CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: The Return of ‘Oh-bah-keh-sama’ (Sort of)



Usually the opening paragraph sets the tone, allowing wiggle room to switch topics if it doesn’t feel quite right. After the first draft, an appropriate heading is attached. This time around I affixed the headline first to make sure I would satisfy CR2S readers hungry to read an update on “Oh-bah-keh-sama.” It’s been eons since the last report on our favorite Boyle Avenue sprite.

But would you believe, after two false starts, I can’t seem to recapture the aura of “O”! Each rewrite wound up merely citing time and dates, per usual, but nothing new or of any real consequence. After nearly four years of “O’s,” I’m wondering if interest and luster are lost.

There’s gotta be more than an accounting of mysterious door knocks and description of eerie nocturnal happenings. Mysterious unseen visitors aren’t exactly commonplace, yet I now find myself simply making note of tap-tap-taps on my door at 3 in the morning! So there’s some re-evaluation going on, folks. Still fascinated and in awe, but beginning to wonder.

“O” certainly caught the fancy of a whole host of readers, that’s for sure. From frequent reminders I get, the Phantom of Keiro Retirement Home remains a topic of wonder and her recent absences a matter of concern. The visits continue, but erratically, with lengthy absences in between; reappearing as if on cue when doubt looms. After a spotty October, there were but five episodes in November. There have been but two early-morning visits this month. [To be continued.]

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So for the nonce, let’s go to spread formation in hopes of scoring a Hail Mary touchdown.

# It took 74 years, but December 7th will now (hopefully) be remembered as Donald Trump’s Day of Infamy as a result of the Republican presidential hopeful declaring war on the Muslim faith. It came on a Monday, rather than Sunday, but why quibble? Donald John is now an inadvertent hero. Because of him (and an equally mouthy Virginia mayor) untold millions are now aware of the infamous 1942 evacuation. I mean to tell you, a smug smile is frozen in place these days. It’s no surprise so many Americans have no knowledge of the wartime hegira. As time lingers on, CR2S is reminded of being a has-been, a once-was, one of the fast-fading breed called Nisei.

But shoot, one would rather be remembered than forgotten, no matter the context. Thankfully there are many who decry ethnic and religious persecution; some merely to be PC, but that’s okay. As one of the downtrodden who was unconstitutionally incarcerated, we hold a spot in America’s history book. A questionable category and a chapter that no one reads, but hey, once again, why complain?

# Another thought that probably seldom registers with normal human beings: the importance and need for in-depth reporting that gives readers true insight into what is behind the news. That would be ancient Guttenberg stuff like newspapers, magazines and books. Social media and bloggers have made every Tamotsu, Dick and Haruko instantaneous reporters/photographers/commentators, leaving print journalists to join elephants (not Republicans) wherever they go to die.

Think about it, whether it’s *The L.A. Times in its coverage of the San Bernardino massacre or uncovering shenanigans in such sacrosanct areas as police, sheriff and fire departments. As sensational as Watergate or benign as a Bill Clinton affair, it remains for reporters to uncover the facts and culprits. To be sure, it’s their job, their profession. Thank goodness. Otherwise, who would challenge business moguls, entertainers, pro athletes, politicians, Wall Street? What if Boston editors backed off under Catholic Church pressure? Falling in the category as a lowly scribe, I admit to a level of bias; and yes, there are many instances of writers and authors being less than forthright and honest. As I said, it’s just a thought that lingers. [*Forecast: The Times will win a Pulitzer for its comprehensive coverage of the San Berdoo carnage next year.]+

# Although having a near obsession with obituaries, CR2S seldom comments on individual deaths (for good reason). Am making an exception with the passing of David Lee, 95, who died earlier this month: He was the major domo of Man Jen Low Restaurant, for decades the must-place-to-go from 1950. When first introduced to New Chinatown’s “Cheers” before there was one on television, CR2S was an innocent underage imbiber. It became the hub of a limited Nisei social circle: dinner parties, anniversaries, class reunions, weddings and receptions abounded.

Dickie Jung was the best bartender in town, shot in a Hallowe’en tragedy; a waiter named “Hitler,” a bookie and actor on the side; Mama Sarah made her singing debut with Tets Bessho wailing away on his saxophone; I slipped on a server’s happi coat to sneak upstairs when Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli held private soirees; met Goro Suzuki (Jack Soo) there; began hosting Nisei Week Queen and Court as annual guests (as later would Yamato’s Century City and Imperial Gardens). San Gabriel is now Chinatown. General Lee’s Man Jen Low is but a fond memory. As is David, the last of the Fon Lees.

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.



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