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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