Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day two hundred and ninety four ... Big in Japan.

Check this out.
When I was a kid I used to collect these Japanese versions of Peanuts books. It appears that now they are collectable. Someday, when I get to the part of the stuff in my folks' place where they are stored, I'll make a mint on ebay. 

I kind of always liked the strange but symbiotic merging of such purely American characters as Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Lucy, with centuries-old, Japanese language characters in the bubbles above their heads. It made me wonder what they thought of it all, and if it had any relation to the way I understood them.

And now, I wonder the same thoughts, but with a bit more of myself invested in the equation.

Yes, it was only a matter of time before the Japanese became engrossed with our heros, The Young @ Heart Chorus.

The movie, which has been out in the U.S. since April (buy it on DVD today), is just hitting Europe and Asia in November, and the word on the street is that it is highly anticipated and expected to do quite well.

And so, for the last few weeks I've been prepared to do a mock-gig at the Florence Community Center where we rehearse (and where much of the film was shot) for a contingent of Japanese media people. This past Sunday was the day.

I was guaranteed a generous fee, as well as a sandwich buffet.

I was not disappointed.

Note: Stan in the orange, wearing his trademarked cane-scarf. Genius.

After the sandwich buffet, I wandered over to a table which had a few press related materials on it.

This all seems so strange to me, but in a different way than it usually is. It has a bit more of a alien-world tinge to it. Maybe it's all the Godzilla films I watched as a child on Channel 56. Maybe it's the anime, which I don't understand, but am taken by regardless. Either way, I love how some things just don't translate from English to Japanese, like the "@" symbol. 

In the background of the poster, above, is a shot from the interior of the Academy of Music, which is right here in Northampton. I understand why there is Japanese script running down the center of it, but it still confuses my mind's eye.

Take a look at this inset from said poster.

Get it? It's the Rolling Stones tongue logo, but made in the form of a pair of dentures. Hmm ...

This would never get the go-ahead by any American marketing company, but in Japan it's hilarious.


We got little pins made in the same logo.

I likes my swag.

There were Japanese paper-fans, postcards, and little snacks for the taking as well. The snacks were the of the puffed rice variety found in some Japanese restaurants. They had a strong shrimp flavoring ... 

... and then they just give it to you straight-up.

Prawn tails on rice cracker. 

It's a delicacy I'm told.


We did a few tunes to warm up before they filmed. Then we did them for real. They included: Queen's "Bicycle Race"; Bowie's "Golden Years"; Talking Heads' "Heaven"; and a couple more I'm forgetting.

After that the band was sort of off the hook for an hour while they did some promos.

There is, apparently, a big show over there called King's Brunch, that's kind of like our version of Good Morning America. 

Umm ... sure. Whatever you guys say ... I believe you ... really. King's Brunch ... makes sense to me.

As you can see, they were coached on this line.

They not only said it, they sang it. Classic.

Kato and Terry (on the sign above) are the hosts of King's Brunch (I think).

This was all as entertaining as you could expect. There was this guy with the cue-cards who didn't speak any English. He is, I'm told, a pretty high ranking media person. He was with a Japanese woman who did speak English; she was also a higher-up. And then there was a caucasian guy named Steve who translated and coached the 30-odd members of the chorus to say short phrases in Japanese. 

And now we come to the video portion of my post. This is, I think, a pretty funny and concise minute and a half outlining the vibe of the day and how these guys, unbeknownst to them, ended up learning a few words that, in all of their eighty-odd years, they probably never thought they would learn ... and I never thought I would witness.

And so, the day came to an end. Our visitors packed up their belongings and headed back halfway around the world with what should be some pretty cool footage. They were much nicer and easier to work with than some of the European media-jerks we've encountered; they showed us respect and we gave it back in return.

And when I got home and took a look inside my Young @ Heart media booklet (which was all in Japanese except for the "@" sign), I saw something that I thought was immensely cool. It seems that thirty or so years after I was taken by the Peanuts cartoons--what with how strange it all seemed to have such obviously American characters in amongst those cool Japanese symbols--I noticed that, after all this time, I finally had become part of it all ...

... in more ways than one.

Yes, that's me in the middle. And I have no freaking idea what the hell it says. But in my mind I am the happy-reigning-supreme-success-making-guitar-monster-that-conquered-the-world.

And maybe it just says "Coming to a theater near you."

I'll have to ask someone to translate it for me when we go over there on tour.

Thanks for reading.


1 comment:

guess said...

I just love starting my day laughing out loud.. Thanks for this one..