HORSE’S MOUTH: Trouble in Buena Park

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

As usual, I was sitting on the front porch of my house when a car pulled up in front of the house and I saw a Nisei climbing out of his car.

Didn’t recognize him.

He held a large bag in one hand as he strolled up to me.

“Hi,” he said, as he walked up to me.  “I know you don’t know me, but I read your column every week.”

He then handed me the bag, which contained a large piece of fish.

“I went fishing the other day and got lucky,” he said as he handed me the bag, “so I thought I would pass it out to my friends.”

He turned and started walking away, but he turned to me and said, “I know you frequently write about retiring from The Rafu, but I sure hope you don’t. In fact, if you quit writing, I’m going to cancel my Rafu subscription.”

As I always comment when I hear something like that, I wonder if subscribers would really cancel their Rafu.

Oh well, it’s good for my ego when someone says something like that.

When I realize that the late Harry Honda kept writing into his early 90s, I guess I can’t use age as an excuse to “hang ’em up.”

One thing about age, however — I used to attend most of the major events in the JA community until a few years ago, but age does make me more selective on which events I want to attend.

However, filling a page in The Rafu, twice a week, requires more attendance to gather material, so I guess I can say I’m caught between the “going or not going” predicament.

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Hey, I was young once so I know that age is always a factor.

So let this old fogey continue on with today’s “Mouth.” And as I often do, I toss in letters from readers. The following one was addressed to Editor Gwen and me. I don’t know if Gwen will run it, but in case she doesn’t, I decided to run it today in my column.

It was sent by Bob Wada regarding a proposed “comfort women” monument in Buena Park:

“Now that I have closed my land surveying business after 38 years, I have come out of hibernation and have immediately gotten myself involved in a new controversy. I guess I’m known for opening my mouth and getting slapped around for it.

“I don’t know what George will do on this issue. He did not answer one or two of my emails and I have been lying low until now.

“If you are going to run a story on the Buena Park (City Council) meeting, I think this would fit right in with your Vox Populi. It would not hurt for George to give an opinion on it too for more effect. He can use it as a topic starter …

“I wrote that I did not volunteer and the JA Korean War veterans did not serve and die in the Korean War to help save their country so they could come here and exercise their hate and embarrass the Japanese Americans by wanting to put up such a memorial in Buena Park or any other place in the United States.

“I saw that last meeting on the (City of) Buena Park channel and it was pathetic. Eight or nine Koreans of all ages coming from places like Irvine, all giving very ugly and probably exaggerated numbers and an ugly picture of the plight of the comfort women. One Caucasian guy tried to be diplomatic about not wanting it in Buena Park, but he failed in my opinion.

“Then this one poor Japanese guy just tried his best to get his point across, but his English was so bad, he spent most of his five minutes allowed by apologizing for his bad English. When I first saw this on TV, my blood pressure went sky-high. It was a very lopsided affair.

“Speaking of blood pressure, I don’t know what you heard of my health, but I have had blood pressure problems for years and finally got it under control, but not before it damaged my kidneys.”

Well, Bob, I found your letter quite informative.

As you may or may not know, after the war in the Pacific ended, I landed in Japan with the Occupation Forces and was quite surprised about the so-called “comfort women” situation.

I’m sure you heard that one section of Tokyo was designated for women engaged in selling their services.

Ditto for a section of Osaka designated for the same purpose.

So it would appear that the Japanese had an entirely different attitude toward women engaged in this business.

I know that in Osaka, where I was stationed, the U.S. Army cautioned GIs about utilizing the services of these so-called “comfort women.”

Enuff said.

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I think I forgot to mention it about one of my sons who traveled to Vegas for my birthday drove his Porsche for the trip.

He said a couple times he hit 100 miles per hour on Highway 15, which is considered the most dangerous highway in the U.S.

Wow, can you imagine that? One hundred miles per hour.

Hey, when I hit 85 mph, I think I’m going too fast, but a lot of drivers pass me up even at that speed. I feel comfortable going about 75 miles per hour.

Which means I get to Vegas in about four hours.

Heck, what’s the rush in getting to Vegas?

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Speaking of Vegas, I received an invitation from a JA gardeners’ group to join them for three days at their annual get-together in September.

Hey, sounds interesting.

I’ll have to think it over.

They will be traveling by bus and one of the pick-up points will be the New Gardena Hotel, which is only three blocks from my house.

Thanks to Susan Hamada for extending the invitation.

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As I frequently mention, it seems like I’m attending more and more memorial services for departed friends.

Usually I learn of their passing by reading the obituaries in The Rafu and The L.A. Times.

Usually there is a note at the end of the obits about the attire guests should wear. Often it states, “Family requests casual dress.” That means no suit and tie, just an open shirt and maybe a jacket.

On the other hand, even if the family doesn’t designate the type of wear, these days most will attend in “casual attire.”

So when I am not sure about the attire, I usually wear a suit without a tie and with a loose shirt.

That way, I don’t feel too uncomfortable.

Just a thought as I will be attending another service this week.

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Speaking of casual attire, it’s one problem that doesn’t get any attention when visiting Hawaii.

When I first visited the Islands, I would pack a suit and tie but never wear it. So in recent years, everything I packed was casual.

For those of you who might be considering a visit to the Islands and smoke, you should be alerted to a new law that will be going into effect.

No more smoking will be allowed in parks and places like bus stops. This should affect tourists from Japan, most of whom smoke.

Well, as a cigar chewer — I seldom light up — I wonder how the folks in Hawaii will view someone with a cigar hanging out of his lips but not lit.

Oh well, I don’t have any plans to visit Hawaii in the near future, so I guess I won’t have to be too concerned.

And maybe Japanese tourists will switch to cigars.

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Since my oldest son is an attorney, I always find stories about lawyers in any case. The ex-city manager of Oxnard, Ed Sotelo, has filed a lawsuit against the city seeking $1 million in damages stating he was “put out to pasture” after years of enduring a hostile work environment.

His attorney is a Nisei named Bill Seki.

The attorney’s fee is $70,000 thus far.

Mayor Tim Flynn said, “Why would anyone invest so much in an attorney?”

Thought the last sentence adds a new wrinkle or two in the case.

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As I was winding down on today’s column, I wanted to watch former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda pitch against his old teammates before 53,000 fans.

And I’m pretty sure half of them were wondering why the Dodgers traded away the Japanese ace when their pitching staff is too thin as it is.

Well, as I sat before my computer, my wife ran in from the living room and hollered, “Kuroda won, Kuroda won,” as the New York Yankees turned back the local club.

And I’m sure tomorrow’s newspapers will ask the same question.

Well, I guess that’s professional baseball.

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A Rafu reader who is retired sent me the following, entitled “Retirement Options.”

• You can retire to Phoenix, Arizona, where

(1) You are willing to park three blocks away because you found shade.

(2) You’ve experienced condensation on your hiney from the hot water in the toilet bowl. (3) You can drive for four hours in one direction and never leave town.

(4) You have over 100 recipes for Mexican food.

(5) You know that “dry heat” is comparable to what hits you in the face when you open your oven door.

(6) The four seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and are you kidding me?

• You can retire to California, where

(1) You make over $250,000 and you still can’t afford to buy a house.

(2) The fastest part of your commute is going down your driveway.

(3) You know how to eat artichoke.

(4) You drive your rented Mercedes to your neighbors’ block party.

(5) When someone asks you how far something is, you tell them how long it takes to get there rather than how many miles away it is.

(6) The four seasons are: fire, flood, mud, and drought.

• You can retire to New York City, where

(1) You say “the city” and expect everyone to know you mean Manhattan.

(2) You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park, but can’t find Wisconsin on a map.

(3) You think Central Park is “nature.”

(4) You believe being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multilingual.

(5) You’ve worn out a car horn, if you have a car.

(6) You think eye contact is an act of aggression.

• You can retire to Colorado, where

(1) You carry a $3,000 mountain bike atop your $500 car.

(2) You tell your husband to pick up granola on his way home, so he stops at the day care center.

(3) A pass does not involve football or dating.

(4) The top of your head is bald, but you still have a ponytail.

• Lastly, you can retire to Florida, where

(1) You eat dinner at 3:15 in the afternoon.

(2) All purchases include a coupon of some kind — even houses and cars.

(3) Everyone can recommend an excellent dermatologist.

(4) Road construction never ends anywhere in the state.

(5) Cars in front of you often appear to be driven by headless people.

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

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