Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hamamatsu is a Bum's Paradise

A mild climate, plenty of outdoor benches to sit on and booze it up, no laws against public alcohol consumption, lots of nooks and crannies for public urination-- if you're a lazy bum, Hamamatsu is the city for you. I'm not talking about homeless people. I'm talking about people with places to sleep and watch TV, but who'd rather hang out and drink all day and harrass passersby. The alcoholics, the shiftless, the layabouts, the good-for-nothings.

My people.

With the weather turning hot, the typical Japanese house without central air conditioning is too stifling to endure, so legions of middle-aged and elderly guys have been sitting on the benches downtown where they talk loudly, picnic, consume can after can of beer, shochu or chuhai and generally make a nuisance of themselves. There's one woman who regularly joins them. And, quite frankly, she intimidates the hell out of me because she's what we euphemistically call back home a "Crazy Person." She's bespectacled, looks like a mild-mannered young librarian, but is known for her frequent screaming outbursts. She has a temper, that one.

And speaking of screaming, some old guy absolutely went off yesterday at about 5pm. I'm not sure where he was because the architecture of the area creates lots of echoes that make locating a sound source difficult unless you're willing to go investigate. Which I am, but I was pretty busy with work at the time. Wherever he was, he began screaming something that sounded a little like "Byeahhhh!" every four or five seconds as if he were some kind of human car alarm system-- and kept it up for almost three hours. An impressive performance. Someone more sane or less drunk would've given into the throat pain after about thirty minutes and stopped, but not this guy. He had an angry, drunken song to sing and he wanted to share it with the world.


What's that? Someone invading your space? Alcohol making off with more brain cells?


Anyone care to call the cops? I'm sure he's not doing anything to help the area businesses attract customers.


A strange croaking scream. Towards the end of his show, someone must've begun talking to him because instead of croaking a single nonsense syllable, he began croaking out entire nonsense sentences. The responding voice seemed to be female, which created in my mind an image of a lunatic duet between Croaker-san and the Crazy Librarian, but perhaps a woman police officer was trying to reason with him.

"Sir, none of these people have tried to steal your idea for a perpetual motion machine. Perhaps you should just go home and sleep it off."


Late in the evening he quieted down and we heard no more from him. I hope the police officer talked him into going home, but he probably just passed out and slept all night on the sidewalk or up against a wall in the piss-smelling courtyard behind our office building. Of course, in America, he probably just would've been tasered, maced or shot. And about fifty people would've captured it on their cellphone video cameras.

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