light tight darkroom/bathroom, and in complete darkness set about to develop the negatives.  It was so dark that after a few minutes you think that you can see.  Our conversation continued in the pitch black.  About my life in Japan.  Giovanni’s history in NYC, as a news cameraman, his work at ground zero after 911, his support of his wife’s family in the DR and beyond.  A good soul, with a gentle heart.

Polaroid Portrait Exchange with Giovanni aka Baron Von Savino, Inwood, NYC

 

Such an oddness two photographers in the dark, chatting.  I loved every minute of it.  But, all good things don’t necessarily have to end.  The conversation has been started.  The lucid communication will continue.  Giovanni is full of love and joy, and that shines though his art of photography.  I know that I will always have my photographic brother in NYC, Giovanni Savino.

Check Giovanni’s images, and writings with the links below.

Website

Flickr

Facebook

blog

some more images from my one day adventure in Inwood, with NYC Giovanni Savino

 

Petals, Snow on a Manhole Cover, Inwood, NYC

 

 

Used Cars in the Snow with Graffiti Inwood, NYC

 

 

Brewing Coffee (for Sipping) with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC

 

 

One Photographer's Lightroom and Another's Pixels, with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC

Art and Technology at Moneytree First Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Dj Taku (m-flo) Takahashi and Moneytree, Moneytree First Year Anniversay, Shibuya, Tokyo

 

Art and technology might seem like they are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to creativity.  This is not entirely the truth.  Ever since human started to mix pigments and other materials to paint they were using technology wether they knew it or not.

Now we jump into the year 2014 and the lines between the two have become more blurred than ever before.  They, in my mind, cannot be separated.  It was at Moneytree’s first anniversary party that celebrated the coming together of code writers and artists of all styles.  Those lucky industry insiders who were invited gathered in a Shibuya basement club NOS ORG  for drinks, music, and artistic exchanges.

I was fortunate to be invited out to this gathering my the founder and chief executive Paul Chapman.  His team has grown from just a handful of members almost 2 years ago to over 30 now.

I am not one for parties and groups.  I never have been, nor will I ever.  I much prefer small crowds.  I personally find it overwhelming to be with so many people at one time.  However, I quickly became at ease and slipped into conversation with the over guests.

The app Moneytree (An intelligent assistant for your money) was voted app of the year by Apple Japan.  An app that keep the used up to date on all their financial endeavors.  Simple to use and brilliantly designed the app has built strong roots in Japan.  So much so that the founding member of m-flo and dj Taku Takahasi has his entire staff use it so he can keep tabs on his companies expenses.

Paul took the mic and introduced the company and welcomed all to the event.  One big announcement was that Moneytree has finally come to the iPad.  After the kampai (cheers) the turntables were turned over to dj Taku.

I watched in amazement of his dance music mastery.  It was was not the hip hop style of deejaying I was accustomed too.  It was just mesmerizing.  Tweaks and tuns of the mixer’s knobs, and scrolling though a playlist on a glowing apple laptop.

I noticed a photographer, Takumi Yamamoto, with an old school polaroid camera on the edge of the dance floor.  We chatted a bit, and we did what photographer do, we talked cameras.  Also, rather than the selfie, we exchanged simultaneous portraits.

It was a great gathering of artistic and technically minded folks.  A real collection of people across Tokyo, and beyond.

download Moneytree for free! from iTunes.

for more info check out Moneytree’s website  Facebook  and twitter page.

Moneytree is a company to keep watch on!

a Big SHOUT out to Paul for inviting me and letting me be a part of the celebration.
Paul Chapman (Chief Executive - Moneytree), Moneytree First Year Anniversay, Shibuya, Tokyo

 

 

Dj Taku (m-flo) Takahashi, Moneytree First Year Anniversay, Shibuya, Tokyo

 

 

Exchanging Portraits with Takumi Takamoto (山本拓未), Moneytree First Year Anniversay, Shibuya, Tokyo

Live Spoken Word: Kaddish for Emmanuel “Manny” Pushkin

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Kaddish, Requiem, Life for  Emanuel "Manny" Pushkin

 

On an over zealously windy night a small group of poets and artists gathered in the Jamrock Cafe in Harajuku. The monthly gathering of Writer’s Bloc, Tokyo, Evening Musings was about to begin.  This was a first for me.  I had never done a spoken word, or reading of any kind before a group of people.

The boom of the bass and drums of reggae riddims helped put me at ease as I relaxed myself while slowly sipping some rum and coconut water.  Munching on rice and peas and a chicken patty I could almost imagine myself at a a little West Indian joint in Miami, almost.

I was pretty nervous even though there were barely a dozen people in the cafe.  After a few people went on It was my turn.  Nervously with paper in hand I began.

I want to say thank you to Lee Ann and Norman for introducing me to this group and allowing me to express myself in a way that I had never done before.  Also a special thanks to Colin (and his Flickr) for some pictures and Biankah for the video.

Check their Facebook page Writer’s Bloc, Tokyo and Writer’s Bloc, Tokyo Youtube Channel 

 

Old San Juan, Walking, Talking, Just Being

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Pair in Flight at Parque de las Palomas, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

In late March my extended family booked a cruise that was leaving from Puerto Rico.  It was great for the family all to be in the same time zone at the same time, because throughout most of the year we are spread out across the globe.

Our cruise had been delayed due to a propeller failure and my niece and I headed off the boat and trekked over to Viejo San Juan.  We had been there a few days earlier but it was brief.  We wanted to just get off the boat that was heading no where and just wander around the the old city.

The sun was blazing that day and we kept to the shade whenever we could.  There were fresh graffiti pieces on some of the quiet streets.  The corner shops were open for business, and some old folks had set up tables in the shade to slam their dominoes.

There were, of course, shops filled with the worst kitsch imaginable, but this didn’t really hold my attention.  Other than to laugh at its silliness.  I wanted to see what the city would show me.  I wanted to walk down the cobblestoned streets that have been there for centuries.  The names of the streets were cemented into the corners of buildings.  In some home the palm trees reached up into the spotless sky.

I search out the places that people actually call home.  I want to see where people lay their heads to rest at night.  Once we got off the tourist path we were able to get a little taste of Puerto Rico.

Small gated homes with open windows to let in the sea breeze.  I imagine Miami back in the 40s and 50s must have looked something like this.  There was something different.  There were vibrations emanating from this community that I have never felt in Miami.

There was a sense of history stretching back at least 500 years, and more when you think that the indigenous Taino.  The sensation was close to that of walking around some of the quiet older neighborhoods of Paris, but the sun blazed, and the salty air filled my nostrils.  Even though many of the buildings had been freshly painted in over hued tropical colors If you raised your eyes above the first few floors the paint had faded in the harsh sun.

Wandering around the 2 major castles:  Castillo San Felipe del Morro and  Castillo de San Cristóbal I was able to wander and loose myself in the old stone masonry.  I felt an uneasy calm as I gazed out into the Atlantic Ocean, and wandered the subterranean levels of the fortifications.  I kept telling my niece can you imagine being in this heat and wearing the old woolen uniforms?

I wanted to hit a beach before heading back to the boat.  We walked along Aveienda Munoz Riveria we finally came to a beach, Balneario El Escambrón.  We didn’t have much time but for a quick refreshing jump into the Atlantic.  I felt renewed.  The cooling salt water soothed my aches, and reinvigorated my spirit.  The beach was relatively quiet on a Tuesday, and seemed to populated with a good mix of locals and visitors.

The time spent in Old San Juan was short.  The memories will be as long as the late afternoon shadows.

 
Corner of Calle del Tamarindo, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

303 in Yellow and Neighbor, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

Baja Santa Elena meets the Atlantic Ocean, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

El Gato Siesta, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

Empty Lawn Tables and Benches, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

 

Windy Lean, Balneario El Escambrón, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Time to Search for the Leaven in Our Lives, Passover 2014

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Homemade Matzoh (מַצָּה), No Leaven, 2014, Passover

 

The new moon was sighted in Jerusalem and Passover, and the Feast of Unleavened bread in upon us.  It is the time in our lives when we have to remove all the leaven from our homes.  Those preparing to keep the Feast search their home and remove any product that has leaven.  The search goes on in all rooms looking for the leaven.  Why is this?

This on the simplest of levels is following the commandment to remove leaven and and eat the specially prepared matzoh (unleavened) bread as mandated in Exodus.  It is much deeper that that.  Of course it is important to keep the commandment to the best of our ability but even more important is to understand what leaven represents.  Leaven is sin, pride, ego, our wrong doings.  The search in our homes for leaven, is in reality, a search in our own souls to remove the “puffing up” of sin.

We all have shortcoming.  None of of are perfect.  This is true for all, but those that seek to better themselves can use this preparation for the feast to examine their life and work on removing the leaven from their lives.

In my own preparations for Passover I have begun to make my own matzoh a few years ago.  I love the process of making my own.  Being able to rely on my own to make the most imperfect looking matzoh I have ever seen.  Each piece is unique.  The shapes remind me of Africa and Israel.  Holes pop though the dough.  The oven singes my arm as they bake at 300 degrees (570F).

Then we move on to the other main thoughts on passover, freedom.  We remember the days when we were in bondage.  It doesn’t stop here. It is key to remember all those still in bondage.  Those who are not able to free to worship.  Those that are still held in chains.  Those whose mental slavery has not been abolished.

I will leave you all with one last thought from the Tanakh (the Old Testament).

Exodus 22:21

Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

chag kasher v’same’ach

חַג כָשֵׁר וְשָׂמֵחַ

have a blessed passover

With love to all in the diaspora, the lost tribes and those that dwell in the land of our forefather and all that desire in their hearts to keep the feast of unleavened bread regardless of labels.

shalom

Jacob

Yahkov

m2c

lucid communication

 

 

Chillin’ in the Backyard, Miami Style with Jeff Wasielewski

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Banana Bud, Jeff's Home, Miami 2014

 

It has been a minute since I have written on the Lucid Communication blog.  In Fact it has been more than a month.  After spending time in New York, Miami and the Caribbean It is time to start sifting through the 1000 plus images and selecting some stories to tell.

Today’s is about my mate Jeff Wasielewski’s home and luscious Miami garden.  I first met Jeff back in Killian High School spanish class.  We had, without question, the worst spanish teacher on the planet.  All she ever had us do was to copy chapters out of the textbook. On the first day of class the teacher was calling the roll, when she came to the name Dickie Wong.  There was no reply.  Shea paused and gazed over the classroom.  She called it again, a bit louder this time.  Still no response, then out of no where Jeff screams out DICKIE WONG! and all the class bursted out with laughter.  That is how we met.

We lost track of each other as people do, and thanks to the wonders of the world wide web we got back in touch with each other.  Jeff had been working at Farichild Tropical Botanic Garden when we reconnected and we realized that we both have a love for the outdoors and gardening.

This trip back to Miami we wanted to meet up and he invited me over to explore his garden.  It just so happened to be on a beautiful Sunday afternoon that I was able to meet and reason up with Jeff and some of the alumni of the Fat Man Calypso Band.

It was so peaceful walking around his home in Kendall, only a few blocks away from my own childhood home on South West 127 Street.  He had a few variety of mangoes, bananas, mulberry and other tropical delights.

He had constructed, with his own hands, a small pond that included some mosquito eating fish.  He truly had created a home I would have if I were to lay down my roots back in Miami.

All the landscaping used native plants.  They are all drought tolerant, and thrive in the blazing Miami sunshine.  Even his daughter Sammy got in on the gardening action and just the other day dug out some carrots she had planted by her own hand and without her poppa’s help.

It was a sweet afternoon eating some barbecued hamburgers sides with old friends and marveling at what a productive garden in suburbia can be.  I have the utmost respect for Jeff and his daughter for keeping Miami the way it shout be. green, soaking in the sunshine and full of LOVE.
Budding Bud, Jeff's Home, Miami 2014

 

 

Pond with Mosquito Fish, Jeff's Home, Miami 2014

 

 

Miami Backyard Corner, Jeff's Home, Miami 2014

 

 

Jeff Giving the Garden Tour (Hammock Point of View), Jeff's Home, Miami 2014

Out of the Tidal Pool, Matheson Hammock Park

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Matheson Hammock and the Line

 

Tucked off Old Cutler Road is Matheson Hammock Park.  The park bakes in the sun on the edge of Biscayne Bay.  I haven’t been there, most likely, since I used to wade in the man made tidal pool.

I wanted to see the water.  I always find comfort in gazing out into the water.  The temperature was rising by the time I got to the park.  The mangroves were thick and provided refuge from the scorching sun.

I was disappointed is all the trash that were trapped in their roots.  Whether they were tossed by park goers, or boaters, I really don’t know.  I wish for our parks and natural spaces to be clean and free of litter.

After the wandering through the mangroves I headed over to the tidal pool.  The tidal pool is where all the youth in our area used to head to play in the water in a safe environment.  I have warm memories of splashing around in the tepid bath like water.

I was happy to see a few kids splashing around.  Even one was screaming about seeing alligators.  It was an odd mix of older folks, small families with young ones, and a few tourists, who must have found about it in a guide book telling them of a nice chill spot away from the South Beach madness.

The coral structures and the thick rusted chains all brought back the giant memories of Matheson Hammock.  I may not really vibe off off swimming in the the tidal pool, but I felt comfortable wandering around, and reflecting of where I came from, and where I will be going.
15 Little Birds, Matheson Hammock Park

Coney Island Wintery Snow Cones

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Home Hot Flag Over Coney Island

 

It is pretty hard to fathom that just a week ago the snow was falling so hard that I could barely see across the street in New York.  Now, I am on my parents patio in Miami, editing the snow filled scenes from NYC.

Coney island is a place I have only heard my family talk about.  My mother remembers going there in the heat of summer and riding the attractions and having out on the sun baked board walk.  I have always wanted to hop on the D train and take in a bit of that board walk history.

It was a day after a blizzard that I finally made my way out to the childhood wonderland of Coney Island.  I took the D train to the West 8th Street Aquarium.  I was just about the only one who got off the train.  I made my way down the soggy steps out onto the street.

The skies were a candy blue as layers upon layers of snow stacked up on the beach.  I spotted the rides and made a mad dash for them.  Well, not exactly a mad dash.  It was as much as a mad dash that this Miamian could manage in brand new snow boots.

This is where both my parents spent their summers.  This is where they munched on candy apples and strolled along the boardwalk.  Now, 60 years later here I am wrapped from head to toe to protect me from the Great White North winds blowing in over the Atlantic.

The whole area was closed and shuttered till spring.  The only to places along the board awl that were open was Nathan’s and Applebees.  Nathan’s looked like a collection of outtakes from a Fellini casting call.

All the snow and the utter lack of other people shifted the whole experience to the surreal.  A place of fun in the sun, was now knee deep in snow.

I continued to crunch along the boardwalk passing someone out for a stroll with their pooch. I wanted to walk down to the waters edge.  The snow collapse under my boots leaving a trail of size 14 prints in the snow.

My nose felt nothing as by now it had numbed in the icy wind.  I could though the memories of my parents experience a side of Coney Island they never did.  The brightly colored rides and walls stood still for me as I was alone with my thoughts and camera.

It was truly absurd to go down to Coney Island in the dead of winter but, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Even though my visit probably had come 60 years after my parents we were able to connect though place if not time.

All the sights and smells may have been different but I could swear I could still smell the sticky sweetness of the cotton candy as I crunched my way though the snow.

 

Snowed In Carousel, Coney Island

Beach Snow Carpet, Coney Island

Snow Candy Reflection, Coney Island

Non Threating Heat, Coney Island

Tokyo Blizzard of February 8, 2014

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Edge of Tokyo in February 08 2014 Blizzard

 

I have been looking at my phone all week.  There had been a snow mark for saturday since about Monday.  I usually don’t think much about it.  Being from Miami, I do find snow quite intriguing.  So, there we go.  We are suppose to get snow.

As the day moved closer reports started to come in that this is going to be the heaviest snow to hit Tokyo in more than 20 years.  I thought that the snow that hit last year pretty bad, but what was coming out in the news was saying that this was going to be a once in a generation storm.

My kitty woke my at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning cause he was hungry.  I gave hime a bit of food and took a look out the window.  My mid Shabbat the show was beginning to fall.  It was crazy cold out and i jumped back in bed.

By morning the snow was pilling up.  I was worried about my patio greenhouses, and I kept on sweeping the accumulating snow off.

Finally I suited up to go on my arctic expedition around the neighborhood.  It was a ghost town.  Almost no one was out.  A few kids were playing in the snow or trying to sled down some small hills.  It was pretty much just me, my camera, and a warm cap.

Snow has a way of beautifying the city.  Everything becomes the same tonality.  Objects take on new shapes as the bleed into one another.  I was out for more than an hour.  The wind would pick up at times, and the snow being so dry this year blew like a leaf blower across my cheeks.

We, the wife and I, were suppose to go out to celebrate her earth day, that wasn’t going to happen.  I made her a cup of amazake  which is a  a thick drink made with the left over mash from nihonshu (sake) and is usually sweetened and sometimes sake is added to it.

Suddenly she is lets go to Seiyu.  We suit up to make the several block trek to the supermarket.  Her  clear vinyl umbrella blew inside out. We walked down the middle of the street.  Some cars had been abandoned on the side of the road.  The only cars we sway were delivery trucks.  Nothing seems to stop the special  deliveries.    Even saw one guy help push another one’s truck out of the snow.

We made it to the store and back.  Caught some olympics and went to sleep.  The snow was still falling even after midnight.

By morning the snow had begun to melt.  I had trekked to the home center to buy a shovel yesterday which came in handy today.  I cleared a small path on the sidewalk adjacent to my home and cleared off the step.

After breakfast my wife asked me to clear off the driveway.  I did.  I soon noticed all of my neighbors were out to with shovels in hand.  Not just the men, but the women too.  They weren’t clearing their driveways, they were clearing the street.  I was shocked.

I couldn’t give in so I too joined in the effort to clear the street.  After about 2 hours I was beat like i went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.  But, I wasn’t done yet.  I retuned with a small spade and joined my wife as we cleared the last bit of road that connected up with the one the busses went down.

Before going back inside.  I just stared at the road cleared of snow and marveled.  We did this!  Not a snow plow but a bunch of housewives cleared out streets and sidewalks so we, as the community, could be safe.  That was beautiful.

All and all a very memorable day.  So much snow.  The teamwork to clean the now.  The astonishing amount of snow that came down from the sky.  I don’t know how my people in the colder climates can cope.

Now rest, for tomorrow shall bring muscle aches.
Nagisa New Town Canyons with Yellow Umbrellas

 

 

Frosted Pruned Trees, Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard

 

 

Snow Slide, Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard

 

 

Riverside Kasai, February 08 2014 Blizzard

 

Yakushi Onsen (Hot Springs) Gunma Prefecture

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Farmer's Home, Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)It

It was been a bit since I have written a post.  Honestly partly laziness with a dash of using my iPhone too much.  That being said I just returned from a whirlwind trip up north to Yakushi Onsen (Hot Springs) in Gunma Prefecture.

We hoped aboard an express JR train from Ueno station heading north.  It wasn’t soon after leaving the Tokyo Terminal that it began to rain.  Speeding away from the industrial center and the endless stretches of concrete the rain quickly turned to sleet and before I knew it it was snowing.

Being a true Miamian, I am always amazed at snow.  This freezing cold white substance that falls from the skies.  No matter how many scientific explanations I read about the formation of snow, it still seems like magic to me.  So, there I was, dashing on this speeding train watching the snow come down, and down.

We excited at Nakanojo station and met by our hotel’s staff that shuttled us 45 minutes up into the Gunma mountains.  As we gained elevation, more and more of the magical white stuff stretched out across the valleys.  By the time we reached the hotel the wet snow had before dry and was whipping about our faces.

The hotel was an old samurai’s home that had been converted to a hotel with most of the outer buildings housing small collections of antiques.  My wife grabbed a blue umbrella to keep off the snow, as I opted to let the show accumulate on my hood.

Japan is famous for there hospitality and Hatago hotel was no exception.  They helped us and served a warm glass of shitake mushroom tea as we answered a barrage of questions about all of our dinning and hotel options.

I walked around for a bit and found a small temple not far away.  By now the snow has ceased falling but the wind was whipping the dry snow across the blanketed farms.  It was beautiful to be making the first tracks across the snow.

It was time to head back and soak away some of those aches and pains.  I get to the bath, and suddenly I couldn’t read the characters for men and women’s bath.  They weren’t the usual ones.  One noren was blue, the other was red.  I kind of assumed that red is close to pink so probably for the women, but I didn’t want to risk being responsible for having an elderly Japanese woman freak out at having a tall bearded foreigner pop his head in.  Proper hot spring etiquette is essential for not being a fear inducing traveler.

I found some staff and and confirmed that the blue side was for me.  I kept repeating the mantra “blue” to myself as I slowly drew back the door and peaked inside.  I was greeted by absolutely no one.  I had the place to myself.

I found a lucky 100 yen in the locker disrobed and put the key around my wrist.  Properly washed before entering the bath.  I poured a few wooden buckets of water over my shoulder as an attempt to adjust to the freezing air and the boiling bath.  I truly had forgotten just how scalding the water could be.  Probably somewhere in the range of around 45C (113F).  Feet in first, then legs, up to my torso and then finally my shoulders.  Not really sure how long this took, but by the time I left the bath I am postive that the water became a bit of a Jacob broth after I was fully able to submerge myself.

The night progressed nicely as the temps dipped into the teens (about -8C).  We sampled a never ending dinner of local goodies and some of sake.  I am not a big eater and I was overwhelmed by all the delicacies.

It was a crispy cold short adventure.  We city dwellers forget that there is so much beauty out there once we make the jump out of the cities.  Tokyo just happens to be so huge that it takes a while to get out.  I was thrilled to see some snow, and snap the shutter a few times.  I need to break out of Tokyo and hit the hills.

 
Mountain in Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)

Temple Flag and Orchard, Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)

Temple Stuffed Rabbit, Inari Shrine Fox and Snow Tracks, Yakushi Onsen (Hot Spring)

Heaven’s Gate Geometry

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Heaven's Gate Geometry

 

It has been a minute since I have sat down and focused on a post.  I just needed a cool out and to start refocusing my thoughts.  Sometimes I have to make the time to step away and look at what I have been doing.  This is one of those moments.

Today as I was passing under the temple’s gate I looked up at the new year’s decorations.  Tied on with bits of string was a piece of calligraphy with one brushed character 「天」,heaven.  I gazed up at the aged wood, the ceiling was plastered with bits of paper each with someone’s name.  The textures, the moment, the atmosphere spoke to me.

As soon as I clicked the shutter I knew that this was for my father.  Today is his 71 earth day.  He is the one who taught me to look to the heavens for guidance and sustenance.  My father Lazer ben Yahkov ,aka Leslie Schere, taught me well, and for that I am forever thankful.

This is for you!

With lots of love from me and the whole Yoshino side of the family.

 

My Girl with a Clipped Camellia, Thankfulness

Friday, December 27th, 2013

My Girl with a Camellia

The bride approaches as the mercury is quickly dipping. A Staub pot bubbles with lamb stew to welcome her into my home.

I sit next to my heater bundled up waiting with an open heart.

Let the colors shine though.
The skies may be overcast but the warmth that comes will come.

This secular year is about to close. My wishes go out to all those that struggle.
I will keep you all in heart as this year ticks to the close.

Keep warm.
Keep your heart on the real prize.

peace
shalom
平和

Have You Seen the MOZE Through the Rain?

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Have You Seen the MOZE Through the Rain?

 

Today was an odd one.  It had been steady raining all day and night that it was looking rather bright in the morning as the sun tried to peek out from behind the clouds.

The wind was still blowing and puddles lined the streets.  Once the light rain broke I knew I had a small window to be out and about to get my errands done.  It didn’t take long for the gray skies to return and a light rain started falling.  It really wasn’t that cold at the time, and the rain was light enough that it didn’t bother me in the least.

That is when I caught the MOZE throw up in the park between Kasai and Nishi Kasai stations.  I have seen it many times, and I have even photographed it a few times too, but I never was able to capture this particular piece until today.

The wet sandy earth scrapped under my feet as I saw my world and MOZE’s reflected into the park’s puddles.  Those passages to other worlds right there next to the elevated Tozai train line.  I truly would like to know who is MOZE.  Our paths keep intersecting in paint and pixels.

Should we meet?  Or, would that destroy the thrill of tracking down all these tags, throw ups, and pieces.  I don’t know yet.  All I do know is that I will continue to be on the prowl for MOZE in my hood.

Peace

 

Big System, S&H, Samm Bennett, Nii Tete and Habu Musical Stylings for Tohoku Charity Concert

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Big System Nii Tete and Samm Bennett on Mouth Bow, Charity Concert 2013 (4 of 11)

 

On a chilly Saturday afternoon in Shin Urayasu in Meikai Univeristy‘s gymnasium a group of residents, students, and music lovers all gathered to hear the musical stylings of Nii Tete, Big System, Samm Bennet, S&H and the vibe on the street moves of White Hat.

The concert was UFRA (Urayasu Foreign Residents Association) with help by the City of Urayasu and Meikai University.  The event was hosted and emceed by myself.  Something I hadn’t planned on doing until more or less the last minute when I channeled a bit of my brothers DNA as I gripped the mic and did my part to help boost the concerts energy.

The music was thrilling mixture of mountain neo-Americana, African drums, and and Japanese inspired rhythms.  The beats and rhythms went straight to my soul.  The world culture blended right before our eyes and penetrated our ears.

Even though I was the emcee and had a camera holstered though out the show I so wanted to get on a drum and join in the beat making.

First up was Nii Tete and his kpanlogo Drums.  His beat making was incredible.  I am sure for many in the audience they had never heard drums as the featured instrument. Nii’s hands moved to quickly for my shutter. The lyrics spilled forth from his heart and raised the temperature in the gymnasium.
Nii Tete on the Kpanlogo Drums Charity Concert 2013 (2 of 11)

 

After about 20 minutes Nii was joined on stage by Samm Bennet for the duo of Big System.  Samm’s music is firmly rooted in the blues of the deep south.  It was moving to see the blues journey back to their own African. The common language being the rhythm of the drums as the two talked back and forth though the twangs and thumps of their instruments.
Big System Nii Tete and Samm Bennett, Charity Concert 2013 (5 of 11)

After a short intermission and clearing of the stage the lights dimmed and the street dance moves of White Hat studio took the stage.  In three groups each took 3 minutes and showed off their skills of popping and locking, street dancing, and hip hop moves.  The little shorties rocked the stage and mesmerized all the youngsters.
White Hat Group, 「森羅万象」Charity Concert 2013 (9 of 11)

 

Next up was Habu and Samm Bennett of S&H.  Habu had strapped on two sets of ankle bells to each foot and danced around the stage while banging on his home make drum.  Samm’s soulful voice brought me back to the days I never knew of hanging around the country juke joint.  I traveled through time with S&H.  Their last song featured the squeaks and squeals of two rubber pigs.  I don’t think anyone in attendance will ever forget those singing pigs.
Habu and Samm Bennet of S&H, Charity Concert 2013 (10 of 11)

 

By the time the last song, and the last of the chairs put away every drop of energy had been expended to bring this charity concert to life.  I am thankful for all the help I received in helping to bring help to the children of Tohoku.

Special Thanks

Samm Bennet – Polarity Records

Nii Tete 

Megumi Uesugi – Assistant Professor, Meikai University Hospitality and Tourism Department

Meikai University

Gemba – dj honda records japan

Hamada – White Hat Studio

Aaron Randall – Sound

Naho Kuroda – Translation

UFRA Chair and Committee Members

Faculty and Students of the Meikai University Hospitality and Tourism Department

City of Urayasu

Ayamekai Aikido

 
Big System Nii Tete and Samm Bennett, Charity Concert 2013 (3 of 11)

Big System Nii Tete and Samm Bennett, Charity Concert 2013 (1 of 11)

 

Samm Bennett on Box Guitar, Charity Concert 2013 (8 of 11)

 

 

The Rubber Accompanying Piggies, Charity Concert 2013 (6 of 11)

 

 

UFRA LOVES Tohoku Button, Charity Concert 2013 (7 of 11)

 

 

Not the End, Just Another Beginning with Samm Bennett, Charity Concert 2013 (11 of 11)

 

Till the next charity event.  Thank you again to all that helped and came out!

 

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