CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Three Diverse AA Stories That Make You Think



No CR2S epiphanies. My dreams continue to be eerie and weird, but fall short of being nightmares. I’m always lost. Locales may change, but never conditions: I’m broke and without wheels, trying to find a way “home.” Adding to the woe, it’s always nighttime. [“Home” is italicized in quotation marks because my destination is not home per se, but a futile search for familiar sanctuary.]

A strange way to start a column? Yeah, I guess. But think about it, when you have lunch with friends, what do you talk about? Or at a weekly card game? Social hour after church? There is no formula that says you talk about family/friends/ funerals. Having to pique your interest fifty-two times a year isn’t like filling the gas tank. Think of CR2S as that extra button sewed onto that pricey clothing article: In case needed.

It’s not easy to get me to write about something by suggestion, rarely by goading. Despite an outpouring of encouraging words from a host of readers confirming their interest in “Oh-bah-keh-sama,” l’m sticking to the decision to take short leave from “O.” The pending Keiro sale, a public relations mess, is also put on (melting) ice for the time being because there’s nothing (official) to report. And though “Perfidia” (a Glenn Miller oldie) wafts in the background, it’s much too soon to remind readers of The Great Nisei Reunion Deux set for July 12. [But ticket info @ (310) 627-7272 in case you forgot.]

That being the case, let’s settle on a diverse AA triumvirate of David Ryu, Paul Tanaka and Stephanie Yonekura.

The ramifications of Councilman-elect David Ryu’s triumph are many. It wasn’t simply an underdog upsetting a favorite. Koreatown had been so successfully gerrymandered (by Council President Herb Wesson), there was no way an outlier could join the City Hall fraternity. With a miniscule Korean voter base of 7.4%, how did Ryu win? Disgruntled voters in such diverse areas as Hancock Park, Miracle (Wilshire) Mile and San Fernando were displeased with termed-out Tom LaBonge and his hand-picked acolyte. Ryu won with an impressive 54% of the vote. But it was anti- rather than pro-vote, an important distinction.

Asian American victories in Orange County simply reflect the growing majority of the area’s Vietnamese population; like a Latino winning in East LA. Ryu’s triumph over a female establishment candidate is a whole different bowl of kimchee. [So solly if CR2S’s offbeat reference to ethnicity is upsetting.] It’s also time for transparency. While wearing the chapeau of pseudo-political pundit, I am more interested in another guy named Ryu, L.A. Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin. [Added Ego Note: This was written before Monday’s L.A. Times review of the Fourth District results. I refuse to rewrite because I think mine is better.]

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And then there is Paul Tanaka. Alas, like facing Mike Trout with the bases loaded. Not in fear of allowing a home run; more like having to do something you’d rather not.

Commentary prior to legal proceedings is rife with pitfalls. For what it’s worth (not much), CR2S is on record as being embarrassed, a common Nisei reaction in times of ethnic stress. According to The Los Angeles Times, the county sheriff’s upper echelon had a long history of (you-fill-in-the-negative blanks). The newspaper’s expose led to a FBI sting that blew the department up.

Why then did retired undersheriff Tanaka choose to launch an ill-advised campaign for Sheriff Lee Baca’s (hot) seat? A foolish and senseless challenge in the face of a federal probe, abetted by The Times’ blatant editorial negativity. Chutzpah? Arrogance? I feel for the beleaguered mayor of Gardena, whatever feelings are worth these days. And I can’t help but wonder why so many probes always seem to stop at #2.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura lends intrigue and interest to the Tanaka case. Is it mere coincidence we have two Sansei facing off? All I know (for sure) is Yonekura is UCLA all the way, including law school. What I don’t understand is why she hasn’t been fully and correctly identified as Stephanie Yonekura McCaffery? Forever on the lookout for something more than meets the eye, I ask: Why? Is this omission not puzzling?

She was employed at O’Melveny and Myers. Strike a bell? It’s the law firm that long ago broke a barrister barrier when it hired John F. Aiso, a brilliant but struggling Nisei lawyer. He would earn the prestigious title of “The Honorable.” I’m sure Yonekura is aware.

In the old days, when someone got married, parents of both bride and groom were prominently mentioned in newspaper accounts [i.e. William T., second son of Ujiro and Shizuka Hiroto, of Riverside, CA and Fukuoka, Japan …] Mentioning family background was standard in early postwar years. With “Yonekura,” I wonder if she is a daughter of “Killer,” formerly of Crystal City. As with many Nisei, a nickname can supplant a first name forever. If my life depended on remembering the first name of “Killer,” I’d be a dead man.

On such a dumb thought, that’s “30” for this week.

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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