Poetry In Motion.

corner 39.


Up and down, yes, but also flat and sometimes in reverse. Watch your toes!



thescalator. Yokohama.

Escalator in Ciao (said, "shell"), Yokohama. Summer, 2006. Escalators are a way of life in Japan. People spend a lot of time on them. Some are boring, others like this are expansive to the point of visual confusion. More escalators to come: Takashimiya, Yokohama and Landmark Tower, Minato Mirai.


Escalators in the news! Escalator meltdown at Tokyo Big Site convention center. What happens when a waaaay overloaded ascent seizes up and goes into reverse? Why didn't anyone jump over to the still-functioning elevator next to the Sudden Slide to Hell?

thesc1. Escalator-Roppongi Hills December 31, 2006.

Usually strictly utilitarian this-floor-to-the-next-floor, Roppongi Hills escalators are overtly designed expressions of movement. Tonight, the huge flickering overhead screen features a polar bear rather desperately lumbering along the edges of an ice flow. No one is smiling. The plight and potential demise of these adorable creatures has been in the news. The very symbol of global warming flashes before us, receeding or advancing as we ascend or decend on our chosen elevatory path. Classic elevator musak attempts to sooth but is jarring instead. Sorry, this is not funny at all.

thesc2. Escalator-Roppongi Hills August 14, 2008

Escalators are a passive experience. We can't tell where we will be taken. Instead of moving our legs, we trade in that movement and let the mechanical stairs take us away, often to a landing we can not even see until the last moment. Sometimes, I wonder, what if nothing was there? So far, there always has been. Is that part of the joy of accelerating the certainty, of walking on the escalator...to hasten that certainty, that there really is a destination?


08jul21. ikebukuro1.

In supremely busy Ikebukuro train station complex, this carefree fellow decides that this escalator space is his hotel.

08jul21. ikebukuro2.

Even better, everyone just leaves him alone. Nothing happening here, move along...and escalate skywards like casual cherubs above his head.

thesc3. 14aug08.

Back to Roppongi Hills, aka "Escalator Heaven". It's blazing hot, the very Anvil of August. Elevator wear features floppy artless hats, pulled up pants, and layers of very light materials. Passengers are browbeaten by a worldful of giant toothy children. The summer scorch will be abated on the upper outdoor level by sprays of clouds misting for our instant comfort. Ice cream and cinematic escapes into fantasy await.

thesc5. 14aug08.

An escalator cruise is the opportunity for the man to put his arms around his gal--in public. It's a kind gesture, subdued, and studiously casual. Perfectly demonstrated here. One never knows what danger may appear (see news flash, above), and what heroic action required.

thesc-under. 14aug08.

Even the underside has a sturdy chromed yet soaring beauty to contemplate while gratefully slurping down an iced latte.

thesc6. 14aug08..

Mori Museum's descent to Roppongi Hills. The tempting but totally forbidden aluminum slide between up and down beckons. We are like fish gliding up and down in a cool, green, and unilluminated pond, dreamily recalling the remote summer days of childhood.

Japanese Signs of the Weird


Burn your desire to be first class

I'm standing on the legendary Roppongi subway platform, gazing into space contemplating the surrounding crowd that is peculiar to this nexus of sex seekers and providers, the crasser gaijin hunters of the Japanese female (out for a good time before settling into the preordained role of good wife and mother)...now's the time to wear that outrageous short dress, those high heels, that browned hair and all that make-up. The fantastic restaurants and seething night life, crowds, heavy traffic and heavier action.

My eyes snap on this rendition of the American flag, and I wonder..."Is now the time to burn my desire to be first class?" I'll never be part of this crowd, and I'll never afford to live in that fashionable tower, no matter how special the price. Roppongi: burn your dreams here, but do it in first class style.