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775: The M-List
774: Compatriotic Spirit
773: The Naked Truth
770-71: It Ainít Easy Being Green
769: íTwas the Night Before Christmas in Japan
768: Japanese Lessons
766: Bad Credit
765: Chew on this
764: Red faced
763: Down and Out in Tokyo
761: Kicking the bucket
760: Thumbing It
759: Fixing the System
757: Smoke rings
756: Stalking the Predators
755: Banding Together
753: No Competition
752: Sex and This City
751: Letís Shogi
750: The Yasukuni Follies
748: Loud and Clear
747: Iíll be back
746: Raiders of the lost SMAP
744: Magical Mystery Tour
743: Murder in Lotus Land
742: Stereotypes íRí Us
740: The Mother of all Mothers
739: Crimes of Fashion
738: The Hafu Dad Brigade
737: The Green Team
736: Fight Club
735: The Paper Chase
734: The Wind-Up Writer Chronicle
733: Food For Thought?
732: Home and Away
731: The 2008 Nazi Olympics
730: The Two-Wheel Revolution
729: Gimme a Break
728: Power Play
727: Dying for a doctor
726: Footloose Revisited
725: Little Fish, Bigger Pond
724: Japanís Peace Monster
723: Language Abuse
722: Scumbusters ďRĒ Us
721: First Action Hiro
720: The Return of Asashoryu
718-719: A Time to Give
717: My Homelessness Dilemma
716: The 30 Percent Solution
715: Past Imperfect
714: Killing the Kimono
713: The trouble with Tibbets
712: Surfing the Shinto-net
711: Falling Stars
710: Macho Man
709: Bad Impressions
708: Bloodsport
707: Our Last Word
706: Anonymocracy
705: The Air Up There
704: Read the Signs
703: The sky should not be the limit
702: My Year Zero Proposal
701: The Joys of Freeganism
700: Prada for the People
699: The Parasite Country
698: Washed up in Tokyo
697: Birthingís Not for Babies
696: On the Handlebars of a Dilemma
695: My So-Called Poverty
694: Get Out the Vote
693: The Ishihara Mystery
691: Let it Flow
690: Cafť Culture
689: Oyaji Fashionistas
688: The Democracy of the Dysfunctional
687: Polite Disregard
686: Venting on Climate Change
685: Silent No Longer
684: To protect and serve?
683: Save the Sanshin building!
682: In the Realm of the Pond God
681: The Open Society and Its Enemies
680: Five-Ring Circus
679: Topic of Cancer
678: Pet Peeves
677: Why I am Banned in Japan
676: A long way to the top
675: Euro-vision
674: Childís play
673: Why I did it
672: I Love Japan
671: Running Crazy
670: Planet Apology
669: A peek behind the curtain
668: Opening Up
666: Pitching a fit
665: All wrapped up
664: Yule Rules
663: Field of Dreams
662: Save Lives, not Face
661: Why Do I Buy a Ticket?
660: Dying for a Nap
659: We, the jury
658: Grain of truth
657: Remembering The Maverick
656: A Rose by any Other Name
655: Heir today, gone tomorrow
654: Manhandled on the Metro
653: The bodyguards of the road
652: Separate but equal
651: Going for the gold
650: Being Audrey Hepburn
649: Not Sitting Pretty
648: Get Smart
647: Through foreign eyes
646: A failing grade in cute
644: Club Lands
643: Sayonara, Hide
642: The JET SET
641: What, me worry?
640: The Da Vinci Load
639: Making Waves
638: Final Cut
637: Resave the whales
636: Soccer Silliness
635: I, Smoker
634: The Ultimate Loss
633: Shoot the Messengers
632: The second sex
631: A Maverick Moves On
630: The curse of Baron Mitsui
629: Waiting for Heidi
628: Memoirs of a fake celebrant
627: Take it Outside
626: Wa? What wa?
625: A well-drawn life
624: St. Patrick the abducted
623: Bend over
622: The (Un)Late show
621: Oil spill
620: Ice Follies
619: Pride Goeth
618: Lost roles
617: Saying it with Cookies
616: Wrestling with foreigners
614-615: Blank Pages
613: Fretting Over Freeters
612: Farewell, Sensei
611: Sympathy for the wild ones
610: Back in Black
609: Out of many, one
608: Youth culture
607: The Russians are coming!
606: Meddle Detector
605: Tokyo, Mon amour
604: The Wailing Wall
603: Getting Abreast of Cancer
602: Willing Ally
601: New war,same story
600: The Big Chill
599: The Gray Zone
598: Jail break
597: Extremely Lost in Translation
596: Wounded Despot
595: History Lessons
594: Valhalla of the Imperial Army
592: Culture crash
591: Complaints Department
590: What lies beneath
589: Strange Games
588: Junk Science
587: The day the invaders came
586: The Test that Drove Me Crazy
585: Smile and say “lesbian”
584: Keep Article 9
583: The Great Divide
582: An ad for all seasons
581: Killing the Golden Goose
580: The other half
579: Give me back my bye-bye
578: Araki in Focus
577: Head out on the Highway
576: The hate that won't go away
575: Here's the beef
574: Yukking it up
573: Squatter’s rights and wrongs
572: The Trouble with Yokoso
571: Fire from the sky
570: Invasion of the gairaigo
569: Good company
568: Find Out What it Means To Me
567: Field of schemes
566: In the Name of Justice
565: Winner or Loser?
564: Staying Foreign
563: The Scare after Tomorrow
561-562: The Spirit of Things
560: War for remembrance
559: Storm damage
558: The Meaning of Godzilla
557: Who’s left to listen?
556: Paying respects
555: Gender Trouble
554: Coming clean at last
553: Go our own way
552: Hits of yesteryear
551: Heir apparel
550: Personal Reflections
549: Nuclear Reactions
548: Article of faith
547: Martyrs for the firm
546: A different anniversary
545: We, the jury
544: Wrongs & rights
543: Moore or less
542: Fair games
541: Developmentally challenged
By Louie Diaz Jr.

Complaints Department

“What’s the deal with this country, anyway?”

Louie Diaz Jr. is a freelance writer living in Tokyo

So I was sitting in a bar, forgot where really, somewhere near Shinjuku, or Roppongi, one of these theme places. It could have been a British pub where they sell fish and chips with malt vinegar and Newcastle brew in a bottle, real authentic looking, except for all the Japanese staff and the fact that they play rap videos on the many TV screens around the joint. It could have been Australian, or Irish, who knows, but the point was, after a few pints and a couple of tall cans of beers at the station, this guy sat next to me.

He was slurring his words, but he liked the fact that I could speak English and the fact that he was a native English speaker. He looked not-quite-hip, but not really geeky either; not fitting in, but not exactly standing out. There was no bite to his style, except for his somewhat greasy long hair and the fact that he was a Westerner. You could tell by the way he held his glass and how he walked and how his chest and head were puffed out that he was a Westerner. Could’ve been a John, or a Dave, who knows? But he was from somewhere I knew, but forgot already; who has traveled to places I have already been, or really want to go.

And because we are gaijin in a bar in Tokyo, we talk about Tokyo and Japan.

“What’s up with the trains stopping so early?” he says. “That really gets to me.” And I nod my head in agreement.

“And what’s up with it being so crowded all the time, even when it’s not rush hour. And why are there no garbage cans anywhere? I now have all this trash in my pockets. Or can they separate garbage into more categories?” He’s just getting started.

“And the ginger things you see as condiments all over the place, I hate those. I hate the pizza, too. Tomato sauce on a pita is not pizza. Corn does not belong on a pizza.” His beef with food simmers to a boil.

“What’s up with cooking your own meal in a restaurant? I gotta grill my own meat? And make my own soup? Yeah, it’s kinda fun, I guess, but I would rather have that done for me. And how about that smell that slaps you in the face and punches you in the gut every time you walk into a convenience store? What the hell are those floating things sitting on the counter? Who in their right mind would buy that at 2am?”

He downs his drink; complains about the price of it. He shouts loudly to the waitress, butchers the word “sumimasen,” and says “beeru.” The waitress promptly returns with another pint. He examines his glass. “And what is up with this beer? It should be criminal to serve beer with this much head.” He stares at the waitress as she turns around and walks away; there is a look of lust and fever in his eyes.

And then he goes on a tangent, about the different Japanese broads he’s picked up, and about the different techniques he uses, and he goes on about it ad nauseam.

More rap videos: Snoop Dog “crip walkin” to a Neptunes beat. More pints: the cheap ones, of course. More conversation: complaining or bragging.

And he goes on about a date he had, about how this girl was beautiful, complete with her Louis Vuitton bag, and her great makeup, but she had a slight teeth problem, how they weren’t all straight and even. About how they take pictures throughout their day together and every photo has a “bloody peace sign.” And this guy hates “peace signs” and she poses with them before every photo.

Finally, he checks his cellphone. The last train is coming soon and he has to check the time.

But he is ranting: “What’s up with the stares I get on the trains? What’s up with the hip-hop dudes acting all hardcore? What’s up with everyone being so reserved? Can’t anyone show their real feelings? What’s up with taking my Nikes off every time I go anywhere? What’s up with the ridiculous amounts of hours people have to work?”

And, all of a sudden, his last train is fast approaching. He races up the steps, runs toward the station, and I follow him. He’s missed it completely. He read his mobile wrong. He took the wrong turn to the station. He’s there, but he’s on a completely different level. On the wrong platform. Way off. We walk away and see some drunken gaijin stumbling toward us.

“And what’s up with these idiot gaijin?” he asks. He smiles and takes the next cab, muttering about how expensive they are.

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