06 March 2011 ~ 40 Comments

How to win both a Pulitzer and the Nobel prize for literature

Purposely arriving an hour early for a private lesson at a Starbuck’s in Yokohama,  I sat at the only available table in the crowded cafe, placed my tall sized cup of Sumatra coffee on the tabletop and whipped out the reason for my over-punctuality: A book I’ve read four times since it was first published about 30 years ago. I’ve been savoring it for the past few days. I was three quarters through its 320 some-odd pages and thinking I might unfortunately finish today.  I hoped for some miracle- like maybe I might have forgotten huge blocks of the story, prolonging the payoff a bit.

Hey, you never know, right?

I took a sip of the elixir of life, took a deep breath (trust me, the story requires it), and dove back in:

“Even the educated colored, the long-school people, the doctors, the teachers, the paper-writers, and Businessmen had a hard row to hoe. In addition to having to use their heads to get ahead, they had the weight of the whole race sitting there. You needed two heads for that. “

An abrupt movement distracted me. The couple seated at the table to my right, who had been comfortably smiling, making eyes and making love with their hands across the table when I arrived and had, subsequent to my taking the table beside theirs, lost all semblances of joy, replaced by a discomfort you’d expect from a couple being instructed at gun point- barrels pressed against their temples- to pretend convincingly to be in love, or die!…Well, they’d decided, halfway through their lattes, that death was preferable and it was time to go.

Nobel Prize

Part of me wanted to shout, “what the fuck do I have to do to make you motherfuckers comfortable enough to be the decent people I know you have the capacity to be??? Cuz apparently spending my day off sitting silently and unobtrusively reading a Pulitzer & Nobel prize winning novel while sipping a cup of over-priced coffee in a trendy cafe aint e-fucking-nough!” And, man do I hate that part of me. But, I groaned, inside, instead.

Another part of me wanted to forgive them for they know not what they do nor do they know of the creature they are stirring in the doing!

When I felt them smearing their fear over me one last time before departure, I turned to them and said, “Sayonara,” with a smile and a wink, and returned to the book:

“Whitepeople believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle. Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood.”

I felt an itch on my neck, a tingling almost  burning sensation. I rubbed it and caught a shadow in my periphery. I turned about. Another couple had arrived. The guy was standing stark still behind me, holding the tray, his girl teetering on pumps beside him, holding his arm. I’d just caught the edge of his eyes turning away from the hole they’d been boring into my neck.  She was still staring. But, making eye contact with me must have broken the spell for her eyes kinda rolled from me up to the ceiling.

He was scanning the room for available tables. I did so, as well. There were none aside for the one beside my own. There was, however, a short line of people extending a few feet from the staircase landing, blocking the bathrooms, waiting patiently for tables to become open. There were also 2 or 3 anxious staff people looking to accommodate them, apologizing profusely for the inconvenience. I turned back to the couple. They were making eyes at one another communicating with nods and awkward expressions, obviously discussing, in this muted lingo, whether or not to sit beside me.

I turned away and looked at the page without reading, cause the goings-on behind me was turning my stomach. As it always does.

I told myself, “ignore it, ignore it, just ignore it” over and over.

After a solid 45 seconds of this, apparently they’d come to a decision. The guy placed the tray on the table, ever so gingerly, as if the table were a part of something dark and demented and that merely placing the tray upon it might awaken the evil that lurked within it. They sat, eyes on me, thinking I was reading, then back at each other, silently reassuring one another that they’d made the right call. “He looks alright…”

I took another deep breath and adjusted my focus from the page to its words:

“In a way, he thought, they were right. The more coloredpeople spent their strength trying to convince them how gentle they were, how clever and loving, how human…”

A chair near me turning to the side with a screech drew my attention. I knew what it was before I turned to look but, like watching a nature show, you just gotta see these chimpanzees eat their feces or throw shit at one another. The guy, seated on my side of the table, had turned his chair so that his back was partially to me and the only way he could see me is if he were to look over his shoulder.

Ignore, ignore…assault…ignore…”

After I kicked their table and sent it, and their lattes, and cellphones, flying across the cafe- in my mind- I returned to my book:

“…the more they used themselves up to persuade whites of something Negroes believed could not be questioned, the deeper and more tangled the jungle grew inside.”

The guy sitting on the other side of me packed up his stuff and left, and as he did the next people in the queue, two girls, came over, empty handed, giggling and chatting with one another. They placed their coats and pocketbooks in either chair, totally carefree, talking about what some guy at the offfice had said to one of them the other day. They turned to go back to the counter downstairs to get their drinks. They had taken a few steps that way when one of them suddenly turned and came back. She slid open her pocketbook and pulled out her purse. Then, she looked up and, in doing so, saw me for the first time. She stumbled on her pumps a bit, like she’d been pushed.

I was looking at the page of my book…but I could see her at the same time no problem. Eight years of observing things without people knowing, while living in an environment where everyone is trying and failing miserably to do the same to you, and one can develop a knack for such a thing. Most Japanese I’ve come across do it poorly. Unaccustomed to the need to do it- in a country where most people avoid being stare-worthy, and those who don’t usually want to be stared at and are unperturbed by it- the result is a city of people who, at best, do so like rejects from the counter surveillance unit of the Japanese Secret Service, trained but unable to successfully pull it off in the field so they’ve been restricted to desk work. Nevertheless, they still feel this compulsion to relive their failure over and over with me as the subject to be surveilled.

After a 10 second scan around the room, where the only thing she is really scanning for is the thing right in front of her- me- she grabbed both pocketbooks and trotted to the staircase, glancing back at me one last time, just in case there was any doubt in my mind the reason for her sudden and otherwise unnecessary safety measure, or maybe wondering if she should go back for the coats, as well.

The coats I was setting a-flame in my mind.

I wish I could really read at these times, instead of just looking at the pages. But, not only can’t I read, I can’t do much of anything aside from process. It’s like I’m trapped in a quagmire, where ignorance is not an option. Nor is action, really. I feel, nonetheless, obliged to acknowledge it, and record it, and analyze it. I must process it. I must experience it. It feels like I’ll die if I become the kind of person who can be unaffected by it. No, worst than that. That I was never alive in the first place. That I was never really human.

Somehow, I was everything they were afraid of. A lusty, bloodthirsty, unintelligible savage from the darkest jungles of the soul, trying to hide the truth about myself in plain sight, outfit it in respectability and civilization, in a cafe, behind a book- of all things- and an expensive  cup of coffee. How ridiculous and terrifying I must look to them!

Read! Don’t think! Just read…

But, I kept thinking. I couldn’t stop. I thought, a man didn’t come to Japan. Something sub-human did, and I was just the disguise it wore. But these people can see through my disguise, easily, and that is why they react the way they do…

“…But it wasn’t the jungle blacks brought with them to this place from the other (livable) place. it was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread. In, through and after life, it spread, until it invaded the whites who made it. Touched them every one. Changed and altered them. Made them bloody, silly, worse than even they wanted to be, so scared were they of the jungle they had made.”

The girls returned with their drinks, pocketbooks in their clutches, smiles gone, joy vanquished by apprehension and suspicion. They scanned the room as they approached the table. The line had thinned. A table on the other side of the room opened just as they were slowly, warily, planting their asses in the chairs. They sprung into action as a unit, both spotting the opening at the same time, and telling the other at the same time of its existence. It was really silly and horrible at the same time, to witness the ease, the thoughtlessness, the innocent savagery with which this was done.

My stomach bubbled and gurgled, like diarrhea was a-brewing.  I took deep breaths through my nose. Watching them cross the room, drinks and bags and coats in hand, I tasted bile in my mouth. I lifted the coffee mug. It was shaking in my hand…just a little, just enough to confirm my humanity. I actually felt better watching it shake. I took a sip. It tasted like shit. I looked down at the book. I had spilled a few drops of coffee on page 235.

I read through the drops:

The screaming baboon lived under their own white skin; the red gums were their own”

You know, after each of my first four readings of Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer and Nobel prize winning novel, “Beloved” – either immediately or within a few days, I would look in the mirror and say something to the effect of, “See, that’s what writers do, Loco! You’re not a fucking writer! She’s a writer! You’re, at best, a hack! You don’t have any idea what life is about, what people are about, what’s going on in the world, or even in your own heart and mind. You’re a liar, and a piss poor one at that! You don’t even have the capacity to deal with the kind of truths that Toni illustrates so poetically and astutely.”

These are not the kind of thoughts a writer likes to have after reading a book, I gotta tell you.

I used to wonder, who the fuck was Toni writing this book for. Who was her target audience? Black people? Black women? White people? Educated people? I mean, this book defies demographic marginalization. But, I just knew I wasn’t the target. For some reason I felt that she knew that I, and people like me, wouldn’t get it. That she had created a challenge. I imagined she said, “I’m not gonna bring the story to you. You gotta come to it. You gotta go brush up on life, live it, have it embrace you and kiss you, have it take care of you when you’re sick and listen to you when you need an ear, hold you up when you need support, have it kick you around a little, spit on you and shit on you. And then read my work.”

I accepted her challenge. Went out and lived a little. Came back time after time only to find that I hadn’t lived quite enough. Get back out there, Beloved told me, and live some more. So, I did.

I moved to another world called Japan. I lived in it for 8 years.

Then, last week, I came back to Beloved.

Beloved had changed and grown in that time. And, something so transcendental that even those silly fucks in Starbucks couldn’t sully it with their foolishness has happened: I just finished it for the fifth time today, and after 8 years of living , and loving, and changing, and growing, I have finally done it.

It’s official: I am Toni Morrison’s target audience now.

I feel like a better man, like I’ve just gotten a promotion, and a corner office with a view… from God.

So how do you win both a Pulitzer and the Nobel prize for literature?

First of all you gotta live, love, change and grow. Then, you gotta write something that lives, loves, changes, and grows. And, if that ain’t enough, it has to inspire readers to live, love, change and grow into the kind of humans that can fully appreciate life, love, change and growth.

Probably a lot of other political nonsense, too. Who knows? Who cares? Accolades with prestigious and monetary value have their uses, of course, but ultimately the only thing that’s important really is the work!

Thank you so much, Toni, for teaching me so much! You are the miracle I was hoping for.

Loco

PS: And if you haven’t read Beloved, and plan to now, take a deep breath and brace yourself!
And, whatever you do, don’t watch the movie first. Most books don’t translate well to film, as we all know, and Beloved the movie, though hauntingly well done as a stand alone film (thanks Oprah- I sincerely applaud your effort), is unfortunately,IMHO, another example of this.

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40 Responses to “How to win both a Pulitzer and the Nobel prize for literature”

  1. RKat 6 March 2011 at 3:47 am Permalink

    Well you're a good writer alright, because I was feeling that frustration and I wanted to kick that table over!

    I read Beloved when I was a teenager, I understood the words but I didn't have the life experience to be moved by it. And watching the film all I thought was, "Oprah needs to lose a few more pounds before she could look like she's wasting away." So, obviously my brain was too shallow. I should try reading it again.

    • Locohama 6 March 2011 at 9:57 am Permalink

      Thanks Rkat!
      Yeah, it's definitely the kind of book that grows on you and you grow on it, or through it. And it's an exceptional experience.
      LOL! No, you're right on! Oprah was wasting away like Asashoryu's wasting away!

  2. FuKnWitU 6 March 2011 at 11:16 am Permalink

    Some would say you "have never left."

    But I will say "welcome back my friend".

    I was in that overpriced cafe with you. I was following a couple out and confronting the foolish, foolish, little man that turned his chair in a subliminal attack. I was flashing my steel and asking him if he wanted to taste it? I walked a couple meters while talking so they didn't stop looking and I motioned him to comer behind the facility so we could have privacy. I gave him a wink and the "Shhhh" sign and waved him over but he wouldn't come. While he walked away I shuffled my feet so they thought I was charging for just a second.

    Then I yelled in fucked up Japanese "Kawaiiso, otoko janai…ona mitai,"

    I love your writing when your feeling stress. I don't take pleasure in it bro. I identify with it. I am there. I was, I will be again…maybe today. Thanks for coming real. I need a good start to my Sunday 🙂

    • Locohama 6 March 2011 at 12:04 pm Permalink

      Tadaima motherfucker!!1 LOL

      Nah, but seriously, I really don't feel like I've gone off the reservation or anything. Have I?

      Stress? Hmmm… actually, I always feel stress living here. If not the public, the job, if not the job, etc..

      Anyway, bruh, thanks for the shout!

      • FuKnWitU 6 March 2011 at 12:12 pm Permalink

        Nah, I always got my twice/thrice a week dose of "I ain't crazy..THEY'RE

        crazy" after reading your posts. I was surrounded by apologists or peeps

        who wouldn't admit wanting to smash someones face off a table. Peeps don't

        act on that?…fine…..never crossed their mind? BULLSHIT. You were the

        first person who verbalized that struggle.

        • Verity Veritas 6 March 2011 at 8:37 pm Permalink

          Yeah, and I think the first person to admit that the rage was pain, because you care whether you want to or not, because you're human.

  3. Biggie 6 March 2011 at 11:36 am Permalink

    ok, I have not read the book yet, and I will now. It has been on my list a long time either way.

    Interesting to have Saboten Girl here too. I often forget "it" is still so much of an issue for many. "It" can be a black skin. "It" can be a mixed heritage of race and cultures, like our sexy Cat. I bet she is dealing with a truckload of stereotypes too. Or, in my case, "it" means belonging to a desert tribe of people that somehow makes others feel uncomfortable, brings out conspiracy theories, and sometimes even hate. The kind of things I have been told here in Japan is beyond…. well, glad I have an intact sense of humour.

    Loco rocks.

    • Locohama 6 March 2011 at 11:59 am Permalink

      Thanks for the shout Biggie! Yeah, it's an amazing read…it's like joining Fight Club! LOL
      I rock? Thanks sir, but I only rock cuz i have readers who rock!

  4. Warren Antiola 6 March 2011 at 12:08 pm Permalink

    My man! Nothing else to say but BRILLIANT. I felt your disgust. AND I felt your resolve. Powerful stuff. I'm guilty to say I may be one of those people. So I'm glad I found your writing first to know the man. So now I would be proud to meet the man and say, "friend, I need a brew!" lol ^0^. Hope to meet up with you in Japan soon.

    • Locohama 6 March 2011 at 7:04 pm Permalink

      Thanks @808armada! Much obliged.When you get here brews will be downed! (-;

  5. Exotic Japan 6 March 2011 at 7:20 pm Permalink

    Holy crap. What great writing. I just say Warren's comment and am ashamed to say I could not put my feelings into words better than the comment he did and have to winp out and say "ditto". You ARE a writer, never doubt that, man. 🙂

    • Locohama 6 March 2011 at 7:53 pm Permalink

      Thanks a bunch guys!! Doubt is like a cold virus, always comes back and just when you don't friggin need it, but comments are like cold remedies…not a cure of course, just treatments that relieve the symptoms.So thank you for taking the time to dish out some good medicine!

      • Bakametsu 7 March 2011 at 3:06 am Permalink

        Loco, I feel you; I had something very similar happen to me, except, in my case it was a girl, who knew I liked her. Anyway, the thing was I always sat in front of her, and I always felt compelled by some inexplicable reason to preoccupy myself; the sentence that I had written twenty five minutes ago, for example, seemed to call to me, as if my life hung on its very existence.
        Well, five months of that broke me; it planted a leg over my limp body in victory, coughed all over me, and gave me anxiety disorder. I'm in no place to give advice yet, ignoring it as we did, shook us in ways that we didn't like, and provoking it as you imagined, bestowed upon them the satisfaction, the ignorance, the so-called biases they deemed infallible, to be unsurprisingly right again. Maybe, the answer is simple; you have to confront your problems by embracing them with your best foot, slowly, changing their opinions of you one by one.

        • Locohama 7 March 2011 at 9:02 am Permalink

          "Maybe, the answer is simple; you have to confront your problems by embracing them with your best foot, slowly, changing their opinions of you one by one."
          Simple? I'm not sure I understand the simplicity of your solution. Embracing the problem with my feet? Yeah, i find myself constantly on the verge of embracing these problems with my foot…up their asses! LOL!
          Changing opinions of people by continuing to do what I'm doing already, by continuing to be myself, is what it sounds like you're suggesting. At least that's what i hope you mean. If you mean I gotta sing and dance and "prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'm not the kind of person that would steal from them or harm or molest them in any way if they deign to sit near me" then,,er,, ,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc0mxOXbWIU
          In the lyrics, just change "her" to "them"
          Just joking…kinda

  6. Rubi 6 March 2011 at 8:08 pm Permalink

    Hey Loco,

    Great job. Powerful writing, I was right there with you. Indeed, I know well of what you've written. I started writing what I thought might be a book; then I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and thought, "don't embarrass yourself, son."

    On Feb 13th, members of a Muslim charity organisation met in Yorba Linda, California, to raise money to support the homeless, the hungry, and women's shelters. They were met by several hundred protesters shouting things like "go back home", "Mohammed was a child molester", and even had a member of congress join the rally and call the philanthropic event "pure unadulterated evil."

    It's obvious that these people are bigotted and ignorant, but the same kind of stories they believe about the monsters lurking under every skull cap, turban or hijab are the premises of the respected writers who muse in much more polite terms about whether or not it's a good idea to build an Islamic community centre on the Island of Manhattan.

    I haven't read Beloved, but it's definitely on my list now, as well as Paradise. The excerpts you posted reminded me of something James Baldwin said. I don't remember the exact quote but it was something along to lines of saying that the question white people need to answer is why they need the "negro". The video above reminded me of it too.

    • Locohama 6 March 2011 at 8:26 pm Permalink

      Geezus, man, that video freaked me out!
      Thanks for the feedback yo, as always!
      yeah, Toni is an experience. I don't even feel right saying I know you will enjoy it. You will remember it, though

  7. Verity Veritas 6 March 2011 at 8:34 pm Permalink

    God, this is the kind of stuff that used to scare me, but I understand a bit. It's your challenge, right? It's boot-camp for the soul?

    "It was shaking in my hand…just a little, just enough to confirm my humanity. I actually felt better watching it shake."

    Yeah…I think I get it.

    • Locohama 6 March 2011 at 9:13 pm Permalink

      Yep, it's a challenge just like Beloved is a challenge. Acknowledging the jungle in me, understanding how it got there, and how very tangled it is…it's a real bitch. It is painful, but the kind of pain I think is ultimately in my best interest to experience for the full measure of one's humanity is directly connected to one's ability to deal with success and failure, love and hate and, yes,pleasure and with pain,
      Thanks so much for the shout Verity and congrats and good luck with new blog! So far so good. Here's some cookies for you: http://jskoolisin.wordpress.com/
      Must read blog y'all!!! check it out while it's still young and tender LOL

  8. Will 7 March 2011 at 10:12 am Permalink

    Were I a writer, I’d be able to tell what I’d just been part of the night after I read your post and how uncanny the timing of that piece was.

    Instead, I’ll just leave it at this.

    What surprises me more than having a person try to take my picture without asking… what surprises me more is when that person does not appear to comprehend that I might possibly care. Somehow it matters to me.

    • Will 7 March 2011 at 10:13 am Permalink

      More importantly, Toni Morrison… glad you brought her into the conversation. Beloved was at eye level from where I usually sit, next to Song of Solomon and Sula. Now that there is a seasonal lull, I’ll head back to 124.

      • Locohama 7 March 2011 at 3:57 pm Permalink

        LOL! Yep, we're talking about the same thing! Thanks for the shout Will and I'd love to hear the full story. You should give writing a shot cuz your synopsis was choice!

        Yes 124 was spiteful! 124 was haunting. 124 was the hell we live through when we have regrets, and Beloved was just the manidestation, the anthropomorphosis of regret, a hell of haunt to be sure. Thanks again!

        http://about.me/locohama/bio

  9. Rose 7 March 2011 at 10:24 am Permalink

    Man, you've got the patience of a saint. I don't know how the hell you do it. If I were in your shoes I'd have flipped that table over for real.

    And you're not a hack, so knock it off. 😉

    • Locohama 8 March 2011 at 2:27 pm Permalink

      Thanks Rose! That was actually referring to how I felt back in the days. I've gotten a bit better but I still have a ways to go. I have been patient but I could use some more, trust me Ganbarimasu!!

  10. Ame Otoko 7 March 2011 at 2:43 pm Permalink

    "Somehow, I was everything they were afraid of. A lusty, bloodthirsty, unintelligible savage from the darkest jungles of the soul, trying to hide the truth about myself in plain sight, outfit it in respectability and civilization, in a cafe, behind a book- of all things- and an expensive cup of coffee. How ridiculous and terrifying I must look to them!"

    It's more a case of you being a little too hung up on yourself. 'Savage from the darkest jungles?' Where the hell have you been? Afro-American culture has been pretty popular ever since Amuro Namie used blacks as props in her lame 90s music videos.

    But loco, how about this curveball for you – can you explain why, despite being segregated and otherwise oppressed by the white society at home in America expecting them to fight tooth and nail for their colonial ar to return the lost colonies of Asia back to Europe – why, then, did black American soldiers not have any sympathy for the Japanese they occupied, and participated just as much as whites did in the rape of Japanese – and most of all Okinawan – women?

    Why were crimes like this so common among black soldiers?
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=98

    You should be grateful Japanese are too lazy and without backbone to even be bothered by the history of mass rape against their own women by Allied forces in Okinawa and the coastal cities. I mean damn – imagine the looks you'd get then, eh?

    • Locohama 7 March 2011 at 3:33 pm Permalink

      Hey Ame!

      Thanks for the rant! 🙂

      Firstly, who isn't hung up on themselves? Geez.

      Secondly, I haven't raped any Japanese women…recently…and she'd asked for it and bought the ropes and everything.

      Thirdly, if history should be a consideration in how people respond to my blackness, then there's a lot more to take into consideration than those rapes you mentioned…I should hope. Positive things! Things that have benefitted humanity in ways that all humans should kowtow to black people, particularly Africans!

      But history is not a consideration. At least not a balanced view of it. Maybe a selective extraction, like yours, might generate the behavior I encounter here regularly. I mean, if we focus on one area of any race's history of interaction with another you could probably margionalize any people as beyond redemption. Believe me, I've done what you've done to black people in your comment to white people many times…Farrakhan and others have built whole careers off of doing so. And I'm sure their are Korean and Chinese leaders doing the same about Japanese heinous crimes against humanity. So let's not point historical digits. I certainly didin't in this post. I was sharing my emotional and spiritual reaction to the "crimes" I endured that day and daily here.

      Nevertheless, I prefer and endeavor to see people as individuals…it's perhaps the only way to see their humanity. Otherwise all is hopeless, as far as human and race relations are concerned, wouldn't you agree?

      Perhaps not.

      Being hung up on myself. I wrote an entire series on racism, prompted in part by the racism I FEEL. Examining how much of what I see is prompted by the baggage I brought here with me. I'm not automatically inclined to search outwardly for culpability. I am not prepared to blame the Japanese who engage in the above described behaviors for how I respond, though Toni Morrison suggested that that is the case.

      I'm just examining my feelings, out loud, in writing, and inviting others to partake in my discussion with myself.

      More to come…maybe…but thanks again for the shout

    • Rubi 7 March 2011 at 8:32 pm Permalink

      A few things to note:

      As many a person will be able to attest, appropriation and/or relative popularity of certain representations of African-American culture is not necessarily an indicator of the popularity of African-Americans as a group or as individual human beings. (There's an interesting paper by Nina Cornyetz (2001) which talks about Japanese usage of hip hop and blackness.)

      Some more history. John Russell (1991) talks about the Japanese government's attempts to continue work started in the 1920s to build friendship and understanding between Japanese and African Americans after the US and Japan began to engage in battle. Russell argues that these efforts were given the side eye because of African American perceptions of inconsistency between Japanese appeals to them as "pro-colored people" and the Japanese government's treatment of other "colored people" in Asia.

      On to your argument

      I'm not sure why you consider your question a curveball. Indeed I perceive some highly questionable premises. What precisely about oppression is ennobling? Did Jim Crow stop sexism in the African American community? Are there no racist Jewish people?

      Perhaps people are people. Perhaps some people can see the injustice of racism directed against them but not against others. Perhaps some men can see the injustice of being thought of as less than fully human because of the colour of their skin, but cannot see the ways in which they themselves treat women as less than fully human. Perhaps some people who are put in a position of power over other people will abuse that power.

      • Locohama 8 March 2011 at 2:25 pm Permalink

        As usual Rubi, your comments expound upon a issue I address In what I feel to be a fairly incisive manner revealing it to be a mere graze or paper cut of a much larger issue. Humbling, you are sir. Humbling and inspiring. This is why i love comments. They help me be a better writer and thinker. Thanks bruh!

    • Will 8 March 2011 at 10:50 am Permalink

      Out of respect to culture, since when do Japanese equate themselves with Okinawan people?

      "Locals would sit at the counter and stare at the Americans. Then, after they had a drink or two, they'd complain about them. The Americans couldn't understand what the Okinawans were saying, but they could understand their bad attitudes. Sometimes the Americans would get up and leave."

      I remember visiting a Seattle-style café in the deep south of this archipelago (not quite Okinawa, but we'll get there) and wishing I couldn’t hear what some people were thinking. While sitting in a seat in an oasis peculiarly devoid of other local customers, I heard clips of a conversation coming from a college-aged daughter and her middle-aged mother as the two were trapped against the wall to my left. Something about “gaikoku no kata” as the daughter thirstily mentioned how it would be cool, ya’ know, if she could learn the foreign tongue when her mother spat back bitter caution. The mother hen had essentially warned her daughter that single (male) English teachers were a bit too cocky, good for nothing and not to be trusted. That’s when I was sure they didn’t have a clue that I might be able to comprehend what they were saying. And then, the ripe-side of middle-aged continued with her complex-induced fantasy, hissing that the married teachers with kids are the ones who are trustworthy because they are committed. Even thought I wasn’t married at the time, much less committed in any sense of the word, I tried hard not to laugh by first swallowing the water I had narrowly avoided spraying across my table, then stuffing my mouth with what seemed like half of the toasted-bacon-swiss-avocado sandwich I had planned on savoring one bite at a time. I could sense a mother’s venomous wind only serving to stoke her daughter’s ever warming ember to of curiosity.

      Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I’m still surprised to see rants coming up here, especially when Okinawa is mentioned. I would be tempted to bring up the fact that, on a social level, people from Okinawa aren’t really considered Japanese by a majority of the people on the mainland(s).

      "New York taught me a lot. It taught me that people need to understand each other. It taught me the need to be open-minded."
      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100406

      But heading off in that direction wouldn’t really do anyone any good, would it? If the ‘ranter’ has the energy, George Feifer’s Tennonzan is a good place to start in getting a grasp of the complexities involved down in Okinawa.

      But, they might want to try this out first. http://www.21stcenturyadventures.com/articles/The

      Good luck and enjoy the ride.

      • Will's Editor 8 March 2011 at 10:55 am Permalink

        Editor's note: "ember of curiosity"!

    • Will 8 March 2011 at 10:50 am Permalink

      Out of respect to culture, since when do Japanese equate themselves with Okinawan people?

      "Locals would sit at the counter and stare at the Americans. Then, after they had a drink or two, they'd complain about them. The Americans couldn't understand what the Okinawans were saying, but they could understand their bad attitudes. Sometimes the Americans would get up and leave."

      I remember visiting a Seattle-style café in the deep south of this archipelago (not quite Okinawa, but we'll get there) and wishing I couldn’t hear what some people were thinking. While sitting in a seat in an oasis peculiarly devoid of other local customers, I heard clips of a conversation coming from a college-aged daughter and her middle-aged mother as the two were trapped against the wall to my left. Something about “gaikoku no kata” as the daughter thirstily mentioned how it would be cool, ya’ know, if she could learn the foreign tongue when her mother spat back bitter caution. The mother hen had essentially warned her daughter that single (male) English teachers were a bit too cocky, good for nothing and not to be trusted. That’s when I was sure they didn’t have a clue that I might be able to comprehend what they were saying. And then, the ripe-side of middle-aged continued with her complex-induced fantasy, hissing that the married teachers with kids are the ones who are trustworthy because they are committed. Even thought I wasn’t married at the time, much less committed in any sense of the word, I tried hard not to laugh by first swallowing the water I had narrowly avoided spraying across my table, then stuffing my mouth with what seemed like half of the toasted-bacon-swiss-avocado sandwich I had planned on savoring one bite at a time. I could sense a mother’s venomous wind only serving to stoke her daughter’s ever warming ember to of curiosity.

      Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I’m still surprised to see rants coming up here, especially when Okinawa is mentioned. I would be tempted to bring up the fact that, on a social level, people from Okinawa aren’t really considered Japanese by a majority of the people on the mainland(s).

      "New York taught me a lot. It taught me that people need to understand each other. It taught me the need to be open-minded."
      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100406

      But heading off in that direction wouldn’t really do anyone any good, would it? If the ‘ranter’ has the energy, George Feifer’s Tennonzan is a good place to start in getting a grasp of the complexities involved down in Okinawa.

      But, they might want to try this out first. http://www.21stcenturyadventures.com/articles/The

      Good luck and enjoy the ride.

    • Locohama 8 March 2011 at 1:53 pm Permalink

      And another thing…I can see the women being a little uptight over the rapes, and afraid, but the men? The women here in Japan are actually, by far, the most receptive and less cowardly and inclined to behave as described above. If your theory is true I would think they'd be leading the charge away, not following the lead of their men. Are they afraid I might rape them? I mean I have mistaken them for women more times than I care to count, but I've never accidently raped one by mistake on one of my Okinawan rape rampages. lol
      Sorry, your comment makes me feel fecetious

      • BH 10 March 2011 at 3:04 am Permalink

        "The women here in Japan are actually, by far, the most receptive and less cowardly and inclined to behave as described above."
        Then why do they follow the men's lead?

  11. Lea 8 March 2011 at 12:29 pm Permalink

    What a great blog. I adore Toni Morrison too, and persist in identifying with her work even though it was probably not written for me. The Bluest Eye is the one I read over and over again at different times in my life, but maybe I should read Beloved again, as I haven't opened it since high school and a lot of shit has gone down since then. I really admire how you can channel your anger in a way that doesn't reinforce ignorant people's stupidity. If it were me, I would have set their coats on fire. I once smacked a taxi in Ginza with my umbrella, because none of them ever stopped for me. That made it stop all right, but then I had to run very, very fast. Careful what you wish for.

    • Locohama 9 March 2011 at 3:04 pm Permalink

      Thanks for the shout Lea! Yeah, Toni is so damn beautiful she hurts. As for torching coats and smacking taxis, well, let's just say I'm not always as patient as I was this day and channeling anger is not always in one's best interest. So I don't. I unleash the beast occasionally. When I do I always wind up hurting the wrong people, or myself, somehow. Like a cruel joke the Creator plays on us mere mortals. A joke Toni knows and writes about in almost every book. Sethe kills her baby to keep it from having to go through the hell she went through, from falling into the hands of the men who brutalized and dehumanized her, and winds up going through a hell she created by doing this protective act, most of which committed by the baby she saved. If that ain't cruel I don't know what is. Yes, I shall be careful what I wish for. lol
      Loco

  12. Walt Tuthrfif 8 March 2011 at 7:57 pm Permalink

    A stupid fucking nigger whining as usual!

    • Dochimichi1 12 September 2011 at 2:04 am Permalink

      Wow, where did you crawl up from?
      This is so banal. You read quite a long article on a subject, that clearly annoys you, actually go through the trouble to sign in to leave an insulting comment, and then sit tight and wait for reaction. This is so predictable, and quite pathetic . If you feel so self-inadequate that you need to troll, wouldn’t you rather spend that time and get a life for yourself?

  13. Dochimichi1 12 September 2011 at 2:08 am Permalink

    I loved the article, as usual. Going to buy that book, I’ve never read it before!


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