This is barely-20-something-year-old “Klein” from Peking, China on her third trip to Tokyo, and en route after this summer to study at Virginia Commonwealth University which, sidenote: …is the Alma Mater of one of my personal heroes, doctor, activist, and clown Patch Adams!
Even though I’m big, furry, and brutish, and accosting strangers for unsolicited street portraits, Klein wasn’t at all intimidated, in fact, quite the opposite, overflowing with congeniality and willingness to share, so much that it even caught me a little off guard, matching my own enthusiasm to meet her, not a common occurrence. She shared with me her love of Tokyo, of the States, love of learning, and of art and design, stating that she studying to become a graphic designer and wants to bring what she learns studying abroad back to China and to help elevate China’s graphic design sensibility – really quite an ambitious declaration that impressed me (and made me question myself: “What am I trying to elevate?”)
We talked and talked and talked, and, and I admired her Yamashita single (nice taste, Klein!) She recommended I check out artist/designer Jianping He, which I did quickly on my phone, catching his gritty, edgy, punk sense, and then I recommended Klein check out Japanese photographer, Daido Moriyama for the same gritty aesthetic. Right then, to take a photo of my phone, she pulls out a Ricoh GRDII – one of the best and arguably most game-changing digital cameras for street photography – and basically made famous by, none other than, Daido himself! I’m like WHOA! We passionately talk photography for a bit, I tell her about Tokyo Camera Style (this project’s inspiration), then Totem Pole Photo Gallery (one of the best places for amateur photography lovers to visit while in Tokyo), then it dawns on me that her name is “Klein” and I’m like “You do know the 1964 masterpiece photobook “Tokyo” by William KLEIN, don’t you!?!?!” She doesn’t! Nor does she know Daido, or Klein, so it was a massive exchange of music, fun, art, and passion. YES!
Had I been 25 years younger with that wanderlust spirit that traveling the world in your 20s gives you, I would have wandered off with Klein and let the wind blow new friends in any direction so we could keep talking music and art and photography. But alas, the momentary high of serendipitous friendship and meaningful cultural exchange was interrupted by the reality of “The Real World” which I had to get back to, but grateful for the temporary escape, and for what Jerry Garcia said at least once about one particular jam: “That had some real nice ‘Chinese interludes!’”…
Thanks, Klein! Good luck in the States and with your studies! Stay in touch and see ya next time you’re in Tokyo!
山下達郎 [Tatsuro Yamashita] – 高気圧ガール [Kōkiatsu Gāru / High Pressure Girl]
Label: Moon Records (5) – MOON-706
Format: Vinyl, 7″, 45 RPM, Stereo
Released: Apr 23, 1983
Genre: Rock, Funk / Soul, Pop
Style: Soul, Pop Rock, City Pop, Kayōkyoku
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