By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
There’s an old saying, “When it rains, it pours.”
Well, rain fell on my life when, as most of you know, my son passed away.
Then about five days later, I banged my leg so badly that I ended up in the hospital emergency room.
Which meant I had follow-up after follow-up with my doctor.
The leg is getting better, but I still can’t walk around too much.
Just this morning (Sunday) I had to go to a medical clinic to get antibiotic injections.
Good thing it didn’t affect my fingers. I can still type with no problem.
But my mind isn’t working like it should, so I thought, “Maybe I’ll call Editor Gwen and tell her no column for Tuesday.”
I decided against that because I already missed three columns over the past ten days.
Especially since so many readers sent me condolence letters over the passing of my son.
With such support, it’s tough for me to even consider retiring, as I have often mentioned in recent times.
If I can entertain so many readers, I sure won’t consider hanging ’em up.
I’ll print one such condolence letter as an example of what I mean.
This one was written by David Watanabe of Pasadena: “As a reader of your column, I want to express my condolence to you and your family over the recent loss of your son. I know there are no words that can comfort you at this time but perhaps knowing how many people support you should lift your spirits a little.”
Thanks to David and hundreds of other readers. With letters like yours, yes, it has helped me keep my spirits up and I certainly appreciate all who sent me similar letters and email.
Now if my leg will get better, maybe I can start bouncing around again.
Heck, I wanted to get out to Hollywood Park race track, which just opened its spring meet, but no walk, no way.
Oh well, let me get on with today’s chatter.
Old friend Keiichi Ikeda dropped by today. He told me he just got back from Las Vegas.
Like me (he’s my age), he can’t drive to Vegas by himself anymore, so he has his son behind the wheel.
He mentioned this because he knows that when my son passed away, I lost my driver.
So I don’t know when, if ever, I’ll be able to drive to Vegas.
I know, a lot of people suggest that I take the bus.
Naw. One of the pleasures of going to Vegas is driving up there.
And my wife agrees with me. She says if she had to decide between driving up in our car or riding the bus, she’d take the wheel and drive the car.
Maybe I’ll take her up on the offer.
By the way, Keiichi, who is an old friend from Heart Mountain days, reminded me that the camp reunion, which used to be in Vegas, is being assembled next Saturday at the Montebello Golf Course.
In that case, I will attend. It may not be like the ones held at The California Hotel in Vegas, but a Heart Mountain reunion is a Heart Mountain reunion, and that’s enough to attract me.
Yeah, not only will I be able to have bacon for breakfast, but I can run into Bacon.
That would be Bacon Sakatani, who is one of the organizers of the gathering.
Try as I might, I never could learn how Bacon got his nickname.
I asked a lot of people who know him, and they just shrugged their shoulders.
I also know a person who had the nickname “Ham.” “Ham” Miyamoto was also in Heart Mountain but to this day, I never found out how he became a “Ham.”
Oh well, nicknames among the Nisei were a pretty common thing.
In camp alone, there were such nicknames as “Chops,” “Chicken,” “Sly,” “Barrel,” and, yes, “Horse.”
By the way, I’ve always been curious why Nisei girls didn’t have nicknames in camp.
The only one I ever heard was “Lips.”
I guess she was a good kisser.
I know that I frequently joke about going to dine at McDonald’s because it’s an inexpensive place to have a meal.
Well, according to the latest report, it may get even cheaper.
The reason? Business is falling.
In fact, McDonald’s shut down most of its operation in Japan due to sagging sales.
I guess Big Mac can’t compete with ramen.
Most blame the weak economy around the world, which has resulted in fewer consumers eating out, not the unpopularity of hamburgers.
To halt this falling trend, McDonald’s will reduce the prices of most of its products.
McDonald’s is labeled as the world’s largest fast-food company, but global sales have been falling steadily.
The latest stats showed it’s in the third consecutive quarter of profit decline.
The chain plans to introduce new menu items throughout 2013 and remodel 1,500 restaurants.
It was also reported that McDonald’s is receiving increasing customer complaints about “rude and unprofessional employees.”
Being a frequent patron of McDonald’s, as most readers know, I can agree with this analysis.
But I suppose this is more because of the type of business McDonald’s is rather than the firm hiring a bunch of kooks to run its business.
Oh well, I’d rather eat at Bob’s Hawaiian-Style Restaurant any day.
Another piece on athletes who are unpublicized because they are not football or basketball players.
In this case, Elise Umetsu. Who she?
Well, the Camarillo High School student is a contender for the Pacific View League in individual title in the 100-yard butterfly.
“I’m not sure if I would win,” she said. “I just wanted to get experience and improve.”
Her time in the 100-yard butterfly is 1 minute, 3 seconds.
She has already qualified for the CIF-Southern California Section’s Division 3 meet next month.
Camarillo head coach Tawney Safran said Umetsu is the favorite to win the event.
The Sansei also competes in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.
She said she’s having so much fun and she’s only a freshman.
A spot on the U.S. Olympic swim team in the future? A Sansei winning a gold medal in the Olympics? Wow, what a thought.
Well, Hollywood Park opened this past week and the JA community’s favorite jockey, Corey Nakatani, won a stakes race with his mount paying $15.
No, I wasn’t there, so I didn’t have a bet on him.
If he continues to win, more of the old-time JA horse players may return to the track.
One of the sad parts of the Hollypark opening is that the track, according to insider reports, will be closing its doors after this meet.
Which means Santa Anita may extend its racing days next season.
Not good news for those of us who live in Gardena, which is only ten minutes by car to Hollywood Park but 40 minutes to Arcadia and Santa Anita.
Well, maybe it’s time to quit playing the horses.
Especially since I really got into horse racing at Hollywood Park.
Hollywood Park treated those of us from the local Japanese American newspapers on the same level as the metro publications.
That is, they let us into the track’s press club.
Heck, at Santa Anita I had a tough time getting complimentary passes into the grandstand area.
Hopefully Hollypark will change its mind about closing shop.
Well, maybe at my age, who cares?
Okay, can I make my usual move to Las Vegas?
Just curious if any of you have heard of or know of Steve Aoki.
Well, I don’t know a thing about him. Is he a Nisei, or a Japanese who picked up the name Steve?
At any rate, he’s big news in Vegas.
In a recent edition of The Las Vegas Review-Journal, the major newspaper there, a top story had the heading “Splash Around with Steve Aoki.”
The opening paragraph read, “The happy-fun disc jockey producer Steve Aoki begins a new Wet Republic dayclub at the MGM and he promises it will be fun and silly.”
He’s calling it “Aokify Splash Las Vegas.”
According to the writer of the article, “Oh, that Steve Aoki is a fun guy, which is why we all love him.”
Gee, they all love Steve Aoki in Vegas, and I doubt if many in the JA community even know who he is and where he came from.
Anyone out there in readerland have any info on Aoki? Maybe he’s from L.A. and some Nisei know of him.
When I lived in Tokyo back in the early ’60s, I never sensed the racial discrimination that we in the U.S. were conscious of.
Well, they do have racial discrimination in Japan, but not based on how we view it.
An example: Recently a foreign student attending school in Kyoto wanted to move into an apartment near the college, so he applied at an affordable place just a stone’s throw away from the campus.
When he did apply, he was rejected by the manager, who told him, “The apartment is off-limits to gaijin.”
When the gaijin confronted the manager, he was apologetic about it but at the same time dismissive of the idea that it could be construed as racial discrimination.
In his five years living in Japan, the gaijin had heard stories about discrimination in the private rental sector, but he never imagined he would have to face it at the university that he was attending.
Ryukoku University, established in 1639, is one of Japan’s oldest institutions of higher education and has 20,000 students, of which 500 are foreigners.
The student spoke with the university’s international office about the issue and they told him there was not much they could do and suggested he look for a real estate company specifically catering to foreign students.
Unfortunately, there are no Japanese laws that prohibit property owners from denying rentals based on a tenant’s nationality.
So, legally, foreign students have no options to challenge being denied because of their race.
To which most Japanese might holler, “Banzai.”
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.