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Japan – Day 15: Tokyo – Day 9

Saturday – April 22, 2017

Today was our last day in Japan. I basically wanted to use it to tie up any loose ends and see any of the things I hadn’t gotten around to. Though it was sad, I was ready for the trip to be over. Not for any negative reasons, but simply because it was time.

Stationary Cafe

I started my day by going to the Stationary Cafe. It had been on my list of places to eat breakfast and, being that I am a stationary nerd, I thought it might be cool. It took me a bit long to actually find the place because I kept screwing up the directions, but I eventually found it.

IMG_6853Stationary Cafe

When I saw the menu, it seemed very sparse so I ordered the only thing that looked good, a pancake. However, when I got my order, I was a bit shocked. The picture had clearly mislead me because what I got was not a pancake. Instead it was this tiny, somewhat expensive thing of custard or whatever. Angry, I ate it quickly, paid and left.

Miraikan Museum (Again)

Next I made my way back to the Miraikan Museum. Though I had been there yesterday, I had wanted to check out the Disney Exhibit but knew I wouldn’t have enough time to enjoy it. I ended up getting that at noon and was able really stroll through and look at every piece.

IMG_6796Digital globe at the Miraikan Museum

The exhibit focused on the art of Disney. Starting with the first cartoons in the late 1920s and ending with their most recent film, Moana. The exhibit had everything from concept art, storyboards, background paintings and original sketches from the most well known cartoons and feature films.

As I made my way through the exhibit, the somewhat bad mood I had been in from my shitty breakfast melted away. I kept singing the music from the various movies to myself and I suddenly had the urge to watch them all.

IMG_6879Entrance to The Art of Disney: The Magic of Animation exhibit

I don’t know if it was the link to my childhood, the powerful imagery or the subconscious awareness that this was the last day of the trip, but I started to tear up. I got through the rest of the exhibit and, as I expected, exited through the gift shop. Well technically no. I was led to the line that led to the gift shop.

I decided to skip it and moved on to the rest of the museum. I retraced my steps from yesterday to see if there was anything Dan an I missed. Now that I was on fresh feet and legs it was much easier to navigate. I soon found myself on the floor with the cafe, and since breakfast was a fail, I decided to get lunch.

IMG_6875Honda Uni-Cub

After eating I took one more pass before stopping in the main gallery of the first floor to lie on the benches provided and look up at the globe hanging from the ceiling above. I used the time to chill and figure out a game plan for the rest of the day.

After I’d figured everything out, I made my way back to the room to drop some stuff off, then headed to Shinjuku Loft. It was 16:00, when the show was supposed to start and I wanted to see what time the band I was going for was on. I was told not till 20:50 so I took the time to do a bit more exploring.

I forgot to add that there was a section where for 500 Yen you could test ride a Honda Uni-Cub, like the ones featured in the OK Go music video for the song I Won’t Let You Down.

Uniqlo Move + Muji

I made my way to Uniqlo Move, a concept store that had been set up a few weeks prior to my arrival. I wanted to see what it was all about and how, if at all, it differed from the Uniqlo stores I’d been to in the states.

As usual, I got lost trying to find it and had to resolve to a montage of walking in all the wrong places before asking for directions. When I did eventually arrive I was/am pretty sure I was in just a regular Uniqlo. Oh well.

I decide to see if there was a Muji nearby to kill a bit of time in. I found that there was indeed one near me and started to head in that direction. As I did however, what had started as a sprinkle was beginning to turn to rain. On top of that I was pretty sure I was, once again headed in the wrong direction.

I stopped into a ubiquitous Family Mart to keep dry and reassess my situation. On top of that, I took the opportunity to buy a clear umbrella, something that I’d wanted to get but not frivolously, only if I needed one organically. As it turned out, I needed one organically.

I then made my way to Muji. I walked around for a bit and saw that it was 17:30. My new plan was to be at Shinjuku Loft for 19:00 so I could watch a few bands before settling in for the main event. Thus I decided to head back to the room again to blog my day so far and chill for the hour and a half before I would set back out to the Loft.

Shinjuku Loft

We got into the Shinjuku Loft no problem and when we arrived there was a band in the middle of their set. I moved right to the front to watch. They were a fairly heavy punk band and were really high energy. At one point they did a cover of Rebel Yell by Billy Idol and later they covered Fight For Your Right by The Beastie Boys. Towards the end of the set the guitarist/lead singer stripped down to his leather underwear.

IMG_6888The 5.6.7.8’s at Shinjuku Loft

The second band we saw was another trio only these guys were a bit older. They were dressed up in suits and had nice hats on. They were a bit more surf punk and somewhat rockabilly. I really liked them and at one point the bassist did this thing where he used one hand to mim revving a motorcycle and the other, on his bass, to make the “revving sound. It was pretty cool.

The third band we saw was a bit more punk, however they too got did some rockabilly stuff. They covered Somethin’ Else by Eddie Cochran and ended with a cover of the Sex Pistols cover of My Way by Frank Sinatra.

Next was the piece de resistance, the reason I had come to the show, something I never thought would actually be able to happen. As if it were fate, for our last night in Japan The 5.6.7.8’s were playing! I’ve wanted to see them in concert ever since I hear about them but to see them in Japan, that was the best of the best.

Because there were too many bands, they played a relatively short set. However, with the exception of one, every song they played, I knew and basically were all the ones I wanted to hear. All in all a solid end to our trip.

 

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3-Day Moonstruck Excursion

I started my day (1/17) later than I planned to. Partly because I woke up late-ish and partly because I didn’t have a concrete plan as to what I wanted to do. After looking through my “to do” list I decided to go on a Moonstruck excursion, something I’d been pushing off. While doing my planning, I also found that the New York Transit Museum was in the same area as the other things I wanted to see. So at 1:30pm I made my way into the cold.

CastoriniHouse19 Cranberry Street, Brooklyn aka the Castorini house

The first thing on my list was the location they used to shoot the exteriors for the Castorini house. Upon getting there I was taken right into the scene towards the end of the movie where Cher comes walking around the corner after her night at the opera and kicks the can down the street. I half expected (or rather hoped) there would be a red Pontiac Firebird parked at the end of the street, but alas, there was none.

BrooklynPromenadeBrooklyn Heights Promenade

After making my taking a few pictures of the apartment and having a moment of realization of where I was, being in a real life scene from a movie, I made my way around the corner to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. This was listed on IMDB as, I think the location where the grandfather takes the dogs for a walk. “Bella luna, bella luna,” but it did not really feel that way.

I feel like that takes place in Brooklyn Bridge park, closer to the water. I’ll just have to watch the movie and see. Additionally, for some reason I had this music (which BTW I had no idea was done by Philip Glass!) in my head while I was walking around. I should have had this music in my head, but it did not prevail.

My favorite scene from Moonstruck

Next on my list was the NY Transit Museum, not Moonstruck related but it was on my “to do” list and was nearby the other things I was visiting… and it was only $7. It was also a welcome escape from the cold. Not surprisingly, the entrance to the museum looks like the entrance to a subway station; mostly because it is, well, it was. The station now holds a series of artifacts and information about the construction of the MTA.

To my surprise there was actually a line to get tickets. The place was pretty busy but it was filled mostly with parents and their children. Overall it did seem to cater to a younger audience but there were still things that an older person, such as myself, could enjoy. There was a lot to read, some interactive exhibits, and my favorite- a bunch of old MTA train cars from throughout the years.

By the time I was done (and that was rushing-ish) it was 4:22. I intended to go to the Cammareri Bakery next, but I had a job interview to go to at 5. Also, I was losing light and it was getting colder so I decided to put off my last Moonstruck locations until the next day.

After my interview I went back to the apartment and got some food. A little while later Dilila called and came by to watch none other than Moonstruck with me and Steve. And BTW after seeing it, the scene I had in mind def takes place at BB park.

—Part 2 (1/18) the next day

The first thing on my continued list was to visit the location of the Cammareri Bakery. Due to costs, the actual bakery has since moved to 1559 62nd Street in Brooklyn; it’s now Maybelle’s Cafe.

CamerariBarkery502 Henry Street, former sight of the actual Cammareri Bakery.

I thought today would be a good day to explore because in spite of the fact that it was supposed to rain, it was supposed to be relatively warm. This was a mistake. My jacket and pants soon soaked through, so I was cold and wet. I should have stuck to my original plan and gone to the Hayden Planetarium. At least then I would have been inside, oh well.

Because of the rain, the rest of the plan was scrapped and after miserably finding the location and getting the photo I made my way back through the rain to the apartment.

—Part 3 (1/19) the day after that

The first thing on my “to do” list was to find the Grand Tocino restaurant. I took the train to 14th Street and walked to 12th. As I made my way towards 254 I was sort of aimlessly on my own world. Not having done my usual calculations, I wasn’t thinking about whether it would be on the right or on the left. I had assumed that it was going to be on my right and then suddenly it was in front of me.

GrandTorcino254 West 12th Street, Cafe Cluny aka Grand Tocino

I don’t know if it’s because it is no longer the Grand Tocino or if it’s just not as impressive as I thought it was be, but I was very underwhelmed upon my arrival. It made me question why I visit all these places. Just to see them, who cares? I took my photo and moved on.

Next I made my way back to the train and went all the way up to 66th street to visit The Metropolitan Opera. The subway goes directly to the Lincoln Arts Center and after ascending some stairs and walking a short distance to see The Met.

TheMETThe Met

It is rare that things take my breath away but this really got my heart pumping. I don’t know if it’s that I was actually there or that it was a cool looking building or some combination of both, but I was really happy the moment I saw it. It instantly renewed all the doubts I had been having at the previous location.

I had done all this research and now my journey excursion -at least the Moonstruck part- was over. It wasn’t until after I was finished with the first or second day that I found this site which  is really good to reference in regards to finding locations.

TheMET_GrassAndWaterReflecting pool and grass area at the Lincoln Arts Center

After getting the picture, I made my way up to the entrance to look at what shows were playing. To my pleasant surprise, La Bohème was playing that night! (This is the show that Nick Cage and Cher go to on their “date.”) I wasn’t planning on going and didn’t end up going but it was still cool to see.

Next I made my way around to the side where I found to reflecting pool and grass field thing pictured above. The whole Lincoln Arts Center was beautiful. I can just imaging that in the spring and summer the area is mobbed with people.

MartinLutherKingJrHighSchoolMartin Luther King Jr. High School; “We shall overcome…”

After an appropriate amount of time at that LAC I decided to move on to the next thing. Initially my plan was to go right back to the train as my next stop was 59 blocks away. However, since the weather was nice, I decided to walk… at least until the next subway station.

As I made my way down the side of the LAC and out to the back, to Amsterdam Ave, I came across a sculpture. The sculpture (pictured above) was in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. I thought that it was strange that on this day of all days -Martin Luther King Day- I would stumble across this memorial. I could have gone back to the train and missed it, but something brought me here.

I took a moment to cross the street for a better look and to take the time to pay my respects to a man who had such a positive impact on history.

125thStreetStation125th street – Harlem

Eventually I moved on, passing the 72nd street station and getting on at 79th. I took the train where I got off at 125th street. It was to my surprise, the first stop that was actually elevated that I had ever been to in Manhattan. As I mad my way down the stairs a guy in front of me said to his friends, “Doesn’t this look like GTA 4?” It felt nice to not be the only person who appreciates art imitating life. Not to say that him and his friends came all the way to 125th street to see something from GTA, but simply that he appreciated the game’s ability to recreate reality in such detail.

ElevatedTrainElevated train

I had two places I wanted to see while I was in Harlem. The first was the world famous Apollo Theatre. I made my way east across 125th towards 253, the Apollo’s address. What at first seemed like it would be a long walk turned out to be not too far and I soon got what I came for… a photograph.

ApolloTheaterApollo Theatre

The second place I wanted to visit was a restaurant I noticed on Google Maps while scouting the area around the Apollo before heading out on this journey. As luck would have it, it was noonish, lunchtime, and the joint was only one street down and a couple blocks over at 100 west 124th street.

HarlemShakeHarlem Shake – restaurant

The restaurant in question was a place called the Harlem Shake, and it was right up my alley. It was essentially a diner/burger joint with a 50s/60s vibe. The thing that made it cool was that everything seemed, and I believe was, authentic. Rather than taking a new location and making it look old, as far as I could tell, this actually was old. I got a sandwich and a chocolate shake. Both were really good and hit the spot. After eating, I walked back to a subway station I had passed on the way that had lines which were perfect for brining me to my next destination.

AmericanMuseumOfNaturalHistoryDinosaur skeleton at the AMNH; I’m sure I have this exact same picture from the last time I was there.

The second to last thing I did was to visit the American Museum of Natural History. This was not originally my plan. My plan was to visit the Hayden Planetarium which is part of the Museum. However, upon entering and purchasing my ticket, I found that the suggested donation price (aka pay whatever you want) only refers to entrance to the museum. For entrance to the planetarium you have to pay full price, $27. Being cheap, I stuck with my $5 donation and decided to just make a day out of the museum.

Though I had been there before with my family in 2007, it was really cool being there again. Even though I was 18 then, I feel like I was young enough to not really appreciate everything I was looking at. This time however, I really enjoyed every room and exhibit I saw. Additionally, I was able to navigate the museum by myself, see what I wanted to see when I wanted to see it and for the exact amount of time I wanted to stare at it. I ended up staying there from 2:10 to 5:40; 3 and a half hours.

A Most Violent Year

I ended the night with one last thing. I had been curious about the movie A Most Violent Year and after finding a theatre with an upcoming showtime, decided to go see it. As a short synopsis, my advice is this: Do Not Go To This Movie!

The movie is literally 2 hours and 5 minutes of people talking. There are maybe two or three scenes of action but overall, nothing happens in this movie! I don’t mind dialogue if it goes somewhere, but the problem is that it doesn’t. I have only vaguely an idea of what that movie was about. They try to shroud what’s really going on in mystery by being vague but they are so vague that it doesn’t come off as mysterious or cool, it just comes off as confusing. Additionally, from what little I did pick up, the plot is super boring. I kept waiting for things to pick up and get interesting, but they never did.

The story is about a guy who runs an oil delivery company keeps getting his trucks jacked and he spends the whole movie trying to figure out who’s doing it. Meanwhile he has 30 days to raise enough money to buy this new oil facility but can’t because of all that stuff that keeps happening to his trucks. Sound boring and stupid? That’s because it is.

Another thing that made the film boring was how it was shot. Every scene looked exactly the same. The framing, the focal length, the depth of field, the same in pretty much every shot. Also, I didn’t care about any of the characters. There were these flat people who don’t do anything and don’t make you feel what they’re doing matters in any way. Once again, just as was the case with The Councilor I was foiled by a well cut trailer. To make matters worse, I don’t know if this is a New York thing or if movie prices are just this high now, but it cost me $13.50 to watch this abomination!

The only good part of that movie was Jessica Chastain. She was the only character who had real depth and emotion.

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