died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Birthday: Mayonaise & Ando Tadao

I took the day off from work on Monday, it being my birthday and all, and decided to go snowboarding up in Niigata again. Same shinkansen stop, but this time we went to a local train three stops from there to a place called the Joetsu International Ski Area (上越国際スキー場)

Like the last place, this ski area was relatively huge. it had a chain of lifts that all connected to an observation point. All of the buildings had a strange german architecture that stood out so much it was hard not to notice.

The ski area did not rent step in boards, so we went to a place just under the other side of the train tracks. Things did not start out so well there. Getting the owner to help us was like trying to get a sack of sugar to dance. He adjusted the settings, and didn't even bother to tell us whose board was which. Normally even people you meet at rental places are really attentive. Last time they invited us to sit by the stove and have takoyaki and tea.

Then a more chipper young guy came in to help us out. I noticed he had what looked like a small bottle of mayonaise hanging from the belt of his snowboarding pants. A lot of young folks are into having fake, small versions of products here that they hang from there cell phones school bags(ランドセル), so I assumed that this was the same. I asked him if it was fake, and he said no. I said to him 'Oh, so sometimes when your skiing, sitting on the lift, you just really want some mayonaise?' and was like 'yeah, that's right'. Can't help but think he was pulling my leg, but as we were taking the lift up, we bumped into him at the top, and there hanging from his belt was that mayonaise.

One thing I think it's easy to assume is that chalet food here would be pretty much the same as that, well, anywhere. Not true. Some of the most popular foods at the chalet here is curry and ramen. I had a tuna corn crepe (oozing with mayonaise, bleah)

The afternoon turned foggy and snowy, and while really getting down using both my edges, I had a tumble, landed on my neck, and there were stars and a crushing headache for the rest of the day.

In our hurry to get back to Tokyo for a Ando Tadao lecture, I forget to return my pants to the grumpy renter. He called on the three stop train ride to the shinkansen. The nice thing about train culture, is sometimes they will be your postman. I had a friend once in Tokyo who left his camera at one train station, and the attendants on the next coming train delivered it to him. In that vein, and the rental shop being only about 20 meters from the station, I asked if they wouldn't made taking them back for me. They kindly did. I wolfed down some crab soup and some agemochi and we were on our way.

I met another friend of mine in Ikebukuro for the Ando lecture. Seeing him in person was fascinating. When he did walk on stage, it really was like seeing a star. His voice is so raspy, and the way he talks makes it very evident that he is from Osaka. He talks in a somewhat humorous narrative that I find lacking from most people born in the Tokyo area.

So it was an enjoyable lecture. Still I couldn't help but feel that the lecture was a little too anecdotal and directionless. He posted pictures of his dog, and kind of thumbed his nose about how he was right about how japan should develop showing buildings he proposed in the 60's. Still, I find the elements of his buildings, like the rest of the world does, so beautiful in their minimalism. I feel he has made a rich and beautiful beton brute that most of Le Corbusier's buildings always lacked. The slides he showed of the neighborhoods with his buildings in them made me project a whole neighborhood of what ando buildings would look like. Probably tedious, but his buildings do have a place in the urban fabric of countries around the world, and should continue to be a permanant fixture and style around the world.


At 3:13 AM, Blogger McBrideFarm said...

Happy belated birthday! It sounds like you had a fun day, despite the injury and pants mishap.


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