[The question before the judge is how long can we stretch the UCLA Asian American Studies/ Crossroads story? More correctly, how much longer? Let’s try once more.]
When last we met, CR2S was gravely concerned about unintentionally joining the ever growing list of smart-alecky commentators playing with ethnic and racial stereotypes in an effort to be clever and with it. I decided to join the Linsanity rage to commemorate finding 41-year-old newspapers a UCLA librarian had been looking for for years.
A brief re-intro: Librarian/Archivist Marjorie Lee had prompted me to find some old (1971) newspaper files I feared had been lost forever. In professional glee I wrote of the surprise discovery, and sent Ms. Lee a pre-publication version of the column (Rafu 02/22/12) citing the find. Taking some literary license (meaning an attempt to be whimpsical), I asked if “Marji Lee / Related to Jeremy?” after an opening “Sis Boom Bah” and before a dated “Rah Rah Rah!” Not exactly haiku. But allow for whimsy? Droll? Okay, at least I try hard.
While I didn’t expect an equally effusive “thank you” from her addressed to “Linmpy,” I thought at least a response of some sort would be forthcoming; she had been promised exclusivity to my treasure trove and I wasn’t even asking for a powder blue and gold beanie in return.
Nothing. Nada. Seven days pass without a word. I now begin to wonder if the “Related to Jeremy?” line just might have been offensive (to her). I mean, hey, I’ve never known a librarian/archivist on a first-name basis in my well-rounded lifetime, so what do I know?
CR2S did what any sensitive, well meaning columnist would do under the circumstances: scramble to recover from a perceived social faux pas. I write a resolute apology for the innocent playfulness and ask for forgiveness. At the same time I write a note to Valerie Matsumoto, an Asian American studies professor in the department, asking her to personally call on Ms. Lee and vouchsafe whatever/whomever. [Confession: I also do not know Prof. Matsumoto but JAs stick together like nori, right?] All this mea culpa stuff occurred last Tuesday, before 02/29 column.
Guess what? I get a quick response from Prof. M. stating she would gladly explain my true intentions (to Lee) but was sure it wasn’t necessary; that Ms. Lee was a great lady and wouldn’t have felt slighted. And then the long-awaited reply from The Librarian Lady herself comes over the ewave: She had been on jury duty and Tuesday was her first day back at work and was just now catching up on her work backlog and apologized for not responding earlier.
[For those of you unable to follow the bouncing-ball explanation, in a nutshell it meant all the concern about ethnic incorrectness was all for naught. She didn’t mind the Linsulting tone at all. She actually enjoyed a bit of notoriety, getting calls from other Westwood associates about her sudden prominence in back-to-back Rafu Shimpo stories.
So the saga of “The Found Newsprint & the Librarian” comes to a pleasant if not exciting conclusion. I still haven’t checked out the old collection; it sits like a seductive siren beside my bed when it’s only a stack of old and battered newspapers.
And if truth be told, the “newpaper” wasn’t much more than a glorified bulletin board: Adult and student group meeting notices, activities of CYC, SEYO and JAO, golf results from Fox Hills, how to eradicate an ink stain, tomes by Rev. Dr. Bill Shinto and Dewey Ajioka, church and obituary notices. Not to forget the weekly Page 2 musings of a midlife columnist, a reading experience that would trampoline from God to Godfather. Other than some sort of historical significance tracing the fourth estate in Li’l Tokio, really why the great fuss?
Then I realize someday an inquisitive student will be checking out UCLA’s Asian American studies archives hoping to find a hint of what went on at a time so long past and gone. (S)he may be puzzled by the ethnic concentration and quaint geography, perhaps, and amused by what then past as social media. Their name will probably be McNugget without the remotest idea of what Nanasei (seventh generation) means. Or just maybe it’ll be a great-grandson of mine, heaving a sigh of relief when he realizes the name was never besmirched despite lingering rumors.
Damn. What a shame I won’t be around to explain first-hand.
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at email@example.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.