Although it is a known fact CR2S seldom relies on unsolicited material, I am aware of the importance of maintaining contact with readers. First and foremost, you keep me on my toes; taking pains to separate fact from opinion. “Beware the Blogger/eMailer” is the warning for they (some) are the bane of truth and fact. Far from being an elitist know-it-all, I find tried and true rules of journalism are still reliable.
Whatever it is that draws you to this corner every week, I hope it is to be entertained, informed, and maybe sometimes provoked. Succeeding at any one single facet is more of a challenge than you might imagine. Unfortunately I can’t write about “O-bah-keh” or poke fun at personal foibles every week. On those occasions, if I hit the CR2S Trifecta – entertain/inform/provoke – another deadline immediately looms, leaving precious little time to wallow in success.
For what it’s worth, I write and then rewrite these things at least five times before signing off a “30.” I hate to think of the many pearls of wisdom that fail to make print.
It’s impossible to get big-headed in this trade. Because anyone can do it. Especially these days of blogging, tweeting, texting, facebooking and every other type of eAuthoring. When the likes of Ann Coulter and James Frey can market bestsellers, it makes me look fondly to back when. But not too much so, because that reminds when I couldn’t get a job at Norman Chandler’s L.A. Times.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but maybe not in The Rafu Shimpo: My advisor at USC School of Journalism was a racist. So was the director. No, that’s incorrect and not fair. They weren’t racists, they simply didn’t like “Jappos.” But in the end, advisor Frederic C. Coonradt III became a valued friend, interested in evacuation and all its ramifications.
He was also a bow-tied fop who would survey each semester’s incoming (females), which made him J-school lore. In a more serious vein, he felt public administration might hold a more promising future for me than newspapering (Ambassador Wimpy?). As far as the director was concerned, who believed an English major was my calling, he saved me from expulsion during the dark days of McCarthy/HUAC, so I guess he, too, wound up somewhat of a convert.
So here I is, people, so many years removed from whence it all began. Who woulda ever thunk it: Writing for the lofty, prestigious Rafu Shimpo. With maybe thousands hanging onto my every word every week. How proud dear mother would be today.
These far-flung ruminations are prompted by, no surprise, a couple of readers. Plaudits and paeans are never too frequent, but they make boring reading. Most of the other stuff that comes via e- or slo-mail is usually regurgitated, unsubstantiated, opinionated or simply not worth repeating. Granted, some of the fluff stuff is clever and smiley-faced, but I’d rather be original and corny than repetitive or borrower.
One expressed the majority opinion of wanting more “O” and less lofty, philosophical musings. There’s the other side of the dialogue, “Why not more personal observations to make us think?” More win than can’t win, but there’s no satisfying everyone. At least not many expect CR2S to be a jokester.
As Pat Morita once advised, “I tell the jokes, you write.” Paul Conrad followed a rule, “Never draw a cartoon suggested by someone else.” He felt writers should also adhere to originality. Coonradt, who was the first “stir, don’t shake” advocate, had his teaching credo: “Write what you know; if you don’t know, learn!”
The past year I regularly went out to dinner with my boys and two of their best pals; a kind of stag nite out at various downtown eateries. Aside from the fine food and wine, I’ve learned to listen [well, maybe half of the time]. I am aware there is more interest in XLVII than 9066, exercise than exclusion acts, college life rather than zoot-suited “yogores.” The today challenge is to be relevant. If not a foot race, I think I can still hold my own.
But it’s like heritage and all that “where you come from” jazz that won’t go away. I can’t seem to shake the rear-view mirror syndrome. Without going into a maudlin riff, I find myself drawn to the L.A. Times obituary section every single day. I mean, wow, all this month it looks like a parade of Japanese surnames! Remember that old saying, “Nihonjins will wait until after the holidays to die.”
So yeah, I guess relevance is important but everyone has a shelf date. That’s why we should wake up every morning smiling and grateful going to bed a night.
Like we used to say in the old days: “If you don’t like it, go jump in the lake.”
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at email@example.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.