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Roppongi Soft Parade

Habeas Mentem

Installment number one from the fearless Asian tour of Habeas Mentem

Below the terminally chic Roppongi Hills, where overpaid ex-pats, the commissars of the Globalization juggernaut mill at crowded yuppie bars like the Heartland, lies the ultra hip GaienHigashi-dori Avenue. This street caters to urban humanity of all persuasions and is crammed with a craven hodgepodge of young jet-setters, Estonian strippers, stylish office girls looking for a gaijin hookup, filthy rich currency speculators coddling Geishas, uniformed workmen in helmets that recall Godzilla movies, and relentless Nigerian touts, who work the entrances of non-exclusive bars. Yes, a street full of bad vibes and total rip-offs for the unwary. But if you keep your eyes open, and your wallet in your front pocket, an enjoyable urban safari can be had; a taste of the future—once the entire world can afford seven dollar frappacinos . . .

In between the two-storey Excelsior Café (the Japanese copy-cat Starbucks) and the Freak Brothers head shop (which displays a life-sized plastic alien grey smoking a large joint), stashed unobtrusively in a recessed archway, Jesus and friend Iizzy have a little card table, where they are selling 2C-T-7, 2C-E, DPT and several other psychedelic phenethylamines and tryptamines I can't remember.  There is also a small yellow plastic bottle next to the little baggies, labeled "E". But Jesus's friend, Izakuto (Iizzy for short), says in Japanese it's shit, and no, it is not MDMA.

I point to a baggie labeled 2C-T-7 in clear blue print. "So that's legal here?"

"For now," says Jesus, "In a few months it will be banned, perhaps."  The two didn't seem to be very perturbed about their narrowing prospects for drug sales. "English guys come here and buy everything we sell," says Jesus, casting a glance at his wares.

I was a little excited to see a dazzling magenta sign for 5-MeO-DMT.

"Wow, I thought that stuff was illegal in Japan," I exclaim, ever the dope dilettante.

"Yes," says Jesus,"a little while ago they made it illegal. But Iizzy and I made such a good sign. It's decoration now." Iizzy wears a thick Rasta cap, nods and smiles, but does not speak English. A Japanese head. Jesus is tall compared to most Japanese and seems to be shaking. Limbs twitch of their own accord. When Jesus talks he doesn't really look at me. His mind is definitely elsewhere, possibly another star system. I'm thinking he's not a good poster child for these substances. I decide I'm not buying tonight.

"What's your favorite?" I ask. Jesus points distractedly to the 2C-T-7 compound.

"I'm a writer," he says, "I use these things to open, open, open."

"What do you write about?"

"Nature." The word sounds incongruous in this welter of grasping humanity and scum-sucking global chain stores. Rapongi feels like Manhattan. Only I've never actually been to Manhattan. But I'm sure Manhattan would feel like this.

"You like Burroughs?" he asks off-handedly.

"Yeah, but his thing was heroin," I say, scanning the smorgasbord of psychotomimetics in little white baggies.

Jesus laughs.

"How about Tim Leary?" he asks.

"A big favorite; I have read a few of his books," I murmur, but I don't want to take up too much of Jesus's time, since I'm not shelling out any cash for his  philters. Bowing politely to the two salesmen, dealers of dreams, nightmares, dizzying hot flushes and OBEs—keys to the bestiary of the human psyche, I make my exit.

Leary and Burroughs: fun names to hear dropped from in Japanese...

A nice guy, that Jesus, possibly on a come-down from an all night scopolamine binge, which may explain the tremors... but with all those different "research chemicals" on his little card table I had a bad feeling for him...Is it me or should no one under thirty have more than ten varieties of untested mind bombs to choose from at any one time?

But before I can digest the pith of this sudden and unexpected drug bazaar, a plain woman, whom I initially took for a kindly, middle-aged housewife, lost and in need of directions amid the chaos of a Friday night in Roppongi, comes up to me and suddenly flashes a twisted grin, "Message-y?"

She wants 20,000 yen (~$182 u.s.d.) for a blow job. I laugh incredulously and start to move on, but she knocks into me, grabs my arm, and spews gibberish at me as I walk, refusing to take no for an answer. But a few words uttered in a firm tone convince her to leave. A mere block later, I see her walking merrily in the company of another prostitute, laughing like a school girl, the memory of that gaijin tightwad long erased...

Tags : japan roppongi psychedelic
Rating : Teen - Drugs
Posted on: 2005-10-07 00:00:00