HORSE’S MOUTH: Vegas’ Islander Population Is Growing

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

A few columns back, I touched on the ethnic population of my favorite city, Las Vegas. It was about the growing population of Chinese, Koreans and Filipinos. Well, it now seems that the growth of “outsiders” moving to Vegas can include former residents from the Hawaiian Islands.

The only difference between the growth of the various ethnic groups and those from Hawaii is that the presence of former Islanders in Las Vegas Valley has been radically overlooked. Most of the ex-Islanders consider Vegas as the “ninth island.”

The 2010 Census indicated that 16,300 Nevada residents are from Hawaii.

As one former Islander said, even though Vegas is far from their former home and nothing is similar in the environment, it still feels like their old home because of the people.

Las Vegas was frequently called a “home away from home” for the Islanders, but now it’s simply their home.

The large presence of former Islanders has influenced many Vegas businesses to cater to them, especially restaurants.

I’ve dined at many places that feature menus with “Hawaiian flavor” such as oxtail soup, kalua pork and macaroni salad.

In fact, there are 50 establishments run by and/or catering to the Hawaiian residents, including Roy Yamaguchi’s Hawaiian fusion restaurants.

Those who drive around the city will see hundreds of cars with Hawaiian stickers on their back windows.

While those moving to Vegas are increasing, those who just visit number 260,000 a week. About 20 percent of all Hawaiians visit Vegas about once a year.

There is the Hawaiian Civic Club in Vegas, whose mission is to present festivals like the annual Ho’oleaule’a and awarding scholarships to students of Pacific Islander descent.

Most former Islanders say that it’s significantly cheaper to live in Vegas than in the Islands.

One of the key figures in “selling” Vegas to the people of Hawaii is Sam Boyd of Boyd Gaming, owner of the California, Fremont and Main Street Station hotels in Downtown Vegas.

Boyd Gaming has a subsidiary business called Boyd Vacations Hawaii, which contracts a charter airline offering package deals that are so inexpensive it is cheaper to fly from Oahu or Maui to Las Vegas than it is to fly inter-island.

80 to 90 percent of Hawaii visitors stay at Boyd properties. The average Hawaii patrons come to Vegas six times a year.

I can attest to this figure, judging from the visits of my relatives from Maui and Oahu. Of course, when they come to Vegas, we always go to meet them, which means I visit there about a dozen times a year.

Beyond the growing availability of macaroni salad, the Hawaiian explosion is quietly changing the landscape of Las Vegas.

Hey, brah, howzit?

Hey, I missed becoming a millionaire by a million dollars. That is to say, I had the mega number in this week’s California lottery, which means I won a dollar. Gee, for $1, I can’t even buy a hamburger at McDonald’s.

Oh well, at least I can buy another ticket for the next drawing. A ticket, as all of you know, costs one buck.

When I thought about it, I asked myself what the heck would I do if I did pick all the correct numbers and won a million bucks.

Well, to start with, I could buy a dozen hamburgers at McDonald’s or I could jump in my car and spend a month in Vegas, which would mean no more columns for at least a month.

That ought to make a lot of people happy.

As a columnist, I often interview people of interest. On the other hand, rarely does anyone want to interview me.

That changed this past week when a journalist from the Midwest contacted me to ask if he could interview me.

At first I agreed but then, after thinking about it, I decided I really didn’t want to be on the other end of the questions to be asked, so I canceled the appointment and I’m glad I did.

I’m used to asking questions but not too great at answering them.

It’s a story that didn’t get too much publicity. In fact, it didn’t get any.

It’s kind of an old story since it took place four months ago and I forgot to mention it in my column because I tossed too much other junk on top it.

It’s a sports story of sorts, but I was going to use it because of another angle on it.

It was a boxing match that took place in Las Vegas. One of the fighters was a Japanese by the name of Nobuhiro Ishida.

Now, when a Japanese boxer fights on a Las Vegas card, it should be big news, but in this case, it wasn’t even mentioned in the media.

That’s because Ishida was “just an opponent” for James Kirkland, who was a heavy favorite to send his Japanese opponent back to Tokyo on a stretcher.

So when Ishida stunned everyone with a first-round knockout, the TV announcers asked the promoter to bring the winner before the camera for an interview.

There wasn’t a single person around who spoke Japanese to act as an interpreter. The announcer, Max Kellerman, said the upset was a bigger one than Buster Douglas’ victory over Mike Tyson in 1990.

However, since there were no interpreters around, Kellerman had to interview the loser, Kirkland, while everyone scurried to see if they could find someone who spoke Japanese.

This kind of makes me chuckle because when I was involved in boxing, if I imported a fighter from Japan to fight in the U.S., I made certain there were enough people around who spoke Japanese. This was not just for an interview that might take place after the bout but in case the Japanese fighter needed medical attention or he was injured during the bout.

It kind of puzzles me why the promoters didn’t prepare for the post-fight by hiring an interpreter.

In the end, the announcer got Ishida’s trainer, Daisuke Okabe, who spoke English very badly, to nevertheless act as an interpreter.

Okabe didn’t want to do it because he said his knowledge of English was so poor, but the announcer had no other choice. Actually, it’s the promoter’s responsibility.

When I was a promoter and had a Korean fighter on the card, I made sure there was a Korean/English-speaking person available. Ditto if there was a Mexican fighter on the card; I always had a Spanish/English speaker.

Well, I guess times have changed.

Well, next week is election week and for the first time in many years I won’t be working at the polling place.

The reason is simple.

Those who work the polling place have to arrive at 6 a.m. to set up the site. That means one has to get up at least by 5 a.m. if he/she wants to grab breakfast.

The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

After the polls close, the people working at the site have to collect and count all the ballots and pack all the equipment to a central location. By the time this is completed, it would be close to 9 p.m.

Since I’ve been working as the inspector (person in charge), I had to deliver the ballots to a central location. By the time this is completed and I get home, it is usually close to 10 p.m.

This means one spends 17 hours on the election.

This is the reason I have resigned as a polling place inspector. At my age, even 12 hours is too long and if one calculates the pay they receive for the number of hours spent, it comes to less than the dishwasher at McDonald’s earns per hour.

With the responsibility placed on the shoulders of the polling place workers, they certainly deserve more pay than a dishwasher.

Oh well.

Well, I see they are holding something called “Do the Dream” at the famed Santa Anita race track this Saturday. The Cherry Blossom Festival of Southern California is hosting the event.

The focus will be on the period in the lives of Japanese Americans when they were incarcerated at what was called an “assembly center,” where 19,000 were placed in “camp.”

So after many years passed and there was nothing done to let the world know about Santa Anita Assembly Center, I decided to do something abut it.

With no support from anyone, I approached the track to have them put up a plaque to indicate that their facility was used for the JA assembly center.

After three years of trying and with the help of Supervisor Mike Antonovich, the track agreed. But when events are held by JAs at the track, there is seldom any mention of the erecting of the plaque.

Regarding “Do the Dream,” the story in Wednesday’s Rafu did have one line reading, “A plaque near the entrance is the sole reminder of the track’s place in World War II history.”

And that’s it. Thanks a lot.

Oh well, just keep moving along, Horse. That’s this horse, not the ones who run on the Santa Anita track.

Time to chuckle:

On a busy medical/surgery floor the doctor stops the nurse to brief her on a patient’s condition. “This patient is a fellow physician and my favorite golf partner. His injury is serious and I fear he will not be able to play golf again unless you follow my orders exactly.” The doctor then began listing orders.

“You must give an injection in a different location every 20 minutes followed by a second injection exactly 5 minutes after that first. He must take two pills at exactly every hour followed by one pill every 15 minutes for 8 hours. He must drink no more and no less than 10 ounces of water every 25 minutes and most void between.

“Soak his arm in warm water for 15 minutes, then place it in ice for 10 minutes and repeat over and over for the rest of the day. Give range of motion exercises every 30 minutes. He requires a back rub and foot rub every hour. Feed him something tasty every hour. Be cheerful and do whatever he asks at all times.

“Chart his condition and vital signs every 20 minutes. You must do these things exactly as I ordered or his injury will not heal properly and he will not be able to play golf well.”

The nurse left the doctor and entered the patient’s room. She was greeted by the anxious family and an equally anxious patient. All asked the nurse what the doctor had said about the patient.

The nurse stated, “The doctor said that you will live.” Then, quickly reviewing the orders, the nurse added, “But you will have to learn a new sport.”

Another tickler:

Two police officers respond to a crime scene behind a grocery store. The homicide detective is already there.

“What happened?” asks the first officer.

“Male, about 25, covered with Raisin Bran and dead as a doornail.”

“Good grief,” says the second officer. “Didn’t we have one covered with Frosted Flakes yesterday?”

“You’re right, I’m afraid,” says the detective as he takes a drag from his cigar. “This is the work of a cereal killer.”

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

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