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I went to the 9-11 memorial event at the
U.S. embassy on Wednesday night. It was a
brief but solemn affair held on a small patch
of grass in front of the main gate. The majority
of the people there, about 250, had to stand
on the road, which was closed to traffic.
I must admit, I went to the memorial because
I wanted to take pictures and feel like I
was participating in an historical event,
not because I felt the need to grieve or
the inclination to display my solidarity
with fellow traumatized 'new worlders.'
As I said, the ceremony was very brief. People
gathered at the gates at around 9:30 p.m.
and candles were passed out. At 9:40 some
woman whose name I didn't catch said a few
unmemorable and inoffensive statements, and
then she quoted the Gettysburg Address (which
seems to have been standard procedure for
this memorial all over). At exactly 9:46
p.m., the moment of impact of the first plane
in Tokyo time, she asked for a moment of
silence. Everyone bowed their heads and then
all of the cameramen went wild and there
was a cacophony of camera shutters and a
blinding whirl of flashes. A bagpiper played
Then it was over.
She ended with the words, "That
our simple ceremony."
I was maybe a bit too short. Most of the
people lingered there for 20 or 30 minutes
afterwards, not really feeling sated.
Personally, I wish that there had been some
sort of speech with real emotional impact:
Something with a bit of meat on it. Instead,
all there was was the usual platitudes and
phatic statements about tragedy and loss
that people believe are appropriate for these
situations but are really so cliched and
stylized that they carry no true meaning:
'Our hearts and prayers go out to blah, blah,
It was still a successful event and I'm glad
that I went. Many of the people there seemed
to have needed this, and perhaps I expected
too much from the organizers.
If you'd like to see more pictures from the
memorial then check out the new 9-11 Memorial gallery.
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Tonight after work I'm going to the U.S. embassy to watch the 9-11 memorial events: "In
memory of those who lost their lives, a moment
of silence will be observed, followed by
candle lighting and bagpipe music."
In keeping with the theme of this day of
remembrance, here are some links to peruse (some via wood s lot):
- Some amazing, yet strangely sad 9-11 survival stories.
- "9/11: The day the earth stood still," by John Chuckman.
- "Everything/Nothing Changed After 9-11," by Adam Joyce.
- "Dick Cheney, American Warmonger In which
the pallid, angry veep fervently urges bombing
the hell out of Iraq, because he just can't
help it," by Mark Morford.
- "We Are Not Made of Sugar Candy," by Kim Painter.
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Today I had lunch at a kaiten sushi restaurant: i.e., sushi served on
a conveyor belt with a set price per plate.
I love kaiten sushi because it's cheap,
and delicious. I can go in alone without
any problem. Many of the customers
by themselves so I never feel out of
The conveyor belt is usually oval shaped
and the sushi chefs stand in the middle.
The dinners sit around the periphery of the
oval and take plates of sushi off of the
belt as they move by. The chefs keep the
belt constantly full of plates.
One really important benefit to kaiten sushi,
at least from a foreigner's point of view,
is that you don't have to speak Japanese.
All that you have to do is sit down and start
taking plates off of the belt.
My friend recently told me that there is
no right or wrong way to eat sushi. However,
I have a certain routine worked out for when
I go to kaiten sushi, and I've noticed that it's pretty
much what everyone else does as well.
The first thing that I do, obviously, is
walk in the front door. As I enter, all of
the employees will shout 'irashaimase', which basically means 'welcome,' and someone
will ask me how many people are in my party.
When I tell them they will point me to an
After I sit down I have to get all of my
utensils ready. The first thing that I do
is take a tea cup from the rack above the
conveyor belt. These cups are always tall,
thick-walled, and without handles.
Next I take a green-tea bag out of a little
box on the counter and put it in my tea cup.
There will be a tap set in the counter where
I can fill my cup with boiling water.
Now that my tea is made I can set it aside
and allow it to steep. It's time to set up
the condiments. I take two small dishes down
from the same rack as the tea cups. In one
dish I pour some soy sauce. In the other
dish I put some pickled ginger.
Next I take a new set of wooden chopsticks
from a little box with a lid that sits on
the counter. The chopsticks are still joined
at the base and I have to snap them apart.
Now comes the fun part. I grab my first plate
from the conveyor belt. I just take the first
one to come along that looks appetizing.
There'll be two pieces of sushi on the plate.
I pick up one piece of sushi with my chopsticks,
dip it in the soy sauce, and eat it in one
bite. I repeat the same process for the second
piece of sushi.
After I've finished both pieces of sushi
I move the empty plate to the side, eat a
piece of ginger to cleanse my palate, and
have a sip of tea.
I can now just keep taking plates of sushi
off of the conveyor belt as they come by.
I will usually choose a variety of types.
Most people average about 10 plates.
When I get up to leave someone will come
over and count my plates. As I walk to the
counter they will shout to the cashier ju-mai no sama -- Mr. 10 plates is leaving!
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Today we went grocery shopping in Ginza,
and if you know anything about Tokyo, you'll
know how strange that statement is. Ginza
is the 5th Avenue, the Rodeo Drive, of Tokyo.
It's where the rich and elite go to offer
their money to the gods of conspicuous consumerism.
We needed to stock up on cheese and wheat
germ, stuff that you just can't get in our
rough-and-tumble part of town, so we went
to a discount supermarket that we knew about
on the outskirts of Ginza proper. The food
shopping was good, but the walk through Ginza
was even better.
Some of the buildings in Ginza are astoundingly
narrow. I saw one today that was maybe 3
or 4 meters wide (about 10 feet) and 6 stories
tall. It had a boutique on the ground floor.
I looked in the window and saw that they
had 15 handbags arranged on a handmade, kidney-shaped,
Scandinavian shelving unit. That's all they
had, just 15 handbags. I don't even want
to think about how much they cost.
Of course Ginza has several large department
stores as well: Mistukoshi, Wako, Seibu,
to name just a few. These stores have some
of the most creative and eye-catching window
displays that you'll ever see. This is window
dresser heaven. This is where that under
paid shcmuck doing the Christmas display
at some Sears in Buffalo dreams about ending
Well, anyway, we got our cheese and wheat
germ, but didn't bother picking up any handbags
along the way. Maybe someday we'll be able
to go back and make a few offerings to the