erin and ann come for a visit!


On Monday, 10 April, my dear, dear friend erin and her sister Ann came for a visit. Since they were going to be going to Vietnam, they decided to make a stop in Japan in order to take a crazy bus tour. And it truly must have been a crazy bus tour, since they ended up stopping at Todaiji in Nara, Osakajo in Osaka, and Chinatown in Kobe — all in one day. I think it took me close to, like, a year to hit all of those places. So anyway, they were pretty exhausted when they touched down here, so we pretty much just had a mellow time and went to a couple of restaurants and hung out and stuff.

Probably the most interesting moment came as we were walking through back streets of Umeda and ended up running into a protest/concert/cook-out intended to draw attention to Banana Hall, a livehouse that, after 25 years, was going to become the victim of gentrification. The staff, many of them in work clothes, were playing music and hosting a pot luck in front of the beautifully graffiti-jeweled entrance that will, sadly, probably be done away with by the new owners. I only wish that I had found out about Banana Hall earlier, since it seems like it would have been one of the special places. The staff were really sweet, sharing cans of Chuhai with us and telling us about how crappy the new owners were. In fact, they sang a couple of songs about how crappy the new owners were as well.

Finally, erin was not only my close neighbor in Oakland for nigh on seven years, but she also has precisely the same taste in shower curtains that I have. Since there are no decent shower curtains in all of Japan (hard to find, too small) erin had the decency to bring me a delightful curtain prize from the Bed, Bath, and Beyond located just down the Broadway from where I used to live. Thanks erin!

(Update: As of September, 2008, Banana Hall has still not closed its doors.  Apparently a combination of community pressure and a lawsuit has kept the venue open, though I’m not sure what the ultimate prognosis is.)


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