HORSE’S MOUTH: Cuban Cigars and Cuban Rum

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Jan. 6, 2015)

Gosh, it’s time to pound out my first column of the year. After all these years (25), I never thought I’d still be sitting at the keyboard on my computer.

I realized this the other day when I went to a medical facility for my “old age” treatment and one of the nurses said to me, “How does it feel to be the oldest patient we have here?”

I told her I didn’t give it much thought, but driving home the question did dig into my mind. I guess I giggled after thinking about it.

Oh well, let me get rolling in the year 2015.

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I’ll open the day with a letter from a reader. The sender didn’t say, “Don’t use my name,” which is the reason I picked it out of the stack of envelopes.

This one is from June and Shig Fukui, who wrote: “Just a short note to say we were happy to see your column back in the 12/20 paper.

“There was no explanation in the two Rafus why your column was missing, so was wondering what happened.

“Hope they realize that your twice-weekly column is why many of us subscribe to The Rafu. Keep on writing.”

Thanks to June and Shig for their short note.

Yeah, I’ll keep writing as long as they publish my blabbing because I enjoy writing and entertaining The Rafu’s readership. Of course, I know that the readership has changed during my 25 years, so I’ll have to keep this in the back of my mind.

If I go back to the day I first got involved in journalism, it began when I signed up for a journalism class in high school.

My older sister, who was the editor of the high school newspaper, said, “If you don’t have anything better to do, why don’t you sign up for journalism?” And that was the beginning of my newspapering career.

Then, when the evacuation of Japanese Americans tossed us into relocation camps, I signed up with the camp newspaper at Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. My career disappeared in only eight months because I was drafted into the Army.

After the war ended and I became a civilian again, I returned to journalism when The Crossroads, a weekly newspaper, signed me up as a sports writer.

When The Shin Nichi Bei, a daily publication in Little Tokyo, offered me a job as a sports writer, the “Horse’s Mouth” was born.

That just about covers my 70 years as a journalist.

As I look back, I guess I can say that I really enjoyed all the years I’ve been banging away on a typewriter at first and later a computer keyboard, trying to entertain the JA community with my blabbing.

I never envisioned that I would be tagged as a “veteran” journalist, but I guess as long as they don’t toss me out, I’ll continue with my chattering.

In chatting with some of my friends who are my age, I’ve been told, “Hey, Horse, why don’t you hang it up?”

Maybe I’d better take their advice.

On the other hand, maybe I should drop by The Rafu and meet with the youngsters who are putting out the publication.

Oh well. Did we Nisei have a similar situation with the older Issei?

That might be an interesting survey, which always makes me to pose the question: What will happen to Japanese Americans when the generations change from Nisei to Sansei to Yonsei and Gosei, etc.?

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Yes, my wife and I decided to take in the Rose Parade because a high school band from Maui was participating and some of her relatives had indicated that they would be attending.

Well, after a few miles on the freeway we decided to give up the idea and headed back to Gardena. It was the best move we could have made.

The last Rose Parade I attended was way back when and I was to ride on one of the floats. I was given a parking pass on that date, so it wasn’t too tough.

I chatted with a couple of friends who went to the parade and they said they regretted it because they were shut out and left without seeing the event.

I got back in time to see it on TV. I saw the float with the Nisei vets riding on it and noticed that instead of four Nisei vets, only three were riding. I guess the fourth vet got caught up in the traffic and never made it to the parade site.

My wife chatted with her relatives a few days after the parade and they said they were able to see the Maui High band perform, so they weren’t that disappointed.

I was kind of surprised that I didn’t see anything in the pre-parade publicity about the Japan band.

I’m waiting for The Rafu and the coverage it had on the Rose Parade. I’m sure the staff did a good job as it always does on events like this.

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After we gave up trying to get to the parade site, my wife said, “As long as we are in the car already, what about going to Santa Anita and taking in the races?”

I know I’m a horse-racing fan, but I rejected her idea.

“Naw,” I told her, “let’s just go back home and watch the parade on TV.” So no parade, no races.

Maybe I should have taken her idea. My favorite jockey, Corey Nakatani, brought home a winner.

In fact, since Santa Anita opened, Corey has registered five winners. He might end up with enough wins to be among the top ten riders in the final standings.

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I’m not sure how one of my Nisei friends got his hands on Cuban cigars, but on the day after New Year’s, he gave me two Cuban stogies.

He said Cuban cigars and Cuban rum, two of the best known specialties from that country, will be rolling into the U.S. during the coming year.

Wow!

For one thing, the U.S. is going to allow Americans to travel to Cuba and yes, pick up those two products.

It was announced that Americans who travel to Cuba can bring back $100 worth of cigars and rum.

When I was involved in boxing, I never had the opportunity to go to Cuba but was able to go to neighboring islands and get my hands on cigars from Cuba. On one trip I had four boxes of Cuban cigars in my luggage, but customs officials in Miami confiscated all but one box. That box was worth about $200 if I had sold it.

It is said that more than $100 million worth of Cuban cigars will be imported into the U.S.

Cohiba is the most recognized Cuban cigar brand now being brought into the U.S.

Gee, maybe I should get back into the boxing business.

Puff, puff.

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We’ve been invited to the Terminal Islanders’ annual New Year’s party for the past several years. The 44th reunion, which we plan to attend, will be held this Sunday.

The luncheon will consist of braised short ribs and sesame-crusted mahi mahi with ginger miso.

The site will be in the City of Lakewood.

Thought I would toss this in today’s column because the Terminal Islanders were kind enough to extend an invitation to me and the Mrs.

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What is natto? Most of the readers know the answer to this question. Natto is a traditional Japanese dish made by fermenting soybeans.

Natto has been a popular and nutritious food for centuries and is known for its possible therapeutic effects. A soybean-based diet is thought to be one of the reasons for the low rate of heart disease in Japan.

Nattokinase is a component extracted and purified from natto. It has the ability to make components in the blood less sticky, and has the potential to slow hardening of the arteries and reducing heart disease.

Nattokinase has been studied in animals and humans, and although a large trial has yet to be conducted, the studies indicated that it may have certain beneficial effects, including prevention of atherosclerosis, lowering blood pressure, preventing blood clots, and lowering the risk of stroke, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

A smelly way to end a column?

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

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