Archive for January 2010

The Evolution of Sound   Leave a comment

If you’ve ever heard someone speak rapidly in another language, it is  an
 exercise in learning inflections. The rise and fall of their
 intonations, the dull tones and light breaks between emotional
 outbursts, the flat replies of sarcasm, and the half-grin sounds of
 witty replies. These are all distinguishable in one way or another,
even if you can’t understand what they are saying.

For me, life in Japan has been like this evolution of sound. Things came 
all at once several months ago, a stream of unintelligible sounds and data that rocked my mind. When people spoke, it was a stream of sound, 
roaring like an unchecked river, uncollected and untamed, brutal to my
unaware mind. As time passed this roaring became a light trickle, and
every now and then, standing on the banks, I would see the riverbed 
beneath the stream, moving so slowly I could even reach in to pick out
some rocks. These breaks, or trickles, represented the moments my mind
 learned a few cultural tricks, or a bit of language that allowed me to
breathe easy.

Then there would come a moment of pain. A moment of frustration wrought by
 the inability to express myself to communicate with another adult, like the feeling of
 helplessness in a doctor’s office as he explains things in a stream of
 sound. They crash, they rage.

Eventually, I could hear words. The stream was no longer unintelligible. When 
people spoke, even rapidly, I could hear what they were saying. The 
meaning of course, was lost. But that rush, the sense of despair with the
 coming of the flood, was gone. On television commercials, in the train or 
walking on the street, I could hear snippets of conversation…





Even when people chat near me, I can hear what they are saying, though I am
 not at the point where I can understand everything. To previously escape this Japanese 
stream, I would wear headphones, hide in my apartment, and watch all 
the English media I could handle. My mind buckled under the pressure of my inability to understand what was around me. But 
now, it seems, I am starting to breathe. When the people around me
 talk, little lifebuoys pop up through the stream coming from their
 lips, little things I can hang on to as the days go by. I can use more
words and light expressions, and sometimes, in brief moments, there is
 no stream, and I am standing in an empty riverbed, with nothing but the 
smooth stones underneath to keep me company.

Maybe the day will come when I am in this riverbed all the time, when I will
need no lifebuoys to keep me up as I face the raging torrent that is 
the Japanese language. When that day comes, how will I breathe? how 
will I think? I do not know. But I can already see my feet, bare and
 damp, stepping on the smooth stones, feeling the slightest hint of dirt
 between my toes. I will smile.


A series I’m working on called “I AM, WE ARE”. This was shot in Shibuya, but it will be a series set across several countries.

Daishi Dance in Hamamatsu   Leave a comment

DAISHI DANCE is a Japanese DJ and musician. Beginning his activities
from Sapporo, he has become a big name in the house scene with his
trademark three turntable setup and hybrid style of music, and
regularly hosts his event MUSeUM at Club Yellow in Roppongi with fellow
artist Masanori Morita of Studio Apartment. Since 2008 he’s regularly
hosted his POOL HOUSE event at Shinkiba ageHA in Tokyo.  —>

This is me Daishi Dance  after his performance at Planet Cafe in Hamamatsu Japan as a part of his “SPECTACLE” album promotional tour.

Daishi Dance’s Official Website

Posted January 17, 2010 by marcusbird in Partying In Japan

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Dark Nights on a Cricket Field   Leave a comment

I’m on a field with a cricket bat in my hands, and I’m waiting. An old tennis ball is thrown at me and I tense my thighs. It is a dark evening in the Caribbean, and as I hit the ball with a crack, I set off running. Strangely the field I am on is mostly empty, and as I come to a finish, I laugh as I see my grandfather doing a light job somewhere nearby. “Come sah. You can’t beat me.” He says with a laugh. I smile as I look at him, feeling a sense of familiarity as fresh as the first time I set foot in my grandparent’s first home when I was four. I still remember that sensation. The house was large and quiet, and the wood smelled fresh and sweet. It had an air of history, as my mother had lived at that very house growing up. I remembered my fourth birthday, when my grandfather took me to a large room in the house to show me a gift he had for me.

“Happy birthday!” he said, and revealed my present. In front of me was a yellow desk and a three legged stool. That day I was pristinely excited. I loved to draw, and I would spend many an hour on that desk drawing until I broke the stool with my weight years later.

On the cricket field, smiling at the fresh-faced image of my grandfather smiling at me, I have a sense of meaning in the moment. This I know, because I am dreaming. My  grandfather died in late 2005. My Grandmother is nearby. I do not see her, but I can sense her, in the same way I am able to sense the feeling of youth and family that comes with the mere thought of her. I see the smiles, I hear laughs and little giggles from my then-tiny body being tickled by her large, dark hands. Instantly, the field disappears and I am back at my grandparent’s home. It is also dark there but I am comfortable.

We speak about something, but the words are unknown to me. All I remember is the good feeling that comes with sharing a moment of quiet with my grandparent’s. “You don’t have much time left to talk with him.” My Grandmother says to me, nodding at my grandfather. I nodded, understanding what she meant. My Grandmother is alive, and it was as if what she said was directly in reference to my dream. Something about her words rang true to me in a familiar way, but not with the wrenching sense of danger on that scary day when I rushed with my family members to the hospital to see my grandfather alive for the last time. It was as if she was mentioning that this moment wasn’t forever and I should make the most of it.

It has been mentally challenging for me lately, thinking of the near future. Things have felt cloudy and uncertain, and though I am happy for all that I have and have seen thus far in my life, there are a few more things I desire. This desire is so potent it had kept me in my room day after day, as I toil away in my free time in an attempt to make these dreams a reality. To many, I must seem like a ghost, and I feel that way sometimes, sitting in my apartment in old clothes, existing somewhere between the sleeping world and that of the awake people.

In the dream, I am now on an island of some kind that reminds of me of a place I visited once on vacation. I can sense my grandparent’s are nearby at a hotel, but I don’t see them. In this part of the  dream I am with a group of people. They are suggesting I go to a show later. Another group of people, also strangers, are telling me about a party. These people I realize, represent my need to leave the apartment for a bit and merely clear my head.

I wake up soon after, my room cold from the wind of a Japanese winter outside, and my heart warm with memories of my grandparents. I’ve had a few dreams like this before, particularly at challenging moments  in my life. For now, I feel calm in the face of my quiet conversation with my grandfather, and for the next several days I will hold on to that image of me on a dark cricket field somewhere in Jamaica, laughing with him as he smiles at me, jogging in place, fresh-faced and young, with twinkling eyes.

Tilt Shift Photography   Leave a comment

Tilt-shift photography is a cool technique that makes real life
pictures appear as miniatures. This is a tilt shift picture of mine
taken somewhere in downtown Cairo.


Posted January 13, 2010 by marcusbird in Photography

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2009 to 2010 and back again   Leave a comment


Me Jumping off a camel's back in Egypt with the Giza Pyramids behind me.

I’m piggybacking this blog from my good friend Jabari’s site. We often interface about our lives and our careers, and lately I’ve been talking about the power of looking back. Really taking stock of some things you’ve achieved in a year so you can get a good sense of where you are and where you want to be. He had a VERY impressive list on his site, but here are some of my key achievements for 2009.

I made the serious decision to move to Japan and learn the environment to pursue my goal to be a designer in Tokyo. I traveled to five countries: America, Jamaica, Japan, Egypt and Dubai.

I finished most of the work on my latest novel, Sex, Drugs & —-I created my website chronicling my time in Japan, called I had the great opportunity to go on the 2009 Summer
Billboard Live Tour with the legendary Maxi Priest, his son Marvin Priest and up and coming reggae artiste (my cousin) Beniton the Menace as the photographer and videographer. Started a web series called “Marcus Bird: Jamaican in Japan”. Launched my clothing line, the first product called Rudi, in late 2009. I wrote or finished 15 short stories based on Japan, Jamaica and the U.S. I worked for a few companies doing design work in Japan, France and Jamaica. I look on this and think its okay… but let’s see what I can do in 2010 : D

Posted January 7, 2010 by marcusbird in Living in Japan, Personal Thoughts

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