Perhaps fittingly, the swirling saga of insanity that was this conference ended with a bang. A big one.
My boss, the secretary general of the organization and the head of our office, submitted his resignation. After almost a decade as, essentially, the managing director (if not CEO) and spokesperson for the council, he decided for a number of reasons, not the least of them being the way things had been going as of late it was time to go.
There was shock, confusion, sadness, and even some anger. Both from our international leadership and from our small staff. His staff. Us.
As anyone will tell you, it's not often that I have nothing to say, but this was one of those rare times. As we scattered, then regrouped, then tried to make sense of it all, I mostly sat and listened to the mixture of surprise, curiosity, frustration, understanding and relief that flowed from my coworkers.
I did say, as did others, that in a real way we were happy for him. Having lived and breathed our organization 24/7 and fighting so hard for so long, he's now able to leave knowing that he's done good work and that he has many good years left for other grand missions. But I also said that mostly that I was concerned, perhaps scared, as to what now lay ahead.
Of course we wondered who might follow, and whether we fit into the picture. But more telling was that we confessed an almost embarassing devotion to the man, his charisma and vision. To us and to many others, our boss was the heart of our larger global family, and it was impossible to imagine a small, close-knit administrative office like ours under anyone else's leadership.
We were emphatically ensured that all will work out, that life will go on, which we know on an intellectual level, if not an instinctive one. And knowing that answers of any kind would be long in coming, well after we returned to Hawai`i, untangled everything, and plowed through the usual ritual of post-conference work, we took comfort knowing that our boss was staying on at least through some major conferences in Shanghai in October, and headed out somewhat numb to join everyone else in celebrating the end. Of the meeting.
We went to the fancy closing dinner, where we caught a glimpse of our boss, in good spirits but worn. We stayed in the back, though, with the other lowly working folk, congratulating each other, reliving various highlights of the past week, and proposing toasts left and right.
There was a koto rock band (if there ever were such a thing), then a huge traditional Japanese dancing troupe, and lots of food and lots of drink. Eventually the formal festivities wound down, and we shook hands with anyone who came by, but we quickly resolved that we still needed a little more R&R to wash everything down.
Someone said Roppongi. Meet in the lobby in fifteen minutes. And in fifteen minutes, most of us were there, and we piled into two separate cabs to have an extended night of adventure.
Roppongi. Not the most reputable section of Tokyo, and very popular with tourists, two facts that are closely related. Still, our mission was to get out, which we did, walking random streets looking for nightspots to crash.
A common refrain during the first ten minutes out in the cold was, "Are we drinking yet?" So, desperate, our first stop was the Hard Rock Cafe.
We didn't stay long.
Our next stop, recommended by a trio of purple- and green-haired teen clubbers, was the Propaganda Shot Bar. Somewhat Russian in theme, but still clearly Japanese. We spent the longest time here, telling loud stories, wolfing down expensive snack mix, drinking anything the staff recommended. (Of course I couldn't drink, but of all nights, I surely reconsidered that point long and hard.) We wrote some nasty grafitti on the wall, watched one member of our party pass out (from exhaustion) on his stool, and enjoyed each other's company.
Stop number three the final stop, it turned out, for Tim and I, more interested in sleep than anything else was a place called Gas Panic.
Now, apparently Gas Panic has some degree of notoriety, a prime spot to hit during any trip through town. Frankly, though, I wasn't impressed. They were trying very hard to be American, but failing miserably, and the excessive representation of Lenny Kravitz on the playlist didn't help. Also, they put a lot of effort to be demanding, including a six-foot high sign that warned, "You must be drinking to remain in Gas Panic!!"
We left fairly quickly, and Tim and I were briefly tempted by the promise of karaoke somewhere in the future. But when the group resolved to hit a few more bars (including a place called "Bar, Isn't It?"), he and I called it a night, and hailed a cab.
In short, we were taken for a ride.
We were driven all over Tokyo, through some pretty seedy places, the driver insisting he was a "rookie" and didn't know where Daiba was. We finally harassed him into turning off the meter, by which point it had hit 7500 yen, and miraculously soon afterward, he found his way to our hotel. It was almost 3 a.m., our time in the taxi accounting for the last 50 minutes.
I was too tired to argue, so I paid him, and limped back to Room 641.
Sleep, now. Think, later.
You wrote: "watched one member of our party pass out (from exhaustion) on his stool" -- Ryan, I TRULY hope you mean he passed out on the bar stool he was sitting on. Because in the very next paragraph, you talk about some bar called GAS panic. Ayeeee!!!
Lani Teshima (April 18, 2001 1:58 PM)
Ryan. Roppongi? Geez, desperation will do strange things to people. Next time yer in Tokyo, please feel free to consult in regards to swillage. At least you hit Gas Panic and Bar Isn't It? Staples in the gaijin scammer scene. I needed to be seriously impaired to wander into those places.
Dick (April 18, 2001 8:55 PM)
E kala mai! Comments have been disabled due to overwhelming abuse by spammers. Please click through to any of the video hosting services linked above to leave a public response, or feel free to send an e-mail. Mahalo!
© 1997-2008 Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: email@example.com · Created: 13 November 1997 · Last Modified: 14 January 2008