The Beat Goes On

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This is Beat Takeshi country, this TV Asahi soundstage that looks like one part Vegas lounge and one part Starship Enterprise. In front of a long desk where Beat holds court is a large half dome with flashing neon lights. Behind him in cylindrical pods are a contorted mannequin's torso, several fake strands of DNA and blinking white Christmas tree lights. Flanked by lesser television personalities and second-tier celebrities, Beat Takeshi presides on TV Tackle as the highest of Japanese pop culture royalty, an imperious entertainer whose every twitch and tick and grunt and sniffle elicit commentary and kudos. The show...