Thursday 26 September 2013

Loco in Hyogo!

OK, Loco in Yokohama but through the wonders of modern technology, Loco came into my living room for an intimate little chit chat. Ain't modern gizmos grand?!
But in all seriousness,writing a book, like most big achievements in life, is something that few people will ever get round to actually doing. In the blogging world it’s even more frustrating, because there are people all over the place who love writing, but they can never push their lazy arses beyond the safety of a blog. Loco, already famous round these here parts, needs no introduction. He is not only talented but he has had the will and drive to write not one, but two books in what seems to me to be a very short amount of time to me. Maybe he has a warehouse full of Japanese girls in mini-skirts and false eyelashes typing for him, who knows. But I have come to respect and ponder his opinions and take on all things Japan, plus I share his love of ramen so how could we not get along. I asked him a few questions before, but here are 7 more minutes in heaven with Loco! (Don’t be a cunt, buy his book!)


1)    So Loco, another book?? What, one published masterpiece wasn’t enough for you??

Nah...won't be satisfied until my name becomes synonymous with the best writing on life in Japan for non-Japanese on the market, my name goes down in history as one of the finest writers of our time, and I can pay off my debts with money to spare. I suspect I'm gonna need a few more masterpieces before I achieve any of the above. That's of course, accepting the premise that my first book and this one are masterpieces, which I'm too superstitious to do. I'll leave that to the readers to decide. But thanks for the vote of confidence. Coming from a talented writer like you, that means a lot!


2)    What makes this book different to the first one?

Well, the first book was about the racist inclinations I've experienced (and seen in others) over the course of my entire life, a pretty extensive and unsparing study on a personal level. This new book is nothing like that. It begins and remains in nearly the present, and its focus is not directly on race (though as a foreigner living in Japan as it stands, pretty much race, to some degree, is a factor in practically every equation whether we want to acknowledge / accept that fact or not) but on relationships. I believe ones experience here, and everywhere, depends a great deal on the relationships one forms, and this book deals directly with the relationships I've formed through working here as a teacher, with both the students and the teachers. 

3)    Why should we buy your books and not just read your blog?
Actually, you should do both, if you're so inclined. While the material in the book is derived from material that once graced the pages of my blog (I pulled it a couple of years back in anticipation of this), unless you're a long-term reader of the blog, this material will be entirely new to you. And even if you are a long-time reader, the blog version of these stories were like a first draft parceled out in morsels. I've weaved those stories into a cohesive hole, which I believe is a great deal more substantial than the sum of its parts. Again I'll leave it to those handful of readers who have been down with Loco in Yokohama since its inception-- assuming they even recall these tales-- to decide if I've done them justice in the editing process.

4)    Due to the wonders of social media I’ve been seeing some video shenanigans going on, what’s all this about?? I’m guessing this is good news for those of us with short attention spans?
Indeed! Your boy, Loco has been putting together something of a documentary-style book trailer. I don't want to give too much away, but I was motivated by a need to know what kind of impact my presence here in Japan has made among Japanese people, and so it will contain candid interviews with a dozen or so Japanese people giving their impressions of Loco. I won't say it'll be ideal for those with attention spans as short as squirrels, but if you can sit through an entertaining and enlightening 10-15 minutes of real talk from real folk, in nihongo (subtitled of course), you're sure to enjoy this!

5)    Describe your life in Japan in 5 words.
Hilarious, Hortative, Humbling, Hypocritical and Hentai (just kidding...kinda) I mean Hygienic.


6)    Your material is focused a lot on racism, (Do I sound racist asking that question?!) how do you think your experience in Japan / as a writer would be different if you were white?
If I were white??? Well, that's a difficult question. I can't even imagine how I'd view , or how I'd be viewed, in the world, let alone Japan, if I were white. The way I see white, as I explained in my first book, is as varied as black. I don't even think nationality can quite limit the mindsets that fall under that umbrella term white. I approach people as individuals, not as a member of a race, and I expect the same courtesy and consideration in return... It took a great many years and experiences to get to that frame of mind, and that approach to humanity. I thought I had gotten to a point when I was incapable of going back to the mindset where I'd see not only race but make certain presumptions about the person based on that racial designation. That was a much simpler task in New York, I gotta tell ya. It was once I moved to Japan that I found myself slowly and insidiously ceasing to do that, and ultimately viewing Japanese through a single racial lens, that I realized a great deal about myself. And that was one of the issues that prompted me to write the book, "Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist".

But, from what I've observed and learned of Japanese ideas about and treatment of so-called white people, I would imagine that if I were white, but still somehow me (which is, I think, impossible) I would like to think I'd realize that I've actually been given the rare opportunity to view privilege from another perspective, from an underprivileged point of view. What it feels like to be on the business end of stigmatization, asserted generalizations, or even undeserved aggrandizement and worship. As a writer, what would I do with that amazing gift? This Jonathan Swift's Gulliver-esque slant on the world? Again, I'd like to think I'd use it to help people understand how those privileges came to be, the inherent responsibilities of being privileged, and the likeliness and dangers of abusing said privileges. And perhaps I'm guilty of being as overly critical or highly sensitive as Swift when it comes to human nature. But that's just me imagining.

7)    So what’s next? World tour? Japan tour? Another book? Give us a sneak peek!
Well, another book, and another, and another, until I'm satisfied, which I can't imagine I'll ever be. A world tour would be nice. Let's see how this book does. I still think the first book hasn't reached its fullest potential yet. A Japan tour seems likely, but again I have to wait until the reviews are in. People ultimately hold my fate as a writer in their hands. If people demand the world know of me, then that will happen. If they insist I vanish into obscurity, than that too will happen. Happens all the time. I'm of the mind that my job as a writer is to seek truth through writing. In my first book, as readers learned, I'm not afraid to "go there" and to do so with purpose and forthrightness. I've done so again with this book, I believe. As I will with my next project, which is essentially an un-scholarly black history book written from a personal perspective, unrelated to Japan this time. We'll see if the world wants a piece of Loco!

 Thanks again for having me, Corinne! You're the best, and I know most of the people charmed by and able to fully appreciate your brilliance and frankness are pretty damn cool, too. When my "Japan Tour" comes through your neck of the woods, expect me to pop up at your door one day bearing gifts.
As I've mentioned before, Loco is a perfect gentleman, I've never had the pleasure of meeting him in real life but it would be an honour to do so!

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