Toe Kyo Whoa Oh. Echee.
I don't care what anyone says - Japan is the greatest place on Earth. Wait a second… what am I talkin' about? Who the hell would disagree with that?! Japan is the greatest place on Earth.
Once again, in the usual Trivium-fashion - we have decided to do something that probably isn't in the best interest of health, safety and sanity. In the middle of the Dream Theater support tour, we were confirmed to play NYC, then to fly to Tokyo for about a day and a half to play one show… then fly back immediately to re-join the tour we were on. If you were flying us somewhere else in the world… maybe we'da bitched a little more… but this is Japan we're talkin' about!
For Japan - I can overlook the herds of overweight, mouth-breathing, fanny-pack-wearing, waddling imbeciles that infest all airports in the US of A; I can stomach sticking to my handy, self-packed meals of Triscuits, Kashi granola, Clif Bars and maybe the occasional safe air-port chain (Potbelly's (rare), Subway (less rare), Pret A Manger (U.K. exclusive), Starbucks (pretty common)); stockpiling bottled water to ward off my 1.5 - 2 gallon-a-day thirst aboard the fart-tube. Fart Tube? Yes. That's every airplane in existence once they hit their 10,000 ft. altitude or whatever.
The human intestinal system starts to pressurize on an airplane… and all that nuclear-fallout-safe Micky D's that all the aforementioned cattle just shoveled down their gullet? Well - you're going to be eating that toxic-dump-air for the next 12-20 hours - think about that next time you think my fellow home-countrymen and women are nuts for wearing those (half creepy) little surgical-protection masks. That shit is to prevent doo doo air from asphyxiating your throat (and obviously… courteously prevent further spreading of illness). I digress.
Airline travel gets more insane every year. Those who tried to mess life in America up for good… well all they did was make our lines a little longer, our TSA far bitchier and people-who-travel-for-a-living's lives far more difficult. If you want to see the most accurate representation of what the TSA is in actuality, watch South Park's episode "Reverse Cowgirl." They nailed what the TSA is.
It hurts me deep inside to see the ever-shrining intellect of our populous represented at the airport. People at the airport… those clueless ones… they have zero regard for all other human life aside from their own. Slow moving, illiterate, rude, foul-smelling out of all ends, always accompanied by an equally grotesque partner and offspring - why can't people just be a little quicker: "Yes. In the USA - shoes come off, computers out, no - your gun can't come through security." Common sense, America.
Rant complete. Thanks for listening.
But yeah - that's a fraction of my feelings for traveling. But when you're talkin' flyin' to Japan - I can overlook all that.
A couple of my tricks to make intensely long flights easy:
1. Have everything ready to be dumped into it's appropriate spot ASAP. Know which bag is going up, which down, what you need plopped on your seat. Do it quickly. Don't do it in the aisle… get the fuuuuckkkk out the way of the aisle and let those waddlers get their exercise.
2. Once sat, switch all your watches to the time you're going. It's not about "oh - but it's this time at home." That doesn't exist. As soon as you sit - convince your brain; then get on schedule.
3. By schedule… I mean if it's bed time… do what you do. Granted - I know I am of "a higher maintenance" level than the average bear - but thankfully I am independent enough to pack accordingly for that. I have a micro travel version of my bathroom bag, snacks, entertainment… I prep as if I were a a child. And lemme tell you - it helps. So if it's "almost bed time" where I'm heading to, it's a Clif bar for dinner or fruit; floss, listerine, tooth brush, face wash and "Heafy plane suit" time. I avoid all airplane food at all costs. I'll get it in the terminal if it's a must… but airplane food is disgusting. I'll fast or eat seeds and grains till I can get something that didn't arrive in a tin-foil sheet, out of a frozen box… cooked in some factory.
4. Heafy plane suit: comfortable (hopefully still semi-fashionable) outfit, hoodie, bandana around mouth (fart fumes, remember?), eye mask, ear plugs, doctor-safe sleeping pills, back pillow (McKenzie lower-back lumbar pillow), any other pillows I can scrounge up - sleep. I recently picked up two new additions… my good buddy from high school and middle school Rajiv (about to become an M.D.) says loading up on an Airborne vitamin before a flight acts as a shield if you're not sick yet. One of my recent vocal coaches recommended a thing bit of Neosporin at all your orifices to prevent illness getting in as well.
If ever a film completely, accurately depicted the exact feeling of an arrival into Japan via a long flight - it was Lost In Translation. Bill Murray arrives in the plane completely exhausted-looking, justifiably beat from the 10-16 or so hour flight… even in the cab it's a haze. However, once the lights of Shibuya start to encircle the cab, Bill is awoken from his comatose-state… he enters a full state of consciousness and wonderment as he takes in the sights. It's as if childhood innocence has come back to him for the first time since adolescence.
Shibuya does it to me every time. It's another planet in Japan… especially in areas more so like Shibuya. It's a testament to everything Japan: extremes. So many people… so much technological, futuristic lights flashing away some of the biggest (and oddest looking) J-Pop and J-Rock videos; the restaurants look traditional and classic and maintained as if warped in from the Edo-period… but oh wait - there's an arcade with a giant Pikachu vomiting out light-balls and kids playing pachinko inside of it's stomach. It's a mix of ultra traditional and ultra modern. There's nothing in the universe like that first trip into the lights of Shibuya… it changes you.
My first flight to Japan ever, I didn't sleep a wink in about 48 hours, my nose kept spouting blood every 2-3 hours, I was starving, scared, depressed, homesick… When I took my first proper wander into town… it was like reemerging from the womb. I felt like I had never really lived till that moment. It hurt at first… then it was beauty. Not unlike being tattooed and enjoying the end result when it's healed… or being in your first (not creepy) Turkish wet sauna at 195 degrees, then pouring freezing ice water on your head. That kind of awakening. Thankfully after 10 or so times… all that painful stuff doesn't happen anymore. It's like the awkwardness of being a virgin all over again that first time you hit Japan.
Unfortunately… (anti-climactic right)… this festival didn't put us in Shibuya!!! Blast!
(to be continued…)