Monday, April 17, 2017

Finding A Routine In Chiang Mai, Thailand

Dec. 31 New Years in Chiang Mai
In Thailand the Songkran water festival just ended over the weekend. It is an annual event to celebrate the Thai new year. For five days everyone out on the streets is having water fights and walking out your door means playing. It was delightful to see so many adults with big water canons and bigger grins aimed at every scooter and pedestrian in their path. A very fun atmosphere, but one that I was ready to be done with on about the second day.

I was ready to be done with it because I had just gotten into the groove for my new webucation (seriously, I just came up with that brilliant nugget. my genius knows no bounds!) site, Prepared Passing.

Let me go back a week.

Last Week

Songkran was beginning and many businesses shut down, including all the yoga studios. Daily yoga at $5/class is one of the benefits of living in Chiang Mai. Since I'd be taking a week off from yoga, I decided to do another 4- or 5-day fast (as I first chronicled here 6 months ago). For the first 3 days I was doing great. But by the afternoon of Day 4 I was feeling depressed, and this is not a normal feeling for me. I was tired of traveling. Homesick. Just wanted to move back to the States and settle down somewhere. Red flat alert! I was frustrated with this business idea and couldn't find any motivation for it. And I couldn't make heads or tails of this spiritual awakening that appears to be happening to me.

So I ate food. Crazy, I know. I made it 4 full days of fasting, noticed a successfully lowered blood pressure (because of feeling faint when I stood up, not because I actually had access to a cuff). I had dinner and a beer and a Snickers bar and went to bed.

The Next Morning

By morning I felt great. I found a place to hire a web developer for Prepared Passing and was shocked to get more than 80 job proposals. The thoughtful ideas coming in from seasoned programmers were just what I needed to light my fire around the website. Sparks were flying and it began to feel like it really might be a legitimate business model.

Finding a Routine

So now that the festival is over and I'm inspired to work, I've found myself a nice routine.
  • 7am Wakeup. Listen to the latest podcast of On Being or Tangentially Speaking or Buddha at the Gas Pump
  • 9am yoga ($5)
  • Healthy breakfast (omelette, salad, green smoothie, coffee for $8) and working for 90 minutes. That's where I am as I write this.
  • Noon meditation group (two 20-minute sittings for $1.50 donation)
  • Thai massage (60-minutes for $8)
  • Work a little more
  • Dinner. Chill out
  • Bedtime

Sorry, No Photos

I haven't really been taking any photos recently. After traveling for 17 months the picture taking gets a little old. Plus, my exploration has turned more internal in the past month. The warmth and energetic vibrations that I mentioned here are still with me. My latest theory is that maybe it's me being awakened to the sense of my chi (aka prana, spirit, life force). I don't really know yet, so I'm spending time every day exploring it further and continuing to learn and grow. 

Buried Lede

Perhaps I've buried the lede here, because this topic of energy and spirit is not one that many people are comfortable with. It's difficult for me to discuss, but I'm working on it. Western culture barely acknowledges its existence, even though Eastern cultures have had an understanding of it for 2500 years. If one of my friends had told me about their energy experience 5 years ago I would have been quite skeptical. In fact, I can think of a couple friends who may have tried to share something similar with me, only to be met by my predictable skepticism and ignorance. Heads up: I'm still not ready to hear about your crystals or magnets.

Example: Brilliant, smart, highly educated, American neuroscientists can now scan the brains of meditating monks with billion-dollar science machines! They discover that meditating monks show more in the awareness and happiness and peacefulness zones of the brain than normal Americans do. Shocker! 

Buddhist monks have known this for 2500 years. Just because we can't prove it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

I don't think this has happened to me because I was looking for it (though I've certainly been growing more open to possibility in the past 5 years since I started listening to a shitload of podcasts). I think it happened because I simply shed all the bullshit in my life, walked away from it and began living the life I always wanted to live. My mind is able to be free. And when I challenged it by feeding it the words and experiences of many wise people, it was finally able to blossom.

That's my current theory, anyways. I'm still a Western skeptic and still looking for better explanations. And I do still understand that I am a very fortunate person in so many ways. I don't know if that's because of karma from past lives or not. Haven't started believing in that yet. But why else should I be fortunate enough to explore any path that interests me while billions of people are stuck fighting for food and water? Pure luck? I dunno.

Time for meditation. Smell ya later.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Shanghai, Hong Kong & Bangkok Photo Dump

Recently I spent a month in Shanghai and five days in each of Hong Kong and Bangkok.

Shanghai

In Shanghai I had the pleasure of staying with my buddy Mike who I don't think I had seen in two years. He's been living in Shanghai for work (Ecolab) for the past two years and will likely be there for two more. Catching up with him was definitely the highlight of my time there.

Shanghai is a huge mega-city of 25-30 million people. It is also very international because it is the main business hub of Communist Red China.

Mike has a lovely 2-bedroom apartment in this centrally located building:
Mike's Apartment in Shanghai

The iconic skyline of Shanghai was all erected in the past 20 years or so. They tell me that the land across the river in this picture was just farmland in the 1980s.
Kirk. Shanghai. The Bund.
Funny story about this picture. I later learned that the woman who offered to take it for me was likely trying to scam me. I met two nice, talkative women in their twenties who were walking along this promenade (on the Bund). It is a very touristy area because of this view. So local scam artists will befriend you, first by offering to take your picture. Then they chat you up in broken English and eventually invite you to get a drink at a place nearby. If you take them up on their offer, you end up in one of those scams where you sit down for a drink and it costs $100. This happened to me in Rome some years ago so I'm now wary of it, but wasn't certain that was happening at the time until Mike confirmed it. So much for Communism.

My new favorite breakfast is being made by this lady as Mike looks on, drooling.

Here's what it looks like when done. Flaky, crispy, crepe-like outer that contains a minimal amount of spicy paste, small hot dog of some sort, greens and some other paste. There's not much to it, but it's really tasty. Costs about $1.


Other amazing Chinese food is xiao long bao, seen here. They're delectable little dumplings, with a little meat and hot (temperature-wise) watery sauce inside. I ate this sampler platter and then ordered another full platter of the spicy maroon one.
Xiao long bao
Next up: Getting high in Shanghai. At least I haven't tried to squeeze in "getting Shanghaied" anywhere. Shanghai has 3 really tall skyscrapers, each of which has observation decks. But only one has an observation catwalk outside the building on the 88th floor. This is me, 1000' above the ground clipped in and actually outside the building. I waited for a rare clear day to go up there. I think it cost about $40.
Getting high in Shanghai
A guide took a group of 6 of us outside single file and clipped in to a rail. We walked around part of the building, staying outside for about 10 minutes. There were 2 places for photo ops and this photo cost me another $10. It was a lovely day with amazing views and just a hint of a breeze.

Tea time. One Saturday in Shanghai I took a tour about an hour outside of town to tea country. That's actually fog, not smog, and I think it's one reason the tea grows so well here. This is longjing green tea, a local specialty that was in season. Met a nice Colombian guy who was also going to Hong Kong and we connected there for the hiking trip you'll see below.
Tea time

Hong Kong

And then I got high in Hong Kong, another city with a broad and towering skyline. A cool thing about Hong Kong is that is includes a collection of islands. This photo is taken from the top of Mt. Victoria overlooking the main business district. Gorgeous view. There's a nice hike that circumnavigates the peak and allows for this perspective.
Getting high in Hong Kong
Most people are familiar with urban Hong Kong, but you don't need to travel far from the business center to get out into the country. Mike and I went to a small fishing town and saw the catch of the day from the pier. 
Catch of the day in Hong Kong 
And then I met up with some other international travelers for a day hike out to this dry waterfall and the nearby sea shore. I'm on the left and the photo is just before we all jumped. Good times.
Cliff jumping with new friends in Hong Kong

Bangkok

I didn't take many pictures in Bangkok, but here are some highlights.

Bicycles and butterflies. What could be better than that? 

On a biking/boat tour we went through a market. Here are some of the famous chilis that make Thai food so delicious.

Boat from the boat part of the bike/boat tour. The water is shallow so they use a engine (not sure why it's so gigantic) with a propeller on the end of that long stick, maybe 20' back of the boat.

Buddy Shanghai Nick pointing to the spiciest food either of us had ever eaten. It's a bean salad at about 4am after a good night of drinking in Bangkok. After eating it I was running around looking for a surgeon to amputate my tongue. We did not finish it.

Bangkok was a lot of fun. Shanghai Nick is a co-worker of Mike's from Ecolab and I met him in, you guessed it, Shanghai. Late nights, too much booze, and very little actual sightseeing. But I'd go back to Bangkok in a heartbeat to explore it more and see the sights. It has a river and canals and some crazy architecture and many great little drinking neighborhoods. All for a very reasonable price.

And now, your moment of zen..

What's Next?

I write this from charming Chiang Mai, a kickass city in northern Thailand. I'll be staying here for the next 6 weeks, working on updating my business website and enjoying the greatest food on earth. I'll also be enjoying the fantastic value of living in Thailand: mouth-watering meals for $5, hour-long thai massage for $7, daily yoga for $5, room at an apartment building with pool and gym for $10/day. Smell ya later.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The De-Cluttered Mind

Two years ago I began the journey of quitting my job, selling everything and traveling the world because I knew there was a better way for me to live. And by "better", I mean a way that energized me more day after day. If we only have one life to live, then I wanted to live it large.

I also began this journey out of curiosity about the world. I had itches to scratch. What's it like to ride a bicycle for weeks through Patagonia? Can I become fluent in a second language? Is the skiing in northern Japan really as good as everyone says it is?


16 months into it, I've realized a few things: biking in Patagonia is awesome, but next time I'll avoid horse-fly season. Learning a second language can be very difficult. Japow is for real.

But I also realized something far more important. By removing all the stresses from my life (no job, no bills, no dependents) I unwittingly de-cluttered my mind, therefore allowing it to see more clearly. Through no intention of my own, I became able to see through the mask of the life that we deal with every day. I see the love and energy of the world and I see the gigantic pile of bullshit that humans unknowingly bury it under. I think this clarity only happened because I first de-cluttered my mind, though I'm told that for other people it can happen via any number of ways.


Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Dawn.

This is the sixth time I've sat down and tried to write something about this, so I'll keep it brief. It's not easy to share this kind of woo-woo stuff without sounding a little crazy or a lot full-of-myself. But the purpose of the internet is for people to throw shit out there and for others to judge the value on their own, right? Perhaps it won't sound crazy to some of you.

A warmth has emerged inside of me that I was never aware of. I've felt it for a week now and I write this partially as a record of its existence in case I lose it. In retrospect I can see it was slowly building, brick by brick, experience by experience, over the course of the past year.

Through meditation and ayahuasca, I learned that there are energies in the universe that we rarely see or feel. Through global travel I learned that yesterday's cultural norms often become today's bad habits, passed on lovingly by long-dead ancestors. I'm not blaming anyone, but most people have seen this in their own family.

I've learned that one's emotions are their own. If someone else is doing something that makes me angry or frustrated, that anger is my problem and not theirs. They may have plenty of their own issues, but the way I react to them is my issue for me to control. 

I've learned that happiness really does come from inside of us, not from outside of us. I believe that love is a flame that burns in our heart, not something that is given to us by another person (though I believe that another person can act as kerosene to brighten our flame).

I've also learned that I need to keep on learning because there is so much to this wonderful existence that is still beyond our current understanding. Dogs are able to hear and smell things that humans do not. Cats can see waves of light that humans cannot see. This world we humans see, in all its glory, is just one scuffed facet of a truly glimmering gem.



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tangentially Speaking

I enjoy and find great benefit in listening to podcasts and reading blogs and books. Since quitting my job I've been blessed with time and I'm realizing how valuable time is for personal growth. I understand that virtually nobody reading this has the kind of time that I do for listening to wise people, but I encourage you to give it a shot.

There's an ancient Buddhist saying:
You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy. Then you should sit for one hour.
photo via 

My New Favorite Podcast

Tangentially Speaking
The host of this podcast, Chris Ryan, is a very wise and well-traveled, philosophical gentleman. Every episode has at least one gem that I take away, often they are Ryan's beautiful (if not entirely accurate) attempts to remember a quote from somebody else. Here are a few of my favorites:
When asked for life advice from a young person he quoted the more broad interpretation (i.e. without the word "God") on a famous St. Augustine quote saying: Love, and do as you please.
He took a Eugene McCarthy quote about politicians and football coaches and applied it to Wall Street investors and corporate America business leaders, saying that the most "successful" of them are good at the money games they play because: they are smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important.

I can't remember who to attribute this one to, but it is so true: Anger is what fear and pain look like when they show themselves in public.
There are over 200 Tangentially Speaking episodes and you can browse through the list of guests and start with someone who sounds interesting to you. If you want a place to start, try episode 195 ROMA 7 where he responds to a guy who is "mystified at how so many people fail to see through the inanities of modern civilization".

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Japan Wrap-up Photo Dump


I'm not exactly sure how to talk about the rest of my month in Japan so I'll just do another photo dump, sharing the stories behind some of the photos I took.

I spent the past two weeks in the historical and Buddhist heart of Japan: Kyoto, Nara and Koyasan. Kyoto is famous for all the historical temples still standing in the city. Nara is home to a 50' tall bronze Buddha, built in 751, who sits inside what was, until recently, the world's largest wooden building. Koyasan is a small town in the mountains centered around more than 100 temples, some of which allow tourists to stay in them.

Here's the Nara Buddha that was cast in bronze in the year 751. According to Atlas Obscura, the initial construction nearly bankrupted Japan.
Today it is very much a tourist attraction, primarily for groups of school children. Nobody was hanging out and being particularly spiritual when I was there. I was mostly surrounded by 14-year olds taking selfies.

My favorite Buddha was this next one in Kamakura, just about an hour by train south of Tokyo. There was a scenic, wooded 45-minute hike to get to the Buddha. Of course, you all know that getting there is half the fun. It was a gorgeous day and I sat down and meditated for 30 minutes here amongst the visitors. This Buddha is also about 50' tall and bronze.

This next photo is of a women praying before entering a temple in the snowy mountains outside of Kyoto. The morning mountains here were beautifully coated in an overnight snowfall and there were few visitors when I was there. 

Here's another shot from that same temple.


I visited many temples with gorgeous gardens. You've probably seen photos of Japanese zen gardens with the 5 rocks sitting on a big bed of gravel. They didn't get very old to me and I enjoyed visiting many different ones. Here's a nice place for dinner next time the local Lama invites you up to his summer temple.



One of the most famous and popular sites around Kyoto is the Fushimi-Inari Shrine because of the amazing tunnel of these orange gates. I'm not sure there are really 10,000 of them, but there's certainly more than 1,000. Super cool and quite photogenic.
Which way to the Zen Buddhist temple?

Matcha green tea is a special kind of ceremonial green tea that is crafted with love and ritual. Here's a photo from a tea ceremony I attended where, over the course of 10 minutes, this lady prepared one cup of matcha. She said it takes 10-15 years to be a Master of Tea Ceremony, learning all the proper techniques for making different types of matcha for different purposes in different seasons of the year.

The tea is very smooth, thicker than a normal cup of tea. It is often served in exquisite tea rooms, such as this one looking out over a bamboo garden.

In Koyasan I spent 3 nights staying in a Buddhist temple. They had 8 or 10 rooms that they rent out to tourists and we could witness some of their daily monk rituals. My room had a nice view into a wooded area surrounding the meditation hall. It was a wonderful 3 days of peace and quiet, listening and deep thinking for me.

The food was amazing and vegan. Miso soup, rice, tofu served multiple different ways and far more tasty than I'd ever had, assorted tempura and vegetables served in ways I'd never experienced before. If I could eat like this every day I could almost become vegan. Almost.

There is an ancient cemetery in Koyasan and it was fun to walk through. It houses the mausoleum of the Buddhist monk who is called the Father of Japanese Culture because he created the Japanese written language (adapted from Chinese) and started the whole calligraphy craze.

The generous woman at the aforementioned tea ceremony who kindly translated my name, Kirk, into Japanese calligraphy obviously didn't know that I'm unemployed and homeless.
Splendid Success = Unemployed & homeless

Just a couple more things I need to mention. First, Japan has a weird sexual and pseudo-sexual undercurrent. On the surface, all Japanese are very proper, bowing all the time and being super polite. In the workplace they are encouraged to conform and it is seen as bad to stand out. One of the effects of this is these places called Maid Cafes. I had to try one.

You go to this cafe where a bunch of 16-20 year old girls are dressed up as maids. There is an extreme level of cuteness applied to everything. It's like Hello Kitty having tea time with a basket full of puppies.

The food is all cute and colorful, though it doesn't taste particularly good. Shocker. I ordered the salad and the nuclear green sugary beverage. It's hard to see in the picture, but the cheese on the salad is formed to look like little critters. 
Cute pose with love heart

Here's the nice picture card they gave me when I was leaving. The embedded photo is me and the girl/maid/whatever who was my server.
Cute pose #2: fists beneath chin.

The first 30 minutes was quite entertaining. Most of the 20 people in the cafe were eating alone, like me. And it turns out it was on Valentine's Day (I swear I didn't plan it that way, but I realized when I took my place at the end of a 20-minute line to get in). There were definitely some very lonely people who go to this kind of cafe for (completely innocent) companionship. More than one customer was playing a little children's game kind of like Hungry Hungry Hippos with their server/maid.

But after being there for 30 minutes I was ready to roll. It was one of those crazy cultural experiences that was super fun, but only for a short amount of time. I was the only non-Asian customer and it felt a little weird to be glancing into the lives of some very sad souls.

Lastly, I will share with you one more weird Japanese cultural experience. I spent 4 nights in Kyoto staying at one of those pod hotels. You know what I mean, right? It's this Japanese budget hotel option where you're room for the night is not much bigger than the trunk of your car. The place I stayed was brand new, though, and the pods were quite sufficient and cozy. This stock photo of the place I stayed shows the double-decker pods on each side of the hall. Each one is probably 6'6" deep by 4' high and 3' wide or so. There was a tv inside, and a fan, and lights with dimmers.

That's it.
I'm writing this from Shanghai, China where I'm pleased to be crashing with my buddy Mikko for awhile. I may use Shanghai as a home base for much of 2017. My first priority is to turn my business website into version 2.0, likely called Prepared Passing. It'll be an educational site for people who have a parent who is dying.

So I'm gonna crank on that for the next couple months. But I'm also excited to be able to easily visit places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, greater China, Mongolia, India, Nepal, Bhutan and on and on and on.

Asia is big with lots to see and at this point I have no schedule. Gonna stay until I'm ready to move on and do it up right.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Fascinating Japan

It's been 26 years since I was last in Japan. During junior year of college I spent the month of January studying economics with a group of 15 students from St. Olaf.

My memories of that time aren't that sharp. I remember living with a lovely host family in Tokyo for 3 weeks. I remember drinking alcohol for the first time (!) at age 20 when my host father offered me sake and beer. I remember the vast cultural differences that weren't due to financial reasons. I remember feeling like a prairie dog because Tokyo is a big city undercut by a vast network of subways. When traveling around the city I'd ride the subway. Then I'd explore above ground in a small area around the subway stop. Next I'd go back underground and then pop up somewhere else, never really understanding how the areas were connected. I remember visiting Hiroshima.

Our student group also visited Osaka where we toured an automobile factory and learned about some of the legendary Japanese quality control processes, like Kaizen, that later made their way around the world.

Since that experience I've been curious about the rest of Japan -- historic Kyoto, the Japanese countryside, the mountains and the skiing, the distant northern island of Hokkaido.

Fortunately, my buddy Mike scoped out the skiing last year and raved about the daily powder dumps up at Niseko on Hokkaido. So we arranged to meet.

Skiing in Niseko, Japan

Skiing in northern Japan lived up to all the hype for me. They average almost 600" of snow per year, twice that of the popular areas in Colorado, and more even than my beloved Alta. For a powder junkie like me that's just what I was looking for. Alas, in the winter of '16-17 the American West has been getting hammered but it's been a relatively low snow year in Japan. 

But Ullr was shining on me. In the previous weeks they'd actually had rain at Niseko, but Mike and I received back-to-back days of 6-8" and then followed with a third bluebird day.
Ullr, the Norse God of Skiing

Bluebird JaPow with Volcano
The in-bounds area doesn't have a whole lot of expert terrain, but the vast powder more than makes up for it. Tree skiing JaPow is the strength here and I would gladly return. There's a nice, and booming, town at the base of the Grand Hirafu ski area (one of 4 ski areas that neighbor each other ringing halfway around the big mountain). Lots of Australians ski here.

Food

The other supreme pleasure of Japan so far has been the food. After spending 14 months eating the mostly simple cuisine of Latin America, my tongue and taste buds are thrilled for a change of pace. Tortillas and chicken have given way to noodles and sashimi and yakitori.

In Sapporo we visited the Sapporo brewery. Here's Mike enjoying the local delicacy Jingisukan (named after Genghis Khan). This food wasn't that great, actually, but the photo is pretty good. It was grill-your-own meat and vegetables. But grill-your-own? At a restaurant? I thought that's what I pay the professional chefs for.
Ullr eats Genghis Kahn
Yakatori is a Japanese delight similar to the Spanish tradition of tapas -- small plates that you order a bunch of and share with friends. The two sticks on the left of this platter are kimchi meatballs on a stick and were phenomenal. Yakatori tends to be fried meat (beef, chicken, gizzards, livers, etc) but can also include such delights as asparagus wrapped in bacon and spicy mushrooms.
Yaktori, kind of like tapas
 Behind the counter at a couple yakatori places...
 

The tab for the evening appears to be unhappy. Not sure why that is. Perhaps it didn't like the way I manhandled my chopsticks.
Check, please
The pork in this ramen dish in the town of Otaru, Japan was the best thing I'd eaten in months. As the Japanese would say, oishii!
Ramen with pork that will blow your mind
Visiting the fish market is always fun.

Fresh Fish
And it was at the fish market in Hakodate, Japan on the southern coast of Hokkaido that I finally understand why television food traveler Anthony Bourdain raves about uni, or sea urchin. I'd had it twice before in the USA as sushi and didn't really care for it. I tried it as sushi a couple days prior to this here experience and it was better than in America. But this fourth and most simply prepared experience was the one that will keep me singing its praises forevermore. Those yellow pieces of meat are attached to the shell by a little nubbin, kind of like how an oyster is attached. When in Hokkaido, you must try the uni.
Uni, or sea urchin

Drinking in Japan

Drinking is a big part of the Japanese culture. Many employees work long hours and after work go out drinking with their coworkers. They drink to get drunk. Because Japan has such a formal and polite outer shell of a culture, it is after work when people are allowed to let their hair down and say what they think. 

So in the spirit of multi-culturism, Mike and I decided we should try out a few of these drinking establishments.

The options are plenty, whether they be in a hopping main drag in Tokyo...

Or in a warren of small joints that only have room for 6-8 customers...
Mike looking for a drink

 Or a joint on the snowy streets of Sapporo.

And if you know me at all, you know I couldn't pass up a chance to drink at a place called Bar Boozer in Hakodate.
Mike patiently awaiting the opening of Bar Boozer

We returned later that night...

and were slightly surprised when it turned out to be a nice whiskey bar. So we helped ourselves to some from the Nikka distillery that we toured when up on Hokkaido.


We also had a few great encounters with bars that spin vinyl records. This was the first one, I think, in Otaru or Sapporo. The sign outside said Jazz Bar so we went in thinking there would be live jazz music. An interesting thing about Japanese restaurants and bars is that they make it almost impossible to see inside from the outside. The Japanese are very shy and private about their vices -- booze and sex. There were plenty of times when I opened a door to a place that seemed interesting, only to be turned away because they didn't serve foreigners (true: if you don't speak Japanese some restaurant owners just don't want to deal with you) or because it just wasn't our style. There was no live music here, but a great soundsystem and a hep cat owner spinning jazz vinyl.


Our most fun night (and most hungover morning) came at this place: Soul Bar Jody. It was in the basement of a building and surrounded by some of the weirder sex-type clubs they have in Japan.
This is in the city of Morioka, Japan. We walk in and instantly see a Prince record proudly displayed on the counter. Good sign. There's just the proprietor sitting behing the bar having a smoke and nobody else in the small room that could maybe hold 20 people tightly.

The gentleman owner spoke pretty decent English so we asked if he could play some Prince for us, seeing as we were from Prince's home town and all. He did and we ordered whiskey and beer. He had lots of photos on the walls of the bar and some of them were former professional wrestlers. I remembered that AWA wrestling, the professional outfit out of Minneapolis in the 1980s, had a connection with Japan. We started talking pro wrestling and soul music and then he put a VHS tape into his VCR and up on the screen popped the AWA's champion Nick Bockwinkel wrestling in Japan around 1984 or so. Awesome!

Do you remember Mad Dog Vachon? Because the Japanese sure do:
Mad Dog Vachon
More beer and whiskey flowed. Cigarettes were bummed and still no one else entered the bar. We had been there for a few hours listening to great records and watching old wrestling videos with this fifty-something Japanese gentleman.

So much fun.