Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Narita Airport Epiphany


There should be more songs about airports I feel. Why? Because they are such emotional places. They try to be all serious and sanitized and secure but really they are the backdrops for emotional upheavals, sad farewells and expectant beginnings. Nowadays all journeys to far-away places begin in an airport. The ultimate anti-climax to any great new venture is being stuck in a waiting lounge wondering if iPod is not perhaps a new religion or at the very least the soma of the twenty-first century.

Last year when I arrived at Narita Airport and rushed off the plane to get through all that rigmarole of passport control and customs so I could have a ciggie outside (fuck going in that smoking booth), I was stopped dead in my tracks by a big sign on the wall. The sign was split horizontally in the middle. The top half said, “Welcome to Japan” and the bottom half said, “Coca Cola”. That was it! What I had been thinking all along. I knew something was wrong with Japan – now I had discovered exactly what gives. Japan is sponsored by Coca Cola. It all made such perfect sense to me that I forgot about my craving for nicotine. That would explain how you can have politics without policies and ideologies. How people can vote but not have an opinion. It explained why the only real religion in Japan was consumerism. Of course, the country is just doing what its sponsor wants – keep on buying and texting and believing in designer goods and expensive cars and plucking your eyelashes and walking like a retard. Live at the surface of the surface. Let your guide be your navigation system. Let your stomach and your eyes be the arbiters of what is good – cute not justice, cool not cerebral, sugar not ganja. That is the coke cola agenda and it has formed a tidy symbiosis with little east-hailing Japan. 

Of course gaining the key to unlocking the mystery of Japan didn’t make me feel any better about being back in the place. While lining up to enter Jaola I had to tell myself in the strictest internal voice to stop it – don’t you dare! I wanted to shout out: “Go back to wherever you came from! It’s much better there. Believe me. This is the matrix of the mundane, the sim city of life; a place for sheep intellects who will not be happy until they coca-colarize you into a facsimile of a human. Don’t do it. Don’t be tempted by the money and the skinny girls. This is a fucked up Babylon where they don’t even understand the concept of Zion unless you turn it into an air freshener for a car.” I twitched and sweated and looked down to avoid eye contact. Any sympathy would start me off on a rant. I managed it and got to the front of the line. The automaton at the desk stamped my passport and electronically recorded my fingerprints and my bloodshot eyes and let me through to the next stage.

While waiting at the carousel with my wife I tried hard not to befriend the sniffer dog and tried even harder not to stare too much at the spectacle of a 100 people going cell phone nuts. Why is it that backpacks always come out last?

At customs the machine-man looked on guard until he met the disarming smile of Mrs. Trippy Traveller. She told him politely that we had just arrived from the heart of cocaine country and we only had souvenirs in our bags. The old Jedi mind trick never fails. He waved us through into Jaola without bothering to inspect our bags.

We went straight outside and relished a fag next to the smoking booth. It was cold. I felt poor and at the beginning of another nasty assimilation that would all end in another flight to freedom.

I should mention that they have updated the sign for the Olympics. Now we have the notion of partnership and psychedelic colours to hypnotise us into believing that the nasty sweet stuff is energizing a country and that this is a matter that goes beyond geo-political borders. It is  a worldwide endeavour to make pretend amateur sport the beacon bearer for world unity. Or is that just a flash back to my mushroom days in Cardiff?

Also I have no idea what the short aid toilet paper instrument is for.

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