Here’s a list of the social media sites I am currently a member of:
Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pintrest, Sumally, Flickr, LinkedIn, Path, Wordpress, Google +, Foursquare, Fancy, Yelp!, Blogspot, Youtube, and Vimeo.
I’m sure there’s a site I’m forgetting now. Instagram isn’t on the list because I made a conscious decision NOT to join (since I think the concept is boring/dumb). 16 different sites for me to choose from to share my shit with the world. 16 different ways for me to let people know where I’m eating, how far I just ran, how my cat likes to eat candy corn, who I’m with, and my taste in music. I’m realizing that having this many choices when it comes to social media is actually a bad thing for all parties involved. I’ll call it “the splinterization of social media”.
I want to make sure that I’m not coming off as an old dude hating on “over sharers”. It should be obvious I’m not a hater since I’m sharing my opinion on my blog (which then links to Twitter and Facebook). I’m not against social media. I like sharing the stupid moments of my life with my friends, and I respect the insane impact sites like Twitter have had on the world. There’s just too many choices.
For example….There’s eBay, and there’s Craigslist. I use eBay to buy and sell things that I can’t find locally, and I use Craigslist for the opposite. I have a pretty easy decision to make when I choose where to sell my stuff. If I want to buy a used drum set, I go to Craigslist not eBay. Easy.
What if you take the same scenario into social media? For example, lets say I’m out to dinner with a friend and want to let everyone know “I’m eating dinner with Mark at Biwa, and the hamburger is legit.” I could:
The list goes on and on…I’m finding that as the number of options I have to share my life online, the less inclined I am to share. When I first got on Facebook I shared a lot. Then I got a Twitter account that divided up the same amount of sharing between the two sites. Then I got this blog and shared more here, but less on Facebook. Now with Google +, Path, and Pintrest, I’m paralyzed with choices of how to share my life online. I’m sure I’m not alone.
I know what you’re saying….”All of my accounts are linked together, so when I post a photo to Instagram, it automatically forwards to Facebook, Twitter, and Google +”. Stupid. Does that make it right? All it says is that no one wants to be caught off-guard sharing the lame way (Friendster), and that we’re incapable of picking a single lane (Facebook). I’m guilty as anyone…I’m on Path strictly because the interface is slick even though its basically a mini-Facebook. I’m still on Google + even though my single post (“So far, google + is stups” – dated July 16th) sums up how I feel about their site to this day. I’m not exactly sure why I don’t just cut the cord (or push the Cloud away?).
If I was some super-nerd tech genius with the deep pockets and the ability to code I wouldn’t be interested in creating another version of Twitter or the next Youtube strictly out of not wanting to enter a over-saturated market with a ton of competition.
While we’re on the topic of eBay, here’s what I think: There’s only room for one eBay.
Imagine if there was an aBay, bBay, cBay, dBay, and eBay. You’d have five choices where to sell with possibly 1/5th of the traffic. Not good for the seller, not good for the buyer. Having one major online auction is good for everyone. Having one eBay means that it’s easier for me to sell my stuff, its easier for you to buy my stuff, and when I want to sell you my stuff in the future I’ll go back to eBay. Going back to eBay ensures they’ll stay in business long enough for me to sell you my stuff in the future. Phew.
Maybe monopolies are a good thing after all.
The best part of this post is the links below this sentence.
Tokyo Flashback #3: Sapporo Ushitie
I’ve been back in Portland for over three months, and I’m just getting around to finally putting together my last Tokyo blog post. I was going to write about this crazy night where I had a 3am parking lot meeting with a Yakuza member who wore Crocs and was watching Beyonce’s Girls Run the World video on a flat screen TV in his car, but I guess I’ll have to tell you about that one in person.
This is a story about the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. Not the best meal I had during my time in Tokyo. The best meal I’ve ever had. In any city. At any price. Ever.
About three weeks into my trip to Tokyo I spent the day in Ikebukuro checking out some craft gallery that turned out to be lame. I googled “lunch in Ikebukuro”, and read about some “Hamburg” place nearby that sounded pretty interesting. After 45 minutes walking around in circles led by iPhone’s GPS I finally found the basement entrance to Sapporo Ushitie.
The interior of Sapporo Ushitie wasn’t all that memorable minus the giant flat screen TV playing sports, which is usually either a really good, or really bad sign. Turned out that the TV was a sign from heaven. As for most of the amazing places I ate in Tokyo, I was the only white dude in the place.
Hamburg (as I later learned) is basically a hamburger without the bun. I know what you’re thinking…a hamburger without a bun should be illegal, but some who they made it work.
The menu at Sapporo Ushitie is simple and perfect; Pick the size of burger, how you want it cooked, toppings, and size of rice. That’s it.
I usually eat super fast…like professional food eating competition fast, but I took my sweet this meal. I would take a bite, then take a photo. Take a bite, then shoot a video of what was left on my plate. I noticed both the patrons and staff of the restaurant staring at me, but I didn’t really care. It was that good.
When I finished my meal I bowed to the staff a million times and tried as best as I could to tell them how good my meal was. I think I said something like “That food was number one most delicious meal ever”. They smiled. I took more photos.
About a week before I came back to Portland I brought a group (including my Japanese friend) to go to Sapporo Ushitie, claiming it was the best meal I had ever had, and they should judge for themselves. They agreed with me.
When we entered Sapporo Ushitie the chef immediately recognized me, and asked in Japanese “You’re the guy who was taking photos a few weeks ago, right?”
The guys at Sapporo Ushitie were amazing, and invited me back to film the process of cooking a hamburg from start to finish. I tried my best to capture all the nuances, but to be honest I don’t think I did. Trying to interview someone in a language you don’t speak is even more difficult than it sounds.
One of the coolest things I learned was that only four people know the recipe for their secret sauce, which is shipped in daily form Sapporo. Even Miyazawa-san, the hamburg chef doesn’t know the recipe.
So…If you’re reading this blog and you ever go to Tokyo (and you’re not a vegetarian..can’t help you there), you have to go to Sapporo Ushitie. If your meal is anything less than perfect, i’ll give you your money back for what you spent on lunch. Its that good. Map it HERE.
Tokyo Flashback #2: Bosozoku and Tokkofuku
I can remember my first day in Japan nearly 13 years ago like it was yesterday. I’d studied Japanese in high school, I’d had Japanese roommates, and I loved ramen. I was psyched to see what Japan was all about.
My friend Joji picked me up from Narita Airport and we drove straight into Chiba City to grab my first real Japanese meal at an Izakaya. After dinner we went to a Pachinko parlor where I tried the game for the first (and last) time. We went to a Japanese 7-11 to buy canned milky tea, and I immediately fell in love with Japan. As we left 7-11 I saw a guy ride past us on a crazy motorcycle that looked like it was constructed half in 1982, and half in 2082. It was loud, it was weird, and it was awesome. ”What the fuck was that?”, I asked. “Bosozoku.”
Bosozoku (literally translated into English as “Speed Tribes”) are motorcycle gangs made up of rough kids from smaller cities around Japan.
In the 1970s and 80s you could see Bosozoku gangs riding around late night in Tokyo, but these days you’re lucky to see them in the smaller cities around Japan as the culture has taken a nosedive in popularity.
When I ask my Japanese friends what they think about Bosozoku, they unanimously think they’re lame. Maybe the equivalent sub-culture in the US are the kids who trick out their Maximas with spinners and purple lights.
They’ve got their own style of bikes, their own clothing, their own magazines, and now an English language documentary.
I’ve never been into cars or motorcycles, but what initially peaked my interest in Bosozoku were their uniforms called Tokkofuku.
Tokkofuku are the equivalent of the Hells Angels motorcycle jacket, but much, MUCH weirder. Long Matrix-style jackets with intricate embroidery of Kanji characters cover nearly every inch of the jacket. The jackets themselves are pretty cheap, but the embroidery is expensive, with intricate designs costing upwards of $1000.
For the past decade I’ve tried any way possible to buy my own tokkofuku. I tried resale shops during my work trips to Tokyo, I tried yahoo auctions…I tried everything, and had no luck. The closest thing I could find were clothing stores that sold construction workers uniforms, but they didn’t offer the embroidery. It was dead end after dead end. That is until this past trip to Japan.
I enlisted the help of some of my Japanese colleagues at Nike to help me find a place that specialized in Tokkofuku. After some Internet searching they found a placed called “Fashion House” in Honatsugi, Yokohama. The guy who owned the shop was a little surprised when we called him up to let him know that a gaijin (and not a local thugged out kid) wanted to make his own tokkofuku, but he was confident in his skills. He told us of a time years ago when he created tour outfits for Aerosmith.
I was so excited to find a place that could do the real embroidery, that two days later I was on my way to Honatsugi to make my own jacket.
To get to this place from Tokyo it’s about an hour and a half by train, then a 30 minute walk through a residential neighborhood. The only gaijin who have ever been to Honatsugi were either lost, or JET English teachers forced to live in the ‘burbs.
I imagined that Fashion House was going to be in a rough part of town (still haven’t seen the “rough” parts of Japan, but my friends swear they exist) with a bunch of Bosozoku out front smoking cigarettes and playing dice, but the reality was much more boring. Fashion House was in a strip mall with a ramen place and men’s hair salon. So not gangster.
When I walked into the shop, I assumed that the owner Toshio was going to remember the phone call two days before telling him that a white guy who didn’t speak much Japanese was coming in to make a jacket, but he blanked me. I had to ask him if I was in the right shop since there was only one embroidered jacket mixed in with school uniforms and fake Affliction T-shirts. “Yeah, yeah. This is the right place,” he said to me in Japanese.
Got it…lets get down to business. I tried on a few of the jackets he was selling, but they were garbage. The fabric was crappy, the fit was weird, and the sleeves were so short that they barely passed my elbows. “Can I give you my own jacket to embroider?” I asked him through the Google Translate app on my iPhone. “Sure.”
I showed him my designs, he chuckled, and after paying my money he gave me a can of coffee for the long trek back to Tokyo.
Two weeks later, I got my jacket, and I love it.
Translation: Death Before Dishonor
Translation: Japan USA
Translation: Wild Cat Attack
Tokyo flash back #1: All Black Everything
I found (and drank) 37 different variations of canned black coffee out of vending machines in Tokyo. Who ‘gon stop me, huh?
I’ve been a collector all my life. I’ve collected shoes, clothes, cameras, records, and magazines (and more) to the point of obsession, possibly hoarding. I can’t say I’m as bad as the people on that Hoarders show on A&E, but it got out of hand. Overflowing closets, drawers, and rooms filled with garbage that I didn’t want or need, but was somehow compelled to keep. “My grandmother bought me those shoes when I visited Scotland in 1996 so I should hold onto them”, or “What if I need 75 flat pack single record mailers…it would be stupid for me to throw them out because i’ll just end up buying them again.” I could justify all of it. I had an excuse for why I kept all of the junk. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t help myself. That is until I went to Japan.
Before we left for Tokyo, trying to pack 3 months worth of shit into two suitcases stressed me out. It took me days to pack, and I always had this feeling that I wasn’t bringing enough. With limited space in our Tokyo apartment, I made due with with the contents of those two suitcases. In the end, it was easy.
My time in Tokyo inspired me in so many different ways but most importantly I learned that my compulsion to collect needed to get checked. Long story short, I’ve spent the past few days purging. I’ve cleared out an entire storage unit, sold 80% of my record collection, and gave up a few pairs of shoes to charity. 97 paris to be exact.
I know its in bad taste to show off and tell people that you’ve given to charity, but I thought about how pissed off my friends are going to be that I didn’t hook them up with free sneakers and I should explain why.
I thought about offering up my collection of shoes to friends on Facebook who would appreciate UNDFTD AF1s, leather Hyperfights, first edition wovens, unreleased Dunks, and Supreme SBs, but in the end I came to my senses and gave them all to a charity to kids (that are lucky enough to have a shoe size of 10.5).
If anything, maybe this blog post might remind you that you’ve probably got some extra stuff in your closet that you don’t need as bad as someone else. Donate your shit today.