So, Just How Japanese is the USA These Days?

All around Asian culture fan and writer for among other publications the Guardian, Animerica (much missed) and Otaku USA, Patrick Macias wonders if the US realizes just how Japanese its pop culture is becoming:

Japan has since become a secret sauce, an inspiration, a font of ideas for studio heads and scriptwriters who don’t have to come up with ideas of their own. “The Magnificent Seven,”“Power Rangers,”“The Ring,”“Dragon Ball”- all have passed through the Hollywood meat grinder with varying degrees of success.

I suppose it is only fitting then that a new “Godzilla” film appears to be leading yet another wave that includes the likes of “Edge of Tomorrow” (based on a Japanese SF novel), a new “Power Rangers” reboot and lord knows what else is in development hell.

In a climate where geek culture potentially equals big business, but most of the major geek properties – like “Star Wars,”“Harry Potter,” and every dorky superhero from your childhood are locked up already – Japan takes on the appearance of an untapped reserve of pop culture, ripe for the plucking. I’ve had the weird meetings and can confirm: TV and movie people are now in the process of some serious plucking.

For anyone remotely interested in the America’s on-again, off-again love affair with Japan, Macias’s article for MTV makes for a decent read.


The Bizarre Rise and Fall of the Tiki Bar

Sven A. Kristen, author of the much beloved and sadly out of print The Book of Tiki published by Taschen (used copies of which are currently selling above $130), has a new book out! It’s called Tiki Pop: America imagines its own Polynesian Paradise and it looks like another good one.

Over at Wired, Joseph Flaherty has an article on both Kristen’s new book and tiki culture in general worth reading:

In the 1950s and ’60s, an epidemic of island fever swept the United States. Tiki-themed structures spread like jungle vines, taking the form of garden-style apartments in Redondo Beach, California and Polynesia-inspired motor lodges in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania. Amway, the quintessential midwestern enterprise, sold jade-green tiki soaps in the shape of Moai. Barely a decade after the Bataan Death March, Americans couldn’t get enough rattan furniture for their living rooms basement bars. For some rum-soaked reason, millions of American adults wanted their lives to feel like a never-ending trip to the Rainforest Cafe.

For the rest of “The Bizarre Rise and Fall of the Tiki Bar”, click here.


60 Cycles

Jean-Claude Labrecque shot 60 Cycles in 1965 using a 1000mm lenses lent by NASA, documenting the Tour de St. Laurent, a long-distance bike race set in Quebec featuring international riders. At 16 minutes, 60 Cycles is an amazing documentary that feels both very Canadian (given the Quebec setting) and European (aside from road cycling being more of a European pursuit, many of the racers are in fact European). Watch it for the old-school Merino cycling jerseys, the vintage shots of the Quebec countryside or the sheer beauty of distance cycling. Note that the film also has a great surf rock soundtrack that will satisfy any fans of Ventures, Dick Dale or the Phantom Surfers.


You can watch the whole film here.

Sylvia Kristel Interview

This 2007 interview between Emmanuelle star Sylvia Kristel (five years before her death in 2012) and Telegraph writer Mick Brown is surprisingly insightful, covering a range of material from 70s decadence to Harry Nilsson to Jean Arcelin, CEO of Chrysler Jeep Dodge in France and the co-writer of Kristel’s memoir. It is worth reading in full:

The more Kristel talks, the more you find yourself warming to her. She is winningly candid and unapologetic about herself, devoid of any airs or pretensions – someone who has come to regard the switchback journey that life has taken her on with a droll sense of humour and, more importantly, a sense of proportion. While it is true that as an actress she was never able to escape the blessing and curse that was Emmanuelle, she was able to make a career of sorts. ‘There was one director who said I was the type of actress who loses interest after three weeks, and that’s true,’ she admits. ‘It’s very boring to sit on a set and wait until it’s finally your turn. But I know now that no film could have beaten Emmanuelle, box-office wise or in its impact. I got a lot of letters from people – “You saved our marriage” – and so…’

For the rest of the interview, click here.

Above pic from photo blog If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger.