Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Japanese Mafia

So I was listening to Zoot Suit Riot today, and thinking of the only swing concert I have ever been to, which was when I was living/working in Japan. ....

For those who don't know, I worked in Osaka at Universal Studios Japan for one year in 2001. There were several other BYU students who were also hired that year-all of us in various shows. I sang in a 50's quartet and wore a giant poodle skirt. It was really hot in the summer...shudder.
So anyway, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was playing in Osaka, and the small group of us Mormons went to go see them play. The concert was fun, and afterwards we waited for them to come out so my friend Tiff could get their autographs on her CD (she was a huge fan.) A few of them came out to greet the faithful, and when we talked to them, they were all excited-"Hey! You're the white people!" -one astutely pointed out. Side note: Don't ask me why, but in Japan, Americans still refer to themselves as "white people," even though the Japanese are far whiter physically and culturally. Also, he may have said "gaijin," but in my head he said "white people." So anyway, seeing that both groups rejoiced at meeting fellow Americans, the band invited us to go eat with them at a restaurant later that night.

Well, we were sooooo excited to be hanging out with sort-of celebrities. It's probably the closest I'll ever get to a famous person, with the exception of Jared Hess, as noted earlier. So, we get there, and the place is really trendy, but it was almost empty. The restaurant was like a wide tower, and took up 3 or 4 narrow floors. Voodoo Daddy was on the 2nd or 3rd floor at this huge table that could seat like 25 people in it's own separate room. "COOL," I thought, "we get to sit all exclusive!" We started to walk in, but suddenly from another entrance come like 20 Japanese people dressed in zoot suits and other 40's garb. They all file in and sit down at the table. The look from Voodoo Daddy was "Uh...we don't know who these people are, sorry!" We decided to eat downstairs at the bar.

For as demoted as we were, several of the band members would try to get away from the strange party upstairs to come down and talk to us. They had to take turns doing this so as not to look rude in front of their very enthusiastically-dressed guests. After exchanging greetings, one of the guys said something like, "Sorry about that. Apparently that's the Japanese mafia."

The reason for the almost-empty restaurant became clear to me.

Additionally, I realized that if I were a gangster, I'd probably be actively seeking opportunities to wear a throwback-zoot suit. They probably have a special calender marking anytime a swing or jazz band comes into town. Then their people follow them to whatever restaurant they go so the Yakuza can show up and show off their enviable regalia. I hope that's why Japan has such a low crime rate. Think of how much safer America would be if that's what our gangs did on the weekend.


jo said...

you guys look like you're rockin' out. no wonder you got to semi-eat with semi-celebreties. but then again, aren't you a celeb yourself?

The Former 786 said...

Just when I think that you can't get any cooler. . .

Japan AND Big Bad Voodoo Daddy???

Ca, ca, click, click BOO-YAH!

Afton said...

HIIIIIIIIIII Laurel! So great to hear from you!! Oh my goodness - how the heck have you been? I want to know MORE!



Adam and Kristina said...

I totally wise I were a ganster, or gansta, for good measure.

I'm happy to find another blog that just bathes in the vastness of shallowdom, like mine. You are most definitely welcome anytime.

Tiff said...


Good times, La-dey-doo-dey-doh.

Good times.