(Excerpted from Chapter 11: Sushi, Day Work & Crazy Horse: The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries)
The Egypt Air flight from Manila to Tokyo is loaded with beautiful Filipinas bound for Ginza district’s repugnant nightclubs – where the Japanese Yakuza runs all rackets.
Tokyo is a quantum leap forward in time and an equally jolting step backwards concerning the condition of humanity. Champions of efficient technocratic glitz would surely disagree. Where else on the planet does a minimum-wage servant apologize for a twenty second wait on a Big Mac? In what other nation do the train seats swivel 360 degrees as you float on a cushion of air at breakneck speed?
Where else do cabbies wear three-piece suits instead of baseball caps, reserving their obscenities for their beaten down oksan? What other country would have thought to place density meters on their toilets for controlled flushing of various types of human shit? Where else but in this lead pod of a shiny vessel heading into hyperspace automation with the near unanimous support of its comfortable crew?
The subway is my coping mechanism for traversing this city of nearly twenty-five million. Packed like fine-suited sardines, the glum faces of robotized office workers fly by Shinjuku Station. The subway walls, where one would expect to see the battle-cry graffiti of the few dissenters who remain here, instead sport chic corporate advertisements whose not so subtle message is that if you have come to play by the rules you will have a marvelous time.
Those who think for themselves will not find such a warm welcome. Long-hair, beards, jeans and t-shirts are treated with equal amounts of contempt. I would know. I try to shortchange the ticket guy, but he’s seen this dumb foreigner act a time too many.
The few Japanese who reject homogenization do so quite vigorously. The Japanese Red Army exists mostly in a state of self-imposed exile, fighting battles alongside revolutionary forces such as the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the African National Congress in South Africa.
Every Sunday at Harajuku Park, Tokyo’s anarchist contingent shows up for the weekly punk rock festival. Staring vacant suits stroll at the park’s perimeter, secretly envious of this skateboard-as-vanguard display of autonomy and freedom. I plop down on my blanket at the park’s entrance and sell Nepalese trinkets to raise some cash.
An Israeli stops by with nicely-framed pictures of Mickey Mouse, fuzzy white puppies and bouquets of flowers. He informs me in typically condescending Israeli fashion that these cheesy pictures sell well in Japan. He throws his best recruiting pitch, hoping I will buy some at “wholesale” and try to peddle them alongside my more tasteful bronze lion sculptures, prayer wheels and chunky Nepalese jewelry.
I tell him I cannot afford to buy them since I am broke, so he offers to front me a few dozen to get me started. I increasingly despise him and resolve to take his arrogant ass for a ride. I tell him with my best dumb South Dakota flatlander routine, that I suppose I could try and sell a few.
I feel this city closing in on my mind, caving in my ability to think critically. I have to get out. I suspect the Israelis are using their picture-selling scam as cover for a Mossad spy ring – probably tied to the Japanese Yakuzza mafia and their drugs and arms peddling habit. It is time for payback for the inbred who tried to fuck with me in Batad. Pictures in hand, I plot an elaborate counter-offensive.
I tell the Israeli I will pay him for what I sell in two weeks. I hit the streets on Monday morning and will do so every day this week to sell as many pictures and Nepalese trinkets as I can. I inform the asshole landlord at Cosmo House – the gaijin house where I am staying – that I have finally found gainful employment and will pay him for past due rent on Tuesday of next week. I reserve a seat for my return leg to Manila on Egypt Air for next Monday.
On Saturday I sell the remaining pictures to an Italian woman staying at Cosmo at a huge discount. This puts more money in my pocket and will allow her to make a tidy profit as well. First thing Monday morning, I hop the subway for Narita International Airport, having pocketed over $500 in cash, ripped off the Mossad and skipped rent on the racist flop house owner. Nobody said it would be pretty.
As the Egypt Air 747 lifts off, a huge sense of relief comes over me. I have plunged into the heart of the beast and come away with a sizable piece of its wallet. I eat a meal of filet mignon. A British woman sitting next to me is a vegetarian, so I eat her filet mignon as well. We drink whiskey until the lights of Manila come into view.
The plane circles and prepares to land. I joke with the woman, who is scared of landing, that we are sure to crash. The plane wobbles left and bounces on the tarmac. The overhead luggage racks fly open. Bags and babies are tossed about. No more jokes.
Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve,Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel. You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hookcolumn @www.hendersonlefthook.wordpress.com