Sunday, February 16, 2014

Drug Rehab at Asia's Most Famous Hospital - Part 1 (Life in the Cooler) Upon Arrival to Rehab Everyone Must Detox in the Feared Cooler

Today's blog post is the first in a series of articles about events that happened over 20 years ago; my time in drug rehabilitation in Japan. Today will be my first day - well, first few days. I want to write down my experiences for the five weeks total I was in rehab. 

Tokyo Skyline (photo by James F. Setz)

I entered rehab because of a serious addiction to speed. My daughter had just recovered from a two year + fight against cancer and it was a victory for me. During that time, not only was I paying well over $5000 a month for hospital bills (private hospital and my insurance company wouldn't pay for that), I had to support two other daughters by holding down several jobs at once. I look back now and do not know how I managed it all. I certainly could not do it again. The hardest part to admit about all this is that I was a speed addict. People think that speed addicts do that drug for fun; well, it may be fun at first but it soon becomes a habit like coffee or cigarettes. Towards the end of my ordeal, I was doing about $2000 a week in speed. 

I didn't do the speed to get high. If I didn't do the speed, I'd fall asleep. I had gotten to the point whereby, if I didn't do any speed, I couldn't just function normally again. What a miserable existence it was. 

Usually, drug rehab in Japan is, at the least, a three to six month ordeal. Many people are there for a year or two. Some people are in there for many years. There were two guys in the hospital that I was in that had been there since they were 16. They were 66 when I was there. Why they were there for so long is that, in Japan, if someone won't agree to be your guarantor and look  out for you after your release, then the state won't let you go. These guys had probably caused their families so much misery that no one wanted to see them again. They were guests of the state for more than 50 years. If they haven't died, they are still there.

There were many other people who had been in an out several times. One guy, who I called, "Mister Cool," told me that he had been admitted, released and readmitted a total of nine times. I'm sure he isn't the record holder either. Mister Cool was very cool, calm and collected. Everyone else was going crazy and climbing the walls to get out of that place, but not Mister Cool. He took it all in stride. I asked him if he wasn't anxious to get out of the hospital. He told me that he was. But he also added, "What's the point of rushing to get out of here? In no time, you're just going to wind up back inside."

I was in and out in five weeks. That seems short but when I was in, it seemed like an eternity. That I got in and out so quickly was because the doctors deemed that I wasn't so bad (I thought I was and I thought they were crazy) and, the longer one stays in rehab, the more difficult it is to return to society as a productive member. So the doctors wanted me out of there as soon as possible. Once in, I wanted out of there immediately and wondered why in the hell I ever volunteered to go in in the first place.  

I would have written down my experiences at that time but I was too messed up and couldn't see any future past the end of my nose. The only future I was looking forward to was my wife visiting in the hospital and bringing me chocolates everyday (former drug abusers usually get addicted to chocolate as chocolate gives a Dopamine rush like drugs do); eating food at the hospital cafeteria everyday and getting the hell outta that place. 

At that time, I was a proud new student of life in the most famous drug rehab hospital in all of Japan: Matsuzawa Hospital. In fact, Matsuzawa Hospital was the most famous drug rehab center in all of Asia. It was said that if you went to Matsuzawa and "graduated" (meaning were released back into society - never to return) that was the same and just as difficult as getting into Japan's prestigious Tokyo University and graduating.

There are lots of "funny" things about Matsuzawa. To me, the funniest part of Matsuzawa Hospital is that they put people who were recovering drug and alcohol patients into the same wards as people who were patients due to having mental disorders such as schizophrenia and the like or being mentally disturbed (uh, everyone is mentally disturbed to a certain level). Me? I was a former druggie about to go straight. I was looking forward to it. Why was I looking forward to it? Because I had voluntarily admitted myself to this madhouse. I was sick of my life. I knew that I only had three choices: Go to prison, die, or go to drug rehab. Being a coward, I took what seemed the easiest route. When I later told the other patients in my ward that I had volunteered to enter drug rehab, they all thought that, surely, I must be the craziest one in the entire insane asylum.

I don't know about today, but in Japan at that time, if you voluntarily entered into drug rehab, unlike the USA, you don't leave until the doctor says it is OK. I didn't really understand that when I went in.

When I was admitted into the hospital, I had no clue as to what to expect. I was asked to lay on a stretcher. The next thing I knew was I was being strapped in. I didn't fight it. I thought strapping people to a stretcher was for safety as, "Maybe they are going to carry me and I don't want them dropping me!" The next thing I knew is the doctor pulled out this massive syringe and was about to give me an injection that looked to be the size of a can of Coke.

The doctor began injecting the liquid into my arm. 

"Ha!" I laughed. I knew I was tougher than this. I was a hard core druggie and I was a foreigner. My body size was much larger than these puny Japanese! "This pharmaceutical grade stuff is for woosies! I've been doing the best!" I thought... 

I said to the doctor with a laugh, "Doc, you're going to need stronger stuff... That's not going to work on me, my friend!" The doctor just smiled at me and nodded in agreement as he continued injecting me....

I was determined to stay conscious. I repeated to the doctor, "I'm............ made of..... much tougher..... stuff...than... ZZZZZZ.... zzzzzzz >snork!<... zzzzzzzz......."

Out like a light. Off to baby bumpy nigh-nigh land....

As I said, I would have written these experiences down on paper and pencil when I was first admitted but I was too screwed up and I think they didn't allow people to have writing materials (for reasons that might become obvious later). Perhaps writing materials were forbidden because people would have figured out a way to stab themselves or someone else with the pencil or maybe they'd commit suicide by hanging with a pad and pencil? Or maybe they would have been slipping notes under the nurses' station window that said stuff like, "Get me outta here!" or "How about calling out for a delivery of a quart of Jack Daniels, eh, sugar tits?"

When one first goes into rehab, they are put into "the cooler." The cooler is like what you see in these World War II movies; Allied soldiers captured by the Germans who make trouble at the prisoner of war camps are sent to detention in "za kooler" by the camp kommandant. People who were in the hospital for drug rehabilitation are put into the cooler because, I was told later, that many of them get really violent and so they are placed there for a few days, under heavy sedation, until they can get some of the chemicals out of their bloodstream and calm down. 

The cooler was a small room not tall enough to stand up straight in and just barely large enough to lay down in. I supposed two or three people - or maybe four could be squeezed into one room. All four walls and ceiling and floor were padded. Of course, like in a movie, the room was completely white. There were no windows and there was a connecting segment that had a toilet in it. There was no door on the toilet nor any way to flush the toilet. It reeked. The door was heavy steel with a small window that had bars on it and there was a slot at the bottom of the door for food to be passed through.

After getting my injection of sedative, I passed out dead to the world. Later, I awoke. I had no idea how long I was out. I had no idea what time of day it was. Was I out a few hours or a few days? I'm still not sure to this very day. I awoke in the cooler. I was laying on my side and, even though I was conscious, I couldn't move. Not just my body, I couldn't move my head, my fingers, anything. I was no longer in a straight jacket, it's just that my motor functions had completely stopped due to the elephant tranquilizer they gave me. By golly those sedatives did work! My faith in big pharma had been restored!

There was a jangling at the door which was above my head and, since I couldn't turn my head, I couldn't see the door. Suddenly I was witness to the black shoes and white pants of 4 or 5 medical doctors and male nurses. They were all mumbling about something. They crouched in front of me and one doctor pried open my eyelids and flashed a flashlight into my eyes. First right, then left. He held the back of my neck. Another doctor was checking my pulse. The doctor said, "Are you okay?"...

I wanted to say, "Yes, doctor. I am fine." But I couldn't. My brain was processing the information but there must have been a problem in the synapse department because when my brain ordered my mouth to say, "I'm ok" all that came out was "Gurglllkkkkdxxx" and a heck of a lot of slobber... I couldn't respond. I had become human jello like the blob in those 1950's science fiction movies.

The main doctor looked at me for a moment and then, with a sigh, said to the other doctors, "Not yet." With that, they all stood up and walked out of the cooler their farewells were the jangling of the keys locking the door behind them.

Slam! Echo. Silence....

My brain was shouting like a lost trapped teenager screaming to his friends who were searching for him yet walking right by as they couldn't hear his cries. "Hey guys! No! Wait! I'm okay! Come back, guys!" I was jumping up and down against the door railing in my mind, but, in all actuality, I was still laying there on my side unable to make even the most basic motor reaction. "Maybe they could read Morse Code if I blink my eyes correctly?" I thought.

Drool... "Come back guys!" But I was tired... So tired... Close my eyes and then back to wonderful sleep...

This situation continued for the next day or two. It got so bad that since I could not move myself, I soiled my clothes. My wife tells me that she came to the hospital and visited the cooler while I was out cold and cleaned and changed me. I guess that is typical and how things are done in Japan. I do know that it is true at Japanese hospitals that family will often come and give invalid family members baths and change clothes. That my wonderful wife did this for me I will always be thankful for even thought I don't remember it at all. My wife would later tell me that I was in the cooler for at least "4 days or so."

The next day, the doctor's came back in. In their previous visit I was so angry at myself because I was still unable to respond coherently to their questions. I promised myself that the next time I saw them, I'd be able to respond and show them that I was okay. I wanted desperately to get out of the cooler as soon as possible. And it was obvious that if you couldn't at least say, "Hi doc!" they weren't going to let you out of the cooler. So I began practicing talking and saying words. Kind of like a self-enforced linguistic rehabilitation.

After a while, I guess a few days, I was finally able to sit up by myself.... Or, at least, what I thought was close to sitting up. I tried to listen to the door so that I could hear the footsteps of the doctors before they came to my door. I figured that this holding area where to cooler was has at least three or four or five other coolers next to mine filled with occupants who, like me, were unable to control any of their motor functions or their bladder. Maybe that's why the place reeked so bad.

At length, the jangling of the keys woke me from my trance. I tried to sit up very straight and I shook my head to try to sober up. The doctors came in and went through their ritual. 

The doctor said, "How are you doing?"

This time I really made the effort to speak clearly but I still even had trouble just lifting my head. I gathered up every bit of strength I had and yet, all I could do was mumble and drool. Again my brain was saying the words but my mouth couldn't do the movements. "Urgh..gxxsnyxxx..." 

The doctor looked at the other doctors and to my horror said, "Not yet" and they all stood up and walked out again. 

In my mind, I panicked, "No! I'll be okay in a minute! Just let me get dressed and splash some water on my face, guys! Come back!" 

Slam. Jangle. Clink. Jangle. They were gone in a flash. I was alone again in hell. Still, exhausted. Once again, I fell to sleep.

After a while I was awoken again by noise at the door. "The doctors!" I thought, "They've changed their minds and have come back to let me out!" I was so happy! But it wasn't the doctors. It was the sound of food being pushed through the slot under my door. I grew angry at this. I went over to look at the food they had given me. It was some sort of rice gruel. In Japan and China, rice gruel is often given to sick people as it is easily quite digestible. I hated rice gruel. 

That they'd walk off and then serve me rice gruel started me off to getting even more angrier the more I thought about it. I started to work myself into a huff. I think about that now and that was a sure sign that the tranquilizers were wearing off. The more I thought about my situation, the more pissed off I began to get. "Who do they think they are putting me into the cooler like this? What is this rice gruel, crap? Don't they know I hate rice gruel?" I decided that I wanted, no demanded to speak to the doctor. How dare they do this to me! I demanded my rights.

I pulled myself up to the door and tried to peek out through the bars at the top (like Steve McQueen did in Papillon) to see if I could see and doctors or nurses running around. But I couldn't see anyone. I began to loudly proclaim all the typical things you see people in the movies say when they are in incarceration:

"Hello! Hello! Anyone there? Hey! I need to talk to the doctor. There's been some sort of misunderstanding. I shouldn't be in here! Hello!" But I couldn't see anyone and the area outside of my cell was silent. I kept speaking, out, louder and louder, almost shouting for awhile, but it was no avail. I considered really screaming bloody murder at the top of my lungs, but didn't. I thought there was no use. There was no one there. I figured that no one could hear me.  Thank god I didn't throw a temper tantrum and start banging on the bars and doing stupid things like throwing my food around or banging the bars with the food plate like a caged ape. I'd find out the next day that they could hear me but allowed me to say and do as I pleased. I was under observation. 

I gave up and sat back down. I was still mad though. I looked over to the rice gruel and decided then and there that I was going to show them. I was going to turn the tables on these wicked people. I was going to gain my release through the peaceful protest methods of the greats like Mahandas Gandhi: I was going to go on a hunger strike and then, next to death, I'd become a world famous celebrity and they'd have to release me.

Yes. That's the ticket! I'd starve myself out of there. I wouldn't eat anything until those doctors came back and started begging me to eat something... I could see it all. Imagine, me! Me as the serious and devout man with a cause and those stinking doctors begging for mercy! They be begging for me to eat. I'd be on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazine! I'd be the world leader of an entirely new protest movement! (I think about that now and realize that the sedative must have been wearing off because I was back to having crazy thoughts of grandeur and delusion!)

"Hmph! That's fix them!" I thought. So I sat there having decided that I wouldn't touch the food. That warm food that, actually smelled pretty good. I began having conversations in my head. There was an angel of my good conscious on my right shoulder and the devil sitting on my left. The three of us began to argue.

"Come to think of it, I am pretty famished as I hadn't eaten anything in three or four days!"

"No! You coward! You'll never get out of here if you give into their tricks!"

"He's right, you know. For all you know that food is laced with more sedatives and mind control drugs. They want you to eat it. That's part of their 'plan.'"

"But, you know, my wife really likes that rice gruel stuff. I've never really cared for it. But it does smell pretty good."

"What? What kind of thoughts are these? You've just started a hunger strike and you've lasted maybe 15 minutes and you're giving up already? Don't you have any respect for yourself."

"Yeah? Don't you have any respect for yourself?"

I knew it. Those guys were right. So I stuck with the two out of three guy's opinion and decided to stick it out with my hunger strike. For one, I wanted out of there. For two, I hated rice gruel. If it had been something like fried chicken I think I might have listened to whoever it was who wanted food (I think the wimpy one was me).

So I gave up again and, determined to go on hunger strike, at least until the doctors came the next day, I laid back down in an attempt to sleep and forget about my troubles and the food. When the doctors came in the next day and saw that I hadn't touched my food, they'd become alarmed and, I figured, then we could negotiate on even terms.

I tried to sleep but damn if my stomach didn't stop growling. I was starving. I went back and forth with myself trying to fight the urge to eat, but, after several hours I was so famished I couldn't stand it no more. I had to eat.

I felt like that guy in Midnight Express who was so hungry that he ate a cockroach to survive. I was so hungry that I could do the same! ER, not eat a cockroach, but to eat rice gruel which was almost as bad (at least in my book!)

I jumped to the door and grabbed the spoon and wolfed down a huge bite of gruel. "Yeech! This stuff is cold!" I thought. But it tasted pretty good! "Dammit! I thought, "Why didn't I eat this when it was hot?"

Within a few seconds I had downed the food. I even licked the plate. I put the plate back at the door and tried to peer through. "Thank you! Anyone! That was delicious! Hello! That was delicious!" There was no one there.

A stomach half full and nothing to do, I fell back asleep. I don't remember how much time passed but I do remember later thinking that there might have been sedatives in the food, but, no! That would be a quite inefficient way to administer drugs. They had me locked up. I wasn't going nowhere. They could come in and give me pills or injections and there'd be nothing I could do about it. Why would they lace the food with drugs?

After a while I had to go to the toilet so I saw the spartan settings for the first time. There was only a wash basin and toilet. As I mentioned, after using the toilet, I had no way to flush it so the room stank even more. I tried to yell for someone to flush the toilet out through the bars in my door, but there was no one to hear my cries. Again, I fell asleep.

The next day, the doctors came back. This time I was determined to shape up so that I could ship out. 

The doctor looked at me and said, "You look better today. How are you doing?"

I sat up as straight as I could and drooled out a weak but recognizable, "Fine, doctor.... Thanks to you!" 

I thought I needed to add a, "Thanks to you" to show that I was coherent enough to know that I needed to show some appreciation to get myself outta that place. I figured I'd do some a*s kissing now and play my aces when the time was right. I was satisfied that I was able to give the answer I had planned. 

The doctor then said to me, "Mike. We are going to take you out of here today and put you in a ward with other patients, But if you get violent, you're coming right back in here, do you understand?" 

"Oh stay my beating heart!" I thought but "Yes, doctor." I answered. "I won't be violent."

"We are sending you to unit D-40 where there are other patients. You'll be able to take a shower, shave and have your own room that you will share with other patients. If there is any trouble at all you will be brought back here. You'll be able to eat in the cafeteria and if you have any questions, the nurses will help you. Okay?"

"Okay. Thanks." I said.

"We will give the order to bring you out of here to the male nurses and they will take you out before lunch time. Please immediately wash and get ready for lunch."

"Yes. Thank you."

The doctors got up and walked out. I was so happy! Freedom! I was going to be free from this wretched place! But I wondered what kind of place D-40 was? Was it like a regular hospital where I could walk in and out as I pleased? Or was it more of a military style place much like the World War II prisoner of war camps that things like the cooler were known to accompany?

I grew a bit anxious. Suddenly D-40, while sounding better than the cooler, struck fear in my heart. What if it were like a prison where the inmates have their own pecking order and boss? What if I were thrown into a place with a bunch of drug addicts and former Yakuza who didn't like foreigners?

Was I about to become the whipping boy and someone's bitch in D-40? Was I going to be waking up every morning with an empty bottle of baby oil knocked over near my head, a sore a*shole and an ashtray on my back? What horrors were awaiting me? 

I had a few hours to find out. 

It was in D-40 and my next experiences that I was to find out that my next ward was not so much like a prison in the movies or like a gestapo prisoner of war camp, but much more like an insane asylum ala the classic film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Why? Because in Japan, drug addicts and mental patients are co-mingled in the same hospitals and in the same wards.

I didn't know that when I checked in. I was about to go from the frying pan into the fire.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Global Warming and Increasing Co2 Dump Nearly 9 inches (22 cm) of Snow on Tokyo in Less Than 24 Hours

Global Warming and Climate Change have become the critical issue of our times. The changes are coming quicker and quicker. The last 24 hours makes two weeks in a row that Tokyo has set records for snowfall in February. I'm now convinced! The government must increase our taxes so that they can fix the climate like they've fixed our economy. 

From Tokyo Today: 3 dead, 494 injured as heavy snow hits most of Japan:

TOKYO — The heaviest snow in two decades struck Tokyo and other areas across Japan on Saturday, leaving three dead and nearly 500 others injured in 29 prefectures, reports said. More than 740 flights were grounded as the weather agency issued a severe storm warning for the capital, while more than 40,000 households lost power. As much as 22 centimeters of snow was recorded Saturday afternoon in Tokyo, topping 20 centimeters for the first time since 1994, the meteorological agency and news reports said.

Catch that first line. Let me repeat it for you:

The heaviest snow in two decades struck Tokyo and other areas across Japan...

Let me repeat if for you in bold type letters:

The heaviest snow in two decades struck Tokyo and other areas across Japan...

Well, I'm not sure about all of Tokyo and most of Japan, but I am sure that this is the most snow I have ever witnessed in the Tokyo Yokohama area in 30 years and....

My back patio... I guess there's no BBQ nor lounging around there today!

It's the first time in 15 years of living here that there has been so much snow that I cannot open my front gate. This makes massive snow storms now two weeks running...

Well, OK, I did force the front gate open and took these photos for you. This is my front patio area.

THis is up the street. Don't worry lady, they aren't coming to pick up the trash today! Not in this heavy snow, they aren't... This makes two Saturdays in a row for that too! 

Don't worry lady, no trash pick up today!

Maybe I should get my car out from under the snow...

... So that I can drive around and take photos for dear reader of the winter wonderland...

But, then again, maybe I won't be taking the car out. Nobody else will either, even if they have snow tires... No one is going anywhere in this snow.

As everyone knows, and it goes without argument, consideration or debate that, Global Warming (now called "Climate Change") causes the world to get warmer and colder.

Some will claim that 95% of the World's Scientists All Agree that the world is getting warmer and it is the fault of man. How could any thinking person argue with this?

As a simpleton drunk, with extensive experience with snow and cold, I do have a problem with this or that. But who am I to argue with consensus? 

Full disclosure: I lived most of my childhood in Minnesota and never remember it snowing heavily when it was warm. But what do children know? We need to fix this problem for the children! 

....Like we've fixed everything else in today's world! Ask yourself: "Haven't we done enough?"

UPDATE FROM RT NEWSThe snow blanketed Tokyo with 27 centimeters of snow on Saturday morning, local media said, adding that it the heaviest snowfall the capital has seen in 45 years. While Kofu in the Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, saw a record snowfall of 91 centimeters since observations began 120 years ago. (

Read here about 31,000 scientists as well as 9,029 with PhDs, who think the earth is flat here.

Last night... The photos I took this morning were after the snow had already started to melt. 
Photo thanks to Michio Hashimoto

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sex Pistols Glen Matlock, Neatbeats and More in Tokyo

Glen Matlock, the original bassist for the Sex Pistols was in Tokyo the other day. Glen was kicked out of the band for Sid Vicious back in the day. I figure that's because Glen can actually play and play well! Lots of people don't know this, but Glen wrote the Sex Pistols hit song, "Pretty Vacant." 

First I went to meet Glen at the radio station. Then I went to see him live and make a promotional video for one of his songs. Both events were pretty cool and I'm glad I went.

Glen is a nice guy

I actually did have coffee with Glen... But that's not my coffee...

The video isn't even close to being done yet. I expect to have it within a few weeks.

The Glen Matlock show was a great show. It featured a bunch of really cool Japanese bands. One that was on the bill that really surprised me was the N'Shukugawa Boys. I really like this band. Here is their hit video  "Monogatari ha Chito Fuantei" (I guess that translates into: "The story is a little bit shaky.")

But the band that really impressed me at the entire show was an Osaka band called, "The Neatbeats." Totally faithful sixties beat music and these guys were awesome musicians (as well as being funny as hell!)

Oh, well, yesterday and today it snowed in Tokyo.. The Mainichi Daily News writes: "...the heaviest snow in the Japanese capital since February 1994 and the fourth largest snowfall since World War II..."
This is the most snow I have ever seen in Tokyo in 30+ years of living here

Last year we had the coldest winter in 24 years. This year we have the most snow in 20 years... (and heading for what could be the coldest winter in more than 24 years). Question: This trend points to a what trend?

a) Warming trend
b) Cooling trend

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Anti-Crime (Anti-Yakuza) Laws in Japan Completely Insane - Yakuza gangsters (or those suspected of ties) can't play golf, go to Disneyland, eat McDonald's or order Domino's Pizza either! Idiotic laws!

(Reprint from July 2013)

I've railed repeatedly on the idiotic laws in this country concerning the Yazuka gangsters, prostitution, gambling, drug laws and other areas of wasteful public spending trying to control morality, and other victimless "crimes," but today I found one more law that just takes the cake.

Before, someone pointed out to me that the Yakuza are allegedly involved with human trafficking, and I think that the Japanese police might be useful in putting a stop to that. But, like in yesterday's article about arresting a restaurant owner because his girls (supposed waitresses) were sitting down at table and talking with customers, I think the laws on the books are absurd. Trying to stop Human Trafficking? Well, okay. Stopping victimless "crimes"? No.

Please refer to: Police Raid Clubs in Tokyo Hosted by Porn Stars ad Arrest Managers - More Nonsense From the Police and Wasting Tax Money - Yes, There are Photos. Why Do You Ask?

On February 24, officers took managers Yuji Isa, 51, and Hiroaki Kato, 30, and two other employees of club Pippi, located in the Roppongi and Shinjuku entertainment areas, into custody for allowing female staff members to sit and serve at the same table as customers — a violation of the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses.

I thought that must be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard of; arresting managers because waitresses are sitting down on the job and talking to customers! 

Like I said, "I thought that must be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard of." Well, it's not. I was wrong. It's not even close to the stupidest thing. Today's topic is the stupidest thing... 

"Arrest that woman and bring her to me for proper disciplining!"

The asinine laws that went into effect last October make "associating with Yakuza" a crime. Yes, yes, blah, blah... But what does, "associating with Yakuza" mean? I checked Merriam-Webster dictionary for "Associate" it said:

Associate: (transitive verb)
1) to join as partner or friend
2) to join or connect together
3) to bring together into a relationship in any of various intangible ways (as in memory or imagination)

Ah! Number 3 is the tricky one; intangible ways, eh? So, if you are living outside of Japan, and I live here and if you and I were to meet, you could associate me with the Yakuza because the Yakuza are from Japan too! See how this works?

Under these new laws, obviously written by people with the intelligence of chimpanzees, "associating with a Yakuza" is not limited to things like you being a card-holding gang member or their "friend" and hanging around with them at the billiard room; it's not limited to your driving in their getaway cars while they rob banks or standing around as look out while they have "a problem in communication" and wind up roughing up uncooperative, er, "customers." It means that if you suspect that someone is a Yakuza, yet you treat them like anyone else, you could be fined or sent to prison.

Here I am with Beat Takeshi, arguably Japan's most famous TV/movie star. Beat Takeshi played a Yakuza in a movie. That means, under the definition of 
"associated" that he has "something to do" with the Yakuza, right? And, since, I took this photo with him, I am "associated" too!

No. I am not making that up. Think about that for a minute. What does that mean?

Let's say you run a, say, flower shop and you get a telephone order to deliver flowers to someone, if you know or suspect that the person is a Yakuza, and you fill that order, you could be in violation of the law and subject to arrest and penalties.

Don't believe me?

Testosterone Pit reports in, "No More Golf or Pizza for the Yakuza":

Tokyo's organized crime exclusionary laws went into effect in October—and they're already wreaking havoc. The laws criminalize doing business with bōryokudan ("violent group" or colloquially yakuza). In an ingenious twist, paying off the yakuza in an extortion racket is also a crime. Now restaurants have to stop paying protection money. Even victims of blackmail—hush money is an outright industry in Japan—commit a crime if they pay.
First, there's a warning. But if violations persist, authorities will add the business or person to a public list of perps who have a "close relationship" with the yakuza. Instant loss of face. And then the financial nightmare: customers flee, banks shut their doors, government agencies won't renew licenses, office leases get terminated—all based on the organized crime exclusionary clauses in their contracts. Individuals may lose their jobs, as comedian and TV host, Shimada Shinsuke, found out.
If contact with the yakuza continues despite all this, a person risks up to one year in the hoosegow and a fine of ¥500,000 ($6,400).
It hit the golf industry hard.
“If customers are yakuza, we ask them to leave even if they're in the middle of playing," said the general manager of Akabane Golf Club (Mainichi newspaper article in Japanese). He is also the chairman of the Council of Golf Clubs for the Expulsion of Organized Crime in Tokyo. How would he know if someone is a yakuza? "We refer the names of suspicious people to the police,” he said.
And the pizza delivery industry is in uproar. 
"We don't know if the address we deliver to is the place of a yakuza," said the Delivery Business Safety Driving Council. But don't panic. "One or two pizzas are OK,” the Council said, “but delivering a huge amount of pizza, knowing that the customer is a yakuza is a no-no." They're planning to invite police officers to a study meeting with restaurant owners.

Jesus! Is this dumb, or what? Are we living in Nazi Germany or, even worse, the United States? The guy who said, "How would he know if someone is a Yakuza or not?" is completely correct. It's not like underworld organization members wear a uniform everywhere they go or dress on the field like baseball players do. 

Also, since when is it the duty of the pizza delivery guy or a privately run business to determine if someone is a gangster or not? What if the Yakuza guy's wife or kids answer the door? I don't think most kids have a clue as to what daddy does at work, especially in this country.

Delivered to you in under 30 minutes or you're under arrest!

Have you ever seen the 2001 movie Traffic? That was the movie with Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. She was the wife who had no idea that her husband was a drug trafficker and had gangland ties. Well, you know, it's not like people brag about being a Yakuza. Sure that was just a movie but that part is completely realistic. Most people who are involved with illegal activities don't advertise... Funny that. Whether those activities should be illegal or not is another story.

I'll bet many children, and some wives, of Yakuza might suspect but are not sure what "Daddy" does when he goes to work. I am pretty confident that when he comes home to relax he doesn't tell them, "Yeah, today was a tough day at gangster HQ. I had to break the knee-caps and elbows of three different people! Three! Can you believe it? Boy, I'm beat!"

These laws are idiocy. Total and complete idiocy.

I have also read somewhere else that this is actually a case of Japan's Amakudari whereby retired government officials, after retiring, take cushy jobs in the private sector. These new laws are actually designed to help those retired people (in this case retired formerly high ranking police officers) take jobs as a sort of "legal advisor" to privately run corporations to advise them as to how to handle the new laws. So they are, actually, a scam.

That makes sense to me. It makes sense because these laws are too stupid on their own to not have some sort of ulterior motive. There can be no other logical explanation for coercing the public and private businesses into supporting your local police department.

As government is wont to do, they will create a crisis where none exists and thee use that crisis as a way to get money. That's what government's do. In fact, it seems that is the only thing government is efficient at doing. 

Ticket scalpers selling concert tickers! Heavens! How will we stop this crime wave? 
(I know! Anyone who would buy a ticket to a Bon Jovi concert,
whether real or counterfeit, should be shot anyway!)

In the future I guess we'll have to show ID to prove that we're not gangsters in order to get a pizza or burger delivered to our door. Also to reinforce the point of how stupid this actually is, forget about deliveries; what happens if a gangster looking guys walks up to a counter at a McDonald's and orders a burger? Is the 18-year-old clerk to determine if he is a possible criminal or not?

God! his is so stupid on so many levels it makes me want to pull my hair out.

If the Japanese people and businesses put up with these asinine laws they'll be getting what they deserve in the near future. You can get a glimpse of that future by getting on an airplane and flying to the USA to see the lack of freedom those people have.

I'm going to do everything I can to fight this idiotic trend. I hope you will too. We don't need Japan to become like the United States more than it already has.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Near Death Experience

Have you ever seen these people on TV who claim to have had a near-death experience (NDE)? They all claim seeing "clouds" or "lights" or floating in a room outside of their body. Some also talk about seeing angels and long dead relatives. These are some of the common experiences people who claim they've had near-death experience.

People who hear about these near-death experiences usually think the person telling the story is "crazy."

I never used to believe that stuff at all either... That is, until it happened to me. 

Yes, I have had a near death experience. Actually, this has happened to me twice. Both times were in Japan. This post is about the first time it happened to me. It must have been about 1995 or so.

I was once told by a Za Zen Buddhist priest that having a near-death experience was the fastest way to enlightenment. I know that my thinking radically changed, but don't know if I could say I was enlightened. I don't think I am a very enlightened person, but I have had experiences that should have enlightened me. I have had these so-called near-death experiences. Well, actually, I'm not happy to be able to say that I've had them twice. I reckon that, in a way, it should be sort of embarrassing. I reckon that near-death experiences should enlighten anyone who has a lick of good sense. I guess I don't have enough sense.

But you can't really run around telling people this sort of thing. Why? Because if you tell people that you died and came back to life, no one will believe you. They'll all think that you are nuts. I'm not a Christian but I am well versed in the bible. In the Book of Mark, when Jesus toured the countryside and healed the sick, he told those whom he had healed to, "Tell no one." He did that because, well, because it's obvious. If you were deathly ill and then you witnessed a miracle and were cured, and told people what happened, they'd all think you were nuts... Of course.

It's like telling people that you were abducted by aliens or have seen ghosts... Or even an exorcism....

You see people who talk about these things on TV sometimes, but you can't figure out if it's real or not unless you've experienced it yourself. George Foreman talked about it. I saw him on a TV interview talking about his near death experience. When I heard his words, I knew that he wasn't lying. I've been there. I've done that.

After a boxing match that George lost he was taken to the locker room and there he passed out and says that he "died" and had an out of body experience. He says that he was falling in a dark tunnel into pitch black. It was then and there he knew that he had died. He then says that he thought to himself,

"So this is death? Oh well, at least I believe in God." George then goes on to tell about how a giant hand caught him as he was falling and then he "...felt the blood of Jesus pouring through his veins."

Some may know this story. When George recovered, he was a different man. He was no longer angry at the world and he retired from boxing and became a preacher. It's a great story.

My story isn't that great because I was never heavy-weight champion of the world... But my story is similar.

I don't really want to go into the complete details (it's embarrassing how stupid I was - it was an accidental drug overdose) but I was doing something that I wasn't supposed to be doing. You know how that is? Accidents always happen when you are screwing around and not being careful...

Those sorts of things happen all the time. And that's why accidents happen all the time; people not being careful and doing dumb things.

Anyhow, after my little, er, "mishap," I knew I was in no condition to do anything. If I called an ambulance, and if I recovered, I'd probably get arrested. If I went out anywhere, I'd probably collapse and the results would be the same. So I did what I thought would be the safest thing to prevent a heart attack, I laid down on the floor and tried to stay calm.

Later on, I don't know how much later on, I can only recall that I opened my eyes and I was floating in the air with my back against the ceiling. It didn't seem the least bit strange to me that I was floating in the air and looking down. I was in no pain and felt fine.

Below me, on the ground was the body of a young man and there were three extremely old gentlemen leaning over the young man. The three old gentlemen were all dressed completely in white. (And, no they didn't have any wings.) The entire scene had a misty, almost fog-like like appearance as if it were happening in the clouds but we were inside a room.

I looked at them as they knelt over while silently looking at the young man. I couldn't tell if they were praying or examining him. I spoke up, pointed to the young man, and said to them,

"Hey! That guy doesn't look right. There's something wrong with that guy..."

The old gentlemen didn't respond or seem to notice me at all. I kept repeating the sentences but they ignored me. Then, I paused for a moment. I looked at the young man and he looked strangely familiar to me. Yes! He did! I knew who it was! That guy laying on the ground was me. 

But it wasn't me! It's hard to explain. That wasn't me lying on the floor, "me" (I) was floating in the air...but it was my earthly body laying there lifeless and still

I spoke to the men,

"Hey! That's me! That guy is me! No! I can't die! I have children! I have lots of things to do I have too many things to take care of before I die! No!" I think I began shouting...

It was then and there that the man sitting in the middle oh-so slowly turned his head up towards me and his eyes met mine. What I saw shocked me. His face looked as if he must have been 150-years-old. His hair was completely white. His eyes were sunken in and his face incredibly wrinkled. I have never seen such an old person in my life before.

He looked up at me hanging against the ceiling. In his eyes were anger and revulsion.

The other two men never even glanced at me. The man in the middle just stared at me not saying a word. No! It wasn't a stare. It was a glare! I could read his mind. I could understand the anger in his eyes. He was thinking,

"What... a... disgusting... waste... of... life!" 

I paused. I knew he was right. It was a complete and disgusting waste of life. This realization was like an arrow being shot into my heart. I felt ashamed of  myself. 

I then no longer wanted to protest. I felt defeated. I shut my mouth and then I closed my eyes. I then realized that I was dead for sure but, for some strange reason, I didn't feel sad anymore. I can't remember if my eyes were opened or closed but I saw my life like a movie. It went by me like a flash. I saw my mom; I saw my childhood; my childhood memories.... I actually felt okay.

But that's the last thing I remember about that part; seeing my life and feeling okay....

I don't know exactly how many hours passed, but I woke up on the floor and it was nearly dawn. My clothes were soaking wet and I was freezing. I did my best to dry myself off and then I went home.

It would be a few years later that I would enter drug rehabilitation... I was glad I did. I was also glad that I was able to experience this so-called near-death experience. It changed me a lot. I am also no longer angry. I am truly striving to be a better person and to make a difference. I know that I am one of the truly fortunate few on this earth. 

These stories are so ridiculous and outrageous that no one would make them up. Yet, like I said, if you tell people this, they'll think you are crazy. When I was a younger man, I would laugh at these stories... But, I don't laugh at them anymore. It's easy, it seems to me, to tell a charlatan from the real thing.

I just now searched for you for a Youtube video that deals with this subject, and I found a good one. I am, again, totally blown away how close some of these people's experiences are to mine. 

I can't say that I wish for you a near-death experience because that involves something very dangerous or traumatic... But, if you do, and come back fine, then I envy you.

Just don't tell too many people about it. They'll think you're crazy.