HORSE’S MOUTH: Keep Your Eye On Tadd Fujikawa

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YOSHINAGA, GEORGE

By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

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I guess I can open today’s column on a happy note. No, didn’t hit any jackpots on my visit to Vegas this past week. In fact, the only pot I hit was a pothole on one of the downtown Vegas streets.

So, the following is my “happy note” tale.

Since I was gone for four days, I had to catch up on reading the back issues of the Rafu. And, the home-delivered copies of the L.A. Times. Mostly the Sports page and the obituaries.

Well in looking over the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday editions of the Times Sports page, I noticed in the Santa Anita race track entries list, my favorite jockey, Corey Nakatani, wasn’t listed on any mounts. This made me curious as to whether he is under the weather or has retired.

As I checked the Saturday race card, I happened to notice that in the 7th race, there was an entry named “Suzie Cutie.”

As most of you know, my wife’s name is Susie, and since I’m a “hunch” bettor when it comes to horses, I told my wife, “I’ve got to go bet on Suzie Cutie.”

She laughed as I left the house, jumped in my car and drove to Hollywood Park’s off-track bettor.

I got to the track about 15 minutes before the 7th race was to start. As I glanced through my race program, the page flipped open to the 8th race. And, there was an entry named, “April Pride.”

My wife’s birthday is in April. No need to say what my hunch told me.

So I placed a “win parlay” from Suzie Cutie to April Pride. Both won. And as the old saying goes, “The rest is history.”

Yeah, I’m sure most of you are wondering, “How much did you bet?”

My reply: Enough.

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While in Vegas, I bought a copy of the local newspaper the Las Vegas Review Journal.

The Wednesday edition had a half-page story on the young golfer from Honolulu, Tadd Fujikawa.

It covered a half page and included a three column, eight-inch color photo of the 18-year-old Sansei. So, I saved the story and thought I would give it to the Rafu’s Sports Editor if he missed the story. However, since it was an Associated Press release, the Rafu did carry the same story and the color photo. Needless to say, we’ll probably be hearing a lot more about this youngster in the future since he seems to possess the talent to go far in the sport of golf.

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A few readers e-mailed me to say I yak too much about Vegas. And, they’re probably right in their assessment. So, the following will be my final comment on my favorite place to visit, at least for the balance of 2009.

For those of you who drive to Vegas, I have a word of warning.

Vegas drivers are among the worst I have ever encountered. They seem to have no respect for traffic laws. So, I want to alert those of you who drive there. Especially at traffic signals.

Last Thursday, I was driving to The Strip to spend time with my sister who was staying at Harrah’s.

I came to a traffic light that displayed red so I came to a stop. After the signal changed to orange, I was ready to proceed forward. However, as I was about to step on the gas pedal, I saw this vehicle approaching from the right, moving at a pretty good speed.

I kinda of figured that he couldn’t stop. And I was right. He went right through the red light and I slammed on my brakes. We missed each other by about two feet.

At the time, I thought it was just a freak happening.

However, later that day, as I was driving again, I saw the same thing happen but the two cars didn’t involve me. The near miss was about as close as mine was in the earlier incident.

When I talked about this to some of the “local” drivers I know, they said it’s a common happening in Vegas.

They said, “Just read the local paper and a week doesn’t go by that there isn’t a collision at intersections because of crazy drivers.

Even when you are walking, you got to be alert. I was crossing the street downtown when I saw two cars zoom through a red light. Luckily, there were no pedestrians that far off the curb when the cars went racing by.

So, that’s it for chatter on Vegas, at least for this year.

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Speaking of readers, some also tell me my grammar and spelling is pretty bad. At any rate, one reader sent me this little ditty about punctuation: An English professor wrote the words, “A woman without her man is nothing” on the blackboard and asked his students to punctuate it correctly.

All the male students in the class wrote: “A woman, without her man, is nothing.”

All the females in the class wrote; “A woman, without her, man is nothing.”

A few weeks ago, after I attended the Aki Komai Memorial Award event at the JANM, I guess I got kind of carried away by the lengthy speeches made by some of the honorees. I guess I should have been more selective and named those I said spewed a lot of “hot air.”

This was brought to mind by one of those who did give a speech but whom I thought was very much to the point in his short comment. That would be Al Morita, who was one of the recipients of the award.

Everyone who knows Al knows that he is not a “hot air” type and a really down-to-earth individual.

Just thought I’d toss this in to correct any misunderstanding about the real “hot air” speakers.

Speaking of sports awards, got an e-mail from the wife of Sei Miyano who wrote:

“Sei and I attended the CIF Southern Section meeting this morning in Long Beach and were able to witness the short ceremony which made Manzanar High School an honorary member of the Southern Section. Henry (Hank) Nakano was there to receive the plaque which will be displayed at the Interpretive Center at MHS. He was a member of the football team, but said he’s not in the photo because he was second-string. Because the game was a rout, he said that the second and third stringers were able to play quite a bit. They were faster than the Big Pine High School boys.

“Dr. John Dahlem, former President of the CIFSS and official historian of the group, researched the historic Oct. 25, 1944 football game between Big Pine High School and Manzanar High School. He compiled quite a sizable handout which included team photos, write-ups from both schools’ newspapers and remembrances from various participants. Included also was a letter from the student body of Bishop High School, which due to the school board’s fear of backlash, was prevented from playing a basketball game against Manzanar High School.

“Although nobody from the Big Pine team was able to attend, Bob Church, teacher and athletic director at Big Pine High, represented the school.

“Dr. Dahlem gave the history of the game. Bob Church spoke briefly and Hank gave a short acceptance speech. The moderator asked the sizable membership for a moment of silence for those who were in the Camp and who have passed on. It was very touching.

“Eric Sondheim was present as were photographers from the L.A. Times, O.C. Register and L.B Press Telegram.

Thanks for the very informative e-mail, Mrs. Miyano. I found it very interesting.

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The Rafu’s story on Senator Dan Inouye regarding his longevity as a U.S. Senator and who in spite of his age, is seeking still another term in the next Island election, makes me realize I’m “too young” to retire.

Heck, old Dan is a year older than me, although I can claim that I’ve been writing for more years than he’s been a Senator.

I’m kind of puzzled why the general media hasn’t publicized Dan’s many years as a Senator, having served longer than all but two other Senators in U.S. history.

He follows only Senators Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond in career longevity.

Of course, the Island newspaper gave him full coverage. The Star Bulletin had him as a top story with the heading, “Inouye’s Longevity Benefits Island, Nation.”

Speaking of Dan’s age, it probably won’t deter Island voters from sending him back to Washington for another term.

That means when he completes his next term, he will be 91-years-old. As the folks in Hawaii might say, “that’s time for Dan to pau hana.”

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It’s often said that the Japanese “have a taste of their own.” Got another example of that the other day.

A friend returned from Japan recently and brought us an omiyage. A package of cashew nuts. So what’s so unusual with that some may wonder?

Well, it’s the first time I’ve ever tasted cashew nuts coated with honey. I always expect cashew nuts to be salted so when I took my first bite of the honey-coated cashews, I thought I was imagining things.

Just thought I would toss this in if any of you ever came across honey-coated cashew nuts from Japan.

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Although I’m a diehard boxing fan, I’m not that much into what they call “Ultimate Fighting.” It’s a combination of boxing, wrestling and martial arts.

It’s a combination of boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts.

It’s martial arts which has vaulted Lyoto Machida into the headlines as he headed the card at Staples the other night.

Although he is “Japanese,” he hasn’t received too much coverage in our publication. That’s probably because although he is a Nisei, he is not Japanese American but Japanese Brazilian.

His Issei father immigrated to Brazil where Lyoto was born. And because his father is a karate trainer, Lyoto learned the Japanese martial arts which led him to join the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization.

Machida is the light heavyweight champion of the UFC. He defended his title at the local arena but most concluded he lost but was still given the win.

A rematch? Sounds almost like professional wrestling.

I don’t know if the fans in Japan want to see Lyoto perform on their soil. There have been a lot of JAs who have accomplished a lot in sports who haven’t created any interest among Japanese fans.

I guess we’ll always be gaijins to the Japanese and never be “accepted” as Japanese.

That’s not the case with other ethnic Nisei. Take the case of Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao, now being hailed as the best “pound for pound” fighter in the sport.

Back in the Philippines, Pacquiao is considered a national hero.

Heck, I don’t think I can pronounce his name correctly. I got that problem practically corrected because our mailman is of Filipino ethnicity. He said his name is pronounced, “Paw-key-ow.”

If Pacquiao defeats Miguel Cotto in his next bout slated for the MGM Grand in Vegas, he could face Floyd Mayweather in his next fight. Most boxing experts say that such a match-up could be one of the all-time boxing attractions.

The Pacquiao vs. Cotto match is expected to hit a million pay-for-view customers. That means a guarantee of about $20 million for the Filipino star. Ah, to think when I was managing boxers, I felt good if my fighter was paid $10,000. Today, the guy who carries the water bucket to the ringside gets almost that much.

Oh well, if my fighter had earned $2 million, I most certainly wouldn‘t be hacking away, writing a newspaper column.

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After attending the Nisei “Hit Parade” show produced by Soji Kashiwagi, a few weeks ago, I commented that I was kind of looking forward to hearing many more “Camp days” music.

Unfortunately, only a few were performed that brought back memories of our Camp experience.

Well, I guess Soji is going to correct that. He is putting on another concert. This one is titled “Camp Dance.”

It will be held at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, which is located across the plaza from the Japanese American National Museum.

The dates for his show are Saturday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 8 at 2 p.m.

In his press release such popular Japanese favorites as Chattanooga Choo Choo”, “Juke Box Saturday Night,” “Sentimental Journey” and a few Japanese favorites, “Shina no Yoru” and “Tabi no Yokaze,” will be among the 40s favorites to be performed.

In addition, Mary Kageyama Nomura, often referred to as “The Songbird of Manzanar,” will make a special guest appearance.

Hey, maybe Soji can get Yoshiko Iwashika to come out of retirement and sing one of her Camp favorites. She was the “Songbird of Santa Anita Assembly Center.”

I’ll be looking forward to attending the concert.

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Well, they opened the new L.A. police headquarters this week. As we all know, it’s just around the corner from Little Tokyo. So, why am I chatting about something like this?

Well, because, it has been highly publicized that we will also have a new police chief when present chief, Bill Bratton retires.

The list of candidates for the chief’s spot has been narrowed down to 24 candidates, which includes 17 Caucasians, five Latinos, one African American and one Asian America. The latter I presume, is Nisei, Terry Hara.

It is said the Police Commission has held several public hearings around the City to hear what the public wants in the next chief.

As stated in an earlier column, I’m hoping Terry gets this appointment. Not only because he’s a Japanese American, but his ethnicity certainly should be considered.

Think of the news value it would create in Japan.

The Japanese media carrying a headline reading, “Japanese American appointed new Chief of L.A.P.D.”

Hey, we can use every bit of help to promote a greater Japan-U.S. relationship, and what can be better than to have a JA as the new Chief?

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Well, I guess as a Republican, I have to try to make my fellow GOPers have something to laugh about. So, they can try this one:

Little Mary had a box of very small kittens that she was trying to give away so she had them out on the street corner with a sign, “Free Kittens” next to them.

Suddenly a big line of black cars came up with a policeman on a motorcycle in front.

The cars all stopped and a tall man stepped out of the biggest car. It was President Obama.

“Hi, little girl, what do you have there in the box?” he asked.

“Kittens,” Little Mary replied, “They’re so small their eyes are not even open yet?”

“What kind of kittens are they?” he asked.

“Democrats,” said Little Mary.

The tall man smiled, returned to his car and then drove away. Sensing a good photo opportunity, he called his press manager and told him about the little girl and the kittens.

The next day, Little Mary was standing out on the corner with her box of kittens with the “Free Kitten” sign and the big motorcade of black cars pulled up with the vans and trucks from all the major TV networks loaded in them.

Everyone had a camera ready and then President Obama got out of his limo and walked up to Little Mary.

“Now don’t be frightened,” he said, “I just want to tell all these nice news people just what kind of kittens you’re giving away today.”

“Yes. sir,” Little Mary said, “They are all Republican kittens.”

Taken by surprise, the President said, “But yesterday, you told me that there were Democrats.”

Little Mary said, “Yes, I know. But today, they have their eyes open.”

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George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at horsesmo[email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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1 Comment

  1. You’re right about Terry Hara in the running the police chief job – the Rafu covered it a few weeks ago: http://rafu.com/news/?p=4023. If he can sustain the improvements that Bratton has made, then I’m all for him. If he can’t…well then I would rather have someone who can even if he’s not JA.

    Great story about the kittens. I laughed out loud.

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