CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: CR2S Has Answer to JACCC Woe$

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By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO

I don’t know about you people, but every once in a while I can still get kinda feisty. You know, like the fish just landed; flopping around on the slim chance of escaping back into the water. More realistically, arguing with your spouse (about anything). And if you ain’t got one of those, how about the way you feel when you stub your toe? Or vote in the minority?

That (wildly) describes my state of mind when I get correspondence that challenges something I’ve written. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so vain that CR2S can’t be taken to the woodshed every now and again. It’s just that, how to explain? In these days of transparency, to put it humbly, I’m seldom wrong.

I have this anonymous critic who has followed me throughout my writing career; which is an awfully long time to be doing something so questionable, if not dumb. I’ve never been able to figure out who he is, but he’s pretty good with words (maybe a frustrated writer). He challenges without rancor, even when being critical. I don’t mean to be mean, but the dude has to be kinda long in the tooth by now. I feel no animosity toward the guy; more like grudging appreciation that he reads my stuff, even though harshly at times.

I am making an issue out of his latest communiqué because it revolved around the current status of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. Much of his harangue zeroed in on my somewhat pessimistic outlook on where some Japanese American non-profits might be headed; and my less than positive opinion of JACCC and Japanese American National Museum [Whoa: CR2S was not critical of the center nor did I delve into JANM matters]. He then raised a hackle questioning my tenure at Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute* and its standing in comparison with other JA institutions. [*Thus challenged, I promise to devote a column — or maybe two — on GVJCI in the near future.]

“You’re so full of yourself, forever pontificating. A weekly column in a vernacular publication certainly doesn’t qualify you to pass judgment — on anything — neither ghostly or nonprofit,” he states. [Note: I told you he was “pretty good.”]

Then followed his challenge: “Why not do something about it [JACCC situation] instead of simply joining the chorus of critics, which is easy but accomplishes nothing?

Well pal, fair enough. Though I can’t replace the anonymous donor who had been supporting JACCC to the tune of half a million bucks a year, surprise, surprise! I do have an idea that can prevent their fiscal cliff. It’s so simple it scares me just putting it into writing:

DO SOMETHING WITH THE EXISTING PLAZA AREA.

Not being an architect, engineer, developer or property manager, only a lowly columnist, the details I will leave to professionals. But I can’t pass up an opportunity to give a little free advice:

I don’t know how much square footage is taken up by the vast, sprawling JACCC Plaza, or whatever it’s called (Noguchi’s Folly?), but I would venture a layman’s guess there is sufficient space for a whole host of income-producing possibilities. Plus, gasp, maybe find some room for greenery. I appreciate art and sculpture as much as anyone, but with the center two mil in the hole and its financial angel gone, everything should be on the table for consideration and evaluation.

Which means Isamu Noguchi’s iconic sculpture.

If memory serves correctly, and on occasion it does, there was much discussion surrounding the noted artist’s creation, its size, featured location and other creative demands before the commission became official. I could be wrong, and once in a while I am, but Noguchi demanded his creation — which sits in front of Aratani Japan America Theatre — stand alone in the plaza. Nothing was to detract from its prominence; therefore there could be nothing around it. It is today what it was on Day One: A spectacular art piece representing the artist’s conception of the Issei/Nisei generations, in its singular glory.

Noguchi’s original JACCC commission agreement should be examined to see what can be done regarding relocation. I recall advocates were falling over each other to curry his favor during negotiations, so there might be legal barriers precluding any proposed change. Regardless of esthetic appeal and historical significance, it is imperative the open plaza be put to better use.

Being an eternal optimist, I am sure the legal powers and controlling heirs can have dialogue to seek an agreement that would serve the public good at this crossroads juncture.

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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