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    I’m not immune / I love this tune

    I hadn’t gone to Omotesando Hills, the latest gargantuan Mori Building project, until this past weekend. Atsushi likes architecture and always has a memorably arch comment about something or other whenever we visit a new place together, so I wanted the first time I saw the place to be with him.

    I like Roppongi Hills much more than I’d expected to when it opened. It’s kind of confusing at first, and the architecture is on the anonymous upscale-mall side, but that’s part of what makes it adaptable to all its uses. I have a friend or two in the apartments, and they (the apartments, not my friends) are utterly underwhelming in terms of aesthetics or amenities, apart from the views. But the address has major big-time cachet, and it’s certainly a location that’s easy to get around from.

    I haven’t seen the apartments at Omotesando Hills, and the site is smaller and wedged in very tightly among existing buildings, so I don’t think it was conceived of as its own little village as Roppongi Hills was. The main building, which has most of the stores and restaurants, is the kind of structure that architecture critics have spasms of ecstasy over, presumably because they’ll never have to shop there. (And the building was designed by Tadao Ando, so the accolades were probably phoned in even before the groundbreaking ceremony.) The place is claustrophobic and dark; when we got to the top level, I half-expected the ceiling to be dripping with limey water and have sleeping bats hanging from it. And they had this atonal electro-xylophone music playing, loudly, on the PA system–really distracting.

    Otherwise, Tokyo’s been doing a lot to remind me why I love living here lately. The weather over the last week has been completely schizo; there was a wonderful, chilly rainstorm–just coming down in sheets–on Tuesday night. The neon and drably colored midnight buildings always look better with a slick of rainwater, and the mist made the cranes and other construction equipment for the new Meiji Avenue subway line look like dinosaurs. The next day was blindingly clear, but sunny in that spring way, and not in the pummel-you-to-the-sidewalk way it will be four months from now. Since then we’ve had one or two cold nights–I’m betting there are going to be a lot of people getting sick right about now because it’s impossible to know whether you’re dressing properly for the weather right now–but for the most part it’s very comfortable.

    Atsushi will be home for Golden Week (the first week of May), and we’ll have to celebrate his birthday then even though it’s a few days early. He already knows he’s getting an iPod. He seemed kind of lukewarm about having one…until I showed him my photo library. That did it. Atsushi–I’ve mentioned this, right?–takes pictures of anything and everything when we go on vacation. It’s a cute quirk, but it means a WHOLE LOT of image files. I think he’s pretty excited at the prospect of having them all live somewhere portable.

    Of course, I didn’t tell him about the iPod-related annoyances he’ll also be contending with. Seriously, guys at Apple, no seamless play between tracks on albums? Here is what you need to do: Go up to San Francisco. Find yourself a disco queen with an iPod. Ask him how much he likes having gaps between the tracks on, say, Bad Girls .

    Then duck.

    Whenever there’s an update, I hope against hope it’ll include seamless play. But unless I’ve missed something, no such luck. And trying to cheat by using the fade-out-fade-in function does NOT help. Sigh.

    And then there are the remote controls. The suckitude quotient on both of those I’ve owned has been oddly high for a company that’s made its reputation on user-friendliness. The one I used with my old Mini was kind of cool-looking–until you actually pressed any of the buttons, after which the mirror finish was totally smudged and gross. (And that’s my experience as a clean-freak homosexual, mind you. I shudder to think what happened in the hands of the average teenager.) The buttons were also jammed in close together, so it was very easy to misfire and end up jumping forward a track when you were just trying to turn the volume up. The radio remote I have now doesn’t have that problem, but the alligator clip is hinged on the left, which means that when you fasten it to a bag strap, the control pad is angled away from you if you’re right-handed. Kind of awkward. Also, the clip has no gripping power at all. It’s so weak I’ve been thinking about giving it vitamin E supplements. In Tokyo, people are always brushing up against you to get off the train or cut in front of you to a department store entrance or what have you, and the damned thing is constantly sliding off.

    Hmm. Anything else to complain about while I have the floor? I guess not really. The bank holiday means that Atsushi will be coming home for the better (in both senses of the word) part of a week. And later in May, a bunch of us will be getting together in New York for a college buddy’s wedding, including some very close friends I haven’t seen in a few years. (Tomorrow would probably be a good time to start looking for a present, actually.) Hope everyone else is enjoying the weekend.

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