The Birdmachine & Michael Pestel
Tokyo’s bird population has declined drastically in the past 75 years. I’m told that’s due primarily to pollution and loss of traditional thatched roofs where many birds nested. Enter the crows, or kurasu, the world’s greatest synathropes, masters of what we do best: produce garbage. There are upwards of 150,000 of them terrorizing the populace with their brilliant antics and survival strategies. It's no wonder that one calls their flock a "murder" of crows. Enter the Birdmachine, a multiphonic, multi-timbrel musical instrument designed to attract and jam with birds, butoh dancers, and anyone else dedicated to avian sound and movement. That includes crows.
From March 17 to April 9, 2015, I'll be in Tokyo performing and jamming with avian butoh dancer, Taketeru Kudo, as well as with vocalist, Mika Kimura, and expatriate shakuhachi players, Yohmei Chris Blasdel and Bruce Huebner, among others. For his April 4th performance at the Tadao Ando Tokyo Art Museum in Sengawa, Chris has invited me and Mika to join him in an unusual acoustic concert space. The performance with Kudosan at Konno Hachimangu, Shibuya's oldest Shinto shrine, on March 22, is the event that set all this in motion. But mostly, I'll be busy exploring the urban soundscape by visiting places where birds used to sing, places where they still sing, and places whose bird names celebrate a particular species. As a kind of shamanic ornithologist bent on discovering the soul of Tokyo's bird life, I'll invoke an avian past of lost sounds in order to connect with the present. I know the crows will be listening!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Day 16, Wednesday, April 1 – The Dog House

Kudo and I were expected at Joni's place in Shibuya at 8:00. When we got to Tamachi station, I realized I'd lost another Suica subway pass. That was two in one day, my forty-dollar April Fool's joke on myself. Kudo noted that he'd seen such a pass on the sidewalk in front of the Butoh House, but hadn't connected it with me. We decided to hoof it back there, a fifteen minute walk, though neither of us really expected it to still be there. The foot traffic up that street was pretty intense, and anything even slightly out of place would be cleaned up. Sure enough, it wasn't there. 

I took a couple more photos and we set off back to the station. 

A Sakura Grows in Tamachi

A Shiba Inu on wheels!

Queen of Sheeba Inu in high heels!

Paris at night.

On the way, we stopped at a noodle shop and had supper. We made it to Joni's on time. He greeted us with Bogie, the Tasmanian Ridgeback, who had performed with Kudo and me at the shrine. Tasmanian Ridgebacks are lion hunters. But Bogie is also  a butoh hunter. Joni turned the outside lights on for the illuminated dog-related quotations all over the facade. Joseph Kosuth, the American artist, collected the quotations and designed the entire place in the shape of a classical dog house in homage to Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon was the Irish Wolfhound as legendary as Joni himself.


Joni's wedding picture from Konno Hachimangu. The woman in the sheep outfit on the right is a friend of Joni's and can be seen riding around Tokyo on her motorcycle thus arrayed. On Joni's right is his husband, Kafka, from Senegal. The man in the kilt is a Scottish artist living in Tokyo. The Orissi dancer is Sachiko. Kudo is in the foreground twitching butohnically on the floor.

Joni made a big fire in his Swedish woodburning stove.

More quotes inside. The cases and glass were manufactured in Italy.

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