Authority through Selective Democracy

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Graham suggested the new magazine Tokyo Graffiti — NewGeneration Magazine as a democratic antidote to the soft-authoritarianism of standard Japanese fashion catalogs. The magazine is essentially a collection of photos of people on the street holding white boards on which they’ve written answers to various questions, such as what is their hope for the next year?, etc. I took a look at it today, and sadly, found it to be a different methodology for the same gambit of “creating” reality rather than reflecting it.

For example, the magazine has a “local style” section with photos taken on the streets of different neighborhoods. Every single photo from Shibuya was a young man in full hip hop gear. Nearly every photo from Shimokitazawa was a young man in full punk-rock gear. The Harajuku section contained only pictures of ten Lolita-Goth girls (of probably the twelve that reside in front of the Meiji-Jingu shrine.)

These are indeed “photos from the street,” but they’ve been curated and edited to such an extreme degree that the overall collection no longer resembles anything approaching real life. Shibuya can be hip hoppy, but never more than 5% of the total crowd. Shimokitazawa has a reputation of being a “rock” hangout, but maybe only 5% of the people around are actually wearing head-to-toe neo-punk chic. I know Harajuku isn’t the hot spot it was five years ago, but is it only that baker’s dozen of little drama queens who are a relatively recent addition to the neighborhood? Is Akihabara all anime geeks all the time?

There is still a substantial amount of obsessive dress coding about, but if anything, the distinct youth neighborhoods are becoming more and more mixed up. Shibuya alone probably holds every specimen of subcultural fashion look. Tokyo Graffiti, however, creates a separate reality through selective focusing of chaotic objective evidence into a neat order for public consumption.

The other part that bugged me was a page of resident Tokyo foreigners who wrote their thoughts on white boards — in English. Was there not a single foreigner who chose to write in Japanese? Are all the gaijin in the city such hopeless colonialists that they can’t write in the local language? Is it that or more selective editing of reality?

W. David MARX (Marxy)
November 18, 2004

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

31 Responses

  1. Momus Says:

    http://www.jokelines.co.uk/page_parts/characters/front_page_characters/mr_angry.jpg

  2. Chris_B Says:

    As to why foreigners mostly communicate in English in the Japanese media, I think its because of an intertwined relationship of 1) it is expected of us and therefore we do as expected 2) editorial choice on the part of the publishers/producers of media.

    Remember, there is still a part of the ware ware nihonjin mentality that assumes that yabanjin could never understand their language. Exceptions such as Dave Specter are allowed but only in the context of tarento. “Normal” gaijin on the street must speak english or they loose their market value as exotics.

  3. marxy Says:

    Chris B: Exactly.

    Momus: It’s called media criticism. Grow up and realize that Japan is not a magical Oriental wonderland but a modern society. Me being critical is not necessarily about me being “angry.” It’s not like I came home, fuming about that magazine.

  4. trevor Says:

    maybe surly? i’d say you/he can be surly. but! not the point.
    i have to say i see japan a little more in momus’ eye’s. but i think there is an easy reason for this. i shall say, 2 japans. there is japan of the person who can speak japanese. conversationaly atleast. then, those who can’t, [i’m sorry, i’m of the idea that momus’ japanese is, very basic?] but isn’t living in the outside world of “other gaijin”, but sorta inside the japaneses circle [as much as you can, not being japanese]. anyways, i can’t get around japan on my own. i can’t understand, more or less a word. but i love the place. its almost like some magical mind bending trip, where there is flashing colors, and everyone is speaking in tongue. you know they are saying something, but all you can do is stare blanky.. or completly not pay attention. it seems that no one can speak english either. they can, but will never admit it. so, you can say what ever you want right in front of them, and visa versa. your basicly outside of any social anything. and since, more or less, no one is going to shoot you, and, more then likely, will buy you a drink, its all sparkly. anyways! IMO, people who can understand japanese, can’t understand japan, the way someone who can’t speak japanese [but can be inside the circle of japanese, not out with the “other gaijin” as it where] see’s it. you can call it ignorance if you want, doesn’t change anything. [calling middle america ingnorant sure didn’t seem to work] sure, i’ve been slighted by japanese business, and odd social codes. but its still all fairy dust and lights.

    in my one, and possibly only defence of mr.marxy! [cause, he can handle his own]. he more then likely likes/loves japan more then most. its his son, and it always gets B+’s.. he just wants it to get A’s.. not for him, but because he know’s it can. i could be wrong though. [note: i think the grading system, pretty much any grading system, is so fundamentaly flawed, that its useless. but, we hopefully, can all understand the example]

  5. marxy Says:

    thanks for the defense, trevor. although i’ve never though of Japan as my “son.” those accusing me of being ethnocentric will probably have a field day with that idea!

  6. sparkligbeatnic Says:

    It is perhaps safe to say that there is a very diversity of attitudes of Japanese people to second language speakers of their language.

    There’s the guy on the street who when I asked for directions in clear, well-pronounced, grammatically perfect Japanese, ran away from me shouting, in Japanese, “sorry I can’t speak English”.

    And there are the attendants at the electronic parts shop in Nihonbashi, Osaka, instead of addressing me, kept replying, in Japanese, to my Cantonese colleague, who could neither understand Japanese, nor speak it, in reply to my questions in Japanese. I persisted until they finally shouted at me “OK. OK. we know you can speak Japanese, now let us talk to the Japanese guy here!” The problem? He looks Japanese and I don’t.

    Other people err in the opposite direction and assume I am completely fluent as soon as I begin to speak Japanese. This was a big problem for me a few years ago, particularly on the phone, because my pronounciation is reasonably good – I had a helpful Japanese girlfriend when I began to study the language years ago in L.A. who was unusually strict with me about pronounciation. I still encounter this constantly but it is less of a problem now as I have found ways to get people to communicate at my level.

    Natives who have had some exposure to foreigners can be quite good at communicating with second language speakers. Unfortunately those people are still relatively rare. Rather more common are the infuriating “English leeches” who are desparate for a free Eikaiwa lesson.

    My best experiences communicating in Japanese have still mostly been in the inaka, where there are fewer English speakers, but there are plenty of people happy for a chance to converse with a gaijin.

    There are two parts to this situation:

    (a) There are so few foreigners in Japan that most Japanese people have never met a gaijin.

    (b) There’s a media skew in that the media tends to focus on people that are either very fluent (e.g. the henna gaijin ‘Koko wa hen da yo’) or completely ignorant of Japan and Japanese. My impression is that’s there little portrayal of the in between zone of foreigners struggling to learn Japanese and fit into the culture.

    In short, it’s mainly a function of prior experience – Japanese don’t have much upon which to base their expectations of second language speakers.

  7. marxy Says:

    Sparklingbeatnic,

    I’ve never gotten the “sorry, I don’t speak English” but I hear that’s a common thing. I used to get a lot of McDonald’s employees who refused to switch to Japanese even when I was answering them in it. My personal triumph of the year was at Freshness Burger: when I came in, they flipped the menu over to the English side. When I started ordering, they flipped it back over to the Japanese side.

    I was in Esaka in Osaka once and was really suprised about how many people on the street would gawk and wave at me. I got the sense that there really were few foreigners in the Kansai area.

    But in Tokyo? If you live in Tokyo, you absolutely have met a foreigner in some context. And everywhere I go these days, I meet more and more foreigners who speak excellent Japanese. It’s no longer such a rare thing. However, the Japanese media does seem to think there is a need to segregate the foreign population into the two groups you mentioned before: “media-recognized fluent Japanese speakers” and “totally ignorant colonialists.” I think that Roy Andrew Miller’s Japan’s Modern Myth is worth reading if you want to know why this is.

    The media will catch on to this new generation of Japanese speaker eventually. I think the dreadful Pakkun is the last of those foreigner talents, not just the next.

    Momus, the idea that language is tied to race is not pre-Modern but post-Modern, right?

  8. sparkligbeatnic Says:

    I have to admit that I know longer find the Japanese attitude to second-language speakers frustrating, because I get nearly as much Japanese practice as I want – the secretaries where I work all speak to me in Japanese now, even though they are all fluent English speakers. I still am not completely literate and will have to put more effort into acheiving that if I want to.

    But I enjoy the fact that most of the country still doesn’t deal very effectively with English. And I worry that we will have lost something if and when the whole world deals effectively in English.

    Let me see if I am able to guess what Roy Miller’s thesis is about, without knowing anything about that book. It’s probably all about the Meiji architects setting up a semi-permeable barrier that would function as a kind of virtual sakoku interface. And that the same kind of thing is supported by the current educational system (ineffective language education policies), media (skewed portrayal of the ‘outside’ world as in the categorization of gaijin etc…), and labour conditions (greatly reduced employment prospects for people who have spent time on the ‘outside’ etc…). In short creating a cognitive and social situation where it’s difficult for people to transgress the boundaries of ‘Japaneseness’.

    Am I wrong?

  9. marxy Says:

    You’re not wrong, but that’s not really what his book is about. He uses his linguistic expertise to show how the Japanese myth of their language being unique (and superior) gets in the way of Japan being a modern country. It’s worth reading just for some of the fascinating examples he offers.

  10. sparkligbeatnic Says:

    Marxy, please examine yourself and tell me: are you a missionary from the Church of Modernity? Have your teachers in the USA set you with a task of preaching to the unconverted?

    Joking aside, why does Japan need to be a modern country? Modernity is an abstraction. Japan is Japan.

    Japanese is a unique language. So is English, Chinese, French, Korean etc…

    The Japanese are a different culture. Their obsession with that difference has protected certain things that are important to them from the effects of globalization. It’s not a perfect solution. But what country is perfect? Living conditions here are much better than in most places in the world. The Japanese must be counted amongst the survivors of the modern era.
    Yes maybe it has something to do with mythology.
    But show me a culture that doesn’t have some kind of myth hidden at its core.

  11. marxy Says:

    Everyone stop with the “no country is perfect” arguments, because what you are saying is: all criticism is worthless. So, if you think as such and don’t want to read critical analysis of the Japanese media, you are wasting time at my site.

    I am trying to make a certain set of facts available in English about Japanese popular culture which are overlooked in the happy happy joy joy rah-rah we-love-JPOP of the other Internet resources. I don’t believe the Japanese media is pure evil, but if I am not talking about some of the system’s drawbacks in English, no one is. Harajuku is hot around the world, but how many people know about the social conditions that create the Harajuku phenomena, like manual-kei fashion magazines and urban-rural consumer dynamics. There are some academics who do serious things on media collusion/barriers in Japan, but no one is looking at how these things affect Japanese pop culture. That is why I choose to fill that void in my studies and in my spare time.

    If my facts are wrong, then tell me. But I would appreciate it if everyone stop trying to undermine my entire operation by asking, isn’t this just nitpicking? Of course, it’s nitpicking! But it’s the nitpicking that matters to me.

  12. Momus Says:

    I’d like to know whether Marxy has travelled much in Asia outside Japan? I know my trips to Thailand and Hong Kong left me deeply disappointed. I found those places culturally spineless. They were full of the worst kind of semi-colonial gaijin business people, or overrun with backpacker tourists. Everyone spoke English and saw the foreigners as a money opportunity. There was a sense that if you asked to buy their daughters they’d negotiate. The air was polluted and the culture was unimpressive. Returning to Japan after those trips, I was just so grateful that it had retained its difference, and had its fierce pride and sense of itself as special.

    I often argue in defence of narcissism, and I’m aware that many people hate narcissistic nations just as they hate narcissistic people. For instance, everybody hates Williamsburg hipsters. I actually like them, because I think their sense of themselves as ‘special and different’ is a necessary pre-condition for original work and a strong culture. I suspect that people who hate Williamsburg (and places like it) also hate Japan, and for the same reasons. ‘Who do they think they are? Why do they think they’re so different?’

  13. marxy Says:

    Momus,

    Never been to other parts of Asia (gasp! from the gallery.) I study Japan as an alternate system of post-Industrial society from the West. Maybe I’ve fallen for the myth that Japan is not an Asian country.

    The difference between Williamsburg and Japan is that the kids in Williamsburg are just guys hanging out on Bedford Ave. and looking hip. Japan is a nation, where the people on top have essentially failed their populace by adhering to the same kind of narcissism. The fact that Japan ranks somewhere at the bottom of Asia in English scores is directly related to the gov’t’s egoistic attitude towards teaching foreign languages: the Japanese are a special breed of humans, and therefore, cannot possibly learn directly from foreign teachers. (How do you learn to differentiate a R and L when your teacher cannot?)

    The funny thing is that if a European country (say, Germany) were to repeat any of the Japanese myths about itself, the words “Fascist” would come out of your mouths so fast… I don’t even say that I think Japan’s Fascist, and I get these daily raps on my knuckles by the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere – Western Chapter for not kowtowing completely to the Emperor.

    I am still bewildered about how many people essentially want Japan and the West to stay completely ignorant of each other. Momus, you’ve said before that you wouldn’t even want to learn Japanese because it would ruin your experiences here. If that’s so, obviously we are not going to see eye-to-eye on how we approach Japan.

  14. sparkligbeatnic Says:

    Dear Marxy, I certainly don’t undervalue criticism but I suppose there’s something about some of the things that you’ve posted here that is bothering me and I’m trying to get to the bottom of it. By the way I’m finding you a very genial discussant and you seem to be very knowledgeable on Japan studies – more so than I – it’s not my speciality, merely a personal interest since I live here. But I’m trying to get to the bottom of what it is that is bothering me about your approach.

    I am wondering whether it may be that there is an implicit comparison to another system (the “West” or the USA?) in your arguments. And at this point in time, I feel it is incorrect to criticize Japan when much worse evils are being inflicted upon the world especially by the actions of the current administration of the USA.
    I’m afraid the non-democratic plan to export Harajuku culture to the uninformed and unsuspecting overseas just doesn’t look to be that serious a problem in light of current world events.

    No doubt some of the things you’re saying aobut the machinations of Japanese pop culture are quite plausible. But what about the machinations of the control of nearly the entire media in the USA by the right wing? If we’re going to talk about Facism, wouldn’t that be a much more salient target at this point in time?

  15. sparkligbeatnic Says:

    As proof of my good will, I’m sending you a link to an interview with polymath and Japanologist Donald L. Philippi, who lived in Japan as a left-wing activist during the student and labour riots of the 60’s. He left in 1970 disillusioned with the Japanese social and political system. Oddly he proceeded to be influential in the early San Francisco punk scene, and recorded an obscure but legendary record called “Artic Hysteria” under the pseudo-nym of Slava Ranko. AH combines traditional Satsuma Biwa with electronic experimentation and, is also oddly considered a early classic of ambient music.
    I’ve never heard it, but I’d love to give it a listen. Probably you know about Slava Ranko already since you are a punk oriented Japanologist.

    You’ll probably just say “There that proves my point” but I don’t think it necessarily does.
    Cheers,

  16. sparkligbeatnic Says:

    Sorry, here’s the link:

    INTERVIEW WITH DONALD L. PHILIPPI

  17. Momus Says:

    Yeah, I agree that it’s wonderful that this debate is going on, and going on in a friendly way. I will certainly meet up with Marxy when I’m next in Tokyo. And the differences in opinion just make me more fascinated with this blog than with many others which are much closer to my own views.

    I think the crux of my ‘unease’ with the opinions here is:

    1. This business of deconstructing Japan without deconstructing one’s own culture.

    2. The effect on Japan’s valuable ‘otherness’ were Marxy’s arguments somehow to prevail.

    I actually speak more Japanese than I let on, and am closer to Japanese people in my personal life than anyone else, so it would be wrong to exaggerate my need ‘to stay completely ignorant’ of Japan. But I do enjoy a certain distance, and I plan to write an article soon for Metropolis magazine in Tokyo about ‘the pleasures of staying a foreigner’.

  18. shane Says:

    In Defense of Marxy (?)

    I felt the above comment was perhaps a bit unfair. First I must say that it is quite timely to be an American refugee in Japan, and personally I find that a major reason to be here right now are the exact points referred to above (those worse evils being inflicted on the world). As a fellow American (Marxy, do I remember you saying you were from Florida?), I want no part in those evils, and what my country is doing at this moment. I know it could be argued that I am a spineless deserter at this point, and I will get to that later.

    Being displaced to Japan affords an oppotunity for the experience of a sophisticated cosmopolitan and pop-culture oriented society equal, and quite probably surpassing that which home has to offer (on the coasts anyways). In other words it’s an escape to something which is similar, but obviously completely different. I feel it’s those differences which Marxy is always seeking to highlight, and as for his tone, which many seem to interpret as negative, well… what sensible person from America isn’t a bit bitter at the moment?

    The “plan to export Harajuku culture to the uninformed and unsuspecting overseas” agreeably isn’t a problem the magnitude of the Bush regime, but I don’t think this renders its debate any less fruitful. And this leads to my defense for the abandonment of America, as opposed to remaining inside to fight the power as it were: The age of nations (or at the very least superpowers) is coming to a end. I only refer to myself as American in the sense that I must do as a caveat of language. It’s the 21st century for goodness sake; what use does national identity have left other than a description of the physical location we came from, and perhaps a general notion of the environment that nurtured our development to the point that we became free to go wherever the fuck we want.

    Within the next century we’re going to start seeing replacement body parts, extreme developments in machine intelligence, the extension of human lifespan, and all sorts of things that will rock the general human notion of life, soul, etc. This kind of progress is as historically inevitable as the absurd violence enflicted by the Bush regime. And if said regime wants to ban itself into the stone age, stopping gay marriage, stem cell research, and generally enforcing its barbaric and anachronistic Christian morality, let it do so. It will only run itself into the ground, while the rest of humanity flourishes. With people like Bush at the helm, the road to progress may be bloodier and more drawn out, but it remains inevitable.

    So with that out of the way, and also keeping in mind that we’ve got to be concerned with finding an enjoyable life for ourselves, divorced completely from the goals of Bush and Co, I think those of us who have escaped to Japan (or anywhere for that matter) can get on with debating the global triumph of Harajuku culture (or other localized culture-specific phenomena).

    Sparkligbeatnic, I am interested to know if you are American, and your view on this more specifically, especially since I get the impression you (and Marxy) have been in Japan much longer than I.

  19. Momus Says:

    Shane, I’d like to quote you in the article I’m writing for Metropolis about the pleasures of being a foreigner in Japan, if I may. Could you e mail me, perhaps, just to give me your contact mail address and permission to use a sentence or two of that last post, at momus@t-online.de?

    I’ve also worked for W+K, by the way!

  20. sparkligbeatnic Says:

    Shane: you’ve just said that the age of Nations is at an end and yet you ask me for my Nationality.

    I don’t have a strong sense of nationality: I’m a dual UK/Canadian national, had qualified for permanent residence in the US (‘green card’) but then gave that up to move to Japan where I now hold the equivalent of a green card. The passport I value most at the moment is the British one (Canada is too close to the USA), but primarily because it would allow me to live in Europe.

    You might be thinking “Oh a Canadian, that explains it”. Let me say that before this past election my answer to being mistaken for an American by Americans was not the common “No, dammit I’m Canadian” but “NO but I’m thinking of becoming one – so I can vote against Bush”.

    As for the rest of your post, it’s nice but I regret probably wishful thinking. It looks Bush & Co. want to screw up everybody’s fun. But don’t quote me on that, Momus.

  21. marxy Says:

    21 comments?!? Jeez. I wish I could say these were all about Tokyo Graffiti and street snaps.

    Shane: Thanks for the defense. Exactly, I think it’s all assumed we are anti-Bush and unhappy about it, but this site is not a place for dealing with those larger issues. This blog is for nitpicking critical discussion about Japanese popular culture and media. I welcome anyone interested in joining that discussion.

    Momus: Japan’s “otherness” is great as long as it is interesting. This hip hop, punk, Vuitton thing is really boring. You’ll see for yourself.

    Sparklingbeatnic: Thanks for the link and goodwil. I will check it out. I don’t mind debating all this stuff, but the discussions are going off in weird tangents that I don’t necessarily want to engage in, but I feel like I need to defend myself. The less time I spend fending off attacks, the more I can spend writing new posts (so they can be attacked).

    And a lot of times, I am not comparing Japan to America, but the average standards of every other post-Industrial nation, most of which happen to be in the West. As far as I know, the German and French media do not have as much media collusion. But the Japanese media is so large that a comparison to the United States seems somewhat just.

  22. Momus Says:

    21 comments?!? Jeez. I wish I could say these were all about Tokyo Graffiti and street snaps.

    Oh, little Miss Butter-Wouldn’t-Melt-In-Mouth-Mouth,-Political,-moi? Come on, don’t tell me you titled this blog entry something as provocative, political and critical as ‘Authority Through Selective Democracy’ and expected us to talk about the pretty clothes? Admit it, you’re loving the attention and you’re probably, at this moment, thinking up new ways to needle us by slandering our beloved Japan.

  23. Graham Says:

    Leave it to me to come in when we start talking about world system shifts.

    As the guy who suggested Marxy take a look at Graffiti (and as I told him tonight), I think his criticisms of it make sense. As a student of journalism, media and magazine publishing, it feels to me self-evident that editing of such a sampling would skew any objectivity that might have accidently accrued on the compact flash cards of their cameras. They are, after all, trying a blitz-campaign style magazine launch in a mediahungry market, but with almost no ads so far; journalism isn’t their concern, and neither is sound social science. To be honest, as a consumer (a foreign one somewhere between the henna-gaijin and the fluent stage) I just liked the pictures. Sue me.

    I just want to drop in the name of a man and a book here if we’re talking about the end of the world system. Immanuel Wallerstein, the man who invented “world systems theory” as a field of study, released sometime between 9/11 and the last presedential campaign “The Decline of American Power.” It’s a collection of essays, with particularly exciting discussion in the works on race, definition of “democracy,” and the lead essay that sets forth his thesis: that the period of U.S. hegemony that began with the fall of the Soviet Union is reaching an end and that the world system is at a point of bifurcation, where small actions can have a disproportionately large effect on the resultant world system.

  24. marxy Says:

    Oh, stop it. I am not interested in spurring all this “Protestant bickering” but I am glad we are exercising our options to criticize. Go post about how I got pulled over for walking in a foreign style.

  25. Momus Says:

    Immanuel Wallerstein, the man who invented “world systems theory” as a field of study, released sometime between 9/11 and the last presedential campaign “The Decline of American Power.”

    Yeah, the French loved that book when it came out, it was widely reviewed. In fact, I thought I could hear an echo of it in the speech Chirac just gave today in London, in which he said that the world is now multi-polar, and that Europe must represent things like the rule of law and international agreements. In fact, it’s even in Tony Blair’s statement the other day that Britain is now free to become a world leader in stem cell research (Bush was forced to renounce it to please his Christian base).

    Basically, the vested interest and situatedness of the current US administration means it’s renounced its claim to be a universalist world power, and that opens up many, many possibilities for other nations to spring up as specialists in specific things, but also to embody ‘universalist’ values like science and environmentalism. The refusal of America to embody modernity (or any other universalist idea) means that other nations can talk amongst themselves. Japan can talk to Europe as well as to the US and China, for instance. Whereas globalism used to mean American business interests worldwide, it now means a multi-polar system in which many talk to many. As the old yiddish proverb says, ‘when the housewife is lazy, the cat is industrious’.

    In a related development, news today is that the Kyoto Treaty on emissions exchange will be signed in February 2005, despite the US’s refusal to get involved.

  26. shane Says:

    Sparklig:

    you’ve just said that the age of Nations is at an end and yet you ask me for my Nationality.

    Yeah, I expected that would come off as a contradiction, but all I mean is that nationality is more of a technicality at this point. It is in no small part by beginning to meet and associate with a lot of people like yourself (dual-citizenship, multiple-passport holder, raised /lived in different nations, etc.) that I have come to view the concept of nationality as such.

    Obviously I am not disgusted by your views on America, and yes, I felt extremely lucky to have the privilege to participate in our last election simply by virtue of the physical location in which I entered the world. Indeed, I felt that every country besides America should have been the ones voting. I’d rather have had the presidency left up to the Iraqi populace–after all it’s going to affect them a lot more than it will me!

    Momus:

    I’d be honored, and you worked for W+K?
    London? Amsterdam?

  27. Chris_B Says:

    What an amusing truckload of BS this has become.

    sparkligbeatnic: not every discussion has to be about the percieved evils of the US. Not everyone even shares your opinion on the matter.

    shane: all that end of nations/post human stuff has been around for a hundred years or more and its no more true now than it was when it was first spouted. Maybe you “escaped” to Japan, but you are still a US citizen until you formally renounce your citizenship. There’s been lots of ranting on this topic, but I’ll bet most net.complainers dont have the guts to follow through with it.

    Marxy: I still agree with your original point. The Japanese media is selective in its portrayal of non Japanese. Media criticism is a valid thing in and of itself. Criticism does not have to be specific comparisons, ie:”A is better than B because…” I’d bet most people who adore jpop culture from afar dont know about the system here so do keep writing about it.

  28. marxy Says:

    What an amusing truckload of BS this has become.

    I love to turn on my computer and realize that this comment is not directed at me. (Forgive my schadenfreude.)

  29. shane Says:

    Chris:

    First: sorry for being a hundred years behind, but these ideas are new and exciting to me. I’m basically a kid.

    Formal renounce of citizenship: its the first I’ve heard of it, and I am quite intrigued. Any links to further discussion, or anything at all would be appreciated.

    Hope to hear your reply.. though I know this response came a bit late.

  30. Chris_B Says:

    shane: being an angry kid is OK. Back in the early 90s I came across some of those same ideas and thought they were new until someone pointed out that it was just old BS with a new gold plating. I dont have any links handy on renoucing US citizenship. I would never ever do it myself although when I was a young punk, it would have looked appealling. At the risk of confirming my status as an old fart, let me suggest that you may look at the value of US citizenship very differently in a few years time. You can find my email off the website listed here if you want to continue this discussion.

  31. shane Says:

    Haha. No, I’m interested to hear the insights of an old fart, as that will eventually be me. Indeed, I’m at work now, but will mail when I have time. Thanks.