Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Live from Japan : Ze New Lex

Contributing writer, Marcus Bird is back with a new installment of Live from Japan….

Chuckles is a statuesque German girl I met several weeks ago in my apartment building, somewhere in Shinjuku. That night, she was a unstoppable train of emotion and wit. For some reason, she was quite interested in me. Tonight, we are sitting on a stoop near a public bathroom in Roppongi, and we are people watching.

"Oh my god that girl is sooo skinny!" she says.

The woman she was referring to is a wispy, unnaturally thin Japanese woman wearing a long, dark brown dress. Her bones are visible even though the fabric; she is the epitome of malnutrition. She walks away, disappearing around a corner. I'm sipping on a Suntory Strong, my drink of choice when I want to get buzzed sooner than later.

I take a quick glance at Chuckles as she watches some more people while sipping on a beer. She has platinum blonde hair, a short boyish hair cut, and pretty, streamlined features. She reminds of me a bonde-girl-would-be-assassin.

Chuckles has a raw sarcasm that I can't always put my finger on, and she playfully breaks down my ego at the most inopportune moments. Regardless, there is something in her style, the icy blue of her eyes that intrigues me, which is funny because I'm not that into blondes.

We roam the streets after finishing our drinks and head to a video arcade. A two person shooter is the game of choice. Chuckles removes her small hoodie to reveal a form fitting tank top, she wants to shoot better. This was a typical Japanese faux date; a trip to the conbini (convenience store), random conversation on the street and a possible pit-stop at a video arcade.

As a teenager in Jamaica I went to the arcade near my high school pretty often, playing games like X-men VS. Street Fighter and Metal Slug ad nauseam. In the spring of 2009 when my tired feet first graced the eastern shores of Japan, I learned about arcade culture again. The guys here had character cards for Street Fighter 4 and Tekken. They sat with their legs crossed and smoked cigarettes while playing. To be a badass meant you needed skills, and the balls to challenge the guys better than you. Many a drunken night started out in the arcade, with brutal Street Fighter matches leading to petulant conversations about life when the next stop was a Gaijin (foreigner) bar. Like expensive restaurants, green tea and J-pop Japanese arcades had become a part of me, and tonight I was in one, in Tokyo no less, with a girl from Germany.

Chuckles was glowing in the bright light of the room. "I get sweaty so easy!" she said, flashing her thousand watt Bond-girl smile. I smiled back, half-focused on the game and an ingnoring an itching need to pee.There was a birthday party tonight, Jessy, a guy from the states was going to celebrate the night at The New Lex. For thirty bucks, we could have all we could drink for three hours, which in Japan is the best way to get rapid alcohol poisoning. I was on the fence about going, mostly because I was getting tired of the club scene, the drinks and making out with girls in dark corners. Or maybe I wasn't.

"Come with me, I guarantee you will enjoy yourself." Chuckles said.

"You just want me to come to entertain you." I replied.

"Of course, why do you think I invited you out tonight?" Chuckles said with another smile.

My balls had been busted again, and I smiled. The alcohol was kicking in and I didn't really care. Somewhere at the top of the strip a few minutes after leaving the arcade, we met up with a large group of foreigners. There was Big Phil who was… big. Then there was Jessy, the birthday boy, and a smattering of attractive foreign girls who all gave me an uneasy eye.

The New Lex is a very popular bar which only garners two opinions from the foreigners I've met who've been there. One, they hate it and detest even letting the words of the establishment escape their lips, or two they love it ('they' being guys) because lots of affable Japanese girls, Russian Models and attractive foreign women go there. Celebrities too. Upon entering the bar you see a gallery of the glitzy patronage that thought it good to bless Tokyo with their presence. From Backstreet Boys to Paris Hilton, Ben Affleck to Chad Kroeger, it looked like everybody had been to the New Lex. Now I was one of those people. Well, sort of.

The all you can drink deal had its ups and downs. Within another hour, I was buzzed and feeling off. I didn't like the crowd so much. The Russian models that night their stereotypical film archetypes; cold, unfriendly with a cigarette in hand. The girls inside were quite pretty, with way more foreigners than Japanese inside. It felt light in there; quite like a slightly upscale dive bar in the states, if such a thing exists. Chuckles passed by a few times to dance, and after I had a few more Gin and Tonics, I woke up.

The V.IP area looked a bit shoddy, and on top of the crowded bar space, there was a Anon existent men’s bathroom. A part of me was already echoing the complaints that many foreigners did about slow service, cramped walking space and a generally "its not THAT cool" vibe. Why did all these celebs go there?

After the party started to thin, I gently helped Big Phil and another guy not get into a fight. A small, thin Japanese fellow in a black t-shirt was shouting that he was an MMA fighter while one of Jessy's friends kept shouting "Vagina! Vagina!" to him. At some point, with my head a little fuzzy, I slipped away from the group. Walking home in the early morning as the sun came up, revealing the Jagged, electronic outline of Tokyo's landscape, I sighed and kept going.


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Posted: June 16th, 2010
at 12:45am by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: travel

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World’s First Gold Bar ATM Machines

Sitting inside theAKempinski Emirates Palace Hotel on the West End Corniche, this machine will draw tourists and locals just to gawk at it, and who knows if security will be needed for people who actually want to use it to grab a gold bar to go. It’s actually calledAGold To Go, developed by a German, and it monitors the daily gold price ($1,245 an ounce yesterday!) and "offers small bars up to 10 grams or coins with customized designs." TheAfirst machines appeared in Frankfurt Airport a year ago, and now they’re gaining steam.>

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Posted: June 2nd, 2010
at 8:57pm by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: travel,trade

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Ten Maps that Changed the World

USSR’s Be On Guard! 1921

The Waldseemuller world map named and envisaged America as a separate continent for the first time.

Read the complete list over at

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Posted: May 27th, 2010
at 3:01pm by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: art,web,politricks,weaponry,design,science,"ninja",travel,development,philosophy,ir,maps

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Live from Japan: Vilkommen To Tokyo

It’s been a flurry of activity on MNP recently, and today is no exception.

The Editors at large would like to welcome a writer and graphic designer named Marcus Bird to the glory that is- a recent Tokyo transport from Jamaica who is on a mission! He’ll be writing a series, ‘Live from Japan’ about his experiences- starting with….. Vilkommen to Tokyo!

In the last seven days I've been to about thirteen clubs, took the early train in the morning, and felt like the world's greatest wolf man. I'm aA writer and a graphic designer who moved to Tokyo with a dream… a dream of writing about my time in one of the world's coolest cities, and just trying to figure a few things out. I like to consider myself a person with an eye for writing about the moments in between moments, stuff that make you chuckle, or think for a few minutes. Mixed crowds are my forte, which lead me through very interesting days and nights..

I've been in Tokyo for a month now, and the memories come and go in flashes. A throbbing crowd of young Japanese men grabbing each other and shouting "Oi! Oi!" ad naseam. Cute Japanese chicks holding bottles of Smirnoff seductively and flashing fake eye lashes. Laughing at the comically nasal voices of many train conductors on the Tokyo rail system. The salary men being helped out of a train station at seven in the evening, already drunk, red-faced and out of control. The break of light in the early morning over a cityscape filled with the jagged rooftops of a megalopolis. This is Tokyo, and I will be giving a bit of my perspective on it. From any angle.

Let's take my first Wednesday, four weeks ago.

"We can get 90 yen beers at this spot nearby here." One of my housemates says to me.

I raise an eyebrow. A ninety yen beer is less than a dollar in the states. I'm in. AWithin an hour or so, we roll out; two Jamaicans, a guy from the Bahamas and a German who's half Japanese. At the restaurant, popularly called an Izakaya, we wolf down cheap grub and pound beers. Cute girls giggle at the gaggle of obvious foreigners, and the beers keep coming. At beer ten or eleven, it's decided we are going to Camelot, a club in Shibuya.

I'm down for it, but I know what I'm in store for. Any late night outing in Tokyo will be an all night outing if you aren't trying to pay ridiculous amounts of cab fare to come home. I had moved to Tokyo only a week before, flared up an old back injury from lifting ginormous suitcases and suffered a mild flu attack because of stress from the pain the back injury caused. That very night I had limped to the Izakaya with the boys, and when I heard we were going clubbing, I said emphatically:


Buzzed and still hobbling a bit, we headed back to our placeaa kind of glass tower in the middle of Shinjuku, and got ready. I had never partied in Shibuya that much before, I've only really partied in Roppongi, and I was curious to see what would be in store on that side of town. I promised myself I wasn't going to party too hard, but this I would later realize, was impossible.

Traveling with a group of drunk guys is always fun. Fresh-faced and new to Tokyo, I schooled them on some of the basics of Japanese sexuality. "There is no religious guilt." I said to them. "Meaning that your entire concept of how to meet and hookup with women is different."

"Really?" said Marty, the German.

"Yes," I replied.

I went on to explain other little tidbits, like tricky ways to say a cute hello, or the Japanese for a quick exit strategy if you were trying to head to a love hotel. In the middle of this sermon on Japanese pickup lines, we all realized one thing: We were lost.

Shibuya is a unrelenting cascade of brightly colored buildings with a similar design. Along the side of the building is usually a large neon sign emblazoned with Japanese characters advertising the different businesses from floor to floor. These buildings all seems to mesh together (especially if you can't read the Japanese characters) and there are no directions or street signs. After asking three bouncers, two policemen and a cute girl or two later, we were still lost. A shaggy guy with a sign advertising cheap ramen tells me vaugely "Go north of here". Following this instruction, we ran into a few fellow foreigners. "Hey man do you know where Camelot is?" I said.

"Yeah buddy, that's where we are going now. Come along." One of them replied.

The guy was wearing aviator glasses, with long Axle Rose style hair streaming from underneath a pilot's hat. Behind him were two less fashionable guys but interesting guys, who I found out were members of the popular band, Relient K. They had just done a show and were checking out the nightlife. Axle hands us discount passes and we finally find the spot. Tall muscular Japanese bouncers with faces used to the night greet us with quiet smirks.

Inside, the place is filled with bodies and I marvel as more people come in, eventually packing the place… on a Wednesday. I had a lot of fun that night, even somehow grabbing a Go Go dancer and awkwardly straddling her on the dance floor. During beer twelve or fifteen, my back pain had disappeared, leaving me feeling immortal and invulnerable in the club. OnA my first night out I met a few rock stars, dancing with tons of ladies and got heavily reduced access to the party. All on a night when most people would be curling up and watching Grey's Anatomy reruns.

But this is just the beginning.

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Posted: May 15th, 2010
at 1:35pm by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: travel

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Ninjas on the Net : Tokyo

For this edition of Ninjas on the Net, we go to the heart of the ninja, the grand metropolis- Tokyo. We even put a little background this time on the way of the ninja for those that think we merely walk alongside the ninja. Leave a comment and lets connect!

-Check out the 100% Chocolate Cafe by Tokyo Station, a new foray into the world of fine and exotic chocolates by Meiji Chocolate

-Manhole bags, kevlar knifeproof school uniforms, and a vending machine disguise aparatus are some of the crime fighting clothing designs currently in style to the Japanese, who are attuned to any type of social fraying, which is currently being fanned by a sensationalist news media

-Tokyo Journal interviews the one and only, Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi on the new millennium ninja:

The ninja were so successful at keeping their arts, methods and activities in the background of history that they almost wiped themselves out of it. To find myths, folklore, ancient texts and even cartoons related to the ninja and their art is easy in modern Japan. Finding something that still has a basis in reality is next to impossible. Ancient texts are written in codes or flowery language that to this day historians cannot understand. This reinforces the popular, present day, mistaken stereotype of what the ninja really were and what they really did. Through time people tend to forget that history, folklore and legends all have a basis in reality. These super humans were human beings.

-Need a good hostel in the center of the city? TryAKhaosan Tokyo Ninja

-Head on over to some of the city’s best sushi atAGonpachi

-Eco-vending machines, solar powered electronics and new packaging are some of the five "coolest" eco innovations happening right now

-Looking to find an intimate guide to the Tokyo art world? Let Chin Music Press pave the way..

-Read the Z Notes or the official blog of the U.S. Embassy Tokyo

-Restaurant reviews in Tokyo, from Vinography, a wine blog

-And finally, an agricultural revolution is taking place..underground

Have a suggestion on a city for us ninjas? Let us know at info [at] myninjaplease [dot] com

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Posted: March 8th, 2010
at 9:54am by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: travel,ninjas on the net

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TED: Bertrand Piccard

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Posted: January 9th, 2010
at 12:45am by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: green,science,travel

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Analogue Hybrid Public Spaces

Cement-lined canal and cross-flow system in the Chiregad irrigation system in Nepal (image)

Juan Freire gives his seven observations on hybrid public spaces and analogue commons at the Visualizer Workshop in Medialab Prado, Madrid.

1. What are the commons?, What is the pro-common?
2. Do public spaces suffer from a Tragedy of the Commons or from a Tragedy of the Anti-Commons?
3. Post-modern public space
4. Do public spaces still exist?
5. The hybrid public spaces of the net society
6. The future of hyperlocal networks
7. The hidden face of the hybrid public spaces.

: we-make-money-not-art :

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Posted: December 29th, 2009
at 6:19pm by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: life,art,web,robots,weaponry,architecture,design,science,"ninja",et cetera,travel,development,internets

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MetroCard as Art : Optimism


A new metrocard by Reed Seifer called Project Optimism is pretty simple but on the right track. Labeled with "Optimism" on the card in black sans-serif it could surprise even the most keen eye. The card serves as proof that Conceptual Art is the new folk art and that one person’s Conceptual Art is another’s graphic design.


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Posted: November 20th, 2009
at 6:31pm by Koookiecrumbles

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Categories: design,art fridays,travel

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TED Talks : The Power of Time

The Power of Time

Stefan Sagmeister on Ted

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Posted: October 13th, 2009
at 4:51pm by Koookiecrumbles

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Categories: life,business,design,travel

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