Sometime after midnight last night, I was awoken from my drool inducing slumber. My cell phone was ringing, and it was Kotaku columnist Tim Rogers. "Dude," he started, "It's the club owner. He's talking money, and he sounds high."
BUT FIRST! Here are directions to Mother, the location of our event tonight in Shimokitazawa — not Trump House in Shibuya, I repeat, NOT Trump House in Shibuya. Directions to Mother are:
Take the Odakyu line from Shinjuku or the Inokashira line from Shibuya and get off at Shimokitazawa. Take the south exit from the station, and go straight down the main street keeping McDonalds on your left. Walk for about 2 minutes (Mr Donut is halfway there) until the road opens out wider. About 20 meters after that (and just before you get to Osho chinese restaurant) there is a very small intersection. Turn right and Mother is the first building on the right with the mosaic wall outside.
Here is a map to Mother and here's a link to it on Google Maps. Keep in mind, loads of people are coming. There is no cover and, for a spell, drinks will be free. The location is not huge (neither was Trump House), so we cannot guarantee everyone will get in — but hopefully, everyone can! Now returning to the original post....
Half asleep, I fumbled around, waking my wife and nearly waking my two children in the process. The three of them had an early morning — they were slated to go to Buddhist ceremony to commemorate the life of her grandmother.
"Is this Matsumura-san? This is Ashcraft," I started.
"Oh right, the thing on the 21st," he replied. His voice, slurred and slowed. "I want to know if you'll be able to pay more than we originally discussed."
It's midnight. I'm standing in the kitchen, in the dark and cannot believe what this guy is saying. Through the phone, I can hear what sounds like women laughing and talking.
"Um... We had a deal, right?" I started, the words stuck in my throat. "We had already worked out an agreement."
"That agreement is no good for us. We could lose money on drinks."
"I...I... confirmed this twice already this past week."
"Not with me. I was out of the country." (He apparently got back in the country on either Thursday or Friday.)
"I dialed the number on the website. Talked to two different people and confirmed that the event would start at 8 and end at 11, and there would be an open bar for the amount we agreed upon."
Approximately, a week or so earlier, Tim had arranged an agreement with Matsumura-san. The time, conditions and price were hammered out — and I confirmed all this twice this past week when I called the number on the Trump House website.
"Look, that amount is no good for us." The words poured out of his mouth like running water. "We'll lose money." He started breaking down costs over and over again. "So, here's what I suggest: You can charge a cover."
"That's not what we discussed."
"Okay, then you can either pay more." The amount he said increased from the new amount he stated he wanted moments earlier — the amount would increase again during the course of the conversation. "Or," he slurred, "you can rent out Trump House for half the time."
"This is really messing everything up for us. This isn't the arrangement we agreed to."
"What, you don't have the money?" he taunted. "You can't pay the extra money? Maybe there's a communication problem. Maybe if I was talking to a Japanese person, this wouldn't be an issue."
"You want to talk to a Japanese person?" I handed the phone to Mrs. Bashcraft. He started going on and on and on and on, saying the exact thing he just said to me, over and over and over again. Mrs. Bashcraft: "Okay, okay. We got it. One question: Do you usually say things like 'What, you don't have the money?' to your consumers? Is that how you do business?" The guy continued talking and talking. Mrs. Bashcraft cut him short and hangs up. "Is that guy drunk?" she asked. "I dunno."
Rang Crecente and tell hom what's going on. Crecente's take: The event is tomorrow. It's midnight. And the guy is trying to squeeze us out of more money.
Crecente: Do you trust him?
Me: No way. He sounds all messed up and he's being incredibly rude and insulting.
Crecente: Even if we agree to have the event there, he could pull something like this tomorrow.
Me: Who knows. I've already confirmed this reservation twice now, and now at the last minute, he's pulling this shit.
Crecente: Fuck it, cancel it. Tell him who was all planning on going, company names. Tell him how many readers we've got and how many of them were planning on going to his bar. Also ask him if he knows what it means to break a verbal contract?
Done — rang Matsumura again, told him the info Crecente wanted me to relay, including the bit about breaking a verbal contract. The man's manner of speech and whole attitude changed immediately. It was like talking to another person entirely. His speech became incredibly polite. "Look we're going to cancel, okay?"
We went back to sleep. Almost an hour passed, and the phone rang. It's Matsumura, being as polite as can be. Why are you canceling? He wanted to know. "Well, because you went back on an agreement we already had. You also were being incredibly rude."
"Was I?" he asked innocently. "That might have been a misunderstanding."
"You also sounded drunk and wanted to have this conversation in the middle of the night."
"When was I drunk?"
"When you called."
"I wasn't drunk," he replied.
"Okay, whatever. We're canceling." I hung up.
Another thirty minutes or so passed, and my cell phone rang again. Same guy, still polite. "How about this," he started, "how about if we hold the event at the price we originally discussed?"
Um, no. I told him that we weren't able to trust him, and this was no longer a matter of money — but a matter of being professional. "You are not being professional," I told him.
"For that, I apologize," he replied. Matsumura then offered to call his English speaking friend who could then talk to Crecente — a jetlagged and pissed off Crecente, who said "Fuck that. No thanks."
"So tomorrow," the man continued, "You're going to cancel?"
"Yes, yes we are. What I don't understand Matsumura-san is why you didn't originally act like this when you called? We're having a normal conversation right now, and you don't seem like that bad of a guy."
"I'm sorry about earlier. But I really think you should have the event at Trump House," he continued. "You won't be able to find a venue this late."
Ah, so that's what this was about, no? Painting us into a corner, thinking we won't be able to find another space and then jacking up the price?
"We'll be fine," I said. He apologized again, and I hung up.
Now it's my turn to apologize. There are loads of people coming to our event, people in the industry, folks who live in Japan and folks visiting. It should be a good mix tonight at Mother — our new event location. But, there are bound to be people who don't check the site today, who are planning to go to our event and still think it is at Trump House in Shibuya.
To those, I and the rest of Kotaku offer our deepest apologizes. We are very sorry to anyone who gets on a train, comes all the way out to Shibuya and goes to Trump House, only to discovered the event has been moved, but unsure as to where it has been moved to. Those individuals, we apologize for any trouble this causes you tonight.
To those who are coming to the event, here is exactly what happened, why the event has been moved. There's really no need to discuss it further. We have better things to do: Like drink booze and shoot the shit. We look forward to seeing you all there.