Notes From the Road: Tokyo
Well, one can hardly complain about the plumbing here. The toilet seat is a preheated, toasty warm. A menu of warm jets of varying intensities, direction and temperature awaits should I choose to press one of the many buttons. I am afraid to do so. Since Todd discovered his toilet, it\’s been very hard getting him out of the bathroom for crew calls. Yesterday, after numerous unanswered phone calls, we had to ask the management to break into his room. After a brief scuffle we were able to drag him, pants around his ankles and a copy of US Magazine in his hand, screaming, to the production van.
\”But I\’ve never felt so FRESH,\” he kept wailing, plaintively from the back seat. His face pressed to the window as he stared longingly back in the direction of the hotel.
Last night, we shot \”walking B-roll\” in the narrow alleyways of Golden Gai, an incredible rabbit warren of tiny bars and casual \”joints\”. After the rest of the crew fanned out across Kabuki-Cho, Zach and I took a break from the cold, randomly choosing a particularly uninviting looking doorway and then climbing what was literally a ladder to a dollhouse-sized second floor bar. Slid open a door and found what appeared to be a punk rock themed six-seat bar. Empty but open for business. Smaller than the interior of our production van, there was just room enough for the two of us, our coats and Zach\’s camera. Two beers later and back to work.
Later, off to Shinjuku to meet Shinji our former fixer/driver-from such shows as the Tokyo episodes we did years ago on that Other Network. He led all of us down an insanely overlit street filled with big-haired hawkers and shills (all of whom seem to have modeled their do\’s after mid 80\’s Poison, Cinderella or Motley Crue) … into an anonymous office building, up a banged up elevator to the 5th floor, arriving at the kind of loud, packed casual izakaya I dearly love. Sashimi, grilled yellowtail collars, tuna cheeks, chunks of whale (sorry PETA), beer and more beer.
I\’m concerned about Chris Martinez, our editor, who we flew out here at great expense to our masters. The idea was, quite frankly, that the poor man doesn\’t get out enough. He\’s certainly edited a lot of tape set in Asia – he\’s just never been here himself. It was argued, back at ZeropointZero HQ, that while his work has always been brilliant, it could only improve if Chris himself were given some time outside of the dark editing room in which, from all appearances, he has spent the greater part of his life. I looked forward to plying him with sushi and unidentifiable squiggly things, forcing great quantities of beer and sake upon him- and watching his mind expand – even, perhaps, blow apart (temporarily), as mine did, my first trip out here. But so far? It hasn\’t worked out that way. First off, the sonofabitch appears to be some kind of semi-vegetarian. Didn\’t make it to the izakaya crew meal cause he had jet lag and the squirts. During a micro-club shoot and the yakitori scene, he had to huddle in the cold outside as there was no room to put him inside. At the soba place this morning–while Morimoto and I slurped noodles, Chris sat out of range, food-less, reading a much used and suspiciously stained copy of Outlaw Editor magazine. I think the article was called \”Cuts and Sluts\” – illustrated with photos of a hefty looking Amazon with an orange faux hawk and a silver lame thong, stretched across a console. During lunch, while Morimoto worked his knife through a whole monkfish on my behalf, Chris ordered out for pizza. Tomorrow\’s three star Michelin sushi shoot at Sukiyabashi Ono holds out equally small promise for the guy. The place only has six seats. I feel compelled to feed him liquor. Maybe even violate my own deeply held principles about karaoke. I even promised to perform my own, rather notorious version of \”White Wedding\” if he chugs a couple a bottles of Sapparo and wraps a tie around his head. I don\’t know–Time is running out.
Hopefully the ryokan on Monday will bring an attitude change. My attempts, by the way, to pump the very diplomatic Morimoto for inside information on my former employers, have come to nothing. He parries my every question with the evasive skills of a Condaleeza Rice:
\”Who\’s the most clueless judge you\’ve had to face on Iron Chef America? Mo Rocca? Or That Guy who played \’Big Pussy\’ on the Sopranos?\”
\”Next Food Network Star: Could ANY of those tools even cut an onion?\” I get nothing. A low chuckle, a shake of the head. Morimoto\’s way, I\’m guessing, of saying, \”Nice try.\”
Update: On the way to the Master knife forger scene, we stopped at an okonomiyaki joint for a quick crew meal. Morimoto suggested the Hiroshima style (not surprising, as he comes from there) but Martinez stuck with the home team: classic Osaka. Apparently, he\’s been having impure thoughts about the stuff since cutting the Osaka show a while back – and he fell on that order like a one man pack of feral dogs, snorting and breathing heavy and making all sorts of Godawful noises, scraping his food right off the griddle with the handy – but still sizzling hot – spatula and shoveling it into his greedy maw without a thought. We were all quite impressed. Morimoto, catching sight of the carnage occurring only a few feet away, moved quietly away – afraid, perhaps, of losing an extremity in the flurry of snapping jaws and grinding teeth. I believe Chris is happy now.