Fort Minor – Kenji

You might not have heard of Fort Minor, it’s a side project of Mike Shinoda’s (lead man of Linkin Park). In 2005 they released their first (and to date, only) album, The Rising Tied. In my mind this is one of the best hip hop albums released in semi-recent memory (which isn’t saying much, I’ll admit – the golden days of hip hop died with the Walkman).
I bring up the subject of Fort Minor because I’ve recently been in contact with former Japanese American internees and their children who wanted more information on posts I’ve written here on internment. Anyway, the subject came up about internment in popular culture and I could only really recall Fort Minor’s song Kenji. I’ve since done my due diligence Googling and found other examples, of course, but really Mike Shinoda has a wider audience and more impact than all the others combined.
Searching for the track on YouTube turns up an amazing number of homemade video and slideshow tributes for this song. Check it out, some of them are pretty touching with what appears to be re-enactments and family photos spliced with some of the same LIFE magazine photos I linked to last month. Here’s a pretty good one with decent sound quality:

Here is an interview with Mike Shinoda about the Fort Minor album. This is what he has to say about the song Kenji:

I’m half Japanese, and the song “Kenji” is based on my family’s story during WWII in an internment camp. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government began a period of racial profiling. They put all the Japanese-Americans (and some other Asian-Americans) in secluded camps for the duration of the war. My dad was three years old, and had twelve brothers and sisters. My oldest aunt was in her twenties, and had four kids. Her youngest was born in Camp. Her husband died in Camp. They stayed there for the duration of the war, captive. Once they were released, they returned to vandalized homes and racial tension. That’s what the song “Kenji” is about.

Lyrics for “Kenji” by Fort Minor

My father came from Japan in 1905
He was 15 when he immigrated from Japan
He worked until he was able to buy respect and build a store
Let me tell you the story in the form of a dream,
I don’t know why I have to tell it but I know what it means,
Close your eyes, just picture the scene,
As I paint it for you, it was World War II,
When this man named Kenji woke up,
Ken was not a soldier,
He was just a man with a family who owned a store in LA,
That day, he crawled out of bed like he always did,
Bacon and eggs with wife and kids,
He lived on the second floor of a little store he ran,
He moved to LA from Japan,
They called him ‘Immigrant,’
In Japanese, he’d say he was called “Issei,”
That meant ‘First Generation In The United States,’
When everybody was afraid of the Germans, afraid of the Japs,
But most of all afraid of a homeland attack,
And that morning when Ken went out on the doormat,
His world went black ’cause,
Right there; front page news,
Three weeks before 1942,
“Pearl Harbour’s Been Bombed And The Japs Are Comin’,”
Pictures of soldiers dyin’ and runnin’,
Ken knew what it would lead to,
Just like he guessed, the President said,
“The evil Japanese in our home country will be locked away,”
They gave Ken, a couple of days,
To get his whole life packed in two bags,
Just two bags, couldn’t even pack his clothes,
Some folks didn’t even have a suitcase, to pack anything in,
So two trash bags is all they gave them,
When the kids asked mom “Where are we goin’?”
Nobody even knew what to say to them,
Ken didn’t wanna lie, he said “The US is lookin’ for spies,
So we have to live in a place called Manzanar,
Where a lot of Japanese people are,”
Stop it don’t look at the gunmen,
You don’t wanna get the soldiers wonderin’,
If you gonna run or not,
‘Cause if you run then you might get shot,
Other than that try not to think about it,
Try not to worry ’bout it; bein’ so crowded,
Someday we’ll get out, someday, someday.
As soon as war broke out
The F.B.I. came and they just come to the house and
“You have to come”
“All the Japanese have to go”
They took Mr. Ni
People didn’t understand
Why did they have to take him?
Because he’s an innocent laborer
So now they’re in a town with soldiers surroundin’ them,
Every day, every night look down at them,
From watch towers up on the wall,
Ken couldn’t really hate them at all;
They were just doin’ their job and,
He wasn’t gonna make any problems,
He had a little garden with vegetables and fruits that,
He gave to the troops in a basket his wife made,
But in the back of his mind, he wanted his families life saved,
Prisoners of war in their own damn country,
What for?
Time passed in the prison town,
He wanted them to live it down when they were free,
The only way out was joinin’ the army,
And supposedly, some men went out for the army, signed on,
And ended up flyin’ to Japan with a bomb,
That 15 kilotonne blast, put an end to the war pretty fast,
Two cities were blown to bits; the end of the war came quick,
Ken got out, big hopes of a normal life, with his kids and his wife,
But, when they got back to their home,
What they saw made them feel so alone,
These people had trashed every room,
Smashed in the windows and bashed in the doors,
Written on the walls and the floor,
“Japs not welcome anymore.”
And Kenji dropped both of his bags at his sides and just stood outside,
He, looked at his wife without words to say,
She looked back at him wiping tears away,
And, said “Someday we’ll be OK, someday,”
Now the names have been changed, but the story’s true,
My family was locked up back in ’42,
My family was there it was dark and damp,
And they called it an internment camp
When we first got back from camp… uh
It was… pretty… pretty bad
I, I remember my husband said
“Are we gonna stay ’til last?”
Then my husband died before they close the camp.

(lyrics via)

Obama Diggs You – Followup

Here’s my original post on the Digg-like Q&A page on the site.
There’s an update page now, with answers for some of the top questions:

Last week, our Open for Questions feature was particularly well-received: more than 20,000 people cast nearly 1,000,000 votes on questions posed by the community. Overall, just over 10,000 questions were voted up or down and ranked by visitors to the site.
Below are some of the top questions, and the answers that our transition team members have put together as part of the Open for Questions feature.

Go read the responses.

What makes a good teacher – followup

Malcolm Gladwell has posted a followup on his blog. Reading the comments there might be highly entertaining after a box of chardonnay but are merely dreary in the pre-coffee morning hours.
I think Gladwell has missed one of the most important differences between teachers and quarterbacks: Good ball handling skills may be ultimately detrimental to one but is definitely beneficial to the other*.
My original post on his original article is here.
*Sorry, I had to take out my Facebook frustrations somewhere.

facebook conundrum

I have a lot of n00b friends on Facebook, and I fully contend that Facebook is for n00bs and sissies. However, if I want to see photos and happenings of said friends, this is apparently the only way.
I guess I’ll join and rejoice in e-props and friending the crap out of virtual pet avatars.
Why do I hate Facebook, hi-5, and all the other socnets with such a passion? Because of little gems like this:

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.

– From Facebook’s TOS
So will you friend me already, or what?
UPDATE: OMG! Of all people, my brother was already a member! What a frickin’ n00b!
ANOTHER UPDATE: It appears that the great majority of Facebook users are almost as annoying as Youtube commenters.
LAST(??) UPDATE: Oh for fuck’s sake. Lawyers to serve notices on Facebook, Australian court serves documents via Facebook. If a goddamn federal justice system is using it in an official capacity, you know it’s gotta be fucked.

Foreign tw@ts at Tsukiji

Earlier this year I wrote about how foreign tourists are no longer really welcome at Tsukiji fish market. To better understand why this situation came about, I present this video sent by KTY:

At first I was going to title this post French and English tw@ts at Tsukiji, but really it’s just dumb luck that the video happened not to feature douchebag Americans. I would have paid money to have the old man slap the shit out of Pierre at the end, though, right after he claimed to not speak Japanese:

Sweet cryer o’ mine

Some children have more annoying cries than others; that’s just the way it is. I wonder, however, if the parents of children with really annoying cries find their own children’s cries less annoying than the cries of others. It would be only natural I suppose, but it’s kind of impossible to gauge in the real world:

“Hey, you know how your kid’s crying is, subjectively, really quite annoying, right? Yeah, well do you personally find it less annoying than the sound of other, less subjectively annoying crying? Yeah? I thought that might be the case… Oh. What? You think it’s because he’s massively intelligent and superior to all other babies in the vicinity? Sure, that must be it; it couldn’t just be that he has an annoying cry… Dumbass.

This is what happens when I overdose on baby head smell in the mornings.

Baby Mantis

The other day I felt a spider running on my shoulder so I caught it in my hand. It turned out to be a baby praying mantis the size of a match head, still nearly translucent with black stripes over its joints. It was like the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I held it in my palm and poked at it with my pinky finger, and it boxed with me for a while. I decided it was too risky to go inside for my camera and just let the little guy go in my new row of baby winged beans.