I don’t know about you good folks, but CR2S’s daily outlook is sometimes swayed by the morning’s newspaper headlines. Not a very pleasant outlook, considering most are sad, mad or bad. But there you go. It could explain my inability to be personable and gregarious early on. A few random stories to explain the woebegone:

A retiree becomes a gentleman farmer in Central Valley. Although he knows nothing about farming (he washes his tractor and parks it in a garage), the former barber gains the friendship and advice of veteran growers and plants ten acres of pistachio trees. It takes eight years to grow a first crop, so he and his wife devote the years tending, nurturing, anticipating. He is so devoted to his orchard, some trees are given (female) names.

Pistachios need only a normal rainfall season to survive and grow. Unfortunately the ongoing statewide drought has meant having to buy water at an inflated cost. This emergency occurring just as the trees had begun sprouting leaves, forerunner to the maiden harvest. Now even that costly emergency irrigation source has been cut off. All he can do now is sit and watch his dream die. Unless it rains.

Half a world away is a caste group of millions called Dalits. Chances are you aren’t aware of India’s “untouchables,” their most despised social class. All countries have downtrodden, don’t we all know. Dalits are doomed to clean city sewers – by hand. CR2S doesn’t have to give you a job description. Our knowledge of Mumbai and New Delhi is limited, not like Tokyo or London. Our U.S. experience with the country is with accomplished doctors, engineers and bright students.

Like in China, the distribution of Indian wealth and prosperity is extremely top-heavy. (As in the U.S. of A.) My introduction to India was via “Gunga Din,” a contrived movie about Great Britain’s world influence. Today it’s about academic excellence and a Silicon Valley presence [or rapacious males]. To be fair, I well remember the “honey bucket” brigades of immediate postwar Japan. These workers were tasked with carting human offal. At least their responsibility was not to clean sewers, but to carry waste to fertilize agricultural fields.

Let’s not pause today to comment on the status of worldwide wars. Where would I begin, anyway? Iraq? Syria? Gaza? Ukraine? Murrieta, in the good ole U.S. of A.?

I don’t imagine Armando Villa is a familiar name. He’s the 19-year-old Cal State Northridge student found dead on an Angeles National Forest trail. He was without water – or shoes – the alleged victim of fraternity hazing. The investigation is ongoing, so we’ll dispense with the details. But the news reminded of my first experience with the Greek alphabet.

For an ex-GI Jappo collegian, a fraternal membership was about as desirable as being 4F. Early on as a Daily Trojan reporter, I was assigned to cover an event on The Row. Knocking at the front door of the host fraternity house, I was haughtily informed (by a tall, good-looking, white football star) that all deliveries were to be made at the back entrance! I never wrote the story nor set foot on that sacred ground ever again.

It’s impossible for CR2S to mention displeasure without mentioning our favorite punching bag: Kobe Bryant. The Lakers are in financial quicksand as they try to lure the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James to Staples. An ill-advised (meaning stupid) $48.5 million contract awarded to The Black Mamba last year is the sugar in their gas tank. It makes any effort to circumvent a stifling salary cap impossible. [This is being written with time to be rendered moot, so allow me to tread heavily regardless.]

Since million-dollar image-makers are forever in search of convoluted ways to polish his less than admirable reputation, CR2S has the answer: Have a chastened Kobe Bryant tear up his existing contract and agree to renegotiate – for one year. This grandiose gesture would rank as one of the greatest PR gestures ever, and make him a hero in one fell swoop. Re-sign for a mere $10 mil or whatever, just like Tim Duncan did at San Antonio. I mean, geez, after hundreds of millions of Dr. Buss lucre over the past two decades, why not? Don’t laugh, I would do it in a nanosecond! So okay, I’m not him. [For which I’m grateful.]

Thank goodness not everything in the news was negative. The Lou Zamperini story is what true heroes are. Not only because he was an Olympian who roomed with Jesse Owens wearing the Cardinal and Gold; endured 47 days in the Pacific after his plane went down in WWII; or surviving more than two years of brutal treatment while in Japanese captivity. FDR even notified his parents of his death. It’s what he became after.

Before entering SC, he was a Torrance juvenile heading to delinquency. After returning home a war hero, he found escape and solace in booze. Attending a Billy Graham convocation turned him around. The second time around. He had walked out of a first encounter. “The Zamp,” as he was fondly called, spent the rest of his life as an inspirational speaker and evangelical Christian. He even returned to Japan to offer forgiveness to his captors.

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at williamhiroto@att.net Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


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