I’m (going to be) Huge in Japan

So sometimes I ride my bike around Central Park. And when I do, I often like to pull off at West 100th Street, which is one of my favorite parts of the Park, and I buy a bottle of water.

Today, I did that, and as I was getting off my bike, I was approached by a really friendly Japanese film crew, in a way that told me they wanted to talk. Usually, I’m not into that, and mutter something about being in the media myself, though I don’t really know why that would matter. They wanted me to pose on my bike, but that wouldn’t look so good, so I stood in front of it, and made sure that my helmet was off, since even Lance Armstrong looks stupid in a bike helmet.

Anyway, the very bubbly woman who interviewed me told me that it was for a Japanese TV show or documentary (she said both, though I’m not sure which is right, exactly).

About raccoons.

And strangely enough, I have a good New York raccoon story. Several weeks ago, maybe two months, I was walking back to my apartment from Central Park West, and I heard scuffling on the metal pole of the construction scaffolding I was standing under. I looked to my right, and there, grasping desperately to the vertical pole, right at my eye level, was a 40-pound raccoon. He was having some trouble climbing, since his claws couldn’t get a grip on the metal. We stared at each other for a solid few seconds, as if to say to each other, “hey man, I don’t want any trouble…” And then he managed to hoist himself up to the crossbar, at which point he had much more mobility. And since he might very well have had rabies, too, I moved on.

I was less articulate in my retelling for Japanese TV, but I think I got the gist across. I couldn’t tell, as I was talking, if the host was laughing because she thought my story was funny or because she wanted me to look comfortable on camera, but I didn’t really mind being patronized, if I was. I asked why they were curious about raccoons, and she told me that, apparently, Tokyo has a raccoon problem. People kept them as pets (really? a raccoon?), then couldn’t handle them and released them into the streets.

They thanked me and moved on to a little old New York-y woman who passed by and talked in a loud Noo Yawk drawl. She talked longer than the film crew was interested in her, and the camera man took to shooting B-roll of the inside of a trash can instead.

So if anyone out there sees a sweaty guy in a gray University of Pennsylvania t-shirt talking about raccoons on a Japanese tv show (and I have a two-week growth of beard, so I probably look a bit like a big rodent myself), let me know. I’d be curious to know what comes of this.

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One comment

  1. A 40-pound raccoon? And I thought you could only see strange wildlife in Seattle… Loved picturing you as a rodent too. Good stuff.

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