First stop: haircut by Yuuki Morishita, skater/hairdresser at Guru’s Cut&Stand. When I put my head back to get my hair washed, I got a view of a ceiling that is lined with skateboard decks. Yuuki had style books for cut ideas. There was a page with a cut inspired by a photo I had taken in the ‘90s of Marc Razo ollieing onto my car in Williamsburg, published in the “Full Bleed: New York City Skateboard Photography” book by Alex Coroporan, Ivory Serra, and Marc’s brother Andre Razo. The style book showed a Japanese kid rocking the Marc Razo hair cut holding the book open to the page with my picture—so funny.
Well, I didn’t get the Marc Razo cut, Yuuki gave me a classic bob and blew it dry just a little too puffy. We took a lot of pictures. A kid passed by riding a scooter with a yellow American football helmet on.
Next stop: Map Camera in Shinjuku. On the way we grabbed coffee at Little Nap, a cute shop with mustache cupcakes and a stack of my show flyers. Map Camera was holding a Ricoh GR-21 for me that we called about the day before. They warned us that the camera was in great shape but that it smelled like cigarettes—I didn’t care. I’ve been waiting to get that camera for 6 months as my last 2 were dead in the water and once they go, no one in the world can or will repair them. When we got our hands on the camera, we both smelled it. The salesman was wondering what we were doing. If you have your passport you don’t have to pay tax but I didn’t know—I snagged that thing anyway. I wasn’t going to let this rare camera out of my sight. The next day I cruised back (with my passport) to buy a Leica lens.
That night we went to a pop-up karaoke party at what the cute photo girls throwing it were calling The Swedish Bar, a bar for Swedish construction workers. ”I had never done karaoke in my life—an ex-boyfriend in the ‘90s told me to never sing, which scarred me for life—but I thought, what the hell, I don’t know anyone here. So I belted out Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive.” And sort of killed it. After that, I kept getting passed the mic. I should have stopped while I was ahead. But it was fun and as the night went on, most of the Japanese kids in there couldn’t read the English lyrics so me and my new bro, Eric Guzman, did a duet.
We left when Taku started falling asleep and a white girl threw up in the sink. We all took some power foto chick pictures before we walked out the door. A little bit of walking around ‘till 5 am, along with many of the people that missed their trains home and were waiting it out, eating ramen in the 24-hour places near the train station.
Thought I would give it a go solo and try to figure out the subways. I screengrabbed all the maps and directions so I could figure out how to navigate it. The subway was a bit confusing but asked a kid at the ticket place if he spoke English to help me. It was fun to be lost in a foreign country. It’s getting harder and harder to do that these days, but I loved it. The camera guy immediately remembered me because I looked at so many lenses the day before. I bought the 28mm f/2.8—it’s really small, and I thought I would give it a try, so I headed to the train station where the Lolita Goth chicks hang out.
They really weren’t there but I saw some rockabilly dudes dancing in a circle, sporting black leather and ‘50s doo-wop hair. Someone said they have been doing this for over 30 years. I followed these insane-looking chicks who didn’t want their pictures taken but I thought they might lead me to others. I felt like Diane Arbus, following strangers on the street. I made my way to Cat Street, where there are a lot of trendy shops and people sporting their best go-shopping looks.
I got a bit lost but then found a pack of about 25 crazy-dressed girls and boys, some with fox and cat faces and victorian clothes, raver kids, lots of colors and all happily posing. There were a number of non-Japanese kids dressed up too. My Leica m7 batteries died—which is a pain, cause you have no light meter, and I had to keep my shutter at 1/60th and 125th. But luckily I had my trusty m6 too.
I was psyched that I at least got something. I tried to find the Head Porter store to get a computer bag. Asked a girl and her friend with long pink hair, they GPS’d it and then caught up with me on the street, showing me a note on her phone that read, “follow me i will lead you.” So I did for 10 minutes and they took me right there. I walked along Meiji Dori back to the hotel and saw a crazy cross-dresser baby-doll dress-wearing dude with a limp. Also a huge line of people lining up for Chicago-style popcorn? Two girls wearing identical outfits walking with a selfie stick. A girl with a Chanel bottle iPhone 6 (big one) case around her neck that she said she got from China. They were all looking to be noticed and were generally very happy to get their pictures taken.
“I had two more dinners that night. After the first dinner, then on to the ramen house. I like the two dinner thing.”
Gone by Train