HORSE’S MOUTH: The Great Nisei Reunion Concert

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Nov. 1, 2014)

Seventy years ago, when we were all locked up in relocation camps, if someone asked you, “What’s his cell number?” you would probably respond, “Gee, I didn’t know he was in jail.”

Today, if someone put such a question to you, you’d know he was talking about the person’s mobile phone number.

I would rate the cell phone as one of the greatest inventions of our time. I guess I’m tossing this in today’s column because I use my cell phone a lot more than my regular telephone at home. In fact, I would guess that for every call I receive on my home phone, I get a dozen more on my cell phone.

The only thing is if I’m driving, I don’t answer my cell. I might glance at the caller’s number and call him/her when I get to where I’m driving.

I guess most people don’t go by this practice. I always see drivers chatting on their cell and pedestrians walking on the sidewalk using their cell.

I often wonder what is so important about chatting on a cell phone whether walking or driving a car.

One of the things that always amaze me is that the cell phone can reach almost everywhere.

I never tried to call someone who I know is traveling in Japan, but I’m sure some of my readers can tell me if it’s possible.

I know that a couple of times recently, I dialed a friend on his cell and when he answered, I said, “Hey, where you at?

I’m always surprised if he/she responds, “I’m sitting here on the beach in Honolulu.”

Yup, if someone is in the Islands and has his/her cell phone on, they can be reached. I know when I’m in the Islands, I leave my cell phone off.

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I don’t recall seeing the following in The Rafu so I thought I would print it in my column. It was sent to me by Diana Ono about the Great Nisei Reunion Concert on Nov. 16 at the Aratani Theatre. Here is her letter:

“Hello, friends. Just a reminder that … if you buy a ticket by 11/1/14, you will receive a free ticket of equal value for your favorite Nisei.

“Gerald Ishibashi of Stonebridge Entertainment is presenting this wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime concert for the Japanese American community. The vision is to have all the generations — Nisei, Sansei, Yonsei, Gosei — spend an afternoon together in Little Tokyo at the Aratani Theatre to listen to the great music of the Nisei generation.

“It would be nice for youth to experience and learn what kind of music their grandparents/great-grandparents use to listen to. The big band music played a big part of their lives back in the ’40s and ’50s …

“Tickets can be purchased by calling (310) 627-7272. Buy some tickets to the concert and have lunch or dinner in Little Tokyo. It will be fantastic family outing.”

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That was a great story on Tosh Asano this week in The Rafu.

Today’s sports fans may not have had the opportunity to watch Tosh perform as a football, baseball, basketball and softball player. It was in the latter sport that Tosh excelled.

He was a pitcher, and if softball were a major professional sport, Tosh would have been the greatest. I saw him pitch softball while we were in the Heart Mountain relocation camp and was totally amazed by his skill.

I’m sure glad I didn’t play softball. However, I did play football against him and was amazed by his talent in that sport, too.

Needless to say, he was the greatest athlete at the Wyoming camp.

I still bump into him at various community events and we chat about those days at Heart Mountain. But he’s a modest person, so you don’t hear him talk about his achievements in sports.

However, just ask anyone who has seen him on the athletic field and you’ll get a picture of his greatness.

Before being taken to camp, Tosh played at Citrus Junior College in all of the sports mentioned above, and all of those who saw him perform agree that he was the best all-around Nisei athlete of all time.

I often thought I’d like to do a story about his career as an athlete, but you can’t get him to talk about himself.

His accomplishments certainly deserve to be noted because we don’t find any other JA athlete who has contributed as much as he has

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It’s hard to imagine the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors without Mike Antonovich as a member, but in 2016, after 36 years on the job, Mike will be leaving his post. He has tapped his chief of staff, Kathryn Barger-Leibrich, as his preferred successor.

In an interview, Mike said, “She has a long history and knowledge and would be able to hit the ground running without on-the-job training.”

Leibrich, one of the most seasoned aides at the County Hall of Administration with 25 years working for Antonovich, said she was seriously considering the race and would make a final decision in December.

Leibrich, a 54-year-old Republican living in Santa Marino, said she was politically less conservative than her boss but was not ready to identify specific issues where she would take a different stand. She joined his office as an intern and rose to become his health and children’s services deputy before assuming the role of chief of staff.

“Mike has allowed me to be who I am,” Leibrich said. “I’m different and my style is different. At a later date, these differences will come out.” But she said her priorities would include building a new jail, revamping the troubled foster care system, implementing the Affordable Care Act, and welfare reform.

The supervisors serve the largest county government in the nation and Antonovich’s district is the largest in the country, stretching from South Pasadena to the borders with Ventura, Kern and San Bernardino counties.

Over Antonovich’s long tenure, the area has become more ethnically and racially diverse, and Democrats now outnumber Republicans. Antonovich is considered the most conservative member of the five-member board, promoting tough-on-crime initiatives and vocally opposing illegal immigration.

Antonovich is being forced out by term limits. He recently tried to gain board support to allow him to run another term, but a majority of supervisors said the matter was already settled.

I met Mike before he became a supervisor. He was introduced to me by the late Bob Watanabe and we became good friends over the years.

I’ll be sorry to see him go. He was the only high-level official I knew and could call a friend.

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l’ll toss in a short letter I received from a reader this morning:

“Horse, you keep chatting about hanging it up and quitting your column. I know you aren’t a young man anymore, but so long as readers keep following your writing, don’t even consider retiring.”

Thanks for your support.

I guess as long as people read what I write, I might as well keep chugging away. I do enjoy writing. However, at times it gets a little tough.

I have to remember, however, that the reading audience of today isn’t like it used to be. I mean, most of the readers nowadays are much younger and their thoughts are a lot different than mine.

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Since my wife was born and raised in Hawaii and all other relatives still reside there, I try to follow what’s going on in the Islands.

Right now, it’s the lava flow endangering many homes on the Big Island. My wife doesn’t think any of her relatives are in danger, but we are keeping up with the news.

She is the only one in her family who chose to move to the Mainland, and that’s how I met her.

After we got married, she took me to Maui to introduce me to her family. Naturally, her family members saw me as a “kotonk.” That’s the nickname Islanders tagged on those of us from the Mainland.

Come to think about it, I haven’t been to the Islands for about four years now. There was a time when I would take my wife to Hawaii at least five times a year.

After all these years, she could be considered a “kotonk” now.

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While chatting abut Hawaii, I noted in reading the newspapers from the Islands that things are changing over there, especially touching on the Japanese American population.

I say this because a lot of the government’s top jobs in the Islands are now being taken over by “haoles.” That’s Hawaiian for “white people.”

An example: The new chief of police on the island of Maui is now a non-JA who replaced Gary Yabuta, and it’s something that seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

I asked my brother-in-law about this, and all he did was shrug his shoulders and say, “I guess there are many haoles on the Islands now and a lot of ‘buddhaheads’ now living in Las Vegas.”

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Well, that winds op the chatter for today.

Got to start warming up for next week’s columns.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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