Photo by Jonathan Hillhouse
Zōkyō has always been more or less about me, Brian Scott Peterson, AKA Zebrio: the world according to. Its just been my life and my photos and all the the little ‘isms’ in my head. Sure, I’ve pilfered some words from various Toms here and there, (Waits, Robbins, Zappa…wait, he was a Frank…anyway), but Zōkyō has always tried to be simply and purely an expression of yours truly, moi.
Since I don’t know when, for whatever reason, I was always into the idea of ‘weird.’ Weird people, weird music, weird style, weird color or flavor combinations, weird feelings, like static electricity, and weird just in that things even live and die. Weird that babies grow in mommies, weird that there were such things as dinosaurs here before us, and that we live on a little spinning blue ball in the middle of literally nowhere and that we might be alone, and that there are things both a gazillion times bigger and smaller than us, and that dogs can hear things that we cant, and maybe they see in black an white (how do we really know that?), and that we water-ski for fun, and that there are such things as rainbows, and that trees kinda look the same on both sides of the ground, and that green to me, might not be green to you. Weird that sounds can be combined to make harmony. I mean really, what is harmony? Weird that there might be aliens, or might be a God, or that there is something called art, and that its not good or bad, it just is, and that blind people have other super powers that sighted people don’t. Weird that there there are lighting bugs, elephants, and marsupials. You ever really studied about a Platypus before? Furry like a badger, tail like a beaver, a duck bill capable of sending out little electric pulses that phases its prey, and it lays eggs, that once hatched, crawl back into and live in a pouch of the mothers’? What in the hell? Weird that zebras have black and white stripes (WHY?), weird that there is a letter Z, and that everything that starts with it is weird; Zen, Zanzibar, Zamboni, Zeppelin, again Zappa, to name a few. Tell me really, is this not weird? Weird that silk comes from worms, and by the way, what the hell is a mushroom, and why do some of them have psychotropic powers? Who can tell me this? And how can it be that no two snowflakes are the same? And that when they melt, they melt into eachother, and become water, the ultimate weird…
So its no surprise that I ended up some years ago in the ‘land of weird’, Japan. And being one of the few non-homogenes, I’ve managed to pack on another layer of weirdity™ while immersing myself in it. And thats what I am doing here basically. Taking it all in.
So…for anybody who has ever wondered about the etymology of Zōkyō, Zō comes from the word ‘elephant’ in Japanese. Elephants are basically tied with Zebras as my favorite animals. Kangaroos and Pandas and Giraffes are up there, as are dragons, but I digress. The Elephant, what a bizarre creature! Lions have cats for cousins, Bears have dogs (not really but anyway…) Elephants though? What the hell was the design here? A giant body, huge-ass ears, two giant ivory teeth, and nose…a nose…a nose like the world never had ever seen. And the nose knows… Well, when I first learned how to say elephant here, I thought to myself, “WHOA! Elephant is ‘Zō’ in Japanese?!?!, How sick is that? How apropos! Elephants would be so happy to know!” They even say Zō ‘san’, meaning The Honorable Mr. Elephant. Classic!
So one day I was thinking about the elephant, and I was thinking about myself and I was thinking, “You know Mr. Elephant, you and I are not so different. I’m big, you’re big. You’re weird, I’m weird. We’re both here in the room but nobody is really talking about us. I can’t turn around any easier in this China shop than you either. Let’s be buds…” Fill in the rest of the ice trays with rainbow kool-aid, (kyō means capital) and voila and you get Zōkyō, the elephant in the capital, me. (Next time I’ll tell you where Zebrio comes from…)
In a nutshell, this is why Zōkyō has been all about me and my experience here, and in a way, its not just here in Japan, it just here where ever here is. But anyway, I was thinking the other day about that Nick Hornsby book that I never read that they made into great John Cusack movie…..um…. High Fidelity. After the scene where he spends the night with Lisa Bonet (hawttie) he says, “…what really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter. Call me shallow but it’s the fuckin’ truth, and by this measure I was having one of the best dates of my life.”
I always liked that line. So by that measure, for the time being and starting from now, I intend to start sharing on Zōkyō, not only things that show what I am like but also things that I like, starting with this mind-boggling piece of amazingness, titled Spore from photographer extraordinaire Jonathan Hillhouse. This is his amazing photo, not mine, and I hope there is no confusion about that, haha. Next might be your photo, if its got a little Zōkyō in it…