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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Violent Coasters

When people drink alcohol, it lowers inhibitions. It makes people less shy (myself), others happy, some horny with poor judgement, others merely loud (myself), some sadder, some aggressive and violent.

I won't pretend to understand why people drink or just what exactly alcohol does to a person chemically, but I assume that it affects people on an emotional level for one thing… but the sad reality is when people drink and lose judgement, often someone other than themselves gets hurt.

Here in Toronto, I've become involved in many argument between an inebriated guy and the woman whose unwanted advances she was fending off… My parents had always told me to respect women... to protect them, and to never hit one. Ever.  Fortunately my friendly manner with the bar staff always ensures I earn the protection of the bouncers who will get rid of the offending drunk.

As for that woman - she'd see two rams going at it verbally and beat a hasty retreat... and who could blame her... she never knows if blows are going to come raining down near her... 

But that's what happens at the bar… what happens later?   

The Yaocho Bar Group wants you to know what can happen later, and wants you to adjust your drinking habits accordingly.

Yes… Japan is a pretty safe country… it's not the type of place where masked gunmen come barging into a bank and shoot up the place, thanks to the fact that guns are not very accessible in that country… perhaps because it doesn't need to arm itself in constant worry that some sarcastically violent country like Canada might try and take over the place. (Yeah, I know why the U.S. was giving its citizens the right to bear arms 239 years ago. Pssst… Canadians and other redcoats aren't coming. We're not violent. Trust us.)  

In Japan… like in every country on the planet… violence against women is rampant. I'd call it rampant if even one woman faced violence at the hand of a man.

There's no such excuse of 'deserving' anything because of actions said or words spoken… and even the excuse of being high on booze isn't an excuse, which is what these new Violent Coasters produced by the Yaocho Bar Groups wants its patrons to understand.

It's not that there was any excessive violence going on amongst its patrons, it's just some forward-thinking on their behalf to curtail unsafe drinking habits.

Again… I have been drunk on a few occasions in my life… and you might have been as well… and probably did not get all aggressive or angry or violent towards anyone. There's plenty of people like that. Most of us, even.

That's not who this campaign is directed against… of course… the thing is… no one of right mind ever says they are going to be a murderer when they grow up, and yet there they be…

With alcohol, you can't really predict your own behavior.

That's probably its allure… and its tragedy.

How was it that I could drink the same drink and same number of drinks in the same time, and one time be up and talkative, or down and moody?  All sorts of reasons, right... so violence could be part of the equation whether we like it or not.

And that's what the Violent Coasters are there to remind us of. 

The Violent Coasters, as they are dubbed, are drink coasters… five different images, that feature photographs of Japanese women - bust shots, if you will (no pun, intended, please).

But… thanks to the thermochemical ink on the coasters, when a cool drink is placed atop, as the inks cool, it changes (We've seen this thermochemical ink technology on drinking cups and beer cans years previous... it's not new) and reveals bruises atop that previously unmarked female face.

After the cuts and bruises are revealed, finally a message comes out: "Don't let excessive drinking end in domestic violence."

What's shocking - to me - is that the images on the Violent Coasters show that some of the women were hit repeatedly... holy crap... it's horrible... I have no respect for any man that would do anything like that.   

Kudos to the Yaocho Bar Group for its efforts. I have no idea if it will work, because we'll have NO way of really measuring the effectiveness of the coasters. But, rest assured, the ends will justify the means, if even just one more women is safe.

Prior to this effort, Yaocho Bar Group had in 2014 had created some street art to shame the Japanese into drinking more responsibly.

Is this only in Japan? Last year the gang went out into the streets of Tokyo, and turned the passed-out-or-just-sleeping drunks into human billboards.

1) They placed duct tape around the sleepers/comatose drinkers;
2) Placed shaming slogan signage around the dead-to-the-world drinkers;
3) Placed #hashtag phrase signage around the dead drunk;
4) Took photographs;
5) Shared them on social media.

Yes… the plan was to shame people into being responsible drinkers. 

How pathetically effing drunk do you have to be that you go and pass out in the street to sleep it off?

That's Japan, though. I've seen it myself. I've seen it on a Monday evening, a Tuesday evening, a Wednesday evening... well, you get the point.

I've walked out of a dance club at 3AM or 4AM with some JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme woman who has asked me to accompany her for protection (I always carried protection) or later my fiance Noboko and since I am that shining knight kindda guy, I've placed many a jacket over the prone sleeping body of a drunken Japanese businessman (never a woman, for some reason), so that woman I am protecting can step over them without getting dirty.

Seriously… guys in full suits… briefcase clutched against the chest or used as a pillow… tie loosened, but jacket used as a blankie… passed out against building walls, sometimes just flat on sidewalk.

Granted… I rarely saw puke… and when I did it probably belonged to a gaijin... not me, though...

Okay… I get it… these guys were out partying with their co-workers, because that is what the Japanese do rather than party with their friends… and obviously they stayed out too long and missed that last train to Clarksville or wherever the heck they live… a taxi is too much money, perhaps… too drunk to hang out at an all-nite bookstore or computer joint… and they don't have enough money left over for a capsule hotel.

Hey… we've all been out partying and had that happen. (Right? Anyone?) My friend Rob and I once walked home some 17 kilometers when that happened to us in Toronto. Though… I believe we did catch a taxi for the last few kilometers, because we had enough money for that. Ugh… dress shoes and long distance walking… not cool.  

But… you'll notice that we tried to get home…

When I was escorting a JET settler or Noboko, we would either walk around town keeping each other awake or go to a Love Hotel and keep each other awake.

With Pamela, we walked around for an hour and a half and waited until the McDonalds opened up at 6AM… crawled in there and got a coffee and breakfast and then boarded the subway back to the Tokyo core before catching the first shinkansen bullet train back north to Tochigi-ken.

Yes… we had money for food, coffee, shinkansen tickets and snacks on the train… it's not always about sex… sometimes its about going out with someone who doesn't want someone hitting on her.

I have no idea why she picked me, but I did as I was asked… her ex-boyfriend - another JET - once thought he was complimenting me when he called me a Player like himself. It's funny… I have never thought that about myself… and the fact that I took his ex out dancing because she needed normalcy proves I wasn't. Oh yes… Pamela was a gorgeous blue-eyed blonde with good-sized… well… and while I wanted to… you know… she was smart enough to lay the ground rules up front, and I complied, because not only was her ex a complete ass, but she constantly had to fend off the pinching, squeezing hands of all the men around her… Constantly. I could give her a break.

She was constantly being sexually assaulted. How else do you describe it?

Anyhow… raise a glass to the Yaocho Bar Group - and then look at your coaster… and learn.

A reserved kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

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