Notice!

Hey guys!

At the time of writing this, I only have 1 week left until I leave for Japan. As a result, I’m totally swamped by the chaos of everything last minute, from trying to fit 3 months into 1 carry-on sized suitcase, to seeing family and friends before takeoff. From this point on (March 5th), I will no longer be checking this blog, moderating or responding to comments, email, or twitter associated with this blog. If you leave a comment, there’s a possibility of my seeing it before I leave, but chances of me responding at this point are low. 

Any posts that may go up between now and March 13th are queued posts. From hereon out, comments, tweets, and emails will be responded to sometime around early July.

Thanks for reading Secret Garden, have an awesome spring, and I’ll see you on the other side!

gacktpause

 

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2nd Anniversary

I scheduled this post to go up today, but actually I’m writing this on Monday the 4th, around 1AM. I’ll be traveling all day Wednesday, but I wanted to ensure that something went up to acknowledge an important marker in my days as a Visualist. Today, Wednesday, April 6th, marks the 2nd anniversary of Secret Garden, as we know it on WordPress.com.

I’m sitting up awake right now for two reasons—I’ll leave it to you to judge how I should prioritize them–, the first being that I can’t stop craving the maccha ice-cream in the freezer. The second reason is that now that I only have two days left here on the west coast, I’m starting to experience a lot of resistance to heading back east.

A month is a long time, and while it has flown by for me, as I look back on it from here, the end, I can see how many shifts and changes occurred while I’ve been away. The biggest shift, and one thing I want to mention now as I did not have a chance previously, was the earthquake that hit Japan the second week of March. Although I was unable to catch the news from where I was, fortunately I have sympathetic friends who kept me informed as to what was going on, and I’m grateful to them for keeping me in the loop. One of the best texts from that week was my mom checking in to see if I had been able to hear about ‘the Visual Kei guys’ in relation to the trauma.

The articles that have been shared with me that showed even small examples of the devastation were enough to shake even an iron-clad heart.

Since the quake, I have witnessed glimpses of the Seattle Japanese community rallying to assist with the relief efforts, including gathering encouragement and spiritual support, as well as raising funds. I’ve been grateful to be in the presence of that, and party to it in whatever way. My thoughts continue to be with Japan as it gathers its strengths to restore and renew, and my thoughts are especially with the families and individuals who have experienced hardship, loss, and discomfort as a result of the quake. がんばれ日本!

In a perfect world, I would probably have canceled my ticket a week ago and started looking at apartments here; but I’ve had a month to be selfish and live in a, if not exactly perfect, then pretty damn fine little world. Now this session is up, and there are people and obligations and responsibilities waiting for me that I need to go back and take care of.

I’ve been resisting the pull of these obligations. I guess once I started thinking about returning, I became afraid of going back and getting sucked into unchanged scenery, into that low-def daily-grind of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. However what I realize is that everything has changed since I left. Situations and circumstances have changed. New faces will be there to greet me, and the ones who saw me off will be different people from when we said goodbye.

This has taken shape in different ways, but primarily in the form of major shifts and changes in my personal life and, particularly, my family situation. I thought I was going to come back to the same patterns and flow of habits, but now that I see what is actually waiting for me, it’s a creature of a very different breed.

It’s a beautiful thing, really. You set out on some path, real or interpretive, without really knowing who you are or, in the end, what your destination will be. Trying to see through the fog of the great-unknown is a fruitless expenditure of ones’ energy, and will get you nowhere. All you can really do is stick to what you’re passionate about, what you’re interested in, and trust your gut instincts—trust those tools to guide you through that uncertainty and the discomfort that comes with it. Trust that you’re going to wake up one morning and go to look in the mirror and realize that you don’t recognize yourself anymore, and that, in my experience, can be a really powerful moment.

I feel like I’m at a new beginning place, a crossroads. Today I concluded one section of my life, and am getting ready to face the challenges of new paths and doorways opening up before me. It seems fitting…somehow, meaningful, in my eyes, that today is the day that I open a new doorway by heading back to the east coast; the day that I start a new chapter by beginning my 3rd year of blogging on WordPress.

Right now, I don’t know what will change, but I do know it will change.

Many thanks go out to everyone who reads Secret Garden. Special shout-out to that select few of you, known and unknown, who have been reading since the very early days on Vox and WP. Thanks also to the people who support me from the sidelines and put up with all the off-blog Visual Kei ramblings.

So I thank you. Keep reading Secret Garden.

gacktpause

Monkeys, Maseratis, and Trans-Continental Crisis Management

Soaking in a steamy hot-spring, monkey-filled or otherwise, in the mountains of snowy Hokkaido would be pretty baller right now. Unfortunately, although I do live, for better and for worse, in the snow-encrusted northern mountains, where the winter is 6 months too long and about 30 degrees too cold, we don’t have any of those perks that make you think, this really isn’t so bad.

The really bad part is that, not only do you end up suffering from acute February-Blues, but come March (assuming you survive until then), you feel foolishly hopeful that the “end” is in sight. And then the blizzards set in, and you are faced with the bleak onset of nihilism, that dark moment of enlightenment, when you understand that it will never end. It is winter, forever.

That is why I, lest my roommates should come home one day to find me buried out under the back deck, do my best to escape to some marginally warmer and redeemingly more interesting part of the world. Thus, tomorrow afternoon I will be catching a flight out to Seattle, WA, to spend some time visiting friends, thawing out, and taking a break from 8′ snow-banks and frostbite.

It may not be Okinawa, but 45 degrees and rain sounds like the Virgin Islands compared to playing Ice-Climbers in real life. It sounds like a cool city, as well, and given that they were apparently the first to successfully impale a UFO, must be forward-thinking and strategic people with a tendency to accept foreign cultures.

After an uninspired couple of months, I’m looking forward to taking a bit of a vacation from reality while I’m out west, so a lot of my projects will be put on hold until I return in early April, while I party my way through my quarter-life-crisis in the hopes of returning refreshed, restored, and rejuvenated.

Ironically, in an attempt to not let Secret Garden become so inactive that it gets evicted from the internet or something, things will probably be more frequently updated while I’m away than they have been while I’ve been lazing around picking out fancy sports cars I can’t afford and don’t want, but that my trophy wife thinks I need in order to express the suffering that comes with old age and— what I mean to say is that posts will be appearing on SG every Saturday at 7:07 AM EST. Comments, emails, and @mentions will be moderated and responded to when I return in April, so if you don’t see your comment up right away, fear not- I did not send it to the spam folder. Yet.

Incidentally, the day that I get back to the east coast will also mark my 2nd anniversary on WordPress. I’ll admit, the reason I haven’t been posting lately has less to do with picking out Maseratis, and more to do with the fact that I feel like I’m not able to properly express a lot of what I think and perceive about Visual Kei on Secret Garden with things the way they are.  I’ve been turning over a lot of ideas in my head for ways to expand and change things, so we’ll see what happens.

Although I’ve enjoyed working on Secret Garden with things like this for the past few years, I think I expressed in past posts that I’m plagued by a chronic obsession with self-improvement and development, and I feel like I can always be doing better and working to improve things. This will be my mission when I return to the east coast. But in the meantime, I would like to expand a little right now and open a poll to Visualists to ask you, for the first time, what brings you to Secret Garden for the 1st, or the however-many-returns visit. Leave a vote, and if you have any feedback, insights, thoughts, suggestions, or remarks, comment below.

P.S.

What do you think?

Get ready for gladiator sandals, The Perm, and the Satoshi-boogie…

I hope they leave the gladiator sandals at home.

I admit, I’ve entered a sort of state of denial about the lack of orange-highlighted dates on my sidebar calendar.

I like to flatter myself and primp my shameless vanity by assuming that lulls in the activity of Secret Garden are duly noted out there. Although I’m daily shelving a hankering to be on here spewing my snotty opinions about the noxious new releases of Jrock Today, likely setting out on the road to becoming some kind of embittered critic, while squirreling away my secret adoration of the more Kpoppian ventures of girugamesh, I hope to be able to post more regularly again eventually. In the meantime, I will continue to ask for your patience.

I notice that I’m not the only one who has been lagging in their post count lately, though. In fact, most of the blogs I read regularly (you know who you are) seem to be kind of slow these days. I remember those sweet, sweet, broke days of living on a whim and blogging sun-up to sun-down without a care in the world other than being totally cash-strapped. But remember this, kids, make good use of your blissful free time and become magnanimous forerunners of the future before the shackles of the 9-5 routine enslave you and stunt your entrepreneurial developments. What these other slaves to the system tell us is partly true, you get used to it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stop being  frustrating. Ah, who am I kidding. The life of rampant hedonism is obviously the one for me. I’ll start a terrible Visual Kei band and do nothing but wine, women, and sleep, all in varying degrees of debauchery.

Now that we have my future sorted out, shall I spend the next thirty minutes of our time (so precious, according to the previous paragraphs) talking about something else equally inane and patronizing while I try and remember what I started this post to talk about? Nah, just kidding, I’m not that depraved yet.

This news apparently popped up over the weekend (proof that the world continues spinning even when I’m out of the loop. How dare they.), and although I admit it’s taking some time to sink in to the remains of my mushy brain, melted to the consistency of chunky 3-day-old applesauce zombifying slowly on the kitchen counter by too little sleep and too much caffeine too many days in a row, I’m pretty pumped to be able to announce this at last.

girugamesh WORLD TOUR Confirmed!!

2011.3.05 Tochka
Moscow, Russia

2011.3.06 GlavClub
St.Petersburg, Russia

2011.3.08 Nosturi
Helsinki, Finland

2011.3.11 Columbia Club
Berlin, Germany

2011.3.12 Diesel
Budapest, Hungary

2011.3.13 Backstage
Munich, Germany

2011.3.15 La Laiterie
Strassbourg, France

2011.3.16 TBA
Paris, France

2011.3.18 O2 Acedemy Islington
London, UK

2011.3.19 Zeche
Bochum, Germany

The band has apparently taken a leaf out of D’espa‘s book and is reaching out to fans for suggestions regarding their, y’know, tracklist for the tour. Hurry–together we can make a stand against having to ruin our current record by accidentally hearing Color live…

All snark sheathed for the time being, this is actually news that, once it fully establishes itself in my gelatin-filled skull, is worth getting psyched over. They are one of the bands that I would really stretch to see…and although Europe is a bit too much of a stretch (especially at risk of showing up to a disco-ball and Satoshi’s shuffle-boogie), ShuU started rumors on their official Facebook that more information (cough dates and locations cough?) is to follow. Holla, US? I think we’re ready for Color.

Not only that, but they have also announced a brand new album. The question I want you to answer, Visualists, is that of whether the album actually still runs a chance of stirring some response by returning to their raucous roots, or striking a new chord by actually going out on the limb of innovation and, god forbid, inspired creativity. This positive anticipation of giru‘s actions (recently so disturbing) is edged, we all know, by the woolen itch of doubt; the fear that it could really be rock-bottom. The maker or breaker. Takers?

 

The Announcement You’ve All Been Waiting For

Di$tress + C0mA: Infected by Japanese Visual Kei

 

 

I know a few of you have been around for a while now (and I’m still happy to have you, rest assured), and some of the really good ‘uns will probably remember my mentioning a particular anime con that has been honored by my attendance several years in a row. Although I keep saying I won’t go back, and have little to no active interest in anime, I keep going back, utterly unable to resist the gravitational pull of the organized culmination of Japanese pop culture and its cult following.

This year will also mark my first step outside the blogsphere representing Secret Garden. You guessed it (or, I don’t know, maybe you haven’t), I have been granted the honor of appearing at the con as the first Visual Kei/Jrock panelist since circa ’07.

I’m pretty psyched to have this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to working with the con as a presenter, thus being able to expand the world’s awareness of Visual Kei, one step at a time.

Di$tress + C0mA: Infected by Japanese Visual Kei
Presented by gacktpause

Friday, Oct. 22, 5:00 PM EST
Panel Room 2

BakuretsuCon 2010 Oct. 21-24
Colchester, VT

Say you saw it on Secret Garden.

This is Sparta

I’m really not so talented at remembering to acknowledge milestones. I never celebrated 1 complete year of blogging back in April. I never said something really wise, witty, and RT-worthy for my 1,000th Twit on Twitter. When I saw that I was at 297 posts on here, though, I became absolutely determined to make the 300th post a real milestone marker, acknowledged and everything with some overblown, self-congratulatory post.

Well, 298 came. 299 just blew right by me. Come 300, I had completely spaced on the entire thing. “301,” I thought, “301 will be it.” That didn’t happen, either, but what’s being 1 or 2 posts off the count matter, right?

That is to say, on September 11th, I reached a milestone of 300 posts here on Secret Garden.

In many ways, it almost seems like 300 posts isn’t all that much for 17 months of working on this blog.

Looking back at those 300, and not necessarily needing to delve that deep, I can see a lot of imperfections. Not to say at all that anything I do now is perfect– not even close. But I can see a steady improvement, at least a little, throughout the timeline, along with a deepening commitment to blogging. Each of those 300 posts has taken a lot of work to create, compose, and get out there, and although none of them are perfect, I at least feel proud that I believe I was able to give each one my all.

Due to my stubborn addiction to Jrock, these 302 posts probably would have existed even if this blog never saw the light of day. But I have to say, it is the input, discussions, conversations, and overall presence of my truly epic readers that (shed a tear, yo) make blogging on SG extremely interesting and challenging. It is something I don’t do just for myself, or just for Jrock, but also for you.

I will continue to strive to constantly improve the quality of the information I present and how it is expressed here. Feedback is always greatly appreciated, complaints are usually deleted and ignored, and compliments go straight to my head. So keep it all coming. May the next 300 blow everything up to this point straight out of the water. Keep reading Secret Garden.

gacktpause.

AFK

Just a quick notice to say that I will be away from all internet access tomorrow and Saturday. I’ll be back to reply to emails, comments, and Twitter first thing Sunday, so if you message me, I’ll get back to you then. As always, thanks for reading Secret Garden.