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Posts Tagged ‘Tokyo’

Nimble Surrealism: Talking with Gabrielle Bell

November 12, 2012 | by

Whether delving into memorable personal stories or exemplifying a sort of nimble surrealism, Gabrielle Bell’s comics are harder to classify than one might think. Reading her work chronologically, one can find her range expanding from sharp day-to-day observations to forays into the surreal and magic realist. The title story of the collection Cecil and Jordan in New York follows a young woman who moves to the city and searches for an apartment and a purpose. It’s fairly kitchen sink in its realism, right up until the point where the protagonist matter-of-factly decides to become a chair. It’s a dose of deadpan absurdism that opens up the storytelling possibilities, and keeps the reader on their toes.

The Voyeurs is Bell’s latest book, covering several years in her life, and taking her from promoting a film in Tokyo to finding a space for yoga in her Brooklyn apartment to San Diego for Comic-Con. Its introduction comes courtesy of Aaron Cometbus, whose long-running zine suggests certain parallels to Bell’s deftly autobiographical work. We met at a bar near Bell’s apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn—a neighborhood that has provided the setting for much of her work.

Lucky begins as a kind of slice-of-life documentation of your life. By the end of the first volume, though, it’s become less overtly realistic and more expressionistic. When did you make that leap?

It was towards the end of writing Lucky, when I got to the point about Francophilia, when I talked about talking with Gerard Depardieu. That must have been the first time that I did that. Or maybe it was when I had this fantasy about being an art assistant, and the artist taking all my ideas. Read More »

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The Tokyo Diary

January 3, 2012 | by

Long time no e-mail and say hello Dean!
How are you? Thank you very much for invite me at your concert on October in Tokyo.
I am so happy to see you again at your concert. You looks very fine and almost satisfactory on your life. How long will you stay in Japan/Tokyo? Are you busy in Japan?

About me: I am not fine after the earthquake very much. It was so terribly happen. I have felt so sad and scared for a long time. I become nervous. I have not good sleep, any time crying. And became unable to make music and sing song directly from after the earthquake. I am a little worry about that I wonder I never make music again, some time.
Now I am better than before, but not perfect.
Music is saved me any time. I wish/believe it is so, also this time.

A.

I never made it to Japan with Galaxie 500 in the summer of 1991 because I had quit the band in April, just a few months before we were scheduled to tour there. Unbeknownst to me, the promoter had already put tickets on sale for a Tokyo show. Unbeknownst to him, I had decided I didn’t want to be in my own band anymore.

Twenty years later I am playing these songs again but with a different trio, comprising my wife, Britta, on bass guitar and a drummer, Anthony, from Youngstown. The very same promoter booked two shows for us in Japan. After a four-month postponement on account of the earthquake (the first time I’ve ever seen the act-of-God clause in my contract applied), I finally found myself on an American Airlines flight from JFK to Tokyo. Anthony is growing a beard, starting today. “That way people will think it was a really life-changing trip when I get home,” he says. Read More »

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Letter from Japan

March 8, 2011 | by

Stephenson has been blogging for The Daily about W. Eugene Smith, the subject of his forthcoming biography. Here, he writes to managing editor Nicole Rudick from Okinawa, Japan.

Dear Nicole,

Today is my fourteenth day in Japan. The first nine days were in Tokyo, followed by four in Minamata, and now Okinawa. In a few days I’ll leave here for Saipan, Guam, and Iwo Jima, all part of my month-long Pacific tour on Gene Smith’s trail.

Photograph by W. Eugene Smith. Courtesy of Takeshi Ishikawa.

Smith often said he felt like he was from Japan in a former life. His second wife, Aileen Mioko Smith, was Japanese American, and he made three extended trips here: beginning as a combat photographer in World War II, then to Tokyo in the early sixties, and Minamata in the early seventies. I spent my first two weeks interviewing his former associates through my interpreter, Momoko Gill. The prevailing responses—some of them wordless, from body language to tears—were similar to what jazz pianist Freddie Redd once told me: “Gene Smith is just a sweet memory.”

In New York, Smith’s appeal wore thin among those that relied on him or expected things from him—publishers, gallery owners, benefactors, people from the “official” side of things. I don’t blame them. He couldn’t finish anything he started. He wrote long, complaining letters to people he barely knew, copying paragraphs verbatim from letters he’d written to others. He’d fake injuries for sympathy. His quixotic grandiosity—linked to feverish moral imperatives, alcoholism, amphetamine addiction, and bipolar disorder—went from valiant to insufferable. But over the past two weeks, I haven’t heard anything that indicates he behaved like that in Japan. Nor did he with jazz musicians and underground characters in the New York loft. He drank heavily in both places, though. I’m left wondering about the relation, for Smith, between people in Japan and the transient loft figures.

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