jenni's blog:: september 2003

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September 2003

September 28 - Far East Freaks
Farewell party in 1974
Tony at Far East in 2003
Yesterday, Tony and I went to the Farmer's Market in the morning and then came home and I worked on an article for one of two books I'm currently helping to edit. It's for "Nanka Nikkei Voices," which means Southern California Japanese American voices, published by the JA HIstorical Society, an org I sat on the board for 8 years. The theme is "Little Tokyo, Changing Times, Changing Faces." On Friday night, I copy-edited over 30 stories, and realized that there weren't any personal stories written about Far East Cafe, so I decided to write my own. Far East was an old-style Cantonese restaurant, a favorite of countless Japanese American families from the 30s until 1994 when it closed after the Northridge earthquake. My article has 3 working titles, "Valley Girl's Memories of Far East," "I Can't Escape the Far East Cafe," or "Daughter and Wife of Far East Freaks."

It's about my memories of going to Far East Cafe with my family every month of my childhood until we moved to San Jose in 1974. It's about how I hated Far East as a kid, despite its community-wide popularity, and how my dad always wanted and got his chinameshi. It's also about my husband, who is a freak for the almond duck that Far East used to serve, and has taken road trips to Orange County, Bakersfield and even Sacramento with his dad for old-style Chinese food. Tony spent two obsessive days of our honeymoon in search of Hawaii's almond duck. Here's Tony's poem of yearning for old-style food, "Chinameshi Dreams." Anyways I talked with my dad, mom, and auntie today to ask about their memories, and continued working on my article today.

The photo above is Tony at the Far East Tour in May 2003. The Little Tokyo Service Center Community Development Corporation has been working to get the Far East building renovated. They are currently working to rehab 16 residential units upstairs, a computer learning center and a new restaurant in the old Far East space.

Last night, I went to see the Art of Rice Traveling Theater, a really amazing performance by the UCLA Center for Intercultural Performance/Asian Pacific Performance Exchange in Little Tokyo, which featured a few people who I work with, Dan Kwong and Kenny Endo. They will perform again at UCLA on October 4th. Anyways, I realized that I went to Little Tokyo four times in the past week. Saturday, for a Manzanar meeting, Monday night for taiko practice, Wednesday night for a JACS meeting, and then last night for the performance. Guess I'm a J-town freak myself.
Sunday, 6:30 pm - Click here to comment:

September 24 - Big Sister, Big Debate
I started watching Big Brother two weeks ago. So Big (Asian) Sister Jun won. I was glad, because I couldn't stand the beauty queen and backstabbing Alison. One of the things Jun did was take care of the cooking and create fun games to pass the time. Neither of the two women made any friends, but they did get the money, honey. Oh well. It's entertainment. Speaking of which, did you catch The Big Debate? I heard some of it in the car before my JACS meeting tonight, and then KPFK had people calling in during my drive home. The majority of callers felt like Camejo and Arianna were the best, and that Arnold didn't come off very well. Umm, that's an understatement, he's such a hypocrite. Scared of McClintock, the only one who is for Prop. 54, I hope he stays in the race and takes the conservative vote from Arnold. People seemed reluctant but grudgingly will vote no on the recall, yes for Bustamante. I felt he was condescending, and a little slippery. To me, he'd probably be as good as Davis. Anyways, I sure wish all the lefties, progressives and even the liberals would get together and get someone we can believe in. Well, with two weeks to go, leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts. Who do you support for Cali's next Gov?
Wednesday, 11:50 pm - Click here to comment:

September 21 - The Joy of Taiko

So, I've been "playing" taiko since April when I started taking classes on Monday nights in LIttle Tokyo. Since I've been so busy at work in the last few months, I've missed a lot of classes (not good since I'm so bad! ) People in the group have been organizing Saturday night practices the last few months on the Westside. Last night I went about 9 pm and stayed till 1 am. It was great. I hadn't practiced or played the song "Ashura" in over a month, and I ALWAYS get messed up and feeling like I hate doing the song. It's too fast, too complicated, too hard to learn.

So last nite, I had like an hour or more of personal tutoring from some of the people in the group, Lisa, Nancy, Margie, Joe, and others, and they really drilled me on it. Starting from the beginning, and working on the song, one line at a time, drilling it and repeating it until I could do each line at least 2 or 3 times without mistakes. I was so grateful, because finally, finally, I am starting to get it (mind you, I had the nerve to "perform" back in July without knowing it!). And then, we would play it again, part by part, then all the way through. I'm still making a lot of mistakes, but now I can finally figure out where I am when I mess up, then get back on track faster, knowing where I am supposed to be.

That's the thing about me and music. Or me and sports. With music, I took piano lessons for 5 years. I never really got very good. I have no sense of rhythm. In piano, I used to get by on just memorizing a song, and playing it. But I never really knew how to count or keep the beat. I'd play all the right notes, but I wouldn't be able to count, so I didn't. If it was a 16th note, or an 8th note, a 2 or 4 count beat, it wouldn't really matter, I'd speed up and slow down based on my memory of the song. Rhythm, beat, count, too hard, just ignore it. Hence, why taiko is so difficult for me. Rhythm, beat, count... group effort--absolutely crucial.

With sports, I was always the slowest, least coordinated, least muscles, no endurance. I was on the gymnastics team in high school for two years, but I was the only team member who NEVER once competed. I sat on the bench dressed in my leotard, orange and blue hair ribbons and watched. While I was the most limber person on the team (able to do the splits 3 ways--right, left, center), I just couldn't master the basic elements or compulsory "tricks" to each routine. When I used to go mountain biking every weekend with a group of friends, I was always last. But, I had persistence. While I would ride up last, with everyone else having had water and rest breaks, I would keep on going, like the little train that could. Even when I was a mountain bike counselor for inner city kids through the YMCA, I would always bring up the rear and so that no kids got left behind. I made sure of that, because no kid was as slow as me.

Anyways, last night, Ken asked me if I felt joy in taiko. I couldn't answer him then. What went through my mind, was that I feel a bunch of emotions about playing taiko. Stress, confusion, hopelessness, uncoordinated, lame-brain. In my life however, I have felt the pure joy of taiko when watching or coordinating taiko performances by people I know. I have felt joy, awe, pride, enthusiasm, culture, power, comfort, breathlessness, and love when watching people like my brother Darin, his wife Saori (Jishin), my cousin Marlon (Yoki Daiko), friends Keiko and Dean (Kodama), Maceo, Kenny, Bryan, Johnny , P.J., Danny, Kevin, Donna, Qris, Rich, Yuta, all people I know or have worked with either in my work in the JA community or my work with Great Leap. Anyways, it's part of my joy in being an arts administrator, not an artist; boundaries that get pushed when I get asked to make a speech or plug, read a poem, emcee an event or even perform.

So, in thinking more deeply about it, I'm hoping that with practice, and with the support of friends from Bombu Taiko, that my feelings of the joy of taiko will become more personal, that I will push beyond the borders of my musical and athletic past and draw on the cultural pride that comes from playing taiko, the music of my people. Don su don godon... Don su don godon... Don su don godon.
Sunday, 11:50 am - Click here to comment:

September 19 - I Love Ethel
You know everyone loves Lucy. But I love Ethel, too. I'm sitting here reading blogs with "I Love Lucy" on TV. Lucy and Ethel are in Hollywood at the pool with Rock Hudson. Ethel says, "Would you like a piece of Rock, Mr. Candy?" Oh, that really makes me laugh. And you get two blogs in one day!
Friday, 11:50 am - Click here to comment:

September 19 - Absurd & Hilarious

It's Friday already. I took off Monday, and am taking off Friday, as well. I got a little sick the last few days, so I haven't been feeling 100%. I've been watching a lot of TV in the last few days, veging in the evenings, watching repeats of things I'd never seen before. I also caught glimpses of Big Brother and Survivor, a little absurd. I've also been watching my Zonk Board on the homepage (drop me a line!). The weather in LA is so beautiful and it seems like it's raining around the country with Hurricaine Isabel across the East Coast. A newscaster said LA is the "envy of the nation." I doubt that refers to this whole election recall circus absurdity. I'm interested to see that Clinton and Jesse Jackson have been in town "helping" Gray Davis and urging a "no" on the recall vote. I'd rather vote for Jesse. Tony and I laughed last night when we saw that Bustamante and McClintock may boycott the next debate if they don't change the format to an unscripted debate. It's clear that Arnold is afraid to tell people what he really thinks for fear of alienating voters (or perhaps he doesn't know!) and is banking on stupid sound bites to get him elected. I hope people can see through that.

On another note, I have an old episode of "I Love Lucy" on. She's hilarious. It's the one where they're in Hollywood and Lucy is dangling from the balcony swinging from a rope and then she falls. Ethel, who is trying to keep Ricky's attention off the balcony runs out of the room saying, "I have to go pick up a friend!" Oh, that's funny stuff.
Friday, 11:25 am - Click here to comment:

September 15 - First & Last List
I have the day off today. Been catching up on blogs, found this on Zeebah's, and decided what the heck.
First bike: It was a used turquoise "Slick Chick" with a silver banana seat. I was all proud that it was blue and not some pink girly bike.
First best friend: Kathy. She had an above-ground swimming pool. We used to play hair dresser in her living room.
First car: 1973 Ford Mustang from my Auntie K. The 351 horsepower impressed guys I was too shy to approach. A few times it would spin around uncontrollably in the rain until my dad put a bag of concrete in the trunk. It was stolen from my college apartment.
First job: Working at a law firm as a file clerk/typist at age 16. That job led me to working in law firms for the next 16 years.
First screen name: Sanjuu Sansei (which means 30 year old third generation Japanese American). Remember Compuserve?
First self purchased album: First 45 single was "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain & Tenille. First album was the soundtrack to "Grease" that I split the cost with my sister and brother.
First pet: 4 turtles when I turned 4 years old. My mom got rid of them because they smelled but told us they ran away.
First piercing/tattoo: Don't remember the piercing. No tatts.
First independent home: An apartment in Hollywood with my best friend, Maria, about 6 months after college graduation.
First credit card: I thought you had to pay money into it, then you could use the money, then would need to replenish in order to spend more. I must have gotten that concept from my parents.
First love: Jimmy Anderson, Kindergarten. He was a cutie.
First enemy: Don't think I ever had one, but when Ron threw rocks at me and Kathy in grade school, they got paddled by the principal.
First big trip: Flew to New York by myself in 1982 and visited Maria the summer after high school. We went to the top of the World Trade Center, saw "A Chorus Line" and "Evita" on Broadway.
First play/musical/performance: Not the first, but memorable - I saw Patrick Swayze in "West Side Story" at the Moorpark Melodrama. Nobuko, my boss, was in the original movie and on Broadway 20 years earlier. My best friend MARIA and my husband TONY were named after West Side Story characters in the 60s.
Last movie seen: I can't even remember the name. I think it was during Thanksgiving weekend in 2002. Check my November blog.
Last book read: "Built in Furniture."
Last cuss word uttered: Probably the "F" word.
Last beverage drank: Organic Juice from Trader Joe's last night.
Last food consumed: Killer Shrimp with rice, last night.
Last crush: Married him.
Last kiss: Ditto.
Last phone call: My dad, called to offer us his old big screen TV which is broken and might cost $200-$300 to repair. Declined. Had a nice conversation with him. It may be the first time he called me on my cell phone.
Last TV. show watched: Saw "Sharon Osborne" the debut of the talk show this morning.
Last time showered: This afternoon.
Last shoes worn: My comfy black Merrell's out to Killer Shrimp in the Marina last night.
Last cd played: Sweet Honey in the Rock that Nobuko made for me called "Women Gather."
Last item bought: Two pieces of political arts. Silkscreened and spraypaint posters by my friend Weston at the Great Leap fundraiser on Saturday. One is about the Figueroa Corridor/Staples Center struggle and the other is of the Koreatown Assi Market Boycott.
Last downloaded: Don't recall.
Last annoyance: Alarm clock this morning.
Last soda drank: I gave up soda a year ago officially, but I must admit that I had a sip of Tony's Squirt at Hector's house the other night.
Last word written: Night. (See above).
Last word spoken: Bye. (Hung up phone from dad).
Last sleep: Went to sleep about 2am. Woke up at at 7:30 am when Tony left for work, but didn't get up till 9:51 am.
Last IM: Never?
Last weird encounter: Don't know.
Last ice cream eaten: Can't remember when. But it was probably Haagen Dazs "Dulce La Leche." Yummm.
Last time wanting to die: Probably as a teenager.
Last time hugged: Last night from Hubby.
Last chair sat in: Currently sitting at my desk at home.
Last shirt worn: Currently wearing a black t-shirt that says "California Arts Council - The Year of the Arts - 2001." See, I wear what I preach. Support the arts.
Last web page visited: - where I copied this entry.
Monday, 4:00 pm - Click here to comment:

September 14 - Fun with Great Leapers
Been pretty busy last few days... the 2nd anniversary of 9/11 has come and gone. Yesterday was Great Leap's 25th Anniversary fundraiser, it went really well. I put in some very late nights preparing for it. We had some great performances, expertly emceed by Amy Hill, a successful "Mind Body & Soul" Silent Auction and a Live Art Auction with auctioneers and hams, Michael Paul Chan and Shabaka Henley. Tony & I bought two pieces created by graf artist/former GL staffer Weston Teruya. Raffle winners took home "6 Feet Under" baseball caps and t-shirts, courtesy of Mathew St. Patrick, our honorary co-chair. People were so generous at the auction, helping out, volunteering, dancing, and it seemed like everyone had a blast playing and mixing with Great Leapers. After working the last 2 weekends, it's time for some r&r. Some pictures from yesterday.

Shishir's post-9/11 piece
"Sharif Don't Like It"
Some cool artwork
at the Live Auction
Nobuko teaching new Obon
Dance "Ichigo, Ichie"
Michael Paul Chan and Shabaka, Auctioneers
Nob singing
"25 Years of thanks"
Sunday, 5:50 pm - Click here to comment:

September 9 - Blabber Boards
I'm always amazed at the fun little gadgets and gizmos available on the net and the new blogger lingo I'm picking up. I just discovered ZonkBoard - "blabber boards for bloggers" from Tish. So I put it on our home page. Feel free to drop us a blabber note. Last nite was taiko, first time in awhile since I've been so busy at work. It was fun but exhausting! Stomach, leg and arm muscles, a little sore. Today's highlight was listening to the debate on KPFK. When asked about her thoughts about 3 Strikes Law, Arianna said that she would try to appeal the unfair existing law, but institute a new one, "three strikes and you're out for corporate criminals." Tonite I went to drop off a canteloupe at my sister Gayle's (to give to my parents) and got to hang with my cute nephew Kieth for an hour. Then I came home and read 2 months of recycled Rafu's. I'm a little overwhelmed at the amount of work to be done in the next few days before Great Leap's 25th Anniversary Reception and Auction. That, combined with the very late nights (up till 3am two days in a row), is making me a little tired and cranky. But! I have a blabber board, and I can't wait to check it! Something else to obsess about, in addition to checking for Comments and Site Counters. So blab me!
Tuesday, 11:50 pm - Click here to comment:

September 8 - High Voltage Art
I was at an arts booking conference for much of the last week. This was my 4th year going to this conference... I was kind of dreading going this year, but it turned out to be a pretty good year. Our booth was so zen. We set up a 9 foot circle, with a water fountain that chimed, brought fresh flowers, and had the DVD player going with our new promo videos. Saw some cool performances. I did ask a question at the open forum on the last day, whether the host organization had plans to encourage younger presenters (people who book performers) and welcome emerging artists. My question was not addressed, in fact it was ignored, which was pointed out to me by a representative of the NEA. Here's a pix of some friends sporting their "High Voltage Art" bumper stickers and t-shirts from Teada at right.

Five more days till Great Leap's 25th Anniversary Reception and Auction. Please come! Buy cool artwork donated by over 25 of LA's most eclectic artists, see some awesome performances and help us celebrate this milestone!
Monday, 11:45 pm - Click here to comment:

September 4 - Zuke the Monster
I've been at an arts booking conference/trade show as an exhibitor the last few days, so I've been a little out of it. This morning, I ate the most delicious canteloupe from my garden, yummm. Over the past few years, I've been known to grow some pretty huge zucchinis. This year, I didn't even plant zucchini, it just started growing wild in a pot, so I transferred it to the ground. While I wasn't looking, this monster zucchini started growing. I decided to let it keep going to see what would happen with it. It just kept growing bigger. A few years ago, I tried to enter a zucchini in a contest at Taky's Hardware Store in the Crenshaw area, but they had stopped doing the contest. The winning zucchinis were like 14 pounds. The one at right is only 10 pounds and 21 inches long, so it still wouldn't have won. Anyways, it's sittin in my fridge, waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. Freeze it? Can it? Juice it? Bake it? BBQ it? Any comments or suggestions?
Thursday, 10:30 pm - Click here to comment:

September 3 - Clutter Free Home
I have a quote on my desk, "As simple as it sounds, becoming clutter-free is not an easy task. But it is a good goal to aim for." We're planning to redecorate... or actually decorate our house, 6 years after moving into our home. We are considering remodeling options as well, but that's a bigger commitment. So, for the past few weeks, we've been combing through magazines, visiting the Pacific Design Center, Home Depot and Expo, visiting bookstores, etc. I've been amazed at the dozens of books on Feng Shui. The most interesting thing is that the common denominator in feng shui is eliminating clutter and allowing energy to flow in all areas of your house. So the last few days, I've gone through my closet, and am giving away clothes that are either too small, out of style, or just plain ucky. I am going through drawers and other spaces in the house. When the house is a mess, I get grumpy and stressed. When it's clean, I feel happy and calm. In the craziness of my life, I'm aiming for a clutter-free home.
Wednesday, 10:50 pm - Click here to comment:

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